Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Yesterday, my family and I went to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I really liked the first in the trilogy. I was greatly disappointed by the second one. The third one had some potential, but blew some things, I think. You can stop reading now if you haven't seen the film yet.

Probably the biggest annoyance with the whole movie is all the buildup that comes to naught. For example, take the whole Calypso subplot. She's a ticked off goddess, who is going to make everyone pay. Well, in the end, she does nothing. Not even a scorned lover's hand coming out of the ocean to pull the ship of her choice down with her. She could have either really harmed or really helped one of the causes in the tangle of intrigue, but instead harmlessly dissolves into a pile of crabs after growing to a giant on the ship and saying something incomprehensible (to me, anyway). Sure...there's the maelstrom, but really, what does that do??? The ships aren't particularly harmed by it. It just makes for some briefly interesting graphics.

There is a lot of unfulfilled lead in. Was anyone else disappointed by how easy it was to just waltz into the land of the dead and come back out? How about the ease at which Elizabeth's father Governor Swann and Norrington are killed. And then there's the Captain Sao Feng; he was there, he was a bad-ass, and then he's gone. What's up with that? I think that random deaths of lead characters is more acceptable in a more serious drama, but in a fantasy epic, it is out of place, I think, and should be a bigger deal.

OK, so now that I've harped on what I didn't like about the movie, what did I like?

Hmm...the only moments sticking out for me right now are the scene where Will and Elizabeth are married by Barbossa in the middle of a battle. (Does a marriage performed by a pirate captain carry legal weight? Today, do couples getting married at sea have to apply for a marriage license?)

The scene with the rocks/crabs was pretty cool.

Oh, and then the kiss scene between Will and Elizabeth towards the end was pretty well filmed.

Nothing else is really doing it for me. I guess there just weren't that many memorable moments. I'm not even a great fan of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly, so it is surprising that they are the ones in the scenes that I most remember.

So, from there, did anyone stay to the end of the credits? It's a scene 10 years later, in which Elizabeth is waiting for Will (now captain of the Flying Dutchman) to return for their day together. She has a boy of approximately 10 years (probably more like 9 years and 3 months) with her. Will appears and we can only assume that he gets to meet his son before the boy gets sent away so that Will and Elizabeth can make wild passionate love.

So, now for the meta thoughts. Was anyone else struck by the fact that the heroes of the story were pirates (closely akin to terrorist with the distinction that pirates not only kill lots of innocents but also rob them in the process), and that many of the people killed by our heroes were men in uniform? I'm all for questioning authority, but that just seems a little too much. Oh wait...must suspend disbelief.

Later, my brother (age 22) and I (age 25) discussed whether we would wait for someone for 10 years as per the Will/Elizabeth arrangement. My position was no, because I need more in a relationship than 10 years of yearning with a day together each decade. He insisted that if it were true love, then one would wait. I pointed out that even Jacob in the Bible, who worked for 7 years to marry Rachel and ended up having to marry everyone else in the family first wasn't just pining away for Rachel the whole time. He had a number of wives and concubines by the time it was all over! I think that my brother is still tied into the romantic ideals from books that he reads and from movies. The fact that he is currently in a long-distance relationship with a dubious outcome probably is part of it too. I can't help but wonder if the only thing that my brother thinks is missing from the Will/Elizabeth relationship is 10 years of sex. I can't imagine that he is aware of the value of the daily interaction and support that one has in a "normal" relationship that would be missing from the Will/Elizabeth thing and still be so willing to dismiss their necessity for a long-term relationship. Also, if Elizabeth has a kid to raise, then she'd not only be worried about someone to warm her bed at night, but to help provide for the child. I think that practical considerations, both in the case of emotional/spiritual fulfillment and more economic concerns would make the 10 year wait near impossible for a normal person without a martyr complex.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ferrets are still illegal in California

And I ask, why????

I told James about ferrets being illegal in some places because they were afraid that the ferrets would go feral and eat babies and he laughed as he tried to imagine Chaos inflicting harm on an infant. Ain't gonna happen.

This isn't to say that a ferret couldn't harm a child; however, they pose no greater risk than a dog or a cat.

Of course, people in California can't learn to love ferrets through contact, because they are illegal there. There are many people who I run into whenever I take the ferrets out here, where they are legal, who don't about them, but find out after short contact that there is nothing to fear. Not only are Californians prevented from in-person ferret interaction, but they have been fed misinformation.

I'm going to re-print some information from the site:

The State of California says:

"The state of Massachusetts has adopted a law (with) restrictions against ferrets because... wild ferrets deciminated a population of endangered Terns."

Jack C. Parnell, Director
Memo, February 26, 1986

But others say:

"There has never been a recorded case of Tern predation by a ferret in Massachusetts. In fact, I have never heard of such a case anywhere in North America."

Thomas M. French, PhD
Assistant Director
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Letter, February 20, 1991


The State of California says:

"...ferrets prey upon... waterfowl..."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game
Letter, March 25, 1994

But others say:

"The domestic Ferret is not considered a threat to waterfowl."

Ducks Unlimited
Letter, March 6, 1996

"...(we have) never heard of any problem with domestic ferrets destroying waterfowl (duck) eggs and ... we have never encountered any domestic ferrets in the fields."

Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Letter, February 11, 1997

"In the 30 year history of research conducted by Northern Prairie Science Center on nesting waterfowl, domestic ferrets have never been identified or considered as a predator of duck nests."

United States Department of the Interior
Letter, February 19, 1997


The State of California says:

"Ferrets... prey upon... poultry..."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Deptartment of Fish and Game
Letter and Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

But others say:

"Our board felt that allowing domestic ferrets to be owned as pets will not threaten or hurt the California Poultry industry."

Bill Mattos, President
California Poultry Industry Federation
Letter, February 3, 1994

"We are not opposed to AB 2497 (Bill to legalize ferrets in 1994)..."

Richard L. Matteis, Ex. VP
Pacific Egg & Poultry Assn.
Letter, March 7, 1994


The State of California says:

"Ferrets can and will survive in the wild in California."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Deptartment of Fish and Game
Letter and Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

But others say:

"... stray ferrets do not appear capable... of establishing themselves in the wild..."

Centers for Disease Control
Veterinary Public Health Notes
October 1980

"... domestic ferrets... can survive only in captivity."

United States Public Health Service
Letter, January 28, 1986


The State of California says:

"Presently a feral ferret population exists in Washington State on San Juan Island, Washington..."

California Deptartment of Health Services
December 1988

But others say:

"... there are no ferrets living in Washington that prey upon native wildlife."

Thomas C. Juelson, PhD
Department of Wildlife
State of Washington
Letter, April 14, 1988


The State of California says:

"Ferrets,... like pit bulls have been bred to be especially ferocious..."

"Pet European Ferrets..."
Pg. 17 California Deptartment of Health Services

But others say:

"... Ferrets are similar to domestic cats... their behavior is docile and cat-like..."

Centers for Disease Control
U.S. Public Health Service
October, 1980

"Ferrets are considered to be easily handled and non-dangerous..."

U.S. Department of Agriculture
March 31, 1987


The State of California says:

"Ferrets... have contributed to the extinction of 20 species of New Zealand birds and have pushed many to the brink of extinction."

Attributed to Carolyn King, author of "Immigrant Killers," by Drs. Constantine & Kizer in "Pet European Ferrets: A Hazard to Public Health, Small Livestock and Wildlife."

The above statement does not appear anywhere in "Immigrant Killers."

What does appear in "Immigrant Killers" is the following:

"There is not a single known extinction or diminution in New Zealand that can be regarded as definitely and solely due to (ferrets and other) mustelids... Overseas the story is the same: only 1 percent of 163 extinctions recorded from Islands all over the world since 1600, have been attributed to mustelids (ferrets, stoats, weasels and polecats) compared with 26% attributed to cats and 54% attributed to rats."

"Immigrant Killers"
Carolyn King, Ph.D.
Page #106
Scientific Editor
Royal Society of New Zealand


One State of California agency says:

"Feral populations (of ferrets) seem to... have developed in California in recent years."

"Pet European Ferrets: A Hazard to Public Health, Small Livestock and Wildlife."
Page #34
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

However, another State of California agency says:

"All available information to date indicates that a feral population of ferrets does not occur in California."

Henry J. Voss, Director
California Department of Food & Agriculture
June 26, 1989


The State of California says:

"stray, nonbreeding ferrets could have serious impacts on local wildlife populatons."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
Letter & Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

What others say:

"Lost ferrets are rarely found and usually die soon after escape."

State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection

"Domesticated Ferrets have become so dependent upon humans that they cannot survive without care if lost and often die within a few days."

The Encyclopedia Brittanica
Volume 4, pages 746-747

"...domestic ferrets... can survive only in captivity."

Leigh Ann Sawyer, DVM, MPH
United States Public Health Service
Letter, January 28, 1986


The State of California says:

"Rabid ferrets may occur any place at any time."

"Pet European Ferrets..." p. 24
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

What others say:

"When asked about the threat form rabies, I pointed out that it was such an unlikely scenario that unless an owner had the disease and bit his ferret, it would be difficult to imagine how a housebound and frequently cagebound animal could become exposed to the disease."

Roger Caras, President
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA
Letter, September 20, 1995


The State of California says:

"Being fearless, savage and tenacious... should make them (ferrets) exceptionally effective transmitters of rabies."

"Pet European Ferrets..." p. 36
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

What others say:

Annual Summaries of Rabies Surveillance
1984-1990---Centers for Disease Control,
United States Public Health Service

2,240 rabid dogs
2,310 rabid cats
10 rabid ferrets

There never has been a recorded transmission of rabies from a ferret to a human being.


The State of California says:

"Is there a 'proven' vaccine to prevent rabies (in ferrets)? No."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
Letter & Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

What others say:

Rhone Merieux is the manufacturer of IMRAB, a killed rabies vaccine which has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for use in six species of animals, including ferrets..."

Donald G. Hildebrand, President
Rhone Merieux
Cease and Desist letter April 6, 1994

I really don't get why someone would go through so much trouble to create anti-ferret legislation in the first place and then fight to preserve it. Maybe someone was bit by a ferret as a child (just as they may have been by a cat or a dog or another child) and took it personally.

Another thing that has occurred to me is this: If the government of California is lying about ferret behavior, then what else are they lying about?

So, if you are a resident of California (or anywhere else that bans ferrets) or know someone who is, please do your part to inform the public about the loving nature of the domesticated ferret (which is as different from the black-footed ferret as a wolf is from the domesticated dog - actually more so, since domesticated dogs can set up packs in the wild, but domesticated ferrets just die when they wander off).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Audio cassettes - going the way of the dinosaur

I went to three different stores today trying to find 60 minute audio cassettes to copy some originals of the same length. Staples only had 90 minute tapes. Walmart had 90 and 120. Circuit City had two packs of 60 minute tapes and I got them. Maybe they have more in back, but it was pretty hard to find them on the shelf in the store. I suspect that it will be impossible to find these tapes in the not too distant future.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Owning the language of politics

Well, I now have time to read again and to give my own 2 cents worth. The current piece in question is Capturing the Language to Assure Liberal Dominance
By Michael Medved

A misleading recent headline in the New York Times demonstrated the way that the left abuses the language to cement its continued control of our public discourse.

Under the banner “EVOLUTION OPPONENT IS IN LINE FOR SCHOOLS POST” reporter Cornelia Dean declared: “The National Association of State Boards of Education will elect officers in July, and for one office, president-elect, there is only one candidate: a member of the Kansas school board who supported its efforts against the teaching of evolution.” ...

During his service on the Kansas school board he and his conservative colleagues merely fought “to change the state’s science standards to allow inclusion of intelligent design” by local school districts. ...

As he explained later in the same article, the embattled candidate...merely “thought students should be taught about challenges to the theory of evolution, like intelligent design…‘Some people are mindless about their attacks on anyone questioning anything Darwin might have said.’” ...

The use of loaded phrases like “evolution opponent” and “efforts against the teaching of evolution” deliberately conjure up scary images of the Scopes Trial, “Inherit the Wind,” and religious fanatics who want to keep young minds ignorant and pliable. The Scopes controversy of 1924 actually involved a government ban on any mention of evolution in the classroom; ironically, liberals today desire a government ban on any questioning of evolution in the classroom. It’s leftists, not conservatives, who mirror the Tennessee fundamentalists of eighty years ago by attempting to stifle a teacher’s freedom of speech. ...

The deployment of explosive and dishonest language has become an increasingly common tactic in today’s most polarizing cultural and political battles.

Whenever conservatives work for ... constitutional amendments to reinforce the existing definition of male-female marriage, ... leading newspapers and TV networks describe such efforts as “gay marriage bans.” A simple declaration affirming marriage as “a union between one man and one woman” bans no private behavior.... A restatement of the traditional basis for marriage amounts to a “gay marriage ban” no more than existing marriage laws constitute an “incest ban” or a “ban on interspecies relationships.” ...

...nearly all major press outlets have stopped using the phrases “pro life” or “pro choice” to describe...the abortion issue. The most common phraseology now centers on “abortion rights” ... no pro life candidate or advocate would ever say “I oppose abortion rights” – since they don’t believe that abortion constitutes a genuine “right” in any sense. ...

Conservatives should consider a similar re-evaluation of our phraseology to reinvigorate our side of ongoing debates, at the same time that we contest manifestly slanted descriptions like “pro” and “anti abortion rights.”

I was drawn to this article, because the last time that I was at a pro-choice meeting, they were discussing how the other side had selected the language for use. Here, the word in question was "abortion". The pro-choice speaker was commenting that most pro-choicers aren't pro-abortion, but rather in favor of the woman's right to choose. Using the phrase "pro-abortion" suggests that they would be in favor of aborting every pregnancy out there. This is not the case. In fact, many pro-choicers are mothers who have never chosen to have an abortion.

I've heard other liberals complain about the terminology imposed by the right on other issues too, so it seemed odd that both sides are seeing themselves as the victims.

Another recent discussion that I was privy to reported on how the leadership seminars of LGBT students and multi-cultural students failed in dialog, because both clung to their own pet issues, addressing "gay rights" and the "rights of the ethnic minority" rather than the larger overarching issue of "human rights".

There are other examples of liberal "misleading phrases" in the full article, if you care to read them.


Speech and word-choice is huge. I recently was in a discussion with a friend of mine about the use of the word "picnic". I'm sure that just about everyone has seen the email from 90s about how no one should use "picnic" because it is about going out, 'picking' a 'nigger' to string up, and having an outdoor meal to celebrate the event. Well, it's simply not the true origin of this word. It's from a French word combination meaning 'to pick, peck'.

Of course, neither the fake etymology of "picnic" (inspired by actual lynchings in the South), nor the true French etymology were known to me and my community growing up in central Minnesota. It was always an innocent word, meaning to go outside and eat food with at least one other person and as many as a large social group.

I can't help but feel annoyed at people who suggest that I shouldn't use this word that is completely innocent. On the other hand, should it occur to me, I'll have to try to avoid using it around African Americans, who might have negative racist associations with the word.

Then I can't help but wonder if it will ever be possible to rehabilitate the word "picnic". It is still used by the majority of Americans without any thought to racist ideas, so for them, it wouldn't be a problem. How, though, does one cleanse it of the racist associations in the minds of the victims of lynchings?


Words change throughout history. For example, the word "sad" actually originates from the same word as "satisfy" and "sate". The journey from meaning having eaten enough goes something like this:
1) satisfied
2) sluggish (think post-Thanksgiving dinner)
3) melancholy
4) sad

The change in word definitions is natural. Trying to control it almost never works, though as can be seen from the introduction of 'lynching' into the semantics of "picnic" it is possible to influence it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Zebras and Cows

I'm watching a Colbert Report interview with Jared Diamond in which zebras have come up. The Eurasians domesticated horses but the Africans didn't domesticate zebras or milk giraffes; apparently they aren't as easy to milk as cows. Jared Diamond noted that a zebra will bite you and hold on until you die.

Anyway, back to cows. How exactly does cow-tipping work? I've seen the tractor tipping in the Pixar movie Cars and I've seen a tipped Cow Parade cow. However, I don't know how that works with a real cow. Do you scare it and it falls over? Do you have to push it over yourself with a couple of other people helping? Do they just tip over on their side and lay there until someone helps them up? How does this work? I know that at least one of my readers has the necessary expertise to enlighten me on this.

And then there's Palestine

I'm currently catching up on back-issues of The Daily Show. The one that I'm currently watching is an interview with Zaki Chehab.

He is saying that the United States should be more proactive in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Regardless of whether the USA could solve the conflict or not, I can't help but being a bit resentful of the call on the United States to do something.

There are just too many mixed messages: Go in militarily here. Don't bring the military there. Fix this. Keep your nose out of that.

I think that if the United States is expected to "impose a solution", then there needs to be some understanding when the USA goes in and makes the situation worse as well. It's impossible to expect 100% success, despite what the American national myth says.

On the one hand, I think that it would be good for the USA to use its resources to go in and make peace. On the other hand, the American government always makes sure to install pro-American (and often anti-populace) governments, so maybe its better for the USA to stay out.

I don't know if I believe that we should be actively involved in world affairs or not, but I am tired of everyone blaming the USA both for getting involved and for staying out.

Can't anyone else use diplomacy and make the USA's military might obsolete?

The Litterbox Fetish goes on

So, we all knew that Fuzzball liked playing with/around the litter boxes when she is out playing. Well, today, I caught her digging behind one in the cage, which explains how the cage litter boxes ended up in all parts of the cage before I tied them to the corners with well placed pipe-cleaners.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Save Internet Radio

Help save independent internet radio.

The future of Internet radio is in immediate danger. Royalty rates for webcasters have been drastically increased by a recent ruling and are due to go into effect on July 15 (retroactive to Jan 1, 2006!). If the increased rates remain unchanged, the majority of webcasters will go bankrupt and silent on this date. Internet radio needs your help! The Internet Radio Equality Act has recently been introduced in both the House (H.R. 2060) and Senate (S. 1353) to save the Internet radio industry. Please call your senators and your representative to ask them to co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act by clicking below.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poor Fuzzball!

She just wants a good wrestling match, but even though she's following Chaos around and pouncing on him, he just ambles away. Poor girl! He's just not interested.

Oh wait! Now he's biting back!

Yeah! Happy ferrets!