Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Michael -- "The Mouth" -- Winslow

Watch and listen. And keep in mind that he is making all those sounds with his mouth!

Reminds me a lot of Wes Harrison, who used a specially modified microphone to help him with his sounds (check out the sound bites on this link).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Air Travellers' Check List

Airline Tickets?


Hotel Reservations?


All liquids safely disposed of?


Screaming children belted in and gagged?


Pilot's licence?

(H/T Tim)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fear And Loathing On A Plane

This story about a three-year-old candidate for Terrorist of the Year and her family's getting booted from an already-overdue flight has fired up a bit of attention...not only from other bloggers, but from news sites all over the place.

"But Julie Kulesza said: 'We weren't giving an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything.'"

Sorry, Mommy. You can't hold her. It's against FAA regulations. She must sit in her own seat. She must wear her own seat belt. And under no circumstance should she be allowed to continue with the noise pollution. The plane is already late in taking off, and you want to delay it even more? What makes you and your little darling so special that you think the rest of the world should accomodate you?

And why would she need consoling? You don't console a child who's throwing a temper tantrum, to the greater inconvenience of the other 112 paying passengers. You pick her up by her scruff, press her firmly into her seat and belt her in. And when someone hands you a gag to stuff into your little darling's mouth in order to shut her up, you use that, too.

Way to go, AirTran Airways!

Suddenly, I feel an urge to book a flight to...anywhere...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Running Away From Home

I want to run away from home. Well, not really. I want to run away from ticky-tacky. I want to trash this squeezed-on-all-sides-by-neighbors-whose-names-I-don't-know urban existence and go home -- live in the woods with the wildlife. I love wildlife.

I want to live in a hobbit house!

Oooooohhhhh...I could get so into this...solar panels for electric power, well water from a clean, un-bleached and non-fluoridated source, connection to the Mother, no concrete-and-steel, imaginative recycling, not paying an arm and a leg for a compromise between what you really want and what you can afford...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Harper's Bizarre

When Stevie first let it be known that "Canada's New Government" was to be the official watchword of his temporary reign, I yawned. After all, he had not exactly staged a coup. Indeed, he and his MPs are hanging on by a minority thread. If floor-crossing continues, it's entirely possible for the CPoC to find itself out of government entirely without even the courtesy of an election. We won't need to wait for a defeat on a confidence motion, either. All he has to do is lose enough MPs to other parties, and the switch will become automatic...

I also had not noticed that we had changed our government, either. Changed parties, yes. But changed government? We're still a constitutional monarchy. Note, please, that Canada is not, and never has been, a democracy.

So this little teapot-sized tempest went unnoticed by me until Rick Mercer linked to it and posted it on his blog.

The background, beginning in September of last year, can be found among the links here.

And I'm still waiting for an intelligible answer (as opposed to gobbledegook and bafflegab) from any MP as to the purpose of wasting taxpayer dollars as well as millions of reams of perfectly good paper on the preferred slogan of a temporary administration.

I'm not gonna hold my breath, though. That would fall under the category of "self-inflicted injury."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Last Flight Out

"...I went up to the counter and asked the lady, 'What's the latest story about getting to Heaven?'

"She looked in her computer. 'What's the hurry?' she asked.

"I said, 'Once you know you're going on a trip, you pack all your clothes, you say goodbye to friends and family, and you want to go when you said you were going.'..."

Art Buchwald...finally managed to get taken off the no-fly list.

UPDATE: And he managed to get the last word, too.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Doctors Are Not Hotels


Some of them don't like to be rated like hotels, either. Or restaurants. Or any other service-oriented companies.

"...doctors say patients need to confront their physicians or even file a complaint with their local College of Physicians and Surgeons should they have concerns."

It seems that their biggest concern is that they can't find out who posts a complaint on the RateMDs website. It's anonymous. Doctors who do not give good service are not going to be able to find out which of their unhappy patients lodges a complaint. They would much prefer that you go through the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where they can find out who you are.

But try -- I dare you -- to lodge a complaint about a physician with the College. Hell, try even finding out if any particular doctor has been reported in a complaint by anyone else! Let me point you to the relevant web page for BC...go ahead and jump through all the not-allowed-by-e-mail hoops (in the interests of your "privacy" and "confidentiality" of course). And please take note of the disclaimer at the bottom:

"A complainant may not be sued for what is said in a complaint to the College as long as the complaint is directed only to the College."

Emphasis mine. Isn't that nice? If you complain to the College, the doctor about whom you complain cannot sue you -- provided you have complained to no one else! I dunno about you, but I'm having a hard time imagining that a patient unhappy about his medical treatment will keep quiet and only file a complaint with the College. The first thing I would do if I had a complaint would be to alert my entire family and all my friends to stay away from the idiot who may have gotten his medical degree by mail from California.

And then there's the fact that the College is actually a guild -- a union for doctors, if you will. In other words, the whole purpose of the College is to serve the interests of doctors, rather than patients.

That's why I like the idea of RateMDs.com. It's fast. It's easy. It's accessible. No hoops. It's public.

Put that link on your favorites list and use it next time you go looking for a doctor of any kind (including veterinarians, apparently).

You might also want to ask your current doctor what he thinks of this website. If, like mine, he thinks it's a terrific idea -- and that the "concerns" of the Canadian Medical Protective Association are so much over-reaction, then hang on to him, because he's a keeper!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Grrrr... The building next to mine is about 100 feet away from my balcony door, and I can barely see it through the blizzard. I missed a very important appointment today because transit drivers cannot drive in this stuff. I don't trust car drivers around here -- not even taxi drivers, whose profession it is to navigate through visual obstacles that would make a seeing-eye dog quail. The birds are leaving trails of breadcrumbs between their nests and the feeding station so they don't get lost! And I swear I heard somebody in my building say that she saw a snowplow stuck in the ditch!

On such a day, I could at least give my fish some exercise. If I had one of these. And if I had an aquarium.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

On Words That Have Been Flogged To Death And Need To Be Cremated And Have Their Ashes Scattered

If there is not yet a world-wide list of tired-out, over-used, and mis-used words, phrases, and cutesy-poo terminologies, there really needs to be one. And as someone who loves the language for the range of thoughts and ideas it can convey when used correctly, I will gladly lead the charge on this one.

As a general observation, those of us who speak English as a mother tongue have gotten woefully lazy. We also expect our fellows to be mind readers -- to interpret our laziness and insert the correct nuance at the correct place in the spoken thought. We pluck a familiar derogative out of our memories, with no thought as to its origins or its correct interpretation, and we use it as a weapon with which to bludgeon opposing thoughts. And in doing so, we hope to embarrass and shame the owner of those opposing thoughts into submission and silence.

Two closely-related examples of this are the terms racist and racism.

The term "race," when applied to humans, was originally used as a scientific classification denoting genetic lineage. In other words, it was a grouping of people with inherited physical traits that linked them one with another. It was essentially a term of tribal linkage, and was exteremly useful to anthropologists as a way of tracking human wanderings and settlements about the planet. It helped us understand that we as a species evolved, rather than appeared in a magical poof of thought from an invisible prestidigitator. This understanding led to other, more recent sciences, which is a whole different conversation, so I'll not go into that here and now. Suffice it to say that "race" was a way for scientists to understand myriad things about the beings known as "humans."

Nowadays, we hardly use the term "race" without turning it into a perjorative.

"Race" has become synonymous with skin color, religion, and culture -- and the only one of those strictly human qualities that qualifies as genetic is skin color. So let's just focus on skin color and leave everything else out of it for now (and I'm going to short-cut a lot of this; you know how the language game is played or you wouldn't have read this far).

"White" is the skin color that is generally associated with northern European tribes. Northern Europeans are anthropologically known as Caucasoid/Caucasian. Arabs and Jews are tribal Caucasians (they are also semetics, but that particular terms links them as a language group, not a race). But they are not "white," per se. Some are very dark-skinned -- known as "black" -- which is also a skin color, and one usually associated with the continent of Africa and the anthropological group known as Negroids. But Arabs are not Negroid. And then there are the Australian aborigines, who are also very dark-skinned, but also not Negroid. Matter of fact, the Australian aborigine is closer anthropologically to the Caucasoids than the Negroids. But they are definitely not "white."

And with that, several politically-correct heads have just exploded, and I am about to be accused of having made racist comments. Wait for it...

And over at I'm Not Paranoid, there is a questionaire that will help you to determine whether or not you are a "racist." I ought to warn you, though, before you answer the questions -- you can't not be a racist. The game is rigged. And INP shows you some of the rigging and hidden wires. Not all of them. Just an overview. But enough to pull back the curtain a bit and see that the little man behind it has an agenda.

That agenda is your complete and utter surrender. Your shamed and beaten surrender. Your exhausted willingness to turn off your brain and yield, without further questions or thoughts, to the idea that no matter what you say or do, you are no more than dogshit on the bottom of the little man's shoe and that you ought to be grateful that you are allowed to keep on breathing.

And you are supposed to do this without asking the most obvious question:

Who is the little man?

Hint...he is someone who knows the power of the bludgeon, the steady, ceaseless, relentless, monotonous pounding of a blunt and deathless object (his "truth" as he sees it -- and he will always call it by that name, TRUTH) against the sometimes soft, sometimes brittle, and almost always fragile life force of "thought." He seeks to kill it before it can grow and mature. He wants it dead before it lives, because he fears it. If allowed to flourish, it will give you the power to resist him and his desire to control your life for...are you ready for this?..."the good of all"...whatever that means.

You're not supposed to question what that means, of course. To question the "good of all" is racist. It's also unneccesary to question. You have more productive ways available to use your time and energy, so why are you thinking? The little man will let you know what "the truth" is, and all you have to do is accept it and work within that truth. No, you don't have to agree (but if you don't agree, you are racist), just accept. Go along with it, for now. See if it isn't easier to just float along rather than try to swim against the current. Yeah, that means you go in a different direction than you started out, but it's so much easier, you see...

If you float long enough and you will lose the ability to swim. Your muscles will lose their tone and strength, and will atrophy. You will never be able to swim again. You will become a virtual jellyfish, completely dependent upon the direction of the current in which you are caught.

Let others think for you long enough and you will lose the ability to think for yourself. Your brain will atrophy. If you stop using the "muscle" of thinking, you will never be able to think for yourself again.

The ability to communicate effectively using the English language is a thinking process. You need not only to remember the words you use, but you really need to know their correct meanings to begin with. And if the words evolve from one meaning to another (the word "gay" comes to mind as an obvious and oft-repeated example), you need to realign your emotional response to the new meaning. Or you need to stop using the word entirely.

"Racist" used to mean "a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others." This belief has been shown to be not only incorrect, but harmful, and yet the word is still in use. These days, though, it means "a person who notices and comments upon or even thinks aloud about, the differences among peoples of differing backgrounds/religions/skin colors/cultures/language groups/physical appearances and abilities/economic circumstances/etc.

The meaning has changed, but the emotional response has stayed the same. This actually suits the little man's purpose extremely well. So, we need to do one of two things: we either need to get new words to replace "racist" and "racism" in order to bring them into line with current usage, or we need to stop responding with the autonomic cringe that those terms evoke.

It is much easier to coin new words and phrases (Stuck On Stupid, anyone?) than rewire the Pavlovian conditioning of the emotions. Therefore, I vote we find new words. Please feel inspired to blog about your own personal candidates as replacement terms for words that are 'way overdue for permanent retirement.

A memorial service for the current terms will not be held. I don't know about y'all, but I'm not going to miss having them pop into the conversation any time someone wants to hit me over the head with an emotional cudgel.

(H/T to Candace for the reference post)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Got 20 Minutes?

You, too, can learn to fly a vintage airplane.

Remember the Black Sheep Squadron?

(H/T David Megginson)

Never Iron Clothes While They Are Being Worn

And other belabor-the-obvious observations.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Just Another Day

Nothing special. It started snowing about two o'clock this morning. About twelve hours later, the snow turned to rain and just kept falling. Did you know that water-soaked snow makes almost as good a dam as sandbags for holding back water and forcing it into deep puddles/ponds/lakes? Neither did the local road-and-parking-lot-and-sidewalk crews, who decided to quit clearing as soon as it started to rain. "Soaked to the skin" became more than just a phrase to me. I think my toes started to web.

YVR went into lockdown over losing a passenger who was "carrying too much liquid." Hell, everything today was carrying too much liquid. He left the line to get rid of it, then went the wrong way back through his checkpoint without going through screening again. So they shut down the entire international departure level. I wonder if anyone thought about about simply paging him and asking him to come back to the security line? I didn't think so.

The Marshmallow In Bondage got a flat. Management noticed a tear in the fabric and decided to collapse it before huge chunks of it blew away in the high winds. Nobody thought to warn the workers inside the dome what was going on, though. "Man the pumps" became more than just a phrase to a lot of people shortly after that. Opposition MLA runs around like headless chicken, blaming the government. Callers to the local radio talk shows want VANOC to pay for the repairs instead of the local governments, since the stadium is supposed to be the center of opening and closing the Olympics is 2010. I don't suppose anyone realizes that it doesn't matter who actually writes the cheque -- the taxpayers are gonna end up out-of-pocket on it in the long run. Naw...probably not.

And chimerae are illegal in Canada. I'm contraband in my own country. *sigh* I better go pack.

But hey! We got a hat trick! And suddenly, it's a beautiful day.


If there is a grosser feeling in the world than cold, wet feet inside cold, wet socks inside cold, wet boots...and you look up only to realize that you've got blocks and blocks more of it to walk on a cold, wet day...I have yet to experience it.

On second thought, I'll pass. Somebody else can experience it. I want my cocoa and my jammies.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mailing Address? What Mailing Address?

A Cold Chill...

...just galloped up my spine and danced a drunken jig on my head.

The US Deparment of Defense is giving money to genetic researchers to fund their location of DNA sequences that are incompatable with life.

As a scientific puzzle, this concept is wonderfully intriguing. And the geneticists are a little like I was when I was a kid -- they want to take things apart and put them back together differently, just to see what happens. Except that I was playing with a sewing machine and a lawnmower, neither of which was ever quite the same ever again.

The fact that they are playing with the core stuff of life itself -- that scares the shit outa me!

And that was before I read where the Defense Department was actually paying them -- which means it will own the results, whatever they are! And don't we all love and trust the US Department of Defense?

"...the next step is to test 20 of the peptoprimes in bacteria and human cells to see whether they have any effect such as causing death or provoking an immune reaction."

Gods help us!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

"I have never thought much of the courage of a lion-tamer. Man is the only animal of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid. There is not much harm in a lion. It has no ideals, no sect, no party, no religion. In other words, no reason to kill something it does not wish to eat."

The author of this particular thought is quoted 'round the world on many, many topics. Often, his words evoke wry laughter at both the truth and the sting of the "gotcha."

Without looking it up...any guesses about his identity?

(Warning: You won't find this quote whole, either. It has been chopped into pieces and strewn across the internet like so much confetti. I had to go find a dead-tree book in order to get the thing entirely in one piece.)

ANSWER: George Bernard Shaw, who voiced more than just one or two quotables...so pick your own favorite.

Aw, Nuts!

If you're a squirrel, and you live in a city, a biologist from Chicago would like to ask you a few questions.

I've got a few questions for him to ask, myself. Like how can they tell, when I'm walking down the street, whether or not I'm carrying walnuts? X-Ray vision would explain how it is that they're right every time...and they scamper fearlessly up to me whenever I happen to have lunch in my pockets...and avoid me (but scold furiously and safely from the inner branches of a nearby tree -- and just where do squirrels learn that kind of language, anyway?) when I don't.

Joel Brown might want to pose a few questions of some bloggers, as well. JimBobby is a staunch defender of hearth and home from the furred guerillas. And Bill Doskoch reports not just one, but two encounters with wee beasties.

Shadowtail is often cute, but he does have his enemies. The squirrel in the video, by the way, is not trying to eat the wounded baby -- she's trying to rescue it.

I wonder what Lord Bump thinks of all this squirricentric curiosity?