February 28, 2005

Happy Birthday

Belated 40th birthday greetings to Rob, the Llamabutcher.

I like how his partner-in-crime, Steve, uses the Roman numbering to refer to this extra-large birthday.

Posted by JohnL at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) |

All Better

I am fully recovered from the illness reported here.

Thanks to the well-wishers kind enough to leave a comment or send me an email of support.

I'm not really back into the blogging rhythm yet, but I am tweaking the blogroll and preparing a new SF Babe poll, so check back soon.

Posted by JohnL at 11:12 PM | Comments (1) |

February 27, 2005

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (WF-2/E1-B Tracer)

This week's aircraft cheesecake continues with the flying saucer theme introduced last week. The Grumman WF-2 ("Willy Fudd") (later redesignated the E1-B Tracer) was the US Navy's first carrier-borne early warning aircraft:


E1-B Tracer.jpg

Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) |

February 23, 2005


File this under too much information, but what the heck...

I went to the emergency room last night with some abdominal cramps and bleeding (never have had symptoms like that before). Needless to say I was a bit freaked out.

Long story short, I have bacterial colitis, most likely from some tainted food. I've started antibiotics and am on a liquid diet for a couple of days, but should be completely better by Friday. This is, frankly, the ideal outcome, as it was easily spotted with early labwork and I did not need to undergo any more -- ahem -- invasive tests than necessary. Light blogging in the forecast for the next day or two.

Posted by JohnL at 09:19 PM | Comments (6) |

February 22, 2005

SF Babes (Battlestar Babes II)

My regular readers will remember that one of the first SF Babe polls was based on the original Battlestar Galactica. Sheba won, as you can verify in the Gallery.

I still haven't seen the "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica, but I can tell from the various trailers and onsite reviews that this newer, grittier Battlestar can be just as easy on the eyes as the original one.

Instead of cigar-chomping Dirk Benedict playing Starbuck, cigar-chomping Katee Sackhoff pilots her Viper against the dreaded Cylons:

And Starbuck's not the only one who got a sex change for the new series. Boomer (originally portrayed by Herb Jefferson Jr.) is now played by the beautiful Grace Park:

Cast your votes here [link disabled - ed.].

(You may also want to cast a vote in Annika's android poll. I don't know how long she'll keep it up on her front page, but it coordinates nicely with last week's SF Babe poll).

Results (Posted 1 March 2005):

Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff): 26% (15 of 58 votes)
Boomer (Grace Park): 74% (43 of 58 votes) WINNER!

Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (7) |

February 21, 2005

Software Reliability and Contracting Best Practices

In some sort of antipodal professional-criticism synchronicity, I find myself critiquing lawyers while Alan Brain points to an article critical of software developers.

Interesting to me is the linked article's enthusiasm for developing a modular approach to coding. I look at contracts as business algorithms. And I have some modules or "subroutines" from other agreements ready to plug into current agreements. I sometimes need to tweak them for the needs of the immediate deal, but rarely do I need to develop an entire agreement from scratch to suit my client's needs. Lawyers learning from computer programmers. What will they think of next?

Posted by JohnL at 11:15 PM | Comments (1) |

Minimally Musical

Lynn at Reflections in d minor posts a funny joke at the expense of one of the better-known minimalists of the latter 20th century. This would be my version of the joke:

While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I actually enjoy Philip Glass.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
While repetitive, I enjoy Philip Glass' music. And it evolves.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.
It's tonal, while repetitive, and it evolves, so I enjoy Philip Glass' music.


I first encountered Glass in his soundtrack to the visually stimulating Koyaanisqatsi. Glass is a polarizing figure, as I later discovered while a music student at UT Austin. I went to see him in concert (on solo piano). Before the concert, the theory-comp majors all slammed him as a gimmicky composer with no real talent (as though their atonal screeches were superior, somehow). Then, at the concert, were the rich and snobby non-musician hangers-on who pretended to have their moments of greatness, some even air-kissing (I'm serious!) when they met him. Gag.

When I met him briefly, he was friendly, warm, and quite unassuming. So I won't judge him too harshly as a person. As a composer, he made tonal music popular again, even if in the context of minimalism. One CD that I play about every three months to clear my mind is Passages (with Ravi Shankar). Hypnotic, lovely melodies that repeat, develop, intertwine, and resolve themselves. Music at its simple -- minimalist -- best.

Posted by JohnL at 10:51 PM | Comments (6) |

Another Legal Writing Rant

If you've ever tried to slog your way through a pre-printed contract, you've probably assumed that the stilted, archaic language is just the way that legal documents should be written. You wouldn't be alone. Most people seem to think that contracts, pleadings, wills, and all kinds of legal instruments need to sound like the King James Bible to be effective. THEY DON'T!

Moreover, after paying $300 an hour or more to document a straightforward business transaction, businesspeople have to wonder why they receive such incomprehensible work product for so much money. (At the same time, some of those clients are suspicious when they can actually understand what their lawyer has written; they wonder whether it's really legal).

Legal documents can be written in clear, precise English. When I encounter legaldegook -- writing that is good for nothing other than sounding "legal" -- I save it both for amusement and to use as an exercise in improving my own writing. Fixing someone else's mistakes is a good way to learn to recognize and fix my own.

That's where tonight's post comes from. I pulled this example from a contract I reviewed just today. I didn't rewrite it for the deal at hand, because it's just a no-cost product evaluation agreement. But because of its high concentration of pretentious legalisms in one short paragraph, I thought it would be a good editing challenge for the blog. I've italicized all of the objectionable parts of this section:

At the end of the Evaluation Period, Customer shall promptly return the Products to [Seller] at Customer’s sole expense. In the event that ten (10) calendar days following the end of the Evaluation Period Customer has not returned the Products or issued a valid Purchase Order to [Seller] therefore, this Agreement shall be considered Customer’s Purchase Order and [Seller] shall invoice Customer, and Customer shall be obligated to pay [Seller], for such Products at the then current list price pursuant to [Seller’s] standard terms and conditions of sale as set forth on the invoice issued by [Seller] to Customer and/or on its website.

Note the redundancy of words like "promptly" (there's a 10 day time limit!), "sole" ("Customer's expense" doesn't express or imply anyone else's expense does it?), and "calendar" days (the contract doesn't use "business" days elsewhere, so there's no need to distinguish, and the word "day" without modification commonly means "calendar day") .

Also note the multiple archaisms and pretensions of legal writing: "shall" instead of "will" or "must," "in the event that" instead of "if," "therefore" (which, if it is to be used at all, should be spelled "therefor" -- meaning "for that" -- a Germanic artifact in the English language), and "pursuant to" instead of "under."

Note also the lazy "and/or," which can almost always be replaced with "or." Here, the "and/or" actually tries to gloss over an ambiguity that the drafter didn't want to deal with (but would have been forced to, had he or she used only "and" or only "or"). What if both the invoice and the website contain different terms of sale? Which set of terms governs?

Addressing these issues, here's what I would do to clarify and invigorate the above:

At the end of the Evaluation Period, Customer will return the Products to Seller at Customer's expense. If Customer does not return the Products or issue a purchase order for them to Seller within 10 days after the end of the Evaluation Period, Seller may invoice Customer against this Agreement at Seller's then-current list prices for the Products. Customer must pay Seller the amount due under the invoice within [x] days after receiving it. Unless contrary or supplemental terms are printed on the invoice, Seller's standard terms and conditions found at [Seller's web address] will govern the sale of the Products to Customer.

OK, it's not Hemingway, but surely my version is both easier to read and legally clearer than the original, isn't it?

Posted by JohnL at 08:58 PM | Comments (1) |

February 20, 2005

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (Flying Flapjack)

This week's airplane comes courtesy of Alan Brain's Yamato Sashimi article, which introduced me to the "Flying Flapjack" for the first time. Without further ado, the Chance Vought V-173/XF5U "Flying Flapjack:"



More info here, too.

Posted by JohnL at 10:53 PM | Comments (1) |

February 17, 2005

"Sod Off, Swampy" (Or, Just Desserts)


More here, here, and here.

Posted by JohnL at 10:40 PM | Comments (5) |

February 16, 2005

Great Star Trek Site

Today Jen Lars posted her interview of Brad Torgerson, proprietor of the blog Pool of Thought.

Brad also maintains this very neat Star Trek site, based upon the 1980s Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator RPG. Cool and very geeky stuff.

Posted by JohnL at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) |

Microbial Life on Mars?

According to Space.com, a pair of scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center believe they have found strong evidence that life may exist today in Martian caves.

Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke have submitted their paper for publication in Science, and the paper is currently under peer review.

Their evidence is a circumstantial case based upon methane signatures and comparisons to similar caves and methane signatures on Earth, where microbes account for the methane.

I am of mixed feelings on this. I think discovering life elsewhere would be fantastic, but I am worried that Martian life will lead to a quarantine of the planet, thus foreclosing settlement by humans for the foreseeable future.

Guess I'll have to back out of that Valles Marineris condo development deal now...

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

Poor Joe Ohio

....And sneezed full in her face.

Poor Joe. I really feel for him, and I hope his plotline has a happy ending. Trite, I know.

Confused? Good! That means my link might get Lileks yet another reader. Lord only knows he doesn't need the linkage, but you should really be reading each day's installment of Joe Ohio. Start here, if you haven't read any yet. (Also be sure to check Lileks' quasi-blog, The Bleat).

Here's the setup: James Lileks obtained a huge stash of old matchbooks, and he is composing a fictional account about the life of the man who gathered them. Just call him Joe Ohio.

The gimmick? Lileks sets himself a timer for 30 minutes each day and chooses the matchbook at random. This takes the stories in some unexpected and interesting directions. It is well worth your 5 minutes a day to appreciate this unique form of entertainment enabled almost entirely by the Internet.


Posted by JohnL at 09:53 PM | Comments (1) |

February 15, 2005

Brainy Metablogging

Alan Brain started with a search for an odd-looking airplane (something with which I can completely identify), and ended up finding a sliced-up model of the Japanese battleship Yamato.

This led to an interesting comment that it will be some time before we develop artificial intelligences that would be able to retrace the steps in Alan's thought process.

Go read the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 11:44 PM | Comments (0) |

SF Babes - I For One Welcome Our New Cyborg Overlordsladies

This week's poll features the lovely ladies who have portrayed some of SciFi's most seductively deadly robots:

Trish Helfer portrays the Cylon bombshell Number 6 in the new Battlestar Galactica miniseries and series (pic found here):

Kristanna Loken played the lethal Terminator model T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:

Finally, Jeri Ryan portrayed the recovering Borg 7 of 9 in Star Trek - Voyager:

Vote often and check the Gallery for previous winners.

Update: The Country Pundit and Maximum Leader know of what they speak. Rob the Llamabutcher, on the other hand, got some silicone in his eyes and is not a reliable witness.

Results (Posted 22 February 2005):

Trish Helfer (Number 6) 54% (51 of 95 votes) -- WINNER
Kristanna Loken (Terminator T-X) 13% (12 of 95 votes)
Jeri Ryan (7 of 9) 34% (32 of 95 votes)

Posted by JohnL at 08:56 PM | Comments (9) |

February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

Not much to report. My wife is wonderfully low-maintenance in that she does not demand or expect jewelry. I usually get her some nice dark chocolates, but this year she foreswore sweets for Lent. I had to get creative, so I planned, purchased, and prepared the following for dinner:

Salad -- baby spinach, romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, and red bell pepper tossed with light Italian vinaigrette dressing.

Entree -- 2 sirloin steaks, grilled (with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary) garnished with a grilled, peeled, and heartily-sliced red bell pepper and accompanying garlic/rosemary mashed potatoes.

Dessert -- fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries served in frozen dessert bowls with a dash of cream.

Wine -- "Twenty Bench" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

There was a lot of red in the meal's presentation, appropriate for the day. We got the kids in bed early enough to enjoy the meal and each other's company in peace. Yay!

Posted by JohnL at 11:23 PM | Comments (1) |

February 13, 2005

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (F-16 Fighting Falcon)

I have long loved the lethal, lovely lines of the F-16 Fighting Falcon:



Fellow Munuvian Random pointed me to this great page about the Israeli F-16I, manufactured here in the DFW Metroplex. It has many more outstanding images of this beautiful fighter.

Posted by JohnL at 11:50 PM | Comments (2) |

February 11, 2005

Sci Fi Hunks

For those of you who would like to vote for SF-based beefcake rather than (or in addition to) cheesecake, Sadie has the opportunity for you.

I don't know if she plans to make it a regular feature or not, but go check out her poll. She's got some cool candidates in the running.

I don't size guys up by their looks, but can recognize what I would call "charisma" -- some indefinable projection of confidence and competence. Using those criteria, the Terminator character Reese, portrayed by Michael Biehn, would get my vote. My wife, on the other hand, is casting her vote for Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix.

Posted by JohnL at 09:12 PM | Comments (3) |

RIP Jimmy Smith

Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy points out that great jazz organist Jimmy Smith passed away this week at the age of 79.

I've excerpted part of his New York Times obituary in the extended entry.

Jimmy Smith, who made the Hammond organ one of the most popular sounds in jazz beginning in the mid-1950's, died on Tuesday at his home in Phoenix. He was 76.

He died of unspecified natural causes, said his stepson and former manager, Michael Ward, who also said that his age of 76 was based on his birth certificate and not the birth date found in most reference books.

Before Jimmy Smith, the electric organ had been nearly a novelty in jazz; it was he who made it an important instrument in the genre and influenced nearly every subsequent notable organist in jazz and rock, including Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Shirley Scott, Al Kooper and Joey DeFrancesco.

By 1955 - which coincidentally was the year Hammond introduced its most popular model, the B-3 - he had an organ trio with a new sound that would thereafter become the model for groups in what became known as "organ rooms," the urban bars up and down the East Coast specializing in precisely the kind of blues-oriented, swinging, funky music that Mr. Smith epitomized. He continued touring and recording until just before his death.

Born in 1928, Mr. Smith grew up in a musical family in Norristown, Pa., near Philadelphia; by his early teens he was competently playing stride piano and performing as a dancer in a team with his father, a day-laboring plasterer who also played piano at night.

He left school in the eighth grade, never to return, and joined the Navy at the age of 15. When he finished his service in 1947, he played professionally and studied music for two years on the G.I. bill at the Ornstein School of Music.

In the early 1950's he worked around Philadelphia, playing rhythm and blues with Don Gardner's Sonotones. In 1952, or perhaps 1953, he met Wild Bill Davis, the organ player who pioneered the organ-trio format, at a club. Mr. Smith asked him how long it would take to learn the organ; Davis replied that it would take years to learn the pedals alone. (In Mr. Smith's retelling, the number of years varied between 4 and 15.) Playing piano at night and practicing organ during the day, Mr. Smith studied a chart of the instrument's 25 foot pedals and claimed that he played fluent walking-bass lines with his feet within three months.

By 1955 he was on his way to making his new organ trio sound pervasive.

Like many other great jazz musicians, Mr. Smith insisted that the key to finding his own sound was through studying musicians who did not play his instrument.

"While others think of the organ as a full orchestra," he wrote in a short piece for The Hammond Times in 1964, "I think of it as a horn. I've always been an admirer of Charlie Parker, and I try to sound like him. I wanted that single-line sound like a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone."

He also made heavy use of the B-3's "percussion" sound, a circuit controlled by one of its drawbar switches that gives it a leaner tone, closer to that of a piano.

[In 1956], Mr. Smith was signed to the Blue Note label. . . some well-received gigs that year at the Cafe Bohemia in New York heightened the excitement about his new sound.

He made many popular records for Blue Note and Verve, among them "Groovin' at Small's Paradise," "The Cat" (with the arranger Lalo Schifrin), a few records with the guitarist Wes Montgomery and in 1965 his vocal version of "Got My Mojo Workin'," arranged by Oliver Nelson.

[H]is survivors include a son, Jimmy Jr., and a daughter, Jia, both of Philadelphia, as well as two sisters, Anita Johnson and Janet Smith, also of Philadelphia....

One musician Jimmy Smith clearly influenced was rock keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose earliest works were on a Hammond L-100 (the "mini B"). Emerson's works later inspired me to become a keyboardist as well.

Requiescat in pacem.

Posted by JohnL at 08:54 PM | Comments (1) |

February 10, 2005

Congressional Moron's Oxymoron

Two days ago, Congresscritter James Oberstar introduced a bill to "enhance" the safety of the infant commercial space flight industry. Here's a sampling of his verbal diarrhea (via SpaceRef):

"We can and should protect the safety of passengers on space flights in this new and emerging industry, without placing unreasonable limitations on industry development. I urge my colleagues to join me in working to pass this important legislation."

(emphasis mine)

It's clear from the context of Oberstar's comments that he's not merely concerned with range safety (i.e., innocent bystanders). No. He wants to use the blunt instrument of federal regulation to "protect" the safety of early passengers on commercial spaceflights.

Yeah, right. We all know what a good job the government does at protecting passengers in spaceships. (Cheap shot, I know. But I'm not sorry). I'm not sorry, because there is one trait of government that I simply cannot abide, regardless of party affiliation: nannyism. Manny, in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, put this unsavory aspect of government, as a reflection on human nature, most eloquently:

Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws -- always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good" -- not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.

In a nascent industry like this, which is just an exotic form of "extreme tourism," participants should be allowed to make up their own minds about risk tolerance. Asshats like Oberstar either (a) want to strangle the private space business in the cradle (look for donations from entrenched contractors like Boeing/LockMart) or (b) are stupid enough to think there is such a thing as safety regulations for experimental spacecraft that do not impose unreasonable limitations on commercial space flight startups. Either way, he should be turned out of office.

Posted by JohnL at 11:01 PM | Comments (1) |

February 09, 2005

Starsky Treksky

Via the Pirate King, I learned about a Soviet-era Star Trek knock off named Cosmos Patrol.

Update: Thanks to an alert reader, I find that I've been hoaxed! There was no such TV program. More here. No wonder I had trouble finding any images to post from the show!

Posted by JohnL at 10:21 PM | Comments (2) |

Better Living Through Asbestos

BoingBoing had an interesting article today about Google's AdSense technology. I thought I would test it. Warning: boring autobiography in the extended entryfollows.

If you've followed my site for a while, you might know that I play an attorney in real life. Although I used to be a musician, I eventually had to grow up and "get a real job." Through a combination of decent grades and acing the LSAT (99th percentile, thank you very much), I made it into a top-10 (or top-25, depending on your poll) law school.

Funny thing, though: few Texas law firms wanted to hire anyone out of Georgetown in the early 90s unless they were in the top 10%, which I wasn't. When I got back to Texas - with a very pregnant wife and no job - I pretty much had to scratch and scrape for work. The first real job I got was as a staff attorney (read: underpaid associate attorney NOT on the "partner track") in a big insurance-defense firm doing asbestos litigation.

I lasted in that job exactly one year. During that period of time, I attended 80 or so depositions of plaintiffs asserting that their lung disease had nothing to do with their 2-pack-a-day smoking habit and everything to do with the brief exposure they had to my then-client's insulating cement during a few-year period in the 1960s.

I think there was only one legitimate claim among those 80 or so plaintiffs; a man with mesothelioma (a lung cancer which is caused pretty much only by asbestos exposure). Of course, my client was one of 25 or so defendants, so it was hard to tell what, if any, role my client's cement played in the poor guy's cancer. It costs too much to take the cases to trial, so we settled for nuisance amounts. I thought it was a complete waste of time and resources.

I took particular joy in John Kerry's loss, since the chairman of his Victory '04 committee was one of the name partners in that asbestos plaintiffs' mill.

Posted by JohnL at 10:16 PM | Comments (2) |

February 08, 2005

Merkava Movie

Via Target Centermass and Eric's Random Musings, a link to a verrrry cool video of the Israeli Merkava Mark 4 MBT in training action.

I wonder what Eric and Gunner (and any other former armor readers of mine) think of the Merkava. Is the Merkava 4 comparable to the M1A1/A2 tanks we have? Are there any MBTs that would have a fighting chance against ours?

Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (5) |

Weekly SF Babe Poll (The Sky Is Falling!)

"Hot Fudge Sundae falls on a Tuesdae this week."

That's right folks. Rogue comets + wayward asteroids = this week's poll of cheesy SF cheesecake goodness.

First, the original 1970s disaster movie incarnation Meteor with the beautiful Natalie Wood portraying Russian translator Tatiana Nikolaevna Donskaya:

Next up, the disappointingly shallow Deep Impact with the quirky and cute Tea Leoni playing jerk reporter Jenny Lerner:

The truly rotten Armageddon had me rooting for the asteroid to obliterate everything. About the only redeeming feature of this movie was Liv Tyler's visage in her portrayal of Grace Stamper:

Last up is Asteroid, a made-for-TV also-ran, which I didn't manage to watch. The lovely Annabella Sciorra makes an appearance here as Dr. Lily McKee:

Disclaimer: Unlike previous polls, I couldn't find enough good pics of all contestants in character. So some of the pictures are merely contemporaneous with the movies, and not from the movies themselves. False, but accurate. (Good enough for CBS!)

Results (Posted 15 February 2005):

Natalie Wood in Meteor 13% (9 of 69 votes)
Tea Leoni in Deep Impact 35% (24 of 69 votes) -- WINNER!
Liv Tyler in Armageddon 30% (21 of 69 votes)
Annabella Sciorra in Asteroid 22% (15 of 69 votes)

Posted by JohnL at 08:37 PM | Comments (6) |

February 07, 2005

Hondas in Space?

When I was a kid, wishing that the Space Shuttle would just take off already (this was circa 1980), I kept thinking to myself: "someday I'll make lots of money and then I'll be rich enough to build my own spaceship." Alas, that hasn't happened, but apparently other members of my generation thought the same thing.

Here's a nice article about one of those generational peers, Elon Musk, the CEO and CTO of SpaceX. Like Jeff Bezos, Musk is turning his dot.com riches into hardware and business plans to develop the final frontier.

While Bezos, Rutan, and others focus on the suborbital market, Musk has been looking at ways to make orbital access cheaper by an order of magnitude. Reading through the Fast Company article, it's fascinating to see how he is implementing an entrepreneurial, fast-growth company mentality in building space hardware.

You may have seen this quote elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: "Many times we've been asked: 'If you reduce the cost, don't you reduce reliability?' This is completely ridiculous. A Ferrari is a very expensive car. It is not reliable. But I would bet you 1,000-to-1 that if you bought a Honda Civic that that sucker will not break down in the first year of operation. You can have a cheap car that's reliable, and the same applies to rockets."

Of course the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting. And that tasting is scheduled to take place later this month, with the first scheduled launch of a Falcon I to take place.

Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) |

February 06, 2005

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (MiG 25 Foxbat)

I know it's a stretch, but I'm trying to make tonight's cheesecake relevant to the Super Bowl winner.

It would have been relatively easy if Philadelphia had won, since I could have posted an F-15 Eagle. But no aircraft seems to have been nicknamed the "Patriot" so the link between the plane and team nicknames has to be more tenuous.

Here goes: the Patriots' home field is in Foxboro, Massachusetts. "Foxbat" is vaguely reminiscent of "Foxboro." Thus, as a tribute to an American football team named the Patriots, I give you a Soviet-era fighter, the MiG-25 Foxbat:



Posted by JohnL at 09:40 PM | Comments (2) |

February 04, 2005

Speaking of Music...

Norman Geras has posted the results of his "greatest songs of rock 'n roll" poll.

Yours truly submitted a list of ten, and Norm was gracious enough to post a link back to me with his results.

Go check out his list, topped by "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. I can't really argue that the top 10 belong there any more than mine did, although I have to say that my list attempted to identify "non-standard" standards.

Only 2 of mine even made his top "not-quite-100": #17 - A Day in the Life (Beatles) and #61, Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues).

Go check out the whole thing.

Posted by JohnL at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) |

February 03, 2005

A Musical Amusement

Rob tagged me with this music meme several days ago, but I'm just now getting around to answering it:

Random Ten

Let's see -- first, open iTunes. Next, hit "shuffle" in the "Library" playlist. Hit Play. Write down song info. Hit Next. Repeat. Etc. Voila:

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

Somewhere between 4 and 5 GBs at last count.

2. The last CD you bought is:

Presto, by Rush, about two weeks ago.

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (on the radio on the drive home from work)

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Rob broke the rules here by listing five nice classical pieces. None of them were really "songs." As you can tell from the random list above, my tastes are incredibly varied, so I've chosen five that mean a lot to me, and not all are "pop" songs:

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (five persons and why)?

Nobody. I waited too long and many of the five I would forward this to have already done it. Please feel free to do it yourself, though, and trackback here.

Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (2) |

February 02, 2005

I'm A Paperback Believer Writer

BoingBoing points to this excellent mashup of the Beatles' Paperback Writer and Neil Diamond's I'm A Believer (as performed by the Monkees).

The video and audio are virtually seamless, an inspired combo of a couple of treacly 60s pop songs.

Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) |

Redneck Beermaster

Ted (RocketJones) passes frighteningly well as a gap-toothed, cracker-ass, inbred, hillbilly hayseed of a redneck.

Posted by JohnL at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) |

El Condor Pasa

Howard at 3leggeddog notes that Jamie Foxx actually got to jam with Ray Charles during the making of Ray. It made him wonder what his similar once-in-a-lifetime experience would be: Improv with Robin Williams.

Now he's asking what other people's would be, too.

I guess my once-in-a-lifetime experience would be very similar to the Jamie Foxx/Ray experience, except that I have always wanted to jam with Keith Emerson or Geddy Lee.

What would yours be? Trackback to Howard, or let him know in his comments.

Posted by JohnL at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) |

SOTU Address

Steve Green blogged it so I didn't have to.

Check out the blow-by-blow here.

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

February 01, 2005

Weekly SF Babe Poll (Star Trek "Cage" Match)

Most self-respecting (and self-loathing?) Star Trek fans know that there were two different pilots for the original series. The first pilot, entitled The Cage, never aired on TV in its intended original form. NBC executives rejected it, deeming it "too cerebral."

During the course of this pilot, Captain Christopher Pike finds himself in a zoo cage on the desert planet Talos IV, where his captors are attempting to match him up with an ideal mate to repopulate the surface of their war-ravaged globe. That particular scene sets up this week's "Cage" match:

Yeoman J.M. Colt (portrayed by Laurel Goodwin) is a new member of Pike's crew. The Talosians describe her advantages to Pike as "...youth and strength, plus unusually -- strong -- female drives." I'm sure Kirk would approve:

Vina, (portrayed by Susan Oliver) is a woman disfigured in a shipwreck on Talos IV and cobbled together again by the Talosians. She was the bait in the trap set by the Talosians to attract Captain Pike and the Enterprise to their planet. Using their powerful skills of psychic illusion, they make her appear as a beautiful young woman:

Number One (portrayed by Majel Barrett, nee M. Leigh Hudec), is the Enterprise's First Officer. The Talosians describe her virtues to Pike: "The female you call Number One has the superior mind and would produce highly intelligent children. Although she seems to lack emotion, this is largely a pretense; she often has fantasies involving you..." Number One saves Pike from slavery (and, in the process, the Enterprise from destruction). A real woman before her time in SF:

As always, vote up to once a day in the main poll, and check out the Gallery for previous weekly poll winners.

COMING SOON: Runoffs among the 2004 weekly winners, so that we can name the 2004 SF Babe of the Year.

Results (posted 8 February 2005):

Yeoman Colt (Laurel Goodwin) 51% (44 of 86 votes) - WINNER!
Vina (Susan Oliver) 34% (29 of 86 votes)
Number One (Majel Barrett) 15% (13 of 86 votes)

Posted by JohnL at 06:10 PM | Comments (1) |