Friday, November 28, 2008

A Preview of Coming Distractions

Yup, you know they're already blocking this out on cocktail napkins... Barack Obama? Easy. Will Smith, of course. Michelle Obama? Sanaa Lathan...! (The survivor from AVP: Alien vs. Predator. Yeah, yeah, I know the problem, but they put Tom Cruise on stilts, right?) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Hmmm... I dunno, you'd need a female Mortimer Snerd to capture that cheek structure... Betty White? Barbara Walters? Effie Klinker? Madeleine Albright? Myrna Loy?

The real distraction is the LPGA 2008 Qualifying Tournament which tees off on Wednesday next.

Because an applicant from the Q Continuum will be playing incognito, down among the W's.


Thursday, November 27, 2008


I haven't been expatiating on Obama, Bush or the transition because it seems to be in good hands. As long as Cable Snooze is struggling to stay awake and on task, no problems.

I liked the YouTube remake of Palin's turkey panaffle. Monty Python's Black Knight and the bloody elevator doors from The Shining... behind Palin? Hilarious.


Armageddon in India??

That's surprising. Insane 19 year olds, or Thugs? Same difference. I do think it's astonishing that a Pakistani blacksmith with a few simple tools can make an AK-47. That is a well designed piece of mayhem.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sun Tzu on Inflation

You'll recall that Sun Tzu remarked centuries ago that wars cause inflation. What, like $4 a gallon gas? Vietnam forced Nixon off the gold standard ("Nixon Shock #1") and gave us stagflation during the Ford administration, so maybe so...

Received wisdom has it that World War II got us out of the Great Depression, making war seem like Public Works in the Keynesian sense. I'm not so sure. If you compare the U.S. economy to Japan's during the Fifties and Sixties, you get absurdly different pictures.

We could save billions just by cutting loose Halliburton and Blackwater.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meanwhile, back at Armageddon...

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Gaza Strip of Palestine is "slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C."

By comparison, Israel is "slightly smaller than New Jersey."

Besides Gaza, Israel also surrounds the Palestinian West Bank ("slightly smaller than Delaware").

Israel is itself surrounded by Egypt ("slightly more than three times the size of New Mexico"), Jordan ("slightly smaller than Indiana"), Lebanon ("about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut") and Syria ("slightly larger than North Dakota").

Absurdly, considering its size and relative unimportance in the postmodern world1, Israel has nuclear weapons, making it an "undeclared nuclear power."

Should even one of these ghostly, limbo-locked, "undeclared" nukes, whose non-existence is only evident in that Magical Land of Let's Pretend called Twentieth Century Diplomacy, ever suddenly materialize into emphatic being, Israel would within minutes become a sea of molten glass "slightly larger than New Jersey plus Delaware plus a couple of Washingtons, DC." A somewhat quixotic waste of talent, brains and GDP.

Aside from a certain horrific fascination with the prospect of Armageddon starting on Israeli turf, what worldly good is Israel to anyone? During the Cold War, sure, Israel was better than a fleet of aircraft carriers. But now, these days... What does Israel offer that could not come just as easily from a peaceful non-political Palestine? Just asking.

Economy, hell. We have two wars to end, a stalag in Guantanamo to raze, isolation to cultivate and a conscience to cleanse. Let's get on with it.

1Compared to other small countries surrounded by enemies, say. Switzerland? Banks, no nukes. Liechtenstein? Stamps, no nukes. The Vatican? Pope, no nukes and no divisions. Tibet? Sand mandalas. Impermanence on a cosmic scale, but no nukes. England? Well, uhhhh, *coff*... Yeah, the Brits've got nukes they can't use, along with a few lingering delusions of Empire. They make up for it with years and years of dwarves in rubber monster suits on Dr. Who, right? Ireland? Leprechauns and small arms, but no nukes. The brilliants list goes on and on.


Monday, November 24, 2008


#! /usr/bin/perl -w

exec "sqlite3 /home/dave/db/dave.db \"insert into notebook VALUES(datetime('now','localtime'),'journal','...')\"";

This little script sits in my menubar (with a mushroom icon for some reason), then when I fire up FireFox, I've got a new entry in my notebook waiting for edits courtesy of SQLite Manager. I have a regular copy of SQLite 3 sitting around somewhere, too, obviously. The three fields are date, keywords and memo.

Saves wear and tear on my few remaining gray cells, having an offline memory. That may be the difference between geeks and authors. Real writers (i.e., those who use feral languages like English, Latin American Spanish or Japanese, instead of toy, robot languages like C++, Pascal and Perl) have been keeping notes to remind themselves of stuff since ancient Egypt. Apparently, the shock of old age, with its diminishing powers, brings out the resourcefulness of graybeards like Chaucer and Lao Tsu.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

By the way, kupo...

Finished off Vayne again. Got further this time before I lost patience and had to end it, polishing off Gilgamesh, entering the hard levels of the Henne Mines, opening the Ascetic's Door, getting sandbagged by the "shocked and dismayed" Magic Pot, etc. etc. Great ending to that game, wish it were longer by about an hour. Someday I'd like to see these worlds realized in cinematic detail down to the last stairwell, bookcase and freckle.

Maybe that's what life is, and these games are just a bit of sublime recursion. Oh, well. The other day I turned 64 years of age, if not wisdom, unless wisdom is the realization that most of us just get old. I'm glad I didn't die when I was 63. If my obituary had read, "David Oshel, 63," I'd have died of embarassment. I want to be a prime number when I go — no sooner than 67, preferably 87 or 103. Maybe they'll have discovered immortality by then, and the deal is, courtesy of Mr. Obama, you gets your choice — Social Security or the Methuselah Vaccine. Not both.

Sort of like Asimov's 60, but in reverse.


Hillary Joins Hasbeens Anonymous?

Get used to it. As Barack Obama's Secretary of State, confirmed by the Senate, with her replacement duly installed in that brand new minty fresh Junior Senator from New York seat, she serves at the pleasure of her President and her career in politics is effectively over. She can be fired for insubordination on day two of her tenure, with all her bridges burned.

Not to say Hillary would consider fading away, Douglas MacArthur-style. She could probably even run against Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor of California — they didn't hold carpetbaggery against her in Gnu Yawk, after all — and in California, a win could, might, just maybe come with the bonus benefit of torking off the Shriver wing of the Kennedy clan. Just in case it's Ted Kennedy who's boxed her into this corner.

Who but some doofus in Cincinatti willingly surrenders POWER? Even from the U.S. Senate? It's a mighty difficult club to get into.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Harkin predicts Clinton will be Secretary of State?

What is this? Delusions of relevance? Or preparing the base for a ridiculous Gilbert & Sullivan turn of events?

Harkin, you will recall, was a stalwart for Bill during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. That was not just payback for an eleventh hour Bill Clinton bacon-saving moment during Harkin's tight run in 1996 against arch-Catholic Jim Ross Lightfoot — I suspect Harkin genuinely likes Bill & Hillary.

Tom was never above getting splashed with a dash of ink, neither. So who knows?

But I hope he's wrong, and the Bad Ship Lollipop never sails. On the merits, Clinton can best serve (and best be served by) the United State Senate, not a bad gig in itself.

Arr, Cap'n! It's mighty bad luck, havin' wimmink aboard!


Thursday, November 20, 2008


It's fun to see this, because TEA ("tiny encryption algorithm") was one of the first and easiest ciphers I ever learned to code. I even memorized it! It's been through the mill a few times (apparently it was used — and immediately broken — in Microsoft's original XBox console), so XXTEA ("extended extended TEA") is the current version. The advantage is extreme small size in ROM. Rijndael (AES) is still preferable in most applications — it's well vetted and open source. Simple netdiving can turn up hours of similar fun, especially if you Google Schneier, Threefish, skein and RadioGatún, but life is full to the brim with other hours...

For instance, I always forget how to tune a baritone ukulele even though it's the same as a guitar, so I use a mnemonic: Do Girls Believe Everything ...? The "or nothing" part goes without saying.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hard to Swallow

How much gar could a mullet gullet gulp
If a mullet gullet could gulp gar?

If Obama puts Hillary in the State Department in any capacity, she'll be a quart short of One Imperial Gallon.

Gar, n.
A bony freshwater fish.


Monday, November 17, 2008

What's this 'ere, then?

Garn! Another Wallace & Gromit?!! Seems so (and about time, I might add, what with all that loafing about at BBC One and all.)


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Finally registering...

...that the election's over. I can go hours without my Keith Olbermann/Rachel Maddow fix on MSNBC these days. Must be like a runner's high, endorphins kicked in hard about June, finally simmering down.

I've never watched Billo the Clown, and I've developed a pronounced distaste for Lou Dobbs (it's pronounced "Gid-dowdda-heah-ya-racebaitin-demogog-ya"). Still watch Chris Matthews now and then, but he likes to set up little brawls or broohas or dialectics or something, and I'm not a big fan of that stuff. Colin Powell is, maybe. Waddeva.

I like my liberal media biases frank and up front.

Other signs that the election's over include, Sarah Palin lookin' good, Hillary Clinton lookin' gag me with a wooden spoon (some thing's don't change, at least), and John McCain looking vaguely rational again. I do kind of nachurly lean toward the moderate left edge of the Republican party, prob'ly makes me a bluedog democrat so long as that is no invitation for the Klan to come roosting back (or those wink-wink-nudge-nudge South Carolina "NRA members" who escort folks to the polls on Election Day, oh so helpfully, neither).


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State?

Pull the other one, it has got bells on.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jenny's Coming Out

Remember Oliver & Company? Jenny? The (very) rich kid who adopts the only cat in an all dog gang? Chauffered around New York? Remember the license plate on that stretch limo? [410 FEM], right? Well, considering all the trouble Disney's had with former kid stars straying off the straight and narrow (thinking of Lindsey Lohan here), shouldn't the re-issued edition change that tag to [UTI 247]? Rimshot!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Adolphus Sands

Great name for a poet, like maybe George Sands' grandfather, huh? It's part of the Grand Banks, the overfished cod paradise off Newfoundland.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Racial stereotyping by the GOP

There was a heckuva lot of racial stereotyping coming from the Republican party this year. I mean, really, Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman-Marcus from coast to coast...? Po' white trash hain't gotten shrift so short since Granny Clampett. Were I on the Wasilla High football team, I'd be Hillbillies, not Warriors.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Giruvegan, cont'd.

Ah the hell with it. Still playing the game. It's fun. Sort of. Like smoking. Smoking! What I really want is a pipe and a can of Copenhagen, and a little corner of eternity to sip blue smoke in, and learn to play the guitar, and chat with friends who visit once every 333 years or so. There's that. What I really want is to play poker with a bunch of dogs. Or dance with bears. Or carve my own flute and light up somebody's Spring with it. Grandchildren, and a bowl of my wife's beef stew for breakfast on a chilly, snowy morning in December, a few days after Christmas. All of that's in Giruvegan, the Giruvegan I remember...



Stopped by. Quit the game. After Giruvegan, the plot is essentially over ... and it's dull. You can collect Espers. Dull. You can fight Gilgamesh. Dull. You can join the "rare game" hunt. Dull and stupid-headed. Don't pay off the bangaas, you can go directly to Archades Central if you prefer to cut out the middleman and be played for a sucker by the team's gentry client directly. You can play the occasional side game, like fishing in the river. Dull, stupid-headed and useless. You can try to learn the dark side of the magic arts — e.g., equip Nihopaloa and throw Phoenix Downs at the Aeronites on Lasche Span; they drop out of the air like ham sandwiches. But I don't like Giruvegan because the style changes — the quest is dark, indoors and full of mysterioso, with familiar enemies. Level up, team. Boring... Maybe there's something more entertaining left, but I haven't found it.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Friends Frenzy

Obama has lots of friends now. Lots and lots of friends. Full of friendly advice. Hey, after Halloween comes Thanksgiving and then Christmas, right? Ho, ho, ho. Then New Year's.

Strangest idea I've heard so far is Colin Powell for Secretary of Education, unless that's an in joke about re-educating the neocon goons clogging up the corridors of Defense, State, C.I.A., Justice, NSA and the U.S. Naval Observatory. Really? Straight up? Education? What a waste!

Not so strange, and not even so unexpected, comes the news that Laura Bush is the Bush Administration closet activist behind marine conservation in northwest Hawaii and the Marianas. I thought it was one of the daughters, kind of a school project sort of thing. But no, she seems to be battling it out with Cheney to get the Marianas thing done before time expires on W. Do it, George! Even a tiny legacy is better than nothing good at all.

Please, please, please don't make Tom Harkin Secretary of Agriculture. He's only good at being a Senator from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Ag Committee — except I'm not seeing the kind of honeybee awareness the $80 billion U.S. fruit industry needs. We might have fewer than Obama's first four years to save commercial angiosperm pollinators in the Northern hemisphere, if that's still possible. My money is on non-domesticated feral populations of killer bees as our last remaining hope. That's one illegal immigrant we need! I favor tiny green cards for all Africanized honeybees who cross over from Mexico this year.

That, and taking away Blackwater's license to kill in Iraq. What brain trust thought up the idea of privatizing the U.S. infantry anyway? They should be shot for treason. The U.S. Congress declares (and pays for) war, not some Alabama gun nut with a greenback-happy friend in the White House. RTF Constitution.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lancing the Senate Filibuster Boil

These Republican Senators are up for reelection two years from now. I mention this because already the rump of the Senate Republicans are promising to filibuster any Obama spending initiative, bi-partisan or not. A successful filibuster by the far right wing flies in the teeth of GOP moderates who would rather see their States prosper than tilt at windmills, so the threats are probably just post-election flatulence.

Richard Shelby of Alabama
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
John McCain of Arizona
Mel Martinez of Florida
Johnny Isakson of Georgia
Mike Crapo of Idaho
Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Jim Bunning of Kentucky
David Vitter of Louisiana
Kit Bond of Missouri
Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
Richard Burr of North Carolina
George Voinovich of Ohio
Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Jim DeMint of South Carolina
John Thune of South Dakota
Bob Bennett of Utah

Likely targets for replacement include Judd Gregg, Kit Bond, Arlen Specter, Mel Martinez and the increasingly antediluvian John McCain. Doesn't matter if these guys are evil or not, just vulnerable.

Frankly, I expect McCain to slide out of his mood indigo funk around Valentine's Day and announce his retirement. That'll make things easier.

Oh, yeah — no post-election analysis here, except to say that most of McCain's 56 million votes probably came from moderates, maybe even more than half. The rest of 'em are thugs, scamps and hillbilly "NRA members," to use the polite term. Except... I loved the way Sarah Palin kept edging toward the microphone during McCain's concession speech. Anybody else notice that?


Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve

Nice to see the Bush years are just about over. But who can Flubadub nuke between tomorrow night and January 20th?


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Horse Feathers

The Cedar Rapids Gazette sort of endorsed John McCain this morning. I hope Hell is that tepid — they didn't exactly boil Barack Obama in oil, either. More like a pebble massage with a pint of hot Vicks. With circulation that sluggish, maybe they couldn't afford to offend anybody?

McCain, lightly braised with faint damnation for an "uncharacteristic" sleazeball campaign, is no doubt showering as we pique.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Early bird remorse

All that early voting, all that morning after queasiness... Comes early, doesn't it? Like Leela waking up with Zap Brannigan, the Fool's Paradise slinks away into its own garish diminuendo and turns toothpaste-like into just another tinky lump on the porcelain. America lies gaping, used and alone in the tangled sheets. Then the next McCain/Palin ad hits the airwaves, along with all the local races mimicking the pustulent slanders, lies and disinformation that made one's own early vote so urgent.

I wish I'd held off, because frankly I forgot about the pipsqueak local races. The slime oozing out from the flan-like basal edges of the Republican national campaign really does need to be flamethrowered. Corporal punishment makes sense for some of these pint-sized Atwaters. I'm glad I voted a straight Democratic ticket, frankly.

If you live in Marion, Iowa please vote for Gretchen Lawyer, the Democrat. The fanatical right wing spew coming from her extreme Core Republican opponent is pure wormtongue. Do the right thing, people. Do the wave.