Monday, July 31, 2006

In defense of vanity

Blogger par excellence Happy in Bag posted a pretty good rant last week about vanity license plates and just wtf is the deal with that.

There seems to be a pretty solid consensus in the comments that the whole idea of vanity plates is lame. But just to keep the conversation going, I'll offer up this defense of vanity plates...

Why must we all be treated as numbers? Why not try to maintain a small part of our personal identity in this workaday world. Isn't it enough that we are assigned SocSec numbers by the govt, a cube number by the corporation, and a house number by the USPS? Now we have to have a number on our personal transportation as well?

Oh how I long for those romantic days of yore when we could ride to work at the office on a trusty steed named Trigger, instead of a nag named THX-1182.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Freeway speech

I read an article in yesterday's Star (yes, I still read the Star despite the abusive redesign. Dammit! They got me!) about a group of so-called Freeway Bloggers.

This group posts politically topical signs and banners on highway overpasses, fences and medians. The authors claim these actions are protected by their constitutional rights to free expression.

It's a convenient way to justify vandalism.

At best, these vandals are irresponsible since they encourage others to commit the same kind of vandalism to public property. And it is vandalism. They are marking up (if only temporarily) public property for their own purposes. They risk distracting drivers potentially causing traffic accidents.

What's more, they know that what they are doing is illegal and they encourage others to be dishonest in trying to copy them. They say so on their website (which I intentionally don't link to).

They claim that if an advertiser can put up a message on a privately owned billboard, then they should be able to put their message on publicly owned highway infrastructure. The key difference of course is that the advertiser has private property rights to put their message on the billboard.

If this group were buying space on a billboard for their message, or if they put their signs up in their own front yards, they would get no argument from me.

Underlying this tactic is a basic misunderstanding of the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression.
"When the founders of this nation said that everyone was entitled to freely express their political opinions, they didn't mean we could hammer up a sign out in the woods somewhere, they meant we could hammer it up right in the middle of the town square."
This is where they're wrong. We all have a right to say what we want (with certain exceptions).

But the constitution does not guarantee a right to be heard.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Happy blogday (belated)

I came to the sudden realization yesterday that this blog turned 1 year a couple of week's ago.

What a delinquent parent I am to not remember the birthday of my blog. Actually, it's not really that big of a deal when you read that some people have been blogging for ages (since the turn of the century) and have much greater traffic.

Still, it's a milestone of sorts. And it's the longest I've ever kept a regular journal, so balls to blogging!

This whole thing started on July 14, 2005. A friend of mine had been urging me to blog for a couple of weeks and after a late night (hence the name) IM conversation, I finally did.

Since then, I've had nearly 20,000 visits. I started keeping track of Technorati rankings in late December when I was ranked a respectable 361,466. When I checked yesterday, I had climbed to 9,297 (which coincidentally was my ranking in my graduating class at K-State -- hey, I never claimed to be a rocket surgeon).

Anyway since my arm's getting a little sore from the self back-patting, let me just say a quick thank you to everyone who visits. I hope I haven't bored you too badly. I've made some great blogfriends and I highly value the free exchange of ideas. Hopefully we'll get to meet sometime in the corporeal world (I still owe Xavier Onasis a Scotch).

And if perchance I have offended, I offer now my sincerest apologies. But I can't really promise that it won't happen again.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Best. Mashup. Ever

I love the fact that consumers have such great editing and publishing tools these days. Anyone can now create their own works of art and publish them for everyone to see. Those in the marketing biz call it "consumer generated media."

One of the best examples I've seen is today YouTube Tuesday submission. Take the godfathers of British comedy and mash it up with a campy sci-fi hit and you get Monty Trek.

Join the crew of the intrepid Enterprise as they finally return to Camelot. You'll have to click the link, since the "owner" has disabled the embed function. Still, this is funny enough to make it worth your while.

Monty Trek

WARNING: Do not drink milk while viewing this video, as there is a high risk of ex-nasal lactification.

Huge tip of the hat to Get on the Blandwagon for passing it on.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Kansas Guild of Bloggers Carnival

Go check it out at Blog Meridian.

Don't forget to submit a post for this week's KGB Roundup, which Blog Meridian will host next Monday.

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I just haven't been able to get going all day. From the moment I woke up, I've been the proverbial "object at rest."

A couple of extra cups of coffee didn't help any and I've been pretty unproductive all day.

Hopefully I'll be able to break out of the malaise tomorrow. Until then, I've gone back to my blogging roots to pass on a couple of items that I stumbled upon today as I tried to become interested in something, anything.Well, time to call it a day. Hopefully I'll get more done tomorrow. If not, there's always the colossal time waster that is the Internet.

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Landis maximus

Congratulations to Floyd Landis on winning the 2006 Tour de France. It's very satisfying to see an American win, particularly this year, when Americans weren't really expected to show up.

For those of you keeping score, this is the eighth year in a row that an American has won the most prestigious race in cycling and the biggest sporting prize in France.

Unfortunately, as with all American Tour winners, Landis is in for some major medical problems in the off-season. He' scheduled to have hip-replacement surgery, a big deal for anyone, but a mega-big deal for a cyclist. It's like Roger Clemens having arm replacement surgery -- a potential career ender.

And let's face it, Landis wasn't really a favorite to win this year's race. A doping probe resulted in the elimination of the big favorites - Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Joseba Beloki -- before the race even started.

Still, it's tough to discount an American coming back from a major medical setback. Greg LeMond set the trend when he returned to the Tour after being shot in the heart during a hunting accident. And Lance Armstrong's battle with cancer is very well documented. Both came back stronger than before.

So here's a big bon chance to Floyd after a hard-fought and well deserved victory. Looking forward to seeing you next year.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Sweet relief

It was a relief and a joy to take the trash out this morning. The cool morning air and drenching showers that followed were a sweet relief from the heat wave we've had of late.

In honor of today's rain, we bring you...

Song Of The Rain VII
by Khalil Gibran

I am dotted silver threads dropped from heaven
By the gods. Nature then takes me, to adorn
Her fields and valleys.

I am beautiful pearls, plucked from the
Crown of Ishtar by the daughter of Dawn
To embellish the gardens.

When I cry the hills laugh;
When I humble myself the flowers rejoice;
When I bow, all things are elated.

The field and the cloud are lovers
And between them I am a messenger of mercy.
I quench the thirst of one;
I cure the ailment of the other.

The voice of thunder declares my arrival;
The rainbow announces my departure.
I am like earthly life, which begins at
The feet of the mad elements and ends
Under the upraised wings of death.

I emerge from the heard of the sea
Soar with the breeze. When I see a field in
Need, I descend and embrace the flowers and
The trees in a million little ways.

I touch gently at the windows with my
Soft fingers, and my announcement is a
Welcome song. All can hear, but only
The sensitive can understand.

The heat in the air gives birth to me,
But in turn I kill it,
As woman overcomes man with
The strength she takes from him.

I am the sigh of the sea;
The laughter of the field;
The tears of heaven.

So with love -
Sighs from the deep sea of affection;
Laughter from the colorful field of the spirit;
Tears from the endless heaven of memories.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Was Wally World closed?

I hear there's some pretty heavy shit going down in Lebanon these days. I'm trying to feel bad about it. But it's hard.

It seems like this fighting has been going on in some form or another since before I was born. I'm just so used to it that it really doesn't seem like news anymore. Sure, it's a little "hotter" now, what with Hisbollah now lobbing bombs back at Israel instead of just suicide bombing them.

It's just too bad innocent foreigners are getting caught up in it this time. But then again, it seems like Americans in particular should know better than to hang out in that part of the world.

I don't really get why people would want to vacation in Lebanon in the first place. Sure, it's nice to visit the ancestral homeland. But COME ON! There are just some places you don't go if you want to stay out of trouble. Lebanon and East Kansas City are two of those places.

It's not like there aren't other vacation spots. I hear Las Vegas is lovely this time of year or there's always a crass Caribbean all-inclusive resort.

Look, if we learned anything from Jim Croce, it's that you don't pull on Superman's Cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger and you don't vacation in a Middle East war zone.

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Double chicken noodle

So I had a conference call scheduled over lunchtime today, which means I had to be back in by cube by 12:30 p.m. to call in.

The big downer to this situation was that I was forced to go to the corporate cafeteria for lunch, as opposed to going off-site. I typically leave the corporate HQ for lunch because the cafeteria is horrible. There's rarely anything I want to eat. I always lose my appetite when I go there. I literally would rather eat a pre-fab sandwich from the convenience store than eat at the cafeteria (and I have, many times).

But today, I was forced by time constraints to dine at the cafeteria -- which is in another building. So I leave my building and walk out into the 100-degree heat. I make it gasping and sweating into the cafeteria. At least the AC works there.

I browse through the food choices (a futile effort since the choices are the same as the last time I was here... and the time before that... etc.)

I finally rule out everything in the cafeteria. The pizza is dry, the burgers are greasy, the pot roast is just too heavy and the baked fish looks like it was baked on the sidewalk outside. I'd opt for the pre-packaged sushi, but it looks like it was packaged in San Francisco the week before and it costs eight bucks.

My last resort is the soup kettle. At least I'll be able to choke it down quickly. I fill a styrofoam cup with double chicken noodle, pay a five-spot for the soup and a soda and head back to my building.

So there I am, sweating like Ken Lay on the witness stand because it's hotter than Satan's balls outside, carrying a nice warm cup of soup for my lunch.

If it weren't so bloody hot and humid, it might be funny.

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Congrats MM

A good friend of mine announced a couple of weeks ago that she will soon be a first time mom.

I couldn't be happier for her and her husband. I'm not so far removed from that same moment in my life (first learning about impending parenthood) that I don't remember the excitement tinged with anxiety. Actually, to be honest I remember the first few days after learning about the upcoming child were filled with abject terror.

But that soon wore off and the excitement took over as we started making plans, painting the nursery, buying baby supplies, visiting doctor and seeing the sonograms. A friend told me at the time that it would change my life -- for the better. I believe it has.

So please take a moment to go congratulate MM at Suddenly Three. She learns the big boy-or-girl question today. Then, I assume, we'll all be given a chance to suggest names.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Response to a response to a response

We've got a good discussion on the estate tax going, so I wanted to post a response to Dan's response to my response to his original post, and I wanted to do it in a new post to it wouldn't get buried.

First let me say that I know Dan doesn't hate rich people. I was trying to be tongue-in-cheek in a Kanye West kind of way. In actuality, I don't think Dan hates anybody, with the possible exception of Ann Coulter (but he wouldn't be alone in that).

Next, Dan asserts that money is the main thing in taxation discussion. I'm not so sure I agree with that. I think good tax policy and fairness as well as the impact of taxation on the general economy are very important. Money is important in the way it is spent by the government, and I think we both agree that spending has been pretty egregious for a long time.

Next, with all due respect to Dan, the comment that neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffett opposes the estate tax seems to be a non sequitur. After all, Gates is in favor of spyware, but that doesn't make it right.

Dan says he doesn't care about the study cited. This is odd because, upon further reflection I think it might support the estate tax from his point of view. If the primary purpose of the estate tax is the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, this study would seem to indicate that this purpose is being achieved.

Next, I agree that taxation is applied to nearly all economic transactions. My concern is that we'll get to a point where taxation is being applied to non-economic transactions (i.e., dying).

And, Dan has an excellent point that putting tax money into a separate fund isn't workable. Much like the "social security trust fund" myth, all tax money is "fungible." So unless we could put the proceeds from all estate taxes into a super scholarship fund, my plan just wouldn't work. I hereby "take it back".

Dan is also right that we need to take a look at the current estate tax from a tax policy standpoint. My big objection to the current estate tax it that it is an attempt to shift the tax burden to fewer people -- and thus is not "fair."

In fact, I think it might be more fair to do away with the estate tax and institute some kind of inheritance tax (I read an article on this a few months ago, and if I could remember the source I would link it). In this plan, anyone who received inheritance income would be taxed according to their normal tax bracket.

The key difference between the estate tax and an inheritance tax is that with an estate tax, the tax owed is determined by the size of the estate when someone dies. The heirs are responsible for the entire tax bill. With an inheritance model, the heirs only pay taxes on the income that they receive from the estate.

And, if this were expanded to all estates (not just the richest), the rate could be lowered from 60% (or whatever the current level is), to the standard 0%-35%.

The bottom line is that class warfare shouldn't determine tax policy. Fairness and efficiency should.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006


In yet another entry this YouTube Tuesday we learn from the Hollywood Reporter that YouTube has been sued by the the copyright holder of news footage from the 1992 LA Riots.

When I first started YouTube Tuesdays, I remarked that...
"I think it's about the coolest thing going on the web right now, which means it won't be long before some bastard lawyer with a DRM comes along a puts the kibosh on the whole thing."
Let's hope YouTube is able to fend off this lawsuit. Their defense will likely be that they merely provide the medium and that the content on their sites can be neither copied nor downloaded.

It would be a shame if YouTube is shut down. It's one of the last sources of original video content.

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YouTube killed the video star

Incidentally, on this YouTube Tuesday, a couple of recent developments.
  1. YouTube announced this week that it now serves more than 100 million video streams a day. There were 2.5 billion (with a "B") videos watched on YouTube last month and 65,000 videos are now uploaded to YouTube every day.
  2. The Associated Press reported that the big four TV networks have experienced plummeting ratings. In fact, they recently experienced "their least-watched week in recorded history."
    CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox averaged 20.8 million viewers during the average prime-time minute last week, according to Nielsen Media Research. That sunk below the previous record, set during the last week of July in 2005.
I'm not really surprised. There are no original ideas on TV (how many freakin' CSIs and Laws & Orders do we need!)*. Meanwhile, there is tons of great creativity going on in the "Consumer Generated Media" universe (blogs included).

*Yes, I am aware that today's edition of YouTube Tuesday is from VH1, directly contradicting this statement. Meh, what can ya gonna do?

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YouTube Tuesday: Breathe in the air

As I posted last week, the music world lost a creative genius with the death of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett.

Although I obviously didn't know him personally, I suspect that it was a sort of sweet release for Barrett, fell into madness and depression in the late 1960s. Barrett was the Icarus of the British psychedelic scene. Some say he went too far with his experimentation with mind altering drugs. History would seem to support this.

His bandmates, though they couldn't get along with each other, universally loved him. This showed in their recordings over the years, including the magnum opus Dark Side of the Moon.

In this week's edition of YouTube Tuesday, Barrett's bandmates talk about his creative influence on their work.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

FWD: A puma by any other name

I received this email chain via my Supermodel Wife from CDH, a friend of ours who lives a mile or so away in northern O.P.

RE: Mountain lion in our neighborhood...
Or cougar, puma, whatever they're called in these parts. Maddie chased one out of the neighbor's yard over the weekend, and C. heard one last night (he thinks a small dog was on the losing end of an encounter). Both times have been around 11 pm each night. Keeps your eyes and ears open, and keep an eye on those critters of yours when they go out at night!

I just called OP Animal Control, and they have received several reported sightings, but [no] actual confirmation (by them, police, wild life & parks, etc.).

Family Friend K:
Good to know, but I think Herschel might be able to hold his own - Supermodel Wife can probably vouch for that too! He was talking loud enough to a giant possum a couple of weeks ago that I had to open the door and check out the commotion....
Supermodel Wife:
You're really serious about this? A mountain lion in town in OP??? Not a wildcat but a full fledged cougar?

They say pumas tend to stay away from dogs, so yeah, Herschel should be okay...
Family Friend CDH:
That's what C. described it as...about the same size as Maddie, rounded head, long tail, light tan color. Maddie started barking at it and it ran off. C. thought she was just barking at a dog, but he said the critter ran like a cat, not a dog.

I called OP Animal Control, and the guy said several people have called over the passed few weeks with cougar/puma sightings in Northern OP, but nothing has been officially confirmed yet. All the same, we keep a very close eye on Maddie when we let her out for her last tinkle of the night. She seemed to know something, other than our friendly neighborhood rabbits, was in the neighbor's yard.

So what's new with you? I meant to call you the other night just to chat, but I fell asleep (my Mexico vacation was relaxing but tiring at the same time - thanks to hot temperatures, high humidity, and a rooster named Raul).

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Friday, July 14, 2006


It's July 14, Bastille Day, and (at last check) there's an American leading the Tour de France -- again.

There are lots of other reasons to celebrate. It's not snowing in Kansas, college football kicks off in about a month and a half, I'm heading to the golf course this weekend and the beer is cold.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate all this good fortune that to throw a carnival. A blog carnival.

So join me, won't you? Head over to Blog Meridian and submit your favorite blog posts from this week. John B. hosted last week and did a helluva good job.

Be sure to get your submission in by Sunday afternoon, then check back Monday for the best blogs in the Sunflower State.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's so humid...

Taking a cue from Tony today, we're trying to express how hot, humid and oppressive it is these days.

For one thing, it's too humid to think of a clever blog post. So this is the easy way out. Here goes...
  • It's so humid kids are going into Crown Center Plaza fountain to dry off.
  • It's so humid I just went outside for a drink of fresh air.
  • It's so humid even the ducks at Loose Park are sweating.
  • It's so humid the makers deodorants and antiperspirants have seen their stock prices skyrocket.
  • It's so humid even Mark Mangino's butt crack said "Damn, it's humid!"
  • It's so humid Salvadore Dali is now considered a realist, not a surrealist.
I know, they're all quite lame. Let's see you try to do better in this heat.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dillard's clearance

After a few weeks of clearing away the debris from the parking garage, destruction crews started taking down Mission Center Mall in earnest today.

We should see pretty rapid progress now, and commuters along Shawnee Mission Parkway will have some pretty dramatic views.

The picture above is from the Johnson Drive side of what was formerly the Dillard's store on the west end of the mall.

For those of you who haven't been keeping track, the mall is being demolished to make room for the new East Gateway development which will feature a high-rise condo building, another high-rise hotel and plenty of street-level retail.

Here's a tighter shot.

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Conflict resolution

If World Cup Soccer teaches us anything, it's a better way to solve our problems.

Merci Monsieur Zidane!

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Dan hates rich people

Dan and I had a pretty good discussion a few weeks ago regarding our differing views on the Death Tax.

Well, he's back on his soap box again. Dan hasn't changed his views (I wouldn't expect that from a political extremist like Dan). If anything, he is more hardened.

On the other hand, I have moderated my opinions somewhat after speaking with some very intelligent people whom I respect a great deal. (Of course, Dan's comments also had an effect, since I like and respect him as well.)

More on that in a sec. First I want to respond to a couple of Dan's points.
Dan said "Wealth may be earned, but real wealth is inherited"
This indicates to me that Dan is too young to have learned what real wealth is. Try watching It's A Wonderful Life a couple more times. More to Dan's point, however, Dan seems to think we're living in a time like the early 20th Century where Vanerbilts and Astors live off the dollars generated by accumulated fortunes.

To be sure, there are some superrich people out there. But unlike Dan's vision, most of the current day elite have earned their riches and actually are still working. They're more like Jay Gatsby than Tom Buchanaan. Think about Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, hell, even Ken Lay who built their fortunes on skill, talent and hard work (and in Lay's case, douchebaggery).

And the current superrich have a lower concentration of total wealth now [pdf] than they did in the early 20th century. In fact, contrary to what Dan seems to think, there hasn't really been an increase in wealth concentration since the mid-90s.
Dan said "It's not double taxation, etc."
I guess in theory this argument is true. But following Dan's logic, nothing should be sacred from taxation. And this is what worries me. Are we in a society like The Beatles imagined, where the taxman wants a cut of every little transaction you make? Am I going to eventually have to pay a "Taking a Dump" tax to help pay for sewage treatment? Come on...

Now, I mentioned earlier that I have moderated my view (that's what we moderates do). Don't get me wrong. I still believe that we all have the opportunity to start poor and end up well-to-do, even (dare I say it) rich.

It's not easy, it takes a long time and it certainly is more difficult at the bottom of the economic ladder than at the top. It's not popular to say it, but inequality can be a good thing. It provides an incentive to climb the ladder.

The important thing is to make sure the rungs on the ladder are solid. That means making sure there is access to the most important asset in climbing the economic ladder: Quality education and skills development.

The way to better your economic status is to acquire valuable skills. Flipping hamburgers, cleaning toilets and mowing lawns are not valuable skills. This is why an increasing the minimum wage is merely shooting at the flames. It won't be long before robots are performing these tasks.

All this is to say that I'm okay with stealing money from the rich when they die, as long as it isn't wasted on paying for enhanced cable television and cigarettes for the poor. Put all estate tax into funds for education, scholarships etc., and make access to those funds a competitive process.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond

Rest in peace, Syd Barrett.
"Syd Barrett, one of the original members of legendary rock group Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 60 from complications arising from diabetes." ---BBC News

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.

Come on you target for faraway laughter,
come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.

Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

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Ricky Bobby and Me

In a previous episode of YouTube Tuesday I presented a trailer for the new Will Farrell opus Talledega Nights.

We're only a couple of weeks away from the movie's opening, and Sony Pictures is revving up the promotional machine. I did this neat little poster builder.

I don't pretend to like NASCAR, but I do like satire and irony, and Ferrell takes the checkered flag in both so I'm stoked about this movie.

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YouTube Tuesday: We watched it and we wept

My Supermodel Wife and I first saw Flight of the Conchords a couple of years ago when they aired their HBO special.

Then a few months ago, I recognized one of the duo, Jemaine, had become the new spokeskiwi for Outback Steakhouse (hey, at least it's a paying gig).

And then, yesterday I saw a link to a performance of their touching hit single Albi the Racist Dragon and it brought back how funny these guys are.

If you're unfamiliar with FOTC, duo comprised of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (the Outback Steakhouse guy), they are "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo."

Watch this video and I think you'll agree that description is spot on. It's long for a YouTube presentation (seven and a half minutes), but the payoff at the end is worth it.

So here it is, Flight of the Conchords performing Jenny.

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In case you missed it

Go check out BlogMeridian for this week's Kansas Guild of Bloggers Carnival. John B. did a great job wrangling various Kansas related blog post from Kansas related (or not) bloggers.

Go give it a read, John B. never disappoints. And, be sure to submit a post for this week's KGB Roundup, which BlogMeridian will host next Monday.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Soccer? Hell, I just met her...

A belated congratulations to the boys from Italy who, in case you have been under a rock for the past few days, won the World Cup Soccer championship over the French.

Italians everywhere are celebrating, as well they should. They've earned it after sitting though hours of mind-numbingly boring soccer games.

But, the celebration comes amid some bad news on the Italian economy. According to the Wall Street Journal, the country faces a downgrade in its debt rating due to the its flaccid economic performance.

The Italian government is taking several steps to avert the crisis, including the approval of a series of budget cutting measures totalling nearly $9 billion.

They've even gone so far as to announce the layoff of several FIFA officials from the "payroll" (if you know what I mean).

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wade in the water, children

I took my daughter to Kansas City's largest public bidet on Saturday.

My Supermodel Wife was on a shopping junket in preparation of her sister's wedding later this month, so I had the pleasure of entertaining our 3-year-old for the day.

This tough assignment was made even tougher when I was told to get scarce from our house for the afternoon as prospective buyers come to tour (we put our house on the market a couple of weeks ago. Anyone interested in a charming ranch home in this attractive neighborhood can let me know in the comments).

Anyway, since it was a tad on the warm side, I thought our daughter might enjoy playing in the Crown Center Square fountain for a while.

I always think it's funny to watch kids play in this fountain, especially when they sit on the jets that are blowing water 25 feet into the air. Talk about a high colonic.

But still, this is a great public area and a tremendous free public asset (pun intended).

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Oh, the irony

J.D. at Evolution updated us yesterday on the Shawnee County government's ban on a Libertarian fund raiser. Evidently, the fundraiser was banned because the planned location was a privately owned nudist camp.

So the judges in Topeka think it's okay to restrict the rights of private landowners because they don't like the idea of a nudist camp.

But I guess if there was a God Hates Fags rally going on, it would have been constitutionally protected.


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Friday, July 07, 2006

Re: Cycling

I'm totally stoked about sports. Not baseball (the Royals extinguished that fire long ago) and certainly not World Cup Yawner (er, Soccer).

Nope. It's finally Tour De France time. This year's edition of the Tour was wide open even before it started with living legend Lance Armstrong finally out to pasture in his retirement. My Supermodel Wife and I were looking forward to seeing a big race among the previous years' also rans, including contenders Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Joseba Beloki.

But the day before the race kicked off, a Spanish doping probe (heh) named those two as well as several other riders. They were summarily kicked out of the race, leaving the race for anyone to win, even another American.

And through the first week, the race hasn't disappointed. As of today, Aussie Robbie McEwen has won three of the first six stages. Yet he still can't get past Belgium's Tom Boonen.

And thanks to the new DVR, I don't have to miss a minute of the Tour coverage, which is aired locally at an inconvenient 8:30 a.m.

I have only two beefs with the coverage this year. First is that it's not in high-definition, and second is, what's with that gap-toothed bonehead Bob Roll. Is he the token American? Get someone whose more telegenic.

Anyway, tomorrow is the big individual time trial. It could have a major impact on the rest of the race so don't miss it. Or if you do, make sure to DVR it.

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Good, bad, ugly

My absence from the blogiverse this week was due to a relaxing five-day weekend at my parents house in the country. It was followed of course by a harrowingly stressful return to the office, but let us not dwell on the negative.

One of the great things about a vacation in the country is observing the good, the bad and the ugly of nature.

The good:
My mother has cultivated an amazing flock of humming birds this summer. The tiny flying missiles were almost a better show than the fireworks as they buzzed and dive bombed the feeders around mom's deck. Mom shot an excellent picture of one of them feeding. I hope to post it in the near future.

The bad:
Nature can be brutal. I was fishing off the dam one evening when I felt a slight tug on the line. I pulled the line in to find a three-inch long crawdad munching on the bait. He had a death grip on the line, so I brought it on shore to show my three-year old daughter. She'd never seen such a creature before, so she was impressed. But she was smart enough not to get too close to the business end of the claws.

When show-and-tell was over, I dropped the mudpuppy on the ground near the creek and watched as he made his way to the water. He was a few feet from the water's edge when I saw a sudden movement. A giant bull frog has spotted the movement and in a flash he had pounced on the crawdad and swallowed the back two-thirds of the unfortunate crustacean. Within a few seconds, the struggle was over. The frog had eaten the crawdad whole, except for a single claw that had been bitten off and lay flexing on the ground. I felt kind of like Marlin Perkins.

The ugly:
We've been home for a couple of days. I'm sitting on the couch last night petting Dexter the Dynamic Jack Russell Terrier, who had accompanied us on our trip to the wilderness. As I scratched him behind the ears, which he loves, I felt an unfamiliar lump. I figured he had a burr stuck in his coat from his adventures in the wild. But upon close inspection, I found the burr to be a small tick feasting on canine blood.

Ticks aren't allowed in our house by decree of my Supermodel Wife. So Dexter and I went outside to remove the hitchhiker. With some effort I pulled him off and decided a further inspection was warranted. We discovered another tick on Dexter's cheek (a smaller one this time) and two more behind each of his front legs.

We removed each of the critters with the help of some tweezers, and they were summarily crushed on the sidewalk by my Supermodel Wife.

I went inside to wash my hands. But for the rest of the night, I kept feeling "things" crawling on my skin and in my hair. That kind of thing really gives me the creeps.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Is there anybody in there?

Hello? Echo? Is anybody left around here?

After a brief blogging hiatus for some vacation travel and work recovery, I wanted to click out a quick post to pimp the next edition of the Kansas Guild of Bloggers Carnival.

As you know, Joel Matthis at Cup O' Joel hosted last Monday's KGB Carnival, and in my humble opinion, he did one hell of a good job. Let's all give him a round of applause...

Everyone go over to Joe's and leave a comment. He deserves it.

Now, on to the next big announcement. Next week's edition of the carnival will be hosted by John B. at BlogMeridian. John is a regular contributor to the KGB, and one of the few KGB bloggers who isn't from Northeast Kansas.

So let's help John have a great carnival. Remember to submit your favorite blog posts from this week to John. You can use this handy submit link, which makes everything easier on the host.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Special Independence Day Edition

My Supermodel Wife and I are heading out of town for some holiday travel, but I wanted to leave you with this special Fourth of July message.

During this holiday weekend, it's important to have fun and celebrate our country's independence. Despite all of our problems, the American experiment continues to be a rousing success.

So eat, drink and be merry. But it's also important to remember safety, especially when celebrating the traditional way with fireworks.
Remember, in the interest of fireworks safety, please keep you fireworks away from your mannequins and watermelons.

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