Silflay Hraka

9/07/2002





Imprecations!

Sainted Wife had a rough week at work, so we've come to the in-laws this weekend for unscheduled relaxation. Not that they mind of course, more time with the granddaughter for them. We went over to a friend's pool so that Ngnat and I could show off our pool tricks; Ngnat rides daddy's back, Ngnat jumps off diving board, Ngnat stands on Daddy's hands while he lifts her up over his head, and Daddy throws Ngnat 4 feet up in the air and catches her while the grandparents have a heart attack. She calls it "Fly"

"Daddy, more fly?"

So I toss her up, and she does a perfect spread eagle at the height of her ascent, and then folds her arms flat against her sides just as she starts to come down. Catching her is a cinch. I'd throw her higher if the extra effort required didn't destabilize her orbital path. Cheerleaders wouldn't give me the time of day in high school, and now it looks like I'm raising one. I can't decide if karma is punishing me or not. Her mother was a cheerleader, so maybe karma's aiming at her.

On the way back in the house, we stop and pick up Ngnat's afternoon driveway toys to bring them inside. I'm carrying a bucket of colored chalk, and as I come in the door it catches against the knob and spills open, scattering gaily colored pieces across the polished hardwood floor.

I express my displeasure. "Oh bloody hell."

From just behind me, and a lot lower to the floor. "O buddy hell!"

The wife attempts a pained look, but gives up when her mother starts to giggle.

Whew, close one.


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Happy New Year to the steely-eyed missle men at War Now! l'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim.


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Common Sense has a cookbook for you.

Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistant irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by a rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accomodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a "vegetarian plate," if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.


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Norah Vincent seems to think that she deserves some respect in the blogosphere because she's been published.

But, I must say that the so-called blogosphere, liberating as it can be, is—as I have had the misfortune of discovering in recent days—also full of nasty riffraff and wannabe pundits who because they haven’t an earnest, original idea in their heads, fill their empty existences sniping impotently at legitimate targets. By legitimate targets I mean people who have actually had some measure of success in their professional lives, people who get published regularly in the mainstream press because, yes, they have a certain degree of talent, but moreso because they have something more to say on a weekly basis than “boo hoo” or “look ma, no hands.”

Norah, dear, this ain't the L.A. Times. Success outside of the blogosphere gives you nothing inside the blogosphere aside from loads of links to start off with. Thanks for joining, you've added a smidgeon of a bit to the status of blogging in the eyes of the outside world. That smidgeon, I hasten to add, is far more than we here at Hraka have ever done for the blogosphere. So seriously, thanks.

Now quit whining. You're a blogger now, even if you prefer to be called a journalist, and you don't get to decide who is a bottom feeding blogmonster and who is not. No one does. We're not interns at the paper, to bring you coffee and hang around hoping to hear a pearl of wisdom drop from your lips, or to flutter our eyelashes and feel faint at the slightest word of praise. Nor will your words of displeasure rock our little world. You're just another blogger, with the same credentials as any other beginner.

Look at me, talking about beginners with four months under my belt.

Yes, you've gotten a lot of press inside the 'sphere, but so would Jenna Bush if she decided to blog. You issuing pronouncements from on high about what makes a blogger a bottom feeder and what doesn't makes about as much sense and impact as it would were I doing the same thing, perhaps less. If I was to do the same thing, I'm pretty sure my "measure of professional success" would be one's ability to write a Perl script, rather than regular publication in the mainstream press. Sadly, this would not improve my relative standing one iota.

We don't really care what your outside credentials are, and you flashing them at us and insisting that we fall down in awe of them isn't going to work. If it did, then the NYT wouldn't catch the hell it catches. If the blogosphere has credentials, those credentials are links from other bloggers and I know of at least one place where there are at least 501 bloggers with better credentials than you.

Full disclosure: Including me.
Even more full disclosure: I'm doing a little dance now.
Still even more full disclosure: It's called the "I'm bigger than Nora cha-cha-cha"

If you can't stand a negative response, stay in the mainstream press. There's certainly no echo chamber there, which might be why so many people feel that the Fourth Estate has failed in its responsibilities to the body politic. The whole point of blogging is in the call and response, and sometimes the response ain't what you'd like it to be. That little bottom warming you got was nothing, I can assure you.

Nora link via Homeobox


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War Profiteer

Kathrine Baumann, who makes totally hideous handbags and related crap for those with little to no taste.

Link almost via Kausfiles


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9/06/2002





Rock of Ages, Falling Free...


Okay, so the Temple Mount is going to collapse, and Daniel thinks Israel should do something about it but isn't, apparently. (Link via In Context)

And yet successive Israeli governments, both Labor and Likud, have abdicated their role, turning a deaf ear to the increasingly anxious predictions.

Their insouciance has two main causes. First, memories of 1969 and 1996 are enough to make any Israeli leader want to stay away from Jerusalem holy places.

Second, it is a well-established tradition that the governing authority in Jerusalem - Ottoman, British, Jordanian, Israeli - endorses the status quo, permits precedent to have sway and stays out of the city's many and hugely intractable religious disputes.


It also seems that the Palestinian Authority will do nothing about it.

"This bulge is under our monitoring since the '70s and has neither grown nor shifted in 30 years," says Adnan Husseini, director of the Islamic religious authority (the waqf) that oversees the Temple Mount. "It is stable, we don't feel that there is any dangerous situation."

So Israel is convinced that at least a substantial portion of the area will collapse, but won't do anything about it, and the Palestinians aren't convinced that the a collapse in imminent, and so shan't do anything about it. Excellent. Now all we have to do is hope that the collapse actually is imminent.

Why? Because one of the reasons Muslims are so ho-hum about the situation is that, when you get right down to it, they believe Allah will not allow it to happen. Consider this verse from the Koran.

They want to extinguish Allah’s Light with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His Light should be perfected even though the disbelievers hate it.

Boiled down, it means that Allah will not allow the heathen to triumph over the faithful. Remember, Islam is still a relatively young religion. It's not been around long enough to develop the wisdom inherent in a phrase like "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Islam still has at its base the idea that Allah will reach down into the world and arrange events to his liking. There are surely Muslims sophisticated enough to understand that he will not, but they don't have much sway in the Arab world.

Arabs also possess an incredible faith in the power of symbols. Symbols are important in Islam, it's one reason why the Jerusalem minarets were built so tall, so that they would be higher than the heathen worship sites around them. This is the religion that produced Osama, and he thought he could defeat us by destroying the Twin Towers. The idea is nuts to us because the West has turned away from the power of symbols. But if we accept that symbols are extremely important to radical Islam, then we should realize that the destruction of symbols important to them will have a great effect upon them.

If that portion of the Temple Mount collapses, it could take all or part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock with it. That's the third holiest site in all of Islam, containing the point from which Mohammed ascended bodily into heaven. What happens when Allah allows it to be destroyed? When it is pointed out that, but for the negligence of brother Muslims it could have been prevented? That will not compute. It's a body blow to the Arab belief in Islamic inevitability. And this is the point where some much needed moderation can be introduced.

Let's skip that for as sec and assume that the Jews get blamed for the collapse, which is after all not unlikely. Allah allowed the Jews to destroy the Temple Mount? Surely that's even more horrid to contemplate than Allah simply allowing it to collapse. Daniel Pipes thinks so, and has an idea about what will happen.

Judging by prior incidents in Jerusalem - the arson at Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969, the opening of a tunnel in 1996 - this disaster would lead at least to wide-scale fighting in Jerusalem and a heated international crisis. If things really went wrong, it could precipitate a wave of violence in Europe and a full-blown Arab-Israeli war.

It could also complicate the war on Iraq, obstruct the war on terrorism and jump the price of oil and gas. At worst, it could unleash an end-of-days messianism in three monotheistic religions, with unforeseeable consequences.


Well, both of those causal events were pretty obviously from the hand of man, rather than God, and Israel is ringing the alarm bell pretty loudly, even if they do think that it is up to the waqf to deal with the problem. It could also unleash a wave of liberalism across the face of Islam. The loss of the Second Temple affected Judaism in a similar way. Yes, there will be mullahs arguing that the Arab failure to destroy Israel caused Allah to withdraw his favor, but you'll also have mullahs arguing the opposite.

Islam is a very brittle religion, forced to the breaking point by its confrontation with the West. It's going to shatter anyway. Here's an idea; Let's find a scholarly, apostate Muslim and pay him to alter Islam to our liking. One a major disaster occurs in the Islamic world, like this collapse or something else, we pay clerics to spread our version, to claim that it is the actual word of Allah, that the disaster was caused by those who refused to hear it.. That's essentially what the Saudis do now. We can do the same, even if it is a bit more stealthy in practice.

And yes, once the Temple Mount is gone, the Jews can rebuild the temple. I've got no problems with that. It is a significant part of the illiterate Christian interpretation of the Book of Revelations, so we'll have to deal with Pat and Jerry and all their ilk in full-blown hard-on mode. We can deal with them, their precursors have flamed and burned out many times, and they will too. And for a little while, at least, Islam will be receptive to new "interpretations."

And if they aren't, there's always Mecca.


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Vaginas don't screw people, women with vaginas screw people.

This in my email:

Marine Corps General Reinwald was interviewed on the radio the other
day and you have to read his reply to the lady who interviewed him
concerning guns and children. Regardless of how you feel about gun
laws you gotta love this!!!! This is one of the best comeback lines
of all time. It is a portion of National Public Radio (NPR)
interview between a female broadcaster and US Marine Corps General Reinwald
who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military
installation.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Reinwald, what things are you going
to teach these young boys when they visit your base?

GENERAL REINWALD: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing,
archery, and shooting.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?

GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on
the rifle range.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous
activity to be teaching children?

GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper
rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent
killers.

GENERAL REINWALD: Well, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but
you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.


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The Latest Porn

Another one from "Bill."

Hairy Twatter

I'm about to pee in my pants just writing that one down.


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No need to shake hands, really.

A hearty welcome to our vistitor from the Chambersburg Gazette, who visited us while diligently searching the web for "sex stories with horses and dogs having sexual intercourse with the human female", proving that while journalists may have time on their hands, it's certainly not the only substance found there.


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Ick

In an ABC report scheduled for Wednesday night, Barbara Walters visits a therapy group of widows and their adolescent children.


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Son of Join the Dark Side

Blogging continues its relentless creep into the NYT's editorial page. First Safire, then Friedman. Now it's Paul's turn.

He quotes other blogs:
ABC's weblog The Note described it as a "chocolate- is-vanilla" claim, admitting that "The Bush team has always had a credibility problem with some reporters because of their insistence on saying 'up is down' and 'black is white.' "
..........
As Joshua Marshall put it at talkingpointsmemo.com, the goal is to "mau-mau reporters out of using the word 'privatization' in this context."


The links are mine, not his. But admit it, just for a second there you thought he'd gone whole hog, didn't you?

and directs readers to other sites. (still no links, though)

You can read all about Cato's role on the special Web site the institute set up, socialsecurity.org.

He also does a little punditry now and then.


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Opened The Flood Gates

Since posting the porn titles we would like to see, my email has been flooded with more suggestions, mostly from a friend whom we will refer to from this point forward as "Bill." Here are some of his ideas, I apologize in advance.

1. Joe Squirt
2. A Tale of Two Titties
3. A Mid-Summer Night's Cream and the sequel,
A Mid-Summer Night's Ream
4. Men In Back

Obviously Bill is familiar with gay porn as well.


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Saigon 2002

Afghan President Escapes Bullets; 25 Killed by Car Bomb in Kabul

Afghanistan's halting progress toward stability under its American-backed government was jolted severely today when a uniformed gunman on the streets of Kandahar narrowly failed in an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai and a huge car bomb in the heart of Kabul killed at least 25 people and critically wounded dozens of others.

Hamid Karzai is a dead man walking. Sooner or later somebody is going to get him, because we don't control enough of the country. We could have, but George is not into nation-building. We still could, if we weren't massing the troops for some future action in Iraq. Kabul is Saigon, updated for a new century and a new enemy. Same old dumbass government. We control the city, barely, but wolves roam the countryside. We make the correct noises, yes

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington that expanding the international force would benefit Afghanistan, but that other countries would have to shoulder the burden.

but we make it obvious that when it comes down to it, it's not a job we're interested in. We punish, we don't rehabilitate.

Killing the bad guys is an important part of the WoT. It's not the most important part. Taking out rogue states is an important part of the WoT. It's not the most important part. The most important part is giving the residents of the nations we fight cover while they develop a stable democratic society. It's not the fun part, or the easy part and it's not the part that makes for great video, so the government tries to do as little as possible to save face, and the media ignore it until things start blowing up. Afghanistan is not getting better. The Taliban have re-grouped and are starting to strike back. I won't be surprised if Karzai dies on the 9th, a year to the day after Osama's goons killed the last leader that threatened them. If history is any guide, we should realize one thing right now. The Bush family knows how to win battles, but they suck at winning wars. George's dad betrayed the Kurds of Northern Iraq when they rose up against Saddam, and his boy George looks to be treading that same road in regard to the Afghanis.

If, ten years hence, the women of Afghanistan are back to burkas and summary executions at the hands of religious fanatics, it will be because of the inaction of this administration today, and they will curse our names, and tell their children that Americans are feckless cowards.

And they'll be right.


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9/05/2002




Babar, Psycho King of the Elephants.

As we were getting ready for bed tonight, Ngnat picked up her nighttime sippy cup and handed it to me.

"Daddy, I want fwesh wata."

"Fresh water?"

Nodding her head, "Fwesh wata."

"When did you start using adjectives?"

"uh-huh."

And that was all I could get out of her on the subject. It's always a mild surprise to me when I she tosses off a new word as if she's used it all her life. Adjectives are just shocking. Nouns I'm used to, as we entered the "what's that" phase a couple of weeks ago. Bedtime stories have become exercises in patience, as she has to point to each and every item on the page and have it identified before we can proceed.

"What's that?"
"That's a panda cub, honey."
"What's that?"
"That's a panda daddy."
"What's that?"
"That's a panda mommy."
"What's that?"
"That's the panda mommy's tail."
"What's that?"
"That's the panda mommy's ear."
"What's that?"
"That's the puffer belly."
........
"What's that?"
"That's the fifteenth rivet on the undercarriage on the right of the puffer belly."
"What's that?"
"That's the sixteenth rivet on the undercarriage on the right of the puffer belly, honey.*

And then I can turn the page. I try to read short books.

Not that I have much choice in the book reading department. Ngnat piles them in the middle of the bed and selects from the pile, and I have to read that one right then or there'll be hell to pay. The pile grows every larger with each passing day, as she explores the bookshelf in her closet, or brings another book home from the library. Her mother and I learned very quickly that to drive by the library means we also have to stop at the library.

"Liberry!"
"Honey, it's almost time for dinner."
"LIBERRY!"
"Taylor, we just went to the library yesterday."
"LIBERRY!!"

So we go to the liberry, and shush her when she screams "PAY PUZZLES" at the top of her lungs, and pay puzzles, and let her pick out a boog, and check out boog, and go home and read boog. She's picked out startlingly age-appropriate books so far, not that I wouldn't let her check out "A Children's Guide to The General Theory of Relativity" just to see the look on the librarian's face when she plunked it up onto the desk. They're not necessarily seasonally appropriate, which is why for the past two nights we've been singing "The Little Drummer Boy". She likes to do the descant.

"wum-pa-pum-pum"

After the song portion of the evening ritual is over comes the Naming of the Animals, in which I am to be the response part of the Animal Call and Response

"I wead the boog."
"Ok, honey."

She opens the books, seemingly at random, and points.
"Cacadile"
"Crocodile!"
"Hippawampus"
"Hippopatamus!"
"Dat's a goat."
"Goat!"
"Jiwaff"
"Giraffe!"
"Munkee"
"Monkey!"
"Ehfant!"
"Elephant!"

Then, as we have several books with elephants in them, we point out all those elephants. If this sounds like it takes a great deal of time, it does. I'd estimate we spend on average an hour a night between us doing various bedtime rituals, easing our parental guilt at sentencing her to daycare.

Aside: Not that she cares, of course. She loves daycare. Sometimes on the weekends she gets bored with us and asks to be taken to daycare.

Tonight, having finally clued in to the trend....Hey, she really likes elephants!...I remembered a really old copy of Babar that I'd put on the shelf a while back. It was one of a few that I had kept for years just on the off chance I'd get married and have a kid one day. Why I thought Babar might be out of print by then I don't remember. I have about 20 books in that same category, among them Little Black Sambo. Dunno what I'll do if she asks me to read that one day. Probably read it to her. Not reading it will feel like surrendering to the people who think niggardly is a racist term.

Anyway, Babar. Babar was another shock. I hadn't looked at in 30-odd years. How bad could it be, it's a kids' book, right? A kid's book for a tougher time, maybe, when children were dropping like flies from polio after working 8 hours down at the mill, and when one on't cross beams went owt askew on treadle, well, they fixed it themselves or they weren't paid. Reading Jazz Baby and Wemberly Worried doesn't adequately prepare a man for Babar. Babar is twisted. It's the Pulp Fiction of children's literature. Here's a quick jaunt through the highlights.

Page 1 - Babar is born.. His mother sings him to sleep each night. Baby Elephant Walk, I would think.
Page 4 - Babar's mother is shot, with what appears to be an Army and Navy double barreled .500 elephant gun. The bloody lazy illustrator failed to indicate the external hammers, so I am not positive on this point.
Page 5 - Babar's mother dies, and her murderer comes after Babar, presumably with visions of ivory billiard balls dancing in his head.
Page 11 - Babar finds an elderly lady who gives him money because she is sexually attracted to elephants and can read their minds. The book doesn't state this explicitly, but it's there. It's all about the subtext, people.
Page 12 - Babar rides the elevator until he is directed to a male prostitute.
Page 13 - Babar dresses up like a giant leprechaun with a spats fetish.
Page 14 - Babar gets his picture taken by Adolf Hitler.
Page 17 - Babar, in a thong, does tai chi with his elderly sugar mamma.
Page 19 - "The Old Lady has given him the car. She gives him whatever he wants."
Page 30 - The King of the Elephants overdoses on shrooms.
Page 36 - Babar agrees to become King of the Elephants, but only if they let him marry his cousin.
Page 37 - In his first act as King, Babar makes the elephant who nominated him for King his secretary of defense. This is why Judge Scalia expects to be Chief Justice one day soon.
Page 39 - Babar forces a camel to buy a wedding gown.
Page 41 - Babar gets married, goes into musth and tramples the other members of the wedding party! Wait, no, he just gets married. Damn.
Pages 42 and 43 - Mixed species dance party! This is obviously a clever commentary on the Jim Crow laws of the 1930's. Once again, subtext. Don't try this at home unless you're an English major, folks.

Ngnat got through it ok, which is more than I can say for me, alternating as I was between absolute horror "His mommy died! What the hell is this doing in a kid's book?" and Beavis "Shrooms, huh-huh huh-huh". She put it in her pile afterwards, so I suppose I'll be reading it again and again for a while, until she tires of it or asks Mommy if the hunter is going to shoot her, too.

Amazon tells me The Travels of Babar should be here in a week or so. I can't wait.


*Free No-prize to the first person to correctly guess the book we were reading.

See this post and others of better quality at Blog Critics!


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Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




You don't need to see his identification.
We don't need to see his identification.
These are not the droids you're looking for.
These are not the droids we're looking for.
He can go about his business.
You can go about your business.
Place your bid now.
I will place my bid now.

Link via the Bear's Cave


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I don't know what the hell Bubble Tea is, but I like taking tests.

What Drink Are You?
What Drink Are You?


Even when they've obviously been mis-designed

Link via Poet and Peasant

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What to do on September 11th

Don't watch, don't listen

Responsibility to its consumers and a dedication to accuracy exist at only two measurements in broadcasting: all or nothing. Which underscores a final point about the tube, and a warning that if you have kids, or grandchildren, under the age of 5, you may want to go unplug your cable right now and not reattach it until Sept. 12th.

A psychologist hired by NBC startled its news executives last month by telling them that young children watching reports of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks will not be able to comprehend that the calamities they see are on videotape. Their brains just are not yet sufficiently developed to discern between "live" and "taped." They are likely to think it is happening all over again.


Coverage all day long is likely to be wall to wall jumper videos, interspersed with "brave, widowed new mother" tearjerker interviews.

How do you feel?, the television will ask, and then cue the music, with the tastefully understanded network logo superimposed over a billowing cloud of dust. How do you feel?

I'm ok, thanks for asking. I'd feel better if you were to show me breaking news footage of explosions in Riyadh, though.


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Guilty Pleasures

Top 5 Porn Titles We Would Like To See:

5. Nip’s Ahoy
4. The Lord of the Scrotum Rings
3. You Bet Your Bottom Holler
2. Mississippi Burning (Fur)
1. Batten Down the Snatches


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Disease Hits Firs and Redwoods, Posing Risk of Economic Damage

Douglas fir, one of the nation's most economically important timber species, and California's coast redwood are infected with the fast- spreading new disease known as sudden oak death syndrome, scientists reported yesterday.

The causes of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome, SODS, are still unknown. For answers, scientists are looking at the photosynthetic system, the xylem and phloem, chemical imbalances, growth patterns and possible environmental factors. Studies have now identified risk factors. Although not causes of SODS, they seem to play a role. To help reduce the risk of SODS there are some general rules to follow.

The most important thing you can do to reduce SODS risk is to lay your sapling down to sleep on its back. Misidentification of a sapling's back is one of the major causes of SODS. Remember, moss grows on the north side of a tree. Although delays in rolling over are common, (indeed, it has never been observed in the wild) in saplings who sleep on backs, the on-the-back position is appropriate for most trees, as well as a simple way to reduce the risk of SODS.

Always place a tree on firm, flat bedding because soft materials can trap the oxygen that plants exhale. This means that only a firm mattress, one that is not very pliable or flexible, with a tight-fitting cotton sheet on it, is best for the little sprout.

Make sure your sapling isn't overheated. Overheating can be caused by a room that is too warm, wearing too much clothing or using too-heavy bedding. Signs of overheating within your tree include: fire.

Findings released by the National Center for Forestry Statistics reveal that women who smoke cigarettes during or after gardening increase their tree's risk for SODS. Recent research also finds that SODS risk increases with each additional smoker in a family, the number of cigarettes smoked daily, and the length of time an sapling is exposed to smoke.


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Miami Facing New Challenge on Gay Rights

But Nathaniel Wilcox, co-chairman of Take Back Miami-Dade, which was formed to support the repeal, said of gays: "They are using a tactic of deception in order to get into the government to force their lifestyle on people. As a Christian, as a man of God, I can't stand up and justify backing a behavior that destroys families."

"To force their lifestyle on people?"As if during the night, health insurance for same-sex partners will sneak into your house, like spiderman, and make you gay, while you kick and scream in protest. You go to bed one night a heterosexual father of two, and wake up the next day as a character from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I got news for you, Nathaniel Wilcox. If that's all it take to make you gay, you've been sitting on the fence all greased up and ready to go for sometime now. Go find yourself a nice man and get it over with. In the long run, your family will thank you.


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Bid to Justify a First Strike

I think it's dawned on everyone that he can't stand up in front of the United Nations on Sept. 12 and say, `It's our way or the highway,' " said one senior administration official. "But that doesn't mean he's willing to pursue inspections. It's up in the air."

Seeking the approval of Congress I can understand. Frankly, if done right, it's a formality. Stand up on September 11th, Mr. President, and say "On this first anniversary of an unprecedented attack against our nation, I ask you to help me prevent the next one." That's all that needs to be done. Congress won't dare to vote against it, the potential political consequences would be too great.

But the U.N.? What possible repercussions are there if we piss off the U.N.? Are they going to tie up traffic in Manhattan, or stop vaccinating Africans against polio? The U.N. won't do anything substantial to help us, and can't do anything substantial to hinder us. Sure, it can provide a fig leaf of international approval, but the fig leaf isn't for our benefit. It is solely for the benefit of the U.N., in the hopes that in future we will look to put on the fig leaf before we do anything, that in the absence of the fig leaf we will do nothing. And this administration is starting to fall for that argument.

So listen up, all you black helicopter, secret markings on the roadsigns people. Your Republican president is about to be trained to ask U.N. permission before he does anything. Slippery slope, people, slippery slope.

Screw the U.N. and the magnificent horse that we paid for that it rode in on.

I'm not actually opposed to international organizations. The problem is that the U.N. isn't exclusive enough. There's all sorts of riff-raff in there, and they're jamming up the works. Nothing gets done. The U.N. today primarily exists as a money sink. What we need, and what I think War Now has suggested before , though I cannot find it, is a new international organization, composed at its birth primarily of democratic countries in the Anglosphere and Western Europe. A country doesn't get to join unless it can demonstrate that it is a stable democracy with open markets and the rule of law. I'll be willing to pay attention to the United Democracies, for that body will be built on common values. The United Nations was a utopian idea, and like so many utopian ideas, has proven to be more of a dystopia in actual practice.


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The Five Fundamental Flaws of Leftism.

1. At parties, constant sermonizing inhibits your ability to id the drunk slutty girls, which means by the end of the night, you're bitching to whomever will listen about how the chicks don't care for guys who treat them right. Come to think of it, this is also one of the flaws of the Far Right. The lesson here? Shut your pie hole and get the lady another Kamikaze.

2. Your student job, at a used bookstore, graduate student position or fashionable nonprofit, doesn't pay you well enough to own anything other than a bike or a constantly broken down car, so by the end of the night, you're bitching to whomever will listen about how the chicks don't care for guys who don't have dough.

3. Most universities now prohibit sexual relationships between student and the faculty, so odds are you won't get laid when you're old, either.

4. Your commitment to zero population growth means that your genes won't be passed on, and you know in your heart of hearts that they are superior genes. Also, the realization that in order to fully demonstrate your commitment you must first actually get laid is very depressing.

5. All the best drugs are available only from redneck Republican good ole boys or country-club Republican frat boys, at a considerably non-marxist markup that you can't really afford. When you do scrape up the cash, you depart with the distinct impression that they consider you somewhat effeminate.

Wait, did I say flaws? I meant errors. And no, misplaying the throw from shortstop is not one of them. Though come to think of it, who do you think would be least likely to misplay the throw from shortstop, Maureen Dowd or George Will?


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9/04/2002




Guess the news service that wrote this caption!

Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as "ground zero" in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. "war on terror" since September 11.

The answer is over at Trojan Horseshoes.



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All the Cool Kids Are Doing it.


What revolution are You?
Made by altern_active


Link via HokiePundit

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Children's cartoons I'd like to see

When I got to a certain age, let's call it 9, I started yelling at the cartoons every Saturday morning. The villains were always so dumb, usually just barely dumber than the heroes. I realize now that at that time, Saturday morning cartoon writer must have been the absolute lowest rung on the entertainment ladder, the job given to the beginners and the dipshits who weren't employable anywhere else, but were either related to or owed a favor by someone in management. I didn't know that then. All I knew was that if I were the villian, He-man would have been emasculated, most of the Superfriends converted into a thick red paste, and She-Ra and Wonder Woman would be performing tricks for my amusement in the bedroom.

Okay, maybe that last bit wasn't at nine years of age. I can definitely remember expounding on that point lots of times in my freshman year in college though, right after I passed the bong along. Also, I would have eaten fricasseed Roadrunner many, many times. It always pissed me off that the Coyote never tried to refine his methods. Some trap that almost worked, that in fact would have worked except for his own actions, was tossed aside and never returned to. Oh, it still makes me mad.

I don't shout at cartoons anymore. I'm not allowed. It might confuse and upset the Ngnat to see Daddy ranting at her beloved friends, according to the sainted wife, so I am to keep my smart remarks to myself.

I usually end up leaving the room. I feel that otherwise I'm at a serious risk for diabetes. Not that I want to destroy Ngnat's innocence, and it is a joy to see her dance around with excitement upon seeing Elmo, but there are times when the cartoons become teeth-grindingly cloying, and I want to hack into the feed and replace it with my own.

Sagwa Goes Into Heat - In this episode, Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat entertains all the male strays in town, all night long, right underneath the Magistrate's window. She is kicked out of the house by her horrified family, and has a litter of mixed breed kittens. Down, out, and living paw to mouth, Sagwa spares the life of a sick rat, who then infects the entire town with the plague.

Barney and the Tarpit - Barney and Pals visit La Brea, where he accidentally falls in after some especially crappy choreography. One by one, all of Barney's friends attempt to save him, and fail, and join him in his impending doom. Just before the tar closes in over him, Barney berates the little cretins, saying that if they had just worked together they could all have been saved. "I'll see you in hell, you little shits."

Jay Jay the Jet Plane Meets Mohammed Atta - Jay Jay is scared by the Scruffy Man who wants a ride, but Brenda Blue tells him it's not nice to judge other people just because they are different. The Scruffy Man mounts Jay Jay like Slim Pickens on the bomb in Dr. Strangelove, and drives the little plane insane thru the strategic use of a cattle prod, forcing him to dive into Brenda Blue's hanger. Jay Jay's friends Snuffy the Skywriter and Revvin Evan the Fire engine both think about rescuing him, but decide that they'd get a better deal from the producers if them let him die.

Caillou Gets Chased By the Franciscans - Calliou is enchanted by his new neighbors, the jolly fellows in robes, until he learns their horrible secret.

Clifford Humps Your Leg - Clifford the Big Red Dog decides to show the islanders once and for all who is the leader of the pack.

Elmo Meets the Feebles - PBS sells Elmo off to a traveling show after donations fall short of the annual goal.


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Squeal Like A Pig

Does this site make any one else think of poor ol' Ned Beaty? I can almost hear the banjos playing in the background.


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AIMless conversation

Woundwort: closing on the house is set for today, i pray it goes through.
Bigwig: sweet. same asshole?
Woundwort: yep, but only had to wait one day after agreeing on a contract so that was a surprise. nice not to have to wait.
Woundwort: i still won't believe it until it is done, i will let you know.
Bigwig: yea. You get the email about the beer festival?
Woundwort: yeah, but i deleted it. sorry. when is it? i would like a beer right now.
Bigwig: let me go look again
Bigwig: the 21st
Woundwort: of sept.?
Bigwig: yes
Woundwort: okay, i'll check. i would love to go with that, but we may be moving over the next few weekends. i will try to work it out. who is going?
Bigwig: dunno yet.
Bigwig: i am if somebody else does
Bigwig: and Kehaaar will probably go
Bigwig: Tommy usually does
Bigwig: and we can lean on Kevin
Woundwort: if you are going that is all that matters to me.
Bigwig: well, ok then
Woundwort: you complete me
Bigwig: you had me at "motherfucker"
Woundwort: i'm getting weepy, we really do have something special
Woundwort: dysfunctional, but special
Bigwig: We are the short yellow schoolbus of relationships


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Hell to Sell, Part 2

After being a complete tail with all of his previous LOW, LOW offers, the guy wanting to buy our house pulled out a completely different card to play. He made the comment there were some things that needed fixing (minor cosmetic items), so we dropped our price eventually by $1000 and told him to use that money to fix things. He bitched, we held our ground. Then, out of nowhere, he attempted to play the sympathy card.

We actually knew the man when we lived there, yet he continued to drive a hard bargain in an effort to steal the home for us. Now that we showed some backbone he actually had the nerve to say:

But I am buying this for my 80 year old mother-in-law who can't physically fix all of these things.

For those of you with grandparents, or those of you who are particularly sympathetic to older adults, I am advising you to stop reading at this point. I basically told him, through our realtor:

Screw you and your 80 year old mother-in-law. Your ass will be living 3 doors down from her so you can get your peckerhead self off the couch to fix whatever the hell her old ass breaks. You blew the chance for any sympathy when you low-balled us, so you can tell granny I said to cough it up or go to hell!!!

I have never agreed more with the notion that power is an aphrodisiac. I was making myself horny just enjoying the empowerment I had given myself with those words. The latest is that he accepted my comments and has set a closing date of today. So, the bastard haggled for a week and then set a closing date for the next day. I will be glad when he signs on the dotted line this afternoon and this is behind us, but I am not counting on it being a done deal until he puts his chicken-scratch signature on the contract. I will give an update after the meeting (for which we will not be present, having given our realtor our power of attorney).

Moral of the Story: Be mean to old people.


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At long last, Nancy Archer has satisfied her giant desires.


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Join the Dark Side

Maybe it's just me, but is Thomas Friedman is slouching towards bloggerdom? Look at some of the phrasing in his latest column.

Assigned reading: Larry Miller's Jan. 14, 2002, essay in The Weekly Standard: "Listen carefully: We're good, they're evil, nothing is relative. Say it with me now and free yourselves. You see, folks, saying `We're good' doesn't mean `We're perfect.' Okay? The only perfect being is the bearded guy on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The plain fact is that our country has, with all our mistakes and blunders, always been and always will be the greatest beacon of freedom, charity, opportunity, and affection in history. If you need proof, open all the borders on Earth and see what happens. In about half a day, the entire world would be a ghost town, and the United States would look like one giant line to see `The Producers.' . . . So here's what I resolve: To never forget our murdered brothers and sisters. To never let the relativists get away with their immoral thinking. After all, no matter what your daughter's political science professor says, we didn't start this."
....
Assigned reading: "An Autumn of War," by the military historian Victor Davis Hanson: "Our visionaries must be far clearer about the nature of our struggle. In their understandable efforts to say what we are not doing — fighting Islam or provoking Arab peoples — they have failed utterly to voice what we are doing: preserving Western civilization and its uniquely tolerant and human traditions of freedom, consensual government, disinterested inquiry and religious and political tolerance. . . . We must cease the apologetic tone we have developed with the Arab world, and make it clear that their ministers who hector us are not legitimate without elections, their spokesmen are not journalists without a free press, and their intellectuals are not credible without liberty. The right to admonish Americans on questions of morality is not an entitlement, but something earned only through a shared commitment to constitutional government."

Larry Miller, Victor Davis Hanson? The Weekly Standard? Assigned reading? All he's lacking are links, comments and Sekimori


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9/03/2002





Ice, Ice, Baby

The NYT is still peddling Alaska as an example of global warming, even after getting burned the last time she attempted this.

Perhaps because of the previous conflagration, the paper of record continues to back down the ladder from its claim of a 7 degree rise in the average Alaskan temperature over the last 30 years, knocking off another .4 degrees. At this rate, in a year or so the correct figures will finally grace her pages. This time the threat to the world is sea level change due to melting glaciers

From climate models, as well as years of field work, Dr. Echelmeyer had expected a general thinning of the glaciers that would be consistent with Alaska's summer temperature increase averaging 5 degrees over the past three decades. Instead, the researchers found that since the mid-1990's, Alaskan and Yukon glaciers had been dumping enough water into the ocean to raise sea level by 0.2 millimeters a year.

Minuscule though that sounds, it is nearly twice the amount released during the same period by the massive Greenland Ice Sheet. Besides, as Dr. Echelmeyer pointed out, to coastal communities, a one-inch sea-level rise can mean a 500-inch incursion across a nearly flat beach.

"Boy, to find two- or three-times faster thinning," Dr. Echelmeyer said, "that's a huge amount. The contribution of Alaskan glaciers to sea-level change is important, and big."

But why are some Alaskan glaciers growing, while most are shrinking? Much about glacial movement remains mysterious. But in simplest terms, glaciers are a varied lot, each marching to its own geophysical rhythm. Most of Alaska's glaciers, numbering more than 2,000, are valley glaciers, which snake downhill between mountain ridges and are particularly sensitive to climate. "These glaciers can't thin without climate change," Dr. Echelmeyer said.


Note the "mysterious". The fact that some glaciers are growing is "mysterious" to the Time because that data point doesn't fit into the pre-conceived world view that birthed the article. The glaciers that are melting? That's not mysterious at all! "That's Global Warming!" Mysterious my ass. That's a word you use when you don't feel like explaining something to the proles. People have studied glaciers for hundreds of years, and we know a lot about them, not that the Times is going to tell you that.

First off, the types of glaciers. As the article points out, most glaciers in Alaska are warm-based valley glaciers, a type of glacier that not only is well known for the amount of water it produces, but a type that has been in retreat in Alaska since the 1800's. Pointing that out would hardly help the case for human-induced global warming, however. Pointing out that comparisons between valley glaciers and the Greenland Ice sheet are scientifically unsound, as they are totally different types of glaciers, would also not help the case, so the Times goes ahead and makes the comparison. The glaciers that are expanding are polar, cold-based glaciers, like the Hubbard, and conjecturing about why they might be growing is apparently not something the Times considers to be in its purview. After all, wild conjecture is only appropriate if it helps to sell the story. Because I am not the Times, I will tell you why they are growing. Polar glaciers are expanding becuase more snow is falling on them. Alaska may or may not be getting colder, but it is getting more precipitation.

The article also stresses the .2 millimeter rise in sea level, supposedly due to the torrent of glacial meltwater in Alaska. I haven't been able to figure out exactly how much water this is, but I did find a page at the USGS that calculates the total sea rise from all the valley glaciers in the world as contributing less than one-half of one percent of the total expected global warming sea rise. The statement that "The contribution of Alaskan glaciers to sea-level change is important, and big." is at best wildly inaccurate. At worst, it's a bald faced lie. I should point out that Dr. Echelmeyer is a professor of geology and geophysics, not a glaciologist, so presumably he's at least somewhat out of his field.

However, even Dr. Echelmeyer wasn't firebrand enough for the Times, so they turned to Dr. William Harrison, an emeritus (meaning old and retired, with his best work years behind him) physics professor.

Dr. Harrison said that 50 years was a "good back-of-the-envelope number" for the time a valley glacier took to adjust to climate change.

Well, excellent. That means that the warming trend the valley glaciers are reacting to started in the early in the 1800's, right at the end of the Little Ice Age. Dr. Harrison's not done yet, though.

These glaciers in Alaska are changing very fast, and probably at an accelerated rate," Dr. Harrison said. "But `why' is the real issue. `Why is it warm?' It's a societal question. But my own opinion is that at a time when we're dumping all this crud into the atmosphere, and changing the surface of the earth, it seems like too big a coincidence to me for us to be innocent — that just when we're getting industrially active, it's the warmest it's been in the last 5,000 years."

"probably at an accelerated rate" means "we don't have enough data to validate my preconceived notions yet." It's the spiritual twin of "Boy, to find two- or three-times faster thinning." Two or three times faster than, not previous studies, but rather the expectations of Dr. Echelmeyer. There's absolutely no evidence that the meltwater volume has increased. What evidence there is seems to bolster the hypothesis that Dr. Echelmeyer is pretty bad at guessing.

The actual story, minus the sermon, is pretty interesting. The Hubbard glacier damns up a fiord, turning it into a lake, with spectacular consequences once the dam breaks. That's the only part of this story on glaciers where the author actually talks to a glaciologist. Said scientist's opinion on global warming? He doesn't express one.


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Hey you, get into my car!

Tired of the state quarters, yet still feel an unfullfilled need to find oddly unrepresentative representations of all 50 states? Matchbox feels your pain.

Matchbox, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that North Carolina is best represented by the Snorkel Fire Truck, because after all, when you think of North Carolina, you think "High Rise Apartment fires", not Nascar, or tractors in a tobacco field, or immense trucks pulling loads of constantly defecating swine off to the slaughterhouse.

Alabama - Airport Fire Pumper. Alabama, famous the world over for its airports.

Georgia - VW van. Because it's the spiritual home of Dead-Heads everywhere.

Tennessee - Don't think Saturn, think Nissan!

Poor Louisiana doesn't even rate its own car

I'll admit that the Highway Maintenance Truck fits North Dakota, and the Tow Truck is a nice swipe at New York. My favorite, though, is the Matchbox representation of Texas, the Dodge Dakota.


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9/02/2002




Add Lebanon on the "To Do" List

Lebanon has jumped a couple of spaces and now squarely rests behind Iraq as the country we are most likely to annihilate. If the following report is true, the president must now think about attacking yet another country. The real danger this presents is that we may spread ourselves too thin in order to be effective in any particular region, and without allied assistance will be alone in our attempts to rid the world of terrorists. There are enough people in the world who hate the United States, that I do not see an end to this madness.

Al-Qaida Said to Find Refuge in Lebanon Camp

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
.c The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (Sept. 2) - Nearly 200 al-Qaida operatives, including several senior commanders, have settled in Lebanon with Syria's permission, taking refuge in a large Palestinian refugee camp there, an Israeli newspaper reported Monday. A source in Jerusalem, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report, saying the information comes from Israeli and Western intelligence agencies. A Lebanese security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied al-Qaida members were in the refugee camp, saying 10 to 15 Islamic militants are hiding from authorities in the camp. The militants were involved in clashes in which nine Lebanese soldiers were killed. Zeev Schiff, a prominent Israeli journalist who covers the military, reported in Haaretz daily that Damascus has allowed between 150 and 200 al-Qaida operatives to settle in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, near the Lebanese coastal town of Sidon.


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Not That Innocent

Britney Spears has opened her mouth and stupidity has come rushing forth. She made the following statement this week:

Who cares if I've had sex? It's nobody's business. Trust me, I'm not going to have a press conference to announce it.

Oh, really. Well then, why the hell did you have one to let us know that you were a virgin? Let me translate what she is really saying. The previous statement means:

I am really famous and hot, and realized that I could be having sex all the time so I am doing it. I've done the gay guy from N'Sync, some grip from my last horrific attempt at acting, and am currently doing whoever the hell I please.

I don't care if she is doing it, and never really believed that she wasn't. I simply resent the fact that she made such a big deal about being more saintly than everyone else, when apparently she is just as big a whore as the rest of us.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.




Hell to Sell

I have come to the conclusion that selling a home, even a decent home that is in good condition and not falling in on itself is the worst experience any human being could possibly go through. At least drowning, burning, and being shot are quicker, and I am willing to suggest that they might even be less painful. For those of you who have not had this experience, let me break it down for you in a nutshell.

Step 1: Set an asking price (I'm not sure of the reason, to give a high water mark I suppose)
Step 2: Receive an offer from a potential buyer (that is no doubt nowhere near what you are asking for)
Step 3: Give a counter-offer.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you are so sick of the process that you are willing to move back to the city from whence you came.

Some idiot is trying to buy our home right now, and gave us a bid that is less than what we paid for the house. Had I known his email address I would have sent him a message which read:
I'm sorry, but you are obviously too damn stupid to own your own home. Request......DENIED!!!!!!

After a week we accepted his latest offer and said, just take the keys, we take your money and that is the end of it. We have gone so low that we will not make any money, but we lowered the price so that he could make any necessary repairs. Now the jerk-off says that we will still fix some items, so today I told him to go %@#$#$ himself. Take it or leave it...............and I swear I have never enjoyed anything in my life more than I enjoyed saying that. He had nickeled and dimed us until we weren't making any money and still wanted more and it was time for us to draw a line in the sand.

Sure, I may have missed a sale, but the adrenaline rush I had telling him to kiss my ass was worth every dime I may have to eventually sink into that home. Still, I pray that each of you will never have to go through this process. I am about 2 days away from slinging my body onto a sword. Perhaps, those of you who have been through this will understand my plight, and maybe we can start a support group. Updates to follow.


Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.

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