Saturday, April 30, 2005


A Skimpy Change in a Local Ordinance

I've no doubt the people of Cape May, NJ have long been awaiting this happy day. A 30 year ban of Speedo swimsuits has at last been lifted (or perhaps dropped) from this little town. As one who is perhaps prone to overanalysing things I have only this to say: be careful what you wish for.

My experience has been that, as a first approximation, those most inclined to wear the least are those we'd prefer wear more.

And yet, hope springs eternal: "I haven't been to the beach in years, but now I'm thinking I'll go down there this year,'' said Joann Quinn, of North Cape May. "The beach ought to be interesting this year.''

Friday, April 29, 2005


Laura Ingraham's Battle With Breast Cancer

While I generally choose to avoid dwelling on the negative, I've long held the philosophy that if you give most people the opportunity, they'll disappoint you. Then, when they fail to meet those expectations, I find my spirits cherrily boosted.

The reaction of many individuals to Laura Ingraham's battle against breast cancer has unfortunately bolstered my overall world view. It appears that some people who disagree with her politics have been saying things like:

"She probably gave it to herself."

"I don't pray for Nazis or other Totalitarian Scum."
or the very eloquent
"I hope she goes into remission and fucking chokes to death."
To you "commentators", I have one question: Were you people raised by actual humans?


Sensible News From NASA

I've been concerned about safety issues of the space shuttle (see here and here ).

It seems like NASA is delaying the flight of the shuttle a bit longer. This may seem like bad news but I think it reflects a growing awareness within the organization that having the shuttle disintegrate on its next flight would be bad.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Trouble in Northern Europe

The toads in Hamburg and Denmark are exploding. Fortunately, some of the best minds in Europe are on working on the case. Some current working hypotheses:

Crows are pecking out their livers and causing the problem. Frank Mutschmann, a Berlin veterinarian reports that "The crows are clever...They learn quickly from watching other crows how to get the livers." Does this mean that crows have experienced what Thomas Kuhn referred to as a "paradigm shift" (the sine qua non of a scientific revolution)? If so, I wonder what other discoveries that initial liver-pecking crow has been able to unearth.

This theory also raises the possibility that this new information (technology) has apparently been independently validated perhaps by a crow peer review committee. Thus established as mainstream, it is now being taught to other crows.

The second theory to explain the exploding toad phenomenon must be considered, at best, speculative: "the toads are taking the selfless way out — sacrificing themselves by suicide to save others from overpopulation." The link above doesn't cite the name of this idea's ingenious proponent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Ann Coulter and Rosie O'Donnell

I know that a lot has been made about republican Ann Coulter's somewhat unattractive Time Magazine cover. Personally, I found it to be rather intriguing (though inexplicably avant garde). The claim was made however that conservatives are photographed in a less-than-flattering technique than liberals.

Few people would characterize Rosie O'Donnell as anything but liberal. However, I'd check out this photo accompanying a Yahoo article on her tribulations with the Late Night with David Letterman show.

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O'Donnell's budding career as a Hollywood ingenue is off to a rocky start.


Little Sympathy for French Angst

The responses to my last post appeared primarily concerned with the physics of the proposed change to the international definition of the kilogram. Little concern was voiced for the delicate sensitivities of the French as they prepare to lose yet another trapping of Francocentricity.

We seem unprepared to shed even a single tear as they confront the domination of American creativity exhibited in the exportation of such cultural icons as Big Macs, Survival reruns and football (the American version where they use steroids). I'm not confident that the emotional upheaval our European ally must be experiencing will be assuaged by another cafe au lait.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The French get slammed again

French supremacy with regards to the international definition of the kilogram may be coming to an end. Currently, the plum-sized platinum-iridium standard is stored in Paris. If some scientists have their way, the kilogram will be redefined in terms of some obscure physics mumbo jumbo.

The take-home point is that Americans will no longer have to come to France and brave the legendary snootiness and sense of self-importance of the parisians to have their scales calibrated.

Yet, pity the French. They've had preeminence of language, the culinary arts, fashion and class wrested from their tobacco-stained, Brie-smeared fingers. Now, they're poised to lose that special prestige that can only arise from being the repository of a unit of measurement.

I'm going to drown my sorrows in a glass of Cabernet (Napa Valley of course).

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Looking on the bright side...

It seems that one of our men in blue had an unauthorized discharge while sitting on the toilet. On the bright side, the constipation of the man in the stall next to him magically resolved.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Be nicer, tread lightly, don't be a dufus.

Don't mess with this nurse if you end up in HER emergency room. You certainly won't live longer but your wait will be.

She's got valid points although I think her hospital needs to offer a better vacation package.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


A Granddaddy of Dubious Notions

Well here's one way of certifying the upcoming launch of the space shuttle. Loosening safety standards on the space shuttle seems to be NASA's version of grading on a "curve". In fact, on the most grade-inflated curve imaginable, their administrators deserve an F for common sense. A's all around for creativity though.

This is one way of getting the shuttle off the ground. My concern is that it might come back too quickly. Maybe the astronauts are smarter than their handlers and will take some vacation time rather than fly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Taking your work home gets a bad name

David Lawrence Beale thought he'd take some work home with him. Ordinarily, that wouldn't be a problem but unfortunately, Beale is a morgue assistant. 150 pounds of human remains including two heads found near his home was considered more than the standard take-home allotment. He was apparently honing his dissection skills. Why he needed dissection skills is unclear. He will be spending the next two years of his life in prison. Hopefully he'll take up a new pastime.

Although the UC Davis Medical Center isn't too happy with his job performance, I understand that Wendy's has expressed interest in hiring him after his release.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Good Safety Tip

Vancouver law enforcement has administered a helpful public service announcement: "If you run out (of) fuel, do not lay down on the road to get assistance."

This is a rule I've followed for several years and one which I feel should be more widely adopted.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Legislation hits the "Irish disease"

Ireland is initiating legislation designed to reduce binge drinking. The idea is to facilitate the licensing of new drinking establishments that promote safer drinking practices such as requiring these licensees to provide hot meals along with alcohol, limit pub hours, etc.

I've never been to Ireland but I'm told that alcohol consumption is their national pastime analogous to our sport of baseball. To me, the Irish attitude towards drinking is best characterized by the following anonymous aphorism:

"An Irishman is not drunk so long as he can reach down, take hold of a blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth."
Certainly the essence of romantic imagery.

As a side note, the Irish are noted to be among the heaviest of European drinkers consuming an average of 4.5 gallons of pure alcohol per year. I found this statistic to be quite startling (and worthy of admiration) until I calculated that that corresponds to a paltry 2.63 standard 1.5 ounces of drinks of hard alcohol per day (see calculations below). Terribly disappointing.

For those wishing further enlightenment regarding the joys and perils of alcoholism, I refer you to this public service website.

40% (80 proof) alcohol for average distilled spirit
1.5 oz distilled spirit/drink = 0.6 oz alcohol/drink

4.5 gallons/yr = 576 oz/yr
576 oz/yr = 960 1.5 oz drinks/yr
960 1.5 oz drinks/yr = 2.63 (1.5 oz) drinks/day (assuming 365.25 days/yr. After all, drinking rarely stops on leap years)

(I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these calculations due to my above average alcohol consumption last night)

Friday, April 15, 2005


A less than happy surgical outcome

Here's a headline for the ages: Man Upset With Penile Surgery Mails Bomb. It looks like this gentleman really needed the surgery given the degree of inadequacy and impotence he apparently feels.

If the surgery had been more successful, he probably would have been a true mover and shaker.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


A new labor-saving device courtesy of those wacky MIT kids!

It seems that some scientific conferences have higher standards for their academic submissions than others. Jeremy Stribling and two of his fellow MIT students wrote a computer program that generates nonsensical scientific articles using random text and diagram generators.

Stribling describes one of the motivations for their program in his website:

"One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to "fake" conferences; that is, conferences with no quality standards, which exist only to make money."

Of several such papers submitted to one such conference, one entitled Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy was accepted. The team is currently attempting to raise funds so they can travel and formally present their computer-generated findings at the WMSCI 2005 meeting.

Stribling maintains a website whereby readers can generate their own scholarly papers for fun and profit.

Perhaps minimal modifications to his program can extend its usefulness to mainstream journalism?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Risk-Takers and the Women Who Love Them

I don't know about this study. I think the data needs to be massaged a little more. Apparently, women aren't attracted to risk-takers but instead prefer men who take fewer chances. My observation from the vantage point of a man who takes fewer chances...doubtful.

With every survey, one has to ask, are the respondents answering how they truly think or how they think they should think? Whenever I see a racecar driver get out of his vehicle after a meet, I've not noticed a lack of female attention on the part of his fans.

I have no data to support this but I suspect that for the majority of women, the most desirable man is a risk-taker with lots of life insurance.


Salmon Rushdie feels we're insensitive to the concerns of other lands

Salmon Rushdie is disappointed in President Bush because of his "unwillingness to engage with the rest of the world in a serious way," thus fanning the flames of terrorism. He feels we're offending the delicate sensitivities of other nations.

I understand that Rushdie is writing a new novel about Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In it, he characterizes their sexual proclivities and closet pork-eating. My suggestion: in an effort to reach out to their cultures, he should send them complimentary advance copies and his home address so they can get together and "dialogue".

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The Oldest Profession Meets Robinson's-May

Hungary has turned out to be much more progressive than I'd been led to believe. It shows you how little I know about eastern Europe which I've always thought of as kind of fuddy duddy. It seems that the Interior Ministry is going to allow prostitutes to ply their trade in specially licensed shopping malls. These designated areas are termed zones of patience. Come on, I could have come up with a more creative appellation!

I imagine the ladies will plant themselves next to a Starbuck's where they'll be able to have a cup of joe with their john.

Dubious Notions' prediction: business drop-off at the Victoria's Secret outlet.


No comment

Probably best to post this link and leave it at that.


Things you don't see everyday

It was only a matter of time. A Beluga whale made a wrong turn, swam into the Delaware River and ended up in New Jersey.

Cut him some slack. I have that problem when I'm driving in Boston.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Weight Control Advertising

I came across this photo from an ad for phentermine on the Armenian Medical Network. Is it just me or does someone need some remedial anatomy lessons?

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Inspired Engineering

Here are some engineering students from Purdue University who won the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. Their entry was a device that in a mere 125 steps changed a flashlight's batteries and switched it on.

Dubious Notions' prediction: after graduation, government contract jobs all around.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Muddy thinking and the space shuttle

It seems that the space shuttle is back in gear. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm a bit of a techno-geek (amateur without professional experience in engineering geekness) and I love to know that the shuttle will fly again.

On the other hand, I see a big problems with NASA's handling of the mechanical issues leading to the last shuttle disaster: Maybe I'm being too hard on these people. But hey, it's my tax money on the line...and my fellow human beings' lives.


A smile, a handshake and an international incident

Certainly you didn't think that the pope's funeral would be without political intrigue and back-biting?

As a non-Catholic who's occasionally attended mass I've always found quaint the "sign of peace" custom whereby adjacent congregants are invited to shake hands. One wonders whether Israeli president Moshe Katsav, Iranian president Mohammed Khatami and Syrian president Bashar Assad anticipated this tradition when they noticed how close they were seated at the funeral.

Though Katsav and Assad have fessed up to actually shaking hands, Khatami has denied that he made any such contact with Katsav. Heaven forefend that top Iranian and Israeli officials should ever show any signs of reconciliation for one another. One can only imagine if, in an attempt to modernize the liturgy, these men were required to high five.

Actually, I found somewhat more odious, the specter of Prince Charles shaking hands with Robert Mugabe, the notoriously corrupt, newly "elected" president of the morally bankrupt Zimbabwean government. Vatican City is not a E.U. member state and is one of the few countries of the region in which he's allowed to travel. The U.S. and European Union have forbid him entry because of his human rights violations as well as his inability to curb his Zimbabwe "expense account" spending.

Of course he could have chosen to visit Turkey but the shopping isn't as good.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


The Village Idiot of Story, Indiana

The small town of Story, Indiana is in the news as the winner of their annual Village Idiot Award was announced today. This year's winner is one Mark Carmichael. Apparently it was a very competitive field making Carmichael's accomplishment all the more impressive.

Mr. Carmichael had been a strong contender all year but sawing through a live wire and wrecking his truck hours after purchasing it put him over the top.

I have to confess that after reviewing the efforts of some of this year's competitors, I'm concerned that his selection may have been an injustice. It seems that this past year, not one but two of Story's citizens knocked themselves unconscious while opening their car doors. At a minimum, an honorable mention for both of them was in order.

So what's next for Mr. Carmichael? Perhaps he'll be able to parlay his win into a career in politics.

One other point: the bylaws of the contest specify that the winner receives a $100 bar tab at a local tavern. Good idea?


The Royal Wedding

Congratulations to Prince Charles and Camilla! Dubious Notions' prediction: in-law problems that will make the Schiavo case seem like a stroll along the Thames.

Friday, April 08, 2005


For when your cranium runneth over...

This has got to be a great product! It seems that the FDA has approved a new gel called DuraSeal that will "prevent brain surgery leaks." Now far be it for me to speak authoritatively on the subject of brain surgery but even a neophyte such as myself knows a good idea when it comes along. Frankly, I wasn't even aware that brain surgery leaks were a big problem but it's reassuring to know that scientists are working on solutions as we speak.

I understand it works well in your radiator too.


Where's the smart money in the choice for a new pope?

The word I have is that the succession of pontiffs follows the pattern thin-fat-thin--fat-etc. Look for the next pope to be thin.


Big-Time Funeral for a Big-Time Pope

OK. I'm a fairly religious guy, just not Catholic. So there's a lot I don't understand about JPII's whole death process. What's the deal about laying him out on his bed after he died with the TV cameras, reporters, publicists, etc?

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Seems a little impersonal or a little ghoulish depending on your point of view. I also thought his outfit was a bit too festive for the occasion.

I'm not a sophisticated guy. But when I go, I don't want a bunch of news people milling around me as start the long, arduous process of decomposition. How will I be able to ensure that the photogs get my optimal profile shots.

Secondly, what's with the cheap casket?

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You'd think that with an audience of two billion, they'd want to pull out all the stops and splurge. Again, there's a lot I don't understand about the process and I may be missing most of it.

And the pallbearers look like they just got out of an Exxon board meeting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Trouble in the Wheelchair Pageant Circuit

Proving once again that scandal touches all. That most august institution, the Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin Pageant stripped Janeal Lee of her recent 2005 title. Apparently, she was seen standing in a public photograph. This caused a shockwave of repercussions to rip through the wheelchair pageant community.

One of those repercussions was the resignation of Jen Onsum, coodinator of the sister pageant in Minnesoda. Ms. Onsum stepped down from her job to "stand up for Janeal Lee." To me this seems a hollow gesture since Ms. Lee appears perfectly capable of standing up for herself.

Personally, I don't think this will hurt Lee's career. I suspect that with their nose for controversy, Playboy will be calling shortly.


Fox-Blocker! Promoting the Great Dialogue

There's a wonderful new product out that I came across on Al Franken's blog. What an admirable concept, a device you can hook up to your TV that will block the FOX News Network. Certainly this will go a long way towards educating the public on the complex issues facing us in our daily lives.

Who can rationally deny that blocking access to a particular viewpoint is a good thing and will do much to further awareness of potentially novel ideas?

I'm not one of those crazies who feels such a voluntary device is an affront to free speech. The constitution is silent on private attempts to limit viewpoints. But guys...what are ya thinking? It's certainly not a Christian thing to do and I understand that that doesn't concern you, but is it the liberal thing to do?

Stifling alternative viewpoints has a rich and noble tradition among Americans on all sides of the political spectrum. I don't anticipate any earthshaking consequences here but it's doubtful that any Thomas Paine awards will come of it either.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


An elegant end to an elegant life

While it won't have quite the pomp and circumstance as the Pope John-Paul II funeral, the burial of Hunter S. Thompson will have its charm. It seems that:
"Hunter S. Thompson's ashes will be blasted from a cannon mounted inside a 53-foot-high sculpture of the journalist's "gonzo fist" emblem, his wife said Tuesday."
Though perhaps not as understated as his writings and his temperance, such an end will no doubt provide a contemplative calm with which to reflect on his life.

Monday, April 04, 2005


The Border Blues

The U.S. Border Patrol seems to be having problems with some pesky "Minutemen". These volunteers are doing their own patrols for illegal aliens along one of the most porous regions of the Arizona - Mexican border. Rather than being embraced for their efforts, they have instead been accused of interfering with the government's day-to-day operations. Apparently, while moving along the border, volunteers are tripping sensors that the Border Patrol is then obligated to check out.

Obviously, this is troublesome for the government. They have no choice but to investigate every such alarm in case it was triggered by true illegal they can zoom into action and do absolutely nothing. To me, this irritation seems a bit disingenuous. At least now, when the Border Patrol officers do absolutely nothing, the bright green glow of the mainstream media's night vision goggles will be cast on their inactivity.

Other than the specter of a group of federal agents constantly having to jump up in the middle of Temptation Island reruns, to me it's typical of federal underachievement. Perhaps this is the sort of Head Start program the Border Patrol could use.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


The "new" editorial policy

Just had some Chinese food for dinner after which your intrepid blogger opened his fortune cookie. The message wasn't the usual tepid, noncommittal sagely advice. Today's was "Love is just around the corner."

Of course my wife found this particularly amusing.

Obviously the company has hired a young, new, take-charge kind of copywriter.


A Proud Endorsement of the Weekly World News

One of my favorite periodicals is the Weekly World News. WWN makes the National Enquirer look like the Wall Street Journal. They get the stories that the New York Times somehow misses.

This article is typical of the high journalistic standards I've come to know and trust. It seems that a Brandy Sue Schimmel is suing her parents because she's so...repulsive-looking. Her theory is that since her parents are themselves "ugly as sin", they had a legal duty to not procreate.

Brandy doesn't intend to stop there. "After I win this case, I'll sue my parents again -- this time because I'm stupid." They must be very proud of her social activism.

Please do me a favor and fight the urge to question this story's veracity. With apologies to Plato, sometimes the unquestioned life has its pleasures.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


What do high heels and AIDS relief have in common?

The Elton John AIDS Foundation is doing its part to help women and children in Africa affected by AIDS. They will be "asking some of the world's sassiest women to strip down to their heels and diamonds, and let the best female photographers in the world capture it all for a coffee-table book".

The project will be called Four Inches.

This is my kind of charity. The article I've linked above discusses the project in some detail. I particularly appreciated the psychosexual analysis of the empowering effect high heels have on women.
"Wearing high heels is a mood-altering experience. Your posture changes, your confidence changes, the way you walk and hold yourself changes."
That and your calves don't look so fat.

The analysis continues:
"Heels are a woman's semaphore system: they send out the message that "I only stand for canapes, and I certainly don't run for buses".
I'm not exactly sure what a canape is but that part about the buses is sure true.

On the darker side, there has been some speculation that the American Board of Podiatric Surgery helped initiate the idea.

I'd suggest another, somewhat different, project directed at men to help them confront the inadequacy they will feel being around all those empowered, canape-eating women. That book can also be called Four Inches.


The Impending Sorrow of a Tiny Nation

It seems that Prince Albert's accession to the Crown of Monaco is in no way the sure thing that I'd imagined. His bachelorhood could become a major impediment. Necessity might just be the impetus Albert needs to end his swinging single days. Unfortunately, Claudia Schiffer is out of circulation. It isn't all darkness and gloom though. As monarch, his new wardrobe can be expected to have much more panache.

There is no question that Rainier's funeral promises to be the event of the year. I wonder if Senator Clinton will allow her husband to attend stag?



Am I the only one that finds it strange that the spell checker for Blogger's text editor doesn't include the word "blog"?


Doggy Humor

According to the thesis of this article, my dog might find some things in life worth laughing at. That may be true but I can say with some certainty that he doesn't find this blog amusing. Perhaps he's overly discriminating.

Friday, April 01, 2005


Trouble Brewing in Zimbabwe

Do you find this story as astonishing as I do? Imagine, allegations of election fraud in an African nation! My delicate sensitivities have been stunned into utter paralysis.

Could any of the thinly veiled mistrust of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe have to do with some of the shopping "irregularities" of him and his fetching wife? Mugabe and Gucci Grace, as she is affectionately referred to by her countrymen, have had to find alternative outlets for their shopping needs. The European Union and the U.S. instituted sanctions when they noted a bit of a discordance between their profligate spending and Zimbabwe's grave poverty and human rights violations. Fortunately China, Serbia, Malaysia and South Africa have dug in and picked up some of the slack.

Imagine my relief.

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