Friday, June 30, 2006

UPDATE: The Day Gets Weirder

Fun photos from the AP:The whole clan, looking so natural together.

The records room, where I can truthfully say that only Koizumi is showing the proper level of enthusiasm.

Koizumi breaks into song in the Jungle Room. I imagine the awkwardness in the room was unbearable.

And last, but certainly not least, the Elvis statue in Tokyo erected by the Tokyo Elvis Fan Club of which (wait for it, wait for it...) Koizumi is senior advisor. Oh yes, baby. Oh. Yes. Now THAT is devotion.

Second Sign of the Apocalypse: Bush Comes to Visit Me!

It's been so long since the first sign of the apocalypse I was starting to wonder if we hadn't avoided disaster. However, my doubts were allayed when I learned that today, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan are coming to Graceland. Not only that, they're meeting Lisa Marie and Priscilla there. So, to recap, mere minutes from now, W, the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Presley girls are going to be hanging out at Graceland while I am practically within shouting distance (hmmm, what shall I shout?). Apparently the Prime Minister is a fan of the King. I'm not sure what it is with the Japanese and Elvis, but there seems to be a special connection.

Oh, but that's not all. No, before leaving my dear city, they will be having a bar-b-que feast at The Rendevous, which is a world famous bar-b-que joint downtown that has no business being world famous. (Their sauce really isn't up to par.) If you're ever in town, ask me, and I'll point you in the direction of some real Memphis food. Apparently, Bushie didn't think it was necessary to ask for my advice on the matter although in general, if he was taken to asking me for advice, he probably wouldn't be doing such a crappy job governing our country.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dad Weighs In

Apparently it's family week here at The O.P. :) After seeing An Inconvenient Truth, my Dad, a long-time envirnomentalist, was moved to write six of our local and state representatives. I thought his letter was well-written, incredibly informative, persuasive, and overall a better product than that which I could have produced. I offer up a draft version here. I realize that it is long and that it's your choice to read it...but we are talking about the survival of our species here, and I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as members of the human race to inform ourselves of the issues surrounding global climate change and to take action whenever possible. I thought this letter should be available for more than just a few Tennessee senators to read.

Dear Representative:

I write this as a scientist (plant taxonomy and plant ecology) who is greatly concerned about one of the eminent threats facing us as a species (and most of the other species co-inhabiting the Earth) - global warming. It is time to look past all of the political maneuvering that has taken place pertaining to this problem. This is unquestionably not a problem that should be held hostage by politics. This is a problem which is clearly understood and conclusively and unanimously supported by all scientists who have knowledge of global warming (e.g., Stephen Hawking)[1], its causes and effects. It is not something that will not go away if we decide to ignore it. The data strongly support its existence and its predicable devastating effects. There is no longer a question about the validity of global warming. It is a fact.

Essentially the entire scientific community associated with this subject has determined that significant, catastrophic things will happen (enormous global devastation, including major, destructive climatological change) if global warming is not addressed without delay. A few of the more obvious consequences include: floods; droughts and associated fires; larger, more devastating, and more numerous storms; and coastal immersion throughout the world that is expected to displace up to 100 million people in these areas. Less obvious ramifications are: increase of strife and warfare due to hunger caused by desertification of certain parts of the world; decline of species population and possible extinction; altering of forests, crop yields, and water supplies.

The U.S. and Australia are the only two large countries in the world that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases. As an American, I am deeply ashamed of this fact. It shows either a clear ignorance, or a total lack of responsibility to the American people by those who made the decision not to participate. Neither is tolerable. If proper steps are not taken soon, my generation may not live to see the worst of the disaster that is sure to result, but my children certainly will. This is most certainly not acceptable; things can change; things must change!

If you are not currently well-informed about the subject, for the sake of your constituents, I implore you to become better educated about global warming. (This does not mean reading press releases which have been digested by biased writers (which, unfortunately, at this time seem to be overabundant.)) I think that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth is a good starting point (and a vehicle to consolidate the issue). This movie is the best data-based information provider on the subject currently available, but has limitations in that it is only about an hour and one-half long. Much more can be gleaned from science-based periodicals and other (science-based) sources. If nothing else, please spend a few minutes of your time listening to a “Fresh Air” (with Terry Gross) interview with Tim Flannery, an Australian paleontologist, at [2].

Things that can be done to halt and reverse global warming include: promulgating a carbon tax; supporting the Fuel Economy Amendment; promoting and/or pouring support into the development of alternative energy sources (see Apollo Alliance[3]) to begin quickly moving from using fossil fuels to using renewable fuels such as ethanol, wind, solar and geothermal; instituting tax incentives for citizens who demonstrate switches to “green” energy products (everything from purchasing hybrid cars, to building homes to a high standard of energy efficiency, to advocating the use of geothermal heating and cooling in residential and commercial construction, to the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, to support for recycling); and promoting and/or supporting the purchase of energy-efficient vehicle fleets used by pubic agencies; ...anything and everything that would help reduce our country’s drastically high consumption of fossil fuels with its concomitant release of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere. Solving the global warming problem will also move this country toward energy independence, something we should have been working towards for many years.

This is not “rocket science”; it is only taking the control of these matters from those few who stand to gain (short-term) from leaving things status quo and giving that control to the vast majority of Americans (your constituency base) who would greatly benefit from such a shift and who unquestionably want this to happen. To continue along our current path is immoral and obscene. The massive use of energy and it associated tremendous pollution is already easily recognized as the basis for much of the friction between the U.S. and many other parts of the world. As stated above, reversing global warming would strongly move us towards energy independence, which would, obviously, dramatically help lessen tensions between the United States and much of the rest of the world.

Please do what is the morally right thing to do; put global warming on the top of your priority list and begin pushing for the steps that will bring about its alleviation before it’s too late. Thank you so much for your attention. If there is anything that I can do from this end, do not hesitate to contact me.


Thomas E. Heineke, PhD

[1]Union of Concerned Scientists; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Natural Resources Defense Council; read: Tim Flannery - The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth (at least listen to the NPR interview alluded to in the body of the letter)

[2]Mar‑22‑2006, Fresh Air from WHYY: 'Weather Makers Seeks to End Climate Debate.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Great Uncle Bill invented Chevy's cruise control!

For real! I found this out over the weekend. The standard cruise-control-on-turn-signal design was a product of my kin. Uncle Bill worked for a design company so he didn't get the riches he undoubtedly deserved, but his name is on the patent for all of history to see. I find this to be highly impressive.

Perhaps even more impressive is that my great uncle doesn't have any sort of formal licensing or even a college degree. He was apprenticed to an engineer and learned all he needed to know in the field, so to speak. Which brings us to our overpopulation connection:

The days when you could succeed in life by taking the path of Uncle Bill are over. In an age when you can get a degree in turf management (!), you must know what you want to do early and you must go to school for it. Because if you don't, someone else will. I'm sad to live in a time when you can't just apprentice yourself out anymore. If Chevy was to look at a young Uncle Bill's resume today, they most likely wouldn't accept him. The result? Their cruise control design would be as lame as that on my Dodge Neon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Into each generation...

Wow, that post from yesterday was terrible. Keep that graph in mind, though, because you'll see it again. I'll write something witty and engaging and show a chart you can actually read and then you'll be pondering. Mark my words! I'll also probably go back and delete the first graph when no one is looking. Shhhh. Don't tell.

So today I'm going to complain about something a little more low-key but no less alarming. You may recall that several years ago, a cheesy vampire movie hit theaters to mediocre reviews. Rather than letting the concept die, the premise was remolded to fit television and a series was born. No, I'm not talking about Buffy! I'm talking about Blade. (Don't worry; you haven't missed it. It premiers tomorrow.)

Check out non-Wesley-Snipes looking a lot like Wesley Snipes. Why is this alarming, you may ask? Because we've done this before. Because it says something about our television habits if Spike-TV can afford to produce a slick vampire production. Because I don't care that "Blade" was originally conceived for TV. Because Blade was a freaking trilogy in movie-form!

Fifty years ago, America had three television networks. A few billion people later and look where we are. We don't need "Blade: The Series." Or maybe I'm just bitter that "Buffy" is no longer on that air. Now THAT was television!

For those looking for a bit more substance, AOL reports on Bush's supposed abuse of power. And it only took them 6 years to get the story. That's what's called "ace reporting."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Aaaaaaannnnd, I'm back!

And I'm ready to talk about overpopulation! Tomorrow. Today I'm just going to put up this graph with the simple instruction: ponder.


I'm sorry this graph looks like crap. In fact, it's so bad, I won't even mind if you don't actually ponder. I'll find a better one; I'm just sort of lacking in enthusiasm today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Oh my God, is it Wednesday already?!

Wednesday afternoon, no less. Your crazy statistic of the week: the average corporate grunt sends 133 e-mails a day. I probably communicate with people electronically 133 times a day, but I'm including this blogosphere, MySpace, Facebook, and the Jake Watch Message Board in that count. I send maybe 5 - 10 actual e-mails a day. I send maybe 2 - 3 actual work-related e-mails a week. I realize I'm not but an unimportant cog in the wheel, but what the hell are all these other people writing back and forth so damn much about? Ever heard of a phone?

As a nation, America sends 100 billion pieces of mail through the U.S. Postal Service a year. We send more than 100 billion e-mails a day.

(I'm sorry there's no picture to go with this. I have a headache and didn't really feel like finding something. I'm nothing if not honest.)

Source: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, June 20, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And sometimes this stuff just writes itself...

This little gem came from the Sunday paper.

(That red circle seemed like a good idea in the sleep-deprived state I was in while scanning this, but in hindsight, you guys are probably smart enough to know what I was going for without my clunky digital circling. I apologize.)

In one fell swoop, we see there are:
- too many entomologists,
- too many right-wing conservatives,
- too many right-wing conservative entomologists (what the hell?),
- too much politics in science.

In other words, this is possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard of.

And that might be the creepiest illustration in the history of newspapers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Did I mention Nick Lachey has a hit single?

Oh, that's right. I did. Two months ago. And it's still getting airplay. What is with the Radio Gods not listening to me? I realize that there are enough people out there that anything that's recorded will find an audience, but there's a line. And Nick's crossed it. "Take what's left of this man/Make me whole once again..." I don't care how many whiny teenaged girls are out there, why would anyone listen to this? WHY?!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


See this movie. No excuses.

The reviews you've heard/read most likely have told you that this film is depressing and no time is spent explaining how to reverse or at least halt the devastating effects of global warming.

That's not true.

We have to realize that, in America at least, we are bombarded by information from a conservative media that claims to work under a liberal agenda. Very little of the information in this movie was new to me personally; the information is out there, but it's not presented to the general public in the readily accessible form that it should be.

Take, for instance, the check-out boy at Best Buy who, upon hearing that we had just been to see this movie, told my mother and I, "See, global warming is a joke because the temperature has been going up since the last Ice Age."

Do not be this boy. Do not be the person who says something stupid under the impression that you know what you're talking about. You are perfectly able to educate yourself and not be the subject of ridicule in your place of employment. Al's making it easy for you...all you have to do is go to the movies.

Like he so clearly states throughout the film, this is not a question of whether we have to compromise economics for our environment. This is a question of whether or not civilization is going to survive the inevitable effects of human activity should no changes be made. And we're talking BIG changes, people.

So see this movie. The least you can do for yourself is be informed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hey, I swing to the left! Who knew?!

I would like to thank my friend Kathryn for posting this most interesting political survey on her blog. If you're interested in seeing where your personal beliefs lie in comparison to major political leaders, this is a fairly quick and seemingly accurate way to do it. The (many) questions require some actual thought, so it must be worth something. I am apparently slightly more liberal than Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama. And that's exactly where I want to be.

I realize this is pretty intense considering it's Friday afternoon and all, so if you want to put this off until Monday, I understand.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My beer last night cost $9...and I'm blaming overpopulation!!

What I thought I was ordering was the Belhaven draught, which would have set me back half as much. Instead, I flippantly requested the bottled version and nearly had a coronary when I was told the price. But the cap had been popped...the beer was mine.

To answer your question, it was very good, but no beer is $9 good.

It's either a truism of anthropology or something I made up, but it seems that all cultures across the globe have two things in common: some form of religion and some form of alcoholic beverage. But we no longer live in a time when we get buzzed from chewed-up corn spit fermented over several months. No, we live in an age of breweries and special brews and seasonal draughts and menus with drink descriptions paragraphs long.

Overpopulation means that everything gets complicated. No matter what the niche, it's filled to the brim (no pun...ha ha!) with variation. There wouldn't be $9 beers if there wasn't a demand for them, and there wouldn't be a demand for them if there weren't so many beer nerds out there. Whatever happened to normal beer?! No wonder everyone in this country is up to their eyeballs in debt.

Now that I have gotten that out of my system, I will try to move on. It's going to be a long day, though, because now I can't afford lunch. Sigh.

P.S. Bush was a jackass yesterday! That always gives me a happy! :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This Week in Crazy Statistics...

Since the Industrial Revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased by 40%.

Short and to the point. Actually, I don't have time to elaborate because there's a scheduled outage coming up. But really, what more do I need to say?

Hey, is that a young girl I see slaving away in this textile factory scene? How disturbing is it that children were forced to do much of the labor which would eventually ruin our air quality? I seem to be having very deep thoughts today...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hobbits of the Non-Elijah-Wood Variety

Roughly a year ago, I was reading National Geographic (yes, I read National Geographic; all the cool kids are doing it, so shut up) when I got caught up in the cover story about a newly-discovered species of human so small they had been nicknamed "hobbits" by their Australian discoverers. These tiny people lived on the islands of Indonesia and their bones were a mere 18,000 years old, fresh in geological terms. While other failed attempts at the Homo genus were known to have coexisted with Homo sapiens earlier in history, this was not only fairly recent, it also shocked science by seeming to prove that the old rule of large animals on islands evolving into smaller forms was true even at the top of the evolutionary ladder.

So, why am I bringing this up now? Because there was totally a story about it on "60 Minutes" last Sunday! I'm telling you, that's my new (old) favorite show. Anyway, a crew went to Indonesia where the bones were found and tribal people told stories of their "grandparents" meeting up with tiny forest people (!). If this is not a tribal legend and instead an account of actual events, then holy shit! There could be tiny people living on Earth and we don't even know it! What does that mean for overpopulation?!

Monday, June 12, 2006

(Belated) Celebrity Spawn News: The Brangelina Baby

Yeah, I know this kid's already 2 weeks old or something, but I just couldn't bring myself to report on the issue before now. I needed some time to let it sink in that my least favorite Hollywood couple had not only successfully reproduced, but that I couldn't even legitimately Blacklist them. After all, Angelina pretty much started the whole celebrity trend of collecting children from third-world nations, and since we currently do not have a higher ratio of non-adopted to adopted Jolie-Pitt children, I must begrudingly give them snaps for helping our cause here.

However, we can still be annoyed with this family because Baby "Why the hell do I know your name?" Shiloh probably just racked up more money in her first photo shoot than I will see in my lifetime (yeah, I know the money went to charity; it's the principle of the thing). And please stop referring to her as The Most Beautiful Baby In The World. Take a good look at Brad and Angelina. The wrong combination of genes from those two could curse a kid for life. My urgent plea to the world right now is to please stop caring so much about seeing this baby. In the eyes of God, she's just another one somewhere in mid-6-billions.

And suddenly I'm disgusted, with the situation and myself for thinking about it. Perhaps I'll play a game to take my mind off things.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Holy Mother of God! A Complete Overhaul!!

I think it's quite obvious to anyone who has visited this page in the past that I am completely and totally nuts. Take, for instance, this weekend, in which, feeling a little under the weather, I spent my time not resting in bed, but reformatting this blog. And not that you care, but due to my compulsive need to elaborately explain my rationale, I present to you this neat and enumerated list (and will be in no way offended if your current thoughts are along the lines of, 'Prophecy, shut the hell up,' and don't read this, but instead peruse my increasingly professional-looking template):

1. I based the last design entirely on this one O.C. wallpaper offered up by the fine people at E4.
I mean, that's fine for you people who live in a world where shows don't always start on the hour and your commercial breaks are short and oddly distributed, but for me? Aw, hell no. I don't watch The O.C. on E4! Thus, perhaps this was not the best source to work from.

2. I was digging through my CD collection (hey, CDs! remember those?) and ran across The O.C.: Mix 1. Yeah, that's right. I own it and am proud to admit it. You should go buy it. It's some good stuff. Also, the front and back cover will forever look very familiar to you:
Damn! I continue to amaze myself with my ability to rip-off the hard-working graphics staff who pull off this show. People probably think I'm obsessed with The O.C., but in reality, it's just that their design staff is top notch. This blog would look way weird if I utilized a Buffy theme. Plus, I like to think the whole "O.P." "O.C." thing was a stroke of genius. If you don't agree, you should probably know I don't take criticism well.

3. I'm political. I can't help it and apparently there's no way around it. I started this blog with every intention of it being a tongue-in-cheek look at the (mostly) disasterous world of pop culture. But I like statistics and ranting too much and Lord knows I'm a sucker for context reflecting content. Check out how I used a paper sack as the backdrop. That is so topical.

4. So, yeah. Basically everything will continue as usual with no big changes except now you have more liberal propaganda links to click through and there are two sidebars. I must now retire to my bed where hopefully I will recover by tomorrow, for I have some things to say about that Brangelina baby.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Competitive Eating!

I'm sure we've all heard of those tiny Asian dudes who win all the hot dog eating competitions the planet has to offer...but competitive eating has gotten, dare I say it, out of control. Case in point: The International Federation of Competitive Eating. I'm stunned. Silenced, even. How can you even process an entry such as this?

"Baked Beans, Long Course
8.4 Pounds Baked Beans/ 84 Lumber
2 minutes 47 seconds/ Aug. 7, 2004
Sonya Thomas"

What is this? "Long Course?" What the hell does that even mean? Why are there so many people able to eat ungodly amounts of food in very little time? Why does this warrant an international federation? What's with the mayonnaise competition? Now there are condiment competitions? Wait, you can buy books on this? There's a STORE for the International Federation of Competitive Eating?! I'm confused, disoriented, and perhaps a bit nauseated. I need to go lie down.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Let's Talk About Math!

Or as our English-speaking European friends like to call it, maths. Math(s) is not a strength for me, although I know several people who are uncommonly gifted in the area and would never disparage their knowledge just because I am not as talented as they. Once, I was watching a Nova on string theory hosted by Alan Alda, who offered up this brilliant analogy, "No matter how hard you try, you can't teach a dog physics." So true, Alan. Likewise, no matter how hard you try, you're not going to teach me theoretical mathematics.

This week, when I randomly opened up my trusty science almanac, I ran across the following in the section entitled, Record Holders: Mathematics.

Largest proper subset of real numbers: Transcendental numbers such as pi and e outnumber all other types of real numbers (such as natural numbers, signed numbers, or irrational numbers). Transcendental numbers are numbers that are not the solution to any algebraic equation.*

All I'm saying, is that back in the day, the Romans conquered most of the known world and they didn't even know about zeros. Think about it.

* Discover Science Almanac. Ed. The Editors of Discover Magazine. 2004. p. 734

Monday, June 05, 2006

Things You Did Not Need To Know About Florida.

I should probably just reserve Monday posts for things that I learn on 60 Minutes the night before. Eh, but who wants structure when you can have lack of structure? Also, I should be writing about how there are clearly too many people who want to open accounts before my boss leaves for China for 10 days, thus delegating my blogging to roughly 12 hours past its usual time. But I'm not going to talk about that because it makes me sad that I'm not going to China. I really am very childish.

Back to 60 Minutes...last night, for instance, interviewee/author Carl Hiaasen told me much about the state of Florida. While I had previously not heard of this fellow, one 15 minute segment had me firmly resolved to read everything he has ever written. Things I learned:

1. 1,000 people move to Florida every day.

2. 450 acres are paved over in Florida every day.

3. Courts in Florida ruled that there was no constitutional basis for people to have sex with endangered reptiles. Apparently the state attracted (among various slimy politicians and OJ Simpson) a man who loved alligators a little too much. What I want to know is how this could have possibly come to light and how uncomfortable this case must have been for the defense lawyer.

Proof positive, then, that there are too many people in Florida. You don't get sexual depravity of that nature in lightly-populated areas. Or if you do, it doesn't go to court.

P.S. Internet Explorer users may notice that there is an overlapping text/picture thing going on towards the bottom of the sidebar. Firefox people will see nothing but beautiful spacing. I wasted an hour of my life trying to please both browsers and you know what, IE can go to hell. All I wanted was for Jane Asher, er, Prophecy Girl to look disapprovingly down the blacklisted and if stupid Microsoft can't play by the rules, then I'm sticking to my Firefox. Hear that, Gates? Screw your stupid little browser without tabs!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

WTF Moments in Parade Magazine!

For any who aren't acquainted with this staple of American Sunday newspapers, Parade magazine is this cheesy half-mag that gets delivered with your paper once a week. Sometimes it has some interesting stuff, but it's also home to some not-so interesting stuff, such as the absolutely terrible cartoon "Howard Huge" about an enormous dog who occasionally, but not always, displays human-like characteristics.

This morning I was disgusted (as I frequently am) by a blurb which I have handily scanned and placed above. What the hell, America?! So, I paid money to Ireland? For a toilet convention?! Why are there toilet conventions? I think this convention thing has just gotten WAY out of control. No offense to Ireland (my homeland for all of five months), but obviously America has more money than sense and there are far too many people involved in the bathroom installation business. I just have this sinking suspicion none of this would be an issue if we were a less populous planet.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Air Guitar: Not Just For Bill & Ted Anymore...

Truth be told, the first time I heard of an air guitar championship was a few years ago. But I chose to ignore this phenomenon until this morning, at which point I ran across this website which I find to be unnerving on the highest of levels. Doubters, do you think it's possible, just possible, that there are too many people on earth if something as ridiculous as air guitar has a world championship, much less a world championship that we goofballs in the U.S. actually didn't win one year?! And if you don't find this disturbing, I guarantee this will push you over the edge.

Shout out to you Bill & Ted fans out there: "Bill, strange things are afoot at the Circle K." Those movies really are most excellent.

UPDATE! No shit, not two seconds ago when I was checking my e-mail the top story at was the National Air Guitar Championship. I don't know if it'll remain the top story, but I was too lazy to figure out how to link directly to the story. Also, I doubt anyone really wants to read it/see it (oh, there is video involved!) because the concensus seems to be all air guitar players should die. Harsh, yes, but such is the will of the people.

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are based solely on the opinions the author who is not affiliated with anyone. At all. Except herself. This blog is strictly for entertainment purposes. The author would never claim to be anything less than an open liberal, but she's not operating a news organization here. In fact, it's possible she's full of crap (possible, but not likely).

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