RIG AN UNSCIENTIFIC POLL FOR POLICY REASONS! Yes, you too can help subvert the American Family Association's goal of presenting a distorted view of the will of the American public to Congress! Tell them your view on same-sex marriage here!
BOMB THREAT: Someone threatened to blow up parts of the DC subway system this morning, and I didn't even notice until just now. I came into work late today, and heard the announcements of delays through the speakers in the Metro station, but didn't pay any attention since it didn't involve my route.
Authorities found two suspicious packages, but there are few details at this point.
THE REASON I'M NOT A VERY GOOD BLOGGER is that for most news stories, I either think the situation is so see-through-able that there's no point writing anything about it, or am completely incapable of seeing anything interesting or important about it until someone else points it out te me.
An example of the former is the recent announcement that companies from anti-war nations will be ineligible to bid on rebuilding contracts. Fortunately, Steven Den Beste has written not one but two excellent posts about the situation, expressing my exact opinion.
An example of the latter is the Gore Dean endorsement yesterday. I'm totally in awe of people like Andrew Sullivan who can point out to me the disturbing calculations behind such moves.
UPDATE: The word I was looking for in the first paragraph was transparent.
DO IT! DO IT! Check out this teaser trailer for a nonexistent (as yet) Peter Jackson version of The Hobbit. Someone cut it together using clips from The Lord of the Rings, and it looks absolutely fantastic! Great music, too! (Link via GeekPress)
I'M FAMOUS: If you subscribe to Washington Internet Daily (sorry, no free online version available), you can read more of my comments about spam in today's issue in the article "Spam Bill Heads to President Amid Skepticism".
IT'S STATIC TIME: Yes, it's that wonderful time of year where I hesitate to touch anything for fear it will give me an electric shock! I've reverted to my old tricks again: touching the wood or glass part of the door before the metal handle, covering my hand with the cloth of my sleeve before touching the mouse or keyboard, pressing buttons with my fingernail ... how much longer until spring?
To top it off, my hair is finally starting to be longish again (I lopped it off to chin length in November 2002 and donated the 12" ponytail to Locks of Love), so I've been collecting large clumps of hair from the backs of sweaters, chairs, etc. And dousing my hairbrush under the faucet before brushing my hair. Urgh. I want to move back to the swamp. Oh, wait - I live in D.C., don't I.
THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH: Via GeekPress today, essential reading for all geeks and people who hang out with geeks. Five Geek Social Falacies suddenly made totally clear to me various arguments, annoyances, and situations that have happened in several different groups of friends throughout my life, especially in college. I myself have a severe case of GSF4, even though I've realized it's a falacy for quite some time. I also have a minor case of GSF5. And I've been tormented repeatedly by people carrying the others, in particular GSF1.
I just finished watching the cast commentary on the extended edition of The Two Towers (I had a long post on this the other day, but I accidentally deleted it). At one point, during the Battle of Helm's Deep, someone said (and several others agreed, with nobody dissenting) that he felt Lord of the Rings was such a strong anti-war movie, and that he had heard fans describe it as a pro-war movie and just couldn't understand how it could be seen that way.
This is quite illuminating on the anti-war mindset. These actors seemed to think that since the movie portrayed the terrible consequences of war - refugees huddled in caves, young boys torn from their mothers to take up arms, the deaths of people you care about, massive destruction - the core message of the movie must be "war is bad". But the movie is so clearly saying that war is terrible and yet sometimes necessary. That freedom and honor and the good must sometimes be protected by violence. Did they miss these scenes, for instance:
Eowyn: "The women of this country learned long ago, that those without swords can still die upon them."
Eomer, urging a confrontation with Saruman, visibly offended at Wormtongue's accusation that he is a warmongerer.
Merry and Pippin urging the Ents to attack - not defend their homes, but attack - Saruman's tower.
Aragorn: "Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not."
One could go on with this forever. I will grant you that there is plenty of mushy environmentalism in the movie, but there is not a shred of pacifism.
UPDATE: Someone should write a spoof of LOTR in which elves, men, and dwarves try to reason with Sauron and impose a regime of weapons inspections in Mordor.
[I]n addition to building roads and schools and waging the occasional war in a distant land, the obligation of the government is to protect citizens from freak accidents that kill a handful of people every year in a country of 280 million. This new law should be the catalyst for a sweeping crackdown on all the hazards that make Christmas notorious as the season of misery and death.
Through recreational sex, he said, women were giving out "free samples."
I really don't undestand how anyone could have such a sex-biased view. The men are giving out "free samples" too, are they not? And actually, I consider this quite a good thing. I wouldn't want to marry a guy I'd never slept with - what if he turned out to be awful in bed? And I'd rather find out he wasn't pleased with me in bed before we'd need a divorce court to improve our situation!
LIFE UPDATE: Some of you know this already, but now I can finally announce it in public. At the end of this month, I'm moving in with Sasha in Boston. I've got two more weeks working at CEI, and then I'll be officially without a job. So if anyone has any interesting job leads in Boston, let me know.
The cats should be much happier with multiple rooms to play in (and, for Maggie, to be away from Ethelwolf in).
WEATHER UPDATE: From my 11th-floor window, it looks like not too much snow stuck on the ground. It's patchy on the grass, and none on the paved areas. Today should be pretty miserable: rainy and 37 degrees. But tomorrow it's supposed to snow again.
You are Joshua Abraham Norton, first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Born in England sometime in the second decade of the nineteenth century, you carved a notable business career, in South Africa and later San Francisco, until an entry into the rice market wiped out your fortune in 1854. After this, you became quite different. The first sign of this came on September 17, 1859, when you expressed your dissatisfaction with the political situation in America by declaring yourself Norton I, Emperor of the USA. You remained as such, unchallenged, for twenty-one years.
Within a month you had decreed the dissolution of Congress. When this was largely ignored, you summoned all interested parties to discuss the matter in a music hall, and then summoned the army to quell the rebellious leaders in Washington. This did not work. Magnanimously, you decreed (eventually) that Congress could remain for the time being. However, you disbanded both major political parties in 1869, as well as instituting a fine of $25 for using the abominable nickname "Frisco" for your home city.
Your days consisted of parading around your domain - the San Francisco streets - in a uniform of royal blue with gold epaulettes. This was set off by a beaver hat and umbrella. You dispensed philosophy and inspected the state of sidewalks and the police with equal aplomb. You were a great ally of the maligned Chinese of the city, and once dispersed a riot by standing between the Chinese and their would-be assailants and reciting the Lord's Prayer quietly, head bowed.
Once arrested, you were swiftly pardoned by the Police Chief with all apologies, after which all policemen were ordered to salute you on the street. Your renown grew. Proprietors of respectable establishments fixed brass plaques to their walls proclaiming your patronage; musical and theatrical performances invariably reserved seats for you and your two dogs. (As an aside, you were a good friend of Mark Twain, who wrote an epitaph for one of your faithful hounds, Bummer.) The Census of 1870 listed your occupation as "Emperor".
The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, upon noticing the slightly delapidated state of your attire, replaced it at their own expense. You responded graciously by granting a patent of nobility to each member. Your death, collapsing on the street on January 8, 1880, made front page news under the headline "Le Roi est Mort". Aside from what you had on your person, your possessions amounted to a single sovereign, a collection of walking sticks, an old sabre, your correspondence with Queen Victoria and 1,098,235 shares of stock in a worthless gold mine. Your funeral cortege was of 30,000 people and over two miles long.
The burial was marked by a total eclipse of the sun.
FREE SPEECH FOR SECOND GRADERS: If you haven't yet read about the second grader in Louisiana who was disciplined by a teacher for telling another student that his mom is gay, you should read it now. For the full force of what they put this poor kid through, look at this pdf file of the behavior form they made him fill out. (Thanks to Eugene for the link.)
I'M HOME, and my cats are now super-fortified with static electricity! I'm almost scared to touch them. Almost.
Boston had an unexpected snowfall last night, and despite the fact that the total accumulation was about two snowflakes high, driving conditions were a complete nightmare. According to the Boston native sitting near me at the airport (3 hours after my original flight was supposed to take off), since the snow was unexpected there was no sand on the roads in advance. Then when car tires turned it into slush, there was no traction at all. Yet since the amount of snow was insignificant, no schools or workplaces thought it necessary to close.
I thought Bostonians were supposed to be able to deal with snow.