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This weekend? Clean the basement!

November 16, 2007

November 16, 2007 — 11:07 pm
Comments: 70

Stinks to high heaven

Mad Mel is in Paris attending the libel appeal of Philippe Karsenty in the al Dura affair. If you haven’t been following this or have lost track, here it is in bullet points:

· In September of 2000 TV station France 2 showed footage that it declared was the murder of Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura by the IDF. It became iconic. It was shown and reshown and resulted in a hefty body count.

· After further scrutiny, it was clear that the film didn’t show what they said it showed. In November of 2004, media watchdog Phillippe Karsenty called bullshit on France 2, claiming the incident was staged.

· Charles Enderlin and Arlette Chabot of France 2 sued Karsenty for libel and, with an assist from the shameless Jacques Chirac, France 2 won.

· Karsenty appealed and demanded the raw footage of the incident. The appeal judge concurred.

So today saw the release of 18 of the supposed 27 minutes of raw tape. Film. Disc. Whatever. Among the revelations: al Dura peeking out between his fingers some time after his ‘death.’

Richard Landes of the Augean Stables is, as usual, on top of this one, too. For metabackground (don’t you hate fake words with “meta” in them?), Landes also runs Second Draft, which includes an excellent collection of data on Pallywood.

I met Richard Landes at Acepalooza when, asked my name, I blurted out
my own real name. This so shocked basic weasel protocol that
I walked away before I realized I had been conversing with one of
my favorite bloggers.

— 11:51 am
Comments: 12

Because government is evil, that’s why

dionne quintuplets

In times like these, when there’s so much bustle and turmoil and upheavel in my life, I often think, “hey, what the hell happened to the Dionne quintuplets, anyhow?” Because, let’s face it, my head isn’t wired up too good.

The Dionne quints were born on May 28, 1934 on a little farm outside of Moosetesticle, Ontario. They were the first identical quintuplets known to survive infancy, and it was a close run thing. They were two months premature. Their father was a poor man with five children already and suddenly found himself with ten of the hungry little bastards in the thick of the Great Depression.

There was a world’s fair going on in Chicago at that moment — the Century of Progress Exhibition — and Dionne (reluctantly, says Wikipedia) signed a contract to exhibit the quints, as soon as they were strong enough, in a special pavilion. The Canuckian public howled with outrage and the Ontario government took custody the following year, to protect the babies from exploitation.

Then they built a special amusement park called Quintland for the girls and their caretakers, so visitors could come watch them play behind mesh screens. I shitteth thee not. Six thousand people a day filed past to watch five little girls not get exploited by their parents. Viewing was free, but the gift shop (!) and general flow of visitors to Ontario netted an estimated revenue take of $51 million over the years. Then there were the movies and newsreels and product endorsements.

Their mother never gave up fighting to get them back. And I damn well don’t blame her. If I blew five watermelons out my hoo-hoo one dark and stormy night, I would expect ALL MANNER of earthly reward. She won custody eventually, but by this time they were nine years old.

Nine. They’d never gone to school or done chores or played with other children or seen a member of the family. They’d barely left their little wire mesh freak show at all. They’d known nothing but nurses and the noisy shadows moving in the darkened space behind the wire.

Not surprisingly, it didn’t work out too good. Nothing did, ever after. I’m guessing, considering B.F. Skinner and all, they were just this side of squirrel-poop crazy.

They never adjusted to family. One by one, the quints died. All the ones who lived long enough developed epilepsy. They were desperately poor when the surviving three finally won a settlement of $4 million Canuckian, in 1998. It’s down to Cecile and Annette now.

Isn’t that a heartwarming tale of government stewardship?

Further reading: the CBC, Wikipedia and a short Real Media clip from the Canadian Film Board.

November 15, 2007 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 27

Yea it is nitty, and verily it is gritty also

ibm xt clone

Okay, here’s where it all becomes a lucky happy pink fluffy buttload of playtime joy. The real estate lady looked upon my Mighty Pile and instantly decided it would be quicker if I picked out the few things worth keeping and then turned the ragpickers loose.

I’ve never liked throwing things away (which is how we got here). I’ve never been one for new beginnings and fresh starts. But it’s finally dawning on me that nobody’s waiting to compose my hagiography; that my every post-it note and snotrag is not a precious relic; that rubbing my adolescent journals on lepers will not make them clean. In fact — on the whole — I would rather the world not remember what a spoiled, whiny, self-absorbed unpleasant little proto-emo toe-rag I was at sixteen.

So here we go. I guess it says something not-flattering about me that the idea of throwing out my first computer is a whole lot harder to bear than the idea of throwing away letters from my first serious boyfriend.

After all, that computer is an XT clone with a Phoenix BIOS — the first proper cloned PC. “Phoenix” because the company rose anew from the ashes of its lawsuit with IBM. Ironically, IBM’s loss is what tilted the nascent PC market toward IBM and away from Apple, since there were cheap clones of the former and not (still not) of the latter. “Cheap” is relative, of course: I had to take out a loan for $2,500 to buy it — a very serious chunk of change in 1985 weaselbucks. Still, it ran at 9.44 MHz (as opposed to the 4.77 MHz for a genuine IBM XT), had an RGB monitor, a 20 meg hard drive AND two floppies (one of which was double density). I combed Computer Shopper for months before I picked this one out.

And the boyfriend was just some lovesick twit I grew up with.

November 14, 2007 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 19

Stay classy, Providence!

big blue bug
Nibbles WoodawayMeet, Nibbles Woodaway, the Big Blue Bug, star of stage, screen, tattoo art and morning traffic reports. Built in Providence in 1980 (meaning your humble Weasel predates him in this city by two years), he’s the tasteful chickenwire-and-fiberglass mascot of New England Pest Control.

I suspect his fame derives from the fact that traffic on Interstate 95 bogs down near him at rush hour (much like the Dorchester gas tanks in Boston), so mentions of “the big blue bug” happen every ten minutes on news radio. He has since been featured in such outstanding theatrical productions as Dumb and Dumber and Oprah.

So when my real estate lady told me to call “RI Pest Control,” naturally the giant helpless advertising-drenched lobes of my brain substituted “New England Pest Control” and I did that thing. I don’t suppose it makes much difference; it was just a precaution anyway. And nope…no termites. I do have a bit of woodboring dung beetles or some damn thing — I forget — but it’s no big, apparently.

Also on today’s list: garage doors and the ragpicker. New garage doors aren’t nearly as expensive as I thought (no, I didn’t pick the cheapest and sleaziest, I picked the next one up from the cheapest and sleaziest. A class act, me). Installed a week from Monday.

And finally, the ragpicker. He and his good lady ragpicker have just had the fifty-cent tour…and, as they didn’t run away screaming, I guess they’re hired. When I said I was a packrat, they looked at each other and burst out laughing. I don’t think they were laughing at my nouveau-Brit understatement. I think it means the Weasel Collection is soon to become a small part of the Ragpicker Collection. Suits me fine.

And that’s more boring, home-ownery, grownuppy stuff than I’ve done in the last six years, all packed into one zany, madcap adventure. It’s now an hour and sixteen minutes past drinking time and I’ve been a Very Good Weasel, so — bottoms up! And then let’s have a drink!

November 13, 2007 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 28

Knitting up the ravell’d sleeve of broccoli

knitted potatoes

In case you’re not sure what you’re looking at there, it’s knitted potatoes and tomatoes and other garden vegetables. They represent a small part of an entire knitted garden dreamed up by some British biddies. That’s 300 people, fifty miles of yarn and four million stitches.

I’m not much into knitting, mind you (that would be my big brother), but Pupster sent me a link to the excellent Stitchy McYarnpants Museum of Kitschy Stitches a few days ago, so the topic just seemed… knitted in the stars or something.

I’m going to need all the cheap and easy blogfodder I can get for a while. A real estate agent had a look at Weasel Manor over the weekend and left me a To Do list that included items such as “douse livingroom in gasoline and light match” and “write ‘I Will Never Buy Another Knick-Knack In My Whole Stupid Miserable Life’ one hundred times — in own blood.”

If you haven’t figured it out on your own, I’m not a very good grownup. The process of hiring and directing workmen is not one I’m likely to do well. I was on the phone all day asking the important interview questions like, “would you like to see me hang a spoon on my nose?” and “recite three recent booger haiku you have written.”

I’m doomed.

November 12, 2007 — 6:40 pm
Comments: 26

And thus ends a lame week, lamely

November 9, 2007 — 7:47 pm
Comments: 84

Notes from the Home Office

office cubicle layout

That’s not really my cube — I’m three rows and a Data Center up from there — but mine is laid out and stuck in the traffic pattern exactly the same. So I don’t have my back to the door, as McGoo feared, but my partitions are only elbow high — people coming in the directions indicated by the arrows can snag a glimpse of each of my two monitors, respectively. I have to employ all my considerable weasel powers to continue goofing off the extent I have become accustomed.

First thing I noticed, watching humanity walk by, was how very many Indian people work at the home office. That’s funny because the president of the company is Indian. And when the head of Research was Chinese, so were most of the scientists. I know, I know…but when they elevated an Irishman to the top of training, suddenly all the new training hires were European, which flat doesn’t make sense however you look at it.

I don’t substantially object; I assume people tap into their prior contacts or their alma mater to make new hires. It just so damned blatant, is all. We forever hear what arrogant bigots Americans are, but I wouldn’t have the gall to take a job abroad and hire nothing but my own kind.

This map hangs on the wall outside my cube; they’ve moved everything around in this area and everybody’s lost. One of my cow orkers pointed out the highlights to me.

“And down here are the Table People,” she said, pointing to the bottom.
“That’s what everybody calls them. The Table People. They don’t have cubes. They sit side by side at big long tables.”
“Oh, they seem happy enough,” she said in the same uneasy way you’d discuss conjoined twins or Romanian orphans.

I worked up my nerve after lunch to walk down and gawp at the Table People. PLEASEOHPLEASE…Weasel will be good! Promise! Don’t make me a Table People!

November 8, 2007 — 5:26 pm
Comments: 18

Seven little nekkid dudes and an apology

figure sketchesBlame Mrs Peel for the ‘things I do when I’m in a long, boring meeting’ meme. Blame me for recent bloggy lameness.

I haven’t quite figured out how to blog from my new digs yet. Being unable to go to sweasel.com isn’t a problem; I can just as easily write offline in Notepad and post it later. The problem is that, without the internet, I don’t know anything worth posting about.

Yeah. Whaddya know. I sit there at my desk all day like a big stupid pumpkin, my mind a perfect and absolute blank.

“Heh,” I think, “I’m thinking nothing. They think I’m thinking, but I’m not.” Who knew I was so Zen?

But fear not, my imaginary friends who lived in the computer. We’ve come too far and debased ourselves too low to give up on it now. I’ll think of something. You can trust a weasel.

Hey, I know! Cute cat pictures! That’s bound to be a crowd pleaser!


November 7, 2007 — 5:35 pm
Comments: 28

Is it chilly in here, or is it just me?

(Just in case there are any of you that don’t read Ace’s), don’t miss this Aussie scientist discussing climate change via YouTube. I’ve only watched part one this morning, and dude has already convinced me we’re headed into the next ice age.

Brrrr…somebody throw another environmentalist on the fire…!

November 6, 2007 — 7:17 am
Comments: 9