Qui tangit frangatur.

My Photo

A round peg in a world of square holes...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


By Zena Holloway.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chicken Little squawks again

Al Gore is at it again. Robert Tracinski exposes the Grandmaster of Hypocrisy for what he is:

Early coverage of Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, has focused on the fact that the book is largely an assault on the Bush administration. But they have glossed over the most significant and alarming theme that Al Gore has taken up: his alleged defense of "reason" includes a justification for government controls over political speech.

[ . . . ]

Developing a dangerous theme that the left has been toying with for years, Gore says that reason is being suffocated by "media Machiavellis"--that's a veiled reference to Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and Bush political advisor Karl Rove, the twin hobgoblins of the left. According to Gore, these puppet-masters take advantage of "the clever use of electronic mass media" to "manipulate the outcome of elections."

[ . . . ]

His new argument doesn't do anything to reverse that impression. His basic theme seems to be: if the left isn't winning in the marketplace of ideas, there can't possibly be anything wrong with their ideas. It must be the marketplace itself that is "broken," and the left needs to use the power of government to fix it--in both senses of the word "fix."

This is by no means a new theme on the left; Noam Chomsky has been peddling this stuff for years. [ . . . ] We need to be liberated--by having the left take control of the media and manage it in our best interests.

Having a front line spokesman for global warming (e.g. "An Inconvenient Truth") whose — one of two — household consumes 20 times the average American household's electricity consumption (No, I am not going to let this one go. You can bet on it. Whine/threaten/bitch all you want.) must have a reality-distorting effect on its audience. Zombie Times reveals the parade of hypocrisy at a recent Gore appearance. Bonus round: The Concourse of Hypocrisy.

       Al Gore's next book.

Drink deep from the well of feel-good, tree-hugging, hippie wisdom. Drink the Kool-Aid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lobster dinner

To make life more exciting for my pair of goldfish (Ms. E calls it "Pure evil."), I recently purchased a pair of Cherax Blue Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus). Resembling miniature lobsters, they are sometimes called Blue (freshwater) Lobsters.

One of them is in Hell tearing Jerry Falwell a new one in heaven right now. I didn't know that Blue Crayfish are escape artists. They also can only breathe through their gills. Not a very good combination for life in an aquarium. Silly dead critter.

The remaining crayfish molted:

Here's the molt. It was originally blue. When it dried, it turned red. I guess a clue that it is a molt and not a dead crayfish is the absence of eye stalks.

Two nights ago, I was looking at the tank when I noticed a crumpled heap in a corner of the tank. Picking it up, I sighed, "Pinchy is dead too? Oh well, so much for keeping freshwater crustaceans..." A few hours later, Pinchy emerged from her (yes, it is a female) cave as if to say, "Ah ha! Gotcha! Did you miss me?"

You are normally not supposed to remove the molt as the crustacean consumes it over the course of the next few days to reclaim calcium for its new shell; but it's okay, I traded Pinchy's molt for some (sterilized) chicken egg shells.

Crayfish can double their size in between molting:

This is someone else's crayfish, but Pinchy is approximately this size now. As her namesake suggests, however, Pinchy does not readily take to handling.

With Pinchy's increase in size — and consequent longer reach, rather than occasionally harassing the goldfish when they swim past her lair, she began to pose a real threat to them. As I was having my breakfast this morning, I noticed a large patch of orange wedged in the mouth of Pinchy's cave. I thought it odd that my Dad would feed my crayfish a carrot:

BEN:  Hey, Dad, did you feed my crayfish a carrot?

DAD:  Eh? Carrot? No, we have no carrots.

BEN [looks closer at Pinchy's cave]: Argh! That's no carrot! That's one of my goldfish! WTF! Where's the net? Where's the net? Get me the net!

DAD [chuckles and continues looking at Suzanne Jung watching morning prime time news]

MOM:  I told you. Your brother told you. You can't keep lobsters with goldfish! You are so evil!

BEN [freeing the goldfish from Pinchy's pincers]: Pinchy, you @&#*!!!

Except for a few shredded fins, the goldfish seems none the worse for wear. If it survives till the end of the week, it should be okay. Pinchy is now sequestered to a temporary tank. When I get her a larger tank, I will get some guppies for her to "play" with.

Pinchy is still growing. Someday, she might even reach this size. Maybe I will bring her for a dip in my brother's bathtub then   :-P


I love books. No, I mean I do not just like books — I love them. I almost never loan my books out; not just because they contain scribblings in the margins (which I consider either intellectual property or private and personal), but because I would throw a fit if even one page comes back dog-earred. I never open my reference books wide enough for the cracking sound to occur. Once, a classmate borrowed a hardcover tome, The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom, split it open 180 degrees — hundreds of times — to xerox it. I almost had a cardiac infarction. That was the last time I ever lent a book to anyone. When there are public libraries available, I can't see any reason why anyone has to borrow a book from another private individual.

So, yes, I am very fussy with my books.

Bearing in mind that I am bitching over a paperback, here we go:

Borders, Singapore, carries two editions of V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas in paperback: Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, and Vintage, an imprint of Random House.

Compared to Vintage (576 pages), the materials employed by Picador (640 pages) are of a lower quality: the paper stock is thicker (ironically, ink or highlighting fluid soaks through to the other side more readily); the surface of the paper is coarser; the color of the paper a yellowish-brown. All these result in a book that is almost two times thicker, more difficult to read (black text against yellowish-brown possesses less contrast than black text against white), and a pain to annotate (I don't highlight, preferring to mark up, circle, and cross).

The pride that Vintage takes in its books — even with its paperbacks — is appreciable: the matt cover jacket is actually laminated and water resistant — a valued feature for the café scene or those who travel everywhere with a book (or books) in hand; the paper stock is thin but ink and highlighter fluid do not readily soak through; the finish of the paper is so smooth as to be semi-glossy; and the paper a high contrast white against black solid text.

With the obviously higher quality of the Vintage paperback, one would not complain if it is justifiably priced higher. But upon comparing the publisher's listed retail price and consulting the currency exchange rates,

       US$15.96 = S$24.34

       £7.99 = S$24.06

the price of both books should be identical within a dollar (Well, okay. 28 cents). But this is what Borders, Singapore, is charging:

       Vintage S$29.90

       Picador S$23.80

Why is Borders, Singapore, changing 22 percent more for the Vintage edition?

Why does Borders, Singapore, employ the pricing formula of (2 x US listed retail price) when the foreign currency exchange rate is S$1.525 to US$1?

The cost of shipping it from US to Singapore does not constitute a valid reason. Books are also shipped and trucked across USA, and yet prices remain relatively similar throughout the continent.

To add insult to injury, is selling the Vintage edition at US$10.85 or S$16.55. Now I know why Inferno Ed prefers to compile a catalog of orders before having them shipped together from Nevada. Even with shipping, it often ends up being cheaper than purchasing from Borders, Singapore.

For added fun, try paying with cash the next time you purchase from Borders, Singapore, and then returning within 14 days to claim a refund. They apparently have an unwritten store policy whereby cash purchases cannot be refunded, only converted to store credit. Curiously, this detail is absent from the back of the receipt and the stated return policy on the wall.

Calvin Ball, anyone?

The damndest lie

       'Mother and Father so very disappoint,' he said quietly. 'So they stop talk.'
       Then he sat up and pointed to one of the slatted sun-blinds at that moment hanging partially down over a window. We children, he said, were like the twine that kept the slats held together. A Japanese monk had once told him this. We often failed to realise it, but it was we children who bound not only a family, but the whole world together. If we did not do our part, the slats would fall and scatter over the floor.

[ . . . ]

       'Like that blind there' — I pointed — 'if the twine broke. Everything might scatter.'
       Uncle Philip stared at the blind I had indicated. Then he rose, went to the window and touched it gently.
       'Everything might scatter. You might be right. I suppose it's something we can't easily get away from. People need to feel they belong. To a nation, to a race. Otherwise, who knows what might happen? This civilisation of ours, perhaps it'll just collapse. And everything scatter, as you put it.'

Monday, May 21, 2007


An arm hanging out the window of a car: a Livestrong™ bracelet around the wrist, and a burning cigarette in hand.

A fast food customer who orders 3 Big Macs, supersized French Fries, and a Diet Coke.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Aww... Thanks, Scoobs!

A page from the past: Scooby and I escaping from the dungeons of the evil campus bookshop, and fleeing the E. coli clutches of the villain, Star-stained Scott.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On this day

Do not act as if you would live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you.

(Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mephistopheles collects his due

Lynchburg, Virginia — On May 15, 2007, after missing a morning appointment, Jerry Falwell was found unconscious in his office and was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. Doctors discovered he had no pulse but were later assured by ministry staffers that this was normal for Falwell. An unnamed source reported that Falwell later woke up long enough to cry out, "Flames! It's all flames!" before lapsing back into unconsciousness. At 12:40 PM EST, when it became clear that more than two hours had elapsed without the televangelist seeking more donations to fund his mansions and private jet, or blaming the September 11, 2001 attacks on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, and lesbians, doctors pronounced Falwell dead, a spokesman for Lynchburg General Hospital said.

I guess Jerry Falwell just became a member of the "Silent Majority."

Frauds and hypocrites deserve no respect.
Falwell was no religious conservative: he was a charlatan, a heretic, and a swindler.

Enjoy trudging around in a lead gilded cloak in the Eighth Circle of Hell for all eternity, Jerry.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hakkaa päälle!

Click on the image for a panorama of a Finnish military exercise.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Like salamanders we survive in his fire

It's too difficult to say, for me. And even my sense of identity was wrapped in a namelessness often hard to penetrate... And so on for all the other things which made merry with my senses... when already all was fading, waves and particles, there could be no things but nameless things, no names but thingless names. I say that now, but after all what do I know now about then, now when the icy words hail down upon me, the icy meanings, and the world dies too, foully named. All I know is what the words know, and the dead things, and that makes a handsome little sum, with a beginning, a middle and an end as in the well-built phrase and the long sonata of the dead. And truly it little matters what I say, this, this or that or any other thing. Saying is inventing. Wrong, very rightly wrong. You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson, the remnants of a pensum one day got by heart and long forgotten, life without tears, as it is wept. To hell with it anyway. Where was I.

President Bush and the Queen

We fought a revolution for this?

3 May 2007
by Ray McAllister

From: Jefferson, Thomas
Sent: 5/3/2007 7:35 AM
To: my 21st Century Virginia friends
Subject: Her Majesty's visit

Dearest Friends, I write to you upon the occasion of today's visit to the Capitol at Richmond by Her Majesty the Queen, writing as I am within the sound of a marching drum regiment that practices for her Arrival.

And on something called a Laptop. (Which I must admit has proven a Great Convenience, not requiring the continual dipping into ink as my writing quill hath done, although it doth incorporate something called "SpellChecker," an Annoyance that insists upon removal of the ending "e" from many of my words).

This is a great time for our beloved Commonwealth, as it nears the 400th anniversary of the British settlement of our continent at James Towne. I would be falsely modest were I not to add that I am pleased by the completed restoration on this Occasion of the Capitol building which I designed and which I hope Virginia's citizens hold as dear as do I for its Symbolism to the great cause of Democracy.

Yet I fear we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by today's Festivities and general Gaiety.

Our young colony struggles with greater Issues of Life and Death and with Lesser Ones such as the acquisition of greater bonding authority for transportation; it doth behoove us to move quickly so as to keep the I-95 corridor a viable transportation link for the greater East Coast.

Yet much of the Publick Attention has been turned of late to issues of a Lotterie merely to see Her Majesty for a few moments or of a "Webcaste" for those who do not win such a Lotterie. Moreover, Publick Discourse itself has been spent on the issue of whether it is required of gentle ladies, or merely proper of them, to wear hats within the presence of Her Majesty.

Fellow Citizens, have we forgotten? We have risen up against this very Monarchy, defeating it at great Cost and throwing off its Yoke of Imperialism that we may be Free. Why then must we engage in Idolatry upon a mere visit by a member of the vanquished Monarchy?

Moreover, must we idle our Government workers for a full day, at an Expense of 11 million dollars, to do so? I am told reliably that the British government spends more than 37 million pounds a year, or nearly the equivalent of 75 million dollars in our own currency, on sustaining its Royal Familie, an entity whose only duties are ceremonial ones of little Import, or ones of such Dubious Nature as to feed the tabloids' unending desire for Gossip.

Gladly, we have not availed ourselves of this wasteful foolishness in our own Nation; when we have an international need for ceremonial ambassadors, we merely send our former Presidents Bush and Clinton, as fitting a pair of Emissaries as any Royal couple has ever been and costing a considerably lesser amount.

We should treat our Royal Visitors today with Respect; nothing less is required, but no more.

It has been explained to me that a great many of our Citizens are most favorably disposed to a visitation by Her Majesty, said to be a splendid individual exhibiting all personal Refinements, particularly now that she has been portrayed so favorably in the Cinema. That is understandable; however, any thinking American could be forgiven for wondering, who Exactly does she think she is?

Elliott Yamin?



Much outrage have been expressed over President Bush's faux pas during the Queen's visit . I.e. almost implying that the latter is over 200 years old, and then winking at the monarch. Here's the other side of it:

Her Majesty really brings the peasant out in some people.

Some like Bush try to treat her like a human being, perhaps he should have followed the decorum set down and adored by those who love to bow and scrape. Those are the real peasants.

I have very little respect for her for a lot of reasons and the idea that one (as an individual) is disrespecting the British people if one disses the queen is ridiculous.

The old parasite needs a bit of shaking up, good for Bush.

I will never understand the fawning and scraping that the 'queen' brings out in people.

Good on Bush for treating her just like another person.

About time someone did that.

(Tony D.)

The royal family disses itself on a regular basis, doesn't it?


Indeed, no one proves the truth about the royals quite like the royals themselves.

(Tony D.)

Who cares about some 150 year old? She should be grateful W just tolerated her and honoured her by being present in some random function with her. This dumb wig wearing hasn't done anything worthwhile *ever*, yet people expect her to be treated like some god or something. Off to your little island.

(Brad Kirkpatrick, Chicago)

I can't understand the way you civilized men crawl on your bellies before any copper-riveted ass who happens to sit on a jeweled chair with a bauble on his head.

(Conan the Barbarian)


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Eve's bitchin' new ride

Click on the image or here for the specs.

The only thing faster is an EVO...

You haven't pick a name yet, gal!


Supersize Me

My fat brother (who loves to eat feed) sent me some rather unusual pictures of a restaurant in Germany. Café und Restaurant Waldgeist is located in Hofheim. They are known for their huge portions. Check out the pictures.


       I hope the tables are clean.

       Where's the surgeon general's warning?

       Any idea how many points Weight Watchers gives this entrée?

       Can one get exhausted from eating?

       The price of failure: leftovers for the next few days.

       Sexual references during this course should be verboten.

       "Now that's what I call 'Man Meat!'"

       You just made the lady lose her appetite, Budd.

Those across the pond are not left out: check out the burgers from Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Pennsylvania.

       Not a Photoshopped image.


       The bun is the size of the sourdough loaf I take a week to consume.

       This image adds a whole new dimension to "onion rings."

The Ye' Olde 96er Grand Challenger Burger. It has a 6 lbs (2.73 kg) beef patty, and another 5 lbs (2.28 kg) of garnishing.

For the saner — as well as the totally insane — the restaurant offers other burger sizes.

They even have challenges for the truly hungry, gluttonous, or demented.

No prizes awarded for correctly guessing where my brother is heading next  :-D

Monday, May 07, 2007

Might is Right

Congratulations to Nicolas Sarkozy, the 23rd President of France.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cultural immersion

The Chinese eat everything in the water except submarines; everything in the air except airplanes; everything that crawls upon the earth except tanks; everything with legs except furniture; what is inedible is called medicine and ingested anyway.

Typical market in Beijing:

         Deep-fried Starfish.

         Deep-fried Seahorse.

         Stewed Sea Urchin.

         Grilled Baby Shark.

And who can forget the slaughter of Whale Sharks, depicted in the second half of a previous post?

Some thoughts to keep in mind the next time some Chinese Culture Chauvinist (CCC) pig — with much (misguided) fervor and spittle — launches on a tract about the supposed superiority of their values.

Huayu Cool indeed. (Check out the site. The last sentence of the final paragraph is a scream.)