John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Saturday, October 09, 2004
Town Hall Tap Dance

Right Click and Rip it.  I made it for you.
Predictably, the Town Hall Tap Dance was not overly impressive as a defining moment for either U.S. Presidential candidate.  I realize this sounds immediately cynical to most of you.  However, let's take a closer look at who you might actually be.

1. You have always supported George Bush through thick and thin.  No matter how many lies, distortions, mistakes, or acts of incompetence, arrogance and corruption come out of the Bush administration, he's your buddy.  You are a Dubya-defender.  You are a Bush World cultist.  You will vote for Bush.

2. You believe George Bush already stole the 2000 presidential election and you certainly don't want him to have four more years in which to run amok with his neo-con foreign policy, his clenched sphincter cultural attitudes, or his pesky way of compassionately outsourcing your job to the third world. You're hopeful that John Kerry can turn this mess of a country around. You will vote for Kerry.

If either of those descriptions even remotely characterizes your feelings, then you already know who won Friday night's presidential debate, don't you?  If you need someone in the editorial media to back you up, you can easily find it.  If you look toward the candidates' punditry, they'll agree with your own astute assessment of the debate.  That's their job, remember?

And don't forget what the jobs of most media outlets really are -- bringing in ad revenue.  If not declaring the debate an outright tie, headlines are likely to focus on the closeness of the overall contest.  They will sell the contest, make it exciting, and make money.  It would be counter-productive and unprofitable for any media business to declare that either candidate has absolutely trounced the other one.  This election, if nothing else, is an absolute cash cow for media.

If Bush fell on his face during the first debate, the expectation by any thinking person would be that he simply had to do a little better in the second debate.  His wife could likely find some happy seratonin uptake inhibitors rolling around in the bottom of her purse like orphaned tic-tacs to help Dubya turn his nervously defensive stupidity into compassionate conservative buddy-speak.

3. You are undecided.  You watched the town hall meeting where undecided people asked questions about the issues that concerned them, but you still can't make up your mind who to vote for come November.  You tend to annoy your friends while eating out because they have to wait ten minutes while you weigh your fluctuating desire for both soup and salad.  You get nervous choosing between paper and plastic.  Not only do you shop for holiday gifts the evening before, but also then spend the holiday red-eyed and listless because it took you all night choosing the perfect wrapping paper and pretty, fluffy bow combination for each gift recipient.

If you are undecided, I encourage you to decide, rather than become apathetic.  In order to help you, I've illustrated a four step plan in Homeland Security threat level colors that you can adopt.  I respect someone who votes more than someone who succumbs to their own confusion or doesn't care enough about our country to be involved in its future.  In my opinion, you're self-centered and sociopathic, if you do nothing.

Rather than attempting to lay out articulate arguments for my own views on various issues that may be of common concern between us, let me make it simpler than that to assist you.  You can always read my take on foreign policy and important domestic policy issues.  You can boil the entire election down to an admittedly over-simplified, but hopefully clear, selection.

If you think you, your family, and our country as a whole is doing just great and can do no better -- you have to stay the course, break out the anal vaseline, and vote for Bush.  If you think the country deserves better leadership, some fresh thinking on the domestic and international problems that face all of us, and a change at the top -- you will vote for John Kerry.

Do vote for someone.  You know how I feel about apathy.  Even if you choose to take it up the ass for four more years with Dubya, I did remind you to bring vaseline, and I'll still respect you in the morning.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

Friday, October 08, 2004
Schizo Web Surfer: From Bush to Baloo the Bear

YCMTSU - Get some effin gear
Friday night, John Kerry and George Bush will debate for the 2nd time in St. Louis, Missouri.  For the 1st debate, I blogged a cynical prediction, was completely surprised after watching it and had to sarcasticly blog some post-debate highlights.  After that, I did some research about the economy and jobs, and blogged about domestic issues.  Those things are likely to come up in Friday's Presidential debate, as we didn't get very much of a preview of domestic issues from the Vice Presidential Smack Down in Cleveland.  Nonetheless, because I know you'd miss it, I dutifully percolated some of my cynicism and sarcasm to blog a VP debate parody for your personal snickering pleasure.  Let loose with a few out-loud snorts, if you feel the urge.  No one knows you are reading how Dick Cheney looked and acted like Smeagol, even if you are a hereditary Republican.

During my own schizo web surfing today, I laughed my ass off reading Saladin's call for more mud-slinging in political ads and when he started, "This is John Kerry.  He has a melty face."  I mean, honestly, develope a sense of humor about these things and unclench that right-wing sphincter once in a while.  You'll make the people around you hate you a little less and you'll be able to throw away that dusty package of chocolate laxatives I spotted the last time I snooped through your medicine chest.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you.  You also need a refill on your Zoloft prescription, too -- you silly, bouncing, socially-anxious cartoon bubble.

There are other things going on, besides the televised political truth-fest.  I think, as Americans, some of us are watching the debates in anticipation of a complete derailment by one of the candidates.  George Bush's last performance was a slow motion train wreck, I have to admit.  Other people are putting the debates into perspective and turning it into a drinking game.

On Friday, you could also raise your glasses in a toast because this person received the Nobel Peace Prize.  Or, if you're alone on a perfectly good Friday night, you could always advance your standing among your overly-achieving geeky friends by memorizing the list of people who have received the Nobel Prize in their field of expertise since 1901.  That might be cool.

Here's some easier Nobel trivia:

Besides the Peace prize awarded today, can you even name the five other fields of expertise in which a person can become a Nobel Laureate?

What was the last year that no Peace Prize was awarded?

Hint: The same year, 3 Americans shared the Nobel Prize for Physics, "for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory."

Not much of a hint?  Sorry. That was for Final Jeopardy, too.  You go home with nothing.

If you get terribly bored tonight during the presidential debate, you could always play some of the many educational games at the Nobel website.  Some of the games are suggested for users 18 years and up, too.  So, if you're under 18 years of age, be a rebel, break the rules, and learn something.

Honestly, simply reading some of the biographies of past Nobel Laureates is an inspirational history lesson.  And, you can learn quite a bit from some of the eduational games at the Nobel website.

See?  Next time someone accuses you of just downloading porn while being online, you can stun them by responding, "No, actually, I was reading the 1907 presentation speech by C.D. Wirsen when the Nobel Prize for Literature was given to Rudyard Kipling.  Did you know that he created Baloo the Bear and Mowgli from the Jungle Book series and it was originally published in 1894?"

Besides, I download porn in the background, minimized, while I'm reading something else.

[Added] via Low Rent Rat: Take 90 seconds and Listen to Congressman Tim Ryan on the House floor during the consideration of the Military Draft legislation the other day.  He gets it.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I recently got word from Jamie at Rock the Vote that the effort to register new voters in the U.S. has reached the impressive one million person mark.  Not only that, but it's growing fast.  Some 35,000 people each day are finally getting off their asses.

That's great!  Thanks to all of you who already used the Rock The Vote voter registration partnership tool that I set up here at Thunderstorms.

Another benchmark was also reached this week.  For 32 of the 50 states in the country, we've now passed the deadline date to register.  But, that still leaves 18 states that can still make a difference. 

Honestly, since this election is so important, I wouldn't leave it up to chance to see who is going to President of the United States.  So check to see when your own state's registration deadline happens.  You may still have some time to register yourself, or remind the drooling slacker next to you to register.

Just click the Register to Vote image on this page.  It's that friggin' simple.

Blog the Vote!

[Headphones] :: Get off your butt! - JfZ

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Dynamic Debate Duo

Bush/Cheney Campaign Strategy
Tuesday night, the citizens of the United States had the opportunity to see their Vice Presidential candidates debate in a casual setting.  It was a penultimate example of reality television.

It was a voyeuristic parody of PBS debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, having a dinner party from hell.  It seemed to me that she simply invited the wrong people to sit around the dinner table and have a conversation about any topic.  Poor Gwen.  It was like watching talk show host Oprah Winfrey interview motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Smeagol (Gollum) from the Lord of the Rings movie.  John Edwards was trying his hardest to instruct Dick Cheney how to make a positive change in his life; if not for himself, for the good of the country.

At the same time via the wonders of split-screen television, Dick Cheney was clearly troubled.  Recently permitted to venture out from his habitation in the infamous secure and undisclosed location for the re-election campaign season, I believe Cheney was uncomfortable with Gwen Ifill's staged lifestyle intervention with John Edwards.  Practically glowing with his concrete bunker pallor, Cheney simply slumped over the dinner table and constantly rubbed his hands together.  Watching Dick Cheney while Edwards spoke, I was on the edge of my seat in expectation that the television camera might catch him muttering, "Precious ... my precious ... it's mine."

Sadly, unlike reality television, I wasn't granted my voyeuristic fantasy of a spontaneous moment in reality.  As near as I can tell from reading the post-VP Smack Down accounts from both camps of punditry, one thing becomes clear -- reality and truth have no place settings at the dinner table of campaign politics or debates.

These important debates do offer one thing.  Since truth, in many cases, is absent from the debates, you can get a feel for a candidate's character and style, however.  You can also imagine how each political party's team would react during a real world crisis.  Imagine.  Terrorists are running rampant in Gotham.  The call goes out.  Which Dynamic Duo do you want to show up to save the day for truth, justice and the American way?

So what are the candidates' character and style?  John Kerry is experienced and seems to think about everything that comes out of his mouth.  Edwards is less experienced, but would be a loyal and dutiful sidekick.  Dick Cheney is experienced, sober and serious.  George Bush is clearly the less experienced and nervously passionate one.  He is obviously Cheney's Boy Wonder.  These presidential debates highlight a nagging problem that has haunted the George Bush administration and the GOP since 2000.  Who is really in charge?

The Bush Cheney 2004 campaign has made a terrible mistake.  They have hitched their candidates' wagon with the theme of the importance of choosing a president that can best protect us all from growing security threats that face the nation.  They think they'll win the election if they stay 'on message' and 'stay the course'.  Isn't it the definition of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome?  Iraq isn't an asset.  It's a cartoon anvil screaming down through the sky. 

I don't know about you, but if the need arises and the call goes out, I don't want the Boy Wonder showing up.  I want the real Batman to be in charge.  Come November, Cheney can retire and return to his bat cave.  Perhaps Halliburton will buy him a tanning bed.

[Headphones] :: Bush and Brando debate - JfZ

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Design Files: SpaceShipOne and Beyond

Click for more JfZ Design Files
Giorgio Armani, Ferdinand Porsche, and Frank Lloyd Wright are famous designers of the things we may use in our everyday modern life. However, what you might not know, for example, is that Ferdinand Porsche's biggest design impact on society was the Volkswagon Beetle.  The Design Files will highlight interesting design and designers.

Elbert L. Rutan, aka Burt Rutan

On June 21, 2004 Mike Melvill became the first civilian to pilot a craft into space.  Built by Burt Rutan and financed by Paul Allen, SpaceShipOne made history as the first manned, private spaceship.  On September 29th, 2004 Mike Melvill once again flew SpaceShipOne over 100km above the earth's surface, the benchmark of being in space.  Just five days later on October 4th, 2004, SpaceShipOne once again went into space flown by pilot Brian Binnie to win the $10 million Ansari X prize.

 A glimpse into the future?
Imagine for a moment that you lived about 100 years ago.  You read in your newspaper that Wilbur and Orville Wright will build one of their Flying Machines for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  It's only been five years since they tested it at Kitty Hawk.  You chuckle at their oddness and cock your head as you lay the newspaper down.  You bark, "Giddy Up!" to your trusty old nag and think about what kind of parents these two crazy brothers must have had, as your carriage growns into movement.  Just then, you're stirred from your private thoughts as one of those new-fangled Model T Fords loudly rattles past you from behind.

It remains to be seen whether Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne design becomes this new century's version of the everyman's vehicle like the Model T Ford, or the Volkswagen Beetle.  The easy answer would be to say, "of course not," but it may not be entirely correct.  First of all, you'd have to concede that neither of us can even accurately imagine the lifestyle and activities of our society 100 years from today, if the difference from the last 100 years is any indication.  Even in the limited arena of aeronautical design, I imagine few people from the time of the Wright Brothers could have predicted their peaceful night skies would become absolutely crowded with any manned flying machines, let alone commercial jet airplanes carrying hundreds of people and continually swarming around almost the entire planet, as is the case today.

Another history-making Rutan design
I don't want to sound like anyone's personal cheerleader, but Burt Rutan may be this new American century's Henry Ford.  SpaceShipOne is simply not the first and only bright idea Rutan has had, nor for that matter the only design of his that has made aeronautical history.  On December 23rd, 1987 Rutan's Voyager completed a record-breaking and historic journey.  His Voyager aircraft flew around the world, nonstop and unfueled, for just over nine straight days, nearly doubling the previous distance record set in 1962 by a USAF/Boeing B-52H.  The Rutan Voyager now hangs in the lobby of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

You can read more about Burt Rutan, his personal history and his aircraft design in an informative essay by Roger Guillemette at the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission website where I started my own browsing today.  In addition to being inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Burt Rutan continues to be involved with design.  Visit Rutan Aircraft to see what is available today or visit Scaled Composites to learn more about SpaceShipOne and perhaps see what's in store for our future generations.

[Headphones] :: Saggitarian Helium Storm - NASA

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