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December 3, 2005

more pirates

I've been thinking about pirates, again.  For example, the pirates referred to in the last post, the Somali pirates, the Indoniesian pirates, the pirates with gun who hijack vessels and kill innocents.

Ever since the "Talk Like A Pirate Day" foolishness, I've been down on poor pirates.  They used to be so fun and free, and now they're all commercialized, just like the Christmas we used to celebrate before O'Reilly decided to occupy it.

I say pirates are back.  They have unjumped the bukkake-Gawker-shark.  You wanna talk like a pirate?  [Gunfire, bleeding.]  Nothing says now like actually scourging a few of the Seven Seas.

Argh, indeed.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:12 PM

December 2, 2005

topcat marine security

Old friend CCP is still keeping up on the pirate stories.  That's how he tripped across this BBC story, which tells of how the Somali government is hiring a NY marine security firm to help fight pirates operating off the Somali coast.

Which should be interesting enough for your ordinary web-surfer with an interest in pirates.

But no, little alarms bells went off in CCP's head about the maritime security firm -- Topcat Marine Security.  So he went to the Google, and stumbled across this -- the finest example of amateur muckraking I have seen in a long, long time.  I can't even begin to summarize the fruits of Kathryn Kramer's efforts, but I will say that her very lengthy post is fascinating.

And for extra special content, hit the comments and see the back-and-forth with her fans and detractors.

My prediction: muck will continue to be raked until the story of a very hinky Somali deal with a very hinky marine security firm hits the AP wires sometime, ohh, in the next seven to ten days.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:01 PM

dilbert -- right between the eyes

It's time to write about the job!  Only because everyone loves reading about the job.  Plus also there is this paradigm of "blog" that I keep reading about in newspapers and magazines that I must reconcile occasionally.

So, yes, it is now, minutes before the staff meeting, that I remember that I have again forgotten to acquire the eyeglasses with the eyes-wide-open painted on the lenses.  In fact, it is probably the nintieth consecutive staff meeting for which I have so forgotten.

Plus also, if you happen to be someone that I communicate on an e-mailical level in the course of my duties here at the job, and you are still writing your e-mails in all-caps, please realize that not only does it make your e-mail look like it is yelling, but also means that your manners are trapped somewhere in 1997.  So let's make with the governing-yourself-accordingly, so you won't wonder to yourself, "Is that me?" when you are surfing the net and read about someone who, sadly, is probably you.

Hmm.

On reflection, maybe if I had more friends at the job, I wouldn't be forced to confide in all you anonymous eyeball people.

How 'bout some noisy neighbor stories then?  Urrrbody hearts noisy neighbor stories!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:47 AM

December 1, 2005

long way to go to find out the store is already closed

This is the concept of reality my two- or three-year old brain whipped up, oh those years ago.  (I don't know why I remember this, though it might be a forest/trees issue.)  The world was actually an omni-directional conveyor belt, as I am an absolutely fixed point in space.  Therefore, when, say, traveling to Cleveland, it was not me scooting across the skin of the planet, but rather the Mistake by the Lake slowing inching towards me.  And people were not real.  They were robots.  The reason that people sometimes resembled each other is because the robot-makers (who, sadly, I never gave much thought to) would re-use one of their robot faces.  I was the only real person, plus also an unmovable object.

Perhaps this is a common first try at consciousness.  Or, maybe there's a little more Peter Braunstein in me than I'd like to admit.

Why am I raising this?  Don't blame me -- blame the Yahoo! Box O' Headlines:

• Partial face transplant raises ethical concerns

So, yeah.  I guess it got me thinking about my own personal ethical concerns of face transplants.  Namely, a) no face transplant for evil superspies. and b) no use of face transplants to reconvince me of my infant weltanschauung.

Like the world wasn't creepy enough without evil face-switching superspies and my own personal superegocentric origins.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:38 AM

November 30, 2005

high fructose corn syrup

Are you worried by high fructose corn syrup?  I shore am.  Ever since Mrs. Titvil joined the ranks of the Celiac-afflicted, I've taken up the habit of reading the tiny list of ingredients before consuming.  Not that I'm some kind of prudish OCD -- no, I eat pretty much anything.  It was just the idea of "better living through chemistry" that was getting me down.  What's so wrong with sugar that it has to be replaced by corn?

Well, over at Cardhouse, an essay on HFCS was linked up, the content of which was in line with my Soylent-Greenish distrust of the substance.  Which essay was then rebutted by Cardhouse's Dr. Berk, who is very handy with the chemistry.  An interesting (and independent) counter-point.

I think that the bottom line for me is, whether or not HFCS is better or worse than sugar, keep your God-Damn dirty science out of my food unless I ask.

(And yes, Dr. Berk, I realize that "cooking" is pretty much only a bunch of chemical reactions easily produced in a kitchen -- my point remains.)

Though Dr. Berk has convinced me that chemists much be uncommonly good writers.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:29 AM

November 29, 2005

25th amendment

I found the way to scare myself.  As you may have assumed, a disproportionate amount of my surfing is spent on websites of the political news/opinion nature.  I've been noticing lately (no, I wasn't taking notes) an increasing number of news bites relating to the bunker mentality and/or fraying nerves of the Bush Administration, and a correspondingly increasing number of blog posts decrying our batshit president.

Americablog nailed it best by posting the relevant portions of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the amendment that governs the succession of the presidency.  For example, it addresses the procedure used to remove the president in the event of incapacity.

On a whim, I hit a Technorati search for the words 25th and Amendment.  At the time, it came back with 1,324 blogposts.  Sure, some of them were direct references to Americablog's post, and others were posts that randomly contained both "25th" and "Amendment", but still.

When you have a measurable portion of the type of people who like to think online for your reading pleasure musing on the prospect of the President of the United States of America being yanked because he became cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, then I'd say that the zeitgeist is creeping me out.

Not that I doubt that he is in some way impaired -- just listen to him speak.  But the idea of a President Crazypants swinging his dick all over the planet is most uncomfortable.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:11 AM

November 28, 2005

as the facade so the foundation

I'm not sure if the Yahoo! Headline Corral knows "metaphor", but lookit:
• Piece of Supreme Court facade falls

In light of the last few nominations and recent jurisprudence (Bush v. Gore standing out the brightest), George Lucas couldn't write this shit.  Hell, C.S. God-damn Lewis couldn't write this shit.

Meanwhile, the President embarks today on a tour of our southern border, where he is to give a speech on illegal immigration and his proposed "gastarbeiter" program.  Because, you know, it is the most pressing problem facing America today, according to racists.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:06 AM