July 21, 2005

Let's talk goats

Goats were the first animals to be domesticated and they are hardy and social beasts.

Goats make a really cool sound called "bleating."

Goat milk is very nutritional and is used for drinking as well as manufacturing goat cheese. Goat meat is consumed all over the world.

Some goats produce specialized and valuable coats - namely mohair and cashmere. Mohair is a long fiber produced by Angora goats. It is similar to the lustrous long wool of sheep, but distinct from the angora fiber produced by Angora rabbits.

Cashmere is the soft undercoat which can be produced by nearly any type of goat. Some goats produce an excellent quantity and quality of cashmere.

Goats have also played a part in mythology. The Sumerian god Marduk was often seen in the company of a goat. The Semitic goat-god Azazel was a symbol of life and energy.

In both Judaism and Christianity the goat symbolized lewdness, though the Christians carried it much further where the goat came to be associated with lust and the devil.

Once at a petting zoo, a goat grabbed hold of my wife's sweater and wouldn't let go. My wife thought it was very funny until the goat started pulling with all its might. Then she panicked and started shrieking, which was pretty damned funny. She now has an intense fear of goats. That was quite a few years ago, but even now if the mood strikes me at bedtime I'll turn out the lights and tell her that that goat was really Satan and he can now control her through her dreams. I take an occasional elbow to the ribs, but the general reaction is usually worth the pain.

Posted by Paul! at 08:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

*I need a fix cause I'm going down

So the blog is officially scuttled. Freedom tastes sweet, my friends. Writing something has no immediate home is a welcome feeling. I decided I should tell my wife that the blog was gone before she found out on her own and went nuts. She has the insane idea that I needed the outlet. That if I didn't have an outlet I might start planning bank heists or researching kinky sexual yoga techniques or something.

So last night as we sat down to victuals, I broke the news.

“I flushed my blog down the shitter,” I said.

“You did what?”

There was a lengthy discussion about how it sapped my lifeblood. I use that a lot. Many things sap my lifeblood. Crowds, talking on the phone, shaving, traffic lights—the list is endless. But it was the truth. The blog had begun to take a toll.

“I’d like to write books too, but that doesn’t mean I want to do the fucking typesetting or the binding work. Or even pull my own weight with regards to appearances and book signings. And I certainly don’t want to clean the shelves in the bookstore after hundreds of flyers advertising penile implants are thrown all over them each night. I’m lazy by nature. Disturbingly so, as you often point out.”

I continued my diatribe and waved my finger around, and once or twice I stabbed it into the air for the sake of drama. And when I felt I’d made my point I paused and took a bite from my slightly burned French bread pizza to wait for the rebuttal.

Unfortunately, it scorched the shit out of my mouth just like those goddamned pizza rolls did a few months ago and I jumped up and danced the jig and started hollering and whatnot, which took all the starch out of my speech. And when all was settled back to normal there a long uncomfortable silence.

“I have other things to do,” I said.

“For instance?”

“Hey, I went out while I was on top, baby. I didn’t stick around like…like…”

“Someone successful?”

I couldn’t really argue that point so I switched gears.

“It’s not like I retired, I’m a consultant now. A creative blog consultant. I’ll be the first one in the industry. Struggling blogs can come to me for creative direction. I’ll do guest spots. I’ll be the Dust Brothers of the blogosphere!”

“Or you could hang that shelf in the upstairs bathroom,” she said, “I'd better make up a list.”

Posted by Paul! at 08:14 AM | Comments (7)

March 04, 2005

*History of the sucker

The lollipop probably has a long, dignified history. Unfortunately, I can’t get interested in it, so we’ll try and pick up the pace.

How hard could it be to invent a lollipop? If we’re just talking about adding the stick, I’m sure the cavemen did it with hunks of animal meat. Gopher Pops. Armadillo Pops. Carrion Pops. I’m sure there was a long list of pops.

In medieval times there were probably Mutton Pops.

But the first mention of a modern lollipop was during the Victorian period. Charles Dickens and other writers referred to a sweet lozenge without a stick in some stories. The stick was not far behind (no reference to D.L. Lawrence implied).

In 1908, George Smith claimed to be the first to invent the modern lollipop. Smith had the idea of putting hard candies on a stick to make them easier to eat. He decided to name the treat after his favorite racing horse, Lolly Pop, and later trademarked the name. Lollipops were successful until the Depression. Smith stopped production on lollipops and the name fell into public domain.

During the depression, lollipops fell out of favor due to economic concerns. Here we see a backslide into the Gopher Pops and Opossum Pops.

Once the economy recovered, some geezer in San Francisco patented the first lollipop making machine. The invention simply inserted the stick. Believe it or not, the inventors name was “Born” and the machine was called the “Born Sucker Machine.” I am not making this up. I suppose it produced one every minute.


Posted by Paul! at 01:35 PM | Comments (7)

*DFMoore Interview

The DF Moore Interview, fresh from my inbox.

In the extended...

If you could be a virtuoso musician, a famous writer or an award
winning painter, which would you choose?

My knee-jerk reaction is to say that I would be a famous writer. They
tend to make money, they work slightly less hard than a musician, and
they get to make all sorts of inane comments that seem deep but don't
actually have to be. Plus, they tend to get cushy professorial tenure
appointments at great universities. It's the closest thing we have
nowadays to a public intellectual!

Let's say you lose most of your mental capacity in a fireworks
accident. You're forced to do menial labor for the rest of your life.
What menial labor type job would you excel at?

Does playing baseball count as menial labor? How about golf? I'm not
very good so it is a lot of work

Everyone's got a favorite legume. What's yours?

Maybe lentils. But I like some of the things you can do with Soy. Like
make soy sauce for sushi. So I'm going with Soy. Definitely not the

Are you getting bored with blogging? Burnout has been know to take
it's toll on bloggers. How do you keep it interesting?

I don't know if I keep it "interesting" to my readers, but I usually
try not to post anything if I wasn't interested while I was writing or
reading it. The other problem with blogging is that it really can take
away from what you really actually do in life.

Jessica Harbour wrote the other day 'that staying away from the blog is
like refusing to talk to a destructive and emotionally vampiric friend
who's still good for a lot of fun moments.' At times, that's exactly
how I feel about blogging. And so I go away for a day or two. Or I
don't post on the weekends. Also, when I go home for the day, I'm done
with the internet pretty much for good. Definitely done with
blog-reading. Or I turn to posting only about stuff I'm doing in real
life (grad school related info).

You seem to very bright and motivated. There must be a flip side to
that coin. What are some things about you that would surprise us?

I don't know if it would surprise anyone, but I'm very diputatious.
And I tend to debate more with people that I am closer to agreement on
than with other people. Sometimes this turns people off but I just
like a good debate. I'm sort of like a modern day Socrates. I'll pick
at people's argument until they get that they have to be absolutely
consistent and on the right path with their statements.

Oh, also, and I'm not sure that this will surprise either, but I no
absolutely nothing about science. I've been faking it for about 10
years now and I'm just hoping no one catches on until after I get the

Best work of fiction ever written?

The best ever? Oh man. Really, I can't answer this question properly.
There are some that I really really like (Les Miserables, Great
Gatsby, LOTR... There are just too many great ones to answer this
question. And they're all different. I mean, does the Illiad count as
fiction or a history? Shakespeare's Histories? Really, it depends on
the mood you're in for this answer...

What are your favorite movies?

LOTR Trilogy, St. Elmo's Fire, High Fidelity, Better Off Dead, Fight
Club - I don't know. I like lots of movies. Different movies for
different times, you know...

Do you care about the Oscars? Do you buy into all the hype?

Nope. Not at all. The good thing about them though is that they give
me more of a chance to see movies like Finding Neverland that I didn't
ge tto see their first time around. They never pick the really good
movies anyway - like 'Bring It On'

Let's say you just won the lottery and got a check for 10 million
dollars. What do you do with it?

I pay the taxes on it. And probably buy a new car but then put it away
in savings until a future date when I actually have to do adult things
like buying a house and paying for kids and all that jazz. Boring, I
know, but there isn't really anything that I desperately want but
can't really afford right now. And really I don't enter the lottery
for less than a $200 million payout.

Where do you find your inspiration in life?

Everywhere. I don't know. From friends, family, the way the world
works, Damien Rice, etc. Things just come to me - who can say where
ideas come from?

(For the rest of the DFMoore interview, go here.)

Posted by Paul! at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005

*Paul's lesson of the week

History of the Hot Dog*

Hot dogs were popular fare as far back as Roman times. That’s right, friends, long before linguine there were hot dogs.

The history of the hot dog can be traced to the year 850 BC where it was mentioned in Homer's Odyssey:

As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted...

There’s a long story about the Romans inventing the hot dog, but why belabor the point.

They next turn up in 1400s when a German butcher named Johann Georghehner made some in his basement and went to Frankfurt to promote this new food.

Enter the Bun

In the late 1800s, a German fellow by the name of Feuchtwanger was peddling hot dogs in the street. Sales were far and few between and he began to wonder why when a customer walked up. Feuchtwanger took the fellows cash, grabbed his tongs, and handed the man a hot dog that had been on the grill for several hours. Since the hot dog was about 350°, he started screaming and dropped the sausage. Feuchtwanger finally got the picture.

The next day Feuchtwanger started giving each customer a white glove so they wouldn’t burn their hands. It was not a profitable idea. It was then that bun was born. (Believe it or not, I have not started making things up yet.)

What’s in a hot dog?

Since Upton Sinclair published The Jungle in 1906, the government has taken at least some action to stop people from filling them with horses’ rectums and sawdust, but who really knows.

There are some hot dog terms regulated by law:

Beef/All-Beef - contain only beef, with no soybean protein or dry milk solid fillers added. Can that include cow lips and noses? I have my suspicions.

Kosher all-beef – self-explanatory.

Meat - a mixture of pork and beef, usually in a 40:60 ratio with no fillers. This opens the door to possible pig snouts and testicles.

Frankfurter - This may contain up to 3.5% fillers, and is made from a combination of meats. What do they mean by fillers? Supposedly flour, cereals or oatmeal, but I suspect it includes beetles, rat dung and a generous portion of floor sweepings.

Who makes the best hot dogs?

Hell if I know, they all taste like salt to me. I could probably make a case for Sabretts, but that’s probably because I’ve usually eaten them outside a bar at three o’clock in the morning. When I’d probably eat dog food.

*Some information has been fabricated for the sake of interest


Posted by Paul! at 01:46 PM | Comments (7)

March 02, 2005

*Sandbox Dave Interview

Here's a great interview with Dave from Reverse Retna From the Sandbox. I'm particularly pleased with one!

In the extended...

What's the most interesting thing about being in Iraq?

Believe it or not it is the total lack of wonton death and destruction. I've now joined the legions of Bloggers that would like to get the word out that Johnny Jihadist isn’t the boogeyman waiting under every bed here. "The whole situation isn't teetering on the head of pin, Bob (done in my best Wolf Blizter impression)." Don't get me wrong there are people that want to do us harm and want to hurt the stability of the country but they just seem really weak compared to what the media has made them out to be. People are dying, no doubt about that and I really do mourn their loss. But the terrorist are weakening every minute of everyday and that's because of the Americans AND the Iraqis.

At the same time Iraq is getting stronger. The Iraqi forces are becoming more organized and disciplined, schools are being built, there are sewers being installed where there never were before, political discussions of cooperation are taking place, power is being restored (both literally and figuratively). These are the stories that should be told. The dead should be mourned but not dwelt on. All the accomplishments here are going to be the true memorial to everyone that dies fighting on the side of right in this war. So, these are the things we need to focus on and remember to truly honor the fallen. I've gotten way off the point but I thought it needed to be said. The most interesting thing about being in Iraq is that it is actually coming together now and I personally think this is an incredible time to be here and watch a government being built from scratch.

Do you have to stay on the base or can you go places? Are there safe zones?

I personally have to stay on base for the most part. There are some guys that go out everyday. Security patrols, Civil Affairs, Truck Drivers and the like. As far as safe zones, well, we'd like to think that some of them are safe but with the silly little Jihadist "I get 70 some-odd virgins for dying at the hands of the dirty pig nasty Americans" Joy Luck Club running around no where is 100% safe. There has only been one successful attack in our area since I arrived but you always have to stay alert.

Have you met any locals? What is your impression of the Iraqi people?

I actually work with about 12 Interpreters and get to interact with a variety of local media and officials. I think I've posted on this a few times but my overall opinion is that the Iraqis are wonderful people on the norm. You kind of have to handle everything with some tact though. These are also a very proud people and any insinuation that they "need" us or a generalization that terrorist are the same as regular Muslims draws a rather tense non-verbal response. I don't believe either. This is a culture several thousand years in the making. They were around before us and before the extremist and will likely be here long after all that's gone. But for the most part, like with anyone else, if you approach them with respect and try to understand their culture and language then they tend to be extremely warm and open.

What do you do with your down time? Do you get any?

Actually my downtime is really interspersed with my work time. My work goes in spurts so I surf the net, watch T.V., and chit-chat with others here in the building. When I do "get off" for the day I tend to go back to my room to read, work out, and sleep. Really not that much going on over here but I keep well enough entertained.

You seem totally bored with your job over there. Surely there must be some excitement?

I'd like to be able to say that there is but for me it just isn't so. I wouldn't say I'm all that bored though. I have no idea what the hell I'm really doing so there's challenges o'plenty. I've recently taken to calling what I do Gonzo Web design in honor of Hunter S. Thompson. I never really understood his chaotic view of life until I started dealing with this web site. Now I get what it's like to be totally lost and stumbling through something in a totally chaotic way while maintaining the perception of control.

Has being in Iraq changed your perception of the world? How?

The only thing I would say has changed is my perception of Iraqis. I guess I had a certain naivety about their country. I just assumed that because of Saddam it was a third world country (as most ruled by a dictator are) but I found them to be very educated and skilled with technology. My perception of the world as a whole though still stands. It is flat and square and all this "globe" business is just a bunch of bull-hockey.

Do you feel safe where you are stationed?

Actually I really do. Things apparently have improved dramatically from even six months ago. And I have to give a lot of credit to what I call the "trigger-pullers". These are the guys at the gates and out on patrols. They go out everyday and do their job and protect us and the Iraqis. Sometimes it is in a defensive capacity and sometimes it is offensive but with them out there (as my buddy Broadcast Mike would say) "ready to do harm on my behalf" I feel generally safe. Which leaves me free to worry about my bigger concerns like having running water and avoiding athletes' foot. Oh and clowns. I really don't like clowns, with their funny colored hair and too big shoes. Damn clowns.

How about friends? Is there a lot of bonding going on within your unit?

Oh, there's a little more than bonding going on. If you know what I mean. And I think you do. No honestly, sure there are bonds being formed. I'm still kind of an outsider because I've fallen in on a reserve unit that has been together for a while. But I'm fitting in as much as can be expected for someone that spends the better part of his day screaming at a computer. And the folks here are very supportive of what I'm trying to do. I still think they believe that I know what I'm doing but I won't tell them that just yet. Luckily none of them read my blog on a daily basis, if at all, so my secret is safe for now.

Is there anything you need and can't get? Are family and friends sending everything you need?

Pretty much everything I need I have. My wife is sending me some items from home that I didn't have room for in my bags but other than that I'm fairly easy to please. We get a lot of care packages here and most of the stuff is put out as communal property so plenty of junk food and toiletries in this general AO. I'd have to say the most annoying things are the books. There are like a gazillion used books floating around the war zone. Which is very thoughtful and all. But let’s remember that we are in a war zone and 95% of the books are about WAR! Gee, that's how I want to relax and escape from a long day in war zone! Please send books on anything else. Even clowns. I'd rather read a book on clowns. Damn clowns.

What's a typical day like for you? Do you work normal hours or is it crazy?

Before the site went down it was a typical 0800 to 1800 day. That's 8am to 6pm for those that don't do military time. Since the site has gone down. Well, I've taken to sleeping here every once in awhile. So, if you mean normal by normal people standards then no it is kind of crazy. If you mean normal for someone forward deployed in the military, well, I'd say it is just about as it should be.

Posted by Paul! at 06:23 PM | Comments (1)

February 27, 2005

Jessicarrot Interview

The Jessicarrot Interview. Enjoy.

In the extended...

Is it a humbling experience to know you might have been outwitted
by a nine-year old playing board games?

Not as humbling as it is when I'm outwitted by my three year old. Not so
much outwitted maybe, as completely suckered. I mean, how does he know to
make that face with his head to one side, eyes smiling in little crescent
slits and that devious little smile...its not like he practices in the
mirror, or does he?

But seriously, no it really doesn't humble me to be outwitted by a nine year
old, especially when the nine year old is my nephew. I love to see how kids
think. Its fascinating.

I know you're LDS. How are your day to day interactions with
others seeing as how you live by very strict moral rules?

I don't think my day to day interactions with other people are affected at
all by living "strict" moral rules. Basically, I decline coffee or tea when
its offered and I never really get invited to social events where alcohol is
served. I have to say, I honestly have never thought about it. Thats
interesting, I wonder if my non-LDS friends do? There now I've answered a
question with a question.

I've somehow gotten the impression that your husband is the same
age as you, and the two of you graduated college together. Did he
ever do his mission, or did the two of you get married before he had
to go?

My husband is 4 years older than me. He served his mission in North Dakota.
So we went to college at the same time... He started a year before me but
took a semester off Junior year to woo me. :) So when we got married we
both had 2 years of school left...fun times.

I know you have two children. I find it hard to believe that I
have no idea if they are boys, girls or one of each. Which is it?

I have one son, the wily 3 year old and a daughter who is 1 1/2 and so cute
I sometimes can't stop smiling. I don't use their names because...I just
don't know. I guess because I'm such a celebrity, I want them to have a
normal life. Ha ha ha ha haaaa!

Will you ever post your paintings on your blog?

If I ever paint something worthwhile, maybe. I don't think my blog is about
paintings, but if anyone else has some artwork they want to share I'll put
it up...

And, how is the piano coming along (i.e. Do you ever plan to take
it back up)?

The piano...so many memories. I don't have a piano right now, but I'd love
to get one. For some reason I still associate the piano with stress and
humiliation though. (I used to accompany my church when I was a teenager
and I was a horrible pianist. Seriously, there would be whole lines sung a
cappella and wrong chords and complete disregard of rests...EVERY time I
played. Humiliating.) I have a future sister in law who is a musical
genius and makes me wish I could play...but right now I don't really have
the time.

Have you ever regretted blogging about something?

Yes and no. I regret when I say things that are proven wrong or that are
just flat out stupid. But then I think its good for me to be humbled
constantly. More than 9 year olds who can outwit me, it humbles me when I
realize just how little I know. I think I started out thinking I had
something important to contribute and I've since realized that I have a
whole lot to learn before I can get to that point.

Do you ever get tired of reading your own thoughts?

Why because I'm the only one who does? Just kidding. You know, I don't
know how this will come off, but I don't. Occasionally I cringe at the
things I've put down, but a lot of times its interesting to go back and see
what I thought and why things brought out whatever emotion...is that too

Who should be president after W?

Michelle Malkin or the GOVENATOR, or maybe they should run together...

What's your favorite book? Movie? Musical talent?

My favorite book...hard question. Well, one of them has to be "A Suitable
Boy" by Vikram Seth. I always say my favorite movie is Before the Rain,
but I haven't seen it in years, so at the moment my favorite movie is...
Shallow Hal? And when I say at the moment, I mean at this very moment.
I need a good laugh and Jack Black is hilarious!

My favorite musical talent...the ability to effortlessly sing in harmony...I
wish I could.

When will you admit that Moore didn't lie? ;)

Very funny. I'll admit he didn't lie as soon as they change the definition
of "lie" from :

1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

1. A true statement that is actually factual.
2. Something that is explicitly clear and trustworthy.

Posted by Paul! at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

*El Capitan Interview

Here’s an interview with El Capitan. Enjoy!

In the extended...

What is your most conducive idea-induction method for your blog topics?

Well, it's certainly not current events. Rarely does something in the news enrage/enrapture me enough to blog about it. I don't often jump on a blogswarm issue, either. There's already too many people copying what the Big Dogs are doing. Mostly the best idea jump-starters are just random things I see on the 'net, or events from my personal life.

Why haven't you written a novel yet?

The inability to get the words on paper fast enough. I'm a really crappy typist, and I can't make my fingers keep up with the narrative in my head. Once I start losing ideas through the lag between the time I dream it up and the time I can get it "down on paper", I get seriously annoyed with myself and then I just quit trying for awhile. Handwriting's no good. I have a scrawl that’s not only embarrassing to see, it's not all that fast, either. I played around with one of the speech-to-text computer applications a few years back, but it's not all that good at dealing with a Texas drawl. Any stenographers out there needing dictation practice? A percentage of my forthcoming Nobel & Pulitzer prizes can be yours!

Did that chick at your 21st B-Day party really have chest hair or was it an optical illusion?

Alas, she was a hirsute wench. A touch too much of one hormone or another, or possibly steroids when she was a gymnast, and it led to a bit of excessive hair on various spots like the sideburn area, lower belly and unfortunately, her cleavage. We're not talking Burt Reynolds-style fur here, just the usual vellus hair everyone has that was just a bit more prominent. She was still as cute as a speckled pup in a red wagon, but the fuzz was... distracting.

Ever given an illicit plant a ride?

This question deserves its own post! Let's just say that yes, I did transfer a 2 foot high marijuana plant in a flower pot on the front seat of my car between several houses one summer afternoon looking for someone to take it in. This seems excessively idiotic, I know, but back in the days before mandatory minimums and Zero Tolerance, less than an ounce of usable product just got you a $100 Class C misdemeanor ticket. The plant was a result of a dropped seed that magically sprouted in a friend's mother's flower garden. The whole story really needs about 2000 words to tell properly, so keep an eye on my blog for it! (OK, blatant self-promotion, I admit it!)

Did you ever have an intimate moment with L-l-l-lambert?

OK, I'm just gonna say this one time! I...did...NOT...have sex with that inflatable sheep! However, I know who did! Laaaaaambert was a gift on one of my birthdays, probably my 22nd, if I recall correctly.

My friend Rockhauler and I were working our final summer on Scout Camp staff that year, and since my birthday came around in July, I was the recipient of some extremely funny, yet ill-advised gifts while camp was in session.
Rockhauler drove all the way to Austin from the Canyon Lake area to find a p()rno store to get a good gift. I don't recall if he was specifically after inflatable sex toys, or if the sheep was an inspired selection. He had the Harrison twins in tow, and they couldn't have been older than 15 or 16 that year. Rockhauler said their expressions upon entering the p()rno store were that of pilgrims arriving at a holy shrine. He apparently had to remind them to keep their jaws shut lest they inhale a soiled kleenex or two off of the floor.

The sheep was big hit around staff site at camp. I don't know if it was the painted-on lipstick, the dainty hooves, or the 24" long vaginal cavity, (measured with a broomstick) but it sure got some laughs. I'm told that a proto-jarhead named Williams from Texas A&M (well, that figures) attempted carnal knowledge of Laaaaaambert one night, but I can't confirm that, and Laaaaaambert never 'fessed up.

Laaaaaambert hung around for several years, getting dragged out of the closet and inflated for various college parties. I've got a pic somewhere of a group of friends posing with the sheep that I need to dig up and post. Laaaaaambert eventually suffered a fatal case of peritonitis after another broomstick insertion by some drunk person, and was given a burial in the trash bin with full sheep sex-toy honors.

Out of all your posts, does any single one stand out as your best?

Nah, not really. My personal favorite was probably this one about cats and germs, but I think the writing was better on my assorted Tales From The Bus Stop. I put the most amount of time and effort into this one. Oddly enough, I get almost zero feedback from the visitors to my blog about what works, and what doesn't. I doubt I'd make radical changes based on a couple of suggestions from strangers, but some occasional critiquing would be nice.

Will you ever drink Old English 800 again?

No, probably not. On those days you just gotta pollute your brain with malt liquor (and those days are VERY few and far between!) there's always Mickey's in the wide-mouth bottles. For an efficient alcohol delivery system, it's hard to beat!

Who are your three favorite bloggers?

Sigh. You would ask this one. Now I get to alienate the bloggers who wound up in the 4th, 5th and 6th spots!

Steve of Hog On Ice, for one. I have a like/dislike thing with this guy. I'd say it was a love/hate relationship, but I don't have that level of emotional energy invested, and we certainly don't have a relationship. I read his blog daily, 'cause he's hands-down one of the funniest bloggers out there. I never really got IMAO's style, and Scrappleface just leaves me cold. Steve, though, just flat-out slays me sometimes. His recipes are great (if somewhat dangerous) and he posts constantly, never taking these mini-sabbaticals that a lot of the other bloggers I read do.

The flip side is, he occasionally comes off as one of the most arrogant, egotistical tight-arsed moral crusader that I've ever known. The "poor little rich boy" theme that shows up every so often doesn't sit well with me, either. Still, my likes about his blog outweigh the dislikes by a factor of 8 to 1.

I enjoy Graumagus of Frizzen Sparks quite a bit. He's had more than his share of personal ups and downs, causing unavoidable gaps in his blog output, but is usually a very good read. Plus, out of all the bloggers I've run across, he and I share many similarities including being follically challenged, bearing a more than passing resemblance to the Michelin Man, and enjoying historical weaponry. He's a braver man than I, though, as he's gone the wife & kids route. He's also younger than I am, which I find very odd. I had him pegged for being in his mid-40's. I definitely need to buy him a beer or three sometime!

Finally, there's Acidman. Rob is the wellspring from which all curmudgeonly blogging flows. He can piss you off and warm your heart, all in the same post.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm 4 months into the daily blogging thing, and I see no signs of boredom. I'm meeting new people and getting a lot of writing done, so I think you can expect to see me slowly building my readership over the coming year. When live video-blogging becomes de rigeuer, I'm gonna quit, though, or buy a gorilla suit. I have to say, I really like the pseudo-anonymity I have now. If I had to blog under my real face and name, I wouldn't be having nearly as much fun.

When was the last time you threw up?

Hmmm... I didn't know there were emetophiles reading the blog!
Well, if you don't count the occasional backwash that hits the back of your throat after a huge belch, then I would have to say it was early in 2003, following a case of seriously nasty food poisoning from (I assume) the cole slaw on a BBQ sandwich. Ate it while leaving Memphis, felt queasy about Texarkana, was seriously nauseous when I hit Dallas, and had purged it all soon after arriving home. The last drunk yak was probably in the late '80s.

Who's hungry, now? Let's go get some vegetable soup!

Posted by Paul! at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

*Eskimo Snow

How many words do the Eskimos have for snow?

Not as many as you think. Most people have read somewhere that the Eskimo language has hundreds, or even thousands, of words for snow. Fascinating, huh? Well, don’t believe everything you read on a cereal box.

According to people with more fancy degrees than me, it’s all a load of stinking crap.

If you decided to do some research of your own on the subject, you will find many websites that claim lists of Eskimo words for snow. However many of the words are misused or even made up. Here are two examples taken from Geoffrey Pullum's 1991 work The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language:

Igluksaq - reported as snow for igloo making. Comes from the iglu (house) and ksaq (material for). Thus it really just means building materials for a house.

Saumavaq - reported as covered in snow. This word is a verb meaning "it has been covered", and doesn't not necessarily imply snow.

So the next time you’re hovering around the cheese plate at party full of academics, you can go ahead and make some conversation. Because that’s more polite than a right hook to the solar plexus. Though not nearly as rewarding.


Martin, Laura. 1986 "Eskimo Words for Snow": A Case Study in the Genesis and Decay of an Anthropological Example. American Anthropologist 88(2):418-423

Pullum, Geoffery K. 1991 The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax, and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language, University of Chicago Press.

Posted by Paul! at 11:21 AM

February 24, 2005

*A History of snacks

Potato Chips

As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are inhaled by the American masses by the ton. The history of the potato chip goes back to 1853, when George Crum, a Native American chef was working at a posh resort in Saratoga Springs, New York.

After Jefferson brought the recipe for French fries back from Europe, they had become extremely popular. He made them a sensation after serving them at Monticello. Many restaurants started putting them the menu, including Crum.

One night a customer complained about the fries, claiming that they were too thick. Crum cut up a thinner batch, but these, too, were rejected by the customer. At his wits end, Crum decided to stick it to the jackass once and for all. He sliced the potatoes as thin as humanly possible. The customer loved them and they became a local sensation.

They were mainly a local dish until Herman Lay started peddling them from the trunk of his car in the 1920s.

Did you know that pretzels have been around for almost 1400 years?

Somewhere between Northern Italy and Southern France a monk baking unleavened bread for Lent decided to make some shapes out of leftover dough. Since Christians in those days prayed with their hands across their chests, he tried to emulate the position with the dough. He named the new treats 'pretiola' - a Latin word meaning 'little reward'.

I would have handed this one to the Germans. Go figure.


Did you know that some scholars believe the main use of early cultivated maize was for popping?

In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, "They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection."

Some years later, clever people somewhere decided it would taste even better if it were coated with a greasy, synthetic butter substitute.

Before long, technology was consigned to find a way to make popcorn available to consumers as quickly as possible. Hence, the microwave oven was born. It was soon discovered that microwave popcorn could easily catch fire in the new device, producing a smell that was almost impossible to disperse. Synthetic molecular replications of this popcorn gas was later used by the military in developing chemical weapons.

In recent months, the use of microwave popcorn in the workplace has come under fire from employee advocate groups nationwide. Citing loss of taste, smell and nausea, these groups lobbied Congress to introduce a bill banning popcorn of any type in the workplace.

Popcorn manufacturers and the North American Association of Dentists have pulled together to try and stop the bill from advancing.

*some information has been fabricated to make the subject more interesting.

Posted by Paul! at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

*The Antimedia Interview

Here’s an interview with Antimedia, a man on a mission.

In the extended...

You’re on a serious mission to point out media bullshit. What put you over the top and got you to start a blog?

I've been writing letters to the editor for years. Most don't get published. I would read editorials that I felt weren't as well written or researched as what I would do or distorted the facts in a way that was really irritating. I'd write a letter to the editor, and it would disappear into the black hole.

One day I heard about Raad's blog and I started reading it. During the bombardment of Baghdad, I found myself worrying constantly about his well-being. That's when I realized that blogs were a really big deal.

One thing led to another and one day I started a blog. The next day I asked myself what the hell I was doing, so I deleted it. The following day I realized, if I didn't blog, I'd explode, so I started it again. And here I am.

Have you ever interviewed or contacted any mainstream media personnel and pressed them on an issue?

No, I haven't. I've been interviewed on a number of occasions, and I'm well aware of what it feels like to be quoted out of context. I'm aware of the pressures reporters are under - time constraints, space constraints and editorial constraints. So I understand why they don't tell the whole story. That doesn't make me any happier to be miss-quoted though.

If I was going to interview someone, I'd pick one of the obnoxious ones, like O'Reilly (who I can't stand) or Chris Matthews (who completely disgusts me) and I'd grill them until they couldn't take it any more, then ask them how it felt to be on the business end of the knife.

Fortunately I don't have cable, so I'm not subjected to either of those bozos except through third parties.

In your opinion, which mainstream media outlets do the least spinning / report most accurately?

In my opinion (and readers should always keep in mind, these are my opinions), in general, the more local the outlet, the more they tend to be accurate. The problem is the national and international outlets (AP, Reuters, the alphabets) dominate the major stories and the small outlets just parrot them uncritically. Of the mainstream media outlets, I think Fox does the best job of trying to be accurate, but none of them do a really good job.

In your opinion, which blogs do the least spinning / report most accurately?

I think Belmont Club is good in that respect. So is Steve Vincent's In the Red Zone. At one time Andrew Sullivan was, but then he went off the deep end.

Depending upon the subject, Kevin Drum has been objective. I liked Michele Malkin's angry reaction to the "payola" stories of conservative journalists taking money from the administration. She's very controversial, but she'll rip into Bush just as quickly as she will into a liberal. If you've read her case for internment, it's hard to argue with her research.

I think Donald Sensing is pretty objective as well. Some others that come to mind are Roger Simon, Instapundit, Arthur Chrenkoff and Michael Totten.

Which MSM outlets do you find the most bias, in either direction?

Some might find this surprising, but I think NBC (not CBS or CNN) is the most liberal of all. Fox is criticized for being too conservative, but in my opinion they are much less conservative than people think. The problem is that the media leans to the left so much that the center looks like the right. NewsMax is a conservative media outlet. I can't stand to read it and haven't in some time.

Do you think blogs will ever become a part of MSM?

No. Some bloggers will be assimilated. Some may even sell out for big money. But the "real" bloggers aren't journalists. They're citizens who have "regular" jobs and blog because they love to and because they have to. Blogging is too personal (for most) to be commercial.

I think the MSM will recede in importance and blogs will become the normal way of getting news. (See my post - The Cathedral, the Bazaar and Blogs.)

Would you consider yourself news obsessed?

Are you kidding? I watched almost all of the OJ trial. (And btw, I don't think he did it - I think his son Jason did. I have a book about it that I could lend you.....) I watch every Presidential speech. I was glued to the TV during the Challenger disaster. I watch every State of the Union address. I will sometimes stay up all night during a "big" story and then go to work on time anyway. I always sit up to 2 or 3AM on election night.

Yeah, I'm obsessed.

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

I own a 1949 Chevy pickup that I'm restoring. I work a lot, even from home, because I love my job with a passion. I maintain a small website for some good friends (all the techie stuff, not the content.) I like to watch movies with my wife (sometimes as many as six in a weekend.)

And I have a really good friend that I spend time with - he's old and disabled and can't get around much, but I love him and I love spending time with him. He's bull headed and alienates people easily, but he has a heart of gold. And he can tell tall tales like no one I've ever known. He can captivate an audience for hours. He gets all my computer hand-me-downs. We like to go to (car) swap meets and go out for breakfast on Saturdays.

Football or baseball?

No contest. Football. (My father in law would kill me if he read this. He's baseball nuts.) I love NASCAR too, though, and I'm a Jeff Gordon fan. Last Sunday was heaven. :)

Is there any one post you’re especially proud of?

Yes. The Cathedral, the Bazaar and Blogs. I think it accurately portrays where blogs and the media are headed and what the outcome will be. I'm also proud of the work I did on the Swiftvets story, although my blog is so small and new that few really noticed.

Posted by Paul! at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

*History of the paper clip

Shank asks:

I've always wondered who invented the paperclip, and was this person swindled out of their royalties. Or do they still collect to this day?

That’s an interesting question--if you have a prescription for Phenobarbital.

The first bent-wire paper clip was patented by Samuel B. Fay in 1867. This link provides a gallery of styles, showing what the early clips look like if you scroll down.

You’d think that would be cut and dry, but it’s not. Other sources cite the clip as being invented by a Norwegian fellow in 1899. Frankly, I’m skeptical.

As to the collection of royalties? I’m no patent lawyer, but since a patent was actually granted on the clip, rights would have been protected for a number of years. Of course both of these geezers are long dead so it’s inconsequential. I believe a patent would have either long ago expired or someone else has found away around it, which is typical. Their estates are probably up the creek on present day royalties.

Posted by Paul! at 12:28 PM | Comments (4)

*On to the history portion of today's programming

On this day in 1994, double agent Aldrich Ames was arrested.

Ames was CIA operative who sold secrets to the Soviet Union, including the names and identities of every US spy in Russia. Many of the agents were picked up and sent to gulags and at least ten of them were simply killed.

Also on this day, 1942, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur out of the Philippines.

In other historic news, Disney’s Cinderella opened in theaters across America on this day in 1950. I don’t know why so many people hate the Disney Company. Does it have to do with Uncle Remus?

Have a history question? Leave them in the comments and I’ll either get to the truth or fabricate a believable answer.

Posted by Paul! at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)

*And we're out of the gate

Well, I’ve been at this for all of one day and I’m already on dangerous footing.

Jim has posed three questions in the comments and I’m obliged, by the Rules of Blogging Manual to answer them (vol. 2, sec. 14, p. 317, paragraphs 3 & 4).

1. Why do dogs lick their balls?

I was determined not bring Jen’s blog down into the sewer and now Jim’s gone and said the word “balls” in the comments. I mean really, Jim, you could have asked ‘Why do canines lick their scrotums’ which would have at least alluded to a serious scientific question. The answer, of course, is because they can.

2. What's the difference between a flying squirrel and a bat anyway?

Semantics? Actually, bats are unique mainly because of their wings. They give the bat it’s name, Chiroptera, which means ‘hand-wing’. They have fully functional hands at the end of those wings, including a thumb. Squirrels, on the other hand, are filthy creatures from hell. I once had a very bad experience with a squirrel.

3. If Michael Moore was trapped in a (very, very large) room, how long would it take him to consume himself?

I honestly don’t know. But I’ll try to calculate how long it would take for him to be consumed by a colony of seventy-three carnivorous bats from the Madhya Pradesh province of India.

I guess that qualifies as ‘stuff’. I hope to post some history later today.

Posted by Paul! at 07:38 AM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2005



I'm not Jennifer.

I'm sure you've noticed that Jen hasn't posted in while. And now here I am, posting in her stead. Truth is, I'm going to be filling in for a while, because she's a little "tied up" at the moment. Feel free to speculate if you like.

Anyway, I know what you're thinking. Is this moron going to bring Jen's wonderful blog down to the potty level? Will he be posting his tasteless brand of humor?

You'll just have to wait and see.

First order of business is the interviews. I'll be posting a schedule for these sometime today and they will continue as usual. After that, anything goes.

So. What'll it be--History or stuff?

Posted by Paul! at 02:41 PM | Comments (6)