Now That’s An Engineering Project!

When we went to Arizona last year, my intrepid companion and I crossed Hoover Dam.  It’s not an experience I care to repeat any time soon.  Lots of traffic funneled through an itty-bitty road sucks mightily.  But considering we weren’t getting anywhere anyway, we pulled over to snap some pictures and ogle the Hoover Bridge, which was under construction and promised to someday make the trip less onerous.  It wasn’t very close to completion, and in fact it was difficult to tell just what it was and how it was going to come together, as you can see from this photo Cujo shot:



A few days ago, @Perrykid put a link up on Twitter that dropped my jaw.  Looks like they’re close to finishing the thing, and now it begins to make sense:



I need to call my daddy.  About the most impressive thing I can say about this is, “Ooo!  Big…”  He’s an engineer, so I’m sure he can expound on the awesomeness of the design.

The sad part is, once they’ve finished it, the drive over Hoover Dam will be no more.  They will no longer allow traffic over the dam itself.  So I guess we were lucky to go when a person could still drive one of the most impressive dams in the United States.

Funny.  Didn’t appreciate it at the time… now I find myself wishing I had enough vacation left to fight the traffic just once more, with feeling.

Adios, Socks


He made it through the Clinton era, the Bush years, and caught a glimpse of the age of Obama, but that’s as far as he goes. Cancer just caught up with Socks, the former First Cat.

It’s not many cats who’ve had such long, rich lives, or got to have their say in the White House press room. Appropriate that a superstar feline ended up in Hollywood, eh? Even if it was Hollywood, MD, not CA. He spent his final years in quiet, happy retirement, getting fed chicken dinners by Bill Clinton’s former secretary, Betty Currie, and putting in the occasional celebrity appearance to help less fortunate felines. He was an awesome cat, and he’ll be missed.

Hasta luego, muchacho. Salud.

“Into the Valley of Death Rode the” 600th Post


I’ll take “Excuses to Yammer about Tennyson” for $1000, Alex.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson was one of my favorite poets growing up. I got introduced to him, no shit, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pioneers on the American prairie read England’s Poet Laureate. How awesome is that? Until I branched out and really got addicted to ancient and Eastern poets, he was Teh Master as far as I was concerned. Well, at times, Robert Burns edged him out, but only just.

I didn’t know how to read poetry back then, so I always read “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in a sort of nostalgic, lilting, mournful tone. I remember being annoyed at the high school English teacher who taught me how it was actually supposed to be read: with a martial, heroic tone, like a thunderous charge. “Into the valley of Death / Rode the six hundred.”

Well, shit. There went my emo interpretation.

I was always amused by the “Oops” factor of this poem. If some absolute idiot hadn’t botched orders, and some other absolute idiot not blindly followed them, there would’ve been no heroic but doomed charge, and no poem. It was one of my first introductions to the importance of questioning authority. My future liberal and rationalist tendencies might have been predicted by the fact that I never could figure out why a grand and stirring poem was written in praise of a bunch of goobers who damned well should have reasoned why, and further, should have presaged Shaggy by saying, “Great plan, Lord Raglan. There’s just one problem – we ain’t doing it.”

Still. No one can deny that out of a total debacle came one of the greatest poems in the English language. And so, I use the excuse of my 600th post to present it for your reading pleasure.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)


The Charge of the Light Brigade


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred


300

NP pointed out this evening that I’ve reached post 300. I’ve been so busy it almost escaped my notice. That would have been tragic, because I would’ve missed my chance to pay tribute to one of the best graphic novels and best films of all time.

I wouldn’t have had an excuse to paste enormous pictures of nearly naked men with dead-sexy abs all over my blog.

But that’s just a gimmick. Obvious. Of course I’d post something about 300 on my 300th post. Stands to reason, dunnit?

But I can’t rest an entire post on geeky hormone-driven paens to comic books and comic book films, no matter how good. This blog isn’t about that. It’s about politics, religion, science, and stuff. And don’t forget the stuff. What to do, what to do…

Paul from Cafe Philos comes to the rescue with a post that incorporates a little bit o’ everything. He caught a politial gaffe I missed! It has politics (McCain), religion (beer), science (beer), and stuff (beer controversy!).

Seriously. It’s even on CNN:

John McCain issued a promise Tuesday that may cause a bit of unrest with a broad swath of voters:

He’ll veto every single beer?
In a slip of the tongue while railing against excessive earmarks at the National Small Business Summit in Washington, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee inadvertently pledged to veto the popular alcoholic beverage.

We can’t let this one pass, my darlings. If George W. Bush was voted into office on the stength of being the kind of guy you could picture yourself having a beer with, what do you think it’ll do for McCain’s chances if blue-collar voters find out that the man’s not only an addlepated fuckwit, but a sworn enemy of beer? This could be our moment. This could decide the very future of America. We must spread the word:

“McCain vows to veto beer!”

It doesn’t matter if he simply misspoke. The Republicons beat Dems bloody with their every slip o’ the tongue – we shall pay them the same courtesy. Every beer-drinking Average Joe, every homebrewer, every frat boy and down-to-earth girl, needs to hear what their choices are in this election: beer-hating old coot, or beer-loving American. We shall spread the truthiness of this gaffe from sea to shining sea.

Paul has created a graphic we can use to create signs, shirts, steins, and buttons:

No. He will not. He shall not. He is the clear choice for this November. Remember what those 300 brave Spartans would have given their lives for:

Honor the 300. Fight against this beer-vetoing madman! Elect Obama, and let the beer flow like amber waves of grain!

One Hundred

That’s right, my darlings. The 100th post. A landmark day.


Pop a cork and celebrate with me. I couldn’t have done it without you.

You know what else I’d like to see reach 100? The Skeptologists! Which means it needs to be picked up by a network. So drop on by, if you haven’t already, and send a note of support. I think the Skeptologists would go nicely with some Mythbusters, don’t you?

Kick back, raise your glass, and have a little skeptical TV.

Here’s to you, here’s to quality programming, and here’s to life.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled ranting, already in progress.