Friday, April 20, 2007

BIG Hiatus This Time

I haven't been blogging for the past 6 weeks because I've been writing for a magazine, Barcelona Metropolitan, that actually pays. It's been piecemeal in getting started with these guys, but suddenly I've got 7 articles due for them and more on the way. And there's just not enough time to do other things. Also, I've been thinking that if I'm going to have any success with this blogging business, I got to specialize in something. Otherwise, people just won't come in numbers.

If there's anybody out there who still follows this blog and would like to see what I've been up to, here are some of my latest articles, tailored to the magazine. Some are okay, some might be boring unless you live in Barcelona.

I'll be back soon, probably.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Society - Jack LaLanne Running for His Life

Everybody always knew Jack LaLanne was a poseur, a wannabe ... a mama's boy. But now, at 92 years old, he's showing just what a yellow wimp he really is. Challenged by 91-year-old Roland Fortin to a "gentleman's match" in the boxing ring, LaLanne's response is no response. Ducking his head in the sand, he's hoping that the whole business will just blow over. Or that Fortin will simply die before he's forced to actually man up or pussy out.

Well, you're not fooling us, "Mister Juice Tiger." We see exactly what you're about, pally. Afraid of a 91-year-old man. More than likely, those pecs are silicone.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Politics - Hypocrisy Revealed

So it turns out the aptly-named reptile, Newt Gingrich, was getting extramarital blowjobs from a House aide while he led the charge against Clinton for getting extra-marital blowjobs from a White House intern. Aside from the mental picture of Newt's cum-face, the most disparaging aspect is that there is no true punishment for this $80 million hypocrisy. Newt made his confession to a group of conservative Christians, stating that he "has fallen far short of God's standards." And that makes it all okay for right-wing Christians. "As long as you invoke God into your sins, you're a Christian man. And that's good enough for us." Such carte blanche by religious zealots is exactly why only atheists should be allowed to be politicians.

Someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum away. Better sooner than later.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Politics - Libby Guilty, Will Go Free

I don't think anybody doubts that Libby will never see the inside of a prison. If his appeal doesn't get drawn out to the next century, Bush will simply pardon him. In any event, if by some miracle he should be sentenced and not pardoned, he's looking at 1 - 3 years for treason, though nobody has the balls to actually charge him with Treason. One to three years, when somebody selling a nickel-bag of weed can get banged up for 20 years or more.

Speaking of no balls, why isn't anybody going after Bush and his boss, Cheney? Does anybody doubt for a second that they were involved? For christ's sake. Clinton gets taken to the cleaners for a blowjob, and these pricks get away with murder. Yes, murder. Over a hundred thousand people are dead because of their false pretexts for war, a CIA agent's life was jeopardized, the American Intelligence community was compromised in a time of war. And BushCo gets a free ride.

That's why I hate the Democrats nearly as much as I do the Republicans. While the GOP may be evil incarnate, the Democrats have absolutely zero balls. No teeth. No conviction. Bush and Cheney are every bit as guilty as Scooter, but our "democratic process" allows the pantomime of a fallguy.

Them's me two bits. Rant over.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Blogging - John Chow Wants You to Make Money

The word out there is that there is a lot of money to be made from blogging. But you just have to know how. Well, John Chow is here to tell you all the tricks. This self-described internet mogul reports that his blog went from earning $352.94 his first month last September to $7011.05 in February of 2007. And he's not just gloating, either. He's willing to share all his secrets.

Making Money from a Blog breaks down the sources of John's revenue and links to all the little tricks that will get your blog up there in the big leagues. And like anything else, there is no free lunch. The methods that he describes take time and dedication, but the end result will at least get you a really nice lunch, the kind whose bill of $1,ooo doesn't suddenly make you feel nauseous.

However, no matter how arduously and diligently you follow the steps that he outlines, there is one basic rule that limits the number of moguls in the high-dollar blogger club: Content is Key.

Not everybody can write well, not everybody has the feel for what topics will attract a high number of visitors to a blog, not everybody has the artistic and technical know-how to make their blog visually appealing to more than just a few confederates in their particular aesthetic esoterica. That's something for which one needs talent and/or training.

For example, this blog: I already know how to write. However, my varied interests prevent me from establishing a specialized niche that reaches out to a specific sector. The appearance is fine, but it's something that appeals to my taste (which some describe as Baroque), not to a broader market. And the two hard, long weeks that I spent learning how to program in order to achieve this look were a nightmare to which I hope never to return. I don't imagine myself ever earning much from blogging. One, after all, has to respect their own limitations.

And I imagine that most people --before they invest the hundreds of hours that John's methods require-- should take careful stock of the situation. For many, blogging is just a means to socialize, propagandize and express themselves. While dollar signs are apt to shine in all of our eyes, it's important to embrace our reasons for doing things. John is definitely in it for the money. And more power to him. He does what he does well and he creates content that appeals to the masses.

I suppose that one of these days, I just might try to emulate him. But in a cool way.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Society - Ann Coulter, Again

Well, this jerk just loves to get attention for herself, no matter how. Little Whore-bag Annie made the headlines yet again by making stupid and offensive comments, this time at the Conservative Political Action Conference. To wit, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Her reference was to Grey's Anatomy star, Isaiah Washington, who called one of his co-stars a faggot and subsequently checked into rehab after a public outcry by the gay community. I have to admit, the whole checking into rehab thing is absolutely ridiculous, but it's unfortunate that a cunt like Ann Coulter has to be the only one who brings attention to the zeitgeist of such an exagerrated form of mea culpa.

If I were a fag, I'd probably be offended too by the typical uses of the word. Therefore, it's only with compassion, empathy, respect and common sense that I don't throw the word around like I did in high school. But, that said, I do have pleasant memories of the recent past, when Bill and Ted (remember them?) could hug each other, suddenly push apart, and say, "Fag." The joke was more on them than on gays.

But, alas, such days of free speech are long past. Marketing basically dictates what public performance can and cannot say. And Annie, being the dinosaur that she is, can't help but make an ass of herself. Though, one has to admit, being an ass is exactly what sells her books and makes her a saught after public speaker. She obviously knows what she's doing, at least economically.

But one day, Annie's going to develope a cancer or something. She'll wither away into a semblance of the whining liberals that she disdains so much. And more than likely, nobody will give a rat's ass. So, while she may fill her bank account by acting like an insensitive bitch, in the long run she is, and will be, poorer than the schizophrenic nut on the corner who shouts "Jew!" and "Nigger!" at passing cars. To hell with her.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Language - Did I Just Say That Out Loud?

There are words or expressions for just about everything in the human experience. The beauty of English is that if we haven't got it, we steal it from another language and make it our own. That's one reason why English is considered the most precise language in existence. Some examples:

  • NULLIBIST n. One who denies the existence of the soul in space.
  • PROSOPOPEIA n. A rhetorical introduction of an imagined speaker. "If this bed could talk ..."
  • DISCISSION n. Sticking a needle in the eye.
  • DEFENESTRATE v. To throw a person through a window.
  • HORRESCO REFERENS n. Exhibiting horror from a memory.
  • OMPHALOSKEPSIS n. Contemplation of one's navel.
  • GYNOTIKOLOBOMASSOPHILE n. Someone who likes to nibble on a woman's earlobe.
But there is one sensation that I have never been able to find a word for:

That embarrassed feeling one has when uncertain if they have just spoken a thought out loud, usually while deep in thought in a public space

I once thought that it was something unique to me, just a quirk of personality, or a side-effect from past experimentation with LSD. But I've discovered through various conversations that it's a feeling quite common among people. Yet, nobody has a word for it.

Over the years, when the curiosity has returned from a long absence, I've sent the occasional email to a language expert, searched reverse dictionaries, and when all that failed, I even tried to construct it from word stems. Here are some of my efforts:

  • proloquor dubium
  • erubescundus in oratorius ambiguito
  • verecundor in quam oratorio
  • andabatic excogitation
  • uncertain mental encopresis
  • deja logorrhea malnoia
  • possible schizophrenia
  • fucking nuts

I'll say right off the bat that my Latin sucks. Probably the grammatical constructions above are way off. Still, I like the sound of proloquor dubium. Andabatic excogitation is okay as well. But uncertain mental encopresis has an expressive quality that endears. Encopresis means, "unintentional defecation." Nice.

I'd like to make this post a call to arms for any wordsmiths or etymologists out there who might take a jab at this. Does the concept I'm describing already exist in speech? Is there a better way of describing it than what I've attempted above? By all means, please share. Let's make history together. If Dan Savage can create a neoligism for santorum, we can fill an equally important gap in the language. Make it happen, cap'ns.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Culture - The Legacy of Franco

Catalunya probably suffered the worst during the Franco years. El Caudillo had a special paranoid hatred in his heart for what for centuries had been considered the most cultural and enlightened region of Spain. Aside from the region forming the bastion of The Republic during the war, it was also against the social advances authored by Catalans that Franco staged his military rebellion. And for this reason, in the post-war years up until the death of the dictator, Catalans were subjugated to particularly harsh suppression. Place names were changed --for example, Sant Cugat became San Cucufato-- people speaking their mother tongue were subject to beatings by the Guardia Civil, fines and arrest.

Of course, it wasn't only Catalunya who suffered. Anybody overheard criticizing the dictatorship or even some innocuous element in the system was likely to simply disappear. Over the course of two generations, this began to have a profound effect on the mentality of the population. And this effect can be seen today in the lack of motivation for an essential economic change. The general attitude in the population is, "Keep your head low, keep quiet, don't rock the boat."

A good illustration of this can be made in comparing the country to France. The French are very quick to go on strike and protest in order to safeguard their own economic dignity. But not so in Spain. In a country where the cost of buying or renting a home has tripled in the past 8 years, where the cost of basic necessities has doubled while the average income has grown only 2 or 3% per year, people discuss and complain about the problem in private, but nobody hits the streets en masse to rectify the situation.

A typical salary here can run between €600 and €1,400 per month. But the cost of a flat begins at €500. The situation is in stasis, because those who are older purchased their homes before the spike in housing. And those who are 30 years old or younger still live with their parents. Nobody is happy about the situation, but nobody is willing to do anything about it either. My boss, for example, has increased her prices over 50% in the past few years, but this increase doesn't reflect any investment in facilities or salaries. In other words, it all goes in her pocket. And the other employees, Spaniards, prefer not to complain openly to the boss. They prefer to go about their job without lios. It's a very typical attitude here.

But what's curious about this attitude is that it was the very opposite before the Civil War. People fought hard in order to gain social and economic dignity. Protests were as common as milk wagons on the street. Pamphlets and newspapers were published with enormous headlines in harsh rhetoric, full of exclamation points. But no more. The people have been cowed. And most of them don't realize it or even know why. Es así, is the phrase du jour. It's like that. Very Zen, very Taoist. But, it's also reminsicent of the old adage, "If you act like a victim, you will be victimized."

One thing is certain: The situation will not remain viable much longer. When young people eventually move out of their parents' homes and begin looking for their own apartments, and they discover just how impossible it is to survive with the shit salaries that are being paid, there will be a demand for drastic change. The economy, while stable now, will eventually suffer a profound paradigm shift. Something volatile is on the horizon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

War - Where Are the Killer Dolphins?

Cathy Sorbo recently wrote about the military's use of animals to battle "aquaterrorism." And it reminded me of an interesting story that blew out of Hurricane Katrina. Thirty-six killer dolphins, armed with deadly darts allegedly escaped their enclosure during the hurricane and were roaming the Gulf of Mexico.

Though it was reported in The Observer, a casual inquiry is difficult for establishing the verity of the story. A quick Google search found the original article, but also a plethora of sites, such as Snopes, which claim that it was all a hoax.

Unfortunately, my current internet research skills impede me in establishing the actual truth, as well as filtering through the thousands of search hits to find the outcome of the tale. Any suggestions on how to efficiently get to the bottom of this would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, true or not, it's a great story.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Society - Obsessed With Guilt

Ten years ago, when I lived in Korea, a friend shared with me his observations about the differences between Occidental and Oriental cultures. One of the most important, he noted from his experiences working with various corporations, is that in the West, when there is a problem of some kind, the first thing people do is try and establish who is to blame for the problem. In the East, the first thing they do is try and fix the problem. In general, people have faith that the one responsible will not only be aware of their culpability, but will also be conscious that others will be aware of it too. And it wasn't until my Asian friend pointed this out to me that --in my experiences over there-- I recognized it to be true.

That's not the case in Europe and the Americas. An anecdotal example of this happened to me just this past Friday at work. I showed up on my day off in order to collect some papers and prepare a fax that needed to be sent for my visa application. Unfortunately, my boss, who never works on Fridays, had failed to leave two very important papers. I informed the secretary of the problem, adding that it was urgent that this fax be sent out that very day. And, instead of looking through the files to find the necessary papers, she began asking me why I didn't make sure the boss had left the papers for me.

Feeling somewhat on the defensive, I mentioned the list of three items I'd given the boss, that it was very clear and that it was she who had only provided one of these items. "Yes, but why didn't you make sure of this yesterday?" the boss' right-hand woman insisted. It went back and forth like this for a long minute: Me claiming that I had done what was necessary and her asking the same question over and over.

It was aggravating, and I took a long breath to keep my cool. This was going nowhere, so I decided to change tack. I pointed out that whatever happened --or failed to happen-- the previous day was in the past and not relevant now. More important was the fact that these papers are missing and that we needed them at that very moment. "This is what we should be thinking about now," I added with finality.

She blinked, somewhat disconcerted. Then, after a pause, she said, "Yes, but why didn't you take care of this yesterday?"

Now, I'm a passionate man, but I recognize that in difficult moments this passion can cause me to act like a prick. So, experience has taught me to curb my reflexes and not go on the attack. At least, that is, when I want or need something from my nemesis. Thankfully I was able to suppress whatever words were clawing to escape my throat. But in moments like these, when that surge of anger and adrenaline make my face burn and my eyes rattle, when the room itself seems to tremble, it's impossible for me to be completely silent. A quick mental calculation chose a self-effacing yet sarcastic response: "Because I'm stupid. Okay? Is that what you want to hear?"

I thought it was benign enough. But she didn't. The end result was an emotional rant from an unstable secretary, no aid in securing the papers, and a wasted 6 months of aggravating preparation for this moment. Not only that, but my boss runs the risk of paying a €30,000 fine for having an undocumented employee. This is what happens when irrelevant pursuits get the best of us.

Perhaps it's all the Judeo-Christian crap that is our inheritance, this Jonathon Edwards bullshit that invests so much importance on culpability. But, criminy, what a senseless waste of thought and energy. One could say that the secretary where I work is a jerk, or was just in a bad mood or whatever. But if you think about it, she behaved very typically for people in Europe and the Americas. If she were a person who had behaved in the opposite manner, by leaping on the problem and trying to solve it rather than establishing who was responsible for the mess, she would be remarkable for having an enlightened character. Yet, in the East, such enlightenment is more the rule than the exception.

We have a lot to learn over here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Online Tests - Career Self-Assessment

My original intention was to direct readers to the site for career enhancement personality tests. But, it turns out that Monster doesn't offer the same tests that they did some years ago. Apparently the Myers-Briggs/Kiersey mafia has decided that there's too much money to be made instead of offering the tests free. But here's a site that links to many of the tests for free. Worth trying out if you're interested in a career change, or even getting started on a career.

Personally, I found them remarkably accurate. For example, one suggestion was that I should go into animation. I actually took their advice a few years ago and shelled out three grand for an animation school. Though I was considerably older than most of the other students, my natural abilities surpassed them in most every respect.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong school --probably because I had been smitten by the receptionist. The teachers were excellent professional animators who had no idea how to teach, and the demo reel that I was promised to have at the end of the course never materialized. Money lost, career put on hold. And I never got more than a lunch date out of the receptionist.

But don't let my unfortunate experience discourage you from trying these tests. If you feel lost and don't know which way to go --career-wise-- try out these tests. It just might change your life for the better.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Society - Reborn Babies

Now this is pretty sick.

If you're the parent of a still-born child, which option would you choose? a) Grieve? b) Rejoice? c) Have a Plastic Likeness of Your Child Made, Complete With Beating Heart and Pulsing Veins?

In a new twist on just how warped our species is, option c) is now a real possibility. The Daily Mail reports on this new trend that many aggrieved parents are embracing. The five stages of grief have traditionally been described as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. But many unsuccessful breeders are miring themselves in stage one by accepting their denial. They contract a UK company, Reborn Baby, to re-create their dead baby in order to ease their loss.

In the interests of taste and compassion, I will summarize my opinion in one word: Pitiful.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Television - The Winner

Not long ago, I recommended an online film called, The Old Negro Space Program, written, produced and directed by a "man" named Andy Bobrow, who also wrote for Malcolm in the Middle. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Well, I got an email from Andy today, touting a new show that he's writing for Fox. Here's what he has to say:

Last spring I was fortunate enough to get hired to help write a new show on Fox called “The Winner.” It stars Rob Corddry, of "The Daily Show" fame. And I swear to you, I am proud to be a part of it. We all believe we have captured lightning in a bottle with this show. Even my mom laughed at the pilot, and she hates television.

The show premiers on March 4th on Fox. But they are taking the unprecedented step of putting full episodes online before the premiere. They want to create “buzz,” and I want them to have all the frickin' buzz they can get. If the show launches well, I get to keep my job.

So please go to <> and watch a few episodes. I recommend the first two, “Single Dates,” and “What Happens in Albany.”

I haven't seen it yet, but I don't doubt it's worth checking out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Author's Note - Another Hiatus

A week has passed without any posts. Sorry about that. A baby with high fever from a throat infection plus an article past its deadline made for a prioritizing decision to put the blog on hold.

Actually, it was kind of nice to step back from it. I started wondering if this is something I really need or want to do on a daily basis. The original idea was to improve my writing by meeting a daily deadline and, hopefully, generate a little extra income through this AdSense NonSense. The former has come to fruition, for sure. Three months of steady writing has taught me how to cut out the bullshit that fills the work of an aspiring and amateurish writer. And I'm sure that three more months will improve my technique far more. So, at least in that respect, there's a reason to continue.

As far as generating revenue, I see that the most successful blogs are either by writers who already have a fan base established (Rude Pundit) or by bloggers who have a near-obsessive specialization in their content (Mind Hacks). Unfortunately I'm a nobody --in the grand scheme of writers and readers-- and my interests are far too varied to be content with just a single theme; an anthropology professor impressed that idea into my malleable young mind at university when he came in to class the first day and said iconically, "Specialization leads to extinction."

This, I suppose, could partially explain how I could arrive at my 40th journey around the sun without having altered my quality of life much from when I was 25. It's good to stay young, sure. But it sucks to be poor. Thus, I wonder how much time I should continue to invest in the blogosphere when I can be free-lancing articles that pay --however boring they may be at times.

It does feel on occasion like I'm flying, when I get going on something that unleashes a modicum of passion but that, also, most magazines wouldn't want to publish; and it's nice when my Statcounter soars to 140+ hits in a single day. But it's a lot of work, too. And gratification, while it may put a smile on my face, doesn't pay for a decent vacation --which, if memory serves me correctly, puts an even greater smile on my face.

Oy vey. What to do. Guess I'll just keep pegging away at it, without expecting any ka-ching! to come of it. Perhaps I'm just feeling a tad cynical today. Half a bottle of absinthe can really dry out the happy hormones one day later. Hoo-boy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sport - Underwater Rugby

It's been around for nearly fifty years, is played in dozens of countries, yet very few people have heard of it. Unfortunately, the conditions aren't ideal for spectators, but if they were, Underwater Rugby would probably be a lot more popular.

Here's an article I wrote that came out this month in Barcelona Metropolitan magazine.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Society - Ann Coulter Deconstructed

Ann Coulter Deconstructed is a Flash commentary I made back around August and have only recently remembered that it's floating around out there in Internetland. Even though the events that it addresses have since passed, it still seems pertinent today.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cool Websites - The Internet Archive

The Internet Achive is an impressive collection of documents, audio, music and moving images, available for free to everybody. Their motto at the top of the page is "Universal Access to Human Knowledge," and they seem to be sincere. Another nice feature is the "Curator's Choice" that they offer in each category in order to help you wade through the thousands of items in their collection. It's a very good site, either for browsing or the serious researcher.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Books - The Wisdom of Crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, by James Surowiecki.

I just finished this book and found it thoroughly fascinating. It's full of studies, anecdotes and insights that I never imagined, but in retrospect make perfect sense. There's no need for me to go into a critique here, because it's a fairly well-known work by now and plenty has been written on it. I would recommend it to just about anybody, but especially to people in management.

Wikipedia has a decent summary here. This is the Amazon link. And Salon has a thorough critique here.

Check it out. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Personal Essay - Gay Magnet?

Occasionally in life, there are moments of clarity which have a bracing effect similar to opening all the windows in a stuffy house and filling it with brisk, cool air. The mind clears suddenly and you literally feel the fresh blood flowing through your brain. I had just such a moment last evening, coming home on the train, when I was faced with the stark realization that it must really suck to be a woman.

Now, before I elaborate, I think it's important to go a little into the backstory. Just over a week ago, I made a drastic change in my appearance by going from fairly long hair to scalp-hugging short. No small part in this decision was the fact that chicks just don't check me out like they used to. Sure, there's the sense of identity which marks a long-haired person --free spirit, artistic type, independent, out of the main-stream-- and there's also the tactile pleasure of a healthy mane. But, a man who lives with his ex-girlfriend and their 2-year old child really needs to maximize his possibilities if he's going to swim in the stream of free coitus.

So, since the lines in my face have closed all doors to the kind of hippy university girls who once waltzed with me to various dark niches, I decided to go with a clean, professional and fiscally responsible look. . . . In order to get laid, in case that wasn't clear. However, my strategy seems to have backfired on me.

Last night on the train, I opened my eyes and glanced around. My vision panned across the eyes of an attentive man. I continued to scan my environment, instinctively glancing back to see if the other guy had broken his stare. But he hadn't. I looked away again, thinking, What's up with this guy? Unwillingly, I looked back. Still staring. What the fuck?! Oh, christ, yea. He's gay. Now he thinks I'm gay ... and coquettish. I just don't like being stared at, and --try as I might-- I couldn't stop peeking back periodically. And of course, he misread my interest. The compliment would have been flattering maybe; but to be honest, this guy seemed to be way too hard up. Even if I was gay, I wouldn't want to get together with such a desperate loser.

I started staring out the window across the aisle. While watching points of light float past, my eyes focussed on the reflection in the window. There was another man who seemed to be watching me. Or maybe, I considered, he was doing the same thing as I. But, if he was watching me --and I was watching a point directly behind his reflection-- then, he must be thinking that I'm staring into his eyes. My eyes jumped over onto the owner of the reflection before I could pull them back. Then, emboldened, he turned his head and faced me directly, eliminating any doubts. Oh, shit, I thought, before turning to look out the other window.

And now he kept staring. Granted, this guy was a bit more stylish and on the ball than the other, in some ineffably suave sort of way. But he was still a dude. Now, I don't make any judgements on where people eat, I just know what I prefer. Yet, ironically, here I was, a hungry man with a feast before me and no stomache for the food that was offered. Both these guys were in my field of vision unless I looked down or away. Their eyes burned into me like lasers, making me feel like I was being scanned by two horny Terminator robots. It's unfortunate they can't see each other, I thought. Because if somehow they could just start staring at each other, everybody would come out a winner.

I began to curse my hair-stylist, thinking that she'd given me a gay haircut. It wasn't the first time that a man has shown interest in me, but for some reason this was the first time outside of a gay club that I was so popular. I looked at myself reflected in the window and preened, not caring anymore if I appeared coy. She had left me with echos of Freddie Mercury. The only thing missing was the frou frou mustache. Damn.

Then suddenly it dawned on me: This is what women experience on a constant basis. Thus, my prefatory statement. What torture, having to go through life, negotiating eye-contact and enduring the tight-lipped, predatorial gazes of men. It's like having a spotlight glaring in your face. I'm sure many women must learn to love it, like little ballarinas pirhouetting on the stage. But I wonder what percentage of them must absolutely despise it. I really felt like giving the finger to these two guys. With both hands, criss-crossing my arms while flashing a Billy Idol sneer.

It struck me suddenly that I wasn't so different than them; I often can't help focussing on attractive women and wonder if their uncomfortable glances signal an interest in squishing it. A forgotten memory came just then, of me sitting in a pub in Edinburgh, chatting with some friends, when a woman walked by the table. An attractive, ballsy Scot. Our eyes met. Without even thinking about it, I turned around to check her out from behind and found myself raising my eyes into her furious expression. She gave me the finger and mouthed, Fuck you, before spinning on her heel. It hardly seemed reasonable to me at the time. It's just what guys do. But sitting on the train, I realized that, if I'd been born a woman, sooner or later I would have done exactly the same thing.

And so it was, with great loathing, I found myself rising to my feet as the train pulled into my station. Squeezing through scrunched knees, I stepped out into the aisle, gazing blankly at nothing at all, knowing the inevitable conclusion to this scene. I walked the length of the wagon, feeling two pairs of eyes burning into my backside. And I thought, From this day forward, I will stop checking out women's asses. Then I wondered how I was going to fill up the time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

War - Now Iran

Bush, the one-trick pony, is repeating himself and mirroring his Iraq strategy to launch the U.S. into yet another war. And for once, the American media is doing its job. They are actually shining a light on obvious developments of great importance. It wasn't at all so --exactly 5 years ago-- for Iraq.

A full 13 months before the U.S. invaded Iraq, The Guardian ran a special report that revealed the intentions of the Bush Administration. That was in February, 2002 and it wasn't until the following September that Bush made a statement to the U.N. which confirmed that the mechanations of war were already in motion.

I remember that special report very well, because shortly after reading it, I mentioned the invasion plans to my brother. He was incredulous. It wasn't possible that some foreign press could know and report something that the good ol' American media wasn't reporting. Ours is the land of the free press, and there's absolutely no way that something as important as that would go unreported. My brother cautioned me not to read any more of those Third World rags like The Goblin or The Guardian or whatever it's called. He snorted and changed the subject to whether or not it was warm here in Barcelona, a favourite topic of conversation in my family.

I realized then that the media really does create reality.

I felt like a kind of soothsayer over the next 7 months, as if I had tapped into some esoteric source that revealed ethereal knowledge of great import on this mortal plane, and nobody else could see the road through the fog. I read my "Third-World rags" and noticed a sudden pre-occupation with Iraqi No-Fly Zone rules. I monitored the escalation of bombardment from 0 in March 2002 to between 7 and 14 tons per month in May-August, marvelled as it reached a pre-war peak of 54.6 tons in September. I, and everybody else in Europe, noticed that these bombardments were focussed mostly on southern military targets. We noticed this sudden preoccupation with weapons of mass-destruction. Yet, everybody else in the U.S. was completely in the dark. And when BushCo. began to play the media card, it was a coup.

At least now the U.S. media is telling people what seems to be down the pike. The AP reports:

In recent days:

_Bush raised the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf to its highest level since 2003 by ordering a second aircraft carrier strike group to the region.

_The administration confirmed that Bush has authorized the military to kill or capture Iranian agents who are plotting attacks on U.S. forces.

_The administration has armed Iran's Arab neighbors with Patriot missiles.

Also, the Enron Junta is leaking unsubstantiated reports that Iranian agents were part of a brilliant, well-coordinated operation which resulted in the kidnapping and execution of 4 U.S. soldiers.

It's hard to believe that these guys are so stupid as to really start another war on top of the two that we're losing, but maybe to them it's not so stupid after all. Perhaps it's part of some other plan that fits with scripture. Who knows what these boneheads are up to. But thank the Gods that the Fourth Estate is no longer giving them carte blanche.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Politics - Biden Screws It Up Early

If there was a Political Darwin Award, Senator Joe Biden would have just won it. In a most incredible act of stupidity, Biden said publicly that Barack Obama is "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean." He later claimed that he didn't mean to say it quite that way. Apparently, he originally intended to say, "All them other nigras is stinky and ignunt."

It's a pity, because I actually like his plan for Iraq. But after watching him squirm on The Daily Show, I was left with the overwhelming opinion that this guy is about as presidential as William Macy's character in Fargo. Here is a perfect example of the Peter Principal in politics.

But, you know, one thing I don't get is: How is it that Barack Obama is considered African-American in the first place? I've had the same question about Tiger Woods being labeled "The First Black Golfer." Tiger is as Thai as he is black. In fact, he looks more Thai than he does black, yet nobody calls him "The First Thai Golfer."

So, what is it that makes Barack black? Just because his father is Kenyan? Does that make him more black than white? He doesn't even come from an African-American culture, however you decide to define that. Barack grew up with his white mother in Hawaii and Jakarta and went to Harvard, about as far removed from any kind of black culture that I know. In fact, in his book, Dreams from My Father, Barack wrote, "my father looked nothing like the people around me."

The real issue here is that by calling Barack black, or African-American --or whatever the current PC fashion is-- this is the true racist crime. It is a form of hypodescent that comes from The One Drop Theory, a formula which concludes, essentially, that because he is not one hundred percent white, Barack therefore cannot be considered as such. In the Either You're With Us or Against us line of reasoning, this practice basically says, "He ain't all white, so he must be colored." This is what people should be getting up in arms about. Yet, nobody even notices the incoherent logic and inherent racism in that common practice.

Why not just let Obama be Obama? What difference does it make, so long as he has all the qualifications and qualities to salvage the shit-house that the current administration has created? Hell, I'll vote for him. Not least because he has had the balls to admit that he smoked weed and snorted blow. He's a true man of the people. Let him reign.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Politics - Gonzalez the Prick

Alberto Gonzalez, sometimes also referred to as "That Smarmy Little Fuck," has revealed yet more of the evil that fuels the current Enron junta in Washington. Evil is the very word for it --and that's not a word I use lightly. Unfortunately it's been abused by religious extremists who employ it as a catch-all phrase for something they haven't the insight or lucidity to describe with accuracy. But in this case, evil can be defined as the very act of destroying certain fundamental rights for hundreds of millions of people while at the same time killing tens of thousands in order to enforce the same democratic ideals that --again-- are being undermined. Hypocrisy, totalitarianism, chicanery and casuistry are not even strong enough words for that.

Yet Alberto, with a smirk, sits before a Senate Judiciary Committee and says, "The constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas. It simply says that right shall not be suspended."

There's not much more to say on this that hasn't been said already. I'll let Steve Colbert take it from here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cool Websites - Kirk and Spock are Gay?

Apparently there's a huge cult of people who entertain the idea that Kirk and Spock were riding each other across the cosmos, going where --at least for them-- no man had gone before. The term "Slash Fiction" actually originated with unauthorized Kirk/Spock stories which emphasized double photon torpedos of love scenes.

The All Ages Kirk/Spock Archive has a collection of poetry, prose and art dedicated to this endeavour. And it is massive. Also, it's "safe for kids"! Here's one haphazard sample from their archives:

"Jim, I've been waiting for you to ask," Spock told his friend, and pressed his lips to Jim's. This made Jim moan and open up to the invading lips and for the first time, Jim felt the alien tongue invade his mouth.Lost in the sensation, all Jim could do was suck on the invader, and hold on for the ride of his life. It was unlike anything he had ever felt and somehow, Jim knew he'd never feel it again because independent of where they went from that point, he knew this would always be their first kiss. --Author: AtieJen

I found this site while searching for a video that I'd heard rumours of in the '80s. Apparently some group of middle-aged housewives had re-edited their collections of Star Trek into an hour-long episode which basically re-invented Spock and Kirk's relationship. Unfortunately, I still haven't found this video --if indeed it does exist. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Iraq - Bush the Sucker

I would love to play poker with George W. Bush. His ferret eyes and blinking gob-smacked wonderment would be a welcome addition to the felt. Not so much for the scintillating banter, rather, but for the P.T. Barnum feast his withered corpse would serve up. As his stacks of chips diminished with Twin Towers rapidity and mine grew, he'd turn to the house with hat in hand and ask the dealer, "You think you could spot me another 21,500?"

Aside from being a pure and simple idiot, Dubya also plays a strategy that every adept poker player knows and which distinguishes the Winner from the Loser. Regardless of how much you've invested in the hand, every round of betting is a new bet, and you must be prepared to fold when the hand has changed.

Let's say in a game of Seven Stud, Dubya starts out with a pair of jacks showing and he rightly bets it hard, shouting "Mission Accomplished!" in a cute attempt at braggadocio. As the game progresses, it's possible that his opponent could draw and show three kings. If he hasn't improved his hand, Bush should fold immediately. But that's not what the stupid player does. The stupid player thinks, Well, hell. I've already invested nearly 160,000 in this hand. If I fold now, I'd be throwing it all away!

Not so, says the wise player. The money is most definitely lost anyway. And in the face of such overwhelming odds, throwing more money into the pot is a sure way to guarantee a net loss for the evening. What the losing player fails to do in such situations is consider the hand past, as if it were one of the many already decided. He's still locked in the moment, mesmerized by Schroedinger's Cat hidden in the down-turned cards. My fate is not yet decided, he lies to himself. After all, God told him to play this hand, and he intends to see it through no matter what. God wouldn't lie to me, now would He?

Well, guess what, Georgie. He did. And it's time you grew up and realized that the Easter Bunny don't play Stud. Good poker players are decidedly Zen in their philosophy: One hand does not decide the night, and when the moment has turned sour it's best to prepare for the next. Let it go, George. When the deal comes back around you can change the game to Draw, Texas Hold'em, or Partition. Cut'n'Run, even. But save your money, save some lives. Just fold, for chrissake.

Monday, January 29, 2007

War - Brilliant!

The sophistication of Iraqi insurgents has reached a new level. Nine to twelve English-speaking gunmen, dressed and armed as U.S. soldiers infiltrated the provinicial headquarters in Karbala and, after kidnapping 4 U.S. soldiers, they then drove them 25 kilometers away and executed them.

The brilliance in this attack lies not in the score of 4 enemy dead that these fighters achieved; indeed, it was one hell of a risk for such a large number of well-trained, specialized units. But what they may have achieved surpasses the potential damage of a well-armed battalion. From now on, U.S. soldiers will be extremely wary of their own brethren, never relaxing, possibly shooting it out with each other over mistaken doubts.

In other words-- Soldiers' uniforms: $1,200. Weapons: $3,000. Vehicles: $27,000. Enemy self-paranoia: Priceless.

It's not my intention to be callous. I truly do feel for these four U.S. soldiers and their families, just like I feel for the approximately 60,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed since this conflict began. But to be honest, the deaths of these soldiers don't strike me as an injustice in the same way that the deaths of civilians register as simply tragic. After all, the soldiers are participating members of an invading force. Of course, I do care about my countrymen; we have a common cultural heritage and therefore I can relate to them possibly better than I could to those of another culture. But my concern extends to the opinion that they shouldn't be there.

Also, from a distance, and free from the emotional drum-beating of the U.S. media, I have a decidedly abstract view of the events in Iraq. It's like reading the play-by-play notation of a chess match. Sure, I've got family and friends over there, and I hope that they will return safely, even moreso than I wish that everybody over there could be safe. But I'm certainly not rooting for the Americans to be victorious, no more than we could understand how the average German could root for the Nazis nearly 70 years ago. If this were a cakewalk, then the Neo-Cons and others of their American Taliban ilk would become emboldened to invade other countries, killing even more civilians and U.S. soldiers.

And so it is, with an abstract and rational view of these events, I'm able to simply admire a bold play by someone who isn't necessarily my enemy. This doesn't necessarily make me anti-American. If anything, it makes me pro-American. We never should have gone over there, and it's time for us to get the fuck out asap.

Friday, January 26, 2007

World - The Balls on that Hugo

Sure, it's fashionable for Americans to refer to Iraq as "Bush's War," as if it hadn't been supported by a majority of even the Democrats in Congress, along with the media and general population. Regardless of this myopic view of history --current events, rather-- the fact remains that it was the U.S. --and not only BushCo.-- that began this neauvou Vietnam War, and it's the U.S. that needs world leaders like Hugo Chavez to keep it honest, humble and wise. And thank the gods that he's back in the news this week to poke his finger in the face of Goliath.

Ever since the arrogant manner in which the U.S. defied the wisdom of the U.N. and the world by invading Iraq, it's been clear that the only extant Superpower must be challenged. After all, when you're spread thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can't very well invade North Korea, Iran, Syria, Somalia and Venezuela, now can you? It only seems natural that the leaders of these countries try to bring themselves up a notch. Any nation would do the same.

But only Hugo does it with panache.

It remains to be seen how he will handle his nearly absolute power; history doesn't instill too much optimism on that score. But for the moment, he appears to be a man who sincerely believes in empowering the Venezuelan poor. Revolutionary and charismatic, Chavez also has one huge pair of balls.

After his failed 1992 coup, Chavez was permitted by the Perez government to appear on television to call for an end to hostilities. During the speech, and surrounded by his captors, he quipped that he had "failed ... for the moment."

In September, 2006, Chavez stood before the U.N. General Assembly and referred to Bush as "The Devil." He went on to say that Bush had come to the Assembly a day earlier to "share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world." His words were received with wild, unabashed applause.

Most of my compatriots would think that I'm a traitor for siding with this thorn in the side of my country. But I don't see Hugo as a thorn. I see him as the little pimply guy who faces up to the jock bully and tells him straight to his face to stop acting like an asshole. And if there's any nobility in that jock, he'll respect the moxy. If there's any intelligence in that massive, thick skull, he'll think about the words.

I don't know how he treats his wife or if he kicks stray dogs, but from what I see of Hugo, he seems to be a fine man. Let's hope modern-day Borgias don't slip a little something extra in his coffee.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Society - Who's the Faggot Now?

Free Speech is now officially a rotting corpse. Isaiah Washington, an actor on “Grey’s Anatomy,” has become another willing victim of the Cult of the Politically Correct, ascending to the evil pantheon alongside Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Rosie O’Donnel. Though there can be no doubt that the offenses committed by the men on this list were intended to be abusive, Rosie was merely careless. And therefore it is right that these men have publicly apologized and agreed to reassess their values while Ms. O’Donnel has merely shrugged.

Still, I lament the loss of the Stoic American. The Cowboy and the Soldier who merely grunted at superficial slights, the Dustbowl Matriarch with leathery skin, and the resilient American Negro—they are all now shadows of a distant past. In their stead are talking torsos behind podiums, spewing outrage or apology. Our modern heroes are unremarkable protagonists in made-for-television dramas about people who fight picayune injustices.

And it’s all just so … anti-aesthetic. This current zeitgeist that obsesses over personal suffering strikes me as an assault on the rugged dignity we once represented. I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with being strong and hard and crass at times, meeting like for like, without responding to mere words as if they were mortal wounds.

Just to be clear on this, it’s necessary to emphasize that I’m not talking about assaults by people who intend to inflict terror and true injury, fag-bashers or skin-head rednecks who surround an Asian woman in a car with her baby beside her. Such people should be hanged by a mob, or at least publicly humiliated and run out of town on a pole. Certain aberrant behaviour, by necessity, must be combatted.

It’s this assault on the general status quo that worries me so. The colorful speech of the past is now laden with psychological word-mines that can explode unexpectedly with any footfall. The new milieu is a regime with robotic thought-police on ubiquitous patrol. The insectoid PC drones prowl public thoroughfares and private recesses, seeking out the bad seeds of society, those who utter the prohibited syllables of an overthrown dynasty. When their minutely attuned attenae detect the slightest murmur of The Proscribed Words, words like ching-chong and faggot and nigger, alarms shriek across the globe. The machines clamber together and form a donut around the perpetrator, their metallic limbs pointing censoriously at this single focus. The wailing permeates the offender’s cranium, inflicting discomfort and unrest. Coded messages are beamed out to the social network: This Will Have Economic Repercussions.

Surrounded, and with no way out, the deviant falls to his knees and pleads mea culpa. He asks for mercy, but the sentence is binding. “You are guilty of thought crimes. Crimes are evil. Therefore, your thoughts are evil. Your mind must be changed.” With head bowed, the pariah walks through the throng as a path spreads before him. Their appendages now point in unison toward his destiny: The Counseling Facility.

So it is, and so it shall be. The Cowboy has been laid to rest.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Psychology - Art and Personality

By the same group who brought you the Brain Sex Test, here's an Art and Personality test that matches your taste to your personality. It's kind of long, and for me the taste part wasn't very accurate. But the personality profile was right on. Not a bad thing to do if you have 15 minutes to spend.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Parenthood – To Spank or Not to Spank

Cathy Sorbo has written an interesting commentary on new legislation that will punish parents who spank their children. This is an issue with which I’ve had to do much soul-searching since becoming a father nearly three years ago.

In general, I think that spanking is unnecessary. Children can be quite reasonable, in their own way, and with patience, repetition and lots of “time outs,” they can usually be educated appropriately. Spanking, more often than not, serves only as a vent for frustrated parents.

However, I live in a busy city, with lots of traffic. And though I have educated my toddler to the dangers of moving vehicles, there was one occasion in which he forgot himself and stepped out into the street. On this occasion I gave him a good sharp wallop. But it wasn’t out of anger. Rather, it was a very calculated, premeditated strategy of education, based on the idea that the quickest and surest way to learn that fire hurts is to touch it one time. Pain, after all, is a very effective teacher.

That’s not to say that pain should be the exclusive means of education. When overdone, it can become quite meaningless. But the shock to him of actually being hit by me on this rare occasion brought the severity of the issue home to him in a way that insured he would never repeat it again.

Going back to the metaphor of fire and pain, burned fingers are not quite as fatal as a cross-town bus over-running tender young entrails. Usually, you only get one chance; there’s not much margin for learning in such a situation. So I decided –on that occasion-- that a small amount of pain was preferable to the unpalatable alternative. I don’t regret it. I suffered for it, more than him, but I think it was the right thing to do.

In other words: When the lesson is as serious as life-or-death, a spanking is a very expedient means toward learning.

It’s possible, though, in retrospect, that a spanking would also have been well-served when the remote control got thrown out in the garbage. But that was a year ago, and the statute of limitations is up. Anyway, I’m getting more exercise because of it. … Well, actually, he’s getting the exercise now.

Society - Sexual Apartheid

Q: Why is it that men can never contract Mad Cow Disease?

A: Because they’re all pigs.

As a man, I am unable to take umbrage at this female chauvinist assault on our character, first and foremost because it is mostly true. Anyone who doubts it has only to compare the men’s and women’s lavatories in any public space. The women’s room is always pristine and fresh-smelling, sans puddles and errant sprays of pee-pee, whereas the men’s looks like a Pollock in urine. The smell alone makes my nose-hair curl just thinking about all the stray bacteria that must be floating in the air. And gods forbid that one should have to do a number two in there. Without an adept sense of balance, the enterprise is tantamount to sitting on strips of fly paper.

That’s why, whenever possible, I slip into the ladies’ room. After all, I happen to be a very neat pee-er. So, why should I have to suffer the iniquities of my ingroup? That’s not to say that I'm not prone to certain moral dilemmas in such situations. Not least of which is how to leave the toilet seat when I’m done.

Common courtesy would dictate that I should leave it down for the next lady in line. But, if the next lady, after giving me the stink-eye, should squeeze past and notice that the seat is down, she may think that I had left it down during my evacuation. And if I should leave it up --ostensibly to advertise my cleanliness-- that may be misconstrued as an inconsiderate abuse of my liberty. After much thought on the subject, I decided long ago that the best course of action is to put the lid down as well as the seat. And in cases where there is no lid, I improvise. Occasionally, I might even inform the glaring woman that I have indeed peed with the seat up.

It seems to me that here we have a system in which the elite pee-ers –i.e. women—are imposing their wills on all men (just because most men are pigs) and are relegating all of us to the hell of specified urinals. And I think that is a gross injustice.

After all, it’s considered a moral aberration these days to designate “colored” lavatories. So, why stop at skin color? What happened to the sexual revolution? If –rightfully—women feel that they should have a clean environment for their biological evacuations, perhaps we should stop designating these areas by sex, rather, and impose a merit system.

In an age of sexual predator lists, no-flight lists and electronic certification, it doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to calibrate a man’s peeing skills and –if he qualifies as a skillful and clean urinator—he should be allowed the luxury of a clean latrine. Rather than “Women’s” and “Men’s,” we could designate our public conveniences as “Refined” and “Pigs.” Certain men, like myself, could be issued an electronic pass that will give them access to the convenience of a clean place of business.

I can only hope that the new Democratic congress will stop running circles around such unimportant issues like the Iraq War and Public Health, and that they will press into more urgent matters like this Old Testament apartheid system which unfairly castigates civilized urinators. It’s time for us, as a people, to stand up for those who don’t sit to pee.

By Special Request

Colorado Bob asked for some commentary on Barcelona. Guess I should get around to that someday. But for the moment, here's an article I wrote a few weeks ago, A Crappy Catalan Christmas. One of these days, when I get around to making a Highlights of Ubiquity section, this will be one of them. Enjoy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rant - Stinking Flu

You know what sucks about having the flu? It's like a time machine that automatically takes you back to the days when you were a kid and people took good care of you and coddled you and didn't make you feel guilty about laying out on the sofa and watching crap tv. It's an oddly pleasant memory that makes you realize immediately those days are gone forever.

When you're older, nobody cuts you any slack. Your partner gets pissed off that you don't help out around the house; your boss indirectly makes you feel guilty for taking a day off --and maybe even insists that you get a doctor's note, when all you really need is rest; your kid still needs looking after; and even your own conscience hounds you about all the things that need seeing to. (That's the super-ego working overtime, right?)

Anyway, that's my long explanation about why I'm not posting anything decent today. You got a problem with it? Get in line.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Internet - Alexa

It's been said that I'm as dense as a porn-star's money-shot; so it's not surprising that Alexa is news to me. This site is like the Nielson Ratings of the internet. Here you can find the most popular websites on the internet and even monitor changes in a Dow Jones spirit. Browse by country or subject. It's a great way to find what's hot or even discover sites that are tailored to your interests.

It's cool. Check it out.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cool Websites - ESP Tester

Ever wanted to measure your paranormal abilities? The Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment has an online ESP Tester, which will gauge your ability to predict which of 10 colors have been selected, over 20 trials. Statistically, you should get it right 2 out of 20 times. Four or six indicates a high level of ESP is at work.

I consistently got 0 out of 20, which --according to the website-- suggests that I use ESP to fuck myself up. (That apparently explains my life history.) "Psi-missing" is what they call it. So, at least I have some kind of psychic talent. Now, if only I could cultivate my telekinetic abilities to stimulate that woman on the metro who hounds my fantasies, I might be able to eek more than a dirty look out of her every morning.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Race - Are You a Racist?

The Implicit Association Test, run by Harvard, is an online test that monitors the speed of your reactions, which somehow determines whether or not you are actually a racist. The way it works is: It tests your speed at associating words with both a positive and negative connotation to white and black faces. A micro-second delay in putting a positive word to one racial group indicates a subconscious or conscious reluctance.

Personally, I have to disagree with the methodology, as one's reactions can improve upon becoming accustomed to the task over the duration of the test. In my case, the Negative-Words-Associated-With-Blacks part was at the beginning, while I was still trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. So, I was tested as "moderately racist." Unbelievable. I happen to have lots of Jewish friends and have banged more black chicks than I can count. Pffft.

Still, it is put out by Harvard, so it must be accurate. Right? Whether you agree with it or not, it's an interesting test to try.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Notable Blogs - Mind Hacks

If you like psychology, neuroscience or anything related to the mind and brain, you should make this part of your daily reading. If it makes you groove, you may even want to buy the book.

Check it out: Mind Hacks.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Paranormal - Past Lives?

This isn't exactly late-breaking news, but it's a story that fascinates me just the same. University of Virginia researcher, Jim Tucker, studies the past-life memories of children and has some amazing cases to report. This particular story tells of James Leininger, a 6-year old kid who has vivid memories of being a WWII pilot, James Huston. His recall of facts is so impressive, that he has even attended and been welcomed to a reunion of Huston's old squadron.

I don't know what to think about past lives. The skeptics would say that if you study 1,000 children, you're very likely to find eery anomalies in 10 or so cases. Statistically, it makes sense. Is it possible that, if these cases are more than just statistical detritus, that they indicate some ability to channel into past lives rather than actual reincarnation? In the same way that a television 60 light years away in space would pick up The Jack Benny show only now, perhaps little James simply has a talent that is latent in all/most/some/a few of us.

(Unfortunately, the most legitimate news source I could find on this is ABC News --ahem-- and the Connellsville Daily Courier. If anybody has research suggestions on scouring reliable news sources --outside the realm of subscribing to Lexis-- please share. )

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Blogging - Welcome to My New Look

It took one hell of a long time to learn how to do this. CSS coding, templates, upload, download, copy widgets, and bla-bla-bla-bla-fucking-bla. But finally here it is. Let's see how long it takes before something goes pear-shaped.

I will have to say, that I have Colorado Bob to thank for this. He took me through the first few steps of dealing with html and pointed me toward all the good websites for resources and tutorials, which got my courage up for the big leap into CSS. Hats off to the nice man from Texas. I always did like that country, even if they are responsible for that beady-eyed, draft-dodging psychopath at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And I really should thank Hans at Beautiful Beta for the excellent instructions on how to add a third column to the template. That is one dude dedicated to explaining how it's done.

Anyway, the new look is installed. I still got to figure out how to achieve that delicate combination of profit and taste with the ads, some more good links and articles etc. But for chissakes, get off my back wouldja? I'm busy as hell over here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Author's Note - Hiatus

Just when I was getting into the groove of this blogging thing. I actually had so much material that it was an effort for me to limit my posts to one a day. However, some pressing matters have come up and I must put my writing efforts into them. The most important reason, of course, is that they pay.

I have 4 articles pending for the Metropolitan Magazine here in Barcelona and whatever free time I can garner for myself has to be for them. Give me a week, and I'll be back. Not that too many people will miss my posts; with between 30 and 120 hits a day on this blog, I don't imagine there will be much of a public outcry.

Feel free to check out the archives if you're truly jonesing for a bit of Ubiquity.

But for those of you who will be mourning this brief hiatus, the good news is that I will soon be upgrading the appearance of this blog. With the help of a generous soul named Colorado Bob, I am endeavouring to learn how to modify templates and hope to have a whiz-bang design set up very shortly.

For those of you interested in the process, you can check out how things are coming along at Less Than Civil.

Happy Random Change of the Calendar Year to all of you, and I will see you soon, bigger and better.