January 31, 2005

Credit Card Wisdom

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Posted by Ryan at 02:33 PM | Comments (3)

Take One Down, Pass It Around. . . Pee On The Snow

Yellow snow alert.

"I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

Posted by Ryan at 11:14 AM | Comments (3)

Link Hubris?

So, I have this mental hang-up that, to me, seems rather ridiculous. It has to do with hyper-links on this blog.

Right now, I have hyper-links set so that, if you click a link, you are whisked away from this page to whatever page I link to.

Now, there is another link method, utilized by such bloggers as Andrew Sullivan and, recently, James Lileks, whereby, when you click a hyper-link, and entirely new browser window opens up, taking you to the link while still allowing you to stay on the original page in another window.

Now, I've toyed with the idea of switching over to the "new window" method of hyperlinking, but I just can't do it. It just seems like such self-important method of linking. "Oh, here's a cool link, but since my page is also cool, it will stay open while you look at the page I link to."

On the other hand, it's convenient, I suppose, so you don't have to hit the "Back" button after you've viewed the page. But, again, that assumes that the reader really WANTS to come back to your site which, you know, isn't necessarily the case. Besides, it gives the whole impression of a pop-up ad and. . . okay, maybe I'm thinking too hard on this.

What do you think? Just a plain hyper-link, or a pop-up window? Which is better?

Posted by Ryan at 10:28 AM | Comments (9)

January 30, 2005

72. . . er. . .60 Percent



Posted by Ryan at 11:50 AM | Comments (22)

January 28, 2005

For Crying Out Loud

When I was going through elementary school, my class took great pride in its ability to make teachers cry. Okay, we weren't necessarily proud of it, but we did acknowledge the fact that, for some reason, we made a lot of teachers cry.

I understand that teaching can be a stressful profession, particularly in elementary school, and that was before teachers started handing out Ritalin to any child that exhibits a hint of personality. So, it was easier for my generation to make teachers cry. Even so, we did have a remarkable track record.

One teacher in particular, our third grade teacher, Mrs. Rattering, was particularly liberal with the waterworks. If she couldn't get the class settled down within ten minutes or so, chances were good her voice would start to break and her eyes would moisten, and she'd try any number of standard pleas:

"Why can't you children please listen?!" Or, "You children are so difficult!" Or, "In the name of the Lord, I cast thee out, vile demons!!"

Now, most of the kids in my class were unaccustomed to seeing grown-ups cry, so most of us didn't know quite how to react when we ended up making Mrs. Rattering, or any other teacher, cry.

Some of us would sit quietly and observe the phenomenon, like scientists observing an important experiment. Other students would start to giggle, while still others would whimper along with the teacher. In retrospect, it was probably an excellent opportunity for social phychologists to study.

Typically, getting a teacher to cry required a concerted and prolonged effort on the part of the class, repeatedly ignoring requests and demands to sit down, or to be quiet, or to put those matches away, or to stop hiding that body.

Although it usually required the rambunctious chaos of the class, I once made Mrs. Rattering cry almost completely on my own. And the amazing thing was that I didn't even try to do it.

Back in my elementary school, they either had the hottest room heaters on the planet, or the boiler room was experimenting with nuclear technology. Whatever the case, the heaters in the classrooms shot forth air so hot, it could cauterize wounds. That hot air, in turn, transformed the metal heater shells, essentially, into hot plates.

My classmates and I played a game during which we'd try to see how long we could sit on a heater before we simply couldn't take it any more and hopped off, buns sizzling. Those heaters could burn you right through your jeans. Many was the day I went home with little red lines grilled into my butt cheeks. And we considered that FUN!

Well, one day, I came into the classroom and I, along with the rest of my classmates, became immediately aware that it smelled like smoke in there. In fact, it smelled like someone had recently blown out the biggest candle known to man.

You see, the day prior, during the last hour of the school day, the class was working on a coloring project. Which. . .

For some reason, upon entering that waxy, smoke-heavy room, I intuitively knew that I was responsible. I wasn't sure, but there was a faint recollection in my mind that, before I left school the day before, I had absent-mindedly placed my 54-set box of crayons on one of the heaters.

I looked over at my desk, which was next to one of the heaters, and then I looked on past the desk to the heater, on which sat my smoldering box of crayons. They weren't on fire, or anything like that, but they had most certainly melted down into the innards of the heater.

For her part, Mrs. Rattering took the whole thing pretty well, considering. And she only allowed her voice to crack just slightly as she admonished me for my carelessness. For my part, I was totally bummed out, because, man, I was out 54 crayons.

But then I inadvertently made a fantastic discovery.

I went to retrieve the sopping box of crayons from the heater, which I intended to throw away. Instead, however, I put the box on my desk while the class recited the pledge of allegiance and completed other such morning rituals.

When I returned to my desk, I discovered that the remnants of the crayons had solidified, so what I basically had was a honeycomb box of 54 wax-coated tubes which, to any elementary school student with half a functioning imagination, made perfect fake cigarettes.

Well, one student saw me fake smoking a fake Crayola cigarette and asked if he could have one, followed by another student, and another student, and kind of on and on like that. If R.J. Reynolds had been in the room that day, he would have been a proud, proud man.

So, when Mrs. Rattering stood up from her desk to begin the class, she was confronted by an entire classroom puffing on paraffin Lucky Strikes. It was more than poor Mrs. Rattering could handle, and she started crying almost immediately, so much so that she had to go into the hallway to collect herself.

We pondered the situation, my classmates and I, as we twirled our wax Winstons thoughtfully in our mouths, until Mrs. Rattering came back in and had everyone dispose of our fake cigarettes, one by one, in the trash can by her desk.

And, from that day on, until the day I graduated from sixth grade, and possibly even to this very day, that classroom smelled faintly of crayon wax whenever the heaters kicked in.

Posted by Ryan at 04:23 PM | Comments (1)

Me And Joshua, In Joshua's Words

I was at this party and there was a lot of drinking and dancing and then Ryan Rhodes walked up and handed me a salt lick. Maybe I should have been suspicious, but I just didn't think. The next morning I woke up face down in a puddle. Naked. Legs spread.

I... I feel so used.


Posted by Ryan at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

Nick Coleman. . . ARGH!

I won't rip, entirely, on Nick Coleman's latest bit of literary crapishness. Rather, I'll just excerpt certain portions while cross-checking it with this item.

So, in Coleman's column today, Nick sprays his readers with the following:

The Twin Cities bishops were touring the West Side in an attempt to convince state legislators (none showed up to join the tour) that balancing budget deficits on the backs of the poor is immoral.

Got that? balancing budget deficits on the backs of the poor. Nothing to back up the claim, mind you, save for the outraged voices of a few bishops. In Nick's tiny little mind, legislators get together, snag a couple of poor people off the street, and start balancing budgets on their backs just for the sport of it. It's like a game of Jenga, really. Why, the bishops say it's so, so it must be true!

Cross-check that with this little bit of gold from the Editor & Publisher piece:

"Readership and power of the blogs is increasing." He also claims that the blogs are dangerous because they are not under the same ethical restrictions as mainstream media and seek to stay on the attack, facts be damned.

Ethical restrictions, eh? Such as making unsubstantiated blanket statements that Minnesota legislators are balancing budgets on the backs of the poor, based entirely on the pontifications of a bunch of bishops. Facts be damned.

Let's grab some more unsubstantiated bilge from Coleman's ethically restricted pen:

But these days, with the poor being scapegoated and Social Security under attack by sharks who can smell money from a mile away

Yup. You can see the scapegoating of the poor all over the place here in Minnesota. Huge billboards proclaiming that the poor are actually the cause of the Asian tsunami, as well as halitosis. Yes, and social security is under attack by sharks. Money-smelling sharks, no less. Dontcha' just hate those genetically-modified money-smelling sharks? Didn't Dr. Evil want a couple of those to complement his collection of sharks with head-mounted lasers?

This is why Nick Coleman bothers me so much. He gets paid, probably fairly well, to write this kind of crap. And he doesn't do research or investigative journalism of any kind, save for a quick Google search, and to take, at face value, the word of a few bishops, and maybe the occasional person on the street (usually a poor person). It's just aggravating to me, because he writes for the biggest newspaper in Minnesota, and it's just lazy, self-righteous (to say nothing of poorly-written) nonsense that can probably be written in an hour or so. It's like he got his journalism degree (if he has one) out of a box of Lucky Charms.

And then. . . AND THEN, Coleman has the audacity to ascend a soap box and declare that bloggers are:

"rottweilers in sheep's clothing". . ."reliable partisan hacks." He claimed that the site (Power Line) and others like it "are dominated by the right and are only interested in being a megaphone without oversight, disclosure of conflicts of interest, or professional standards,"

Honestly, ready something, ANYTHING, written by Nick Coleman, and then read something, ANYTHING, written by the Power Line guys, and decide who comes across sounding more professional, and who comes across as a megaphone without oversight. It's like Coleman is incapable of acknowledging his own glaring hypocrisy.

Again, Nick probably wouldn't bother me so much, except that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is a pretty big newspaper, with a fairly wide circulation, with enough readers mentally numb enough to read a Coleman column and think "Damn those money-sniffing sharks and poor-hating legislators!"

If the Star-Tribune were a small-town newspaper, I wouldn't give Coleman much thought. Because, honestly, Coleman is writing for a newspaper that's far bigger than his skills (a term I use quite loosely) permit.

It's like Joshua said, in Mad-lib fashion:

Otherhow, I obviously disagree with the meat of what Coleman's saying. I think it actually springs from a problem that seems to be rampant among hometown columnists: they write formulaically about things that actually require original thinking. So you get one column after another that goes:

The other day I was walking down the street and I saw [something sort of everyday but a little bit weird] and it made me think of [something morally unambiguous; preferably something historical and morally unambiguous]. The lesson of [the morally unambiguous event] is [whatever] and it applies to [something topical] because [circuitous reasoning]. If only [the position I oppose] would acknowledge this morally unambiguous lesson, they would realize that they're, well, wrong.

Which can make for some pretty ridiculous prose.

The other day I was walking down the street and I saw an old homeless lady with a thick moustache begging for change and it made me think of Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr is, as I'm sure you know, the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton invented our banking system and might have gone on to do other important things if only Aaron Burr hadn't shot him. The lesson of Burr and Hamilton is that many people are cut down before their prime. Or during their prime. Or sometime shortly after their prime, when they still have things to offer. And it applies to welfare reform because this poor woman was clearly cut down before her prime by the deadly bullet of poverty. If only George W. Bush would acknowledge this morally unambiguous lesson, he would realize that he's, well, wrong.

All of which is why Nick Coleman bothers me, and it's disturbing, perhaps, that I spend so much time tearing him apart. But, this is my blog, my megaphone without oversight or professional standards, if you will, so I don't feel all that bad about it.

Posted by Ryan at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2005

This Just Makes Me Laugh


Posted by Ryan at 04:09 PM | Comments (6)

Computer Geezer

It's been estimated that for every human year, a dog or a cat ages, physically, seven years. It's a wondrous little bit of relativistic calculation. I imagine scientists got together one fine day, looked at a one-year-old dog, and decreed "Well, it LOOKS like it's seven," and so it was.

Of course, the calculation flies out the window when a dog or cat lives for 20 human years or so, and suddenly you have to step back and think, "jeez, Rover doesn't LOOK like he's 140 years old."

At any rate, it's not my intent here to tear apart the physical age calculation between man and pet. Far from it. Rather, I'd like to see even more chronological guesswork done on other, inorganic, items. Specifically, I'm referring to computers.

Let the record show that I, Ryan Rhodes, hereby decree that one human year of existence equals, roughly, 40 computer years. After over a decade of owning and operating personal computers, I feel I'm especially competent to make this calculation.

My current home computer is two years old in human years, but I can say, without hesitation, that it now functions as if it's 80 years old.

When I had my PC built back in 2003, it was a dream machine. I could ask it to perform almost any computer task, and it would perform like an athletic 16-year-old. No task was too demanding for my wonderful new machine.

Then, it started getting older. Within a couple of months, the digital read-out that kept track of the computer's internal temperature went on the blink which, in human terms, is kind of like requiring glasses. It wasn't a major malfunction, but it was a benefit that was no longer available.

About one year into its existence, my computer started rejecting certain software applications, informing me that, in order to install a given application, I had to first install all sorts of patches and fixes. In human terms, this is like changing your dietary habits, because your system just can't handle pizza and beer all the time any more. You have to get some fiber and greens in there to keep everything working okay. Again, it wasn't a huge deal, but it was an indication that things were starting to falter.

Now, two years into its existence, my computer is the human equivalent of an octogenarian trawling an oxygen canister behind them. There are viruses it just can't quite get rid of, its DVD drive doesn't work, its main Web browser can't browse the Web and its incapable of installing required updates.

Its latest and, quite frankly, most devastating failing, is that it can't install DirectX 9.0c (required to continue playing Star Wars Galaxies) because, in its own words, "A cabinet file necessary for installation can't be trusted."

So, there you have it. Not only is my computer a physical wreck, it's also paranoid. If my computer were a human being, it would be an 80-year-old, sitting on the porch, waving a threatening cane at people passing by, saying "I know you're from the Andromeda galaxy, come to steal my precious penguin dust!"

All of which simply means it's time to reinstall Windows XP, plug in some additional RAM, maybe buy a new DVD player, and basically start from scratch. At least I don't have to put it in a nursing home, because that would be sorta sad. Sexy chick. Another damned sexy woman. Sexy, sexy, sexy. I guess Alicia Silverstone is kind of sexy, too.

Posted by Ryan at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

Big Number

Whilst I was out with a sore throat yesterday, my site meter went and tallied my 100,000th visitor. Chances are, it was some sad soul doing a Google search on some sort of permutation on "exposed+thong," but I'll take what I can get.

Oh, and yesterday, I finished reading a sci-fi novel called Revelation Space. What started out as an intriguing and deep narrative, devolved into a bunch of nonsense and hurried conclusions and, after 500+ pages, dammit, I deserved better. For shame, author Alastair Reynolds. For shame.

Posted by Ryan at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2005


Sore throat.

Very sore throat.

It hurts my throat to even think about speaking these written words.

Yes, it's that sore.

Back to bed now.

Have a nice day.

Posted by Ryan at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2005

My Key To A Better Personality

Via Machelle, I found 20 Questions To A Better Personality.

My personality is as follows:

Wackiness: 70/100
Rationality: 62/100
Constructiveness: 50/100
Leadership: 44/100

You are a WRDF--Wacky Rational Destructive Follower. This makes you a Hacker.

Your thirst for knowledge can be damaging to your possessions--you like to take things apart, even if you then forget to put them back together. You demand respect and, no matter how much you are respected, seldom feel it is adequate. You are tenacious, and will stick to a task long after weaker minds have given it up.

Socially, you are awkward, and get into arguments and make people uncomfortable. One recommends counting to ten, holding back comments unless warranted, and listening more than speaking. Still, your no-holds-barred approach to socialization can be strangely endearing, as long as you are funny and self-deprecating.

You feel misunderstood, and you probably are.

Of the 80298 people who have taken this quiz since tracking began (8/17/2004), 2.6 % are this type.

2.6% out of 80298? Jeez, I really am an oddball. An oddball who thinks Gwen Stefani is hot. Okay, that one was obviously PhotoShopped. Here's a non-PS shot of Gwen Stefani.

Not that there's anything wrong with Sanja Matice, of course. Sanja Matice. Sanja Matice. Sanja Matice. Sanja Matice. Sanja Matice. Sanja Matice.

http://imstars.aufeminin.com/stars/fan/D20050830/1522_603232979_lindsay_lohan_nude_mean_girls_H165919_L.jpg">Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan.

Posted by Ryan at 12:35 PM | Comments (6)

Prom Dress?


A) God DAMN! Where was this kind of thing when I was in high school?!

B) If I ever have a daughter, I'm locking her in a special, sealed basement shelter until she's, roughly, 34 years old.

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM | Comments (10)

January 24, 2005

‘clump in the cat-litter box’

Yup, pretty much.

Posted by Ryan at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Photo Caption Contest!


Submit your captions. The winner gets to take a breath!

Posted by Ryan at 02:51 PM | Comments (8)

In The Presence Of Greaterness

When it comes to mingling, I be not good. Of mingling prowess, I am of diminished proficiency. My mingling skills are lacking.

Therefore, when I was at Keegan's Irish Pub on Saturday night for the big blogger get together, I apologize for my poor mingling abilities. I did my best. Honestly, I did. And Melissa did, too. In fact, she was probably a better mingler than I was, but she credited that to the strong Bacardi Limon/cranberry juice cocktails that Keegan's mixed for her.

First off, I met Cathy, from Cathy In The Wright. She was dressed in pajamas, which I honestly didn't even notice until she pointed it out.

Then, charging from the crowd came Mitch Berg, who introduced me to a dizzying number of Minnesota bloggers. He was like a rolodex when it came to introductions. His mingling skills far surpassed my own. He was the enthusiastic MC for the event, and I was mighty grateful for his superior mingling skills.

According to some estimates, as many as 80 bloggers were in attendance, which isn't hard to believe. I met a staggering number of local blogging enthusiasts. I can't possibly list everyone I met, because quite honestly I can't remember everyone I met.

I did meet Doug, from Bogus Gold. I also met some of the guys behind Frater Libertas. I shook hands with Flash from Centrisity. I also met a couple of folks from the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune, although I can't remember their names. Nick Coleman, I'm sorry to report, was not in attendance.

From the "A-List" bloggers, I briefly met James Lileks who--although I was aware of this ahead of time--was still a lot smaller than I had ever even imagined. He wasn't Vern Troyer, or anything like that, but he was a tad on the diminutive side, that's all I'm saying.

I also shook hands with Scott Johnson of Power Line. It really didn't register at first that I was meeting one of the guys behind Time's Blog of the Year and the whole Dan Rather shake-up. It wasn't until later that I starting thinking "wow, that was pretty cool."

Like I said, I met a LOT of other bloggers, but I can only really remember those who I actually read with some regularity, so I apologize if I did meet you but didn't mention you here.

As an aside, I should note that a lot of people knew my name and my blog largely because of the Dirty Mushroom. It was kind of disconcerting to know that my posterior is the driving force behind my online fame, such as it is. Then again, I shouldn't really be surprised by that, especially in light of the hi-jinx that went on over the weekend by folks with entirely too much photoshop time on their hands.

Hat tip to Etienne:


Hat tip to Jimmo:


I hesitate to encourage such activity, but. . . okay, I fully endorse such activity because, let's face it, that's some funny shit right there.

Unfortunately, Keegan's isn't the biggest venue in the state for hosting such large numbers. Mel and I went to the get together under the impression that we'd be able to sit down and order some food, so we went there with empty stomachs. Upon our arrival, it became very obvious that we wouldn't be sitting down and ordering food any time soon. Therefore, we had to make a discreet exit after about an hour so we could fill our rumbly tummies.

Overall, it was a good time, and I hope to attend another blogger bash sometime in the future. At least then I'll know a few faces, so my mingling skills will be a little better. Maybe.

UPDATE: Pictures of the Keegan's attendees can be found here.

Posted by Ryan at 10:04 AM | Comments (6)

January 21, 2005


Sorry posting has sucked so bad lately. Not much to say. Plus, it's winter.

Posted by Ryan at 02:50 PM | Comments (5)

January 20, 2005

The Food Pyramid Revisited

On Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)--which can be rearranged to spell SAUD, which makes me deeply suspicious--announced the sixth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, more commonly known as The Food Pyramid.

The latest update to U.S. dietary guidelines "places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity." This is a very, very important finding, because it means the USDA has finally discovered the secret meaning behind the ancient Asian philosophy known as "Well, Duhhhhh!"

The most important aspect of the dietary guidelines, for me, comes in the area labeled: "Food Groups To Encourage." In other words, we're talking about our beloved Food Pyramid.

I learned all about the Food Pyramid in elementary school, primarily thanks to grainy filmstrips and static-filled tape recordings that went "beep" whenever the teacher was supposed to advance to the next slide.

The Food Pyramid was extremely important to learn. I wasn't sure why, but it was my understanding that meshing ancient Egyptian architecture with modern day dietary recommendations meant that I was going to live, at least, 4,000 years.

The Food Pyramid consisted of four basic food groups, including the Bread & Cereal Group, the Meat and Poultry Group, the Milk and Cheese Group, and the Fruit and Vegetable Group. These, alone, were difficult to remember, but then they went and threw all common sense out the window by putting peanuts within the Meat and Poultry Group. It was then that I started to think that the USDA was probably just fucking with me.

Even more ridiculous thatn peanuts in the Meat and Poultry Group were the number of daily servings suggested from each group. Those crazy guidelines were calling for somewhere in the realm of eight servings of fruits and vegetables, seven servings of milk and cheese, six servings of bread and cereal, and five servings of meat and poultry. What the hell?

Apparently, if the USDA had it's way, I would have been eating all day long. They say there's an obesity epidemic in America today, and they're blaming fast food. Personally, I think it's probably the result of five generations of elementary school students scarfing down 26 servings of pyramid food for the last 30 years. Thanks, USDA. Way to go, guys.

Today's guidelines are more modest, recommending that, for those who feel they simply must eat food, they "consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs." Good advice, as per the "Well, Duhhhhh!" philosophy mentioned earlier.

And, fear not, those of you dying to know if it's still okay to drink alcoholic beverages. The USDA has outlined some valuable "Well, Duhhhh!" recommendations for booze as well.

"Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery."

For my part, I'm amazed the report made no mention of the hazards of "beer goggles," and it made absolutely no reference whatsoever to the invaluable chemical equation: "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear; beer before liquor, you've never been sicker."

Please, write your Congressperson immediately to rectify these glaring omissions.

Just as soon as you finish that 26th serving.

Posted by Ryan at 04:08 PM | Comments (4)

Ooh, Ooh! It's A Nick Coleman Column!

That's right, folks, it's Nick Coleman fisking time again here at Rambling Rhodes! Grab your popcorn and take a seat, because here we go:

Wednesday was Meth Awareness Day at the State Capitol, and just in time. Symptoms of methamphetamine use include a false sense of power, incessant talking and purposeless, repetitive behavior.

See also: Nick Coleman.

Of course, those things in the Capitol only prove that the Legislature is in session. But whatever our lawmakers may be smoking, the warning signs are clear: They have begun neglecting their responsibilities and are having trouble setting priorities.

And those priorities would be? What priorities does Nick Coleman think the Legislature should be focusing on? Well, seeing as how this is a Coleman column, we probably won't find out for the next several paragraphs.

This was a disgrace:

See also: Nick Coleman.

While state officials were getting hip to crank yesterday, leaders of Minnesota's two largest religious faiths were two miles away, visiting the West Side of St. Paul in an attempt to show lawmakers the human faces of poverty and to change the nature of our political debate, which has been dominated in recent years by budget squabbles and juvenile promises not to raise taxes.

First off: "Hip to crank?" *groan* Secondly, I find it amazing that Coleman thinks it's juvenile to promise not to raise taxes. Why, that's something only a teenager would promise!

Every one of the 201 legislators was notified of the effort by Archbishop Harry Flynn of the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and his Lutheran opposite number, Bishop Peter Rogness of the St. Paul Synod of the ELCA. Powerful pols on both sides of the aisle were specifically invited to join the churchmen in a hardship tour of the West Side, a microcosm of poverty and problems too often seen by politicians only as troublesome line items.

Not a one of the pompous windbags showed up. None of them.

Yeah, because, when the Legislature is in session, they have nothing else to do but go gallavanting off to pat the poor on their poverty-stricken heads. Or, wait, I have an idea: how about those 201 legislators stay at the Capitol and actually work to address the issue of poverty where it makes the most sense? Or, maybe Nick envisions legislation being drawn up on the hunched over backs of their fellow legislators? For Nick, a legislator's time is better spent strolling along a hardship tour of the West Side. Gotcha, Nick. NEXT!

No state senators, no representatives, no staff people. No Republicans, no DFLers. Hundreds of these same empty suits had traveled down to Rochester on Tuesday to applaud Gov. Tim Pawlenty as he promised, once again, to balance a deficit on the backs of the disadvantaged.

Uh. . . huh. That was actually part of Pawlenty's state of the state speech. It was right towards the end. Raising his fist in the air, he proclaimed, in a clear, deep tone: "I promise, once again, to balance a deficit on the backs of the disadvantaged!" It was met with wild applause.

But none could get their tuchis over the Wabasha Street Bridge to St. Matthew's Catholic parish, practically within the shadow of the gold-plated jackasses on top of the Capitol, to find out how political games affect the people where they live.

First off: "tuchis?" *groan* Secondly: "gold-plated jackasses?" *groan squared* There's this Home-Ec rule about grocery shopping I learned way back in 7th grade. It is simply: don't go shopping on an empty stomach. Otherwise, you'll end up with a bunch of crap you'll regret buying once you've eaten. On the same token, I'm kind of pleased that the Minnesota legislators opted out of this "feel bad" tour, because I don't want our elected officials going back to the Capitol to start drafting ill-advised legislation because their emotions have been stirred by Tiny Tim and his whooping cough. Minnesota has some of the highest taxes in the nation, and I don't want taxes being raised even higher in a futile attempt to head off poverty.

If I were a bishop, I'd read the windbags' names from the pulpit.

That'd show 'em!!

Here's a little of what the pols were too busy to be bothered with:

• A health clinic director explaining how more and more uninsured people are being forced to wait until a nagging medical problem becomes a full-blown crisis before seeking emergency treatment. Kids with ear infections, mothers with breast lumps, dads with nagging coughs: They all wait.

I've got news for you, Nick. That's not unique to the uninsured. I once sat around with a sore throat for about two weeks, before what turned out to be strep morphed into scarlet fever (seriously). I was a wreck. And I was INSURED! But, I was STUBBORN! And, I was STUPID. And, I'll probably DO IT AGAIN AT SOME POINT.

• A teacher in the only day-care center still open on the West Side explaining how working parents are squeezed between low-paying jobs and rising housing and health costs and are unable to afford child care. Some of the kids in her center wolf down lunch because there is no dinner at home.

SOME of the kids, wolfing down lunch! Oh, the humanity! Also note the classic Nick Coleman observational reporting without any background fact-checking at all. How bad is it? Well, it's so bad, people are telling Nick how bad it is during an event specifically organized to shed the worst possible light on a situation! It's THAT BAD!

• A Loaves & Fishes evening meal that serves 600 people a week at St. Matt's, 30,000 a year. Even though 25 St. Paul-area churches support the St. Matt's feeding program, the churches, too, are being stretched in an era of continuing budget deficits and growing callousness.

This is my favorite. The churches are being stretched in an era of continuing budget deficits? Aren't churches kept afloat by DONATIONS? So, wouldn't the blame fall more on stingy church-goers than anything government-related? Separation of church and state and all that, dontcha know.

Hoping that people of faith will cover the growing gaps in the social safety net means asking churches to double and triple the work they do. But if you want to enlist the churches in this fight, you have to accept that they don't fight by a political playbook. Their book is called the Gospels.

Rrrriigght, because organized religion has never had any political power at all, ever. And there are certainly no religious lobbies to speak of today, are there? Of course not. Nick: head. . . ass. . . remove.

Bishop Rogness, borrowing a story from progressive evangelist Jim Wallis (author of "God's Politics"), told me about a seminarian who went through the Bible with a pair of scissors and cut out every verse having to do with the poor and the hungry. When he was done, the seminarian had snipped out more than 3,000 passages and there wasn't enough left of the good book to keep it together.

Leave it to Nick to listen to a parable from a bishop and hoist it up as some sort of fact. I can almost imagine Nick, listening to the bishop, nodding enthusiastically, scribbling furiously in his tattered notebook, thinking "man, this is good stuff! They can't deny me a Pulitzer this time!"

"We want to re-frame the political debate," Rogness said during his visit to the day-care center. "The debate shouldn't just be how to juggle numbers. We also have to decide what kind of people we want to be and what kind of place we want this to be. In the past, we have taken pride that we have always been a state that has taken care of its people. We can be that kind of place again. And I will state to anyone who'll listen: The care of the poor -- how we take care of those who are on the margins -- is the barometer of a people's faithfulness."

Bishop Rogness is a smart guy. He had identified the fight we have here.

Nick Coleman is not a smart guy. He accepts everything he hears from biships, care workers, and poor people, as the absolute, unvarnished truth. You'll notice, beyond chastising legislators for not attending the "feel bad" PR event, he never, not once, attempted to contact one of those said legislators. No alternative voice sought. No attempt to even think about balancing his literary tripe.

The question before us is whether Minnesota is going to stay true to its traditions and the compassion that made us a leader, or whether we are going to worship the almighty tax cut until we become a heartless Omaha. In this fight, the heads of the Catholic and Lutheran churches are fundamentalists: They are preaching a return to the core tenets of their Christian traditions.

Nick Coleman: Theologian!!

"Our state's budget is more than just a document," Flynn said Wednesday to a half dozen news hounds in a church basement that should have been full of power-drunk lawmakers.

Power-drunk lawmakers? Come on, Nick, even for you, that's an abysmal turn of phrase. I've met a few Minnesota legislators, and "power-drunk" is hardly how I'd describe them.

"It is a moral statement and our legislators must begin their deliberations with the human needs of so many of our people foremost in their minds and hearts. 'Caps' and 'cuts' can be cruel words when they mean adding to the suffering of our children, our elderly, our newcomers to this country, our uninsured, and those housed in shelters or on our streets."

So it's shameful that the politicians were too busy playing with their microphones and pretending they understand drug addiction to go over to the West Side and learn how their duties look to two leading preachers.

He so outraged! It's so cute! You can almost imagine his little cheeks just getting all red. Awwww, Nick. *squeezing cheeks in a playful manner*

But if the politicians think they got away with something, they're wrong.

They've got the bishops on their tail.

Ooooh the bishops are mad at the legislators, they're so scared! Oooooh, the bishops! Uh oh, the bishops are coming to get the legislators! Oh no, don’t let the bishops come after them! Oh, no the bishops are coming after them! No! They’re so big and strong. Oh, protect them from the bishops, the bishops! (shameless Monty Burns ripoff, I know, but it's still funny).

Let the pols yammer on about the State of the State.

The bishops are talking about the State of Our Soul.

Why am I envisioning Shang Tsung stealing Sub-Zero's soul? Nick Coleman columns have a weird affect on me, I guess.

Posted by Ryan at 12:14 PM | Comments (27)

January 19, 2005

Inauguration Day Schizophrenic Screed

I know I've basically abandoned the Schizophrenic Screed, mostly because it was becoming too, well, schizophrenic. But, today, in the Stewartville Star, the town's resident nutball purchased a miscellaneous ad that is inauguration-related, so, in the spirit of the occasion:

MACHEYE Headquarters from the Atlantis of GIA. As the 44th president's inauguration nears, Mr. President Bush is planning his speech and he says, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, should I go, black sheep, black sheep, or should I go white sheep, white sheep." And the mirror says back to him, "Baa, baa, baa." Let there be peace. Three presidential: GIA 95455x2 carrot, mosabi.


Posted by Ryan at 06:00 PM | Comments (3)

It Has Come To My Attention Again

I am now told that the once-Ryan-like fly, in addition to being larger, now features what is commonly known as the Dirty Mushroom. I'm not sure how many people this fly afflicts upon viewing my blog, but I'm relatively certain it's a small number.

I'm also relatively certain that the butt-fly is probably uploaded onto an unsuspecting system upon visiting some other site, although it could also be a matter of a PC's security settings, so what the hell do I know?

I would plead with the hacker, again, to cease and desist but, because it only seems to be affecting Joshua right now, I think it's more funny than anything.

Posted by Ryan at 04:38 PM | Comments (11)

Caught In Passing

Last night, whilst treadmilling on the treadmill, I was watching a 2002 movie called "Live From Baghdad," which chronicles how the CNN team was the only news team to be present in Iraq the night the air raids began back in 1991. I remember that report: the grainy yellowish-green video showing an ungodly number of tracers streaking across the sky, with the alternating voices delivering to the world what they saw and heard. It was on-the-scene journalism as pure as Colombian cocaine.

Well, anyway, "Live From Baghdad" was a decent movie. It was good for treadmilling. But, one exchange caught my attention and it peeved me just a bit. Yes, I was peeved.

It was the scene of the CNN newsroom just before the bombs started to fall. Tensions and anxiety were high. There was some debate as to whether to go with a "War In The Gulf" or "Crises In The Gulf." They opt for "Crises In The Gulf," but then the producer adds:

"You better add 'Persian Gulf,' otherwise middle America might think we're bombing Mexico."

Yeah, those dumb middle Americans! Hyuk. They shore dern't know anerthing 'bout geomography. They're not enlightened or informed like those astute folks at CNN.


And that movie was made in 2002, two years before those red-necked Jesus-freaks went and elected "W" for a second term.

This type of blanket assumption regarding the intellect of middle America is just irritating as all hell. It's just as stereotypical and prejudicial, and INCORRECT, as any other type of stereotype or prejudice.

Posted by Ryan at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

It Has Come To My Attention. . .

So, if there's a fly buzzing around a blog, and the author doesn't know it's there, does it really exist?

Apparently, YES:


Now, I like a good joke as much as the next guy, and it's pretty obvious that whoever conjured this insectoid avatar of me has some apparent skill and technological savvy, so I salute you, oh tinkerer of blogs. But, still, you can stop now. Please.

I've gone through my blog template code, and I can't see anything that would indicate anything has been added. And, because the fly only appears on some people's browsers and not others, I'm wondering if this is some sort of blog hack by proxy, meaning that it somehow gets downloaded as a kind of Javascript from another site, and only manifests itself on my blog. I don't know. I'm not techie enough to understand how this kind of thing works.

At any rate, please cease and desist with the buzzing fly, unknown blog kung-fu artist. I bow down to your superior skills.

Now, please, swat that fly.

Posted by Ryan at 09:09 AM | Comments (14)

January 18, 2005

Iraqi Pros And Cons

Prior to the Iraq war, there was one blogging voice you could tune into, Salam Pax.

There are now somewhere near 40 or so. Some are pro-American. Some aren't. All of them, however, have their own unique view of the war and the future:

Healing Iraq
G in Baghdad
Ishtar Talking
The Mesopotamian
Iraq At A Glance
Nabil's Blog
Iraq The Model
Iraq and Iraqis
A Family In Baghdad
Road Of A Nation
Sun Of Iraq
Tell Me A Secret
Kurdo's World
The Iraqi Agora
Shlonkom Bakazay
Raed In The Middle
Baghdad Update
Baghdad Dweller
Life In Baghdad
A Glimpse of Iraq
US Mistakes In Iraq
Rapid Democracy In Iraq
Iraqi Letter To America
Land Of Karda
Kardox - The Kurdish View
Kurdistan Bloggers Union
A Star From Mosul
Baghdad Girl (Probably the foremost Iraqi catblogger. Man, she LOVES cats)
hnk's blog
Loser's Blog

Could some of these blogs be fake? Sure. They're pretty hard to verify, in a lot of cases. Overly optimistic or pessimistic? Absolutely. I tend to read them, when I do, with a grain of salt on either side. Like every other blog in the world, and MSM war reporting in general, I tend to think the truth probably falls somewhere in the middle.

Now, let me ask you something. Which blogs above do you think are more authentic or believable? The ones critical of the occupation, or the ones more optimistic? Do you dismiss some as propaganda and others as the truth laid bare? What are your criteria for those biases? I only ask, because I find myself doing it, from time to time.

And what does the New York Times think?

Read it all, and ask where you think the writer's biases fall. Or do you think there are no biases in the piece? I'm interested in hearing your take.

Posted by Ryan at 12:26 PM | Comments (10)

The Eternal Question

So, I just got an e-mail, spam, that featured the following subject line:

"Has Your Cum Ever Dribbled When You Wished It Would Shoot Out?"

Sounds like a good country western song.

Posted by Ryan at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

Getting Tutored

This morning was a big day for the kittens that aren't so kitteny any more. Today they lose their testicles. Of course, by "lose," I don't mean like spare change in the couch cushions; I mean that a stranger with a scalpel will remove their fledgling male beads and more than likely toss them into a trash can.

And as an added insult to the kitties: I paid the stranger to do it.

I awoke extra early so I could drive them over 30 miles to a rural vet clinic that featured neutering rates far below what you can expect within Rochester. In Rochester, the going rate for one neutered cat usually exceeds $100. But, if you're willing to drive to Plainview, they'll do the deed for $30 a cat which, I'm quick to point out to anyone, comes out to about $15 a nut. SOLD!

People give me an admonishing look when I tell them about my bargain-shopping approach to neutering. And, truth be told, if it were me going under the knife to have my testes snipped, I'd spare no expense. Hell, I'd take out a loan, if need be.

But, cats are cats. If I had a little bit more expertise, I'd consider doing the procedure myself, over a protective matting of old newspapers, like carving a pumpkin, only more delicate.

For their part, the cats yowled and howled the entire way to the vet, which they tend to do any time they're forced to spend extended periods in a pet carrier.

For my part, I'm feeling pretty good, because, no matter how bad my work day may go, I can be fairly certain that the cats are probably enduring a far worse day.

This morning was a big day for the kittens that aren't so kitteny any more. Today they lose their testicles. Of course, by "lose," I don't mean like spare change in the couch cushions; I mean that a stranger with a scalpel will remove their fledgling male beads and more than likely toss them into a trash can.

And as an added insult to the kitties: I paid the stranger to do it.

I awoke extra early so I could drive them over 30 miles to a rural vet clinic that featured neutering rates far below what you can expect within Rochester. In Rochester, the going rate for one neutered cat usually exceeds $100. But, if you're willing to drive to Plainview, they'll do the deed for $30 a cat which, I'm quick to point out to anyone, comes out to about $15 a nut. SOLD!

People give me an admonishing look when I tell them about my bargain-shopping approach to neutering. And, truth be told, if it were me going under the knife to have my testes snipped, I'd spare no expense. Hell, I'd take out a loan, if need be.

But, cats are cats. If I had a little bit more expertise, I'd consider doing the procedure myself, over a protective matting of old newspapers, like carving a pumpkin, only more delicate.

For their part, the cats yowled and howled the entire way to the vet, which they tend to do any time they're forced to spend extended periods in a pet carrier.

For my part, I'm feeling pretty good, because, no matter how bad my work day may go, I can be fairly certain that the cats are probably enduring a far worse day.

Posted by Ryan at 09:07 AM | Comments (3)

January 17, 2005

Our Divided Nation

There's this, the latest--and in my opinion, most hilarious--installment of TEEN GIRL SQUAD!

And then you have the people over at Fark arguing about whether it's funny or not.

Come ON! As Tammy would say, if you don't think Teen Girl Squad is funny, you can all go eat a fart.

Posted by Ryan at 04:31 PM | Comments (1)

Reaper Denied, Just Barely


accident.ap/index.html">A dentist found the source of the toothache Patrick Lawler was complaining about on the roof of his mouth -- a four-inch (10-centimeter) nail the construction worker had unknowingly embedded in his skull six days earlier.

That's just so freakin' incredible! I mean, think about it! That nail gun shot two nails at once! amazing! Must have been a Craftsman. They make good nail guns.

Posted by Ryan at 12:07 PM | Comments (3)

Lace Up Those Booties 'Cause It's Cold Out There Today

Driving into work this morning, the car's external temperature reading indicated "0." As in, zero degrees fahrenheit. Yes, folks, here in Minnesota, if you've invested heavily in fahrenheit degrees on Wall Street, chances are you're in line at the local soup kitchen right about now, lamenting your lousy investment savvy.

The sad thing is, when I looked down and saw "0," I thought, "hey, it's warming up today." That's because it's been so freakin' cold over the past week and half, they've been carrying out cryogenic experiments in my back yard.

The funny thing is, being that this is Minnesota, we experience a week or two of these temperatures almost every January, without fail. And we bitch about it, without fail. And, come April, we forget it even happened, without fail. Unless you happen to keep a journal or blog about it, in which case you can call it up for posterity's sake.

Let's check out January 2004, just for the hell of it:

An Ode To Cold

At 32 degress, they say, water tends to freeze
At -19 degrees today, it fucking hurts to breathe.

And let's not forget there's wind chill, too, which makes it minus forty-five
With temps like this, my fingers freeze, and it's hard to stay alive.

I stepped outside this Friday morn, and was greeted by the Cold
"You're brave," good sir, Cold said to me. "You're stupid, but you're bold."

I spoke with Cold, as I stepped in my car, and asked it to please leave
It laughed at me, a hearty "har," and said I was naive.

"I can not go, you silly twit," said Cold as coldly as can be
"You're in Minnesota, you dipshit, your state belongs to me."

"But all these days of sub zero temps," I said, as I tried to plead my case
"And my car won't start despite nine attempts, and there's frostbite on my face."

"You're overdoing the cold," said I. "You're taking things too far!"
"You make me want to fucking cry, and you froze my fucking car!"

Again the Cold just laughed and laughed, and mocked me as I sat
It conjured up a brutal draft, which made me wish I'd worn a hat.

"There's no such thing as too damned cold," said Cold as I sat and froze.
"Such thinking is in need of scold, so here's some frostbite for your nose."

Cold taunted me for minutes more, which filled me with much sorrow.
It finally left, but not before it promised to return tomorrow.

I called a tow truck to start my car, which cost me many bucks.
So I say to all, both near and far, Cold really fucking sucks.

And January 2003, where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about a Reaumur.

So, yeah, it's cold outside today. And it will probably continue to be cold until sometime around, oh, say, May, at which point it will start to become unbearably hot.

Man I miss Hawaii.

Posted by Ryan at 09:49 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2005

Canine Cross-Examination

Leave it to Reuters to deliver an important news story that just gets my brain buzzing with all sorts of outlandish imagery. Not that my brain needs much in the way of prompting when it comes to conjuring outlandish imagery. My brain routinely conjures outlandish imagery consisting of Jennifer Aniston, myself, a waterbed, and a French maid costume, with virtually no external prompting whatsoever. And speaking of Jennifer Aniston, here's Jennifer Aniston.

Anyhoo. . .

According to a Jan. 13 Reuters news report out of Tallahasee, Fla., The Florida Supreme Court questioned a drug-sniffing dog's track record on Wednesday in a hearing to determine how competent a canine must be to justify a police search.

It's a tricky question, to be sure. Especially considering that Razor, the dog in question, back in 2000, following a positive car sniff-out of one Gary Alan Matheson, during the ensuing search:

Officers found methamphetamines, morphine, hydrocodone and drug paraphernalia.

Good dog, Razor! Well done! Slap me some paw, little brother! Oop, but wait just one second. Matheson's attorney has some questions for little old Razor.

But Matheson appealed his conviction and said the search was illegal because deputies could not reasonably depend on the dog, which though nationally certified had a history of mistakes.

"The question is whether Razor was sharp," Chief Justice Barbara Pariente chimed in during arguments.

"There is a question whether all dogs are equal," Justice R. Fred Lewis said.

Well, now they're just being mean to poor little Razor, in my humble opinion. Still, I really think that the only way to answer these tough and probing questions is to get Razor up there on the stand to defend himself, and this is where the outlandish mental imagery starts to creep in.

THE SCENE: A hot, muggy, Tallahassee Supreme Court room. Ceiling fans swirl away to no effect. Supreme Court justices, fanning themselves with hastily-made fans constructed out of 2000 Presidenctial recount briefings, anxiously await the testimony of Razor, who is outside the courhouse at the moment, relieving himself on a fire hydrant. Finally, Razor enters the courtroom, padding along the oak floor, tethered by his K-9 handler's leash. Razor appears confused and a little anxious.

BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

RAZOR: *quizzical canine tilt of the head* *nervous growl followed by a yip*

JUSTICE LEWIS: Please be seated, Mr. Razor. Could we get him some water?

MATHESON ATTORNEY: Now, Mr. Razor, if that is your REAL name, how would you rate your performance as a drug sniffing dog?

RAZOR: *scratches his neck, then proceeds to lick himself in a private manner*


CHIEF JUSTICE PARIENTE: *slamming gavel forcefully* Mr. Razor, need I remind you that this is a court of law?! We do not allow this kind of behavior within these hallowed walls! We demand that you stop licking yourself immediately!

RAZOR: *throaty growl, followed by a sneeze*

MATHESON ATTORNEY: You see, ladies and gentlemen, that's the kind of rebellious and careless response police have come to expect from Razor. He's a rebel. A maverick. And he's been an inconsistent drug sniffing dog to boot. My client, though arguably a drug addict of the highest order, had no business being singled out by a rogue canine like Razor here.

RAZOR ATTORNEY: Objection! Razor's not on trial here! He's a good boy! Aren't you, Razor?

RAZOR: Woof!

RAZOR ATTORNEY: Yes, you are! You're such a goooood boooyyy!

CHIEF JUSTICE PARIENTE: That's quite enough of that! Order in the court! Order!

And it was at about that point when I started thinking about Jennifer Aniston, myself, a waterbed, and a French maid costume all over again.

And, yes, I am the one wearing the French maid costume. Why do you ask?

Now for a random listing of famous females in an attempt to boost my site traffic:

Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Amanda Overmeyer. Jessica Alba. Jessica Biel. Amanda Overmeyer. Lindsay Lohan. Emma WatsonWatsons, all.. Evanna Lynch.. Denise Milani. Amanda Overmeyer. Emma Watson. Mila Kunis.. Mila Kunis. Now, back to listing famous females in an attempt to boost site traffic.. Jessical Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Jessica Biel. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch. Evanna Lynch.

Posted by Ryan at 01:38 PM | Comments (6)

January 12, 2005

Happiness Is. . .

Having your site linked by this site.

I get about seven or so visits a day from there.

UPDATE: This particular search, I believe, was a first. Sure made me laugh.

Now, in an attempt to even FURTHER boost my web traffic, here's Eva Mendes and Nicole Graves mentioned several times: Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Eva Mendes. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves. Nicole Graves.

Posted by Ryan at 03:34 PM | Comments (3)

The Coleman Grill

I'm thinking about just ripping through every Nick Coleman column that he writes, partly because it's just so strangely gratifying. Some would say I'm just being a meanie conservative, but I would counter with: whatever. Anyhoo. Shall we?

Wisconsin cheddar is the best cheese in the world, and I will swear to it until my dying day. Or until the Minnesota Dairy Research and Promotion Council pays me more to promote Minnesota cheddar than I get from the cheeseheads in Wisconsin.

Why does he have to do this? Every. Time. A nonsensical segue into a column that has virtually nothing to do with the opening paragraph. I'm thinking: a column about cheese? Cool. But no.

What am I offered?

In actual fact, I try to eat only Minnesota cheese and am not on the payroll of any nefarious Wisconsin cheddar cartels. These days, however, motivations are not always clear when some media types passionately push cheese curds or other hard-to-swallow products on the American public.

*sigh* It's cheese, cheese, cheese. . . and then, screech, we're talking about media types. Media types peddling cheese curds, no less. WTF?

Alarm bells have been set off by the news that Armstrong Williams, a syndicated columnist and conservative commentator, failed to disclose that he was paid $241,000 by the U.S. Department of Education to promote the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. Instead, he took the money and ran, calling NCLB "the best legislation that has been put forth in the last 20 years to raise the academic standards of inner-city and urban schools."

As I opined to Joshua, this Williams thing stinks. He was a moron for a.) taking what amounts to a bribe and b.) not disclosing it. It's pretty common sense. I'm more disgusted with the CBS "memogate" thing, to be sure, for largely professional reasons. Primarily, the CBS report positioned itself as hard, breaking news, news that, if true, which CBS claimed (and still claims) it was, probably would have reshaped the political landscape at the time the report aired.

And CBS has online000519.html">other problems, too.

Armstrong Williams, by comparison, is largely regarded, even by Coleman, to be a conservative commentator. If you're listening to him or reading him, chances are you know that you're getting a big blast of conservative air blown up your ass. The bribe was wrong, there no question about it. But, there's some pretty big and important distinctions that can be drawn between the CBS thing and the Williams thing. Does Coleman mention the CBS report at all though? Hmm. Nope. Instead, we get:

During last fall's election campaign, South Dakota Democrat Tom Daschle was regularly thumped by two Web sites whose operators -- it was revealed after the election --were paid by the campaign of Daschle's Republican opponent, John Thune. Neither of their blogs disclosed that they were being paid by Thune, who is Senator Thune now. And the episode should raise a huge red flag.

Keep in mind that Coleman touts himself to be a media representative who is politically neutral, and a servant of the public, when it comes to his columns, even though the last time he can remember endorsing or defending a Republican was back in 1990, and even that's a shaky claim. So, yup, we get the evidence of two South Dakota blogs being paid by Republicans, yet Coleman seems blissfully unaware that the likes of Atrios (a.k.a. Duncan Black) is partially funded by the likes of Media Matters, or that his royal screamness, Howard Dean, made an unbelievable amount of online money through what amounted to a blog.

And it's not as if the White House coordinating with the media is somehow a new development, specific to Republicans.

Some have suggested that Daschle's blog-flogging is a harbinger of things to come, warning that the unregulated "blogosphere" offers a ripe medium for abuse and surreptitious attack.

Forgetting, of course, that the blogosphere has also emerged as an extremely useful tool, acting as a watchdog counterweight of the mainstream media (MSM) (see also, CBS) and calling attention to stories that the MSM may have downplayed (see also, the fall of Trent Lott) and, perhaps most importantly, exposing a bi-sexual female IT geek as a male novelist IT geek. But, no, for Coleman, the blogosphere is simply a ripe medium for abuse and surreptitious attack, even though you'd be hard-pressed to find an example where a blog's abuse and surreptitious attacks actually had a big impact on anything.

Money always talks. But when it goes underground to finance hidden attacks, it also corrupts. Which is why any columnist or commentator who weighs in on politics and public policy should be required to promptly and fully disclose whether they are being paid to promulgate their views.

Finally, Coleman writes something that I can agree with. But then he goes and jumps the shark.

Most mainstream commentators know that taking money under the table will mean not getting paid by their employer much longer. But in our blog new world, not everybody discloses their hand, or their motivations. The Armstrong Williams case demonstrates that we have reached a point where transparency is required. Jeffrey Dubner, from the online site of the American Prospect, suggests commentators take an oath:

"I swear that I have never taken money -- whether directly or indirectly -- from any political campaign or government agency -- whether federal, state, or local -- in exchange for any service performed in my job as a journalist (or commentator, or blogger, or whatever you think I should be called)."

Good, as far as it goes. But the word "undisclosed" should be added, making the oath read: "I swear that I have never taken any undisclosed money..."

So, there you have it. Every blog that comments on anything, from the biggest political heavyweights, to the lowliest catblogger, should have to put up a disclaimer announcing they have never taken undisclosed money, directly or indirectly, from any political campaign or government agency.

In the spirit of Nick Coleman's grand disclosure plan, I have a confession to make. I made close to $9,000 in freelance writing projects last year, and I wrote all of those projects on my home computer. As such, when doing my taxes, I claim those freelance projects in the name of my own personal company, Rhodes Media Services. Therefore, I claim some of my computer expenses, such as a new keyboard and mouse and printer costs, as tax write-offs. Therefore, I indirectly have taken money, and will continue to take money, from the government agency known as the IRS. This blog deeply regrets if its readers have been misled in any way by my nefarious government-financed shenanigans. And I won't even get into the issue of blogads, which comb through your recent entries and post related ads.

And another sentence should be added to the effect: "If I accept any payment to promote or advance a political campaign or candidate, I will promptly and publicly reveal it."

Jeez, at this rate, all blogs will consist almost entirely of disclaimers.

If such an oath had been subscribed to in South Dakota, the bloggers who beat up Daschle would have had to reveal their paid relationship with Thune. Or later be revealed as liars.

Yeah, those dastardly SD bloggers really beat up on Daschle, what with their linking to news stories and stating their opinions. For Daschle's part, I think he briefly had a blog, too, called "Travels With Tom" or something like that (yes, really). As far as I know, it didn't have a disclaimer on it.

"I see no reason for anybody with a keyboard or a microphone to have a problem with taking this oath," Dubner says.

There isn't any.

I don't even have the mental energy to take on that idiotic assertion.

UPDATE: blogging.html">More commentary here. Not Coleman-related, but political-blogging-compensation-related.

Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (9)

Dig In

I'll dig into this tomorrow.

But, you know, I think Coleman does this kind of thing just to incite people. Who knows?

Posted by Ryan at 12:32 AM | Comments (6)

January 11, 2005

Late To The Game, Butt. . .

Okay, so I'm a little late to this photoshop contest. Still, I feel I have to contribute. And I'm a terrible Photoshopper, especially with the tools I have here at work.


This in no way represents my views on the book, which I haven't yet read.

Posted by Ryan at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Finstad Responds To Coleman

Brad Finstad replied today to Nick Coleman's amazingly stupid (even for Coleman) column:

Not anti-immgrant

Just as Nick Coleman states in a recent column that he hates to pick on young lawmakers, I hate to pick on veteran columnists who haven't completely studied the details of proposed legislation before making criticism ("Stern reminder for all at Capitol," Jan. 5).

In this case, Coleman blasted legislation that I'm sponsoring regarding immigrants and took the criticism to the level of a personal attack.

My bill would require immigrants to make an attempt at learning English after one year if they receive welfare benefits. To me, this is not an unreasonable request. In my opinion, if you are settling in Minnesota and utilizing government welfare assistance, attempting to learn the language could help you become an even more productive citizen.

Coleman was correct about one thing: Many German immigrants settled in southwestern Minnesota, and few of them spoke English. He fails to point out that these immigrants didn't receive welfare benefits to create New Ulm and the other towns in the area.

We have thousands of immigrants in Minnesota who work hard, earn a living and don't speak English. I applaud them. They are part of what makes Minnesota such a good state in which to live. They are living the American dream, just as our ancestors did.

My bill would help non-English-speaking immigrants who aren't as successful become more marketable in the state's economic system, and realize dreams of their own.

Rep. Brad Finstad, New Ulm, Minn.

I think I can safely hand the victory over to Finstad on this one. I wonder if Coleman will respond. Probably not.

Now, in an attempt to boost Web traffic, I'll post a name that's been in the news lately: Laure Manaudou. Laure Manaudou. Laure Manaudou. Laure Manaudou. Laure Manaudou.

Posted by Ryan at 12:54 PM | Comments (3)

The Bias Thing

One of the guys at Power Line picked up on a few things that I noticed, too, about Mary Mapes. Most notably:

On July 23, Michael Smith, a freelance journalist in Texas who was working on the story along with Mapes, sent her an email that began: "I am close to something that the Bushies are worried about..." Mapes responded: "I desperately want to talk to you....Do NOT underestimate how much I want this story."

On July 30, Mapes sent an email to one of her superiors at CBS in which she wrote: "...there is some very interesting Bush stuff shaking out there right now...Re...his qualification [sic] and refusal of service in Vietnam, etc. Lots of goodies."

On August 3, she emailed again: "There is a storm brewing in Austin re the Bush stuff....It is much more intense than it was four years ago and there is a strong general feeling that this time, there is blood in the water."

Now, I would normally be quick to say "Aha! Pure evidence of political bias!" And, I'm still a little convinced that was probably the case. However, there is an alternative explanation, and it's an explanation that still hints at bias, but at least it's non-partisan bias.

Since Nixon and Watergate, the press redefined itself in many respects, not the least of which has been in its appraisal of those in power. The Watergate scandal set the media bar exceedingly high. It was no longer a case of reporting on the activities of the White House; it became a case of trying to unseat whomever happened to be in the executive seat, whether Democrat or Republican.

The mainstream media is positively allergic when it comes to White House reporting. They automatically deeply suspect and mistrust everything that comes out of the West Wing. Their holy grail is all about taking down the president, no matter their political affiliation. Why? For one thing, it's the story of a lifetime; they can go down in history as the person, or people, who brought down a sitting president. That's pretty heady stuff, no matter what side of the political spectrum you're sitting on. For another thing, a story like that breeds even more news stories, and it's the kind of thing audiences tune into. In a word: revenue.

Therefore, it's entirely possible that Mapes and the folks at CBS were operating under a bias that truly was non-political. They may have fully believed they were truly delivering "truth to power." It's still a bias, and a rampant bias at that. And I'm not sure, exactly, how to fix that problem.

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Journalism 101

Well, here it is. It's a bit late, but it's nice to see a little journalistic integrity being displayed here.

It's a long report. Very long. And it covers a lot more than simply whether CBS report relied on forged documents (which it doesn't admit, surprisingly). The length and depth of the report, however, explains why it took since Sept. 22 for it to come out.

Given the sheer length of the report, and given that I'm at work, trying to juggle other, work-related, material, I can only point out some excerpts on the fly.

Smith told the Panel that when Lieutenant Colonel Burkett provided the documents on September 2, he said that he had received them anonymously in the mail. Mapes had a different recollection of what Lieutenant Colonel Burkett said at the same meeting about the source of the documents. Mapes said that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett stated that he received the documents after he was interviewed on a national television show in February 2004 concerning President Bush’s TexANG service, but did not say how he received them or from whom. Mapes added that she spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Burkett on several occasions over the next couple of days to get more information about the source of the documents. Ultimately, Lieutenant Colonel Burkett told Mapes on either September 4 or 5 that he had received the documents from another former Texas Army National Guardsman, Chief Warrant Officer George Conn, a statement that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett would later admit was not true. Mapes and her team of associate producers did virtually nothing to attempt to contact Chief Warrant Officer Conn to confirm this story and further trace the chain of custody of the documents.


Given the tight deadline, Miller did not have sufficient time to learn the fundamentals of document authentication. Had she known the basics, she would have realized that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to authenticate the Killian documents because they were copies, the alleged author was dead and no person could be located who was alleged to have been present when the documents were prepared. She instead called various people who she believed had experience in the document and handwriting field to identify potential examiners with requisite expertise. After approximately six hours of work on Friday, September 3, Miller had found four examiners who seemed to have expertise in document and handwriting authentication and who were willing to work over the Labor Day weekend.

Again. Oops. Mind you, I'm all for obtaining a scoop, it's one of the driving ambitions of every beat reporter in the field. But, here you have some grainy, Kinkos copies of supposed damning documents in front of you, and you boil down your vetting process to six hours, with four examiners who were "willing" to work over the Labor Day weekend? Jeez.

On Tuesday, September 7, Rather interviewed Ben Barnes, and a number of excerpts from this interview appeared in the September 8 Segment. The Panel has several concerns about whether the airing of the Barnes interview excerpts constituted fair and accurate reporting by 60 Minutes Wednesday. For example, the excerpts pertaining to Barnes conveyed the 13 unmistakable impression that President Bush gained entry into the TexANG through preferential treatment. Barnes stated, however, that he did not know if his call to a TexANG official back in 1968 made any difference with respect to President Bush. Further, Mapes had been told previously by several former TexANG officers that President Bush entered the TexANG without any preferential treatment. Finally, Mapes confirmed to the Panel that there was conflicting information about whether there even was a waiting list to get in the TexANG as of the spring of
1968. At a minimum, these issues should have been disclosed to the 60 Minutes Wednesday management, but they were not.

I've been trying to revisit my belief that media organizations are biased, primarily thanks to input from Joshua Norton and David Grenier. Still, I've basically come to the conclusion that there is bias, both left and right, throughout the mainstream media. Here, Mapes had supposedly been pursuing a story about Bush's TANG record for "years." Therefore, it stands to reason that she had a preconcieved notion as to what the "truth" actually was, which led to errors in judgement like that illustrated above. One thing newsrooms consistently do is to rotate reporting beats so reporters don't become too familiar with a topic area and develop their own opinions, opnions which can slip into their work. This seems to be what happened here. Which, as I read further. . .

2. Was pursued intermittently for over five years, which could cause the correspondent and producer to become too personally invested in the story;

And I love this part:

Rather does not appear to have participated in any of the vetting sessions or to have even seen the Segment before it was aired.

Then we have this little bit of comedy gold:

All agree that they knew virtually nothing about Chief Warrant Officer Conn, who at that time was thought to be the ultimate source. Mapes and the vetters
have different accounts as to what she told them about Lieutenant Colonel Burkett. Most of the 15 vetters told the Panel that they did not think they heard the name Bill Burkett as the source of the documents prior to the airing of the Segment but did know that the source was a former National Guardsman. Even if the name Bill Burkett had been mentioned, all the vetters said it would not have meant anything to them.

And yet Rather went and said that the source of the documents was "unimpeachable," for a report on which he wasn't even a part of the vetting process, let alone a report he didn't even both to review. Fabulous.

This alleged confirmation by Major General Hodges started to march 60 Minutes Wednesday into dangerous and ultimately unsustainable territory: the notion that since the content of the documents was felt to be true, demonstrating the authenticity of the documents became less important.

In other words, fake but accurate.

Over the next week or so, CBS News issued a number of press statements and CBS Evening News reports that staunchly defended the September 8 Segment despite increasingly strong indications that the reporting for the Segment was flawed. The Panel finds that these statements and reports contained numerous misstatements and inaccuracies. Moreover, the Panel finds that once serious questions were raised, the defense of the Segment became more rigid and emphatic, and that virtually no attempt was made to determine whether the questions raised had merit.


The Panel finds that Lieutenant Colonel Burkett could not be reasonably described as an “unimpeachable source,” 21 given his own inconsistent public statements, as well as his criticisms of President Bush and the National Guard. Further, the statement was inaccurate because the Killian documents were not
backed up by forensic document experts.

Oh, and Rather will be leaving CBS news prematurely, if you didn't already know.

Mapes told the Panel that before Lieutenant Colonel Burkett turned over any of the documents, he had pressed her to arrange for him to be put in touch with someone from the Kerry presidential campaign so that he could provide the campaign with strategic advice on how to rebut the attacks by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” group.

Right then and there, Mapes should have slammed on the brakes, in my opinion. If someone calls and promises to give you some damning documents, but only if you put him in touch with a presidential campaign (and why did Burkett seemingly know that Mapes could deliver that?), you should realize that your journalistic fibers are being stretched, if not torn asunder.

Oh, and Mapes got the axe, too, appropriately.

Whether or not permission was given to Mapes, the Panel finds this contact to be highly inappropriate. The September 8 Segment had a strong political focus and it was to air in the middle of a hotly contested presidential campaign.
While it is certainly proper to receive information from a variety of sources, this contact crossed the line as, at a minimum, it gave the appearance of a political bias and could have been perceived as a news organization’s assisting a campaign as opposed to reporting on a story.

The Panel did not conclude that the piece was politically motivated, however. Even though they admit that:

While the Panel was not asked to look at any other segments of 60 Minutes Wednesday, it did not find any evidence that the flaws of the September 8 Segment carried over to any other segment.

Odd, that.

Overall, I have to admit that the thoroughness of the report is impressive, to the tune of 234 pages, and the findings, at least upon cursory review, seem to be fair and balanced. I'm sure the blogosphere will be tearing through the report like a cat with toilet paper over the next few days. But, the report authors have addressed that, as well:

Inevitably, some inside and outside CBS News will fault a few, if not many, of the Panel’s findings and conclusions. We will have been too tough, too easy, intrusive, timid, unfair, naĂ¯ve, gullible or more. This is not a simple story, but we are confident that we have told it fully and fairly.

We'll see what other people think shortly, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Like I said: Rathergate.com, ratherbiased.com, Instapundit.com, Andrewsullivan.com.

Folks like Sullivan and Instapundit are pointing towards political bias in the 60 Minutes piece, which I suspect as well. However, it was not the job of the panel to expose political bias. They weighed the pros and cons of such a theory, and plugged it into the broader picture of the journalistic meltdown that resulted in the story. I think the panel did a good job examining the political issue, and they, correctly, treated it as a sidenote to the larger investigation.

Posted by Ryan at 11:34 AM | Comments (9)

January 07, 2005


As illustrations of utter destruction go, this is pretty unreal.

Posted by Ryan at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

CBS Report

So, if CBS is to be believed, and there's really no reason that they should be, they're supposed to, today, release the results of their investigation into Dan Rather's September 60 Minutes II broadcast that, later, was revealed to have relied on documents that were quite obviously, and amateurishly, forged, although CBS seems almost allergic when it comes to admitting that uncomfortable fact.

I'm very eager to see the results of this investigation. From a journalistic point of view, I find it fascinating, as well as irritating. I don't hold out much hope that the report will actually contain anything of substance or anything, of course.

Posted by Ryan at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Close Call?

I have a laundry-list of pet peeves when it comes to using public bathroom stalls. In addition to things like this, I also positively shudder when I sit down on a toilet seat that's still radiating the warmth of the person who shat before me.

It's one of those things that just jump starts my brain and gets me thinking of all sorts of scenarios regarding the person who pooped previously. Was it someone I know? Were they reading a magazine? How long were they sitting here? Things like that.

Well, today, just a few short minutes ago, in fact, I experienced a public-toilet-stall situation that I immediately added to my list of pet peeves.

One thing that I've always just generally undertood to be common toilet stall etiquette is the act of checking for feet in each stall. It doesn't have to be an act of getting down on your hands and knees and peering intently or anything; just a nice, casual glance downward to see if there are some shoes shuffling around down there, indicating stall occupation. Granted, it's not foolproof, but it's probably effective 99 percent of the time.

And I understand that, particularly in the workplace, people just kind of unconsciously develop an affinity for a particular stall; a favorite, if you will. I, too, have my favorite work stall and I, too, feel a pang of disappointment when I see feet shifting around within my favorite stall because it means I have to squat in unfamiliar territory. But, at least I always check for feet, and I move on, though disappointedly, when feet are encountered.

Well, today, I'm sitting there, in an unfamiliar stall, because my favorite was occupied, which I ascertained through appropriate foot-glancing. I was pooping, catching up on the latest issue of eWeek, when someone came barging into the bathroom.

And then the mystery bathroom barger went and slammed up against my toilet stall door, trying to gain entry.

Which. . .

There are several, minor, butt-clenching moments the typical person experiences on any given day. Perhaps you decide to run a late yellow traffic light, or maybe someone cuts you off suddenly on the Interstate, or maybe the family pet simply startles you when you're rounding the corner. All of these may result in a minor, quick clenching of the buttocks.

It's an instinctual "fight or flee" reflexive action, I imagine, a product passed on genetically from our simian ancestors, who had to clench off a turd in mid-effort in order to outrun a hungry tiger. So, I understand where it comes from.

But, when someone tries gaining entrance into your public toilet stall, and makes a considerable amount of noise in the process, while you're blissfully reading an issue of eWeek, the startle-factor, and the instinctive butt clench that accomodates it, is more than just minor; it's considerably pronounced.

It was so pronounced, in fact, that a tiny sprittle of pee went arcing up and over the toilet seat, settling in the boxer shorts that were in a crumpled mass around my ankles.

And then the toilet stall assailant just kind of stood there, apparently not fully realizing that the stall was locked for a reason. Check for the feet, man!!

"There's someone in here!" I finally offerred, hoping to defuse the tense situation.

No movement. Either this guy just didn't understand, or he was really, really upset that his favorite stall was occupied. A few shuffling steps in front the stall occurred, and then finally, FINALLY, the unknown would-be crapper moved on down the row of stalls to a different toilet.

I sat there awhile, pondering the incident, thinking for some reason that I had just experienced a really close call of some sort, although I couldn't figure out what that close call actually was.

But, it definitely made my list of pet peeves. Check for feet, man, that's all I'm saying.

Posted by Ryan at 03:10 PM | Comments (11)

Important Odd News

Don't throw a tantrum in a German court:

A German man, angered by a court decision, was left even more out of pocket (200 Euros) when a judge gave him an extra fine for storming out of the court and slamming the door hard, authorities said on Thursday.

But the man is fighting back, and he offers up some brilliant legal maneuvering:

The man, who had been involved in a property usage dispute with neighbors, had appealed the fine on the grounds the door had slipped out of his hand as he left the courtroom.

In other "Dude, Change The Channel" news, we have this item:

Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw.

Austin Aitken said the show caused his blood pressure to rise so high that he became dizzy and light-headed, and when he ran away to his room, he bumped his head into the doorway.

One may suspect that Mr. Aitken probably doesn't expect to win $2.5 million for his gastronomic discharge, but you have to give him credit for trying to get money where he can:

In a brief telephone interview with Reuters, Aitken said, "I am not at liberty to discuss the complaint unless it is a paid-interview situation."

Moving on to more evil matters, we learn that Colombian drug traffickers surgically hid heroin in puppies' bellies in a plan to evade international customs controls, police said on Tuesday.


ANOTHER UPDATE: For no reason, here's Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles . Beyonce Knowles . Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce Knowles..

Posted by Ryan at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

Selling out, because I'm a sell-out like that

You are my valued readers, and as such I feel I should inform you that now, Rambling Rhodes, your daily dose of complete and utter nonsense, is officially a sell-out. You will notice two ads to the right, just above my blogroll of frequently-visited sites.

Any time someone deigns to click on those ads, this blog will get paid. Oh, it won't get paid much, probably a penny or so, maybe a nickel if I'm really lucky, but I can assure you that all proceeds will most likely go to my expanding addiction to Diet Pepsi.

The ad engine I opted for, thanks primarily due to reader comment feedback (and also because BlogAds never got back to me), is AdSense. They are good people, the people at AdSense. I know this because of no particular reason other than the fact they got back to me, and BlogAds didn't.

At any rate, because I'm now officially a sell-out, I fully endorse all sell-outs everywhere, except for those I don't endorse, and you know who you are. As such, if I see a AdSense advertisement on your site, I will dutifully click it, as I can only assume you're extending to me the same courtesy.

I may not get rich, but at least I'll remain sufficiently caffeinated.

UPDATE: And, no, I have no idea why the ads right now feature cow-related content, but yes, I do think it's very funny.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Can you get any more niche than a Web site called simplybovine.com?

UPDATE AGAIN: CATTLE SLAUGHTERLINES?!! This whole AdSense thing is providing more laughs than I could have possibly imagined.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of 11:30 a.m., I've managed to earn $1.28 in AdSense click-through revenue, which is .18 cents more than I need for a 20 oz. quencher of Diet Pepsi from IBM vending machines. As far as I'm concerned, AdSense has now paid for itself, which shouldn't be all that hard to do, seeing as how it's free.

Posted by Ryan at 09:53 AM | Comments (19)

January 05, 2005

Just Because It's Wednesday, And I Can. . .

So, last week, I missed out on what was, quite probably, the most ripe opportunity in the world to annihilate Nick Coleman, the increasingly irrelevant columnist seated at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Although picking apart his column today is kind of like gnawing at dried bones, I figured it would be a nice little exercise to warm me up for the rest of the day. Let's begin, shall we?

The imposing statue of Col. William Colvill was still at its post above the rotunda of the Minnesota State Capitol Tuesday, standing guard at the opening of a new legislative session.

Where the hell else would it be? It's a freakin' statue. Unless Bart Simpson came along and sawed its head off, I'd pretty much expect it to be right where it was yesterday, intact and everything. Of course, this is just a hamfisted segue into a Nick Coleman history lesson, which you can be sure he learned following 30 minutes of Googling.

But it's good that the hero of Gettysburg wasn't on hand in person to see how things in his adopted state are going. He might have walked out.

*rim shot* *crickets chirping* *uncomfortable cough somewhere from the back of the room*

Colvill, who was born in New York, was the commander of the fabled First Minnesota Infantry, the volunteer Civil War regiment that made a sacrificial bayonet charge on the second day of the three-day battle at Gettysburg. Eighty-two percent of the regiment fell at Gettysburg, helping to turn the tide of the war against the South.

Wow. Three paragraphs in, and we still have no idea what this is all about. I would almost say that's a Nick Coleman record, but it probably isn't. Good history lesson, though. Thanks Nick.

It's appropriate to consider the sacrifices of Colvill and his men this year, as we celebrate the 100th birthday of the Capitol. Because some of what they fought for seems in jeopardy from a growing tide of Know-Nothing-ism and prejudice.

What? Minnesota is about to reinstate slavery?!!

As documented in a recent study by the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, the mood of many Minnesotans, especially in "exurbia," has turned increasingly hostile toward immigrants and refugees.

Wait a minute. Wait just a minute here. The Civil War was fought to stem the tide of hostility towards immigrants and refugees? Who knew?

Many people who have never met an immigrant other than at a convenience store service counter want them to stop with all the foreign gibberish and learn to talk the local lingo. Pronto. ("Pronto" is Italian, but let's skip over that).

Yeah, and most of that entire paragraph has its roots in Latin, but skip over that, too. You also just have to love that Coleman automatically assumes, with no research or evidence to back up his claim, that many people have never met an immigrant who wasn't behind a convenience store service counter. Talk about stereotyping! Criminey.

Which brings me to a Know-Nothing proposal from a 28-year-old state representative named Brad Finstad. I don't usually pick on kids who are still wet behind the ears, but this one deserves a spanking.

Yeah, because going after three, more mature, bloggers, resulted in Coleman getting smacked down on a nationwide scale. Best to pick on the young whipper-snappers of the world to avoid such tail-tucking embarrassment.

Young Bradley, a second-term Republican from New Ulm, wants to require new arrivals to learn English in a year or lose their state benefits. I'd like to see Bradley learn a new language in a year, but his plan communicates something:

Minnesota Nice is morphing toward Minnesota Nasty.

So, let's see if I understand this. Here we have Brad Finstad, a political young pup with an arguably bad idea, an idea that, in almost all liklihood, has a snowball's chance in hell of being taken seriously, let alone passing, yet Coleman feels this ill-advised proposal is groundbreaking enough to prompt a statue of Col. William Colvill to up and walk away?

Finstad's district is 97 percent white and 98 percent American-born. Non-English speakers are not exactly a hot issue in the beer halls of New Ulm, where English is spoken with a Minnesota twist, including a strong German syntax, such as in the sentence, "Anybody want to come with?"

Gott im Himmel.

I've been to New Ulm. Many times, in fact. My grandmother lives in a small town just a few miles outside of New Ulm. It is gleamingly white in population makeup. I can't deny that. But, my question for Nick is: why is being white, and American born, apparently, such a monumental crime? Would he be less indignant, for example, if New Ulm consisted more of an 80 percent mix of Hispanics, Chinese, Ugandans and Saudis? But, because New Ulm consists of such an entirely white populace, the entire community is somehow worthy of contempt and derision, with a German twist, even.

The good folk of New Ulm should be embarrassed that a representative of the home of Hermann the German is trying to make political hay off the backs of non-English speakers. Not long ago, mein kinder, the boot was on the other foot.

Oh, NOW they're the good folk of New Ulm? You know, after Coleman basically called them beer-hall-sodden whities. Also, I'm sure you're all aware, it's time for another Google-based history lesson, courtesy of Nick Coleman.

During World War I, New Ulm was the target of prejudice and persecution. When a rally was held in the town to declare the town's loyalty to the United States but to oppose the drafting of German-Americans to fight their Old World cousins, state officials cracked down harshly.

The mayor and city attorney were removed from office, German-language schools were closed, German books were banned. Residents of New Ulm were pressured to sign loyalty oaths and to buy war bonds by vigilante committees that examined each family's net worth and decided if enough bonds had been purchased to -- in the words of one official -- "bring themselves into the ranks of American citizens."

And, all of that, mind you, is completely analogous to a 28-year old representative proposing legislation that, almost certainly, has no chance in the world of actually passing. Totally the same thing.

This fascist episode helps explain why, to this day, many heavily German communities keep a low profile in a state where the largest single ethnic group is German.

And Nick knows this. . . how, exactly? Yep. New Ulm, in fact, wants to keep such a low profile that it went and named the town. . . New Ulm. And they're sticking with it! Those low profile German bastards!!

For an elected official from New Ulm to purport that new arrivals be subjected to the kind of treatment his forebears received is a disgrace.

For the record here, I feel I must point out something. Keep in mind that I totally think the proposed legislation is largely a bunch of BS. Anyway, Finstad's proposal advocates requiring immigrants in Minnesota to start learning English and apply for U.S. citizenship sooner in order to qualify for welfare benefits. Cross-check that with: The mayor and city attorney were removed from office, German-language schools were closed, German books were banned.


"He doesn't understand the history of his own people," says retired University of Minnesota Prof. Hy Berman. "If he is German, his ancestors experienced linguistic repression."

Nothing augments a crappy column better than the astute observations of a retired U of M professor, who was a professor of what, exactly? If he was a professor of dental hygiene, that would be nice to know.

I don't know if Finstad has any German in him. He didn't return my call Tuesday. But he represents New Ulm, and so he ought to know better. And because he represents New Ulm, I have a few names I'd like to mention to Young Bradley:

First off: he didn't return his CALL. Singular. Great probing, investigative journalism there, Nick. Really went after that Finstad pup, you did.

Jacob Geistreiter. Henry Winters. Peter Vosz. Clark Brandt. William Miller. Joseph Schumacker. John Hauser. Julius Edler. Frederick Glave. Peter Marks. Henry Nickel.

God bless you, Google.

They all came from Germany or German-speaking Prussia. And they all died at Gettysburg, along with other Minnesota soldiers born in Sweden, Switzerland and other countries. They all knew enough English to say, "The Union Forever," but probably not much more.

Got that? Those Civil War heroes! The only English they knew was, according to Coleman, "The Union Forever." Criminey.

Did some of them learn English well enough -- and fast enough -- to satisfy Finstad? Maybe. But even if they didn't, I'm guessing Young Bradley would agree that they were good Americans after they died for their country.

Our country.

Sooooo, German-speaking Americans, fighting in the Civil War, are tantamount to immigrants seeking welfare in New Ulm. Gotcha, Nick. Great leap in logic there. I'm surprised you didn't break every bone in your body when you fell following a leap that didn't even get you 1/5 of the way across the chasm.

And it's time, once again, for a Nick Coleman history lesson. Take it away, Nick.

One hundred years ago, during the first year of our beautiful State Capitol, Col. Colvill was supposed to lead a procession carrying the First Minnesota's battle flags from the old Capitol building to the new one for installation in the rotunda. But the old warhorse, who was badly wounded at Gettysburg, died in his sleep the night before. Instead of bearing his bullet-torn battle flags, he was carried into the Capitol himself and laid in state -- the first Minnesotan given that honor -- while former comrades filed past his casket.

Bullet-torn battle flags. Died in his sleep. Comrades filing past his casket. I'm drowning in tears here. DROWNING, I TELL'S YA!

I want you to think about that next time you bump into the colonel's statue, Bradley. Did all of the veterans who mourned Colvill's passing 100 year ago speak English?

Yup, young 'un Bradley, fresh off a drunken night of revelry at a local beer hall, sloshing his way along the Capitol's rotunda, bumps smack into the colonel's statue.

That's not unlike how Coleman writes his columns, I imagine.

UPDATE: Mitch has some thoughts, too.

I feel I should point out that, although I think it's a good idea for immigrants to learn English, I don't necessarily think said learning should be made a requirement for obtaining welfare. I have my reasons, not the least of which is that English is freakin' hard to learn, even for native speakers, and everyone's capacity to learn a different language varies widely. That said, Coleman's "The Sky Is Falling" outrageousness is enough to make me vomit, but only a little bit, in my mouth.

SOMEWHAT RELATED UPDATE: Wow. Remind me never to mess with these guys.

Posted by Ryan at 11:01 AM | Comments (8)

January 04, 2005


By the by, I'll soon (by which I mean sometime this year, maybe) be updating my blogroll to better reflect those who link to me and what not. If you do link to me, and you'd like me to link to you, please drop a comment so I have your name on file.

I also plan to try selling out to BlogAds at some point, because even getting $20 a month to blog would be pretty damned cool.

Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker.

Posted by Ryan at 11:54 AM | Comments (7)

January 03, 2005

The Great Prognosticator

Well, my predictions for 2004 fell somewhat short of realization, but only just. Therefore, I have no problem putting forth my fearless predictions for 2005. Let's begin, shall we?

JANUARY: As per Congressional approval, the U.S. donates, through increased taxes, over $850 trillion to tsunami relief efforts, a move that, though appreciated worldwide, is still considered by most U.N. officials to be considerably "stingy."

The Minnesota Vikings, arguably the stinkiest professional football team to ever stink up a stinking football field, defies all earthly expectations and makes it to the Super Bowl where, falling back to their old ways, they lose in record fashion 89 to 0. Most Minnesotans fail to even notice.

FEBRUARY: Following Iraqi elections marred by a mere 39 suicide car bombings and 101 mortar and rocket attacks, the Iraqi people enthusiastically embrace their new leader: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Emerging, finally, from the cloud of despair following the November 2004 election, John Kerry supporters start wondering what, exactly, was their candidate's "plan." Forced to respond, Kerry says "oh, that, well, I was just playin' with ya'll."

MARCH: An all-out war between the mainstream media and bloggers erupts when Dan Rather, upon his official retirement, ends his CBS nightly news broadcast by calling bloggers a collective "pajama-clad poopy pants." Bloggers respond by saying "it takes one to know one." Time's "Blog of the Year," Power Line, discovers that Rather made the "poopy pants" claim based, partially, on forged documents.

The seemingly neverending carnival that is the Michael-Jackson-child-sexual-abuse media extravaganza undergoes an unexpected twist when new allegations are made by the "gloved one" himself. In a videotaped confession, Jackson is shown singing that he "loves boys, boys, boys, oh those young boys, boys, boys" while repeatedly grabbing his crotch. Shortly thereafter, Jackson makes light of the new charges brought by himself by dancing on the roof of an SUV.

APRIL: The anxiously-awaited five DVD box set,"Best O' Bin Laden," an exhaustive compilation of the al Queda figurehead's many videotaped invectives against the U.S. and the West sells over 8 million copies worldwide. disappointed buyers, having watched the entire collection, are forced to admit that "jeez, he's a repetitive mother fucker, ain't he?"

The American people, largely living from hand-to-mouth as a result of the tax burden levied upon them to fund the tsunami relief effort, storm the U.N. headquarters in New York when it's discovered that the international governing body has been embezzling billions of dollars in what becomes known as the "U.N. Food for Waves Scandal."

MAY: The war between the mainstream media and bloggers is taken to a new level when the New York Times pens an editorial opining that the Constitution should be amended to prohibit blogging as a personal tool of self-expression, saying that "blogging is a reckless and damaging pursuit that threatens to destablilize pure journalism because those cocksucking bloggers keep pointing out our fuckups, goddamn 'em." Bloggers respond by pointing out that the word "fuckups," should probably be hyphenated.

Michael Moore releases his sequal to "Fahrenheit 9/11" but, because it's not an election year, the movie flops worse than a carp in a rowboat. Alternatively, "Michael Moore Hates America" becomes the most popular and famous movie of all time, outselling even "From Dusk Till Dawn."

JUNE: Responding to criticism regarding its role in the now infamous "Food For Waves Scandal," U.N. officials chastise the American public as being a bunch of whiners and tells Americans as a whole to "stop being so stingy and embrace the socialistic doctrine that everyone should accept as the ideal."

President Bush, on a three month vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, experiences a near death scare after choking, once again, on an errant pretzel. Says Bush of the incident, "Those fucking pretzels, man. . . what can you do?"

JULY: The war between bloggers and the mainstream media heats up when, through exhaustive and meticulous investigation, it's discovered that both Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings are, in fact, muppets. Reaction by the American public is quiet, however, with most people admitting that they pretty much suspected that for years.

NASA deploys its "Deep Impact" spacecract, designed to smash into Comet Tempel 1. NASA officials expect the exercise to go swimmingly, seeing as how they've become accidental experts when it comes to crashing their spacecrafts into shit.

AUGUST: Following months and months of introspection and analysis, Senator John Kerry comes forth, once again, to explain why he lost the 2004 election. Says a resigned Senator Kerry: "I just. . . I don't know. . . I just got fewer votes than I needed, I guess." Freshly-depressed Kerry supporters launch a half-hearted crusade for a new Ohio recount, but they give up the attempt within a half hour, saying "oh, just. . . just. . . just fuck it. You know? Just fuck it."

The Minnesota Vikings win their first pre-season football game. Most Minnesotans fail to even notice, because they've learned after years and years of high hopes and dashed dreams not to put any faith whatsoever in their shitty football team. Said one fan, who asked to remain anonymous: "oh, just. . . just. . . just fuck it. You know? Just fuck it."

SEPTEMBER: Al Jazeera releases a new bin Laden videotape that proves to be a PR nightmare for the al-Queda terrorist network. In the tape, bin Laden is shown reading "My Pet Goat" to a cave full of anxious new recruits just before several bombs land nearby. Says an al-Queda spokesman of the new tape: "Well, that was sure ironic, wasn't it?"

Another shot is fired in the war between the mainstream media and bloggers when retired CBS news anchor Dan Rather starts his own blog, with the expressed purpose to make fun of bloggers. Rather's first blog entry states: "Ooh, look at meeee, I'm a big blogger now. La tee daaa. I'm a big, stinky ankle biter, laa laaa laaa." Blog of the Year, Power Line, posits a theory that Rather's first blog entry may, in fact, be forged.

OCTOBER: Vice-President Dick Cheney finally succumbs due to his 97th heart attack, brought on, experts say, by a pretzel. Shocked by the apparent lethality of pretzels, the White House declares that all pretzels should be considered weapons of mass destruction until further notice. Snack companies nationwide declare bankruptcy within weeks.

The U.S. formally announces that it will roll back the taxes imposed to pay for the $850 trillion tsunami relief. Says President Bush about the historic move: "I think this whole thing has pretty much shown conclusively that, no matter what the U.S. does about anything, it will be viewed by the world theater as either not enough, or just wrong. So, you know? fuck it. Just, fuck it."

NOVEMBER: Sentator John Kerry proposes legislation that would make the month of November a national month of mourning to commemorate his failed bid for the presidency. Although the legislation fails to pass, legions of Kerry supporters observe the month of mourning anyway, because they really don't have anything else to do.

Paris Hilton, realizing it's time to do something with her life BESIDES have sex on camera and tote miniature dogs around, finally decides to get out and learn how to read:


DECEMBER: In the final battle between the mainstream media and bloggers, a cadre of mainstream media representatives, including Dan Rather, Maureen Dowd, Nick Coleman, Brian Williams and Paul Krugman, are arrested while trying to break into the newly-established blogging headquarters located in a Washington D.C. hotel. The ensuing investigations bring down several mainstream media empires while hoisting bloggers up to new levels of both respect and notoriety.

Rambling Rhodes is named TIME's 2005 blog of the year, for many obvious reasons.

Caroline says: Is that going to be included in your 2005 predictions? "Disease Could Mean Illness For Many," and "Paris Hilton Appears in Seventh Sex Tape"

Ryan says: I couldn't get through her first sex tape. I've never, EVER, seen a girl so extremely bored-looking while having sex.

Caroline says: Why...oh, nevermind.

Ryan says: It was like the guy was doing long-division instead of pouring his pulsing man-rod between her velvety curtains.

Ryan says: Damn, that was some pretty steamy prose right there. I'm writing the wrong content.

Caroline says: Oh. Yeah. Baby. Yeah.

Posted by Ryan at 01:01 PM | Comments (22)
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