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Monday, September 10, 2007


new cells engrafting

briefly, since the long version just got eaten by this shitty blogger engine. it appears the new cells are engrafting and i'm growing a new immune system. thanks for your kind words and your prayers. all the best, later

Friday, August 17, 2007


Transplant starts today

Haven't posted for a good long while. Sorry about that. Anyway, I go to Presb/St. Lukes today to begin a bone marrow transplant. It's a bit risky and no fun at all. But they make a great effort to alleviate both problems. This will be an umbilical cord transplant. They take the marrow stem cells from two cords (two, because I need a lot of mass to kick start marrow growth and one cord doesn't have much at all) and inject them, following truly horrific amounts of radiation and chemo. But, I know someone who went through all this and came out smelling like a rose. I'll be talking to her now and then to reinforce my spirit. I'll try to update this blog when I feel some strength - in about 8 weeks. Wish me luck.

Monday, February 26, 2007


The Bear That Wasn't There

I've been promising this one and it'll probably seem anticlimactic by now. But I assure you it's completely true. I can't explain it. If you can, please try.
About 15 years ago I was elk hunting at my friends property near the Buckhorn Canyon west of Ft. Collins, Colorado. No elk had been seen all week. By Wednesday we were going out just for the exercise. I crossed some very old elk tracks in hard-packed snow. They were a least a couple days old. The snow pack on this ridge was extremely tight as the winds had blown violently the night before. I followed the elk just for something to do and come upon very fresh bear tracks. Very fresh. I thought it might be fun to get a look at this one. I followed the tracks for about a half-mile through pretty open country, a 15 degree incline filled with very skinny trees about eight feet apart. Suddenly the tracks just stopped. The snow was still there, just as before. There was one more step taken by the bear and then nothing. I could see ahead that the tracks didn't pick up again. I carefully walked a 50 yard circuit. I even (sheepishly) looked up into those skinny trees. Nothing. This is hard to believe but it's what happened. Soon after, a dying cousin of mine took comfort from this, but I get only puzzlement.



Leukemia's Back

What I thought was a back problem since October turns out to be a return of my leukemia. It manifested as soft tumors on my spine. Just finished the first course of chemo, will have some more, and then a marrow transplant. With success I'll be completely cured within 12 to 18 months. I'm staying optimistic and seeing this as a series of tasks to complete. That's all for now.


Friday, September 15, 2006


Muslim Compares Barney to Sauron

This piece contains the following: "Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Minister spokesman Tasnim Aslam said.
No comment necessary. Or possible.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Troll Droppings

The comments here (see previous post) are filled with the unhinged ravings of an old friend of mine. Someone who was very supportive during my late illness. We used to work together in a high-pressure, high-tech environment, and he was a very capable, multitalented, multifaceted guy - really a pleasure to know. But even then it was obvious there was a disconnect. A bunch of us would be yukking it up and enjoying ourselves and this guy would stand on the perimeter and laugh very tentatively, seemingly worried that he was a target and wasn't quite getting it. He was famous for going ballistic over imagined slights, made management earn their salaries you might say. Anyway, I've emailed him a request to take his business elsewhere, removed his link from my blogroll, and will try to cleanse his future execrances from the blog comments. However, he has a lot more energy than I do, so no promises. Sorry it's taken so long, but I'd hoped he'd tire of his sport and return to Kos or DU, where such is the norm. Also, sorry for the very light posting. I've been feeling dull and blurry for the last couple of months. Could change any day though. Check this space soon (soon meaning within the next 30 days). I'm almost ready to tell the 'bear that wasn't there' story - really the main reason I started this blog.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Iran Maps

With Iran taking up more ink and electrons these days I've copied out a couple of maps for your viewing. One is a map of major oil fields, circa 1978. Probably still pretty accurate. The other is an ethnographic map. This one suggests, no, screams, a probable strategy for anyone locked in a major war with that country. The oil is in the Arab areas (naturally) and large minorities dominate in peripheral regions, mostly in the west (the Iraq side). Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, Lurs, Baluchis and others. Iran should more properly be called the Persian Empire. If things unfold in an ugly way, these maps will help us all understand what's happening.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Two great vocalists at DU

I went to the Newman Center at Denver U. last week for a guitar recital and it was outstanding. But the most cosmic, inspiring, exquisitely beautiful (and I'm understating here) part of the experience was the aria from Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 (Heitor Villa-Lobos) sung by Kimberly Harrison. Every note an inspiration. Everyone in the room breathless, gaping in awe and delight. Afterwards I was able to chat with her very briefly as she was surrounded by admirers. She graduates on the 10th and then... well, I said 'briefly'. If you ever get a chance, drop everything and go see her. You'll never forget it. In the audience was Yvonne Underhill. I talked with her for a few minutes. Saw her a few weeks before at a jazz recital. She's just the best jazz singer I've ever heard. Golden age jazz style singing, definitely her own voice. Very pleasant and confident, she graduates on the 10th also. She told me she's got a gig at Dazzle late in July. I was unable to find it on their schedule but will try again later. FYI, their drinks are pricey. Anyway, two world-class singers right here in Denver (for now). Don't miss them. And, for god's sake, get your ass over to the Newman Center and enjoy their many free, sometimes catered, events.


Michael Rhodes and Randi Savage

Been listening to too much talk radio lately. An interesting question has popped into my head though. Would it be illegal to tie Randi Rhodes and Michael Savage together and throw them off a bridge? A really high bridge? What about a gator pool? A snake pit? That would be redundant. Okay, how about someone lock them in cargo container, put it on a ship to India, and have cameras ready when it's opened. Naw, I like India. We've got to come up with something fast here folks. My best alternative to the above is to put chewing gum in my ears. And chewing gum is bad for you.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Local Star Map

Local Star Map, originally uploaded by BertW.

This is an OLD map of our local stars. I cut it out of a sci-fi paperback decades ago and just found it again. Some of you science fiction or even astronomy readers and writers might find it useful. I'll be glad to add attribution if anyone has the info.

UPDATE: Here's a local star map that's a little bit nicer. Be sure to zoom out also.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Grandfathering Amnesty

I've been surprised by the depth of antipathy to the idea of granting amnesty to illegal aliens. Maybe we should discuss it in terms of 'grandfathering' instead. After all, we winked at the law as much as the illegals did. Given our decades-long record of lax border enforcement and practically nil workplace policing it's unfair to suddenly uproot people who've invested years in building lives here. Let's not give amnesty, let's grandfather them in. On a related note, there are actually people who huff and puff that these people break the law every day by being in this country. Let's see, can anyone remember a drug war victim (the drug war itself being a vile outrage against our freedom and dignity) being charged not only with possession but with possession on a day-to-day basis? Have trials focused on how many days the poor soul was in possession, with a new charge for every day? Jeez, these people need to get a grip.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Global Guerillas

I've added Global Guerillas to the blogroll. The latest two entries are 'Fragmentation in India' and 'U.S. Border Collapse'. Not happy reading. The authors thesis is that the nation-state is increasingly vulnerable to systems disruption by tech-savvy guerilla fighters. For instance, he's written about the Nigerians who are shutting down that countrys oil revenue by constantly attacking the pipelines. The pipelines stretch over a large area, are easy to hit, and the cost to the central government is enormous and painful. Low cost, large 'benefit' strikes are easier than ever for guerillas everywhere. Recent entries regarding Iraq are must reads and very depressing. You need to know this stuff, so take your medicine - have a look at GG.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Scalzi wonders

This was just too damn good:

Writing wrt the Bush admin: "any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice". A takeoff on Clarke's Law, of course. The whole piece is well worth your time.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Immigration and Mexican Revanchism

Wow. Using a word like 'revanchism' will get me linked to every loony Maoist and Trotskyite site on the web. Let's throw in 'imperialist running dogs' for good measure.

So the immigration issue has caught fire. We've failed to enforce the law, we need the illegals anyway, and now we're suffering buyers remorse. All the while the Mexican government is foolishly indulging in revanchist fantasies which will do nobody any good.

We have to resolve the issues at play here so the immigrants can get on with their lives, we can have a secure border and those buffoons in Mexico City can get back to looting their treasury.

Here's the solution. You can thank me later.
1) Build the damn 'wall' already. Whatever form it takes we have to enforce our borders if we want to be a real country. I haven't yet seen any wall opponents name another country that has as lax an approach as ours has been, or one that should. Do you know how brutal is the Mexico/Guatemala border?
2) After the wall is built give amnesty to most of the people here illegally. Exclude from the amnesty criminals and Islamists. But I repeat myself.
3) In the interest of crushing Mexicos lingering hopes of absorbing the American southwest, start a policy of very liberal immigration from countries with no such fantasies - i.e. the rest of the world. We could give special privilege to people from totalitarian hellholes like Burma, Zimbabwe and Iran. Or people from just plain miserable shitholes like Peru, Cambodia and Zaire (or whatever it's called this year). Or, we could go by the 'cuisine standard'. That would mean virtually unlimited immigration from France, Italy, Thailand and Vietnam. Maybe Spain and Turkey too. Indonesia. Portugal. India and China. Oh hell, this one's impossible.

So, you get the idea. If you're reading this from Crawford - will my Medal of Freedom clash with dark tennies?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Hollywood Reality Timeline

Here's a site that creates a timeline of events from movies, both fiction and non-fiction, as if it were all real. For instance, '1780 Lestat becomes a vampire (Interview With a Vampire)' is followed by '1781 Lord Cornwallis surrenders to the colonies (Birth of a Nation)'. It's a mashup of fantasy and (movie) reality. It's still a work in progress and anyone can contribute. One weird thing is that the line 'Predators arrive for their feasting ritual on xenomorphs and humans' occurs at the beginning of every century. Maybe he's trying to tell us something. via Boing-Boing.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Invertebrate Liberals and the Mo' toons

You've got to read 'The Shame of the Invertebrate Liberals'. The best response I've seen to the Islamic temper tantrum over the infamous Danish cartoons. And it's from a socialist outfit in the UK. Thanks to Harry's Place.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Try these

I've gone to Red Lobster before just to eat some of those incredible biscuits. The cheesiness, the garliciness - they're just too good. The meal was okay, but nothing special. Now I don't need to go there any more, nor do you. Here's the the RL biscuit recipe. Lobsterboy has lots of issues with RL and takes time out to lay down some recipes now and then. Oh yeah, I might add some jalapeno.

Here are some photos of bacteria in petri dishes. Doesn't sound too appealing? Take a look, it's like flowers meet geometry on Mars or something.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Car Crashed Into House Just Now

Here's some timely news. A car just crashed into my house. I was settling in at about 11:40, doing some reading just before dropping off when I heard tires screeching, a loud bang (my neighbor's house) and a loud thud (my house). This is no joke. I went outside and saw a smashed-up car settled against my front deck. There was a guy inside flailing about. I told him I'd help then went back inside and put some slippers on (still in my t-shirt and shorts) and returned outside. By now a bunch of neighbors were out, calling 911 and gawking. The kid was out of the car, healthy, and I could tell he wanted to run. I crowded him and told him he wasn't smashing into my house and running. The guy from across the street helped. Then the kid tried to make a break for it and we, plus my next-door neighbor (whose house took the brunt of the blow) restrained the kid. About then the ambulance guys showed up, then seconds later the cops. I went back and got dressed, it's 20F out there. Wait, cops just now came to my door for personal info. Okay, it looks like the car came in fast from the north, and a little sideways (there's MAJOR skid marks on the neighbor's sidewalk), hit the (fairly new) concrete porch of my neighbor (west side of house), then swung around 360 counter-clockwise thudding against my deck, about two feet from the natural gas intake. Jack and Henrietta have enough car parts in their yard to open a parts shop. The car is still where it came to rest so I can't be sure, but it looks like it only barked up the side of my deck a little bit. I'll get a good look tomorrow. Oh yeah, the car's at rest about seven feet from where my head was. Well, they just hauled it off and I got a good look the the deck. Just scraped up on the side. Glad to blog this as I can't call anyone at this hour and I feel like sharing.

UPDATE: Just took a good look. The 2x10 piece that supports the planks on the side of the deck (probably has a name, I just don't know it) is definitely cracked and the bottom 80% pushed in about 1/2 inch. Still about the least damage possible for getting your house run into by a car. Also some broken glass strewn about, and one CD lying on the deck titled 'Vertigo Juares - 2001'. It starts with some idiot screaming 'face down, ass up, that the way we like to fuck!' about ten times. The next 26 tracks are ugly, ugly techno-pop. Hell, this might have been a suicide attempt. Next time he should just push the eject button.


Muslim 'Offense Level'

This is like the Terrorist Threat Level but even funnier. For instance, here's the text for 'Guarded' level:

Meaning - We are quite offended, because people are generally picking on us.
Non-Muslim response - Stop making jokes about us
Consequence of non-compliance - We will rant on about "Islamophobia" and "Orientalism", although we don't understand what those words really mean

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Big Mo' 'toons

I just cribbed this from Combs Spouts Off. Wanted to share it with the world in my own small way. Thanks Richard. Just wish I had the three fraudulent ones added in by the Muslim 'holy man'.

Thursday, February 16, 2006



Instapundit discusses "who's more fanatical - left or right?" and references Janes Law - " The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant, the devotees of the party out of power are insane". Pretty good stuff. Then, at the end of Jane's comments is the real payoff - a link to a series of essays on evolutionary psychology addressing such questions as "Why women have breasts", "Why I hate chimps", "Why samurai killed themselves" and much, much more. Really delicious.

Then Eric Raymond hits one out of the park, his best since the seminal "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". This time he addresses the most destructive memes in our political culture and traces their roots to the Cold War. It's an amazing story, still developing as the old Soviet archives are aired. Here's a sample:

"The most paranoid and xenophobic conservatives of the Cold War were, painful though this is to admit, the closest to the truth in estimating the magnitude and subtlety of Soviet subversion. Liberal anticommunists (like myself in the 1970s) thought we were being judicious and fair-minded when we dismissed half of the Right’s complaint as crude blather. We were wrong; the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss really were guilty, the Hollywood Ten really were Stalinist tools, and all of Joseph McCarthy’s rants about “Communists in the State Department” were essentially true. The Venona transcripts and other new material leave no room for reasonable doubt on this score.

While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn’t outlast it, their memetic weapons did. These memes are now coming near to crippling our culture’s response to Islamic terrorism."

And one more:

"The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant."

You should read the whole thing.

One last thing I learned recently, from The Ministry of Minor Perfidity:
"There has never been a major world leader named 'Floyd'.” Maybe that's a good thing.

I can't really remember, but life must have been very boring before the Web.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Court Packing; Bush vs. FDR

A bunch of leftish bloggers have accused Bush II of 'packing' the supreme court because he selects Justices with whom he has an ideological affinity. Duh!!! Sometimes they also throw in some nonsense about the purported principle of 'balance'. Even John Kerry got into the act. Well, I've go news for you. Bush doesn't know the first thing about packing the court. For a real example, and by the way a clear attempt to completely subvert the Constitution, check out FDR.
The Courts were getting in the way of some of his New Deal proposals so he decided to add extra justices to the bench. Here's a great reponse from a contemorary journalist. A few notches above what we get from today's MSM. Packing? Good lord, what next? Hijacking foreign policy?


Hairdo Bloviation #7

I've been up to my uhhh, elbows, yeah, elbows in alligators this last week.

Long story short, Matthews talked 33.8% of the time on Wednesday, 27.8% on Thursday and 36% on Friday for a weekly average of 32.95%. Compare this to the O'Reilly creature at 39.2%. And consider that while he barks a lot, Matthews asks long questions that are filled with detail and background, while O blurts out his emotional state and idle speculations and demands agreement.

This whole project was a little compulsive but I've proven to my own satisfaction that, by an objective standard, O'Reilly really is a gaseous buffoon. A lot of work for a pretty obvious result. What's all this make me? Anyway, another positive result is that I'm totally cured of the guy. When I surf by, there's an immediate revulsion and I surf away. That's worth something.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Hairdo Bloviation #6

Here's Chris Matthews for Monday and Tuesday. In a fit of compassion and kindness he didn't do any one-on-one interviews on the Tuesday show. Although his interviews turn out to be informative and interesting. Thanks Chris.

Monday 1/23/06 data:

Guest _____________ Guest talk time ____ Matthews talk time

Carole Keeton Strayhorn ___ 5:14 ___________ 2:15
Robert Stein ____________ 3.28 ___________ 1:51
Paul Burka _____________ 2:58 ___________ 1:58

Total ______________ 11:40 __________ 6:04

Matthews talked 34.2% of the time. Once again - Goddamn! the blogger interface sucks. Go into bold and you're stuck with it for the rest of the post. Bunch of maroons. Will comment on subsequent post - give your eyes a rest.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Iran Roundup

The last couple of days have seen some interesting writings concerning Iran's nuclear ambitions. First is a dash of cold water on the whole idea. The Cunning Realist thinks the rhetoric is a little overheated. OUR rhetoric. He makes the point that the White House hasn't quoted U.S. intelligence wrt Iran's nukes for three years.
The next one is quite a bit more negative. Joe Katzman reviews the situation and hopes that we all have solar panels and, I would think, fallout shelters. Then he proceeds "It gets worse."
Then George Friedman gets radical and suggests that the mullahs are counting on an attack from the U.S. or Israel as it would restore their cred as the most badass of all the Muslims. And THAT'S what it's all about.
The three together will keep your brain occupied for a few hours.

UPDATE: Here's one more, shooting down the idea of a single EMP bomb knocking out the whole country.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Cat in a Box

Continuing the 'critter tales' series:

It must have been around 1962 that, reading the Charlotte Disturber, I saw a long obituary about a local character who sounded pretty interesting. Not that an eleven-year-old boy was in the habit of reading the obits. Something in the header must have grabbed me. His name is lost to me, but among other things he was an avid outdoorsman and a serious prankster. How serious? This serious. He and his friends once caught (don't ask me how) a young mountain lion and were pondering whether to let it go or do something interesting with it. They retrieved an old piece of luggage from one of their homes and put the lion (again, don't ask) into the suitcase. Then they set the suitcase by the side of the highway and waited. This was a two-lane road in the 1930's or earlier. A car went by, then another. Then a big sedan drove by, jammed on the brakes and reversed. Coming even with the suitcase the door opened, a hand reached out and snatched it and the car roared off. For about 100 yards. Then the car screeched to a halt, all the door opened and four men ran screaming in mortal terror. Soon after an ill-used, thoroughly pissed-off young mountain lion stepped out of the car, looked around and vanished into the woods.


Hairdo Bloviation #5

Ooops again. I looked at the two Brit Hume news episodes I've recorded and noticed that he's not really an interviewer. He talks to reporters on the scene and his panel at the end of the show. Oh well, I should watch these things more closely. Still, I'll time Chris Matthews next week and maybe Russert the next. Sorry 'bout that.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Hairdo Bloviation #4

Okay, the bad news is I somehow botched the Thursday show. Only recorded a few minutes and then it stopped. But I'm not sorry. I've suffered enough. And when you see the last guest on Friday's show you'll want to give me a medal. I watched these two TWICE to get the times. TWICE!!!! If not a medal, maybe a cigar, a cookie. Something! Oh yeah, I decided to include much of the overtalking as ignoring it would have seriously distorted the data. O and his guests do a lot of it, a lot. Without further ado (or whining):

Friday (1/13/06) data:

Guest______________Guest talk time____O'Reilly talk time

Leslie Crocker Snyder____ 2:24 __________ 1:37
Rachel Marsden________2:19___________ 1:06
Tyson Slocum__________2:38___________1:57
Geraldo Rivera_________4:48___________2:26

Total _______________12:09 __________ 7:02

O'Reilly talked 36.6% of the time.

On average for the four shows I timed O'Reilly did 39.2% of the talking when he had one guest. This is astonishing but about what I'd expected. I'm going to time Brit Hume next week and Chris Matthews the following week. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The elk and the melon

Another in the intermittent 'critter tales' series. This one happened about 25 years ago at my friend's mountain property. The cabin wasn't up yet but they had put up a teepee and created a very comfy area around the fire pit. The guys all went up for a bachelor party (the victim puking and saying 'this is sad' isn't part of the story) and did some fine barbecuing. Don had brought up a huge watermelon and set it on a damp spot of ground to cool overnight. As it happened I bedded down about two feet from the melon and promptly passed out. In the morning the melon was gone except for the heart - about the size of two fists. Instead there were hoof prints made by a HUGE elk. He'd eaten the melon and probably found the rind delicious, the outer meat bearable, but the heart was just too damn sweet, so he left it for us monkeys. Don and I made short work of it and toasted the critter's health.


Hairdo Bloviation #3

Here's the Wednesday (1/11/06) data:

Guest_______________Guest talk time_____O'Reilly talk time

Andrew Napolitano_______3:30_____________1:51
Jerry Barton___________2:28______________1:44
Michael Lewellen________2.44______________1:39 ___(LOTS of overtalk)
Harvey Silverglate_______3:29______________2:50

Total:________________10:11____________ 8:04

O'Reilly talked 44.2% of the time. A new record. Sorry for the indiscriminate bolding but, as many of you know, the blogger interface isn't worth a shit in a whirlwind. 44.2%!!! Why even bother with guests at all? Maybe soon he'll just look into the camera and moo for an hour.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Hairdo Bloviation #2

Here's the data for Monday and Tuesday for O'Reilly:

Monday 1/09/06
Guest_____Guest talk time______ O'Reilly talk time

John Ashcroft____ 6:14____________3:42
Dick Morris ______2:30___________1:06
Rabbi James Rudin _3:14___________1:04
Juan Williams_____1:35___________1:58

Total: _________13:33 _________7:50

O'Reilly talked 36.6% of the time.

Tuesday 1/10/06

Allan Mansoor_____2:29___________1:06
Lawrence Leamer___1:58__________2:28
Greta van Susteren__2:38__________1:36
Bob Kohn_________2:09___________:50

Total: __________9:14 ________6:00

O'Reilly talked 39.3% of the time.

Looks like he's as talkative as I'd supposed. He really goes on about Ted Kennedy (guest L. Leamer) and Harry Belafonte (J. Williams), although I don't disagree with either of his assessments. Let's see how the week turns out, and how the other hairdos perform in the following weeks.


Hairdo Bloviation #1

I've long noticed that Bill O'Reilly books very good guests on his show. He often gets the person who'd have special knowledge and insight into the issue on the table. He then doesn't let them get a word in edgewise. He blabs, he opines, he asks for agreement for whatever just came out of his mouth. But, his eerie charisma keeps me coming back. I've finally figured out a way to exact vengeance. This week I'm recording all five showings of 'The O'Reilly Factor'. Then I'm going through, stopwatch in hand, and tallying up the time used up by the guest and by the O'Reilly Creature. I'm not counting story setup, guest intro and thanks, or the inevitable overtalking. These times will be accurate to a few seconds. Oh yeah, I'm only doing the one-on-one interviews. With two guests it gets confusing. Plus, I'd then have to watch the whole segment THREE TIMES. I may be a wacko, but I'm not a masochist! Monday and Tuesday's data are almost done and will be posted later tonight or tomorrow morning.

I plan to give Chris Matthews and Brit Hume the same treatment in the following weeks. Should be interesting.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Greatest Blond Joke Ever

This is the funniest blond joke in history. I'm still chuckling.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Lightning Juice

A few months ago I read about using lasers to ionize an air column (simulating a giant lightning rod) to induce a lightning strike. Of course, the right weather conditions are still required. A short time ago I read about rapidly recharging batteries from NEC and Toshiba. The NEC battery recharges in 30 seconds. I'm not an electrical engineer, nor do I play one on TV, but I can put two and two together. Might we begin using lightning as a power source? Inducing 15 to 20 lightning strikes would fully charge a battery array the size of Montana. Well, maybe Vermont. Even grounding away most of the charge an enormous amount of electricity could be acquired. The grounding and modulating gear would probably look a lot like Frankenstein's lab (Karloff version, of course - definitely not Rocky Horror version) and be just as exciting to work. Florida, western North Carolina, and the Seattle area are all recipients, year-round, of massive amounts of lightning. They'd be the best places for the first, let's call them 'bottles'. More serious engineering would be needed for massively upgrading the national grid so the juice can be shared.

Reading this article I found that central Africa is Lightning Central for our planet and the foothills of the Himalayas are a close second.

Is this something to be excited about? I welcome comments from any engineers out there, or anyone else for that matter.

UPDATE: Ooops. It looks like a lightning strike does indeed put out a prodigious amount of energy, but the actual output lasts a lot less than the visible bolt and is measured in microseconds. Enough to roast a few turkeys. Oh well, gotta run. The lead-to-gold machine just arrived, needs unpacking.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Gimme and No

Walter in Denver makes the point "If the Pres were a Democrat we would see the blogosphere and the rest of the deep thinkers reverse arguments effortlessly. I would sound exactly the same, but with the reds and blues switched around...". Other than mis-spelling Prez, this is right on the money. And it doesn't even matter what the topic was. I find the Dems more noxious than the Reps, mainly because of their endless plans for our improvement. The 1st Amendment still carries enough force to thwart the Reps more absurd ambitions, but the 9th and 10th have been eviscerated (Robert Bork referred to the 9th as 'an inkblot') and so thwarting the Dems utopian fantasies is a constant labor - and ultimately a losing battle. As the party of 'Gimme' the Dems work with an enormous advantage. Who doesn't want free stuff? And when the argument against it is complex and tedious? And the Reps are the party of 'No'. At least for the general population. The Reps are definitely the party of 'Gimme' for their cronies. But a small class of parasites, unpleasant as it may be, won't bankrupt the republic. An entire population of them certainly will. As generally the party of 'No' the Reps have the distinct advantage of appearing as the party of responsibility and limited government. And the majority of Americans retain enough wisdom to prefer these to the sweet promises of the Dems. Gee, this thing went off on a tangent didn't it? But don't complain - it's just a blog after all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Narnia gets it right

Saw Chronicles of Narnia yesterday. Spoiler alert. Near the end, Aslan gets the White Witch at his mercy and he kills her. For once, finally, the hero just kills the damn villian. He doesn't say "killing you would make me just as bad as you", "you're not worth killing", or any other of the trite cowardly nonsense we've come to expect from Hollywood. Usually Hollywood reserves its 'moral clarity' for the military, productive white men and gun owners. It took the long-dead C.S. Lewis to insert some real clarity into the movies. Expect a rapid return to form though, Lewis is dead and the others are still consuming oxygen.

Thursday, December 22, 2005



Read 'The Liberal Bubble' and see if it resonates with you. I seemed perfectly in sync with my experience in talking (okay, arguing) with the the 95% of my friends and relatives who are of the leftoid persuasion.

Also, TigerHawk has an astute piece about defining victory in our current war and the importance of discrediting the Jihadist philosophy. He also links to a great piece by Steven Den Beste.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Evo Morales - giving Columbia a breather

The upcoming (tomorrow) election of Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia will be a disaster for that country. An economic illiterate, warmonger (with Chile), and friend of Hugo Chavez. But there might be a silver lining here. One of the Evo's more 'scary' ideas is to legalize coca growing. The effect of this legalization might be helpful for Columbia, which is having a hellish time with the collision of narcotics and terrorism known as FARC. If Evo does as he says then Bolivia will explode with coca farms - with normal legal protections (i.e. no herbicides sprayed by DEA planes). This will make it very hard for Columbia to compete in the coca and cocaine business and will cut FARC's income considerably. Of course oil tick Chavez will step in with money from Venezuela's oil sales. (And said money can't be used for other mischief). But the effect will still be felt as the coca farmers in Columbia lose the need for the 'services' that FARC provides and return to subsistence farming. FARC loses influence and prestige as well as money. So, Bolivia's (further) decline might buy some breathing space for Columbia. After the misery they've gone through the past few decades they have high motivation to start healing their country. Maybe they can make a good start.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls:

1 12 oz/ package of Nilla vanilla wafers - crushed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla
4 heaping tablespoons powdered bakers cocoa
3 tablespoons light corn syrup (or as we say down
South 'surp')

1/2 cup bourbon

Mix all ingredients well, form into balls about 1 inch
in diameter and dredge in additional powdered sugar. Best if put
in an airtight container and chilled for a few days
before consumption. I dredged them in cocoa one year
but it makes ones fingers messy when eating. When
crushing the wafers try not to get too much powder, it
makes for a gummy ball. Also, DON'T use a sour mash
bourbon such as the superb George Dickel or the vile
Jack Daniels. Use straight bourbon whiskey - I highly
recommend Knob Creek for kitchen and other uses. I suppose
rum or cognac would work too.

Also, try to save some for your friends and family.
It's the season for that kind of thing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Muslim prison outreach

There's a pretty successful effort by the Muslim community to make converts among convicts. Especially black prisoners. What's the outcome when these prisoners who converted to Islam are released? Does the Muslim community support their transition to society? Do the send them to exotic places? Do they shun them? Ignore them? Give them a suicide belt? My guess is that the converts merely use Islam to justify their pathological behavior. Easy enough to do. But I'd be interested to see examples of real-world outcomes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Globalized cuisine

Here's a speech given last year by Tyler Cowen (of Marginal Revolution) to a group of food professionals. It's about the effects of globalization on national cuisines, but mostly it's an exhuberant rant about the joys of food. Talking about SW Louisiana he says 'You are in rural Louisiana, you’re driving around, and you will see a shack, and there will be some words painted, or scrolled, like boudin blanc, or shrimp/seafood. The sloppier the handwriting, the more urgent it is that you stop and eat in that shack.' Urgent! I just love that. You'll enjoy reading the whole thing. Here's his personal site - scroll down for the updated 'ethnic dining guide' for the D.C. region.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Are you a woo-woo?

The woo-woo credo. From #1 - "Never look for the simplest, most obvious cause of something. Refrain from mentioning Occam's Razor (it's your nemesis)" to #41 - "Refer to yourself in the third person." This is the definitive guide to being an ass on the Internet. I really loved #29 & 30 - hell, they're all good. And if I may, here's one addition - #42 - "Always express pity for those who can't possibly rise to your level of moral grandeur and mental acuity." (via linkfilter)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Avian flu H5N1 #3 - cytokine storm

It looks like this flu triggers a 'cytokine storm' - an overreaction of the immune system that causes massive tissue inflammation, especially in the lungs. This is just what made the 1918 Spanish Flu so deadly. The healthier one's immune system, the more powerful the cytokine storm, and the more deadly the results. So young healthy people are most at risk. If I weren't already being hammered by one of the season's colds, I'd take this opportunity to run around flailing my arms and screaming. We may need all our luck to get past this one.

Friday, November 11, 2005


The 'Bush lied' lie

Although far from a fan of the Bush creature I'm exasperated by the constant 'Bush lied' refrain. Bush had intelligence from many sources indicating that Saddam had and was further developing WMD. He had the concurrence of Ted Kennedy, Madeliene Albright, the Clintons, etc. He was mistaken not dishonest. For a thorough slam-down of this and related ridiculous charges see this piece by Norman Podhoretz. Yeah, I know, he's one of those creepy neo-cons. Mustn't listen, must return to moveon or Chomsky. Mustn't pollute precious bodily fluids. Well, fuck that. Read the thing and refute it in the comments. I'll be interested to see what, if anything, can be said. By the way, read the infamous Downing Street memo, and don't forget this part (doesn't sound like they were faking about WMD does it?) :

The military were continuing to ask lots of questions. For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse
and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.


One Red Paperclip

This guy started with one red paper clip. He traded it for a goofy (or cool, depending) pen and on and on up to a gas generater. He receives offers on the net and travels all over the country to make the trades. I really hope he's filming parts of this adventure as it will make a great movie. Oh yeah, the idea is to eventually trade up to a house! Good luck!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005



I've added National Journals blogometer to my (tiny) link collection. The blogometer covers the political blogosphere with daily reports, with links, on what the bloggers are saying, right, left and center, regarding the days issues. Invaluable.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Kiva - personal micro-lending

I found this wonderful site via Boing-Boing, which, after all refers to itself (quite correctly) as 'a directory of wonderful things'. The site is called Kiva and it facilitates micro-lending to third-world businessmen (and women) via your PayPal account. The money gets paid back in six to twelve months, without interest, and you can then bounce it back to another enterprise or buy yourself some skis. No mailing, no check-writing, no collecting. Just push some keys and lend out a small amount of money and change someone's life. Right now the thing seems to be very Uganda-centric and I saw some interesting startups - brickmaking, livestock trading, and fish mongering among them. They don't have any new startups at the moment but I'm going to check back and see if a pittance for me (as little as $50 for some businesses) can be a life-saver for someone. Give it a look.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Critter Tales, bad ass

This has taken a week and I'm giving up. Blogger, not to put too fine a point on it, sucks. I've tried and tried to upload the accompanying pictures for this post. Sometimes they load multiple times, they always load out of order - or appear out of order later in the day, and sometimes they just won't load at all. I've been at it at least ten times. The FAQ? Useless. So I've put in links instead. It will be well worth your time to follow them as the pictures of a donkey killing a puma are incredible. I'm just sorry that Blogger's incredible incompetence took the joy out of it for me. Anyway, here's the text followed by the links:

"A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, he with his rifle and she (fortunately) with her camera. Their dogs always followed them, but on this occasion a Mountain Lion decided that he wanted to stalk the dogs (you'll see the dogs in the background watching). Very, very bad decision... The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare away the lion, but before he could get off a shot the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs. With that, the mule took off and decided he wanted a piece of that lion. That's when all hell broke loose... for the lion. As the lion approached the dogs the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around. Banging its head on the ground on every pass. Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat. The mule then got down on his knees and bit the thing all over a couple of dozen times to make sure it was dead, then whipped it into the air again, walked back over to the couple (that were stunned in silence) and stood there ready to continue his ride... as if nothing had just happened. Fortunately even though the hunter didn't get off a shot, his wife got off these 4... "

pic1 pic2 pic3 pic4

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Funny Bumper Stickers

I just saw a car with 'Things haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister' on the bumper. It made me think of other favorites 'Nuke the unborn gay whales' and 'I'd smack you but shit splatters'. And of course the ubiquitous 'Visualize Whirled Peas'. Jeez, you couldn't drive ten feet in Boulder without seeing that one back in the nineties. Oh yeah, the other two hilarious but strangely tragic stickers - 'Kerry-Edwards' and 'W' from last year. What'll they think of next?

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Hog on Ice

I've been enjoying this blog for a while now. This guy writes about abusing Nigerian scamsters, cooking barbeque, making beer, and his very, very conservative politics with such panache that it's a joy to read even if you don't care about, or agree with any of it. He's really topped himself with this entry on the 'joys' of silicone. Anybody who writes a cookbook called 'Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man' is worth your time, doncha think? Pay a visit and have some fun.


The Sunni Fig Leaf

Early this week Sunni politicians secured a deal with the Iraqi government to allow to further tweaking of the constitution (almost certain to be ratified on Saturday). The Washington Post carried a good piece about it here. Here's the key graf:

The major concession from Tuesday's talks was agreement by the Shiites and Kurds that a committee be created early next year to consider amendments to the constitution, if voters approve it Saturday, said Ali Debagh, a top Shiite official involved in the talks. Any changes recommended by the committee would have to be ratified by a two-thirds vote of parliament and a national referendum, Debagh said.

None of the commentary I've seen names this what it is - a fig leaf. The Sunnis tried everything, from boycotts to bombs, to prevent this new regime from taking hold in Iraq. They've now thrown in the towel, banking on the possibility that some of their concerns will get through a new committee and then pass a 2/3 vote plus a referendum. This is a major defeat for the Baathist remnant. This agreement was little more than a graceful way for the Sunnis to surrender their untenable position and enter the political fray as equals. A great day for Iraq.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Gun quotes

Long-time acquaintence Richard Combs has an entry full of quotes relating to firearms rights, some by unexpected people:

Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest. -- Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography, page 446

and some from the usual suspects:

Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't. -- Ben Franklin

I found the one by Freud to be especially pungent. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Critter Tales, pt. 1

Two tales today. These have accumulated for years and todays batch, heard in just the last couple of weeks, have jolted me from my delicious cement-like lethary.

My cousin Joe was leading some tourists to view grizzly bears in Alaska. On the trail was the local guide, followed by the clients, with Joe bringing up the rear. Around a corner they confronted a disquieting sight. A big griz was sitting on the trail staring at them with curiosity. Just about the last thing anyone would want is the interest of a griz. Joe started to back up and the local guide quickly told him to stay put. Look meek and mild, don't look in the bear's eyes, and above all - don't make yourself look like prey - by running for instance. The bear surveyed the humans for a while, then grew bored, gave a loud harrumph, and walked down the hillside. Just as they were starting to feel relieved the bear wheeled around and raced up the hill almost brushing Joe with it's flank before disappearing in the woods. No comment as to the color or consistency of everyone's shitstains.

I told this to my friend Rich in Ft. Collins. He saw my bear and raised a lion. Just the week before (maybe as I was hearing Joe's bear story in San Francisco) a fellow fireman was bow-hunting for elk in the Leadville area. He had a pistol strapped to his chest and was sitting down with his back to a tree. His cousin, also bow-hunting, was on the other side of the hill, behind him. He heard some elk coming in his direction ( a gaggle of 600 pound critters is noisy! ) but they stopped before he could get a look at them and took off in another direction. Still keeping perfectly still, he pondered the situation, wondered of he'd spooked them with his scent or some noise. Suddenly he heard a loud sniffing sound. Very loud. He turned his head and found that his nose was inches from the nose of a large male mountain lion. A big cat, easily capable of bringing down an adult male human. The cat must have seen the stillness of his prey and was wondering whether to kill first or just start eating. He fumbled for the pistol, as it was impossible to draw the bow at such close quarters. After much fumbling he finally drew the piece and aimed at the lion's head, seeing that his cousin was on the hilltop with his bow drawn on the beast. The lion was square between the two of them and neither could shoot without endangering the other ( so I can't spell jeopordizing, sue me) the lion decided that there were easier lunches to be had and trotted off. Again, no comment etc. etc. Oh yeah, I folded.

In the future; the bear that wasn't there, cat in a box, the elk and the melon, and others.

Friday, September 30, 2005


Geekpress is on a roll!

Geekpress is, as he is so often, on a roll today. He links us to words in other languages that have no equivalent in English. Then to a fine piece on the laws of human stupidity. It reminded me of the Chinese proverb 'A foolish friend is more dangerous than a wise enemy'. You should visit Geekpress every day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Million Dollar Home Page

Just go there. It's very cool and very weird and could make these people some real money. via Kottke.

Monday, September 19, 2005


The Farewell Dossier

I found a great article about how we addressed the problem of Soviet industrial espionage against high-tech targets during the Cold War. I had always thought that the very success of their efforts paved the way for glasnost and the subsequent demise of the regime. It went like this: 1) they steal tech that they can duplicate and benefit from, 2) the tech starts to get beyond their grasp - they can figure out what it's supposed to do but can't duplicate it very well, and 3) the start stealing stuff that they have no idea what it's for, how to duplicate it or how to use it. At that point even a system as rigid (or better - brittle) as theirs has to bend and adapt. Implosion-o-rama.
The piece referenced above is written by the CIA guy who was in charge of adding a significant twist to this inevitable process. Under Carter, and continuing under Reagan, our side eased the transfer, but with serious flaws programmed into the hardward and software. It caused the Soviets great headaches and no doubt helped send them into despair. It's really a great story, beginning with the French clueing us to an espionage coup they'd accomplished, and sharing it with us, all the way to the tragic and paranoid ending. (via Ranum, via Discarded Lies)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


The real importance of New Orleans

Stratfor gives the lowdown on why there's no choice but to rebuild New Orleans. The city sits at the junction of our biggest river and the ocean and without its shipping services the entire interior of the country is cut off from the world of commerce. So grain prices go up globally, and U.S. farmers go broke. For starters. Not nice. The article gives historical and strategic insights of a quality rarely seen in the MSM.

Sunday, September 04, 2005



Here's some solid commentary I've found today. Pundita has one post after another of informed, thoughtful comment. I'll put this one in my links soon. The Glittering Eye is always worth a look, especially this one.
Lastly, the Agitator has a long sad list of all the failures - up and down the line - that brought us to this sorry pass. This ought to keep you busy for awhile, and you won't be happy. I've made a donation via Mercy Corps. You all have too, right?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Avian flu H5N1 #2

I relocated a great article about this problem. Go. Read.
Then pour yourself a stiff one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Avian flu H5N1

I've been reading up on the coming avian flu. The potential for disaster is huge. I've read (can't find the link) that the British government is scouting sites for mass graves. Ours might be too, only discreetly. Right now the flyways from east Asia and Siberia are full of infected birds, heading to Europe, North America, India, hell - everywhere. The latest I've seen is that there are already twelve distinct variants identified - this thing likes to mutate. And if a human-to-human mutation arises we'll be in a similar position as the Native Americans vis-a-vis smallpox when the Spanish arrived. You owe it to yourselves to bone up on this. This site lists lots of new articles every day. Also, WHO has an OK site. And a comprehensive site with maps and technical links here. Let's hope for the best, but plan for the worst.


GoogleOS? YahooOS? MozillaOS? WebOS?

That's the title of a great piece on Kottke.
It's filled with OSy and webby goodness and portends a wild ride for your desktop and for the web.
Buckle up.


Kaus is a god!

I've always enjoyed and admired the New Yorker, even beyond the cartoons. But their antedeluvian liberalism has always been annoying. Knee-jerk, shallow, smug. Leave it to the superb Mickey Kaus to nail it (page down to P.P.S.). "isolated, ill-informed and somewhat gullible" - I won't ruin it for you. Enjoy.


Anemone Armies

Remember how in the 60's every fifteen minutes someone would mumble "Wow, like, the Eskimos have thirty words for snow". Years later (as usual) it occurred to me that Americans have 50 words for pot, 100 for sex and 200 for money. Thirty words for snow? Pussies! The other thing we were always told was that "only humans kill their own". This was patently ridiculous even then, and has become so thoroughly refuted that even leftard 'intellectuals' don't bother with it anymore. Which is a shame, as their main purpose in life is to make us feel bad about ourselves for no reason, except when it's to make us feel good about our enemies for no reason. Anyway, we've seen elephants killing elephants, ditto lions, fish, birds - almost everything with a brain. Now there's something to make the most cynical among us sit up and take notice. Sea anemones organize themselves into armies, with specialists of various kinds, and make war on neighboring colonies. It's absolutely amazing - even creatures one notch above plants make war on each other. I wonder how many words they have for "Yikes!".

Monday, July 11, 2005


Final victory over leukemia

Many of you have been out of the loop lately, so here' me LAST report wrt my late, unlamented leukemia crisis. My last ever marrow sample came back with no evidence of leukemia. To recap: following five months of chemo in early '04, a marrow sample showed definite evidence of renewed leukemic growth (around mid June). The sample was evaluated at a lab in Santa Fe, sent back to the Kaiser labs in Denver for confirmation and then sent to Seattle (where the transplant would occur) to give them a heads up. After that, there was frequent testing via blood samples and the occasional marrow sample. Everything turned up negative. Either the doctor captured the very last bit of leukemic tissue with that sample or my immune system killed off the rest of it - for the first time in history for this type of leukemia. Whatever, I'm safe now and am only feeling the lingering effects of the chemo - fatigue and general strong yuckiness every now and then.
So bye-bye leukemia, hello life!


Kingdom of Shadows

I just love this joke. It's from a spy novel called Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst. Furst is a real writer, not a Ludlum or Clancy-type buffoon. Forgive the obscure Romanian place names.
"Two Romanian businessmen run into each other on the street in Bucharest. Gheorgiu is carrying a suitcase. 'Where are you off to?' Petrescu asks. 'Cernauti,' his friend says. 'Liar!' Petrescu shouts. 'You tell me you're going to Cernauti to make me think you're going to Iasi, but I've bribed your office boy, and I know your going to Cernauti!'"
This is what happens when trust breaks down. Maybe we could all take a lesson from this one.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Apple and Intel, sittin' in a tree...

With Apple switching to the Intel platform next year one has to wonder if Microsoft will find itself in a fix. Once Apple has ported their operating system to the Intel platform, or written a new one for it, what's to stop Apple users from loading the OS to other Intel boxes. Or what's to stop Apple from selling the OS by itself. They've always been fanatical about selling the whole package but Steve Jobs has shown himself capable of learning new tricks. After all, what's the profit margin on a CD loaded with an OS you had to create anyway. They'll need to add some solid Windows/Apple migration tools and it's off to the races. Apple may just be the next Microsoft.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Darfur and Palestine - A Modest Proposal

Some good may yet come out of the Darfur tragedy. Once the Arab Muslims have killed off the African Muslims they'll be in possession of a huge piece of territory - many times the size of, say, Israel. The land is also better watered and richer than, say, Israel. The Sudanese should be encouraged to offer their Palestinian brothers and chattel, ahem, sisters a small portion of this sweet land, approximately the size of, say, Israel. The Palestinians could then remove themselves from the savage brutality of the Jews (who won't even let them blow up children for goodness sakes!) and start a new life on the corpses of a people unable to withstand Arab righteousness. Everybody wins! Well, almost. And by the way, are the other African Muslims feeling a little nervous about now? Only if they're paying attention.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Belgravia Dispatch

I've added Belgravia Dispatch to the links section. It's mostly foreign policy analysis from a grown-up perspective. Even you leftoids might come to appreciate it.



Here's the latest leukemia info. Sorry I've been so lax in updating.

About six weeks ago my idiot doctor FINALLY made the formal request for my donor search to proceed (about FOUR MONTHS LATE!!!!) and the people in Seattle immediately found four possible marrow donors. One is in the States, one in Spain and two in Italy. Makes me wonder what the hell my great-greats in eastern Europe were up to way back when. Couldn't resist a Latin lover it seems.

Today I talked with the coordinator and she says the one here has been fully tested and found to be an acceptable match, but not a very good one. The match is 8 of 10. She expects word from the others in about two weeks.

In the meantime I got puzzling but GREAT news from my doctor (see above). He says that since a marrow sample had shown some leukemic material after the chemo treatments he expected it to burn through me like a wildfire and that by this date I would be in desperate trouble indeed. This brand of AML (with 11,17 chromosome transposition rather than the ususal 15,17) is extremely virulent and it is unheard of for anyone to go this long without showing severe illness. On the contrary I'm feeling pretty good and my tests are all coming back negative - the latest only a week ago. He called me unique! That's the first time anyone's ever said that in a GOOD way. Woo-hoo!!!

So, I'm feeling pretty good (as long as I get two serious naps daily), there might be a donor available, and it appears that my immune system is either holding the cancer at bay or has killed it off entirely.

In light of this last part, my doctor wants to possibly defer the marrow transplant even if a perfect donor appears. A far more sensitive test for 11,17 AML is coming out in late summer and it makes sense to wait for that if possible.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Crab-fed Octopus

Two of my friends were fishing off Kodiak Island this summer. One of them owns a fairly new commercial fishing boat - got a deal due to the collapse of the wild salmon business. In their wanderings over the sea they dropped a crab trap one day, intending to pick it up the next day. Well, other things intervened and they didn't get back to the trap for five days.
Here's what they found. Firstly, a large octopus was trying to escape but was trapped, as it turned out, due to his over-full stomach. (They killed the octopus for some friends whose kids love octopus fritters.) There were two live crabs and the empty carapaces of eleven more.
So imagine how the sinister tableau from the inky depths might have played out. The crabs get trapped (so far, so good). Then a large octopus happens upon the scene. He squeezes into the trap and immediately murders and eats one or two of the crabs. Then he hangs from the ceiling (these traps are about six feet on a side) and naps. He wakes and queries his stomach. Maybe naps some more. Meantime, the crabs are in complete terror. They push against the netting clanking their armor against each other, scuttling over the corpses of their comrades. (Okay, crabs are about as uncomradely as it's possible to be, but we're having fun here, right?) Mr. Octo rouses himself and decides that he deserves a big dinner to celebrate his good luck. He hangs down a bit and drops a tentacle, flops it around a bit, feels an empty carapace that reminds him of his previous delight, and then feels a live, fat, juicy crab. The crab barely has time to feel the terror when Octo swoops upon him, engulfs him with shroud and tentacles, punctures the shell with his powerful beak and feeds. Our crabby friend is lucky if he dies right away. Maybe he lingers for a few minutes - minutes of agony and despair. Mr. Octo feeds relentlessly, without a care in the world. Repeats over the following days. Evil bastard.
I, on the other hand, have rarely menaced a crab with anything fiercer than a ramekin of melted butter. We humans are so much nicer.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Another good scan

Just a quick note to let you know that my latest blood results came in this morning. Everything is perfect. Keep those fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Weather and the election

The Weather Channel has been predicting a storm, covering the eastern third of the U.S., for Tuesday. Since Democrat voters are more weather-sensitive this will be a big break for Bush. The Democrats will blame Rove, the Republicans will credit God. Me, I think it's just the weather.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Ummm, blood gooood!

I just got another clean blood result. Cells within normal variances, no blasts. Yabba-dabba-doo!!!! It's starting to look more likely that the evil sample from before was indeed anomalous and I'm still in remission.
*** Note - I'll refrain from updating with every good test result. Assume the best until you hear me whining. From now on only stunning stories, brilliant insights, and ... wait, that's somebody else's blog. From now on more of the usual stuff.
*** Note2 (10/19/04) - Found out last week that doc thinks I should get the marrow transplant if possible as he NOW says it's almost a certainty that I'll relapse within a few months.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


Bert up, Leukemia down

Here's an email I sent out a few hours ago:

Good news on the leukemia front this week.
1) my chances of finding a marrow donor are 80%, not the 27% given by the specialist in Seattle. It's 27% for a perfect match, but for an acceptable match (not perfect on all 16 points but fudgeable) or a perfect match - 80%. But that may not be necessary because;
2) my situation has gone from black to cloudy. Given the perfect results from the latest marrow biopsy, which conflict (to say the least) with the results from the previous one - it's possible that the previous cluster of leukemic cells was anomalous. I had a clean blood sample last week also. So right now I could be in remission or maybe relapse. Flip a coin. We'll keep up with the blood testing and the occasional marrow biopsy and see what develops.
3) guess who doesn't have a plastic tube sticking out of his chest anymore? Give up? ME!!! They unBorged me since I'll not really use the tube for a few months at the earliest, and maybe never. Thanks for hanging in there with me folks. I'll keep you in the loop. Hope all is well with all of you. Oh, and I'll have a used roller-coaser for sale soon. Anybody interested?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


The trouble with Lojban

I just stumbled upon the Lojban page ( www.lojban.org ) - logical language, get it? This is an Esperanto-like project to construct a language, this time for perfectly logical human and human/machine communications. The language is constructed to be be perfectly logical and phonetically accurate. The idea has some merit I suppose, but I'm sticking with English. English, besides allowing great nuance and subtlety (I've heard) is also very efficient. Next time you buy an appliance check out how much shorter the English instructions are than the French, German or Spanish. In short, in engineer's parlance, it's elegant. This has powerful meaning for both the poet and the soldier. But back to Lojban. It's supposed to be inspired by the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (well worth a Google), which I barely get - and agree with, I think. This type of project fails to take into account the reality of chaos. That may be a strange statement so I'll clarify. We now know that the brain is contantly rewiring itself to accomodate skills and knowledge acquired and lost. Language processing takes up a large amount of our brainpower and affects our brain structure. Japanese chauvinists sometimes say that the Japanese brain is structured differently than others. To the extent this is true it's not because they are Japanese but because they speak Japanese. English is a language of many rules and a myriad of exceptions. The spelling is insane and the pronunciation is very much open to, shall we say, exploration. The only sensible thing about it is that objects have no gender. But here's the thing - life, if not reality, is chaotic and inexplicable and I believe having a brain wired for English gives one an emotional advantage when stubbing one's toe against life and reality. It's more natural to be flexible, open, and maybe a little bit crazy when your language is the same. So that's why I think Lojban and similar projects don't offer much to humanity. But hey, it keeps a lot of geeks out of trouble.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Jelly Babies

Autumn 1997, Boston -
Barb is leaning against the kitchen doorjam. Her shoulders are heaving, her face is purple and tears are running down her cheeks. Her husband, Roger, and their friend Brent look on with concern. She shakes her hands in an "I'm okay" fashion to allay their fears. Soon after, she recovers enough to merely laugh and then to talk, shows them the contents of the package I asked Brent to bring them, and tells the story.

When I learned that Brent was going to visit Barb and Rog I googled the phrase 'jelly babies' knowing that somewhere somebody had to have a product by that name - and I knew that Barb would be amused to have it sprung on her. What I found was a line of gummy bearish candies from the UK where it seems each piece of candy is a distinct character that the people eating them are supposed to know and care about (!?!?). I bought a package and wrapped it nicely.

1989-1995, outside of Boulder (repeatedly)
Me: (something stupid, evil or both)
Barb: "You jelly baby!", or "Stop being such a jelly baby", or "You're such a jelly baby"

Summer 1975, Charlotte -
I went out a few times with a very lovely and charming school teacher. We went to a party that was about 90% other school teachers. I had met her friend Ken before and he was there with a small group around him. Looked interesting. Was. Ken taught at the local Florence Crittenton home. This was a place for single mothers to get shelter and learn some basic skills. At this time most of the girls there were black teenagers from eastern North Carolina. The rural areas in that time and place were just about Third World in every regard. Among the classes Ken taught was one on reproductive stuff. Here's what had happened earlier that week. As class was finishing up Ken asked if there were any questions. A girl asked "Well, what about jelly babies?".
Ken - "What?"
girl - "Jelly babies, you know, jelly babies."
Ken - "You'll have to explain, I've never heard of a jelly baby."
girl (rolling eyes) - "Well, jelly babies happens when two fags be fuckin' on each other. The one on the receivin' end sometime gets a little baby grow up in the small of his back. It only get this big (fingers held apart) and then it die (spoken sadly) and he shit it out."
Ken - "Sorry girls, but that's impossible. It's an old wive's tale."
girl (triumphantly) - "You can't be tellin us they ain't no such thing as no jelly baby when I had to tell you about it in the first place."
With that the girl and her friends walked out of the room with pride and dignity, having shown up the pretentious honky for the ignorant fool that he was.

Saturday, July 03, 2004


Your grandkids won't speak English (or any other language we know)

Okay folks, stay with me here. Assume that nanotech is going to merge with biotech in the near future and bring about a kind of 'evolution' that will completely alter what it means to be human. Or, scoff at the whole notion and be amused at the ramblings of a sick mind. Nanotech will allow us to build or install thousands of tiny computers in our bodies, all about the size of a grain of salt, many of them dedicated to augmenting our brains. Math processors, all kinds of sensory enhancers, memory storage (recite 'Paradise Lost' and impress nobody) and lots of general purpose machines. People will quickly adapt some of the machines to store non-native languages - lots of them, sound and script. It'll start with military and business users loading up languages relevant to their needs. Soon after, teens will start loading up obscure languages to impress their peers. The more obscure the better of course. (The big 'if' is the machine/brain interface and how smoothly the two integrate. This opens up all kinds of issues that are beyond the scope of this speculation, or my capabilities really.) So anyway, these teens start racing each other to acquire languages and integrate enough of them into their daily speech to baffle their elders and impress girls. Words, literary allusions , changes in syntax and conjugation across species - it'll be a goddamn mess. And once it starts it will very quickly lead to the birth of a new world language utterly unpredictable and unrecognizable to any one of us today. But, it'll work and it'll be fun and while every language that's living at the time will be saved they'll also be left behind - every one of them.



I'm starting this blog to share some of the ideas which spring into my head, tell some stories, and maybe get some feedback. My situation is a little bit unusual. Last Wednesday my doctor informed me that the leukemia that we were getting confident we'd killed made an appearance in my latest bone marrow sample. That was a pretty bad day. The best course now is a bone marrow transplant. It's a nasty procedure for both recipient and donor and the recipient is in a good deal of danger. Wish me luck. Anyway, I want to spew this stuff out and once the procedure starts (at least six weeks away) my production could, ahem, drop off precipitously. So let's get started. Oh yeah, my production will be sporadic because a) these wacky ideas don't come like clockwork, and b) I'm a lazy s.o.b. Should the worst happen someone will update the site one last time.

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