Otter Disaster Designs - Pop Culture Themed T-Shirts

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nostalgiavision! Recalling 2 Different Sketch Comedy Shows

For some reason today I thought of 2 different sketch comedy shows separated by nearly a decade (in my life).

The first was Almost Live! which was produced by KING-TV in Seattle Washington from 1984-1999. I watched it on Comedy Central where it aired from 92 to 93. I think it may have aired in syndication as well, but the Wikipedia article does not mention the show ever being syndicated.

Almost Live! had many memorable recurring characters and sketches including Bill Nye as Speed Walker, a super-hero who speed walks, but does not run, to fight crime.

I also fondly remember the Lame List, which featured Seattle area rockers, including members of Soundgarden, telling us What's Weak This Week.

Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan was a really funny Kung Fu parody. Remember kids, "Be Like Billy!"

But the sketch that summed up Almost Live! most for me was the High Five'n White Guys:

The other sketch comedy show, I recalled today was Turkey Television, which aired almost a decade earlier than the Almost Live! episodes I watched in college. It was on Nickelodeon for one season in 1985-86. I had hoped to find a treasure trove of Turkey TV sketches on Youtube, but I was only able to dig up the opens:

I fondly remember watching Turkey Televison along with the much beloved You Can't Do That On Televison when I would get home from school. This show was on during my 7th grade year, which coincided with the first time in my life I had Cable TV.

Here is the IMDB entry.

Here are a few screen captures.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Feces Roger!: the Sad Death of Washoe the Chimpanzee

When I was in college in the early 90s I worked at my college radio station KFHS (600 AM at the time, now you can listen online), at Fort Hays State University.

We used to run a series of PSA's called 'Tips on Life' that would talk about various uh, tips on life.

One unusual 'Tips on Life' PSA concerned a chimpanzee named Washoe that had learned some American Sign Language. The PSA described how Roger Fouts, a graduate student that worked with Washoe had taught her a sign for his name. When he would deny her requests for food, she would combine his name with the sign for feces and call him 'Feces Roger' as an insult. I found this PSA endlessly amusing at the time and played it as often as I could reasonably get away with. At one point I even drew a fake album cover featuring a band called Washoe and the Opposable Thumbs featuring their latest single Feces Roger, and pasted it up in the control room.

Washoe died on Tuesday of natural causes (she was 42).
More on Washoe at Friends of Washoe.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Major Spoilers: A Spoiler No More!

Cool-ass comic review site Major Spoilers is no more.

I don't read the volume of comics I once did, but this site along with the always entertaining Progressive Ruin were my window on the comics world.

I've known Stephen and Matthew since college, and both are extremely creative individuals and their daily perspective on the 4 color world will be missed.

I understand the pressures of a paying job and a loving family that can make daily blogging difficult. Since my schedule change at the end of September, my posts here have really tapered off. Major Spoilers had A LOT of daily content. Multiple reviews and news items were posted daily. I can't imagine the amount of time and energy required to put that site together day to day. An impressive feat by two impressive guys writing about what they love. I wish I could put together a quarter of the content in a week they managed in a day.

Hope to see something again from you guys soon. You don't have to be so amibitious next time, just give us something to entertain, and inform even if it's just a couple days a week.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris: Part 9

The Cleveland Okie has a nice post with an interview of Mike Shea, the son of Illuminatus! co-author Robert Shea. The interview mentions the eight appendices reported to have been removed from the original appendices of Illuminatus!, as well as the book 'Bride of Illuminatus' which was an unfinished sequel to the original to be co-written by Shea and Wilson. Oh what might have been. . .

Speaking of Illuminatus! the always cool blog, Damn Interesting, has a nice post on the Assassins.

Via Reason Magazine's Hit and Run Blog:

Will Stephen Colbert's Presidential exploration poach Ron Paul supporters?

And Radley Balko warns that Hillary Clinton may be the best option for Republicans looking to continue the foreign policy of George W. Bush.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Square Foot Garden: The Final Harvest

Denver is looking at freezing temperatures tonight and possibly snow tomorrow, so I picked the last of the veggies from the garden. Here is some of the harvest:

A few ripe tomatoes, the last two cabbages, a good bunch of jalapenos, a few radishes planted for fall harvest, and a really nice pumpkin. I also cut all the remaining tomatoes and left them on bits of vine hoping they will ripen and have a little flavor. Once they ripen, I'll quarter them and dry them in the oven. That is a pretty easy way to preserve them for long term storage while maintaining the flavor.

I still have some beets in the ground that I planted for a late harvest, but they really aren't ready. Friend Paul of the 5K Garden tells me you can cover them and they will winter over for spring, so I'm going to give that a try. Right now I have them covered with some cabbage leaves, but once I get the front yard raked I'll add some leaves to the coverage as well.

Aside from the beets, I've cleared both of the square foot beds and they are pretty well cleaned up for winter. Once I pull in all the pumpkins from my traditional beds I'll clean up the vines and try to get the compost pile ready to go in earnest.

All in all a fairly successful garden, especially considering the adoption of the Square Foot method for the first time, and a work schedule in mid-late summer that led to some neglect of the garden during some of the hottest periods of the year.

I was really pleased with my spinach, carrots, pumpkins, jalapenos, radishes, cabbages and onions. The cucumbers were also fairly successful. I didn't have much success with my green beans, and I think I've made my final attempt at growing green peppers. Year after year I end up with small, tough, and bitter peppers. I might give the green beans one more shot next year.

My attempt to get a second harvest of red radishes, icicle radishes, spinach and carrots was mostly a failure, again due to work pressures that led to late season neglect of the garden. I got a few radishes, pulled today, and the carrots never even sprouted.

My tomatoes were sort of a mixed bag. I didn't seem to have the sheer amount of tomatoes I've had in years past, and the fruit was smaller on average I think. I also had a problem in the SFG beds of large dark spots on the bottom of the fruit. I'd read that can be caused by calcium deficiency in the soil, but I specifically amended the soil for that because of the same issue last year in my traditional beds. It could be that I was overwatering, or there might be some other deficiency in my SFG soil mixture.

As for the Square Foot Gardening method as a whole, I was mostly pleased. It is a very organized way of putting the garden together and it does allow a lot of plants in a limited space. I may have used the wrong combination of compost or something, because while some plants flourished (Cabbages and radishes), others struggled as if they needed something extra (tomatoes, green peppers, beets). I will have to find a good compost, or amend the soil with some nutrients for next year. I'm also going to do a couple of deeper beds using the SFG method, specifically for potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables.

For the complete rundown on my Square Foot Garden for 2007 you can see all my posts on the subject HERE.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Fall Shows: Cavemen

I finally watched one of the DVR'd episodes of ABC's Cavemen the night before last.

It was truly awful. I gave several segments the 'ol :30 second skip just to ease the pain. Not funny. Not at all. The commercials on which the show is based showed the Cavemen being discriminated against, and that was where a lot of the humor of those spots emerged.

The show has one caveman character(Joel) who has a good job as a middle manager type in an IKEA type store, and a really hot girlfriend. He actually convinces his boss to hire Nick, another caveman, to come work at the store when a couple of employees are fired for having intimate relations in the store. Nick gets himself fired for gross incompetence(with unknown assistance from Joel). Not thick-skulled caveman incompetence, but arrogant a-hole incompetence. Once fired Nick cries discrimination and tries to sue, but the true reason for his termination

Saturday, October 13, 2007

VOTE!: Friend Suz Picks Her Candidate

Friend Suz set this email:

This quiz is pretty interesting. My top scorer wasn't who I thought it would be.

Now I have to find out who Dennis Kucinich is...

Don't know who to vote for? Check out this quiz.

This may not be the best way to select your choice for President, but it has one strong reason in its favor: it tells you which candidates support your own opinions, whether you are a Democrat or Republican. No political message here except your own. Of course, Presidential candidates have been known to change their minds after they win elections!

The following is an interesting exercise.... You answer a few questions then click the "find your candidate button" and the program selects the candidate who's position on the issues is most like your own... You may be surprised at what you find...Click the link below....

So I take the quiz and my shocking result was this(my Blogger template doesn't really parse the code for this):

Sam Brownback
Score: 38
Stem-Cell Research
Health Care
Social Security
Line-Item Veto
Death Penalty

-- Take the Quiz! --

My response to Suz about said test:

Interesting test.

My top candidate was Sam Brownback(Score of 38) whom I've actually met and think is a pile of crap!

Ron Paul was my number 2 choice in the test(Score of 33), but far and away my candidate of choice based on lots of issues that were not addressed in the test. My bottom candidates(tied)were Hillary, Edwards and Obama. I think that there were not enough questions to be completely accurate, but I guess my guy was in the top 2 so there must be a certain level of credibility to it.

I did notice that on a lot of the questions where I agreed with Brownback were issues where I put the importance as low(Energy, Line Item, Social Security).

Also it flagged me as agreeing with Brownback on Federal funding of Stem-Cell research(against), but his reasons are generally religious, while mine have more to do with government's role in things of that nature and my belief that private industry is better at that sort of thing anyway.

Plus, I don't like the idea of government essentially picking and choosing what research is valid or important, by granting or not granting funding. I have similar feelings about alternative energy research, but as a matter of national security(and possibly keeping us out of oil wars in the future) I feel energy policy is more in line with the responsibilities of government(general welfare and common defense from the Preamble of the Constitution).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 is Coming Soon!

Galactica's final season is almost here.
Check out the awesome Sci-Fi Channel teaser:

I'm really looking forward to this and hope that the creators can pull off a satisfying conclusion to a really great series.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

New Fall Shows: Chuck

Mrs. Disaster and I watched the first two episodes of NBC's Chuck yesterday. You can catch both eps online here.

Once again Mrs. Disaster was sold quicker than I was. Perhaps I've become jaded after numerous disappointments over the years, but I really need a show to prove itself to me these days. The wife thought it was charming, but she has a certain affinity for geeks(see her pop culture/gardening/metal/politics blogger husband).

The show was pretty funny, and the concept has legs. The lovable loser element, mixed with the super spy genre works well here. Chuck as a character(portrayed by Zachary Levi), is likable, and it's easy to root for him. The supporting cast is fun too, and any show with Adam Baldwin (as the murder minded John Casey) earns cool points in my book. Yvonne Strzechowski as the mysterious female lead/love interest, Sarah, hasn't completely sold me yet, but I don' hate her either. Joshua Gomez plays Chuck's sidekick, Morgan. He's playing an archetype, the even nerdier sidekick to a nerd, and reminds me a bit of the type of characters portrayed by Seth Green. That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

The Disaster family will definitely be catching episode 3(or at least DVRing it) on Monday. Jury still out, but looking pretty good.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Fall Shows: Pushing Daisies

I watched the premier episode of ABC's Pushing Daisies. I liked it, I guess, Mrs. Disaster was a bigger fan. It immediately reminded me of a Tim Burton movie, with the fairy tale narration, supersaturated colors, and of course the grim premise of a man who can bring the dead back to life.

The cast was fine and the writing was sharp and funny. I'm not sure what bothered me about it. Perhaps I'm not sure if the concept can stay interesting over multiple episodes, it almost seems like a better idea for a feature film.

I'll definitely watch again to see if I am right or wrong about the longevity of the show's premise.

No Series Record yet. The jury is still out on this one for me.

Ron Paul Continues to Surprise: Q3 Fundraising

Representative Ron Paul, of Texas, continues to surprise his critics.
He raised $5.08 Million in the 3rd quarter of 2007. That amount nearly doubles his 2nd quarter take. Increased fundraising means a continued campaign and it also means growing support.

Paul remains a long shot contender for the White House, but he still has more money in the bank than "top tier" candidate John McCain(for the second quarter in a row no less).

With the amount of cash he has available he can continue to campaign, staying in the debates and frustrating the hell out of all of his critics. In debate after debate he is the only GOP candidate that truly stands out from the status quo supporting field.

Increased fundraising also means other people(and the press) will pay more attention to his campaign and the message it brings.

Reason Magazine's Hit and Run Blog has a really good roundup of Paul's Q3 fundraising success and what it means for his campaign:

The week's politics including fundraising news for both the Dems and the GOP.

Reactions to Paul's success.

The Five Million Dollar Man.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Fall Shows: Geeks Abound

Well, I've had the DVR working overtime to catch as many new shows as I can. This post from a couple weeks back listed some shows I'd read about and was eagerly anticipating.

I have the first 2 episodes of Chuck on the DVR, but have yet to watch. I'll file a report as soon as I watch. Same goes for Bionic Woman (2nd episode airs tonight).

I apparently missed the first episode of Fox's Back To You, and DVR'd the second. It doesn't really matter though, because I doubt I'll watch this show again. Aside from a pretty funny gag about a series of unfortunate goldfish, most of the jokes were pretty flat, and Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton have no real chemistry.

Aliens In America earned a Series Record on the DVR with it's pilot episode last night. I was truly impressed. I have a soft spot for underdog geek stories (I still mourn the loss of Freaks and Geeks), and this one is no exception. If subsequent episodes of this show hold up to the promise of the first episode this could become my favorite new show of the year.

Pushing Daisies premieres tonight, and I'm hoping to catch it as it airs(what a novel concept).

DVR'd Cavemen last night(in the 'to be watched' pile), and caught the pilot episode of Carpoolers. It was a decent single camera comedy with an ensemble cast, and nowhere near as bad as some reviews I've read(unless future episodes begin to suck out loud). Sliders' Jerry O'Connell is probably the show's weakest link among a pretty decent cast. T.J. Miller as Marmaduke Brooker(a character as big and dumb as his name implies)brought a smile to my face every time he lumbered across the screen.

Another show that is not as bad as some have reported is CBS' Big Bang Theory. I read one review calling this the worst new fall show, but it it leaps and bounds more entertaining than Back to You. Not a great sitcom, by any stretch, but it has it's strengths. Jim Parsons as the socially inept and hyper nerdy Sheldon is simply a blast. We're talking Kramer/Fonz level scene stealing here. If the show survives expect big things from Parsons. Johnny Galecki is not as enjoyable as Leonard, and the show's would-be romantic lead. Parson's geekiness is effortless on the part of the actor, while Galecki's performance seems forced. The rest of the cast is OK. We'll see if this one holds up over the season.

CW's Reaper has also earned a Series Record after it's second episode last night.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris: Part 8 - TV Notes


Sci Fi Channel's wonderfully quirky Eureka has been picked up for a third season. Season 2 is just winding down. The first season was a little uneven at times, but this season has been great. The writers seem to have grasped all the characters and how they interact so that the show feels more natural. The show has been consistently funny, and the season long story arc has been told within the episodes, but hasn't overridden the stand alone stories of each episode. Glad to hear it will be back for another season.

If you watch NBC's the Office, like I know I do, then you've seen Creed Bratton who also used to be in 60s rock act the Grass Roots. The Scranton Times-Tribune has a nice profile of the actor and how he got involved with the Office.

Finally in some really good casting news, Cynthia Watros will be returning in some flashback episodes of Lost this season. I've been a fan of Cynthia's since she played the rather psychotic Annie Dutton on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light(I worked afternoons at a CBS affiliate and watched the show daily). She was great on Titus, and appeared regularly on the Drew Carey Show for a while. I felt the death of her character, Libby on Lost left a lot of unanswered questions about her relationship with Hurley. Hopefully her episodes this season will fill in some of the blanks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Fall Shows: Reaper

I have all of the shows from this post that have premiered sitting on my DVR. I have yet to get to any of them (see previous post).

One new show that I did catch is the CW's Reaper. It's high concept(what if your parents sold your soul to the devil and now you have to work for him) with a pretty good cast, and solid writing(at least for the pilot) Ray Wise is delightfully evil as 'the Devil' and has the oily presence necessary to portray the Prince of Darkness. Zambonis will never be the same for me.

I DVR'd the pilot episode and I thought it was great. Mrs. Disaster enjoyed it a great deal as well. I'll definitely be watching this, and I recommend it to fans of Buffy/Angel.

Here is CW's 5 minute trailer for the show:

The Andi character was apparently recast with actress Missy Peregrym (the illusion caster from last season's Heroes) as a different girl appears in the role in the trailer. That happens sometimes I guess. . .

Otter Disaster Update Update

Due to a life changing, but very good, development at work Otter Disaster has been a bit neglected for several weeks.

I took a new position at work, so my weekly schedule has undergone a major upheaval. Instead of working 3pm to 11pm Wednesday through Sunday I am now working 6am to 2pm Monday through Friday (which means I leave my house by 5:15). While this is a much better schedule for spending time with Mrs. and Little Disater it is taking a little adjustment.

I am hoping once I get into the rhythm of my new job I'll be able to post on a more regular basis. I finally do have something in mind to replace Finntroll Friday, but with my new schedule it might be more a weekend thing. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ron Paul: No Third Party Run

Via Hit and Run:

The Deseret Morning News reports that in a speech at a Utah fundraiser, Ron Paul reiterated that he will not make a third party bid for the presidency if he does not get the GOP Nomination.

I'll just have to write his name in, I guess.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coming Soon: Lot's of New Shows that Will Be Cancelled Just As You Fall In Love With Them

The New Fall Season is nearly upon us once again. This used to be one of the high points of my year. I'd go out and buy the Fall TV Preview Issue of TV Guide, and survey the exciting new shows coming to my favorite networks.

This excitement has been diminished over recent years as Mid-Season Replacements, Late Premiers, Summer Series, Reality Shows, and various Game/Talent shows have peppered themselves all over the TV landscape along with myriad basic and premium cable series, that only run 10-13 episodes per season. Seasons don't mean what they used to.

Nonetheless, the OFFICIAL Fall TV Season is imminent, and I'm mildly excited about it. I haven't really heard buzz for any show that just demands that I check it out, but I'm sure(armed with my DVR) that I'll be sampling the numerous offerings.

Reading through's list of premieres, I'm interested in:

Chuck, about a geek who gets involved in the spy game

Back to You, about Kelsey Grammar as a news anchor returning to his old station
(working in television, I have a weakness for tv shows about tv shows)

Bionic Woman, an update of the late 70s Lindsay Wagner vehicle, now starring Michelle Ryan & Katee Sackhoff(of Battlestar Galactica) Sounds like this show will have a government conspiracy undercurrent, which has become a really tired element to most current science fiction shows.

Aliens in America, about a Pakistani foreign exchange student.

Pushing Daisies, about a kid who can return the dead to life with a single touch.

Maybe I'll do some mini-reviews/commentary on these shows once they've aired.

In the 'I want to watch for the trainwreck factor' is ABC's Cavemen show, based on a mildly amusing series of Geico insurance commercials. I can't imagine how this show, allegedly about race, won't be a disaster, but I want to see just how big the crash will be. I predict it will be cancelled in five episodes or less.

For all your indispensable TV news and commentary check out and Both are required reading a couple of times a week, especially during the new tv season.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Square Foot Garden: Chili Time

It's been a while since posting about my SFG, but the Disaster Family has been enjoying fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for several weeks now. Fall radishes and beets will arrive shortly, as long as we don't have an early freeze. Might get a last harvest of spinach as well. Things will probably be moving into the cleanup/winterize stage very soon. I'm going to pull in a really nice harvest of pumpkins soon as well, and will be able to give some of them away I imagine. Once the first freeze comes, I'll probably do a nice long post-mortem post on my first year of Square Foot Gardening.

It's been much cooler here in Denver over the last week, and today it's overcast, rainy and cool. This weather presents the perfect late summer opportunity to throw together some of my harvest with some ground beef and pork, some spices, and a little chili powder to make a delicious chili soup.

Here's some of the harvest destined for the stew:

I always love that first batch of chili when the weather finally cools down, especially when I get to use my very own, home grown ingredients.

My recipe is fairly simple:

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 or 2 onions chopped
1 or 2 green peppers chopped
2 or 3 Anaheim peppers chopped
2 to 6 jalapeno peppers (amount to your particular taste)chopped/sliced
5 or 6 small or 2 to 3 large tomatoes chopped (or a can of stewed tomatoes if fresh not available.
A spoonful or so of minced garlic
2 cans of refried beans (Mrs. Disaster can't stand whole beans, and this solution actually makes a nice smooth soup, which is really nice for using leftovers on chili dogs)
Salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste (Or just throw in the store brand chili seasoning packet from your local grocer)
Throw the whole mess into a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours.

My chili is never quite the same twice, that's just sort of how I cook. I use the ingredients I have available, and adjust them til it suits me (and the Mrs.). Usually delicious with some corn bread or a fresh loaf of french bread from the grocery store. Leftovers are awesome on chili dogs and breakfast burritos.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Weird Theory about Missing Pilot and Chinese Hackers

Via the entertaining, weirdly cool, often bizarre, and oddly informative Rumor Mill News, comes a wild theory concerning the alleged hacking of the Pentagon by the Chinese and Missing pilot/adventurer Steve Fossett.

The theory suggests that Fossett is not missing, but merely hiding while the US Government searches for a missing nuke from the well publicized flight of 5 nukes from North Dakota to Louisiana. The theory suggests that Chinese Hackers, in hacking the Pentagon may have created the orders to get those nuclear weapons on that B-52 and that a 6th weapon may be missing.

The thread at Rumor Mill News suggests other possible dots to connect in this puzzle.

If Fossett shows up alive in the next few days, with a dramatic story of crash and survival my paranoia meter is probably going to redline, and my head might explode.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Internet People: What no Kenya? No LOLCats?

Via Neatorama

Internet People, is a song and video by Dan Meth and Micah Frank summing up ultra-forwarded and mega-linked Internet videos, animations, and memes.

Covers most of the bases (All Your Base Are Belong To Us), but leaves out personal favorites Kenya and Magical Trevor at Plus no LOLCats?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Glenn Beck Doesn't Understand Libertarianism, and Should Shut Up About It

Glenn Beck often talks about the 'fact' that he is a "libertarian at heart," but he is not. Today he said he, "wants to be a libertarian," but he does not. These statements come from someone who doesn't really understand the libertarian position.

He was going off about Ron Paul's debate performance, and he's a harsh critic of Paul's. Beck doesn't like Paul's approach to foreign policy and the war in Iraq, and that is fine. He's entitled to be critical of Paul, certainly, but he should really be a more informed critic when it comes to Paul's libertarianism.

Beck claimed Ron Paul said that he (Paul) would eliminate the CIA, FBI and the IRS. The debate moderator said those things of Paul. That doesn't mean Paul has never suggested eliminating them(he has said he'd like to eliminate the IRS, and has talked about reforming the CIA, I've never heard him talk about the FBI), but it was the moderator and not Paul saying them at the debate last night. Beck inaccurately put those words in Paul's mouth last night.

To Beck's credit he did say it was inappropriate for Giuliani to audibly laugh during Paul's responses, and I agree. I wasn't sure it was Giuliani, but whoever it was showed a real lack of manners and decorum.

After his discussion of the debate he went into his (oft repeated) shtick about how he likes libertarianism, considers himself a libertarian 'at heart, and 'wants' to be one, but just can't because the country lacks the morality(?). I guess he believes that 'morality' can be successfully dictated and enforced by government action (see Prohibition, Prostitution, the War on Drugs, and on and on).

His arguments tend to lean in the direction that all libertarians are essentially anarchists, and that if they were in charge(an oxymoron?) we'd have heroin addicts littering the streets (a very accurate paraphrase from a month or so ago). Beck is essentially, and commendably a free market conservative with Neo-Con leanings (especially when it comes to foreign policy and Israel), who, for some reason likes to associate himself with the term libertarian.

He obviously doesn't even remotely understand the arguments against the War on Drugs, or the idea that decriminalization and privatized treatment via charities, churches and other private sector solutions would probably take more heroin users off the streets than current government run solutions.

If he really 'wants' to be libertarian, then he should try to understand the libertarian position better, so he doesn't sound like such an ass when he talks about it.

Ron Paul Shows Some Fire: New Hampshire Debate Last Night

Ron Paul finally showed some real fire in his belly in last night's New Hampshire GOP debate. It was nice to see him showing some passion about his war position, and reiterating that the American people are not at fault over 9-11 and the Iraq war, but that those problems are the fault of bad and/or failed governmental policy.

Ron Paul continues to be a refreshing voice as the only anti-war Republican, while the rest of the candidates seem to be fighting over the degree to which the 'surge' is, or is not working, but essentially all hold the same position: Let's Stay in Iraq.

He also seems to be losing patience with accusations, suggestions, and not so veiled jabs that he is more or less an al-Qaeda sympathizer. He is responding very passionately to these jabs, and making the point that an administration with tunnel vision, and a crappy foreign policy is to blame and not Joe Six-pack, average American.

YouTube user ScanningTheWaves, edited together Mr. Paul's responses and exchanges into a single clip (try not to pay attention to the lip sync problem):

Someone with an open mic laughed audibly a number of times at Paul, which I found rather curious.

Paul seemed to have some good support for his positions in the crowd and got some good applause and cheers. The crowd as a whole seemed pretty passionate, and he got a fair share of boos and jeers as well.

Reason Magazine's David Weigel has a rundown of the debate as it happened last night.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hugh Hewitt Interviews Ron Paul After TX Straw Poll

Following last weekend's Texas Straw Poll (Paul finished 3rd) he was interviewed by Neo-Con Talk Radio Host Hugh Hewitt.

I used to listen to Hewitt regularly, but over time, found him to be a Hannity-style apologist for all things Republican Party. He's a Bush guy, and from most reports is now firmly in the Mitt Romney camp. Hewitt was also a big supporter of the swiftboaters against John Kerry (I found the behavior of both sides in that brou-ha-ha equally repugnant), and railed against Kerry for his flip-flopping. One of the main criticisms of Romney is how he has flipped on numerous issues to position himself farther on the right.

Just wanted to give you a little background on the man with the mic. All of the above considered, he's reasonably fair with Ron Paul in this interview:

Hat tip to Reason's Hit and Run.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Dune Know If This is Such a Great Idea

Conservative film-blog Libertas pointed me to this article on the C.H.U.D. movie site that reports that a new film version of Dune might be forthcoming.

Having seen the David Lynch version and the recent Sci-Fi Channel version, I have come to the conclusion that the book is unfilmable. Both versions have good points, but I consider both of these adaptations to be failures. For a new film, the effects will be there, but Dune has so much stuff going on, and Herbert created a very complex world with very complex politics, that adaptation for a 2-3 hour movie seems an insurmountable task.

If the new film is an attempt to launch a franchise with sequels, ala Lord of the Rings, I think the first film will have to be perfect. I think Dune Messiah and Children of Dune(I haven't seen the Sci-Fi version of that one) are more conventional stories(and shorter) and therefore adaptable, but without hitting Dune out of the park those films won't be made.

I have similar feelings about the often mentioned film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Ender's Game is populated with dozens of characters, many of whom are children.

Finding enough quality child actors to fill those roles will be impossible. One solution would be to age the characters to rectify that problem, but it would greatly diminish the impact such young characters, and the things they are asked to do, within the story.

I have heard it suggested the characters could maintain their youth if the film were animated, and that is probably the best solution I've heard for Ender's Game. My prediction is that if Ender's Game is made as a live action film, it will be a huge disappointment (especially to fans of the books).

Some books are probably better off without being adapted to film. So often the magic of a book falls flat on film, simply because of the time constraints involved.

On another side of the adaptation coin, I like the Harry Potter films quite a bit, but they aren't without problems. So many little character things have to be discarded, character roles combined, subplots abandoned etc. The Potter books are each, on the surface at least, mystery stories and they lend themselves to reasonably successful adaptation because the mystery is at the heart of each story.

As an aside, the first Potter film is a great example of the child actor problem of Ender's Game. The Ender characters are even younger than Harry and company in Sorcerer's Stone.

Ender Wiggin and Paul Atreides, in their respective stories, have so much internalized conflict, lots of inner dialogue, and more philosophical struggle going on that doesn't translate to film as readily as the mystery plots of Harry Potter. Harry does have a fascinating and complex philosophical and internal struggle over the course of the seven novels, but each episode stands on it's own as a complex, but filmable, mystery plot.

If Dune and Ender's Game do make it to film, I hope I'm wrong about the adaptability of the material. I really like both of those books. I once thought the Lord of the Rings was an unfilmable property as well, but Peter Jackson understood the material and managed to make some of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe that will be the case once (or twice) again.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris: Part 7

What if a virus or plague wiped out all of humanity and left the world free of humans?
The World Without Us is a new book by Alan Weisman that explores that idea. The website for the book describes how infrastructure would gradually collapse and how the human void would be filled with plants, animals, and fungi. A really cool multimedia page has videos and slide shows with speculative art and animation about this concept.

Here is a spot-on Simpsons open using the Star Wars characters. It was made by the guy who gave us Star Dudes and it's sequels.

NASA is testing methane powered rocket engines. Methane can be found on planets other than ours, so it is a good fuel for extra planetary trips, such as to Mars. It's nice that once you get where you are going, you can fill up and come home as well. . .

And Just for fun is is the minimalist, stylish, and simply beautiful intro to the original Ultraman:

Hat Tip to the always cool Main Title Heaven blog. Ultraman Tiga(with a totally awesome theme song), and Ultraman Towards the Future, can also be seen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ron Paul: Strippers Like Liberty Too!

To the best of my knowledge this post on a blog called GordonUnleashed was inspired by this post at the Hustle and Cash Flow Blog. Now everyone is talking about Strippers For Ron Paul.

LadyLiberty, a former stripper (real name Michelle Shinghal) appeared on MSNBC's Tucker Carlson show to discuss the issue:

I always thought Carlson was a Bushie tool, but he seems to have libertarian leanings and he seems to be a fan of Dr. Paul. Good to know, maybe his brain started functioning better since ditching the bow ties.

Liberty and the ideas of limited government have broad appeal all over the map, and one of the reasons I like Ron Paul so much is the diverse crowd he pulls together. Strippers, gold bugs, conspiracy nuts, right to lifers, and other assorted political creatures with liberty on their minds. Talk about a uniter(not a divider), Ron Paul is your guy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Finntroll Friday: Final Edition

I started doing Finntroll Friday shortly after starting Otter Disaster, so that I would have an easy topic to post about at least once a week. It was really easy at first but as the weeks have worn on, this weekly post has become more and more work, just to keep it remotely interesting.

Finntroll is a really cool band, I love their music, and hope I've given you a reason to like them as well. I have a few new ideas that will likely replace Finntroll Friday on this blog. Here is a link to all 11(?) Fintroll Friday Posts.
It seemed like it was a lot more than that. . .

And here is a kid playing Trollhammaren on a violin:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Heavy Metal Heritage: Apocalypse Imminent!

In the 1980s it was a foregone conclusion that atomic war or a nuclear accident was going to plunge the world into apocalypse.
Iron Maiden's Two Minutes to Midnight tells the story of how it happened.

After the world as we know it ends, fascists were almost certainly going to try taking our heavy metal away from us, but not without a fight.
The struggle is detailed in
The Wild and the Young by Quiet Riot
The Right To Rock by Keel
Rock N Roll Children by Dio
And Tormentor by W.A.S.P.

Those that escaped the fascists would find themselves in strange worlds of mutants,freaks, assorted weirdos and Patty Smyth.
Stories like these are found in Dio's Last in Line
Lita Ford's Out For Blood
The Great Kat's Torture Chamber
And Alcatrazz's Island of the Sun

Once the metalheads emerged victorious, almost certainly led into battle by Manowar, we were going to spend lots of time in factories and warehouses with small fires burning everywhere.

Luckily there would be tons of scantily clad women(some of them in cages!) wearing animal print and leather. They would also wear lots of makeup(some Kabuki, some catlike, others demonic), and their hair would be teased to the moon.

Bon Jovi's Runaway
The Scorpions' Rock You Like a Hurricane
Dokken's Into the Fire
And the Citizen Kane of post-apocalyptic metal videos:
Motley Crue's Looks that Kill

Nothing lasts forever though, and even the Free Metalheads of the Apocalypse could eventually find themselves enslaved by the Queen of the Reich.

There is a bright future ahead though, as we find out via Zebra, Who's Behind the Door.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Night Flight - TV Made for Me.

Growing up in rural Kansas I didn't have cable televison until I was 13 years old, and even then I only had something like 28 channels.

There was no MTV, but there was the USA network, today home of Monk, WWE, and the 4400. In those days USA had the USA Cartoon Express which showed reruns of old Hanna-Barbera cartoons(this was way before Cartoon Network). Here is an out bumper and an in bumper from that old show.

The USA Network program that I remember most fondly, however, was Night Flight.

I found the show when I was in Jr. High and it was a revelation. It opened my eyes to what else was out there in terms of music and movies and just wild ideas.
Night Flight aired on USA on Friday and Saturday nights from 1981-88 and from 1990 to around 1996 in various forms in syndication.

Without MTV this was my source (Along with NBC's Friday Night Videos) for music videos like Sabbath, Dio and Billy Idol.

Night Flight also featured weird and experimental videos on all kinds of subjects like cult films and Japanese Pop Culture like Dynaman. Dynaman had English commentary over-dubbed for comic effect.

Night Flight was also the only place a guy like me could see experimental films like this Ron and Nancy cut-up extolling the virtues of drug use. Artist profiles like this one on Tom Waits, introduced me to musicians I'd never heard of before. It was also a great source for weird animation like this Schoolhouse Rock style video for Ray Steven's Mr. Businessman.

HERE is an experimental video called 'Buzz Box' that uses claymation and audio mashup techniques.

One Feature of Night Flight that I fondly recall was called Never Coming Attractions, trailers for movies you were never likely to see(at least not at the time).

Night Flight is probably also where I was first exposed to the Church of the Subgenius:

There are a still of fans of the show today.
This Night Flight Fan Site lists and describes the recurring segments on the show such as Atomic TV, Cult Classics, and Heavy Metal Heroes. The site also has a profile of Pat Prescott, the wonderful, distinctive and unforgettable voice that narrated Night Flight. I had a crush on that voice, and I'd never seen a picture of her until I started digging for info for this post.

I have really fond memories of this show, and blame it for many of my weird interests to this day. It is so easy today to find any music video, any cult film, anything you can imagine on the internet, but this show was unique in that it was really the only outlet for a kid from Kansas for that type of weirdness. It was unbelievably cool, and I missed it when it was finally gone. I only saw a few of the syndicated episodes, after it left the USA network, in the very early 90s.

Do a Night Flight Search on YouTube, go back to 1988 and enjoy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fintroll Friday: AMV!

You already know what Finntroll is, but what is AMV?
AMV is:

An anime music video. . . consisting of clips from one or more anime television series or movies set to songs; the term usually refers to fan-made unofficial videos. Most are not official music videos released by the musicians, but rather amateur fan compositions which synchronize clips with a musical track.

Finntroll has more than a couple of AMV's using their songs. Trollhammaren, as you might guess, is far and away the most popular Finntroll song to get this treatment. Here is a cool Street Fighter vid with Trollhammaren as the music:

Here is Naruto,
and Grenadier,
Trollhammaren one and all.

And, while technically not anime in the strictest sense, here is Adult Swim's Dethklok, in a Trollhammaren video.

Here is a very nice Finntroll AMV using the song Grottans Barn, and video from Princess Mononoke.

Matthew Sweet's video for the song Girlfriend, might be the first AMV(from 1991), using video from the anime Space Adventurer Cobra.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Miscellaneous Debris: Part 6

Steven King has a nice op-ed about the Harry Potter phenomenon at Entertainment Weekly.

This UFO video has been making the rounds:

It has been proven to be a hoax, but the muddy audio, blurriness and handheld nature of the video do lend a cetain believability. Photos and video of UFO simply won't cut it as evidence anymore, with the ease of producing high quality 3D images from off the shelf software.

Another (admitted) fake UFO video HERE. AND HERE. These animations are based on the allegedly real 'Chad' photos, that were talked about recently on the Coast to Coast AM show with George Noory.

Finally friend Paul, has pointed me to a website and service that lets you design and print your own bookstore quality books. You download their free layout software, then you add photos and text and for a pretty reasonable fee you get your own hard or softbound book. Additionally you can mark up the price and sell your book to others. I haven't tried it out yet, but when I do I'll blog about it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Virtual Me: Technological Singularity and Life in a Simulation

Some people believe that a Technological Singularity will arrive in this century. The singularity is described as:

the hypothesized creation, usually via AI or brain-computer interfaces, of smarter-than-human entities who rapidly accelerate technological progress beyond the capability of human beings to participate meaningfully in said progress. Futurists have varying opinions regarding the time, consequences, and plausibility of such an event.

Basically Artificial Intelligences advance beyond human intelligence to the point where those AIs can design ever more intelligent AIs or continually make themselves more intelligent. These intelligences could solve all of humanity's problems such as energy, pollution, overpopulation, hunger, etc.

Humanity would be reduced to a sideline observer (Unless this intelligence explosion is coupled with some sort of human/computer marriage). People might be able to download into machines achieving a sort of immortality, allowing for interstellar exploration, and possibly the colonization of other planets. We could use the Singularity technologies to create cloned or engineered bodies (or just live as cyborgs or robots) to explore, settle and live on these new worlds.

Of course this is all dependent of the AI's allowing humans to survive at all.

None of the arguments above matter at all though, if the Singularity has already occurred and we are living in a computer simulation, as this site suggests as a possibility.
The position of this theory(posited by Dr.Nick Bostrom), is summed up nicely in this New York Times piece by John Tierney which suggests that a sufficiently advanced civilization will start to run computer simulations on computers with more computing power than the brains of all the people on earth. We could just be virtual people living in a simulated virtual universe. Not only that, but the advanced civilization would likely run more than one of these simulations to factor in numerous variables, and increase the likelihood that we already live in one of these simulations.

Tierney follows up with an article on the probability and ethics of running such simulations. HERE Reader comments present argument for and against.

A second followup rebuts arguments suggesting the impossibility of the necessary computing power here.

Of course any simulation could contain internally consistent physics that may or may not reflect the physics of the 'real world'. It could be that the physics within the simulation are simpler than the higher order physics of the 'real world' and we couldn't know. Think about the simpler physics we simulate in video games and 3D animation. The physics in those situations are only as complex as they need to be for the simulated world appear realistic.

We needn't worry that nothing is real, though, because everything and everyone within the simulation is real to everything and everyone else(in the simulation). If I throw my coffee cup against the wall, even if it is only a simulation, it still breaks, I can still cut my hand on a shard of broken glass, feel the pain in my simulated brain, and ultimately it is all real to the virtual me.

Think about it too long and it gives you a headache, but it also presents some interesting possibilities. One could conceivably travel to parallel worlds via a network connection, or we could figure out how to 'hack' reality and do some really weird stuff (if the simulation would allow it). Perhaps these things have also already occurred and explain lots of paranormal things like ghosts, flying saucers, alien abductions etc.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ron Paul: More on the Straw Poll

Well, this article at presents a more optimistic view of Paul's finish in the Ames Straw Poll. Via a link in the Wired story is this blog entry listing "winners and losers".

Ron himself is upbeat about the finish, and comparing the campaign to the Aesop fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. Read his comments here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ron Paul Finishes 5th in Iowa

Ron Paul finished in 5th place in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. A disappointing finish. I had hoped for at least a top 3 finish.
Everybody knew that Romney would win, with Giuliani and McCain not participating. The surprise of the day was the 2nd place finish of Mike Huckabee from Arkansas with an impressive 18% of the votes cast. I guess Huckabee is now the top candidate of the second tier. Brownback did pretty well too. Here are the results for all involved:

Mitt Romney: 4,516 / 31.5%

Mike Huckabee: 2,587 / 18.1%

Sam Brownback: 2,192 / 15.3%

Tom Tancredo: 1,961 / 13.7%

Ron Paul: 1,305 / 9.1%

Tommy Thompson: 1,039 / 7.3%

Fred Thompson: 203 / 1.4%

Rudy Giuliani: 183 / 1.3%

Duncan Hunter: 174 / 1.2%

John McCain: 101 / 1.0%

John Cox: 41 / .1%

14,302 Total Votes

26,000 Total Tickets Sold

Tommy Thompson has dropped out of the race based on the Ames results.

Here is an account of the event by Reason Magazine's David Wiegal. It sounds like the Paul supporters at the event weren't disappointed as much as I am, and it sounds like Ron Paul is still in it for the long haul. I am glad of that because he will still be able to inject his ideas into the debates, and force discussion on topics that will otherwise get short shrift from the other candidates. Sensibly ending the war in Iraq, and restoration of civil liberties at home being two issues where he flies directly in the face of everyone else.
I hope this showing doesn't finish him off in the eyes of the media, since he finished only slightly ahead of Tommy Thompson. Paul's is the only standout message the Republicans have, and as I have noted before, his nomination is certainly the only way the Republicans can get my vote. I might have to seriously start investigating the Libertarian candidates for President soon.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Finntroll Friday: Kitteldags

Time for Kettles is the English translation of Kitteldags, an ode to the culinary proclivities of Trolls.
Here's an amusing fan-made YouTube video of Finntroll's Kitteldags:

Here are the English lyrics:

Time For Kettles

Tribes of Man never feast
Grandfather dismembered
Ancient wrath and magic
Witchery ended the feast

So quickly now they shall fry
As they once fried us
They shall be salted, they shall cook
The meat shall be torn from the bone

The meal has now ended
Many full and happy troll stomachs
Young trolls now meat tear
Rivfader now takes the stand

Full of hate
Priest becomes food
He is served on a plate

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Airships Are Cool

Airships sort of fell out of prominence after this:

but they seem to be making a comeback of late. They can carry massive cargo loads or lots of people and can use less fuel than trucks or planes with slower travel times being the trade-off.

Several companies are researching and designing modern airships for all kinds of potential uses.

Next month Aeros will be introducing the AEROSCRAFT ML866, which is essentially a flying sky yacht with a 5000 square foot living/business/cargo area.

The folks at Dynalifter see modern airships as an emerging economical competitor to trucking with the benefit of much larger payloads and the ability to land in areas where trucks can't. Two of their Dynalifter Freighters can carry as much cargo as 100 semi-trucks.

JP Aerospace believes that specially designed airships can serve as a platform into orbit.

There are lots of interesting airship designs like a vertical tower, giant spheres, or a flying disk.

Most of these seem to be in the R&D phase right now, but you might be able to get started soon with your own Personal Blimp once it gets FAA Approval.

For lots of great Airship news and comments, visit the very cool Airshipworld Blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ron Paul and the Iowa Straw Poll This Weekend

The Iowa Straw Poll will be held this Saturday. The Poll is described as:

a straw poll that takes place in Ames, Iowa on a Saturday in August of years in which the Republican presidential nomination is undecided (that is, in years without an incumbent Republican President). Though several different pre-Iowa Caucus straw polls take place in Iowa, the Ames Straw Poll is by far the most prominent one of them, because it draws voters from all over the state rather than just the local area, and is thus also commonly known as the Iowa Straw Poll. The Ames Straw Poll was first held in 1979.

The Poll is generally seen as a fundraising/public relations event, more than a political one, but it can show the level of continuing support a candidate can expect. Poor performance in this poll has caused candidates to drop out of the race in the past.

Ron Paul is hoping to gain some momentum going into the poll and he participated in a debate in Iowa on Monday morning (Aug. 6th) with a really good follow up appearance on Fox News. The LAist website has video of both appearances.\

This article doesn't give Paul much of a chance, but he's been surprising his critics right from the start in this campaign. Let's hope he fares well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Danny Boy. Oh Boy. Oh Danny.

Mrs. Disaster stumbled across this video on YouTube the other day. I laughed until I cried:

I think it's the white turtle neck sweaters that really makes the thing. Or Animal's expressive face. Or Beaker really sending it home. Or 'der peeps der peeps'. Genius.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Finntroll Friday: Without Trolls, There Would Be No Finntroll.

Finntroll the band is inspired by trolls of all sorts, but I wonder if their name came from this Rumplestiltskin-like story from the Denmark/Sweden.

From the Wikipedia entry on Fin the Troll:

The legend tells how Esbern Snare was building a church in Kalundborg. It was hard work, and a troll, who was passing by, offered his services. Esbern accepted; however, the troll's condition was that Esbern should be able to figure out the troll's name by the time the church was finished; if he could not, the troll would take his heart and his eyes.

The troll was strong, and after a few days, there was only a half pillar left to erect before the church would completed. Esbern became afraid, as the name of the troll was still unknown to him. Wandering the fields in great anxiety, he laid himself down on Ulshøj bank to rest. While there, he heard a troll-woman within the hill singing these words:

Lie still, baby mine! / Tomorrow cometh Fin, / Father thine, / And giveth thee / Esbern Snare's / eyes and heart / to play with.

Esbern returned immediately to the church. The troll was busy setting up the half pillar that remained for the church, and when Esbern saw him, he called out "Fin". The troll was so angry that he threw the half pillar through the air, and this is the reason that the church has only three and a half pillars to this day.

Fiction is rich with Trolls. Recall the three trolls from the Hobbit, Ulik, from the Thor comics, the Troll movies.

Dress Up a Troll

Finally Fintroll in a live performance of Midnattens Widunder which translates as Monsters of the Midnight. That describe trolls pretty well I guess:

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Quark: I've finally seen it and you can too!

The Zen Master of Pop Culture and my friend Matthew used to talk about a show starring Richard Benjamin called Quark. It was a sitcom about the adventures of a garbage scow in space in the year 2222.

The show starred:
Benjamin as Adam Quark, the captain of the United Galaxies Sanitation Patrol Cruiser
Cyb and Patricia Barnstable as the Bettys, clones who pilot and navigate the ship. You may recognize them as the Doublemint Twins from back in the day.
Tim Thomerson as Gene/Jean, a hermaphroditic alien with a split personality.
Richard Kelton as Ficus Pandorata, a plant based life form with lots of Spock-like characteristics.

Quark was created by Buck Henry, who also created Get Smart with Mel Brooks. I find it interesting that he worked with Brooks who would go on to create his own Sci-Fi parody a decade later in Spaceballs. Henry also appeared frequently on Saturday Night Live at the time.

Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I finally got to watch an episode. Look for Joan Van Ark as Princess Libido. You can see part 1 All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Part 1:

Part 2 of Part 1
Part 3 of Part 1

This was a two part episode. You can see part 2 of All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms at this unofficial Quark site. The site also has some scans of TV Guide ads for the show, as well as some press release material and bios of the cast.

Quark has a bit of a cult following, but has never been released on DVD. The clip above seems to have come from the HA! cable TV channel which eventually merged with the Comedy Channel to become Comedy Central in 1990. I don't know if the show has aired on cable anywhere since then.

I was reminded of the show by this list of the 10 Worst Sci-Fi Shows Ever.
That led me to this list of The 13 Most Ridiculous TV Shows to Ever Get Green-Lit. Interestingly, Quark hits #2 on both lists.

The first list also includes another show that Matthew used to talk about, but I'd never seen called Far Out Space Nuts, starring Bob Denver of Gilligans Island. YouTube has lots of Space Nuts clippage for your amusement.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ron Paul and the Letters of Marque and Reprisal

Representative Ron Paul of Texas once again schools the Executive Branch on the Constitution. Instead of waging undeclared war on nations Mr. Paul suggests the issuance of a Letter of Marque and Reprisal against named terrorists and their assets.

From Wikipedia:

A Letter of Marque and Reprisal is an official warrant or commission from a national government authorizing the designated agent to search, seize, or destroy specified assets or personnel belonging to a party which has committed some offense under the laws of nations against the assets or citizens of the issuing nation, and has usually been used to authorize private parties to raid and capture merchant shipping of an enemy nation.

This power is of course delegated specifically to the Congress and not the President, possibly explaining Mr. Bush's reluctance to ask for the use of such a tool. He doesn't really pay much attention to the enumerated powers of any given branch and assumes those powers(and some he just makes up) reside with the Executive.
This congressional power was originally used to battle piracy and other acts by individuals or groups not representing any government. Hmmmmm...sounds kinda like terrorist groups.
The Letters allowed the government to take retaliatory action without having to declare war especially in situations where there was no nation upon which to declare war.

From Wikipedia:
As with a domestic search, arrest, seizure, or death warrant, to be considered lawful it needs to have a certain degree of specificity, to ensure that the agent does not exceed his authority and the intent of the issuing authority.

The specificity clause, is probably another reason W hasn't pursued the idea of the Letters.

In October 2001, Paul introduced a bill to issue Letters of Marque against those responsible for 9/11 (it didn't pass) and has re-introduced the bill again recently.

Ron Paul has long been a champion of the Constitution as this video nicely illustrates:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Square Foot Garden: End of July Update

Well, I've harvested most of my beets now, pumpkin vines have all but taken over my traditional (non-SFG) bed, and I should have a regular supply of onions and carrots for the foreseeable future.

The big news, as far as I'm concerned, is the impending supply of fresh tomatoes.

I'll probably pick my first tomato tomorrow, and I have lots of pink all over my vines now.
My other vine crops are really coming along too. I've got some nice cucumbers:

A watermelon with some potential:

And a bunch of pumpkins:

I've got some Anaheim Peppers now, and I'm looking forward to making some salsa, learning to roast them, or both.

Jalapenos, and Bells should be following shortly.

I harvested a cabbage a few days ago, and I'm trying something a friend of my mother-in-law told me about. You harvest the head, leave the rest of the leaves intact, and you should get 3-4 smaller heads to grow. It looks like it's working:

I've got the beginnings of 3 small heads. You then harvest them when the leaves form into a ball (they will be smaller than a regular head) steam them and eat them something like brussel sprouts.

Moving forward, I'm going to be planting some more radishes (especially the icicle), more carrots, and a lot more beets. The spinach I planted in one of my traditional beds went to seed and I just turned those plants under to see if I can get a fall crop out of it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Finntroll Friday: Humppa, what's Humppa?

As you well know, Finntroll incorporates elements of black metal, joik, and humppa.
Humppa is described by Wikipedia as:

. . . a type of music from Finland. It is related to jazz and very fast foxtrot, played two beats to a bar. Typical speed is about 250 to 280 beats per minute. Humppa is also the name of a few social dances danced to humppa music.

You can hear the humppa elements in this performance of Nattfödd:

Eläkeläiset, based on my Googling, is another popular Finnish humppa band that plays mostly pop/rock covers, like Europe's Final Countdown.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter and the Parallel Elements of Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows

On Tuesday I reviewed my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows forecast, pointing out story elements and parallels to Prisoner of Azkaban. I'd mentioned noticing various elements that paralleled Goblet of Fire, as well. These parallels are probably greater in number and more significant to the overall story than the PoA ones.

The first chapter of both books open with Voldemort plotting with his confederates and end with an Avada Kedavra and the death of an outsider.

We see a 'Potter Stinks' Badge in DH when Harry cleans out his trunk.

No Quidditch for Harry in either book.

Viktor Krum and Gabrielle Delacoer (Fleur's sister) appear only in these two books.

Gregorovitch, the wandmaker, is first mentioned in GoF, and plays a rather important role in DH.

Important impersonations with Polyjuice Potion in both books.

The Trio visit the woods where the Quidditch Wold Cup was held, when they are on the run.

Harry and Ron have a falling out in the Autumn of the year stemming from Ron's frustrations with Harry and the task before him. They don't speak for an extended period of time in both novels, then reconcile without much fanfare after Ron sees Harry in jeopardy (The First Task, and the frozen pool in the Silver Doe chapter).

We have a bona fide Death Eater as the Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher. (Barty Crouch Jr. as Moody, and Amycus Carrow)

Harry gets crucial information in a Pensieve memory just prior to his confrontation with Voldemort.

We have some really interesting parallels to the Three Triwizard Tasks in Deathly Hallows.

Harry has to dive into water to get Gryffindor's Sword. He is rescued by Ron, mirroring Harry's rescue of Ron in the Second Task. The second task is again reflected in the Snitch that Harry receives from Dumbledore. He has to figure out how to open it and decipher it's secret, much like he has to figure out the secret of the Golden Egg in GoF.

The First Task is parallelled in Gringott's when Harry and company have to retrieve an item guarded by a Dragon.

The Third task is reflected in Harry's search for the Ravenclaw Horcrux including the Sphinx-like riddle to get into the Ravenclaw Tower and the search of the maze-like Room of Requirement.

There are also numerous parallels to the run up and final confrontation with Voldemort.

In GoF the final confrontation takes place in the Little Hangleton Graveyard among Voldemort's dead ancestors, while in DH, Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to commune with his dead loved ones and they stay with Harry, giving him strenth. This is also reminiscent of the Priori Incantatem incarnations of James, Lily, Cedric, etc. from GoF.

When Harry confronts Voldemort in GoF and their wands lock up, the effect grows and is described as '...a golden, dome shaped web, a cage of light.' In DH Harry meets Voldemort at the remnants of the great domed web of Aragog the acromantula. In both cases they are surrounded by a ring of Death Eaters.

In GoF Voldemort comes back from his half-life existence more powerful than ever with the ability to touch Harry at last. In DH Harry dies and is reborn more powerful than ever, with the Horcruxes destroyed he is prepared to take on Voldemort for the last time.

During their duels in both books Voldemort is ignorant of some rather important wand information which leads to Harry gaining the upper hand. Both duels come down to Expelliarmus vs. Avada Kedavra with Harry making his escape in the first instance and his ultimate victory in the second.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Could Become a Super Hero in the Real World

Neatorama inspired me to look into Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) with this post, linking to this article. As an on-again/off-again comic book collector, I was fascinated, so I decided to find out more.

Let's suppose you decide to don the mask and tights to fight crime, injustice, or super aggressive men in bars.

First, you'll need a name.
What's your Superhero Name?
Lee's (Useless)Superhero Generator
And for a little more customization try Seventh Sanctum's Super Hero/Villain Name Generator

Once you've got a cool name you might want to register at The World Super Hero Registry. Once there you can find someone to meet, misunderstand, fight with, then team up with to fight the real threat.
Maybe you could even join their superteam.

You'll also need to buy some cool gadgets and gear. Or like Iron Man, Spider-Man or the Eye, you could build your own., is a blog that keeps you up to date on all types of Super Hero quality gadgets and gear.
Gizmodo has some more cool hero gadgets. Personally, I'd like to take a spin in the Tesla Coil Car.

Check out this documentary, titled Real Life Superhero! for more real life heroics. The film's YouTube Page has some cool clips to show you how it's done.

Get yourself an origin, put your undies on the out side and go fight crime!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Accuracy of My Forecast


Last week I posted my Deathly Hallows Forecast. Having finished the book yesterday, lets see how I did.

I first suggested that Deathly Hallows would contain numerous parallels to Prisoner of Azkaban based on a pattern seen in books 1 and 5 and books 2 and 6. That pattern did hold true, sometimes in ways that were rather surprising.

Forecast: I suggested we would see Stan Shunpike and take a ride on the Knight Bus.
Actually: Stan appeared shortly after leaving the Dursleys (just like in PoA), but we never saw the Knight Bus.

Forecast: Harry would face a Dementor's Kiss to remove a soul fragment from his scar.
Actually: No kiss, but there were dementors all over the book, and we saw a lot of Patronuses(Patroni?) from various characters. I liked Arthur's weasel Patronus.

Forecast: Harry will leave the Dursley's after his birthday after his final confrontation with Petunia and Vernon, and spend some time at the Leaky Cauldron.
Actually: Harry leaves before his birthday, and only goes to the Leaky Cauldron to get to Diagon Alley much later in the book.

Forecast: We will see another boggart.
Actually: No boggarts.

Forecast: Harry might use the Shrieking Shack as his base of operations in Hogsmeade. If not we will pay at least one visit to the shack.
Actually: Harry didn't use the Shack as a base, but he made a very important trip to the Shack via the Whomping Willow, where he witnessed a very important confrontation, and got some important clues leading to the resolution of the story. Harry's trip to the Shack is probably the strongest parallel element in DH to an element in PoA.

Forecast: Trelawney will make one more true prophecy.
Actually: No prophecy, and Trelawney was seen only once, as a bit of needed comic relief during the Battle for Hogwarts.

Forecast: Werewolves will be important, and Bill Weasley may have to deal with becoming one.
Actually: Fenrir Greyback plays a large part at one point in the book. Lupin also appears at numerous point, but we never see a werewolf in wolf form. Bill only bears the scars of the Greyback attack from HBP, and not the burden of actually becoming a wolf.

Forecast: Buckbeak will have an important part to play at some point.
Actually: Buckbeak is mentioned once during the final battle when he attacks a giant. He had no other role to play.

Forecast: Time will be an issue, but a time-turner will not necessarily be involved.
Actually: Time was indeed an issue, with Voldemort delivering two deadlines, and Harry received a watch for his birthday. There was a nod to the timeturner at the end of the book, when Harry turned the Resurrection Stone 3 times (Like the time-turner in PoA) to activate it's power.

Other elements that were repeated in Deathly Hallows from Prisoner of Azkaban:

Harry lived as a fugitive much like Sirius Black in PoA. Wanted posters of Harry were seen all over the place.

Harry received the anonymous gift of Gryffindor's sword at Christmas, just like he received the Firebolt anonymously in PoA.

The Silver Doe Chapter was evocative of the sight of the Stag Patronus in PoA. A mysterious patronus near a body of water.

Harry is made the Godfather of Teddy Lupin as he discovered he had a Godfather in PoA

Harry received a Sneakoscope for his birthday in both books, from Ron in PoA and Hermione in DH.

Non PoA based predictions and how I did:

Forecast: Hogwarts will be open, but possibly with a limited student body, or maybe only part of the year. Harry will spend significant time at the school.
Actually: Pretty close on the first part, but not at all in the way I thought. Harry spent the entire year away from the school and only showed up at the end of the year for the climax of the story.

Forecast: Luna Lovegood will be vindicated with one of her crazy Quibbler stories. Perhaps we'll see confirmation of the existence of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, possibly something else.
Actually: No Crumple-Horned Snorkack. About as close as we get is, "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure," which I believe was one of Luna's first significant lines in OotP. That is the phrase engraved on Ravenclaw's diadem.

Forecast: Harry gets a new Patronus, possibly a phoenix, possibly something unique to Harry as he becomes his own man.
Actually: No new patronus. The spirits of his dead loved ones act like a patronus, parting the dementors at the end of the book.

Forecast: Snape is revealed to have been working his own game, playing both sides against the middle(ala Machiavelli's Prince), but will still redeem himself in the end... I think redemption is still possible and highly likely.
Actually: The Snape Loved Lily camp were proven right beyond their wildest dreams. Snape was redeemed at the end of the day, though his treatment of Harry was still reprehensible, and he was NOT a nice man.

Forecast: The final battle/confrontation will involve an underground cave, tunnel, chamber, maze or tomb as it has in every single book.
Actually: Harry travelled through the Whomping Willow Tunnel to the Shrieking Shack, and through the Forbidden Forest.

Forecast: A metamorphmagus will be key to the plot based on Rowling previously established pattern.
Actually: Teddy Lupin was born, and is likely a metamorphmagus, but not really key to the plot. Really missed the boat on this one.

The Body Count

I predicted deaths in the categories of Certain, Likely and Possible.

Forecast as Certain to Die

Hagrid - Missed this one altogether. I did think he was done for at one point, but he survived.

Wormtail - he pays his debt to Harry and is done in by his own magic hand.
Snape - Was in Dumbledore's corner, but his position was too dangerous.
Bellatrix - didn't see her being done in by Molly, but otherwise she was too evil to survive.
Voldemort - probably the easiest call to make.

Forecast as Likely to Die

Draco - Draco redeemed himself essentially when he chose to disarm Dumbledore and not kill him. A key plot point.

Lupin - I was right that no Marauders walked away from this tale.
Numerous Death Eaters and Order of the Phoenix - Moody, Tonks, the younger Crabbe. Not a difficult prediction to make really as it is sort of vague.

Forecast as Possible to Die

Hermione - She did get a wicked Crucio and the threat of being killed by Greyback, but she survived, thus Ron survived.
Neville, Hogwarts Professors - I figured these were possibilities, but not strong ones.

Another Weasley - Fred was killed in the Battle for Hogwarts. I just knew Harry couldn't save them all.

The death of Dobby was one I never considered one way or another, I guess I just never thought he'd be in any sort of jeopardy. His funeral was one of the most touching and memorable parts of the book for me.

Deathly Hallows contained a lot of parallels to the plot of Goblet of Fire as well, and I may post about those in a few days. One thing DH had in common was GoF was including important elements of ALL the preceding books, but it also had GoF specific parallels all over the place. It's really a testament to Rowling's writing that she pulled this off.

I was also impressed with how much the speculators/theoriticians figured out about DH just based on careful reading of the clues JK had given in the earlier books. Granted, there were so many people working on those clues that it was likely someone was bound to be right and for every theory that proved correct there were probably ten that were wrong. The introduction of the Hallows proved to be the wild card that nobody could have correctly predicted and that has always been the great things about the books. There was always that new element that surprised us and the characters to keep us guessing and reading.

Past Disasters