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January 1, 2002 ... Thank goodness THAT's over with.

January 3, 2002 ... It's almost a cliche that the Christmas decorations come out right after Thanksgiving -- this is what we call the "holiday season," and I know I'm not the only one who has complained about the eagerness with which advertisers anticipate the holiday. But it struck me yesterday, as I was wandering through the aisles of our friendly local grocery store, that the "holiday season" is a mere drop in the bucket compared to our other seasonal jumpings of the gun.

Thanksgiving to Christmas, this year, was a total of 35 days. On the other hand, yesterday the stores had their Valentine's Day displays up. January 2 to February 14 is ... 43 days.

One and a half months of merchandisers telling me how much money I should spend in order to convince my partner that I love her?


January 6, 2002 ... The vaults of history are littered with great ideas that, for some reason or another, never really caught on. Every once in a while, I find myself getting nostalgic for one of these stillborn children -- thinking of how much better the world could have been if they'd gotten a good break.

Sometimes these ideas are, by the standards of most people, trivial. For some reason, these are the ones that hit me the hardest; after all, a big idea faces equally big opposition on its way to the top, but something that's essentially a detail often died simply because nobody cared enough to think of using it. Or, perhaps, a decision was made -- by fiat, or for the convenience of some designer somewhere -- that later became too entangled with surrounding ideas to easily change. Such is the case with programs allowing real-time communication over the Internet.

There was once, back in the murky days when "telnet" meant something to the average Internet user, a program called "talk." It's not hard to imagine what "talk" did -- it split your screen in two; your words would appear on the top half of the screen as you typed them, and your friend's words on the bottom half. It was, in other words, the precursor to IRC, ICQ, AIM, and all of the other TLAs that are collectively called "real-time chat" or "instant messaging" (IM) clients.

Now, IM works well enough for what it does. You find a friend who's online, type at them, hit return, and your message reaches their screen at approximately the speed of light. Today's IMs even have a host of features that "talk" could never hope to match -- for example, buddy lists, which allow you to know at a glance which of your friends is online. But there is not a single IM client today -- or even an IRC server, MUCK, or any other program offering real-time interaction with other Internet users -- which does one very simple thing that "talk" did.

Today's "instant messaging" is sent line by line. "Talk" sent your typing keystroke by keystroke.

I can see, in my mind's eye, the blank looks I'm now getting. "And?" you ask. "How would that be an improvement? You'd have to correct typos in real-time; it would be painfully obvious what speed you typed at; it would be harder to multitask and carry on a leisurely conversation." All of these things are true. However, all of these charges (except the typing speed one) can also be leveled against phone calls; and I don't know of a person who'd rather (all financial costs being equal) IM their significant other than give them a call.

I miss the simple joys of talk. Time was, when you wanted to "not say" something, you could simply type it, wait a few seconds, then erase it and replace. This led to such bastardizations^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hvariants as the "^H standard", since ^H is the control-key sequence on a Unix machine for backspace, and an improperly synched terminal would often send those instead of deletes (^?), or vice versa. As the net was flooded with the Unix-illiterate in the September that never ended, even this dropped off the face of the earth, to be replaced with such bletcherous workarounds as fixing misteaksXXXXXmistakes with "X"; the travesty -- err, practice -- of sneaking in "corrections" linguistically; and the deplorable hax0r shorthand of usign an asterisk to indicate a correction. *using.

Many of today's chat programs, trying to take the written word beyond its humble ASCII roots, support HTML; unspoken words can be indicated via the perversion visually pleasing method of strikethrough text. This is a good compromise, as far as it goes, but I don't really want to deal with any IM program bloated enough to support it (such programs also typically include inline images and banner ads, and slow my system to a crawl). No ... I miss the days when one could simply speak their mind, set words down, and take them back as necessary.

The letter-by-letter sensibility of "talk" also allowed for the truly instant feedback missing from today's IM. I can't count the number of times I've been chatting with someone, had them be silent for four or five minutes, and not respond to my "Still there?" or "Hello?" -- only to dump nine lines of text on me two minutes later, followed up shortly afterward by an apology ("sorry, was typing"). Or vice versa. I have seen an IM client which does something similar -- MSN will monitor the status of your friends, and tell you, for example, "Bob is typing" or "Bob has been idle for 2 minutes" -- but that's not a proper replacement; you don't know what they're typing, and you have to sit and twiddle your thumbs until they hit "return" and the line pops up on your screen.

Of course, in a decade or two, as bandwidth increases and multimedia becomes more prevalent (or speech recognition and grammar parsing improve), this point will be moot; the notion of typing to send an instant message will seem antiquated. I don't honestly believe there will be enough time to provoke a revolution in instant messaging before other, more exceptional revolutions undermine my cause. But it sure is nice to think of the instant messaging that could have been.

January 8, 2002 ... What is it about respecting people's beliefs that causes them to react so violently in response?

This is obviously a rhetorical question with a story behind it; but first, a little background: I've been on something of a science kick lately. (A few months ago, it was Christianity; I couldn't turn around without finding myself looking up some Bible verse or another. Now it's the random books on science and scientists that have been collecting dust on my bedside shelf. The last few months have been broadening.) Two Christmasses ago, I received the two books "The End of Physics" and "Dreams of a Final Theory" -- duelling viewpoints on the search for a grand unified theory in particle physics. Over the last month, I've been co-reading them: a chapter at a time from each (corrected for uneven size), cross-checking the conclusions of each against the other. I may write more on this later, but I don't want to tangent off too far from my point here.

They were both good books, but I got much more out of "Dreams of a Final Theory" -- Steven Weinberg went through much of the same history and most of the same implications of current research as David Lindley did in "The End of Physics," but spent a lot more time tangenting off to philosophy, religion, and science and society in general. To say I got more out of the book, of course, is not to say that I agreed with him; and in particular, one statement he made left me stunned.

It doesn't appear to be a statement that largely passed under his readers' radar, either; on the contrary, two out of three randomly chosen reviews of the book -- one by a religious coalition's writer here, and one by a philosopher of science here -- both pointed the passage out for special mention. And, despite their huge ideological differences, both applauded it.

The passage in question reads thus:

Religious liberals are in one sense even farther in spirit from scientists than are fundamentalists and other religious conservatives. At least the conservatives like the scientists tell you that they believe in what they believe because it is true, rather than because it makes them good or happy. Many religious liberals today seem to think that different people can believe in different mutually exclusive things without any of them being wrong, as long as their beliefs "work for them."
Weinberg goes on to say, "I happen to think that the religious conservatives are wrong in what they believe, but at least they have not forgotten what it means really to believe something." And therein lies the crux of my complaint.

Now, I consider myself a religious liberal (there's my bias, in case it wasn't obvious); flak from fundamentalists over the general tolerance of my beliefs I can understand, but badmouthing from scientists? And badmouthing over keeping an open mind? It seems to me that there is a fundamental disconnect here; perhaps Dr. Weinberg has shouted down one too many hardcore relativists, and hasn't bothered to disassociate his experiences with them from the label "liberal." Whether that is the case or not, I would contend that not only is Weinberg's snideness undeserved, but it is also wrong.

For starters, Weinberg seems to be simplifying the notion that "most belief systems are mostly true" into the idea that "all belief systems are true". This may sound like a minor quibble on the surface -- the difference is tiny enough -- but the fact is that that tiny bit of neglected difference is the line between having intellectual standards and uncritically accepting any idea put forward. The straw man of "liberals have no standards" is tiresome, worn, and unhelpful; the fact that Weinberg resorts to it is, quite frankly, puzzling.

Even that, though, is just a warm-up to the real issue: confusing the notion of "multiple belief systems are all true" with the notion that "we should act as though multiple belief systems are all true". To put an ironically appropriate scientific spin on the matter, it seems like Weinberg is stuck in a Newtonian (classical) system of belief, while the world around us is better described by a quantum system. In the former analogy, Truth is a definite particle with definite boundaries, which can be treated as a point mass -- true at one particular place, and false everywhere else, all the time. In the latter, Truth is a collection of probabilities, adding up to 1, smeared out among a large number of points -- until we measure it very carefully, at which point it collapses into a single, unit-measure The Truth, and we can determine its position as accurately as we like. (At the expense, to extend the analogy, of determining the implications it has for our life; cf. Heisenberg uncertainty.)

It seems to me, as a layman with a self-professed interest in belief systems great and small, that we have nowhere near enough evidence to pin down the position of The Truth from current observation; myths are slippery by nature. In the absence of being able to point to a single spot on the belief map and say, "this is true," however, what is the obsession with finding the single most likely candidate (or, in many cases, a single candidate without regard to its actual likelihood)? Would it not be more helpful to our understanding of the universe to take seriously any viewpoint with a reasonable chance of truthfulness, acknowledge that it may be believed in freely as long as it holds no large negative consequences for the individual or their fellow men, and then assign it as much attention as its observed probability of truth deserves? This is my view of religious liberalism, at least, and it seems to me that this is not only gracious but also extremely pragmatic: if one's pet belief is shown to be wrong, it leaves one far more able to adjust gracefully and productively.

Of course, Weinberg's ostensible complaint isn't that religious liberals are wrongheaded, but that they don't believe. (I say "ostensible" because he goes on to use the phrase "intellectual muzziness" to describe liberals, as if to open one's mind leads inevitably to paralysis.) Given my formulation of liberal religious thought above, I still fail to see any valid complaint. Does allowing for other truths keep me from believing? Not in the slightest: I believe that I am a dragon, for one thing. I must necessarily rely on personal observation as my primary source of data about the universe I live in, and that personal observation has provided me significant evidence for this theory. If a scientist can be said to believe in the theories their experiments support, I most certainly believe I'm a dragon. (I am not claiming that my draconity stands up to scientific standards of evidence, here; it tends far more toward religious myth. However, I'm just trying to show that "belief" as defined by Weinberg does include me and my reality.) Given my analogy above of "quantum belief," and the need to assign a probability for any given point in the wave-function, I would say that "draconity-as-truth" seems to me at least 95 percent certain. I only know what I observe; and there always remains the possibility that I am mistaken ... or that someone Out There is lying to me.

I also believe that the universe is the twisted joke of the God of some excessively fundamentalist Christian sect, and that without accepting Jesus I'll burn in Hell forever and ever amen. ... With a fraction of a percent probability, mind you; the only reason it comes up so often is that so many other people seem to get so hot on the idea in my general vicinity. (I also know exactly what I wish to do if that is the way the universe works, but that's another story.) I also believe that we are all pieces of meat on some utterly unspecial dirtball in a pointless, cold universe, and anytime we tell ourselves something otherwise is just self-delusion; this one I'd rate at least several percentage points, but I also consider it a relatively unimportant line of inquiry, because if true the knowledge isn't going to help me for more than 50 of the next billion years.

I believe in the Great Astral War; I believe in Valhalla, Mount Olympus, the Dreamtime; I believe that everything I know is wrong (but that's a line of inquiry that's not only unimportant but closed). I believe that I do believe in several mutually exclusive things ... but I don't believe they're all true. I believe in a set of things which will eventually collapse down into one (more or less) discrete point once sufficient measurements are made, at which point I'll toss out the rest.

I believe, incidentally, that following different (ethically sound) principles is better than coming to blows over whose is "right." That piece of pragmatism notwithstanding, I also believe that most belief systems aren't quite as contradictory as they would appear. Call me an incorrigible polypantheist. Or just call me a "quantum theist"; it's more amusing, quite possibly catchier, and certainly easier on the tongue.

January 12, 2002 ... I walk into our upstairs bathroom again, and grab for the mouthwash that is part of my nightly bedtime ritual. Store-brand Listerine-stuff, the sort that is labelled with dire warnings not to swallow, and goes into great detail about how it has the godlike power to divinely smite all manner of evil plaque-causing agents infesting your mouth.

There are ants crawling on the bottle, trying to find a way to get under the cap.

These ants have been doing this almost continuously since I got the bottle. They don't go after toothpaste, or soap, or shampoo, or even the sickly sweet cough syrup sitting less than a foot away; it's the mint-flavored liquid death that unerringly draws their attention. I've even tried moving the bottle from the countertop to inside the bathtub; they still go after it.

What part of "antiseptic" don't these insects understand?

Or do we just have suicidal pests?

January 15, 2002 ... I'm actually rather surprised at work these days. For a job that I had so many misgivings about, customer service is treating me rather well. (I'm sure I'll feel differently once my wear-in period expires and I start getting harassed about making quota; I'm struggling for 5 calls per hour and the standard listed in the documentation is 9.) I don't say this because the work is especially easy or meaningful; I say this because time somehow disappears.

I sign on the phones, take some calls, look up, and -- bam! -- it's break time. I get up, go to the bathroom, refill my drink, read a book (and wish that I had Internet access at my desk so I could check the forums), then sign back on again, take some more calls, and -- bam! -- it's lunchtime.

For some reason, lunchtime actually feels like the longest part of the day.

Then it's back to my desk, and another shift, another break, another shift, and suddenly I'm trying to end my last call at 5:00 on the nose so I don't have to struggle with the moral dilemma of whether to stretch out my shift long enough to be able to report overtime. That's the day. Where does it go?

Actually, I have a theory: Time gets sucked away from incoming call centers, and ultimately redistributed -- after many detours through ordinary citizens -- to outgoing call centers. The act of placing a call causes time to slow to a crawl for you, because you're sucking up time from the person you're calling. This is especially true when you call someplace and get put on hold for three to five minutes; every second of that crappy hold music is stolen straight from the phone reps scrambling desperately to keep up with their callers.

This has some interesting implications, such as: One can achieve immortality simply by listening to hold music for the rest of eternity. I have the feeling that, as interesting as it would be to live forever, humanity just isn't equipped to deal with that kind of mental torture.

January 21, 2002 ... I think it is a sign of one's maturity as a poet when one has a sudden epiphany that the words "Jehovah" and "supernova" rhyme ...

... and then does nothing about it.

January 22, 2002 ... So. I got fired today.

Assuming that you're not some sociopath here to laugh at my troubles, I know what you're now thinking. Let me assure you that that was my first reaction, too. At 9:50 AM, I was happily chatting with coworker Mark, frittering away my daily 15-minute morning break; at 10:10 AM, I had cleared all personal material from my desk, was making hasty last-minute arrangements with a supervisor to get my unfinished tasks claimed, and had just enough time to say goodbye to Mark before leaving the building, my keycard already confiscated. Fuck. You'd think that Washington Mutual was an Internet start-up from the efficiency of it all.

So what happened to get me kicked out -- with no warning, no intermediate disciplinary steps, and 15 minutes to leave the building -- from a large, heavily bureaucratic corporation? Did I fail a drug test? Assault a coworker? Embezzle? Compromise a customer's bank account? Serious, long-term productivity issues? Given the severity of the punishment, all of these would be reasonable guesses. But no: What I did was make a single work-related phone call.

To a number provided to me by the department's personnel manager.

*   *   *   *   *

That, friends, is the short version of the story. The long one is slightly more illuminating but significantly more upsetting. While it would be tempting -- and largely accurate -- to write it off as a case of zero tolerance run amuck (not once but twice), it's difficult to really get across the sheer perversity of the situation without providing a few more details.

I should start by pointing out that I was not, in fact, employed by Washington Mutual; I was working through Adecco as a contractor (read: "temp"). This doesn't really become relevant until about halfway through the story, but it's always good to have the facts straight.

This story actually starts about a week ago, when I approached Personnel Manager, trying to go the extra mile for my job duties. "Look," I said (and I am heavily paraphrasing here), "I know that as a temp I'm supposed to call the agency when I report in sick, and they'll call you; however, years of experience as a temp has shown me that such arrangements aren't always followed through on, and so I try to let the workplace also know as a courtesy. So --" and here, I am quoting as exactly as I can remember it -- "what is the number employees use to call in sick?" PM shuffled around some papers on their desk, and wrote for me on a post-it note (which I have right in front of me, here, stuck to my computer here at home), "CALLING IN #. 206-XXX-XXXX". (It will shortly become obvious why I can't reprint that information.) I thanked PM and went about my business.

Cut forward to Monday -- Martin Luther King Jr. day. This is a bank holiday, and as such, basically all of Washington Mutual shut down. It had not been made clear to me in advance whether I was supposed to work that day or not, though -- and, as such, I dug up the "calling in sick" number at 7:30 AM Monday, picked up the phone, and dialed. After several rings, PM answered the phone, sounding somewhat cross. I identified myself and asked if the call center was open that day; PM told that, in fact, it was. I said something about not being sure whether I was supposed to go in, but that since the office was open and I hadn't been told not to show up, I'd better get downtown -- and asked PM to note that I'd be a few minutes late.

In case you haven't caught on yet, that was the phone call that got me fired.

Why? Because, as I found out at 10 AM today, I happened to call PM at their home phone number. As it was calmly explained to me during the brief and formal reprimand, Washington Mutual has a "zero-tolerance policy" for crossing the line between a supervisor's work hours and their home life. I deeply respect the sentiment behind that rule, but in practice, what it meant was that the decision to fire me was made immediately when PM complained on Tuesday morning -- without waiting to hear my side of the story.

Never mind that this was the number which PM gave me in response to a question that, as far as I can determine, was clearly work-related. (I didn't even get to speak with PM to determine the cause of the miscommunication -- I was specifically barred from talking with PM again, in fact -- and I'm afraid that pursuing the issue any further at this point via the phone number in my possession would constitute harassment.)

For all that, I can't blame my WAMU managers for their reaction to this incident -- it's a case of sincere people enforcing a poor policy. The manager also emphasized that my stay there had not been marked by a single work performance issue, and that this incident would not be recorded against me in case I decided to seek future employment at the bank, which did help some. They did have me in tears once it hit home that the decision had been made, there was nothing I could do, and no chance of appeal -- but they were at least very professional and courteous about the whole matter. ... If only that had been the end of it.

I walked out of the door at WAMU under the impression that, well, even though I'd been cold-cocked by circumstances beyond my control, I'd be able to pick up the pieces and get back on the employment track in fairly short order. They had made a big deal of how I could go back to Adecco and get another assignment so my income wouldn't be too badly disrupted. That's roughly what I was expecting when I walked in -- not a tongue-lashing that made my WAMU dismissal seem downright friendly by comparison.

My Adecco Supervisor -- and, remember, it's Adecco that actually sends my paycheck -- didn't even let me finish explaining the situation before laying into me. I had roughly outlined the issue when AS interrupted me, pointing out that by even asking for the call-in-sick number, I had technically violated the terms of my employment contract, and that therefore I was the instigator of this entire mess. Naturally, I wasn't happy at this summary, and I attempted to explain the rest of the issue. AS refused to hear me out, even going so far as to evade one of my questions with the phrase -- and I quote -- "I don't understand how you can be angry when all of this is your fault."

The communication breakdown here was that Washington Mutual didn't pull me from the assignment because I asked for the calling-in-sick number -- they pulled me because I called a manager at home. AS and I argued about this unfruitfully for several minutes, and I finally said, "Look, I will freely admit that I was in the wrong to ask for the number in the first place. All I want from you is at least an acknowledgement that you hear me saying I merely called the phone number I was given, and that I didn't intend to call anyone at home." (... Can't blame me for trying.)

AS didn't even consider that an issue. They just kept rattling on about coemployment, and how Adecco wouldn't be "a good resource" for me "at this point in time", and some underhanded remarks about how I had "decided to make my own rules", because as a "long-time associate" (I signed up for Adecco in 1999 and have worked for them a total of twice since then) I obviously remembered the full contents of the contract I signed for them last millennium. The conversation was starting to get weird, so I said, "I accept that the Washington Mutual assignment is over, and that there's nothing that can be done about that now. What I'd like to know is what this means for my future employment with Adecco."

This got me a re-hash of the charges that I'd proved myself to be unworthy of the air I breathe, by virtue of having attempted to be a responsible office denizen; and some more verbal dodges into the realm of "not a good resource for you at this time". I wasn't going to let that newspeak slide by a second time: "In other words," I asked in a civil, level tone, " 'you screwed up, get out of the office'?" AS glanced around nervously for a few moments, then finally screwed up their courage and met my gaze. "Yes."

In case it wasn't obvious, that was when I got fired.

I feel, right now, like a poor man who tried to loot a corpse, and for his troubles was executed on the spot for murder. Sure, technically what I did was wrong -- coemployment, like stealing from the dead, is illegal. But I'm being prosecuted -- no, excuse me, I have been prosecuted -- for a crime that I didn't commit. And there's nothing that I can do about it.

So the job search begins again this week. At least it will have one very important thing going for it: It will be my first job search of 2002. I have no idea what the fuck happened in 2001, but every job that I worked within those 12 months ended in some huge disaster -- Wildtangent's layoff, the data entry flaming wrist death, and now this. ... Okay, actually, I lie: My telemarketing stint, all four days of it, ended peacefully; of course, the real hell of that job was just being there.

I had never been involuntarily terminated from a single job before last year. Now I've been hit with three in a row.

... Can I have last millennium back? I promise that I'll take care of it really well.

January 24, 2002 ... Life Imitates Art -- part 3,222,153 in an ongoing series.

The Onion, about three years ago: "Christian Right Lobbies to Overturn Second Law of Thermodynamics."

Washington state legislator Harold Hochstatter, on January 18, 2002: "Make teaching evolution illegal".

The discussion on Fark that I pulled these links from included an excellent point: Using the Constitution as grounds to argue against freedom of speech and to promote a clearly religiously biased alternative. How ironic is that?

January 26, 2002 ... I was downstairs with Tim this evening, watching some show called "Shocking Police Videos" or "Friggin' Morbid Cop Tales" or "America's Funniest Car Chases" or some such. You know how, when something fascinates you in a I-know-I-shouldn't-be-watching-this sort of way, the immediate temptation is to compare it to watching a car crash? ... Uh, actually, I'd better drop that analogy before it eats its own tail.

That's what it boiled down to, really. Subtract the ten minutes of commercials and the ten minutes of jewelry store heists from the hour-long show, and what every single (poorly-narrated) clip boiled down to was a high-speed car chase, and the ultimate question: "Is the perp going to nail something at 120 mph or not?"

I am ashamed to admit it, but that's what made me plant myself in front of the TV for the full hour, too. I would even go so far as to say that the highlights of the show were when: (A) some dude got broadsided when he zoomed through a red light at 80; and (B) some other dude took a freeway exit at a high rate of speed, missed the sharp turn near the end of the offramp, and wrapped the car around a 100-foot-tall metal lightpole, causing the huge cluster of lights at the top of the pole to break off, plummet to the ground, and pancake the car. A classic moment in cinema, right there.

I was, of course, horrified. And vaguely nauseated. (Albeit not quite as much as I was by the next show, called something with "Extreme" in the title, aka "America's Funniest Home Injuries", which I had the good grace to abandon after two bad falls, a motorcycle accident, and an electrocution.) But the TV show, in gluing my eyes to the screen, did exactly what it was designed to do. In retrospect, this troubles me. I know that you can't turn over a rock in contemporary America without finding a media pundit who has roundly condemned this sort of sensationalism, so I don't really need to belabor the point; but how can any sort of large-scale violence desensitization be healthy?

What left the biggest impression on me, though, was the advertising.

It's hard to overstate the irony of having over half the commercials -- of a show whose sole raison d'etre is to show spectacular vehicular crashes -- being for new or used cars. (And, incidentally, another one of the remainder being for an attorney specializing in DUI cases.) Some poor advertising department guy must have been spending a little too much of his time staring at the show's demographic statistics, and failed to actually watch the thing.

As it was, most of the commercials just came across with the undertone: "Hey, here's this sleek, sporty import that you can enjoy while driving at 90 down the highway -- right before you lose control and flip it end-over-end three times!" Or "Check out the impressive handling on this truck -- until the traction fails and you spin out into a tree!"

And people wonder why I spend most of my time indoors.

January 28, 2002 ... I've been collecting random links for a week or two now, so I figured I would dump them all on you, my loyal readers, in a shameless display of blogginess. I hope they entertain you all as much as they did me.

Demented: George Lucas meets Ed Wood in the Flash animation "The Making of Star Wars Episode II". A very good send-off of the movie "Ed Wood" and the degeneration of the "Star Wars" series over time. I still laugh when I hear him say "Gun or gungan?"

Cool: Kirk Adams and Josef Jahn's mp3 "The Wolf Inside." (The song link goes to Wolf Cross [hiya, Nehi!], because the version at Jahn's site is inexplicably choppy.) A blatantly theri song, yes, and a GOOD one. The vocalist reminds me of Yes' Jon Anderson, and the music is driving and poignant. See the lyrics, or more by the artist.

Comprehensive: Can't remember the (fictional) phone number of that one pizza place on that one TV show you used to watch as a teenager? It's probably on the 555-list. If you want to get a reputation for being a hopeless geek, you can cruise through the lists to memorize lapses in TV show continuity (like the fact that Fox Mulder shared his phone number with two other lines in "The X-Files").

Weird: Never let it be said that people don't anthropomorphize their animal companions. Now you can buy fashion accessories, including a rainbow-colored or pink-triangle dog tag, for your homosexual pet! To its credit, this isn't nearly as demented as Neuticles, but it's still amusing. (Neuticles trivia: Did you know that -- as of last year, anyway -- one could buy artificial dog testicles, but NOT artificial human testicles? 'Strue.)

Educational: Science song parodies. Which reminds me, I need to get a physicist to fact-check my "Semi-Charmed Science," and then I've got something else amusing to post to my site. (*goes off to write a letter to Brian*)

Classic: Yes, there are some clever error pages on the Internet -- but this one takes the cake. It's a full-featured PHP port of Zork. Never has making a typo on a page name been so much more enjoyable than the page itself. (This is not to condemn thcnet's content -- it's just that this is Zork we're talking about!)

Nostalgic: Yes, kiddies, Baxil was young once. Don't let the fact that I'm playing welcome (d)waggin fool you -- the post in question was, I believe, my second ever to alt.fan.dragons. I made my intro post later that day, which really puts some perspective on things; everybody's a n00b at least once in their life, I guess. ];=8)

Also, in the spirit of throwing links at you that might be an entertaining waste of time: How many of you were aware that I post sporadically to my Livejournal account? Some of it's site update news, and the rest is basically fluff, but it's occasionally entertaining fluff, and you can read it all without having to sign up with LJ, so it might be good for a grin.

Anyway, y'all enjoy.

January 29, 2002 ... They just can't get a break, can they? Even in the one area they should, by all rights, have strategic dominance over the U.S. ... we're there to muscle in on them, and come out on top.

Serves 'em right for bombing the WTC, I suppose.

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