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The Final Countdown

Only a week left.

I've been struggling with a way to express the anticipation I feel while also making fun of myself for taking it all so seriously.

Luckily, the internet exists.

The Quantum Elephant/Donkey in the Room

I got nuthing. The impending election has now displaced all other thoughts in my head, not unlike that episode where Mr Wizard showed a teenager that the best way to get a gas out of a bottle was to fill it with water.

Larry David wrote a piece that I think captures my thoughts pretty closely.

Naturally Sick

So I've never been a fan of artificial sweeteners. It first started out in 5th grade as a general uneasiness born of the Naturalistic Fallacy, but in middle school as I learned more about the chemistry behind many of them, it solidified into a full blown guarded opinion.

Every article like this whether funded by sugar companies or not, only serves to solidify that view.

So I heard recently that a study comparing cold medicines said that they were equally as effective as honey water in some trials it struck the same chord with me.

Conveniently, I then came down with a terrible cold involving a sore throat. So, ever a fan of science I decided to see how the home remedies stacked up.

I started with just a spoonful of honey in a glass of hot water. It was easy to make, pleasant to drink, and did a great job emulating the "expectorant" powers of "The Tussin". So thumbs up there.

The second one I tried involved steeping 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper in hot water for a couple minutes, and then gargling that. Which, isn't as unpleasant as it sounds, but still notably not fun. It definitely created a deep redish brown elixir, which, at minimum, seems like it might do something. The first night I did it it stripped all the crap off my throat, and tingled on the raw bits of my throat, seeming to do something. The second night I only could manage to gargle about half of it, as spicy things often make me hiccup, and hiccuping and gargling are an amusingly dangerous combination. While the third night I didn't bother at all.

Wanting to get the taste of hot pepper out of my throat, I moved to the next one, similar to the first, a slurry of lemon juice and honey. Specifically, 2 tbl water and 2 tbl lemon juice, heated with 1 tbl honey mixed in.

This was by far the most pleasant of the three, as it was ultra sugary. But most importantly, it was the only one of them that completely eliminated the "tickle" in the back of my throat that so annoys me about sore throats, and keeps me from restful sleep. A definite winner.

So, I hope you find my observations useful, and feel free to let me know if you attempt to reproduce them (go scientific method!).

If you find yourself still in need of further distraction, feel free to dive into this deep Wikipedia hole involving Donald Rumsfeld's bogeyman-like involvement in getting Aspertame approved by the FDA.


As a tangential follow-up to my 9/11 post, here is an interesting story about how just the fear of a terrorist attack could cram the hospitals with psychosomatic illnesses.

Laying in bed not being able to sleep, I realized there was a key flaw in my argument from my "Ads" blog. For those who didn't bother reading it, I was comparing marketing people appealing to our emotions to a person who would step on the head of a dog to reach things in the cupboard.

Then I remembered 10th grade speech class, in which apparently the Greeks disagree with me, citing appeals to pathos as a necessary component of effective argument, and seeing as they also kind of invented democracy, I think I'll cede the point.

I then thought it might be interesting to plot the appeals to ethos, pathos and logos of the two candidate's most popular web ads, to see if anything interesting showed up. But when I actually sat down to do it, it occurred to me "that's really f-ing boring" and "no one would be interested in reading that" so I didn't.

Speaking of self-censorship, about every two weeks I get the urge to post a large treatise about my views on religion. I'll have the whole thing pretty much laid out in my brain, and then will stop myself from posting it, reminding myself that if anyone was interested in that, they have their pick of 6,000 some years of writings on the matter available to them.

I'm going to try to stick to commentary on 80's Star Wars commercials, since I think Plato's stated arguments on that are a little weak.

The Trickster Trilogy

So, if you stopped bothering to read the "dumb stories" over on the other blog, I don't blame you.

Rereading through them a lot of them really were odd and inaccessibly terse, among other things.

Well, recently I've tried a new tact, and, at minimum, I'm happier with the results.

I have been reading a lot of Andrew Leng's fairy tale translations this year, and really enjoyed the short story style of it.

So I tried my hand at it, and produced, what is essentially non-canonical fan-fic to story settings and characters hundreds of years old:

And, while I try to tell myself that this is somehow a nobler medium than K/S fanfic, deep in my heart I know it isn't. Theft is theft, regardless of the obscurity involved, but I understand why they do it, it is a lot of fun.

In any case, I'm not vouching for the quality of these stories, other than to say that I think they are "better" than the ones before. But I realize that isn't saying much, and I standby my pessimistic categorization of them.

(P.S. Also, my Friend Feed for these stories was messed up for a bit, I've fixed that so they should show up properly, and thus, never again providing me an excuse to cross-link them here.)


A couple posts ago I mentioned how sad I thought it was that politics has begun to resemble a "Cola War", in that it is chiefly becoming a "this brand" vs "that brand" war of marketing departments.

And while the Coleman/Franken Senate race in MN is a great example of this, the Franken ads have earned gruding respect for Franken's ad team, as they do a really good job riding the line of funny, negative and refreshingly disarming.

I hate that they're using essentially, psychological defects of my mind to influence me, but at the same time, you just have to marvel at the craftsmanship.

In case you were delivered from them via Tivo or lack of watching broadcast television, here is one I'd like to point your attention to: Wellstone Story

This ad conjured up so many emotions with me.

First, it's a pretty cool story. Wellstone was an amazing guy, and it was a sad reminder of the loss.

Secondly, turning that footage back around on Coleman, and being able to place it in context, is simply a sublime bit of turn-about that I can't not appreciate.

Thirdly, for me it also conjures up memories of how Norm Coleman got elected. Namely, Wellston'se inopportune death, a memorial rally, which the Republicans claimed was overly political due to tv screens prompting people to "applause", when the "applause" additions were actually the work of a real-time close captioning service. (There is probably room for whether the rally itself walked the line of respectfulness and political energy, but the fact that the main point used against it was somewhat out of context is what stirs the pot for me.)

Again, I'm not sure if all that associative thought process was intentional but that the piece managed to do all that in 1 minute, without using any of the standard political ad techniques just really impresses me.

On the other hand, this ad has also brought to my attention what I find most objectionable about marketing. The old saying is that "if it inspires emotion in the viewer" it is art... Marketing often aims to imitate the machinery of art, to inspire a specific emotion which then strengthens a known action or meme.

And to me, that piggybacking off of one of the unique things about our species, our ability to appreciate an image or concept on something other than a completely literal level seems the worst kind of opportunistic behavior. Like casually stepping on a dog to better reach the cereal cupboard.

Inside the Liberal Mind

I plug Campaign Update a lot, but a recent episode contained a skit making fun of Obama supporters and the theoretical scenarios they fret over really had me dead to rights.

My current breathless worry is that the downturn in the economy will somehow develop into a rash of arsons of foreclosed homes, and that the strapped emergency services will surrender the smoke choked streets to chaos.

I am also concerned with what percent my 401k has in small cap stocks.

I Tivo'd the debate last night, but despite what a policy wonk I am, I lost the will to view it in it's hour and a half entirety, and considering that this campaign has technically been going on since the March 11th 2006 republican straw poll, I really am just kind of sick of hearing/worrying about it.

At some point, a 2 year plus presidential campaign begins to more resemble a bid to kill democracy via "water poisoning".

What is stranger, is that in 2004, had he got the nod, I would have strongly considered voting for McCain over Kerry. At the time he seemed like a guy who really might try to get special interests out of politics and I am a sucker for a guy with a wry sense of humor.

And while I definitely like the other candidate better for the job, it still made me wonder why I had such strange, on-edge feelings about McCain winning... My only explanation is that he is serving as a proxy for my deep seated "wish I had a time-machine" / "don't blame me I voted for the other guy twice" feelings, and McCain is a convenient proxy for that frustration. A pale and short statue of Bush to pull down and cheer over.

It kind of like the Republicans nominated my cry pillow, who I often hold fake elections against, because winning makes me feel better (and I have the dog vote all locked up).

I guess what I'm saying is the left really needs a catharsis from the Cassandra complex they've been living with for these past years... Although one has to wonder how low Bush's poll numbers have to go before he'll be fighting lions in Shea Stadium.

(Which, to the Secret Service, allow me to be clear that I have no intent, nor specific plans or dates in which I am planning to do that. Although, a ring of pistol firing body guards slowly succumbing to an overwhelming force of lions would really add to the pathos of the event...)

Bad Dog... Owners

So my dog has started being aggressive to other dogs when on leash. We hired a trainer to help us work with her, who gave me a ton of great advice on how to get her to mellow out, I'd been trying out the techniques, and they seemed to be going really well.

In addition we've been taking Moya to the Eden Prairie dog park to get some extra socializing in, since she's never been aggressive there..

Normally she just ignores the other dogs, maybe casually sniff them, before running off and sniffing the ground obsessively.

We, today we brought her, and she was fine. And then an owner was bringing in a chocolate lab through the "dog airlock", Moya saw the dog on a leash, and started getting hyperattentive in a way my trainer pointed out to me as a warning sign. So I moved to keep her from meeting the dog, and sort of warned her off.

Moya complied, breaking off, and seeing a cute little old dog, who had dantily greeted me when I came in, and still all kinda hyped-up, she got all in this poor tiny dog's face.

There was some scrappy barking, and before I knew it, my dog had lifted the other dog off the ground, and was holding it there.

The next few seconds were a blur, I ran in, and managed to sneak a hand in down under my dog's chin, the other dog still floating slightly askew and nipping at my arm. The other people in the dog park swooped into assist. It seemed to last forever.

Finally, I bellowed my dog's name, which seemed to make her drop the other dog.

I hefted my dog into a forced standing position, my two hands gripping her collar right under her chin, just like I had seen the trainer do.

I then stood there, pretty much in shock over what had happened.

My wife was there, and followed up with the other dog's owner, a kindly grandmother. I heard the words "Muhst have just been the collar", but I didn't turn around to check, I was still so absolutely stupefied at what had happened.

Some guy came up to me, saying things like "You should probably leave" and "You shouldn't bring your dog back here".

I felt ill. Here I was, looking scruffy, wearing a "F*** the RIAA" t-shirt. With a dog that just tried to throttle another dog. Ugh, I would so hate me right now. I might even be the guy telling the other dude that he should take his irresponsible ass and probably leave soon.

Weird thing, is I had even been thinking that day about what I would do if my dog bit another. There are a lot of dogs in need in the world, and my tolerance is pretty low for dogs that bite, let alone seem capable of murdering another dog.

After what seemed like forever, I finally got around to moving my dog back towards the entrance. I confirmed with my wife that the dog was seemingly completely fine, Moya had somehow just gripped it by the collar, no puncture wounds, no blood, nothing. The old lady didn't even seem all that concerned. We gave her my card just in case there was anything we missed.

And now I'm torn. On one hand, no bite no foul. On the other hand, I know what my dog get's like when she's riled, and "all collar" seems more stupid luck on her part then grace... On the third hand, if she wanted a more lethal bite, she probably could have gotten it in somewhere during there.

Anyway, I'm still pretty shaken by seeing my dog appearing to kill another dog. And short of assembling a jury of her peers, it seems impossible to me to determine if she had an intent to kill and just got lucky, or was just going for harmless scruff...

But simplest of all, I really liked going to the dog park. I'm really going to miss it, it was one of my favorite places to take Moya, and the thought of not being able to ever really being able to bring her back there in good conscience honestly tears me up.

So there's my dog being a possible murder, being banned for years from a primal pleasure of mine, and then there is just the straight up hurt ego. I really like to consider myself a good dog owner, and I feel like a total and complete asshole. I mean, all those people there are going to think twice about going back to that dog park because of me.

Breaching the sanctuary of the place I love, and being so completely unable to communicate to those people there how sorry I was for it, just really kills me, almost as much as never being able to return.

Hope yer Friday night was better. =)

Bad Apple

So I know I said I don't like just posting one off links, but I think this Onion article speaks so accurately to the surreal political rift in our country that I just wanted to make sure everyone saw it:
60 Million People You'd Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy

So I've been posting a lot more on Web 2.0 forums, discussing politics and policy. And I am torn.

Anyone who reads webforums knows, it ain't pretty out there. And it makes me wonder if technology is allowing me to see the true face of true democracy, or if I am just seeing it's awkward prepubescent stage.

More and more, I see people calling people out on logical fallacies, posting sources to backup their claims. But on the other hand, I also see just as many people clinging to proven falsehoods and repeating Ad Hominem attacks.

And what's worse, is I don't know if that seeming rift is simply the 50/50 mirror world making me see monsters who think the same of me, or if it is something else.

On the point of 50/50, I've always thought it odd that the country has remained so equally divided given all the upheaval and changes these past 8 years, until I read this quote from the Stephen Colbert in his Entertainment Weekly Interview:

"Itís a Guys Who Work for Bush/Guys Who Work for Kerry campaign. Both sides have people who are just smart enough to know 'We need to tweak this dial right here,' so of course voters are divided 50/50 between the parties. ..."

I've posted a couple times about how worrisome I find it that marketing seems to be getting better and better each year with no force to check it... So this again punts my "Internet becoming the paragon of participatory democracy" back down the stairs, with it being only a matter of time before marketing men find a way to incorporate into both poles of their unstoppable influence machinery. I being to worry that the future of the democratic process will resemble a never ending "Cola Wars" marketing proxy war.

I mean, all it would take is a coordinated effort to make ridiculous and flawed posts in support of "the other guy" to inject enough "angry noise" into the process to keep it from transforming into a truly powerful tool for researching and debating the details of issues...

To get an idea of how bad it is, I look back fondly on the politics of the 80's and early 90's, since back then I actually understood the arguments of those who disagreed with me.