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The Defenestration of Blog

My blog has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.


4.19.2006

No way this guy's beard is real


For some reason, this Hamas terrorist big is wearing a novelty beard that doesn't even remotely match his hair color.

One day, we will all have to justify our salary to government regulators

Because, obviously, if shareholders and their agent (the CEO) agree on some compensation package, some worthless posturing politicians in Washington know better and therefore should veto it.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Amid record oil prices and soaring gasoline costs, Exxon Mobil's $400 million retirement package to its former CEO is a "shameful display of greed" that should be reviewed by Congress and investigated by federal regulators, Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan said on Tuesday.

Dorgan said he wants Exxon Mobil officials to appear at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing to explain how the corporation "justifies" giving its former boss, Lee Raymond, such a huge retirement package.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/energy_exxon_senator_dc

4.16.2006

Rickey Henderson: Priceless


I never realized that he was a modern day Yogi Berra, although his wit seems to be largely unintentional:
Many stories have been told about Rickey Henderson over the years, both the player and person. He is well known for his malapropisms, for referring to himself in the third-person (for example, calling Padres GM Kevin Towers to inquire about a contract and leaving a message starting "this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey."), and for talking to himself at length when he is up to bat. He has been known to speak to his bats, asking them which one has the next hit inside them. He once fell asleep on an icepack, thereby contracting a case of frostbite in August. In 2001, he described a long single this way: "I hit it out, but it didn't go out." Another time, Rickey was offered a seat on the team bus, the player saying that he had tenure. To which Rickey replied, "Ten years? What are you talking about? Rickey got 16, 17 years."

Another story occurred while Henderson was playing for the Oakland A's. Team bookkeepers could not account for a $1 million discrepancy in their finances. The mysterious figure was eventually traced to Henderson, who had received the sum as a signing bonus. Instead of cashing the check, he'd had it framed, where it still hung on his wall.

One widely reported story, however, is by all accounts a fabrication. Supposedly while playing for Seattle, Henderson went up to John Olerud, a former teammate then with the New York Mets, and asked why Olerud wore a batting helmet out on the field, noting that he "used to have a teammate in Toronto who did the same thing," to which Olerud replied, "That was me."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rickey_Henderson

Truly Darwinian: Catholic Church Edition

Conservative Catholics, for example, insist that even Aids victims should not use condoms: liberals argue that such strictures are lunacy. Meanwhile, the preponderant Catholic populations, 70% of the 1.1 billion faithful, reside in the south where their preoccupations are survival amid conflict, poverty and natural disasters.

Full Story

4.10.2006

A-Z meme

Accent: Combination of Manhattan and Montreal...pretty much neutral.

Booze: No thanks. It makes me sluggish, flushed, and constantly peeing.

Chore I hate: I don't really hate any chores, I just put them off for a long time.

Dogs/cats: DOGS, all the way

Essential Electronics: iPod, laptop, cell

Favorite Perfume/Cologne: They give me headaches and congestion.

Gold and silver: I recently went long silver and shorted gold for a $50 profit.

Hometown: New York, NY

Insomnia: I might stay up very late sometimes, but I always get my 8 hours

Job Title: Grad Student

Kids: My wild oats are few in number. And by few I mean none.

Living Arrangements: Studio apartment downtown

Most Admired Trait: Humor?

Number of days missed at school/work in the last year: None!

Overnight Hospital Stays: None. I am invincible.

Phobia: Undercooked meat

Religion: Hahahaha

Siblings: 1

Time I usually wake up: 10 AM

Unusual Talent: Am I too old to say "armpit farts?"

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Peas

Worst Habit: Procrastination

X-Rays: Aside from my teeth, none. Though I once had a sonogram. Turns out I wasn't pregnant.

Yummy Foods I Make: The adding of milk to cereal.

Zodiac Sign: I think it's Libra but I never got that verified by a certified flake or whoever does it.

4.09.2006

Create Your Own Caption Contest!


It looks like the Ayatollah read The Great Gatsby and got a little carried away.

4.08.2006

Atheist Musings on Passover Loopholes

It's almost Passover, and that means that religious Jews everywhere are turning their houses upside down to clean out every last bit of chametz. Chametz means leaven; basically any baked grain product in your home, from breads to cookies to cakes is chametz. Jews are biblically commanded not to have any of it in their possession during the 7 days of Passover (there's an 8th day for those living in the diaspora, added just to be safe in the face of calendar-related confusion).

During the week before Passover, Jews take all their chametz products and put them in a cabinet or closet somewhere in the home. Then they arrange with their Rabbi to "sell" it, along with the chametz of the entire community, to a gentile, usually for some nominal amount of money like $1. The gentile is most certainly not expected to barge in and claim his food. The idea is to get the chametz officially out of their possession without disposing of it, so that way they can eat it after Passover ends.

I never liked that idea, even while I was being brought up traditionally. Since renouncing Judaism, my view of this rite has gone from skeptical to amused. I felt like the idea was to decieve God. Of course, Judaism believes in an all powerful God who cannot become any better or worse off because of your acts, so the purpose of ritual observance is merely for yourself. If you are just trying to circumvent the injunction against keeping chametz in the house, then why even bother with this "sale" in the first place? You're only fooling yourself and helping nobody.

The irony of all this is that the same people who claim to fear God and believe in his omniscience would never try to pull something like this on the IRS. This kind of legal chicanery is the equivalent of a dying man "selling" his son an Upper East Side condo for $1 to dodge the estate tax. That doesn't wash with Uncle Sam. So I can think of three possibilites to resolve this conundrum:

1)They don't truly believe that God is all-knowing. Furthermore, they believe that the government knows even more than God himself. (In which case, 9/11 has no bearing on the problem of evil for these people. After all, if the government couldn't stop it, then how could God?)

2)It's an issue of enforcement and incentives. God would punish ownership of chametz with "excision of the soul." The IRS punishes tax cheats with fines. Therefore, behavioral inconsistency is a matter of the cheater preferring his money over his soul.

3)It's also possible that there is no inconsistency at all. Perhaps everyone who does this is a tax cheat. There's probably some correlation between the propensity to cheat on taxes and to cheat within one's belief system, but I wouldn't count on it being the case in most situations.

4.07.2006

Truly Darwinian: Probability and The Gambler's Fallacy

In response to hearing about a discount bus catching fire:
Quackenbush, who uses the bus to commute between work locations, said this will not deter him from taking the bus again. In fact, it will have just the opposite effect, he said.
''What are the odds of this happening again?" he said. ''Now I'm safe."

Full Story

More on the Gambler's Fallacy

4.06.2006

God is testing us

He planted some new "fossils" that buttress Darwin's theory of evolution. Of course, God only put them there to deceive us, which is somehow supposed to test and strengthen our faith to make us better Christians. Or something like that.

4.03.2006

greatest seinfeld quote ever?

"I didn't know she had a pony. How was I to know she had a pony? Who figures an immigrant's going to have a pony? Do you know what the odds are on that? I mean, in all the pictures I saw of immigrants on boats coming into New York harbor, I never saw one of them sitting on a pony. Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense.. am I wrong?"