Wow. There has been so much in space-related news this month about which I wanted to discuss but, events affecting our little lives down on this pathetic spinning ball of mud have constantly seemed to change my focus.
Case in point: When Cassini-Huygens finally reached the planet Saturn after a trip of nearly a billion friggin' miles, our attention was not focussed on this awesome achievement, our gaze was not lifted to the heavens, our hearts were not light, and our imagination was not working triple shifts in the glory of exploration.
Nope. Sadly, our collective attention was focussed upon a pathetic little sort of man likely exhibiting the signs of neurotic and paranoid mental disorders associated with a life lived in meglomania yet, in the end having nothing but a recent haircut, a cheap suit and a borrowed memo pad. The location of the excitement was not even as spectacular as the grandeur of the ancient Roman Coliseum. It was only a nondescript office-like court room in Baghdad. Nonetheless, through the singular gaze of a small television camera whose non-blicking HAL-9000 vision was transmitted around the entire planet to nearly any citizen who wanted it, we all were able to drool over the spectacle and participate in the salacious game like a Roman hoping the lion would tear the wild-eyed and frightened slave to utter hunks of bloody flesh.
While I often prefer to look at events like this one with a sarcastic eye, I'm as guilty as anyone else for having this regrettable passion of baser delights. Beyond the fiction of film, I also delight in the spectacle and the shock: in police chases viewed from the helicopter or dash camera, in Girls Gone Wild, and Las Vegas casinoes exploding in demolition.
But, if that's the case, then we must admit to ourselves that we are also stimulated by the same things rarely publicly admissable in a polite society. I stared awestruck at the live footage from the ground when the fast moving wall cloud of gray death seemed to turn the corner and overtake New Yorkers fleeing for their lives on the street when the massive 100 story buildings of the WTC towers collapsed. I was completely mesmerized.
We freely use terms like Shock and Awe, as if we were casually penning the title of a movie script, when in fact many fellow human beings died that night and day at the hands our military, directed by our leaders, presumably doing our bidding. In the comfy Laz-y-Boy of our own private, modern Roman gallery, we can drool at the hunks of bloody flesh in this troubling game seemingly in which we have chosen to participate and then judge the poor bastards on the business-end of the television cameras with an orange, Cheetos-stained thumbs-down.
Well, enough of me taking my own advice (on introspection). I did want to point out some space-related items before our next major mass media distraction, the official release of the 9/11 report, because some very cool things are actually happening out there. So, unlike the preceding somber introspection, it's that happy, happy Pee-Wee's Playhouse-like time where I get to be humorous and informative. And guess what? The only price you have to pay for this infotainment is some small endurance of me making fun of you in some sarcastic way with unusually long sentences. So let's get started.
Typically, if right at this very moment, you're just staring blankly at your monitor after having just come from the Brittney chat room as your idea of a productive online experience, you could always just actually move your hairy, bloated index finger a few millimeters and burn a few calories by clicking through some of the handy-fucking-dandy links I bother to put in here for you in some futile hope that it might raise your bovine intelligence quotient a point or two. Or, not. I honestly don't care if you have read this far while mindlessly chewing your artifically nacho cheese-flavored, toasted corn chip cud. But, for you smarter kids, here's some info for your next book report.
I began today by mentioning Cassini-Huygens. The mission is to go to Saturn and its moons. Tell the stupid-looking one breathing pizza breath over your shoulder, "Saturn is that big planet with the rings." Here are some interesting things I just recently learned about Saturn because back when I was in school, I was typically skipping science class, sitting in my friend's Bat Mobile or his brother's Jeep in the school parking lot, and passing around a fatty:
Saturn has 31 moons. That's a bit excessive, don't you think? Saturn has as many little moons hanging around it as Michael Jackson has potential litigants circling him during Pet the Monkey day at Wonderland. Saturn's largest moon is Titan and it is bigger than our own moon, or even the planet Mercury. And it has something neither of them have -- an atmosphere. But, I guess that's like comparing Roseanne Barr, Oprah, and Wilson Phillips and saying the one can sing. Yeah, so?
Since Titan has an atmosphere, it's the big moon to check out. All the other moons are only road side souvenir stands selling cheap plastic keychain alligators made in China compared to this Disney franchise of a moon. Cassini-Huygens is going to spend the next four years checking out the Saturnian system. Cassini is the orbiter and Huygens is the probe. If it'll help you remember which is which, just think about Starsky and Hutch go to space. Owen Wilson is the tall, affable one with the all-american good looks and boyish charm, and Ben Stiller is, well, a troubling person to watch in any movie. Maybe that wasn't helpful. Think of it this way: Huygens is going to check out Titan and is leaving Cassini in the car.
Nevermind. Go back to your Brittney chat room. Besides, Mark Kate and Ashley turned 18 this year and they're double your fantasy and twice the franchise of that iconic mouseketeer. But, I guess if you find this space stuff interesting like I do, you can just go to JPL. Me? I'm going to the pool, floating around on my back, and watching some clouds drift by overhead.
I feel compelled to follow up on the entry from earlier this month, Drunken Bush God.
Pilot accused of being drunk pleads guilty to misdemeanor
Guess what?! It's a different plastered pilot from a different commercial airline! That's why I say, "You Can't Make This Shit Up!".
According to the AP in USA Today: "A former Virgin Atlantic Airways pilot arrested on charges of showing up drunk for work has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Richard Harwell, 55, was arrested Dec. 19 at Washington Dulles International Airport, about 40 miles west of Washington, D.C. At the time, authorities said security screeners smelled liquor on Harwell's breath before the pilot was scheduled to fly 400 people to London on a Boeing 747."
That's just bloody great, eh governor? Why not check to see if Osama bin Laden is driving the triple decker bus tour around Picadilly Circus now, hmm?
"A jury found minister Ray Hemphill guilty of felony child abuse Friday after he suffocated an 8-year-old child during an exorcism at his strip mall-based church. Hemphill stared wide-eyed at County Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto as she read the verdict, but he did not speak or betray emotion. DiMotto set bail at $10,000, and Hemphill was handcuffed and led from the courtroom."
Okay, so I'm satisfied. It only took the jury 4 hours to decide.
"Terrance's mother, Patricia Cooper, and two other parishioners helped to restrain the child during the exorcism on the night of Aug. 22, 2003. They were allowed not to testify during the trial after successfully pleading the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination. Cooper did not return to the church after her son's death, and she sat on the opposite side of the gallery from the two female parishioners, Monica Tarver and Tamara Tolefree, who joined the defendant's family behind the defense table. McCann has not decided whether he will charge the three women for their role in Terrance's death."
Just in case you think I'm just picking on BACs -- this popped up as a 'related' Googlative advertisement when I searched for exorcism on The Smoking Gun:
You can buy some cool new age stuff for this pesky little problem at Deep Trance Now. While Spirit Depossession is listed under the Esoteric category with two of my other favorite things, Invisibility and Shape Shifting, you can get some stuff for it. Here's part of the Deep Trance Now lowdown on Evil Spirits:
"Sometimes a deceased person may remain earthbound due to certain addiction. A person who liked to drink, upon dying, may charge to the nearest bar. The problem is now he doesn't have a physical body, so the only way to satisfy the urge for alcohol is by possessing someone else's body."
Holy shit do I know about this! If only he could have done a Ghost maneuver and dropped a quarter in the pay telephone for a taxi cab for me when I was cross-eyed and drooling on myself, now that would have been great. I'm no Demi Moore, I guess. But maybe there was something else going on with me at the bar, like Deep Trance NowInvisibility:
"There were times when I worked in the office or at the casino and needed a break. I'd use one of the the invisibility techniques and even though all the tables around me were crowded, no one would come to my table - as if it weren't there. Sometimes I'd be in a room full of people and sometimes just for the fun of it, other times for some specific reason, I'd use one of the invisibility techniques and pass by unnoticed. It would be really interesting when I'd be sitting on a couch and someone would be looking for me and be unable to see me."
That explains why I could sit belly-up to bar for hours and no one would talk to me, until I decided they could. Either that, or I'm no Patrick Swayze.
Actually, I remember using a psychological invisibility technique to ride around Germany for free on their trains all the time. Here's the JfZ ride-for-free ruse. The conductor guy would walk the entire length of the train during the time in between stops at the various towns on the route. When I would board the train, I would immediately go to the dining car. I'd simply scan the car for a booth where someone had just vacated it but, where the busboy hadn't yet cleared away the dishes and food. I'd simply sit down in the 'used' booth, pull the half dozen cigarette butts that I'd bring along from my pocket and put them in the ashtray. Then I'd light up a cigarette butt, leave it smoldering in the ashtray, pick up a fork or the coffee cup, and just stare out the window when the conductor guy walked into the dining car. He was looking for new people. Oftentimes, I could see in the window's reflection that he would pause and stare at me. Common sense would cause him to deduce I must have been there quite a while so he would keep on walking. The key was never make eye contact. It always worked.
Since I'm usually ranting about free speech and privacy, I generally leave it up to others to rant about the 2nd amendment. I totally support the second amendment but, I'm just not learned enough to be an ardent spokesman for it.
Duke at Dukesville is the person I look to for this issue. I'm just a pixel monkey, really. If you want a cool dukesville button, just right-click the graphic and select save-as. If you want the countdown above it, follow the link and get it from their site (so it will be update for you).
You can reload your weapon with my slightly editted link list of web sites I found on the AWbansunset site:
Second Amendment groups and information sites:
RKBA.ORG - Right To Keep And Bear Arms, hosted by Jeff Chan NRA - National Rifle Association, the preeminent SA group in America GOA - Gun Owners of America, another strong SA group Armed Females of America - Very efficacious SA group Firearms Coalition - Hosted by Neal Knox and his pro-SA group Packing.Org - Best Concealed Carry (CCW) information site on the web, hosted by Mark Solomon GMJ Enterprises - More CCW information, this site is hosted by the venerable Jim Mayhugh. Women to Arms – More women fighting for SA rights Oregon Council on Firearm Rights – Oregon fighting the AW ban and other anti-gun issues Keep And Bear Arms – The gun owners' home page! Also, home to the Coalition Against the Semi-Auto Ban
Firearms sites - Pro-SA folks and information: AR15.COM - The infamous boards for the AR afficionado, hosted by Edward and Juan Avila. Ammo Oracle - The AR15 ammunition FAQ, hosted by the Troy Tiscareno. The Firing Line - Forums of info, buy, sell, and trade weps. Hosted by Rich Lucibella. Glock Talk - Another great board where folks can discuss handguns, namely the Glock line.
Firearms manufacturer and vendor sites:
I left the Hypno Toad up to mesmerize and irritate all of us long enough now. I feel a little grouchy after my toad buzz. I have multiple rants knotting up in my soul like acid reflux. So, if I were you, I would say a few Hail Mary's, kiss the cross, and duck -- because my head has stopped twirling around, it's 3:00 A.M, I'm drinking coffee and I'm about to projectile vomit in your direction.
Look, we all love Martha. She helped kick off the 2004 Forehead Logo Branding here at Thunderstorms around the new year. Back in the beginning of March of this year, we talked about this Brady Bunch era icon when she was found guilty. I even gave you a Martha Stewart Living ID and password to check out her corporate web site and maintain your anonymity so you wouldn't have to explain to the other people around you why you're receiving tips on folding linen or on sprucing up a friggin' rumpus room.
So now, Martha has finally been sentenced with five months. Every possible permutation of the Martha story is back in the news. She is scheduled to appear on CNN's Larry King Live, Monday at 9pm. I'll probably watch the show just to see what further clueless and inappropriate thing may come leaping forth from her heavily medicated mind. I heard she inadvertantly compared herself to Nelson Mandela in a recent interview on ABC's 20/20 with Bah-bah Wah-wah:
"I could do it. I'm a really good camper. I can sleep on the ground. There are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela."
Oh, Martha! Can you see now why we make fun of you?
Before you try to point out to me what a mean-spirited bastard I am, know this: I know I am. If you've been paying attention at all, you humorless idiot, you'd also know I don't care what you think of about me. Feel free to join me in my daily chant, "I hate everybody and everything. I hate everything about everybody." Never forget that this includes you. Now that we know where we stand, I can share with you my most recent favorite Martha Stewart articles: