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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Quote of the day

There is something fundamentally wrong with a war where there are more dead children than armed men.
-Jan Egeland, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Quote of the day

When President Bush is down on his ranch, he likes to spend his time clearing brush and chopping wood, because no matter how much legislation you pass to cut down trees, there's nothing like destroying them with your own hands.
-Jay Leno

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Greetings and felicitations...

... to Leslie, whose birthday is today.

My mother and I are headed to Chicago this afternoon. Flying with Mom is a real treat. While we've made certain that our carryons contain no liquids or other contraband items, Mom's bobbypins always set off the metal detectors and throw the TSA folk into DefCon 1.

Of course, the alternative is driving to Chicago and- no offense, Mom- I'd rather undergo a full cavity search with a cactus than spend eight hours in a car listening to her tell me about her childhood. Repeatedly. On a one hour plane trip, it's a simple matter of pointing out the window to a wing and asking her, "Did you see that piece of metal fly off the aileron?" She spends the rest of the trip in silence, eyes closed and gripping the arms of her seat. It's good aerobic exercise.

We're heading to Gino's North tonight, my old haunt when I commuted between Chicago and Pittsburgh, and I'm looking forward to seeing the gang. Particularly Peggy, who makes the best pizza in the Windy City, and who I refer to as my "Chicago mom." (She's the one who knows how to cook.) Let's just hope Real Mom doesn't fire up the computer and read this before we leave for the airport.

After we attend my company picnic tomorrow, Mom and I are taking Leslie to dinner for her birthday. I'm not going to tell you how old she is. Not due to my innate chivalry, mind you, but because, frankly, I forget. Suffice it to say she's younger than me, and you'd never guess her age by looking at her.

Sigh. It's off to Inane Securityland. I think the approach Archie Bunker suggested in the early 70s on All in the Family is the way to go... give everyone boarding the plane a gun, and collect them at the end of the flight. You won't have to worry about terrorists (or people using cell phones, for that matter).

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This should be good...

My son Doug told me about Man of the Year, and I can't wait:

Comedian Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) has a hugely popular talk show on which he rips politicians to shreds (think The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). So when he decides, on a lark, to run for president, he's having the time of his life until he gets the one thing no one bargained for:

He wins.

Chris Matthews (of MSNBC): At 1:23 east coast time, the free world will now be led... by a comedian.

Christopher Walken: Whoops.

Here's the Buzz: Hang on, an acerbic comedian who's known for his "fake news" ... did Jon Stewart get script approval? Wish fulfillment aside, while Oscars are nice and all, we're psyched to see Williams returning to his comic roots (with Christopher Walken and Lewis Black, no less)- not to mention reuniting with his Good Morning Vietnam director Barry Levinson, who also directed Wag the Dog, Rain Man and Diner.

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It's official...

The heat wave is officially over.

Today's National Temperature Index of 895°F is the first time the NTI has dipped below 900° since July 11.

The record breaking month-long run of 900+ temperatures also included the highest NTI recorded- 950°F on July 18.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ricky lays it all out...

Hmm... three months before a mid-term election, a formerly popular Democratic senator gets ditched because of his support of the war (and don't get me started on that war business- Congress hasn't declared a war since Pearl Harbor), a company that makes $13 million a minute in profits hasn't checked the main pipleline responsible for delivering petroleum to the west coast in 16 years because of "the expense", and gas is over $3 a gallon. They're stacking up civilian bodies in mideast morgues like Pringles, and our President is back in Texas, cutting down trees and raising money for neocons. Quick, we need a diversion!

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Putting the events in a political context, Mr. Santorum echoed the rhetoric of other Republicans when he suggested that the anti-war sentiment demonstrated in the defeat of Democratic U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Tuesday's Connecticut primary might be perceived as an indication that the United States lacks the will to fight terrorism.

"The sorry part of all this is, if you look at the polls, if you look at what happened Tuesday night, some people would say they are winning."

Referring to his own November re-election contest against Democratic Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey, Mr. Santorum said he believes observers "are going to see this as a referendum on whether America has the will to fight."

Ah... so let's up the terror level (which hasn't been elevated since- guess when?- the 2004 Presidential election) and impose a major, if useless, security provision on travelers: forcing them to throw away their bottled water, perfume, and- God help us- hair gel.

The question really is: do Americans have the will to fight against elected officials who use fear and calls for blind patriotism to keep themselves in power? They're not afraid of terrorists, folks... they're afraid of us. It's important to note that of the three planes which attacked us on 9/11, the one that failed to reach its target was brought down not by our chickenhawk leaders- who immediately went into hiding- but by regular folks. The government is unable and unwilling to protect us.

And not just from surprise terrorist plots. Look at New Orleans: we knew that was coming for decades, and the government's main source of information was cable news.

The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty comes not from without, but from within. Do some research. The price we pay for our freedom means we risk dying in a terrorist attack- although the risk is about the same as getting hit by lightning, or less than winning the Powerball jackpot.

Remember what FDR said: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." It requires a 21st century addendum: "and the politicians who promote it for their selfish interests."

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Caption of the day

And making me pack my espresso in my
checked luggage is going make me safer how??

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Dilbert disses Pittsburgh?

dilbert.blog by Scott Adams: Pittsburgh

I'm back on the road today- this time to Pittsburgh where I will give a mirthful keynote address to a darkened room full of strangers. Pittsburgh has many wonderful tourist attractions and natural wonders. For example, there's the Pittsburgh Museum of Things That Other Museums Didn't Want, the Festival of Rust, and historic Fort Arm Pitt. And if you love seeing thousands of grey birds lining telephone poles waiting for a dropped French fry, you'll love Pittsburgh.

According to Wikipedia, it's cloudy in Pittsburgh 200 days per year.  That part of the country has four seasons. If it's anything like my old hometown in upstate NY, it means that during the remaining 165 days either your eyeballs are getting poached in your skull or you're standing on tip-toes to keep your McNuggets above the brown snow line.  That's why I've arranged for a windowless temperature-controlled container to transport me from the airport directly to the hotel conference room.  It's all in my contract.

I have a feeling that vegetarians such as me are not welcome in steel town, so I strapped an emergency beet to my ankle and hid a carrot in the spine of my 3-ring binder.  Bring it on!

You might distrust my characterization of Pittsburgh based on the fact that I've never been there and only researched the climate on my Blackberry five minutes ago. But that's okay because almost all of my knowledge is a medley of hallucinations and misinformation that knocks around in my wrinkled grey thing (my brain, you pervert) until it turns into reliable facts. The cool thing is that 20,000 people will read this post and some percentage of what I said will turn into their 'knowledge' of Pittsburgh.

Ten years from now you might find yourself talking with someone who actually grew up in Pittsburgh. You'll try to impress him by mentioning the Festival of Rust. You won't remember where you heard about it, but you'll be pretty sure it involves floats that you wouldn't want to sit on with your good pants.

I do recall - or maybe I hallucinated- that Pittsburgh always rates high on quality of life surveys. So they must be doing something right. I assume that part of Pittsburgh's strategy involves discouraging tourism by naming their sports teams Pirates and Steelers. It sounds like the kind of place where unless you stuff your wallet up your own ass and clench, someone is going to get it.

[Update: Okay, it turns out that Pittsburgh is a very nice place. Now I feel bad.]

(From The Dilbert Blog via Leslie's Omnibus)

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Set your Tivos

7:30 p.m. "Unwrapped"
A special "cooking with kids" includes a visit to the Easy Bake Oven wing of the Dallas Burn Unit. Food Network.

9 p.m "Mythbusters"
The Diet Coke and Mentos reaction is the cold fusion of 2006. Discovery Channel.

11 p.m. "Pee Wee's Playhouse"
The fact that Pee Wee Herman's classic playhouse romps will be seen by a new generation can only be taken as a sign of hope. Cartoon Network.

(via the Marin Independent Journal)

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Quote of the day

Mel Gibson finally met with some prominent members of the Jewish community today... his lawyers.
-Jay Leno

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

His turn to the Dark Side is complete...

(From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Comedian and Pittsburgh native Dennis Miller is joining Fox News Channel as a contributor to "Hannity & Colmes" this autumn, according to a network executive. Miller, who did a stint on "Hannity & Colmes" in 2003 and then had his own eponymous show on CNBC, will begin weighing in on news and politics beginning Sept. 13. He also will provide commentary on the FNC Web site.

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That's it, all I'm eating is dirt (part 21)

From the Associated Press:

One High-Saturated Fat Meal Can Be Bad

CLEVELAND (AP) - Eating just one meal high in saturated fat- in this case, carrot cake and a milkshake- can quickly prevent "good" cholesterol from protecting the body against clogged arteries, a small study shows.

The results of the research weren't a surprise to the experts, but they say the findings reaffirm something that more people need to understand:

"What we put into our mouth makes a big difference in terms of our health," said Dr. Charles McCauley, a cardiologist with Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, who reviewed the research but wasn't involved with the study. "We really have to be very careful as to how our food is processed and what kind of ingredients we use."

And, from the Wall Street Journal

Want Fat With That? A Surprising Way To Make Vegetables More Nutritious

Are you getting the most out of your fruits and vegetables?

That's the question researchers are trying to answer as they study how our bodies absorb the healthful nutrients and compounds in foods. What they are finding is that in our quest to cut calories and fat from our diets, we may be cutting out a lot more.

It turns out that some of the best stuff in fruits and vegetables- certain vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds- are "fat-soluble." That means some fat needs to be present for the body to adequately absorb the nutrients. But studies are now showing that people who opt for no-fat dressing or who skip adding foods like avocado or cheese to a dish to avoid fat calories, are getting far less out of their salads and other veggies.

"What we're finding is that if you don't have some fat in the meal, all these wonderful" compounds are missed, says Steven Clinton, program leader for molecular carcinogenesis and chemoprevention and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus. "If the nutrients don't get into your system, then what good are they?"

So... one can have clogged arteries or be well-nourished, but apparently not both.

I'm back to my dirt diet.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Quote of the day

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
-Albert Einstein

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Oh. Well, okay then...

You may be skeptical, but feng shui is actually based on solid astrological principles that have been scientifically verified by Shirley MacLaine and other leading Californians.
~Dave Barry, Miami Herald

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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