Friday, February 25, 2005

Condoleeza Rice in Germany

Man, I got to say that she looks pretty snazzy in that get up. Especially the boots. And I admit I might be overdoing it a bit to post three photos of her here. But the issues raised by this Washington Post article (but probably need to link from are amusing in some ways.

I love the part where it says she looks like Neo from the Matrix.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Something You Always Wanted To Know, .... Or Did You?

So, when a guy gets his thing cut off by an angry girlfriend (note: buying flowers every now and then may avoid this) and gets it reattached, you got to wonder: just how long did he have?

This article at Slate goes into some gory detail about various appendages and members. First thing to know, get the blood supply going by reattaching the arteries. Then...
  • "You also need to reattach the veins, or blood won't be able to flow out of the severed part. Without a conduit for outflow, the body part will swell, which can cause tissue damage. When veins can't be sewn up right away, surgeons apply live leeches. A single leech can suck up 10 cubic centimeters of blood from a severed penis; a chemical in its saliva, hirudin, keeps blood from clotting and allows continued drainage."
'Um, did I hear you correctly? I hope I misheard you. Were those 'lazers' you mentioned? Oh, you did say "leeches?"'
  • "Leeches attach to the skin by two muscular suckers before biting with three teeth inside their anterior sucker. Blood is sucked into the stomach by peristalsis. Each leech will ingest nearly ten times its body weight in blood before falling off, engorged."
  • Even in the case of a clean cut, surgeons often remove some tissue to shorten the appendage. When the veins and arteries are stretched, tension on the stitches can jeopardize the procedure; shortening the severed part allows a bit of slack. In situations where significant shortening is undesirable, vein grafts from other parts of the body can provide some leeway.
Engorged. Falls off. Shortened. Oh my. Slate is having too much fun with this.

However, the leeches article is fascinating.

Monday, February 21, 2005

There is so much going on today that needs reflecting.

First piece of news I saw was a depressing one. Hunter S Thompson is Dead. I fondly recall Hunter S Thompson from reading - and re-reading - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I never was a major literary buff (but was in the company of those that were, are), or any sort of typical liberal uni student (in fact, I discovered the dark side in college in response to arrogant leftist extremism in the Poli Sci faculty), but I was into a bit of the wierdness and drug filled fun times of college. In that light, Fear and Loathing was a major watershed for me.

Somehow got on to lately and I got to say that their demeaner and humor is great. But their ability to poke fun (and figureativley, the eyes out of ) various world nasties is great. All with that Borschfelt attitude.

You have just got to read their posting on Bacon Whores. The sheer silliness of a Jewish website's ironic combination of the dreaded pork and whoredom.

One article on Jewilicious resembles my criticism of BBC, about how they really don't think before they write. ("Soldier in Trouble for NOT Shooting Children" and such tabloidish headings. )

And Daniel Drezder points out some interesting revelations in a Time magazine article about insurgents meeting in secret with US led forces. The bare beginnings of these negotiations and the mention of a Sinn Fein - like approach to some sort of peace is of couse very, VERY early. But all the same it is somewhat good to see. Still, the Al Quaida nuts don't agree with these guys going to the table.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Another Movie Comedy

Originally uploaded by Dantravels.

Oh that's right, this B movie with Jack Lemmon and James Garner in My Fellow Americans, playing ex-presidents that hated each other but are compelled to join forces to combat a scandal, while getting up to all sorts of hi-jinx like pushing one out of a moving train, and finally bonding.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

This Reads Like a Crichton Novel...

at least the first third of one of his novels. You know where the lead up and development of the the technology complete with all the scary implications. A New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to Battle

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

You've got Pee Mail

Being a dog lover, I just had to read this Slate poo about how many people thought New York Dog was another satirical magazazine.

After hearing my mother-in-law say "Sms, doggie sms!" every time my big dog Semik, left his urine on every other tree in a forest near Olomouc, "You've got Pee Mail" just makes me chuckle and chuckle.

If you are not a dog person, get lost and don't come back.

Trust me when I say that this has deeper and more serious implications

The killing of Rafiq al-Hariri in Beirut has much deeper and insidious implications than you might think. Especially when you consider that the world, or at the least the USA world, is all caught up in Iraq and scandals noted on blogs (Eason, Gannon).

Hariri's death gets low billing on CNN and BBC but considering the suddenness of this conflict in a country a small hop away from the epicenter of Islamic hatred for the USA an burgeoning democracy for Iraq, this story may grow into a bit of a mess for the Arab world, an annoying variable for the Israeli / Palestinian peace gains, and a more sinister opportunity for the US policy changers, I mean makers.

Aljazeera may be lying skunks but their portrayal is a good place to see signs of this brewing conflagration . When it comes to identifying the usual suspects they label sections below as follows: Blaming Israel, Blaming Syria, Blaming Saudi Arabia.

The thing is, why this guy? Why now?

Of course, it may have been something to do with a feud or business spat. But come on. The heavy ordinance used in a crowded downtown area, killing 13 and wounding 100. And.... ripping through his armored vehicle??

Come on, this was serious.

And back to the opportunity for the USA. IF they could possibly connect it to Syria, well lets may hay while the sun shines. Forget Iran, go for another target.

Friday, February 11, 2005

"constantly worsening" for that long...

CNN Reporter: Hello, I'm CNN correspondent Wolf Streisand, live on the wild streets of Baghdad where lawlessness reigns, security is non-existant, chaos is the order of the day, the situation is steadily worsening....

Camera Man: Wolf, Wolf, we're going to have to cut & take it from the top. There's an Iraqi policeman standing behind you in the shot. We'll have to wait for him to move if...

CNN Reporter: Let's just do this later. I want to do some man on the street interviews anyway.

Camera Man: Ok, just ask anybody, how about that guy...

CNN Reporter: Excuse me sir, what do you think about the American occupiers?

Iraqi Man #1: Me? Am I going to be on television? Oh, thank God for America and Bush! Saddam's men tortured me and...

CNN Reporter: Ok, Ok, thank you very much, move along. You sir, what do you think of American occupiers? Has it been rough since Saddam fell?

Iraqi Man #2: Saddam? I can't wait until they get Saddam! I don't care what anyone else says, Americans must stay and help the Iraqi people and...

CNN Reporter: Thank you very much sir, move along.

Camera Man: Are we using any of this?

CNN Reporter: No, of course not. You, sir, how has the American occupation going in your opinion?

Iraqi Man #3: The power has been off too much and there are American troops everywhere! They should get out of Iraq! Iraq is for Iraqis!

CNN Reporter: Thank you for your time sir. Keep that, that's good footage!

Iraqi Man #1: Hey, excuse me, but that man you were just talking to was a member of the Baath party and he...

CNN Reporter: Yes, yes, your country's internal politics are very interesting to us, thank you for your concern.

Iraqi Man #1: Yes, but...

CNN Reporter: Security! Security! I feel threatened! Get him away from me! (Security hustles the man away). Now see, this is why I usually just interview whoever happens to be standing in front of the hotel. This is a dangerous country!

Camera Man: Uh....

CNN Reporter: Ok, we need to do an update on the lack of progress in Iraq, ya know, talk about the constantly worsening security situation, native unrest, that sort of thing...

Camera Man: We've been saying the situation is "constantly worsening" since about 5 minutes after they pulled down that statue of Saddam. I mean we'd practically have to see alien mantis people walking down the street, kicking in doors, pulling out small children, and eating them in the street for things to have been "constantly worsening" for that long...

CNN Reporter: Hey, hey, you let me worry about that. That's why I write the copy and you just shoot the pictures. Let's hurry up and get this done. I don't like the looks of those kids over there....

Camera Man: They're little girls, they've been trying to give us flowers for half an hour. Just listen to them....

Little Girls: Bush Good! Bush Good! Thank you America!

CNN Reporter: Ugh, they're giving me the creeps. I mean "Bush Good"! Come on, who actually says that?

Camera Man: I've heard it about 50 times since we got back into Iraq last week...

CNN Reporter: Yeah right! It sounds like an Al-Qaeda trap to me! Security, get rid of the Iraqi girls!

Security: Let me see if I understand this, you want me to run off a bunch of little girls who want to give you flowers? You are -- let's see, what is the American word for it -- a "jack@ss"! I quit! I'm leaving (walks away)

CNN Reporter: You see how hostile the Iraqis are to Americans? Hey, hey wait a second, our security is gone, run, run, back to the hotel!

Camera Man: Sigh, we're only about 50 yards from the door you know...

CNN Reporter: Quickly, before the little girls get us! Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Silly Czech Surnames: More Than Other Countries?

I have for a long time been curious about the real origin of the very silly Czech surnames. Somehow I found my way to this great site about many things Czech and to their forum where I was able to begin a thread asking for information(see Czech family names). To get you interested look at these real names and consider that there are hundreds more like them.
PRECECHTEL > And-he-wanted-it-after-all;
STOJESPAL > He-slept-standing;
ZLAMALJELITO > He-broke-the-black-pudding;
SNEDLDITETIKASI > He-ate-the-squash-to-the-child;
or even NASRALVHRNEC > (I won't write this one either, but its what they did in the olden days before toilets);
POBUDOVA > Miss Unreliable and wierd (My very reliable maid's name);
SKACEL > Mr.-sounds-like-a-tree-falling-in-the-woods
This page makes a good stab at the origin of Czech surnames - and could be applied to numerous countries - but I still stick to my point: There are more ridiculously silly monikers here.

I go so far as to suggest taking out the white pages (perhaps when you are sitting around with friends drinking a few pivos but are bored) and reading the names aloud with a good Czech speaker. Go on, give it a try.

I used to hate Mercedes. And then I loved them.

Did you ever find that you have an attraction to things that are enjoyable because
a. they are well-made
b. they are durable
c. they are old
d. they sound cool in a soothing way?
e. they are a pleasure to use

Some of these qualities would apply, for example, to an old wooden antique desk (okay except for the sound), or an old leather jacket, R.M.Williams' Australian boots, or the fountain pen.

Sure, if you are a new minimalist, hi tech, gadget freak that likes bizzarre and expensive wine openers, shiny metal pens, small palm pilots, racy gasoline burning jap street bikes.. you will disagree.

But I have always been drawn to Diesel Engines, old well-made cars that still function every day. Well thats what I think of old diesel engine Mercedes; Cars and trucks. I don't limit it to this brand, but I just think this is the ideal.

I have owned a turbo diesel Volkswagen and Fiat Ducato ( I still would like another of these vans; great engine!, so economical, too). I have owned classic looking Enfield motorcycle, I still own a cool, old BMW bike and an old Czech Jawa motorcycle. They all have the classic look, always-will-run kind of thing going for them. And they sound great. Something so purring and so functional. And much stronger than the gasoline engine.

And what I really want now is a 3 liter diesel Mercedes thats about 5 years old. So you can imagine I was disappointed to read this article (Mercedes, Quality Dropping, Loses Market Share to BMW, Lexus) about how Mercedes faired incredibly poorly on a survey of 3 year-old cars . (Interesting time period for car testing but hell, it makes a lot of sense).

IS this a healthy obsession? Probably no. My wife thinks I am crazy.

And I have never owned a diesel Mercedes. I have driven them (when I was parking cars 20 years ago) and at that time I was lusting after BMWs. I have ridden in many a 20 year old Merc in Belgrade where the diesel car was the best to own when they were facing sanctions and the gasoline was smuggled in; and of dubious quality. These things run and run.

Diesel is a rough fuel that functions incredibly well even when the quality is low. And there are many bio-diesel discussions to check out. (Like taking the deep fryer oil and filtering it and putting it into the tank. This works, I am told, with some trickery.)

I know I am strange about this, but it has got something to do with durability, diesel engines and crusiing plesasure.

But then, I am kind of a freak that way.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Re-group or Re-focus?

So what is the final consensus? Does the left intentionally ignore the elections in Iraq? Its wierd, isn't it? They cannot really attack the fact that people voted. Or do we see them waiting while they regroup? I can't get a handle on it. They must be angry.

Or do they just focus on other, easier targets.

So wierd.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"It's amazing that more waiters don't kill people,.."

After all those years working in various positions at 9 restaurants between the ages of 15 and 22 - almost continuously - I was very amused at the depth of this NYTimes article about various waitstaff complaining on - wait, you guessed it - blogs about low-tipping customers and loud and bratty kids. ( like, and . There really is no court, no police, no referee to rely on when you are undertipped as a waiter. So, the only get-back-at-em available is some public 'outing'.

The Shitty Tipper Database is fantastic. This link brings you to a page where real people are named (I guess from their credit card receipts) and what happened at the restaurant. "What happened: These people were all dressed in business outfits, all had special requests, and had something that crawled up their ass and died. "

I recall the efforts of one very exciteable waiter that wanted to follow the customers to their car and risk his job to complain to them over a big party service in Seattle. For him it was not only about them impeding his earning a living, but I think it was also his skill that was brought into question. Sure, there are arguments along the lines of 'there is no law requiring us to tip' or 'they do have a base salary', etc. But what you don't realize is what can happen in the kitchen before the food gets to your table.

Did you ever see Betty Blue where the pizza is prepared after the customer yells at Betty. The cook takes the scraps out of garbage can to concoct the pizza. Worried? You should be.

But this discussion only would interest people who worked in the fast paced, highly entertaining, usually lucrative world of table waiting, bus boying, car parking, and cooking at restaurants. You are really missing out if you never lived and partied and complained and enjoyed the sex, drugs, food, the glorious food! of this profession.

The stress is incredible though. And the pay not being fixed? I can only quote one line to explain it all ""It's the only job where your hourly wage is totally dependent on how random people feel about you". Too bad that doesn't apply to the many arrogant investment wankers I know.

Of course, while restaurant work was incredibly exciting, strenuous and fun, never under any circumstances go out and try to own/run a restaurant. Sheesh!

Can't find your car in the parking lot? Try Montenegro!

When I lived in the unwieldily named country of Serbia and Montenegro there were always stories about people driving stolen cars and how most missing cars from the EU end up there.

Well now a Czech firms claims that 70% of cars driven by Montenegrans are stolen! Of course the implication is that this company only checks the cars on (paid) requests so there must be some suspicion by the would-be buyer.

But I wonder how many victims would like to know just what happened to there car. Like either hoping your lost dog got a new home or wishing that the person driving it goes off a cliff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

State your Union, and then Drink!

I never realized how important the State of the Union address really is when it comes to harbingers of policy. I mean, afterall, it never was more important than turning off Seinfeld, for example.

Still, as for hints of what is to come, this speech is a good heads-up. For example, can you believe that just by leaving out the words "tyrant" and "evil" Bush could help the North Koreans save face and therefore get them back to the table? FT says this.

But making the State of the Union even more interesting is THIS game. Its very reminiscent of the 'Passout' and 'Bob' games of my 70's and 80's frat days. Passout was actually like Monopoly (r) in that you had a playing board and moved around the square, landing on tongue twisters and penalty spots, all charging you drinks (a big swig of beer, or half a shot of whiskey) if you get it wrong. Yes, the tongue twisters were harder as time went on. 'Bob' was played watching The Bob Newhart Show, downing a few everytime the name Bob was menitoned. (not funny to you? Well you try to get throught a game that mentions the main character by name about 40-60 times).

But the rules here are much more difficult!