Saturday, October 30, 2004

Oh, And That Guy With The Beard: Oh, it was good to see Bin Laden release a threatening tape.

As with all Terrorist threats, it means he's got nothing.

Vote away.

Teasing With The Teaser: In case you haven't seen, here's what's going on.

A couple days ago, the teaser poster for the last Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, was released. It shows Anakin with his cape billowing up to form the head of Darth Vader.

So the poster comes out, people start debating if it's any good or not, and then, as they go at it, they start seeing other faces in the cape.

Is it intentional? I don't know. I actually see one of the faces here--but what it says is the Emperor is a guy holding a lightsaber with a hooded face(those two lines going up are the lightsaber).

But I also see circuses in the textured ceiling above my bed.

They Might Be Alphabetical: Clips and quotes from the new TMBG project with Disney.

The Alphabet of Nations was first played at the show in Anaheim I went to with my brother. It's sort of cool to think my kids will be learning their ABC's from John and John,

Friday, October 29, 2004

Pumpkins and Dictators: While I was out, the folks at pointed out a cool pumpkin stencil for the kids, and an interesting theory about a couple of madmen.

A Picture Is Worth At Least One Post: So the newest "thing" in the campaign is the "photo of things that may or may not contain explosives."

The right's entry: Trucks that may or may not contain the missing explosives.

The left's entry: Barrels that may nor may not contain the missing explosives.

So I think everyone, everywhere, should post their own photos of a container that may or may not contain explosives, and thus help us locate them.

Seed Money: Blink and you'll miss the most amazing part of this story.

I mean, yeah, the story itself is cool enough. A Kenyan street urchin found the "Treasure Hunt" prize a local radio station had hidden in the park, and ended up winning 5,000.

But the amazing part is the kid's quote at the end:

"I want my mother to have a good life, buy a piece of land and build rental houses," Kamande told the Standard.

Did you catch that? An illiterate 17-year-old Kenyan homeless boy understands more about the real power of money than most American adults.

Bling-bling did not even come up. He's going to invest, and let the money work for him for the rest of his life. And he's probably smart enough to invest what he makes off that, too.

Way to go, kid.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Kudos!: . . . To Dish Network.

For the last few months, I've been getting only local channels on my Dish Network, by my own choice. But Dish has been generous--during the Olympics, they offered many of the channels covering the events for free during the run of the games.

Now, during the election countdown, they're offering all the news channels for free, presumably as a service to those of us who vote. It's a grand gesture, and much appreciated.

I found a few things interesting, though--included in their free "news" channels are Comedy Central and MTV, so that the youth, who are to "hip" for propaganda like CNN, can have their propaganda in bite-sized chunks.

I have also found myself, for the first time, able to watch FOX News, and I found myself surprised, much as I was the first time I heard Bill O'Reilly on the radio, by how . . . how can I put this? . . . less than completely partisan it was. I'm not saying there wasn't a partisan undercurrent, that there wasn't an underlying right-wing tilt, but it wasn't the all-out extreme nutso stuff I've heard it made out to be.

As an example, here in California, one of the upcoming ballot initiatives involves amending the "Three Strikes" law to make it less severe on criminals. Being a right-wing organization, it would be mandated for them to spin against this law. However, the strongest interview they had was with the grandfather of Polly Klaas, the little girl whose murder led to the three strikes law, who was arguing in favor of this initiative.

Because He Has Real Powers: The website of the ever-entertaining Clifford Pickover has an ESP test.

This is actually one of the oldest self-working tricks in all of magic, and not why you have to go see it. Why you have to go see it is to read the delightful emails he's recieved from those who've participated. They're posted after you do the trick.

There's even a couple media quotes.

On The Election: John Kerry, apparently not challenged enough by having to reconcile his argument There was no terrorist threat from Iraq with his argument that The terrorists in Iraq are winning, has now decided to give himself the added challenge of reconciling the argument that Iraq had no dangerous weapons to give to terrorists with the argument that Bush let some of Iraq's dangerous weapons fall into terrorist hands.

There can't possibly be any undecided voters left out there. It's just not conceivable to me. I think the vast majority of Americans made up their minds who they were voting for back around 1927.

I think the only statistic we've learned from this election is that 10-15% of polled Americans really, really enjoy messing with pollsters minds.

The Return Of The Doc: Now that the good folks at Dell have issued me this lovely new laptop to replace the one that was emitting smoke a week ago, I'm able to get back in touch with you.

This laptop is full of fun and exciting new versions of Microsoft products that make my desktop look more and more like a Fisher Price product every time I click something.

Oh, the humanity.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Alright, Brace Yourselves . . .: Because the Doc is back.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Workin' Ain't Work: Sandefur wrote me a while back with this:

Good post on hard work making success. One thing I would add is, it's true that if you enjoy what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. Objectively, one might say that I've worked my ass off to get where I am--went to college, went to law school, borrowed and worked to get the money for these things, spent years studying and researching and practicing every waking moment for what I do--learning about the law, practicing arguments, doing research in very old cases, spending my weekends in the library, going to the office on the weekends, staying late on the weekdays...

But to me, none of this has been work. It's all been "easy" for me, in the sense that this teacher would probably use that word, because I've loved every minute of it, and I rush to do it again. I do it when I don't have to, because I consider it fun. So if a person were to ask me, "Do you think you've slaved your way to success?" I'd answer no--it's been easy for me. But if you took another person with the same intellectual endowments and made him do just what I'm doing, he'd probably hate it, and consider it the worst drudgery.

I think of this because I'm trying to learn to play the guitar. Then I listen to, say, Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Jonny Lang--guys who were 18 and 15 when they issued their first albums. These guys were better at half my age than I will ever be. That comes from constant, godawful, back-breaking practice. But I'm a better lawyer than they ever will be, and that come sfrom constant, godawful, back-breaking practice, too, and they probably look at the idea of reading Coke Upon Littleton as being just as awful as I do when I think "Oh, God, I don't want to play scales!"

Which shows you how jealous I am of Sandefur. As pretty much everybody knows (Including my 12 year old self, as of last week) I haven't "worked" in a field I enjoyed since I left the Children's Book department at my University Bookstore.

It reminds me of a story Henry B. Eyring tells about his father, scientist Henry Eyring.

One evening he was helping me with some physics or math problems in the basement of our home. I was in college and he had high hopes for me, as he did for my brothers, that I would follow him in science.

He looked up as he saw me stumbling on a problem and said, "Hal, didn't we work on a problem just like this a week ago?"

I said, "I think we did."

He said, "Well, you don't seem to be any better at it this week than you were last week."

I didn't say anything to that.

Then he looked at me with a shock of recognition on his face and asked, "Hal, haven't you been thinking about it during this last week?" I looked a little chagrined and said that I hadn't.

He put down the chalk, stepped back from the blackboard on our basement wall, and looked at me. He then taught me something, with sadness in his voice, I will never forget. I am just beginning to understand what he meant. He said, "But, Hal, what do you think about when you are walking down the street or when you are in the shower? What do you think about when you don't have to think about anything?"

I admitted that it wasn't physics or mathematics.

With a smile, but I think with a sigh, he responded, "Well, Hal, I don't think you'd better make a career of science. You'd better find something which you just naturally think about it when you don't have to think about anything else."

For me, that's fiction writing.

So I better get back to it.

Get Some Culture: Yeah, the Doc's got a station on Launch over at Yahoo! Have a listen, hear some stuff you're not used to.

Then rate some stuff and make your own station and never listen to the radio again.

Como se diz: Jon Scieszka, who I'm sure has a lot of experience with this problem, has created a guide to pronouncing authors' names.

Since he's the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Squids Will Be Squids, you can guess it's funny.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Survey Says!: Over at, I found another survey page to go with the one I alreadly posted about.

Soon, I'll have the whole set!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Erik's The Kid: Okay, I am now officially able to pass the "Would your 12-year-old self think you were cool?" test. Conversation goes something like this:

Kid Erik: So you're me, huh? You're a little fat.
Big Erik: Well, at least I've learned to comb my hair.
Kid Erik: Okay, okay. Let's not get personal.
Big Erik: So what do you want to know?
Kid Erik: You rich or anything?
Big Erik: Not really. I have a decent apartment, in a part of town where I don't hear gunfire.
Kid Erik: Are you a scientist? Did you go to CalTech and discover time travel?
Big Erik: No. I'm area manager for a financial services company. I don't even have a four year degree.
Kid Erik: You didn't finish school? Did you at least go on a mission?
Big Erik: Sure. I was in the Amazon jungle, in Brazil.
Kid Erik: Well, that's sort of cool. Then what?
Big Erik: I dropped out of college when my wife got really sick. I got a job to keep me in insurance. I've been in and out of school ever since.
Kid Erik: You didn't write any books or anything?
Big Erik: I write stories. I had a science fiction story published when I was in college.
Kid Erik: In any magazines I've heard of?
Big Erik: No. But hey, ten bucks is ten bucks.
Kid Erik: Did you ever do anything with your life?
Big Erik: Sure. I have the entire first season of Sledge Hammer! on DVD.
Kid Erik: What's a DVD?
Big Erik: It's sort of like a CD, only for movies.
Kid Erik: What's a CD?
Big Erik: It's sort of like a record, only with lasers.
Kid Erik: Lasers are cool. The future sounds pretty awesome.
Big Erik: Yup. Now I'm just waiting for them to release the second season.
Kid Erik: There's a second season? But how do they resolve that cliffhanger ending?
Big Erik: I'm not going to spoil it for you, man. You'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Make-a Your Own Pumpakin: New printable stencils up at

Man, is that Poopsmith scary.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Aragorn's Lies: Michael Moore's new documentary, Fellowship 9/11, is truly, truly . . . something.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Losing Superman: When I was four years old, I broke my arm trying to fly. I was wearing a red cape with a big S on the back my mother had hand made.

One of my first memories of my aunt and uncle is them buying me every poster Kay-bee toys had from the first Superman movie.

I knew that, when I finally got to fly, I would have one arm folded up below me and one stretched out in front of me, because that's how Superman did it in the posters.

I still plan to do that.

Thanks, Superman.

Kerry's Pre 9/11 War: I posted at Hatrack a while back with specific responses to Kerry's plan.

My argument is basically that Kerry still wants to fight terrorism the way we used to--and he recently backed me up. Apparently he told the NYT:

We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance.

In honor of that, I thought I'd repost my thoughts from Hatrack on why Kerry's ways, as outlined in the "Plan" he constantly says is on his website, are the old ways:

Launch And Lead A New Era Of Alliances

The threat of terrorism demands alliances on a global scale - to utilize every available resource to get the terrorists before they can strike at us. As president, John Kerry will lead a coalition of the able - because no force on earth is more able than the United States and its allies.

See, to me, this just sounds like buzzwords for "We aren't going to do things that will upset sovereigns." He doesn't make allowances for the idea that some nations will only align with us in hanging back from the fight.

Because he can't seriously be suggesting that he will be able to pull out the magical "Create allies" wand in the secret drawer in the oval office, and make everybody come on board with what we want to do. The only way to gain more allies is to align your actions more with their desires.

In other words, fight the war they way the French and the Germans want, just so we can say they're on our side.

This is the way we fought terrorism before, never taking a step more than we thought the international community would accept. Clinton would have loved to do more against terrorism, but he was, among other things, afraid of jeopardizing our situation in the international scene (read the 9/11 report).

Modernize The World's Most Powerful Military To Meet New Threats

John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to transform the world's most powerful military to better address the modern threats of terrorism and proliferation, while ensuring that we have enough properly trained and equipped troops to meet our enduring strategic and regional missions.

So this would be why he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it.

Seriously, this is just more of the same. Every President says he's going to be strong on defense, amass troops and get good weapons. This is hardly innovative thinking.

Deploy All That Is In America's Arsenal

The war on terror cannot be won by military might alone. As president, John Kerry will deploy all the forces in America's arsenal - our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas - to make America more secure and prevent a new generation of terrorists from emerging.

Again, this sounds like political speak to me, code words that basically mean, "We're going to be real nice and hope the terrorists will start to like us. When Islamist propaganda bombards potential recruits about what a bunch of infidels the Americans are, it will be rendered powerless by the sheer force of our good will."

Again, this is old, pre 9/11 thinking. We thought that if we stayed out of their business, they would stay out of ours. It's hard for some people to grasp that, just like the High School Quarterback, some people hate and resent us just for who we are, irrespective of what we actually do.

No matter how many kids we help who are picked on, no matter how many kids we tutor or hang out with, there are still going to be kids who hate and resent us.

As for the "diplomatic and intelligence" statements--this basically says if specific information is received, we'll take specific action against individual threats. Again, that's what we've always done. He's just saying we're going to try to do it better than we used to.

Free America From Its Dangerous Dependence On Mideast Oil

To secure our full independence and freedom, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil. By tapping American ingenuity, we can achieve that goal while growing our economy and protecting our environment.

Environmentalism is hardly new. But believe it or not, this is the one I'd most support him in. I'd love to see us get away from our reliance on oil.

I drive a car that, while not a hybrid, gets over 30 miles to the gallon. My dad rides a scooter that, while not electric, gets just over 8 million miles to the gallon, or something along those lines. We're both seriously looking at hybrids.

What all of that says, though, is that this is already happening. When enough of us want to use less oil, somebody's going to provide it for us.

Kerry can either force production of these cars, which could cause companies to lose money if they produce more than what is consumed, or he could tax or ban gas vehicles, which again, I would see as an imposition, my distaste for our oil dependence notwithstanding.

It just comes across as more environmental feel-good talk to me.

Deep Fried Live: Like internet cartoons? Like funny cooking shows? Would you believe there's a funny internet cartoon cooking show?

Check out

Friday, October 08, 2004

More Pet Peeves: You know what else I hate?

It's not grammar Nazis or spelling Nazis. These people have a crusade I understand, even if I don't buy into it. They feel they're offering education and insight, raising the dialogue of the internet.

What I hate are typo Nazis. The ones who have to point out in every newsgroup or thread that your finger slipped. These are the folks who take joy only in being right, and, having found another chance to practice their art, they are incapable of moving past it.

When you find someone who does this, take note of their name. You have now found someone who is so push-button, so programmed in their behavior, you will be able to manipulate them like a puppet.

I refuse to believe these folks have any other motive. What did they think everybody was sitting there confused, wondering what in the world that subject meant when it read: Need Info On "For Whon the Bell Tolls"

Did they honestly stare at it like the Jumble, wondering what mystery that phrase encoded? And when their brain finally oozed around it, their keen intuitive abilities unraveled the hidden meaning, they bounded up the stairs to their rooftops to shout it to the masses?

Give me a vreak.

VP Debate: I've been out of town, visiting the lovely Fresno, CA.

I managed to catch the second run of the debate on CNN Teusday night--I guess the rest of you just watched the dress rehearsal.

How did it go? Well, it's fun to watch all the same pundits who before were saying, "Oh, Edwards is a trial lawyer. He's going to clean Cheney's clock," now saying, "Edwards really overcame his youth and limited experience to hold his own with Cheney. It was probably a tie."

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Taxes: With the presidential debate on domestic issues coming up, I'd like to say a little about taxes that will be good to keep in mind as you watch.

First off, the way taxes are structured in this country, we earn taxes in one way only--when money changes hands. This means that the slower the economy, the less money that is going to be made on taxes. That's just the way it is.

Even the LA Times, liberal as their agenda is, recognizes that Kerry's plan won't come close to generating the revenues he says it will. It's simple math--if people know that moving their money around will result in higher taxes, they won't move their money.

It's like a pool with a filter in one end. If the water just sits there, nothing is going to pass through the filter. Making the filter bigger won't help. The water is still just sitting there.

What's needed is motion. A pump, a vacuum, something, to get that water moving around in there. If the water's moving, then even if the filter is smaller, you'll still get more water through it than with a bigger filter and no pump.

This analogy isn't perfect, however, because it doesn't take into consideration that the taxpayer is intelligent. John Q. Billionare could look at the tax rate and decide his investments weren't worth the risk, with that large a chunk taken from them. He then pulls his money out of the investments, meaning less money to fund business like you and I work for, less money in the coffers of the government, less money all around.

There are plenty of tax shelters for him to stow his assets in. He's safe. In the meantime, the government coffers are empty.

So keep in mind that economic movement is the real key. Listen for who sounds like they're going to get things moving. Then everybody benefits. More jobs, more opportunity, more rewards for your effort, and, yes, believe it or not, more money for the government.

Behold The Powers: . . . of the Master of Disguise.