Thursday, December 28, 2006


plat·i·tude [ plat'i-tood, -tyood ] n.
A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant. See Synonyms at cliché.
Lack of originality; triteness.


pal·try [ pôl'tree ] adj.
Lacking in importance or worth. See Synonyms at trivial. Wretched or contemptible.


pal·ti·tude [ pôl-ti-tood, -tyood ] n.
1. A remark or statement so trite as to be insulting. An ordinary platitude is banal in the sense that the speaker is either a mental lightweight, or simply not trying very hard. By contrast, a paltitude is spoken by someone who not only doesn't believe it themselves, but also wants you to at least suspect that they are being insincere. A passive-aggressive dig, thinly disguised as positivism. A backhanded compliment.

Example: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the hurricane evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 5, 2005

2. A banal statement that actually means the opposite of what the speaker intended to imply.

Example: "Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." –George W. Bush
(So you're saying... America isn't free? Damn - I guess the terrorists won, after all!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


She's afraid of the homeless, so she hunkers into her oversized coat and peers out at the approaching buses through a deep hood, sprouting wisps of perfect blond hair like some kind of mutant street anemone. Her fears of the homeless aren't based on the usual complaints - contamination, the stench, an exaggerated sense of danger. If asked, she would claim that it's the sudden outbursts she objects to. The unaccountable fits of muttering, shouting, and cursing.

But the truth is, she's afraid of being engaged. Afraid that some manic stranger will confront her, back her against a wall with oblivious insistence, and demand answers she can't possibly provide. She's afraid to look on the weathered face, with its odd, oily sheen and singular fixed expression; afraid she'll recognize the look in those eyes and lose herself for good, as if madness were a virus caught with simple sincerity.

On the bus, she spreads out and pretends to sleep. If the bus is full, someone inevitably forces into the space next to her, but tonight she gets away with it. Eyes closed, she listens to the engine whine, the other passengers talk, fidget, rustle their newspapers. The ambient chittering of the urban understory.

Once home, she sheds the coat and then her work uniform, showers, and dresses for tonight's party. She selects the classic little-black-cocktail dress. It's not a new dress, so she doesn't even bother to check herself in the mirror. She doesn't have to. She's unchanging. She knows exactly what she looks like, down to the last hair and pore. Knows the effect she has on people. Especially men.

Truth is, she enjoys the effect more than the men. The sex, but not the attachment. Even desire leaves her cold. She cares only for the act, itself, and then only with the most casual, disinterested partners. The kind of men who hit on her almost out of habit and invariably flee in the aftermath. Saving her the trouble.

She calls a cab.

Her birthday, though a milestone, means nothing to her. She celebrates only out of courtesy to the girls at work. Mindy from Accounting, in particular, thinks of her as a friend, which she finds vaguely depressing. Mindy is young and fatuous, and earnestly interested in all the usual subjects. Cars. Boyfriends. The job. The lottery. All things trite and popular.

She joins in the conversations only reluctantly, but gains a stiff satisfaction when no one quite understands her contributions. Cars? Too expensive. Too much trouble. They break down when you really need them, and replacing them's a pain. Men? Same answer. The initial laughter tapers off as the girls decide she's serious. A job's a job's a job, she says. The lottery? She supposes she'd plant a garden. No – she guesses you don't actually need to win the lottery to plant a garden.

At the restaurant, they drink heavily and have the waiters sing a generic birthday song. They bring out a store-bought cake, and everyone helps to blow out the candles. Blowing out 150 candles requires a bit of a group effort.

There are the usual cards and presents. Mindy gives her an assortment of seeds and some small gardening implements wrapped in a clay pot. Gloves. A mini rake. A hand trowel. Thoughtful gifts.

They've learned better than to ask her about the past. Others from that initial wave of medical immortals have become celebrities, making good livings out of their personal histories. As if each year that passes somehow bestows their memories with more relevance. Opinions made sacrosanct through the simple expedient of failure to rot, they dole out anecdotal wisdom like communion wafers. She never talks about the past.

She arrives home late and promptly disposes of the cards and gifts in the trash and recycling bins. There is no room in her tiny, spare apartment for 150 years' worth of accumulated possessions.

She undresses, changing into oversized, gray, flannel pajamas.

She makes a cup of weak tea and logs onto the Net. Her avatar is an amorphous blob with the alias Methuselah[Bot]. She dances through random games, newsgroups, communities, chat room conversations posting inane non-sequiturs. No one pays her much attention. The occasional exchanges are belligerent or playful, but never personal. Her cover holds. She is a rogue program, a shadow cast from lines of code. Voice without mind.

She floats like this through the immaterial world until, nodding off repeatedly, she finally stumbles off to bed, falling instantly into an anonymous, dreamless, bottomless sleep.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Very Blogger Christmas

The Last Post Before Christmas

Twas the last post before Christmas, when all through the land,
The atheists plotted to have Christmas banned,
According to talk show hosts, spreading the Yule love,
In hopes that their savior would make them more moola.

The Dems and the Lobbyists were hurriedly making their beds (together),
While visions of Hillary '08 haunted Republican heads.
With Ma at her scrapbook, I sat down to blog,
Armed with barrels of clichés and 90 proof nog.

While out on the tubes I dodged Britney's cooter,
It was behind every address, on every computer.
In windows and tabs, on YouTube and Flash,
It made my soul shudder, it made my snow crash.

But with filters and blockers I finally managed
To get back to surfing with minimum damage.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Damnit, Britney – I don't want to see your underwear, either!

Yadda, yadda, yadda…

The term's "morbidly obese," not "pleasingly curvy."
Now finish your veggies. You're going to get scurvy.

Yadda, yadda, yadda…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a high click-through rate!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Worshipping The Big O


She takes another hit from her pocket Jesus.
Tries to buy a little peace – but she's crumbling to pieces.
Says, "Wish I could believe you when you say I'm not a lost cause.
Wish I could remember who I used to think I was.

Not old enough, not good enough to sell out.
Not young enough, not pretty enough to buy in.

Think I know I'm wrong, but that doesn’t make you right.
Too stubborn to give up. Too damn tired to fight about it.

Not pure enough, not broken enough to forgive you.
Not sure enough, not selfish enough to live without you."

She used to think she'd find a job, a man, a cause –
An orbit to fall into. Dreams of weddings, but no groom.
Looking for redemption on the Home Shopping Network®.
When she's filled with doubt, she asks 'What would Oprah do?'

'What would Oprah do?
What would Oprah do?


Not fool enough, not lost enough to give up.
Not cool enough, not bright enough to break down.

God, this low-carb diet cuts into my drinking.
Mom wants grandkids, but I just don't want to think about it.

Not desperate enough, not lonely enough to fake it.
Not empty enough, not nice enough to just sit and take it.

What would Oprah do?
What would Oprah do?

Not old enough, not good enough to sell out.
Not young enough, not pretty enough to buy in.

Think I know I'm wrong, but that doesn't make you right.
Too stubborn to give up. Too damn tired to fight about it.

Not pure enough, not broken enough to forgive you.
Not sure enough, not selfish enough to live without you.

What would Oprah do?
What would Oprah do?'

She takes another hit from her pocket Jesus.
Tries to buy a little peace – but she's crumbling to pieces.
Says, "Wish I could believe you when you say I’m not a lost cause.
Wish I could remember who I used to think I was."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Geek Bible

1. In the beginning was the void. It was really boring. Nothing going on at all. God couldn't even get a date.
2. Eventually, God decided it would be good to make some stuff.
3. Some sources credit Steve Jobs with originating the whole "creation" meme. But God made it to market first with an entirely closed-source, proprietary design. The Universe (patent pending) quickly became ubiquitous.
4. On the first day, God created the heavens and the earth.
5. Actually, the term "day" may be a bit misleading, here. Keep in mind that there wasn't any consistent way to keep track of time until after God created the sun, moon, and stars, around "day" four. Prior to "day" four, God's cycles had pretty much been measured in units called "eternities." So God probably put in a bit of overtime that week.

Note: God did eventually adjust to local time in the early 1800's, but the jetlag was murder. And by then, God had sealed his reputation for always being late (see Luke 1.38b: And The Lord pulled up his breeches and said unto Mary, "I'll be right back. I’m just going to zip down to the store and pick up some smokes.").

6. On "day" six, God finally got around to making some people, which turned out pretty badly for everyone involved.
7. "Run, you fools!"
8. In which everyone commences begetting.
9. "Let my people go." "So let it be written, so let it be done." "A dingo ate my baby!"
10. After an age or two, The Lord decided to upgrade his design with the Jesus Release. But the effort was troubled from the start, when the Roman DOJ moved to break up God's monopoly by forcing him to separate religion from the OS.
11. "Take. Eat…." "Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!" "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." "I'll be back!"
12. Industry rumors abound that Jesus 2.0 is scheduled for release any day now. But skeptics point out Heaven's® abysmal track record at making deadlines.


1. A prerelease bootleg of Jesus 2.0 is widely available six months ahead of schedule, taking Satan 2.0 completely by surprise.
2. The Singularity will be televised. Under a Creative Commons License.

# # #

Originally posted at hyper-textual ontology.

Carl Sagan, Ten Years Gone

I don’t worship at the alter of science, but I do sometimes drink from the blood of her prophets. Carl Sagan was a prophet as surely as he was a scientist, so I offer the following in memorium:

String Theory of Divergence

If the universe, and all its properties, is composed from bits of string
and the harmonies resonating through them and between,
then life is jazz and every breath a song.
And when you leave, the quiet is deafening.

This Just In...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Powerless Without You

So I'm back in the modern age. I just spent the last four days without electricity after the worst storm to hit the Pacific Northwest in years took out the whole area. As near as the experts can tell, the Seahawks sucked so hard on Thursday night football, that a raging wind storm formed in the vortex.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Resolution Will Be Televised

Certainly the end of the year is a time for community and celebration, but it's also a good time for reflecting on past accomplishments and setting goals for the new year.

For me, 2007 will be all about upgrading the ol' consumer electronics.

Suicidal ideation just screams for high def.

Problems with being God

  • Always knowing the end of the movie
  • Always expected to pick up the check
  • No question what everyone thinks of you
  • Nobody else to blame
  • Never any time for yourself on Sundays
  • Or Saturdays
  • Or Fridays
  • Or holidays, either
  • No real explanation for your Oedipal Complex
  • Nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen
  • Always the same cheap tie for Father’s Day
  • Crucified in the press
  • And now what?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mr. T. Science Theater

Star Wars, Episode IV - A New Pulp

"That's no moon - it's a space station, fool!"

Merry Newtonmas!

via the inestimable Robn at hyper-textual ontology.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My First Sponsor

They Made Me an Offer I Couldn't Refuse...

...out of rubber bands and soap.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Very Special Webisode

Johnny was a Mouth-breather

I've got a touch of the crud going on, and have been gulping my food in spastic, rapid-fire fashion, then jamming it down my throat with a candy-coated ramrod, due to excessive mucus buildup (as opposed to my usual habit of gulping my food in spastic, rapid-fire fashion, then jamming it down my throat with a candy-coated ramrod, due to sheer gluttony). Having been temporarily reduced to mouth-breathing and phlegmy Bea Arthur as GollumFlash impressions, I was reminded of a question that's been vaguely niggling at me for some time: Why all the mouth-breather hate? How exactly did "mouth-breather" become synonymous with "idiot"? So I Googled, and found the following:

mouth-breather n. a stupid person; a moron, dolt, imbecile.
Related: , ,

Editorial Note: The original definition of mouth-breather referred to a person that, due to medical problems (usually with the sinuses or nose), was forced to breath via the mouth. This leaves the jaw hanging open at most times, which has a tendency to make a person look dopey or spacey.

via Double-Toungued.Org

True confessions time: I started life out as a mouth-breather. In fact, I was about ten when I first discovered that most people normally breathe through their noses. My family was driving past the scene of a senseless hit-and-run skunk slaughter, and everyone was complaining. I said what's the big deal, yo? If something smells bad, don't smell. I thought noses were just for smelling, and it took an actual effort to use them. Several doctor-appointments later and I had my adenoids and tonsils removed. End result? My mouth-breather stigma was history. (Naturally, I had to get my first pair of glasses later the same year. Buddy Holly glasses, long before they became hipster-retro chic. So that year was a wash for me, style-wise.)

So what did we learn today? "Mouth-breather" is an insensitive term for stupid people. The correct term is "retard".

Note: Be sure to click the GollumFlash link. Really.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Gift Ideas, Part 2

When all else fails, say it with velvet:

Jon Benet, from the "American Tabloid Heroes Collection" at

Or - Have yourself immortalized - without all the fuss of actually doing anything special.

The Custom Elvis Make-Over at The Velvet Store. It'd be a blue Christmas without you... as Elvis.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Gift Ideas, Part 1

A few gift ideas for those special, hard-to-shop-for someones, like the punks, goths, and cat lovers in your lives:

Plus so, so, so much more!!! From Custom Creature Taxidermy Arts.

Geek Love, Modern Poets Edition

I wrote a sonnet for your mom.
She keeps it hidden in her sock drawer, sonny.
You know, I've seen it before:
She's just a poetry whore.
She's really partial to the Longfellows, honey.

She's just a different kind of meter maid.
She loves to couple with a couplet on her lips.
Not to damn her with faint praise,
But I enjamb her nights and days,
While she ignores the hipsters twixt her hips.

I wrote a sonnet for your mom.
A pornographic poem calligraphic is her downfall.
She sees the prosaic and the didactic
As a mental prophylactic,
But she'd spread it for a limerick on a bathroom stall.

I wrote a sonnet for your mom.

I wrote a sonnet... for your mom.

I wrote a sonnet for... your mom.