From The Archives: 2009

Barrel O’ Links: November 2009

One stuffed turkey’s worth of linky goodness:

  • A high-resolution panorama of the Milky Way (Axel Mellinger)
  • Feeling lucky just got weirder… (Autocomplete Me)
  • From coffee bean to carbon atom (University of Utah)
  • The Pear Flag? Seriously? (Snopes)
  • For the middle-aged, parental, rocker types: Goodnight Keith Moon (GKM)
  • There’s nowhere like home (PewResearch)
  • Mandelbrot + three dimensions = Mandelbulb (Skytopia)
  • Your crass commercialism is in my mass-marketed sports spectacle! (Yahoo)
  • It’s always the booze that gets ya (SeriousEats)
  • Fire all of your guns at once and explode into space (Slate)
  • Paying a Price for the Thrill of the Hunt (NYTimes)
  • Hide the nighties and tidy whities? (Yahoo)

The Flag Of Pure Bliss

Banners For A Perfect World

Dear Orwell, Dick, and Heinlein: your broken societies are fine.  I love it when you opine, and I don’t mean to whine, but more I must decline.  Because…

It’s time to get our utopia on!  Let’s dissolve all nations.  Break down the borders.  Unite!  Derive all our energy from the sun.  Harmonize with higher powers.  Open our chakras.  Harness our Ch’i.  Enjoy endless leisure.  Swap sweet serenades in Franco-Portuguesperanto.  And dine on terrific fusion food: sushi Szechuan, pad paneer, bi bim burrito, crepes creole, and more!

Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria

Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria

In our Rave New World, the gene pool dances a global lambada.  Humanity’s tones – the myriad shades of white, yellow, tan, red, and black, evolved over millennia of separation – melt straightaway to a radiant Mediterranean brown.  Everyone comes with healthy skin, excellent bone structure, and supermodel good looks – just like Shemar Moore and Eva Longoria.  Mrow!

In honor of those two alluring stars, we christen our utopia as Shemar-Longoriana.  We’ll also need a flag: to affix to the bumper of the AirRover, paint on our faces for the Pan Galactic Championship game, and hoist to the top of the otherwise vacant staffs.

Click here to read more →

The Steeps Of San Francisco

In Search Of The City's Steepest Street

A Steep San Francisco Street

A Steep San Francisco Street

Ask a San Franciscan about the City’s steepest streets, and four out of five times, he’ll say something like “Great for scaring the bejeezus out of tourists!”

Or, sweat beading upon his brow, he might recount that Damp Morning when he drove his Manual Transmission up the Impossible Grade, and was forced to stop, just below the top!  In frantic pantomime, he’ll pull the emergency brake and disengage the clutch.  Crane his neck to peer anxiously at the car sniffing his downhill bumper.  Bulge his eyes.  Gun the engine.  Pop the clutch.  Release the brakes.  Lay down some rubber with a piercing squeal.  Float his steed slowly onto the flat.  Wave the smoke from his eyes.  Pump his arms in brief celebration.  And finally, grouse about that sadistic driving instructor who got him into the pickle in the first place.  What a jerk!

Flush with the desire to frighten out-of-town guests, or to take the aforementioned test of motoring skill, you’ll need a suitable road with hill.  Google the “steepest streets in San Francisco” and you’ll find this:

Click here to read more →

Quesadilla San Luis

Decades of experiments in the Weather Sealed kitchen have yielded a collection of easy-to-cook recipes that maximize enjoyment per unit effort. From time to time, we'll share them here.

Midwestern Sensibilities and a certain flat, Latin American staple have dated for years now, and just yesterday, they proudly announced yet another fruit of their affection: Quesadilla San Luis, the St. Louis-style quesadilla.

Yeah, buddy, you heard that right: St. Louis, as in Missouri.  Where the rank-and-file toil from dawn ’til dusk – brewing Budweiser, extruding plastic, stamping sheet metal, and rendering chicken fat.  Down on the blue collar banks of the Mississippi, come quittin’ time, the beers need a sturdy dancing partner.  And that sissy tortilla-and-cheese quesadilla ain’t gonna cut it!

A typical Friday evening call to St. Louis 911:

Caller:  Hey you there??!?!
Operator:  Yes, sir?
Caller:  Sweet Jesus it hurts!
Operator:  Sir, what is your address?
Caller:  Aaa!  Aaaaaa!  I need protein!
Operator:  Stay calm, sir.  I’ve pinpointed your location and am sending help: Quesadilla San Luis.  Just like its Mexican namesake, but meatier.
Caller:  Thanks, darlin’!

And now, without further ado, the recipe!

Quesadilla San Luis


two flour tortillas
one sausage
1 cup grated monterey jack
½ cup grated sharp cheddar
½ cup chopped yellow onion
one tomato
two mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon green chile powder


Chop onion, sausage, mushrooms, and tomato.  Grate and combine cheddar and jack cheese. Put onion, sausage, and olive oil in small pan.  Fry on medium heat until onions are “floppy.”  Add mushrooms, tomato, cumin, ginger, and green chile powder.  Saute on medium heat, stirring well, for two minutes.  Melt butter in large pan.  Place tortilla in large pan.  Spread cheese and “sausage mixture” evenly across tortilla.  Place another tortilla on top.  Fry on medium until bottom tortilla browns.  Flip, carefully!  Brown the other tortilla.  Remove from heat.  Cut into sixths.  Garnish to taste, with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, chopped green onions, and beer.

Serves one St. Louis factory worker or two yuppies.

Wild Coincidence

Big KnifeOn politics, we may not see eye to eye, but I’m still a fan of the Governator!  What’s not to love?   Arnie knows how to handle a knife.  The Terminator kicks ass.  And, above all, his pickup lines can’t be beat!  My personal favorite is six words of pure captivation:

I want to penetrate your body.

Go low and slow, with the trademark Austro-Hungarian accent, pulling “body” into a pair of separate utterances – baw and dee – otherwise, it doesn’t translate!  Also, to maximize success, win four Mr. Universe titles beforehand.

Earlier this October, Schwarzenegger and a gala of local Democrats intersected, by chance, at a San Francisco hotel.  Always the prankster, the Governator crashed the party, where, inexplicably, former councilman Aaron Peskin invited him onstage.  In the ensuing hell that broke loose, California Assembly member Tom Ammiano delivered assorted pleasantries, including “you lie!” as Arnold took the podium, and “kiss my gay ass!” on his way out.

A few days later, seemingly punitively, Arnie vetoed Ammiano-sponsored State Assembly Bill 1176, an inoffensive piece of legislation concerning the finances of the Port Of San Francisco.  As sometimes happens, he issued a statement that explained why, a portion of which is reproduced below:

Veto Statement for AB 1176

Veto Statement for AB 1176

We’ve highlighted the letters on the left margin, that, when read from top to bottom, spell a not-so-nice phrase.  Holy moly!  Did the Governator really mean that?

A Schwarzenegger spokesman calls it a “weird coincidence.”  But statistical experts disagree and have determined the odds of those words appearing at random: approximately one in 10,000,000.  Tsk tsk, Arnold!

However, hold the phones, for the creative insulter has a variety of tools at his disposal.  “FU” is great, but merely one of many pairings of Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words with pronouns.  There’s the milder, classic options: Damn You, Bite Me, etc.  Go homophobic, and you’ve got Fag Hag and a slew of filthier slurs.  And there’s more — all together, by my rough estimates, two-hundred-or-so foul and/or demeaning phrases of seven letters or less, depending upon the context.

Given that, and the Governator’s prodigious press output, we calculate the chance of him issuing an inadvertent insult, vertically along the left margin, in some document, over the span of a year, at about one in 50.  Still improbable, yes, but not one in 10 million, either.

For truly shocking levels of unintentional rudeness, go global!  From the billions of paragraphs created each day, an accidental left-letter insult is born once a minute.  Generalizing a bit, and counting what’s spelled in the verticals and diagonals throughout the entire text, an unplanned vulgarity enters the world every second!

Viewed as a “word search,” the Internet becomes a vast, angry sea, foaming with unpremeditated abuse and profanity!  Can someone upgrade their content filters to “bleep” this kind of thing, ASAP?  Please?!?!

Quick, Ammiano, draft some legislation to that effect, and Arnold, sign it this time!  We’ve got to save the children!