AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Wednesday, March 31

New Look

This Blog is proud to sport with a new look, adapted from this Template, available Here.

The background image is sized to 1400 px width to accomodate SXGA displays, a compromise recognizing that some guys probably have UXGA or wide displays. I didn't want to crop too much of the right side for XGA guys like me. The image is Edward Hopper's "Rooms by the Sea."

Let me know what ya'll think of the change.

George Will

Another wonderful Criticism of Richard "Dick" Clarke and, to be fair, of the Republicans' response to his schtick.

Overly Verbose

Just when I thought no court could write longer opinions than the United States Supreme Court, I had to search for a quotation within Kesavananda v. State of Kerala, an opinion by the Supreme Court of India, which is not available in an electronically searchable format. Well, the esteemed court's opinion was a whopping 594 pages long. The search proved to be tons of fun.

From the experience, I can only assume that judges, like every other professional in India, work much more cheaply than their American counterparts.

Foiled!

My secured credit class unfortunately comes with assigned seating. Sometimes, that works out well, for example when one is seated next to a really hot chick. At other times, the arrangement is much less welcome. Such is my secured credit class.

The guy who sits to my immediate right chews on his fingernails incessantly. For me, seeing this in the corner of my eye is akin to Chinese water torture. Finally unable to live with it any longer, I asked to the professor to let me move seats. He let me put my name in the only open slot on the chart. I was elated.

However, my jubilation would prove to be short lived. When I went to the new seat this morning, I discovered to my dismay that there was no desk and no chair; the "seat" was simply a space for someone with bigger problems than my own to park in his wheelchair.

Kaaaaaaahn!!!!!

Sports News

Good News for Astros fans: Cubs ace Mark Prior is out until May.

Tuesday, March 30

Question

From ESPN: Lord of the Rings is done. Star Wars only has one more movie. Hey, it's going to be OK nerds -- we promise.

Concerning The Coen Brothers' Latest Offering

Ignoring some of the Reviews, I decided to give The Ladykillers a shot. It was a mistake. Although the movie had some wonderful Coen Brothers moments, the piece as a whole flopped. Most disturbing were the stereotypical hip-hop/gangsta antics of Marlon Wayans. Not to spoil anything, but he dies. Unfortunately, he doesn't expire until the last 30 minutes or so of the picture.

Monday, March 29

A Better World

Mother Egan's, the Irish pub where I like to go for trivia, should take notice of what's happening in Ireland and follow suit.

Vocabulary

Playing Text Twist, I encountered the word "geld." Now, I recognized that it means money in German. However, I was unaware of the word's English Definition: to cut off the testicles.

The term can be used thusly: John can't watch the game with us. His new girlfriend has already gelded the poor bastard.

Disappointing Showing

The new Fox series Cracking Up is a real disappointment. I tuned in with high hopes because the show features Jason Schwarzman, who played Max Fisher in Wes Anderson's comic classic Rushmore to such acclaim. Sigh . . . .

French News

My only question about News that the French denied the request of three Jewish brothers to ban Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ on grounds of anti-Semitism is this: When have the French, and often Europeans generally, been anything but anti-Semites?

Sunday, March 28

Pope on Sabbath Observence

Reuters reports that the aging pontiff urged followers to make Sunday a day for God. I find the way he said it quite powerful:
When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of "weekend" dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens.
When John Paul II dies, the world will have lost a great man.

More George Will Wisdom

In Running On Ideas, Will talks about the problems that beset the American welfare state, a state in which the majority depend on government for health care, retirement, education, or income and yet pay little or no income taxes. The entire article is worth five minutes of your time. However, I wish to draw your attention to one particularly provocative question:
Why has the cost of laser eye surgery fallen 22 percent in four years? For the same reason the cost of cosmetic surgery has been rising more slowly than the inflation rate. These elective procedures are generally paid for by individuals from their own resources.
Americans must reject its paternalistic government and return to the rugged individualism and self-reliance that made us the envy of the world.

Saturday, March 27

Word of the Day

fillip n.: "anything that tends to arouse"

An illustration: "Molly Sims is so hot; she's a total fillip,"

Friday, March 26

Dry Ice Bombs

After seeing Mr. Johnson's mention of the "underwater beach-ball-sized 2 liter bottles" of two summers ago, I started looking for some cool dry-ice footabe on the web. I stumbled across This dry-ice mishap.

More G.I.Joe PSAs

Here.

Knowing Is Half The Battle

Homo-erotic aspects of G.I.Joe explored. (Quicktime file that requires sound to be appreciated.)

[Thanks Mark.]

HealthWatch

This must be why kids seem so healthy. However, this is news from Austria, which is probably as medically backward as Germany. The good doctor may even be from the it's-good-to-drink-your-own-urine school.

[The first link is, admittedly, from Dave Barry's Blog, but I didn't want readers to miss it or miss giving them the second link.]

On Clarke & Clinton

Charles Krauthammer Opines that "the 2004 Chutzpah of the Year Award can safefly be given out" to Richard "Dick" Clarke.

Thursday, March 25

Ironic Thug

Frankie Valli (of Frankie & Annette fame), known for singing soprano in 60s teen hits like "Walk Like A Man," will join mobster hit The Sopranos. I think it would be hard to be scared.

Correction: Kristen informs me:"Frankie Valli did sing with the Four Seasons, however, Frankie Avalon is the Frankie of Frankie and Annette fame. You might not know this because the movie "Back to the Beach" (1987) (starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon) might not be a favorite of yours as it is of mine. I am sure these two Frankies are commonly mixed up, but they are actually quite different."

I stand corrected; my bad. Thanks Kristen.

First Ethanol, Now This

More Reasons to hate Midwestern farmers and the politicians they own (not to mention those who impose sugar tarriffs, which keep sugar--the best sweetener of soft drinks, e.g. Dr Pepper--prices high).

Holy Crap!

These pictures <Image 1, Image 2, Image 3> were forwarded to me with the subject line: Speed Kills.

The body of the email alleged that the BMW had been traveling at 210 mph when it collided with the tree. Although it would be impossible for what appears to have been a 316 or 318ti to reach such speeds, it was likely a reporting error, common in email. However, a conversion of 210 kmh yields a much more reasonable 130 mph. In any event, the results are stunning.

[Thanks Murphy.]

The "Evil" Bush Doctrine

The ballsy strategy of preemptive war is producing terrible results Like This. Oooh.

Wednesday, March 24

Perplexing Contradiction

Clifford D. May of National Review makes the following insightful observation:
The Bush administration is now being harshly criticized for (1) its policies of preemption and unilateralism and for (2) not unilaterally preempting the Taliban and al Qaeda immediately after coming into office in January 2001.
Curious . . .

Right-Wing Radicalism


[Pilfered from ThoseShirts.com.]

Screw France

Evidence that the bombings in Madrid weren't just hostility toward the Spanish government's particpation in the "coalition of the willing": bomb found on railways in France, indeed the least willing member of the Eurpean Community.

Tuesday, March 23

Do You Hate Ethanol?

Gas prices are at an all-time high (without adjusting for inflation). And much of the blame is not OPEC but Congress. Read the last 5 paragraphs Here. AAA, the auto club, points to laws that require specially blended gasoline for different markets (e.g. Utah County) as a source of tightened supply and corresponding higher gas prices. Currently, there are as many as 15 different mandated gas blends in the United States. Way to go f*&%ing politicians and environmental groups (read: grain farmers, especially ADM)!

Monday, March 22

Impeach Rick Perry

Replace Texas governor and, rumor has it, closet homosexual Rick Perry and install Ranger Cordell Walker.

On Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke, a former terrorism adviser to Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II, was on CBS last night touting a new book in which he claims that Bush ignored the signs of the coming 9/11 attack. Read Here about his own blunders, significantly reducing his credibility and showing why the Bush Administration might discount his pre-9/11 assessments.

John Kerry, Mitt Romney, and Michael Jackson

Plastic surgery News.

Saturday, March 20

Punks for Bush

This Guy is more conservative than I!?

The ACLU

Sorens notes the peculiarity of the ACLU defending a student who created a scholarship for Caucasians. As hard as it is for a solid conservative like me to say, I sometimes consider joining the ACLU because they are so neutral about whose civil rights. (What keeps me from joining is that they often go on the offensive.)

In a similar vein, the ACLU came to the aid of an acquaintance of my roommate, who was forced out of the University of Pittsburgh in a firestorm of controversy over the website he launched called AmIBlackOrNot.com (which I do not link to because I find it the idea wholly without class).

Recommending A Film

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was just fantastic. As far as films about memory go, it ranks right up next to Memento to this viewer. Admittedly, I'm far from being a Jim Carrey fan; but I think he may well deserve an award for this one. Outstanding!

Friday, March 19

Invading Privacy in Politics

Fundrace.org lets you type in people's names or just a zip code and see who contributed to which candidate. Creepy and cool. For example, this is what happens when you enter "Streisand." Or, if you type in the name of any big trial lawyer, you will find contributions to John Edwards, and often other Democrats.

[Thanks Kristen.]

Leadership and the Core Group

Valuable bit of wisdom:
. . . we can confer legitimacy on anyone but ourselves. Indeed, what people conventionally call leadership is, at bottom, the ability to get others to confer legitimacy on us--and thus to get others to put us in the core group.
[Source: Art Kleiner, "Are You In with The In Crowd?," Harvard Business Review (July 2003), p. 89.]

I admit that posts from HBR on successive days makes me a tool. I apologize, but it is just a rare treat to find something interesting while researching an uninteresting paper.

Almdudler

Johnson linked to Almdudler. Mmm, Almdudler. It appears that the delicious Kräuterlimonade has an exciting new bottle. Killer!

The 'Dudler segues nicely to talk of a summer Europe excursion, sometime between August 8th and 25th. I think about 10 days would be perfect. Sorens has expressed interest (because for guys like us, what's a little more debt). Are others interested? I figure if we could amass a foursome, perhaps Don is interested, we might even save money by renting a car instead of train travel with its lack of A/C and bombing risks.

"Spaniards Capitulating"

Charles Krauthammer presents a well-thought piece on the cowardly mistake the Spaniards made in seeking to appease terrorists by voting in an anti-American government.

Bottled Water Sucks

Read this if you think what comes in a bottle is better than what comes out of the tap.

Thursday, March 18

Holy Freaking Crap

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books (none of which I have ever read) is a billionaire.

**Spring Break 2004**

*Here* are some photos from my spring break visit to my family in Utah.

Useless Degrees Not Useless Anymore?

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this:
The MFA Is the New MBA

. . . An arts degree is now perhaps the hottest credential in the world of business. Corporate recruiters have begun visiting the top arts grad schools . . . in search of talent. And this broadened approach has often come at the expense of more tradtional business graduates. . . . With applications climbing and ever more arts grads occupying key corporate positions, the master of fine arts is becoming the new business degree.
According to the article, it is now more difficult to get into UCLA's MFA program than it is to get into Harvard Business School. Who could have imagined?

[Source: Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2004, at 21-22.]

Tuesday, March 16

Do You Think the French Are Stupid?

Then read Charles Krauthammer's latest Column in The Washington Post. A sample:
It is touching to hear such legalistic objections to deposing a man who has killed more Muslims than any person on Earth -- particularly when the objection is offered from a pose of superior international morality from a country whose commandos once blew up a Greenpeace ship monitoring French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.
And on John Kerry:
. . . Colombani decries the Bush administration's "return of protectionism." This (plus preemption) "is why John Kerry is, a priori, perceived with so much sympathy" in Europe.

Good grief. Only an ignoramus oblivious to what is happening in American politics could prefer Kerry over Bush on grounds of free trade. Has no one told Colombani that the Democrats have made protectionism -- attacking everything from NAFTA to the World Trade Organization -- a theme of this campaign, radically reversing the Clinton policies of the 1990s?

It is not John Kerry's fault that he is endorsed by a Frenchman. (Or by Kim Jong Il of North Korea, whose media have been running some of Kerry's speeches verbatim!) But Kerry has made the major -- indeed, only discernible -- theme of his foreign policy "rejoining the community of nations" and being liked abroad again.

Which is why he does not just court foreign support, he boasts about it. "I've met foreign leaders, who can't go out and say this publicly," he told a Hollywood, Fla., fundraiser, "but boy they look at you and say, 'You gotta win this one, you gotta beat this guy.'"

For the world. For France.
Enjoy!

Talent(less) Scouting

On vacation, nothing changes. Johnson and I are watching The Simpsons and playing on our laptops. Anyway, a commercial for Ryan Secrest's talkshow aired. Naturally, I commented. "That guy is such a homo," I said. "He's the next Carson Daly," Johnson replied.

Monday, March 15

Internet Security

I'm hanging out with my brother and surfing the web on his computer. Noticing that he has no anti-virus software running and that he machine is running really slow, I ask him what's up. "I haven't had time," he replied. Anyway, we made time. The scan is still running, and we are at 317 infected files and counting.

Thursday, March 11

Radical New Hypothesis

Brandon, a former roommate, wonders after his new roommate made himself the patsy of malicious geeks by clicking on an odd attachment, "Why do people always feel they have to open attached files?" Here is my new theory, for BYU Males anyway:

1. Porn is bad, but intriguing.
2. Looking at porn is bad.
3. But, mistakes will happen.
4. Since mistakes are inevitable, nobody is to blame.
5. If I click on an attachment, it might be porn.
6. If it is porn, I am not to blame.
7. Thus, if I click on it, I might get a peek at porn without any moral culpability.

Just a thought. It is more likely, however, that these people are simply mouth-breathing idiots.

Empty Threat

Radio shock-jock and piece of human scum Howard Stern is threatening to quit if Bush signs a new indecency law. To me, this is all the more reason to sign. Of course, two things are inevitable: (1) Such a law will not stem the tide of filth. Howard Stern, love him or hate him, is rich because plenty of people like his ilk. (2) Just as Alec Baldwin never kept his promise to leave America if Bush won in 2000, Stern will not quit.

As an aside, I think Alec Baldwin is a political moron. Nonetheless, he is, hands down, the funniest Saturday Night Live host ever.

Technology Alert

German Entrepreneurs have developed software for Nokia phones:
An enterprising German company has come with a "sound alibi generator" - background noises that can be downloaded on to your cellphone to simulate the place where you are supposed to be.
As if Germans needed any help at not working.

Appearances

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times attempts to get the newly botoxed John Kerry to change facial expression. It is a decent quick read.

Restaurant Report

Since founder Dave Thomas died, things at Wendy's have been in steady decline, most notably the ever-shrinking serving of Frosty one gets for his 99¢. The incident reminds me of a colloquy Sorens once related to me between his dad and a health inspector:
Sorens Sr.: So what places would you recommend?
Inspector: I don't eat out.
Sorens Sr.: No, I mean what places would you eat at?
Inspector: No, I mean I don't eat out.
Happy eating! Wendy's is open late.

Monday, March 8

The End of the World

As if it weren't bad enough that society lets them drive giant SUVs, now they can do This, too.

Sunday, March 7

Exciting Technology Update

According to Backpacker, you can get rid of warts with duct tape.
A recent study from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine shows that duct tape is considerably more effective than cryotherapy. By blocking air, it makes most warts disappear within a month (assuming you want to wear it that long).
Backpacker, April 2004, p. 105.

Friday, March 5

News from the Springfield Nuclear Plant

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Wildlife near the plant!

[Also linked by Drudge.]

Picture Perfect

This is beautiful:

Schadenfreude

Martha Stewart found GUILTY! This Blog is surprised but pleased to see a wealthy, powerful defendant convicted. On to the appeal . . .

Stupid Predictors

Many irrational predictors are used for the stock market, e.g. the market goes up when a Republican wins an election or when an NFC team wins the Super Bowl. One group now Hypothesizes that the candidate with the most royal blood wins the presidency. By that standard, Kerry is the greater blue-blooded WASP, but GWB is no slouch either.

Thursday, March 4

The Sorens Blog [Updated]

In response to Sorens's Post on the relative complexity of women, I return to my own Comments, stolen from Garrison Keillor on the advantages given to women, almost from birth.

[Update: Perhaps one other voice needs to be heard -- Chris Rock. (I paraphrase but use quotation marks anyway.) "It doesn't matter who the other guy is. It could be a black man and a skinhead. All you have to do to make a friend is to say to the other guy, 'Damn! Women are crazy.'"]

Britney Spears

A couple of funny lines from the New York Times Review of her new tour:
The lip-synching was neither a surprise nor a concern, however, because Ms. Spears is a star built not for singing but for entertaining.
. . .
With her dance-driven Top 40 pop sounding out of date, at least she's already prepared for tenure in the casinos.
Oops, she's done it again.

Hate the Illogic of Social Security and/or Democrats?

Then you should read George Will's latest column, Entitlement of Silence from today's Washington Post.

Wednesday, March 3

Public Service Announcement

With my dad in town, I wanted to do two things at dinner: (1) Avoid chain restaraunts because this is Austin, and (2) Try someplace new because I wasn't paying.

With those goals in mind, we headed to The Boiling Pot for Cajun food. I've never eaten crawfish and neither had my dad. I hoped to observe others eating to figure out how, but nobody was eating the creatures. So we tried to figure it out. In the process, I ignorantly discarded most of the meat.

Therefore, as a public service for those of you who may eat the little buggers in the future, Here's How.

Sad Story (But Funny to Elitists)

A Graduate of a Florida college that advertises on TV was surprised to find that accredited schools wouldn't accept his transfer credit. Like I said, a sad story.

In related news, when double-checking the spelling of 'elitist' for this post, I got a funny definition from This Source on Google: "One who surrounds oneself with inferiors."

Tuesday, March 2

Welcome

This Blog is happy to welcome Paul's Blog to the Sorenson Industries family of blogs. It currently lags, but I expect very good things.

Stamina Secrets

Understandably, Johnson was impressed at the kind of endurance it takes to sit through the entire Academy Awards. I agree. I also question the commitment of such a person to being a regular Joe Six-Pack, which I am. In my defense and as my secret, I say only that the task is made easier when one seeks to flirt and impress a new chick with one's witty commentary on the whole production.

Monday, March 1

Original Composition

As a home evening activity (read: lame activity), we were divided into groups and charged with creating new lyrics to popular songs. Recognizing that the shorter our song was, the better, I chose the music to The Beatles classic "Her Majesty" from their Abbey Road album. The original lyrics are:
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
But she doesn't have a lot to say
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
But she changes from day to day

I want to tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a bellyful of wine
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm going to make her mine, oh yeah
Someday I'm going to make her mine
My new lyrics are for a song called "JELL-O®":
JELL-O®'s a favorite Mormon desert
But it isn't even good -- it's gay
JELL-O®'s a favorite Mormon desert
But they never ever leave it plain

They put in carrots, marshmellows, or crops
Or they put in orange soda, juice, or Sprite®
JELL-O®'s a favorite Mormon desert
I'd almost rather eat cold tripe, oh yeah
I'd almost rather eat cold tripe
Thank you. You've been a lovely crowd.

Tonight's Simpsons Wisdom

On recycling, this Wisdom:
Bart: Oh, recycling is useless, Lis. Once the sun burns out, this planet is doomed. You're just making sure we spend our last days using inferior products.
I concur. Nothing was worse than the German toilet paper made from recycled newsprint.

The Academy Awards

Here are a few thoughts on last night's Oscars, in no particular order:
By far the most enjoyable moments of the evening was when Jack Black and Will Ferrell added lyrics to the "you've taken to long now get the hell out of the way" music, which, incidentally was underutilized throughout the program.

Nicole Kidman looked hideous. Her forehead seemed to grow throughout the broadcast.

The Lord of the Friggin' Rings may well be the most over-hyped movie of all time. The number of Oscars, tied with Ben Hur and Titanic (a movie I have not nor ever will see) for the most ever, was just obscene. The movie was long and, to me, boring as hell. Most ridiculous was the Oscar for editing! Where was the editing? The movie (and I say movie here and not film) was 27 hours long and featured 43 endings.

I though Liv Tyler's performance in LOTFR was one of the most wooden ever. But then she served as a presented. If she weren't so incredibly hot, she probably couldn't get a job at Dairy Queen.

Bill Murray was robbed! Sean Penn was way delivered way too histrionic a performance for me. Bill Murray delivered one of the finest examples of comic subtlety and humanity ever.

Sophia Coppola still ruined The Godfather Part III. Still, Lost in Translation is a must see.
And that's how I saw it.