Archive for January, 2004

So basically, we *all* got conned.

January 30, 2004 Leave a comment

Sad thing is, I called this months ago, but darned if I can find anywhere that I actually wrote that down beyond a vague recollection that I mentioned it to my friend Wedge. In other words, I’ve got no proof.

What am I talking about? That Iraqi scientists were conning Saddam into bankrolling weapons programs that didn’t actually exist.

Ex-Inspector Says C.I.A. Missed Disarray in Iraqi Arms Program

“After the onset of this “dark ages,” Dr. Kay said, Iraqi scientists realized they could go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans for weapons programs, and receive approval and large amounts of money. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability, he said, was largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.

“‘The whole thing shifted from directed programs to a corrupted process,’ Dr. Kay said. ‘The regime was no longer in control; it was like a death spiral. Saddam was self-directing projects that were not vetted by anyone else. The scientists were able to fake programs.’

So how does a non-existent weapons of mass-destruction program look like one? Well, you have to have props if Saddam ever comes to visit. In other words, Saddam’s scientists set up what amounted to Potemkin villages. On top of that, there was evidence that the Iraqis continued research and development “right up until the end” to improve their ability to produce ricin. “They were mostly researching better methods for weaponization,” Dr. Kay said. “They were maintaining an infrastructure, but they didn’t have large-scale production under way.”

In other words, the CIA blew it. But the reasons they blew it may turn out to be less their fault, and more the fault of a corrupt scientific establishment that knew that they could get money from Saddam if they said that their program was going to develop wonder weapons. It’s a familiar story from post-1943 World War II Germany, now played out under the Arabian skies.

Moment of Zen

Tourist Douses Crying Baby on Flight

Categories: Personal

And then there's Vermont, all by its lonesome up there…..

January 28, 2004 1 comment

Gacked this from , who in turn had gacked it from someone else.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I seem to be avoiding a rather large section of the country, tiptoeing around the edges while the inner voices scream “NOOO! Don’t go to Iowa or Montana! Nooo!” The one I really don’t understand not going to, however, is Vermont. My travels seem to have surrounded it (if the map extended northward, I’ve been to both Quebec and Ontario) without setting foot inside of it. Something to rectify, preferably one fall while the leaves are turning.

Moment of Zen

Giant Snowball Stops Train in Its Tracks

Categories: Personal

*shaking head* A multicultural Chinese buffet?

January 25, 2004 Leave a comment

Sometimes, I run across something that just makes me shake my head. Today was a case in point. Before I start though, I’m going to give some background on my thing on Chinese buffets.

Everywhere I’ve lived since college, I’ve tried to find a good Chinese buffet. If they make vegetable mei fun as a bonus, I’m theirs. I had the Golden Palace Buffet in Pittsburgh (though note the line in the review “The Golden Palace has plenty of vegetarian dishes to choose from as well, so if meat is something you don’t eat, don’t worry.” Yeah, don’t eat the meat. It’s not always clear if it’s the meat that it’s advertised as being. Did I mention the vegetable mei fun?) In Philadelphia, I had the Win Buffet, which was OK but not something I would have run miles for. In Knoxville, I wasn’t there really long enough and I was on the Atkins diet most of the time (in other words, vegetable mei fun was off the menu.) In Germantown, MD, there’s nothing. I had to go up to Frederick to find one, the New China Buffet.

Now that that’s out of the way, back to the thing that made me shake my head. Since coming to the DC metro area, I’ve come across a few instances of the mixed buffet, where you might have pepper beef sitting right next to lasagna and Swedish meatballs. It’s quite bizzare, but generally pretty small and salad-bar like in terms of size. This Sunday, I walked in the New China Buffet at noon to discover that they’d decided to have a Chinese-Mexican-breakfast-seafood brunch. There was a taco bar, waffles and scrambled eggs, fried clam strips and potato wedges, and the usual Chinese. On the principle that there was a reason that God had put such wide continental and oceanic separation between tacos with hot sauce and sweet-and-sour chicken, I had some honey chicken, egg drop soup and mei fun.

I think the thing that got me the most: the waffles. *shaking head*

Moment of Zen

Oldest U.S. Bank Robber Gets 12 Years in Prison

Categories: Personal

Globe trotting.

January 23, 2004 Leave a comment

Ran across this on ’s journal and decided to create my own “Where’ve I been?” map, aka the “God, who was dumb enough to let me in?” map.

create your own visited country map

Looks a lot like ’s map, though I’ve been to Ireland and she hasn’t yet. Of course, she’s also been to Thailand, Malaysia and Japan and I haven’t. I’m not quite sure when she visited Austria though, as that also seems to be on her map.

Moment of Zen

Sell Yourself with ‘Body Bucks’ Course

Categories: Personal

The last member of Churchill's cabinet still alive (that I know of.)

January 20, 2004 Leave a comment

I’m referring to, of course, Churchill’s parrot, Charlie. She’s 104 today, and still saying “F*** Hitler” and “F*** the Nazis”. Even today, 39 years after the great man’s death, she can still be coaxed into repeating them with that unmistakable Churchillian inflection.

Moment of Zen

Army Joins Struggle to Save Beer

Categories: Personal

La has an LJ!

January 14, 2004 Leave a comment

*shameless plug*My La has a LJ now! Go, go, read! */shameless plug*

Moment of Zen

Russian pop duo TATU have finally admitted they are NOT lesbians.

Categories: Personal


January 11, 2004 Leave a comment

It’s quite frigid on the Eastern Seaboard today, so I spent the day doing two things: passing the Apple Help Desk Specialist Exam (score of 87%,needed 65% to pass. Whoo hoo!) to be certified as an Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist (ACHDS) and cleaning, since Miss Yess is coming to visit tomorrow. I think I nearly spring-cleaned my lungs while I was spraying the Scrubbing Bubbles in the bathtub.

Discoveries today:

1. Szechuan beef – not one of my favorite things. Blech.

2. The Thomas Crown Affair never, ever gets old.

Moment of Zen

Honey, Feel Like Saving a Little Water?

Categories: Personal

An anniversary passed me by without my even noticing…..

January 9, 2004 Leave a comment

Not mine and La’s, needless to say, but oddly enough, it was the same day. Out of curiosity, I checked my SETI@Home stats to see if Larry still had my old workstation up and running at the Former Workplace and noticed two things. 1. He hadn’t turned it off until fairly recently, as it was still reporting results as of December 15th (he may have turned it off after that date) and 2. that I’d had a machine running SETI@Home for over three years now. Even more scary, I’ve had the same machine running SETI@Home for over three years: a beige 333MHz G3 minitower that is/was ensconced in the network room of Former Workplace. Considering that I haven’t set foot in the place since September of 2002, that’s pretty cool.

Relevant details from the SETI@Home site:
Results Received

Total CPU Time
2.596 years

Average CPU Time per work unit
39 hr 28 min 44.5 sec

Average results received per day

Last result returned:
Mon Dec 15 18:03:20 2003 UTC

Registered on:
Mon Dec 11 20:53:17 2000 UTC

SETI@home user for:
3.078 years

Your rank: (based on current workunits received)

Your rank out of 4827612 total users is:
319976th place.

The number of users who have this rank:

You have completed more work units than
93.364% of our users.

Categories: Personal

Bad <lj user="der_flounder">! Haven’t updated in a while! No cookie for you!

January 2, 2004 Leave a comment

That was, in general, the message that I got loud and clear from over the holidays while we were home. Today’s a quiet day (thank God), so I’m updating. Fortunately for you, gentle reader, I have a plethora of material.

First of all, the Christmas haul. I got, once again, my favorite Christmas gift in the whole wide world: My family and friends. Before I hear the retching sounds, I’ll just say this. When I went to the Storybook Home to see the Parental Units on Christmas Eve, I was beaten, weary, and about *this* far from chucking it all and moving to a monastery in Madagascar. (Madagascar? Why Madagascar? -ed. I like alliteration.) After two solid days of not paying any attention to my Blackberry, or indeed email at all, I felt much better. I felt even better when La was able to come up for Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday to the Storybook Home and spend time with me and the Parentals and meet . I also was fortunate to receive some really nice gifts from everyone, especially La. I love this woman. Flat adore.

A random scattering of gifts received:

1. A Braun Synchro 7526 self-cleaning (God knows I needed this part especially!) razor
2. The Reduced Shakespeare Company doing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – oh, so happy! Adam Long in my living room! No more having to spend boatloads of money jetting to London to get my fix!
3. A reproduction poster for Fritz Lang’s masterpiece Metropolis
4. Socks and underwear – Believe it or not, I ask for this every year. I’m never disappointed.

On other topics, I actually had some time to catch up on the Presidential race. Two stories struck me as hysterical, though one was more inadvertent comedy than anything else.

First is from Money line about Joe Lieberman (and I like Lieberman, for the record) that made me nearly snarf the morning Diet Coke: “We only have to be worried if, at the Democratic Convention, he announces the creation of a Grand Army of the Republic and that, contrary to spy reports, the Fleet Center is a fully armed and operational Battle Station.“

The second just makes me feel sorry for John Kerry. The picture there’s worth….well, it was worth me laughing myself silly in the bathroom this morning: Those of you who want to skip the story and go straight to the picture can see it here.

Categories: Personal
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