Thursday, August 31, 2006


Just when I think they've run out of good ones, our co-blogger finally gets a hurricane named after him (fortunately, or unfortunately, it doesn't look to be a scary one). My other co-blogger and myself are not up for the honor until 2009.

Here's my favorite naming flotsam and jetsam:
  • Baby name popularity over time.
  • Surname incidence in the UK (1881 and 1998 so you can see how your kinfolk spread or died out) and a rudimentary distribution application for the US.
UPDATE: One problem with publishing hurricane names years out into the future: it attracts scammers. Potential hurricane web site names have been snapped up, ready to be unleashed on the concerned citizenry when the next big one strikes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I like the former so much better. By way of illustrative example, you will never learn from Britannica that winners of the Miss Wisconsin pageant go on to markedly limited success in the Miss America pageant.

While we're on the topic of attractive young women who are not my wife, here is Christopher Hitchens on Commandments Six through Ten:

Then it's a swift wrap-up with a condemnation of adultery (from which humans actually can refrain) and a prohibition upon covetousness (from which they cannot). To insist that people not annex their neighbor's cattle or wife "or anything that is his" might be reasonable, even if it does place the wife in the same category as the cattle, and presumably to that extent diminishes the offense of adultery. But to demand "don't even think about it" is absurd and totalitarian, and furthermore inhibiting to the Protestant spirit of entrepreneurship and competition.

One is presuming (is one not?) that this is the same god who actually created the audience he was addressing. This leaves us with the insoluble mystery of why he would have molded ("in his own image," yet) a covetous, murderous, disrespectful, lying, and adulterous species. Create them sick, and then command them to be well? What a mad despot this is, and how fortunate we are that he exists only in the minds of his worshippers.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Congratulations to my co-blogger Warrior Monk for his tireless efforts to make Minneapolis #2!


Bob Dylan on illegal music downloads: "It was like, 'everybody's gettin' music for free'. I was like, 'well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway'."


We get our home Internet access via a wireless router linked to a broadband access point, as do most folks we know around here (come to think of it, I think my mom is the only person left on the planet who still does wired dial-up).

I thought we were pretty nifty by having an Internet on-ramp for any wireless-equipped PC in range but I was wrong. Now we're nifty: our stereo has joined our network via this gadget.

Bottom line: I can now use my computer to play iTunes music on the stereo. My computer can be anywhere in network range and so long as the mongo hard drive housing the iTunes library is on and in range, I can control the stereo (which is in the basement). It's like magic.

Bottomer line: I am on a mission to finally rip all our CD's to iTunes. And we have an awful lot of CD's. Blogging? Qu'est que c'est?

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Nicolas Cage is going to direct and star in a movie about Liberace, and it reminded me of one of the strangest court cases of modern times.

In 1956, Liberace embarked on a European tour, arriving first in London. A tabloid called The Daily Mirror ran an essay by a columnist pennamed "Cassandra" that dispaired at the cheering receptions greeting Liberace's arrival. It read in relevant part:

He is the summit of sex—Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. Everything that He, She and It can ever want. . . . I have spoken to sad but kindly men on this newspaper who have met every celebrity arriving from the United States for the past thirty years. They all say that this deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavored, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love has had the biggest reception and impact on London since Charlie Chaplin arrived at the same station, Waterloo, on September 12, 1921.

The essay went on in similar vein, referring to Liberace variously as "a calculating candy-floss," a "slag-heap of lilac-covered hokum," and (my personal favorite) a "sugary mountain of jingling claptrap wrapped up in such a preposterous clown."

Liberace sued for libel, claiming the tabloid falsely and maliciously accused him of being gay. See this fascinating account of the trial here.

Both parties took completely preposterous positions. The Daily Mirror claimed that it wasn't saying that Liberace was gay. For his part, Liberace said the following:

Q: "Are you a homosexual?"
A: "No, sir."
Q: "Have you ever indulged in homosexual practices?"
A: "No, sir, never in my life. I am against the practice because it offends convention and it offends society."

That last answer is telling. Someone who really wasn't gay probably would have said "because I like women," or at least "because it just doesn't sound like fun to me."

In the end, Liberace won the suit and $22,000 in damages, plus court costs.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Spitbull (well, 2/3 of us anyway) has returned from our obligatory annual vacation. We escaped the relatives relatively unscathed and had a cheerful liquid and gel-free return flight.

Unfortunately, however, during the "vacation" the five year old visited a "farm" and discovered the existence of guinea pigs. She is smitten, or claims to be, and we have been forced to fashion anti-guinea pig speeches about every hour or so.

Our customary dizzying posting pace should return as soon as we unpack. Unless we find a guinea pig in the kids' room.