Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

The cat is out of the Bag!

The cat is out of the Bag! Major media is now noticing the efforts of bloggers to "fact check their asses" Check out this report in U.S.News
Keep an eye on bloggers. The main arena for media criticism is not going to be books, columns, or panel discussions, and it certainly won't be journalism schools. It will be the Internet.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Attack of the Clones

Attack of the Clones Hey it started out as science fiction; it's only fitting that a group seemingly from a bad science fiction novel provides us with our first cloned human.
A Korean woman is reportedly pregnant with an embryo cloned by Clonaid, a U.S. biotechnology company, according to an announcement by the company on Tuesday.
The firm's spokesman, Kwak Gi-hwa, said, "Scientists from the U.S. headquarters and Korea implanted about a month ago a cloned embryo into a surrogate mother in her 20s."
Speaking at a press conference in Daegu, Mr. Kwak said only the firm's U.S. headquarters knew whether the embryo is a clone of a Korean person.
Clonaid was founded in 1997 by the Raelian Movement, an international religious organization that preaches that life on Earth was created through genetic engineering by extraterrestrials.

Where's L. Ron when you need him?

Posted by Rich
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A non violent Palestinian Protest?

A non violent Palestinian Protest? Palestinians in Nablus are ignoring the Israeli imposed curfew to go about business as normal.
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) - Thousands of Palestinians defied the Israeli army's around-the-clock curfew Monday for the second straight day, and took to the streets of Nablus as shops and banks opened to accommodate them.

The army, which has imposed the curfew in most West Bank cities and towns for the past 40 days, remained in armored vehicles ringing the city. But troops did not enter Nablus and made no moves to drive residents off the streets and back into their homes.

Civil disobedience; what a concept!

Posted by Rich
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Capturing a moment

Capturing a moment Several times during the bash, I got an idea from one of the other folks, and quickly jotted it down on my PDA. I don't know how it is for the rest of you, but inspiration is as fickle as a player's heart. When an idea comes along, if you don't pay it enough attention, it will leave you for somebody who will pay attention to it. Jotting it down gives you a little breathing space, but only a little. You still have to develop it, even if only in your head, until you are ready to write it down.

Posted by Rich
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The Blogger’s Ball

The Blogger's Ball At last!
After my emergency auto service, I headed out to Knoxville to meet up with the other denizens of the blog zone. I got to Barley's about 15 minutes late, and ran into Bjorn Knoxley and Brehd Patchley at the hostess desk. Bjorn (or was it Brehd?) recognized me right of as I walked up, and introduced me to his partner and their two lovely companions. While we were standing there waiting for the hostess, SKBubba appeared from nowhere (I think he was protecting his anonymity by disguising himself as a barstool until he was sure no members of the K2K hit squad were in attendence) and introduced himself and his lovely wife. Introductions were exchanged, while a roguish looking fellow signalled us from the bar, none other than Troy Kinnaird The hostess arrived and while she was getting us a table, we were joined by Justin Bollinger, and Meathead.

Our hostess finally got our table ready, and we all went to sit down and begin putting faces and names together. About 15 minutes after we sat down, I spotted Glenn Reynolds and his wife wandering aimlessly through the restaurant, looking for us. I flagged them down, made some introductions, and our party was complete. Katie Granju was planning to come, but at the last minute, real life intruded and she couldn't be there. (Maybe I should have loaned her my lawn mower)

Conversation ranged widely, covering Monty Python, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy the movie Amalie (tried to rent it yesterday, but it was out) , blogging, politics, duct tape, k2k baiting, parody and satire, and life in general. We consumed much beer, pizza and hummus and if I didn't exactly break my diet, I sure bent the heck out of it.

After a couple of hours of laughter and good food, the attendees began drifting off to other engagements. It was Friday after all. At one point, there were four of us left, all single, young, fairly good looking guys, out on the town on a Friday night, discussing which comet appeared when. (Was Halley's in the '90s? No, that was Hale-Bopp. Are you sure?) To protect their reputations, I won't identify the other participants in that conversation.

Shortly after that, we called it a night, and headed out, vowing to do this again soon. To those who couldn't attend this time, we hope to see you next time. To make sure everybody can get to this one, I'm starting the planning earlier, so everybody pencil in September 14th for the next get together.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, July 29, 2002

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the Mother of Invention or What They Don’t Teach You in Auto Shop

Friday was the big bash for Knoxville bloggers. (More on that in a minute) I got off work Friday morning and headed home under cloudy, drizzly skies. On my way, I stopped and ran some errands, so I would have my evening free for the festivities. In the course of this running around, a light rain began to fall, so I turned on my headlights.

You can sense what is coming next, can’t you?

By the time I got home, tired, grumpy, and ready for a few hours of sleep, the rain had ended; the sun was out; and it looked to be a beautiful day. I went inside, put up the groceries, washed the dishes, fed the cat to the dog, er, and the dog, then went to sleep.

I woke up several hours later, took my shower, dressed for dinner, and went out to my car. I turned the key and nothing. I got that falling elevator feeling in my stomach, and checked the switch for the headlights.

Yep. I’d left them on.

So here it was, 20 minutes before the gathering, and I had a dead battery. I drive a Tracker, with a manual tranny, so I figured I’d try to pop start it. The only problem was I was parked facing the wrong way, and would have to do it in reverse.

Hey, I’ve done it before, although never with a battery this dead. I knew since the battery was completely dead, I’d only get one shot at it, so I went through my usual pre start ritual, turned on the ignition, pushed in the clutch, put it in reverse, and released the parking brake. I coasted down my driveway, picking up speed, and when I got near the bottom, popped the clutch. The car lurched, the engine turned, coughed, and died.

Oh, yippee.

My mind raced as I tried to think about what I could do. Now like any good Tennessee redneck, I have several abandoned cars in my yard as lawn ornaments, but of course, their batteries had long since been scavenged for other vehicles. I had a battery charger in the garage that I bought for the lawn mower, but that would take hours to…wait a minute. The lawn mower! It has a battery! This could work! After all, the engine in a Tracker isn’t much bigger than a lawn mower engine. I went to the barn, fired up the lawn mower, and rode it down to my car. I hooked up the jumper cables, got in the Tracker, and turned the key. The motor ground very slowly for a second, then spun once and started. Victory was mine!

Posted by Rich
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From my e-mail

From my e-mail
An American Airlines flight en route from Los Angeles to JFK airport in New York City was diverted to Kansas City yesterday when a passenger was noticed attempting to light a fuse protruding from his rectum. Flight Attendant Bunny Haggarty said she noticed the man seated in an aisle seat leaning forward and holding a cigarette lighter behind his legs.

"I thought he was just trying to light a fart," said Haggarty. Then I saw this string-like thing hanging from his ass, and I got scared." Haggarty immediately called for assistance, and several male passengers subdued the man before he was able to light the fuse.

After landing in Kansas City, authorities discovered that the man's intestines were stuffed with military grade C4 explosive. FBI agents stated that it would have been a complete catastrophe if the passenger had succeeded in lighting the fuse. The passenger, Mohammed Bin Ali El Batout Nabeel Sin Abba Rahim Mansour Ali Baba, age 25, was carrying fourteen passports from various countries throughout the middle east.

Asked why he had stuffed himself full of plastic explosives, Ali Baba stated, "I was planning to blow the chit out of the plane. I wanted to kill all the Americans and Jews to show that we are a peace loving pipple."

Airport security agents in Los Angeles remembered seeing Ali Baba as he boarded American flight 90. They were a bit concerned because his name would not fit on the front of the ticket; he was wearing a checkered tablecloth as a hat; he looked like he was ready to kill someone; he was reading an Al Qaeda training manual; and he was wearing a "Kill Americans" T-shirt. However, according to Federal Airport Security
standards, individuals cannot be profiled for additional security simply because they are young, Middle-Eastern men.

The security supervisor, Leroy Jackson, said he also was somewhat concerned with the way Ali Baba walked. "Hell, man, the guy waddled like he had a stick of dynamite up his ass!" stated Jackson. "Had I not been on the phone with my probation officer, I might have checked this guy out some more. But we want and need complete diversity in our passenger screening. Plus, we think the flight crews on those planes pose more of a threat to safety than one raghead with an exploding
ass. That's why you can always find one of them pilots in bare feet waiting for his shoes to be X-rayed. I love seeing the look on their faces when we make them do that," he guffawed. Jackson added, "I just hope they don't give those pilots guns, 'cause they might want to even the score."

Federal officials are referring to this latest terrorist weapon as a "butt bomb." Security experts believe this could be even more difficult to detect than the primitive "shoe bomb" used by terrorist Richard Reid.

"We have asked the FAA to demand that passengers provide evidence they are not carrying any explosive material in their intestines prior to a flight's departure," said one federal official.

But a spokesman for the FAA replied, "We are not going to take any crap from anyone."

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, July 28, 2002

A Country Boy can Survive

A Country Boy can Survive Nine of 'em, in fact!
The miners surprised medical personnel who had prepared to treat them for symptoms of hypothermia or the bends, an excruciating condition caused by sudden changes in pressure. Decompression chambers, ambulances and 18 helicopters were at the scene 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

For days the men had been described as a tough breed. Air was pumped into the chamber at a temperature of more than 100 degrees to warm them before anyone at the surface knew they were alive.

Never give up, even when it looks hopeless.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, July 27, 2002

A dark day for lovelorn rednecks

A dark day for lovelorn rednecks It is with great sorrow that I have to report to you the demise of Hillary's House of Hillbilly Love (and Bait Shop) It seems they got caught up in a multi-state federal task force targeting asian massage parlors fronting for prostitution. In the latest move in the war on terror, federal agents descended on several massage parlors over 5 states, rousting the girls and arresting the owners. Federal agent Ferd Dickley had this to say:
These women are a drain on the resources of our great nation. They sap the wills and the wallets of our young men, and that gives strength and comfort to our enemies. We believe that this operation struck a deadly blow against terrorists everywhere.

The operation took four years of continuous observation and investigation, as well as undercover activities to document the illegal activities.
"These are some very slick operators," Dickley said. "We were aware of the establishments for quite some time, but thought they were legitimate therapeutic centers. Heck, I even went to one a time or two when my back was acting up. I noticed that the therapists seemed awfully friendly, but didn't think anything of it at the time. But we kept getting reports of prostitution from the public, and decided to investigate. We were shocked to find that the rumors were true, and that prostitution was taking place. We were so shocked, we couldn't believe it at first, and had to investigate again, several times a month over a four year period. But at last, we had enough evidence to put these people where they belong."

Sadly, our friend Hillary and her girls were caught up in this sweep as well.
"I don't see why they had to come and bother us," Hillary said. "Hell, all my girls are home-grown, red-blooded daughters of the United States. We're not a security risk. We just provide a needed service to lonely guys. Where's the crime in that?"

But the law is the law, and Hillary's has been shut down. Law enforcement officials confiscated all property on the premises, right down to the last nightcrawler in the bait shop.

Oh, the humanity!

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 25, 2002

The blogfest--finalized!

The blogfest--finalized! OK, folks, I've had three responses, two for Friday and one for Saturday, so Friday it is! We'll meet at Barleys in the Old City around 6 PM. Remember, friends and family members are welcome, as well as any area readers who want to meet the people responsible for these pages. I'll be easy to spot: just look for the guy with all the hair!

Posted by Rich
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Nothing funny about this

Nothing funny about this I knew this was coming:
A New York City lawyer has filed suit against the four big fast-food corporations, saying their fatty foods are responsible for his client’s obesity and related health problems.

Samuel Hirsch filed his lawsuit Wednesday at a New York state court in the Bronx, alleging that McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC Corporation are irresponsible and deceptive in the posting of their nutritional information, that they need to offer healthier options on their menus, and that they create a de facto addiction in their consumers, particularly the poor and children.

Pretty smart lawyer. He's got this issue linked to racism, class warfare, and thrown "protect the children" in there to boot.

What an ass.

Look folks, as a formerly fat person (305lbs) I can testify that Ronald McDonald never held a gun to my head, forcing me to eat a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Dave Thomas never tied me up and force fed me Frostys and french fries. The Burger King did not order me to the rqack unless I consumed a Double Whopper with Cheese, and an extra-large order of fries.

I made those choices. I could have ordered a salad, or gone to Subway, or made my own lunch. I chose not to and the predictable result was my responsibility, not Long John Silver's.

The lead plaintiff in this case had this to say:
The lead plaintiff, 56-year-old maintenance supervisor Caesar Barber, ate at fast-food restaurants four or five times a week and blames his fatty diet for his obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and the two heart attacks he has suffered.

"I trace it all back to the high fat, grease and salt, all back to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King – there was no fast food I didn't eat, and I ate it more often than not because I was single, it was quick and I’m not a very good cook," Barber said in an interview with

And that is Burger King's fault? Please!

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

The Knoxville Blogger bash is on!

The Knoxville Blogger bash is on! We're planning to meet at Barleys in the Old City at 6 PM on Friday. Let me know if this is going to be a problem for anyone, and we can adjust as needed. Looking forward to meeting everybody! Friends, spouses, etc are welcome.

UPDATE I've had a request to move from friday to Saturday, which works just as well for me. If there are any problems, leave a comment or send an e-mail and we'll work it out.

Posted by Rich
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Put these folks in charge of Homeland Security!

Put these folks in charge of Homeland Security!
My ex-wife is applying for a new job. She responded to an ad and called the place up, and was interviewed over the phone. Afterwards, the man who interviewed her asked her to come down for a second interview. This interview lasted for about 20 minutes, then he asked her to come back and interview again with another member of his management staff. She did so, and then was asked to come back one more time to interview with the general manager. Following that interview, she was told that they were going to check her references, and then get back to her about her work schedule.

I worked one job cleaning up weapons grade plutonium. The area was also used for the long term storage and disposal of chemical weapons. I had access to some of the deadliest substances known to man, and I was hired sight unseen after one phone interview.

So, where is she applying, that takes such a thorough interview and review process? Oak Rdge National Labs, perhaps? The Spallation Neutron Source project, maybe? Nope, nothing so inconsequential. She's applying to be a server at O'Charley's restaurant.

It just doesn't make any sense. She's slinging hash, not guarding the President!

I guess it's just one more question about restaurants to add to the list:
  • Why do I have to wait 15 minutes for a table when I've made reservations?
  • What's the difference between reservations and 'call ahead' seating? Isn't a reservation just calling ahead even more?
  • Why do they invariably place the smoking section upwind of the non smoking section?
  • Why are the dinner plates cold but the salad plates are hot?
  • Why do they keep the lights so low in fancy restaurants? What are they trying to hide?
  • A hamburger is $4.95. Strip off the bun and throw the salad ina bowl on the side and now it is a ground sirloin steak and costs $9.95. Is it really worth $5.00 to pretend you're eating a steak?
  • Why would you pay for the privilege of making your own food? A salad bar is bad enough, but there are restaurants now which specialize in letting you cook your own food! Oh joy! I never get to do that at home. Next thing you know, we'll be paying to do our dishes too!
  • Why does your server come and check on you only when you're mouth is full?
  • Is it too much to ask to fill my glass with water, instead of seeing just how much ice you can cram into a finite space?
  • What's with this whole 'server' thing anyway? What's wrong with 'waiter' and 'waitress'? Although it's true that I'm usually the one doing the waiting...
  • How can a tip be mandatory, no matter how many are in your group?

We have a lot of restaurants in Knoxville. The last census showed that per capita we have more restaurants than we do flush toilets, a fact which is frightening in its implications. We have multiple copies of all the major chains and fast food franchises, as well as a stunning array of locals and independants. You can get any type of food you want, from Cajun to Indian, from Greek to Italian, from Kosher to haute cuisine, from steak and potatoes to a vegan feast (now there's an oxymoron for you). While mediocrity reigns supreme, in a group this large, there are always some exceptional places.
A few highlights from today:
  • A hamburger at Litton's in Fountain City
  • Any steak at Ye Old Steak House on Chapman Highway
  • Fondue dining at The Melting Pot
  • The Bountiful Breakfast at the Burning Bush in Gatlinburg
  • A gyro from the Time Out deli on Kingston Pike
  • Any sandwich from Harold's Deli downtown
  • Petros!
  • The tiramisu from Romano's Maccaroni Grill

And yesterday:

  • Thanksgiving dinner at Helma's in East Knoxville
  • The pewter plates at the Old Rathskeller in Western Plaza
  • The rack of lamb at the Half Shell
  • The prime rib from The Regas

My dad always says you can't make money with a restaurant. In that case, there are a lot of folks not making money in Knoxville.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, July 22, 2002

Those sneaky bastards!

Those sneaky bastards! In an amazing show of journalistic ability, the Metro Pulse has uncovered a secret plot to transport lots of nasty nuclear stuff through Knoxville.
The Associated Press reports that an energy consortium is thinking of establishing a billion-dollar uranium enrichment plant near Erwin, Tenn., and reveals that a TVA contract already has 33 metric tons of blended uranium coming out of Erwin to fuel the Brown's Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama. How does all that hot stuff get from Northeast Tennessee to Brown's Ferry without being shipped through Knoxville? Uh, well...the risk is minimal, you know, minimal.

From the TVA website, January 15, 2002:
“At the same time, it determined that 33 metric tons of the original 200 did not meet the specifications necessary to convert it directly into low-enriched uranium that could be used by the commercial sector as reactor fuel.”
Enter TVA and the BLEU Team.
“TVA signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with DOE in 1998 to pursue a program to use the out-of-specification 33 metric tons of highly enriched uranium,” Robert says. “DOE and our team worked together to solve the technical, commercial and environmental problems associated with using this uranium.”
TVA completed an environmental review and in 2001 TVA and DOE signed an Interagency Agreement. Then the BLEU program was initiated.

From the NFS website dated March 28, 2001 (yes, over a year ago):
A new project to supply fuel for multiple TVA nuclear plant units will have Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFS) playing a significant role. The effort to convert surplus highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for commercial power reactor fuel points to the company’s importance in nuclear materials management.
"By converting surplus nuclear material left over from the Cold War, NFS is playing a key role in turning what could have become a burdensome and costly waste into a vital resource for the TVA and its customers," said NFS President Dwight Ferguson. "America is rediscovering the value of nuclear power in the midst of an energy crisis. HEU-to-LEU conversion can help fuel the U.S. economy and reduce a Cold War legacy.”

And finally, from the Elizabethton Star:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published notice Monday in the Federal Register of its intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment regarding the blend-down of 33 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium into low-enriched reactor fuel at Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. of Erwin.
The fuel would be used to power reactors at Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama

Hmmmm. TVA, NFS, Framatone, and the EPA have all issued press releases on this deal over the course of two years. But because a MP staffer read the AP wire and saw the story for the first time, it is a revelation?


As for the snappy little ending there, perhaps a little research would tell the MP just how minimal the risk truly is. Then instead of trying to frighten people with non-existent boogeymen, they could try actually informing them for a change.

It's just a thought.

Posted by Rich
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It’s racism, pure and simple

It's racism, pure and simple Echoing a complaint first lodged by Damon Wayans, Anthony Clark of Yes, Dear has complained about being scheduled against the popular Whose Line is it Anyway?
QWell, yeah," he said. "I think it's pretty rotten when we have to be scheduled against another comedy show built around white people. I mean, where's the diversity, man?

When asked about his feelings on the matter, Drew Carey responded, "Who's Anthony Clark?"

Posted by Rich
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