The amusing intersection of web devs and Cat Fancy

There was a time in web development when it was common to need a spacer or placeholder image of a given size. It’s a shame, then, that the use of PlaceKitten is not more widespread:

A quick and simple service for getting pictures of kittens for use as placeholders in your designs or code. Just put your image size (width & height) after our URL and you’ll get a placeholder.

Like this:, which produces a kitten 300 pixels wide by 250 pixels high:


Sadly, it isn’t possible for BOTH films to win the Oscar

Were you, gentle Heathen, aware of the following upcoming films?


  • Rubber, about a homicidal, telekinetic tire — created, one assumes, as the result of a drunken and reductive bet about the relative merits and silliness of certain early-80s Stephen King novels.

We await Blu-Ray editions, whereupon we’ll host screenings.

Attention Heathen Nation

Comment spam has become a real problem, so we’ve enabled more aggressive auto-filtering. If you think your comment was marked as spam erroneously, email me.

If you want to avoid the spam-detection stuff altogether, comment here using a registered identity from TypePad, OpenID, Google, Yahoo, AIM, or

It is likely that we’ll go to authenticated-only for comments in the near future. Sorry, but Heathen’s notched 156,000 spam comments in the last two weeks alone, no word of it a lie.

Yeah, so what the devil IS RIM doing, anyway?

The Blackberry maker has been playing catch-up since the introduction of the iPhone, and is now getting it from two sides in smartphones (with the addition of Android) while somehow thinking its new tablet will compete with Apple.

Jean-Louis Gasee has some thoughts that are probably much more right than wrong, and the situation boils down to this: The Blackberry ruled an era where it had no real competition, and where an app ecosystem was at best an afterthought because it shipped with every tool you were ever going to use.

We’re not in the world anymore, and RIM doesn’t know how to deal with that.

Dept. of TV Gems

During the 1970s, sometimes Steve Martin would guest-host for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.

Burt Reynolds, at nearly the height of his fame, stopped by for a memorable chat about wildness, craziness, and mustaches. Go watch.

Gimmee the ring.

And now: Unnecessary Goth Covers.

  • One, counterintuitive and oddly charming; and
  • Two, of such a character that somewhere, Eldritch is having a migraine.

No such list is complete without the source material, from an era when there actually WERE music videos. I don’t care what you people say about her actual musical contributions to the Sisters; Patricia Morrison is absolutely the best thing about this video.

In the event you think that vid’s overproduced, well, I can only offer this one, from the same band and the same era.

(Amusing note: Morrison is now somebody’s parent, with Damned founder Dave Vanian.)

Look: The Sky Is Not Falling

Fear of Japan’s nuclear crisis far exceeds actual risks. Seriously.

Nuclear energy is safe. By way of a metric, let’s try a thought experiment: How many deaths can we attribute to the mining, processing, and use of coal for energy, per megawatt-hour? Now, let’s try the same guess for nuclear power.

Here’s something else to review: Randall Munroe of XKCD fame created this comparison chart to help people understand the various dangers of varying levels of radiation exposure. Please, take a moment and review, if you’re at all freaking out about Japan.

Dept. of Things About Which You Must Be Shitting Me

All hail the Uterus Police:

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

Remember that “Class War” post?

Yeah, the GOP gets more repugnant: Minnesota Republicans to Outlaw Poor People Having Money:

Minnesota’s Republican lawmakers are, as expected, very angry about poor people. Why give those poor people money when we know they’ll just spend it on the hip-hop and fancy sneakers and for crack smokin’. So, the Republicans had an idea: Until any kind of welfare or assistance to the needy is completely outlawed, which will be soon enough, Minnesota should make it illegal for people getting “emergency cash assistance” to have any of the cash assistance in cash.

So, the poorest families and the poorest disabled adults would be unable to take any of this money as cash, even though poor people by design are kept from having bank accounts or a checkbook, which is why they usually pay bills and rent in cash:

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all

The Houston Nostalgia List

I’ve been sitting on this list for months, but it deserves to be posted. I’ve only been a Houstonian for 16 years, but I definitely miss #96, the excellent burgers and green chili stew at Cosmos Cafe (#91), #84 (where I saw Sling Blade), the divey awesomeness of #69, and Charlie Watkins’ wine list at Sierra (#64).

Being at least tangentially connected to Rice, I know that #60 is just “tending at a higher bar.” It will always be Transco to me (#94). I hate we lost the Proletariat (#39), and still have no rail on Richmond. I definitely miss the Book Stop (#35). And my feelings about pre-United Continental (#9) are well documented here.

The loss of #8 (the Ale House) is partly soothed by the Stag’s Head, but it lacks the same rambling charm of the old house-turned-pub. Where’s Allen Hill going to leap from a balcony in the new place, I ask you?

The new Cactus is just fine by me, with a nicer staff and a more sustainable business model, so I’m not sure I miss the old store any more.

I don’t miss #100 at all, and the Daily Grind (#59) has no place on the list. What I miss in the “Heights breakfast and coffee” category is Kaldi, dammit.

Dept. of Automotive Genetic Testing Gone Wonderfully Awry

Singer Vehicle Design makes 911s.

The Singer Concept 911 attempts to channel the spirit of the delicate 1960s original, the race-bred chic of the ’70s longhoods, the ’80s bombproof solidity and the power and sophistication of the 964/993 series [in a] single jewel-like form that represents the golden era of the world’s most important sports car.

The body is a lovely bespoke carbon fiber throwback, the chassis from the 964-era, but significantly strengthened, and the powerplant is a souped-up version of the air-cooled (duh) 3.6L from the Heathenmobile-era 993s. I’m not sure exactly what they’ve done to take it from 275 ponies to 410, but then again I’m not the target market.

They’re hand-built, so it’s no surprise that buying a new 997 instead would represent the “cheap” option by comparison: entry level here is $175K, according to a Robb Report article in their press kit. Even so: Gorgeous, enough so that I’m forgiving them for the utter bullshit of their Flash-heavy, music-playing web site.

Weird fact: ex-Catherine Wheel singer Rob Dickinson appears to be a Singer principal, at least according to this Excellence article.

Dept. of Interesting Wedding Writeups

Today’s Times includes this writeup of a little wedding in Austin:

“WE said 4:44, and we meant 4:44,” Michael Nesmith, the wedding officiant, said with mock insistence before about 125 guests on March 4 in Butler Park, which looks out at the Austin, Tex., skyline.

There was no processional. The couple about to be joined, Carolyn Wonderland, a blues singer and guitarist, and A. Whitney Brown, a writer and comedian, were already standing on their marks. There was nothing else to wait for except the string of fours that had been specified in the wedding invitation.

Yes, that Mike Nesmith, with whom I share a church, apparently.

Yes, that A. Whitney Brown.

And yes, obviously, that Carolyn Wonderland.

The Monkey, at Night

Dominic is small, but he wonders what his special soft friend Bity the Monkey does at night. Dominic’s father obliges, in a lovely and hilarious video.

Dominic loves his monkey toy. So i made a short film to show him what he does at night while he’s sleeping.This is what Bity the Monkey does from 2am to 6am.