06

2004-06 posts.

  1. Off Vacation. RE: Travel.
  2. 2004-06-21t15:29:16Z. RE: aaBlog. 9/11. Bush. Chicago. Computers. Cyber Life. Deaths. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Fun. Green. Images. Interesting. Iraq. Jokes. Politics. Prisoner Abuse. Programming. Science. Sex. Show Biz. Web. World.
  3. 2004-06-25t19:28:00Z. RE: aaBlog. Bush. Chicago. Cyber Life. Illinois. Elections. Green. Health. Martial Arts. Show Biz.
  4. Las Vegas: Two Escorts and a Wedding. RE: Travel. Las Vegas. Friends. Sex. Marriage.
  5. 2004-06-29t21:52:03Z. RE: Computers. Engineering. Interesting. Iraq. Local. Money. Programming. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. US Politicians.

2004-06-03t16:20:55Z | RE: Travel.
Off Vacation

I just got back from the Philippines yesterday. What a blast! Thank you very much Mom, Tita Paz, and cousin Ipoy!

I promise to add notes and pictures about the trip soon, but for now, I'm just very jet lagged. (-_-)zzz

2004-06-21t15:29:16Z | RE: aaBlog. 9/11. Bush. Chicago. Computers. Cyber Life. Deaths. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Fun. Green. Images. Interesting. Iraq. Jokes. Politics. Prisoner Abuse. Programming. Science. Sex. Show Biz. Web. World.
2004-06-21t15:29:16Z

aaBlog

  • Since I was away from the Internet for several weeks, I've got a lot to catch up on. What I'll do is gradually catch up while trying to stay up on current stuff at the same time.
  • Yes, I'm still working on my notes and photos of my trip to the Philippines. Believe it or not, I've actually started scanning photos and typing in my notes.
  • For my own benefit, here's a quick summary of what happened in the world during the blog gap:
    • The head of the Iraqi Governing Council got killed.
    • More news of systematic prisoner abuse, purposeful US violations of the Geneva Convention, etc.
    • Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11 took top prize at Cannes.
    • Troy, Shrek2, The Day After Tomorrow, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban released.
    • Chicago beaches opened for the season.
    • Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet quit.

9/11

  • Sept. 11 Plot Envisioned 10 Hijackings, Report Says. 'The mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks told investigators he proposed hijacking 10 planes to crash into U.S. nuclear power plants, the Central Intelligence Agency and high-rise buildings on the West Coast in addition to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a federal commission's report says.'
  • 9/11 Panel Says Iraq Rebuffed Bin Laden
    • 'Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported Wednesday there was "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaida target the United States.'
      • I told you so.
  • It's been fascinating listening to the tapes of air control, terrorists, and stuff on the day of 9/11. It's like reliving the day. There's just so much material on this subject and America is so eager to hear it all.

Bush

Chicago

Computers

  • Microsoft creating Windows for supercomputers. ' Microsoft has launched an effort to produce a version of Windows [Windows Server HPC Edition] for high-performance computing, a move seen as a direct attack on a Linux stronghold. '
    • I'm betting that Microsoft will never catch up for several reasons:
      • The ones who need supercomputing are already using Linux.
      • Open source. Windows and C# won't be fast and customizable enough. Supercomputing speed is all about custom jobs for maximum efficiency.
      • Microsoft is already way behind on Linux in this area.
  • Use of Linux Grows in Public Sector
    • 'The latest Linux win is the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), in Washington, which provides administrative support, program management and policy development services to U.S. federal courts.'
    • 'Red Hat reported 87,000 units of Enterprise Linux sold last quarter, which was about double the number sold in the previous quarter'
      • Can you say ''good investment"?
  • A splintering Linux community
    • 'Remember, the difference between Linux and the most popular desktop OS is that unlike the popular OS, every single Linux installation, no matter what kind of eye candy it displays on screen, can be fully manipulated all the way down to the kernel level by anyone who needs this level of control over his or her computer. Those who don't want to use a GUI in Linux aren't forced to do so, even if the box they're using has one installed.'
      • So Linux geeks and "Lusers" should be able to get along.
    • 'The weight of Linux development has swung toward commercializers and non-technical users. This is reality.'
  • P-P-P-Powerbook.com. ' It started with a scam, and turned into the greatest prank ever. '
    a Blue Tooth mouse
  • Molecular Media Project. 'The aim of the Molecular Media Project is to use cells and atoms to perform useful computational tasks at the micron (10-6m) and/or nanoscales (10-9m) of organisation. There are 1000 mm in a metre (10-3m), there are 1,000,000 µm in a metre (10-6m), there are 1,000,000,000 nm in a metre (10-9m)!'
  • USB adaptors & DIY antenna = "Poor Man's WiFi" ?. This has got to turn on a lot of engineers.
    photo of dudes with their home made wifi antennas
  • Munich to stick with open source
    • 'Munich, the city whose switch to Linux was seen as so significant it attracted a personal visit from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has announced that its yearlong trial is a success and that it will stick with open source for its PCs.'
    • 'The change will officially take place on July 1, and 14,000 desktops will permanently migrate to the open-source platform. The pilot was run using Novell's SuSE Linux and IBM products.'
    • 'The city's move to Linux is the biggest migration ever from proprietary software to open source, and it will call for municipal PCs and notebooks to move from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice and to use the Mozilla browser.'
  • Linux is obsolete [1992-01-29]. The infamous Usenet thread between Linus Torvalds (maker of Lunux) and Andrew Tanenbaum (maker of Minix, the inspiration of Linux).
  • I finally tried OpenOffice today. OpenOffice is a free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office.
    • I downloaded it from OpenOffice.org and installed it.
    • To maximize OpenOffice, I also had to get the latest JRE (Java Runtime Environment) from Java.com.
    • I installed it on my machine following the instructions for a multi-user Windows environment. The result is I had to effectively install it twice: once as the source files for network installs, and a second time as a program on my local machine.
    • So far it works perfectly and looks very clean. The annoying thing is that some of the keyboard shortcuts that I had gotten used to in Microsoft Excel don't work in the OpenOffice spreadsheet.

Cyber Life

  • Yahoo Email upgrades. Whoo hoo!
    • Not only has Yahoo modernized their look, but now Yahoo gives you 100 MB of storage space and allows you to send 10 MB sized emails. It's not quite the 1 GB of storage promised by Google's Gmail, but it is certainly appreciated. Isn't competition wonderful?
    • I still wish they'd provide "Reply to Sender" and "Reply to Everyone" as separate buttons instead of available by a drop down menu.
    • So far it also looks like they've made the banner ads up on top a consistent size. This is very helpful because if you keep the mouse cursor over the delete button, and delete, then the cursor will still be over the delete button for the next message.
    • The calendar has changed but not improved. EG: In the month view, today's date is no longer highlighted.
    • I dislike how all their hyperlinks are now just colored instead of colored and underlined.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged
  • The Quintessential MP3 Guide: Part 2. Gee it's almost too bad that I'm not into MP3s.

Deaths

Elections

  • Playing Dirty. ' This year's presidential campaign is already shaping up to be even more negative than the last. That's no accident. Our correspondent looks at the cloak-and-dagger world of opposition research--the updated version of "dirty tricks" '
  • National Poll Gives Kerry Solid Lead [LA Times, 2004-06-10]
    • ' Kerry, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, led Bush by 51 percent to 44 percent nationally in a two-way match-up, according to the poll of 1,230 registered voters taken from Saturday to Tuesday. '
    • Good news, but we'll need to keep the pressure up.

Engineering

  • Micro-sculptures give metal the Velcro touch
    • ' To make a projection, researchers focus a beam of electrons in a vacuum chamber at the point on a metal surface where they want it to grow. The metal melts at the centre of the beam. When the beam is moved sideways, surface tension pulls the molten metal into a droplet. '
    • ' Dance says his early tests show that these joints will last far longer than current composite-metal joints, which are held together by adhesives. Surfi-Sculpt has so far been successfully tested on stainless steel, aluminium and titanium, but TWI expects that it will work on any material that melts, such as glass and plastics. '
  • Hy-Wire Driving Is a Gas. ' As I stood in a queue to test-drive the Hy-wire, General Motors' hydrogen-powered concept car, a GM rep joked about the many design modifications made to oblige the public's hard-wired driving habits. "We had to add footrests," the rep said. "People were just sliding right down off the seat." '
    photo of the GM Hy-Wire hybrid car

Faith

  • Supreme Court Preserves 'God' in Pledge
    • ' The ruling came on the day that Congress set aside to honor the national flag. The ruling also came exactly 50 years after Congress added the disputed words "under God" to what had been a secular patriotic oath. '
      • How lame: they just side stepped the issue.
    • ' The reference is an "official acknowledgment of our nation's religious heritage," similar to the "In God We Trust" stamped on coins and bills, Solicitor General Theodore Olson argued to the court. It is far-fetched to say such references pose a real danger of imposing state-sponsored religion, Olson said. '
      • True but the principle of the thing is the separation of religion and state, and these references to God are clear violations of that principle.
    • ' Congress adopted the pledge as a secular, patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress added the phrase "under God" more than a decade later, in 1954, when the world had moved from hot war to cold. Supporters of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism. '
      • Yep, the ancient practice of slaving religious zeal for political purposes.
    • This argument will resurface in a stronger manifestation in the future. For now, I'm fine with not having as a distraction from current efforts.
  • "Freethought Revival"
    • 'Susan Jacoby dissects the history of secularism in the U.S., and argues the time is right for a new secular hero.'
    • Very good. There is clearly a need to define terms (such as freethinker, agnostic, atheist, deist, orthodox, secular, religious, right, etc.) and be aware how they are used or abused in different contexts.

Food

  • HillBillyHousewife.com
    • 'Welcome to my website. I'm Maggie, the proprietor. I created this site so that I could access all of my recipes easily and so that I could clean out the recipe boxes under my bed. Like most personal projects, this is a work in progress. Be patient with me please. I am not a professional, and this is not a professional website. I am just a humble, barefoot, hillbilly, woman with too many irons in the fire, like most folks. '
    • Now you can eat like a real American.
  • Butter v Margarine
    • Butter and margarine (aka vegetable spread and the like) are equivalent in calories and both get their calories from fat. However, there are differences in the fat.
      • Cholesterol, particularly the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, is associated with heart disease and clogged arteries. Margarine is made from vegetables whereas butter is made from cow's milk, so butter has no cholesterol. (Some people will say that cholesterol is however still required in moderation.)  Winner: Perhaps margarine.
      • Saturated fat  is associated with an increase in cholesterol and heart disease. Butter is 66% saturated fat, whereas margarine is 14% saturated fat. (Some people will say that the hydrogenating to make margarine creates what is effectively a saturated fat). Winner: Perhaps margarine.
      • Trans fatty acids raise LDL but lower HDL. Trans fats may contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. The hydrogenating ("hardening") of liquid vegetable oil to make margarine turns polyunsaturated fat into trans fatty acids. The trans fatty acids in are lower for softer margarines such as those found in tubs or squeeze bottles. Winner: Butter or very soft margarines.
      • Butter may have chemicals from cows since cows are often given drugs or their food may have pesticides. Margarine may have chemicals via food additive and via the pesticides used on the vegetables. Winner: Neither.
      • Butter is a natural fat, whose chemical structure is similar to fat found in our bodies. Margarine is an unnatural (man-made) fat. Winner: Butter.
      • Butter naturally contains fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K; margarine does not. Winner: Butter.
    • Margarine costs roughly twice as much as butter. Hence for the sake of money, I think margarine is the clear winner.
    • For melting onto foods, I think a soft margarine would work better better than butter. For making flaky crusts and such, butter is necessary. For pure taste, butter is usually preferred.
    • Related:
      • "Margarine Versus Butter" by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
        • "The argument for eating margarine and other products containing hydrogenated oils are their lack of cholesterol. Margarine is also less expensive than butter. However, margarine contains refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil. It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids, and often residues of the toxic metals nickel and cadmium. Butter is a natural food and a good source of important fat-soluble vitamins. You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally it is well worth it."
      • "Margarine Versus Butter" by Pamela Dean
      • "Margarine vs. Butter" by Dr. Andrew Weil
        • "Many people ask me whether I think it is better to eat butter or margarine. They should be asking whether it is worse to eat butter or margarine, because both are concentrated fats that contribute to the unhealthy excess of fat calories that most of us consume. I don't keep either of them in my house. But if I were forced to make a choice, I'd take the real thing in modest amounts, and I recommend that choice to you as well."
      • "Butter versus Margarine" by Susan Harrow Rago, RD, MS

Fun

  • This robot solves the 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube
    photo of a little robot that solves Rubiks Cubes
  • PlayingWithTime.org
    • ' Here at the Playing With Time web site, unseen worlds of change will be revealed. You will see time sped up and slowed down, and behold the beauty of change. Time will be in your hands to witness, replay, and even create. You never know... you might not look at things quite the same way again. '
    • Kids love these kinds of videos.

Green

Images

  • Poverty's Palette. Astonishing. We've all seen B&W pictures from the US Depression that look historical historical, but these color pictures from the era make it seem like they were taken by a blogger of today.
    color photo from the US Depression
  • WPA Photograph Collection

Interesting

  • Satellite images 'show Atlantis'. ' Satellite photos of southern Spain reveal features on the ground appearing to match descriptions made by Greek scholar Plato of the fabled utopia. Dr Rainer Kuehne thinks the "island" of Atlantis simply referred to a region of the southern Spanish coast destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC. '
  • Bill Cosby: Poor blacks can't speak English
    • ' In the presence of NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and other African-American leaders, comedian Bill Cosby took aim at blacks who don't take responsibility for their economic status, blame police for incarcerations and teach their kids poor speaking habits. '
    • I've always said that Bill's a comic genius.

Iraq

Jokes

  • 'A Well-Known Monk

    A wandering monk walked barefoot everywhere he went, to the point that the soles of his feet eventually became quite thick and leathery. And because he ate very little, he gradually became very frail. Several days often passed between opportunities to brush his teeth, so he usually had bad breath. Therefore, throughout the region, he came to be known as the super-calloused fragile mystic plagued with halitosis.'

Politics

  • "Cold Turkey" by Kurt Vonnegut
    • ' Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

      But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America's becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas. '

    • ' For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

      "Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break! '

    • ' If you want to take my guns away from me, and you're all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you're for the poor, you're a liberal.

      If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you're a conservative.

      What could be simpler? '

    • 'That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven't noticed, they've already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you'll be asked to repay.'
    • ' Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.

      And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.'

Prisoner Abuse

  • The Gray Zone: How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib [2004-05-15]
  • Leaking self-doubt
    • " [The pictures] have gone 'to the ends of the Earth', says one American writer, 'and have painted brilliantly and indelibly an image of America that could remain with us for years, if not decades' "
    • ' For months, the media have let the Abu Ghraib story slip through their hands. '
    • ' Some suspect that the photos were leaked from within the Pentagon '
    • ' The torture scandal has become bound up in deeper disagreements among the US elite '
  • Abu Ghraib scandal convulses U.S. military
    • 'Top Pentagon officials want to paint the abuse at Abu Ghraib as an isolated case of ill-trained, war-weary soldiers brutalizing prisoners. But lawyers for at least some of the lower-ranking soldiers facing courts-martial want to trace the trail of responsibility all the way up the ladder to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps even to the Oval Office.'
    • ' Guy Womack, the lawyer representing Army Specialist Charles Garner, who has been depicted as the sadistic ringleader of the abusive unit at Abu Ghraib, has also said he wants to hear testimony from a whole raft of top generals -- and even Mr. Rumsfeld.

      "The government is trying to make this seem like nobody approved of this or knew of this and that it was seven rogue military policemen [who] suddenly went crazy and flipped out," he told USA Today. "We're going to prove the chain of command knew [the abuse] was going on and did nothing to countermand it." '

Programming

Science

Sex [possibly NSFW]

  • Brutally Honest Personals [by Esquire]. Hehe.
  • Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do
  • Gay marriage opponents see fight getting tougher: Setback likened to Roe v. Wade
  • Massachusetts Ushers In Gay Marriage [2004-05-17]
    • 'Same-sex couples began exchanging vows here Monday, marking the first time a U.S. state has granted gays and lesbians the right to marry and making the United States one of four countries around the world where gays can legally wed.'
    • 'For foes of gay marriage, Monday's weddings represent a stinging defeat - but one they hope will be reversed by a backlash among politicians and voters nationwide.'
    • 'Massachusetts joined the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada's three most populous provinces as the only places worldwide where gays can marry, though the rest of Canada expected to follow soon.'
  • Stalking the Bogeyman. 'This time last year I was plotting to kill a man. I was going to walk up to him, reintroduce myself and then blow his balls off.'
  • Kisstory in action. A brief history of kissing.
  • Doctor Jailed for Billing for Sex. This story is so sweet and short that I'm quoting the whole thing in case the link dies.
    • ' PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - An Oregon doctor, who had sex with a patient and then charged the state about $5,000 for his "treatments," has been jailed for 60 days and stripped of his license, officials said on Friday.

      Dr. Randall J. Smith, 50, told the woman that massaging her "trigger points" would ease her pelvic pain. The treatments led to sexual intercourse and Smith billed the Oregon Health Plan for the 45-minute sessions at the Adventist Health Medical Group clinic in Gresham, Oregon, near Portland.

      Smith must also perform 200 hours of community service and pay $1,105 in fines and is on probation for 18 months as part of the plea agreement. He also turned in his medical license.

      Though he pleaded guilty to submitting false health care claims, a felony, Smith maintained the sex with the 47-year-old woman was consensual.

      Adventist repaid about $5,000 to the state, David Russell, clinic administrator for the hospital said. '

Show Biz

  • Can 'Star Wars: Episode III' be saved?.
    • Funny piece because we all know how awful Star Wars I and II were.
    • ' Having better writers would save Lucas from amateurish nonsense like his decision to give Anakin Skywalker the emasculating nickname "Annie." Perhaps he was planning to have him break out into a rousing chorus of "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow"? '

Web

World

2004-06-25t19:28:00Z | RE: aaBlog. Bush. Chicago. Cyber Life. Illinois. Elections. Green. Health. Martial Arts. Show Biz.
2004-06-25t19:28:00Z

aaBlog

  • Unbelievable! I'm still suffering from jet lag! I'm way behind on my blog. I have however done quite a bit on my martial arts section.

Bush

Chicago

  • 100 new schools to be created. Ambitious plan by the Chicago Public Schools. Better than sitting on their hands. However, right now I'm more interested in stuff like allowing more bussing and keeping the various pre-school programs run by the CPS open.

Cyber Life

  • Researchers warn of infectious Web sites
    • ' This time, however, the flaws affect every user of Internet Explorer, because Microsoft has not yet released a patch. Moreover, the infectious Web sites are not just those of minor companies inhabiting the backwaters of the Web, but major companies, including some banks, said Brent Houlahan, chief technology officer of NetSec. '
    • That's it! I'm going to go live in a cave now.

Illinois

Elections

Green

Health

  • Medical-malpractice battle gets personal. Ha ha! The screwed up health care industry locks horns with lawyers.
  • Gene mutation in muscular boy may hold disease clues. 'But to scientists, the German boy is something more: the first confirmed case of a human with a genetic mutation that removes a fundamental barrier to muscle growth, causing a markedly pumped-up body and unusual strength. Already, he has twice the muscle mass of children his age and can lift weights that some adults would find challenging.'
    photo of the legs of a mighty 4 year old

Martial Arts

  • Sweeping stun guns to target crowds
    • 'At present, commercial stun guns target one person at a time, and work only at close quarters. The new breed of non-lethal weapons can be used on many people at once and operate over far greater distances.'
    • 'XADS is also planning a more advanced weapon which it hopes will have a range of 100 metres or more. Instead of firing ionised gas, it will probably use a powerful laser to ionise the air itself. The idea has been around for decades, says LaVerne Schlie, a laser expert at the US Air Force Research Lab in Kirtland, New Mexico. It has only become practical with advances in high-power solid-state lasers.'
    • ' "Before, it took a laser about the size of two trucks," says Schlie. "Now we can do it with something that fits on a tabletop." '
    • Brrrzzkk! I want the job where I can electro shock the masses!
  • Military's Needs Speed Development of New Non-Lethal Weapons
    • 'police could incapacitate criminals with a ray gun that scalds the flesh but causes no permanent harm. Officers could shine flashlights with blinding green beams. Riots could be halted using stink bombs releasing overpoweringly nauseating smells or noise machines emitting piercing high-decibel shrieks.'

Show Biz

  • Firefly? Serenity? Browncoats? Why do they speak Mandarin and why aren't there any subtitles?
    • Firefly?
      • Firefly is also a class of spaceship (ca. 2517 CE), whose engine flare makes the ship look like a firefly.
      • Firefly is the name of Sci-Fi Western TV series by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fame) that Fox prematurely killed after it aired 11 of the 14 episodes were produced. The series is now available on DVD at Amazon:
    • Serenity?
      • Serenity is a Firefly class spaceship whose crew is the focus of the show.
      • Serenity is also the name of the movie coming out 2005-04-22. SerenityMovie.com
    • Browncoats?
      • 'Browncoats are Independent Faction soldiers, a body opposed to the AngloSino Alliance in the Unification War.'
      • Browncoats is also the official fan community of the official Serenity movie. http://browncoats.serenitymovie.com/serenity/
    • Why do they speak Mandarin and there aren't any subtitles?
      • Duh! Obviously they speak Mandarin because of the AngloSino Alliance!
      • There aren't any subtitles because they thought they could get away with it. (Obviously Fox didn't think so) Also because it adds realism to the story --which is the same reason why the show doesn't have sound in space or aliens.
    • Related:

2004-06-28t23:10:23Z | RE: Travel. Las Vegas. Friends. Sex. Marriage.
Las Vegas: Two Escorts and a Wedding

Eddie and I were college buddies --we did karate together, we went clubbing, we rode around in my rusty $400 Mercury Monarch, and we lamented over our lack of girlfriends. So in 1992 when Eddie first got together with Laurie, I was very jealous. Not only was I the third wheel when we went out, but the light emanating from their new relationship made the dimness of my own loneliness even more dismal. Nonetheless I was always very happy for them.

Since then I've gotten married and now I have a wife, two kids, and another on the way. And years ago Eddie and Laurie moved to California and had cats. But oddly enough my two good friends never got married.

That is, until this past weekend, 12 years later.

The wedding was in the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. It was decided in April that I would go to the wedding by myself because Julia was scheduled to work that weekend and we were scheduled to be in the Philippines May-June. The wedding was at 10:00 AM on Saturday with the reception immediately afterwards. I decided to leave after work on Friday night, stay one night, and then leave late on Saturday night. The idea was that this schedule would have me well slept and fresh on Saturday morning, then I could enjoy the wedding and reception, then go home early enough so that I could watch the kids on Sunday upon my return.

My flight left Chicago O'Hare (ORD) at around 10 PM CST and I arrived in Las Vegas McCarran (LAS) at around 12 AM PST. The shuttle from the airport to "The Strip" -- the part of Las Vegas Blvd. where all the big hotels, casinos, and resorts are lined up-- was only $4.75. I was lazy and did not try to reserve a room until a week before the wedding. At that point the Bellaggio was all booked up so I ended up in room 2628 at the Aladdin which, luckily, was just down the street from the Bellagio.

The totally off scale map below shows the big hotels on the main part of The Strip but there are a lot of other smaller casinos along The Strip and there are also other big Casinos and stuff off of the main Strip. The map does not emphasize the little area south of the Aladdin but north of MGM where you will find important little stores, like CVS and convenience stores.

map of The Strip in Las Vegas

I was pretty wired when I got in so I decided to take a walk up and down The Strip before going to bed. Bed? Ha! From the Aladdin I walked up to the Venetian, went on the other side of the street, walked down to the Excalibur, crossed the street again, walked to the Venetian, then I turned back and ended up at the Aladdin at 5 AM!

Here's a quick rundown of the nights and days in Las Vegas:

  • Kids. Only during the day.
  • Shopping. Only during the day.
  • Drinking. No difference.
  • Casinos. No difference.
  • Shows. Day and early evening.
  • Clubs and Lounges. Early evening and night.
  • Escorts. More at night.
  • People passing out cards for escort services. No difference.

I knew beforehand that prostitution was legal in Las Vegas, but I was still surprised by its brazen presence.

When I first got out, I noticed these little cards with soft porn images (usually have some "chick" with her privates blocked out with little black stars). I thought that someone had dropped a stack of them. But as I walked, I realized these flyers for escort services were everywhere, literally littering the streets. There are people placed every few doors who hand these flyers out to all the tourists. Also instead of machines dispensing newspapers, there are machines all over dispensing mini-magazine for escort services.

Why do so many of the women in Las Vegas appear to be dressed like whores? I'm not talking about subtle differences. There is "attractive" and there is "glamorous", but both are clearly different from "slutty". The barmaids in high heels and short skirts look more refined then many of the women on the street. I've come up with some explanations for this:

  • The escorts obviously dress the part but many of the non-escort women also dress the part. Perhaps there is a loss of inhibition because of the atmosphere, i.e. the aura of Las Vegas is like an alcoholic beverage.
  • Some of the nicer escorts are dressed attractively, but since we know they are escorts they are perceived psychologically as sultry. Hence all the women who have merely dressed themselves attractively, actually appear as if they are dressed whorishly.
  • Las Vegas is very hot (not humid, but hot), and so everyone dresses scantily but it looks whorish in context.
  • The escorts are trying to score so women who are just trying to have fun may be mistaken for escorts.

For me, this next part was probably the most fascinating part of the experience. In Las Vegas, escorts will make eye contact and say a testing sort of "hi" to you. Well, women say hi to me in Chicago, but that's a friendly "elevator" sort of hi. The lower grade escorts are a bit obvious and clumsy with this, but the upper grade escorts are more subtle --as if you imagined that there was anything more. Did that absolutely gorgeous blonde just say hi to me? I found this all fuddled at first, but after I figured it out it was easy to spot the escorts.

BTW, there is another badge of an escort: a cell phone. Escorts walk or stand around waiting for customers. A cell phone gives them something to do while waiting. I think they can achieve a similar effect by hanging out in pairs or groups so that they can talk to each other. Otherwise an escort might appear as if she was just loitering or actually prostituting.

After a while I also realized that the next step was entirely up to the male. The male must pursue the female otherwise the whole thing was just elevator talk. This was turning out to be a fun and empowering game with clear and simple rules. I'm a shy fellow but I surprised myself because I took the next step and  actually talked to two escorts!

The Aladdin has no more escorts than other places, but the two that I talked to after my satori happened to be by the Aladdin. The first was a very beautiful dark haired brunette on her cell phone that I met after my walk around The Strip. The second was a stumbling pretty blonde [metadata] that I met before I called it a night. The process was similar with both. Some small talk. A confirmation of intent. Negotiations over costs and services. Go up to the room.

Here are some tidbits from my conversations:

  • Yes, prostitution is legal in Las Vegas but there are no particular legal regulations, protections, or social services.
  • An escort service takes a significant cut so it is much more expensive to go through an escort service than to find an escort directly.
  • The brunette was $700 but she went down to $500 as she tried to close the deal. She did not disclose details on what would occur.
  • The blonde didn't state her price at first but tried to determine how much money I had. I told her I had $200 which was the max that my bank dispensed at an ATM. Then she said her "tip" was $200, but doggie style was $50 extra, and anal was $200 extra.
  • The blonde was much more talkative and she gave a lot of details such as:
    • She only did whites and Asians while avoiding blacks and Hispanics because the latter have a higher probability of violence.
    • She would prefer to live by an ocean and that she was addicted to the slot machines.
    • She's not going to do this forever but the money is so good.
    • She laughed when I called the exchange a "trick". She said that nobody gets tricked and that she prefers to call herself an escort or a lady of the night.
    • She had been drinking all night, and that she was going to go get something to eat.
  • Once in the room money would have been exchanged first then services.

In the end, they never did go up to my room. Once they determined that I wasn't going to go through with the deal, they politely wished me good luck. The blonde did however give me her number in case I got hornier later.

I have no prior experience with prostitution and I'm no expert, but I want to make the following comments.

  • Prostitution can be very profitable, but it also seems inherently dangerous. A woman faces dangers such as disease and violence. It is even more dangerous if a woman is doing it to support a drug addiction as opposed to getting quick cash for college or her kids. A woman must also have the psychological tenacity to do the job. EG: Distinguish between customer relationships and her real relationships. On the other hand there are many jobs and situations that are as or more dangerous and taxing on the spirit.
  • Prostitution is the oldest profession. It has been around and it will continue to be around. Prostitution should be legalized everywhere. These women need legal, medical, and social assistance. If prostitution is illegal then it becomes much more dangerous.
  • It is interesting that prostitution abounds in places where it's supposed to be illegal. EG: Eros-Chicago.com lists many Chicago escorts.
  • Done correctly, the escort service business is like speed dating, i.e. dating without the social complexity and time involvement --just a quick, civil exchange of money and sex. How simple! The man can try women of different heights, races, weights, ages, and looks. The woman can make a lot of money. No worries about long term relationships. No worries about whether the other person is "The One". No falling in love.

So as I was walking along I started seeing things in a different light. I saw how some people never really move beyond an escort relationship in their dates or even their marriages. "So this guy's gal is nothing but a fuck? So that gal's guy is nothing but a meal ticket?" How sad. The escort context makes you appreciate a good date/marriage and a lasting marriage. A marriage is about more than youth and the sex. I could see how an escort service environment can strengthen both sides of their relationship: it makes you appreciate the depth of your relationship but it can also make your sex life lively.

I was never very big on the dating scene. In fact I never dated. I was very shy but very easy. All a girl had to do was just talk to me and I'd be there. One of the reasons why I was afraid to go out on a date was because I knew that if we could actually talk, and we actually liked each other, and we were both willing, then I might just jump out and marry the first girl I dated. Of course, that's how I ended up marrying my Julia, my sweet dear wife.

I have no expertise on dating but it seems that dating, like prostitution, is about making eye contact, saying "hi", talking, and seeing where your natural compatibility leads too. The difference is that prostitution is for instant sexual gratification and money, whereas dating is about satisfying other emotional needs as well. Marriage throws in commitment, shared burdens, children, and an ongoing relationship into old age.

And marriage brings me right back to why I went to Las Vegas in the first place. After a brief night of sleep, my wife called me at 7 AM (or 9 AM Chicago time). She was checking up on me and making sure that I didn't miss the wedding. So after a nice long talk, I got up, showered, and went over to Eddies' wedding across the street at the Bellagio.

The Bellagio is a vastly huge place --much bigger than the Aladdin which itself is a huge place. It was a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony with around 50 people altogether. Everything started out nervous and tense, but as things progressed, it was so clear how much the two loved each other, that everyone got more liquored up, more relaxed, more warmed up, and more talkative. By then end of the reception the whole place felt like one big family.

photo of George with Eddie and Laurie at their wedding

After the reception, I walked north on The Strip trying to look for a movie theater because I was so sleep deprived and tired and hot that I didn't have the energy to do much. I didn't bring any luggage because I knew that I would check out on Saturday. So I had to walk around in the incredible heat of Las Vegas during the day in June wearing my dark gray suit while everyone else was wearing shorts and shirts. I pretended that I was from the Philippines and that this dry heat wasn't hot at all. I also used the trick of walking through casinos instead of using the sidewalk whenever possible.

BTW1: The only movie theater on The Strip is just south of the Aladdin, not north.

BTW2: The only ones wearing suits in Las Vegas casinos are pit bosses and the like. I got mistaken for a pit boss several times. One time a group of drunk guys in their upper 20s were asking me very sincerely "What percentage of the women here have pimps?" I told them flatly "30%". They looked at each other quite aghast, nodding, and saying "dude". My take is that they wanted to get an escort but were afraid that her pimp would rough them up Pulp Fiction style.

Luckily Eddie and Laurie rescued me by calling me up to see if I could hang out with them at the wonderfully air conditioned Bellagio. We had some drinks while they played some Jazz, did dinner, did some gambling, and then lounged around in their room which had a beautiful view of the hypnotic dynamic water show set to music below.

photo of the view from Eddie and Laurie's room at the Bellagio

By the time I had to leave to catch my flight, I was cooled, well rested, and ready to sleep on the way back to Chicago.

P.S. I snuck the metal wine cork that they gave out as wedding favors through security!

2004-06-29t21:52:03Z | RE: Computers. Engineering. Interesting. Iraq. Local. Money. Programming. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. US Politicians.
2004-06-29t21:52:03Z

Computers

Engineering

Interesting

  • Are you ready to clean up your life?
    • 'The Clean Sweep Program is a checklist of 100 items which, when completed, give one complete personal freedom. These 100 items are grouped in 4 areas of life with 25 in each group: Physical Environment, Well-being, Money and Relationships. These 4 areas are the cornerstone for a strong and healthy life and the program helps a person to clean up, restore and polish virtually every aspect of his/her life. The program takes between 6 - 24 months to complete.'
    • Well, I'll at least glean some ideas from the site.
  • Greg Miller's Guide to Lock Picking for Beginners. I prefer to climb in through the window. Related:
  • The Son Also Rises: Questions For Ronald P. Reagan
    • ' Q: How do you account for all the glowing obituaries of him?

      A: I think it was a relief for Americans to look at pictures of something besides men on leashes. If you are going to call yourself a Christian -- and I don't -- then you have to ask yourself a fundamental question, and that is: Whom would Jesus torture? Whom would Jesus drag around on a dog's leash? How can Christians tolerate it? It is unconscionable. It has put our young men and women who are over there, fighting a war that they should not have been asked to fight -- it has put them in greater danger. '

    • ' Q: Did you vote for Bush in the last election?

      No. I did not. '

    • ' Q: How did your mother feel about being ushered to her seat by President Bush?

      A: Well, he did a better job than Dick Cheney did when he came to the rotunda. I felt so bad. Cheney brought my mother up to the casket, so she could pay her respects. She is in her 80's, and she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don't think he's a mindful human being. That's probably the nicest way I can put it. '

      • I've lost count of all the examples proving that Dick Cheney is an ass.
  • http://chrisrico.org/cars/cars.html. Geez that's a lot of smashed up cars.
  • In pictures: Watch me grow. Amazing pictures using GE's 4D Ultrasound technology.
    4D Ultrasound
  • F3ll0wsh1p of teh R1ng
    • Ha ha ha!
    • 'Gandalf: "Give teh ringz0r to Frodo"
      Bilbo: "Sif! It r precious!"
      Gandalf: "STFU NOOB!!!"
      Bilbo: "ok"
      Gandalf has logged on as admin
      Bilbo has been kicked from The Shire'

Iraq

Local

Money

  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
    • Based upon the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Exposed and Explained by the World's Two.
    • Interesting to me because I've been thinking recently about "what is marketing?" and "what is sales". Marketing is about branding, creating identity, defining a solution to problem. Sales is about finding and matching customers with pains to your products and solutions. No one should be twisting anybody's arms or "tricking" anybody.
  • America's Black Budget & the Manipulation of Mortgage & Financial Markets
    • ' Now, when people say to me "What is $3.3 trillion of undocumentable adjustments?", let me give you an example. In fiscal 2000, the Department of Defense had $2.3 trillion in undocumentable adjustments. OK now, there's no way for us to know Jim, how much of that translates into cash. 'Cause $2.3 trillion is more than total taxes paid in a year by … say tax payers in that year would have paid taxes of about $1.6 trillion. So, there's no way to know if $2.3 trillion translates into how much cash, or how much cash is missing.

      What we do know is that under the laws of the Constitution, which say money cannot be spent unless it is appropriated. It is essentially a violation of the Constitution to do that, with one exception. And this is where the black budget comes up. There are provisions under the National Security Act of 1947 and the CIA Act of 1949 for military and military intelligence to crawl money from outside of different agencies' budgets, and spend it on non-transparent purposes. That's sometimes why it's called the "black budget". '

    • Related:

Programming

Science

  • Lure of the Rings: Cassini Craft to Enter Saturn's Orbit and Reveal Rings' Mysteries
    • 'A team of researchers from 17 different countries are now pinning their hopes on the six-ton, instrument-loaded Cassini spacecraft to duck into Saturn's orbit, peek into its rings and reveal their secrets. Cassini has already captured close views of Phoebe, Saturn's largest outer moon, and found it is covered by icy patches and very comet-like in nature. Scientists now expect to see greater detail of Saturn, its inner moons and mysterious rings once the craft maneuvers into a gap between two dust rings and enters Saturn's orbit on June 30. '
    • After 7 years, 2.2 billion miles (3.4 billion km), and $3.3 billion US!
  • Cereals Sought Much Earlier Than Previously Thought, Archaeologists Say. So farming started 23,000 years ago which is 10,000 more years than we had thought.
  • Could laptops run on spinach?
    • 'Spinach power is not just for Popeye, it could work for computers too. US researchers have made electrical cells that are powered by plant proteins.'

Sex [Assume NSFW]

Show Biz

  • Fahrenheit heats up Lions Gate
    • ' The film [Fahrenheit 9/11], a critique of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, grossed $21.8-million (U.S.) in its first three days, despite playing in only 868 theaters across the United States and Canada. In fact, in its opening weekend, the movie outperformed the entire run [$21.5-million] of Mr. Moore's previous record-setting documentary Bowling for Columbine.
  • Five shitty movies that everyone loves. Bwah-ha-ha! Top Gun, Braveheart, Karate Kid, Sum of All Fears, The Last Samurai.

US

  • The End of Power: Without American hegemony the world would likely return to the dark ages.
    • Geez, more fear mongering.
    • This is part of the neoconservative concept that the US has an ethical duty to retain its world dominance of the world and thus we have the right to do whatever it takes to keep it a unipolar world.
    • Oil will run out and the oil dependent US and Mideast countries will have a flux unless we prepare now. China is big and will be bigger. The European Union is a dynamic and growing entity.
    • Believe it or not the other countries on this planet are "adults" and not "kids" that we have to dominate by force and trickery. We need to learn to work with the world with rule of law.
  • Army to recall former military members.
    • This one will be real popular.
    • 'The Army is preparing to notify about 5,600 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve that they will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Army officials said Tuesday.'

US Politicians

  • Greens Pick a Candidate Not Named Nader. Thank goodness. We don't need Nader to mess up this election.
  • Poll: Bush, Kerry Even Despite Iraq Woes. Darn. I was just thinking today that Bush, in spite of being an asshat, is still currently more marketable than Kerry. Just like in the 2000 election: even though Bush had nothing but dynasty as a qualifier, Bush was more marketable than Gore. People would rather go bowling with Bush than Gore or Kerry. It's a shame that the President of the most powerful nation in the world is elected by marketing instead of a subjective review of character, performance, and opinions on issues. What Kerry needs now is a charismatic VP like John Edwards.
  • Cheney Defends Use Of Four-Letter Word. Bah. Cheney operates without "transparency" because he has so many skeletons in his closet. 
  • Clinton's Biggest Gains Not on Conservative Critics' Radar
    • ' Consider the scorecard. During Clinton's two terms, the median income for American families increased by a solid 15% after inflation, according to Census Bureau figures. But it rose even faster for African Americans (33%) and Hispanics (24%) than it did for whites (14%).

      The growth was so widely shared that from 1993 through 1999, families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution saw their incomes increase faster than those in the top 5%. By comparison, under President Reagan in the 1980s, those in the top 5% increased their income more than five times faster than the bottom 20%.

      Likewise, the poverty rate under Clinton fell 25%, the biggest eight-year decline since the 1960s. It fell even faster for particularly vulnerable groups like blacks, Hispanics and children. Again the contrast with Reagan is striking. During Reagan's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty fell by just 77,000. During Clinton's two terms, the number of Americans in poverty plummeted by 8.1 million. The number of children in poverty fell by 50,000 under Reagan. Under Clinton the number was 4.1 million. That's a ratio of 80 to 1. '

    • ' But the commission reports and the memoir of Richard A. Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief for Clinton and Bush, also make it clear that on almost every front, from diplomacy to homeland security, Washington was doing much more to combat terrorism when Clinton left than it was when he arrived. And at the same time, Clinton was exhaustively pursuing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that might have reshaped America's image in the Arab world.

      Those, like Krauthammer, who insist Clinton "ignored" the terrorism threat must themselves ignore all this evidence -- and Clinton's report, in his memoir, that he warned Bush after the 2000 election that Al Qaeda would be his top national security challenge. '

  • John Nichols: Pampered Bush meets a real reporter
    • ' She [Carole Coleman] asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless "answers" that satisfy the White House press corps - at one point, he mumbled, "My job is to do my job" - she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.

      The president complained five times during the course of the interview about the pointed nature of Coleman's questions and follow-ups - "Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?" the hapless Bush pleaded at one point, as he demanded his questioner go easy on him. '

      • Oh poor baby! He needs his flight suit.
    • ' Did Coleman step out of line? Of course not. Watch the interview (it's available on the www.rte.ie Web site) and you will see that Coleman was neither impolite nor inappropriate. She was merely treating Bush as European and Canadian journalists do prominent political players. In Western democracies such as Ireland, reporters and politicians understand that it is the job of journalists to hold leaders accountable. '
    • Related: RealPlayer video of the interview

     

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