Saturday, February 26, 2005

Lame Updates

Good news: My mother-in-law's tumor is benign. Apparently medical practice in Clinton County operates differently than anywhere else on the planet but her situation is at the very least looking up.

Good news: The baby hamsters are doing well. They're eating solid food along with milk. Their eyes are just about ready to open.

Depressing news: My sister-in-law has isolated herself and my niece. She still has a library book that she checked out when she was here (Clinton County's library offers a wide variety of Left Behind and Harry Potter is the Anti-Christ books). She's not talking to Children's Services and seems like she's going along with her mother. The court case is in a few weeks but I'm starting to doubt if she'll testify. I still think that things will work out but I think that if she wanted a change of custody, she could have made it happen already by cooperating.
Hey Kids--Arnie Sez Roids Are Cool

If Tommy Chong says it, he's a deviant. If Arnie says it, . . .
Ancient Animals

A couple of articles about fossils got my interest. First is one about ancient crocodiles. Whoops, another gap in the fossil falls. More croc news.
Bear-dog discovered (oops, another gap). I remember a book I had when I was in second grade that mentioned bear-dogs as theoretical links between dogs and bears but I must have taken this long to find them. More of the same.

The oldest bunny and sea turtles.

Here's an older one: blasphemy, blasphemy!

I should have put this in my links--Dinobase.

This is unrelated but sad--panda hunts.
[Bad Pun Deleted]

I posted something about this before but I wasn't sure if it was true. However, another woman comes forward in gorilla harassment case.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Lame Life

Remember the student who was offended by "A Rose for Emily"? For the last assignment, he wrote a paper on a Christian rock band. The paper was pretty good but he misidentified the Star of Bethlehem with the North Star. I wrote a note about it in the margin and he questioned me after class. Just when I was expecting a fight, he realized I was right and was apologetic and considerate. (Usually when students realize they're wrong, they get really nasty.)

Then I had two students, one in a local Fire Department, the other in the Army write papers about Ward Churchill. Both defended him farther than I would have.

I guess it shows the good and tolerance in the world but it makes for a boring blog.

The baby hamsters are just about big enough for their eyes to open. That's about the extent of things.
Rock Legends

Technically these are myths (according to folklore lingo) but it's still a fun article.

Via Museum of Hoaxes.

Remember the story of my old love interest Katy/Kevin? This might have helped.

No, on second thought, no it wouldn't have.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Supreme Court on Dildos

"Aren't sheep good enough for you, boy?"

Here's a number of tidbits from Karl Shaw's The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics.

In 1991, the Orthodox rabbis of B'nei B'rak, Israel, banned the sale of hot pizza in fear that while waiting for it to cook, boys and girls "might look at each other, which is an offense against modesty, or, God forbid, even touch each other." Cold pizza remained permissible.

The Cathar heretics of the 11th century whipped themselves with steel-tipped whips and allowed sodomy because it did not result in procreation (they forbid regular sex). They did not eat meat because meat was the result of animals having sex but allowed fish because they believed fish were born without sex. (I've read many positive portrayals of the Cathars but this is the first I've heard of this.) This was radically different than the motives for the proper Church from banning meat on Fridays--even most Vatican sources admit that the practice was influenced by the fishing industry.

"Driving alternatingly at high and low rates of speed; stopping at every filling station on the highway, walking around the car, always looking, then going on; entering a dark street in a residential area at night, making a sharp U-turn, pulling into a side alley and extinguishing the car's lights; entering a heavily travelled intersection on a yellow light, hoping to lose any followers or cause an accident." J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), explaining how to recognize a Communist.

The Waltham Black Act gave England the most capital crimes of any nation of the 19th century--in 1803, a 13-year old boy was hung for stealing a spoon. Capital offenses included "associating with gypsies," "appearing on a highway with a sooty face," "cutting down a tree," "damaging a fish-pond," and "writing on Westminster bridge."

Edward Bodkin, a 56-year old resident of Huntington, Indiana, was arrested for castrating men in 1999, saving the testes in pickle jars. When asked to speculate on a motive, state prosecutor John Branham said, "I can't sit here as a reasonable human being and give you an intelligent answer to that."

Sir Thomas Urquhart (1611-1660) developed a universal language while imprisoned in the Tower of London. Verbs had four voices, seven moods, and eleven tenses; nouns and pronouns had eleven cases, four numbers, and eleven genders.

Francine Wickerman spent 30 years in a bomb shelter in North Dakota after her husband convinced her that WWIII destroyed the world.
New Links

I have a list of links that I've been meaning to put up for the last few months. Once again I forgot to bring it in tonight but I depended on memory. . . which means I probably screwed it up.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Saturday, February 19, 2005


I hate to admit it but I really don't want to grade papers right now.

For a long time it seemed that Roger Ebert was going mellow in his old age, giving fuzzy reviews to even the worst of movies. He redeems himself with this one.

He raises a good point about Catholics and demons. Even in movies that seem against the church (like Stigmata), you never see supernatural forces giving a damn about Methodists, Mormons, or Unitarians. I'm surprised that the nuts who think that Jews control the media don't have theories about the Vatican sneaking messages into horror movies.

Update: Here's a list of cartoon laws from Ebert's review of The Son of the Mask. He's out for blood today.

Udate II: If Michael Medved and Rush have already ruined the ending of Million Dollar Baby for you, here's Ebert's response.
Does Pro-Life End at Parasitic Head?

I should be grading papers but I saw this and couldn't help myself.

A baby was born with a second head and doctors decided to remove it. Should we consider the second head as an individual? Is it morally right to lop it off? Unlike a fetus/unborn child/any-other-term-you'd-like-to-use, the head had apparently been gathering information for ten months and lived within an interactive environment.

Former General Surgeon C. Everett Koop, while conservative in most areas, favored separating conjoined twins even if it meant a high chance of killing both of them. As Koop put it "I am willing to take any reasonable risk to separate Siamese twins because of the grotesque future they face."

Classic bio-ethics (of Aristotle and Augustine) believed that conjoined twins with two heads represented two individuals. Stephen J. Gould even wrote an essay about them. I'm not a parasitic head advocate but I would consider it to be a greater ethical dilemma than traditional abortion. It seems if Michael Medved is screaming at Clint Eastwood for making Million Dollar Baby, he'd at least comment on this.

I did find this commentary about conjoined twins and Jewish law that at least dealt with the issue.

And, good lord, look what else came up. I guess I could find two sides to this but I'd better get back to the papers.
Exam Over

The last student just left. Only one of them went with the fill-in-the-blanks option so it looks like I'll have to start on the essay questions.
Laws of Florida

I was looking around to check up on statements about different state laws. I recently read a book that dogmatically stated that all sex except the missionary style is outlawed in Florida. Like most "dumb laws," that seems to be a joke but here are a few that are still on the books (which does not mean they are still enforced):

Apparently the Common Law of England is in effect in Florida (although it was a Spanish colony).

No commies, Nazis, or Fascists in the Sunshine State.

No need for comment on this.

I doubt if this is enforced (at least around college towns).

Uh, could we get some definition here? (Is this where the missionary position law comes from?)

Although this is nice.
The Lottery

I'm posting this while my ENG 200 class is taking their fiction exam. One of the students asked me if the lottery itself in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" could be considered a character.

I told her "not in the traditional sense but it does have aspects of a character."

Now I'm wondering. Could the lottery be considered a character? It does act as an antagonist but seeing the lottery itself as the antagonist would let the individuals in the mob off the hook. (I would be willing to see the mob as a character.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Latest Twist

My wife is starting her new job tomorrow. We're getting a big tax refund. The hamster hasn't eaten any of her babies.

Those of you who know outside the blogosphere know that my mom and my mother-in-law developed breast cancer about the same time (very bad news for my daughter). Initially it looked much worse for my mom but she's survived with no remaining problems. My mother-in-law has had one health problem after another, possibly due to the fact that she kept smoking several packs a day during treatment. If anybody wondered why I made such bitchy comments about smoking bans a few weeks ago, this was a contributing factor.

Today, one of her tests came up positive for cancer. It might be a false positive but she's been consistently unlucky with her medical history so far.

The only good possibility of this is that it might prod my sister-in-law into giving up custody of my niece. On the other hand, it might make matters even worse there as well.

I won't lie and say I didn't see this coming. Watching a cancer survivor chain-smoke is like seeing a slow-motion suicide. God knows I have an unhealthy life style but if I had a heart attack, I'd at least try to cut back on fatty foods. I wouldn't insult someone for suggesting I eat a healthier diet.

More as it comes but it looks like the next few weeks could get very ugly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Killing Machine

I drove to class on Saturday a few minutes early and found a good parking space but as I began to watch to my office I realized that I'd left half of my papers at home.

I hurried home, grabbed the papers, and tried to make it back to campus on time. On 275, a little before the New Richmond exit, a deer jumped onto the highway. I swerved and slammed into the other deer following it.

I'd never hit a deer before and pulled off the road. My license plate was bent but nothing else seemed wrong. The deer didn't suffer long. I saw it sliding on the asphalt after the impact and its neck was flopping like Tim Krumrie's leg during the Bengals' last Superbowl appearance.

Years ago I hit a raccoon in a similar situation (swerved to miss one and hit the other) but never anything this big. Looking back, I should have called the police but I wasn't thinking straight (the deer slid off the side of the road).

If I hadn't forgotten the papers, it never would have happened. I suppose it could be worse (or even worse than that) but it did spoil the weekend.
Extreme Weather

Here's some stats from Christopher C. Burt's Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book.

Hottest Major U.S. Cities (1970-2000 average)

Key West, FL 78.0
Honolulu, HI 77.5
Miami, FL 76.6
Ft. Lauderdale 75.7
West Palm Beach, FL 75.3
Ft. Myers, FL 74.9
Yuma, AZ 74.6
Hilo, HI 74.1
St. Petersburg, FL 74.1
Brownsville, TX 74.0
Phoenix, AZ 73.9
Palm Springs, CA 73.8
Laredo, TX 73.7
Orlando, FL 72.7
Corpus Christi, TX 72.1

Hottest Major U.S. Cities (Average Max. July Temp., 1970-2000)

Palm Springs, CA 108.3
Yuma, AZ 107.0 (hit 124 in July 1995)
Phoenix, AZ 106.0
Las Vegas, NV 104.1
Tuscon, AZ 101.0
Presidio, TX 100.6
Laredo, TX 100.5
Redding, CA 99.5
Bakersfield, CA 98.2
Fresno, CA 98.1
Wichita Falls, TX 97.6
Waco, TX 96.7
Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 96.3
Del Rio, TX 96.2
El Paso, TX 95.5

(Key West, while the hottest overall with average temperature, only hit 100 once in 120 years, in August of 1886)

Death Valley hit 134 in July 10, 1913; hit 129 in July of 1960 and 1998

Fairfield is warmest location in Ohio (based on average daily July temperature) at 88.1
Gilbertsville Dam is Kentucky's at 93.6 and Evansville is Indiana's at 90.5

Highest temperature recorded in Ohio was 113 in Gallipolis on July 21, 1934
Kentucky: 114 at Greensburg on July 28, 1930; Indiana's 116 at Collegeville on July 14, 1936
North Dakota: 121 at Steele on July 6, 1936 and South Dakota was 120 in Gannvalley the day before
Alaska: 100 at Ft. Yukon on June 27, 1915
Florida:109 in Monticello on June 29, 1931

The heat wave of 1936 was the worst in U.S. history with 15 states hitting record-breaking temperatures (although the heat wave that is thought to have destroyed the Anasazi Indians in the 13th century was even worse).

Least range of temperature between minimum and maximum temperature

Farallon Island, CA - 43 degrees (coldest recorded temp. 38 - hottest recorded temp. 81)
Honolulu, HI - 43 (52-95)
Point Piedras Blancas, CA - 56 (29-85)
Key West, FL - 59 (41-100)

Al Aziziyah, Libya 136 and Tindouf, Algeria are the only two places with higher recorded temperatures than Death Valley

Hottest By Continent

Africa: Al Aziziyah, Libya 136
North America: Death Valley ,134 (Mexico's hottest was 120)
Asia: Tirat Tsvi, Israel, 129
Australia: Cloncurry, 128
Europe: Riodades, Portugal, 123
South America: Villa de Maria, Argentina, 120.4
Antartica: Vanda Station, 58.3
South Pole: 7.5
North Pole: 39

Greatest range of temperature in American cities

Fort Yukon, AK: 178 degrees(coldest -78 - hottest 100)
Medicine Lake, MT: 175 (-58 - 117)

15 Coldest Cities in U.S. (average temperatures 1970-2000)

Fairbanks, AK 26.7
Anchorage, AK 36.2
International Falls, MN 37.4
Duluth, MN 39.1
Caribou, ME 39.2
Butte, MT 39.5
Sault. Ste. Marie, MI 40.1
Grand Forks, ND 40.3
Alamosa, CO 40.8
Williston, ND 40.9
Juneau, AK 41.5
Fargo, ND 41.5
St. Cloud, MN 41.8
Bismarck, ND 42.3
Kalispell, MT 42.6

15 Coldest Cities (Average January Min. Temp., 1970-2000)

Fairbanks, AK -19.0
International Falls, MN -8.4
Grand Forks, ND -4.3
Alamosa, CO -3.7
Williston, ND -3.3
Fargo, ND -2.3
St. Cloud, MN -1.2
Duluth, MN -1.2
Bismarck, ND -0.6
Caribou, ME -0.3
Aberdeen, SD 0.6
Eau Claire, WI 2.5
Huron, SD 3.5
Wausau, WI 3.6
Rochester, MN 3.7

Ohio's coldest place (average of daily Min. Jan. Temps.) is Paulding (around Toledo) at 13.9
Kentucky's is Ashland at 19; Indiana is Lowell at 12.1; California's is Bodie at 5.8
Florida's is De Funiak Springs, at 36.7 and Hawaii is Mauna Loa at 33.7 (actually it's the average February temperature)

Coldest recorded place

Ohio - Milligan at -39 in February 10, 1899
Kentucky - Shelbyville at -37 on January 19, 1994; Indiana - New Whitehead at -36 on the same day
Alaska - Prospect Creek Camp at -80 on January 23, 1971

Coldest recorded temperature in World

Antarctica, Vostok: -128.6
Asia, Verkhoyansk, Russia: -90 (Coldest recorded in Singapore is 66)
North America: Snag, Yukon, Canada -81.4 (Mexico's was 5 at Chihuahua
Europe: Ust'Shchugor -67
South America: Pato Superior Valley, Argentina -38 (Panama's was 63)
Africa: Ifrane, Morocco -11 (Djibouti's was 61)
Australia: Charlotte Pass -9.4

Worst cold wave in U.S. history was February 1899 (temperatures were below zero in every state in the Union), three inches of snow fell on New Orleans. Incidentally that same year the lowest number of beads exchanged hands than any year on record.

Wettest and Driest

Ohio - Middlebourne 30.44 and Cincinnati Fernbank 47.54
Kentucky - Wheelersburg 38.28 and Closplint 58.92
Indiana - Monroeville 33.74 and English 49.72
California - Cow Creek 1.60 and Honeydew 104.18
Florida - Key West 38.94 and Milton Experiment St. 69.48
Hawaii - Waikoloa Beach Resort - 6.81 and Mt. Waialeale, Kauai 460.00

Most at risk major cities to tornadoes

1.Oklahoma City
2.Dallas-Ft. Worth
4.Kansas City, MI
6.St. Louis
7.Jackson, Mississippi/Birmingham, Alabama
8.Little Rock
10.Chicago (although never hit directly by a major tornado)

Most at risk for Hurricanes

(15%-16% of a hurricane with 125 mph winds per year)
1.Key West to Palm Beach, Florida
2.Galveston, TX to Louisiana border
3.Mississipi Delta of Louiisana to Walton Beach, Florida
4.Outer banks of N.C. south of Nags Head (11-12%)

Cincinnati's hottest temperature was 109 (July 21,1934) and coldest -25 (January 19, 1977) the coldest month was January 1977 (12.0) and warmest month was July 1901 (82.5) but hottest summer was 1932 (78.8); 20.0 inches of snow from 1-14-1863 to 1-15; 31.5 of January 1978, 53.9 of winter of 77-78,

More here
Work History

A few thousand years ago, Hegmo (I think) posted a bit about work history. I've done a lot of odd jobs but only listed the legal and taxable here.

Coney Island: 1984-85—Ran miniature golf, pedal boats, kiddie rides, and games; occasionally working in the parking lot, gift store, and food stand; 86-87—Lifeguard for waterslides and pool.

Cincinnati Recreation Commission: 1986-89—Lifeguard for Mt. Washington and Oakley pools and afterschool daycare for Mt. Washington and Oakley centers.

Cincinnati Zoo: 1990—Sold memberships for the summer. Horrible pay but free admission to the zoo.

Cincinnati Public Schools: 1991-92—Substitute teacher for Walnut Hills and Aiken. Easiest money ever, by just showing Driver Ed movies all day.

Snelling Personnel - Matrix Marketing: 1992—Gave 35 minute long ice cream surveys for a few weeks.

Snelling Personnel - RDI Marketing: 1992—Hospital surveys for about a week.

ManPower - Totes: 1992—Summer-long sock assembly line.

Clifton Magazine: 1992—Wrote profile article about public access television.

Re:Visions: 1992—Co-editor of a collection of essays used as text for Freshman English courses; made royalties on next year's edition.

University of Cincinnati, Arts and Science: 1992—First college class, back when Eng 101 was still called Freshman English.

ManPower - New Creative Enterprises: 1993—Worked in the returns section of a warehouse carrying novelty items. Mainly repackaged broken bird baths to send back to manufacturer. Stayed three weeks before getting job at Arnolds.

Arnold Printing: 1993—Worked printing presses. Left after the summer for NKU.

Northern Kentucky University: 1993-94; 2000-05—Taught Freshman Composition/College Writing (10 classes) , Intro. to Lit. (7), and Advanced College Writing (2).

University of Cincinnati University College: 1994—Two courses of Freshman English.

Snelling Personnel - Assistance in Marketing: 1994—Had to drive girlfriend to and from this job so started working there to save trips.

Snelling Personnel - Direct Marketing Research: 1994—Second girlfriend job. This one surveyed Dallas businesses. Stayed a few weeks on both places.

American Legal Publishing: 1994-02—Edited municipal codes for clients in 22 states. I'll probably do a post about this soon.

Coyotes Country: 1996—Videographed country line-dancing for Channel 5. Heard "Macarena" for the first time. Paid under the table so I probably shouldn't include it on the legit list.

University of Cincinnati, Raymond Walters College (1997-98): English 101, 102, and 103.

Southern Ohio College: 2003—Taught College Writing and Intro. to Lit. Pay was only about half of NKU's rate but classes only last four weeks.

Kroger: 2004-5—Slicing deli meat and cheese.

University of Cincinnati, Clermont College: 2004-5—Fourth UC college. Last quarter two Eng. 102. Currently two 103 and one 101. Next quarter two Eng. 102 again but at Anderson High School.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hamster Explosion

I guess I made a mistake in letting my daughter pick out the hamster she wanted.

Today I looked in its cage and thought it was swarming with giant maggots. Apparently, Pikachu is female.

It takes about three weeks before the babies develop (right now they're hairless and their eyes haven't opened) but apparently it's common for young hamsters to eat their entire litter.

We haven't told my daughter until the babies are too big for a quick meal.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

More on Churchill

One of the assignments for English 101 is to analyze a faulty argument. Most students are finding wackos on the Internet but at least one picked Churchill (I was going to include a link but I can't imagine anyone not already knowing about it).

I've known professors to take moronic positions all over the political spectrum and beyond. At NKU I shared an office with a part-time English instructor who used P.J.O'Rourke as a text book without realizing that O'Rourke was intentionally trying to be funny (this same guy sent a resume to the legal publishing company where I worked, bragging about how he headed various Star Trek and Quantum Leap fan clubs).

At UC, the former head of Freshman English taught that Catholics were racist because there are no black saints. (If your theology extends only to Madonna videos, you know that's not true).

But mainly the nutjobs weren't even remotely political. One of my English professors marked down my grade because I wrote a paper about Elizabethan belief in witchcraft. He was convinced that all Englishmen of the 16th century dismissed witches as superstition.

I doubt if professors have crazier ideas than the population at large or even talk about their beliefs at work more than other professions but nobody cares if a librarian or a truck driver spouts off about politics during the work day (at least Pete Bronson doesn't). On the one hand I can see the need to allow academic freedom but I'm still stinging about "even lower-class Englishmen would have chuckled at the idea of a witch."

Now I tell all my students that not only are witches real but unless you wrap your head in tin foil, they can read your thoughts.

I've shown him.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

General Stuff

Just finished Lit. class at NKU. We had a discussion of "A Rose for Emily," and with a student from Nigeria and one from South Africa, nobody was as offended as the feller from Clermont.

Got my daughter a hamster for her birthday. Two days later, my son pulled a ten-gallon aquarium off a dresser and shattered it. Fortunately it wasn't full (he'd killed the fish a few months back) but if he'd done it before her birthday, I wouldn't have risked a small pet.

My wife finally got Unemployment approved. She had a positive interview on Wednesday so she might have a new job before we get the first check.

We're trying to get my niece to spend a night a week away from the hell hole. Not much developing but every day is a step closer to freedom.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Arthur Butz

There's a big fuss over liberal professors--even a bill to outlaw unpopular points of view. Throughout the recent debates, I haven't heard Arthur Butz mentioned.

With no training in history, Butz wrote The Hoax of the Century, one of the first and most influential books denying the Holocaust, yet kept his position as professor of engineering at Northwestern University. ( gives it three stars.) Recently (the article I found is from 1997), he used the university's server to publish revisionist web pages. Again, despite criticism, he gets off scot-free.

You'd think that a network claiming to be fair and balanced would at least mention Butz. It took me about three seconds on a google search to dig up the dope on him. They've got to have at least an intern who can type.
Boring Class

The guy who was offended by "A Rose for Emily" and "Sonny's Blues" left early but talked to me about it during break. He was polite and joined in class activities so I guess I can't have justify any hard feelings. I'm still going to talk about the difference in swearing between Catholic and Protestant countries.

I know a professor at Northern who had a student storm out for showing a clip of Disney's Aladdin, which she thought was clearly Satanic. After he explained to her that virtually every example of literature from any class at the university would offend her in some way, she went to the dean and wanted an exemption from lit. classes. I would have liked to talk to her about swearing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Yes, Hamlet is Very Long

I showed the Laurence Olivier version of Hamlet in class tonight (now I have about ten minutes of Internet time). The classroom only has a 20-something inch television and the seats are less than comfortable. I'd forgot the usage of "whoreson" in Act IV. I'm wondering if the student on Tuesday will catch it.