Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Ambra Nykol, "a nice little black girl, and freelance writer of Seattle, Washington," and blog proprietess (as well as contributor to the blog Sound Politics) has some words of wisdom for job seekers culled from her current stint in a recruiting department.

1. Write your cover letter by hand on college-ruled paper with a blue Bic pen.

2. Use the word "pimp" at least one time on your resume.

3. When the recruiter calls you for an interview, forget that you even applied for the job.

4. Use an email address on your resume that includes the word "sexy" (e.g. lilsexymomma@yahoo.com, 2sexy4u@hotmail.com).

5. Make sure the outgoing voicemail message the recruiter hears includes music and the phrase "shake that (insert Biblical word for donkey)."
Perhaps Ms. Nykol is preparing to add "advice columnist" to her list of writing accomplishments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Doug of Bogus Gold notes today's Washington Post column reporting that a recent study shows that academia is indeed extremely liberal:
By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative ...
Indeed, the more ivory, the more lefty:
The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.
Doug expects that academics will try to explain away these numbers:
"Conservative? Liberal? Party affiliation? These are just words - empty vessels into which we pour whatever meaning our tenured heads desire. It might be that these numbers are actually evidence that we're too conservative! Ever think of that?! Of course not you non-tenured mental inferior!"
I know a lot of English professors at "elite" schools, and I don't think they'll go all Derrida on the numbers. They firmly believe that the reason that conservatives don't exist in academia is because they're either too dumb to cut it or not public-minded enough to choose a lower academic salary over a high-flying business career (forget that academic salaries at elite schools aren't that low and there are a lot of crash and burns in business) so the lack of conservatives doesn't seem like a problem worth addressing to them.

The article correctly notes that the important question is how this liberal bent affects the students. Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, isn't aware of "any good evidence" that there is an impact.

I find this hard to believe. Before the Presidential election, I actually heard some professors express their anger over Bush's high poll numbers by reasoning "something is fishy! No one I know is voting for him." As an initial question, how can teachers, especially in the humanities, achieve excellence if they're so isolated from a large segment of current social thought?

Friday, March 25, 2005


I'm throwing over squid for octopodes:
Octopuses, known for using camouflage to avoid predators, have been observed apparently trying to sneak away by walking on two arms while pretending to be a bunch of algae.
I'm hugely amused when scientists anthropomorphize animals. I'm enthralled by their imaginations (the scientists, not the animals) and figure the arresting descriptions are caused by spending so many hours with creatures (and wanting to get some press for their pains). But in this case, little imagination is involved. If you can spare the bandwidth, watch the video. It really does look like a clump of coral tiptoeing away.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


The Warrior Monk made me a Manhattan in a juice glass (yes, he's still alive, and claims he will re-enter the blogosphere someday). It's about about 75% consumed and I'm 100% wasted.

If I were a boy, the other boys would make fun of me.


Better sit down for this shocker: movie blurbs can be misleading! Some blurb authors aren't real, and misquoted real authors get annoyed. But,
... others appear to be willing accomplices, consciously or unconsciously biased toward praising films because of the potential for career advancement, as Net-Monster notes: "Let's face it, the only way out of obscurity is to get your name seen by as many people as possible, and if you're Edgar Gnurdstone of WLSR in Kalamazoo Falls, a good way to achieve this is to write a glowing review of a movie you've seen. Better yet, write glowing reviews of absolutely awful films, and you increase your chances further since there won't be many good reviews for the ads to choose from."
Traffic whores take note! Don't they say all advertising is moving blogward?

Unfortunately, we at Spitbull can't take advantage of this luscious opportunity; the last movie we watched was a used VHS tape of The Princess Bride we got from Half Price Books that caused our VCR to emit an annoying whine off and on throughout the movie. But at least the whine occasionally drowned out the incessent questions of our kids ("What's Iocaine?," "Who's the Man in Black?", "Why did he tell him to hit him with the rock?", etc.) So, all in all, I'd give it a Buy (the DVD, not the VHS) and Wait (until the kids are older) rating.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Its reporters were temporarily banned from the New York Stock Exchange but its shares could soon enjoy free rein: Al Jazeera may go public. But one analyst believes the company should shun the US before we shun them:
"Practically speaking, it makes little sense for Al Jazeera to list their shares in the U.S.," said Paul Kim, media analyst for Traditional Asiel Securities. "They would have a broader audience in Europe" where there is "probably less of a bias."
Perhaps the Paris Stock Exchange might prove a profitable haven.

Monday, March 21, 2005


The seven year old now knows how to program the VCR to record her favorite show. I regard this as another piece of evidence to support our theory that TV is Good For Kids. She would never have learned this important life skill without the incentive of Totally Spies, a teenie bopper Charlie's Angels copycat that is shown while she is on her way home from school. Yesterday my mother confessed that she can't figure out how to play DVD's in her DVD player. The seven year old has been spared this embarrassing and frustrated inadequacy by virtue of access to The Virtues of Television.

I'm not the only parent who has come to this conclusion; Jeff Vogel of Irony Central likes that TV shows encourage kids to play with toys (at least TV-themed toys):
Thomas the Tank Engine was invented by the Reverend W. Audry, a British minister, to amuse his son. The series shows every sign of having been invented by someone who believes in a vengeful God. It details the adventures of a bunch of intelligent (sort of) trains, who drag shit around under the harsh direction of Sir Topham Hatt, their master and overlord.

My favorite thing about the series, when I can stand to watch it, is the way the trains are cruelly punished for their transgressions. At the beginning of one episode, three trains are being released from the sheds, where Sir Topham Hatt has locked them for several days for misbehaving. The depiction of a world where the naughty can be punished with several days in the closet makes this series pure porn for parents.

Also, the series has an amusing, retro attitude towards the ladies. Female trains are generally crabby, annoying, and dragged around by the boy trains, who are the active ones who have all the adventures. It’s sort of like Harry Potter, but with trains.

At the heart of it, though, despite all of its supposed good intentions, PBS or not, Thomas the Tank Engine is a marketing vehicle. It’s Pokemon for two year-olds. It has dozens of characters: trains, helicopters, busses, other trains, and you can buy all of them. And you will. Thomas got my innocent little girl to start asking for stuff all the time. “Daddy, buy me Thomas a little, please?” Thanks, PBS!

Friday, March 18, 2005

COW POWER OF 170@4800 

Sandy at the M.A.W.B. squad is in the market for a new vehicle to replace the van totalled by her daughter (who thankfully escaped with only a forehead bump). She is soliciting suggestions but has rejected the Saturn option ("I'm that odd duck who really, really likes the negotiation process. I would actually be disappointed if I didn't get to work over the salesperson of my choice.")

Here's my suggestion. Go for a Chevy Oldsmobile:
The days of bartering are back at a Charlottetown car dealership. It is giving farmers a chance to trade in a cow on the purchase of a vehicle. Walter Piccott Chev Olds in Charlottetown will take up to dozen cattle under the program. It is offering farmers up to $1,000 for their cattle.
Just think of the negotiation possibilities ("Twelve cows, four goldfish and a guinea pig. And that's my final offer!"). The only difficulty might be in getting the cattle there. But you can cross that bridge when you get to it.

UPDATE: I the Warrior Monk emerge from my long hibernation to note that there is of course no such thing as a Chevy Oldsmobile, only Chevies and Oldsmobiles. In fact, there is no longer any such thing as Oldsmobiles, or new ones at any rate, to the eternal chagrin of both my father and my brother.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I've always been able to remember numbers pretty well (it's names and faces I have difficulty with), but I recognize that this is the reverse of the common lot. Until recently, my peculiar memory was more of a liability than a help: phone numbers don't get insulted if you have no idea what they are. Now my ability to remember nonsensical passwords spares me minutes of frustration each day and my kids' friends couldn't care less if I remember who they are as long as I produce lunch and snacks as needed.

But my soft-hearted empathetic inner child (it must be there somewhere) feels for those can't remember their passwords. And my common-sensical self connects with this observation:
[T]he logical conclusion of most strong password policies ... is that passwords should be impossible to remember and should never be written down.

Somehow, the world's ATM banking systems have managed to get by with a bare minimum of fraud for more than 20 years by relying upon only four-digit codes. So what do the banking geeks grasp about password management?

The obvious answer: the stronger and more complex the password scheme, the lazier and more technically incompetent the security system administrator.
And my jargon fascination doppelganger digs the lingo: risk homeostasis, danger compensation, risk-offsetting behavior, perverse compensation. Might I suggest a new term? Lazyasses.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Bush won the election despite what a recent study says was massive negative media coverage:
The annual report by a press watchdog that is affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said that 36 percent of stories about Bush were negative compared to 12 percent about Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.
Makes one wonder about the influence of the MSM, doesn't it? Wonder no more: John F. Kerry has analyzed the situation. His conclusion: the "discernment," as he would term it, of the MSM was undermined by nefarious sources, thus leading the voters astray:
We learned ... that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"
A sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information? Why that sounds like Spitbull! We're so flattered. We'd use the phrase as our new tagline but it's too wordy to work "for entertainment purposes."

Monday, March 14, 2005


The M.A.W.B. Squad has redecorated and my don't things look dandy!

I've always hoped that Spitbull's look, while admittedly quite dated (the equivalent of Courier type in an Arial world), will someday appear to be "classic" and retro-fashionable. Wait long enough and things often do. But now I'm having a rare moment of doubt on that score.

Drat you chicks! I guess it's true women dress for other women, not for men...

Saturday, March 12, 2005


The Swedish navy had been picking up strange unidentified sounds and worried they might be from Russian submarines, so they asked scientists to investigate.
And investigate they did. The unidentified sounds turned out to be fish farts. To be more specific, the bad boys were herrings.

The Swedish scientific heroes even published a paper on the phenomenon, then--egad!-- found that Scottish scientists had beaten them to to punch by publishing a paper demonstrating that herrings are just as rude in the Pacific and Atlantic as they are in Baltic waters. The Scots, however, weren't motivated by the Russkies:
We heard these rasping noises, which sound like high pitched raspberries, only ever at night, whenever we saw tiny gas bubbles coming from the herrings' bottoms.
No word on the gender of the tooting fish but I'd bet they were all male.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The seven year old has homework at least four days a week. She has been assigned at least some homework at school since she began there in kindergarten. The quantity she must do will gradually increase as she gets older. Right now the homework is mostly stuff like "read for at least 10 minutes and write down what you've read."

Not too onerous, but I have trouble forcing her to adhere to the letter of the homework law as I didn't have homework myself until seventh grade. Oh, I read like a fiend, but because I liked it, not because it was assigned as homework. So, when she reads for an hour one night (as she often does), I let her write down what she read as fulfilling her assignment for the entire week. I think it's better to coax someone into loving reading rather than forcing it down their throats.

This is one reason I'm dubious about Mexico City's plan to require its police to read a book each month:
The list of recommended titles includes such literary classics as Don Quixote, The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz, and, on a lighter note, The Little Prince.

One hindrance is that a substantial proportion of the police are semi-literate.

About 20% were not educated beyond primary level.

However, according to the mayor, classes will be given to those with reading difficulties.

There is no chance of anyone getting away without doing the reading.

The policemen will be regularly tested to make sure they have read the books they name.
The mayor is instituting the reform in order to fight the "popular conception that Mexican police are corrupt, incompetent and lazy." At least now maybe they'll be able to discuss the finer points of Dante's Inferno while extracting their bribes.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


No, not me, I finally have the pleasure of presenting the cooking foibles of someone else:

Brew the tea. Find it two hours later, cold. Add sugar, microwave. Remember it two hours later, cold. Microwave again. Repeat until time to go home. Return to work, wash cup, try again. Repeat as necessary.
This is how one scientist does it anyway. Someone has actually collected scientists' best "rituals" for preparing tea or coffee. The only one worth emulating is:

Buy a plane ticket to anywhere in Italy. Get off the plane, get a coffee anywhere you land, even in the airport.
Pricey perhaps, but the "ritual" has much to recommend it. Also, it works equally well if you change the word "coffee" to "fried calamari."

Monday, March 07, 2005


Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," is no longer hosting at Air America Radio.

(Via I Want Media)

They probably have affirmative action for Minnesotans or something. Take advantage!

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Aaron Haspel (God of the Machine) returns from months of puzzling out alpha to unscramble the conundrum of why there were so many obits penned about the recent deaths of the writers Hunter S. Thompson and Arthur Miller:
The uncharitable explanation — monkey see, monkey scribble — has as usual a good deal in it. Thompson is a topic, Miller is a topic, and we are perennially starved for topics: such is the vital function of the newspaper. But there is something even more unpleasant at work — a ghoulish, misbegotten sense of duty, as if failing to note their passing means that our own will also go unremarked. Well, it will. Not to worry.
I'm not worried and I didn't read a single obituary of these luminaries in its entirety. But I did read the headlines and I'm grateful there were so many because the repetition of the news may, just may, mean I don't embarrass myself at the next trivia debriefing session. Though I've never participated in the trivia contests at Keegan's myself, I spend time with those that do and they spend time talking about the questions they nailed, the questions that got away.

At least I'm not the only one who can't remember whether someone is still alive. There are even a number of websites exclusively devoted to keeping track of whether the famous and "interesting" still breathe.

Arthur C. Clarke. Alive. Robert Ludlum. Dead. I would have gotten those wrong.

Friday, March 04, 2005


Folks planning on showing up next Thursday for the first (annual? weekly?) Fraters Trivia Night at Keegan's Irish Pub might want to start limbering up with this.

Or maybe this.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


A commenter (using the moniker "Real Liberal") at one of our favorite lefty blogs is disappointed with Tom's recent post:
Well another one bites the dust. Have fun Tom being a reactionary fascist you dirty bush-sucking bitch. The Dems don't need traitors like you anyway.
Tom's crime? A thoughtful post that ends:
So, as a Democrat, I'm wondering: What do we do if President Bush was right? What do we do if the Mideastern dominoes start falling and President Bush goes down in history as Winston Churchill, while we go down as Neville Chamberlain, howling weakly that diplomacy works and military force is no longer necessary? What if our most conservative President goes down in history as a great contributor to the liberal ideals of freedom and tolerance, while we Democrats -- we liberals -- go down as cold-hearted and fearful, unconcerned about the suffering of our fellows while we sit contentedly in our affluence?

If that happens, are we even liberals any more?
Don't worry commenter, there is and will be plenty of bad news for you to focus on along the way, even as the dominoes fall. Go on ignoring the prizes of freedom and tolerance in the Middle East and keep your eye on the real prize: DFL power at home! This won't get you the prize you want but it'll keep you from the evil of cognitive dissonance.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Praise for the Bush administration's policy in Iraq where praise rarely appears:
  • The New York Times:
    The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power.
  • The Guardian:
    First ... we should be big enough to concede that it [the Iraq war] could yet have at least one good outcome.

    Second, we have to say that the call for freedom throughout the Arab and Muslim world is a sound and just one - even if it is a Bush slogan and arguably code for the installation of malleable regimes. Put starkly, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it. Sometimes your enemy's enemy is not your friend.

  • The Daily Show's Jon Stewart:
    He's gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.


    ... this is--this is the most difficult thing for me to--because, I think, I don't care for the tactics, I don't care for this, the weird arrogance, the setting up. But I gotta say, I haven't seen results like this ever in that region.
Of course, some pigs are not yet aloft.