June 2004 Archives

« May 2004 | Main | July 2004 »
June 30, 2004
Conversation with Spam Comments

I have received a number of comments from someone today.

Hello, this is a nice site you have
Oh. Well, thank you very much.
The function of the artist is to provide what life does not.
I didn't really consider myself an artist, per se, but thanks.
Make it your guiding principle to do your best for others and to be trustworthy in what you say. Do not accept as friend anyone who is not as good as you. When you make a mistake do not be afraid of mending your ways.
After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.
Dude, if you think Hollywood bears even a passing similarity to "real and sincere," you need to get your head examined.
Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
Well, of course. I mean, Christmas is a long way off yet, but it's never a bad time to buy Eat What You Want And Die Like A Man.
No cause is so right that one cannot find a fool following it.
So, are you saying that I'm right? Or are you calling me a fool? Do you have any other philosophical insights to offer?
You get what anyone gets. You get a lifetime.
Well, ya. That's not exactly profound.
Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.
That's not profound. That's "greeting card philosophy" — hardly serious. Try again.
Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.
Strike two.
Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.
OK, that just smacks of historical revisionism. I'm sure Stalin would have been right there with you on that.
Man is the missing link between apes and human beings.
And man-hating feminism, too. You're losing your audience, and I my patience.
If you're going through hell, keep going. Everybody is a star with the potentiality to shine in the infinite sky of eternity.
Say, you're getting to be a bit hyperbolic about all this, aren't you?
What else can i say after all this ?!
The less the better, I think.

That's what I get for having a commenter from "sexmuch.com" — this conversation is now over.

I think I may have to turn on comment registration. #$^&@! comment spammers....

Posted by Russ at 02:56 PM | Comments (2)
Ode to Lard

DoggerelPundit should be working on Madison Avenue. Who else could possibly come up with ad copy like this?

Are you loving your carbs,
     Fat in cooking you’re fond?
Do you nibble or wolf—
     Gastronome or gourmand?
Do you crave real food
     From true kettle and pan?
Cook from Eat What You Want,
     And Die Like A Man
So buy the book, already.

Posted by Russ at 12:33 PM | Comments (3)
June 29, 2004
Support those left behind

Having myself been a ROTC cadet for a couple years in college, and having been in the service for a number of years, I know that some day I might hear of the loss of one of my old friends.

Bill of INDC Journal has posted about an old friend of his who was recently killed in Afghanistan.

Captain Dan Eggers left behind a wife and two young children. They could use your support.

Posted by Russ at 02:26 PM

This abominable act is one of the most utterly foul and despicable things I've read about in quite a while. Read it, and be angry.

Why is it so foul? They're only animals, you say.

Because there is no possible excuse for such behavior. Nothing could conceivably justify such cruelty. It is inhumane, and inhuman.

Let's get something straight right up front here: I'm not about to join PETA, nor am I going to splash paint on some matron's fur coat. I do believe that if there's a choice between saving a human life and that of an animal, the human wins. I eat meat daily. I wear leather. Contrary to PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk's vile assertion, a rat is not a pig is not a dog is not a boy.

Nevertheless, I believe that we, as individuals, have particular responsibilities towards those over whom [or over which] we have stewardship. If you don't bother to get your dog spayed and she has puppies, those puppies are your responsibility, just as if you sire or bear a child, the child is your responsibility. Not mine. Not society's. Yours.

Being a participant in adult society is almost entirely a function of the ability to take responsibility. The rights and privileges we have as adult humans are contingent upon that ability. I must take responsibility for myself and my actions – other adults, and maybe even the law, will hold me to account. If I voluntarily take responsibility for someone or something else, I am bound to it; I cannot then simply walk away from that charge.

To deliberately betray a responsibility towards those in your charge – be they children, handicapped relatives, elderly parents, or even animals – is to make yourself less than a full adult human. They are essentially helpless, and if you don't want that responsibility, it's too late to merely disclaim it after the fact. If the responsibility is too much to bear, the adult thing to do is to look for an alternative – a different caregiver for your parent, an adoptive parent for your child, a new owner for your animal. You don't just abandon them... or worse.

To shirk your responsibility, either by your action or inaction, particularly if it leads to harm, makes you inferior to those in your charge. As such, you should never be entrusted with adult responsibilities, nor enjoy the rights and privileges that come with the adult ability to take responsibility.

You have betrayed your own humanity. You are fit company only for brutes.

Such company can usually be found in prison.

(via Ian S.)

Posted by Russ at 01:16 PM | Comments (4)
June 28, 2004
Calling all North State bloggers

Do any of you NC bloggers know a lawyer in the Durham area?

Aaron in Los Angeles has a request.

Posted by Russ at 06:20 PM | Comments (2)
Citizen? Oh, really?

One of the Supreme Court decisions handed down today was for the case of Hamdi v Rumsfeld.

The question in the Hamdi case was "how do we treat American citizens in wartime?"

The question should have been "why do we treat Hamdi as a citizen in the first place?"

Clearly, it is past time to rethink the way in which the 14th Amendment is applied. Being born within the borders of the US should not, by itself, be the sole criterion for citizenship.

Posted by Russ at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)
June 25, 2004

Michelle Malkin gently corrects boots AlGore upside the head.

Posted by Russ at 03:21 PM | Comments (2)
Quote of the Day

If it's Friday, there must be a new column from Victor Davis Hanson.

Right after 9/11, some of us thought it was impossible for leftist critics to undermine a war against fascists who were sexist, fundamentalist, homophobic, racist, ethnocentric, intolerant of diversity, mass murderers of Kurds and Arabs, and who had the blood of 3,000 Americans on their hands. We were dead wrong. In fact, they did just that. Abu Ghraib is on the front pages daily. Stories of thousands of American soldiers in combat against terrorist killers from the Hindu Kush to Fallujah do not merit the D section. Senator Kennedy's two years of insane outbursts should have earned him formal censure rather than a commemoration from the Democratic establishment.

Posted by Russ at 11:12 AM
Meme Rampant

John of Castle Argghhh! has spotted the latest meme to surface: "which of the top 100 grossing movies of all time have you seen?"

I rarely go to the movie theater anymore. I like seeing a good movie on the big screen; I just don't like being wedged into a theater with a couple hundred boorish teenagers.

I'll distinguish between films I've seen on the big screen, in bold, and those I've seen on cable/pay-per-view/DVD, in bold italics. See the extended entry for the list.

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252

Posted by Russ at 09:16 AM
June 24, 2004
Moody Blues

Have I mentioned that my all-time favorite musical group is the Moody Blues? No? Well, I don't want to come off sounding like an infatuated teeny-bopper or anything....

I'm not saying that I would walk over my own grandmother (if I had one left) to go see one of their concerts, but I would. Maybe.

The band did a guest spot on The Simpsons (who hasn't?) and parodied one of their songs (but who hasn't?)

[Homer and Ned attempt to flee the hotel casino where they have apparently married a couple women of easy virtue.]

W.O.E.V.: Somebody help! Our husbands are trying to ditch us!

[The word goes out over the P.A. system... Homer and Ned try to make their escape, but run into security guards, Seigfried & Roy lookalikes w/ a tiger (to which Homer exclaims "A lion!"), Drederick Tatum, and finally...]

Homer: [shriek] The Moody Blues!
Graeme Edge: Cold hearted Homer, ditching his wife, while ancient Ned runs for his life.
Justin Hayward: Chips of red and blue and white, but we decide which....
John Lodge: Can the poems, it's ass-whuppin' time.
Ray Thomas [pulling a dagger out of his flute]: I want fatty.

That never fails to crack me up.

Ray Thomas has pretty much retired from the band due to health issues - including gout, an ailment with which I am intimately familiar. He wasn't looking too mobile the last time I saw the band in concert - I thought he might have had a hip or knee replacement. He'll be much missed.

Posted by Russ at 11:41 PM | Comments (3)
Eat, Drink and be Merry

Some (or most, maybe) of you know that Steve H. of Hog on Ice (formerly Little Tiny Lies) has written a cookbook.

To health nuts and food nazis everywhere, it's the Satanic Bible of cookbooks.

OK, maybe that's a bit harsh.

OK, that's definitely too harsh. But accurate. And it got your attention, didn't it?

The book, of course, is Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man: The World's Unhealthiest Cookbook.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wet your pants – this is one excellent read. Steve has been, from the very beginning of my blog awareness, one of the consistenly great daily reads on the 'net. I don't link to him nearly enough.

The book really will make you laugh, too - a lot, and out loud. The recipes are amazing, but the real point of the book is the humor, of which there is plenty. Not that the recipes are to be ignored. No, never that.

The book actually is evil, to a degree. Not once in my life had I ever bought lard – until today, that is. [When one has spent most of one's life overweight to one extent or another, one tends to avoid anything with the word "lard" printed on it in big red block letters.]

Buy the dang book!

Just buy it. Seriously. You'll regret it if you don't... especially if I come knocking on your door demanding proof that you have followed my instructions.
Posted by Russ at 09:05 PM | Comments (8)
Some people know - and care

One of the folks I receive e-mail from, on one of the many mailing lists to which I am subscribed, sent this:

Attached is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago of a movie theater in Fremont [California]. You may know that Fremont has the largest single population of Afghani people outside of Afghanistan.
Actually, I didn't know.

(Click to view larger image)

He concludes:

You won't see this one on the news.
Indeed not. But we – and the Afghan people, over here and over there – know the story.

Posted by Russ at 05:37 PM | Comments (7)
Quote of the Day

Thomas Sowell:

Too many in the media act as if decency is a violation of the First Amendment.
in today's Random Thoughts

Posted by Russ at 02:28 PM
Testing... is this thing on?

Hey... that upgrade was easier than I expected.

Posted by Russ at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)
June 23, 2004

Why can't I see new posts?

Update: OK, now I can. Weird.

Update 2: Apparently, MT is not making my posts viewable right away. Even updates take a while to appear. I probably shouldn't postpone the upgrade, but it's too late tonight to get it done.

Posted by Russ at 09:55 PM
More site work

OK, now I'm going to try upgrading MT to version 3.0.

Wish me luck.

Update: postponed until tomorrow.

Posted by Russ at 09:48 PM
June 22, 2004

So, does it suck? Does anything appear broken?

Those are menu buttons over there on the left column. Go ahead - click one and be amazed.

Let me know what you think of the new design.

Posted by Russ at 09:45 PM | Comments (10)
Site rebuild underway

I have been defeated rebuffed.

I tried to reach too far with the javascript — the cool-neato-wiz-bang stuff I was trying to do as part of the site redesign just ain't gonna work. Not with my paltry level of coding skill.

If you notice oddness during the rest of the day today, it's because I'm implementing the changes I've made to the site. Please feel free to let me know in the comments to this post about any problems you might see.

Posted by Russ at 04:50 PM | Comments (2)
June 21, 2004
You thought 'Anfernee' was bad?

Via Ith of Absinthe & Cookies, we find a website that should be mandatory reading for all parents-to-be: bad baby names.

I don't care what you want to name your baby, a name is not a status symbol. [Any status attached to a baby's name is pretty much limited to your surname, and the reputation — good or bad — you give it.] He or she is the one who will be saddled with a life-long object of ridicule. Have a little consideration, people. Use a spell-checker, I beg of you.

If you're not Welsh and you name your child "Aelwen" I am going to find you and slap the taste out of your mouth.

And don't get me started on apostrophes.

Posted by Russ at 09:32 PM | Comments (6)
Quote of the Day

Congratulations to the folks at Scaled Composites and all involved with today's successful flight of a man into space.

Wretchard of Belmont Club:

The stars were never made for those who refuse to look up; nor are they vouchsafed to those enslaved by ancient hatreds.
Perhaps that is why Americans are leading the way into space. This is what free men can do.

Posted by Russ at 06:29 PM
June 18, 2004
Not getting the message

To: Islamofascist goat-rapers, camel-lovers and paederasts
Re: the murder of Paul Johnson

Apparently you either did not receive or you failed to read my previous memo. I suspect the latter, as your education — such as it is — has obviously left much to be desired.

Either way, you just don't get it.

We as a nation can sustain many individual murders. Each is a tragedy for the family involved. And yet we continue to hold ourselves back from unleashing our full fury. We can still afford to.

But, as I have noted before, our forbearance will not last forever.

Understand me, here: we American people will not long restrain our wrath. It will not take many more such incidents before we will demand that our forces, either military or covert, begin to exact a toll against you that you will not be able to pay but once and for all time.

The manner and method of our response will be of our choosing. You have no say whatsoever in the matter. Continue on the path you are on, and it will not be long before all the things you accuse us of will actually begin to happen.

Your homelands will feel the tread of American boots.

Your families will receive visits by armed men in the middle of the night.

Your homes will be destroyed and your fields sown with salt.

Your governments will be replaced.

You and your comrades, when taken alive, will receive the treatment accorded by the laws of war: interrogation followed by summary execution.

Our mercy and compassion will be reserved only for the children. Our children and, yes, yours. Our future generations. But your children will not be allowed to follow in your ways. You will have no posterity.

And that's if we are successful. If we are unsuccessful, your dreams of a new Caliphate will end in fire.

It's you versus us. We choose us.

Update: an excellent summation at XRLQ.

Update 2: Jeff reports that the perp and a pair of his fellow thugs have been killed. Three down, several hundred thousand (?) to go.

Posted by Russ at 04:54 PM
A final tribute

I have been most remiss in failing to point to the latest from the Imperial Poet Laureate, DoggerelPundit, and his paean to Ronald Reagan.

Posted by Russ at 04:20 PM
Quote of the Day
Many Democrats think that Republicans are rich, powerful, gun-toting thugs. Let's remind them that those are great reasons not to piss us off.
Frank J., of IMAO
Posted by Russ at 12:59 PM

Politically, I count myself a strong conservative, with some libertarian tendencies. Getting government's hand out of my wallet would be an exceptionally good thing. Consistent with protecting the country against danger to our existence and protecting citizens from the depredations of homegrown miscreants, I am generally a government minimalist.

There's a reason, though, that I am not now nor will in the foreseeable future be a "big-L" Libertarian. Actually, there are quite a few reasons. The Libertarian Party has taken some stands that I find to be less than responsible, particularly with regard to the war on Islamofascism. Apparently, they'd rather we take a punch in the face before reacting, rather than preemptively shooting the terrorists while they wind up to deliver the punch. The Libertarians are not serious about ensuring our national survival.

They are ambiguous on the issue of abortion. While they (rightly) decry government funding of abortions, they seem to have no particular problem with abortion itself. How this squares with the rights of an unborn child is beyond my comprehension.

Then there's the Libertarian Party position on drugs.

Well, it's not so much a position as a sword upon which they repeatedly fall. They then get up, brush themselves off, and repeat. They wonder why no one takes them seriously.

Here's a hint, guys: when the issue you are consistently loudest about is the one that tells people you are a pack of raving stoners, you are not going to win many hearts and minds, nor do well at the polls. You can beat that drum all the live-long day, but people aren't going to dance to it.

(Well, they may try, but if they do they will be jerky and uncoordinated, will have fits of giggling for no readily identifiable reason and will occasionally wander off, muttering to themselves, to get some Twinkies™.)

Hence, I can sympathize with Neal Boortz when he notes:

I believe to this day that if individualism, freedom, economic liberty and constitutional government are to be restored and preserved in the United States it will be the libertarianism, if not the Libertarian Party, that gets the save. The way the party is playing right now, that save looks in doubt.
I think that's just about right.

Posted by Russ at 11:19 AM | Comments (1)
June 17, 2004
Site transformation

I've updated and re-worked my blogrolls (over there on the right, on the main page) in preparation for the impending site upgrade.

As part of the site rebuild, I'm trying to get links from blogrolling.com to be parsed into an HTML unordered list. My Perl kung-fu is pretty weak as yet, but I've finished the scripts to read in the input directly from blogrolling.com. Now I just have to parse it out properly and write it all to files (one file per separate blogroll).

And by the way, if in the past you've not paid attention to the blogs I link to, I recommend them all... though perhaps not all in one sitting.

Posted by Russ at 10:14 PM
Movable Type final followup

In response to the deluge of whining snivelling complaining that followed the original announcement of the licensing scheme for MT 3.0, the folks at SixApart have surrendered announced a restructuring of the licenses.

It is pretty much everything I had hoped for.

Dang... so now I have to upgrade and do my redesign. Work, work, work.

Posted by Russ at 04:04 PM | Comments (1)
She does, so I don't have to

Michelle Malkin takes the Wall Street Journal to task over their editorial stance (and today's editorial column) in favor of illegal open immigration.

The WSJ is so strongly opposed to immigration reform (specifically, anything that would restrict the number of illegals flowing across our borders), you could be forgiven for thinking the editorial offices at the WSJ were staffed by day-laborers picked up from a street corner in New Jersey every morning.

Posted by Russ at 03:45 PM
You want it, you got it

It was only a matter of time, I suppose:

     Hackers unleash mobile phones virus

I see no fundamental difference between this behavior, and that of terrorists who blow up oil pipelines.

There's a great deal of irony in the fact that the people who take the most delight in technological vandalism and destruction are themselves most dependent on the various technologies they attack. [Can you picture those losers earning a living by the sweat of their brows? No, neither can I.]

It's as if they are engaging in endless nihilistic bouts of "suicide by proxy."

Let's remove that "by proxy" from the equation. "Shoot on sight" would seem to be the most reasonable policy for dealing with these vermin. It seems to be what they want.

Posted by Russ at 12:36 PM
June 15, 2004
Quote of the Day

Steve H., of Hog on Ice (a.k.a. Little Tiny Lies), on stem-cell research:

But I'd rather die in a diaper than let a doctor puree someone else's brain in order to help me. After all, to me, this life is just an appetizer, and the meal comes later.
Count me in on that sentiment — 100%, all the way.

Posted by Russ at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)
Change of Venue

It seems the Dems want to move their convention... though not without a bit of arguement from Law Enforcement:

Police Dispute Mars Dem Convention Plans
Who writes these headlines?

Update: Woo-hoo! I got it into today's Best of the Web!

Posted by Russ at 09:39 AM | Comments (2)
Memo to FoxNews

To: FoxNews.com
Subject: Site Design

I'm a big fan of FoxNews, and have been from Day 1. Indeed, at 6'8", I may very well be one of your biggest fans. You provide an invaluable service.


I have seen your new website main page design.

It sucks.

Not it could use a little bit of work sucks.

Not someone must have missed a design meeting or two sucks, nor a forget the useability tests, we don't need 'em sucks.

Not even wow, our concept was flawed from the beginning sucks.

I'm talking about 30 solar masses' worth of Hoover™ vacuum cleaners collapsing inwards to form a black hole sucks. I mean industrial- and astronomical-grade suckage.

It appears you have given the keys to your web server to a pack of hyperactive highschool sophomore "Web Design 101" students. Students who also happen to be colorblind. And on crack.


I say this not only because I dislike the design on first sight, but also because for a number of years I have been a website architecture, navigation and design professional, with an emphasis on methods of providing content clearly, easily and accurately.

[This is what I used to be responsible for. I'll bet it gets more pageviews every day than your site does.]

Because I am not one to criticize without offering suggestions, I have a few tips for your design crew:

  1. Make reading Web Pages That Suck mandatory for your web team. It's not Holy Writ, but it's definitely useful.

  2. Don't intersperse your content with advertising banners throughout the page -- cluster the ads off to the side.

  3. Speaking of "off to the side," in my current browser at a screen resolution of 1280x1024 there is a whole lot of wasted screen real estate off to the right. Consider using CSS, or even a percentage for the value of the width="xx" attribute in the <table> tags to define the screen area used, instead of fixed-width tables.

  4. Consider stripping the ads from your main page altogether, and limiting their placement to a banner and/or sidebar on each individual "content" page.

  5. Don't have multiple instances of the same item on the page (such as the market data listed at the top of the page and then again halfway down.)

  6. Lose the background image. No one can see it, and it just wastes bandwidth, particularly for users with dialup connections. I know, I know -- it's not a huge image, byte-wise, but trust me on this.

  7. Consider a permanent ban on pictures of Michael Moore. They only serve to nauseate your readers.
On the "plus" side, at least I don't see you using any <blink> tags. So maybe there's hope, after all.

I hope you'll take these critiques in the same spirit in which they are offered.


[h/t Spoons.]

Posted by Russ at 09:19 AM | Comments (6)
June 14, 2004
Site Redesign, continued


[Insert sound of Russ beating his head on the keyboard.]

So close, and yet so far. I really need to learn more about Javascript.

Posted by Russ at 05:41 PM
June 11, 2004
Quote of the Day
With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today the world - in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev and in Moscow itself - the world mourns the passing of the Great Liberator and echoes his prayer "God Bless America". [Emphases mine - Russ]
Baroness Thatcher, eulogy for Ronald Reagan
Posted by Russ at 02:04 PM
Burn, Baby, Burn

Since the flamethrower incident last week, I've worn a bandage on my hand, putting on a fresh batch of antibiotic & gauze each day. I could tell it was healing nicely, so yesterday I left the bandage off. The scars of the scorching were still there (they aren't really too awful), and the skin was still a bit tender, but the blistering appeared to have gone away. That antibiotic ointment had really done the trick.

I went out to give the lawn a much-overdue mowing. It was a beautiful sunny day, temperature around 85°. Took maybe 45 minutes or so.

Apparently, however, it's not a good idea to expose recently-scorched skin to the sun. Big ugly blisters had sprung back up, so it's back to the bandage for me.


Well, at least I can still cook a fresh batch of barbecue. It's a bigger piece of pig than I usually cook, in the brine since last night. I'll start the fire shortly and let it smoke for a couple hours longer than usual.

Steve is cooking today, too. I have got to meet the man sometime; even though he uses an electric smoker, I imagine we could trade ideas on good barbecue.

Time to go get the fire lit....

Posted by Russ at 09:50 AM | Comments (7)
June 10, 2004
Site Redesign

The site redesign beautification project I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is nearly complete, despite not having a bunch of time to do it in. (It could have been done in a day or two, but I had to get my Photoshop/GIMP "chops" up to speed.) I still have a few tweaks to make, a feature or two I'm trying to get working, but I'll try to roll it out within the week.

[Anyone out there know how to get a blogroll to display in a mouse-over popup menu?]

I can assure you that the dark-red-text-on-black-background color scheme was rejected out of hand.

Posted by Russ at 07:56 AM | Comments (4)

I had no idea my Ted Rall rant would get so much attention.

I wish my terrorist memo had been as widely read.

Hmm... a blogging strategy is beginning to develop in the back of my mind....

Posted by Russ at 07:51 AM
June 08, 2004
Note to Ted Rall


I saw what you had to say about Pat Tillman. I have read what you wrote with regard to the late President.

I have seen entirely too much of you. I suspect I am not alone in this assessment.

You should consider yourself fortunate in two respects you may not have previously been aware of:

  1. As I live nowhere near any place you might frequent, the odds of me encountering you in the street are vanishingly small.

  2. I have no idea what you look like.
Were I to encounter and recognize you, the remainder of your sojourn on this earth would be measurable in seconds, not minutes.

I would cheerfully snap your twig-like neck, and spit in your face as you struggle and fail to draw your last breath while the world goes forever dark before your eyes.

If you were to show up at my front door with an angry mob at your heels, I would let you in - so that I could do the mob's work for them.

But I don't hate you Ted.

That may be a difficult concept for you to grasp. As full of hate as you are, you probably cannot imagine that other people don't perpetually seethe. You drown in your own bile every day and you don't even know that, inside, you are as dead as the last Dodo.

I hold you in contempt. I despise your works. I revile your beliefs and until my dying day will work to defeat them.

But I don't hate you. No.

I pity you.

I pity you as I would pity any poor, dumb animal that were sick or injured, mindlessly hurting itself and all others around it.

As with a rabid dog that simultaneously suffers, and endangers others, I would be inclined to put you down with hardly a second thought.

And if it were ever to happen thus, and I were called to account for it, I would suffer my punishment gladly, knowing I had put a pathetic, wretched creature out of its — and our — misery.

But it'll never happen - see items 1 and 2 above.

Get some psychiatric help, Ted. It can't hurt, it might do some good, and if nothing else, the hours you spend with a competent psychiatric professional will be hours in which you do no harm.

I think this is what is meant by a "Red Curtain of Blood" moment. I'd be tempted, but no, I wouldn't actually harm Ted. Not permanently, anyway. But the rest of what I say stands.

As an exercise in catharsis, this has been quite ameliorative. I'm feeling much better now.

Posted by Russ at 07:37 AM | Comments (27)
June 06, 2004
D-Day +60 Years

Blackfive has everything you need, to remember D-Day.

"The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Posted by Russ at 11:04 AM
June 05, 2004
Ronald W. Reagan, 1911-2004

I grew up in California; Ronald Reagan was the first governor I remember.

Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. (January 7, 1970)
Heaven help us if government ever gets into the business of protecting us from ourselves. (April 12, 1973)
All who have led California since are but pale shadows of his greatness.

My formative years were years when America seemed to be on the decline. While I was in elementary school, the Vietnam War raged. As I began junior high school, a president was forced from office, and his successor had to deal with crisis after crisis. During my high school years, Carter was in the White House, the economy was in shambles, the military was falling apart, and there seemed to be no hope of improvement. The Soviet empire was expanding unchecked.

There was little good news about anything, from anywhere.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that changed. All of it.

I caught my first hint of optimism as a freshman at Wheaton College. The campaign leading up to the 1980 presidential election, the first in which I was eligible to vote, had caught my attention because of my former governor's candidacy.

Then he made a campaign stop and speech at my small midwestern college.

What is it that Americans truly want, for themselves and for their country? . . . All we want is to live in freedom and in peace, to see to it that our nation's legitimate interests are protected and promoted. We want to see our children have at least the opportunities we had for advancement or maybe even better.

We want to worship God in our own way, lead our own lives, take care of our families and live in our own style, in our own community, without hurting anyone or anyone hurting us. We want the kind of personal security human beings can reasonably expect in a system of economic freedom and democratic self-government. And, yes, we want to bring the blessings of peace and progress and freedom to others. (October 8, 1980)

I was hooked.

On the occasion of his birthday this year, I recalled my encounter with Mr. Reagan on that day he came to our college. I deeply regret that I have no photo of that moment. My parents met him a decade later, and did get a photo.

I recall Mr. Reagan's election and inauguration as a time of ever increasing optimism. We had a man in the White House who was clearly determined to shake off the malaise of the previous years and to stiffen the spine of American resolve in the face of the greatest threat we had ever faced.

We cannot escape our destiny nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. (Jan 25, 1974)
No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. (First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981)
The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It is the same difference between a jacket and a straight-jacket. (December 10, 1986)
Our cause is still, as it was then, the cause of human freedom. (Jan 30, 1986)
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (June, 1987)

It wasn't only in matters of defense and foreign relations that Ronald Reagan encouraged Americans. When he took office, the economy was in tatters. I well remember working part time in a bank when I was in high school, and seeing interest rates in the teens and even low twenties. Unemployment was in the double-digits. Gold was selling for over $800 an ounce.

Reagan took office and, with the help of a rightward-shifted congress that followed on his coattails, began his program of economic reforms.

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing. (October 27, 1964)
Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp. (October 27, 1964)
We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions - even their own mistakes. (Feb 7, 1977)
The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much. (Frequent saying.)
For many years now we have preached 'the gospel,' in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism. (March 1, 1975)
Every dollar spent by government is a dollar earned by individuals. Government must always ask: Are your dollars being wisely spent? Can we afford it? Is it not better for the country to leave your dollars in your pocket? (Feb 7, 1977)

Always, always, always his theme -- and his dream -- was Freedom.

We should never forget that, and always try to live up to his ideal of an America that stands as "a shining city on a hill," a beacon of freedom to people around the world.

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
We have every right to dream heroic dreams.

Farewell, Ronald Reagan

Posted by Russ at 09:57 PM | Comments (4)
June 04, 2004
Mocking My Pain

After the "flamethrower incident" Tuesday, I expected a bit of sympathy from my family.

Mom was sympathetic, but I thought I detected an "I raised an idiot" undertone when I spoke to her on the phone.

Then yesterday, I opened my front door to discover that a package from my brother & sister-in-law had been delivered. Omaha Steaks. The sort of thing that must be grilled.

My own brother mocks me.

The little brother who should respect and admire me for too many reasons to mention here. Young whelp. No respect for his elders, none at all....

I'll show him, though. I'm not giving up my love affair with charcoal-fueled cooking... and as I chow down on those steaks, I'll have the last laugh! Muhwahahaha!

[Thanks for the nice gift, Brad & Holly.]

Posted by Russ at 06:10 PM | Comments (1)

I've often said that official policies are intended to substitute for rational thought. This is not to say that leader-generated policies are necessarily ridiculous, but when you let bureaucratic hacks and lawyers into the policy-making process, there is little or no check on their pettifogging micromanagement of the lives, behaviors and activities of the people subject to their dictates.

Am I wrong? Consider some of the policies that have issued forth from the HR department at your place of employment.

Consider also the ridiculous "zero-tolerance" policies so prevalent in public schools today. Were it not for an "official policy," perhaps the people in charge in the following situations might have acted differently:

A sixth-grader gets suspended because of a science project. The project involved cutting an onion. He brought a kitchen knife to school. Bad sixth-grader.
A third-grader has a brother serving in the Army in Afghanistan. The proud third-grader draws a picture of his brother. The drawing shows his brother with a gun. Suspended.
(Examples lifted from today's Neil Boortz column.)

These policies are ridiculous in the most literal sense of the word.

In certain cases, "well-meaning" bureaucrats came up with these policies after a few highly-publicized school shootings, as if laws against murder didn't already exist. As if a law is going to stop someone intent on doing mischief or harm. As if a "policy" is going to scare miscreants into behaving.

Boortz approaches the problem from a different angle than I do - his concern is with the effect of these policies. He didn't intend to address the root cause of the problem.

So why these policies? One word: lawsuits.

The Law used to be a (mostly) noble profession. In many respects, it remains so. I could point you to lawyers I know who maintain the highest ethical standards, and who provide valuable service, whether it is negotiating a contract or drawing up a will.

Sadly, too many lawyers these days look at the "Esquire" after their names as licenses to print money. Something should be done.

I burned my hand pretty badly the other day, but one thought never crossed my mind: who can I sue, and how much can I get?

Perhaps I need to have a zero-tolerance policy for charcoal and bourbon.

Posted by Russ at 04:11 PM
June 02, 2004
Playing With Fire

Yesterday I fired up my smoker. The pork shoulder was brined and seasoned/rubbed, the weather was perfect, and I had a real hankerin' for barbecue.

About an hour into the cooking, I noticed that smoke was not issuing forth as it ought to have done. A glance at the thermometer showed the temperature was falling. So naturally, I grabbed a handful of hardwood charcoal chunks and opened the hatch.

Ever see the movie "Backdraft"?

The charcoal and wood-chunk fire had apparently been starved of oxygen (I later realized that I had not opened the vents. Dumb mistake.) Meanwhile, flammable fumes had apparently built up in the smoker... helped, I would imagine, by alcohol from the bourbon added (for flavor, of course) to the water pan inside.

I opened the hatch... letting in the aforementioned oxygen.

For just a fraction of a second, flame shot out of the opening. Even as brief as it was, it resembled the exhaust of an F-14's jet engine on afterburner. Fire like that could have done some damage if it had been directed at something flammable.

Fortunately, my hand was in the right place to keep the flame from escaping into the wild.

Result: almost no hair left on my arm. Oh, and there's also the little matter of first and second degree burns on my hand and wrist.

Everything I know, I learned in the Army[1]. My old drill sergeant would have been proud of me as I applied my first-aid training. Either that, or he'd have been berating me as an idiot, I'm not sure which... but I probably deserved both.

So now I'm keeping my hand smeared in antibiotics and bandaged up. What a nuisance. This post took nearly an hour to type.

But the barbecue was amazing.

[1] Yes, everything.

Posted by Russ at 08:05 PM | Comments (5)