Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Biden steals Biden's identity

Do any Delawareans out there see the strong irony in Beau Biden promising to create an identity theft task force if he is elected attorney general of Delaware in November?

I hope he isn't using his father's credit cards or social security number, because that would be a big problem.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting the devil out of politics and onto license plates

Whenever the number 666 appears somewhere intentionally, one must wonder what the messenger wants to say. There is always the possibility that there are 665 cars out there with licenses BIG001 through BIG665, but I have to think this personalized plate was chosen on purpose.

Whether you think this 666, number of the beast, refers to the Emperor Nero, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the Pope or any other fantastic numerically conjured figment of your imagination, this license plate has something for everybody.

It certainly goes well with the current propensity for politicians to call their opponents the devil. Hugo Chavez famously called George Bush the Devil during his UN speech.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took his verbal battle with the United States to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, calling
President Bush "the devil." "The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said. "He came here talking as if he were the owner of the world."
Not to be outdone, Jerry Fallwell yesterday said that the only thing that would galvanize evangelicals more than Hillary Clinton running for president would be if Lucifer did so.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, looked ahead to 2008 and the possibility that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton might be the Democratic presidential candidate. Ms. Clinton's nomination, Mr. Falwell said to laughs, would arouse even more evangelical opposition than Lucifer's.
I think in this day and age we need less diabolical, apocalyptic rhetoric rather than more. I guess I can try to be ready if need be.

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Demolition derby on Washington Street in Wilmington

I actually saw the aftermath of this crash around 3pm before the rescue crews got there. It looked like one car had hit the other so hard it flipped on its side. Unfortunately I didn't stop to take pictures, I just tried to avoid the accident scene.

Conveniently, the News Journal was there and it made it into Sunday's police report. The report is too vague. It describes the injuries of the victims but doesn't say who caused the accident or its circumstances. Was the unflipped car speeding through the intersection (a block after Concord and Washington)? We know that never happens on that part of Washington Street. Did the SUV blow through a stop sign?

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

St. James the Buddhist?

Today's second reading was once again from the letter of St. James. One of the lines and the whole reading put me in mind of an eastern philosophy instead of the western ideas that history has built on the Bible.

St. James asks:
"Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions..."
This sounds suspiciously like a tenet of Buddhism that says:
"Desire is the cause of all suffering."
...which I learned on the Simspons episode "She of Little Faith" in which Lisa Simspon is converted to, or realizes she was already, a Buddhist. Was St. James a Buddhist too? Or is it that two different religious traditions can sometimes stumble onto the same wisdom?

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Friday, September 22, 2006

This guy really loves America

Look not just at the license plate, but closely at the flag colored license plate frame and the corner Statue of Liberty.

With bonus magnetic ribbons.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Golf advice on license plate

Since your ball is farthest from the hole, please go ahead and putt. Coincidentally noticed when I was away from home.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Locked ladies leave locals laughing

Don't laugh, these ladies could be your parents or you someday. Two elderly women were trapped in their car when the battery went dead and they couldn't use the automatic door locks to open the doors. They tried to get the attention of people passing by for assistance and were finally "saved" when a window was broken to get them out. They apparently did not know how to use the manual door locks.

I am immediately reminded of Peter Griffin in the Family Guy episode Petarded:
Lois: Well, now that the mess is all cleaned up and we're back from the emergency room, it's time for the last game of the night, Trivial Pursuit.
Peter: Oh, man. I hate Trivial Pursuit. Always makes me feel so stupid.
Brian: More stupid than that time you locked your keys out of the car?
(flashback, showing Peter sitting in his car):
Peter: Damn it. Hey, hey! Somebody! Hey! (a man walks by the car) Hey, sir! Sir, you see those keys there? Sir? Oh, screw you! (shifts a bent piece of a hanger out of the window. He manages to hook his keys onto it, but the hanger falls off and out of the car. Peter cries)
Here is the scene clip at youtube.

This is life imitating art.

(via Fark and everywhere)

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fabulous Fireworks at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens fireworks and fountain display has reached new heights this year. We saw them a few weeks ago, and I was a able to take some pictures with my crappy Treo camera. They seemed to take extra care and artistry this year in timing both the flash and the sounds of the fireworks with the music. The fountains looks ethereal as always, and appeared to have added colors.

One of the most moving parts of the evening was when the fireworks were accompanied by a tune that you might recall from the movie Babe. The main 'theme' (heard in "If I Had Words") from the film is taken from the Maestoso movement in Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 for Organ.

Remember James Cromwell singing to Babe, the pig, when he nursed Babe back to health. That was the song. James Cromwell was nominated for best supporting actor for his role in that film. Best supporting actor to a pig! He also studied acting at Carnegie Mellon, my alma mater.

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License Plates are the new spiritual message medium

Here is yet another attempt at proselytizing by license plate. This license plate, BYGRACE, references an important protestant Christian philosophy called sola fide. Sola fide or faith alone asserts that it is solely on the basis of God's grace through the believer's faith alone that believers are forgiven their transgressions of the Law of God.

I have always thought that the problem with this is that you could have faith and do nothing and supposedly you are saved and going to heaven. Logically and philosophically the issue is how do you know that someone has faith, and how can it have any impact on our lives.

Today's second reading at church was from James letter, and has one of the best lines in scripture: "What good is it...if someone says he has faith but does not have works". Some concrete advice for people of faith, go do some works! I like that better because then your works, because you have faith, provide some evidence of goodness. Even better, some actual good works occur and the world is a better place.

For some reason the bible needs to contain these two almost completely opposite phrases: faith without works is empty, saved by grace alone and not by works. It is certainly a more interesting apparent contradiction than the tired Old Testament harshness vs. New Testament peacefulness controversies.

So don't take your confidence in works too far, you can't buy your way into heaven with good works either. As in all things, moderation between the positions is the appropriate route. Good works show faith, faith causes us to do good works, and around and around again.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Bender the Robot on emotions

What does Bender the Robot from Futurama have to say about his emotions?
"Being a robot is great, but we don't have emotions, and sometimes that makes me sad."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Missy Elliott on Cryptography?

Today's xkcd comic combines cryptography and rap music.

It turns out the thinly disguised lyrics are from the chorus of the Missy Elliott song "Work it". Sorry I am not out scouring the urban format stations for musical hits, I had to look this one up on Google. There are a number commenters (one and two) on the joke and how they "got it", yet they failed to identify the particular song for the rap impaired. Here are the lyrics from the chorus of "Work it", provided as a service to the internet.
Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it
("I put my thing down, flip and reverse it" - [backwards 2X])
If you got a big [elephant], let me search ya
To find out how hard I gotta work ya
("I put my thing down, flip and reverse it" - [backwards 2X])
Has anybidy heard this song on the radio? Hoave I heard it and didn't realize it's relevance to cryptography. What exactly is being flipped and reversed?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The other magician movie

What is it with Hollywood? Two magician movies at the same time? This could lead to confusion.

On Friday we went to see The Illusionist. I was confused because none of the posters mentioned Christian Bale, they just mentioned Ed Norton and Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti. The reason for that was that Christian Bale is in the other magician movie with Hugh Jackman, The Prestige. When I figured that out, just minutes before the movie, I almost walked out to get my money back and wait for The Prestige to come out. We convinced ourselves that the Illusionist would be worth seeing and steeled ourselves to go in.

The movie was actually entertaining and worth the ticket price, which is high praise these days. Edward Norton is a convincing illusionist with some of the intensity of his other roles while Paul Giamatti plays a morally conflicted police inspector well. Since the movie was about an illusionist, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out there was going to be a trick of some sort, and so it was predictable in some ways.

Jessica Biel is just alright, and this movie seems to be her serious movie break. I haven't really liked her since they tarted her up when she was on Seventh Heaven, ruining her and eventually the show. She seemed unable to keep to one accent in the Illusionist, veering from English accent to German accent in a single scene. The movie was set in Vienna (Prague was the real life stand-in). Why didn't everyone speak German? Mainly because that would be a hard sell for a movie. The convention is to give everyone German accents to set the mood. Too bad not everyone in the movie could manage one.

So this fall we are left with dueling magician movies (The Prestige is actually about dueling magicians). Next discussion after I see The Prestige.

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The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins quiz to help you with your own examination of conscience. My results are below. I am the best at being prideful, the best. Wait a minute, could that be the problem?

Lust:Very Low
Pride:Very High
The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on

Catholics have the Seven Virtues to combat these sins. It is a good list for those trying to develop some self-discipline. Sometimes it helps if someone spells it out for you.

(via Posthuman Blues)

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Monday, September 04, 2006

To be fair, marriage advice for the ladies.

In the spirit of equal opportunity I have also found some advice for woman who are getting married to pair with the recent advice for men. Some choice bits of advice from the article:
"Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust."
Luckily the ladies are not alone in this struggle:
"One heartening factor for which the wife can be grateful is the fact that the husband's home, school, church, and social environment have been working together all through his life to instill in him a deep sense of guilt in regards to his sexual feelings, so that he comes to the marriage couch apologetically and filled with shame, already half cowed and subdued. The wise wife seizes upon this advantage and relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband's desire for sexual expression."
I do hope that the recent marriage advice has been useful and evenhanded.

(via utility fog, via neatorama, vi arbroath, via

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The marrying kind

The best marriage or relationship advice I ever got was from my grandmother. She said, "don't get involved in other people's relationship problems, and don't volunteer advice." I do think she broke her own rule a little, but as matriarch of the family she tried real hard to stay out of the advice business as much as possible. She preferred help in specific situations to providing suggestions or advice.

Here is some advice from Forbes for the men out there, "Don't marry a career woman." Xeni Jardin is appropriately up in arms over there at Boing Boing, mostly with the gender stereotype reversal of this advice. She switches the guys and girls to get advice seemingly appropriate for 1956 (just reverse it, "Girl's don't marry career men"). The article does seem to just switch the stereotypes as opposed to having something important to say about family and career balance, which would be more helpful. Perhaps they are trying to be sensational. Because of the controversy Forbes added a counterpoint.

My worry is over the definition of a career woman:
To be clear, we're not talking about a high-school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a "career girl" has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.
That definition not only includes everyone I would have ever wanted to marry but also the specific person I am going to marry. The article goes on to describe the statistically suggested trouble that will befall you if you do so:
If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research).
You and I both know what you can do with statistics. I think that I will have to take my chances.

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