The Horror of the Entities

This is pure HTML-geek stuff, so if you’re not interested, skip down to the previous entry, which is a lot more silly. Anyway, I was wondering why my apostrophes weren’t working with Movable Type (this very system for the blog). It isn’t that they wouldn’t show up correctly, but the XML syndication-thingy wasn’t working right through PHP. Hmmm… well, the best thing to do, I thought, was ignore it, and just use the stupid hash marks that everyone thinks are apostrophes, but really aren’t. Can you see the difference between these two things? 1. A hash mark:   ′   2. An apostrophe (or single-right quote):   ’   Well, I sure can. I hate hash marks, but I was using them anyway, because they were parsing better in the blog excerpt on my portal page. But then, innocently, I was testing some of my pages for HTML and CSS compliance, and I found out, horrors of horrors, that I was using the wrong thing all along anyway. I’ve always been making my apostrophes by using ’, but this is very bad, apparently, and will eventually cause browsers to choke and rotate their heads 360° and all that. What I, and everyone else, should be using is ’. I never even knew that the HTML entities could even get that large. But, if you’re still reading this, and the only two people I know who would be are Keith and, maybe, Dan, the complete list is at Check it out, if you’re interested. It opened my eyes. And thanks to A List Apart, without which, I would still be blind. –JR


Mundane Conspiracy Theories

Last night, I was woken suddenly by a sharp knock at my front door. A nervous, haggard man, chain smoking cigarettes, was pacing outside when I opened the door. He was clutching a package, torn and well-handled, which he thrust into my hands the instant he saw me. “Take it,” he hissed. “You’ll know what to do. You’ll be able to spread the word.” Before I could say anything, a dog barking in the distance made the man gasp and take off at a clip. I went back inside and took a look at the package. Between the torn wrapping, I could make out a book, and it’s title was Mundane Conspiracy Theories. No author’s name could I find, even once the package was opened. The pages were meticulously hand-written and perfect-bound, and while the grammar was a bit rough, the lessons were loud and clear. Last night, once awoken, I could no longer find comfort in sleep, for you see, I have read parts of this book, and I am making it my mission to disseminate the information contained within in here in my blog. It may astound you; it may disturb you, but most of all it will open your eyes to the truth! I begin with this shocking revelation:

Mundane Conspiracy Theory #31: I learned this from a friend who has an uncle who’s cousin works with a man who knows a guy who worked in the mail room a large metropolitan newspaper. You know that ink that you get on your hands? Don’t wash your hands in a sink to get it off!!! We all know that the ink contains little nanobots that track your reading habits so newspapers can charge more money for the best advertising spots, but a secret government agency (SGA) has hacked into the nanobot software, so that when you wash your hands after you read the paper, SGA not only knows if you read a paper with a liberal slant, but also gets your DNA by collecting all the little bots in sewers and cesspools!! Their secret plan is to clone people who read the Sports and Comic pages, while slowly letting the International News and Art & Leisure people die out!!! Pass this along to every one you know!!!

Scary stuff, sure, but read on:

MCT #51:Anyone with their ear to the ground knows about the Missing Gas Cap Conspiracy Theory (MGCCT), which proves that there is only one missing gas cap in any metropolitan area at any one time. Now what most people think is that when someone finds their cap is missing, they just steal it from the car next to them, which happens in most cases, thus preserving the -GC/UA ratio (minus one gas cap per urban area), but what these people don’t realize is that there are sinister forces behind the MGCCT.
Two agencies, sponsored by the NWO, are to blame. The first is the National Organization for Crude Auto Petroleum (NOCAP), which sends out operatives to any city or town where someone has purchased a replacement cap from an auto parts store, so as to maintain the -GC/UA ratio. The second agency, far more covert, is the United States Energy & Gasoline Arbitration Service (USEGAS), which makes its money off of the taxes you spend on getting a new gas cap with a lock and key, and also sends out operatives to make you leave your new gas cap on the roof of your car after you’ve finished pumping gas, so you forget it, and drive away, and lose it, and have to buy another one, which means that they get more money!!!

Nefarious, and completely logical. I’ll leave you with one more to chew on:

MCT #172:You may have thought that the clerks at the motor vehicles, or the cashiers at the supermarket, or the bank branch tellers, that all treat you rudely, do so because they have to deal with idiots all day, and are exhausted and about to break down and cry from all the stress. This is not true. They are nasty to you because they have been told to be rude by their bosses. These people make more money and eventually become managers by treating you like shit.

It’s enough to make you crazy, isn’t it? Well, I’ll continue to spread the truth, so long as The Man don’t try to keep me down. –JR


It Sure Is Fun

Well, I surprised myself by writing a flat-out essay on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I didn’t think I had it in me. Now all I need are some readers. Is there anybody out there?


If You Can Read This, You’re too Close to Heaven

Florida is positioned towards the right pocket, just below the Bible Belt. We’ve a strange mix of Jews, Gentiles, and Cubans down here, and while everyone usually keeps their distances from one another, they can’t help but advertise their faith. I tend to view this with amusement, afforded to me because I don’t really care what people think about mythology, but something about the branding of Jesus disturbs me deep-down inside.

The amount of proselytizing that goes on down here on the bumpers of cars is amazing. I had no idea there were so many clever ways of saying that I’m going to hell because I’m not Christian. I was out of the house and on the road for all of 15 minutes today, but that’s still enough time to be asked “Got Jesus?” by a bumper sticker. “Why that’s a play on a well-known advertisement by the Milk Council of America! How amusingly apropos,” I didn’t say to myself. Sure, Jesus is as necessary for strong bones as milk, but does He need a catch-phrase to entice me into salvation?

Well, according to another bumper sticker, He does: “Real Men Love Jesus.” That’s right. All you beer-drinkin’, women-lovin’, gun-totin’, hairy-chested men can burp in relief, because you too can find eternal bliss in the love of God. Phew! Of course, the correlation of this strikes me as a bit odd, which is “all non-Christian men must be wimps.” This of course maybe true in America, where all non-Christians are emaciated and must stay out of daylight for fear of getting run over and/or shot by the big bullies with their steel Bibles, but I don’t think that your average Sumo wrestler would agree with that statement. Another interesting thought about the “Real Men” who love Jesus is why they felt they had to tell the world that they were, in fact, real men. Unless I’m mistaken, we all stopped picking on Christian men a little bit after the Visigoths sacked Rome.

But part of being a Christian, apparently, is believing that the whole world is against you, as opposed to being part of the collective that has actually been running the world for several centuries. I assume this is an homage to the Jews’ famous collective guilt. So in this regard, we’re given this ponderable on yet another bumper sticker: “If you don’t believe in God, you’d better be right!” The “you’d better be right!” part is on its own line in a devilish-red typeface surrounded by comic-book flames. Ah, the inscrutable logic of believing what most everyone else believe, too. Sure, why take chances in believing that there’s nothing after this life? Believe in God, so He’ll allow you into Heaven, and if you’re wrong in that case, and there is no God, hey! no big deal, you won’t know it. Best to hedge your bets.

“Oh, dear. What if there is a God, but it’s not your Judeo-Christian one?” I think to the driver of the car in front of me. “Doesn’t that mean that you’ll have to answer to that god just the same as I’ll have to? Isn’t there the slightest chance that the other 4/5ths of the world may be right in their crazy beliefs, too?” But, sadly, my psychic questions go unanswered as the self-righteous Christian blows a red light, leaving me to ponder such mysteries alone in the left turning lane.

The fish that represents Jesus and Christianity is more popular here than those “My Child Is An Honor Student” bumper stickers are in New York, which means there’s a lot of fish. I don’t know whether this is to imply that the cars are believers, or just the occupants, but it has spawned (pardon the pun) a cottage industry of responses. The most well-known of these, of course, is the Darwin-fish, which is the Jesus-fish, except it faces to the right and has cute little legs and feet. Now, as any believer in evolution will tell you, Darwin and his theories did nothing to dispute the sanctity of Christ. Evolution may put a damper on some of the earlier Bible stories, but that’s it. But, still, Christians tend to be a sensitive bunch, and we’ve now got ourselves a bumper sticker that has the Jesus-fish with teeth eating the much smaller Darwin-fish. The accompanying text says “Jesus is still Lord, and fish don’t have legs.” Well, I can’t dispute the second part.

The most unexpected fish is the Linux-fish, which, like the Darwin-fish, faces to the right, but it has a shark fin on the top. I like the idea of the Linux-fish. It reminds me of the early Christians, who would eventually topple the degenerate, decaying ruling classes of Europe. Evangelizing and proselytizing are definitely needed to topple the degenerate, decaying ruling class of operating systems, so, whether or not it was intentional, the Linux-fish makes a wonderful statement, rich in symbolism and history. Will some misunderstanding, but enterprising, Christian design a bumper sticker with the Jesus-with-teeth-fish eating the Linux-fish? What could the tag-line be? Ah, I know, “Jesus is still Lord, and owns Microsoft stock.”

I know at the core of Christianity, especially the evangelical-flavored version that we have here in America, it is part of your life’s mission to preach the gospel. But is preaching the same as advertising, or, truly, sloganeering? Or is it yet another sign of the dullness of modern-day Americans? With so many Swooshes and Golden Arches all around us, must we take all our information in small, symbolic chunks, or else we can’t parse it? Will all religions bow down before the god with the best ad agency?

No answers from any of the drivers, because we all keep to ourselves. No one really bothers to confront anyone else, but we all want to live as if we’re subversive, that the world is against us, and the only way to strike back is to wear our messages on our Web pages, our t-shirts, or on the back our cars. Non-believers beware. And so my Darwin-fish may anger the driver behind me, but I’ll never know it, leaving us both to go to our final destinations in peace.


A Blog for the Rest of Me

I’ll be honest: Blogs are all over the place, and I didn’t think it necessary to have one, myself. I kind of thought that they were a bit pretentious, and the owners of blogs were pretty self-centered. But then, I realized that my WHOLE Web site was self-centered and pretentious. So I added this blog. I can rationalize it, of course—I need to write more, since I haven’t added a poem or essay in over a year. If I could write just a little blog entry every day, it may grow into bigger things. All five of my loyal viewers would be happy to read what I have to say every couple of days or so. And hey! I’m interesting, dammit! Blah, blah, blah. So for now, it’s an experiment. If it gets my creative juices flowing (ugh, not a pretty picture), then it is worth the exercise is self-adsorption; otherwise, I’m just spitting against the wind. –JR