...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 30, 2006

Yahoo! Answers

I just discovered a mildly interesting new time-waster. Just when I need it most, at the start of finals.

It's called Yahoo! Answers. Okay, help me out here. One question posed by a member of the Yahoo! teeming millions is "Why do so many liberals drive imported cars?" I posted my answer, can you find it? And do you have your own theories to add?

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Rice Rockets, Hot Rods, Chicks, Rock & Roll

Fans of the above might want to check out the Godsmack video on Pursuit's sidebar.

Posted by annika at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 24


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April 29, 2006

NFL Draft

I'm sorry. Did somebody scoff when I suggested that the Titans might take Young? I don't remember.

Oh, and with Leinart available, the Oakland Raiders pick... a safety?!?!!?

Update: Alright sports fans, go to Cagey Mind and Six Meat Buffet for real draft analysis.

Posted by annika at 05:45 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episodes 22 & 23

Peter Pumpkin's day off continues.


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.


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April 28, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 21


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United 93

I just got done seeing United 93. I don't mind telling you that I hate them. I truly hate them. If I could get my hands on a jihadist right now, I would easily and gladly kill him.

I never want to hear another word about Guantanamo Bay, or rendition, or the fucking cartoons, or how we should be nice nice. I could flush a thousand Korans down the toilet right now. Fuck them.

Fuck them.

Go see the movie. It's done in a gritty, matter-of-fact, almost documentary style. It increases the feeling that you are watching real events. Which is important because these were real events. It actually happened. There are no viewpoint characters, which allows the audience a certain distance from the very horror of that day. But it also makes you want to yell at the screen, "no, no, no, don't you see what's happening!"

To those who said "it's too soon," (and I'm not sure that story wasn't an urban myth blown out of proportion by the anti-American media) I wonder how such weak people ever get out of bed in the morning. I'm sure the passengers on flight 93 thought it was "too soon" too. I'm sure they would have liked a little more time. But in this world, sometimes there are unpleasant realities that must be confronted. And thank God there are still people who will do what needs doing when the time comes.

Update: RightGirl is pissed too.

Joshua and Josue have similar thoughts as well as names.

And see Rich Lowry's column too.

And definitely see Cranky Insomniac take apart WaPo's hit piece on the movie.

Probably the best review you'll find is by Ms. Underestimated. Smash's is also a must read.

And welcome Hot Air fans!


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April 27, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day ... Period

Get a box of tissues first.

Via Shelly.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 20

Where he at?


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April 26, 2006

Gas Prices

At the risk of inviting corrections by commenters who know more about economics than me (I got a B in my one and only economics class, so don't even try. I say that not to imply that I am a whiz on the subject. Rather, I say that to let you know that I really know very little about it. Thus any attempts to enlighten me will simply cause more confusion. I have a basic grasp of supply and demand, and that's about it. I also know that if I were to ask ten knowledgeable people what they think we should do about gas prices, I'd get ten wildly different analyses.), here's my analysis.

  • I think that if gas prices get up to $4 per gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.

  • I think that the oil companies would love to see gas prices at $4 per gallon, even if only for a moment, just to break that psychological consumer barrier.

  • I think oil companies are toying with us.

  • According to my memory, it took a long time for gas to get from $1 to $2, but not very long for it to get to $3.

  • I don't believe in, nor do I participate in any of those boycotts promoted in chain e-mails. They've never worked. I don't believe they can work. And they hurt the retailer, whom I don't blame at all anyways.

  • I don't really have a problem with oil company executives making big salaries. Nor do I have a problem with professional athletes' or entertainers' salaries for that matter. If someone is willing to pay that kind of money, then that means they're worth it. That's the free market.

  • I do have a problem with all the extra taxes included in the price of gallon of gas. They're like sin taxes, which I also oppose. I've never liked the idea of using taxation as a means of influencing human behavior.

  • However, isn't the high price of gas the best way to encourage conservation? If you look at it that way, environmentalists should be happiest of all with prices the way they are now. I know as far as I'm concerned, the cleverest PSA ad on tv will not get me to change my driving behavior as much as one $49 fill-up.

  • Someone told me yesterday that she was planning on replacing her car with a hybrid or a diesel "because of all these wars for oil." I replied, facetiously, that I was planning on eliminating all plastics from my life for the same reason. "I'm going all wood from now on." She didn't get it.

  • Do I think prices are being manipulated? Yes, that's my gut feeling. But when people tell me (usually with conviction) why they think prices are not being manipulated, I don't know enough about the market to make a counter-argument. In the end, I still believe prices are being manipulated. It's just natural cynicism at work. And, it's probably true.

  • I'm all for drilling in ANWR. But that's a short term solution, that won't pay off much, and will take a while to kick in. It's certainly not the answer to all our problems as guys like Hannity and Rush would have us believe.

  • I don't want nuclear power though.

  • I think hybrids should be getting much better gas mileage than they do. It seems to me an old Metro or Honda CRX got better mileage in its day than most hybrids today.

  • People who buy cars that require premium unleaded belong in a mental institution.

  • My last car got 35 miles to the gallon consistently. That was until it had to go in for its two year smog cert, required by California. In order to pass it, the smog guys had to fuck with the engine and it was never the same again. I lost like ten mpg, and used way more gas to go the same distance. But hey, at least California said it didn't pollute anymore! Idiots.

  • Don't talk to me about price controls. Always a bad idea. Of course, it's not like I have any suggestions of my own.

  • I hear lots of talk about how envirowackos won't allow new refineries to be built. I hear less talk about how oil companies also don't want new refineries to be built. I believe both are true.

  • I also hear lots of talk about how China is to blame. I totally agree with this. From what I understand, if you fill a Chinese car's tank with gas, a half hour later you gotta fill it up again.

  • To reiterate, and in closing: if gas prices get up to $4 a gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.
That's all I got.

For more serious blogging on the subject, see Pursuit.

Posted by annika at 06:27 PM | Comments (43) | TrackBack

Schlesinger's Latest Revisionism

Interesting Article over at NRO today which touches on a subject Will and I discussed in the comments section some weeks ago: Kennedy and the threat of force in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I believe that Kennedy’s peaceful resolution of the crisis was made possible by his readiness (though clearly not willingness) to use force if necessary, despite the consequences. Or at least that he saw the value in the Soviets thinking the confrontation might “go hot.”

Now, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has a totally different take on Kennedy’s Cold War strategy. I read the Schlesinger piece a few days ago and was somewhat bewildered at the revisionism of it. In the NRO piece, Michael Knox summarizes Schlessinger’s weird logic, with heavy sarcasm:

According to Professor Schlesinger, the Missile Crisis was successfully resolved because Kennedy “was determined to get the missiles out peacefully.” Once the president had the wisdom to dispense with all bellicose courses and adopt this thoroughly pacific policy, all difficulties vanished; the Soviet Union, impressed, doubtless, by the president’s conciliatory intentions, his manifest goodwill, and the justice of his arguments, embraced his proposals, and the missiles were promptly carried off. Kennedy followed this success, Professor Schlesinger informs us, by calling on both Americans and Russians to reexamine their “attitude” towards each other, “for our attitude,” the president said, “is as essential as theirs.”

So successful a strategy deserves a universal application. If the United States would only make it clear that its policy is always to act peacefully, and that it will never use what Professor Schlesinger calls “preventive” force, its diplomacy would proceed smoothly. It is the saber-rattling of men like President Bush that creates the danger, Professor Schlesinger contends; a thoroughly Quaker policy will dissipate it.

It’s sad, but I think Schlesinger has completely thrown away any credibility he ever had (based on the fact that he knew JFK initmately) by favoring Bush-bashing over logical analysis.

More: I can only describe Schlesinger's statement that an Iran war would be based on "fantasy, deception and self-deception," as idiotic.

Look, no serious person can argue that nuclear weapons in the hands of an Iranian religious dictatorship would not be a very bad thing. Or do Schlesinger and those of his ilk deny that Arab nations have tried to destroy Israel multiple times in the past? (And yes, I know that Persians aren't Arabs.) It goes beyond revisionism to deny that they might still want to destroy Israel. Especially since they say so just about every five minutes.

The only reason Israel wasn't destroyed before now was because their enemies have never been strong enough to beat the IDF. That, plus the fact that the ultimate gaurantor of Israel's existence was the American nuclear arsenal. Now, what if a sworn enemy of Israel were to come into possession of a great "equalizer," which could negate Israeli superiority and American might. Given all their previous attempts to destroy Israel, is it such a stretch to believe that a muslim nation might try again?

And another thing. Liberals are so hot to get our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. Yet why do so many of them say that we should do nothing about Iran? What do they think would happen if Iran got the bomb?

I'll tell you. We would have Cold War II at the very least. Once Iran gets the bomb, our whole strategy would have to change from pre-emption to deterrence. Western Europe in the Cold War would be the template. Yes, that means we would have to deploy nuclear missiles in Iraq! We'd have no choice. And that means we could never leave. I don't know why nobody is mentioning this, but it's plain as the nose on your face.


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Inside Al Qaeda Tech

Forget Frontline. The inside stuff on the insurgency can be found at Iowahawk.

For instance, this fascinating account of a secret planning conversation between Zarkawi and Zawahiri, as recalled by Zarkawi himself:

I grabbed a pile of my project folders and headed for the conference room, and the crapstorm commenced before my ass hit the carpet.

“Abu, as you know, AQI is all about creating a scalable paradigm for enabling global caliphate,” he says. “But lately, I have been concerned that we’ve had some performance leakage in our Total Quality Jihad plan.”

Okay, maybe I don’t have a fancy ass Master of Martyr Administration from Damascus Tech, but I saw where this shit was going.

“Well, Ayman, sure, we’ve had a couple of tough quarters, but if you look at these clippings from the infidel press and TV, you can see we are still in a net positive PR situation, and... “

“How many associates did we lose in Q1?”

Fuck. Since when does he start asking direct questions? I start fumbling around with my folders.

“I’ll tell you Abu. 1,256.” And then he’s off to the races, with a 45 minute firehose of PowerPoints and Excel pie charts detailing every mosque bombing screwup, every wipeout with Team Satan, every stupid Iraqi anti-Al Qaeda protest.

“At the end of the day, Abu, the AQ family needs to deploy our resources for maximum Return-on-Jihad,” he says. Then he drops the bomb: “It’s time we think about right-sizing the organization vis-à-vis the Baghdad Region.”

Oh, dandy. He says we can accomplish it through attrition, but now it looks like I’m going to have to start emailing pink slips AND condolence letters. I’m not even sure how safe my own damn job is. I was gonna call Fatima and my other babies’ mamas and tell ‘em to cancel the family Mecca trip, but that’d just buy me a week of nonstop nagging.

Via Blogger Ale, who wants your beer opinion.

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Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Something different this week. Fifty-three years ago tomorrow, Sylvia Plath attended a party at which W.H. Auden gave a reading. Using her own distinctive style, Plath described the great poet in her Journal.*

To set the scene, Plath was 20 years old, and a junior at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Auden was 46 years old and a visiting professor at Smith, although I don't know whether Plath took his class. 1953 was also the year that Auden moved in with his longtime companion, the poet Chester Kallman.

The party took place at the home of Sylvia Plath's English professor, 66 year old Elizabeth A. Drew. That semester, Plath was enrolled in Drew's Modern English Poetry class.

Finally, a bit of foreshadowing. Four months after this party, Plath would survive the first of her many suicide attempts. Despite missing a semester after her near overdose of sleeping pills, she graduated in 1955, summa cum laude. She would go on to study at Cambridge, meet and marry poet Ted Hughes, and the rest is history.

But here's what she thought of Auden:

April 27 [1953] - Listen and shut up, oh, ye of little faith. On one certain evening in a certain year 1953 a certain complex of pitched tensions, physiological urges, and mental dragonflies combined to fill one mortal imperfect Eve with a fierce full rightness, force and determination corresponding to the ecstasy experienced by the starving saint on the desert who feels the crackling cool drops of God on his tongue and sees the green angels sprouting up like dandelion greens, prolific and infinitely unexpected.

. . .

Tonight, spring, plural, fertile, offering up clean green leaf whorls to a soft moon covered with fuzz-fractured clouds, and god, the listening to Auden read in Drew's front living room, and vivid questioning, darting scintillant wit. My Plato! pedestrian I! And Drew, (exhuberant exquisitely frail intelligent Elizabeth) saying, "Now that is really difficult."

Auden tossing his big head back with a twist of wide ugly grinning lips, his sandy hair, his coarse tweedy brown jacket, his burlap-textured voice and the crackling brilliant utterances -- the naughty mischievous boy genius, and the inconsistent white hairless skin of his legs, and the short puffy stubbed fingers -- and the carpet slippers -- beer he drank, and smoked Lucky Strikes in a black holder, gesticulating with a white new cigarette in his hands, holding matches, talking in a gravelly incisive tone about how Caliban is the natural bestial projection, Ariel the creative imaginative, and all the intricate lyrical abstruosities of their love and cleavage, art and life, the mirror and the sea. God, god, the stature of the man. And next week, in trembling audacity, I approach him with a sheaf of poems. Oh, god, if this is life, half heard, glimpsed, smelled, with beer and cheese sandwiches and the god-eyed tall-minded ones, let me never go blind, or get shut off from the agony of learning, the horrible pain of trying to understand.

Tonight: the unforgettable snatching of toothpicks and olive pits from the tables of the ambrosial gods!

Plath's journal entries from this period do not strike me as being written by someone who was particularly depressed. On the contrary, what I get is a sense of her overwhelming curiosity, ambition, and talent.

* The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath, pp. 179-180.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 19

For all you Phineas fans out there.


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April 25, 2006

AI Blogging

I had no intention of liveblogging AI tonight, but the first third has been so eventful, I can't help it.

Paula's meds need adjusting again. Urgently.

I was blown away by Kat. The judges were listening to a different performance. She should be safe though, I think her split second fuzz flash will ensure that.

Is Andrea Boccelli blind? I had no idea. I can name a dozen legitimate opera singers that are ten times better than him. I never understood his popularity until now.

Eliott Yao Ming was fantastic.

Pickler's "Unchained Melody?" Chain it back up again, I'm begging you.

Paris did not impress me. She sounded a bit like Gladys Knight in the beginning, which made me wish I was listening to Gladys instead. I didn't like the arrangement either.

Black velvet? I think Taylor has dandruff. I agree with Randy and Simon, a karaoke and lounge act. I can't put my finger on why, but Taylor has been sucking lately. I think he has mastered one genre, and outside it he's really unremarkable.

Chris looked hott. I totally love him. The performance could've used one or two more rehearsals. I liked the flamenco style of it, but Chris and the guitars seemed out of synch during the first half. He finished strong though.

The top three are clear: Eliott, Kat and Chris. However, the judges screwed it for Kat, and Taylor's fans are loyal. They will prop him up in the voting. Probably Kellie's fans will do that too, though she was the weakest of the six tonight. All of this makes me afraid for Eliott. If he goes tomorrow it will be a travesty.

So vote for Eliott.

Technorati: .

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What If Annika Had Lived In 1905?

Via the Maximum Leader, this site purports to show what my life would have been like if I had lived in Edwardian England.

The result is a little disappointing:

You live alone and have a private income!
- A Snapshot of your life as it might have been in 1905

Your parents will send you to a private school and despite the fact that you are bright and enjoy school you'll leave at 16.

Career Prospects
When you're young you'll do some household chores but won't do any work in the kitchen. When your mother dies you'll be left the house and a private income and your spinster friend will come to live with you. You'll believe strongly in the need to improve the quality of food and sanitation for the poor so you'll join a commission on public health and campaign for improvements.

Leisure Time
You'll eat your main meal - meat and vegetables - in the evening, except on Sundays. You'll support the church by sewing kneeler covers, arranging flowers and raising money for charity. You'll learn the piano and enjoy going to the theatre and musical concerts in the local town. Every week you'll make time to borrow books from the mobile library that will pass through your village.

Living Conditions
You'll employ two servants who live in your house but will be unimpressed with the quality of their work.

Marital Relations
You'll be engaged to a man from the parish but he'll be killed at war. You'll never marry which will set you apart from most of your contemporaries.

World War One
When World War One starts you'll join a women's auxiliary force and will survive to be awarded a 1914 Star and a bronze Victory Medal.

Pity about my fiancé. He must have been Russian, or possibly Japanese, because I don't know of any other European wars that were going on in 1905. The Boer War had just ended and I think Britain remained at peace until the Great War.

Hat tip: Naked Villainy.

Posted by annika at 06:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

For those who have not yet heard about Michelle Malkin's great new website, Hot Air, go check it out now.

And today's coolest most bizarre thing is from Doug TenNapel. Sick, but hilarious.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 18


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April 24, 2006

Meet Mistress Annika

Allow me to introduce you to Mistress Annika:


Annika's Journal reader Hannes has bestowed the distinct honor of naming his newly purchased Yugoslavian M48 Mauser after yours truly! Here's how this all came about:

[I]t is a variant of "der Mauser Karabiner 98k". Yes, in 1898 this was considered a carbine! The design dates back that far, but this one rolled off the line in Yugoslavia in the late 40's or early 50's. Designated the M48, it was built in a factory that not been bombed out using captured German machine tools and designs. It was meant as a military surplus rifle for issue to reserve troops and sales to various conflicts around the world at the time. . . . My new toy has been sitting in a warehouse only to be test fired every five years. It may be 50 to 60 years old, but for all intents and purposes, it is brand new.

I wasn't planning on buying a Mauser when I walked into that gun store three-plus weeks ago . . . . I picked up a brand new M1 Garand and liked it until I saw the price tag: $2700. Yeesh! It's a shame I don't have any children, because then I could sell them to a wandering band of gypsies and buy the thing. Plus maybe some ammo.

Finally I relented and asked what was all the way in the back row right where the shotguns start -- their lowest priority rifle sales location. "The one with the hogsticker," I said. I was expecting it to be yet another Chinese SKS with a folding bayonet ... yawn!

The saleman said, "That's a Mauser."

Hannes thinks, "Mmmmmm, Mauser!"

So I bought the thing right then and there for half the price I was going to pay for the jilted rifle, complete with its first aid kit for wounded jihad monkeys ... er, I mean the bayonet! How insensitive of me.

But enough about the rifle, let's talk about the bullet. It's fires an 8x57 mm cartridge. . . . the expended shell casings are as long as a full AK-47 round ready to fire. It will propel a 170-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of almost 3000 fps. . . .

OK, after I offered my rifle to one of my younger shooting buddies he ran out and set a can about 15 meters away and then took aim at it. He's an absolute newbie to shooting, but indignant to CA's idiotic gun laws. While he's doing this, I'm remembering that the Mauser 98k first saw action in the Boer War and that, at Spion Kop, Afrikaners were using them to pick off British soldiers from 1000 meters away without a scope ... and he's aiming at can at pointblank range.

I was expecting the can to be empty, but no. It was full of mandarin nectarines. And when he hit it on the first try, it disappeared into an orange cloud. Afterwards, the most we found of the can was what was once its bottom and a small speck of a nectarine -- perhaps 1/8 of an inch long -- that the wind had blown back onto one of our sweatshirts.

Even more bottom line, 60 rounds through the thing gave me a fat lip. And I have this nasty snaggletooth on the right side of my jaw that means I should invest in a football player's mouthguard when shooting this thing lest I want it to tear up my inner lip again.

What can I say? German Kannonenthumpenboomen in das Haus! Ya.

Awesome. But why the name?
When I picked up the Mauser, I got a butt pad with it. The salesman was fumbling around looking for a black one after he found a brown one. I told him that it's OK since the rifle is brown. He countered that MY rifle is blonde.

I had been struggling for a woman's name to give it. Right then and there I decided on "Annika". And after the beating it gave me last weekend, I've amended that to "Mistress Annika". I hope you don't mind ...

Not at all Hannes! I'm totally flattered.

Posted by annika at 05:59 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Eagle Claw Anniversary

I find it strange that there is no media recognition of today's 26th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw. Especially with Iran in the news so much lately. I did a couple of different google news searches and found nothing.

Eagle Claw was the failed attempt to rescue the embassy hostages, in which eight rescuers were killed. The disaster threw a spotlight on Carter's "hollow military," but it also led to the creation of the Special Operations Command, and more importantly, the election of Ronald Reagan.

Why might the media want to ignore Eagle Claw's anniversary? As LGF and others have pointed out, cynicism when it comes to the media's Iran coverage is often justified.

But one would think that they'd play up the Eagle Claw failure angle, in order to argue that a military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem would be futile.

However, such an argument might involve upleasant evidence of Carter's ineptitude, in contradiction of the media's ongoing campaign to beatify the loser.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, The Sex Scene Finale

Post-coital update.


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April 23, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, The Sex Scene Part 2


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April 22, 2006

Prayer Request

Please remember Gcotharn's mom in your prayers. Though I've never met Greg, he's been a great friend and supporter of this blog, and it's a sad thing that has happened in his family. I hope his mom will have a full recovery.

Posted by annika at 07:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Earth Day

Oh hey, today is Earth Day! I forgot all about it. Damn.

And I took an extra long, hot shower too. While running the dishwasher. With the heat-dry selected.

I'm going to go turn off some lights now. I wouldn't want to kill the Earth on Earth Day.

Update: I just found out about a thing us chicks can do to save the Earth that I will most definitely not be doing. No thank you. Sorry.

Hat tip to Feisty Republican Whore.

Posted by annika at 03:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

annika Trivia

Q: Who was on the cover of Time Magazine when I was born?

A: Lilly Tomlin.

Q: Who was on the cover of Rolling Stone?

A: Fleetwood Mac, with cover story by Cameron Crowe!

Q: Who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

A: Bump Wills?! Son of the great base stealer, Maury Wills.

Q: Esquire?

A: Chevy Chase and two skunks.

Q: High Times?

A: Carlos Castaneda, sort of.

Q: TV Guide?

A: Jack Klugman as Quincy, M.E.

Q: Tiger Beat?

A: The Bay City Rollers, and The Hardy Boys!!! Bitchen!

Q: Detective Comics?

A: Justice League vs. The Calculator?! I love the Calculator's quote: "Now I compute that you have less than a minute to live!" Pretty comical.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, The Sex Scene


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April 21, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 14


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April 20, 2006

In Memoriam: Scott Crossfield

Yesterday we lost one of the great legends of aviation, and an American hero. Scott Crossfield was the first man to travel twice the speed of sound. He died when his single engine Cesna 210A crashed in Gordon County, Georgia.

On November 20, 1953, Scott Crossfield's Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket dropped from the belly of a B-29 and accelerated to 1,291 miles per hour at about 72,000 feet over California's Mojave desert. He had just lapped the sound barrier, twice.

If you would like to see actual footage of the Skyrocket launching from a B-29, go here.*

If aviation fanatacism were a religion, the entrance gallery of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum would be its Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Mecca all rolled into one. As any visitor to this temple knows, all you have to do is look up and you will see alongside the Wright Flyer** a constellation of the greatest planes in the history of the world. One of these planes is the North American X-15.

Scott Crossfield was the first man to pilot the X-15, in its dual rocket configuration, on June 8, 1959. He was one of 12 test pilots, a group which also included Neil Armstrong. The plane flew 199 times, launching from under the wing of a B-52. Thirteen of those flights exceeded 50 miles in altitude, bestowing the title of "astronaut" on the pilots. Two flights exceeded 65 miles.

One X-15 pilot, Michael Adams, was killed when the plane began to spin and hit 15 g's before it broke up over the desert.

Here's a picture after a hard landing with Scott Crossfield at the controls. This was the X-15's third flight, and one of the rocket engines had exploded after launch. Amazingly, Crossfield walked away from this landing unhurt. Stud.


Scott Crossfield survived 30 flights in the X-15, including another mid-flight engine explosion. His last flight was in 1960, and all of the speed and altitude records were set later, by other men. But it was Scott Crossfield who made the courageous first test flights of this amazing and historic aircraft.

The X-15 could go 4,520 mph, almost seven times the speed of sound. It set altitude records that were not broken by any plane except the Space Shuttle until the recent flight of SpaceShipOne. The fifth American to enter space did so in an X-15!

Its highest flight made it to over 67 miles (354,199 feet). The X-15's rate of climb was 60,000 feet per minute. Contrast that with the 767 I flew in recently, which gets to its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet at about 2,400 feet per minute.

But those are just numbers. Wanna see how bad-ass this thing was? And how insane pilots like Scott Crossfield were to fly them? Check out this unbelievable video from inside the X-15, looking backwards as it launches. I had to run it a few times, and each time I was moved to shout something like "holy shit..." in disbelief. Keep an eye on the upper left, and you can see the contrails of the B-52 launch plane disappear in about five seconds as the X-15 rockets into space.

Just amazing.

Albert Scott Crossfield: pilot, American hero; born October 2, 1921 in Berkeley California; slipped the surly bonds of earth April 19, 2006.

* By the way, the Dryden Test Center site is amazing. There's so much good stuff here. Check out this fly-over shot of my alltime favorite jet. It's absolutely awe-inspiring!

** Not a reproduction, mind you. I'm talking about the real actual very first airplane ever.

Posted by annika at 06:33 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

For F-16 fans, a cool video of low level flying through the fjords of Norway. Takes a while to load.

Hat tip to Shelly.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 13


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April 19, 2006

Sci-Fi Fiction News.

May 16th is the release date for Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology: Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Elemental has an introduction by Arthur C.Clarke and more than twenty stories by Brian Aldiss, David Drake, Jacqueline Carey, Martha Wells, Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman, Eric Nylund, Sherrilyn Kenyon writing as Kinley MacGregor, and a Dune story by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, and many others.
Arthur C. Clarke lives in Sri Lanka. According to Amazon, all publisher and author profits will go to the Save the Children Tsunami Relief Fund.

I love Sci-Fi anthologies. My favorite one so far has been Redshift. They're a great way to find out about new authors, and it seems that some writers are more willing to take risks in the short story format than in a novel.

Posted by annika at 07:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

Is there any subject that can't be examined by a poet? Here we have biology, in a Shakespearian sonnet by English poet John Masefield (1878–1967):

What am I, Life?

What am I, Life? A thing of watery halt
Held in cohesion by unresting cells,
Which work they know not why, which never halt,
Myself unwitting where their Master dwells
I do not bid them, yet they toil, they spin
A world which uses me as I use them;
Nor do I know which end or which begin
Nor which to praise, which pamper, which condemn.
So, like a marvel in a marvel set,
I answer to the vast, as wave by wave
The sea of air goes over, dry or wet,
Or the full moon comes swimming from her cave,
Or the great sun comes forth: this myriad I
Tingles, not knowing how, yet wondering why.

Poet suggested by Casca.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 12


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April 18, 2006

New Slogans For The Democratic Party

I just got a spam e-mail from Tom Vilsack, Democratic governor of Iowa, and I presume a future presidential candidate. Don't ask me how I got on his mailing list, I have no earthly idea.

But apparently his PAC has been running a contest for the best ten word slogan to represent the Democratic Party. The contest is now down to the final ten slogans submitted by ten "activists."*

Funny thing about the finalists. Four of them aren't even ten words long. Typical Democrats. Always thinking the rules don't apply to them.

Anyways, I think it's unfair that we conservatives weren't allowed to get in on this contest. Do you all have any ideas for ten word slogans that encapsulize the Democratic Party?

I'll start it off:

"Democrats - because national security makes my head hurt too much."

* I love that word. To me it's a euphemism for jobless looney.

[cross-posted at The Cotillion]

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 11


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April 17, 2006

More Iran Stuff

Mark Steyn's City Magazine essay [via Hugh Hewitt] is my second must read recommendation for today.

Find it here and read the whole dang thing.

Key passages [all emphases mine]:

If Belgium becomes a nuclear power, the Dutch have no reason to believe it would be a factor in, say, negotiations over a joint highway project. But Iran’s nukes will be a factor in everything. If you think, for example, the European Union and others have been fairly craven over those Danish cartoons, imagine what they’d be like if a nuclear Tehran had demanded a formal apology, a suitable punishment for the newspaper, and blasphemy laws specifically outlawing representations of the Prophet. Iran with nukes will be a suicide bomber with a radioactive waist.

. . .

In 1989, with the Warsaw Pact disintegrating before his eyes, poor beleaguered Mikhail Gorbachev received a helpful bit of advice from the cocky young upstart on the block: “I strongly urge that in breaking down the walls of Marxist fantasies you do not fall into the prison of the West and the Great Satan,” Ayatollah Khomeini wrote to Moscow. “I openly announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the greatest and most powerful base of the Islamic world, can easily help fill up the ideological vacuum of your system.”

Today many people in the West don’t take that any more seriously than Gorbachev did. But it’s pretty much come to pass. As Communism retreated, radical Islam seeped into Africa and south Asia and the Balkans. Crazy guys holed up in Philippine jungles and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay who’d have been “Marxist fantasists” a generation or two back are now Islamists: it’s the ideology du jour.

. . .

With the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a British subject, Tehran extended its contempt for sovereignty to claiming jurisdiction over the nationals of foreign states, passing sentence on them, and conscripting citizens of other countries to carry it out. Iran’s supreme leader instructed Muslims around the world to serve as executioners of the Islamic Republic—and they did, killing not Rushdie himself but his Japanese translator, and stabbing the Italian translator, and shooting the Italian publisher, and killing three dozen persons with no connection to the book when a mob burned down a hotel because of the presence of the novelist’s Turkish translator.

Iran’s de facto head of state offered a multimillion-dollar bounty for a whack job on an obscure English novelist. And, as with the embassy siege, he got away with it.

. . .

[I]n the 17 years between the Rushdie fatwa and the cartoon jihad, what was supposedly a freakish one-off collision between Islam and the modern world has become routine. We now think it perfectly normal for Muslims to demand the tenets of their religion be applied to society at large: the government of Sweden, for example, has been zealously closing down websites that republish those Danish cartoons. As Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, “It is in our revolution’s interest, and an essential principle, that when we speak of Islamic objectives, we address all the Muslims of the world.” Or as a female Muslim demonstrator in Toronto put it: “We won’t stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.”

And this, which had me nodding my head at the irony so obvious, I hadn't noticed it until now:
Back when nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, your average Western progressive was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute. The mushroom cloud was one of the most familiar images in the culture, a recurring feature of novels and album covers and movie posters. There were bestselling dystopian picture books for children, in which the handful of survivors spent their last days walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now a state openly committed to the annihilation of a neighboring nation has nukes, and we shrug: Can’t be helped. Just the way things are. One hears sophisticated arguments that perhaps the best thing is to let everyone get ’em, and then no one will use them. And if Iran’s head of state happens to threaten to wipe Israel off the map, we should understand that this is a rhetorical stylistic device that’s part of the Persian oral narrative tradition, and it would be a grossly Eurocentric misinterpretation to take it literally.
Fine as this column was, you'll see me getting off the boat when Steyn concludes, somewhat ominously:
[W]e face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.
That time is coming, but I think we still have other options at present. So if Steyn is urging a military strike now (as he seems to be), I would disagree.

I think our main focus (while we still have the luxury of time) should be on fomenting internal opposition to the regime -- even what you might call internal strife. Take the mullahs minds off the outside world. Make them fear for their own survival. Promote a viable alternative to religious fascism, then give the people of Iran a gentle shove in that direction.

Sure, the days are gone when a Kermit Roosevelt could overthrow Mossadegh with about five guys, a pickup truck and 100 grand in "walking around money." But we can do it, with a little more of the same applied skullduggery, 21st Century style. The New York Times would have to be kept out of the loop, and I'm not sure that's possible when there's a whistleblower around every pentagon corner who thinks he's a hero with a book deal on the way.

Really though, as Steyn's article makes clear, there shouldn't be any debate about the stakes in this newest incarnation of the Great Game. And somebody needs to get on it.

Posted by annika at 08:55 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Phishing: It's Not Just From Africa Anymore

I just got a spam e-mail with a new twist. I'm sure you have all gotten those poorly written e-mails from Ojibwe Mumbojibwe of Nigeria, asking for your assistance in an "urgent matter." Well now they've gotten wiser. Here's the twist:

Good day,

My name is Sgt. John Crews Loius, I am an American soldier, I serve in the Military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, as you know we have being attacked by insurgents everyday and car bombs. We where lucky to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein?s family hopping it was a bomb in the box, later we find out it was a fiscal cash .

The total amount is US$25,000,000 Twenty Five Million United State dollars in cash, mostly 100 dollar bills which is still in our co sturdy at the military base camp, now we find it as a Big Risk on us if our commandant nor the Iraqis People get to find out about this box of money because we are not allowed to have any money in our position for that We are seeking for a trustworthy foreign business partner who can help us in receiving this box of money

so that He/She may invest it for us and keep our share for banking. This is our plan of sharing my partner and I will take 55%, you take the other 45%.

No stress attached, for we have made all necessary arrangement for shipping it out of Iraq, Iraq is a war zone. We planed on using diplomatic courier service for shipping the money out in one large silver box declaring it as family valuables using diplomatic immunity.

Losers. They couldn't even spell the name right. Whoever is doing this really needs to brush up on English grammar and spelling if they're going to try this approach. It makes sense if you're posing as Ojibwe, but not if you're trying to sound like an American.

Posted by annika at 06:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Is This True?

Wretchard posted a story [from I do not know where], which is simply horrifying.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. ... After Iraq invaded in September 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran's forces were no match for Saddam Hussein's professional, well-armed military. To compensate ... Khomeini sent Iranian children ... to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.

At one point, however, the earthly gore became a matter of concern. ... Such scenes would henceforth be avoided ... Before entering the minefields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves."

These children who rolled to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979 ... And yet, today, it is a source not of national shame, but of growing pride. Since the end of hostilities against Iraq in 1988, the Basiji have grown both in numbers and influence. They have been deployed, above all, as a vice squad to enforce religious law in Iran, and their elite "special units" have been used as shock troops against anti-government forces. In both 1999 and 2003, for instance, the Basiji were used to suppress student unrest. And, last year, they formed the potent core of the political base that propelled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-- a man who reportedly served as a Basij instructor during the Iran-Iraq War--to the presidency. ... He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij culture" and "Basij power" ... A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors. The children of the Revolution are now its leaders.

Is this true?

Clash of civilizations my eye. If that actually happened, those are the acts of barbarians -- worse than barbarians -- and not anything near civilized men.

Posted by annika at 10:23 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Recommended Reading

E.M. proves again why she is a daily must read.

Daily, mind you.

Posted by annika at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 10


Just be patient with me. I'm sure this PPTSP obsession is just a phase I'm going through. Or maybe it's my true calling. Who knows?

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I just read an interesting article about John Updike. I've never read him. Are there any Updike fans out there? Should I give him a try?

Correction: Actually, when I was in undergrad, I tried to read Memories Of The Ford Administration, but it was pretty boring, so I never finished it. But I'm wondering if the Rabbit books are better.

Posted by annika at 12:09 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 16, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 9

Happy Easter everybody! Here's your Sunday comic.


[Not that you asked for a Sunday comic. But seriously, if I hadn't forced myself to finish my taxes and other errands yesterday I would have posted like twenty of these.]

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April 15, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin Update

Addictive, ain't it?


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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Vonski obtained some frightening video of a terrorist training camp.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 7

What can I say? I'm a slave to my art.


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April 14, 2006

"Be Worried, Be Very Worried"

I'm taking a break from doing my taxes, so I can bash the mainstream media yet again. I'm just in that kind of mood.

Here it is, April 14, 2006, and it looks like we're on the verge of a second Holocaust. The Iranian madman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the scariest shit today that's probably been said since the Wannsee Conference.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

. . .

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."

"The existence of this (Israeli) regime is a permanent threat" to the Middle East, he added. "Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."

You may remember that in October, Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the map. He's now replaced "should" with "will."

That should make everybody worried.

On this day after Passover, this Good Friday, this Easter weekend, I think we all should take some time out to pray very hard. Pray for Israel. Pray for ourselves. And pray for civilization. Because there is a madman out there who wants to finish the job Hitler started.

And I don't want to hear about how it's all rhetoric, and we shouldn't worry because the Iranians would be foolish to attack Israel. Just listen to the man, and then try to tell me he doesn't want to be known as the guy that killed all the Jews.

This is also the week we found out that they've successfully enriched uranium, by the way.

And yet... and yet! Time magazine tells us we should be worrying about global warming. Even though scientists don't even agree whether it exists. Talk about sexed-up intelligence reports! Talk about fake threats! Those guys need to pull their heads out of their asses and smell their own shit.

Ahmadinejad has been going crazy since at least October of last year, and do you know how many cover stories Time has done about Iran?


In fact, Time has not done a cover story even remotely dealing with Iran since 1991, when the title piece was called: "Ollie North Tells His Story: Reagan Knew Everything."

Just out of curiosity, do you know how many times global warming has made the cover of Time since 1987? If you guessed nine (twice in '87, once in '88, twice in '92, and then again in 2001, 2002, 2005 and most recently this month), you were right.

This is not surprising. Time is after all the news organization who brought us "the whistleblowers" as persons of the year. But I think it's "time" they actually started paying attention to what's really important, and putting it on their cover.

Or not. Either way, I won't be buying that rag.

Posted by annika at 07:29 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

The "M" In NBC Stands For "Me"

I know there's no M in NBC. You try coming up with clever titles all the time.

Anyways, I had the misfortune of watching NBC's Nightly News tonight, which is something I haven't done in quite a few years. After spending the first couple of segments building their case against Rumsfeld, the network turned its evil eye on the legendary 10th Mountain Division, currently in Afghanistan hunting Taliban.

Here's a transcript and link to the video.

What seemed odd at first, later became annoying, then maddening. Jim Maceda seemed to spend at least as much time talking about himself as he did talking about the 10th Mountain.

An example:

. . . gunmen sprayed our campsite with machine gunfire, just as we prepared to sleep, sending me digging for cover. Two insurgents were wounded, fleeing into the mountains. It was my closest call in 30 years of reporting. [emphasis mine]
Okay, so while you cowered, what else did the real men do? He doesn't elaborate.

Another example:

At dawn, we began the grueling 4,000-foot descent. I carried a 50-pound pack. My cameraman, Kyle Eppler, had that plus a 50-pound car battery, for power.
I thought that was a strange bit of information to put in the story, especially when the accompanying video showed soldiers carrying heavy gear too. Personally, I didn't give a crap how much Maceda carried. What about the soldiers? How much were they carrying? Weren't they supposed to be the point of the story?

Interestingly, Maceda did find it important to mention the four soldiers who needed medical care after the march. I suppose he did that to show how macho he was by contrast.

Maceda couldn't resist adding one more reminder of the hardships he endured to bring us "the story." In closing, he says it's

an often forgotten war that is hard work for the military and the media covering it.
Poor baby.

I appreciate Maceda's effort, but I do not need to know about it. In fact, I thought the reporter was not supposed to be part of the story. Instead of hearing about Maceda and his cameraman, I would rather have known a few more relevant details like: How many bad guys have we blown away and/or how many rat-holes have we flame-throwered?

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, The Saga Continues

Step two: Introduce new characters.


Step three: Develop storyline.


Step four: Establish conflict.


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Don't Believe The Hype (Megastores Can Be Reasonable)

Listening to talk radio, I got the impression that bookstores are run by sneaky liberal kooks whose sole mission in life is to corrupt our minds through product placement. Which may be largely true, but not in all cases.

Cameron, of Woody's Woundup recently discovered that an anti-LDS book was being featured on an Easter display at the bookstore where he works.

Irked, he wrote a letter.

The book is Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven . . . . It is not a happy or religiously inspirational book to read, certainly. The back cover alone, which describes the Mormon church as "Taliban-like", would be amusing in some other context. The book itself is less amusing, arguing that Mormons - all Mormons, and not just a few polygamist nutjobs - are potentially violent, perhaps murderously so, precisely because of our religion. (Yes, I am Mormon.)

Well, Krakauer is certainly free to have such a view and to write it, just as B&N is free to sell his book in an open market place.

What I want to know is, how did this book end up on two - count them, 2 - different displays on Barnes & Noble's display tables? And, in regards to at least one table, I'm talking about Store List books, books that some yahoo in a cubicle in Marketing at B&N's headquarters has decided need to be displayed on specific tables or endcaps in the store.

Under the Banner of Heaven appears on both the "Religion & Inspiration" table and, amazingly, the Easter table.

It boggles the mind. Unless I missed one, Krakauer's book is the ONLY negatively-themed book on BOTH tables. As it is frankly a sloppily-researched attack on a major religion, what is it doing on these displays?

I read that post by Cameron, and figured it would turn out to be a venting experience for him, with no expectation of any response from the corporate monolith. But I was mistaken.

B&N wrote back.

You are absolutely correct. Under the Banner of Heaven should never have been included with the Easter display we are glad you took the time to bring this to our attention. It was an oversight on the buyers end, and we hope you accept our apologies. It is never our intention to insult our customers or our Booksellers.

There is a message that went out on BN.Inside today instructing the stores to remove the title from the Easter table and place it in Trade Paperback Favorites.

Stunning. You know, if I wasn't already a big B&N fan, they would certainly have earned my business for such a prompt and reasonable response to Cameron's letter. And kudos to Cameron for making the effort. I would've assumed I'd be ignored, and probably done nothing.

Posted by annika at 11:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dating Tips For Pirates

I love this. It's hilarious. Unless you're with Sammy Davis Jr. or Peter Falk, I'm not sure this is the best idea. Might freak your man out if he happens to peek.

Kissing by Paige
Ok, You want to kiss him but dont know what he wants to do? Well, while you are kissing, keep one eye slightly open. If his eyes are wide open-RUN!! Its obvious he is shocked and dosent want to be kissed.

If he puts his tounge in your mouth, again keep one eye slightly open. Just go alone with it if he does end up tounge wrestling with you.

And heres another tip. While you are kissing, and while you have your eye open, if he has his eyes closed and looks like hes really enjoying it, it means he could do that ALL DAY. And when you start to pull back, he will too.

Rate This Dating Tip
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Current Rating:
From 4502 votes.
Read more dating tips and post your own!

Posted by annika at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Make A Me

How to make a annika

5 parts jealousy

5 parts crazyiness

3 parts joy
Add to a cocktail shaker and mix vigorously. Top it off with a sprinkle of curiosity and enjoy!


Personality cocktail
From Go-Quiz.com

Via the sexy Law Fairy.

[N.B. Go-quiz's code fucks up your template unless you add a </div> tag at the very end.]

Posted by annika at 10:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 13, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 3


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April 12, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin: Episode Two


Because the hardest part about introducing a new fictional character is that it takes time for the audience to get to know and love him.

Posted by annika at 05:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

You may remember the great KISS haiku contest of 2005. The winner of that contest was Cameron who used to have a blog called Way Off Base. Now he's blogging with his brother at Woody's Woundup.

Anyways, I once called Cameron "the Mark Russell of the Blogosphere." Of course nobody knows who Mark Russell is, so it's not much of a compliment, if it ever was one. But Cameron is still writing poetry, and I loved his latest one so much that I chose it for this week's selection.

On the Morning of A Day Off, A Little Wind and Rain

An old, missed friend wakes me up, politely
Tapping my window with soft fingers,
Whispering the new stories she has learned.
And I’m all ears, warm under my blanket,
Sitting up with my back against the cool wall,
Listening, trying to find a rhythm
In her words, perpetually relieved
To never discern any noticeable pattern.
It would ruin the instance if I did;
Like hearing a drumbeat put to an aria.

There’s no sorrow, no worsted gray buttoned up
Over the colorful promise of her mysteries.
Beneath my closed eyes, her words become
An intimate canvas primed and waiting for
Some improvised brush of . . .
Life, she taps on my window. Laughter. Love.
Each flurry of words brings me
Closer to new than I have been in years.

My window’s open; she enters on the breeze.
Such a scent she brings, clean and real,
The scent wild things know after the snows melt,
And with her comes the lush green certainty
Of something taking root in me,
Like a seed pushed into readied earth by
Some wise old farmer in the North Forty,
And I imagine that when my friend and I
Meet again in the spring, in a rambling conversation
About wild sprouts and raucous blooms,
I’ll be glad then that I don’t now close my window
Just to avoid her random, friendly kisses.

It doesn’t rain enough in Southern California.

Cameron writes an occasional sonnet too, and for his latest effort he was rewarded by by being published in the Moorpark Review Creative Arts Journal. This one is real nice. Click on the link to "So we are all of us abandoned Lears" at this page.

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April 11, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin: Episode One


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California Poll Numbers

In California, Bush surpasses Carter...

Only 32 percent of registered voters approve of the job Bush is doing, while 62 percent disapprove, according to the statewide Field Poll released Tuesday.

. . .

Carter had a 66 percent disapproval and 33 percent approval rating in July 1980.

...while Congress ties Nixon.
Californians' views on the legislative branch were even more negative with 66 percent disapproving of the job Congress is doing and just 24 percent approving.
Nixon hit 24% in August 1974, just before he resigned.

Anybody wanna go for Fillmore?

Posted by annika at 06:22 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

This is uproarious.

The Easter Bunny kicks ass.

Thanks to Zendo Deb for finding that.

Posted by annika at 06:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 08, 2006

Draft Day Questions

1. How does Al Davis fuck this one up?

2. Who gets Bush?

3. Will Green Bay take a QB or stick with their vacillating, over-the-hill hall-of-famer?

4. How will Al Davis fuck this one up?

5. Where and when does Leinart go?

6. If Houston or the Titans take Young, will he deliver for them?

7. Can anything help the Raiders. Or the Niners for that matter?

8. Can Viera handle both Today and Millionaire?

Posted by annika at 11:59 AM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

Long-Ass Battle Of The Movie Assassins Update

In June, last year, I started this whole running sidebar poll about movie assassins and who would kill whom if they had to. I'm calling the latest poll, which was the closest competition so far. You decided that Jason Bourne is more kick-ass than Leon from The Professional by a vote of 53% to 47%. It was neck and neck for quite a while.

Who knew there were so many Leon fans out there? And I thought The Professional was a heartwarming tale about some French dude and his kid. Maybe I should see it again.

Anyways, Jason Bourne advances and the bracket looks like this:


The next matchup is between Nikita of La Femme Nikita and Beatrix Kiddo of Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2. The question, as always, is this: "If Nikita and Beatrix Kiddo were each given orders to kill each other, who would win?"

So what are you waiting for? Scroll down and vote!

Previous updates in this, the blogging equivalent of a massive public works project,* can be found here, and here.

* Nobody's sure if it's worth the effort, but we've gone too far to call off the damn thing now.

Posted by annika at 05:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Well Do Ya... Punk?

VDH has been boring for a while now, but today he published a must-read piece at NRO, dealing with the subject of nuclear brinksmanship and "craziness" as a foreign policy tool.

One of my favorite history professors at Cal believed that the Vietnam War could be explained by the theory of "craziness" as a geopolitical device. In other words, our foreign policy led us to demonstrate to our allies and our enemies the extreme lengths we would go to promote our interests around the world. "Why else," he asked, "would we send so many boys to fight and die for a piece of land that had absolutely no strategic value to us?"

Looking beyond the obvious liberal slant to his question, I think my professor recognized a truth of realpolitik. A little unpredictability in foreign policy is a good thing. Recent American administrations have proven this fact. Nobody could have expected presidents Ford through Clinton to do what George W. Bush is doing right now in Iraq. They would not have been willing to withstand the political price of a hugely unpopular war. And one result of that perceived unwillingness is the war we are now in.

So if American power can be wielded by a president, despite intense opposition at home and abroad, for a project with such an uncertain outcome... what won't we do?

Bush's "crazy" foreign policy has breathed new life into JFK's pledge, made forty-five years ago:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Iranian president Ahmadinejad knows the value of apparent "craziness" too. (Although, in his case, it may not be an act.) Professor Hanson points out the method to Ahmadinejad's madness:
The Islamic world lost their Middle Eastern nuclear deterrent with the collapse of the Soviet Union . . . . But with a nuclear Islamic Iran, the mullahs can claim that a new coalition against Israel would not be humiliated — or at least not annihilated when it lost — since the Iranians could always, Soviet-like, threaten to go nuclear. There are surely enough madmen in Arab capitals who imagine that, at last, the combined armies of the Middle East could defeat Israel, with the guarantee that a failed gambit could recede safely back under an Islamic nuclear umbrella.

Lastly, Iran can threaten Israel and U.S. bases at will, in hopes of getting the same sort of attention and blackmail subsidies it will shortly obtain from the Europeans, who likewise are in missile range. All failed states want attention — who, after all, would be talking about North Korea if it didn’t have nukes? So, in terms of national self-interest, it is a wise move on the theocracy’s part to acquire nuclear weapons, especially when there is no India on the border to play a deterrent role to an Iran in the place of Pakistan.

And of course the Iranians have devised a very crafty plan to achieve this end, based on the failed but workable strategy Saddam Hussein employed to "play" the U.N. and Europe.
First, they conduct military exercises, showing off novel weapons systems with purportedly exotic capabilities, while threatening to unleash terror against global commerce and the United States. It may be a pathetic and circus-like exercise born of desperation, but the point of such military antics is to show the West there will be some real costs to taking out Iranian nuclear installations.

Second, Iranians simultaneously send out their Westernized diplomats to the U.N. and the international media to sound sober, judicious, and aggrieved — pleading that a victimized Iran only wants peaceful nuclear energy and has been unfairly demonized by an imperialistic United States. The well-spoken professionals usually lay out all sorts of protocols and talking-points, all of which they will eventually subvert — except the vacuous ones which lead nowhere, but nevertheless appeal to useful Western idiots of the stripe that say “Israel has a bomb, so let’s be fair.”

Third, they talk, talk, talk — with the Europeans, Chinese, Russians, Hugo Chavez, anyone and everyone, and as long as possible — in order to draw out the peace-process and buy time in the manner of the Japanese militarists of the late 1930s, who were still jawing about reconciliation on December 7, 1941, in Washington.

During this tripartite approach, the Iranians take three steps forward, then one back, and end up well on their way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite all the passive-aggressive noisemaking, they push insidiously onward with development, then pause when they have gone too far, allow some negotiations, then are right back at it. And we know why: nuclear acquisition for Iran is a win-win proposition.

Any other American administration would be content to worry, and twiddle its thumbs, and talk tough, and worry some more, and ultimately do nothing. Any other American president might be ignored, as "all talk and no action." And even though the best solution to the Iranian problem might actually be one that requires "all talk and no action," the perception that we might just be "crazy" enough to resort to action is worth a hell of a lot of talk.
So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.
In other words, "do you feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?"

Posted by annika at 09:55 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

NPM At Sheila's

Sheila is doing National Poetry Month the right way, at The Sheila Variations. Go over there and just keep scrolling. She's posted a few from some of my favorites: O'Hara, Bishop, Dickinson, and Oliver, along with some fantastic poetry that I hadn't been introduced to yet.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Need A Good Laugh?

Watch Soledad O'Brien go twelve rounds with Cynthia McKinney. The fight was a draw.

I totally love Soledad O'Brien now.

Update: Rep. McKinney's Patton moment.

Posted by annika at 07:54 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Oddsmakers Give Bucky The Boot

From the LA Times:

Online odds makers, are ignoring country rocker Bucky Covington's safely above the top three finish on last week's "American Idol" show and selecting the singer as most likely to see his journey end in tonight's results show. And chanteuse Katherine McPhee, who shocked audiences when she earned the second lowest vote total last week, is nonetheless deemed safe by the gamblers wagering on the show.

Pinnacle Sports, which offers a separate betting line on "Who will be eliminated" lists Covington as the most likely to go at 3.58 to 1 odds, closely followed by heartthrob Ace Smith [sic], who earned last week's third lowest vote tally. Katherine McPhee remains highly favored to win among Pinnacle bettors, trailing favorite Chris Daughtry.

I concur.

Update: Wild ending. I can reveal it now, since I have no Hawaiian readers, and I'm not sure Kevin watches AI in Korea.

The stunned silence after Mandisa's name was called is something I've never heard on AI before. While this field may not contain the best performers in Idol history, the talent is very evenly matched. So it's really hard to predict who's going next. I think Mandisa went because lots of people assumed she would last 'til the end, and therefore voted for someone else. Plus, she really didn't do that good last night, as Country is not her best genre.

Let me also revise and extend my remarks about Kelly, which I made after the top 24 were picked. I was wrong. I think she may have a shot at the prize, and last night she showed some serious game.

Bucky dodged a bullet, though.

Posted by annika at 07:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Scientists Find Weird Fish Fossil Way The Fuck Up In Canada

A bunch of scientists found a weird fish fossil that looks like it might be a transitional species between fish and lizard. Or frog. Or whatever. Between fish and something that crawls or slithers on the land.

When I flew to Europe our plane went over the Hudson Bay. I was amazed at how barren it looked down there. But these scientists were working much farther north than that. In fact, the article says they all carried guns just in case a hungry polar bear came by.

Interestingly, when this fish/lizard was alive, it lived near the equator in the mud of a now non-existent continent called Laurentia. Yeah, 400 million years ago. You gotta love plate tectonics.

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Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Vogon Poetry

In honor of April Fool's day, lets do something different.


Ever wonder what Vogon poetry really sounds like? Check out Rosie O'Donnell's blog. Here's a particularly bad selection from yesterday:


so katie mcphee is linda ederish

yo yo dog
youuuu look sssssexyhottt grrreat job
i hate country music

does kenny rogers think
he looks better this way
alien from planet hollywood
almost didnt recognize him

i will reload the art movie
with a non i tune tune

i am 1/2 way thru
craig fergusons novel
i triple love it
confederacy of dunces
meets geek love
in a dave eggers universe
buy it

a lot of press
gma tomorrow
and i am done
going in and out
of celebville
with an ez pass

there is much i miss
everything barbra
touring again
thank god
i live in a paralell universe
1 where noone spells write
ross the intern
jays colin

colin was 10
yr one
belted ethel merman
had me at hello

he now works for
everytime i see his simle
i remember the magic

ryan seacrest just said
to simon cowell

5 am
hair and make up
i am getting too old for this

there is a scary kid
talking to larry king
about internet porn

journalism in america

the ask ro
is highly addictive

On second thought, that is much worse than Vogon poetry. Rosie must be one of the Azgoths of Kria. Where does she get her inspiration? She must have composed that piece while shitting out a particularly large chunk of constipatii, i think. Gawdawful.

Thanks to Victor, for the suggestion.

Posted by annika at 07:09 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

April 04, 2006

Batting Instruction

Greg has some excellent and extensive hitting advice over at The End Zone.

Throughout my life, I believed I was an excellent hitter in tough situations. I believed my teams were lucky to have me at bat in those situations. I often believed, of everyone on the team, I had the best chance of succeeding against tough pitching in tough situations. I would often be really wanting to win, and I would think "Thank God I'm coming up - my coming to bat really gives us a good chance to win this game," or "My coming to bat is bad luck for those other guys - they are screwed," or "Those other guys have no idea how much trouble they are in with me coming to bat. I'm the last person they want up there - even if they don't know it." Was that true? It doesn't matter if it was true or not! The important thing is to believe it - to have confidence. My father used to say "If you think you cannot, you cannot." He was right about that.
I wish I'd had a coach like him when I was nine. I might have done more than one embarrasing year in Little League.

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Annika's Theorem

Delay provides further proof for my previously stated theorem: Take the over.

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April 03, 2006

Five Years! (my brain hurts a lot...)


Hans Blix, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, spoke some encouraging words of optimism today. Speaking to a Norwegian news agency, he gave us all the benefit of his expert opinion.

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday that Iran is a least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement.

Blix, attending an energy conference in western Norway, said he doubted the U.S. would resort to invading Iran.

"But there is a chance that the U.S. will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB as saying. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism."

Blix said there is still time for dialogue over Iran's nuclear enrichment program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West fears is part of a secret nuclear weapons program.

"We have time on our side in this case. Iran can't have a bomb ready in the next five years," Blix was quoted as saying.

Blix, also a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the United States to take its time, as it is doing in a similar nuclear standoff with North Korea.

"The U.S. has given itself time and is negotiating with North Korea, while Iran got a very short deadline," he was quoted as saying.

Yes, the additional five years is great news. The U.S. can follow Blix's advice, and take advantage of this window of opportunity. We might get the Iranians to sign on to some sort of ironclad international agreement. More importantly, the extra five years should be enough time for an inspector who can ensure that Iran follows the agreement to arrive here on earth from the far side of the galaxy.

So like I said before, don't worry, be happy.

Posted by annika at 05:38 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack