Please check this out. This chick’s cool.

(OK, you want a better idea what you’re getting yourself into? She started a grassroots drive through her website to buy books for the Oakland Public Library system through their wishlists on Amazon after they’d lost most of their funding, and people donated over 500 books. And she’s cool.)

It's Google Day at Asparagus PeeI spent a lot of time today looking at, researching, and thinking about Google. Among other things, they have a new toolbar beta for Internet Explorer that is similar to the one that’s been out for awhile, but it adds a very good popup stopper functionality, and an autofill feature that fills in forms automatically based on information you provide. I’ve only used it today, but it seems to work great, and I’d encourage anyone to give it a try.

Download Google's New Toolbar Beta

The other thing I ran across was a really cute article on the Google site about how their PigeonRank technology uses clusters of A Google Pigeon Clustertrained pigeons to rank websites by pecking levers to rank them in exchange for lin/ax, which is a combination of linseed and flax seed. Here are some handy links to various Google stuff I found today:

Google Zeitgeist

Google Sitemap

Better Queries


Google Weblog

Google Dance?

Oh, by the way, I imagine that in the future, humans will evolve a system of additional stomachs. That way we can stop pulling weeds and spraying RoundUp™ everywhere to grow feed corn for cows, eat the weeds, and skip the middle-man. On a related note, it’s been so long since I’ve cleaned my aquarium that my fish have developed an adaptation that allows them to swim in pure urine.

In the Future

I imagine that in the future, every American will be forced to drive a big-ass white pick-up or SUV for no good reason.

I imagine that in the future, a popular trend will be to take the best rap songs of our era and set them to music.

Lemming Effect Redux

OK, so I’ve already gone on about ‘The Lemming Effect’ in my earlier and incomprehensible blog about spirals, but I’m not done yet. The lemming effect refers to lemmings throwing themselves off cliffs to commit mass Be alert - the world needs more lerts. But don't be a lemming!suicide in times of food shortage or overpopulation – the idea, apparently, is that if you’re a really good little lemming, by which I mean a good soldier, cult member, union worker, corporate empoyee, or political conservative, when your mommy lemming says, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” the right answer is Yes!

Actually, to be honest, it turned up in today’s research while I was looking for a picture of lemmings jumping off a cliff that it’s just a myth anyway. On the other hand, it also turns out that Disney™ did a film in which they forced a few lemmings off a cliff and reinforced this idea in the minds of the masses, and it’s still a perfectly suitable metaphor for what I’m about to say.

What’s got me thinking so much about lemmings you ask? Harry Potter for one. J.K. Rowling and her henchmen at Scholastic say, “Tell ya what. We’ll go ahead and take a couple few million pre-orders so we’ll have some idea how many of these darn things to print, and the rest of you all line up outside around midnight and if you’re real good, we might let you buy a copy of this book, but we might not have enough, so you’d better dress in costume just to be safe” and the lemmings say, “Hmm. Sounds good… I gotta get me some of that!”

Another example? Just sticking to the American book market, how about this: After a long hiatus from picking Oprah’s Book Club Selections™, that homegirl has started picking classic fiction titles. So today, East of Eden (Oprah’s Book Club), by John Steinbeck, is #2 on Amazon, second only to, yes, that’s right, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now, granted, I think it’s wonderful that the big O’s promoting reading, but Steinbeck’s got the #2 book? Lemmings.

OK, one last example, and I think I can wrap this up. Every day, my favorite radio station (and that’s a tough call, since they’re really all the same station, just at different frequencies) has an ‘All-Request Lunch Hour,’ and all that happens is that people call in and request the #1 song, and fill up the whole hour with the same shit they just played the hour before and they’re gonna play the hour after.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, what’s the alternative, Chris old bean? Is simple nonconformity to cultural norms really the answer? Well, yes and no. If you react to everything by trying not to conform, just to be contrary, then you’re what one might as well call a lemming-nonconformist. The trick is to figure out what you really like and why you really like it, and to make your own little life decisions based on rational self-discovery, and realize all the while that as you go along, you have to be flexible to the changing situations you find yourself in.

It’s OK to decide that some position is generally foreign to your way of thinking, but one of the surest signs of lemming-nonconformity is a knee-jerk opposite reaction to everything they say. You can be a liberal democrat without needing to be an anti-republican who disagrees with every plank in the platform or bill in the senate. It also works in the affirmative – you can be a pretty good Catholic without necessarily believing that the pope is infallible, or joining the other lemmings outside that hospital in Milton, MA that’s practically been shut down by pilgrims standing around the parking lot trying to get a glimpse of the condensation in the dual-pane windows that happens to look a little like the Virgin.

So maybe you decide that no, beef is not What’s for Dinner™, and it really does make more sense for your health and the environment, and prevent cruelty to animals if you go vegan. But if I ever make that decision, and I’m a contestant on Survivor, and we win a chicken or two in the reward challenge, those little cluckers had better start shooting eggs out their butts before I figure out how to spell fricassee.

And no, I’m not promoting situational ethics, per se. Some things are clearly right or clearly wrong. Like killing another human being is just plain wrong. I understand about self-defense and all that, but if some axe-wielding maniac ever comes at me with a glint of steel and a gleam in his eye, and I have a concealed weapon, I don’t think I’ll kill him in self-defense. I’ll just shoot him in the thigh to stop him from coming at me. Of course, if his axe is nice and sharp, I might take off a foot, just to keep him from running away before the cops arrive.

Or what about traffic laws? Well, I’m generally pretty cool with most of them, like I think it’s a pretty clever idea to wear a seat belt, and I’m usually grateful for stop signs and traffic lights for keeping other drivers out of my way, but where I draw the line is that stupid law of gravity that says I have to keep the vehicle on the ground at all times. That’s just wrong.

Spent all of my blogging time today trying to figure out how the heck to add a third column that looked decent and started putting in links to other people’s blogs so that as I develop more content, I can ask them to link to me (?). I guess it turned out OK.

Here is a great article on the war in Iraq: Is there anything left that matters?


Finally! An Ice Cream for the Rest of Us.

Doddington Dairies of Northumberland, England has developed a new ice cream whose main ingredient is beer! Specifically, that beer is Newcastle Brown Ale, which is used to flavor many foods. “We were looking for an ice cream flavour that was distinctive, and had a strong identity with the region,” said Jackie Maxwell, director of Doddington Dairy.

“Every part of the process has been great for us – from the design of the cartons, through to testing the ale syrup for just the right flavour.” To get jugged, you’ll have to eat many gallons of the stuff, as the cooking process of the dessert only leaves 1% alcohol. The ice cream will only be available during the summer months. Source: BBC News