Feb 292008

I tell you what: you get these astro-types wound up, and they get one hell of a power trip going.

As you know, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto in 2006, reclassifying it as a dwarf planet and instantly obsoleting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of science fair projects worldwide.

So now National Geographic holds a solar system mnemonic contest including this new classification of “dwarf planet” and the three known examples, including the recently stripped Pluto. A Montana schoolgirl named Maryn Smith came up with the winner: “My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants” for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres (which used to be just an asteroid), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and, um…Edwina. Yeah, that’s it. Dwarf Planet Edwina.

Yeah, well, all y’all just shove it up your asses.  (The astronomers, not the contest winner.)

It’s like you got drunk with the power. You got to (holy shit) demote a planet, so now you’re going to fuck with the solar system every year? “Hey, let’s have a mnemonic contest and throw the dwarves in there! Woohoo, we are having some big fun now!”

Nope. Not playing. There are eight planets. You said so when you demoted Pluto. You can score your federal grants and wax philosophical about focal lengths and tell puns with “Kepler” in the punchline and grope each other’s naughty bits in the maintenance closet and whatever else you funsters do, but you don’t get to be in the news all the time. I mean, sheesh, the article above says there may be as many as 200 “dwarf planets” in our solar system, just awaiting discovery (and, one would presume, new mnemonics).

Stop the madness. Eight planets.

 Posted by at 10:00 pm
Feb 282008

Get your brain around it. One of every one hundred adults in the United States is in jail or prison. That’s more than anywhere else in the world.

Now I’m quite certain some countries would be ahead of us in the count were they absent the habit of just killing folks. Still, it’s disturbing. A couple of questions that came immediately to my mind:

  • Think any of them are non-violent drug offenders?
  • Think any of them are the result of ineffective laws, mindlessly passed to demonstrate “getting tough on crime” to a bleating electorate?

If nothing else has destroyed my chances, this will:  as President of the United States, I would pardon all non-violent marijuana convicts on my first day in office. If that’s as little as 3% of the prison population, that’s 69,000 people.  Then we’d get to work on the rest of it. The asset forfeiture, the violence, the clogged legal system…they’re all disasters.

Certainly there are valid roles for government regulation here. I don’t think there is even a remotely reasonable case for making cocaine and heroin as available as bread and milk, for example.

But the “War on Drugs,” in its current manifestation, is a complete failure. I no longer question whether the cure is worse than the illness. I know it is. It’s past time for rational discussion on life beyond it.

 Posted by at 6:16 pm
Feb 272008

We lost a great thinker, author, and American hero today.

So many will say so much more, and so much better, than I ever could, so I’ll keep it short.  He stood athwart history yelling “Stop!”, apparently until his last breath, given that he died in his study.

I admire his nearly unbelievable list of accomplishments.  I hold many of the views he held.

I am most in awe of his writing and speaking abilities.  I believe that this morning, we lost the single greatest user of the English language of the past century, and one of the most comprehensive masters of it of all time.  It is simply not possible to command a language any more capably.

I’m thankful that so much of his work remains for me to explore.

Thank you, Mr. Buckley.  RIP.

 Posted by at 5:46 pm
Feb 262008

Do you know what I almost posted tonight? Do you know what I would have posted tonight, had I not gotten too lazy/tired to hunt the images and write the smartass blurbs?

The top ten hottest women on Dallas.

I was Dallas‘s bitch. The recent TNN reruns amply demonstrated that my affection for the show was at least a bit misguided. And I’m just the sort of melodramatic, in-denial, living-in-the-past fellow to rank the top ten Dallas babes after it’s been off the air for most of two decades.

(I trimmed the list from sixteen nominees, too.)

I’m not going to tell you who the winner is, in case I do decide to make it a real post one night. Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing is #7. There’s a bone for you.

 Posted by at 10:59 pm
Feb 252008

This is a Mrs. Chili original. Some of us gently ribbed her on a particularly feminine meme she had answered, so she wrote this one for the guys. Whew—it took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would. There are some good questions here.

1. Boxers? Briefs? Boxer briefs? Thongs? Commando?

2. What’s your fussiest personal care routine?
Shaving/trimming, probably.

3. Do you have a favorite tool? Power or manual?
Several years ago I accidentally won a Bosch rotary hammer on eBay. I’ve gradually accessorized with bull points, standard bits, a clay spade, a ground rod driver, and probably a couple of things I’m forgetting. It’s probably my favorite single tool. I don’t often have a use for it, but when I do, it generally saves hours.

4. Can you change your own oil? Do you?
Yes. Yes.

5. What’s the “manliest” thing you do on a regular basis?
I don’t know. Drink beer? Watch an unnecessarily large television?

6. What’s something “manly” that you never learned how to do?
I usually have a lot of trouble with knots.

7. Do you ever cry? If so, what’s your trigger?
Sure. Sometimes I cry at movies. Sometimes the boys make me cry.

8. Do you have a chivalrous streak? How does it manifest itself?
Yes. I hold doors, (offer to) carry things, and the like. I won’t sit when a woman is standing.

9. Do you have a chauvinistic streak? How does it manifest itself?
No. Chauvinism is defined as a belief of inherent superiority, which I do not hold. A few comments:

Some say chivalry is chauvinistic. If you hold such a view, see the previous question.

I don’t pass anything like professionalism, intelligence, and the like through any sort of gender filter. People are people. That said, here are two potentially interesting things about me:

  • Generally I hold men more responsible for marital infidelity than women.
  • When I meet a woman for the first time in a professional environment, I shake her hand just as I would shake a man’s hand. However, suppose we then spend a few hours together working on something, or in a class, or whatever. When it’s time to leave, if we’ve developed non-trivial rapport, then I will shake her hand, but also bring my other hand over hers briefly. It’s automatic and without thought, and I would never do that to a man. I can understand how that might offend. (I don’t think it ever has.)

10. What’s your favorite movie?
2001: A Space Odyssey.

11. What’s the dumbest, testosterone-inspired thing you’ve ever done?
Probably pass on the shoulder at 100 mph at night on a crowded I-75 southbound headed into Atlanta. I don’t think it’s something I would have done without two buddies in the car to “impress.”

12. What quality do you think makes a good man good? Do you have that quality?
Integrity. I try hard.

13. Toilet seat up or down?
I’ve never had trouble remembering to put it down when I’m finished.

14. If your wife/partner/significant other is away, do you cook for yourself or eat out of cans and boxes (or rely on local drive-throughs and delivery)?
Once in a great while I’ll cook, but I usually eat something frozen.

15. What societal expectation of being a man do you most resent?
Oh, I don’t know. Seems like I’m expected to be superficially competitive from time to time, and that seems to be a man thing.

16. What’s the best part – societal-wise – about being a man?
Well, it’s more than a little convenient being able to urinate just about anywhere.

17. Will you stop to ask for directions?
If I’m lost, sure I’ll stop. But with the Internet, a GPS receiver, and the like, how often is anyone really lost anymore? I can’t remember the last time I was.

18. What’s the one thing you wish your wife/partner/significant other understood about how you think or behave?
19. What’s one thing about your wife/partner/significant other that you just cannot understand, no matter how hard you try?

I’ll take these together.

I don’t spend any time thinking in these terms about Lea, and I don’t think she does about me. The way it works, as best as I can understand so far, is: 1) make sure you’re synchronized on the big things like values and aspirations; 2) commit to the relationship deeply and sincerely; and 3) don’t sweat the small stuff.

I think any disconnections Lea and I have are firmly in the realm of small stuff. It doesn’t mean they never irritate us, but it does mean we assign them no lasting significance. Consequently, I’ll end my answer here.

20. What do you need to have in the shower?
Soap and shampoo. Used to use conditioner, but my hair’s been really short for quite some time now and it’s not been necessary.

21. Do you burp/fart/scratch in public? Do you do anything stereotypically male?
Well, I try not to. Of the three activities named, I’d be most likely to try to sneak a scratch. The second part of the question is very much like #5, is it not?

22. How big a part does porn play in your life? Your thoughts?
A minor one. No particular thoughts.

23. What scares you?
The prospect of failing as a father in some key way. The possibility that I’ve waited too long to attempt recovery of good health.

24. What’s your best feature (physical or otherwise)?
I have really sexy ulnas and tibias.

25. What would you do for love?
Anything that I could.

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
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