Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Went To the Movies.

Saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Wednesday afternoon first matinee, only 5 people in the theater.

Good movie, although the critics are correct that the plot is so convoluted that it's hard to follow. If you view the movie as a theme park ride, though, which is what the franchise started out as, after all, you don't worry about the plot, you just sit back and enjoy the episodic nature of the film. High point for me was seeing Keith Richards as Captain Jack's dad, of course. Things were resolved so that it's unlikely we'll see Orlando Bloom or the bony Keira Knightly in any proposed sequels. Disney certainly left the door open for sequels, anyway, and Depp has said he's still happy playing the character.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Siegfried Sassoon's Military Cross Not Drowned After All.

via Guardian.

A long-lost Military Cross, awarded to a poet who articulated the futility of war, has been found in a Scottish attic. The medal, presented to Siegfried Sassoon and thought to have been thrown away 90 years ago in disgust at the slaughter of the first world war, is expected to fetch up to £25,000 when it comes up for auction at Christie's in London next month.

Sassoon was awarded the MC in 1916 for "conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy's trenches". His citation in the London Gazette noted that he had braved "rifle and bomb fire" and that, "owing to his courage and determination, all the killed and wounded were brought in".

But in 1917, he was said to have thrown the medal into the Mersey after the authorities declined to court-martial him for his refusal to carry out military duties .

Robert Pulvertaft, whose stepfather George was Sassoon's only son, said: "I found it while clearing out the attic of the family property on Mull. Bizarrely, it was in a treasure chest, like a pirates' chest, covered in cobwebs and long-dead insects. The ID tag was there too, along with the revolver in an old Jiffy bag and some poetry medals."

He must have valued it, after all. The medal he was supposed to have thrown into the Mersey was just the ribbon, anyway.

Gypsy Moth Transits Globe Again.

via Independent.

t was the pride of Plymouth, a ship greeted by fanfare after making waves among a proud local public when it completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe. Yesterday, the yacht Gipsy Moth IV charted the same course into Plymouth harbour, 40 years to the day after its first famous voyage.

On 28 May 1967, the 53ft ketch was steered into Plymouth Sound by the trusted hands of the aviator and yachtsman Francis Chichester. Yesterday, it was crewed by a team of young people in a repeat of its original 30,000-mile odyssey which saw it travel around the globe via the three capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop along the way.

t was the pride of Plymouth, a ship greeted by fanfare after making waves among a proud local public when it completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe. Yesterday, the yacht Gipsy Moth IV charted the same course into Plymouth harbour, 40 years to the day after its first famous voyage.

On 28 May 1967, the 53ft ketch was steered into Plymouth Sound by the trusted hands of the aviator and yachtsman Francis Chichester. Yesterday, it was crewed by a team of young people in a repeat of its original 30,000-mile odyssey which saw it travel around the globe via the three capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop along the way.

Sir Francis's journey took nine months and a day. The adventurer, who had survived lung cancer, was knighted by the Queen using the sword of his fellow nautical adventurer Sir Francis Drake. He died in 1972.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another Astronaut Dismissed From NASA.

Space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, who was at the center of a love triangle involving a female astronaut facing an attempted kidnapping charge, has been discharged from NASA's astronaut corps and will return to active duty in the Navy, officials said Friday.

Once Oefelein reports for duty, the Navy will review his involvement in the events that led to the Feb. 5 arrest of Lisa Nowak, a fellow former astronaut and Navy captain. Nowak was arrested in Florida, after driving from Houston to confront Colleen Shipman, an Air Force captain and Oefelein's girlfriend, at the Orlando airport.

This sorry tale continues. Best Oefelein can hope for is to be allowed to resign from the Navy. More likely he'll be cashiered on an adultery charge, along with Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and Gentleman.

Can't Say I Agree.

At the US Naval Academy Graduation ceremonies, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates felt it necessary to caution the Midshipmen to respect the Congress and the Media.

The Congress is a coequal branch of government that that under the Constitution raises armies and provides for navies,” he said. “Members of both parties now serving have long been strong supporters of the Department of Defense and of our men and women in uniform.”

“As officers, you will have the responsibility to communicate to those below you that the American military must be non-political and recognize the obligation that we owe the Congress to be honest and true when reporting to them, especially when it involves admitting mistakes and problems,” Gates said.

“Don’t kid yourself. That takes courage.”

In dealing with the press, officers must understand the role that it plays in providing information to the American people, Gates said, noting the positive role that it played in exposing conditions at Walter Reed Hospital earlier this year.

The press is not the enemy and to treat it as such is self defeating,” he said.

Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Secretary, and the actions of both the Congress and the media are very often indistinguishable from those of an enemy. For Congress, I'd say that what is owed is official courtesy, but respect must always be earned. For the media, noting but contempt. Those bastards must prove themselves, as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We'll Name A Mountain After You!

A mountain of garbage, that is:

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand city is so angry with comedian John Cleese they've named a rubbish tip after him.

A sign reading "Mt. Cleese" has been put up outside a landfill in Palmerston North, where the 67-year-old actor earned the ire of residents during a performance visit last year, local media reported on Tuesday.

I guess it's similar to all those sea slimes that scientists have been naming after President Bush in recent years.

Bondi Beach Caveman Keeps His Home...For Now.

Jhyimy "Two Hats" Mhiyles, who has been squatting in a clifftop dwelling at Sydney, Australia's famous Bondi Beach, narrowly avoided eviction recently.

Longterm I don't foresee it working out for him; looks as if he'll be harassed into leaving via a campaign of petty summonses, tickets, etc. Still, it's a good human interest story.

Internet Darwinism Experiments.

via Reuters.

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Computer specialist Didier Stevens put up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a computer virus for people who did not have any.

Surprisingly, he found as many as 409 people clicking on the ad saying "Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!" during a 6-month advertising campaign on Google's Adword, said the IT security expert.

"Some of them must have clicked on it by mistake. Some must have been curious or stupid," said Mikko Hypponen, head of research at data security firm F-Secure.

There was no virus involved, it was an experiment aiming to show these kind of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent, Stevens told Reuters.

Similar to putting up signs Free Sex! Aids-Infected Whores!, I guess.

Treasure Coins - - The Ageing Process

via Slate.

Good article on why some coins stand up to decades, centuries or even millennia in the sea; buried under mud, scattered over sand, or even sealed up well in lead boxes.

Is there any greater jolt of pleasure than finding a treasure coin on a beach, especially if it's gold? I can't imagine one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This day in history

via Washington Post.

151 years ago, Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) beat Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA)so severely with a cane on the floor of the Senate that Sumner went into a coma and nearly died. Brooks' cane was broken during the assault. Brooks was sent numerous replacements by fans, as Sumner was universally hated in the South. (Remember that in those days the Republicans were the liberals, and the Democrats were the conservatives; Sumner was as popular as Ted Kennedy is today).

I first heard the story in my junior year in high school, from my favorite teacher, Mr. Jackson, who taught us US History/Americanism vs. Communism.

Hamsters On Viagra?

File this under way too weird to be true.

Hurricane Season Will Be....!

They said that last year, too. Even Reuters must be fed up with this bullshit, because the story actually calls bullshit on it, but only in the last paragraph, instead of paragraph 2 where it belonged.

Reuters Interview With President Bush

Full text here.

Among other things, he mentions that it will take a long time for his place in history to be properly judged; I'd guess he's thinking of Truman, another president who left office dreadfully unpopular only to be rehabilitated as decades passed.


A shipwreck which hasn't actually been officially identified is yielding a huge horde of high quality treasure coins, both silver and gold.

Spain is concerned about the location of the treasure ship, though.

The hunters say the ship is in international waters and subject to salvage (as of course they must). We'll see how it shakes out.

Trends In Navy Tattooing

Good article in Navy Times.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Before he went to Iraq, Sgt. Chris Freeman got a tattoo of the Chinese symbol for soldier. When he got back he got another, but this one was far different.

The “sleeve” tattoo covering his left arm depicts his struggle to come to grips with war, “a never-ending battle between heaven and hell,” says Freeman, a former infantry leader with the 10th Mountain Division.

“I don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Freeman said as he watched tattoo artists ink work at Empyre Tattoo in Carthage, 2 miles from Fort Drum.

Tattoo artists whose shops are near military bases say Freeman is typical of many soldiers and Marines returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the beginning they wanted tattoos that identified them by name, religion or simply as soldiers, as Freeman did, says tattoo artist Scott LaGrange, 26, of Forever Tattoos in Evans Mills.

“That’s when their religion comes out,” LaGrange says. “Crosses, bottles of booze, hearts with “Mom” and “Dad.”

A former Marine and veteran of Afghanistan, LaGrange says those who return are requesting skulls, patriotic phrases or memorials to fallen comrades.

Tattoo artist Jim Frost, 36, of Forever Tattoos, flipped through a portfolio showing unit patches, religious symbols and American eagle tattoos that he did for soldiers early in the war. A more recent popular tattoo shows a skeleton climbing out of a coffin and reaching for a Kevlar helmet.

It means “they’ll do what they have to for the cost of freedom,” Frost says. Another recent tattoo carries the inscription “Never Forgotten” over the 101st Airborne Division banner with its eagle shedding a tear.

Good article. I never got tattooed myself, can't think of any single thing that I want on my skin enough to justify one.

WTF is up with Navy Firings?

Five Commanding Officers fired in five weeks, and more may follow?

The Navy’s recent troubled waters got even more turbulent May 11-16 as news got out of a destroyer grounding, a frigate apparently going dead in the water and a sub skipper being fired. The commanding-officer sacking was the fifth in as many weeks.

Reviewing links, they all cite the same reason for firings: relieved “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Is this code of some sort? Did they all come out as teh gay, or something?

Indonesian Guy Catches Coelacanth...

...which is a fish from the dinosaur period, occasionally caught in the Indian Ocean.

via CNN.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian angler caught a fish once thought to have disappeared along with the dinosaurs and held it in a quarantined pool until it died 17 hours later, a biologist said Sunday.

The coelacanth fish was thought to have become extinct 65 million years ago until one was found in 1938 off Africa's coast. The discovery of the so-called "living fossil" ignited worldwide interest.

I had to go to Wikipedia for the question I really wanted an answer to, which is not mentioned in the news article: are they good to eat? Wikipedia says:

A worldwide search was launched for more coelacanths, with a reward of 100 British pounds, a very substantial sum to the average South African fisherman of the time. Fourteen years later, one specimen was found in the Comoros, but the fish was no stranger to the locals -- in the port of Mutsamudu on the Comorian island of Anjouap, the Comorians were puzzled to be so rewarded for a gombessa or mame, an inferior, nearly inedible fish that their fishermen occasionally caught by mistake.

Gay Flamingos Raise Chicks

via BBC.

A pair of same sex flamingos have become foster parents after adopting an abandoned chick in Gloucestershire.

Carlos and Fernando had tried to start their own family by stealing eggs from other flamingos at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge.

But their sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much, that when a nest was abandoned last week, they were chosen to "adopt" the chick.

The new flamingo family is said to be doing well.

Welcome Protein Wisdom Readers! Jeff's blog is light years better than this one, be warned. I'm just a semi-educated redneck from Florida.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lileks In Walt Disney World: A Week Of Anticipation

Lileks had a week's vacation in Walt Disney World, and is dedicating the Bleat to it this week. This morning's Bleat ends with a cliffhanger at The Haunted Mansion.

Read more here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Run! It's Cate Blanchett!

She thirsts! She wants your blood!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy Wins French Presidential Election.

via BBC.

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has won the hotly-contested French presidential election, according to early results.

With three quarters of votes counted, Mr Sarkozy has 53%, compared with 47% for socialist Segolene Royal, while turnout is put at 85%.

Mr Sarkozy, 52, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, takes over from the 74-year-old Jacques Chirac.

He seems on surface friendlier to the US than Chirac. That doesn't mean he'll join the coalition of the willing, especially since he'll be busy trying to control the Islamofascist thuggish kids in his own country, a difficult proposition at best.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hmm. Couldn't find a Muslim?

Here is a series of photos that the BBC took of French citizens talking about whom they intended to vote for in the presidential election, and why.

Notice any particular group missing?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Conservative Alternative To YouTube?

via ABC News.

In the new digital media age, damning political video can have an immediate impact on campaign 2.0, thanks largely to the availability and immediacy of YouTube.

The popular video-sharing website first debuted the "Hillary 1984" comparing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. to a Orwellian dictator, then-Sen. George Allen's career-altering "macaca" moment, and the "I Feel Pretty" video chiding former Sen. John Edwards', D-N.C., good looks.

But YouTube, which is owned by Google, has also been a favorite target of conservatives, who accuse the service of a liberal bias.

Railing against YouTube, two Republican White House veterans have launched QubeTV as a the conservative alternative.

"The 2008 campaign will be dominated by video and in particular by user-generated video," said QubeTV founder Charlie Gerow, a former aide in the Ronald Reagan White House.

"There are a vast array of young conservative activists and operatives out there armed with cell phones or hand-held that are going to capture the next 'macaca' moment or John Kerry bad joke and put them on Qube TV," said Gerow, whose Pennsylvania strategic media firm, Quantum Communications, created the website.

Gerow insists YouTube banned a video by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin about radical Islamists.

Responding to that incident, a statement on the website reads: "We fly the conservative flag here at QubeTV and we will not be about banning or deleting conservatives."

YouTube takes issue with Gerow's assertion that the site is banning conservative content.

"That's flat out incorrect," said a spokesman for YouTube, who asked not to be identified by name.

A statement provided to ABC News by YouTube elaborated: "Our site provides an equal opportunity for both sides of the political spectrum and embraces voter interaction with the candidates with no regard to party affiliation."

It's not a new story, really. There are similar accusations that Google and Wikipedia are biased, also.

Great Hitchens Interview.


Hitch talks about the only time he ever offered a prayer (for an erection), has a touching exchange with the interviewer about US citizenship, and discusses his new book, Why God Is Not Great. (That title a conscious slap at the Muslim saying Allahu Akbar, God Is Great).