Friday, August 31, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Get Up Kids, "Anne Arbour" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Though, in truth, the Mountain and I were in Ann Arbor on Monday, not today.

Donnerstag, 30 August
Duvall & Seville, "Michigan" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Mittwoch, 29 August
Jeff Daniels, "Michigan, My Michigan" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: A song of the Civil War, and doubly appropriate since it speaks of "hostile, Southern skies."

Dienstag, 28 August
John Linnell, "Michigan" from State Songs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Previously, a BTW South Song of the Day. "We must eat Michigan's brain!"

Montag, 27 August
Katiä, "75 North" from Can't Stop the Love Sled (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 26 August
The Ataris, "The Radio Still Sucks" from Short Music for Short People (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: The rental truck had no tape deck, only a radio, and as we all know the radiowaves are a wasteland. Memphis had really good radio, though, or at least as good as radio gets. A most pleasant surprise.

Samstag, 25 August
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "Truck Drivin' Song" from Running With Scissors (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Mayhap driving the truck would have been move pleasant had I cross-dressed as the song suggests.

Freitag, 24 August
Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" from Nimrod (T.L.A.M.)

Ricky Fitness
I haven't exercised in two weeks, last week because I was packing and moving and this week because I was moving and unpacking, but I have to say I am very pleased with my biceps right now. I've been fat since puberty; so, I am not nearly as concerned with becoming thin/ceasing to be fat as I am with feeling strong. I don't know that I'm ready to go sixty minutes with my fellow Flounders, but I do feel stronger than I have in years.

I must join a gym, to preserve the gains of the past year and to surpass them in the year to come. Perhaps tomorrow I'm call upon several in the area and investigate their facilities and rates.

I meant to post this hyperlink over a week ago, but as I forewarned lots of blog fodder got lost in the shuffle of moving.

Nihonlink. Among the many things I love about the Japanese is their continued use of execution. It is only in the last fifty years that "civilized" nations have stopped executing murderers and traitors, but for the life of me I know not why. Is France a morally superior country today to the not-so-long gone days of the guillotine? Are the British happier and healthy since retiring the gallows? Human life is sacred, but it's not that sacred. The state must not only possess but never fail to exercise the power of life and death over those who place themselves above society's laws; without that simple concept, we risk falling into chaos and forfeiting all that for which generations of our forebears strove and struggled. Bravo, ladies and gentlemen of Nihon, bravo.
The kid who is the local host of NPR has a voice that is... less than ideal for radio. Or rather, he has a fine This American Life voice, but an unsuitable news-at-the-top-of-the-hour voice. A moment ago, he referred to "Idaho Senator Larry Craig," but for all the world it sounded like he said "Ivanhoe Senator Larry Craig." Sir Walter Scott gets his own senator? Good for him.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XL - The wolverine (Gulo gulo)

The last picture is a photograph of the first wolverine spotted in Michigan in two centuries.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Gainesville Rock City" from Border and Boundaries (T.L.A.M.)
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Proclaimers, "He's Just Like Me" from Born Innocent (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: My greatest fear is that I will be to my sons and daughters as my father was to my brother, sister, and me, but despite that dread specter there is nothing I want more in this world than to be a father.

Hmmm, first I shall need me a wench....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Moving inspires while at the same time snatching away the opportunity to bloggy blog. I am determined that the Song of the Day shall continue, but aside from that a lot of worthy items are going to be left by the wayside. Seeing it written out like this, that sounds like a damn, dirty excuse, and maybe it is, but them's the breaks.

I think of myself first, of what I shan't be able to write over the coming days, but of course my reading of blogs shall drop-off as well. Drat.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Nil Lara, "Fighting For My Love" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Scrubs is a great show in any event, but every once in a while it gives the additional gift of introducing you to a great song that would have otherwise remained forever unknown. Woot!
The visual cacophony is no more, the walls of the former BTW South have been shorn of all color and vitality. Ye gods, there is naught else I loathe quite the same way as an unadorned white wall. It offends my very soul. A pox on this benighted place... as soon as I am good and gone.

Suddenly I am reminded of Chinua Achebe's novel, No Longer At Ease.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Guster, "Keep It Together" from Keep It Together (T.L.A.M.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XXXIX - Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682), known chiefly to me for his role as a leader of the Royalist cavaliers during the English Civil War.

The history of Great Britain is pockmarked with civil strife; so, it has always been a source of great interest to me that the bitter conflict of the 1640s is remember as the English Civil War.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
John Linnell, "Montana" from State Songs (T.L.A.M.)

Commentary: Beware the Anti-Governor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Polis - No. 2
The early years of the Polis of Detroit were marked by two conflicts: the shooting war against the environmental extremist forces known as the Echoes (a corruption of "Ecos," from their self-description as "Eco-Fighters"), waged first under the banner of the United States and later that of the Polis; and the simmering conflict between the inhabitants of the old City of Detroit and the wealthier and far more numerous refugees from metro Detroit, the rest of Michigan, northern Ohio, and Windsor, Ontario. The "Old D's" (eventually, "Oldies") resented the imposition of law and seizure of property by the "Oaklies," even though most of their number originated not from the eponymous Oakland County. The gulf between Oldies and Oaklies was most stark between the blue-collar, union, New Deal Democratic ideals of Detroiters and the socially conservative, financially austere, neo-Puritan philosophy of those from the more prosperous western half of the Lower Peninsula.

The Oldie-Oaklie compromise was enshrined in the charter of the new Polis. (I don't know its formal name. Is it a charter, a compact, a constitution? Search me.) The head of state of the Polis is the Governor, formally titled the Governor of Michigan, and to the modern day, ninety-two years after the Polis's founding, inaugurated in a formal ceremony in the ruins of the State Capitol in Lansing. (Compare to the Presidents of Israel and Germany.) The head of government is the independently elected Mayor of the Palace*, colloquially known as "the Coleman," after the Coleman A. Young Municipal Palace and also to distinguish the office from the numerous other mayors within the Polis. The Mayor of the Palace (the Coleman) is elected by majority vote in a polis-wide election, but among the duties of the office is to chair meetings of the Council of Mayors, composed of the locally-elected mayors of the Polis's vestigial municipalities. I am not familiar enough with the geography of metro Detroit to tell you the modern extent of the Polis's borders, but most of the major suburban cities have Mayors, as well as such non-local municipalities as Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Saginaw, and others. Each Mayor exercises carefully circumscribed executive authority within his electoral municipality, but there is no doubt that the Coleman is the chief executive of the Polis. Additionally, the populace of the Polis is represented by the purely legislative Senate, its members elected proportionally from party lists, an idea foreign to pre-Polis American politics, but introduced in the hope of reducing the parochial rivalries stirred up by the Council of Mayors.

The Mayor of the Palace runs the Polis, the Senate holds the all-important purse-strings, and the Council of Mayors, though wielding limited veto power, seems naught but a soapbox for those who fancy themselves fine candidates for the office of Coleman, which has lead some academics and newspaper editors to question if the unified Polis still needs as divisive an institution as the Council nearly a century after the Fall. The Mayors, of course, counter that they serve a vital, though vague, purpose in the grand design of the Polis.

The executive arm of the Polis is divided into seven Bailiwicks, each headed by a Bailiff nominated by the Mayor of the Palace and approved by the Senate: Husbandry, Reprisal, Light & Power, Justice, the Treasury, Health, and Commerce. Relative to any 21st Century city, or even nation, the Polis is a closed system, and it falls to the Bailiwick of Husbandry to preserve and maintain the resources of that system. Husbandry oversees the rooftop, vertical, and underground farms that keep the Polis fed, and manages the recycling of damn near 100% of the Polis waste. Husbandry also operates a temporary employment program for those down on their luck, as the Polis can always use more bodies working the fields and processing whatever outside supplies Commerce's Forager Corps can scavenge.

The Bailiwick of Light & Power works hand in glove with Husbandry, emphasizing the physical infrastructure of the Polis, keeping the lights and the mag-lev tracks on and the buildings standing despite the Arctic winds. The Polis derives over 96% of it's electricity from Light & Power's half-dozen nuclear fusion power plants, the remainder coming from Husbandry's garbage incinerators.

The Bailiwick of the Treasury collects the taxes and tries to keep the markets within the Polis on an even keel, though it has a limited toolbox of options as the Polis is predicated on faith in the invisible hand of the market. The Bailiwick of Health funds research grants and verifies all the hospitals within the Polis are operating up to code, but primarily it is occupied with watching for any sign of plague or mass infection. A closed, completely urbanized system like the Polis is vulnerable to contagion, and levels of watchfulness have neared the threshold of paranoia since the Polis of Indianapolis (the name is silly, but irresistible) was nearly halved by plague a decade ago. (Foul play, either be remnants of the Echoes or the Polis of Chicago is suspected, but has been neither confirmed nor dismissed conclusively.)

The Bailiwick of Justice oversees the courts and the network of penitentiaries, as well as the Polis Criminal Police (CP), the unitary law enforcement agency for the Polis. The seven regional CP commanders are colloquially called "sheriffs," but none wields independent jurisdiction and all answer to the Chief of the Criminal Police. (Fearing confusion between "Polis" and "Police," I have toyed with the idea of calling the constabulary the Polizei, but for now I think I'll stick with Criminal Police or CP.) Justice also operates, jointly with the Bailiwick of Reprisal, the Polis Security Police (PSP), the Polis's counter-espionage and domestic intelligence branch. Though aggressively named, Reprisal's focus is upon the defense of the Polis, specifically maintaining the integrity of the Pale, the literal boundary of the Polis proper, and the inviolability of the Polis's airspace. Reprisal also maintains forts and listening posts in the ruins of abandoned satellite cites, claiming exclusion areas around the Pale of Ann Arbor, the Pale of Flint, the Pale of Toledo, and, most contentiously, the Pale of Grand Rapids. The Polis of Detroit makes no claim to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, though several survey missions were mounted before the middle span of the Mackinac Bridge was collapsed by an unknown agency.

The Bailiwick of Commerce is the most debated and opposed arm of the Polis. By its nature and the circumstances of its founding, the Polis is inherently xenophobic, and though few in number there are even those who argue against foraging for supplies among the abandoned cities outside the Polis. Formal trade is conducted between poleis under Commerce's auspices, but the Bailiwick's main portfolio is the Forager Corps, brave patriots who venture beyond the Pale (most Polis denizens will never even see the Pale, much less set foot beyond it) to bring back raw materials from the cities, towns, and villages of the fabled Michigan that predated the revered Polis. Clashes with foragers from other poleis are rare, but not unknown, and are increasing in frequency as the areas near each polis have been stripped bare over the decades, forcing the foragers ever farther afield. Though initially Detroit had no interest in maintaining a presence in Grand Rapids, eventually a Pale was established to protect Forager Corps expeditions to the Lake Michigan coast from the depredations of the foragers and, yes, even raiders from the Polis of Chicago. Service in the Foragers and the expeditionary branches of Reprisal is revered, as setting foot outside the Polis is considered a grave personal sacrifice.

To be continued...

No. 1

*My selection of the title "Mayor of the Palace" was of course influenced by my familiarity with pre-Charlemagne Frankish politics. The ceremonial-actual gulf between the Governor and the Coleman is very intentionally reflective of the fascinating duality between the Merovingian kings and the Carolingian Mayors of the Palace. The Polis of Detroit is less than a century old; so, in the fullness of time the powerful Colemans may well do away with the "do-nothing" Governors.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Spy vs. Spy
I just finished watched the wretched Billion Dollar Brain. Dear Bog, why aren't there more spy movies like the magnificent The Quiller Memorandum?

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
James Darren, "Come Fly With Me" from The Best Is Yet to Come (T.L.A.M.)
The Shadow & Margo Lane

Flash Gordon & Dale Adren

The Saint & Patricia Holm

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Fountains of Wayne, "Better Things" via iTunes (T.L.A.M.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Zooey Deschanel Appreciation Day
Look at her and tell me you wouldn't burn the world to ashes at her bidding.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

After nearly a year of ownership, I finally feel that I've bonded with my car, even giving her a name, Lumi. While she is a Chevrolet Lumina, in my mind I have named her after the Snow Queen as she appears in the comic book Fables, where her real name is given as Lumi. (Apparently, lumi is the Finnish word for "snow.") I will never forget the Mousemobile, nor forgive the Goldbricker for the Mousemobile's unceremonious demise, but I can hardly blame Lumi for failing to be the Mousemobile. Also, I really enjoy typing the word Mousemobile.

So, now begins the annals of Lumi and The Last Angry Man.

Texas is the worst state in the Union. Florida is the second worst, though until I had personally experienced the limitless horror of the Lone Star State it was long-counted as the very worst of the worst. I am not prepared to definitively condemn Oklahoma as the third worst state in the Union, but I do know that the I-44 corridor is saturated with a concentration of misery encountered nowhere else. Given the attitude of the federal government to the Indians in the 19th Century, it is no surprise that we packed them off and sent them to Oklahoma; it is a shabby, godforsaken place, fit for neither man nor beast. I call it America's own Golgotha.

Last week, in preparation for the drive to St. Louis, I took up the Goldbricker's offer to pay for the repair of Lumi's air conditioning. The offer was made last summer, when he refused to sell me the Mousemobile and instead insisted I purchase from him Lumi. Why hadn't I had the AC repaired before now? In the decade I drove the Mousemobile, I grew accustomed to driving without automotive air conditioning. Sure it was unpleasant, but such is the nature of summer in North America. Yes, the unpleasantness was magnified in the kiln that is Texas, but so myriad are the miseries of this terrible place that one more seemed of little consequence. But my principal motive for taking action now was to have the AC up and running for when the Mountian drives Lumi back to Michigan in just over a week's time. My own suffering in that sweatbox is one thing, the Mountain's discomfort is something else entirely. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, the repair for which the Goldbricker paid was insufficient to render Lumi's AC functional; so, upon the morrow I shall again drop her off at the garage and give the mechanics a tongue lashing they shan't soon forget. (Or at least as much of a tongue lashing as my cold- and cough-ravaged throat can deliver.)

So, I drove to and from St. Louis without air conditioning. It was hot, it was sweaty, and it was an experience I'd just as soon never repeat. I don't think there was a single cloud in the sky between Fort Worthless and the Soulard neighborhood of the mighty city by the mighty Mississippi, and more of that trek occurs in Golgotha than in either Texas or Missouri. Golgotha is ugly; the trees are stunted and wind-ravaged, the plains are blasted and fruitless, and the exposed rocks possess known of the beauty of their cousins in the Appalachian Mountains. Golgotha is a blight on the face of the earth.

But Golgotha's horrors do not end with Almighty God's disfavor, oh no, the people of Golgotha do much to enhance the suffering of the unsuspecting traveler. In Golgotha, beverages of all kinds of more expensive than in either Texas or Missouri. In Golgotha, buildings are hardly air conditioned; so, if the weary driver steps into a McDonald's expecting to find an oasis of cool, crisp air, he shall instead find the same hot, damp, foul air from which he fled. I can only assume that in the winter the Golgothans don't take the trouble to heat their dilapidated structures. And, of course, Golgotha is home to that most un-American of highway varieties, the turnpike. But in Golgotha, even the turnpikes are worse! The traveler is not charged based on how far he travels, he is charged a flat rate for traversing intervals that for all the world appeared utterly random to my eyes. Never leaving I-44, these thirty miles are a turnpike, but the next sixty are not. These forty miles are the Will Rogers Turnpike, but the same road, as it passes through Tulsa, is not. At least when oen suffers the insult inherent in setting foot (or tire) in the horrible State of Ohio, there is some method to the extortion scheme they call turnpikes. In Golgotha, there is neither rhyme nor reason, there is no method to the madness. Should I endure for a thousand years, I should pray to Almighty Gd that I never again find myself in benighted Oklahoma.

But the worst of all was the two hours during which I covered precisely fifteen miles. There was, in the words of an Oklahoma Transportation Authority worker, "a wreck," at approximately the same location as the freeway reduced from two lanes to one due to regularly scheduled construction ('tis the season). In a car with no air conditioning, the roaring wind is the only thing that keeps you cool. And this looked to be the single greenest patch of Golgotha, as all around my more or less stationary conveyance were endless trees and lush bushes and the sound of a thousand thousand cicadas singing their incessant song. But this was not the worst.

Slowly, haltingly progress was made, and I happened upon on off-ramp with a restaurant, but no gasoline station. Oddly, though this was not a turnpike section of I-44, this was a limited access off-ramp, exactly the sort of thing one expects and encounters while traversing anti-American turnpikes. Needing a beverage to replace all the fluids I'd perspired away while mired in this redneck Dagobah, I exited. As I did so, I spotted a filling station! I had at this point about 1/4 of a tank left, which I would have in the fullness of time learned would have sufficed, but at the time it seemed a definite possibility that this highway-cum-parking lot might extend all the way to Oklahoma City, approximately thirty miles ahead. And Dana Carvey's impression of President George H.W. Bush taught us all the value of prudence; so, I, along with many of my fellow motorists, sought the opportunity to top off our fuel tanks once the presence of the filling station was revealed.

Though the station was busy, I was able to acquire a full load of petrol and cross the threshold of the idiosyncratic gate leading from the "approved" part of the off-ramp, the part sans gasoline, to the county road and fuel station/convenience store. I parked at the restaurant, but declined to purchase a beverage once I saw the exceeding length of the line. I did however avail myself of their water closet. Upon exiting the restaurant and maneuvering Lumi to reenter the snail-paced traffic on the freeway, I saw a pair of workers, seemingly Golgotha state workers, closing the gate between the proper exit and the adjacent filling station. But, wait a second, how were motorists supposed to purchase needed fuel if they could not reach the gasoline station? This exit was the first I'd encountered since traffic ground to a halt ninety minutes and four miles behind. People were, through no fault of their own, stuck in a traffic jam that moved just enough and just often enough to prevent engine shutdown from being a viable option, and here were minions of the State of Golgotha conspiring to prevent them from purchasing the fuel they'd need to keep sitting in this mess, leaving those motorists no choice but to eventually become stranded on the side of the road, in the dark, in an area with almost no freeway exits,i.e., no access to civilization.

Driving this country's highways and bi-ways I have seen many strange and inexplicable examples of governmental incompetence, but never before had I seen state workers actively working to the detriment of defenseless travelers. Way to go, Oklahoma, you've set a whole new standard in malfeasance.

Armed with the knowledge that Golgotha's agents were not merely apathetic, but truly against me and my fellows, I knew not what to expect, but fortunately this was the last of the horrors. The flow of traffic gradually built speed as we left the construction zone behind, having never seen even the slightest evidence of a wreck. Once I exited I-44 for I-35, Oklahoma ceased to be Golgotha, which is why I direct my ire at the I-44 corridor and hesitate to declare the whole state the third worst in the Union. Such was the misery of my passage through Oklahoma that I experienced a slight and tremendously fleeting sense of relief once I was safely back in Texas. Or, more to the point, once I had safely traversed and survived intact all that Golgotha had thrown at me. Soon enough, Texas looked as terrible as ever, but I was pleased to find that the former BTW South had not been burgled in my absence.

Hat Day!
Last week, I was on the road; so, I feel no need to make up the missed Hat Day. Today, I wore my porkpie and lamented my current lack of a soul patch. I love Hat Day!

The Queue
Progress through Moby-Dick is slow, but steady. I have recently finished Father Mapple's sermon (Chapter IX "The Sermon"), which inspired me to read the Book of Jonah. I wish that I'd read the Bible more carefully back in undergrad when I took all those religion courses. But, we all know how everything ends up getting merely skimmed, how we all get caught up in the hustle-bustle of any given semester. I'll probably reread the back half of Jonah a couple more times before I reshelve my Bible, to try and really understand the meaning therein.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Ditty Bops, "Sister Kate" from The Ditty Bops (T.L.A.M.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XXXVIII - The moai of Easter Island.

I intended to post this new episode of "The Explorers Club" on Sunday, the usual day, but that was before I was waylaid by Oklahoma, or, as I prefer to call it, Golgotha.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
MxPx, "Late Again" from Panic (T.L.A.M.)
I've got a head cold, which for me means my sinuses are chockablock, resulting in a splitting and unending headache. On top of that, I've got just enough of a fever to be cold all the time. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Stop whining, you nancy.

From right to left, the Mountain of Love, The Guy, K. Steeze, and your humble narrator, The Last Angry Man, at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Honest to Bog, the name of the People's Republic of China's naval arm, translated into English, is the People's Liberation Army Navy. And it is important to note that though the PLA Navy is rapidly modernizing, the three most powerful armadas on the seven seas belong to the United States Navy, the Royal Navy, and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The fourth? France's own Marine Nationale. Each is alone more than a match for the PLAN and combined their might is unrivaled in the annals of marine warfare, surpassing even the mind-bogglingly numerous flotillas of the Second World War in sheer destructive potential.

The People's Republic of China, and specifically the ironically named People's Liberation Army, has been a subject of great personal interest to me for over a decade (thanks, high school debate team!); believe you me, the reinvention of the PLAN as a blue-water force is a situation on which an eye must be kept, but as an institution the USN is keenly aware of Admiral Mahan's theorems and thus ideally suited to meeting whatever challenges the Chinese may pose as the 21st Century ripens.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'" via iTunes (The Guy)

I would type more, but after calls to my mother and Codename: PANDORA I feel the need to instead compose a lengthy entry in my journal. Bon chance, me buckos.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Irrevocable Shackles of Matrimony
This weekend, the Mountain of Love, K. Steeze, and your humble narrator descended upon Saint Louis, far-famed as "the mighty city by the mighty Mississippi" and home to the longest-enduring under-50 couple I know, The Guy and his bride-to-be The Gal, for a magnificent one-two punch of a weekend: Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake in concert - together! - and the Mountain's bachelor party. Money's tight right now, but our tickets to this greatest of all rock shows were bought and paid for months ago. Besides that, I have but one brother and Wilsons mate for life; so, this was my one and only chance to throw my one and only brother a bachelor party, though of course the weekend's festivities would not have sufficed as traditional bachelor party fodder, with beer consumed in only moderate quantities and nary an exposed, silicon-inflated bosom to be found.

The next several weeks will be chockablock with preparations for the evacuation from Texas, but I shall endeavour to find time to fully describe the glory of Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake appearing on the same stage on the same night and absolutely rocking our arses. Though fully aware of the event's itinerary, in the interval between the end of LTJ's The Price is Right-themed extravaganza and the advent of RBF's masterful set (it's an inside joke!) I turned to my fellows and marveled at our good fortune. On any other night, following the conclusion of Less Than Jake's encore we would have retired to our conveyance and counted ourselves blessed to have been party to such a rock spectacle. But on this peerless evening we had still ahead of us the splendor of the Reel Big Fish and their brilliant live performance. What a time to be alive!

Beyond the show, fellowship monopolized the remainder of our time. We toured a few of The Guy's favorite eateries and the awesome Gateway Arch, made goodly use of his Wii and fought our way through a bloody game of RISK, but all of this was a sideshow to simply spending time one with another. The always enigmatic Professor was sorely missed, but all in attendance basked in the glow of the magnificence that is Blue Tree Whacking. I don't think any man among us every forgets how lucky he is to have such friends, but by Jove it feels grand to be reminded anyway!

Ricky Fitness
I am still tremendously fat, but in the pit I could feel the benefit of the long months of toil in my apartment complex's meager fitness center. I have not jumped so high for so long in an age! Every time I thought my legs had given the last measure of devotion I would find myself leaping vertically to the rhythm of another song. Again and again I spat in the face of gravity, again and again my legs felt more like springs than oversized ham hocks. Huzzah! Twenty-eight may sound too old to still love the choas and violence of the mosh pit, but as long as my legs hold out there in the tumult you shall find me, skanking and bouncing alongside youths half my age.

My thanks to the Mountain of Love for reigniting my love of exercise, thus permitting me to reap the present benefits.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Ben Folds, "Zak and Sara" from Rockin' the Suburbs (T.L.A.M.)

Sonntag, 12 August
Reel Big Fish, "I'm Her Man" from Monkeys For Nothin' and the Chimps For Free (T.L.A.M.)

Samstag, 11 August
Less Than Jake, "The Ghosts of You and Me" from Anthem (T.L.A.M.)

Freitag, 10 August
Reel Big Fish, "Everybody's Drunk" from Monkeys For Nothin' and the Chimps For Free (T.L.A.M.)

Donnerstag, 9 August
Less Than Jake, "Danny Says" from Hello Rockview (T.L.A.M.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
The Aquabats!, "Awesome Forces!" from Charge!!

The Stars My Destination - Addendum
Sweet merciful crap, I love the running Mission Elapsed Time clock! (See: NASAlink.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Flying Monkey
Further evidence in support of my case that "monkey" is the single most fun word in the English language: monkeylink. Yes, there are legitimate security concerns raised, but for the nonce let us bask in the glory of monkey.

The Stars My Destination
Godspeed, Endeavour: BBClink and NASAlink.
The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Reel Big Fish, "Dateless Losers" from Cheer Up! (T.L.A.M.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The continually increasing number of known exoplanets is yet another nail in the coffin of the Drake Equation. According to everything we knew about planetary formation twenty years ago, much less what we knew a quarter century earlier when the equation was devised, this should not be possible: the Jupiter of Jupiters. Yet there it is, along with its many "hot Jupiter" brethren. And unless and until the COROT satellite and/or the forthcoming Kepler Space Observatory detects a terrestrial exoplanet, sun-diving gas giants are the only known planets outside the Solar System. As a species were are both noble in reason and infinite in faculty, but we must ever be mindful of how precious little we know of the mysteries of the cosmos. We should be not afraid of our ignorance, but use the indignity of it to fuel our quest for knowledge.

In the meantime, holy balls! A revolutionary period of 3.55 days for a planet 70% larger than Jupiter? That shit is bananas!


Also, a new slogan for our pleasant blue orb: Earth, the Cadillac of planets!

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Less Than Jake, "Losing Streak" from Goodbye Blue & White (T.L.A.M.)

Ricky Fitness
The treadmill is still down, but yesterday and today I experimented with running in place, both beside the treadmill and on its static conveyor belt. I feel silly and I'm not getting nearly as good a workout as if able to complete my forty-minute treadmill routine, but I suppose it's better than nothing. One boon of the breakdown: the annoying woman known as Oprah arrived, learned of the malfeasance, and left forthwith. No Oprah (though as I arrived first we wouldn't have watched that anyway) and only minimal conversation. Score!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Explorers Club
No. XXXVII - Project Apollo, Part III: Apollo 14 and the first man to golf on the Moon; Apollo 15 and the Lunar Rover; Apollo 16 and "Big Muley;" Apollo 17, the first scientist on the Moon, and the end of an era; and “Apollo 18” and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Louis Armstrong, "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue" via iTunes (Alistair)

Samstag, 4 August
Paul Weller, "From the Floorboards Up" via iTunes (Alistair)
The Queue
Since mid-May, I've read naught but comic books and magazines. Mind you, I consider comics to be every bit as valid a literary medium as books, but that doesn't mean you can take away from reading a comic book everything you'd take away from reading an unqualified book. Each format has strengths and weaknesses all its own. I've revisited large tracts of my comic book collection, reliving and reveling in the DC Universe's happier days, and loved every minute of it, but now the time has come to reenter the traditional fray.

Bog help me, I've begun Herman Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale. "Call me Ishmael...."

Cops and Robbers
Now that's some fine police work: bananalink!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ricky Fitness
Today's routine was truncated by what appears to be an escalating trend here in Fort Worthless, or at least in the horrible apartment complex that is home to the erstwhile BTW South: crime. Thieves stole the radio out of the Senator's Daughter less than two months ago, and now these faceless menaces have sabotaged the treadmill in the exercise room. The machine features an emergency brake in the form of two magnets, one on the treadmill proper joined to a removable magnet on a lanyard, for easy of reach; pull the lanyard and the conveyor belt comes to an immediate halt. Some knave has removed the lanyard's magnet, rendering the treadmill inoperable! I would say this theft falls under the category of vandalism than for-profit thievery, but it is still a crime.

I attempted to jury-rig the safety feature by fetching a magnet from my refrigerator, but that was a non-starter. Curses! And while I could theoretically run outside, actually covering distance instead of running in place, it's August in Texas, people, that's not a viable option.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Paul Westerberg, Dyslexic Heart" via iTunes (Skeeter)
News flash! War is a stressful endeavour and fighting in a war may contribute to the onset of some psychological problems: shell shock. The term "shell shock" originated in the Great War; so, the authors of the study in question may not have stumbled onto as unique a field of inquiry as they'd hoped. Eighty-nine years after the Armistice, lads, but better late than never, I suppose.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hat Day!
Finally bringing the Hat Day account back into balance, this evening I wore my AC Spark Plugs Viking hat. I love Hat Day!

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Over the Rainbow" from Are a Drag (T.L.A.M.)
Returnlink. What worries me about this article, and about Egypt's similar, nigh-fanatical efforts to ship back to the Nile everything ever unearthed by Egyptologists, is what happens after every cultural treasure has been returned to its country of origin. Won't we then learn less about the history, art, and culture of distant lands? Is not out of sight out of mind? If a child does not become enchanted by a transplanted piece of another culture's heritage while on a school trip to a local museum, will he still grow up to be a student and devotee of that culture's traditions? Seeking the return of all antiquities and artifacts to their native lands is short-sighted and ultimately xenophobic folly that I fear will lead to a more insular, more suspicious, and less international world. If this trend continues, all the disparate corners of the earth will have in common is vapid, purposeless, ceaseless text messaging. Heaven forbid. There is yet time to stop it!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" via iTunes (Skeeter)

Commentary: M. Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was, due to its sheer awesomeness, a BTW South Song of the Day, but as I quite enjoy mentioning the Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day is another bag entirely. Plus, this time it was nominated by Skeeter, who wrote in her email, "Mock if you like," apparently unaware that I had previously selected that very song. Tisk tisk, I am so misunderstood.
Polis - No. 1
Everyday, our world grows smaller. The speed and ease of international travel is steadily rendering borders meaningless and telecommunications advances have made the other side of the globe as accessible as the other side of town. In painful fits and starts, we are building a genuinely global society. But it won't last. Welcome to Polis, where the end of town might as well be the end of the world.

The end of the global village came swiftly and suddenly. Nearly simultaneously, thousands of missiles were launched from sites all around the world and blew out of the sky 99% of all man-made satellites, cutting off the lion's share of both personal and mass media communications. A still-reeling world was then robbed of electricity as millions of power lines were cut and thousands of power transfer stations bombed. Bridges were mined, dams were sabotaged, and people were left cut-off from the global community they'd known and loved, left in small groups of cold, hungry survivors without any knowledge of the condition of the world beyond the horizon.

But civilization would not go gently into that good night. Millions starved as the food distribution system collapsed, but millions more rallied together in the cities where vital infrastructure, more easily defended that out in the countryside, had been largely unaffected. Change is never easy and transformation never without pain, but faced with the stark reality of a world under siege the survivors holed up in their civic keeps and declared that never again would they be caught unawares, that those who had wrecked the world would take what little was left at great peril to their lives and limbs and only over the defenders' cold, dead bodies. An idea from the past was resurrected to save the future and thus each surviving metropolis became its own Polis, a city-state for the dawning twenty-second century.

To be continued...

Hat Day, After a Fashion
Last week, I was so pleased with having made up the two missed Hat Days that I completely overlooked the Hat Day right in front of me. Gah! This evening, I wore my blue knit hat, which I am looking forward to possibly needing once I am back on the sacred soil of Michigan. I may be forgetful, but I love Hat Day!
Emily the Strange
Emily doesn't change...

...she's always strange.

The Rebel Black Dot Song of the Day
Blink-182, "The Party Song" from Enema of the State (T.L.A.M.)