Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

January, 2009:

Almost Cooler than Bacon

Forget the jet ski or the jet boat or any of that so-last-week silliness. This is what I need.


(Thanks to Infidelicacy for bringing this to my attention)

Please Pass the Lipitor

Bacon Explosion Ingredients

A Great Start!

Bacon makes everything better… except cholesterol and blood pressure. Overlooking that (negligible) downside for the time being, what do you get when you mix 2 pounds of thick-cut bacon, 2 pounds of Italian sausage, and some barbecue sauce? You get the Bacon Explosion… bacon and sausage wrapped up and barbecued for an artery-clogging feast fit for a 500-pound king.

Now just serve this other recipe as a side dish, season it all with a few shakes of Lipitor, and you’ve got yourself a party!

When it comes right down to it, you can’t beat the pig for providing humanity with the largest variety of indisputably succulent meat. I mean, seriously.

And bacon is, of course, the supreme meat.

But wait! There’s more!

Brisingr CoverI just finished reading the book Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. It’s the third book in The Inheritance Cycle (which was originally intended to be a trilogy but will continue in a fourth book). It took me a long time to read, mostly because I only read it a few nights a week after going to bed, but also because it didn’t pull me in the way the previous two books did.

Brisingr continues the story of Eragon, a dragon-rider, and Saphira, his dragon. Secondary characters include Rowan,  Eragon’s step-brother, and Nasuada, the queen of the Varden, a group united to overthrow Galbatorix, the evil ruler of Alagaesia. The story progresses with threads following each one’s adventures as they struggle with issues surrounding the war, its effect on their lives, and the puzzle of how to defeat Galbatorix, a seemingly undefeatable foe.

The trouble is that the story doesn’t advance very far, especially given the 750 pages of the book. Things happen, of course, but Paolini tended to draw them out into long stretches of debatably articulate prose. The 200 or so pages dedicated to a tediously staged delving into dwarven politics come to mind, with the teeth-grindingly annoying use of “mine” instead of “my” to characterize dwarven speech (This is mine house. This is mine brother. These are mine annoying speech habits). No doubt, some of the events that laboriously unfolded will be of some importance in the last (?) book of the series, but forcing the reader to trudge through 200 pages to explain those events tests the limits of fan loyalty.

Once free from dwarven politics, we are then set upon by the nuances of internal dragon monologues where dragons seem to lose their ability to speak in English as they do for the rest of the book. Instead of writing “humans,” Paolini decides that Saphira calls them “two-legs-round-ears.” He replaces similar common words (somewhat randomly, it seems) with other hyphenated-description-words. Perhaps it was an attempt to show that dragons think differently that we do, but it comes across as annoying and stilted, especially given how dragons are developed in the books as extremely intelligent and even eloquent up to that point.

There were, however, many interesting parts and wonderful tidbits scattered throughout the pages of the book and overall, it was a pleasant read. Dragons and elves, magic and swordplay… they are the things fantasy readers adore, and Brisingr is filled with them. The return to the elven city of Ellesméra was a delight (for me, anyway) since it signaled a continuation of Eragon and Saphira’s training with their elders. The revelations which unfolded there probably laid the key groundwork for the conclusion of the series.

But those revelations occurred in the final 150 pages (or less) of the book. Up to that point, there were 500+ pages of narrative that really didn’t do much in the way of character development or plot development. There were points here and there, but nothing that couldn’t have been accomplished in 100 pages or less. The entire book should have been contained within 250 pages at the most. Why it wasn’t, I’m not sure. Whether to blame it on Paolini or his editors or a money-grubbing publisher who wanted to extend the series… I don’t know. Nor does it really matter.

I am disappointed that Brisingr didn’t complete the epic. I am disappointed that I now have to wait an indeterminate amount of time for Paolini to finish the fourth (and hopefully final) book in the series.

And, worst of all, I’m apprehensive that the fourth book will force me to wade through a bog of tedium in order to gather the worthwhile parts of what started out a delightful story.

SOOO Refreshing!

A nice LOL from Pundit Kitchen

Obama - Thoughts

Farewell, Ricardo Montalban

Welcome to Fantasy Island!

Welcome to Fantasy Island!

I was saddened to hear that Ricardo Montalban died yesterday. When I was growing up, I always watched Fantasy Island every Saturday at my grandparents’ house and Mr. Rourke was always so cool, debonair, and mysterious. I so wanted to be just like him.

Then, later in life, after having a daughter, she and I would watch the animated Disney show Kim Possible and Ricardo Montalban voiced the character of Señor Senior, Sr., one of the main villains on the show. That simply added a sense of fun to my impression of him, so then he was cool, debonair, mysterious, AND fun.

Reading about his real life, it seems he was all those things (except for maybe the mysterious part) in addition to being humble and gracious, and was well-loved by both business associates and family. It’s always nice to hear that an actor you looked up to as a child turns out to be a good person in real life.

Almost as if it was a fantasy granted.

(On a lighter note, I now picture him hanging out with Raul Julia and partying it up in some post-life Mexican cabana with lots of liquor and scantily clad island women. Shots are on the house, Ricardo! You’ll be missed!)

Magic Pillow Ride

Here’s the video that started it all. My daughter, who was about eight at the time, and I decided to play around with some stop-action animation. She provided the audio track.

One Year in 40 Seconds

I just saw this video on YouTube and thought I’d share. It’s about 46 seconds and is a time-lapse movie of a woodsy area for an entire year. Very cool.

Just a Friendly Recommendation

(Thanks to Monitor from http://www.librarygrape.com/ for the video link!)

A Better Approach

At the beginning of last month, I wrote about the Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s sign at the Olympia, Washington capitol building, stating that I wasn’t all that pleased with the approach they took with the wording of the sign. Since then, I’ve read a lot (and I mean a lot) of commentary about that situation and have decided two things.

First, I think the point of displaying the sign wasn’t to further atheism, per se, but was more to demonstrate the point that government buildings shouldn’t be hosting religious displays of any kind. Not only was the FFRF’s sign displayed, but because of the “open door” policy required due to the Alliance Defense Fund’s lawsuit, there were displays requested  for other “religions” as well (Pastafarianism, Festivus) including an application by the Westboro Baptist Church to put up a sign declaring that “Santa Claus Will Take You To Hell.” It turned into quite a fiasco which, to anyone who wasn’t too incensed to miss the point, demonstrates in grand fashion just why religious displays have no place in government buildings.

Second, I still don’t think it was the best approach. FFRF’s stated goals are (from their bylaws) “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.” I think both of those goals are admirable and could have been accomplished in a way that would have brought far less scorn to atheists.

I read this article today by David Gleeson (who has a similar view about the situation) and was impressed with his suggested alternate message.

At this season, may reason triumph over fear and superstition, and may we renew our commitment to life, love, and the bonds of our shared humanity.

That’s good stuff.

David makes a number of other good points in his article as well and I especially agree with him about the absolute statements in the FFRF’s sign. Dan Barker of the FFRF should know better. Lack of evidence does not necessarily mean lack of existence. It might. It might not. We don’t know and we cannot possibly know… for certain. Claiming to know with certainty cripples us in the same faith-based trap as religion. Based on the evidence (or lack thereof in this case), I can believe there is no god, but I cannot know there is no god.

So David’s softer, more positive message is a winner in my book. I think it would have been a much better approach. It  probably still would have stirred up enough controversy to make the “separation of church and state” point, but it would have done it without putting another black mark on atheists.