Sunday, January 30, 2005

Cascading Clamor of Crashing Ceramics

Tonight, I reached on to the top shelf of our kitchen cabinet to retrieve a small dish. I was going to cut a pear into quarters for dinner. The good news is that I got the dish down and was turning toward the counter. The bad news is that the support peg failed on one portion of the shelf a second later.

The shelf tilted and reached the angle of repose quickly. I heard the scrape of cups and dishes and turned in time to see a sickening sheet of a half dozen dishes, a dozen or so cups, and various plasticware floating down. Some items hit the counter and shattered while others angled off the corner and smashed themselves on the floor. For a few seconds crash after crash after crash filled the kitchen with almost deafening noise. I stupidly put my hands out to try to catch something...anything...but all I caught was a few chunks of fine china shrapnel on my fingers.

Shards of pottery and china scattered in all directions. There was an assortment of jagged angled pebbles and sand left behind on the counters and floor. Amazingly, a few items survived the fall. Most did not. Little red drops of blood formed on two fingers. My first response was, "Wow! That sucked."

I went to the bathroom to patch up my fingers, then swept the worst stuff away from our dining area because dinner was ready and would not be interrupted (dang it!). My daughter was distraught because her favorite cup was smashed. I spared her the Buddhist lecture on impermanence and told her I was sorry instead (I did sneak the Buddha thing in later when she kept coming back to it, so sue me).

It took me 20 minutes to sweep the area to the point where our barefoot friendly household could exist without death by a hundred tiny cuts. Needless to say, that shelf is off limits until I can get the supports all fixed up.

See what happens when men try to cook?

American Nazi Party adopts Salem road

Marion County has allowed a Portland-area skinhead group to adopt a rural Salem road as part of a volunteer litter clean-up program.

The signs proclaiming that Sunnyview Road NE between Cordon Road and 82nd Avenue is sponsored by the American Nazi Party NSM were installed Monday.

County officials say they were legally advised that excluding the organization would violate a constitutional right to free speech. Their choices, they said, were: allow the group to join the program, remove all of the signs from the program or refuse the group and risk a lawsuit.

I'm calling Marion County tomorrow to see if they will put up an Al Qaeda sign. (Just kidding) I think any group with a history of dedicated repeated killing or physical violence toward a group of people (the Nazis for instance) could be safely excluded from public activities. I am sure the ACLU sees it differently, but that is okay with me. This, along with Bob Packwood and Tonya Harding, is what makes Oregon a great state.

It appears the citizenry has dealt with the problem anyhow...
Nazi road signs last less than a week

American Police Have Jurisdiction to Search Canada???

If I were Canadian (like the overwhelming majority of my ex-pat friends here), this would seem like the ultimate nightmare: being stopped by Texas State Troopers on a highway in Canada and subjected to a search not allowed under Canadian law.

The fact that the guy who refused to allow the search (because, as a Canadian cop himself, he knew the search was illegal) was then pulled over a little while later (still in Canada) by another Texas Trooper accompanied by a Mountie, accused of being under the influence of marijuana, and forced to watch as his 2-year-old son was searched makes it even worse. The fact that the Trooper and Mountie then simply let him go (despite the "under the influence" accusation they used to stop and search him in the first place) is simply bizarre.

The Mounties say that the Texas Troopers were there to help them learn how to deal with drug conducting stops and seizures that are illegal under Canadian law?

What's wrong with this picture?

Free Speech Mein Arsch...

What's all this noise about "multiculturalism"?

I remember reading an article a few years back talking about an American judge (I don't remember what state) who once told a Spanish-speaking mother, "If you don't speak English to your daughter, you are abusing your daughter." That case apparently sparked some outrage. Now we have a judge in Tennessee who is apparently making such pronouncements a matter of routine. He is also reported to be threatening genuine legal action against foreign mothers who don't speak English to their children.

Yes, this case is also sparking outrage. However, the Fark tag for this article said "hero". Apparently there are proponents of the same sort of language fascism for which France (excuse me, "Freedomland"...can't say the F-word...) and Quebec are widely ridiculed. Können Sie denn "Heuchelei" sagen? Ich habe gewußt, daß Sie es konnten. Da ist das Leben. Gehen wir denn fort!

Friday, January 28, 2005

How About a Nice, Close-To-Home Haunting?

With all this talk about hauntings in other parts of the U.S., different eras, and perhaps at the family homes of certain people we know, I thought it might be nice to share some info on a well-known haunted house (two, actually) right in the vicinity of most of the regulars on this site.

I actually visited the McLoughlin House in my elementary school days on a field trip. All I remember is that it was a big house full of cool, 19th-century stuff. I think we might have scared the ghosts away.

Incidentally, the linked website also has links to descriptions of a couple of other haunted houses in Oregon. One of them, the Heceta House, is well known to me as I've been there many times (but never inside).

Do you know of any other cool (supposedly or possibly) haunted places?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Snabulus Caption Contest

Garage Mouth

This isn't really a caption contest (unless you want it to be), but I am truly afraid this guy is going to suck a baby into his lungs or something. Geez! I fear for our people.

Update: Separated at birth?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Asteroid named after ‘Hitchhiker’ humorist

Late British sci-fi author
honored after cosmic campaign

Douglas Adams, shown in this 1989 photo, was the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," a cult science-fiction comedy. He died suddenly after a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 49.

Asteroid Douglasadams was among the 71 newly named celestial objects announced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass.


When Adams died of a heart attack in 2001, at the age of 49, tributes came in from around the world — but one of the biggest tributes was actually announced just days before his death: the naming of an asteroid after Arthur Dent, the Earthling at the center of the "Hitchhiker" story.

Through the years, about 12,000 asteroids have been given proper names by the IAU's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature — including fictional characters as well as mythological names (Ceres and Quaoar) and real-life personages (Lincoln and Elvis). The names are traditionally proposed by a particular asteroid's discoverer. For example, the "Arthurdent" asteroid was so named at the suggestion of the man who actually found it, German astronomer Felix Hormuth.


One prospect stood out: an asteroid given the provisional designation 2001 DA42, discovered by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research project, or LINEAR. It's a relatively unremarkable space rock, orbiting 224 million miles (358 million kilometers) from the sun in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. But its name held triple significance.

Not only did it memorialize the year of Adams' death (2001) and his initials (DA), but it also referenced the number 42 — which is absurdly meaningful in the "Hitchhiker" saga as the "answer to the Ultimate Question." (The problem was, no one ever knew precisely what the Ultimate Question was.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dutch Battle Bots, Kind of

Wild Things Are on the Beach

Theo Jansen wants to make "life" and he figures the best way to do it is to start from scratch.

A self-styled god, Jansen is evolving an entirely new line of animals: immense multi-legged walking critters designed to roam the Dutch coastline, feeding on gusts of wind. Over the years, successive generations of his creatures have evolved into increasingly complex animals that walk by flapping wings in response to the wind, discerning obstacles in their path through feelers and even hammering themselves into the sand on sensing an approaching storm.

A scientist-turned-artist, Jansen's bizarre beach animals have their roots in a computer program that he designed 17 years ago in which virtual four-legged creatures raced against each other to identify survivors fit enough to reproduce. Determined to translate the evolutionary process off-screen, Jansen went to a local shop and found his own alternative to the biological cell -- the humble plastic tube.

Read the rest of the article at the link above. Interesting stuff...

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Speaking of Weird, Paranormal Phenomena...

We were speaking about weird, paranormal phenomena (doo dooo doo doo doo), weren't we? Well, whatever. Right now it almost looks like I may be experiencing (or may have just experienced, anyway) a supernatural incident (not the first, mind you). I don't really have much to tell you about it least until I check up on a few things first. However, I thought it might be cool to bring up one of the strangest "true-life hauntings" in American history, the story of the "Bell Witch". Of all the many supposedly real supernatural events in history, this one stands out as weird for several reasons, not least of which (witch? which?) was the fact that the entity in question actually murdered somebody. Even more chillingly, the haunting is said to be still going on.

There have been many explanations put forth as to what the "Bell Witch" haunting was really about. There was even a movie made about it. However, one of the many first-hand witnesses included none other than General (and future president) Andrew Jackson. Whatever your feeling (or lack thereof) about paranormal phenomena (doo dooo doo doo doo), this still makes for an interesting part of American history and folklore. Read and enjoy!

Friday, January 21, 2005

It Begins

I saw the first purple inflorescence of crocuses in the flower beds this morning and although the dandelions had them beat by a week, I am buoyed by the thought that our rose bush bloomed all winter with soft yellow and pink flowers.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Wind and Water

In this age of chronic materialism and widespread spiritual starvation, perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising that more and more people are turning to the supernatural to deal with life. Even though most of the various popular TV programs dealing in "paranormal phenomena" here in Japan have long since switched to a crime story format (is crime paranormal??), superstition seems to have moved closer to center stage in everyday life. My regular morning news program dedicates nearly five full minutes of its half-hour slot to a horoscope reading, and the horoscope section on my Sunday funnies page, which used to occupy a small box in the corner, now takes up fully half of the page.

Tarot cards, which came in big in the late 80s and then quickly faded out again, seem to be coming back in again, as evidenced in part by the Tarot theme in Rush's Vapor Trails album (strangely echoing a similar theme in my own Diminished Arcana album). I'm also seeing more and more students practicing various forms of divination that use everyday playing cards and dice. Some of them are pretty obsessive about it, too.

Still, the most interesting feature of the recent vogue for paranormal phenomena (doo dooo doo doo doo) is the sudden, unexpected rise in people seeking to purify their homes. Apparently spiritual purification is a rapidly-growing industry right now. There are actually many ways to rid your home or business of unwanted spiritual clutter (and it's amazing how similar they really are...even coming from such diverse groups as the Wiccans and the Nez Perce tribe). However, by far the most popular method is the ancient Chinese system known as "Feng Shui".

"Feng Shui" literally means "wind and water", and it dates back some 4000 years. It mainly concerns itself with placement of objects and the facings of a building's features so as to ensure spiritual harmony. According to its rules, putting a certain item of furniture against the wrong wall can throw everything out of whack, creating a higher amount of stress and discomfort inside the building. It's no laughing matter, either. Since ancient times, Chinese have gone to an awful lot of trouble and expense to make sure everything is in spiritual harmony indoors. The Maoists tried and failed to stamp it out. Now it has become a very profitable growth industry.

Do you fail to unwind adequately after coming home from a stressful day at the office? Perhaps you need to change the facing of your bed or add a plant in a ceramic planter to a certain corner of the house to get your yins and yangs in their proper order. While you're at it, maybe your work environment could be improved by rearranging your office furniture a little...and perhaps burning some incense or aromatic oil for good measure.

Feng Shui is an interesting and increasingly profitable practice. It also seems a lot easier and painless than casting a magic circle and then warding every room in your house, but I don't think I'll get into that right now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Official Beer of the Snabulus Weblog

I've never had any and don't plan on drinking any, but feel free to track down and have a cold, refreshing Snab Pale Ale. The brewer is in the Netherlands, so you will need either a plane ticket and passport or a good, solid beer importer to get some for you. (For those who have seen American Pie, just shut the heck up. That's not what I meant.)


My friend Mike pointed me towards a weblog for the fledgling ABA basketball team Portland Reign called Reign Talk. This seems to be the best clearinghouse of Portland Reign information I've seen. KJM is doing a great job as a blogger.

She also runs a weblog called Blazer Talk which is, as you've probably guessed, all about the happenings with the Blazers. It is well worth a visit as well.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

4 Quick Movie Reviews

We had a DVD watching frenzy this week. Here are the reviews:
(1 - 5 stars, 5 is best)

Napoleon Dynamite (***): Kind of a retro nerd in a rural town movie. It had some funny lines, some of which will be classics, but it dragged in a few places.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (***1/2): If you are sick of Jim Carrey and would like to see him lose the "over the top" routine and act for a change, this is your movie. Kate Winslet is hot; okay, I said it. The movie had the disjointed quality of a dream and was in danger of losing me for a while because of it, but it recovered for a poignant ending. (False spoiler written backwards: .silihpys fo deid enoyrevE)

Anchorman (***1/2): Starring Wil Ferrel, Anchorman is a funny flick about being a TV anchorman during the rise of women in the workplace in the 70s. I am starting to figure out Ferrel's schtick, so I hope he doesn't pull a Mike Myers and replay the same role over and over (oh wow, the Cat in the Hat can fake a Scottish accent).

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (***1/2): John Cho and Kal Penn play a Korean-American and an Indian-American who get stoned and decide their most important goal is to have a White Castle burger. The movie uses racial stereotypes to get some good comedy, but it turned out to be on the adult side of R with some fairly explicit sexual references, so it wouldn't be appropriate for anyone under about 16. There were some spots that dragged on, but I laughed pretty hard several times.

Whither Politics?

As some of you might have noticed, the political blogging is gone from the land of Snabulus. There are a number of reasons why this is so. They range from the simple to the complex. What follows is an explanation for those who are interested. For those that aren’t, I am sure a Jim Dandy caption contest is coming up soon.

Although this essentially is an anonymous blog, I’ve done a poor job of anonymizing it. I began to worry that what I write here might have an effect on my professional life. There have been a number of news stories lately of people being fired based on their web content, sometimes for professional reasons and sometimes for political ones. I am not so attached to what I write here that I am willing to lose my job over it, especially since there are others out there espousing my opinions quite well.

Speaking of opinions, I’ve started applying a more critical filter to the type of information that I considered to be “true” up until now. As a result, I am less likely now to fully believe sources and more likely to look at them in the context of who said and why they might have said them. Since a great number of my political posts depending on sources I now look at more critically, I didn’t think they really represented my more complicated opinions.

Most importantly though, I removed the politics to improve the types and diversity of my friendships. I’ve always been more valuable and felt more comfortable as a liaison than as an adversary. Sometimes you need to take a stand and I did when it was appropriate and I still feel my stands were generally correct. However, there comes a time when the stand is taken and things become what they become. At that point, you need to move on. The 2004 elections were that point for me. The country chose a President. He was not who I voted for, but it was a choice nonetheless.

There are some old friendships that converge here at Snabulus and as adults with jobs and families, people have chosen a variety of paths and each person’s experiences have led them to their own conclusions (Iraq) about how the world operates. Given the anger within myself and others generated by the political content (Iraq) that seemed to just cycle around, fed by a media more than happy to pour gas on those two sets of flames (Iraq), I just couldn’t see the point in risking the damage to my friendships by continuing the diatribes and rants (about Iraq). It is not as if Snabulus has a big audience. Atrios and Instapundit I am not, so why continue the rancor? No reason.

I don’t want things to get too boring (not Iraq), but I have been a very busy person working extra hours on a software project since Thanksgiving. I know that some who I won’t mention (cough, Minstrel, cough) think the wind has gone out of the sails of this ship, but in reality there was more of an unannounced port of call for a month or two (whew, I nearly mixed a metaphor).

I doubt I can match my old quantity of material because I am no longer driven by the “sense of urgency” line being pawned off on us by the polarizing press, but perhaps I can increase the quality. I want to be more like Ladybug. She writes about things to celebrate, eat, enjoy, think about or all four at the same time. Why not do that?

I’ve been thinking I should share the wealth, so if anyone is interesting in becoming a guest blogger, drop me an e-mail so I can laugh in your face (and invite you to blog if I know you, I mean really know you). Funny stuff, stories, ideas, recipes, game and movie reviews, and that kind of thing would really spice up this little weblog I think.

Blah, blah, blah. I’ve gone on too long. If you’ve read down this far, get off the computer and get a life.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Another Rock n' Roll Icon Gets His Name Entered In The Mortality Book

Spencer Dryden, who was the drummer for the Jefferson Airplane during their glory years (1967-1970) has passed on. He also played for a while with a sideline band that followed the Grateful Dead. Considering the shape his body was in (various parts operated on or in desperate need thereof) as well as his state of joss (having his house burn down along with all his possessions in 2003), I can't say I'm too surprised.

Most of us regulars on Snabulus were preschoolers to kindergarteners when Jefferson Airplane were big. Still, their contribution to the rock n' roll scene was an important one regardless of your opinion of Grace Slick.

Farewell, Spencer. I hope your wild, drug-induced dreams of Heaven are being fulfilled.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Even More Caption Fun

I apologize for my lack of verbal inspiration this week. Lots of overtime work going on (for no extra pay. wheeeeee!).

Thanks to Vulgarius for the pic!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Snabulus Caption Contest, Part Troix (or 4)

Hat tip to Dew Kid and Moody Minstrel for turning our comments into a bizarre recursive mess of random messages.

Take a lichen to a fungi and the world will be your goatsbeard.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Stupid Weblog Entry

A Series of Book Lists

This is a continuation of a list from Sarah's Homestead Blog

The idea is this. You take the ten authors inherited from the place you discover this list. Replace every author who is not on your bookshelves with one that is. Place the new items in bold.

The original list comes via White Pebble.

1. Franz Kafke
2. Ursula K. Le Guin
3. Robert Pirsig
4. John Steinbeck
5. Craig Lesley
6. J.D. Salinger
7. Barry Holstun Lopez
8. John Muir
9. Willa Cather
10. William Shakespeare

I Thought We Were Supposed to be Equal!!!!?!

I realize I may be opening up a can of worms with this one, but oh, well.

A few days ago the junior high section of my school had its entrance exams. After all the testing was done and the nervous applicants were allowed to shuffle back home, we had the meetings to discuss the results. That was when the real controversy started. You see, the average scores of the male examinees dropped, whereas those of the females increased. Again.

This has actually been a steady trend over the past several years.

So what did the experts in our "power tower" decide? Well, during the first meeting, which only included members of the curricular planning committee (of which I'm not a member), there was a strong movement to reduce the ratio of girls accepted. The reason was then made very clear during the subsequent general faculty meeting:

"Girls are harder to take care of than boys, so we should favor boys in our student body."

Excuse me?

Actually, the principal's predecessor's predecessor had a very strict policy. He insisted that the ratio of boys to girls be kept at a flat rate of two to one. The reason? "Girls tend not to go on to become productive members of society." The principal that replaced him repealed that policy, at least on paper, and thus the percentage of girls increased, but boys continued to dominate. This time, however, if we accepted applicants based solely on their exam results, the ratio, while not quite 50-50, would be pretty close...certainly much closer than at any time in our school's history.

We couldn't have that. Oh, no. Student guidance is much harder with girls...particularly since girls nowadays are actually becoming more assertive and actually expressing their own opinions (while the boys are becoming more timid and childish). Obviously we have to reduce the percentage of girls and put more effort into bringing the boys up to par.

Well, my gaijin patience reached its limit, and I raised my hand to express my opinion on the topic. Actually, what I did was explode. I started out by saying, "Has this school fallen into a time warp and wound up back in the Meiji Era (late 19th century, when girls were first go to school)?" After politely insulting the people that had suggested setting an artificially low ratio of girls for reasons that were pathetic to say the least, I went on to suggest that, as an elite, college-aimed prep school, we should only pay attention to the academic performance of the applicants and naught else. I then concluded by asking the female members of the faculty why none of them had spoken out against such blatant chauvenism.

I was roundly applauded by the faculty, something that happens extremely rarely at any kind of meeting. However, the vice principal in charge of the junior high responded by saying (between nervous giggles) that our school wasn't yet ready to embrace the "radically new concept" of increased female enrollment. While not accepting the suggested fixed low ratio of girls, in the end they did make the entry requirement for girls significantly more difficult than for boys, resulting in a boy-girl ratio of about 1.5 to 1.

Then I read this article. Perhaps this is what the people in our "power tower" are really afraid of. Or perhaps this just goes to justify their views. I just hope that schools in the U.S. don't start using stuff like this as an excuse to start setting unrealistically high standards for girls and low standards for boys just for the sake of "evening things out". All I can say is, this is a pretty nasty blow against the concept of gender equality.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Quick Beef Stew w/Cauliflower Puree
Pg. 32 Everyday Food, September Issue - LOW CARB!
serves 4

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into large florets (1)
2 tsps olive oil
1 & 1/2 pounds trimmed rib-eye or sirloin steak, cut into 1 inch cubes (2)
6 garlic cloves (or use ready-to-use minced)
2 tblspns chopped fresh rosemary (3)
1 & 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, (such as cremini, button, & shiitake), halved or quartered (4)
1 cup dry red wine (5)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tblspns grated Parmesan cheese
2 tblspns butter
Pepper & Salt

1. Place cauliflower in a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, covered, until very tender 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, turning until browned, 5-7 minutes; transfer to a plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and rosemary to skillet; cook, stirring, just until fragrant (garlic will color quickly), about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, wine, and vinegar, cover and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove lid; simmer until mushrooms are tender but mixture is still saucey; 3-5 minutes more. Return beef, cook until heated thorough.
4. Meanwhile, with a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a food processor; add Paresan, butter and 1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt. Process until very smooth. Spoon into shallow bowls adn top with beef stew.

1-an easier way, is to put the florets in a microwave safe Tupperware container (or bowl), add a tablespoon or two of water, put the top on leaving the little opening open and microwave for 3 minutes. This also how I cook broccoli, and it's fast and easy. If the cauliflower isn't soft enough, try 1 minute more. No need to drain it!
Then I just mashed it well with a fork (w/the butter, salt & cheese), didn't need to "process" it.
2-to keep the beef cubes from sticking to the pan, let them form a crust before turning (original note from the recipe).
3-rosemary is very strong, I prefer to use dried, and only about 1/4 tsp. I crush it in a plastic bag w/a rolling pin as I don't have a morter and pestle.
4-an easy way to cut mushrooms is to use an egg or strawberry slicer.
5-I skipped the wine, as we didn't have any the 1st time I did this recipe-added a little water to make up for it, but it was too much. The mushrooms provide plenty of water!

And You Thought Driving in America Was Bad...

A man in Osaka was recently indicted for professional negligence resulting in manslaughter. His crime? He drove through a green light.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently the victim ran the red light on the cross street and wound up getting hit by the perpetrator and killed. Admittedly, the latter was driving well above the posted limit (which is the universal norm for anyone but farmers and express delivery trucks anyway), but the main point of the case was that he relied on "mutual trust", i.e. he assumed that the other drivers on the road would obey the law. According to some officials involved with the case, that's being criminally negligent.

When I got my driver's license renewed three years ago, I was made to watch a driver safety video in which it was stated that, when a light turns green, it is prudent to wait a few seconds for people to finish running the red light on the cross street before moving. At the time I thought it laughably absurd that law infraction was being openly considered the norm by those charged with enforcing the law. Now they've taken it a step further: they've actually institutionalized it. Now breaking the law is not only considered normal, it is actually defended by official policy.

Bottom line: in Japan, you are required by law to assume that everyone else on the road sucks.

So much for social responsibility...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

I Pledge Allegience to the Sacred Icon

In pre-war Iraq, every classroom had to have a portrait of Saddam.

North Korea goes one better: not only does every classroom have to have a portrait of "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung and, preferably, one of "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, too, but there are also very specific rules concerning the size and placement of said portraits.

Now it's Florida's turn.

(I dunno. I think patriotism is a very good thing, but I think you can express it quite well without having to eat up 2' x 3' of valuable classroom wall space! Am I wrong?)

The Truth Is Out There...And India May Be the First to Tell It

My, but Snabulus seems to be stagnating. These caption contests, while very entertaining, just don't seem to be eliciting the reader response that those old political tussles did. Well, how about a bold, new topic:

Contact with space aliens is a well-known fact, and India's government is currently having a secret debate over whether or not to make it public!

Wow. That's definitely something to think about for at least a few seconds. I mean, consider this:

It is well accepted between the UFO and extra-terrestrial experts that all the five nuclear powers are in contact with the beings from other stars for quite some time. Recently India has seen enormous news on UFO contacts and secret UFO bases in Himalayas near the Chinese bases. In Ladak, for example the locals clearly point out the everyday phenomenon of large triangular spacecrafts coming out below the ground and Indian security forces protecting them.

I find the comment about alien bases in the Himalayas to be particularly disturbing. After all, a very learned Christian fundamentalist whom I know very well has told me with absolute confidence that Satan's throne is in the Himalayas. (That's why he believes my having moved to an Asian country, i.e. closer to the Himalayas, to be proof of my being under satanic influence.) The same person has directed me to webfundie sites in which they claim (with much purported evidence) that the famous "grays" are actually fallen angels. Amazing how well this all fits together, innit?

Uh, oh...does this mean that both China and India are in cahoots with the devil?

This article also implies that contact with the aliens is actually a privilege reserved only for major powers, and therefore India's having done so is proof of its new greatness. That's understandable, but if it's true, then India's government faces a dilemma: if they do what none of the other major powers have, if they do come out and reveal the existence of alien bases, they run the risk of being booted back out of the elite circle. In fact, they run the risk of disaster.

Hmm...maybe we need to take a closer look at that tsunami...while we're making contributions to relief efforts.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Middle Eastern Tsunami Contributions

From Juan Cole (link in title):

As of 1/1, Reuters was reporting these responses to the tsunami from Middle Eastern countries:

--Qatar, $25 million
--Saudi Arabia, $10 million
--Kuwait, $2.1 million
--Algeria, $2 million
--Libya, $2 million
--UAE, $2 million
--Turkey, $1.25 million

That puts Qatar at $250/person. They win! Keep in mind that the average income of many of these countries is a fraction (like 1/6 or 1/7) of ours, so all these contributions are pretty generous even if they don't measure up to the per capita total of Western countries. This is unlikely to show up in your local newspaper or TV program, so I am helping Prof. Cole spread the word.

Fly-eating robot powers itself

Just so you don't get completely bored...

(CNN) -- Scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE) have designed a robot that does not require batteries or electricity to power itself.

Instead, it generates energy by catching and eating houseflies.

Dr Chris Melhuish and his Bristol-based team hope the robot, called EcoBot II, will one day be sent into zones too dangerous for humans, potentially proving invaluable in military, security and industrial areas.

Melhuish, who is director of the Intelligent Autonomous Systems Lab at the UWE, told CNN that the EcoBot II was a result of a quest for an intelligent robot that could function without human supervision.