Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

network solutions made me a child pornographer!
The sordid details...


Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon

It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day

A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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Saturday, February 08, 2003

How to Deal with Bandwidth Thieves

Every once in a while the ol' website log file jumps enormously in size. There are two reasons. Someone mentions and links to this site from their web page, which is good; or someone uses a graphic from this site without permission, which is bad.

I don't really mind that people take graphics from here. Hell, everything I have is stolen from somewhere else. But when I use a photo from some other site, I copy the graphic onto my server, so it's my nickel when someone downloads it.

Unfortunately, some people embed graphics on their pages with links pointing back to the original source. Which means that when you look at, the graphic you're seeing is coming from my site, and I'm being charged for supplying the bandwidth to deliver the image.

By far, the biggest violators are discussion groups which permit embedded graphics into the messages. It's usually teenagers who do it. I send them an email message telling them they're welcome to copy the graphic to their own server, but they're not allowed to deeplink into my site.

In some cases, the offender isn't aware that linking to another site for a graphic is impolite at best and larceny at worst. They apologize and either copy the graphic to another server or remove the link.

Sometimes, though, I get a rude response or no response at all. That's when I take action.

What I do is simple. I substitute another graphic for the one to which they originally linked. I went to, a site noted for its disgusting photos, and purloined a couple of the milder ones.

I start with this one. I wait a day. If the link hasn't been removed, I substitute this one.

On the third day, I start getting nasty. Most people remove the link when they're treated to this visual delight.

So far, no one has ever made it to this one, thank goodness. I hate to think about what I'd have to dig up next.

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Friday, February 07, 2003

Illegal Alien Smuggled Inside Dashboard of Car

But then, some of them are true.

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If it sounds too crazy to be true...

At least once a day I end up sending an email to someone about a message they forwarded to me containing an absurd claim or totally false information.

Do yourself a favor. When you get one of these things, don't immediately believe it's true, regardless of the source. Check it out yourself.

The best place to go is the The Urban Legend Reference Pages, which contains debunking data on just about all the hoaxes, scams and false claims floating around in cyberspace.

Some of the more egregious ones:

Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley opposes military pay raises.

"Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" and other quotes people never said.

Something or other is a computer virus you should delete from your machine.

Gilligan's first name is "Willy".

You get the idea.

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C'mere Saddam, You Porcupine...

Secret Submarine Base?

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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Goebbels with tits.

I'll say one thing for Ann Coulter.... not many people can make Dr. Laura look like a tolerant moderate. (Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page when you click on the Coulter link.)

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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Virginia Heinlein, 86; Wife, Muse and Literary Guardian of Celebrated Science Fiction Writer

A remarkable woman in her own right.

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"I love the web"

My son Doug forwarded this link to me yesterday:


Sometimes technology is our friend.

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Monday, February 03, 2003


I call my bank's automated information number daily to check on the status of my accounts. Today I discovered an authorized $99 charge by an outfit called AS Networks LLC, a web hosting company supposedly located in Austin, Texas. Their toll free number rings into a recording of a guy who says to email tech support questions, otherwise leave a message and they'll get back to you. Yeah, right.

A quick Google indicated others have had charges from these bozos. Fortunately I contacted my bank immediately, cancelled my card and, hopefully, will be able to get my money back, especially since they'll be rather hard-pressed to produce anything remotely resembling an authorization from me.

This is the first time I've ever been nailed this way. That's one of the reasons why I am very reluctant to authorize automatic charges against any of my accounts. How they managed to get my card number is rather troubling; undoubtedly someone's database was cracked.

So, beware of AS Networks LLC.

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Sunday, February 02, 2003

Space Shuttle Technology: It's Been Three Decades.

In contemporary space travel films (the notable exception being Ron Howard's quasi-documentary Apollo 13), technology is taken for granted or grossly misrepresented. Shuttles leave and return to the starship Enterprise like they're crosstown buses. A pair of improbably modified space shuttles heads off to destroy a potentially earth-killing asteroid in Armageddon.. Clint Eastwood routinely pilots a heavily damaged Shuttle safely to earth in Space Cowboys, the only real challenge being the maintenance of an even grimmer than usual expression on his face.

Hollywood uses state of the art computer systems to generate the images of advanced spaceflight. Reality is a bit more primitive. At the Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston, "outdated, unsupported computer systems operated by obsolete computer languages are performing critical flight software validation. In some cases, these systems are still loaded with punch cards." NASA scours Ebay for replacement components for some of its archaic hardware. The shuttle's onboard computer systems are small, hardened versions of IBM's 1960s-based System 360 mainframes. Their magnetic core memory wasn't replaced with semiconductor memory until 1991. The frequently-used advertising phrase "Space Shuttle technology" is technically akin to boasting something has "Eight Track Cartridge Technology".

The lost Columbia, the oldest and heaviest of the shuttles, was scheduled to retire in 2004, 23 years after its first mission. For that matter, an entirely new generation of shuttles was supposed to go into service next year, but budget cuts in the 90s forced NASA to keep the current fleet in the air. Those cuts not only curtailed development of new technology, but resulted in a relaxation of the agency's ultra-conservative safety check systems.

My point? Those under the age of 40 may have a faulty understanding of what represents the true "state of the art" in space travel. The shuttles were designed in the 70s and began flying before the introduction of the IBM personal computer. While some improvements have been made, for the most part manned spaceflight technology has not advanced in three decades. It's like that old PC in the office that management keeps around because it doesn't want to pay to upgrade the software and migrate to a contemporary system. The difference is that when that old PC finally crashes, it doesn't kill people or rain debris over thousands of square miles.

I remember growing up in the 60s, living through the exciting years leading up the landing on the moon, watching and being inspired by 2001, certain that if we could get to the moon in under a decade, we could do anything. These days, if it doesn't involve something that kills people at great distances or generates huge revenue streams, our leaders don't seem to be interested.

As Paul Valery said, "The trouble with our times is the future is not what it used to be."

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

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eat wisely

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