Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Word Find Challenge!

Ten words are hidden in the puzzle below!!! How many can you find???


Eagle-eyed reader Arlington Copley Hynes has found an eleventh word in the puzzle!!!

Can you find all, er, twelve words in the puzzle???

News Briefs

Global warming As temperatures cool this autumn, global warming is taking a back seat to other concerns for most Americans. Yet some critics are picking this moment to claim that the media are behaving irresponsibly by reporting endless anecdotes vaguely related to the global warming story without ever putting them in context — or just giving the relevant climatology data. For instance the graph at left shows made-up numbers, not real data on anything. Exclusive! A panel of media experts discuss how critics' charges on this issue have evolved, in the context of a historical perspective on the news industry.

Carry-on liquids Transportation Safety Administration has relaxed the rules against carry-on liquids. This is an abrupt change from yesterday's and Monday's stances, in which the Transportation Safety Administration had relaxed the rules against carry-on liquids. We will keep you posted as the story develops. Security experts advise that liquid carry-on items be permitted, but that containers must be left at the gate. A group of industry analysts discuss the implications of that proposed policy.

Vegetarianism In tomorrow's issue: representatives of PETA and the Beef Industry Council lay out the facts objectively so that our readers can make an informed decision.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

E. Coli: Something Doesn't Smell Right

It occurs to me that the media have been straining a bit too hard to squeeze hysteria out of the recent E. Coli flap. We must not be tempted to try this case in the press, or to tell Mr. Coli to accept responsibility for what he has done. That's a matter for his conscience and for the courts.

But let's take a calm, rational look at the trade-offs here. True, modern "miracle" pesticides such as those sold by Mr. Coli's company may pose unknown and terrifying health risks. Sperm counts are down and, anecdotally, for many, impotence and other urinary issues seem to grow more troubling every year. Ahem.

Nevertheless. Compare our lives today, thanks to the pesticide industry and its fine products, to the savagery of a medieval, pre-technological scenario in which your kids would be reduced to eating human waste. If they could get it.

Stop and think about that for a minute. Don't you want that sort of product to be available for your children? Are the wealthy Mr. Coli and Big Spinach — however callous and negligent — are they the villains here? Or are they getting a crappy deal?

Giant Transdimensional Shitkicker (Part 4 and Conclusion of a Story)

Copyright © 2006 TWM. All rights reserved.


"The Dilatator system is ...," the computer hung fire for a moment, "operational." It sounded surprised. "Warning! Use of the Dilatator individual time-compression system poses proven irreversible health risks. Do you confirm --"


"Dilatator system engaged. Incoming Vitiator missile ... detonated. Shock."

"What about shock?" He felt badly compressed. Well, naturally.

"Wave." The computer's emissions sounded strange, as if badly red-shifted.

The compression continued, becoming painful.

There was an amazing graphic on the monitor, apparently a still image of the delicate blue-white bubble of the first phase of a Vitiator missile detonation. No, the image wasn't coming from the monitor. He was seeing the actual detonation shining through the globule's hull. It was quite beautiful, a froth of glowing bubbles. And it wasn't moving -- Dilatator had apparently worked.

The image darkened in stages as, one by one, Amnin's light-sensing organs shut down. The Dilatator system was not exactly an escape or defense. What it did was give the appearance of slowing the universe down, "enabling the user to live out a full and satisfying life in the instants remaining before an unfortunate annihilation." Amnin was being physically compressed to the size of a star, while his mind accelerated to millions of times its former rate. Paralysis and blindness were unfortunate side effects. But any apocalyptic, intergalactic war you can walk away from is a good one, he felt.

And at least now maybe he could catch up on his sleep.

The End

(With apologies to Haruki Murakami, who somehow makes a time-slowing ending actually work in his novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I'm aware that it doesn't work here. Serves me right for stealing something I don't even know how to use.)

Giant Transdimensional Shitkicker (Part 3 of a Story)

Copyright © 2006 TWM. All rights reserved.

He could return fire out of spite, using his own Vitiators, but that would waste time, wouldn't save him and &mdash if this was a case of friendly fire and he managed to survive the next few millennia &mdash would probably involve him in court-martial proceedings for firing on an unidentified target.

Amnin reluctantly switched on the Operator's Manual.

"Hello!" said the manual's cheery voice. "Welcome to the GlobuleSearch AI Operator's Manual facility! Bringing all the expertise of our team of top designers to the extrema of your manipulators. Please emit your first search term now, enunciating clearly. "


"Coun-ter-mea-sure-z ... was not found! 1,230 similar terms were found! Touch the monitor screen for for help on ..."
Conical metrics
Countertop, galley, cleaning, procedures for
Countertop, galley, food preparation gear deployment, regulations for
Canopus Meshbacks
Calliope management

"Coun. Ter. Mea. Sures." The monitor readout was becoming worryingly slow.

"Countermeasures ... " the computer said at last "... was found! Please select from the list on your monitor screen."
Countermeasures, cores, scaling and spalling
Countermeasures, exsorption, loss of mass due to
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Abrogator missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Blotter missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Crusher missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Decimator missile
"Do you see your selection on the screen?"

"No." Visual monitor screens were an innovation, and they were slow, especially within galaxies. Resolution was also distressingly limited. Each pixel constituted in effect a small star, and if placed too close together they would drift rapidly due to gravity. Thermonuclear detonations had been tried, but they were too dim and led to eyestrain over long voyages.

"Additional help is ... available! Please select from the list on your monitor screen."
One by one, characters formed on the screen:
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Eradicator missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Eraser missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Expunger missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Exterminator missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Extinguisher missile
Countermeasures, incoming fire, Extirpator missile
"Do you see your selection on the screen?"

"No." Amnin grew nervous. The sprites had given up and weren't visible. Judging from the insistent hum of the long-range comm gear (and both sets of backup long-range comm gear), they were probably putting their affairs in order back home.

"Reminder!" chirped the computer, interrupting the operator's manual. "Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... nine ... millennia." A single enormous numeral
filled the monitor screen, overwriting the list of selections from the Manual. "Simulation results indicate that evasive action is no longer possible."

"Operator's Manual?" Amnin asked hopefully.

"Hello! Welcome to the GlobuleSearch AI facility! Bringing all the expertise of our team of top designers to the --"

Oh shit.

"Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... eight ... millennia."

Amnin froze. His mind seemed to clunk forward jerkily, at long intervals, as if trying to roll on square wheels.

"Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... seven ... millennia. Warning! Messiah countermeasures pod is ineffective within seven millennia of impact."

Messiah, that was it.

"Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... six ... millennia. Informational Update! Raptor emergency escape pod can no longer clear the hypothecated blast radius of the incoming Vitiator missile."

Raptor. What else, what else? Amnin had slept through most of his training courses.

"Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... five ... millennia."


"Obviator system not operational. Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... four ... millennia."


"Command not recognized. Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... three ... millennia."


"Sorry, the Obfuscator in-galaxy camouflage system is undergoing a scheduled outage for routine maintenance. Please try again later. Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... two ... millennia."


"Incoming Vitiator missile impact expected in ... one ... millennium."


(To be continued!)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Giant Transdimensional Shitkicker (Part 2 of a Story)

Copyright © 2006 TWM. All rights reserved.

Amnin crawled back into his bunk and slept until the sprites woke him. He washed carelessly and stumbled up to the bridge. There he conferred with a sullen sprite about the state of the globule’s armament, using each of his limbs and joints to convey precise shades of meaning while it quivered resentfully. Finally it conceded that the four gas clouds affixed to the vessel’s exterior were ready for launching.

The ship’s main armament consisted of four clouds of gas, carried externally. Each cloud was a Vitiator missile. The Vitiator warhead was a black hole waiting to happen. After impact, chromodynamic fires on its surface would implode the cloud to the point of gravitational collapse within a few brief millennia. The surface of a ball a thousand light-years across would be rapidly heated to supernova temperatures – fairly benign by the standards of the present conflict, though it might impair or even disable enemy equipment. But the real point of the chromodynamic blaze was to begin gravitational collapse while burning out any possible solar fuel that might ignite and retard compression. Anything caught within the target ball would be reduced to x-rays or vanished over the newly-formed event horizon.

If everything went smoothly. Which, realistically, with weapon systems the size of small nebulae, good luck. Gooooood luck.

Eventually Amnin noticed the frantically waving limbs of a small chorus line of sprites and sluggishly directed his attention at the monitors. Amnin was not entirely displeased to see that a flight of Vitiator missiles was apparently headed toward his globule. He had noticed before that his daydreaming was often remarkably apropos, even perhaps precient.

Enemy fire was somewhat more common than friendly fire in this sector, and the sprites estimated about a 70% chance that Amnin was in combat. From his point of view it might not matter. One downside of near-speed-of-light weaponry was the impossibility of countermanding a mistaken attack after launch.

Amnin didn't particularly feel like dealing with this sort of tense situation so soon after waking up and he proposed to the sprites that if one just stayed relaxed these things usually worked out for the best. But they seemed unusually testy and impatient, rattling on very emotionally about "countermeasures" and "evasive action." If he didn't let them "do something" then he supposed he'd never hear the end of it.

(To be continued!)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Giant Transdimensional Shitkicker (Part 1 of a Story)

Copyright © 2006 TWM. All rights reserved.

The globule drifted forward through glowing clouds. Amnin sat in his bunk, staring at black and orange wisps on the monitors. He felt the globule shudder and shrink slightly, perhaps passing through a galaxy. Amnin felt a chill. He curled himself about his hands and slept, after a fashion.

When Amnin awoke the monitors were filled with violet and blue whorls, for some reason all turning rapidly counterclockwise. He was hungry, but he sat glaring at the monitors until a call of nature forced him to rise.

A rippling sprite reminded Amnin to take out the vessel’s checklist and test the corresponding oblations. One of his peripherals had collapsed into an awkward subspace of dimension nineteen-fourths, but all “mission-critical systems” – the weapons – seemed to be in order. The violet whorls weighed on Amnin’s mind and the globule had become uncomfortably compressed, so he organized himself and spun through the skin of the globule.

As Amnin gained the exterior, dim pinpoints dug into his face, spitting iron-smelling vapors. His nose itched; one arm and leg slowly windmilled under some impulse of their own. Extravehicular activity tended to be hit-or-miss at best. It didn’t help that the operating manual (consisting of stored constructs of the globule’s senior designers) remained unenthusiastic about the simplistic definitions of “inside” and “outside” that informed the sprites.

In any event, long after the time for his evening absorptions had passed, Amnin finally identified the problem. As he had suspected, the globule had become distorted and confined near the edge of a galaxy. As he worked to extract the vessel, fourteen of its axes stubbornly precessed away from the sprites’ consensus course correction estimates. Meanwhile, a clique of sprites splintered, the loudest contingent demanding a seemingly absurd set of redesign steps, as well as streamlined procedures for voting among the sprites themselves. Amnin felt less than certain about the strength of the arguments on either side. Eventually, baffled and paralyzed by the debate, he damped the ringleaders of the offending faction of sprites, using a technicality in the voting system to radiate their vibrations, effectively exhausting them into space. The remaining sprites seemed pensive but approved a simple eversion.

(To Be Continued!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Rain

Hi ... Everybody

Hey there. Thanks for stopping by, um. I'm ... having trouble ... writing. Today.

Good news! I've decided to spin this as a temporary problem.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Air Force Parries Roswell Man's Claims

Gerald Lopez, 45, of Roswell, NM, claims that his face "mutated" after he witnessed a dazzling pink light over a local Air Force base. A spokesman for the Air Force expressed skepticism. "Our physicians have determined that Mr. Lopez's physiognomy lies within acceptable limits." He also raised the possibility that the "before" pictures may have been photoshopped. "Grzt zblrk ingxung Lopezzzz vooxi bibidigi," he added.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

How Many Minutes?

"Vincent Bostic, 31, of Pittsburgh ... has agreed to help pay $425 to replace the store's microwave"

Friday, September 15, 2006

'Cauliflower Cult' Diet Gains Popularity

Just skimmed through this one quickly. Apparently, adherents keep the pounds off by consuming a diet rich in cauliflower (left), living in underground bunkers, and wearing gas masks.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Ug og og. Oog, og, ugh. Uergh.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Trading Pages

Each week we "remodel" a blog for one lucky contestant. Watch your tired old blog turn into the site of your dreams as our image consultants juice up your page with the latest da-glo op-art backgrounds, hip fonts, ads, pop-ups, and thorough automatic grammar checking to make sure your message is getting through.

Winners will also receive a free copy of PWContentLite, a $295 value.

This is the consumer version of PWContentPro, the powerful AutoContent software that our staff of professional writers use to generate the entries on this blog. Packed with features, PWContent software helps you
  • Generate more content in less time
  • Choose mode of presentation -- chose from Expository, Precis, Executive Summary, Short-Short Story, Rant, and dozens of others
  • SentenceMaker helps put your thoughts into perfect English in less time
  • View your content's exact Originality Score, calculated by our sophisticated "principal components algorithm" from all content currently on the web
  • For a limited time, purchase PWContentLite and receive PWHumorLite, a $95 value, FREE. Select from literally hundreds of comedians'* material, transposing subjects to your ideas in seconds.
*Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Sir John Cleese, Philip K. Dick, John Belushi, Woody Allen, Red Skelton, S.J. Perelman, Stephen Leacock, P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Michael Albert, Benny Hill, and hundreds more.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Behind the Scenes


Here at Project WANNABE, humor is a science. The picture shows our next-generation 'Typhon' control panel. Using the Typhon platform, our operators can adjust up to 128 channels of irony simultaneously, tuning to derive maximum "coattailing" from the daily "humor vector" of the internet (computed via a proprietary algorithm), and gauge audience response -- feeding intimate biomonitoring data directly to our corporate sponsors in real time.

But don't be put off by all the high-tech gear, our impressive job titles, and our sophisticated business model. At Project WANNABE, you the user are our first priority.*

The issues are complex &mdash but we're basically on your side &trade

*Some limitations may apply. Read the Terms and Conditions carefully. Let's face it, users don't sign the checks. But among people who don't pay us, you're right up there.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Running Short of Action Verbs, Sports Writers Turn to Literary Criticism

"Sharapova, 19, ... deconstructed Justine Henin-Hardenne ... 6-4, 6-4" NY Times.

Just a few years into the new millennium, the nation's supply of synonyms for 'beat' is already critically low. Language experts are rushing to fill the gap. But how will sports fans react?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Negative Space with Volcano

From here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Western Canon

Some people are concerned about a tendency in higher education to abandon Western literature and indoctrinate students with, I'm not sure what, other genres I guess. That sure would be a shame.

I went to an engineering school, and perhaps we were behind the times, but I saw nothing to worry about. Our literature courses were staunchly supportive of the Western Canon.* The lecture halls rang with immortal names: L'Amour, McMurtry and Gray, Wayne, Eastwood and Leone. The idea of glum foreign pantywaists like Socrates, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Joyce, Truffaut and Fellini displacing the Western classics in the hearts and minds of Americans is just plain silly. It'll never happen.

*I'm not sure where cannons come into it, except as a grandiose academic label. Small arms are the order of the day in nearly all of Western literature. Artillery is much more prevalent in non-Western literature: Hemingway and Tolstoy, for example.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pan, the God of Cooking

Pan cakes this morning. Of Greek origin, pan cakes are named for Pan, the god of cooking. When I eat pan cakes I think back hundreds of years to ancient Greece -- the magical land of Ptolemy, Zeno, and those ill-fated lovers Hector and Xerxes. Unconventional by today's standards, maybe, but the ancient Greeks gave us some of our most pungent stories of human passion.

I meant poignant.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Biker Nerds

So I saw like twenty leatherized guys on Harleys in the parking lot of the McDonalds. A little fearful of so many bikers, I started edging around the group, taking the long way toward the door and my Sausage Biscuit. That's when a little voice, maybe a sixth sense, maybe my inner Obi-Wan Kenobi, whispered to me "Luke. Those aren't bikers. They're trekkies."

It was true. The web-site T-shirts were wrong, the bowl haircuts were wrong, the coke-bottle lenses on the glasses were wrong, even the guts were shaped wrong. It was a gang of biker nerds. Emboldened, I just slung my pocket protector down low and forged right through the middle of them, while they stared at their toes.

How widespread is the Biker Nerd phenomenon? How long has it been going on, the conversion of a demographic who terrified Hunter Thompson 40 years ago into a bunch of dweebs who can't even frighten me? Is it just because a Harley costs more than a car, or is there some other reason?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Rotate Your Hate

So I've been bicycling a lot this summer. It helps me relax. Anyway if there's one thing I hate when I'm riding it's trucks, cars, dogs, walkers, little kids, runners, and skaters. For example, trucks toting Wide Loads, which jut out over the shoulder of the road and sweep out the space occupied by my head at 60 miles an hour. Not much fun. Or octets of 90-year-olds who instinctively fan out like a defensive line across the bike path. (Helpful hint: don't take out the one with the walker. Sure she's probably the frailest, but that aluminum shit can get up in your spokes. Word to the wise.)

But now my bikes aren't working and I've been forced to walk and run for exercise. And if there's one thing I hate it's lunatics on bicycles.

I decided this is healthy. I call it "rotating my hate." I think I'll take up rollerblading or windsurfing, just to broaden my hatreds.