Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"


eight months down

by John at 2/24/2006 07:42:00 AM

(Make your own Einstein picture, via Boing Boing)



by John at 2/22/2006 08:07:00 PM

Something's been bothering me the last week or so. It's a little hard to talk about, but I think I should unburden myself: The latest Weezer album is pretty sucky.

Their latest album is Make Believe, and it starts off with some good old Weezer rock, just like one would expect. The problem is the insipid poor-me, loser lyrics. It's not so bad at first, but by the second half of the album it starts to get on my nerves. By track eight I'm ready for the album to end, and by the start of track 10 (of 12) I just hit next disk, because I really can't take anymore.

Luckily, the next album on my car's CD changer (yes, I do not have a mp3 player - I'm still rollin' like it's 1996) is Funeral by Arcade Fire, and going to that is like flipping a toggle switch from "sucks!" to "rules!" I didn't fully believe the hype, but I was wrong.

Anyway, I decided to test my opinion out using the time-honored technique of a Google fight. I compared the number of hits for the query "$1 $2" where $1 is either "Weezer" or "Arcade Fire" and $2 is either "sucks" or "rules" - the results are graphed below.

It's not as one-sided as I imagined. "Weezer $2" had 1259 total hits with a net score of -93, which means more sucking than ruling. "Arcade Fire $2" had 336 total hits with a net score of +14, which means more ruling than sucking. Arcade Fire wins!



by John at 2/21/2006 06:44:00 AM

Q: Why are we in Iraq? (Fafblog!)


face exercises

by John at 2/13/2006 07:57:00 AM

It's a Fark photoshop contest - my sides started to hurt from laughing, but that may be muscle soreness from all that snow shoveling yesterday...

Anyway, some great stuff!



by John at 2/12/2006 07:33:00 PM

You'd think after living here for more than eight years I'd know what it means, but I think it means the winds came out of the northeast.

We just got hit by a Nor'easter that dropped something less than 10 inches at my house (hard to say because of drifting, plus I didn't actually bother to measure it). It took me more than three hours (and three tries) to finish shoveling my long, long driveway*. I say this after every big snowfall, but next year I'm going to hire a plow.

It could have been a lot worse - we had snowfall for about six hours yesterday afternoon without any appreciable accumulation because the air temperature was still above freezing and the ground was warm. There was still only about an inch on my walkway at 10 pm. Over the next nine hours, though, it got colder, and by around 7 am we'd gotten about all the snow we were going to get.


The good part is, Elias got to try out snow for the first time. I can't say he liked it.

Update: The local news is saying 12"-18" in our area. We are right on the border with the 8"-12" zone, so let's call it 12". The 16"-22" zone missed us by about 10 or 15 miles.


* Trivia: The longest amount of time I have spent shoveling snow was more than fours hours spread over two days in the winter of 2003. That snowfall is pictured in the header image and resulted in four days off from work.



by John at 2/10/2006 07:28:00 AM

Conservatarians are big on accountability. You'd expect them to be upset about being lied to by elected officials. When do we start holding the lying architects of the Iraq war accountable?

Ex-CIA official faults use of data on Iraq

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

It's great that Pillar is coming clean now - at least the historical record of the Bush administration's malfeasance will be mostly accurate. But why did these people (Pillar and Wilkerson) wait so long? Why didn't they say something when it might have made a difference to the course the country was going to take? Like most people high in the Bush administration, they were (and are) probably just looking out for their own interests, despite any protestations of patriotism they might make.

If you have some time, you can read the whole depressing thing.

Update: I didn't read to the end of the WaPo article! It turns out that Pillar spoke out against Bush's Iraq policy at a private dinner in the months before the 2004 election. This got him pegged by the conservative press as a troublemaker. Still, that's not blowing the whistle very loudly.


Oscar® caliber

by John at 2/06/2006 06:54:00 AM

Yesterday evening, Wendy unleashed her inner-Spielberg. Her new short film is a moving tribute to perseverance and the triumph of the spirit.

(Turn the volume up.)


Had to do it....

by Amy, Bill, Guillermo and Alma at 2/05/2006 11:46:00 AM

Go HAWKS!!!!! Although we're not big football fans in general, today is a big day for our little team.


the phantom 30 second book reviews

by John at 2/04/2006 10:02:00 PM

Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Several times I had heard that this was a great book, and yet I never thought much about reading it. I didn't know what it was about. Then one day I was wandering through the fiction stacks in the library and I saw it - the librarians had pulled it from its place in the shelf and propped it up on some sort of stand so that passersby (like myself) would notice it. It worked! I noticed it, and remembered hearing about how great it was. It looked interesting. I mean, the cover looked interesting: It was a bird's eye view of a small white boat on the water, with a large orange tiger and a small brown boy laying in the boat. Hmm. This turned out to be an accurate description of the plot of the story. I highly recommend this book. In addition to being a fairly thrilling adventure tale* of an Indian boy and a killer tiger lost at sea, it's also about man's relationship to nature and the nature of belief.

The Amphora Project - William Kotzwinkle
This book came with a few great cover blurbs, including one from Kurt Vonnegut praising the author. Looking inside the cover, it turned out the author also wrote E.T. The Extraterrestrial, so I figured I had to read it just to find out what kind of author writes E.T. and gets amazing praise from Vonnegut. As Michael Caine once said, "What a shock." After reading the first several chapters, I had decided this was either a badly cliched semi-comic space opera, or it was an extremely subtle parody of the same. I pushed through, and eventually the forced puns and boilerplate characters turned into an actual story that was moderately interesting. But I'm easy that way. Don't waste your time on this tale*, there are undoubtedly better things out there that you haven't read yet.

Everyone In Silico - Jim Munroe
Munroe, I figure, is Canadian, so this tale* take places in Canada. As a USA-centric American, this strikes me as odd (who writes about Canada?) but I'm pretty sure it is perfectly normal for a Canadian author to write such a story. Overall, I enjoyed this one. The plot hinges on Self, a company that has perfected the art of downloading people's minds into avatars that live in a virtual San Francisco. Anyone can go, and for a price, you can even get the advertising banners removed. While you are there, Self takes care of your body so can come back to the real world whenever you want, provided you give at least two weeks notice. Naturally, everything is not what it seems, and a disparate group of people ranging from a marketing coolhunter and genesplicing performance artists to a twelve year old hacker and his septagenarian grandmother are organized by a shadowy figure intent on finding out the truth.
Available as a free e-book.

Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask - Jim Munroe
This tale* also takes place in Canada (go figure) and is about a couple of Toronto hipsters who have superpowers. They form Superheroes for Social Justice, and fight against cigarette smoking, sexism, and draconian anti-drug laws. It's better than it sounds, but it's not great, unless, maybe, you live in Toronto and hang out with hipster types. I didn't hate it, but by the end I felt that the story violated an important rule of filmmaking: Show it, don't say it. The first person narrator spends too much time being introspective and telling us his feelings instead of letting us find out what he is feeling by the things he does. Maybe that's not a big deal, but it just didn't work out for me.
Available as a free e-book.

Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China - Rachel DeWoskin
Don't let the title and the cover fool you, because this book is not as salacious as it sounds. (Aside: This was the first book I put on hold at my library, and when the librarian handed it to me, she was all, "Woohoo, look at those fishnets! I thought it said 'Foreign Babies' but I guess not." She thought I was some kind of pervert. While that may be true, she did not have evidence of it in her hand at the time.) This the true story of the author, who went to Beijing in 1995 to work for a PR firm and have some adventures. She ended up staying for five years and managed to play a main character on a very popular Chinese primetime soap opera, called Foreign Babes in Beijing. This book is about her experience living in China, working with and dating young Chinese people. She also expounds upon the Chinese relationship with the West, and in particular views of the USA and the ascent of capitalism. If you are interested in China or foreign travel, this might be a book you would like. Check it out.

Fifty Degrees Below - Kim Stanley Robinson
This is the sequel to Forty Signs of Rain, a story I felt didn't need a sequel. I liked it (a lot) but it wasn't as moving as the previous. It is a tale* of times much like our own; it may, in fact, be 2004. The world is in deep shit, because the Gulf Stream has stopped due to large influxes of fresh water in the northern Atlantic. Without the Gulf Stream for warmth, Northern Europe is going to feel a lot more like Northern Canada, and in January, the coldest winter in ten thousand years hits the northern hemisphere. Our protagonists at the NSF are trying to think of ways to mitigate the crisis while facing unusual personal problems, the least of which is that Charlie and Anna's two year old is most likely the reincarnation of a revered Tibetan Buddhist leader. Robinson is always a writer I enjoy. He likes to mix the tide of history with the personal. He holds science and scientists in high, but not unrealistic, esteem. He's not afraid to stand up for his liberal political views. If these things don't turn you off, and you haven't yet, read Forty Signs of Rain and then pick up this one. Pretty darn good.


* It's the word I thought of last time, and I'm going to wear it out.