May 28, 2004

Friday Filler

Found this at Lemur Girl, who found it at Special K:

First job: Flower delivery man for a florist in Dallas.
First self purchased CD: Brain Salad Surgery, by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in July 1987.
First piercing/tattoo: Summer 1983, left ear piercing (long since closed-up).
First enemy: 10th grade - Some guy named Jeff Anderson who borrowed my bass guitar longer than appropriate and teased me until we got into a fight; although I outweighed and out-reached him, he knocked me down with one good punch to the face in my one-and-only after-school fight. He dropped out of Jesuit a year or so later, and I graduated Salutatorian of my class. Guess I won after all.

Last big car ride: Dallas to Corpus Christi and back, to visit the USS Lexington.
Last kiss: 20 minutes ago (my lovely wife)
Last library book checked out: Ummm. . . some gardening books in 1999, the last time I did a vegetable garden.
Last movie seen: In the theater? The Alamo. On DVD, Master and Commander.
Last beverage drank: Guiness Extra Stout.
Last food consumed: Buffalo Wings at The Cheesecake Factory.
Last phone call: my wife, on my way home from work earlier today.
Last CD played: Fragile, Yes.
Last annoyance: The jerk in an SUV who did such a sloppy job parking at Stonebriar Mall, where we went to eat tonight
Last pop drank: Coke.
Last ice cream eaten: Blue Bell Country Vanilla (w/ Hershey's Hot Fudge sauce).
Last shirt worn: Dallas Sidekicks T-Shirt.

I AM: Ready for a break.
I HAVE: The Summertime Blues.
I WISH: I could find more time to write.
I HEAR: The air conditioner humming, my dog breathing.
I SEARCH: For filler like this to keep this blog running.
I REGRET: very little.
I LOVE: my fantastic wife and three outstanding kids.
I ALWAYS: wonder where my paycheck went.

NUMBER: 13 (My birthdate is April 13)
COLOR: blue
DAY: Saturday
MONTH: November
SONG(S): It Had to Be You, Harry Connick; South Side of the Sky, Yes; Natural Science, Rush; Cliffs of Dover, Eric Johnson
SEASON: Autumn
DRINK: Guiness, Shiner Bock, or Coca Cola

Posted by JohnL at 11:38 PM | Comments (3) |

More SF Babes

My long-time readers (all 1 or 2 of you!) might remember the good-natured back-and-forth between this blog and the Llamabutchers about SF Babes a couple of months ago.

Well, I thought of those posts the other day when the guys at SFSignal linked to the "Top 75 Heroines of Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror."

In the process, they also introduced me to RevolutionSF, which now finds a home on my sidebar.

Posted by JohnL at 09:55 PM | Comments (2) |

May 24, 2004


Robert Anson Heinlein, who coined the word "grok," who created the speculative future histories and alternate worlds that have captivated the imaginations of millions of readers, who, with Ayn Rand, laid much of the popular literary foundation for libertarianism, died 16 years ago on May 8, 1988.

I missed the date, as I don't usually mark the "death dates" of people, even those whom I admire. But fortunately Bill Dennis keeps track of the information at his Heinlein Blog. He also links to a good essay by J. Neil Schulman, which describes Heinlein's works as "how-to" manuals.


Posted by JohnL at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) |

Photshop Abuse

There should be a clause in the Photoshop licensing agreement that forbids putting it to this kind of use:



Original image found at Brokennewz.

Posted by JohnL at 09:03 PM | Comments (2) |

Musical ABCs

LeeAnn at the cheese stands alone posted a challenge the other day: "for each letter of the alphabet, list a band you truly like," in her words. Here goes:

Booker T and the MGs; Bowie, David
Cream; Cure, The
Deep Purple; Doors, The; Dream Theater
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Folds, Ben; Foo Fighters
Genesis; Gabriel, Peter
Hendrix, Jimi
INXS; Iris, Donnie
Jackson, Joe
Kinks, The
Led Zeppelin
Numan, Gary
Orbison, Roy
Pink Floyd
Styx; Seal; Santana; Steppenwolf; Supertramp
Triumph; Traffic
Van Halen; Vangelis
Who, The; Winwood, Steve
X, Planet (OK, that's kind of cheating)
ZZ Top

Feel free to leave your list in comments, or post it and trackback to here or LeeAnn.

Posted by JohnL at 08:53 PM | Comments (1) |

May 21, 2004

Reality TV Bites, And Gets Bitten. . .

Venomous Kate takes aim at reality TV and proceeds to inflict multiple deadly bites upon it.

I'm proud to say I've never watched a single episode of any of that trash. Life's just too short. Fortunately, for people like me who are alien to this unsavory bit of pop culture, Kate provides helpful links to each of the shows in her post.

It's scary to think that the concept has propagated as far and successfully as it has.

Posted by JohnL at 09:49 PM | Comments (2) |


Ace of Spades HQ links to a bunch of creepy European art, movies, and games.

My favorite:

(Described by Ace as "Lovecraft-meets-Giger").

Posted by JohnL at 08:33 PM | Comments (0) |

May 20, 2004

Right Wing Hotness

Ace-of-Spades summarizes the factors that make Lara Flynn Boyle "dirty kinky right-wing hot."

Posted by JohnL at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) |

Shame, Shame, Shame. . .

I meant to blog on this a couple of weeks ago, when the LlamaButchers first pointed me to it.

Things I'm not ashamed to admit, but probably should be:

Current Events

One reason I don't blog much about politics and the war is that other bloggers have already covered the news in greater detail and in a more timely manner than I could. I don't blog from work, and therefore my surfing and posting are at the end of the day.

If I can't think of anything more than "me too," then I don't write about it, even though I may be in complete agreement. I'll be damned if I'm going to become an online "dittohead." I got into this blogging thing to force myself to write regularly, not to create some grand unified theory of politics. I hope someday to retire from the law racket; I would love to supplement my retirement income as an author.

So I write.

As frequently seems to be the case, James Lileks has already stated this thought for me:

"I’ll tell you why I haven’t written more about [the war, Abu Ghraib, Nick Berg] lately – it’s because there are others who do it so much better, have more to say, and have first-hand experience. I suppose I should be linking to them, but I assume that anyone who’s interested in these matters hits the other spots on the web that provide more authoritative content than I can offer. What’s more, I haven’t wanted to address The Gloom because that would simply add to it, and I think The Gloom is a mistake, a caul we’ve draped over our own heads. It will pass.

"I’m not interested in hand-wringing. Obsession about the details of the current news cycle is the best way to ensure that the future smacks you on the back of the head hard some day. Live micro, but think macro. Inhabit the day, but apprehend the week, the month, the year, and beyond."

Go and read the whole Bleat.

Posted by JohnL at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) |


I've enjoyed taking my new dog on nightly walks. The neighborhood is even prettier and more peaceful than usual. A chorus of thousands of toads is raising its voice from the creek. Birds are settling down for the night. Venus and a few stars peek through the veil of dusk.

The moon was one of my regular walking companions for the first couple of weeks that we had Jake. But it disappeared a couple of weeks ago, coming out later and later. Tonight, it reappeared, low in the West -- a waxing crescent. Reflected Earthlight illuminated the night-side of the moon.

One of my favorite sights, and one that is evocatively captured in the lyrics of the Rush song Earthshine.

(Lyrics in extended entry).


On certain nights
When the angles are right
And the moon is a slender crescent,

Its circle shows
In a ghostly glow
Of earthly luminescence.

Earthshine --
A beacon in the night
I can raise my eyes to

Earthshine --
A jewel out of reach
Form a dream to rise to

Floating high
In the evening sky
I see my faint reflection.

Pale facsimile
Like what others see
When they look in my direction.

Earthshine --
Stretching out your hand
Full of starlit diamonds

Reflected light
To another's sight
And the moon tells a lover's story.

My borrowed face
And my third-hand grace
Only reflect your glory.

You're still out of reach
Form a dream to rise to
Earthshine .

Posted by JohnL at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) |

May 17, 2004

New Look For Freespace

Timothy Sandefur has moved his Freespace blog off Blog*Spot to Typepad. Check out the spiffy new look.

Timothy brings a libertarian/Objectivist perspective to several subjects, but most eloquently to constitutional law, theory, and history.

Posted by JohnL at 10:26 PM | Comments (1) |

Apparently, I Grok


Check out more of Chris Muir's Day by Day.

Posted by JohnL at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) |

May 14, 2004

New Rush Album

This is interesting news.

Rush, which has never been known for covering other artists' material (although their very first single was a cover of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away), is now releasing a new album to commemorate their 30 years together consisting of eight cover songs representing their earliest musical influences:

More in the extended entry. . .

If I were to do the same thing (come up with eight songs that greatly influenced my rock keyboard style), they would be:

Posted by JohnL at 11:45 PM | Comments (6) |

Closer to the Prize

Scaled Composites appears to have the X-Prize all but in the bag. They are making this look all too easy. I hope they have continued success, and I look forward to their next flight.

This is getting some mainstream coverage, in addition to many mentions in the blogosphere.

A couple of cool pictures from Scaled's website in the extended entry:




Posted by JohnL at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) |

May 13, 2004

Trek Limerick

Also found via Gravity Lens here.

"Ode to Spock"

There once was a commander named Spock
Who sounded so smooth when he'd talk.
From the very first day
The fans would all say
"That green blooded Vulcan, we grok!"

Posted by JohnL at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) |

Star Trek, RFD

Did you know that a couple episodes of Star Trek: The Old Series were filmed on Mayberry RFD sets? Really. The City on the Edge of Forever and Miri were both filmed partly in Mayberry.

(Hat Tip: Gravity Lens).

Posted by JohnL at 11:39 PM | Comments (1) |

May 12, 2004

Geek Confessions

Well, the Llamabutchers started it, and Ted has kept it alive long enough that I can post on this while it is still somewhat fresh.

What are ten subjects about which I know more than is healthy?

In no particular order:

Ted augments his list with an additional ten items. Quite the dilettante, he. I won't bore you with more of my details. Instead, please just read back through my archives to see what other interests I have that verge on geekdom.

Posted by JohnL at 10:39 PM | Comments (1) |

May 11, 2004

Captain Chontosh, Hero

Why wasn't this story on the front page last year, when it happened? Or at least last week, when Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross for his incredibly heroic actions? Why was it that the media assigned to our military the leering faces of the few bad-apple prison guards? Do they really want us to lose that badly? I wonder why.

Recap of what Capt. Chontosh did to earn the Navy Cross:

On March 25, 2003, during the race to Baghdad, Captain Chontosh's platoon was ambushed, being caught in a pre-sighted kill zone of machine gun fire. Rather than retreat, he ordered his Hummvee directly toward the enemy machine-gun emplacement, allowing the .50 cal gunner to shut down the Iraqi gunner.

Chontosh then directed his vehicle into the enemy trench, where he dismounted and proceeded to work his way down their line, dispatching them with his M16A2 and 9mm side arm. When he ran out of ammo, he twice picked up enemy rifles and continued his attack. He used an enemy RPG launcher to take out a group of Iraqis. When he was done, he had cleared 200 metres of trench, killing at least 20 enemy and wounding many others.

Instituted in 1917, the Navy Cross recognizes acts performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility.

(Hat Tip: Blackfive).

Posted by JohnL at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) |

Nick Berg, RIP

This just sickens me.

First thought: "Nuke the effin' bastards."

Second thought: Which ones?

Third thought: All of 'em. Let their miserable bloodthirsty god sort them out.

Final thought: No, no, no. That would be lowering us to their level. We must remain civilized. That's what sets us apart from these savages.

Bill INDC does a great job summing all of this up.

Supplemental thoughts - we didn't cease to be a decent, just, and civilized society because of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Are we there yet? Does the relentless negative reporting by our media lead inexorably towards the "final solution" solution? God help us if that is the case.

Posted by JohnL at 09:17 PM | Comments (4) |

Rush on the Religion of Peace

I'll be sprinkling more and more Rush into my posts in the coming month-and-a-half until the big concert on June 23.

Given today's headlines, I decided to post the lyrics from their take on the "Religion of Peace," written post-9/11 (from the 2002 album, Vapor Trails):

Peaceable Kingdom

A wave toward the clearing sky

All this time we're talking and sharing our Rational View
A billion other voices are spreading other news
All this time we're living and trying to understand
Why a billion other choices are making their demands

Talk of a Peaceable Kingdom
Talk of a time without fear
The ones we wish would listen
Are never going to hear

Justice against The Hanged Man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against The Tower

All this time we're shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we're hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn

Dream of a Peaceable Kingdom
Dream of a time without war
The ones we wish would hear us
Have heard it all before

A wave toward the clearing sky
A wave toward the clearing sky

The Hermit against The Lovers
Or the Devil against the Fool
Swords against the kingdom
The Wheel against the rules

All this time we're burning like bonfires in the dark
A billion other blazes are shooting off their sparks
Every spark a drifting ember of desire
To fall upon the earth and spark another fire

A homeward angel on the fly
A wave toward the clearing sky

Posted by JohnL at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) |

Remodeled Blog

In case you haven't surfed over there recently, be sure to check out SFSignal's spiffy new look. Gone is the purple. Nice shades-of-blue color scheme going on there now.

Posted by JohnL at 12:00 AM | Comments (1) |

May 10, 2004

New Links

I'd like to welcome a couple of new sites to my blogrolls.

At Don McClane's Mixolydian Mode, you'll find daily music posts as well as links to Steven King's The Shining in 30 Seconds (reenacted by animated bunnies), a dissertation on meteorology in Tolkien, and classic analog synthesizers (which is how he found my site, apparently). Don has several other sites covering a large range of topics here.

The other newcomer is the Bookish Gardener, who was kind enough to take my side in the recent tete-a-tete (or is that "Kopf gegen Kopf?") over the lovely German language. Another lawyer eclecti-blogger, but with a focus on gardening (and music, and books, and family, and. . . you get the idea!)


Posted by JohnL at 11:26 PM | Comments (3) |

Rush Returns

I was happy to see Rush back in the news today, with a generally positive preview of their upcoming 30th-anniversary world tour and an interesting interview of all three band members.

This is a nice contrast to the recent negative headlines surrounding the extraordinarily-out-of-character behavior of guitarist Alex Zivojinovich (Lifeson) on New Year's Eve. (Over 30 years, none of these guys has ever had any kind of run-ins with the law).

Lifeson's court date is set for May 17, just a week or so before their world tour starts on May 26. This makes me think that the defense either has iron-clad video evidence substantiating Lifeson's version of events, or they have a plea arrangement worked out in advance and are waiting to formalize it in court. This is rank speculation, of course, as I am neither a criminal defense attorney nor licensed to practice in Florida.

I sure hope they've got something worked out that doesn't involve deportation proceedings or jail time, since I've already got three tickets (for my two sons and me) for the June 23 appearance in Dallas. At ages 7 and 9, this will be the boys' first rock concert.

Rush exerted a huge influence on my intellectual and musical development, turning me on to Ayn Rand, libertarianism, synthesizers, and odd time signatures. If you've never seen or heard Rush, this DVD and its accompanying live CD are good places to start.

Posted by JohnL at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) |

May 07, 2004

Beautiful German

Speaking of French duels, I hereby challenge Rob the Llamabutcher to one, for calling the lovely German language hideous. (Full disclosure: my undergraduate degree was in German).

Among the sung languages, certainly Latin is the most beautiful, but German has an earthy power to it, much like English. Just read Der Erlkoenig (The Elf-King), by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and listen to a decent recording of Schubert's rendering of this poem.

If you have a child, I dare you to make it through the song without a tear in your eye.

Posted by JohnL at 11:06 PM | Comments (2) |

French Duel

Timothy Sandefur has me convinced that I need to read some Mark Twain. Aside from the obligatory Huckleberry Finn in high school, I haven't really read any Twain.

But today Timothy points us to some hilarious excerpts from A Tramp Abroad, including this account of a French duel.

(Since I missed blogging on Cinco de Mayo, this will have to serve as my slam-the-French post).

Posted by JohnL at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) |

Friends Recap

I haven't watched Friends in about 8 or 9 years. I liked it a lot in the first season, before anyone had really heard of it (and, more importantly, before the actors got too full of themselves). But the characters just got boring, and never seemed to grow up. Meanwhile, my wife and I had three kids, bought a house, and I successfully worked my way from absolute legal scut-work to a dream in-house job. The Friends crew just sat around and drank coffee. I couldn't relate to them anymore. So I didn't waste any time on their big finale.

Luckily, I didn't miss much, and the Llamabutchers have all the gory details. Be sure to read Steve's proposal for how the finale should have been done as an episode of Law and Order:SVU. Give that man a TV series!

Posted by JohnL at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) |

New Logo for RocketJones?

Professor Hall went searching for "Spacecraft" images on Google and found this, ahem, interesting, ahem, pic. (Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more). . .

Looks like it would make a decent background image for Ted's site banner, as he likes to keep his title art fresh.

Posted by JohnL at 10:08 PM | Comments (1) |

Tracking Space Objects

QuantumBlog provides a nice collection of links today to keep handy if you want to try to spot the international space station or other space objects:

Heavens Above
NASA's SkyWatch


Posted by JohnL at 09:58 PM | Comments (1) |

May 04, 2004

Some Competition for Allah

Looks like Steve and Rob are giving the Creator of Worlds a run for his money at humorous photoshopping. Just start here and scroll down.

Looks like they picked up a Vodka-lanche today, too. Good on them.

Posted by JohnL at 11:27 PM | Comments (2) |

May 03, 2004

Mayday, mayday, mayday . . .

Well I'm a few days late to observe May Day. We don't attach any great meaning to the holiday around here, and in any case, I would not commemorate a socialist holiday.

In fact, I think it appropriate that the international distress call for a grave and imminent danger is phonetically the same as the international socialist holiday. (Yeah, I know the word "mayday" comes from the French word m'aider, or help me, and has nothing to do with "May Day").

Why should one see socialism as a grave and imminent danger? Catallarchy explains much better than I could. Read the whole thing, including the linked articles.

Posted by JohnL at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) |

More Rocket Science

Following up on my post from last night/this morning, here are some videos showing what it's like when the "up" part is not so perfect, and quickly becomes the "down" part.

(Hat tip: Alan Brain).

Posted by JohnL at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) |

Creation "Science" Theme Park

Via Gravity Lens, a theme park in Florida where you will discover:

How awesome the world used to be and how it will be again very soon!

Dinosaurs in the Bible and history!

Dinosaurs alive today!

Amazing fossil discoveries. See them yourself!

Okilly dokilly, then.

I see that Timothy Sandefur has already covered this at Panda's Thumb.

Posted by JohnL at 10:50 PM | Comments (1) |

A Rocket Scientist's Words of Wisdom

The ‘up’ part was perfect. I need to work on the ‘down’ part.

So quoth Ted, in an entertaining summary of the first day of the Battlepark 2004 rocket-fest.

As far as working on the "down" part, he shows us some pictures of the aftermath of the Air Munuviana crash.

Posted by JohnL at 12:05 AM | Comments (2) |

May 02, 2004

12 Questions (and Answers)

Via Snooze Button Dreams, I came across some random questions from Ted's daughter, Mookie.

Here are the questions restated with my answers:

1. Middle Name?
2. Favorite Animal?
My new dog, Jake
3. If you were to go on a deserted island for 10 years, and you could take 1 person and 3 items, what would you take?
Person: My wife: tough, resourceful, smart, and gorgeous too!
Items: Versatile knife, mess kit, stocked tackle box

4. What’s your favorite food?
Steak, medium rare (sirloin or ribeye)
5. Who’s your favorite band?
6. Who’s your favorite person?
My wife
7. How old are you?
8. Where do you live?
Plano, Texas
9. What’s your favorite type of Ice Cream?
Blue Bell's Tin Roof
10. What’s your favorite family tradition?
Christmas morning treasure hunt for baby Jesus (my wife and I kidnap him from our nativity scene and hide him, leaving a series of written clues to lead the kids to him)
11. Do you have a job? If so where?
Yes; in-house lawyer at a nearby telecom company
12. What’s your dream car?
Acura RSX-S or TSX, in either case 6-speed manual (i.e., a souped-up version of my current car, a Honda Accord)

Posted by JohnL at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) |

May 01, 2004

Bob Moog Documentary

Here's a DVD I'll be looking forward to later this year.

Bob Moog's synthesizers defined the sound of much of the popular music of the 1970s and early 1980s: from progressive rock to heavy metal, pop to disco, country to new wave. My favorite groups, Rush, Yes, and ELP, all gave Moog instruments a leading role in their recordings and performances.

Then, "digital" synthesizers appeared and pushed the warm, user-friendly analog instruments to the sidelines for more than a decade.

But in the last few years, analog synthesizers in general (and Bob Moog's instruments in particular) have been making something of a comeback.

This is a real synthesizer.

And this is the anti-Moog.

Posted by JohnL at 12:58 AM | Comments (0) |