Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mark Noonan

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Still have the wonky graphics cards so I can't actually figure out details in my photoshoppery. Oh well.

Next project: eyebrows orbit head. Getting somewhat distracted...

UPDATE: Thanks to a javascript freebie you can drag Noonan down to the post below and sit him on that hideous mink woman. Also give him eight more sets of eyebrows.

Where would we be without the internet?


Susan Phalen is senior adviser for Iraq Communications at the U.S. Department of State. She has been deployed to Iraq nine times and once to Afghanistan, and is currently writing a book of her experiences. Phalen is wearing a three-quarter length black sheared mink coat with silver fox trim from Miller's Furs.
(Courtesy 2008 Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute/Photography by KochFoto)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Names

Now that the Joe the Plumber fad is hopefully dispensed with, why not add animals to the stupid names? A sample random 20:

Nonprogrammable Yoos
Sayj Mefhidplozoysh
State Senator Leann-Marc Unknowingly-Role
Utopianize Shattering-Involved the Tasty Ray
Wichalica Onita
Juserokejplaqu Sparsely
Duke Neon
Seaman Jeffrey the Peachy Dingo
Shachutsheequyeewo Breakthrough the Electrical Engineer
Mister Lanora
Al Aftereffect-Tins the Controller
Poe Charmers the Smoky Hair Stylist
Haleyjom Tyrants the Velvet Catfish
WoyxEloise Regression-Devises the Cab Driver
Affirmations Nancie the Fading Diplomat
Choopromoters Kliquzagmopo
Vice Admiral Kacy Rogers-Wordsworth the Milkman
Muxlemxayyya Davis the Mushy Pricklefish
Nubterrifies Impersonating the Velvet-Belly Shark
Alvaro Eliana the Poor Astronaut
Allie Vincenzo

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eerie Parallels

Via Curly Howard yet another crazy person:
The Left sees in Palin eerie parallels to Ronald Reagan. A common-sense, plain talking former sportscaster who is shattering the near Biblical certainty that their time had come to control America. A woman whose very stage presence is more powerful than a speeding bullet and has given Americans the chance to jump over the Left’s control of the media and communicate their approval with wild applause and chanting, which no manner of media tricks can edit away.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

North Side Represent

Monday, November 17, 2008


This isn't really in Aswan, but the only way for tourists to get to it is a little flight from Aswan's airport. This is the temple at Abu Simbel, a monument to Ramses, who was something of an egomaniac. Those are four of him in front, and most of the temple's reliefs are devoted to him slaughtering and enslaving all comers, Nubians especially. The mountain is artificial and hollow...the whole temple would have been underwater if it hadn't been moved. That guy in the black shirt between the rightmost two Ramseses is a tour guide, and his T-shirt says "Abdul" on the front and "Follow Abdul Please" on the back.

The temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel. It's supposed to be dedicated to Hathor and Ramses's wife, but, surprise, it's all about Ramses slaughtering and enslaving.

This is a large chunk of Aswan as seen from the roof of my hotel, the Nubian Oasis. Elephantine Island is in the middle of the Nile, a lush place with a Nubian village that's fun to walk through: the village is small enough to have no need for vehicles, so the streets are wide enough for a couple of Egyptians to pass down, which translates into about one and a half of us titanic North Americans. The houses also have a more celebratory form of decoration, but once again I missed taking decent pictures. Aswan was warm, relaxed and the people were kind. I spent way too much time there, from the perspective of someone who wanted to see lotsa sights; aside from Philae and Abu Simbel, there's nothing eye-popping around. Just a good place to relax. I ate an orange up on the roof and in a little while the peel crunched under my foot: no humidity at all. That little peak on the hill is a mausoleum, which is a nice starting point for a walk across the dunes to the decaying monastery of St Simeon. Dig under the rocks there and you can steal a certain camel driver's drug stash, which I think is adequate recompense for his being rather forward with me. The rule appears to be that all foreigners are whores.

After a few days in my hotel room in Aswan, Ramadan struck, which meant no meals, liquids, medicine, or smokes during the day for the devout, but an orgy of gorging before dawn and after dusk. That made dusk a nice time for a nap, because the streets would empty out while everyone ran home and stuffed themselves. Soon enough though, they'd come back out. The guys extending the hovels into this dumping ground outside my window were no fools: they only worked at night, so they could eat, drink, and smoke while doing it. Bastards, hammering away at all hours, taking valuable nesting space away from the flea-bitten felines and garbage-eating chickens...hey, I guess those chickens are free-range, huh?

Most of the sand in Egypt is actually a deathly gray, but it's heavier than the yellow sand which blows around and hides it. This is the monastery of St. Simeon, and the walk to it is a good one for Indiana Jones fantasies. Not many tourists seem to walk in the desert...can't think why. It's silent and desolate in a really inspiring way. Deserts in Arizona seem like fertile pastures in comparison.

Philae's another temple that would have been lost under the waters of Lake Nasser, the lake formed by the High Dam at Aswan, had it not been moved from one island to another with the help of huge infusions of foreign cash. So you get to it via little motorboats. It's a spectacle. Not to be missed.

Philae. Roman addition in the background.

More Philae.

Heck, I think it's more Philae, this time with people for scale, although I recall trying my damndest to eliminate them. [Editor's note - Although "elimination" brings colourful images to mind, rest assured that our naive traveler was simply wishing people were not in the picture he was taking because he hates people with a passion.]

This is probably a temple at Kalabsha, another island temple rescued from hydroelectric might. My memory's fuzzy on this one, but when I look at it I hear a security guard bragging about just having acquired his second wife and fantasizing about a further two. Yup, gotta be Kalabsha. Then the guy wanted baksheesh (palm-greasing money) for having subjected me to his company. Through all the temples, tombs, and whatnot, guys were hanging around trying to point something out to you so they'd have an excuse to ask you for baksheesh. Sadness, pity, annoyance...you could feel all these plus a triumphant cruelty when you thought of slick ways to brush them off or put columns between them and yourself. A lot of the time they have little to offer but things like "Ramses. Snake. Sun." Thanks professor.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stupid Fun

It turns out that renaming files with a tool that fires out random names helps make your animated GIFs zippier and funnier: you wind up dumping files into your GIF building thingie in random order. Those interested in such a dangerous file-renamer (it does other less damaging but remarkably confusing things to text and audio and video) and possessed of a Mac should check out Argeïphontes Lyre.

Anyway this took a stupid amount of work for a first try, no thanks to Blogspot which doesn't want to host these.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mean Google Search of the Day


Spellcheck is not God.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fish War Poetry

BASS! Bass! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy fish tanks just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And sautéing like a perch in salt or lime.

“Forward, the Whitefish Brigade!”
Was there a fish 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 fry:
Out of the valley of Depth
Rode the six haddock.

The zaniness began here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dialogue with Children

Kid: WAIT WAIT! You forgot dessert.
Dad: What are you talking about? There's no dessert after breakfast.
Kid: But in SPACE there is.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's unclear from the following, but while I was trudging my feet bloody in Cairo I was having an excellent time. It was my first real experience as an alien, a very important lesson in the contextual nature of ignorance and the amount of improvisation communication may involve. May you experience a similar clumsiness one day if you haven't already, and I mean that in the nicest way.

An appropriate word on a jet-lag day. Egypt's colonial masters built bunches of beautiful buildings which are slowly crumbling. There aren't a whole lot of caretakers or maintenance workers around, and there probably wouldn't be a payroll for them in any case.

A very clean and beautiful (therefore rare) street in Islamic Cairo. Remarkably serene. It was early morning and girls were sitting in the street sketching the arabesques hanging off the walls. Lotsa sketching in that town...but only by women. Men must be far too busy doing Important Things.

This is a typically busy little street i n Islamic Cairo, confusing, packed full of people carrying junk here and there, with a minaret overseeing all. This is where you go to walk in shit and get date-pits in the treads of your shoes. Donkey carts roll through here with cabs behind them honking. What falls to the ground gets picked through by chickens. Them chickens must have been tough to make it to adulthood despite the throngs of scraggly cats. Sensitive eaters beware.

This photo was taken from the minaret of the mosque of Sultan Hassan. You're looking at The Citadel, where various palaces and mosques are, including that huge attempt at Turkish majesty right there. The interior of it is at once very impressive and kind of tasteless, as its builder, Muhammad Ali (a different one) was something of a vulgarian by mosque standards. No naked women with clocks in their stomachs or anything, but it's glitzy in a non-figurative Frenchified way.

This is a courtyard in Muhammad Ali's mosque.

One of the mosques in The Citadel, En Nasr. The minaret has some nice green tile work, which you'll have to use some imagination to see.

Okay, this is an ugly shot, but low light was not helping me. This is En Nasr's minbar (where the iman chants Qu'ran from on high) and the little nave-like area where the Qu'ran is kept. Islam is the Op-Art religion. Look at those inlays.

This is the only decorated irwan in the mosque of Sultan Hassan. He was a puppet ruler, and his masters killed him when they found out he was spending so much money making this titanic monument. In standard Egyptian fashion, nobody bothered to complete the work.

The inside of the irwan above. Those lamps are hanging from the roof by chains...imagine being the poor fool who had to keep them lit. They're electric now of course. The minaret here is a fun climb...up a stairway to the roof, up a stairway inside a dark circular tower, another tower after that, and you get a great view of Cairo. Look out for that missing step.

The minarets of Rifai from the minaret of Sultan Hassan.

The mosque of Hassan on the left, and Rifai on the right. The Shah of Iran's tomb is in Rifai for some reason, surrounded by green flourescent lighting. Coloured flourescents are the official neon substitute in Egypt.

Somehow I got a nice picture of this nice open courtyard in, I think, the mosque build by mystical tyrant El Hakim. It's a relief being in a place like this when the crowds and squalor around it can be so overwhelming. It was a particularly instructive mosque: the folks in charge of taking money did an excellent job of fleecing me by not having change and so on...and at that point I was too polite to complain, especially in the face of such bad dental work. Under those arches? Pigeon nests. Watch where you step. You can wash your feet at that fountain in the middle though.

What's behind the pyramids? Nothing. Get a little distance from the Nile and everything is bleak. In front of the Pyramids? Millions of Cairenes and a golf course right under the hill the pyramids are on.

This is some dope at the pyramids. He claims his camel's name is Charlie Brown. The pyramids are impressively monomaniacal piles of rock but they're surrounded by weasels who are desperate for your cash. This is understandable, as tourists are loaded, relatively speaking, but it can get pretty frustrating trying to look around when people are constantly trying to sell you things, including opportunities for outstanding pictures like this. I paid this guy a little money for it, for god's sake. What a soft touch. Eventually my sole souvenir purchase in all of Egypt was a T-shirt that read "I CAME TO SEE PYRAMIDS. LEAVE ME ALONE." I paid too much for it of course.