The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Not one, but two items on Turkey (the republic, not the bird) on the newsfeeds today.

I suppose as an ethnic Greek, I should have an innate, even vitriolic, dislike of Turks. I don't. Maybe it's because I don't know even one person of Turkish descent. I've probably met at least a couple in my life, but no one comes to mind right now. Of course, my parents and other family members from Greece can probably say the same, but then again they're coming at it from a different angle.

In any case, it's story items like the above that make me wonder what on Earth makes the Turks believe they'll ever get into the EU. Not only do they have two automatic strikes against it ever happening (an inherent European prejudice and a Greek veto); they also have a political/social foundation that's not particular strong in democratic culture. The recent mini-crisis over forcing their prime minister to call new elections is another typical example.

Looking at it from Turkey's perspective: really a rock and a hard place. As much as they've tried to emulate the West, it's doubtful they'll ever be embraced there. And the Muslim world isn't crazy about them either (funnily enough, for as many racial/historical reasons as the Europeans do). Unless they can take some sort of vanguard position in Central Asia, I'm afraid they'll have to count on going it essentially alone in the immediate future.

Friday, August 30, 2002

I usually don't read William Safire other than a quick skim, depending on subject. But his take on the recent Bloomberg capitulation in Singapore was compelling enough for me. Good piece.

I find it interesting that Bloomberg News Service is responsible for this (admittedly, probably slight and not widely consequential) restriction of media freedom, at the very same time that the company's founder is serving as mayor of the city that practically created freedom of the press.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is a spry 205 years young today, folks! While she produced an impressive body of work, there's no doubt which one was her grand-slam homer. I've been thinking about rereading it lately, haven't opened it in years.

Frankenstein has been adapted to the screen countless times, of course. Everything from the literarily faithful to the schlocky to the, well, mind-boggling bizarre.

Oh, I believe Mary was married.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

This is obviously no shocking revelation, but: Anyone else get some perverse pleasure from noting that the big-business media battlefield is quickly shaping up as a matchup between a rat and a rabbit? It's a rum world all right....
Simultaneously fascinating and repugnant. Actually, for all the trumpeting here about how innovative and new this is, it's been around for a while. Wish I could find some dated examples; maybe tomorrow.

I'm hoping to run into one of these bunco artists. I'd love to catch onto them right off, string them along a little, and then get loud and embarass the shit out of them and send them scurrying. I normally wouldn't think I'd be an obvious mark for such an assault, but I probably am.

Seems that the advertising community ain't believing the hype surrounding everyone's favorite burned-out white trash heap.

You never can tell, but I'm not overly surprised that this turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan thing, with the rating starting to recede. And while it seems odd that advertisers would spurn anything, especially with the recent soft market, it's really a smart move. The ad climate is getting steadily better, and things aren't dire enough now for anyone to go out on a limb and get fully behind something that's not going to last all that much longer. Imagine that, buyers actually thinking strategically for once, and not simply living in the moment...

But have no fear... if Anna Nicole isn't the ad community's cup of tea, perhaps this coming travesty will curry favor. JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!
(thanks again, memepool) I thought this was as funny as vehicular destruction can possibly get.

oh the humanity!

Having trouble taming your pussy? Have no fear. The power to soothe the savage breast is here. Or more directly, hier.

(In anticipation to the question, I'm 31 years old. Mentality-wise, subtract about 30 years....)

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Looks like the Pens' goalie is using the equivalent of a mental eraser in an effort to put last season's woes behind him. Let's just hope he doesn't suddenly start clucking like a chicken in the middle of a game.
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." - Emiliano Zapata
I recalled this article about home schooling from a few days back, meant to post it. Home schooling: It's not just for whacko religious fanatics anymore!

I'm sure home schooling has its merits. It seems to be an accepted assumption that Florida's school system is way subpar--although I've wondered just how much of it is really the schools, and how much of the blame should go to the students and their parents. If nothing else, the home school option at least gives parents some level of control. The big minus that I see is that a younger child misses out on the socialization aspect of going to a traditional (private or public) school. Day-to-day interaction with others is just as important as classroom instruction, after all.

Still and all, whenever the subject of home schooling comes up, I can't help but be reminded of a news tidbit from some 3-5 years ago, when I was working in the St. Pete Times Sports Department. Don't remember all the details, but it involved some interviews among a crowd of a few hundred people greeting a football team (probably the 'Noles or Gators) as their charter plane landed at like 2AM in the middle of the week. The reporter there noticed a father in the crowd with his two school-age tots, and asked him what was the deal, it being a school night and all. The father replied that it wasn't a problem, as his kids were home schooled by him, and he (seriously!) considered this dead-of-night outing an "educational field trip". Way to prep those kids, Dad! lol
Oh, perhaps I shouldn't make light of what's apparently a serious health problem. But then again, it's my blog, so if you don't like it, tough toenails.

I espeically like the liberal use of the term "colonization" and variants. As in, "pregnant women who are colonized with GBS..."
Looks like the commish is gonna make a personal appearance at MLB's labor talks, just two days before the strike should hit. My question is, just why was Selig not already in on these face-to-face sessions??? Maybe it's just me, but it seems like it was important enough....
(cueing UF fight song music) GO, GATORS!
Much like shark attacks, alligator attacks tend to get a lot of attention in these parts.

(I was looking for a picture of the three condemed gators they killed as a result of this, but couldn't find one. There is a nice one in the print edition of the St. Petersburg Times, but not online.)

The root of the problem is that there are tons of idiots who do exactly what they shouldn't, and feed gators they come across in the wild. Once they see they can get food from humans, alligators lose their natural fear of people, and then guess what.... Stories abound about people in my home state finding gators sleeping under their cars, in their swimming pools, and other interesting spots. Our friends and relatives up north seem to get freaked out pretty readily from this, and I can't say we don't stoke those flames. ;)

I keep waiting for an appearance of a gator in the lake behind my apartment. First few years I lived there, we'd get a gator in there every summer, and I got a kick out of watching them (from a safe distance upstairs, of course). But last couple of years, nothing.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

I just noticed, the photo provided on that referring site for Rainbow Sharks is not very flattering to this beautiful fish. There is, however, a graphic of colorful postage stamp from Cambodia that does it more justice:

Check him out!
I just found the half-eaten remains of one of my fishies. It was a zebra danio, long-finned variety.

I wasn't too surprised to find him dead. He had been visibly getting thinner and more detached from his school for the past couple of weeks, and I figured it was just a matter of time. I was surprised the end came so soon, though. He still looked okay this morning, when I fed them all. Actually, the brand-new danio I bought a couple of days ago was slated to be the old-timer's replacement; could he have recognized this and decided to take it as his cue to exit? lol

Part of the surprise is that I found his remains at all. As I mentioned below, whenever a fish kicks off in that tank, my apple snail tends to locate the remains pretty quickly and wipes them out without a trace. So it must have been a fairly recent death, even though it looks like it had been picked over quite a bit.

Whenever I tell friends and acquaintances that I've lost another fish, I often get reactions like "Oh, how sad" or "What's wrong with the tank that these fish are dying?". But honestly, when you're dealing with little fish like these that are part of schools, it's very much a circle-of-life thing. It's hard to feel too bad for any individual loss there. Now, if my centerpiece rainbow shark or apple snail kicked off, THAT would be a sad occasion.
Who'd of thunk it--it seems Sony has continued to make Beta VCRs this whole time. This, two decades after the legendary VHS-Beta format wars, in which VHS was the clear winner, at least in North America. This article doesn't say where these Beta machines have been selling; I know it hasn't been in the U.S. Probably in South America and maybe Asia.

Even funnier coincidence, I was just talking about the old VHS-Beta conflict with someone at work yesterday.
OH YEAH!!!!! Managed to fix that comment/open new window problem. A few adjustments to the JavaScript code, and voila! Many many thanks to Adam Rice and Scott Little for pointing me in the right direction. It was a bitch to pinpoint, but I finally got it. I'm so deliriously happy!
More drivel sludge from the hype machine. But at least she's hot. I haven't seen XXX, don't intend to, but from the glimpses I've seen of Ms. Argento, I think I'd overlook the need for braces. ;)
The day is soon approaching when you'll never have to move your fat ass again to activate your home devices. I shudder to think of the majesty of it all....
Ah, you gotta love the interaction between PR machines and a sloooooooooooow news day. How else to explain why the AP is bothering to run this shorty on former Somebody Leif Garrett and his thoughts on the phenomenon-du-jour that is Anna Nicole Smith.

Can't wait to hear Mr. Has-Been's analysis on this freak show in the making.

I'm amazed that this guy is only 40 years old--a mere decade my senior. I remember him being a big-time superstar when I was a little kid, so I guess I always assumed he was a quite a bit older. Ah, the rise and fall of the teenie-bopper idol...

And actually, what the hell did this cypher do 30 years ago to get so famous?? I did a quick search to find one of his signature songs from back in the day, and all I found was a greatest hits compilation, a good chunk of which is just cover songs. It looks like his biggest claim to fame was landing on the cover of Tiger Beat about a zillion times.

Monday, August 26, 2002

(thanks, memepool) Who hasn't enjoyed seeing Yosemite Sam in those old Warner Brothers cartoons, singing the first couple of bars of "Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum" in a slightly pissed-off falsetto? Too bad he never got further than that, or else many of us, at an early age, would have discovered what a filthy, disgusting song it really is. (Trust me, you must be 18 or older to click on that link.)
Tonight on CBS, Everybody Loves Raymond: The First Six Years.

It's hard to believe this warmed-over, refried piece of crap could have been on the air that long. No, wait, no it's not....
I just knew, sooner rather than later, I'd get around to mentioning my aquarium.

I just bought a couple of little fish to restock/augment the existing schools in my 30-gallon tank: a long-finned blue danio and a glowlight tetra. The glowlight was a replacement for one that I'd bought a couple of weeks back, and that subsequently disappeared. Never found a corpse, and after a couple of days, after which I figured that was ample time for me to have seen him if he were hiding somewhere, I figured he died somehow and the remains were quickly eaten by my apple snail (something the snail specializes in--it's way too slow to be a predator, but it's a top-notch scavenger, which is good as that keeps the tank relatively clean).

Well, I just spent 10 minutes looking in the tank at the school of glowlights, and guess what? Yep, looks like I'm missing one yet again. It's possible he's hiding, but I kinda doubt it. Pretty likely he kicked the bucket, and got chomped up. Oh well.... $1.69 down the drain! ;)

I'm more curious as to what caused the death. He was probably the smallest fish in the tank, smaller even than the other glowlights. But as with the previous one, I never saw any sign of abuse. Nor did I see any signs of discomfort. Strange.... At least the new danio seems to be doing well. He's zipping around the tank in his new school and has been fully assimilated already, by the looks of it.
It's amazing how much persnickitty tinkering you can do with a document layout like this. The editor in me has to have everything just right.... Reminds me of my webmastering days.

Everything is not exactly right, but I've made enough little adjustments here and there that I've 90% satisfied (for now). This template is ok, not as unique as I'd like, but it's alright. And I've added a few bells and whistles which I think it needed: the option box for opening links in a new window, the counter, the commenting system. Next on the agenda is a search function (probably Google or Atomz). Also a little more playing around with some of the layout.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

A glowing, if overwrought, tribute to the dearly-departed Seinfeld. It was the last network show I ever watched on a regular basis, and actually made time for--what they call "appointment viewing" (aka Must-See TV). Admittedly they probably went a season or two too long, but it's still the best comedy series I've ever seen.
Gotta love NASA's Voyager probes. They just keep going, and going, and....

Astronomy and space science has been a kick of mine since I was a little kid. It always attracts my attention.
Cast your votes now for the 100 greatest Britons of all time. What, they include Johnny Rotten but not Sid Vicious??? Wankers.

Seems people just can't get enough of lists, huh? Which is a good thing actually, as I'd be out of a job if that weren't the case.
Sometimes, you just want to watch even more of that stupid-assed Miller Lite ad.

Actually, I don't think this is such a bad thing. I've got no more love of commercials and ads than any other media consumer, but there is some good work being done out there. And having a dedicated site where people voluntarily can view them is perfectly reasonable.
Wow, it seems that a real live actress played the title character in the new major motion picture "Simone". My comment?

No shit.

It was a pretty pathetic stab by the Hollywood hype machine to pass this crap off. Not that several people walking out of the theaters won't get suckered in anyway. But how dumb is it to try to pass something as questionable as this off, when there are so many sources that will jump all over an item like this to check whether it's true or not?

What's more, even the director couldn't keep his big fat mouth shut about the supposed "secret", more than a week before the film opened in theaters.
Well, blast. I've wasted the better part of the evening trying to put in a new, cooler-looking template on this blog. And I haven't been able to find anything good and that's workable. Just have to put more effort into it tomorrow.

In the meantime, on with the show. Time to clear out my backlog of items to post.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Fantasy hockey. Like I need another reason to waste time. Addiction is a terrible, terrible thing. ;)
Ugggghhhh.... I just took a 2-hour nap, and as is usually the case whenever I do that, I'm wiped. Sucks, because I really want to get cracking on this blog. Tomorrow and the weekend, for sure. I'm already starting to compile quite a list of items to post.

Went ahead and did it. New title for this little chunk o' blogdom. I like it mucho much.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

I was planning on posting a number of interesting thangs tonight. And adding some features, namely comment boxes. But I'm a bit tired.

So I'll just put this one up. Cloning is one of the topics that hold special fascination for me. I'm going to dig deeper into MSNBC's series on cloning soon. Fascinating for me on several levels: biotechnicals, moral, ethical, legal, societal, and on and on.

What else? I think I'll be changing the title of this blog shortly. The 4Ms isn't really doing it for me. Something more compact. Tune in next time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

What a pain in the derriere. I'm trying to find a template for this blog that I like. Not many choices provided with the service; the one I liked most, with the cube graphics, didn't quite do it (upon further reflection). Looks like I've got a little work to do hunting down one I like. Also, to add some bells and whistles, like comment box links, etc.

Good news is I rather like getting the swing of HTML coding again. It's been a while.

Incidentally, I had to look up the correct spelling of "derriere" just now. Here are a list of synonyms for that word, provided by

buttocks, arse, butt, backside, bum, buns, can, fundament, hindquarters, hind end, keister, posterior, prat, rear, rear end, rump, stern, seat, tail, tail end, tooshie, tush, bottom, behind, fanny, ass

You're welcome.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Most people probably have to go through at least a couple of proposed URLs for their blog before they find one that's not already taken... ("Huh? How the hell is Jimbo' already registered????") Such was my case. So my curiosity was piqued, and I decided to check them (all 2 of them) out:
My first choice, as it's my first name, and easy to spell, and rather compact. Looks stillborn; the person made one post and then apparently forgot about it. Such is life. I like the background graphic though.
Sonofagun, stillborn blog! And this one untouched for over two years yet! You'd think the powers-that-be would sweep through and free some of these dead ones out. But again, I like the background graphics.

Well, that was sure a dud exercise. I was hoping to find a couple of interesting sites. Instead, zilch-o.
Does anyone really put any consideration into what their blog's first referring link should be? I figure it should be something enlightening, informative and generally worth the reader's while.

But instead, I think I'll post this. Enjoy.
Maiden voyage, I suppose....

This is my rookie shot at a blog. As this form of self-expression is all the rage these days--at least among techies and electronic media types, like myself--I figured I should test-drive the experience for myself. After all, trendiness is next to Godliness, isn't it? ;)

I pretty much expect this to be a random rambling of my thoughts and observations at the moment, with a more fully-formed essay thrown in there every now and again. A lot of thoughts run through my brain, some good, some great, some pointless, and some just downright bizarre. Since I'm online alot, chances are pretty good that I'll be posting a good chunk of them right here; so hold onto your hats!

I guess I'm most curious as to what, if any, response I'll get. Obviously this is just one of thousands (millions?) of blogs out there, and I figure it'll take quite a special bit of content to make this one stand out. All I can do is write whatever the heck I want to write, and whatever happens from there, happens.

Stay tuned......