Wednesday, October 27, 2010

And I shall love him and pet him and call him George

So, my roommate and I adopted a kitten. Which pretty much means that I'm required to frequently mention to anyone that I have now adopted an adorable kitten. And since dumbshitmycatdid.blospot was already taken, I thought I'd take a break from the regular programing to force anyone reading to listen to me talk about Neko... So, what's it like to have added a small mammal to the apartment? Why, I'm glad you asked!

Acquiring the cat
The most important part of getting a cat is realizing that your girlfriend is serious when she says she will move out if you don't get a cat this weekend, and by god does she mean it. The second most important part is taking a careful survey of yourself and realizing that you are the sort of responsible adult who can take care of a creature that cannot open doors, food bags, or discover how to exit the bottom of your couch. Once you've decided to get a cat, you can choose between an older cat or a kitten. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Kittens are adorable and energetic. Adult cats have a more settled personality and are less rambunctious. Unfortunately, their settled personality is often scared shitless because they have been abandoned to a crowded animal shelter. Annie and I opted for a kitten.

Buying things for the cat
A cat requires a box to crap in, sand to fill it, and food to provide the eventual crap for that box. And apparently a scratching post, because even a two pound kitten is capable of converting your already low quality couch into a pile of yarn within three days. I assume cats also would like a bed, though I have not yet observed my cat to sleep so much as to take short breaks from racing back and forth.

Naming the cat

Try to start by suggesting clearly unacceptable names for the cat, like Rasputin, Megatron, or naming it after your ex-girlfriends until "Professor Meowmers" sounds like a perfectly reasonable name. My cat's name is Neko, because I did not follow my own advice.

Making your home safe for a cat
Many common household items are toxic to cats and should be removed or put away before you bring your cat home. These items include:
-most plants
-and chocolate

Playing with your cat
You might be surprised how many things in your house a cat is willing to play with. Especially at three in the morning, when decent animals are resting so that they can get up for their JOBS and use their money to buy free-range cat food for their lazy pets, who apparently spent the entire day sleeping so that they would have the energy needed to stay up all night swatting spoons around the sink. Also, cats sometimes don't realize that not everything moving is asking to be pounced on. Especially fingers while writing about the cat. I mean, cats are adorable when they chase string. Really adorable.

Well, that's all for this week. Join me next week when I discuss how to profit from pet ownership, both emotionally and fiscally. That's right, underground cat fighting league, watch out for 3.4 lbs of teeth and claws from Seattle, Washington.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And Alexander wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.

I offer, with no further comment, the names and plot summaries for the first season of Steven Seagal: Lawman -

1 "The Way of the Gun" December 2, 2009 (2009-12-02)
Sheriff's Deputy Steven Seagal and his team capture an armed carjacker after a high-speed chase and tackle a convicted felon packing a pistol. In between these impressive busts, Seagal, the world-class marksman, teaches a fellow team member amazing Zen shooting techniques--techniques everyone on his team will need to survive the dangerous streets of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
2 "The Deadly Hand" December 2, 2009 (2009-12-02)
After a close call chasing a suspect with a gun, Aikido master Steven Seagal teaches his team of sheriff's deputies some self-defense and weapons retention techniques. Back out on patrol, they get called to a parking lot brawl. They detain the suspects, but one resists arrest and kicks out a patrol car window. Later, Steven encounters two belligerent men with a gun. The members of Steven's team are glad they've been trained by the best.
3 "Killer Canines" December 9, 2009 (2009-12-09)
Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team get a call for a burglary-in-progress and rush to the scene. They call in the K-9 Unit to search for a suspect who may still be in the home. Later, Steven apprehends a man who broke into a woman's house while fleeing from the police. Steven takes measures to defend his own home: guard dogs. If Steven can get his two aggressive, alpha males to work well together, he knows he'll have a canine protection team that can take on any intruder.
4 "Too Young to Die" December 9, 2009 (2009-12-09)
Steven and his team get a call to the scene of car accident involving a two-year-old but they discover that things aren't quite what they seem. Later, Steven shows some tough-love to a teenager hiding a deadly sawed-off shotgun. While off-duty, Steven visits the New Orleans Children's Hospital cancer ward and is so touched by the kids that he straps on his blues guitar and throws a benefit concert to raise money for the hospital.
5 "Firearms of Fury" December 16, 2009 (2009-12-16)
Steven and his team bust a suspect fleeing with a loaded .44 magnum and are called to the scene of a young man shot with a shotgun. With all these guns around, Steven and his team know they need to sharpen their street skills. They head to the best training they can get: a comprehensive computerized crime simulator and "real world" shoot house. Later, when a routine traffic stop takes a potentially deadly turn, Steven is glad he and his team are so well prepared.
6 "The Student Becomes the Master" December 16, 2009 (2009-12-16)
Be it apprehending suspects or making sure a woman is safe in her home, Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team patrol the streets of Jefferson Parish in honor of their former boss, the late Harry Lee. When a man is beaten by an intruder, the team catches the suspect and works to soothe the community, just as Harry would have wanted. Later, the time has come to induct the new sheriff, Newell Normand, and Steven is confident that Newell is the right man for the job.
7 "To Live or Die" December 23, 2009 (2009-12-23)
Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team find themselves in a desperate situation when two men are robbed and shot. Steven tries to keep the victims calm until the ambulance gets there but it's not clear if the men will live. While not chasing down bad guys, Steven and his partner Johnny find themselves in another desperate situation when they help rebuild a home for a family who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
8 "Medicine Man" December 30, 2009 (2009-12-30)
Deputy Chief Steven Seagal's on patrol so all the criminals run and hide. That's exactly what happens when a suspicious person call leads to an exciting chase that has Steven and his team scouring yards. Later, they face a cat and mouse game as they search a dark neighborhood for two more runners. All the running leaves Colonel John Fortunato with a knee injury. Steven takes him to a Chinese acupuncturist where he shares his knowledge of Chinese medicine and tries to make a skeptical cop into a true believer.
9 "Crack War" January 6, 2010 (2010-01-06)
The war on drugs continues on two fronts. First, Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team, responding to routine disturbance call, find a huge stash of drugs and take a big bite out of a drug dealer's business. Second, Steven and the guys cheer for a fellow officer as he competes in a best legs contest to raise money for a local drug rehabilitation center.
10 "A Parish Under Siege" January 13, 2010 (2010-01-13)
It's Friday night in Jefferson Parish and a call comes in for a near fatal car crash. Two men are rushed to the hospital while Steven and his guys search for other possible victims. Steven tries to prevent another horrendous crash by sending a couple of men walking home when he finds a bottle of rum in their car. And later, the squad meets up with SWAT to help deal with an equally dangerous threat: rodents that are undermining the Parish's all important levee system.
11 "Street Justice" January 20, 2010 (2010-01-20)
Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team get word that there may be some drug use at a local motel and there is: crack cocaine. It's a busy night, first the motel bust and then two other crack-related stops. The next day Steven teaches martial arts to a group of young people. He hopes to instill in them the discipline and self-confidence they need to stay away from the drugs he sees on the streets every day.
12 "Narc Force" January 27, 2010 (2010-01-27)
Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team join with the narcotics unit for an undercover sting on a drug dealer. But not everyone is bad. Later, when three suspicious young men prove themselves to be law-abiding citizens, Steven invites them to a big Sheriff's office picnic where he and the SWAT team demonstrate an exciting hostage rescue.
13 "Ruthless Judgment" February 3, 2010 (2010-02-03)
The night starts off badly as Deputy Chief Steven Seagal and his team rush to the scene of a man killed in a drive-by. Minutes later they race to another shooting: a man found dead in his car. Two homicides in less than an hour puts the unit on high alert and when they catch four young men out late, Steven has some stern words. But he gets down right harsh, the next night, when he finds two of them carrying drugs. But Steven has to get back to Los Angeles, it's time to make his next movie.

Ok, maybe one comment - Really?!? How in on the joke is Steven Seagal?

A favorable review of the show!

Friday, March 26, 2010

There is nothing new under the sun.

Isaac Newton v. Gottfried Leibniz

I really hate it when ideas I have turn out to have already been done by other people. It twists the thrill of invention into the agony of knowing that you are not unique, or thoughtful, or insightful, and probably just don't remember that you were watching "Histories Biggest Catapults" the night before. Damn it, I was sure I was the first to think of launching heavy rocks at buildings to smash them into a pulp. Anyway, one could take some solace in knowing that many of histories great ideas have been co-discovered.

Take, for example, the legendary dual discovery of calculus by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz was working on a paper on differential calculus when he was shown unpublished papers by Newton, who had beaten him to it by a good decade. Leibniz maintained that he'd come up with it without hearing anything from Newton, but contemporary scholars had a hard time trusting someone with such a ridiculous haircut.

Darwin's theory of natural selection was independently arrived at by Alfred Russell Wallace. Ol' Chuck began formulating a method for how species evolve after returning from his leisurely cruise of the Galapagos. Darwin worked on his theory for 20 years until he found out Wallace had arrived at the same conclusions he had. I'd like to imagine the smug look of satisfaction on Darwin's face as he broke it to poor Wallace that the Texas School Board would never even bother to omit him from their textbooks.

The only problem with these simultaneous discoveries is that they're too simultaneous. If you really want an embarrassing co-discovery, you have to have a little more space in between. Consider the work of John Smeaton, civil engineer. He had a breakthrough in using quick lime to make concrete. Concrete was a strong, cheap, pourable building material that allowed for the construction of a diverse range of structures. Which is why the Romans used it extensively, all the way back to at least 100 B.C., when the engineer Vitruvius wrote down a recipe for concrete comparable in strength to what we use now. But, the secret of concrete was lost for around 1300 years, until Mr. Smeaton brought humanity back to where they were before Visigoths ran wild throughout the Western Roman Empire. Probably with some kind of device that could hurl big rocks at those concrete structures... Damn you, Visigoths!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't Act So Surprised, Haiti

For the life of me, I cannot fathom why people are outraged over Pat Robertson's comments in the wake of the Haiti earthquakes. In case you haven't been watching the 700 Club, let me bring you up to speed. In the immediate aftermath of one of the most devastating natural disasters in history, Mr. Robertson opined that Haiti had it coming for its pact with the devil at the end of the 18th Century. Mr. Robertson believed that the slaves of Haiti, shipped over to work in sugar plantations to feed the endless appetite of the English for tea sweetener after the local population was almost totally annihilated, were unable to unshackle themselves from their cruel overlords without the machinations of satan. Living in brutal conditions in which the life expectancy for new arrivals was best measured in months, the slaves of Haiti revolted against their harsh French masters (preceding sentence only funny if you are not Haiti, Vietnam, or Algeria). But instead of heroically mounting the first successful slave rebellion in the Western hemisphere and establishing a republic with broad rights on their own, they had to drag the devil into it. In return for two centuries of crippling poverty and corruption, some sucker on Haiti got an eternity of damnation. Granted, not the best deal with the devil that's ever been made, but Haiti should have known that no deal with the devil works out well. Unless it's an arrangement to teach fiddle skills. Then you're probably ok.

Other famous deals with the devil:
-Johann Faust: A hobo chemist and astrologer (hey, the 1500s were weird) of Germany, Mr. Faust entered into a deal with one Mephistopheles to make him into an astrologer to the stars. After several years of being a well respected advisor to the court, Faust, or bits of him, were discovered in the aftermath of a gruesome alchemy experiment.

-Lando Calrissian: In order to secure the freedom of Cloud City, Lando, the dashing administrator of a successful mining operation, strikes a bargain with Darth Vader to deliver his best friend to a bounty hunter and Luke Skywalker to the Emporer. In return, a princess would be his alone, and his city would be spared. Lando (and Lobot) selfishly broke this bargain, dooming the rest of the inhabitants of Cloud City to an agonizing death and ensuring that Princess Leia would prefer a man/wall decoration to the equally charming Billy Dee Williams.

-Pat Robertson: A young Mr. Robertson went to the Tchula Junction in Mississippi and traded his immortal soul for the ability to go on television and blame natural disasters on the victims. Who but one in league with Lucifer could remain on the air after attributing terrorist attacks to lesbians and the ACLU, hurricanes to abortions, and the robot invasion of the Upper Midwest to women's suffrage? Will ol' Pat remember this deal so fondly when he is toiling in Hell's brimstone mines and writhing in the sulphur fields of eternity?

-Kobe Bryant: I don't know what the terms were, but no one will ever convince me that the Grizzlies gave up Pau Gasol to the Lakers for a bag of magic beans and Javaris Crittendon.