Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...


Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day

A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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I Love DCL

no. we're not that kgb.

Cool Spinny Thingy!

KGB, CIA linked

The Carbolic Smoke Ball
Superb satire, and based in Pittsburgh!

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Article VI, U.S. Constitution

Geek of the Week, 7/16/2000

Geek of the Week

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Cruel Site of the Day (7/15/2000)


Hard to describe.

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Just a thought....

One good thing about the FCC's proposal to permit the use of cell phones on commercial airline flights is that it finally provides a justifiable reason to search passengers for weapons.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

First Vioxx, now Celebrex...

News alert from The Wall Street Journal:

"Pfizer Inc. said a new study finds increased risk of heart problems with taking painkiller drug Celebrex."

I think Graham's got it nailed.

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The fiendly skies

I fly United on my commutes between Chicago and Pittsburgh. I originally used the now-defunct Vanguard airlines, then switched to AirTran- $39 one way... cheaper than the cab fare from Greater Pitt to South Park- until they bailed out of the market in 2002.

Interesting story. AirTran was promised all sorts of government and corporate help when they started direct Pittsburgh to Chicago service. Yeah, right. This is Pittsburgh, fellas, where unless you want to build a stadium or steal land through eminent domain to sell below market value to venal non-local commercial developers, you're on your own.

In early 2002, Useless Air announced three daily flights between Pitt and Midway. AirTran said no way they're competing with Useless, especially since the local government and businesses didn't book anywhere near the number of seats they'd promised. They announced they were discontinuing direct service to Chicago in September.

On August 11, 2002, US Airways Group filed for bankruptcy. The new Pittsburgh-Midway service was canceled and Useless began its slow motion implosion that continues to this day. Too late. AirTran pulled out.

So I flew ATA for about six months. Hated it. They were rarely on time, had inconveniently scheduled flights, and the cabins were ridiculously overcrowded. They blasted country-western music during boarding and the flight attendants were just so darned cheerful you wanted to check their pupils and do a bottle count on the beverage cart.

I recalled being squashed in a middle seat between a sumo wrestler with influenza and screaming, cigar-smoking baby (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating) in a seat so narrow I had no feeling below my thighs. "How do you like our leather seats?" the bubbly ATAperson asked? "Swell," I said. "It's like being inside a freakin' cow."

In the meantime, United got religion and started pricing their Pittsburgh-O'Hare flights more reasonably. We use United at work, and I had already chocked up some substantial frequent flyer miles for a couple trips to Germany, so I made the switch. They're about $10 more expensive than ATA, but their schedule's much better, they have an economy business class with wide, cloth-covered seats, and a selection of in-flight audio channels that includes the air traffic control frequency. So, I've racked up about 90,000 flyer miles with them in the past couple years.

Now ATA is in bankruptcy. And United's being working for years on a plan to get out of their Chapter 11 purgatory. Every airline I fly between Pittsburgh and Chicago is making circular motions inches above the drain.

So I read in The Wall Street Journal today that United's going to terminate their pilots' pension plan. The pilots will also be hit with another 15% pay cut, in addition to the 30% pay cut they took last year.

"United 783, Pittsburgh Approach, altimeter 29.97, wind 290 at five, cleared for visual approach to two-eight center."


"United 783, Pittsburgh Tower, do you copy?"


"United 783, Pittsburgh Tower.

"Uh, yeah... sorry. We were collecting quarters from the passengers for the bus trip to the hotel."

"United 783, sorry, no bus service after 9 p.m."


"Pittsburgh Tower, United 783, vectors back to O'Hare, please."

Ho ho ho.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

How to make friends with the TSA.

Get yourself a couple pair of these babies and go whizzing right through the magnetometer. I've been wearing them for over three years now, and they always garner a smile and a thumbs-up from the otherwise churlish airport security folk.

Assuming the metal plate in your head doesn't set it off, of course.

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Yep, it's the apocalypse...

Among the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary:







code bloat

shock jock

bottom cleavage

crack ho


Shock jock? Bottom cleavage? Crack ho??


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Wrong KGB, Skippy

The domain name attracts all sorts of weird e-mail. Lately I've been getting a lot of people wanting to enter some kind of Christmas contest being run by a San Diego radio station.

The best messages come from people who think is that KGB, even though it went out of business in 1991. Typically, it's a situation something like this, although sometimes they're even more bizarre, like the one that arrived this morning:

1. i was somewhere out of the city with many of my father,s friends. there was a young man who killed everybody that finds his secrets. in someway back some bodies were speading asfalt on the road by some machines and my father,s friends were left between the asfalts. I always suspected PennDOT was involved.

2. in a bus near the enghlab sq. there were sitting some men in the bus eachone similar to one of my father,s friends.the chairs were full and the bus was begining to move to come down. Fascinating.

3. i was in a bus in tehranno st. going to the east. in the way some men was coming in the st infront of us and looking into the bus to me. when coming back in the same way there was many army ground force soldiers that had killed somebody and was bringing him in their breast in front of the bus. Well, that's a vivid image.

4. there were many army ground force soldiers on a road bridge in the city. Them ground force soldiers get around, don't they?

5. i was in a bus above the valiasr sq alone and it was coming down around the sq. there was several air force soldiers coming up in the sidewalk in 3 and 4 groups between the people. Were they wearing their birdman wings?

6. in internet i was focused on the dowlat street near my friend home ashkan. You have a friend named Ashkan? Does he have a special relationship with Oscar the Grouch?

7. i was beside the rastegar father,s home and his mother was praying. there was a girl who came in and also it was spoken of some ones that have been died in europe. I read the news today, oh boy...

8. we had a tenant with a an atractive daughter and couldnt be patient for her. There are just so many ways to interpret this.

9. i was in rastegar,s home and saw that rastegar had married with his mother. Nope. Not gonna go there.

10. i was seeing a minibus had stopped in the way to shahrak gharb near shahrak zhandarmery and abbas with one of his other friends get off and went toward the shahrak zhandarmeri. Hmm... Google seems to imply this is in Iran, somewhere.

11. i had gone to a shop to buy a french story book (roman) to read for learning french but he has not and at last i bought a small story book. Next time, opt for the French postcards. Trust me.

12. i was in the way to sad abad museum in the street that goes directly to there from valiasr st. i was near a tel badget and there was two police afficers following me. Probably to take a look at your special French literature. Hmm. Sad Abad is a miltary museum in Tehran.

13. i was working in a company and waiting to get our salary to escape. Don't we all? we went and spoke and get some money and escaped. we was beeing followed by several men. i was with my friend one who was like shahram alizadeh my old friend from high school. we went to a bazar that was crowded but at last captured. the follower was like davud,s friend in sad abad. I'm speechless.

14. there was a kamyun which emptied its backport. (Don't you just hate when that happens?) i was speaking with man. also there was several girls that i expected that he put their hands in my hands. That's nice. For God's sake, though, don't empty your backport.

15. i was in a hospital describing for some doctors that i already could hold in my memory 50 girls to select in different places in the city but now somethings that is in my idea is forgotten suddenly, because of a hard stink in my head. I warned you about the backport.

Some interesting things about this message... the IP address traces back to the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics in Tehran, Iran. The sender is someone named Mohammad Reza Rahmati, and the e-mail was sent to

Somehow I just knew the French would be involved in this.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Back in the saddle. Sort of.

Tired of staring at the video screen and drooling in my lap, I went in to work today, where I will be lost among the similarly staring and drooling masses.

On the way in, I noticed they were painting some fixtures at the platform where I catch my train. I also noticed the signs said "fresh paint."

"What happened to 'wet paint'?" I asked the nice CTA person. "Some people can't tell the difference between adjectives and verbs," he said.

Just three more days until my return to Pittsburgh for the holidays. Hope my sinuses clear up by then, or the plane ride will be horrific. Since it's only a 55 minute flight, United does away with unnecessary features like snacks, oxygen and cabin pressurization. The perforated eardrums I developed in my 30s come in handy, though; no eustachian tube pain, although the sounds of flapping tympani can be distracting.

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One step forward, three steps back

The gnomes and Orion monopod were gone, thank God, and my temperature, while elevated, was low enough to permit me to grasp onto reality a bit more firmly.

So I surfed over to my netnews site and saw that:

Retired General Tommy Franks, whose flawed assault on Tora Bora allowed Osama bin Laden to escape capture;

J. Paul Bremer, who, as U.S. administrator of Iraq, disbanded the Iraqi army, which facilitated the insurgent uprising; and

George Tenet, whose tenure at the CIA included the monumental intelligence failures that failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks, and who said proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be a "slam dunk"...

...were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the country can bestow civilians.

Great. I'm hallucinating again.

I'm gonna find the monopod and gnomes and go back to bed.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The fog is lifting

Woke up 20 minutes ago and the gnomes and Orion monopod were gone. My temperature's now 100.1. Nothing interesting in email.

Christmas thought of the day:

According to the encyclopedia, mistletoe is a parasitic weed that attaches itself to a healthy tree and sucks the life out of it. So why an unmarried female human would stand under mistletoe is, of course, a complete mystery.-
The Covert Comic

Oops. The monopod is licking my toes. Hmm. The gnomes used up the syrup. Maybe I have some more ketchup and tinsel.

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The wonders of pyrexia

I actually slept for five hours, but my temperature's 101.9 now and I seem to have lost my voice. The gnomes have abandoned the bathroom and have taken up residence in my refrigerator. Little bastards drank all my maple syrup, so no waffles this morning.

The monopod was relatively well-behaved, although I think my snoring bothered it. At least, I think that's the reason I awoke with its eyestalk/olfactory organelle lodged in my right nostril.

I just blew my nose and found in the tissue the portion of my brain that controls speech and grammar, so bed back go I. Obviously I'm hallucinating. Stumbled across this. In Texas, for Pete's sake. Then this in England.

By the way, Orion monopods love tinsel and fake icicles. Especially with ketchup.

Today's brilliant insight by the Covert Comic: If Dr. Moreau had owned a vacuum cleaner, he'd probably be alive today.

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The Dreaded Four-Hour Cycle

Every four hours the sudafed wears off, my sinuses become a congealed mass of gooey badness, I wake up, stumble to the bathroom, say hi to the gnomes, pull the Orion monopod out of the toilet (bad monopod!), relieve myself, go to my desk, pop some more pills, check my email and write snarky responses to self-righteous blowholes.

By that time, I can breathe well enough to collapse into bed and fall back into a fitful sleep.

The problem now is my temperature's up again and my perception of reality is beginning to take on Hunter S. Thompson-like characteristics. The gnomes have stopped playing cards and have started playing strip Twister, which is truly not a pretty sight. It also really pisses off the Orion monopod, for obvious reasons. Now I have an alien life form in bed with me.

One that better not snore. You hear me, fella?

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Ya just gotta love this guy...

Why does a woman want a man who's "not afraid to cry?" Probably so she can know for sure that the torture is working.
The Covert Comic

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Side effects?

From all that cold medication? What are you talking about? I feel fine.


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In my fever, I see angels...

Wow. The meds are wearing off and my temperature is spiking. Must... take... more... drugs.

The gnomes have taken over the bathroom, but were kind enough to give me some privacy while I used it. I had to give them the blindfold back, though.

You know the guy in Alien with the thing in his chest? I feel like that, only in my right sinus. Everytime I cough, I see twinkly things. 'Tis the season, I guess.

Gold, frankincense, myrrh, and a Honda. The kings used camels, the angels were in one Accord.

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I got me a sympathomimetic amine jones...

Which means I'm loaded up on pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and ibuprofen in a vain attempt to counter the symptoms of a bad head cold which came down on me as hard as the New York Daily News on Bernie Kerik.

Hey, I can forgive- for that matter, even admire, to a certain degree- Kerik's ability to carry on relationships with his wife and two mistresses simultaneously. Multi-tasking is an essential part of high-level management these days. But as Don Imus noted this morning, it really doesn't look good when the guy who's supposed to be tasked with protecting America from foreign evildoers claims he didn't know he had an illegal alien working for him in his own home.

Anyway, the cold and the sudafed and the fever have me sleeping fitfully and thinking oddly. My normal body temperature is about 97 degrees or so, so a temperature of 100 pushes me into near-delirium.

I'm going to go back to bed now, if I can get those damned gnomes to roll over, surrender my pillow and move their chemin de fer game to the bathroom. Just tell the Orion monopod to sleep in the sink.

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Stranger in a Strange Land

Our story so far, for those of you tuning in for the first time via the Pittsburgh Webloggers site...

After spending 46 years in the South Hills of Pittsburgh (no one told him he was free to go), a business debacle forces our intrepid hero to abandon his previously successful entrepreneurial dream and take a salaried position at a software company in the teeming metropolis of Chicago, which is sorta like Pittsburgh with a thyroid problem, weird pizza and no chipped ham.

His home is still South Park -actually, Library, but don't get him started- and much hilarity ensues as he copes with an 808 mile round-trip commute, creeping decreptitude, and daily train rides that make the "T" look like The Orient Express in its glory days.

Tune in daily, more or less, and revel in the wacky adventures as the pentagenarian kid from Homestead tries to make it on his own in that Toddlin' Town, without the benefit of knowing the precise meaning of "toddlin'" in the context in which it's used.

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Why did the chicken cross the road?

Hopefully to show the frickin' deer how to do it.

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I like the cut of his jibberish...

There's a certain symmetry in the knowledge that someone from the CIA reads the KGB Report.

Whether this guy is a real spook is left as an exercise for the reader (and/or Google). But he has some good stuff:

The mightiest of weapons is truth. And everyone knows you're not permitted to bring a weapon into a Government building.

Any sufficiently advanced coup is indistinguishable from an election.

They say that unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes. Then again, if you're a dog you probably like that view.

The only way to win an election by a greater margin than Saddam Hussein in Iraq is to be a Democratic candidate in Chicago.

I read in the Washington Post that many Iraqi school children now carry AK-47s to class. Which tells me that our efforts to Americanize Iraqi society aren't a total failure.

It's not that Paul McCartney isn't a leg man, it's just that he isn't a legs man.

Spam e-mailers are so dumb. I mean, sure I want bigger breasts. But for my wife, stupid, not for me!

Listened to the news on the radio while driving in to Headquarters this morning. Whenever I hear about Muslims and Jews slaughtering each other, I think, "Man, I'm sure glad I don't live in New Jersey."

My wife can confirm that Lamaze doesn't really help that much when you're trying to give birth. And I can confirm that it doesn't really help that much when you're trying to get sex, either.

If Hitler had been captured instead of committing suicide following World War II, I think executing him would have been morally justified. On the other hand, I think it would be OK to let Hitler continue to play pro basketball while his case was being heard (but only if he actually was a pro basketball player, as historians clearly seem to suggest).

Gave a briefing today on chem-bio defense to a group of tech ops officers. Got a good laugh when I told them, "Victims of nerve agents suffer acute paralysis, lose control of bodily functions, and exhibit severe twitching and convulsions. Sort of like me on my wedding night."

General Rule of Thumb:
Black clothes, face painted white, never speaks
If it harasses you
It's a mime
If it acts like it's being harassed by you
It's a Goth

A man without a woman
Is like a bicycle without the fish smell

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Joke of the day

How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb? Two: one to change the bulb, the other to hold the penis- er, ladder.

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

Feral Geek

eat wisely

Dyslexics have more fnu!

It's here!

Eff and Scrute

440 pages, over 11,000 quotations!

Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable

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