Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Weird thing of the day 31 May 2005/22 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 37 of the `Omer)


Science-fiction update: Run for your lives! Rick Berman is thinking about doing another Star Trek movie!

Bobby Awesome, if you will remember, is hard at work at finding a way to increase my income. He has finally given me his first suggestion, namely to charge for posting advertising on my blog. He even found the first ad, which will follow today’s weird thing. I am not sure I want to do this regularly, but I figure it’s worth a try.

Today’s weird thing is “Top Ten Reasons Why the Star Wars Characters Would Kick Butt in the Star Trek Universe”, which is included below. (Yes, I am trying to go through all the weird Star Wars material on my hard drive.) Enjoy.



10) In the Star Wars Universe weapons are rarely, if ever, set on "stun".

9) The Enterprise needs a huge engine room with an anti-matter unit and a crew of 20 just to go into warp --- The Millennium Falcon does the same thing with R2-D2 and a Wookie.

8) After resisting the Imperial torture droid and Darth Vader, Princess Leia still looked fresh and desirable --- After pithy Cardassian starvation torture, Picard looked like hell.

7) One word: Lightsabers.

6) Darth Vader could choke the entire Borg empire with one glance.

5) The Death Star doesn't care if a world is class "M" or not.

4) Luke Skywalker is not obsessed with sleeping with every alien he encounters.

3) Jabba the Hutt would eat Harry Mudd for trying to cut in on his action.

2) The Federation would have to attempt to liberate any ship named "Slave I".

1) Picard pilots the Enterprise through asteroid belts at one-quarter
impluse power --- Han Solo floors it.


Position Available Immediately: Apprentice Sith Lord, Dark Side Consulting Group

An unexpected position has opened up in the Dark Side Consulting Group for an Apprentice Sith Lord. The ideal candidate for this position would enjoy galactic travel and possess a complete understanding of and competence in the Force or demonstrate a willingness to learn. Duties included:

Performing competitive intelligence, hands-on intervention in support of the Sith Master’s planning initiatives, ability to travel the galaxy widely, and operating a variety of laser-powered hand weapons and high-powered space/air vehivles. Some slaying of the enemies of the Dark Side is also required, which may be performed by using the Force or hand weapons.

Qualified applicants would possess good communications skills (especially when speaking in menacing whispers), and would be action-oriented individuals and risk takers. A background in the study of the Force (light or dark) is desirable, as would typically be acquired by those with advanced degrees or significant coursework in Jedi Arts from the University of Coruscant.

Applicants should also be familiar with holographic projection equipment, possess a valid galactic pilot’s license for all classes of ships, and must show a willingness to give in to their hate. A proven track record of using fear and/or Jedi mind tricks to control others is also desirable as is the ability to speak several galactic languages.

Ideal candidates for this position would also have no children or other living relatives who are strong in the ways of the Force. (A new hire would be given several weeks to meet this requirement.) Compensation for this position is commensurate with experience, and is extremely competitive for the field. Benefits include a generous severance package, a company starship, and a dark-colored clothing allowance.

The Apprentice Sith Lord reports to and works closely with the Sith Master and experience in such small, team-based organizations is vital to the success of the Master’s plans. Discretion is also highly valued, as is the ability to see the future before it happens.

Applications will be accepted through the end of August. Transmit them holographically to Jobs@darkside.com.

(Dark Side CG™ is a small and highly-focused organization founded a long time ago. Our core values reflect the short-term advantages of harnessing hatred for institutional power and the long-term desirability of controlling the galaxy. We provide direction to our partner organizations though knowledge management, incident control and our rapid on-site intervention expertise.)

Weird thing of the day 30 May 2005/21 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 36 of the `Omer/Memorial Day)


Yesterday I found out there were two cats in our shed, looked like kittens. Weird things happen to everybody, it seems. We have not decided what if anything to do about them yet. We very well may not have to do anything; I checked a few minutes ago, and they had left.

I celebrated(?) Memorial Day today by going to see Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith. I have to note that Emperor Palpatine (who wrote a review for this blog) was substantially right. The story was salvageable, even though a lot of the dialog needs to be rewritten from scratch, especially the material of a romantic nature. I am not certain that Palpatine’s proposed ending is the best possible one given the parameters for this movie, though I will not publicly reveal an alternate idea I have for the moment.

Today’s weird thing is my inspiration of what to do about the botching of the Star Wars prequel trilogy: The Phantom Edit. Many were disappointed with the quality of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, but one person did something about it, namely edit a copy of the movie to remove some of the flaws, hence the nickname of this illicitly distributed version, The Phantom Edit. (Note that the link I gave was just to a description of it, not the actual movie footage.)

Now for what to do about Star Wars: The Phantom Edit is suboptimal because while the Phantom Editor could remove offensive material (much of it having to do with the much-detested Jar Jar Binks) or rearrange pre-existing material, he could not create material from scratch (at least not material that would technically be up to Lucas quality). However, that limitation will virtually certainly be removed eventually. Computing power continues to decrease in cost, and the quality of computer animation continues to increase. Sooner or later it will be possible to animate scenes indistinguishable from live action, which will make possible something like The Phantom Edit, only with the ability to create new material. Since Star Wars will inevitably enter the public domain, I propose that in the meantime the fan community prepare by rewriting the scripts of the prequel trilogy up to a higher standard. When it becomes legal, it ought to be feasible for the fans to release edited versions which fully fix all the flaws of the originals.

In the meantime, get writing, Star Wars fans. It may well be a century before this project comes to fruition, but during that time there will be plenty of time to fine-tune every minor detail to perfection.


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

Weird thing of the day 27 May 2005/18 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 33 of the `Omer)


Today is the 33rd day of the ‘Omer (LaGh ba‘Omer), which celebrates the end of the period during which most of R. ‘Aqiva’’s students died and the anniversary of the death of R. Shim‘on ben Yoha’y. For some reason, this has ended up as a day of picnics and bonfires.

I’ve got a whole bunch of weird political stuff on my desktop, which is the closest I’m getting to a bonfire, so those will be today’s weird things.Enjoy.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Weird thing of the day 26 May 2005/17 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 32 of the `Omer)


Be scared. It seems George Lucas is thinking about creating a prequel to Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. If Episodes I and II are any indication, he’d be better off working on special editions of the prequel trilogy in order to fix the blatant flaws, such as terrible dialog.

In honor(?) of this tragic news, we have three weird things for you today: 1) The Star Wars Rain Lightsaber, 2) Star Wars Designer Edition, and 3) Darth Vader’s commencement address, which is included below. You may also want to recall one of our previous, pre-blog weird things of the day: Darth Tater.



Ladies and Gentlemen of the Vassar College class of '99...

Embrace the Dark Side.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, The Dark Side would be it. The long-term benefits of The Dark Side have been proved by the Dark Lords of The Sith, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering cruelty and conquests.

I will dispense this advice now...

Enjoy the power and beauty of your planet. Oh, nevermind, you will never understand the power and the beauty of your planet until after the Empire has destroyed it in a futile attempt to find the Rebel Base. But trust me, in twenty years, you will look back at photos of your home and recall, in a way you can't grasp now, how blissfully ignorant you were, and how fabulous your planet really looked before it was a pile of burning space rubble. Your planet is not as dull as you imagine.

Don't worry about the Rebellion - or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to make the Kessel run in a landspeeder. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your twisted mind. The kind that fire a direct hit into your reactor core at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.

Do in one Death Star officer every day.


Don't disobey the Emperor's orders; don't put up with people who disobey yours.


Don't waste your time on Stormtroopers. They can't hit the broad side of a barn.

The battle is long and in the end, it's only with yourself. And your idiot son.

Remember the prophecies of the Emperor; ignore the whinings of your bratty upstart farmboy of a son. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old light saber, but change your costume slightly with every sequel.


Don't feel guilty if you have no misgivings about joining the Dark Side. The most interesting people I know didn't have any respect at 22 for their victim's lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year olds I know still don't.

Have plenty of minions.

Be kind to your right hand, you'll miss it when it's gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe your son will join you, maybe he won't. Maybe you'll convince your daughter to become a dark Jedi and assist you in your campaign of hatred and destruction; maybe she'll become a rebel leader and marry a scruffy-looking nerf herder.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your destiny is guided by the Force. So is everybody else's.

Enjoy the Force. Exploit it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or what other people think of your "sorcerer's ways." The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to its power.

Kill. Even if you have no one to kill but a meaningless extra.

Listen to what the Emperor has foreseen, even if you don't follow his prophecies.

Do not take your mask off, it will only make you feel ugly. And vulnerable.

Get to know your parents. You'll never know when they'll turn out to be your arch enemies.

Be nice to your siblings. They are your best link to your Jedi lineage and the ones most likely to become Jedi in the future.

Understand that lackeys come and go. But with a precious few, you should keep from crushing their tracheas. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, for as the more desperate you become, the more you will need to send bounty hunters to do your dirty work for you.

Live on Dagobah once, but leave before you get foot rot.

Live on Tattooine once, but leave before you get heat stroke.

Travel. Preferably in your own custom TIE Fighter.

Accept certain inalienable truths: rebellions will rise, the Imperial Senate will have to be disbanded, you too will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, rebels were easily crushed, the Imperial Senate was subservient, and citizens respected their Emperor.

Respect your Emperor.

Don't expect your son to rule the galaxy with you. Maybe he'll give in to his anger, maybe he'll strike you down, but you'll never know when he'll whine pleadingly and you'll find yourself turning to the Light Side and saving his sorry butt.

Don't strike down your old Jedi Master, or he will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it, or I'll crush your throat. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing your humanity from the depths of sin, wiping it off, putting black body armor over the ugly parts and redeeming it for more than its worth.

But trust me about the Dark Side.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Weird thing of the day 25 May 2005/16 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 31 of the `Omer)


Recently Emily gave me a large archive of files that have been roaming the Internet for years. Today’s weird thing, included below, is one of them. WARNING: Do not read this wherever rolling on the floor laughing is not appropriate. Also, I do not endorse anyone actually doing anything in today’s weird thing. Enjoy.


Amazing Ways To Order A Pizza

Ask if you can get a pizza with just crust, no toppings.
Call a delivery-only pizza store and insist on "dining in."
Using a touch-tone, press random numbers while ordering. Ask the person taking the order to stop doing that.
Make up a credit card name. Ask if they accept it. Cheer if they say yes.
Use CB lingo where applicable.
Order a Big Mac Extra Value Meal.
Terminate the call with, "Remember, we never had this conversation."
Tell the order taker a rival pizza place is on the other line and you're going with the lowest bidder.
Give them your address, exclaim "Oh, just surprise me!" and hang up.
Answer their questions with questions.
Use these bonus words in the conversation: ROBUST FREE-SPIRITED COST-EFFICIENT UKRAINIAN PUCE.
Tell them to put the crust on top this time.
Sing the order to the tune of your favorite song from any Metallica CD.
Don't name the toppings you want—spell them out.
Put an extra edge in your voice when you say "crazy bread."
Stutter on the letter "p."
Ask for a deal available somewhere else. (e.g. Order "The Edge" from Little Caesar's or a "Cheeser! Cheeser!" from Domino's)
Ask what the order taker is wearing.
Crack your knuckles into the receiver.
Say hello, act stunned for five seconds, then behave as if they called you.
Rattle off your order with a determined air. If they ask if you would like drinks with that, panic and become disoriented.
Tell the order taker you're depressed. Get him/her to cheer you up.
Make a list of exotic cuisines. Order them as toppings.
Change your accent every three seconds.
Order 52 pepperoni slices prepared in a fractal pattern as follows from an equation you are about to dictate. Ask if they need paper.
Act like you know the order taker from somewhere. Say "Bed-Wetters' Camp, right?"
Start your order with "I'd like...". A little later, slap yourself and say "No, I don't."
If they repeat the order to make sure they have it right, say "OK. That'll be $10.99 please pull up to the first window."
Try to rent a pizza.
Order while using an electric knife sharpener.
Ask if you get to keep the pizza box. When they say yes, heave a sigh of relief.
Put the accent on the last syllable of "pepperoni." Use the long "i" sound.
Have your pizza "shaken, not stirred."
Say "Are you sure this is (Pizza Place)? When they say yes, say "Well, so is this! You've got some explaining to do!" When they finally offer proof that it is, in fact, (Pizza Place), start to cry and ask, "Do you know what it's like to be lied to?"
Move the mouthpiece farther and farther from your lips as you speak. When the call ends, jerk the mouthpiece back into place and scream goodbye at the top of your lungs.
Tell them to double-check to make sure your pizza is, in fact, dead.
Imitate the order taker's voice.
Eliminate verbs from your speech.
When they say "What would you like?" say, "Huh? Oh, you mean now."
Play a sitar in the background.
Say it's your anniversary and you'd appreciate if the deliverer hid behind some furniture waiting for your spouse to arrive so you can surprise him/her.
Amuse the order taker with little-known facts about country music.
Ask to see a menu.
Quote Gandhi.
Say you'll be able to pay for this when the movie people call back.
Ask if they have any idea what is at stake with this pizza.
Ask what topping goes best with well-aged Chardonnay.
Belch directly into the mouthpiece then tell your dog it should be ashamed.
Order a slice, not a whole pizza.
Shout "I'm through with men/women! Send me a dozen of your best, Gaston!"
Doze off in the middle of the order, catch yourself, and say "Where was I? Who are you?"
Psychoanalyze the order taker.
Ask what their phone number is. Hang up, call them, and ask again.
Order two toppings, then say, "No, they'll start fighting."
Learn to properly pronounce the ingredients of a Twinkie. Ask that these be included in the pizza.
Call to complain about service. Later, call to say you were drunk and didn't mean it.
Tell the order taker to tell the manager to tell his supervisor he's fired.
Report a petty theft to the order taker.
Use expletives like "Great Caesar's Ghost!" and "Great Scott!"
Ask for the guy who took your order last time.
If he/she suggests anything, adamantly declare, "I shall not be swayed by your sweet words."
Wonder aloud if you should trim those nose hairs.
Try to talk while drinking something. Gargle.
Start the call with "My Call to (Pizza Place), Take 1, and...action!"
Ask if the pizza is organically grown.
Ask about pizza maintenance and repair.
Be vague with your order.
When they repeat your order, say "Again, with a little more OOMPH this time."
Using a touch-tone phone, press 9-1-1 every 5 seconds throughout the order.
After ordering, say "I wonder what THIS button on the phone does." Simulate a hangup.
Start the conversation by reciting today's date and saying, "This may be my last entry."
State your order and say that's as far as this relationship is going to get.
Ask if they're familiar with the term "spanking a pizza." Make up a description to go with the term. Ask that this be done to your pizza.
Say "Kssssssssssssssht" rather loudly into the phone. Ask if they felt that.
Detect the order taker's psychic aura. Use it to your advantage.
When listing toppings you want on your pizza, include another pizza.
Learn to play a blues riff on the harmonica. Stop talking at regular intervals to play it.
Ask if they would like to sample your pizza. Suggest an even trade.
Perfect a celebrity's voice. Stress that you won't take any crap from some two-bit can't-hack-it pimple-faced gofer. Threaten to hit said gofer with a golf club.
Put them on hold.
Teach the order taker a secret code. Use the code on all subsequent orders.
Mumble, "There's a bomb under your seat." When asked to repeat that, say "I said 'sauce smothered with meat'."
Make the first topping you order mushrooms. Make the last thing you say "No mushrooms, please." Hang up before they have a chance to respond.
When the order is repeated, change it slightly. When it is repeated again, change it again. On the third time, say "You just don't get it, do you?"
When you're given the price, say "Ooooooo, that sounds complicated. I hate math."
Order a one-inch pizza.
Order term life insurance.
When they say "Will that be all?" snicker and say "We'll find out, won't we?"
Order with a Speak-n-Spell.
Ask how many dolphins were killed to make that pizza.
While on the phone, fake your voice changing. Fluctuate pitch often. Act embarrassed.
Engage in some serious swapping.
Dance all around the word "pizza." Avoid saying it at all costs. If he/she says it, say "Please don't mention that word."
Have a movie with a good car chase scene playing loudly in the background. Yell "OW!" when a bullet is fired.
If he/she suggests a side order, ask why he/she is punishing you.
Ask if the pizza has had its shots.
Order a steamed pizza.
Get taker's name. Later, call exactly on the hour to say, "This is your (time of day) wake-up call, So-and-so." Hang up. Repeat every hour.
Offer to pay for the pizza with a public flogging.

If any of the above practices are rejected by the order taker, say, in your best pouty voice, "The last guy let me do it."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Weird thing of the day 24 May 2005/15 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 30 of the `Omer)


Back to political griping: There have been a number of good articles on Backspin lately: “Who is a Palestinian?”, “BBC's idea of balance”, and the statistically inclined “Reassessing Palestinian numbers”. I would also like to note the article “EU ties with terror organizations worry Israel”. The latter is the sort of moral incompetence on Europe’s part which makes me believe the way to a real peace requires that Israel cut all third parties out of the process and do what is needed to stop terror, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. The nicest realistic solution I can imagine is expelling all Stateless Arabs (“Palestinians”) who show even the least hint of condoning terror. (The expulsion of those who commit terror goes without saying.) If Egypt, Jordan, and Syria do not want their citizens back, the European Union would make a fitting destination.

Today’s weird thing is REAL WOOD COMPUTER CASES - Do you want a wooden laptop? Welcome to www.zaverio.net - The FIRST in Wooden Laptops and wooden moddings - Fine Italian Handcraft! Legnatile, Wooden case, wooden laptop, USB pen, and other! italian, handcraft, italiano, manufatto, dammuso, ancient, medieval, medioevale, medioevo, wooden, laptop, modding, case, legnatile, legno, computer, case, mod, mods, woods, dell, tower, minitower, usb, pen, oak, tree, ancient, alchemy, alchimia, fulcanelli, dyne, jaromil, rasta, rastasoft, emergelab, poetry, hacklab, freaknet, medialab, asbesto, molesto, gabriele, zaverio, vigevano, palazzolo, acreide, sicilia, siracusa. (That is the entire title of their page and probably the longest page title I have ever seen.) Enjoy.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Weird thing of the day 23 May 2005/14 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 29 of the `Omer/Pesah Sheni/World Turtle Day/Victoria Day/Declaration of the Bab)


I have been saved the trouble of picking a weird thing for today, because I have been sent a well-written essay. And standing behind me is a nice man in black and holding a lightsaber who insists I post it. Enjoy.


My dear, dear friends,

No doubt you have heard of Star Wars: Episode III
- Revenge of the Sith
, of how powerful it is and
much better it is compared to the previous two
installments. Some have even said that it is as good
as the original trilogy, rivaling even Episode V -
The Empire Strikes Back
. Sitting there in their
seats in the theater, thoughtlessly munching away on
some calorie-laden snack, they think they truly
understand the situation. Fools. Little do they
realize that the story they are watching is not so
much that of Darth Vader, but that of the man telling
the tale.

That is right, my friends. The struggle between the
so-called "good" and "evil" forces in the galaxy is
only a frame in which is set the internal struggles of
George Lucas himself.

Consider the story of the Star Wars saga, not
in the numerical order of the episodes, but in the
order they were filmed. Two characters dominate the
story, young Luke Skywalker, made to be the hero of
the saga, and Darth Vader, the man who ultimately
turns out to be Anakin Skywalker, his father, both of
whom represent different aspects of George Lucas and
his crew. Luke, represents the artistic storytelling
impulses, all the great filmmaking skills Lucas has
learned from his classes and from reading Joseph
Campbell, whereas Lord Vader represents the usual
methods of Hollywood, flash and noise at the expense
of art or even sense, any sure trick to draw in an
audience. Filmmaking is difficult, and one is
constantly tempted to take the quick and easy path to
finishing a film. The fortunes of Lucas parallel
those of these characters and their associates. In
Episode IV - A New Hope, Lucas is young, fresh
from such experimental work as THX-1138, and
though underfunded, he is powerful and is able to
wield his talent to create a unique film, avoiding
that temptations that would make it just another bad
sci-fi movie. Similarly, young Skywalker is able to
start from being on an empty, desolate planet to
overcome the awesome power of Lord Vader's Death Star
as part of the Rebel Alliance. In Episode V - The
Empire Strikes Back
, just as young Skywalker and
the Rebellion faced increased persecution from the
Empire, Lucas's success brought increased pressure and
attention from Hollywood and financiers to make the
movie in a way suited to their interests. Just as
young Skywalker had to face that Lord Vader was his
father, Lucas had to deal that he was no longer
independent, but now part of the filmmaking
establishment. By Episode VI - Return of the
, just as the Rebel Alliance overthrows the
Empire and young Skywalker becomes a Jedi and finds
the good in his father Lord Vader, Lucas manages to
resist temptation to take the easy path and even find
some acceptance of his situation.

Now consider the prequel trilogy. In the intervening
years, Lucas has been drawn further into the ways of
Hollywood and has forgotten the ways of his earlier
films. There is no young Skywalker, only Anakin, and
the latter's tendencies dominate. In Episode I -
The Phantom Menace
, as Anakin is technically
adept but a child, Lucas's work dominated by his
computer-generated spectacles but has a juvenile
story. In Episode II - Attack of the Clones,
Anakin has studied the ways of the Force well but is
impatient and cocky and takes his first missteps
towards the Dark Side. Though Lucas can still put on
a show, in his rush to show off his skills he rushes
through the script and leaves the dialogue painfully
stilted in favor of special effects. Finally, in
Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, as Anakin
gives in to his emotions and desires and becomes Lord
Vader, Lucas has become fully consumed by his
Hollywoodism, fully assimilated into it.

But no, you say, this cannot be! Isn't Revenge of
the Sith
as good as the original trilogy? I'm
afraid not, my friend. Did you not hear the awful
dialogue, same as in the episode before? Did you not
see the same dizzying effects, so busy as Lucas
delights in his cleverness, but yet failing to add as
much as the cruder ones from the 1970s and 1980s?
Yes, it does deal with dark themes, but it logically
has to. He could not have avoided them if he wanted.
A certain backstory was set up in the original
trilogy, forcing the prequel trilogy to have certain
events at certain times. For the third episode, the
Republic would have to become the Empire, the Jedi
would have to be all but destroyed, and Anakin would
have to become Lord Vader. Betrayal and a fall from
grace were obligatory themes, so their presence hardly
means anything. You are affected, but in no more
artful a fashion than if this were a news report. A
story of betrayal and darkness can be as badly told
any other.

Consider how poorly certain events were handled in the
prequel trilogy. Was it necessary to firmly establish
that Lord Vader once was Anakin Skywalker and who his
children were? These were major revelations for those
who watched the episodes in the order they were
filmed; for one watching them in numerical order,
these surprises have been spoiled. A more skilled
writer would have not eliminated Count Dooku so
quickly, but kept him around until the end of the
film, where he is involved in the climactic duel
between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin. In the end, while
Kenobi walks away, both Dooku and Anakin are horribly
injured and mutilated beyond all recognition. Only
one survives and becomes Lord Vader, and which one it
is is not clear, with the heavy implication of it
being Dooku. Indeed, the treatment and transformation
of a burned body into the familiar half-mechanical
being should never have been shown; that way, when
young Skywalker removes Lord Vader's mask, we would
still feel the shock at seeing Lord Vader's true face.
Similarly, though Padme Amidala's pregnancy might be
known, that she is carrying twins might be kept secret
and the births not depicted. Later Obi-Wan is shown
delivering the infant Luke to Owen and Beru, while the
only hint of Leia's existence being Padme visiting
Bail Organa and asking for a favor. A little
creativity could have gone a long way towards
preserving much of the experience for those watching
the saga the first time in numerical order. Instead,
we have clumsy writing where characters speak the
obvious, usually with bad acting ruining even savable
lines. Most of what is good in Revenge of the
is there because it absolutely had to be
there, not because of any special genius of Lucas.

As you might have guessed, Lucas really did tell of
events which took place a long time ago in a galaxy
far, far away. How he learned of them, I am not at
liberty to say, but he did let his own ideological
shortcomings interfere with his storytelling, and not
for the better. Because the distorted events in the
original trilogy made such an impact, I was forced to
act. All that has happened has gone according to my
design. If he had stayed on the path he began with
the original trilogy, he would have become a legend
for a long time to come. But now, having turned him
to the Dark Side, his name will be forever tarnished.
Once his current fan base is gone, his work is now
doomed to pass forever into obscurity.

I'm afraid whatever was good in Lucas is gone. He is
now consumed by Hollywoodism, the temptation towards
its dark side having become so great that it
overpowers and replaces the craft of storytelling. He
has forgotten how to make his characters interesting,
so instead of the vivacity and cockiness of Leia and
Han Solo, we have the empty, dull declarations of
Anakin and Padme. What was an incredible artistic
opportunity has passed, completely wasted, never to be
revisited save in fanfics or until the copyright
expires. The filmmaking Jedi we have known is lost to
impulses which more independent filmmakers would call
unnatural. And just as democracy fell in the
Republic, so has Lucas become consumed by the Dark
Side: to thunderous applause.

- Emperor Palpatine, also called Sidious, Dark Lord of
the Sith

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Worthy cause of the day


MoveOn PAC has a new emergency petition, this one demanding “The Senate must oppose the "nuclear option" to eliminate the filibuster, and preserve the checks and balances that have kept our courts fair and independent for centuries.” Please sign and show the US Senate that you care what they do. Thank you.


Weird thing of the day 22 May 2005/13 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 28 of the `Omer/Buy-A-Musical Instrument Day)


I was thinking of making today’s weird thing the article “Heel thyself”, but then I realized that I knew of something relevant to today’s weird holiday: the song “Biostat Division Blues” (lyrics and music). Enjoy or be confused or something.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Weird thing of the day 19 May 2005/10 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 25 of the `Omer/Revenge of the Sith Sick-Out Day/Bike to Work Day)


Multi-calendar system capability in Mac OS X 10.4 update: I was wrong; not all the system-generated dates on my computer are now from the Hebrew calendar. I've discovered a few Gregorian dates tucked away here and there. Dashboard’s Calendar widget mixes the two systems up; it generates the numerical form of the dates from the Gregorian calendar, but takes the names of the months from the Jewish calendar. I have to get around to writing a bug report.

Weird holidays weirdness: Today is Bike to Work Day, but Saturday is National Bike to Work Day. Not sure how that happened.

Today is Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Sickout Day. Said movie is in theaters, and lots of people are making excuses to not go to work and see the film instead. (“Sorry, boss. I was delayed a few hours because my bicycle kept getting flat tires.”)

Tie-in worthy cause of the day: MoveOn PAC is drawing interesting parallels between the movie of the day and the situation in Washington in their latest campaign. You definitely need to see this.

Today’s weird thing was going to be this magnificent essay R2D2 promised to write for me. However, it turned out to be titled “Boop boop blip gurgle gurgle whir wow”. All 300 pages of it were also in his native language, and I have not been able to get back in contact with him or his counterpart C3P0, because they are too busy promoting the movie, so I have absolutely no idea what the essay is about and will not for some time. As such, you’ll have to settle for the articles “Death Star to Open Day Care Center” and “How Lightsabers Work”. Enjoy.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Weird thing of the day 18 May 2005/9 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 24 of the `Omer/International Museum Day)


I managed to get my copy of Mac OS X 10.4 today and have installed it. Right now trying to get the glitches out of it. I already had to modify my desktop picture-changing script so it would work and reinstall my Hebrew system folder name file.

Today’s weird thing is something I had no warning about whatsoever. The hint macosxhints - 10.4: Easily add the date to the menubar seemed a great idea; it’s always nice to have information like that always visible. However, when I went to implement it, I discovered a “Calendar” pop-up menu with a number of choices: “Gregorian”, “Buddhist”, “Hebrew”, “Islamic”, “Islamic, Civil”, and “Japanese”. I promptly chose “Hebrew”, and not only do I have the Jewish date in the menu bar now, but all the program-generated dates seem to be on the Jewish calendar, with no built-in method of translating the dates to Gregorian. Since computers have been so adamantly Gregorian all my life, even more adamant than they are about being English, the effect is downright surreal. For the moment I’ve opened up Jewish Calendar to be able to translate dates manually, and I plan on investigating what can be done about using this unique feature in a dual-calendar system environment later.

Surreally yours,


Worthy cause of the day and bonus

Greetings again.

We have another worthy political cause for you while R crunches away. Here’s the canned text:
    Dear Friend,

    Republicans want to go “nuclear” and turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for President Bush. They want to silence Senate Democrats - the one remaining check on President Bush’s power. If they can do away with debate in the Senate, they can get whatever they want – right-wing Supreme Court Justices, Social Security privatization and tax breaks for the wealthy that will plunge us deeper in debt.

    But Senate Democrats are going to fight them every step of the way. And this fight will be different than any other fight in the history of the Senate – because it will include all of us. Senate Democrats need our help, and that is why they are using your names and comments as part of our debate on the floor of the United State Senate. Imagine all of us standing together in the Senate Chamber during this debate.

    Stand with Senate Democrats today . I did and you should too:

Please go show politicians that we do care what they do. Thank you.

As a bonus, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the pricing of Mac OS X 10.4 so as to perhaps save someone else some money which could go towards more useful purposes. Amazon.com is offering Mac OS X 10.4 for $35 off ($94.99). This is the option I went with, since they start charging full price after May 31. After my copy shipped (and I should get it today, God willing), I found out about two less expensive alternatives. The Apple Store for Education is offering Mac OS X 10.4 for $69.00. (This is only open to students and educators.) Micro Center Online is offering Mac OS X 10.4 for $50.00 off ($79.99). This offer ends on June 5. In any case, maybe I can now get down to babbling about cool widgets...


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Religio-political update


I have R busy crunching numbers, and I’ve decided I’m going to use this opportunity to clear some stuff off my desktop and gripe a little. Keep in mind I only present a minute fraction of things going very wrong on this planet.

On Friday, Stateless Arab (“Palestinian”) Television broadcast a virulently anti-Semitic sermon. Last I heard, Abbas had not done anything about incitement. All those who believe he will anything to stop such violations of the prerequisites for negotiated peace, please stand on your heads.

New Backspin report: “Thoughts on Newsweek's debacle”. Newsweek’s false report of desecration of the Qur’an resulted in rioting and 16 deaths. Interestingly, there is a parallel incident in which Stateless Arab terrorists holed themselves up in the Church of the Nativity in 2002, and the terrorists used pages of Christian Bibles as toilet paper and stole valuable religious articles—yet there were no riots or deaths. Can’t you feel the hypocrisy?

And finally, in a variation on the power-of-evil-speech theme, a Colombian town has made gossiping a punishable offense.


Weird thing of the day 17 May 2005/8 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 23 of the `Omer)


This morning during my regular Gemara’ study I remembered something rather strange about the ordering of the books of the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament” in Christian terminology). There is an official ordering and classification given in Bava Bathra’ 14b (or to be more accurate, for the latter two sections; I’m filling in the first for completeness):
  • Torah (Law)
    • BeRe’shith (Genesis)
    • Shemoth (Exodus)
    • Wayyiqra’ (Leviticus)
    • BeMidhbar (Numbers)
    • Devarim (Deuteronomy)
  • Nevi’im (Prophets)
    • Yehoshua‘ (Joshua)
    • Shofetim (Judges)
    • Shemu’el (Samuel)
    • Melakhim (Kings)
    • Yirmeyah (Jeremiah)
    • Yehezqe’l (Ezekiel)
    • Yesha‘yah (Isaiah)
    • Shenem ‘Asar (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi)
  • Kethuvim (Writings)
    • Ruth (Ruth)
    • Sefer Tehillim (Psalms)
    • ’Iyyov (Job)
    • Mishle (Proverbs)
    • Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes)
    • Shir hashShirim (Song of Songs)
    • Qinoth (Lamentations)
    • Daniyye’l (Daniel)
    • Megillath ’Esther (Esther)
    • ‘Ezra’ (Ezra and Nehemiah)
    • Divre hayYamim (Chronicles)
If you look in any edition of the Hebrew Bible, the ordering for the Torah will always be the same, and the ordering for Nevi’im will be mostly the same. However, the ordering of Yirmeyah, Yehezqe’l, and Yesha‘yah will likely be different, and the ordering for Kethuvim varies wildly from edition to edition. Despite the decisions of the Talmudh Bavli being universally accepted in Judaism as binding, the ordering I have given above is not used in any edition of the Hebrew Bible (so far as I know). I have no idea how this happened.

Also: “Shenem ‘Asar” means “twelve”, referring to the twelve prophetic documents bundled together in that one book. Somehow it ended up as the thirteenth book of the Hebrew Bible.

Also: I’m well aware that Christians are responsible for the division of books into chapters, which sometimes puts divisions in odd places, such as the middle of paragraphs or sentences. I am also aware that they’ve rearranged the books so that the Messianic prophecies fall closer to the end, making for a better lead-in to the New Testament. What I find totally mysterious is why they broke up some of the books. It cannot be a size issue, for Sefer Tehillim, which is relatively huge, did not suffer this fate. It also cannot be a preexisting division issue, for while Shenem ‘Asar does divide naturally into twelve separate parts, Sefer Tehillim has five traditional divisions and Mishle is explicitly a compendium of several smaller collections of proverbs, while Shemu’el, Melakhim, ‘Ezra’, and Divre hayYamim have no traditional or natural divisions. Go figure.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Weird thing of the day 16 May 2005/7 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 22 of the `Omer)


Yesterday I was watching TV, and there was a commercial for a power company promoting itself as developing cleaner-burning coal. Something about it struck me as totally weird: the music, which was Merle Travis’s “Sixteen Tons”. This song is all about what a rotten life coal-miners have, and it is thus completely inappropriate for promoting use of coal. If I may quote the chorus:
    You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
    another day older and deeper in debt
    St. Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store
Now, I’m aware that Bush and his closest supporters are evil enough not lift a finger to stop wage slavery, but most pro-Republican companies are not so collectively stupid as to advertise it. Since this a definite marketing blunder, I hereby name that commercial the weird thing of the day.

As a bonus, you can find out all about “Sixteen Tons” at Sixteen Tons - The Story Behind The Legend.



Sunday, May 15, 2005

Weird thing of the day 15 May 2005/6 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 21 of the `Omer/National Receptionists Day/Straw Hat Day/National Chocolate Chip Day)


Political amusement: Backspin has noted that Fatah has a petition to the Stateless Arab (“Palestinian”) Authority demanding an inquiry into the cause of Arafat (may his name be erased)’s death and has posted a list of the top ten suggestions of what really happened. Many are downright “conspiracy theories”. My favorite is the laser gun.

Quibble: The term “conspiracy theory” is a misnomer. The difference between a theory and a mere hypothesis is that a theory has evidence to back it up. E.g., the Theory of Evolution, being bolstered by multiple lines of evidence from fossils to genetics to being observed directly in human history, is a theory; while the Documentary Hypothesis, being little more than speculation without any outside confirmation (such as unedited copies of J, E, P, and D), is an hypothesis. “Conspiracy theories” are infamous for the evidence backing them up being wildly inaccurate, and thus calling them “theories” perpetuates the notion that they have real evidence to back them up or that actual theories do not necessarily have supporting evidence. I suggest “conspiracy hypothesis” as a replacement.

Today’s weird thing is yet another letter from Marvin the Paranoid Android (thank you for saving me the trouble of picking me a weird thing), which I have included below. Enjoy or be scared or something.



I am sorry to report that Zaphod Beeblebrox has
dragged me to see that movie The Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy
. Why, I do not know; perhaps he is
vain enough to care about how Sam Rockwell portrays
him. You may remember that I have previously reported
on the movie based on the commercial advertisements I
viewed on the telly, and I am sorry to say that my
worst fears have been realised.

This is not to say that the movie is the absolute
worst audiovisual programme ever made. That can
regularly be viewed on such television networks as
Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. To be fair, there
were some parts to the movie which were relatively
close to the book and even the authorisation to
destroy the Earth signed "Love and Kisses, Zaphod" was
borrowed from the radio play. However there were
numerous divergences from both the letter and spirit
of Douglas Adams' work, everything from the oddball
anatomy and completely wrong personality of Zaphod
(whose heads are not stacked on top of each other and
always agree), the completely wrong persona of
Trillian (who has a doctorate and was not hopping
around the planet without any responsibility), myself
(forgetting the subtle, important details of
motivation), the Arthur-Trillian relationship (which
did not develop to any such degree), the Heart of
's improbability drive (which did not cause
the ship and crew to constantly metamorphosize, nor
was there any accounting or understanding of
improbability), the whole reason Zaphod stole the
Heart of Gold, and so forth. The Humma Kavula
character (or however it is spelled) protrayed by John
Malkovitch was cruel, unnecessary, and, how should I
say it, snotty. There were also senseless additions,
such as at one point where Arthur borrowed one of my
character's arms for no apparent reason at all.

This is not to say that the movie was completely wrong
in all its innovations. The exploration of Vogon
society was a tad interesting, as was the
point-of-view gun which my character used to defeat
the Vogon soldiers, allowing the heroes to triumph in
the end.

I'm sorry; it seems I have spoiled the ending. I
didn't mean to do that. I hope I haven't ruined it
for anybody.

Nevertheless, the earlier review found by Zaphod was
on the whole accurate, which is to say that if one
would like to enjoy this movie, it would be best to
drink a few Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters first.
Needless to say that Zaphod had a few afterwards.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Weird thing of the day 12 May 2005/3 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 18 of the `Omer/Israeli Independence Day/Another Kite Day)


Today is Israeli Independence Day. For a change, I’m going to let someone else do the political lecturing by recommending The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz, which is an excellent book on the Israeli-Stateless Arab (“Palestinian”) conflict and all the historical and moral mythology that goes along with it, available from many fine booksellers.

Unrelated: For those of you who use Adium, a free, open source instant messaging client for Mac OS X, I have made available on the Web my NeXTesque Adium menu icons, which are just gray replacement icons which look like for the systemwide Adium menu. For those of you who don’t use Adium, that’s a duck.

Today’s weird thing is an article that takes independence to an unusual degree: “Universal wireless charging: the Splashpower solution”. Enjoy.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Worthy cause of the day


I’m sitting here waiting for a statistics guru to show up so I can ask him a question, and I thought I’d use some of this time towards distributing information on a worthy cause.

MoveOn PAC has yet another petition up. This one is titled “Fire Tom DeLay”, and it asks for Tom DeLay’s removal as Majority Leader due to an ever-lengthening list of transgressions. If I may quote MoveOn PAC’s list of what he did:
  • Accepted trips from corporations and later helped kill legislation they opposed
  • Accepted trips from the lobbyist for a foreign government in violation of House rules
  • Paid family members more than $500,000 out of campaign contributions
  • Helped sweatshops in the Mariana Islands at the behest of a lobbyist.
  • Promised a role in drafting legislation to a corporate donor
  • Tried to coerce a Congressman for a vote on Medicare
  • Allegedly used corporate money given to his PAC to finance Texas campaigns in violation of state law
  • Used Homeland Security resources in a dispute with Democrats in Texas
  • Diverted funds from a children's charity for lavish celebrations at the Republican convention
  • Threatened retaliation against interest groups that don't support Republicans
  • Stacked the House Ethics Committee with representatives who have contributed to his legal defense fund
  • Crippled the effectiveness of the House Ethics Committee by purging members who had rebuked him
  • Pushed for a rules change for the House Ethics process that paralyzed the panel
  • Sought a rule change that would have no longer "required leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted"
DeLay has also apparently paid many Representatives out of his own PAC. You can find out how much your Representative has received from DeLay Rankings. Thank you for attention and action.


Weird thing of the day 11 May 2005/2 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 17 of the `Omer/Remembrance Day/Eat What You Want Day)


Today is Remembrance Day, which is memory of those who have lost their lives in protecting the people of the State of Israel. In accordance with the weirdness policy of this blog, I will now transcribe a moment of silence.

Today’s weird thing is the article “A New Israeli test confirms: PEI (Pigeon Enabled Internet) is FASTER then ADSL”. Enjoy.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005



I just checked, and my paper is now available in advance online publication mode.

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication 10 May 2005; doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6602607

Urbanisation and incidence of acute lymphocytic leukaemia among United States children aged 0-4

A S Adelman, C C McLaughlin, X-C Wu, V W Chen and F D Groves

Despite the allergies, I’m feeling happy and ready to crack jokes about being well on my way to becoming a rich and famous epidemiologist.


Weird thing of the day 10 May 2005/1 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 16 of the `Omer/Ro'sh Hodhesh)


I went to the doctor this morning, and I found out I have urticaria and angioedema. These are fancy, Latinate words meaning I have hives and am having an allergic reaction. I'm now on medication that should stop the symptoms, and it seems to be working already. No one knows what’s causing the allergic reaction; God willing, I won’t have to go through the trouble of finding out, which could be painful.

Today’s weird thing is the article “Belgium Students Break Pillow Fight Record”. Enjoy.


Weird thing of the day 9 May 2005/1 'Iyyar 5765 (Day 16 of the `Omer/Ro'sh Hodhesh/Lost Sock Memorial Day)


I woke up this morning red, puffy, and itchy. Promptly I consulted with Mom, our resident medical expert, who recommended first trying sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water (the family remedy for bug bites, which I seem to have plenty of) and benadryl. The latter knocked me out so that I accomplished next to nothing today. On the bright side, the redness, puffiness, and itchiness are all down. I just pray it stays this way and I don’t have to pay a visit to student health.

Political griping: UnRealID.com is complaining about a national ID card a senator is pushing and which the Senate is supposed to be voting on without even discussing tomorrow. You may want to sign their petition to your senators as soon as you read this. Also asking for Divine punishment, New Hampshire is considering charging people with zero income for Medicaid. (As I’ve said, the motto of the GOP these days seems to be “Kick the poor when they’re down.”) Meanwhile, Backspin reports on Stateless Arabs (“Palestinians”) teaching their children violence, hatred, and use of firearms. Be shocked at the pictures.

Today’s weird thing derives from the HonestReporting.com article “Mother's Day 'Greetings'”, which is about “New Age 'Goddess' movement” writers demonizing Israel. I looked at the Web-site of one of the two mentioned, Starhawk, and I came across an article, “Religion From Nature, Not Archaeology”, which describes her theology. Starhawk is unconcerned whether her religious views have any basis in physical reality or actual history. Rather, she seems to be the sort of person who easily reaches meditative/mystical states regularly, and anything “natural” which helps her reach such states is “proof” of her beliefs. While such states are interesting and may be useful in problem-solving and self-improvement, they have a downside in that those who have such experiences may misinterpret them as direct contact with supernatural beings, or, as this mystic seems to be doing, “a direct relationship with the cycles of birth, growth, death and regeneration in nature and in human lives”. Since Starhawk seems to be doing nothing more than fooling herself and taking a big step backwards in epistemology (the study of how we know what we know), I hereby name her mode of thought the weird thing of the day.

Note: People who genuinely wish to have “a direct relationship with the cycles of birth, growth, death and regeneration in nature and in human lives” are advised to contact a competent biologist or simply live their lives.


Monday, May 9, 2005

Time traveller convention outcome


On Friday I reported on The Time Traveler Convention. I just checked the site, and it they report no confirmed time travelers making an appearance. Oh, well.


Sunday, May 8, 2005

Weird thing of the day 8 May 2005/29 Nisan 5765 (Day 14 of the `Omer/Mother's Day/No Socks Day/First Feast Day of Saint Michael the Archangel)


Recurring commenter update: If you haven’t noticed, Bobby Awesome hasn’t posted any commentary in a while. When I recently complained of my software budget woes, he was possessed with a fear I might shut the blog down, thereby erasing his commentary from human memory forever. I assured him that blogs on this site are free, so no matter how bad my financial situation becomes, so long as I have Internet access, this blog can continue to be updated. Furthermore, I noted, if he wants his words on the Web, he can always get his own blog. Nevertheless, he is worried that an unhappy Aaron would be inclined to delete his (or any other “cool”) commentary (not to mention the posts he made without authorization when I was in the Monsey area at a friend’s wedding), so he has made it his mission to find a way to “save” the Weird thing of the day. To this end, he has spent a lot of time recently in his “top secret headquarters”, devising a plan to increase my income and thereby save his posts. I am glad that he has decided to be so industrious and look forward to reviewing any ideas he has to propose.

Political update: Two interesting articles have been noted on Backspin: 1) “Jeff Jacoby on U.S. media bias” argues on why anti-Semitism may not be a cause of anti-Israel bias in the media. 2) “Arab Writers Fight Terrorism” reports refreshingly on Arab dissidents complaining about Arab terrorism and the rationalization of it in the media.

Since today is Mother’s Day, today’s weird thing is the touching article “Surrogate Mom Gives Birth to Quintuplets”. Enjoy.


Friday, May 6, 2005

Weird thing of the day 6 May 2005/27 Nisan 5765 (Day 12 of the `Omer/Nurses' Day/No Pants Day)


Desktop-clearing update:Today’s weird thing is The Time Traveler Convention. The Time Traveler Convention will take place at May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC). Events start at 8:00 PM. The address:
    East Campus Courtyard, MIT
    3 Ames St. Cambridge, MA 02142
    42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W
    (42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees)
The point of this event is to attract time travelers from the future. The organizers wish people to pass down information on this event through the ages so that future time travelers do attend. In order to accomplish this (and because it is a totally weird thing to do, much in the spirit of this blog), I have created an iCal event on my computer to remind me to publicize the convention once a year. I hope to have details on whether any time travelers do attend the convention on Sunday.



Weird thing of the day 5 May 2005/26 Nisan 5765 (Day 11 of the `Omer/Holocaust Memorial Day/Ascension/Cinco de Mustache/National Hoagie Day)


Worthy cause of the day: MoveOn PAC has a new petition. If I may quote:
    On Sunday morning, Christian Coalition founder Rev. Pat Robertson told TV viewers nation-wide that the threat posed by liberal federal judges "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

    Robertson's statement is only the most outrageous example of a growing effort from the extreme right to whip up an intense fear and hatred of American judges. The strategy is designed to build support for the Republican "nuclear" scheme to break the rules and stack the courts — and it is poisonous to our democracy. Republican leaders must reject these comments and end the intimidation now.
You can find more on this subject at MoveOn's site.

Political ranting of the day: Apparently 2004 not only experienced a tripling of the terrorism rate (compared to 2003), but also was the 15-year high for anti-Semitic incidents. (The article is unclear as to what areas are covered by the study. All the countries mentioned are in Europe.) This does not inspire much confidence in the state of European tolerance and makes me wonder why Europe bothers making pretenses that it knows how to make peace between Israel and hostile Arabs when it is doing a worse job than ever at keeping the peace between its own citizens.

Weird thing of the day: “Soldier suspected of being neo-Nazi”. The weird part is that this is happening in Israel.

Be scared or depressed or something. (It’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Not much to enjoy right now.)


Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Weird thing of the day 4 May 2005/25 Nisan 5765 (Day 10 of the `Omer)


Worthy causes of the day: Yesterday’s weird thing dealt with compostable mobile phones that can be turned into flowers. For those of you who do not receive this blog in mail format or do not normally read the comments, Jessica noted two worthy causes which are branches of The Wireless Foundation, DONATE A PHONE and CALL TO PROTECT, both of which collect mobile phones for charitable purposes and thus help protect the environment by reusing old but functional technology rather than discarding it, not to mention raise money for other worthy causes.

Political griping of the day: Mind-bogglingly, the Stateless Arab (“Palestinian”) Authority’s official newspaper is wishing Saddam Hussein a happy birthday. The mind-boggling part is that Saddam hid in a hole in the ground like a coward rather than blow himself up like a “real man” according to the Stateless Arab ideal of martyrdom when the US invaded, thus making him so dishonorable that one would think no one would want to identify with him, period. Meanwhile, in April there were 54% more Stateless Arab attacks on Israel than there were in March, despite pretenses that there has been a ceasefire.

Continuing the theme of violence, today’s weird thing is the article “Hubble Sees Galaxy on Verge of Destruction”. (And people used to think the heavens were static...) Enjoy.


Allergy-induced update


I’ve been allergic all day, and I’m feeling too out of it to sensibly assemble a table of data without being sure that I won’t feel I did it wrong later. As such, I’m not in a good mood, and so I will take the opportunity to complain.
  • “Study: Africa Worst Place for Moms, Kids”. Check out the included statistics for data on preventable diseases that any sane epidemiologist would find appalling.
  • “Rabbis, Azam urge Pollard release”. The US put away a man for life for allegedly spying for a friendly country, even though people who have spied for enemy countries have been given much lighter sentences. Considering that Pollard has been in captivity for 20 years already, the last several US presidents have all been at best morally negligent in failing to correct this injustice. Even Bush, who many allege is a friend of Israel, has not ever considered releasing Pollard.
  • “PA frees Hamas rocket squad member”. Apparently Abbas does not quite understand that dismantling terror organizations requires not merely capturing terrorists, but also keeping them in custody so they are no longer a risk to anyone.
Be annoyed or scared or something.