Brandon Starr's blog. Updated daily since March 2003. Welcome. Make yourself comfortable. Have a hot chocolate.

Brandon Starr's blog is not to be taken internally. All humor is intentional, unless indicated otherwise.
Do not read while operating heavy machinery. May cause intracranial short circuiting.
Not for children under four days of age.

If for some reason you wish to contact Brandon Starr, take a moment and reconsider.
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It's your fault now, and don't blame me when it all goes terribly, terribly wrong.

New fiction story! Click here for "The Voice of Cassandra."

Click here for my ongoing novel: "The History of Magic in the 21st Century."

Click here for the lowdown on "The History of Magic"

Click here for my new investing blog, "Adroit Investor"

Click here for my anti-Bush shirts.

Click here for my favorite design: the 'tourist safety shirt.'

Brandon Starr is available in small, medium, and large. Contents may settle during shipping. Allow four to six weeks for delivery. Open carefully; contents under pressure. Do not incinerate. May be habit-forming--do not take if you are gassy or under the influence of mimosas. Improved; now non-staining. Ships in all colors, except puce. Prompt refund if not satisfied--simply return unused portion. All queries promptly ignored. Complaints resolved with deep, gut-blasting laughter, followed by posting complaints on nearest public wall. Not responsible for sunburns. All your base are belong to us. Act now. Beware cheap imitations. Insist on the original--Brandon Starr.

Update notification by email available below.

Some fun/useful/useless links:

The Internet Movie Database

My cousin back from Iraq, and how it changed me (my current favorite entry on this blog)

My product page

Fun blogs:

infinitus opinio

Siren's Song

the mechanical jive

The Strange World

Thunderstorms in the Imajica


Elven Sarah

Random Musings (Catcher)

Certifiable Princess (Sarah 2)

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Saturday, November 13, 2004
Anyone remember Tom Swifties?

Tom Swifties (the link gives the description--but they're pretty self-explanatory after you've seen about two of them).  I remember them from when I was a kid.

I even enjoyed making them up.  Here's a few of my own, sometimes more obtuse, Tom Swifties:

"This tomb sure is dark," Tom said cryptically.

"I'm gonna sue you!" Tom cried plaintively.

"I've been working all day," Tom said laboriously.

"You can't charge a Senator for postage," Tom said frankly.

"I'm an expert plumber," Tom said wrenchingly.

"Where's my lithium?" Tom asked maddeningly.

"All I need is a pipe and a cobra," Tom said charmingly.

"I love Scott Joplin!" Tom chimed in entertainingly. you can tell, I don't have a whole heck of a lot to write about today.

Posted at 04:02 pm by brandonstarr
Comments (2)  

Friday, November 12, 2004
Outsourcing companies cheer Bush reelection

Indian outsourcing companies cheer Bush election

Another benefit of voting for Bush.  Way to go, 52%!

Found via ElvenSarah's blog.

Posted at 09:57 am by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  


It's Wallace Shawn's birthday today.

Wallace Shawn is perhaps most famous for playing Fizzini, the not-quite-clever-enough criminal mastermind in "The Princess Bride."*

But he's been in some other good movies, too:  "Manhattan," "Clueless," "Toy Story," and now "The Incredibles."

Plus, he's been on some of my favorite TV shows:  "Family Guy," "King of the Hill," and "Taxi" among them.

Happy birthday, Wallace, and remember:  the wines are BOTH poisoned.

It's perhaps appropriate to quote from Fizzini, only a week or so after the reelection of Bush:

On starting a war:

"It's a prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition."

On where NOT to start a war:

"Never get involved in a land war in Asia!"

* Though I've never really hashed out a formal list, "The Princess Bride" has got to be on my top 20 or so movies of all time.

Posted at 09:49 am by brandonstarr
Comments (4)  

Thursday, November 11, 2004
Oil slipping

Just a quick one this time.  I don't think I've gotten less feedback on any regular topic than I have for oil.

Oil is dropping pretty steadily.  Apparently the market is convinced the worst is over for the supply deficit.

I remain unconvinced, but certainly we've at least put the hurricane damage behind us.  I still don't think oil prices will steady out in the low 30s, as some experts do.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have a bullish position in Maverick Tube, which supplies pipeline to the oil industry.

Posted at 04:44 pm by brandonstarr
Comments (2)  

Happy Veterans' Day

Happy Veterans' Day, and good luck to the future veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq, including my cousin, who is pulling another tour in Iraq.  (See the left column for the link to my entry about my cousin's stories that he told me after he was back from his first tour.)  May your training and dedication overcome the lack of wisdom from the Bush Administration.

Also, Arafat's dead.  That's one less terrorist.  I would say something about how he made the world pay attention to the Palestinian cause, but as if being a terrorist wasn't bad enough, he was a thief, making off with billions of aid dollars that were supposed to help the beleaguered people of Palestine.  So f*** him.

Posted at 10:39 am by brandonstarr
Comments (1)  

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Fallujah falls...ujah.

U.S. says it holds 70% of Fallujah already (AP & Reuters, via MSNBC)

All this means is that most of the insurgents left while the U.S. made its wholly obvious preparations for invasion.

As if we needed more proof of it...

1) Insurgents have been "reduced to small pockets" already.
2)  None of the nine hostages have been found.  (Yet.  Maybe they will be.  But I'm thinking they're gone with most of the insurgents.)

Meanwhile, because so many troops have been moved to the Fallujah attack, insurgency attacks elsewhere in the country are higher.

And when Fallujah is completely "controlled?"

“We anticipate that in Fallujah, in addition to whatever damage might happen during the fighting, that there’s been a state of neglect and damage over time over the last few months that has to be repaired,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

“Once it’s back in government hands, we’ll be able to get on with these projects very quickly,” he added.

Trouble is, they haven't been able to "get on with these projects very quickly" ANYWHERE--spending on reconstruction projects, as I've linked to here before, has been reduced to a trickle because of the insurgency threat.

Remind anyone of any other wars the U.S. has been involved with in, say, the last forty years?  Where brute force could clear an area, and where every major battle was won, yet the war itself was lost?

Posted at 06:18 pm by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Happy birthday, Carl Stalling!

Carl Stalling was born November 10th, 1891.
Stalling was, as I'm sure many of you remember, the writer and conductor of the music of all of the great Warner Brothers cartoon shorts.

You may not know he started out at Disney, where he scored such famous shorts as "Plane Crazy (1928)," (one of the very first Mickey shorts), "Haunted House (1929)" and "The Skeleton Dance (1929)."  Those last two are famous for their use of music to create mood in such early animation.

He was with Warner Brothers until the late 1950s.  The Warner Brothers shorts were never the same after he left.  Such composers as Bill Lava tried to emulate the formula, but it always rang hollow.

Stalling was a master of several things:

1)  Use of music to create mood.

2)  Use of classical music and the large Warner Brothers portfolio of songs to use music people already knew in a parodic or evocative way.

3)  Use of music to add to what was being seen on the screen.

4)  Use of silence when it was a better choice than music.

5)  Use of instruments to mimic voices.

6)  Use of music as a faux sound effect.

7)  Taking advantage of the full orchestra on Warner Brothers' staff.  Not many cartoons even COULD sound as good as Stalling-directed ones, even if they had a genius of Stalling's caliber on staff, for this reason alone.

Plus, he was a pioneer.  He perfected the art of having a copy of the cartoon playing while he was conducting, to make sure that the sound was matching the visuals.  This is something used even today, as "making of the movie" documentaries amply demonstrate.

He invented something used by many musicians to this day--he had the orchestra wear headphones, which would play a metronomic tone to keep everyone together.

It was well-known that the musicians LOVED playing for Stalling.  His music was interesting, fun, and unbelievably challenging.  It always included multiple time shifts, unusual pauses, changes in playing technique, and other difficult devices.

Stalling was the reason for generations of kids to fall in love with classical and orchestral music, or at least to have a basic understanding of it.  Who hasn't laughed along to the music in "The Rabbit of Seville" or "What's Opera, Doc?"

If you've never heard "The Carl Stalling Project" or other CD compilations of Stalling's, check them out.

Posted at 09:17 am by brandonstarr
Your thoughts?  

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
For Ariana--on libertarianism

Ariana asked for some links to libertarian sites, and so on.

Well, I don't have any that I go to regularly.  But there are some that spell out the basics.

For those who want the lowdown without clicking:

Libertarians, politically, believe in smaller government.  They do usually for one or both of the following two reasons:

1)  Distrust of big government,

2)  Big government creates winners and losers through its complicated tax and pork-barrel structures.  Government shouldn't be in the business of making winners and losers in its population.

How to connect this to standard liberal/conservative stances?

Liberals tend to believe in less government when it comes to social issues--abortion rights, free speech, minority rights, gay rights, and so on.  They tend to believe in more government when it comes to fiscal issues--Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, affirmative action, and so on.  This is a simplification, but you get the picture.

Conservatives tend to believe in more government when it comes to social issues--abortion rights, prayer in schools and other tear-down-the-wall-between-religion-and-state issues.  They tend to believe in less government when it comes to fiscal issues--lowering taxes even when it causes deficit spending, privatizing Social Security, mandating work and setting other limits on welfare, and so on.  Where massive corporate subsidies fit in, I don't know--maybe that's more of a neocon thing.  Anyway, another simplification, but there you have it.

For years, I didn't even know about libertarianism.  When asked, I'd say, "I'm socially liberal and fiscally conservative."  I didn't know for a long time that when that's your belief, you're a classic libertarian.  In both cases, you want less government.  (The converse would be a statist.  Statism has autocracy, dictatorship, or bureaucracy as its ideal form of government.)

The Libertarian Party is the largest third party in the history of the United States, and is also the most well-entrenched.  It has a very hard time breaking through the Democrat/Republican stronghold, though.  I think that's for three reasons:

1)  The Dems and Repubs have set up the system to make it hard for third parties to get funding or on the ballot, let alone elected.  Partly this is momentum--power leading to power.  Partly it is through adding laws that make it tough for third parties to get visibility of any kind.  Unlike the Greens, the Reformers, etc., Libertarians have had Presidential candidates on the ballot in all 50 states for decades, now, yet they are never allowed into the "Presidential debates."

2)  It's tough to find the right kind of candidate--you have to find someone who wants the office, yet believes in small government.  Similarly, it's tough to find funding--the Democrats have the unions and the lawyers, the Republicans have the rich and the corporations.  Not many groups want to fund a party whose main philosophy and claim is, "We won't favor anyone over anyone else."  Nice and ethical, but not attractive for funding.  Power groups would rather fund someone who claims, "We'll favor YOU over EVERYONE else."

3)  To a degree, they have the same problem as every other out-of-power third party:  the only ones active in the party are the "true believers."  This leads to a tendency to extremism, when the U.S. has historically favored balance and centrism, November 2004 excepted.

Anyway, here are some links on libertarianism:

The home page of the Libertarian Party--including a "where do you fit?" quiz to help you figure out if you're liberal, conservative, or libertarian-leaning, based on how you answer questions about issues.  The paper version of this quiz is what led me to realize there was a political stance and a party that actually fit my beliefs almost completely, instead of half-and-half.  And it's fair, too--it'll tell you if you're liberal or centrist or whatever, it doesn't stack it in favor of libertarianism.  You can just click here to go right to the quiz.

The Free State Project--Libertarian thinkers across the country decided to move en masse to a small, already freedom-friendly state, and really try to make a difference in that one state.  The state they voted on?  New Hampshire--"Live Free or Die" indeed.  The Free State Project is now underway.  Interesting idea, anyway.  I don't plan on moving from my beloved Pacific Northwest, but I love utopian and dystopian literature, and this is like a utopian libertarian experiment.

Posted at 01:59 pm by brandonstarr
Comments (4)  

Monday, November 08, 2004
You can't get pregnant from... a hand job, or can you?

Abdomen-to-arm ovary transplant a success
The woman should be fertile after having cancer, getting an "autotransplant" of her ovary from its normal position to her arm, and soon having the ovary put back in its normal place.

I've heard of a similar technique used to save parts of the cranium for someone who is undergoing brain surgeries.  The cap of the skull is removed and put elsewhere in the body to keep it alive.  After everything is finished, the piece of the cranium is replaced.

In the case of the ovary, a technique which removed the ovary and froze it to accomplish the same thing (later pregnancy after cancer treatments that would have caused permanent infertility) has been successful, but can damage the ovarian tissue.

If the ovary can be verified cancer-free, this should be a very viable option for a lot of women.  I hope, I hope, I hope that a similar technique will never be used in men.* 

* Fortunately, I don't think it ever will be.  The ovary is nearly unattached to any other part of the body, releasing eggs into the fallopian tube without being connected directly.  In fact, eggs sometimes travel across the body and travel down the other fallopian tube!  Indeed, this may have led to my own wife's very lucky pregnancy.  Anyway, the ovarian situation is far different from the setup in the testes.

Posted at 09:25 am by brandonstarr
Comments (1)  

Sunday, November 07, 2004
Man disturbed by Bush's reelection...

...apparently commits shotgun suicide at World Trade Center
Protest or not, this is what I would call "the wrong reaction."

Don't let them win by taking you out of the game--whether that means suicide or removing yourself to a foreign country.  To me, one is almost the same as the other--that's how much I want to remain a U.S. citizen.

Don't forget the old philosophical adage:  thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  That is, things often move by a strong new force coming onto the scene, then the antithesis to that force, then a synthesis of the two.  In other words, 9/11 has led to a groundswell of Republican voting.  This will lead to a backlash, which will eventually settle out into an unevenly equal settlement--until the next major force comes along.

Posted at 02:04 pm by brandonstarr
Comments (4)  

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