Monday, August 31, 2009

He was a hardworking farm boy

Peter H of Lebo: I really need to get an iPhone

Either that or Rosetta Stone.

MI CHIAMO STAN
by Ian Frazier
APRIL 13, 2009

He was a hardworking farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he would have just one chance to impress her.
-Advertisement for language-learning software program.


LESSON 1—Beginning conversation; basic nouns and verbs. Memorize the following vocabulary:

Hello! — Ciao!
name — nome
telephone number — numero di telefono
to live — vivere
Quad Cities — Città “Quad”
Valentino — Valentino
ag school — scuola agraria
to be — essere
stock-tank de-icer — macchina che toglie il ghiaccio dal serbatoio dell’abbeveratoio
Fall Fashion Week — Settimana della Moda dell’Autunno

Sample sentences. Practice saying these out loud:

Hello! May I have your name and telephone number?
Ciao! Potrei avere il suo nome ed il suo numero di telefono?

My name is Stan, which is a nickname for Stancil.
Mi chiamo Stan, che è il diminutivo di Stancil.

I live on a farm near the Quad Cities.
Vivo in una fattoria vicino alle Città “Quad.”

They are Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, and Bettendorf.
Sono Moline, Rock Island, Davenport, e Bettendorf.

Not many people know what the Quad Cities are.
Non molte persone sanno cosa sono le Città “Quad.”

East Moline is technically one of the Quad Cities also, but it’s usually left out, because that would make five.
Tecnicamente, East Moline è una delle Città “Quad,” ma di solito si omette perché sennò sarebbero cinque.

Who is your favorite Italian fashion designer?
Chi è il suo stilista italiano preferito?

Personally, I have been a fan of Valentino ever since ag school.
Personalmente, sono stato un ammiratore di Valentino fin dalla scuola agraria.

During Milan’s Fall Fashion Week, in which hotel will you be staying?
Durante la Settimana della Moda dell’Autunno di Milano, in quale hotel starà?

Could you please give me directions how to get to that hotel from western Illinois?
Per favore, mi potrebbe indicare la strada per quell’hotel partendo dall’Illinois occidentale?

Now I must repair the stock-tank de-icer in our back pasture.
Ora devo riparare la macchina che toglie il ghiaccio dal serbatoio dell’abbeveratoio, che sta nel pascolo.

It is a piece of junk, and has once again broken down.
È un relitto, e si è rotto ancora una volta.

Well, goodbye, and have a good day, O.K.?
Arrivederci, e buona giornata, O.K.?



LESSON 3—Regular verbs. Familiarize yourself with the conjugation of the verb “to milk” (mungere):

I milk io mungo
you (s.) milk tu mungi
he/she milks lui/lei munge
we milk noi mungiamo
you (pl.) milk voi mungete
they milk loro mungono

Milk! (imp.) Mungi! (s.)
Mungete! (pl.)

Many other verbs—to water (innaffiare), to hay (falciare il fieno), to pose (posare), to mow (mietere), to pleat (pieghettare), to manure (concimare), to accessorize (dotare di accessori), to sashay (ancheggiare), to diet (fare la dieta), to apply bag balm (applicare balsalmo per mammelle), and to hiss (fischiare)—take more or less the same endings, so it will be useful to learn them all.



LESSON 7—At the Fuel Co-Op.
Now you are ready to make simple purchases and discuss everyday topics with people on the street. Repeat this typical conversation alone or with a partner until it comes naturally to you:

Good afternoon, Owney. I would like to buy two tanks of propane.
Buon pomeriggio, Owney. Vorrei comprare due serbatoi di propano, per favore.

I said, “I would like to buy some propane!”
Ho detto, “Vorrei comprare del propano!”

Of course you can’t understand me. That is because I am talking in Italian.
Certo lei non può capirmi. Sarà perché sto parlando in italiano.

Laugh if you wish, Owney, but someday I will be having sex with a beautiful Italian supermodel in Milan, Italy, while you are still here sweeping fertilizer pellets off the floor.
Rida se vuole, Owney, ma un giorno farò sesso con una top model italiana a Milano, Italia, mentre lei sarà qui a spazzare via le palline di fertilizzante.

Well, goodbye, Owney. I will buy my propane another day.
Arrivederci, Owney. Comprerò il propano un altro giorno.



LESSON 13—Verbs of motion. Italian verbs of motion use different forms depending on their contexts, as the following examples demonstrate:

to drive (in a vehicle) — guidare
to ride — farsi dare un passaggio
to walk — camminare

Example: If you will not drive me to the bus station, Mom, I will ride with the mailman, or walk.
Mamma, se non mi porti alla stazione degli autobus, mi farò dare un passaggio dal postino, o camminerò.

to run — correre
to fall — cadere
to board — imbarcarsi

Example: I ran down the concourse, fell over somebody’s suitcase, and boarded my flight to Milan just in time.
Correvo lungo l’atrio, e sono caduto sulla valigia di qualcuno, ma poi mi sono imbarcato per Milano giusto in tempo.

to fly — volare
to hurl — lanciare

Example: I don’t like to fly. I might hurl.
Non amo volare. Potrei lanciare.



LESSON 18—At the police station.
Often, foreigners who can speak Italian have difficulty understanding native speakers when they talk quickly, use idioms, or do not pause for response. Listen to the following common sentences in the audio portion of the lesson and replay them as often as you need to.

May I see your passport, please?
Potrei vedere il suo passaporto, per favore?

I must ask you to come with me.
Devo chiederle di venire con me.

Spread your arms and place your hands against the wall.
Stenda le braccia e collochi le mani contro il muro.

Are you aware that stalking a supermodel without her consent is a violation of Italian law?
Lei è consapevole che infastidire una top model senza il suo consenso è una violazione della legge italiana?

This pocket dictionary of Italian prison slang may be useful to you.
Questo dizionario tascabile di gergo carcerario italiano le potrebbe essere utile.

Please surrender your chewing tobacco to the desk clerk. It will be returned to you upon your release.
Per favore depositi il suo tabacco da masticare all’impiegato. Le sarà restituito quando sarà rilasciato.



LESSON 25—Review and summary.
Congratulations on completing this introductory course in spoken Italian! Now that you have put in all the required work, you may be interested to know that most of the people you will meet in Italy probably speak English already. Diplomats, tour guides, stylists, supermodels, and so on may be relied on to have a good command of our language. In that regard, you have largely wasted your time.

Just because they speak English, however, does not mean these folks are a breeze to understand. Quite the contrary! Often, their speech is heavily accented and their phrasing and word use are so eccentric that you must pay close attention in order to get their meaning. Practice your comprehension skills by listening to the passage on the audio as you follow along below:

“Ah, Stancil, I am so fortunata that you came into my life! At first, true, I did not—come si dice—realize what a blessing you were for me. And, true, I had you jailed in prison, but later I changed my thoughts, and paid your bail money, so we could be together now and always. Your love rescued me from the cruel fates of catwalk model, such as attending parties and enjoying cocaine and earning many, many milioni every year or even every month—but at such a cost! My unnatural thinness, so unwelcome for me, so malsana, when my bust measurement is in fact fuller than is suggested in this industry! Always my dream has been to meet a young American with a dairy-cow-and-feeder-pig operation somewhere in the valley of the Des Plaines River of Illinois, to where we will now go immediatamente so we can be married and have many children, and I will join the local 4-H advisers’ group to give me something to do when I am not cooking gourmet Italian dinners for you and satisfying you matrimonially!”

Pinch yourself to test your comprehension.

iPhone 3GS

I really need to get an iPhone-

Harvey James Park


If you watch Parks and Recreation, the writer paid tribute to James!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tilt-shift Miniature Faking

Tilt-shift Miniature Faking video relating to my previous post. Make sure to watch it in HD and full screen if computer is capable.

Toy Soldiers from Alta Media Productions on Vimeo.

Best song lyrics and song titles of all time.

Experts say that the best song lyrics and song title of all time
come from the same forty year old song and that no titles or lyrics have come close since then:

Best Song Title: "You're so Vain, You Prob'ly Think this Song is About You"

Best Song Lyrics: Tied for first from the same song:

"You're where you should be all the time,
And when you're not you're with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend."

and

"You walked into the party like you were walking into a yacht,
You're hat strategically dipped below one eye, your scarf it was apricot,
You had one eye on the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte."

(This was deemed by the experts to be #1 simply from the use of the word "gavotte", which has never been used in a popular song before or since.)

I certain wouldn't quarrel with the experts on either of these choices.

Friday, August 28, 2009

French Realism

I'm not sure whether or not the French have a reputation for making extremely realistic movies, but I think the 3 most realistic movies I have seen in the past couple of years have all been French. They are all good movies and the realism will astound you.

La Haine (The Hate) 1995
Entre les murs (The Class) 2008/2009
Le Trou (The Hole) 1960

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beer Brewing Party

Inspired by Uncle Peter's cider making gathering last fall, I was hoping to have a beer brewing party Friday, November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving and have the tasting over the Christmas/New Year's Holiday. Anyone around during those holidays are encouraged to participate.

There is a lot of creative aspects people can participate in, designing labels, naming, choosing beer recipe and obviously the steps making the beer. I haven't figured out all the logistics but I was hoping to acquire two beer-making apparatus to allow two different creative teams and recipes, for variety and maybe a little taste competition during the New Year's holiday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Highlander of Track and Field




A mathematical look at Usain Bolt's world record 100m dash last week. Apparently we shouldn't have seen this fast a time until 2030.

Non-Hispanic Whites: The Party's Over

Studies have shown that, with decreasing birthrates among non-Hispanic whites (no one can accuse the Harvey's of not doing their part) and substantially increased immigration, by 2042 non-Hispanic whites will be a minority in America:



By 2042, one in three Americans will be Latino. How's your Spanish coming along?


Whenever I get depressed, I think of this future and it perks me right up. Given the Republicans' willingness to alienate the entire Latino population by their opposition to the Sotomayor nomination and all their anti-immigration ranting, at some point, the GOP will never win another election. Fantastico! In about 40 years, there will be no NASCAR, mayonnaise, country music, watery beer, popped collars or SUV's! Instead, more fajitas, Latin dancing and crazy Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

And the world will be a better place.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

After over 20 years of built-up anticipation, I finally saw The Unbearable Lightness of Being. And now, I find myself asking, did I miss something? Sure, it featured two of the loveliest ladies ever to grace celluloid: Lena Olin...

MySpace Codes


and Juliet Binoche.

MySpace Codes


And a pretty hot Daniel Day-Lewis.

MySpace Codes


And I know that the movie was meant to make the suggestion that, while everyone thinks that weightiness -- being burdened -- is what makes life unbearable, perhaps it's quite the opposite. Perhaps, what makes life unbearable is its lightness, its total insignificance. Our lives are short and then we vanish. Perhaps, it's the unimportance of it all that makes things unbearable.

Even so, I'm not sure why all the critics kept saying that the English language did not contain superlatives sufficient to describe the movie. So, OK, we have attractive characters, a lot of sex, some philosophy and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia -- but it didn't quite add up for me.

Can someone help me out here?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

90 year old health issues

I'm not sure if everyone got the word so I will update Mom's/Grandma's health here. She went into the hospital Monday after having a sharp pain in her right leg all Sunday and Monday morning. By Wednesday her leg pain which became a knee pain, was gone, even before the cortisone shot, but her blood tests showed unhealthy results for the BUN and Creatinine tests which indicate unhealthy kidneys. After expecting her to be released each day from Wednesday on, I was finally able to bring her home Sunday. She is in good spirits and getting up and down stairs again with her cane, but she will have a nurse come next week for a while and will try "Meals on Wheels" until she gets enough energy to start her routine again.

If any good came about from all of this, we learned that she has had kidney problems for a while now. Of course she never knew (although her doctor says she was told.). Basically this means that she should drink more.

Sidebar:
Despite knowing everything she will say 2 minutes before she knows herself, I learned something about my mom (or my thoughts crystalized better). Basically that she pays no attention to anything about herself, especially her health, but is keenly interested in everyone else. Here is how her doctor (who has a daughter at B.C. according to mom) should have told her about her kidneys, "You know my daughter, the one at Boston College, well, she graduates next year. However, she has to drink a lot more water in order to keep her kidneys healthy--just like you do!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Latest on YouTube

My latest short movie

A little while ago Tommy, myself and a friend of mine from back home made this little movie. It took a while, but I finally got my camera to properly communicate with my computer and it's all been edited and put up. I hope you all enjoy!

Craig Manning

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh man... OH MAN..... OHHHH FREAKIN MAN!!!!!

While studying for my finals tomorrow which I should be doing more of my Google Reader informed me of a California amusement park called Sinister Pointe. Apparently it it only open in october and its a haunted amusement park, an ENTIRE AMUSEMENT PARK HAUNTED. If thats not enough for you then I'd just like to say they got the permission from Konami a great video game maker to do Mazes in the likeness of Silent Hill and FEAR to incredibly scary games. If you haven't played them, you should. (but play silent hill 2, silent hill 1 is getting a little dated by this time.) And if you say "oh Sean no I can't possibly play that game I'm no good at videos/I hate video games/ I don't have the system to play/ I don't have any time." then go watch someone play it, or read up on it or go out and buy it or make time. So anyone up for a trip to the Nascenzis in october?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Red Herring

Myk your argument concerning the flaws in my position suffer from an informal fallacy, the straw man argument. You point out two “supposed” flaws,

One-Certain rights belong to certain groups of people
“Heterosexual couples get to have marriage for the sake of the kids they are raising”
“there is some justification for distinguishing between straights and gays when it comes to marriage other than we hate you”

Two-Courts’ role in Civil Rights

Unfortunately, we are now arguing about your definition of marriage, “Heterosexual couples get to have marriage for the sake of the kids they are raising”. I can’t argue with you about your beliefs on marriage, however this has nothing to do with the position that gays are discriminated against solely on their sexual orientation. Marriage right pertains to the state recognizing two peoples’ social contract and has nothing to do with raising kids. Your definition of marriage is not an argument against my position, that the state refuses recognition of two consenting adults because of their sexual orientation. You have not yet illustrated the “justification for distinguishing between straights and gays when it comes to marriage other than we hate you”.

Your second point concerning courts’ role in civil rights again has no significance to the position that gays are being discriminated. Yes, we can argue that functionality of the government branches and the role they play in making sure rights are protected and provided equally. Courts’ role argument is separate from discriminatory States denial of same-sex marriage rights.

Since you have not yet illustrated the “justification for distinguishing between straights and gays when it comes to marriage other than we hate you” my position still stands that the lack of gay marriage is fundamental wrong in our country and without justification. Therefore, returning to our other argument courts’ role- it is the duty of our government to correct with all speed something unequivocally wrong. A single man preventing a mob from beating up a minority is more justified in his actions than is the mob. Thus the Californian Court was more justified and within their power (determining constitutionality on same-sex ban) to allow gay marriage than was the majority voting for prop 8. Just because more people believe doesn’t make it right or Argumentum ad populum

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Once More Into the Fray

I confess that I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with both Jim and Pete (see Treebeard’s comment: “I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side”), and I thought I might clarify a few things.

1. Believe it or not, I think that Pete’s argument that refusing the right to marry to same sex couples is a civil rights issue – a denial of equal protection of the laws -- is a perfectly principled position and, indeed, some courts have adopted it. But, I think it has problems.

First up, marriage, like social security, is targeted for a particular segment of the population. Social security, for policy reasons, is restricted to the elderly. Nobody else gets it. Marriage is restricted to heterosexual couples. The elderly get social security because it’s been judged that they have a greater difficulty earning a living than younger folks. Heterosexual couples get to have marriage for the sake of the kids they are raising.

Now, you can argue that that’s not a perfect fit: lots of married couples don’t have kids and lots of same sex couples do. (But, I suspect that more heterosexual couples have kids than same sex couples.) The thing is, you can make the same argument about social security: some elderly people are doing very well earning an income, and some younger people are not. For what it’s worth, courts have long held that perfect fits in legislation are not required and probably not possible. The point is that there is some justification for distinguishing between straights and gays when it comes to marriage other than we hate you.

The other and more important thing is that, for a court to tell a state that, if it’s going to sanction marriages, it must include same-sex couples, is to seriously step out over the abyss. Not there this means anything in the absolute sense, but there is zero precedent as far as I know in the annals of Western Civilization for this, and courts like precedent. All I’m saying is that this is a lot to ask of a judge.

2. And so, while I see the civil rights point of view, I think that there’s a better argument for same sex marriage: it’s a good idea, not just for gay people but for straight people as well. It’s a good idea because the children of gay parents – either by adoption or conception – deserve to have two married parents just like the kids of heterosexual couples. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argues, “I support it [gay marriage] because I think family is a societal good--which benefits me individually. Raise your kid right, and I don't have to worry about him sticking up my kid.” I’d call it the “No Child Left Behind Act” except somebody already took that name.

Second, there is the whole public health issue. For some time now, we’ve faced an epidemic of STD’s, and the epidemic is more widespread among gays. I can’t think of anything stupider than to say, oh, I don’t care what gays do privately but I just don’t want them getting married. I say, not that gay couples may marry, but they must marry. If everyone would limit themselves to one sexual partner in a lifetime, STD’s could be eliminated. The sacrifice would be totally worth it, because it would permit future generations to have as many sex partners as they wanted with minimal health risk.

Beyond that, we know that marriage is good for your health, particularly for men. Married people live longer than single or divorced individuals. (This is true for women, but it’s truer for men.) Men and women who are married have lower rates of substance abuse and alcohol consumption than unmarried individuals; they have a much lower suicide rates; they live more healthy life styles, and engage in less risky behavior. (Apparently, married couples take to heart the song-line, “Take good care of yourself; you belong to me.”) Oh, and by the way, cohabitating couples do not see any of these health benefits. See mystical aspects of marriage discussed below.

Jim points out in his blog entry that heterosexuals live longer than gays. No wonder – gays can’t get the health benefits of marriage. In any event, I have no doubt that one way of reducing our health costs is to let gays marry. If you want your insurance premiums lowered, vote for same-sex marriage.

Finally, we know from the history of race relations in this country that marginalizing people is always a bad idea. Check out how well things are going in Europe with their Muslim immigrants. By marginalizing gays, we straight people shoot ourselves in the foot. If people have a stake in society, they work to make that society better. By allowing gays to marry, you give them that stake; they become full-fledged citizens just like everyone else. And there’s the related satisfaction of having an all-inclusive society. Again, turning to Coates: “I simply don't enjoy living in a country that discriminates. That's my feeling. That's about what I want, how I want to live.”

I agree with Jim that same sex marriage is a happiness issue. The fact is, despite all the jokes, marriage makes people happy. It also makes the people around them happy.

3. As to Jim’s other points, sure, we’re doing something new and basically untried with gay marriage. But, no doubt there were plenty of naysayers when the American colonists decided to create a democracy or when we were debating whether to give women the vote – arguing that this would upset the cosmic applecart. In fact, how many practices were followed for thousands of years that we now find appalling? Again, I fail to see anything compelling about the argument that, because we’ve always done it this way, it must be right. “Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true. . . .” Noam Chomsky.

I also agree with Jim that there is something mystical about marriage. What’s more mystical than “the two shall become one?” But, in my experience, the mystical is often at odds with the religious. The fact is: historical religions are run by flawed human beings who often get things wrong. The religious defense of slavery alone shows how wrong they can be. I think that it’s better to listen to Jesus on this one: "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57.

Finally, yes, I said that there are bigger fish to fry. And if my fairy Godmother suddenly showed up and said she'd grant me just one wish, universal health care or gay marriage, I wouldn't give it a second thought. I'd go with the universal health care. But that doesn't mean you can't be passionate about more than one thing at a time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moneyball Sold to Highest Buyer

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game seems to have been bought by the big spenders, returning baseball to its rightfully place-teams with money win. Though for the Pirates, since they never bothered with Moneyball, its no big loss.

Canadian Army

The Canadian military doing what it does best.

Essential Ware for the Kitchen

My family needs this, heck I need it for my self. Essential kitchenware.

Funny Stuff

Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage

Why I have resisted writing something like this:

Because there are many issues involved, it would be too lengthy and boring.


Why I have written this:

A great philosopher said, "This ain't heaven." I think she meant that there is nothing in life which is completely good or right (as well as evil or wrong), including this statement.


This is NOT to advocate banning same sex marriage. It is to advocate looking at different sides of an issue. No one wants to fall into the Rush Limbaugh-religious-zealot-syndrome-where-the-other-side-are-all-morons.


I have been influenced by a number of things people said on this blog many months ago. Two notable ones are Myk, when he said "We have bigger fish to fry" and Katty, when she told the story of her gay friend weeping when Proposition 8 passed in California. Myk's point is self explanatory. Katty's point let me see that, while it has been described as a religious and/or a civil rights issue, it is fundamentally a human happiness issue.


These will not be compelling arguments to you, but they will have substance. I don't find them compelling, but perhaps people with other genes, backgrounds and values will. They will be brief and thus you will find a lot of holes in them. I'm sorry, but I will not make this lengthy.


1. At a time when almost everything, from economics to games, is cast in a Dawinian light, we should recognize the fundamentally powerful development of marriage as perhaps the principle reason the race has survived as well as we have.


2. Related to No. 1, perhaps because marriage has been such a powerful force, it obtained religious significance. It has become mystical. Every major religion defines marriage as between a man and a woman. While religious beliefs must change with cultures, it is usually not the best policy to dismiss one that is held so broadly.


3. For thousands, if not millions, of years practically all cultures have considered marriage as the union of a male and female. Apart from the basic human willingness to see it that way, the historical value of something that has survived so long, should lend some credence that it may be a good thing.


4. Studies have shown that people in homosexual relationships live an average of 20 years less than those in heterosexual relationships. Like steroids or smoking, should the government be advocating something which may shorten your life. (There are arguments for and against interpreting these studies in this way. As I said I am going to be brief.)


5. By promoting same sex marriage, marriage is being taken in a completely wrong direction. This is a happiness issue. The proper direction for marriage, to ensure the happiness of the greatest number of people, is to have arranged marriages. It has worked successfully in the past. It would help eliminate events such as the LA Fitness Center disaster.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recreation Vehicle-Bionic Diolphin

Definitely going on my Christmas list-

The dude made it in his garage. I love ingenuity-

64 years ago Hiroshima

The Big Picture from Boston.com has pictures of Hiroshima in 1945. The anniversary is today Aug 6. Came upon this through Jason Kottke's blog.

Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside

The Hospital acted egregiously but it is not all that surprising when laws are inherently anti-gay aka DOMA.

Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside

Unfortunately, the dead wife didn't wait for the majority to change their mind, which would have allowed her spouse to be with her during her dying moments.

The American Psychological Association speaks on reparative therapy

It's not that we didn't already know this, but I'd say that this report puts the final nail in the coffin of "gay therapy."

Psychologists Reject Gay ‘Therapy’

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Un-Skunkable Beer

Thank the Germans for creating Un-Skunkable Beer.

Battle over Family

Another heart-wrenching personal story that puts a face on the gay rights movement. This article exemplifies why I don't argue for Gay marriage-to argue you must concede the fact that there is another side and it may have a legit point(s). Debate is not needed when there is a right and a wrong-the wrong obviously being that the government is allowed to tear loving stable families apart. I am pretty sure no hetereosexual couple has to take that into account when starting a family.

It also illustrates that gay couples wishing to start a family are told to wait until the majority decides its okay, which is an indeterminate amount of time. Another point as to why reform through legislation-only is ludicrous.

Finally, no offense to Albanian but it is embarrassing that the United States is falling behind Albanian in the civil rights department.

Food for Thought

Those of you who have read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell already know how tall a single sheet of paper folded 50 times would be (if you were able) but for those who haven't, it would reach approximately to the Sun.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two Settings and a Funeral

Setting No. 1:
At home last week I received a phone call from a collection agency. While they had no details about the bill, they reported it was from Verizon. Now my Verizon payments were up-to-date, but I thought I knew how the bill was generated. I told them I would call Verizon and call them back with Verizon's response. (Why do I say these things?)

A few of you know that I was psychologically traumatized, humiliated, and broken by Verizon last September. I can not repeat the events, but you can read about them in Franz Kafka's "The Castle." The problem was so bad that Verizon told me to change my number—a big mistake as it turned out, but, as I said, I was broken. One small side affect was that they forgot to switch my email account to the new number and I lost my email use in January. I surmised, since the bill was from January, that the Verizon 'System' had generated a bill from this mistake.

After more than an hour of transfers, listening to recorded music, and being told for 20 minutes that my "call would be answered in less than 8 minutes," I found the person with the proper records who verified the bill was a mistake and would be cancelled.

[I'd like to give you a glimpse into Verizon's very effective psychological torture techniques. While on hold after a couple on transfers (and holds), I was subjected to Beethoven's Ninth!...for at least 20 minutes. (No one can make this stuff up.)]

OK, the lady just had to fill out a form to cancel the bill. Could I stay on the line while she completed it? Yes…name?…first pet?…appendix?…bank account number? Um…what? You are canceling your own mistakingly generated bill and you want my bank account number?

She agreed that it was a silly request, but that the Verizon 'System' was a hard taskmaster. It was the only way she could get this form completed. When she offered to transfer me to finance, I finally said, with echos of Beethoven's Ninth in my brain, "No, thank you." I realized they were all getting paid for this and I wasn't.

I called the collection agency and told them the story. At my funeral there will be someone from Verizon looking on.

Setting No. 2:
I was pulling out of the Castle Shannon Blvd. Post Office after dropping a letter into the drive-by mail box. It was either early morning or late evening. I was continuing to Shop and Save so I did not have to cross any lanes of traffic. As I stopped and looked at the on-coming traffic, I saw a car at normal speed just come into view. I had plenty of time, if I hurried, to pull out into my lane. For some reason (hopefully partly due to my conservative driving habits) I thought to my self, "What is my hurry? Just wait for this car." I turned back to look straight ahead only to see a man and woman walk directly in front of my car at that moment.

Had I gone I would have violated one of the fundamental principals of driving, "Always look in the direction you are going" and would have hit the couple. Not hard, but probably enough to break a few legs. Thus I avoided a funeral…probably my own.

How America is Going to End

Slate has an article about what will lead to the downfall of America. There is an interactive guide to choosing your own apocalypse based on five events and compares it to the most common slate readers' response. The article also has a single page with all 144 events, my favorites, bottled water, oldocracy, intelligent design and of course Voluntary Human Extinction.

Faking Perspective


For those of you interested in photographic effects. Photographers have often used tilt shift lens to alter the perspective that one would normally see through a non-tilt-shift lens. One well known tilt-shift effect is to make real objects appear miniature. Photographers found another method using photoshop and a normal lens called tilt-shift miniature faking. Pretty cool, tutorials online.
Examples-



More Waiting on the Answers to the Mysteries of the Universe, or Show Me the Higgs Particles Already!

Giant Particle Collider Struggles

Personal Satellite

52 years after Sputnik you can now send your own personal satellite into low earth orbit. You can design your own experiments, track it with a hand held ham radio and its only $8,000. I think it is a great project for science classes to engage students. What would you do with a personal satellite?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Poor Persecuted White People

This is beyond the pale. It makes you yearn for 2042 when whites will become a minority. I especially like the charge that Obama's health care plan is just a sneaky way of making reparations.