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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Superb satire, and based in Pittsburgh!

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Article VI, U.S. Constitution

Geek of the Week, 7/16/2000

Geek of the Week

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Cruel Site of the Day (7/15/2000)


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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Country music lyric of the day

I went out driving trying to clear my head,
I tried to sweep out all the ruins that my emotions left.
I guess I'm feeling just a little tired of this,
And all the baggage that seems to still exist.
It seems the only blessing I have left to my name,
Is not knowing what we could have been-
What we should have been. So...

Take your records, take your freedom;
Take your memories, I don't need 'em.
Take your space and take your reasons-
But you'll think of me.

And take your cat and leave my sweater,
'Cause we have nothing left to weather.
In fact, I'll feel a whole lot better-
But you'll think of me.

Someday, I'm gonna run across your mind.
But don't worry, I'll be fine.
I'm gonna be all right.
While you're sleeping with your pride,
Wishing I could hold you tight-
I'll be over you,
And on with my life...

So take your records, take your freedom.
Take your memories, I don't need 'em.
And take your cat and leave my sweater,
'Cause we have nothing left to weather.
In fact, I'll feel a whole lot better-
But you'll think of me.

("You'll Think of Me" by Darrell Brown, Ty Lacy, Dennis Matkosky)

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The Presidential Twinkie Defense

(Via the incomparable Debbie Speer on the ABC World News Now Discussion List-)

Political speeches written by kids, and read by a Bush impersonator.


(And truly terrifying. They're indistinguishable from Bush's normal non-scripted ramblings. Be sure to listen to Melissa Mongan's. "I know I've been a bad president, and I've come to the conclusion that it's because, like Dick Cheney, I've eaten too many Twinkies.")

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Hairy situation

So I'm trapped in the chair, getting my hair cut, surrounded by a shop full of female stylists discussing their "special" names for their husbands.

"And what's your wife's pet name for you?" asked the lady with the sharp object an inch away from my carotid artery.

"Plaintiff," I replied.

Oh well. It'll grow back in, I guess.

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Dave... Dave... My mind is going... I can feel it...

Yet another in the seemingly endless list of things that are supposed to be good for you but aren't and can possibly make things worse, from The Wall Street Journal. You know how staying mentally active as you age is supposed to keep you from making disgusting noises and drooling in your lap? No such luck. According to an article in Sharon Begley's Science Journal:

The largest such study, called Active, was launched in 1998 and is still going. It trained 2,832 adults, aged 65 years old to 94, in memory, reasoning or visual attention and perception. Disappointment ensued. Though the trainees did better on the skill they practiced, that didn't translate to improvement on the others (memory training didn't sharpen reasoning, for instance).

Worse, when the trainees were tested years later, performance fell more than it did in the untrained group, according to a new analysis by Timothy Salthouse of the University of Virginia, a veteran of studies on aging and cognition. That probably reflects the fact that if performance rises it has further to fall, he says.

But there is a larger issue. "There is no convincing empirical evidence that mental activity slows the rate of cognitive decline," he concludes from an exhaustive review of decades of studies. "The research I reviewed is just not consistent with the idea that engaging in mentally stimulating activities as you age prevents or slows cognitive decline."

Consider an alternative that is gaining scientific support. Say you enter old age (by which I mean your 30s, when mental functioning starts heading south, accelerating in your 50s) with a "cognitive reserve"- a cushion of smarts. If so, you are likely to be able to remember appointments, balance a checkbook and understand Medicare Part D (OK, maybe not) well into your 60s and 70s. But not because your brain falls apart more slowly. Instead, you started off so far above the threshold where impaired thinking and memory affect your ability to function that normal decline leaves you still all right.


Which means all those 20-somethings into rap, hip-hop and other brain impairing activities will swing into negative cognitive territory in their 50s. Great. Just in time to enter public office.

With each new announcement, Woody Allen's 1973 film Sleeper, about a man who wakes up 200 years in the future, seems more and more prophetic:

Dr. Melik: [puzzling over list of items sold at Woody Allen's old health-food store] ... wheat germ, organic honey and... tiger's milk.

Dr. Aragon: Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible!

Yeah, incredible. Go ahead, suck on your green tea and work on your crosswords. I'm going to make myself a Crisco sandwich and watch Deal or No Deal.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Bumper sticker of the day

I childproofed my house, but they still get in.

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Pop Tart

Granddaughter Leanna is a precocious three years old this Sunday. Looks like she takes after her mom.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Go away, pointy-nosed Syrian pickpocket

He's an expert on antidepressants, too..

Language experts are amazed TOM CRUISE and KATIE HOLMES have named their baby daughter SURI - because there is no record of the name meaning "Princess" in Hebrew. According to Hebrew linguists, Suri has only two meanings- one is a person from Syria and the other "go away" when addressed to a female. Hebrew expert JONATHAN WENT says, "I think it's fair to say they have made a mistake here. There are variations of the way the Hebrew name for princess is spelt but I have never seen it this way." Suri can also be translated into a Hindi boy's name, and it also means "pointy nose" in some Indian dialects and "pickpocket" in Japanese.

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Cartoon of the day

(By Alex Gregory; published in The New Yorker September 29, 2003, via

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Quote of the day

What are you doing here? It's not Gone with the Wind. It's not On the Waterfront. It's Snakes on a Plane!
-Samuel L. Jackson

(See Samuel L. Jackson and a planeload of snakes! How can it miss?)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Into the fray

I had to go to Chicago yesterday for a company meeting, the first time I've been in my employer's offices since December. Afterwards I met up with some old buddies and the next thing I knew, it was past midnight and I was pouring the last of them into a cab. Thank heavens for the unending supply of Windy City liveries.

The conversation was marvelous. I learned lots of new jokes, got caught up with the gang's gossip, received tons of advice regarding my upcoming change in marital status, and all in all had a terrific time.

Too bad I suspect I'm the only one who'll remember it.

Time to dive into the hole for the Blue Line to O'Hare. Hang on Beanie, I'm on my way. I just hope I can remember where the car is in the extended stay lot at Greater Pitt.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Temporal displacement

"A Century After The Big Quake, Calif. IT Departments Prep For The Next One"
-headline in ComputerWorld

(Which makes you wonder what they did for the last one... it must have been a mess, what with computers being steam powered and all...)

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Reading between the lines

Brief filing delay affects some TurboTax users on tax day
(Associated Press)

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Some TurboTax users encountered a brief filing delay Monday afternoon when the software maker Intuit Inc. shut down its computer system to prepare for the heavier volume of electronic tax filing expected later in the evening.

Intuit spokeswoman Julie Miller equated the move to the rebooting of a PC and said the company decided to do the "preventative maintenance" before the system could potentially slow to a crawl for the inevitable thousands of last-minute tax filers.

"If we see the system slowing down, we take proactive steps to get ahead of it," Miller said.

The shutdown occurred at 2:25 p.m. PDT, and it took the system 20 minutes to refresh itself, she said. An unknown number of users were affected, but it would have been at most "in the hundreds," Miller said.

Intuit, which sold 12.6 million copies of TurboTax programs in its fiscal 2005, did the same thing on the eve of last year's tax filing day to deal with heavy online traffic, she said.

Kevin Barkes, a tax filer who encountered Intuit's system maintenance message Monday, took it all in stride and simply went out to cut the grass before returning two hours later to successfully press the electronic "send" button.

"We live in a different time now. It just takes me five seconds to file nowadays, and you're talking to someone who used to not be able to find his car keys to get to the post office at 11:45 p.m. on tax day," the South Park, Penn., resident said. (My actual statement was, "You're talking to someone who was looking for his car keys at 11:45 p.m., and the post office was 20 minutes away.") "If you're going to use this technology, you have to consider its limitations."

Barkes, a 52-year-old software consultant, (I said I was a software support consultant for Datalogics in Chicago) thought Intuit's technical move was a smarter option than facing the wrath of thousands later, when stressed-out users could be told to "try again later due to the heavy volume" with the tax deadline perhaps only minutes away. (She asked if I thought they had done the right thing to reboot their systems before the heaviest load hit. I said yes, especially if they were using Microsoft operating systems. She said, "We're not going to go there.")

"I would have been upset if that happened," he said.

(Another missing exchange: when she asked me if older technology was more reliable, I replied, "Ever heard of Amtrak?")

Quote of the day: Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.
-Erwin Knoll

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Quote of the day

I want to find a voracious, small-minded predator and name it after the IRS.
-Robert Bakker (Mr. Bakker is a paleontologist)

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Incongruous caption of the day

"Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters... sell them to me. Sell me your children!"
Joliet Jake Blues (John Belushi), The Blues Brothers (1980)

(Photo from

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The Best Shoe in the World

Men: If you're not a slave to fashion and only need to dig out the Florsheims for weddings, funerals and karaoke night at the local bar, there's only one shoe you really need. Okay, technically two shoes, but you know what I mean.

Search your local Wal-Mart (shudder) for Tredsafe Men's Black Easy Twin Gore, #2585421. These are your basic black loafers, with a nifty sole that's resistant to slipping on water, ice, snow, oil, and that piece of pizza that fell under the desk that you forgot about until it jumped out and tried to eat the cat. They're work shoes, with a soft lining that sucks up sweat, padded collar and tongue, a ventilated footbed and are, according to the manufacturer, "designed for light to medium food service work."

I live in these shoes, and have for the past two years. I have two pair: one I wear every day, and a beat-up set that I use for cutting the grass. Depending upon the severity of the winter, a pair lasts a good nine months to a year. What's amazing is the price: currently $24.64.

They're probably manufactured by blindfolded, chained, gruel-fed toddlers in slave labor camps in Manchuria, but I'm willing to tolerate that minor indiscretion for shoes that don't disintegrate in the first spring rain.

I'd include a link to the appropriate page on the Wal-Mart web site, but they don't seem to have the loafer style available on line. Just go there and search for "TredSafe."

Context-sensitive quote of the day: "If the shoe fits, get another one just like it."-George Carlin

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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

Feral Geek

eat wisely

Dyslexics have more fnu!

It's here!

Eff and Scrute

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Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable

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