October 31, 2003

Bush administration continues to dodge important questions

Believe it or not, from CNN.com:

Rumsfeld unsure of missing 'mojo'
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he does not know whether or not he has lost his mojo, as a leading news magazine suggested, largely because he doesn't really know what mojo is... (more)

If nothing else, I guess it's reassuring to know that we've apparently resolved all the other pressing social, economic, and political issues facing the United States today and can now get around to dealing with matters like this.

current music: CKY, "96 Quite Bitter Beings"
current song stuck in my head: Hilary Duff, "So Yesterday"

Posted by Jess at 01:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 30, 2003

What has brown done to you?

Not to steal teedz's thunder, but UPS is beginning to drive me nuts. Sure, I've had the typical delivery problems that most customers face: i.e. the UPS guy tries to deliver a package on Monday at 2:30 and I'm not there to sign for it, so he takes it back to the warehouse. On Tuesday, he tries to deliver it again at 2:30, but to no avail. Now, even given the empirical reality that I wasn't at home at 2:30 on either of the previous days, the UPS guy fails to discern the pattern and deduce that I might have some kind of mid-afternoon obligation during the week (gasp!) and, as such, attempts to drop it off again on Wednesday at 2:30. Since it's the third attempt and I'm not there to sign for it, the package goes back to the nearest UPS warehouse, leaving me with no option but to pick it up on my own time--during business hours, of course.

Now, I could live with that kind of frustration. My more recent UPS problems, however, run much deeper than that. My wife has lived in our current house for the past year and a half. I moved in after we got married about six months ago. During that eighteen-month span, I would estimate that we've had roughly fifteen packages fail to reach us, including one just yesterday. In many cases, my wife and I have paid shipping twice when our packages were returned to their respective senders. The problem? Apparently, the UPS person has been delivering our packages to the apartment complex next door to our house for lo these many months. On each occasion, the person working the front desk at the neighboring apartment complex would point out to the UPS delivery person that the package didn't specify an apartment number in the address (not surprising since it wasn't being sent to an apartment), and UPS would thus declare that the package had an "insufficient address" for delivery and return it to its sender.

After the first couple of failed deliveries, my wife and I began to notice the emerging pattern. So, we called the local UPS office and explained the whole situation. Their defense? Apparently, since we live at 2025 Evergreen Terrace and the apartment complex next door is at 2035 Evergreen Terrace, it's easy for the delivery person to get confused and deliver our packages to the wrong place. Call me crazy, but isn't that how all streets work? Also, isn't being able to discern between addresses--no matter how similar they may appear--the very essence of a UPS delivery person's job? Somehow, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service seem to be able to figure it out. Would it be easier if the streets were numbered non-consecutively? On a few occasions, we've even asked the sender to specify on the mailing label "2025 Evergreen Terrace (the brick house, not the apartment complex)," but that wasn't enough to counteract the simple reality that the numbers 2025 and 2035 are apparently utterly indistinguishable from one another--even to the trained eye.

Anyway, after that first call, the manager of the local UPS office promised to talk to his drivers and fix the situation. That was about a year ago, and our problems persist to this day with every single package that's sent to us via UPS--including the cell phone battery that we were expecting earlier this week. Each time it happens, we call UPS and they assure us that it won't happen again.

What can brown do for me? They can cram it with walnuts. (Ugly.)*

*TM and ©: Homer J. Simpson

Posted by Jess at 02:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 29, 2003

Rod Stewart goes nuts, lashes out at "peers"

That's not JPEG compression. He really looks like that.As detailed in this CNN.com article, Rod Stewart recently tore into his musical rivals--including Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Sting--during an interview with the British Magazine Radio Times. Stewart claims that it's unfair that the media has criticized him for dating a woman who is 26 years younger than him, but has said little or nothing about Sir Paul recently marrying a woman half his age. He goes on in the interview to call Sting "Mr. Serious who helps the Indians" and nicknames Elton John "Sharon." Speaking of Elton, Rod notes, "My hair is nice and real and looks it, and hers [Elton's] doesn't. No, I take that back. He looks good at the moment, but he could lose a bit of timber."

What's the matter, Rod? Wasn't there enough time during the interview to make fun of Phil Collins for being bald?

Posted by Jess at 04:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Best. Images. Ever.

I've dabbled in web design for the past eight years or so and, during that time, I've thrown together countless graphics for my various web projects. Now, as Andy can tell you, I am--and always have been--completely devoid of any artistic ability. Heck, I spent the better part of my first three years online thinking that the "page curl" effect in Paint Shop Pro was the height of design sophistication. Nevertheless, while shuffling through some of my older work, I couldn't help but get a chuckle out of these two images from 1997:



While I think these images are pretty hilarious even when taken completely out of context, they were originally part of this article by the inimitable "Evil" Doug Smith. Ah...there's just something about the serene look on Princess Diana's face as she's about to be devoured by the fierce tyrannosaurus rex. Speaking of which, aren't those vestigial arms cute? The dinosaur's, that is--not Di's. Also, be sure to note the "angry eyebrow" on that sheep.

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October 28, 2003


According to SelectSmart's 2004 American Presidential Candidate Selector, the Reverend Al Sharpton is the candidate whose political views most closely match my own. Noooooo!

Posted by Jess at 08:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 27, 2003

Good news and bad news

The good news: My department has finally set me up with an office--a swanky little third-floor affair with a decent enough view. I'm sharing it with two or three other graduate students, but it's still a definite step up from operating out of our crowded graduate lounge.

The bad news: It looks like I'll be working as a teaching assistant again next semester, leading discussion sections instead of operating as an independent instructor. I really had my heart set on teaching my own classes in the spring, but I was informed earlier today that some inscrutable graduate school policy would apparently cut my pay in half if I taught next semester--even though working as an independent instructor would require significantly more work than leading discussions. Oh, well...there's always next fall.

Posted by Jess at 02:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 26, 2003

Slightly less cool than the Showcase Showdown

On a lark, I decided to submit this site to The Truth Laid Bear's weekly New Blog Showcase. To provide some background for those not familiar with the Showcase, it exists primarily as a way to get newer weblogs a little exposure, with the "winner" each week being determined by the number of inbound links to his or her blog. While this site has virtually no chance of winning, it seemed like a fun idea at the time. So, if you happen to be visiting from the Showcase, welcome--and feel free to blogroll me! ;)

With that bit of exposition out of the way, TTLB encourages entrants to link to entries from a few other entrants' blogs as part of the cross-promotional fun. One of the entries that leapt out at me immediately from this week's submissions was "I miss Lewis Grizzard" from Anastasia's Southern Musings. As I commented over in her blog, I'd like to think that much of what I know about humorous writing (which may or may not be that much) I learned from reading Lewis Grizzard's syndicated columns in my local newspaper as a child. Then again, I also claim that much of what I know about performing on-stage I learned from The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, so what do I know?

With an exception or two, however, most of the entries in the Showcase this week are political weblogs. Obviously, this isn't going to win me too many votes in the contest, but political blogs have never appealed to me at all. Maybe it's because political science is both what I study and what I do for a living and, as a result, when I'm playing around on the Web, I'm looking for diversion as opposed to futher immersion. Then again, maybe it's my training as a political scientist that has given me a relatively dim view of political editorializing--something that we're usually encouraged not to do in our own professional work. Or, it could just be that I'm too much of a moderate to identify with what tend to be the more extreme positions, either right or left, of most political blogs.

Bah! Political commentary--who needs it? Go buy a copy of Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night instead.

Posted by Jess at 07:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 24, 2003

So not funny it's funny. Or not.

marmadukeWhile administering mid-terms earlier today, I came up with the perfect idea for a Marmaduke comic. Just imagine Marmaduke and his owner outside of a drive-through car wash with the owner trying his best to shove Marmaduke into the car wash. In turn, the caption reads, "There has to be a better way to give you your Sunday bath!" You see, it's funny because Marmaduke is larger and more stubborn than the average dog and that creates a unique set of frustrations for his surprisingly even-tempered owners.

Come to think of it, I have a pretty good idea for a Family Circus strip, too. Here's the scene: Jeffy and his mom are sitting on the sofa smiling and flipping through an old family photo album together. Jeffy turns to his mom and says, "Sometimes I think they should call the 'good old days' the 'best old days.'" Oh, and the ghost of Jeffy's grandfather--also smiling--is floating around in the background.

Being a cartoonist would be so easy if it wasn't for the drawing.

Posted by Jess at 05:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2003

The mysteries of Google

I'll never understand Google. It's only been a few days ago that the search engine started indexing my weblog under its current name and, in turn, finding its archives at their present location. Now, for some unfathomable reason, it's back to indexing the site under its old name ("The Least Interesting Destination on the Web")--complete with a cached version that's several weeks older than the version they had a day or two ago.

Meanwhile, Google Toolbar's PageRank continues to insist that, on a scale of one to ten, this site is a "five" in terms of its overall importance. Maybe they're seeing something here that I'm not, but I have a feeling that Google needs a fresh flock of pigeons.

Posted by Jess at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2003

Review: BNL's Everything to Everyone

everything to everyoneJust as I predicted a few weeks ago, I was at Circuit City bright and early Tuesday morning to purchase a copy of the new Barenaked Ladies album, Everything to Everyone. Now that I've had a chance to listen to E2E a few times, I can say that it's certainly better than I initially expected given my unmitigated disappointment with the asinine first single, "Another Postcard." Still, the album as a whole--much like Stunt and Maroon before it--strikes me as the handiwork of a band more interested in being clever than actually saying anything. For instance, in the self-referential chorus of "Testing 1, 2, 3," vocalist/guitarist Ed Robertson asks, "If I shed the irony, would everybody cheer me?" I don't know about everybody, but it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

The problem with releasing an album that features a song about the torment of receiving anonymous postcards graced by photographs of chimpanzees ("Another Postcard") and another with a chorus that includes the lines "It's always lalalalala/Shopping with our friends" ("Shopping") is that when you eventually get around to the plaintive song about suicide ("War on Drugs"), the listener is too busy waiting for the next ironic twist or zany pun to actually appreciate it. While songs like "Aluminum" and "Next Time" make the most of the traditional BNL formula of two parts introspection and one part wry commentary, E2E is at its best when it's at its least expected. For instance, the country/bluegrass-tinged "For You" and "Have You Seen My Love?" are among the highlights of the album, as is the bombastic accordian-driven tango of "Upside Down." Still, E2E remains an uneven effort. The highs are high, the lows are low, and most of the material in between is forgettable at best.

Maybe the Barenaked Ladies haven't lost a step; maybe I've just outgrown their particular brand of wacky Canadian pop. I will say this much, though: there's no such thing as a part-time novelty act. I was under the impression that BNL spent much of the '90s trying to shake that derisive label after they gained early notoriety through songs like "Be My Yoko Ono" and "Grade 9." Now, despite the fact that Everything to Everyone wasn't quite the disaster I expected, I'm still not sure what the Barenaked Ladies are trying to say--what image they're trying to project--with their music these days. Do they want us to take them seriously as musical artists or chuckle along with their hyper-ironic observations on life and love? Sure, nobody ever got ahead by attempting to be everything to everyone, but I can't help but wonder after hearing this album if BNL is anything to anyone at this point in their career other than a series of forced jokes wrapped up in quality musicianship and held-over goodwill from their devoted fanbase.

Grade: C+

Posted by Jess at 04:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 21, 2003

The Tao of Dangerfield

RodneyMy friend Josh and I were chatting on AIM this morning and found ourselves (however improbably) discussing the rather odd fact that I've interacted with comedian Rodney Dangerfield on multiple occasions in the eight years or so that I've been online--first when he endorsed my website and later when we interviewed him for Verbosity. That's where this chat transcript picks up:

Josh: [Rodney Dangerfield] likes to keep in touch with the common man.
Jess: All great artists do. He's probably sitting in a cafe in Paris right now, observing the human condition and prepping material for his next Indian casino tour.
Josh: There's a comedy routine in there somewhere.
Jess: In Rodney Dangerfield or in observations about Rodney Dangerfield?
Josh: A routine about Rodney Dangerfield in a Paris cafe, observing people and writing new material.
Josh: Discarding all the truly witty, deep, philosophical insights and keeping only the tired one-liners.
Jess: Heh.
Jess: Je n'obtiens aucun respect.
Josh: I like it.
Maybe he's right; this could be the biggest thing since Kathy Griffin's "Jerry Seinfeld is the Devil" routine. I'm taking this show on the road, baby!

current music: Barenaked Ladies, "Aluminum"

Posted by Jess at 03:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

Such intolerance!

Maybe society will eventually realize that certain people are born media whores; it's just not as simple as a "choice of lifestyle." Until then, we'll have to put up with this kind of intolerance and discrimination:

Atlanta just says no to ‘The Kiss’

Oct. 20 -- Sometimes, a kiss is not just a kiss, and there was one pucker that some Atlanta area residents didn’t want to see: the infamous one between Britney Spears and Madonna.

An Atlanta radio station erected a billboard featuring the Sapphic smooch--and took it down in less than a week because people bombarded the station, 96-Rock, with complaints. Of course, the text on the billboard may have been part of the problem: "Their music stinks," read the sign, "but we'd do 'em."


Me, I feel sorry for poor Christina Aguilera. It's like nobody even remembers that she kissed Madonna, too.

Thanks to KK for alerting me to this interesting bit of local news.

Posted by Jess at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My name's Larry. Larry Laffer.

According to a news item at Adventure Gamers, there's a new installment in Sierra's classic Leisure Suit Larry series in the works. Series creator Al Lowe isn't involved, and rumor has it that Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (groan) will incorporate gameplay elements reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto, only with more sex and less violence. Oookay.

Anyway, for all those LSL fans out there, here's hoping that this project fares better than Escape Factory's Space Quest 7 and LucasArts' Full Throttle 2.

Also, just to address some of the confusion that's already popping up online with regards to this announcement, Josh Mandel--co-designer of such games as Space Quest 6 and Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist--is not involved in Magna Cum Laude; as noted over at the Subspace Channel, he merely wrote an upcoming preview of the game for Computer Games Magazine.

Posted by Jess at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2003

On the names of things: Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl

The first official promotional image for Kevin Smith's upcoming Jersey Girl hit the Web yesterday, and I have to say that it sets me a bit ill-at-ease. When Kevin first started talking up Jersey Girl a year or so back, he hyped it not as a wacky follow-up to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but rather as a return to the somewhat more serious filmmaking of Chasing Amy--by far my favorite of his films. This promotional image, however, gives me a bad vibe. I'm not sure if it's the girl's missing teeth or the highlights in Ben Affleck's hair, but something about the image screams "feel-good movie of the late winter/early spring" to me. That being said, I don't know if I want to see the writer/director who brought me a film featuring a poop monster tell a story about a young girl, wise beyond her years, who teaches her father how to love again.

It isn't just the "aww, how cute!" factor that makes me a bit apprehensive about Jersey Girl, though. As noted above, Kevin has touted the film as more serious in tone than light-hearted farces like Jay and Silent Bob and Mallrats. If he wants audiences to take his work seriously, however, why does he insist on giving his character completely ridiculous names? Let's run through the leads in Jersey Girl, shall we? Ben Affleck stars as publicist Ollie Trinke, presumably borrowing his first name from Kevin's beloved Green Arrow. Meanwhile, J.Lo plays his love interest, Gertrude Steiney. I guess her parents were big fans of "the lost generation" of twentieth-century American expatriates or something. The titular Jersey Girl? She's named Gertie, after her her mom and Drew Barrymore in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Now, I realize that Kevin has a history of borrowing his characters' names from both other films (Mallrats' Brody Bruce and T.S. Quint adapted from Jaws), as well as literary works (Chasing Amy's Holden McNeill and Banky Edwards lifted from The Catcher in the Rye), but these names are just absurd! How can we take this film seriously, when most of the main characters are sporting the geek equivalent of pornstar names? Not only are the odds pretty darn slim that someone would be named either Ollie Trinke or Gertrude Steiney in the first place, but it's downright preposterous to think that two people with such unlikely names would actually know each another, fall in love, and produce an effervescent little offspring. And, assuming they did, do you really think they would name her after her mother?

Posted by Jess at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2003

Tales from the Classroom IV: Profanity

After one of my students employed a rather crude sexual euphemism during our discussion of presidential popularity earlier today (guess which president we were talking about!), it seems somewhat apropos to reflect on just how commonplace profanity has become in the classroom these days.

I should begin by saying that, unlike some professors, I never use profanity when I'm teaching. On the one hand, I think it sets the wrong tone for mature, scholarly discussion, and on the other, it's just not my style. Nevertheless, my students are oftentimes more than willing to pick up the slack. For instance, it's typical to hear students compare a political stance--say, opposition to keeping the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance--to bovine (or, if they're feeling particularly bold, equine) excrement. I've even had a few students drop the dreaded f-bomb in the middle of a discussion--some by accident and others completely unapologetically. Sure, it's completely inappropriate for students to use profanity in the classroom, but I'm at least willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as long as they don't make a habit of it. After all, we frequently discuss controversial issues in class--abortion, First Amendment rights, affirmative action, and so forth--and tempers tend to run high about such topics, causing students to blurt out an opinion without quite thinking through what they're about to say prior to saying it.

What seems a little less justifiable, however, is the fact that profanity also has a way of creeping its way into their written assignments. For instance, I can recall reading about America "kicking Iraq's ass" in the first Gulf War on several occasions. As I said, I'm willing to give students the benefit of the doubt when they accidentally let a curse word slip in the middle of a heated political debate, but when they're sitting at home in front of their computers and working on a formal essay, I would like to think they could rein in their passions a bit more effectively. Apparently, it's just not that simple.

For now, I think I'll just continue telling myself that my students feel so strongly about the study of political science that they can't keep their overpowering emotions bottled up inside. Yeah, that's the ticket...

Posted by Jess at 08:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

Tarot of the Blogger

I just stumbled across Tarot of the Blogger at Davezilla. Pretty funny stuff--especially "The Pundit" and "The Web Grrl." Still, where's the card for the blogger who started out his weblog with purely ironic intentions, just to play around with the technology, and quickly found out that he actually enjoyed blogging and became addicted?

Not that I know anyone like that, of course.

Posted by Jess at 11:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

Root, root, root for the Cubbies

If the Cubs don't win tonight, something tells me that this overzealous fan had better hope his identity remains unreleased.

Posted by Jess at 07:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 14, 2003

An oh-so-rare post about politics

I just landed a story on Slashdot linking to the news that the Supreme Court decided earlier today to hear a case next year on the constitutionality of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Interestingly enough, I spent the better part of a class period a few weeks back discussing this very topic with my students. Most of them seemed to staunchly oppose any changes to the pledge, arguing that people should be "less sensitive" about these types of things. Then again, many--if not most--of my students went to school here in Georgia and began every day of their primary and secondary educations with the pledge. They were also surprised to hear that "under God" was only added to the pledge by Congress in 1954 and was not part of the original text.

In other news, I just found out from my department a little while ago that I passed my comparative politics comprehensive exam with distinction (w00t). Now, I just have to survive the trial by fire known as "oral comps."

current music: OutKast, "Hey Ya"

Posted by Jess at 07:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

Kill Bill: Plenty of sizzle, not so much steak?

Note: I'm relatively sure that the following comments are about as spoiler-free as possible.

I caught a showing of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 over the weekend, and I have to say that I left the theater a bit underwhelmed. Admittedly, I went into the film with rather high expectations, and I certainly can't find much fault in Tarantino's directorial skills. There are no two ways about it: Kill Bill is a beautiful film. Tarantino clearly has an artistic flair for making incredibly complex shots work for him, and as far as I'm concerned, modern cinema doesn't get much more gorgeous than the snowy showdown between Uma Thurman's "The Bride" and Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishi.

That being said, the much-ballyhooed spraying, spurting, and splattering of blood that nearly earned the film an NC-17 rating didn't work for me at all. It's not so much that the pervasive violence bothered me per se, but rather that the outlandish lack of realism in the bloodshed itself just pulled me out of the experience and made it even more difficult to suspend my disbelief as I watched a single woman defeat literally dozens of adversaries in hand-to-hand combat. Still, I suppose that's more of a stylistic complaint than a substantive critique.

What really disappointed me about Kill Bill was how empty--perhaps even vacuous--the film seemed between action sequences. In particular, Tarantino's trademark dialogue is virtually absent throughout Vol. 1 (although I hear this problem is remedied in the second installment). Instead, viewers are left with the barest of plots to give "The Bride" an excuse to run around killing people with samurai swords. Speaking of "The Bride," we're given a handful of interesting characters in Vol. 1, but relatively little reason to care about--much less relate to--any of them.

When it's all said and done, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is a movie about revenge and just revenge--not whether revenge is right or wrong, and not about the effect it has on the person seeking it. Maybe the next installment will touch on such themes and help add a bit of substance to the unquestionably stylish presentation of Vol. 1. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed Kill Bill. I'm just reserving judgment on whether the film is the instant classic that some critics have hailed it to be until I've seen the second installment. For the time being, however, Kill Bill strikes me as a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I guess we'll know next February whether or not it was, in fact, told by an idiot.

Posted by Jess at 12:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 12, 2003

Tales from the Classroom III: Evaluations

On Friday, I asked for a mid-term evaluation from the students in both of my classes in an attempt to gauge whether or not they're finding our weekly discussion sections helpful. Now, having taught for a few semesters now, I've been conditioned not to expect too much in terms of useful feedback from these evaluations. Students tend to keep their positive comments vague with statements like "Jess is a good teacher" and "I really like this class." On the other hand, when the students actually criticize of the class, their feedback isn't typically all that constructive. For instance, any class that takes place before 10:00AM is guaranteed to have at least three or four students who note on their evaluations that the class "sucks" because it's too early. Still, even if evaluations don't always provide instructors with particularly useful feedback, they're definitely worth conducting for their entertainment value alone. After all, when a student writes in an evaluation that "Jess is really funny in a sarcastic way--like Han Solo in Star Wars," how can you not justify doing them again the following semester?

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of useful feedback I received from Friday's evaluations. The comments were positive for the most part, but many of my students offered rather insightful tips on how I might use the chalkboard better, get students who don't like to talk more involved, and bring more current events into our discussions. Plus, several students commented that they liked the new haircut I got the previous day, so that's probably a good thing.

My absolute all-time favorite evaluation, however, came during my first semester as a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech. "Jess is a great first-time teacher," this anonymous student opined, "but I wish that he wouldn't pace back and forth in front of the class like an angry caged bobcat while he teaches." I think I'll have that put on my business cards one of these days: professor of political science/angry caged bobcat. Maybe after I have tenure.

Oh, and for what it's worth, previous tales from the classroom are archived here and here.

Posted by Jess at 08:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

The Hierarchy of Geeks

While scouring Best Buy (arch-nemesis of teedz) for a new cordless telephone yesterday, I noticed that the PC game Icewind Dale has recently hit the low, low price of ten bucks. I've been searching for a budget-priced computer game as of late to while away the hours, and I think a critically acclaimed CRPG might just do the trick. The fact that Icewind Dale is based on the official Dungeons & Dragons rules, however, raises an important question. Is the fact that I'm playing what amounts to a computer version of a Dungeon & Dragons game less geeky because I'm not playing a pen-and-paper campaign with a group of fellow RPGers, or is it in fact double geeky because it involves not only playing Dungeons & Dragons, but also using a computer to do so?

The dilemma made me think back the what may very well be the funniest thing ever produced by the now-defunct Brunching Shuttlecocks website: the absolutely hilarious Geek Hierarchy. From the looks of that chart, I can rest assured that I'll remain at least a notch above the furries even if I succumb to the lure of Icewind Dale.

Posted by Jess at 02:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ann Coulter Spontaneously Combusts

I was playing around with Google earlier this morning and decided to follow the "similar pages" link for this site and discover what pages Google thinks are related to my weblog. The first related page that Google returned turned out to be a column at MSNBC.com by humorist Andy Borowitz entitled "Ann Coulter Spontaneously Combusts."

I'm not sure exactly what that says about the contents of my weblog, but I think I like it.

Posted by Jess at 07:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

Martha Stewart's Haunted Gingerbread Mansion

So, is this thing haunted by the ghosts of devoured gingerbread men? If not, I want no part in it.

Posted by Jess at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

Lost: Understanding American Democracy

I was loitering around the graduate student lounge earlier today and spotted a note on the chalkboard reading, "LOST: UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY." Taking the recent turn of events in California into account, I scribbled a message underneath the original accouncing, "I too have lost my understanding of American democracy. If found, please return." Only moments after I finished writing it, one of my fellow graduate students was kind enough to inform me that Understanding American Democracy is a textbook. I guess some people just don't appreciate quality political satire.

Speaking of political satire, I just heard back moments ago that I passed my international relations comprehensive exam from a couple of weeks back. Hopefully, I'll know something about my comparative exam in the next few days.

Posted by Jess at 06:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Late Night = Blog Tinkering

In case you hadn't noticed, I've made the switch over from Greymatter to Movable Type--mostly because I couldn't sleep last night and playing around with MT seemed like a good idea at 3:00AM. Anyway, it's up-and-running, and I think I like it. Let me know if you encounter any bugs, broken links, and so forth.

Posted by Jess at 08:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

Time for a new rig

It looks like there's a new computer in my near future (w00t), and I'm now realizing that my tech knowledge has grown a bit out of date in recent years. For instance, the last time I bought a system, Intel still had the processor market more or less cornered. Now that AMD is actually a viable competitor, however, the choice isn't quite as clear cut. Certainly, AMD's processors are much cheaper, but how does the performance stack up to Intel's offerings? For instance, is the speed of an AMD Athlon 2800+ roughly equivalent to a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor? Or, are the numbers just smoke and mirrors? I'd appreciate any insight from my tech-savvy friends.

Plus, since I'm not a real geek willing to build his own system from scratch, I'm trying to decide what company to go with for my new computer. I'd love to order from Dell, but you can get a lot more computer (at least on paper) from HP/Compaq--although I've seen reports that the warranty and technical support are a bit shaky in the case of the latter. Meanwhile, I've heard good things about ABS Computers from various magazines and online review sites, but their website is so rinky-dink that it sets me ill at ease. Again, any input would be appreciated.

And, before someone brings it up, Mac and Linux are pretty much out of the question since neither OS can run the various statistical packages that I need for my research. Oh, and I want to play kewl games, too.

Posted by Jess at 03:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

In Soviet Russia, news submits you

Wow--I've had two Slashdot submissions (here and here) accepted in the past three days. Not too shabby.

Posted by Jess at 08:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 04, 2003

Don't quit your day job

How does President Bush keep himself busy when he's not out fighting terrorism? Why, writing poetry, of course! Here's the full text of a poem he recently wrote for the First Lady (as reported by CNN.com):

Untitled (by George W. Bush, age 57)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh my, lump in the bed
How I've missed you.
Roses are redder
Bluer am I
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too
Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier
Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.
Wow--I don't know what to say. I will say, if nothing else, that the love triangle hinted at by the poem among President Bush, the First Lady, and French President Jacques Chirac is intriguing.

Now, here's a poem that I wrote in third grade (please note that it was submitted to my teacher with a drawing of a brontosaurus sitting on a person):

One Day I Bought a Dinosaur (by Jess, age 8)

One day I bought a dinosaur
I bought him at the corner store
I bought him for a dollar and a cent
He's very, very different
From any other toy I've got
Ugh--he sure does weigh a lot!
I know it's good, but is it presidential good?

Posted by Jess at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

tLIDotW Version 2.0

I just finished upgrading my blog to the latest version of Greymatter, and it looks like everything is in working order. The newest version of the software--which, I should add, was already quite awesome--boasts a few new features (the "music" and "mood" mods, emoticons), a couple of minor bugfixes, and added security. Please let me know if you encounter any post-upgrade weirdness.

Posted by Jess at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 03, 2003


As promised yesterday, here's a grainy webcam pic of our 19-year-old cocker spaniel, Milo:

Oops! Image accidentally deleted.

He doesn't always look like that. Occasionally, he's awake. Meanwhile, Kourtney assures me that Dexter doesn't look his best in the photo I posted yesterday, so here's another shot of him.

D'oh! This one was deleted, too.

I promise that's the last time I'll post pictures of my pets. Unless they do something really adorable, of course.

Posted by Jess at 09:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2003

Just when you thought this site couldn't get more self-indulgent...

Through the years, I've had quite a bit of luck in terms of my friends feeling sorry enough for me to give me computer hardware when they just can't stand to watch me muddle forward with out-of-date technology any longer. For instance, when I first arrived at college and got on the Internet back in 1995, my computer boasted a 14.4 Kbps modem (which, at the time, wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds today). My friends Chris and Andy, however, couldn't stand watching me surf at those speeds and eventually hooked me up with a 28.8 Kbps modem--and, a few months later, a rockin' external 33.6 Kbps--free of charge. If I recall correctly, it was Andy who later gave me 16MB of RAM for my system (back when 16MB of RAM was a lot of RAM), bringing my old 486-33 up to a total of 32MB of RAM. Along the way, other friends have donated network cards, speakers, CD-ROM drives, and all kinds of other good stuff to my pitiful cause.

That being said, I've always wanted a webcam to play around with, but I couldn't think of a single reason to justify wasting money on one. Somehow I just knew if I waited five or six years, one would fall into my lap sooner or later. Just as I planned, a package from my parents arrived in the mail earlier today with an Ezonics EZCam II enclosed. It turns out that one of my aunts got a dozen or so webcams through a Pepsi promotion, gave one of the cams to one of my other aunts, who in turn gave it to my parents, who sent it to me. So, I finally have a webcam up-and-running at no cost whatsoever. All it took was a little patience. ;)

Anyway, Andy suggested a couple of days ago that I needed to upload photos of Milo and Dexter, my and my wife's beloved cocker spaniels. As per that request, here's Dexter:

Image deleted in a fit of stupidity.

Isn't he cute? Unfortunately, Milo wasn't in the mood to pose today, but I'll try to lure him in front of the webcam tomorrow.

Posted pictures of a pet? Check. What other blog clichés are left?

Posted by Jess at 01:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003

File under 'D' for 'disorganized'

I've noticed that much of the correspondence that comes across my desk these days--whether it's school-related or just day-to-day bills and so forth--includes the friendly reminder that I "save a copy" for my "records." Lately, this helpful bit of advice has been making me feel a little self-conscious (dare I say inadequate?) since I don't actually have what you would call "records" per se. All this paperwork, however, is starting to give me the distinct impression that everyone else apparently does. I mean, sure, I hold on to all the stuff that seems vaguely important (correspondence related to my student loans, bank statements, advertisements from Lerner New York), but I'd estimate the odds of me actually being able to find a specific "record" if I ever needed it (which, of course, I probably never will) at approximately slim to none. After all, I would need a decently-sized file cabinet just to hold my "records" from the past year.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that everyone else out there actually has records. Very creepy.

Posted by Jess at 02:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack