Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Son-in-law duty

My mother-in-law called me a short while ago, with a tight, constrained voice asking me if I could head over to her house as quickly as possible. Her two small dogs had cornered a rat in her living room, and she was on the verge of freaking out. (my mother-in-law, not the rat).

I got there, and sure enough, there was a big fucking rat, just leaving via the open door. I'm no expert, but it was a healthy adult rattus norvegicus from the blueish/brown blur that I saw, which was definitely about 10 inches of body, and, oooh, 10 more inches of tail. (That's the part that makes my wife shudder.) I found the probable route that it took into the kitchen through a hole in the drywall, and blocked it with something heavy. Unfortunately, they didn't have any steel wool. You gotta go with the steel wool.

Checking on wikipedia later, I was amazed to find out that their little hearts beat 300 to 400 times a minute. I'm thinking this little guy was topping out on the high end on the scale once he realized he had followed some delectable scents until he was smack dab in the middle of a small tiled kitchen with two hyperactive dogs racing in after him. If he followed the path inside that I think he did, the pantry door would have closed behind him just as he made that discovery, forcing some hasty improvisation on his part.

When I got back, my wife tried to convince me, once again, that her family's pathological fear of rodents was actually not a phobia, but are well-founded on a wide variety of historical and scientific facts. Apparently something bad happened to a baby somewhere. Or maybe that was the poor kid in The Jungle. I kind of tuned her out while she was talking about their fat, ugly tails.

This reminds me of the novel I just finished and mostly enjoyed. A terrified, but curious rat plays a key role in the shaggy dog tale at the center of Schrödinger 's Ball, a hard-to-classify comic novel that takes as a starting point of its plot Schrödinger 's semi-dead cat in a box. It is not science fiction, by conventional expectations; but it really only does make sense if you had a technical background, or you're really willing to crank the google while going through it.

It's also a very male novel, in that the women are all beautiful, and described in highly detailed, luscious, panting glory. On the other hand, the men are all male and wear pants or something. Luckily for me, I like male-oriented comic novels about technical subjects, e.g., Cryptonomicon, or hell, anything that Neal Stephenson has ever written. Although Schrödinger 's Ball doesn't measure up to Stephenson, if you like one, I'll lay odds you will like the other.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bob Dole, presidential floater, now circling the bowl

Hey, this place is nice. Whoa, was that Melanie Griffith?!

It looks like McCain has not just gone too far, but has been correctly perceived as going too far:

In short order, John McCain has gone from Republican presidential front-runner to political death watch. On Wednesday, the Arizona senator kicks off a month of high-profile events, seeking a resurrection of sorts.

He badly needs it. Mr. McCain just reported raising $12.5 million for the first-quarter -- behind Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, as well as Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Most analysts won't go so far as to bury Mr. McCain, citing his Republican rivals' own baggage: Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani are suspect among social conservatives for their records supporting abortion and gay rights, and gun control. But the one-time GOP front-runner clearly had a very bad week.

He went from bold to ridiculous in his statements on the war, then he made himself into Dukakis in the tank overnight by going to an Iraqi market with 100 soldiers, ten armored humvees, and five attack helicopters as cover.

From the Think Progress video and summary of the video piece:
60 Minutes host Scott Pelley noted that McCain had been a fierce critic of Donald Rumsfeld but seems to "give President Bush a pass." McCain responded, "I say that he is responsible and I will continue to say that he is responsible. Should I look back in anger? Or should I look forward?"
Look back? Look forward? No, no, instead, you should drop the feel-good psychobabble and retreat into the complete, shamed anonymity that only someone who has publicly sold their soul for higher office can achieve. You should be shunned by everyone with a decent breath in them. You should nod sadly when children gasp and run away when they see your pasty, wormlike face. You should drop off the face of the fucking earth, you contemptible, maggoty toad.

21 people died in Iraq because you wanted to sound positive and upbeat about this wreckless, needless, lost war. Ambushed, executed. 21 real, live people. Payback for your little talking point, the one you now blithely dismiss as the time you "misspoke" and talk about how much fun it would be if you didn't have to, you know, talk the truth responsibly like a goddamn senator should. You thoughtlessly chose to trade nifty photo ops against people who kill innocent people to make their points. You lose the PR point completely, you international jackass, and other people died in the bargain.

You thought you'd be clever and recommend a "surge" in Iraq because it would position you so well for the 2008 primaries. With the war lost, you could argue that if only they had listened to you earlier, all would be milk and honey in the former Mesopotamia. You didn't think that your moronic plan would sound pretty good to the Moron in Chief, and now, where are we? Planning to bring home more dead soldiers, more young men without limbs, more young women with plates in their heads.

Is there is nothing you will not say, do, or endure to be president? In 2000, Karl Rove, the chief minister of poison for the idiot king you now refuse to criticize, paid for a push poll where your own adopted daughter was used in a racist attack on you to sabotage you in the South Carolina primaries. You were angry about it with Bush, briefly, then you did everything you could to keep this unworthy man in office in 2004. Even now, you refuse to attack him, despite losing the war, despite wrecking the armed forces. He attacked your own daughter, and you hugged him on stage in 2004 like you were a fucking muppet, you craven, pathetic sycophant.

Bob Dole is another former military officer who had achieved honor in his military and years of service as a senator, then he lost it all in a minute with a sad, meaningless 1996 campaign for president. Now he can't even get an ad on tv pushing boner pills.

Feh. John McCain, you are irredeemable. Just go the fuck away. Resign your office and go live somewhere quietly with your rich trophy wife, and never, ever opine in public again.

photos by the incomparable Water Tiger at

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why am I still posting here?

Well, it's a fair question. First, blogger has stopped asking me the specific questions that were freaking me out. Second, boy, have I been busy.

In fact, I've spent the last four days recovering from the first part of last week, where, at its peak, I got 10 hours of sleep over a 60 hour period. Whatever it is that I do at whatever company, I released some software that been 10 months in the womb. The risk was extremely high, and so it was an all-hands effort to deliver this bad boy, with four of us working an overnight shift and six of us coming in at three a.m. It worked, to our immense relief.

Now there is a glimmer of hope that my job will start to suck less, starting this week.

Arcade Fire

I love Arcade Fire, and their 2005 Album, Funeral, was an instant classic. Their latest album is growing on me a bit slower, but I haven't given up.

Here they are performing "Wake Up" with David Bowie at some Hollywood shindig.

The person who posted this video makes the bold statement that "if you don't cry watching this, you are dead inside." That's extreme and unsupportable, of course; but there is something primal about the earnest way that Arcade Fire sings all of their songs that does choke me up. They sing of about childhood illusions of death or eternal love as if they were grown-up children just now making the realizations and compromises of adulthood.

Here they are performing "Rebellion (Lies)" at Coachella in the Spring of 2005, where I saw them live for the first time. I'm not even a bouncing dot in the video, since I was by the sound-booth, not even shown in this video. It was a great, great show from a terrific band.

Although this is just one song, it does give a good flavor of their live presence: a full-on, wall-of-sound presentation with a miked string section, multiple drummers, and a band where everyone sings their fucking heart out. It also shows a little bit of the rough-housing between the band members, which was as out of control as you see here for every song. Fun stuff.

Updated: for clarity.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hilary on Barack Obama

Here's an animated song about Mr. Obama by Ms. Clinton concerning 2008. Flash, 2 minutes.

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