Archive for the ‘General Nerdery’ Category

“I like the way you move me”

Alright, we’re in

“She just doesn’t see…”

Back in the world, but still playing catch up. I should be back with (ir)regular service in the next day or two.

Please stand by…


Busy as hell these days, so posting will be even lighter than usual for the next week or two. In the meantime, make yourself right at home and feel free to avail yourself of the complimentary scotch and pistachios, stored in the usual location.

A sign of a good New Year’s Eve party

Belltown Onions

If any of you lost your bag of onions on New Year’s Eve, it was last seen lying on a sidewalk in Belltown, surrounded by bewildered drunk people.

Some thoughts on “The Mercy”, by Philip Levine and 2015.11.13

The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island
eighty-three years ago was named “The Mercy.”
She remembers trying to eat a banana
without first peeling it and seeing her first orange
in the hands of a young Scot, a seaman
who gave her a bite and wiped her mouth for her
with a red bandana and taught her the word,
“orange,” saying it patiently over and over.
A long autumn voyage, the days darkening
with the black waters calming as night came on,
then nothing as far as her eyes could see and space
without limit rushing off to the corners
of creation. She prayed in Russian and Yiddish
to find her family in New York, prayers
unheard or misunderstood or perhaps ignored
by all the powers that swept the waves of darkness
before she woke, that kept “The Mercy” afloat
while smallpox raged among the passengers
and crew until the dead were buried at sea
with strange prayers in a tongue she could not fathom.
“The Mercy,” I read on the yellowing pages of a book
I located in a windowless room of the library
on 42nd Street, sat thirty-one days
offshore in quarantine before the passengers
disembarked. There a story ends. Other ships
arrived, “Tancred” out of Glasgow, “The Neptune”
registered as Danish, “Umberto IV,”
the list goes on for pages, November gives
way to winter, the sea pounds this alien shore.
Italian miners from Piemonte dig
under towns in western Pennsylvania
only to rediscover the same nightmare
they left at home. A nine-year-old girl travels
all night by train with one suitcase and an orange.
She learns that mercy is something you can eat
again and again while the juice spills over
your chin, you can wipe it away with the back
of your hands and you can never get enough.

This has been on my mind today, as I’ve been reading too much about the blinkered reactions to the horrible events in Paris. Despite the rhetoric from many of our politicians, I don’t think this is a war that can be won by bombs or guns. Invading Syria and Iraq may damage Daesh, but it won’t change the fact of the death cult that they and others have been cultivating for decades. After all, it’s looking increasingly like all of the attackers in Paris were EU citizens. Most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi.

And for the sake of a horror inflicted by a few, we would magnify that horror by shutting out the poor, starving, and war-weary. That won’t win this war either. A starving, stateless mass, bombed out of their homes and rejected by the free peoples of the world is a loss in and of itself. Not to mention the coup it provides Daesh’s propagandists.

Bombs won’t win this war, because the enemy isn’t attacking us from Syria or Iraq. They’re attacking us from Belgium and Saudi Arabia. Keeping out refugees won’t help, because Daesh is recruiting from our societies directly.

So this is not a war of bombs, and it’s not a war of migration.

Everything I see tells me that this is a war of ideas and culture. Perhaps of a kind not fought before in human history. This is the first war of a world where communications are instant and ubiquitous. And the only way to win it is to prove that free, open societies are better than the closed, fearful, backward one that Daesh wants to create.

And we don’t prove that by turning our backs on the refugees of Daesh’s horror. Quite the opposite. We win this war by offering a hand to those that Daesh turned out. We make sure they know that where Daesh destroyed their homes and livelihoods, we will gladly let them build new homes as our neighbor. So that the whole world can see that free societies are immune to the evil perpetrated by monsters like Daesh.

We win by showing that terrorists can kill people. Who we will mourn, and avenge with careful, decisive, swift action. But that after, our societies will be just as free and open as they were before. And ultimately the provocateurs will have accomplished nothing.

All the while we welcome with open arms those fleeing the horror that Daesh is creating, and help them to build their new lives in a free country.

I suppose I can’t guarantee that that’s what wins this war. But I think it’s got a much better chance than bombs. And if we give up our liberty and compassion, I’m not sure how much winning the war would even matter.


So that’s where they come from

Found via I Heart Chaos.

Random promo material like this gives me a faint sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, Fox won’t fuck the Deadpool movie up entirely.

“Tags: belize hotels, belize vacations, travel guide by john mcafee”

Semi-professional lunatic and occasional tech entrepreneur John McAfee, with some tips on getting by in the Third World:

The most powerful tool a traveler can possess is a Press card. It will allow you to completely bypass the “documentation” process if you have limited time or limited funds and don’t want to deal with it. I have dozens stashed in all my vehicles, in my wallet, in my pockets, in my boats. You might ask, since I claim to be an upstanding citizen, why I would need such deception. It is because I am one of the few white men who chose to live part time in the interior of the country. I was one of only three white guys living in the district of Orange Walk, for example. I have cars and enjoy driving and I travel frequently. Not a day went by without having go through a “checkpoint” of some kind.

I am paranoid about being caught without one when I need one. They have magical properties if the correct incantations are spoken while producing them. A sample incantation at a police checkpoint (this will work in any Central American country):

(Spoken before the officer has a chance to say anything) – “Hi, I’m really glad to see you.” (produce the press card at this point). I’m doing a story on Police corruption in (fill in country name) and I would love to get a statement from an honest police officer for the story. It’s for a newspaper in the U.S. Would you be willing to go on record for the piece?” You can add or subtract magic words according to the situation. Don’t worry about having to actually interview the officer. No sane police person would talk to a reporter about perceived corruption while at the task of being perceived to be corrupt. He will politely decline and quickly wave you through. If you do find the rare idiot officer who wants to talk, ask a few pointed questions about his superiors and it will quickly awaken his sensibilities. He will send you on your way.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.