March 31, 2004

Air America is on the air, America

Air America, the upstart liberal talk radio network (not to be confused with the Mel Gibson movie of the same name), debuted today in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Bernadino, Portland, and on XM satellite radio. Streaming audio is also available via the Internet, although the site seems to be facing a bit of a bandwidth crunch at the moment.

I missed Air America's official midday launch with Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor," but I did catch a couple of hours of Randi Rhodes' afternoon talk show. If today's episode was any indication, she's a bit too caustic for my tastes. Sure, unbridled outrage at the Bush administration might play well for the first fifteen or twenty minutes, but the show needs a bit more substance to compete with the Hannities of the world. Then again, as far as I'm concerned, just about anything is better than suffering through Sean Hannity's overwhelming smugness. "Three hours a day, five days a week -- that's all we ask!" Thanks, Sean; you're too kind.

I'll probably tune back in tonight to catch a bit of Janeane Garofalo's "The Majority Report" and check out "The O'Franken Factor" tomorrow. While I certainly support Air America's effort to introduce a liberal alternative into the conservative-dominated medium of talk radio, I can't help but think the network had taken the wrong approach in choosing hosts like Franken and Garofalo to head up its flagship shows. Don't get me wrong; I like both comedians, but therein lies the rub. At the end of the day, it's going to be far too easy for conservatives to fall back on the defense that they're "just comedians." Even if Franken and Garofalo are presenting insightful critiques of the Bush administration and well-reasoned defenses of the liberal ideology, I have the feeling that they'll ultimately be dismissed by conservatives -- fairly or unfairly -- due simply to the fact that they're entertainers and not "serious pundits." In fact, I can't help but think that Air America might have done itself a long-term favor if it had traded in some of its initial big-name recognition for hosts with a bit more credibility and a bit less assailability. That's just me, though.

Update (8:44PM): Janeane Garofalo just hypothesized that Ann Coulter is secretly Andy Kaufman testing out a female version of his Tony Clifton character. Sounds plausible to me.

Posted by Jess at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Icebox Rolls: The Silent Killer

Spotted on Reuters:

Recipe for Danger

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Attention cooks -- a recipe for rolls in the current issue of Southern Living magazine could be hazardous.

The magazine, published by Time Warner Inc.'s Southern Progress Corp. subsidiary, said it is alerting readers about potential dangers from a recipe for icebox rolls in its April issue. The magazine said it has requested the removal of all copies of the April issue from newsstands.

"It has been determined that heating the water and shortening, as described in the recipe, is potentially dangerous and may pose a fire and safety hazard," the Birmingham, Alabama-based magazine said in a statement.

Southern Living said 12 of its roughly 2.4 million subscribers had contacted the company with concerns about the recipe. A corrected recipe is available on the Web site.

In a related story, Better Homes and Gardens is pulling this month's issue due to complaints over its recipe for hemlock stew.

Posted by Jess at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tales from the Classroom: Pop Quiz

I asked my students to identify at least one interest group on an unannounced quiz earlier today. A small minority -- albeit large enough to register as somewhat disturbing -- listed NAMBLA. I guess I can always hope that they were referring to the National Association of Marlon Brando Look Alikes.

Thanks for doing your part to raise social awareness, South Park.

Posted by Jess at 10:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

Here's a tip: try a subtler approach

I've had a shockingly productive day today; I submitted a manuscript to a journal, cleaned the house, did a couple of loads of laundry, and prepared my lectures for the next week or so. To reward myself for all the hard work, I decided to go out to Sonic Drive-In this afternoon for a celebratory fresh-fruit slushie. My total came to $1.38, and I handed the carhop two dollar bills.

"Would you like your 62¢ back, sir?" she asked.

"Uh...yeah," I responded.

"Oh," she replied, sighing and dispensing my change from her money belt.

Surprisingly, this isn't the first time that this has happened to me at Sonic. I'll admit that I'm occasionally a bit out-of-step when it comes to "should I tip, or shouldn't I?" situations (e.g. the tip jar at Subway). Still, is a 62-cent tip appropriate when all someone does is walk twenty feet to hand you a $1.38 slushie? She wasn't even on rollerskates!

At least my carhop asked if she could have my change, though. A couple of years ago, I was paying for a $13 haircut with a $20 bill in a salon at the mall. The hairdresser counted out seven dollar bills into the palm of my extended hand and then simply took two off the top for herself, sticking them into her pocket as a self-made tip. I was so dumbfounded by the sheer audacity of her actions that I had stumbled back out into the mall before I completely processed what had just happened.

And I was actually going to tip her, too.

Posted by Jess at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Condi Strikes Back

I've been feeling a bit guilty about my recent posts here at Apropos of Something featuring photos of Evil Condi™ in action. After all, the woman is going through some rough times right now what with the 9/11 commission and everything. That being said, here's a photo of Happy Condi™ to balance things out:

Happy (Paramilitary) Condi

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention "I Thought I Told You To Take Your Damn Hand Off My Shoulder" Condi™ pictured below:

'I Thought I Told You To Take Your Damn Hand Off My Shoulder' Condi

Okay, I promise that I'm officially finished with the Condoleezza photos now. Really. If you just can't get enough, though, On the Fritz is hosting an Evil Condi™ Photoshop Contest -- not to mention Fark's usual shenanigans.

Posted by Jess at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2004

The Return of Evil Condi™ apparently just can't get enough photographs of a dour Condoleezza Rice. Now, they've included a blurry President Bush (via Photoshop?) for added effect:


By my count, this is at least the third iteration of Evil Condi™ that has appeared on CNN's front page in the past four days -- and I was away from the Internet for most of the weekend.

Posted by Jess at 02:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

The Superhuman Menace

J. Jonah Jameson, Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Bugle*

In my role as editor-in-chief here at the Daily Bugle, I am confronted on a daily basis with what various individuals consider the major problems that plague New York City today. All told, they run the gamut of sources of blame. Traffic, crime, climate, George Steinbrenner -- the fingers have been pointed in a hundred different directions. However, I'm here to tell you that there's one clear root for all the discontent in this once-fair metropolis. This scourge which befalls us is the superhuman menace, and it must be dealt with -- promptly and for good.

Over the past several years Manhattan has turned into little more than a stomping ground for freakishly powerful superhumans. Though they group themselves into camps of good and evil, the average citizen has just as much to fear from the so-called "heroes" as we do the villains. Battling in our streets, these superhumans consider themselves above the law, dispensing justice without the "inconvenience" of having to deal with a judge or jury. Not only this, but the super-powered "heroes" residing in Manhattan only serve to attract more superhuman villains, each with a plot more devious and destructive than the last. More "heroes" leads only to more villains; the problem itself is self-perpetuating.

Pie ChartFurthermore, the exploits of these supermen and women damage vast amounts of real estate in our city, endangering the lives of countless citizens in the process. Last year alone, Damage Control, Inc., estimated that over $45 million worth of repairs were required in Manhattan due soley to the actions of these oafish brutes and power-hungry maniacs. While buildings are toppled by these titans, innocents are placed directly in harm's way. For example, just a few years ago, we witnessed the Human Torch set the entire campus of Empire State University ablaze. Moreover, when was the last time we saw that gamma-irradiated freak known as the "incredible" Hulk leave a check with the local authorities after smashing up a local used car lot in an attempt to stop some supposed megalomaniac from taking over the world? Not bloody recently! The money to cover the shenanigans of these nigh-invulnerable superhumans comes directly out of the taxpayers' pockets -- our pockets!

Rogue vilgilantes and property damage are not the only problems presented by the superhuman menace. What of the cosmic abnormalities that accompany superhuman activity? In the past decade alone, New York has been subject to far more demon infestations, alien invasions, portals to the Negative Zone, and rips in the space-time continuum than I care to count. And it doesn't end there. What is the God-fearing Christian to believe when a member of the Avengers parades around proclaiming himself as the Norse god of thunder? Also, how safe can our skies be for aircraft with all these superhumans flitting around like hummingbirds?

Friendly Neighborhood Spider MenaceWhen the Fantastic Four -- the first group of superhumans to take up residence in Manhattan -- arrived on the scene, the superhuman problem was not nearly as pronounced as it is today. However, with emergence of the aforementioned Hulk, the Avengers, and the mutant freaks known as the X-Men, it is clear that superhumans are dangerous and a threat to human life. Perhaps the most dangerous of all these superhumans is the misanthrope known as the Spider-Man. Time and time again, this arachnid anarchist defies the law, engaging in criminal activities under the guise of "protecting innocents." Why would he wear a mask in the first place if he weren't up to something he shouldn't be?

Furthermore, he has admittedly worked alongside known criminals like the Black Cat and the Sandman in the past. However, despite his obviously sinister intentions and my attempts to report the truth in the pages of the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man continues to be revered by the public as some sort of hero. I am here to tell you that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is nothing more than a common street thug with super-powers -- and a menace to our city!

HULK SMASH!How can will deal with these walking superhuman wrecking crews? Various attempts have been made to control the superhuman menace in the past and all have been largely unsuccessful. Military intervention is clearly not the answer, as evident in the early attempts by the U.S. Army to deal with the Hulk. Despite sending full-scale attack forces against the emerald goliath, the Hulk rendered entire tank squads little more than scrap metal in a matter of minutes. Legislation and government intervention have produced less than stellar results as well. The Mutant Registration Act and various attempts to bring the Avengers under the control of both the United States and the United Nations have both failed miserably. While there has been limited success in dealing with the mutant problem through the use of the robotic Sentinels, it is not the answer.

To put an end to the superhuman menace, we humans must unite and realize that the Spider-Men, the Hulks, the Iron Men, and the Things are not our saviors. Instead, they are the very source of the problem. When the general public begins to realize this, we will be well on our way to putting an end to the superhuman menace.

*Originally written sometime in 1999 or 2000 and never published.

Posted by Jess at 08:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 27, 2004

In lieu of an actual entry

Deep in the Apropos of Something archives, a heated debate continues to rage on among commenters presumably stumbling onto the site via Google: bear or tiger?

Posted by Jess at 10:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 26, 2004

Dining in the Classic City, Part Deux

My friends and I had the strangest lunch experience the other day. We went out for Mexican, and immediately noticed that our server seemed a bit "off," so to speak. For instance, she insisted on calling us "boys" and engaging us in small talk that I would place somewhere along the continuum between flirtation and outright ridicule. Eventually, we got around to placing our orders, and Justin, a vegetarian, asked our server if the cheese and onion enchiladas combo would contain any meat.

"Here's what's going to happen," she explained. "You're going to get a cheesy sauce on your enchiladas instead the usual tomato sauce, since the tomato sauce has meat in it. Then, you're going to get a double order of black beans and no rice, because the rice is cooked in chicken stock."

Sure, her delivery seemed a bit matter-of-fact, but I had to give her credit for knowing the restaurant's menu and looking out for her vegetarian customers. Things got even stranger, however, when the other member of our party placed his order for a chicken burrito.

"Good choice -- my personal favorite. Now, do you want black beans or refried beans with that?"

My friend asked which she would recommend, to which she responded, "You'll get black beans. You know, it's great that you boys trust me so know, not to spit in your food or anything." She then walked off laughing.

Now, I've never worked in a restaurant, but I'd assume rule number one is to avoid the phrase "spit in your food" whenever possible -- even if it's preceded by such phrases as "I promise not to," "I didn't," or "I won't."

This kind of wackiness continued throughout the meal, including the waitress chastising Justin at one point for not finishing his refill. I think it was all in good fun. Of course, I'm also relatively sure that our server was completely insane. You just had to be there.

Posted by Jess at 07:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Oh Condi, well you came and you glared at bureaucrats

Check out this photo from this morning:


Thanks, CNN -- now I'm going to have nightmares about Condoleezza Rice tonight after seeing that glare o'death. Somebody please send this woman a Pick-Me-Up Bouquet™ -- stat!

Posted by Jess at 10:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 24, 2004

Wild, wonderful

I stumbled across this story at Caffeinated Ramblings yesterday:

W.Va. Governor Is Offended by T-Shirt

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gov. Bob Wise sent a letter to Abercrombie & Fitch on Monday demanding that the clothing retailer stop selling a T-shirt that spoofs the state with the slogan, "It's All Relative in West Virginia."

Wise said the T-shirt depicts "an unfounded, negative stereotype" of the state.

"I write to you today to demand that you immediately remove this item from your stores and your print and online catalogues," Wise wrote. "In addition, these shirts must be destroyed at once to avoid any possibility of resale and proof be given thereof."

Abercrombie & Fitch spokesman Tom Lennox declined to say whether the New Albany, Ohio-based company would comply with the governor's request. He said the T-shirt, which features the slogan on an outline of the state, has been selling well at $22.50.

"Abercrombie and Fitch was born and raised in the USA, and we honor all 50 states in the union," Lennox said.

West Virginia is not the only state that is spoofed on an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. Another shirt's slogan is "New Hampshire. 40 million squirrels can't be wrong."

You can scope out the shirt at A&F's website. Oh, and the post title is West Virginia's state motto.

For what it's worth, this isn't the first time that I've commented on Abercrombie and Fitch here at Apropos of Something. That being said, if you'd prefer not to wade through my thoughts on this latest bit of controversy, now would be a great time to stop reading and maybe check out one of the sites on my blogroll instead. Otherwise, feel free to continue.

While Abercrombie's spokesman argues that his company honors all fifty states in the union, I find myself agreeing with Governor Wise on this matter. These shirts are inappropriate and offensive; Abercrombie and Fitch should do the right thing and pull them from the shelves -- maybe even issue an apology if they're feeling particularly socially responsible. As I commented at Caffeinated Ramblings, American society as a whole already tends to hold a number of preconceived notions about people from rural Appalachia. Having grown up in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia myself, I know from personal experience that many people -- even those from other parts of Virginia -- equate the region almost exclusively with stereotypes of ignorance and backwardness. Sure, Southerners also face certain stereotypes, but it's worth noting that not all of them are strictly negative (for instance, positive notions like Southern hospitality and the proverbial Southern belle enjoy significant cultural penetration). In contrast, not too many people out there have anything kind to say about "mountain folk." About the best you'll hear is that they're "simple people," and that's not really a compliment in most circles. What I'm trying to say here is that contemporary America is significantly more tolerant of the "redneck" than the so-called "hillbilly."

I realize that it's up to the individual from this region to do everything in his or her power to discredit these preconceived ideas and show those who hold them that not everyone -- in fact, hardly anyone -- from rural Appalachia is straight out of Deliverance. However, the fact that Abercrombie and Fitch insists on perpertrating these negative stereotypes, even if it's all in "good fun," doesn't make discrediting these notions any easier.

That being said, I definitely share the governor's concern over these t-shirts. If it's not permissible to make fun of racial minorities (although Abercrombie and Fitch has been down that road before, too), why is it okay to mock a geographic minority? The people of rural West Virginia -- and rural Appalachia in general -- have things bad enough already dealing with these baseless stereotypes in their day-to-day interactions with people from outside the region. Why make things any tougher for them just to sell a dumb t-shirt?

Of course, I realize that something as trivial as a $23 t-shirt probably isn't going to make things that much worse for West Virginians as a whole, but I can guarantee that it's not going to make things any better for West Virginians either. Admittedly, the governor raising such a stink about the shirt and requesting everything short of the execution of A&F salespeople lends itself to a "methinks he doth protest too much" reaction from comedians and bloggers alike. By that same token, however, this shirt doesn't joke about Hee Haw, NASCAR, or Dollywood. We're talking about incest here -- a taboo by anyone's standards. Why peg such a repugnant, unfounded label on any group of people just for a few ironic laughs?

I grew up in rural Appalachia -- not in the most rural of areas, but certainly not in a metropolis either. I truly love the region, and it breaks my heart to see it struggling through an utter economic collapse in recent decades as the coal-mining industry that took so much from the mountains over the past century pulls out without ever really giving anything back in return. It troubles me to know that drugs are increasingly endemic to the region, as people turn to anything to distract themselves from the soul-crushing malaise that has settled onto many of its small towns and communities. These days, it seems like hardly a month goes by that I don't hear from my parents about one of my high school classmate's suicide or accidental overdose. These are the dilemmas faced by many parts of rural Appalachia today, and feasible solutions aren't exactly popping up at every turn. From where I stand, that doesn't exactly sound like fodder for an overpriced novelty t-shirt.

Sure, there are more pressing issues facing us in the world today, but can you blame Governor Wise for wanting this shirt taken off the shelves? I know that I can't. Here's hoping that Abercrombie and Fitch will do the right thing, so I can go back to ignoring them until the next big controversy springs up.

Posted by Jess at 06:56 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

Showtime, Synergy!

Let's get something straight here: there's only one Jem, and she's truly, truly, truly outrageous. This chick is just a straight-up imposter. Word.

Posted by Jess at 07:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Spammers begone!

The comment spam here at Apropos of Something finally got to be more than I could handle, so I installed Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist earlier this afternoon. Peddle your generic Viagra and hentai elsewhere, spammers!

I had heard that MT-Blacklist was easy to install, but I had no idea that it was going to be that easy. It seems to be working fine, but let me know if you encounter anything that's broken.

Posted by Jess at 02:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Yo Joe!

When we were kids, my best friend and I always settled for taking apart our action figures and swapping their heads, arms, and legs, but it seems that the potential for creating art using G.I. Joe figures knows no bounds...

Artist uses GI Joe to recreate masters

A Chilean artist has opened an exhibition in which he recreates famous paintings with plastic toys.

Pablo Ferrer uses toys from the GI Joe range -- the US equivalent of Action Man -- to recreate masterpieces by the likes of Rubens.


He says his Liliput to Brobdingnag exhibition, at the Gabriela Mistral Gallery, is intended to be humourous.

Mr Ferrer told Las Ultimas Noticias: "I think that my work has something funny about it because it shows an ironic view on the history of art. Also it makes you think about the phoney side of the paintings."

I don't know art, but I know what I like -- and I like any piece of art that features Dr. Mindbender prominently.

Posted by Jess at 09:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

PastaMania runnin' wild

What's better than this image that I found in my inbox earlier today?


Nothing, that's what.

Oh, and since creativity is running a bit low today and I don't have anything of substance to write, the extended entry includes an image that I hacked together while I was considering different ideas for my recent redesign.

The Conquest of the Moon People

When are those Moon People going to learn?

Posted by Jess at 07:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 21, 2004

Desperately seeking Ashley

Dear Guy Who Has Been Calling For The Past Two Days,

By my count, you have phoned our number twelve times in the past two days -- including calls at 2:30 and 7:30 this morning. Each time, I pick up and you grunt into the receiver, "Lemme talk to Ashley." I then explain that you have the wrong number, you ask me if this is 555-1212, I respond affirmatively, you make an incredulous grunting noise (if such a noise is even possible), and we hang up. Then, you call back approximately an hour later and we repeat the process.

I've been thinking this over, and I believe I have broken down our predicament down into two smaller problems:

  1. You would like to speak with Ashley, and
  2. Nobody named Ashley lives here.
Now, I've devised a solution on my end for problem number two: when you call, I tell you that nobody named Ashley lives here. As it stands, however, you have yet to formulate a satisfactory approach to resolving problem number one.

Might I recommend dialing another number and asking if Ashley is there? I understand that you probably have some reason to believe that you can reach her at our number, but I assure you that your odds of tracking her down are just as good if you simply dial random numbers on the keypad. As much as I have enjoyed getting to know you in the past 48 hours, I am quite certain the outcome will remain unchanged no matter how many more times you call here: no Ashley.

Please consider this proposal and let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks for your time, and best of luck in finding Ashley!

Your friend,


Posted by Jess at 04:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Shock and Awe: Flashback to March 20, 2003

Friday, of course, marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the U.S. strike on Iraq: March 19, 2003. I actually didn't hear about the strike until the following day, however. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in San Francisco at the time and woke up on the morning of March 20 to the unmistakable sound of protest chants from outside -- loud enough that they reached us through our closed tenth-floor hotel room window. Looking down to the streets below, we saw a sea of anti-war protesters and a handful of police in riot gear trying to maintain some semblance of order. Flipping on the television only confirmed our suspicions; Operation Shock and Awe was underway in Iraq.

After we showered and got dressed, Kourtney and I headed down to the streets to check out the action. As a social scientist, I was dying to get an even closer look at the protests, but I would have hated to have ended up getting arrested in the pandemonium and spending a day of my honeymoon in jail. Even from a distance, though, I could see that the protesters were a savvy bunch. Some had locked their arms together in metal sleeves wrapped in electrical tape and were blocking intersections throughout the Financial District, creating some serious gridlock. Others were just sitting in the streets and chanting, waiting for the police to drag them away. As the police would begin to load people into the paddy wagon, the protesters would use their cell phones to coordinate with order protest groups around the city, helping to make sure that they would be where the police weren't.

Speaking of the police, they made a valiant, if ultimately hopeless, effort to keep the city functioning smoothly in light of the widespread protests. Even behind their riot-gear face shields, though, it was obvious that they were on edge -- if not downright afraid. They were afraid that the protests might get out of hand and turn into a full-fledged riot. They were afraid that they might get blindsided by an angry protester (some were allegedly firing bolts from slingshots). They were afraid that they might find themselves with no choice but to use force against the protesters to maintain the peace. They were afraid that they might accidentally do something wrong and end up on the nightly news with a caption under their photo reading "Police Brutality in San Francisco." Frankly, I can't say that I blamed them for being a bit edgy. I imagine these civil disobedience situations can be among the most nerve-wracking in a cop's career, and these officers seemed to be handling themselves about as well as one could expect under the circumstances.

As fascinating as it was to watch these events unfold, Kourtney and I had to leave for the airport that afternoon and couldn't stay any longer. Somehow, the airport shuttle made it our hotel to pick us up despite the protests. Getting back to the airport, however, was another matter altogether as the protests continued to move from intersection to intersection, growing in intensity as the day wore on. Every time the driver would head down a street, his dispatcher would signal over the radio that the street was closed just a few blocks ahead. The driver would then curse under his breath and attempt to formulate another detour. Eventually, he devised an alternate route and got us to the airport (and by "alternate route," I mean a route that took us through most of Nevada and parts of New Mexico before we eventually arrived at the San Francisco airport).

All in all, it was an amazing experience that helped make our honeymoon even more memorable than it already was. Plus, we had the chance to witness history -- even if just a footnote in history -- firsthand. In my book, that's just as good as a trip to Fisherman's Wharf any day.

Posted by Jess at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004

It could have been worse; he could have ticked off Disney

Discovery Channel has served On the Fritz (one of the first blogs not written by one of my friends to really catch my attention) with a cease and desist letter due to the unauthorized use of the Trading Spaces and While You Were Out logos in parodies at the site.

I'm no lawyer, but I'd recommend that Fritz proceed with caution. After all, if he doesn't comply with Discovery's demands, there's always the chance that they'll send Trading Spaces' Hildi Santo-Tomas over to his house to wreck up the place.

Posted by Jess at 05:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tales from the Classroom: Note to Self

Dear Jess,

You are well aware of the fact that you can't leave the classroom while giving an exam for fear that the students might cheat in your absence. Therefore, in the future, I would counsel against drinking an entire 20-ounce bottle of Diet Coke during the first five minutes of the exam, knowing that you're not in a position to excuse yourself to go to the restroom for at least another 45 minutes.

In closing, any permanent damage suffered by your bladder this morning was your own damn fault.



Posted by Jess at 02:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

This can only bode well for the unemployment rate

From The Smoking Gun:

Donald Seeks to Trump "You're Fired" Market

MARCH 18 -- Donald Trump, reality TV star and rapacious New York developer, has filed to trademark the phrase sweeping an underemployed nation. That's right, if The Donald gets the nod from The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, he'll be able to exclusively slap the words "You're Fired" on clothing and "games and playthings," and use it in connection with "casino services."

For what it's worth, my sources suggest that The Donald plans to submit a patent application for the comb-over next week.

Posted by Jess at 08:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Low-budget MIDI karaoke mania!

Despite my geeky tendencies, I tend to subsist at least a few rungs below the rest of the civilized world on the technological ladder at any given point in time. Case in point: I do not own, nor have I ever owned, a cell phone. In fact, I could probably count the number of times that I've even spoken on someone else's cell phone in my life on two hands. Along similar lines, I've also managed to totally miss out on the entire MP3 revolution. I don't own a portable MP3 player, I don't have an account at the iTunes Store, and I've yet to rip the first song from my archaic CD-based music collection.

Back in the halcyon days of college, however, I did boast an amazing collection of rock/pop MIDI files on my computer. You might remember these amateur MIDIs -- they were the instrumental music files that typically came out of your computer speakers sounding like they were played by a ham-handed first-year piano student with a faulty metronome and a vintage 1986 Casio keyboard. Nevertheless, back in the day (circa 1996), they were ideal for use as slow-loading, browser-crashing background music to accompany the animated GIFs, scrolling marquees, and "hot links" on your Geocities webpage.

Anyway, let's get back to more important matters, i.e. my rockin' MIDI collection. I had it all -- Weezer, the Beastie Boys, Garbage, the Smashing Pumpkins -- and all of them were absolutely wonderful in a completely horrible kind of way. It was such a guilty pleasure just to hear how bad the latest Top 40 hit would sound once a MIDI "artist" got ahold of it and piped its melody through the "harpsichord" channel, slightly off-tempo.

On occasion, when we weren't busy playing Quake or going to Wal-Mart at 3:00AM for a case of Sam's Choice soft drinks, my friends and I would hook up the rinky-dink microphone that came bundled with my modem, load a few songs, and partake in a little activity that I liked to call low-budget MIDI karaoke. We'd take turns at the mic, performing our favorite songs and recording our efforts using Windows' built-in Sound Recorder program (just in case anyone might ever need musical evidence of what a bunch of losers we could be at times, I suppose). Sadder still, there was no alcohol whatsoever involved in these activities.

Up until my hard drive crashed a few years ago, I still had a few of my favorite karaoke performances saved -- including a lovely rendition of Beck's "Where It's At" and a tongue-in-cheek, Shatner-esque cover of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" -- all backed by the sweet, slightly off-key sounds of MIDI. Ah, those were the days.

Oh, what the heck! Why not play along with low-budget MIDI karaoke at home? You know you want to...

Posted by Jess at 07:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

H.R. 3920: Laying the Smack Down on Judicial Review

For those of you who are still seething over the Supreme Court's 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, there's good news: H.R. 3920 (short title, "The Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004") has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Here's an excerpt:


The Congress may, if two thirds of each House agree, reverse a judgment of the United States Supreme Court --

(1) if that judgment is handed down after the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2) to the extent that judgment concerns the constitutionality of an Act of Congress.

It's perfect for the member of Congress who isn't a fan of checks, balances, or checks and balances! Of course, something like this will likely never get out of committee, but it's an interesting bit of legislation nevertheless -- especially since I'm teaching the judicial branch in class today and could always use a little extra content.

First spotted at Go Fish.

Posted by Jess at 07:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

The ethics of blogging

Corey and I were just discussing whether the mainstream popularity of the Darwin Awards has made it acceptable to poke fun at zany suicide attempts. On the one hand, when you stumble across a headline like "Man Attempts Suicide by Crucifixion" online, the jokes practically write themselves ("The Passion: more dangerous than professional wrestling and Jackass combined!"). On the other hand, it's still an attempted suicide. What's a conscientious blogger to do?

Either way, hat tip to VH1's Best Week Ever Blog for the link.

Posted by Jess at 11:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

Playa hatin' on beloved elderly media personalities

If I could choose any two people alive today to engage in a vicious fight to the death, I think I'd choose Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes and radio commentator Paul Harvey. No matter what the outcome, the real winner would be the American public.

A couple of years ago, I actually found myself driving behind Paul Harvey's tour bus on a relatively treacherous mountain road near Asheville, North Carolina. At least I assume it was his bus -- it was covered in larger-than-life images of the trivia-spewing shill. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there was some small part of me that felt tempted to run his bus off the road, screaming out the window as I passed, "Now you know the rest of the story! Good day!"

Posted by Jess at 06:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tales from the Classroom: The Shoe's on the Other Foot

I experienced one of my first (of what is sure to be many) absent-minded professor moments earlier today. As I was walking across campus this morning, on my way to teach my class, I noticed that one of my shoes felt a little looser than the other. I looked down, only to discover that I had managed to leave the house wearing mismatched shoes. No, not socks. Shoes. I was wearing a clog on my left foot and a fake Birkenstock (Fakin'-stock) on the right.

Obviously, I couldn't go in front of my class with mismatched shoes; I'd never reestablish any sense of authority after that faux pas. I briefly considered teaching in my socks, but eventually decided that I might have just enough time to zip back home, change shoes, and get back to campus before my class started. I made it with about two minutes to spare.

If nothing else, this incident only serves to reinforce the fact that I definitely chose the right profession.

Posted by Jess at 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004


Naptime at Casa de Jess:

Jess y El Perro Notorio

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March 13, 2004

Sports Movie #5432

I have a terrific idea for a sports movie. It would star a bunch of misfit players who just don't fit in with the conventions of the sport, no matter how hard they try. For instance, one of the players would be overweight, another would be really smart, another would be a brute with a heart of gold, another would be a mouthy showboater, another would be a guy from some foreign country, and another would be a girl. At the center of the team would be a marginally handsome player who has far more at stake than just the game at hand (e.g. the love of a woman, the respect of his father, et cetera). The rest of the roster would remain unnamed and primarily appear in the background during locker room scenes. Heading up this team of ne'er-do-wells would be a down-on-his-luck coach who's seen better days and has somehow lost his love for the game along the way.

Here's where the movie gets interesting, though: these oddballs would absolutely refuse to conform to the so-called norms and expectations of the sport. In fact, despite initial setbacks, they would insist on playing the game on their own terms, each player bringing his (or her) own unique skills and personality quirks to the table to help make the team a success. The season would eventually culminate with the big championship game, and the marginally handsome lead character would find himself in a position to win it all or come up empty. Somehow, he manages to do the impossible, winning the game and the respect of his father/love of his woman in the process. Meanwhile, the coach rediscovers his love for the game, the brute with a heart of gold hooks up with the girl, and everyone learns the value of being yourself. Freeze frame on the team hoisting the marginally handsome lead onto their shoulders, fade to black, and...the end.

If you liked that idea, I think you'd love the concept I'm developing for a movie about a bunch of eccentric guys who join the Army.

Posted by Jess at 08:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Profile in Courage

I've updated my profile and added a timeline that should come in handy for anyone out there writing fan fiction stories about me.

Posted by Jess at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 12, 2004

I'm sorry, she's not in right now

Throughout the week, I've been engaged in a low-stakes game of cat-and-mouse with my new best friend: a plucky little telemarketer from Discover. It started on Monday when this telemarketer called to ask my wife if she would be interested in reopening her Discover Card account. Since she was out, the telemarketer asked when might be a better time to call back and reach her. Without thinking, I rattled off a random time to call back the following day just to get off the line as quickly as possible.

The next day, the same telemarketer -- I recognized her distinctive accent -- called back at precisely the time I had specified in our previous call. Again, my wife wasn't around, so I came up with another time when she might be available the following day, just for kicks. On the third day, she called back, my wife was out, and we arranged yet another call-back time. This cycle continued throughout the week, with the same telemarketer calling back at a different time each day -- always right on schedule, and as "luck" would have it, always when my wife wasn't around. In fact, I just got off the phone with her a few hours ago.

Sure, continuing with this petty little game means that the telemarketing calls will keep coming, but it all somehow seems worth it when I think that I might be causing personal inconvenience and/or frustration in some telemarketer's life.

Posted by Jess at 09:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Opera Man

My official groan-inducing IM of the day (after having downloaded the adware version of Opera to test my site's new design): "Wow, this browser has more toolbars than, um...a town full of alcoholic carpenters?"

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! I'm here all week; try the fish...

Posted by Jess at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

You like?

Well, I said a new design might be on the horizon, and here it is. I'd definitely appreciate any feedback on the new look here at Apropos of Something, as well as any reports on things that aren't working (I know the profile link isn't quite right).

Speaking of things that don't work, I've already encountered a problem in Internet Explorer that I can't figure out. In IE, some images here on the main page don't load until they're moused over or selected. Anybody out there with actual design skills know how to solve this? Also, text highlighting/selecting doesn't seem to be working quite right in IE either.

Update: It seems that the transparent floaty columns were causing the image problems in IE. Switching to opaque columns fixes the error, but sacrifices a bit of the design. Oh, well. Interestingly enough, it was my wife -- who has never designed a webpage in her life -- who suggested the fix. Meanwhile, it turns out that the text selection bug is a well-known IE problem that occurs when using absolute positioning. C'est la vie.

Another update: Andy also correctly pointed me toward the transparency effects as the most likely culprit in the Case of the Disappearing Images, cleaning up my stylesheet for me in the process. Thanks for the help!

Posted by Jess at 08:42 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Since you can never have too many...

One of these days, I'll get around to posting something other than flower photos, but for now, here are a couple of shots from our trip to the state botanical garden on Wednesday (click to enlarge):

0310purple.jpg 0310pink.jpg

Speaking of aesthetics (and awkward segues), I'm finally taking the time to catch up with the rest of the Internet and learn CSS. That could mean a redesign for Apropos of Something at some point in the not-so-distant future. We'll see...

Posted by Jess at 12:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 10, 2004

Care for some Turkish delight?

Nicole Kidman is apparently confirmed for the role of the White Witch in the upcoming movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I guess co-starring in Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock is finally paying off.

Posted by Jess at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kerry/Brokaw '04?

Could we see a John Kerry/Tom Brokaw ticket in November? Well, at least some of the pundits who speculate about these things are speculating just that (although Brokaw has already released his official "I'm flattered, but no thanks" statement on the rumors). Honestly, I could see that ticket clicking with voters -- perhaps even more so than a Kerry/Edwards ticket. In fact, I can already visualize vice-presidential candidate Tom Brokaw delivering speeches about the Bush administration's fleecing of America and how it affects the greatest generation.

Just look at how vice-presidential he looks in this photo from the Kansas City Star...

Good evening, America.

...if it wasn't for the "Holiday Inn Holidome" sign, that is. Link via my new best friend, VH1's Best Week Ever Blog.

Posted by Jess at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The sky is falling

Prominent political scientist Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations gained quite a bit of mainstream exposure following the events of 9/11 -- which isn't all that shocking considering the book's dire predictions of civilizationalwars over cultural differences replacing traditional disputes over resources and ideologies in the post-Cold War era. Personally, I wasn't all that impressed by Huntington's research when I first read it in 1996. It relied on broad cultural generalizations and a specious use of history to make its arguments then, and in my opinion, 9/11 did nothing to change that.

Nevertheless, Huntington is back at it. What's the latest threat to American culture as we know it? Well, the Islamic and Confucian civilizations should be happy to know that Huntington has let them off the hook this time around. No, he's far more worried about Hispanic immigrants these days -- and Mexican immigrants, in particular. Here's an excerpt from "The Hispanic Challenge" (published in the current issue of Foreign Policy):

Continuation of this large [Hispanic] immigration (without improved assimilation) could divide the United States into a country of two languages and two cultures. A few stable, prosperous democracies -- such as Canada and Belgium -- fit this pattern.... The transformation of the United States into a country like these would not necessarily be the end of the world; it would, however, be the end of the America we have known for more than three centuries. Americans should not let that change happen unless they are convinced that this new nation would be a better one.
Thankfully, the Washington Post's magazine columnist, of all people, has saved me the trouble of critiquing Huntington's latest Chicken Little story.

Posted by Jess at 12:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 09, 2004

Zigazig ah

After Saturday's Barenaked Ladies concert (which was spectacular, by the way) my less-than-impressive official concert tally stands as follows:

  • Barenaked Ladies (1997, 1998, 1999 x 2, 2000, 2004)
  • Bob Dylan (1998, 1999)
  • Bob Dylan/Paul Simon (1999)
  • Weezer (2003)
  • No Doubt/Weezer (1997)
  • Garbage (1999)
  • The Spice Girls (1998)
That's right, I'm one of the lucky few in this (spice)world that has actually attended a Spice Girls concert. It was smack dab in the middle of Spicemania, and one of my friends decided that it would be absolutely hilarious if we got tickets and went to their show in Charlotte, North Carolina. In our defense, the decision was roughly 75 percent ironic, with another 15 and 10 percent chalked up to "guilty pleasure" and "college stupidity," respectively. Anyway, three of my friends (including Robin) and I piled into a car in the summer of 1998 and made the four-hour trip to Charlotte to see the show.

The concert was every bit as bad as you might expect, if not a little more so. The Spice Girls made a valiant effort to dance while singing along with their own prerecorded backing vocals, but ultimately failed on both counts. Also, it's worth noting that Ginger Spice had quit the group just a few weeks before the show, and they hadn't had time to change the video packages before the show. So, throughout the concert, Ginger kept popping up on the Jumbotron, flashing peace signs and mugging for the camera, even though she had just bitterly split from the group. Better still, when the group would get to one of Ginger's lines in their songs, instead of one of the other Spice Girls taking over and singing the vocals, they remained silent and just let the backing vocals that Ginger had recorded before she left cover for them.

While this all probably sounds like it would be good for a laugh, the concert was actually a rather uncomfortable experience on the whole. As my friends and I probably should have guessed ahead of time, there weren't too many other concertgoers of the male, over-the-age-of-14 persuasion at the show. As such, I imagine we must have looked pretty creepy given the crowd. In fact, the entire concert, I felt like mothers who were standing nearby were inching their daughters away from us before we started handing out candy or something. Needless to say, it's not easy to enjoy the postmodern irony of a Spice Girls concert when half a dozen concerned parents are giving you the stinkeye and considering calling over security the entire time.

There was one bonus to having seen the Spice Girls in concert, though. Whenever my friends are discussing the most embarrassing concerts they've ever attended, I almost always win by default -- assuming nobody made it out to see NKOTB live, that is. Plus, the experience taught me an important lesson: irony is great and all, but it's never worth $12 worth of TicketMaster's "convenience" fees.

Posted by Jess at 12:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

Spring has sprung

Strolling around campus this afternoon...

pflower2.jpg column.jpg
pflowersky.jpg orangeflower.jpg

Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.

Posted by Jess at 05:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004


My wife has spent the last couple of weeks working an externship at a nearby veterinary emergency hospital. From what I've gathered from our conversations, the late-night emergency shift tends to bring quite a few interesting characters into the clinic. For instance, a few days ago, a woman came in with a six-month-old cat that had been in labor for a couple of days. Since it was too young to deliver and was in quite a bit of pain, the doctors determined that the cat was going to need an emergency C-section -- at an estimated cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars.

My wife reported the prognosis to the cat's owner, who became agitated and began to argue that she shouldn't have to pay that much since it wasn't her fault that it got pregnant. Instead, she felt that Animal Control or the Humane Society should cover the cost for her. As diplomatically as possible, my wife explained to the owner that it was ultimately her responsibility to have her cat spayed -- especially if she was going to allow it to go outside.

"Well," the woman explained in her defense, "this cat is the reincarnated spirit of my mother, so we wanted her to have a couple of litters before we got her spayed."

Yep, the cat was the reincarnation of the owner's mother; that's why it hadn't been spayed. I'm sure Mom appreciated the thought, too.

This is a prime example of why it's a good idea that my wife is entering a profession in which she'll work with people on a day-to-day basis, and I'm planning to become a recluse in the ivory towers of academia. Whereas she did her best to overlook the bit about reincarnation and pressed ahead with the consultation, I probably would have responded with something along the lines of, "Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am. I didn't realize that you were completely insane."

Now that I think about it, wasn't there an episode of Friends where Phoebe finds a stray cat that she thinks is the reincarnated spirit of her mother? I can't believe they'd play such a serious metaphysical concept for laughs...

Posted by Jess at 05:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Hard Hobbit to Break

The Associated Press confirmed yesterday that Peter Jackson is planning to film The Hobbit -- after a few legal kinks are worked out, of course:

'Hobbitt,' 'Rings' Prequel, in the Works

NEW YORK (AP) - Peter Jackson won't be returning to the Shire any time soon. The Oscar-winning director is planning to film "The Hobbit," the prequel to "The Lord of the Rings," trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, but two studios must first fight over legal rights to the film.

Jackson said New Line Cinema has the rights to make the movie, but MGM has the rights to distribute it.

"I guess MGM's lawyers and New Line's lawyers are going to have a huge amount of fun over the next few years trying to work it all out," he told reporters recently in Los Angeles, according to AP Radio. "I'm obviously busy for a couple of years on 'King Kong' so those lawyers can just go at it for a long time." (more)

Link, oddly enough, via Wil Wheaton.

Posted by Jess at 11:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 06, 2004

Back when I was clever

When you've been publishing online for close to nine years, it's an interesting experience to go back from time to time and take a look at stuff you can't even remember writing in the first place. For instance, I don't recall stating during the 1996 presidential election that Bob Dole had been in the Senate "since Julius Ceasar was assassinated there," but apparently I did. Or, there's this bit from 1997 about the then-popular Macarena:

The Macarena Conspiracy

Surely to goodness we're all familiar with this little ditty and its accompanying dance craze. Everyday, more and more people are being seduced into the dark grasp of this Latino song. Even President Clinton and Vice President Gore have been spotted doing the vile Spanish hokey-pokey! What is the Macarena really? For one thing, it's certainly not Spanish, Mexican, or even Portuguese. It's pure and simple, good old fashioned Cuban Communist propaganda! The Marxist factions on this Castro-controlled island nation sent this song over to America in a bid to slowly weaken our capitalistic society through forcing all club deejays to buy copies of the oft-repeated single. In essence, they seek to make the 260 million residents of the United States (and the 400 or 500 hosers that reside in Canada) into a bunch of mindless zombies, obsessed with placing their hands on their hips and behind their heads and improvising lyrics they'll never quite understand. "Hey, Macarena!" indeed. It's more like, "Hey, Dictatorship of the Proletariat!"

Thank goodness Google and the Internet Archive Wayback Machine are around to make sure that my name will remain associated with such, ahem, gems until the end of days.

Posted by Jess at 10:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lose yourself in the music

Every review I've read of singer-songwriter Nellie McKay's debut album, Get Away from Me, describes her music as a cross between Doris Day and Eminem. You know, I'm starting to think that it's worth the $12.99 just to hear how that seemingly mismatched musical goulash turns out.


Speaking of music, Kourtney and I are heading out to see the Barenaked Ladies in concert tonight. I'm hoping that they'll be able to offset my growing distaste for their recent studio work (see here and here) with an awesome live show. We'll see...

Posted by Jess at 10:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 05, 2004

Tales from the Classroom: Prospective Students

My department asked several graduate students, myself included, to meet this afternoon with a group of prospective students considering entering the MA and Ph.D. programs next semester. I've always thought that leaving prospective students alone with current students is a somewhat less than prudent strategy. After all, you're unlikely to find a more disgruntled group of people than a bunch of overworked and underpaid graduate students. We did our best to put a positive spin on the program, though.

When asked how much work the average class requires a week, we confessed that it's usually at least a book a week per class, but noted that you eventually pick up some handy speed-reading skills along the way. Plus, no matter how much work we're assigned, we were careful to point out that it's not nearly as bad as the average "real world" job. When asked if our assistantships paid enough to get by, we tried to stress the low cost of living in town. Plus, we aren't in graduate school because of the money we're making -- or the money we hope to make later if we land a job in academia. If we were interested in money, we would have gone to law school. We're in graduate school because we love the subject matter. As one of my colleagues pointed out, we'd probably all be sleeping on park benches somewhere if we weren't graduate students.

We did try to warn the prospective students that studying political science in this day and age isn't quite the same thing as simply studying politics. For instance, the former requires significantly more mathematical training than the latter.

Eventually, however, one one of the prospective students got around to asking the $64,000 question: "So, do you guys feel like you made the right choice coming here?" After spending the past hour doing our best to paint the department in a positive -- albeit honest -- light, none of us could produce an answer to this simple question. Instead, we just glanced around at one another uncomfortably for a few moments before someone finally began to discuss the fact that the university compares favorably to other similarly-ranked schools around the country. None of the current students, however, was willing to go on record categorically affirming that coming to the university to study was a good idea.

That's graduate students for you. I'm sure that you'd find the same thing at Harvard.

Posted by Jess at 10:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I bet it takes them longer than six days

The Arab Emirate of Dubai is about to begin work on a project dubbed The World -- "a series of 223 man-made islands, strategically positioned to form the shape of a map of the world." The World will cover over 60 million square feet, with each individual island themed to reflect the country or region it represents. The purpose? Why, to create "the most exclusive private water retreat available in Dubai," of course!

Link via GROONK Dot Net.

Posted by Jess at 08:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

Putting the system on trial

I received an invoice from campus parking services in the mail today saying that I had a $40 balance on my account. It seems that I parked "out of zone" on February 23 and received a citation as a result. Fair enough, but try as I might, I couldn't recall parking outside of my designated lot -- much less receiving a ticket for doing so. So, I went to parking services this afternoon to sort things out.

Once the parking services employee finally managed to pull up the original citation in the database, she revealed that I was ticketed for parking without the proper permit -- in a lot where I have never parked during my two and a half years at the university. Stranger still, the car that was ticketed was a blue Honda with Georgia tags. My car is a white Honda with Virginia tags. Obviously, they sent the ticket to the wrong guy, right? Problem solved.

Well, not exactly.

I explained to the parking services employee that I hadn't parked in the lot in question and that it wasn't my car to begin with, suggesting that perhaps another student had been issued a parking sticker with the same barcode (the entire ticketing system is based on scanning the barcodes).

"No, that's not possible, sir. Our system prevents that from happening."

I then hypothesized that it might be an error in the database, listing someone else's car under my record.

"No, the barcode system more or less rules that out, too."

At that point, I explained again that I don't own the car described in the original citation. Obviously, it couldn't have been me, right?

"Are you sure that you didn't own a blue Honda at some point in past and sold it recently, sir?"

Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Realizing that I wasn't really getting anywhere, I gave in and asked the parking services employee what possible explanation there could be for me receiving a ticket for parking somewhere I've never parked before in a car that I've never driven.

"Sir, have you loaned out your parking sticker or allowed anyone to copy it?"


"Could someone have stolen your parking sticker?"

No, it's never left my windshield.

"Well, sir, you have to realize that we can't just take your word on this, right? After all, if we believed everyone who walked in here told us they didn't really violate parking regulations, there wouldn't be any point in issuing tickets in the first place."

So, I'm going to have to pay this ticket even though someone who wasn't me and who wasn't driving my car is the one who parked in the wrong place?

"Well, you always have the option of appealing the citation -- but it's very rare that citations are actually overturned."

And, just to recap, there's no chance whatsoever that the whole thing could be the result of a clerical error or a problem with the barcode system, right?

"That's correct, sir."

I filled out the appeal form, but I get the distinct feeling that I'm going to be $40 poorer in the very near future.

Posted by Jess at 05:40 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Tonight on Access Hollywood...

I'm not particularly proud of the fact, but I'll admit that I've watched MTV's Newlyweds starring Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey on occasion. That being said, there was a great bit in the promo for next week's episode. It seems that the media picks up on a rumor that Jessica is pregnant after she mentions an upset stomach during a press conference, leading interviewers, hair and makeup people, and just about everyone else she encounters to inquire whether or not it's true. Eventually, Jessica starts to get nervous and takes a home pregnancy test -- just to "make sure the rumors aren't true." You know, just in case the wacky morning DJs somehow knew something that she didn't. Classic.

Posted by Jess at 12:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Basketball 101

The men's basketball program at the University of Georgia has been under fire in recent months after allegations of NCAA rules violations surfaced last year. Among the alleged infractions was a charge that former assistant basketball coach Jim Harrick Jr. "fraudulently awarded grades of A to three men's basketball student-athletes" enrolled in his Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball class, allowing the students to miss class and tests, as well as providing them with other "extra benefits." One of these benefits was a remarkably easy final exam, which I've posted in the extended entry (courtesy of

Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball
Final Exam

1. How many goals are on a basketball court?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

2. How many players are allowed to play at one time on any one team in a regulation game?
a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5

3. In what league to (sic) the Georgia Bulldogs compete?
a. ACC
b. Big Ten
c. SEC
d. Pac 10

4. What is the name of the coliseum where the Georgia Bulldogs play?
a. Cameron Indoor Arena
b. Stegeman Coliseum
c. Carrier Dome
d. Pauley Pavilion

5. How many halves are in a college basketball game?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

6. How many quarters are in a high school basketball game?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

7. How many points does one field goal account for in a Basketball Game?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

8. How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a Basketball Game?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 3
d. 4

9. How many officials referee a college basketball game?
a. 2
b. 4
c. 6
d. 3

10. How many teams are in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament?
a. 48
b. 64
c. 65
d. 32

11. What is the name of the exam which all high school seniors in the State of Georgia must pass?
a. Eye Exam
b. How Do The Grits Taste Exam
c. Bug Control Exam
d. Georgia Exit Exam

12. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in home games?
a. White
b. Red
c. Black
d. Silver

13. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in away games?
a. Pink
b. Blue
c. Orange
d. Red

14. How many minutes are played in a college basketball contest?
a. 20
b. 40
c. 60
d. 90

15. How many minutes are played in a high school basketball game?
a. 15
b. 30
c. 32
d. 45

16. Diagram the 3-point line.

17. Diagram the half-court line.

18. How many fouls is a player allowed to have in one Basketball game before fouling out in that game?
a. 3
b. 5
c. 7
d. 0

19. If you go on to become a huge coaching success, to whom will you tribute (sic) the credit?
a. Mike Krzyzewski
b. Bobby Knight
c. John Wooden
d. Jim Harrick Jr.

20. In your opinion, who is the best Division I assistant coach in the country?
a. Ron Jursa (sic)
b. John Pelphrey
c. Jim Harrick Jr.
d. Steve Wojciechowski

Those last two are particularly classy, don't you think?

Posted by Jess at 10:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

M-I-C... See you later! K-E-Y... Why? 'Cause you're indecent.

Although it's a late entry into the competition, it looks like Disney might have sewn up first prize in the Most Ridiculous Response to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl Halftime Stunt Contest. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Disney Rids Statue Linked to Janet Jackson

mickey.jpgORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. has quietly shelved a life-size statue of Mickey Mouse inspired by singer Janet Jackson, who was roundly criticized for a risque Super Bowl halftime performance.

The 6-foot, 700-pound statue was one of 75 unveiled at Walt Disney World in Orlando last fall to celebrate the 75th birthday of Mickey Mouse. The statues were inspired by celebrities such as tennis star Andre Agassi, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

The statue inspired by Jackson was clad in a tight black outfit similar to one she wore in 1990 after the release of her album, Rhythm Nation 1928. It was replaced by a spare statue designed by Luis Fernandez, an in-house Disney artist.

"Considering all the controversy it drew, we talked it over for a couple of days and decided it would be best to replace hers with a new one," Gary Foster, a Disney spokesman, told the Orlando Sentinel.

Foster didn't immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press.

Jackson's bump-and-grind performance with singer Justin Timberlake during last month's Super Bowl was capped by Timberlake ripping a piece of clothing off to reveal her breast.

Oh, and here's a future headline from the year 2008: "Timberlake Footage Cut from New Mickey Mouse Club DVD."

Posted by Jess at 11:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004

Evian spelled backwards

The BBC has leaked the top secret formula for Coca-Cola's Dasani bottled water: tap water. Although it goes through a four-stage purification process in which the water passes through three separate filters before bottling, Coca-Cola admits that Dasani originates from the tap. Of course, as this 2003 study suggests, tap water may taste just as good and be just as healthy as bottled water in the first place.

I originally came across the Dasani story at VH1's Best Week Ever Blog, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite corporate blogs.

Posted by Jess at 07:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blogging by the numbers

The Pew Internet Project has released the results of a recent study indicating that an estimated 44 percent of U.S. Internet users "have contributed their thoughts and their files to the online world." Moreover, the results suggest that somewhere between 2 and 7 percent maintain a blog, with only 10 percent of those updating on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, roughly 11 percent of Internet users surveyed say that they read blogs, a third of which comment on the blogs they read. The study goes on to break down content creators into three groups: power creators, older creators, and content omnivores.

Posted by Jess at 08:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2004

The most true-to-life portrayal of a government agency since the X-Files

From Yahoo! News:

Bush Backs New Terrorism TV Series
By Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn

In what would be a highly unusual action for a president, George W. Bush is apparently giving the White House seal of approval to a television series, D.H.S.--The Series, a drama about the Department of Home Security being introduced Thursday night to prospective networks at an Industry gathering.

President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge both "endorse and contribute sound bites to the introductions of the series," according to the show's producers...

The show is billed as a realistic action series following the exploits of Special DHS Agents Andrea Bacall and Jack Callahan, portrayed by actors Alison Heruth Waterbury and Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh. The characters venture from the halls of Washington, D.C., to war-torn locales as they fight fanatical terrorism. Producers claim "the series will educate, inform, and inspire the average citizens around the world about America's front-line defense/offense against those who have declared war on the U.S. and our democratic allies." (more)

Irrespective of my personal feelings about homeland security and the Bush Adminstration, this series strikes me as somewhat inappropriate at this juncture. On the one hand, I would contend that a true-to-life network drama chronicling the fight against "fanatical terrorism" could potentially trivialize an important issue. On the other, airing government-sanctioned popular entertainment about relatively controversial contemporary political issues -- complete with soundbites from the president -- seems like a road we might not want to travel down in the United States. At this point, I'm just curious to see if any of the networks will bite on the series or if they steer clear of any potential controversy.

For what it's worth, I stumbled across the link to this story at VH1's Best Week Ever Blog.

Posted by Jess at 02:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tales from the Classroom XV: Knit Picking

I'm starting to think that my pop quizzes are too easy. Today, one of my students finished in about thirty seconds, reached into her bag, pulled out some needles and a ball of yarn, and proceeded to knit (on a scarf?) for the next three and a half minutes.

Posted by Jess at 10:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack