November 17, 2008

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL FRIDAY, NOV. 21, because The Rant has been VERY busy. It's a long story -- but we'll see you then. In the meantime, I am glad the Steelers go to eleven, so to speak.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2008

My Recent Television Appearance

AS PART OF MY DAY JOB -- which, I would note, is entirely separate from my work here at The Rant -- I recently appeared on WMUR-TV's "New Hampshire's Business" segment. The link leads to a special on-line segment that was also taped.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2008

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL TUESDAY, May 27. You know the drill. See you then!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2008

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL TUESDAY, APRIL 29 due to a Class IV Football-Related Event. Until then, enjoy the archives, the various posts I've written in the past week, the links in the left-hand column, and so on!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2008

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL TUESDAY, FEB. 12. Until then, here's wishing you the best of good buys!

What's that? I don't care if that's Paul Kangas' catchphrase. It works here. Besides, he went to Michigan too, so I'm sure he'd be cool with it. In any event, I'll be back no later than Feb. 12. Happy landings!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 01, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

WOO HOO! 2008 IS HERE!

For the record, The Rant had 149,354 unique visitors, 267,519 total visitors and 563,880 page views in 2007. That's an average of 409 unique visitors, 733 total visitors and 1545 page views per day. If you ask me, that's not too bad for a blog that doesn't advertise, goes on hiatus frequently with short notice and no good reason, and focuses on matters that don't generally involve politics or celebrities.

That said, though, I am proud knowing that my readers are a select group of highly intelligent and influential people, and grateful that my readers think I'm worth reading. I know this because about five pc of my visitors spend at least 30 minutes reading The Rant, and 72 pc visit via direct address or bookmarks. It is very gratifying to have all of you visit and read my work, and I hope you'll continue reading in 2008.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 09, 2007

The Comments Are Working! I Repeat: the Comments are Working!

THE COMMENTS are working again! The comments are working again! Even more amazing, I managed to do this myself. I don't know how exactly I did this, because the IT situation here at The Rant is somewhat similar to this IBM commercial, except without the happy ending:

Still, again -- the comments are working.

It will take time for comments to appear on entries, as they are moderated and that's a process I must do manually. Thus, comments will be posted twice a day or so: once in the morning before I go to work, and then later in the evening when I get home from work. Also, I reserve the right to not post comments, particularly those that are off-topic or highly offensive. Hmmm ... I think that's about it. But anyway. The comments are back. Enjoy.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Comments Test Post

HEY, FOLKS -- I think I somehow managed to fix my comments. I don't know HOW but I did. They're moderated so it will take time for them all to appear, but again, I think it may have worked. Drop in a comment and help me test this.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:27 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 02, 2007

Comments May Return Next Week

SO TONIGHT I GOT A NICE IM from my good friend Matt (REDACTED), who politely asked me to, in his words, "FIX YOUR GODDAMN COMMENTS." I responded as one might have expected: "Your message is important to us! I'm sorry, but all representatives are busy assisting other readers." Then, I learned that Mr (REDACTED) had issued an Open Letter to this effect, complaining that important issues of the day (e.g., that brain-eating amoeba thingy) were being left uncommented upon, etc. etc.

Anyway, as Mr (REDACTED)* and I discussed, Mr (REDACTED) will take a shot at fixing the comments, and if he succeeds, he will receive my everlasting thanks. Well, actually, I have to buy him an appetizer of his choice the next time we go out to eat. An appetizer I can't share. This seemed fair, though, and I went along with it, particularly since he was initially demanding dinner. However, rest assured I do plan to ensure we won't dine at any place where the appetizers include Sevruga or anything like that.

If it DOESN'T work, of course, it's entirely feasible the site could blow up. So we're waiting on this until I can back up the files accordingly.

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* Mr (REDACTED) has politely asked me not to mention his last name, because doing so apparently sends Google's all-seeing eye gazing in his direction. As Mr (REDACTED) is an attorney, this fills him with fear and dread. Not enough fear and dread for Captain Anonymous to not video blog, but enough fear and dread to ask that his friends acquiesce to his demand for semi-anonymity.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2007

Roll the Blogs

AFTER CONSIDERABLE THOUGHT, I’ve made some changes to my “blogroll” – that is, the links of Rant Approved Blogs that appear in the left-hand column of this page. In part, this was a housekeeping measure, as I’ve removed several blogs that have gone dormant, although hopefully for only a short period of time. But the new listing also reflects a shift in my own personal interests.

As a result, I’ve grouped the list a bit differently than I have in the past. Previously, the blogs were largely sorted based on their geography; however, I’ve changed things so they appear by subject. Three of the groupings deal with matters near and dear to my heart: collegiate and professional football, the way it was meant to be played; the stock markets and other high-finance related matters; and personal financial issues. There are special groupings for what timewise are arguably my secondary interests at this point – namely, blogs devoted to the arts, culture and literature; and the exploits of the Boston Red Sox, whom I like but have subordinated to the pleasures of football.

Also, I’ve put people I know personally in their own separate listing, as well as the blogs I read for their insights on the subjects of the day. Finally, there are separate listings for Canadian bloggers and bloggers based abroad. While I must admit my interest in politics has considerably cooled over the past few years, it is still important to keep up with these things, particularly because developments here and abroad tend to have implications – and generally, not good implications – for my bottom line.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think my readers will appreciate the changes. After all, you’re reading because you have the same interests that I do. Thus, it makes sense you’ll like these blogs. Lastly, I would note two things. First, if your blog was previously here and it now isn’t, it’s probably because it went silent a while back. I’m still checking in, though, and if you start blogging again I’ll re-add it. Second, if you know of any good blogs I should add, let me know – my e-mail is to the left – and I’ll check them out. (And if anyone knows how to fix my comments section, please, for the love of God, e-mail me).

Anyway, here’s a look at the blogs added to my blogroll, viz. and to wit:

FOOTBALL

We’ll start out with blogs devoted to the University of Michigan’s football program, which is near and dear to my heart, yet causes me so much pain. I’ve added a couple of good ones here, namely: M Go Blog and Maize ‘n Brew. M Go Blog is “horribly, admirably partisan” and as such I like it. It has insightful commentary and analysis, and has an impressive comments section. (The Oregon open thread post had like 1,300 comments on it, which is more than I’ve ever had since I've been blogging, even when the comments were working). Maize ‘n Brew also has lots of good analysis and commentary, and like many of the football blogs added is part of the Sports Blog Nation network. Both sites are fiercely passionate and I like that.

But of course, football is not just a game for college students. So I’ve also added several blogs devoted to the greatest football team of all time, the glorious and storied Pittsburgh Steelers. As the Steelers are pretty much my only hope for salvaging this football season, which has started out so horrendously college-wise, I’m going to keep a close eye on these blogs.

First up is Behind the Steel Curtain, an enjoyable blog devoted to the Steelers with plenty of analysis and commentary. I’ve also added Die Hard Steel, a good Steelers blog, and the NFL Fanhouse’s Pittsburgh Steelers blog, which keeps a close eye on the team. Also, I’ve added two other blogs – the Cincy Jungle blog and Dawgs by Nature – which look at the craptacular play of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Bungles and the Clowns, the Steelers’ generally hapless division rivals in the AFC North, are worth keeping an eye on given the possibility, however remote, they could defeat the Steelers.

Also added are sites for the NFL, the CFL, the Arena Football League, the af2 minor-league arena football league, the All-American Football League now in development, and the semi-pro British American Football League. (My team in the BAFL was formerly the Personal Assurance Knights, just because they were named after an insurance company. But now that they changed their name, I have to find a new team, because I haven’t any idea where “Farnham” is).

HIGH FINANCE

We’ll start out with Between the Hedges, a portfolio manager’s commentary on the financial markets. While I myself do not trade regularly – when I buy stocks, I prefer to sit on them until the end of time – this site is worth visiting for the data and updates alone, and the author does a really good job keeping on top of news coming out of the markets. Another good site, focused on economic data and analysis, is Econbrowser, which – as one might expect – two university economists run.

I’ve also added Seeking Alpha, which a market analyst founded some years back and serves as a great aggregator for news and commentary about the markets. There’s good stuff here if you look. I especially like the focus on global markets.

On a related note, I’ve added Controlled Greed to the mix, which looks at the business of investing in undervalued stocks, thus proving that while greed is good, controlled greed is even better. I’ve also added Andrew Tobias, he of “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” fame. And generally speaking, I don’t think that title is all that wrong. Mr Tobias spends much of his time posting about politics, which doesn’t really interest me, and various stock picks, which also doesn’t interest me, as I keep my own counsel on these types of things. But there’s still some good finance stuff there.

PERSONAL FINANCE

At the top of the list here is Boston Gal’s Open Wallet. Our Boston Gal is a thirty-something professional who has amassed roughly half a million and has a Magic Number roughly six times that amount. She seems well on her way to hitting that eventually too, so consider me impressed. This is a daily read of mine, not only because she covers all manner of personal finance topics, but also has interesting tidbits on sales and other ways to save more or spend less.

As an aside, it shouldn’t surprise folks that the best personal-finance blogs out there are written by women. My gut feeling is that it’s due to the different ways men and women typically approach money, as these following examples show:

WOMAN: There is no way I’m investing in nobusinessplan.com.
MAN: Ooooooh! Nobusinessplan.com’s having an IPO! Get me in for 500 shares! Yes! It’s going up! BOOYAH! No, wait, it’s going down! NO! Dammit! Hello? Lenny? Sell all my NBP and short it! What’s that? Yes, of course on margin! You think I’m getting out of my long position on pork bellies now? You kidding?

WOMAN: I’ve got some extra money, so I’ll put it towards a certificate of deposit.
MAN: A CD? Are you kidding me? I’ve got my money on a sure thing – COME ON you stupid horse! Go! Go! Go! Come ON – no! NO NO NO! You did not just break in the stretch! You stupid horse! I hope you get sent to a glue factory! Oh, it’s all rigged anyway!

Simply put, men are more prone to taking risks, which can work out great but often burns us in the end. Women, on the other hand, are generally more cautious. This can mean lower returns (sometimes, too low returns) but a correspondingly lower risk of having one’s capital blown out. The trick, of course, is to get the risk-return equation that suits you – one with healthy “upside potential” while still ensuring your capital won’t get eaten. Making up for capital losses is hard to do.

I also like Everybody Loves Your Money, another personal-finance blog that makes the astute observation that, well, everybody loves your money and its correlary that no one should love your money more than you. I also like Free Money Finance, which is a smartly-written blog, and My Money Thinks.

Lastly, another personal-finance blog I like is Hustle and Cash Flow (the name alone is priceless). The blogger behind it provides “regularly scheduled sporadic posting on various matters of economics, personal finance, and how it all relates to my job.” As it happens, our blogger’s job is as an exotic dancer.

Ah! Now you’re really interested, aren’t you? Well, readers expecting salacious pictures shall be disappointed, but the commentary doesn’t disappoint. She writes well about personal finance, economics and, sometimes, her line of work, and it’s all quite interesting.

So there you have it. Enjoy!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

The Rant Returns on Monday, Aug. 20

I'M OFF TO A WEDDING this weekend. What's that? No, I can assure you it is NOT my own, and there is no Mrs Kepple waiting in the wings someplace. Anyway, I've got to go pack. Blogging will resume once I return, which at this point is expected to be on Monday, Aug. 20. Until then!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2007

The Rant Announces Staff Appreciation Day

LOYAL RANT READERS have come, over the years, to learn a bit about how The Rant operates. For instance, Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc. is domiciled in Bermuda and has its main offices in Manchester, N.H. It is from our Manchester offices that the vast majority of the site's content production is done -- with chief writer Benjamin Kepple doing most of the reporting, commentary, and so on.

But many readers may have noticed that The Rant often relies on "on-the-ground" reporting from affiliated publications, such as the Financial Rant and The Sporting Rant. These reports are compiled from our crack staff of reporters and commentators located around the world. Here at The Rant, we think it's important to give credit to the men who make Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant as good as it is.

So, as part of this year's Staff Appreciation Day, we'd like to introduce everyone to our reporting team. Speaking for everyone here at The Rant, I'd like to congratulate all our writers for all their hard work. Without their efforts, The Rant wouldn't be nearly as fun or enjoyable. So, thank you, gentlemen. And I'd also like to thank all of The Rant's readers, who have stuck with The Rant for more than five years now. It's been a joy and a pleasure working for you.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Kepple
CEO, Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc.
"Your Hometown Nostalgia Source"
Hamilton, Bermuda

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OUR STAFF:

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May 14, 2007

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, JUNE 4. This is because The Rant is soon departing on a well-deserved vacation to various points along the Eastern Seaboard, the Great Lakes, and the South, and The Rant will have little to no access to the blog, much less anything like e-mail or what not. Thus, the entire trip will be an exercise in relaxation, good times with friends, and so on.

There is a nice scene in "Ghostbusters!" where the guys are sitting around eating Chinese food, and celebrating their first client, Dana Barrett. Venkman, being Venkman, says he wants to draw on petty cash to take Dana out to dinner; after all, he says, they don't want to lose her. This prompts a classic response from Ray: "Uh, this magnificent feast represents the last of the petty cash." The clear emphasis behind it is that they all need to get to work, and soon.

Obviously, I'm not facing penury any time soon, but I do think this will be the last great vacation I get in a while. So in that spirit, I've dubbed this trip the Last of the Petty Cash Tour. I'll have a lot of work on my plate when I return, but I plan to really enjoy my trip in the meantime, and have fun.

So until my return, check out recent entries, hit the links on the blogroll, and all that. Thanks again, as always, for continuing to read The Rant despite my infrequent posting, unexplained absences, and general irritability. Then again, the general irritability and perpetual frustration, disbelief, scorn and feelings of nausea expressed here are probably selling points! But you get the drift.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 06, 2007

Administrative Note

DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES beyond The Rant's control, The Rant will be away on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Rant will return on Feb. 8, or perhaps Feb. 9. Thank you for your continued readership and patronage.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 05, 2006

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, SEPT. 18. Until then, enjoy The Rant's fine listing of other, better blogs that you'll find in the left-hand column. Also, take a weekend to completely relax and watch football, drink mild intoxicants, and cheer on your favorite teams. Particularly if one of those teams happens to be the Pittsburgh Steelers, who could probably use it.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2006

In Sickness and ...

AND THE LORD God said, "Behold, the people enjoy warm weather, and they feel warmth upon their persons; even though they had a markedly mild winter. Now no New England weather shall restrain them, and they will soon tolerate anything. Come, let us go down and spread pestilence among them; not anything really bad, but annoying enough to cause disease and foulness, so that they may again properly respect the vagaries of New England's climate."

-- 1 Benjamin 30:3

SORRY I’ve been quiet. I’ve been sick. May God save me from all colds -- and especially this one, with its sore throat and ache and fever and congestion, plus the sharp piercing pain in my side when I sneeze or cough. Blech.

How miserable have I been? Well, consider this. After work on Sunday, I stopped at the grocery. I felt so listless and wretched that I didn’t even mind when, in Aisle 3, I encountered a couple whose badly-supervised daughter was cheerfully coughing over everything in sight. Talk about an appalling lack of respect for public health -- I mean, the girl didn't even try to cover her mouth.

Normally, such behavior would send my Societal Disdain Circuits into first gear, and I would privately wonder why the parents hadn't bothered teaching their child the basics of personal hygiene. Instead, I was just confounded. I glanced at the youngster and figured, well, whatever she caught, it can’t be any worse than what I’m stuck with.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2006

There's a Reason Google Ranks The Rant No. 7 for "Sinus Agony"

AH, SPRING. Its the time of year when most people celebrate warmer weather and longer days, and express their joy over the end of sub-freezing temperatures. Then, there are people like me, who hate spring and practically everything associated with it.

Thats because the season of renewal annually renews my sinus agony, a horrific and unpleasant ordeal in which I suffer from headaches, congestion, fatigue, aches and pains for weeks on end. This makes me a very unpleasant person with whom to deal. Instead of being the friendly and polite Ben Kepple whom everyone knows and likes, I turn into the angry and sullen Ben Kepple who spends most of his free time lying down in pain. Hell, I cant even update my blog regularly, much less do anything anyone else expects of me.

And this is after I quit smoking. Believe me, it was worse in prior years, when I was indulging that two pack-a-day habit. This year, though, I do think Im handling it better than in years past. Aside from quitting smoking go me -- Im drinking a lot more hot tea, which apparently helps out with sinus troubles. Also, chicken soup apparently helps, as does imagining that Im really out in the California desert.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:51 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas, and Good Day

THE RANT will be away until Tuesday, Dec. 27. Until I return -- and in all honesty, that's probably around Dec. 28 or Dec. 29 -- have a good holiday. 2006 will be better in all respects -- I can feel it!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:56 PM | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

Claim: Rant Worth More Than $20K

Report Values Rant at USD 20,000
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Directors Jubilant at "One Hundred-Fold Return,"
But at Present Have No Plans to Sell

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Analyst: "Blogs Are the New Tulips"
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My blog is worth $20,323.44.
How much is your blog worth?

by HARRIS SCHWED
Financial Rant

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Calculations from the Business Opportunities Weblog have given Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant an estimated value upwards of $20,000, Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc. announced today.

The valuation, which is based on the number of external links heading to a given site, is derived from the amount of money which America Online Inc. paid for Weblogs Inc. earlier this year. The report prompted jubliation among The Rant's shareholders, as well as a bit of amazement.

"It's been about four years since we started blogging, but this type of incredible growth is downright staggering," said Benjamin Kepple, The Rant's chief executive, in a conference call. "In my wildest dreams, I would never have thought this type of return was possible from my initial investment."

Kepple said his firm had no plans at present to sell to an outside buyer, but would consider any serious offers which involved great sums of cash. It was, he said, a matter of "timing the peak."

"Clearly, we're in the midst of a speculative bubble, and I can only hope that desperate or crazed executives looking for growth at all costs send us an offer which properly values our operations," said Kepple, still amazed the blog was theoretically worth more than a factory-fresh pre-owned sedan.

While the news is certainly good for The Rant -- and Kepple, who owns or controls more than half of it -- analysts voiced skepticism both at The Rant's valuation and the AOL-Weblogs Inc. deal, the latter of which was valued between $25 million and $40 million.

"Wait a minute. They paid what for what?" asked Adriaen Pauw, an analyst with Caveat Emptor Admirael van Ejck, the London-based brokerage house. "It's this type of silly chasing for the quick victory which bit them the last time!"

"It's as if blogs are the new tulips," Pauw said. "I mean, I don't care how much traffic they get, $25 million is -- I mean, $25 million? Jesus God in Heaven."

(via the much-more capitalized Dean's World)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005

A Very Busy Week

IT'S BEEN AN AMAZINGLY busy week here in Manchester: not only have I been working a great deal, including over half of the long weekend, I had a great weekend visit from my friend Simon, plus lots of other exciting goings-on. The long and short of it: I'll be back at the end of the week. 'Til then ...

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:51 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Back at Work/Blogging Update

I MUST apologize for not posting regularly as of late. I have discovered that the combination of "returning to work" and "recuperating from having a minor organ removed" result in a situation that makes blogging damnably difficult for the time being.

At present, I just don't seem to have the physical or mental stamina for blogging, as pathetic as that sounds. I tried doing some blogging late last week, but just as soon as I got ideas the words and thoughts that went with them just drifted off into the ether. It wasn't long before I got sick of sitting listlessly in front of the computer. Even worse, the "old-fashioned remedies" are right out: since I've given up the devil's smoke I can't rely on that to get my brain working again.

So to make a long story short, I probably won't resume blogging until sometime over the Fourth of July weekend. For the time being, that will mean turning Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant into the Holy Roman Empire of blogs, but I think a hiatus is better than producing work that's not my best (as you history majors, groaning over that old chestnut, can attest). So until then, I'll see you all around, and as always, I encourage readers to visit the excellent sites on the blogroll, at left.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 13, 2005

Recuperation Update

WELL, I FEEL like I'm on the downward slope when it comes to my recuperation. That is a clumsy way to put things, but I mean it in the best possible way, and I am hopeful that I'll be right as rain at the end of the week. The incisions are healing, and that's good. The only trouble is that I'm still worn out by mid-afternoon.

Anyway. I have read (or have been working on) some fine books over the past week or so. In the event you might find them interesting as well, here's those I especially liked:

* Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, which thus far is a downright fascinating account of the first month of the Great War. Ms Tuchman is a great historian anyway, but the subject matter makes the book all the more interesting.

* Edward J. Renehan's Dark Genius of Wall Street: The Misunderstood Life of Jay Gould, King of the Robber Barons. The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Anyway, this was an enjoyable biography, if only because Mr Renehan rehabilitates Mr Gould pretty convincingly.

* Martin Mayer's The Fed, which is an in-depth examination of the Federal Reserve System. Since our central bank is pretty damned powerful, it's a good thing to know a lot about it. Mr Mayer's book helps with that. From soup to nuts the thing is 350 pages, but there's so much information in it that one ought read it two or three times just to make sure one got it all.

Well, that's it for now, but I do hope I can post more often as the week goes on. I'll keep in touch.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Thank You/Surgery Update

I'M GETTING BETTER. Slowly but surely, I'm getting better, although my scars are taking a while to heal -- they're still painful -- and I'm still awfully tired through the day. I fear this latest episode with hospitalization proves that I'm no longer a young man, and I must act accordingly.

However, I would like to thank everyone -- including my family, friends, coworkers and fellow bloggers -- who has offered their support to me in one way or another during my rough spot health-wise. Truly I am very blessed, and I have greatly appreciated the visits, calls and e-mails from those concerned with my well-being. I was especially surprised and pleased today to receive a lovely fruit basket from my coworkers: among other things, there are two fine grapefruit and three massive oranges in it, which I'll look forward to having at breakfast over the next few days.

As for blogging, I fear it will probably remain light for the time being, although I hope to get back into the swing of things soon. If you don't see anything new here when you visit though, I would definitely encourage you to do as I'm doing: read my favorite blogs on the blogroll, at left. You'll find some folks whose writing you will very much enjoy.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, March 14. Posting will be limited, but probably nonexistent, during that time. We hope everyone will visit the fine sites listed on our blogroll, read through our archives, etc.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 03:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Back ... Wednesday Night, Actually

WELL, as it turned out, we've been incredibly busy with all sorts of various crap that's come down the pike today, so ... we're going to have to delay our blogging for a day or so. Gah. That'll teach us.

However, what we will have in the upcoming days are reports from our recent trip to New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pa.; a few movie reviews (all good, as it turned out); and various discussions on all manner of eclectic topics. Said topics will likely include the future of various emerging markets, the relative strength of the U.S. dollar vis-a-vis other reserve currencies, and celebrities.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:34 PM | TrackBack

February 17, 2005

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL TUESDAY, FEB. 22. As per usual, we invite readers to wander around the site, read the archives, check out the sites on the blogroll, etc. For those of you who will soon get some time off, have a good long weekend.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Rant Accounting Dept. Does Happy Dance

by HARRIS SCHWED
Financial Rant

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant, Inc., released its traffic numbers for the year 2004 today. The figures represent the highest-ever viewership of content at the site, even though the firm faced what officials called "major negative externalities," such as really bad colds.

Conservative estimates for FY 2004 reveal the site had 39,972 unique visitors and 95,623 visits in total. These figures do not include robot or other automatic traffic, nor do they include figures from Dec. 8, which company officials said were inexplicably lost in a computer failure. However, more liberal estimates -- calculated via a different program and extrapolated for all twelve months -- show the site may have had as many as 63,955 unique visitors, and a total of 152,996 total visits during FY 2004. These work out to daily averages of 110 unique visitors per day in the conservative scheme and 175 in the liberal scheme, with total visits estimated at 261 and 419 per day respectively. Half of the visits came between October and December.

"Well, either way you cut it, we're still pretty stunned at this," said Benjamin Kepple, The Rant's chief executive. "Given our large traffic uptick continuing since the end of the third quarter, we see significant room for improvement upon these already great results."

Traffic for the first four days of 2005 is approximately 35 percent of the traffic seen during all of January 2004, Kepple said.

"We are downright amazed at the site's popularity and wish to sincerely thank our readers for their continued readership," Kepple said. "We would also like to extend a special thanks to Ted Hamilton, our chief financial officer. Sadly, Ted could not be with us today, as he has scurvy related to over-work. But we'd still like to thank Ted for his month's worth of non-stop labor tallying up the numbers."

"We're sending Ted a fruit basket," Kepple added. "It's got these nifty tangerine-orange hybrid thingies."

Based upon traffic figures, the company revealed that approximately 90 pc of The Rant's visitors were American, while 10 pc came from outside the United States.

Leading non-American nations were Canada (1.44 pc), Japan (1.1 pc), Germany (1.1 pc) and Italy (1.1 pc). Lagging non-American nations included Vietnam (16 visits), Syria (5 visits), Rwanda (3 visits), Venezuela (2 visits), land controlled by the Palestinian Authority (1 visit), and Myanmar (1 visit).

"We have no idea how anyone from Myanmar managed to get access to the Internet, much less visit the site," Kepple said. "But as long as our visitor wasn't in the junta, we'll be happy."

83 pc of the site's visitors arrived through direct bookmarks or typing in the site address, while 9 pc arrived through search engines and 6 pc arrived through trackbacks or links. The remainder arrived through unknown means. Of these visitors, a full 5 pc spent more than an hour at the site during their visit.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 17, 2004

Rant Away Past Boxing Day

DUE TO VARIOUS Christmas holiday pressures, the mad and frenetic pace of our life in general at present, and various other concerns, we figure we ought advise readers that The Rant will be away through Sunday, Dec. 26. We may post during that interval, but we cannot promise it -- we are just up to our eyeballs in stuff.

We would, though, like to thank all of our readers for their continued visits to The Rant this year. The traffic statistics and feedback, we must say, have been downright amazing and awfully humbling; and we do hope that you've enjoyed the time you've spent here. We look forward to seeing you again when we return on Monday, Dec. 27.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all,

-- Ben Kepple

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 05:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 02, 2004

The Comment Lamp is Out

READERS are advised The Rant's servers, which are shared with many other bloggers, are experiencing a temporary spam attack. As such, readers may have trouble accessing and posting comments.

All Rant employees should keep close watch on site functionality. Please reference Pages 70-85 of your Operational Procedures Handbook.

Thank you for your patience and continued readership.

Information Services Department
Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:55 PM | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, NOV. 22. We'll be back with a full report of all the Madcap Antics, Wacky Schemes and Zany Hijinks in which we have engaged over this past week. 'Til then, God bless, and good night.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:12 PM | TrackBack

October 05, 2004

Dodge Published

ANDREW DODGE has had a collection of horror stories, based in the world which H.P. Lovecraft created, published. Go have a look.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 20, 2004

Greeting!

HELLO, EVERYONE! We must apologize for the lack of posting here at The Rant as of late. We have just finished a few days of jury duty service. As the case is now finished and we can now write down our thoughts, a full report will appear on Friday. Check back then for our tale of our experience.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:12 PM | TrackBack

September 13, 2004

Investors Demand Inquiry on Rant Work Attire

ANGRY INVESTORS CALL FOR INQUIRY
INTO DAILY RANT'S BLOGGING M.O.

------
FIRM: STAFF DOES NOT WEAR PAJAMAS AT WORK
------
"They're smoking jackets," insists CEO
------
By HARRIS SCHWED
Financial Rant

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- The head of Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc. (OTC:BJKNH), an Internet content provider based here, sharply denied rumors that staff at the firm wore pajamas to work.

Such comments were beneath contempt, chief executive Benjamin Kepple told reporters at a hastily assembled news conference, called to reassure investors of the embattled company. The Rant is already facing questions over its executive-compensation scheme, as well as talk the firm would outsource its Statistical Analysis and Information Technology divisions. Yesterday, Kepple dismissed such ideas.

"For the last time, we are not offshoring either the Statistical Analysis or Information Technology divisions. These are critical departments which require personnel to be kept in North America," Kepple said yesterday. "Also, while we're at it, who the hell came up with this pajamas talk? We're professionals here. We do not blog in our pajamas, nor do any of our staff. There. Are you happy now?"

Rumors of pajama-wearing staff were recently brought into the public domain after a television commentator charged that myriad bloggers were working while pajama-clad. Yesterday, Kepple said that if he ever found the person responsible for starting the rumor vis-a-vis the Rant, grave and immediate measures would be taken.

"We can assure our parent firm, our investors, fellow employees and all those who depend on quality Rant content that no employee is permitted to wear pajamas while on the job. This is a clear violation of the dress policy, which expressly forbids pajamas, flip-flops, beach attire, and T-shirts with particularly stupid slogans on them," Kepple said.

"It is true that executives over the level of senior vice president are permitted to wear smoking jackets when they meet the following conditions: they are working late, they are not meeting with clients, and they have a serious nicotine craving," Kepple continued. "However, this is a very rare occurence, and merely a perquisite related to the long hours our leadership team works. Besides, they're nice smoking jackets. Monochrome. None of the horrible Seventies-era pattern wear you might expect."

"By the way, we'd like to mention that traffic to the Rant is at record levels and product quality remains high as always," Kepple added.

Kepple was joined at the news conference by human resources manager Carter Sandusky, as well as Quinn Quimbley, vice president of marketing. Both men joined Kepple in strongly denying the existence of pajama-wearing staff.

While the news conference soothed some fears, many investors described the rumors as the straw which broke the camel's back.

"I bought BJKNH when it was trading at $3 per share, with the righteous and clear conviction that I would make a quick profit flipping it," charged Harris Oust, a pensioner from Shrapnel Creek, Ala. "Then this pajama story broke. Bang. Not only was I underwater, my stupid broker made a margin call and sold it out from under me."

"You're damn right I'm angry," snarled Oust, who lost "somewhere in the three figures" when the pajama story broke. "I don't trust them."

However, employees with the firm -- which also has offices in Manchester, N.H., the Cayman Islands, and Bangalore, India -- confirmed that no rank-and-file workers wore pajamas while at the office.

"Do we look like we work for Google?" asked one engineer, who asked to remain unidentified. "My God. They barely pay us enough to cover our own expenses, much less spend money on smoking jackets. That's a perk for the suits only."

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blogroll Additions

LOYAL RANT READERS -- of which, we are happy to note, there are more than ever -- should be quite interested in several new blogs which we have added to our blogroll, that is, the long list of links which we have provided in the left-hand column. We hope that you will find these blogs as enjoyable as we have.

We have continued using the National and International Stock Market Indices Format, as we find this the easiest way to track the many blogs to which we have linked. Besides, reading these blogs provides one with valuable information, which we personally find useful in helping us gauge investment conditions in other nations. Of course, they are also a lot of fun to read too, the primary measure for inclusion on the blogroll.

We would direct our readers to the following blogs:

On the Dow, we would again direct readers to Simon From Jersey's Sick Day blog. We have known Simon From Jersey for two decades, which is no small potatoes when one considers we are but 28 years old. He continues to provide witty ramblings and other commentary which we think you'll enjoy.

On the NYSE, we would direct readers to both the excellent Iain Murray and the always enjoyable Weekend Pundit. Mr Murray is well known to the blogosphere for his commentary, and the Weekend Pundit team -- based right here in New Hampshire -- are a great group who always provide thought-provoking commentary and essays. We think you'll find both valuable resources.

Under the NASDAQ index, we have listed The Musings and Searchings of Camassia, a particularly well-written blog largely focusing on Christian theology matters. Reading Camassia's site always serves as a reminder about the truly important things in life. We read it quite frequently, but given our spiritual state, we ought do so more often.

Under the AMEX column, we have listed Brian Chapin and Gregory Markle's American Realpolitik -- you can guess what that covers -- and DavidMSC's fun Better Living Through Blogging.

We have also listed several blogs which are either based outside the United States or focus exclusively on non-American matters.

Perhaps most worthy of note among these is the fantastic NK Zone, listed under the Seoul Composite heading. NK Zone does not merely feature sharp writing and commentary on the world's most repressive society. They have some true experts on Korea writing for them, including Dr. Andrei Lankov, a noted authority on North Korean matters. We have read a bit of his work, so we were really psyched to learn he was contributing to a blog on North Korea. Another interesting blog is that which Korea Watch runs: Charles Tustison is the man behind that.

The Devil's Excrement, a blog which we first learned about via the top-notch Democracy Project, is an amazing resource on Venezuelan issues. Rant readers will find this a fascinating site -- and as for the name, well, go see for yourself why the blog is named as such.

Lastly, we've listed two sites from countries which ought get more attention than they do in the United States: South Africa and Belgium. Commentary.co.za covers South African issues in-depth, along with other world matters, while under the BEL-20 heading, you will find Live from Brussels.

We hope Rant readers will find these good additions to their own daily or regular lists of blogs which they read. Also, if Rant readers know of excellent blogs which they consider underappreciated, particularly if they focus on international matters, please do let us know.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 05, 2004

Not Dead Yet!

WE SUPPOSE we owe our readers a bit of an explanation as to where the devil weve been for the past week, and an apology for not bothering to post a message regarding our absence. However, we can assure folks that we are in relatively relatively good health and have an entirely believable excuse for our lack of posting.

To begin with, we have been sick and tired, both words being used in the literal sense. Our dreaded seasonal allergies, which taunt us like one of Satans imps, have not let up troubling us for the past few weeks. Furthermore, we find ourselves dealing with near-constant physical and mental fatigue, both of which are less than helpful as they relate to myriad aspects of our life. Among these aspects, naturally, is our blog and all that goes with it.

However, we just had a very nice visit from Simon From Jersey, who was in town for a while, and we were quite glad he traveled all the way from the Garden State to see us for a relatively brief sojourn here in Manchester. It made us feel as if we were doing more in this life than marking time. Together, we both watched some fine movies and ate well and drank a bit and talked about life and where we were going in it. It was too short a visit, but we still felt a sea-change because of it for in those hours, we were finally able to loosen up a bit. It has been a very long time since we did any loosening up, and it is well that we did, for at least a little while.

Switching gears for a bit, we can assure you that we learned much over the past two days, to wit:

* We learned that it is quite inadvisable to walk in front of an automobile negotiating a parking space in a mall parking lot, as the operator of said vehicle will refuse to yield to a pedestrian as called for under the laws of this state. Further, the operator will also crudely castigate a pedestrian for acting lawfully. We can assure you that it took a great deal of inner strength for us, at the minimum, not to suggest the driver and the drivers mother make haste in performing an anatomically impossible act. It also took a great deal of strength for us not to suggest that the drivers actions were anti-social, boorish, and indicative of mental deterioration which sprang from a) inbreeding, b) narcotics use or c) social disease.

* We learned that many restaurants in New Hampshire have decided to disallow smoking throughout their establishments. While we recognize the restaurants owners have the right to do this as private entities, we would especially appreciate it if the owners would post a sign at the front door warning us of this circumstance. This would make it more pleasant for both ourselves and the server, who has to listen to us gripe and moan.

* We learned that a movie-theatre operator, provided he possesses a mediocre amount of drive and a better-than-average eye for what the public wants to see, could frickin clean house in this city. That said, Collateral was a heck of a good movie.

* We learned that our father possesses an amazing amount of aptitude regarding auto mechanics, although before we were able to put his advice into practice, the problem with the car amazingly disappeared. You can see how well it worked!

Well, thats our status update for now. We will celebrate Labor Day in the traditional Kepple fashion, by which we mean we will be at work, and get back into the swing of things later this week. However, we do hope that well be able to do as much blogging as our readers expect and demand.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 25, 2004

Hay Fever Lands Haymaker

UGH. We have hay fever something fierce. This is why we have not blogged much of anything since this Sunday. It is also why we will not blog much of anything until this coming Sunday too.

According to the various sources of information we have found on the Internet, the best treatment for allergic reactions such as ours is to identify the allergic substance and avoid it. Unfortunately for us, this would mean moving to the Southwest or other dry climate where the wretched pollens are not present. So that's out, and we are forced to resort to the only other reasonable course of action -- namely, staying indoors with the air conditioner running. With its vent to the outside closed, we can ensure a steady stream of cool, dry air into our humble abode.

We are hopeful that, after our visit to the doctor on Friday, we can get a hold of a stronger medication to combat the symptoms. For us, these include blinding headaches, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and sniffling, and other generally unpleasant things. As we would very much like to, oh, ENJOY LIFE AGAIN, we are hopeful these ailments will soon be brought under control.

Thank you *cough**hack**wheeze* for your patience during this *dry, hacking cough* difficult time.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:46 PM | TrackBack

August 07, 2004

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL SATURDAY, August 14. Until then, have a look at the archives and visit all the excellent sites on our blogroll, etc. etc. We'll give folks an update when we return then.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good Stuff Dept.

SAY, EVERYBODY! Ken Layne's blogging again! This means that in addition to all the music stuff that Mr Layne has been doing, we now again get to read his commentary on the issues of the day. We are quite pleased. Also -- a Secret Tip -- make sure to hold your mouse over the photos to get the tag-lines.

Heh heh heh.

Also, we have learned that two old colleagues of ours -- Win Myers and Brent Tantillo -- have started a think-tank devoted to supporting freedom and democracy both at home and abroad. They also happen to have a pretty slick blog. Therefore, all Loyal Rant Readers are directed to visit the Democracy Project's Web site. We can assure you that you will find their blog both interesting and informative.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:41 PM | TrackBack

July 21, 2004

Jersey, and Beyond the Blogosphere

WE ARE QUITE PLEASED to announce that Simon From Jersey, our great friend whom we have known since the third grade, has started his own blog. All Loyal Rant Readers are, as such, directed to visit Simon's blog, "Sick Day," on a regular basis for insightful and funny commentary on sports, current events, and plenty of other stuff.

As proof of Simon's wit, we note that for the most part, we stole the title for this entry from the subject of an e-mail which he sent us announcing the endeavor. So venture forth and read it. We will permalink it shortly, and are excited about reading his work on a daily basis.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 05, 2004

One Year Later

March 14, 1920 - July 4, 2003

IT WAS A YEAR AGO YESTERDAY that my grandfather left this world behind. It was not long after midnight when the first call went out from a hospital ward in Pittsburgh, and not much longer after that when I learned from my brother that all was lost. That message from Ohio was the last in a series which he and I had sent back and forth during the night, and contained in them was all the grief which we both felt.

Looking back, the days which followed seemed to pass much quicker than that dark hour; and the memories of those days seem sharper in comparison. Perhaps the trip back to Pennsylvania and the time I spent with my family was responsible for that, or perhaps it was my grandfathers funeral, with its implicit message that now was the time when one began to heal. Perhaps it was all the hours during the long drives with which I was able to think in quiet, or the beautiful letters from a dear friend I found waiting for me when I returned home. I cant say I can pinpoint a cause, but now that time has soothed the anguish of that awful week, I would argue that all of those things gave me strength strength enough so I could write about what my grandfather meant to me.

Yesterday, I read again what I had written last year about Grandpap, my mothers father. It was a pretty humbling experience, to be perfectly honest. For one thing, as the above picture shows, my grandfather cut a far more dashing figure than I ever will. True, people dressed better back then, but stillthat photo was taken when he was 24 years old. He looked like Sinatra. Also, like most folks from that time, he was developing what I call the Swell Post-War Look, which sure as hell beats tie-dye.

But I guess I feel pretty humbled because when I look at someone I really and truly admire, like my grandfathers and my father and other relations, I end up comparing how I live my life with how they live their lives. And Grandpap left some pretty big shoes to fill in that regard. It wasnt just that he had his priorities straight or that he lived a good life; it was that he was a fundamentally good person. And I dont know if Ive truly lived up to his example as of late.

Ive personally thought at least over the past few months that Ive kind of developed a hard edge to my personality, and I really dont like that. Thats not to say that I think Ive suddenly turned into a jerk. I guess its just that when I find myself under the gun, I get a bit um, strident. Ive found myself less forgiving when things dont go the way they ought go, and at times Im getting downright snippy. There are plenty of reasons for this the Latest Great Attempt to Quit Smoking hasnt helped my disposition any, and Ive probably got a touch of depression again. Still, though, it bothers meand I really feel as if Ive dropped the ball when it comes to religious matters.

I dont know if Grandpap is keeping an eye on me, but if he is, Id like him to know that Im trying. And I miss him greatly.

I was also thinking about Grandpap a few weeks ago, when I went back to western Pennsylvania, the land where my grandfather built his life. It is a place with a timeless quality to it, a place in which the memories of the past have not yet faded into history. Things are still very much as they have always been. For instance, my Aunt Carol and Uncle Bill still live in the small town of Scottdale, and Uncle Bill still gets up at 4:30 a.m. every day. I still stay at the Howard Johnsons motel in New Stanton, and I still eat at the EatnPark across from it for dinner. Now, thats not to say the place exists in a time warp for instance, I noticed a Wal-Mart set up shop, and theres a new Bob Evans restaurant in New Stanton. Generally, though, its still the same western Pennsylvania I remember visiting as a boy.

Its just that so many intangible things have changed.

No longer do I take the old road, US 119 South, down to Connellsville to visit my grandparents; no longer do I visit the small but comfortable home which my grandfather had built the old-fashioned way and in which my grandparents lived for so many decades. For after my grandfather died, my family had to deal with a second heartbreak: facing the true and stark reality that my grandmother was no longer the person she once was.

And so, on a hot and muggy Monday during my vacation last month, I drove from Wilmington, Del., to Mount Pleasant, Pa., to see my grandmother. She lives there now, in a small personal-care home. It is a nice place, well-kept and well-staffed and comfortable. But despite knowing she was always in good hands there, I was very much afraid about visiting her. You see, it was the last visit which I wouldwillever have with my grandmother; the last visit which truly mattered, the last visit in which I could truly say goodbye.

Oh, God, Alzheimers is a cruel disease. It is the most vicious and brutal and rapacious thing. It takes and it takes and it takes but it leaves just enough left so that it stabs you right in the heart and twists the knife again and again, over and over, without pity or remorse or mercy. Good God, I felt like such a fraud! I couldnt just say why I was there, of course; I couldnt no matter what the disease, but at least with the others I could have rationalized it to myself!

For it really was the last visit which I will ever have with her the next time, if there is one, it will be too late. I hadnt seen her since Thankgsiving, but the physical and mental decline since then was readily apparent. When I first saw her, oh, she looked so much older. She was walking into her room at the home, ever so slowly, when the aide mentioned that someone was there to see her. She turned around and exclaimed, Ben!

I really wasnt prepared for that at least not emotionally. On an intellectual level, I had thought I might have to explain who I was at first, or I might need the aides assistance, or what not. But the real reason I wasnt prepared was because that really made it hit home that my grandmother was hanging on as best she could. In my mind, I suppose I hadnt really considered that; I guess I made myself believe the decline had gone farther than it had. It really weighed on me as she and I talked for the next forty-five minutes out in the parlor, although that conversation was more along the lines of that for which I had been prepared.

The best way I can describe that talk is by comparing it to a scene in Asimovs novel Foundation, when the scientists have a state visit from an important dignitary. The dignitary spends three days on the scientists planet, and in the end, makes all the scientists feel happy and optimistic and sure of future support. Then their analysts report that an examination of the dignitarys words show that he didnt say a damn thing, and did it so the scientists never noticed. The only difference between that conversation, and the talk I had with my grandmother, was that I tried to boil things down so she would understand. I dont know how well I did at that, and I know the important thing was the time I spent with her. I had brightened her day by being there, and what really felt good was that after I had left, she remembered I had visited. Still, I just felt so guilty about the whole thing.

I especially felt this way when it was time for me to go. She didnt want me to leave. And so, she offered to walk me out to my car (which I appreciated, but I wasnt about to let an Alzheimers patient out of the house), and then she offered to show me to the front, and so on. This went on for perhaps ten minutes, with a lot of hugs and goodbyes in between, and was only interrupted when a real-estate assessor came to the door. Thats when the real heartbreaking moment came. I gave my grandmother a last hug goodbye and told her I loved her. She hugged me back.

Dont forget me, she said.

I wont, I replied. I promise.

New Stanton, Pa. Manchester, N.H.
June 14 July 4, 2004.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 01:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

More Fun With Books

VIA EMILY JONES, we have learned of a new game using random quotations from books in one's library. The rules are as follows:

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book No. 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book No. 2 -- last sentence on page fifty.
4. Book No. 3 -- second sentence on page one hundred.
5. Book No. 4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty.
6. Book No. 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.

Therefore, we grabbed five books off our nearest shelf and gave it a whirl. The results follow:

Aloft on dazzling white wings, the great cranes wheel in the sky and float down for a landing in a richly forested, unspoiled two-and-a-half mile strip of land that stretches like a ribbon for 150 miles across the waist of the Korean peninsula. But they were unlike us in many ways and better than us in many ways, an idea which simply cannot be tolerated by people who believe that change is always a forward movement and who are so determined to judge history by the standards of the present.

The other was a French priest of the Missions Etrangeres named Louis Delmarre. In Germany there was an even steeper increase in both public debt and paper currency, and only strict price controls prevented an inflationary explosion during the last two years of the war. Nothing could represent a more dangerous threat to the liberty of individual Americans.

Say! That's pretty slick!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:13 PM | TrackBack

Smoking Cessation Update

ACCORDING TO THIS Web site, which is devoted to selling systems related to quitting smoking, nicotine-withdrawal symptoms include:

* Headache.
* Nausea.
* Constipation or diarrhea.
* Falling heart rate and blood pressure.
* Fatigue, drowsiness and insomnia.
* Irritability.
* Difficulty concentrating.
* Anxiety.
* Depression.
* Increased hunger and caloric intake.
* Increased pleasantness of the taste of sweets.
* Tobacco cravings.

They ain't just whistling Dixie. Jesus God.

For regular Rant readers who have been following our journey as we Try Yet Again to Quit Smoking, we are now about 60 hours into not having any cigarettes. For those of you who are just joining us, you should know that we are doing this because we finally realized that we were killing ourselves with the smoking, and therefore we are trying to cut out our two-packs-of-Marlboro-Red-100s-per-day habit.

We do not mean for The Rant to turn into a constant update on our own efforts to quit smoking. However, we can assure you that we no longer have the ability to concentrate on anything other than our nicotine-withdrawal symptoms. This is why we have not written any vacation updates. In any event, though, we do want to give everyone an update on where we stand.

In terms of physical effects while wearing a nicotine patch, we are suffering from headache, nausea, lightheadedness, increased appetite, the sweats, coughing fits, difficulty ... ah .... concentrating, irritability, a complete inability to .... concentrate ... wait, we mentioned that ... and insomnia. Also, we are having dreams of an intensity not normally seen outside of the University of Michigan's annual Hash Bash. Most of these symptoms are caused because we are receiving only half our standard daily nicotine dose.

We expected to suffer from all of these things, although we must say we are most shocked at the insomnia and the coughing. True, we did look on-line and find out that quitting smoking has the effect of doubling the effectiveness of caffeine. Still, we are amazed to see just how powerful the sensation is. As for the coughing fits, they're actually kind of enjoyable; we get a rush every time, because our lungs are spitting up tar.

Now, some of our friends have told us about just having done with the withdrawal symptoms, advising we just quit cold turkey. Therefore, for a six-hour period today, we went without both cigarettes or cigarette substitutes. We can only conclude that our experience represented some sort of horrible psychological milestone. Normal people do not, as a matter of course, lie on their beds crying their eyes out while at the same time having white-hot feelings of anger.

We don't know what was worse -- the abject feelings of misery, or knowing just how deeply the nicotine has its claws in our back. Well, OK, the misery was worse. Anyway, when we put on a fresh nicotine patch a few hours ago, we felt our entire body take in the drug. Even our toes got a tingly sensation.

So the long and short of it is that we aren't going to be going cold-turkey any time soon. More news on Monday, we promise.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2004

We Have (Yet Again) Quit Smoking

I havent been the same since I quit smoking.
When was that?
Fifteen years ago.

-- "Annie Hall"

WELL, weve officially given up smoking -- again! We think this is our fourth or fifth attempt at doing so, but being the eternal optimists that we are, we are certain that we can fully quit this time around. Besides, we finally realized that if we dont give it up, we are really and truly in for a world of shit.

The good news, as least as we can ascertain it from the scientists, is that quitting while we are under thirty years of age virtually nullifies the health risks associated with our vile habit. The bad news is we are fairly confident our lifestyle over the past decade, in which we recklessly neglected our health, is beginning to catch up with us. Well, perhaps a better way to put it would be that it has caught up with us, and is now in the process of beating us over the head with a tire iron. So over the next few months, were going to have to viciously fight back before our brains get splattered over the pavement.

We do not think we are not exaggerating. Those Loyal Rant Readers who have met us in person can easily ascertain that were not exactly in the best of health, but the true extent of this may not be clear. Well, for starters, were about forty pounds overweight. Were diabetic. Weve what can be reasonably described as high cholesterol, particularly when it comes to our triglyceride count. We have bad sinuses and a weak immune system and an occasionally sour stomach. Of course, we smoke, despite having an already-meagre lung capacity; and while we do some minor exercising, we live what can charitably be described as a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, to be perfectly honest, we dont exactly eat as well as we should. Worst of all, thats an incomplete listing of the identifiable health concerns we presently face. But it was one health concern, that we are fortunately not yet facing, which has rattled us to the point where were actually going to do something about all this.

Heart disease.

In two weeks, we are going to go in for a perfectly routine cardiac examination to see if this awful lifestyle of ours has managed to do any damage to our ticker. We were due for a physical anyway, but after reading up on some articles which uncomfortably reminded us of our own situation, we called our doctor and asked if he could throw this on to the testing battery. At first, the folks at the clinic didnt get what we meant by a routine cardiac examination, so we said to throw us on a treadmill. But then our doctor got on the line. Here follows a dramatization of our conversation, which lasted under a minute:

PHYSICIAN: I dont have your chart in front of me, but you have (this) and (that)?
US: Yep.
PHYSICIAN: Ill call cardiology.

The natural question, we suppose, is how we got to this point in the first place.

Interestingly enough, when we were a child, we were rail-thin. This was primarily due to having a bad case of sleep apnea; excising our tonsils took care of that. We proceeded to rapidly gain weight and eventually became overweight; not downright fat, but we were certainly heavy. On an emotional level, of course, this was not good, as children are generally incorrigible little hellions when it comes to such things. Further, as we were quite uncoordinated when it came to sport, and hated exercise, and were generally the last person picked during any type of organized athletics, we paid no attention to healthy living. It is true that we did play tennis for a while, and we did some exercise in high school, but developing fibromyalgia gave us the excuse we needed to quit all that.

Moving on to college, and we found ourselves away from the one thing which saved us from really having problems namely, our kitchen table at home, where our parents made sure we got two decent meals a day. Like nearly all college students, we gained an unpleasant amount of weight, and we also developed hypertension and ulcers and all sorts of fun maladies. Life after college wasnt much better, although we did improve things a bit after we suffered our diabetic shock back in 1998. Our blood pressure, for instance, is much improved since our college days.

Still, things now arent where they should be. At six-foot-four, we should probably weigh 200 pounds; we probably weigh 240. Our cholesterol is too high and weve been smoking as much as two packs a day.

It may seem odd, given all this, that weve let things go like they have. But its not really a surprise, when we think about it. For it is one thing to watch ones health closely when one is forty or fifty or sixty years old; but when one is under thirty, one thinks of oneself as invincible. Besides, we had survived all sorts of things before, so why would this be any different?

The concern this time, though, is that it will be different. Even though the exam is entirely routine and there is nothing to be worried about, there does seem a very small possibility that we have managed to work our way into a heart condition, or perhaps some other trouble with our circulatory system. Even the prospect is extremely troubling. After all, excepting the brain, the heart is the most important part of ones system; and if the heart goes, the game is over. And we would hate to get fouled out in the first period.

So among the lifestyle changes were going to have to have to make in the next few months, the first we figured we could reasonably undertake would be to quit smoking. We had our last cigarette this morning, and were now on the nicotine patch, and looking forward once again to the wacked-out psychedelic technicolor dreams which go along with it.

We would offer one final caution, though. We figure our nicotine intake has ranged from 30 mg to 40 mg per day as a smoker. Unfortunately, the strongest-strength nicotine patches only provide us with 21 mg per day. Therefore, we estimate that sometime tomorrow evening, we will start getting VERY irritable, and progressively become more strung out as our body adjusts to the first step of the withdrawal. We would ask for your understanding and patience during what should be a particularly unpleasant, if necessary, experience.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:58 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 21, 2004

Administrative Note

VACATION BLOG UPDATES will be posted at the end of this week at the latest. Perhaps sooner, if we can finish them all, but rest assured: they will be posted by the end of this week at the latest. We want to present them as a "complete set," as it were, so it will take me some time to do so.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:08 PM | TrackBack

June 08, 2004

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, JUNE 21, due to our "2004 Straight and Narrow Highway Tour." See you when we get back, and have fun scooting around the archives and visiting the other sites on the blogroll, etc.

Onward,


-- BJK

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 25, 2004

Kepple: Live and in Color

THE VIDEO OF OUR appearance on New England Cable News has now been posted on-line. We're featured in the clip found at the very bottom of the page; the segment is about five minutes.

Here's a video still which a friend of ours captured from the show; it's been cropped a bit and deletes the marquee with our name, but we think it rocks. The whole clip is here.

We should probably note, as our employer is prominently noted on-screen in the clip, that our blog is an entirely independent endeavor and is fully separate from our work there. That's noted in the introductory paragraph to the NECN story, and we mentioned that in the clip itself; but we do feel we ought mention it here too, just to ensure there's no confusion. Finally, we'd also again like to thank New England Cable News for having us on the show. We had a lot of fun!

---------
UPDATE, 11:43 PM: If the link to the clip has "fallen off" the main NECN screen, click here for their Science/Technology section.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:22 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 23, 2004

Welcome!

WE'D LIKE TO OFFER a very warm welcome to viewers of New England Cable News' "Talk of New England" program, which aired on Monday, May 24, at 9:30 a.m. If all went well, readers will have actually seen us on the show, and are now visiting us as a result.

And if all went well on our end, we now have the technical capabilities to handle each and every visit. We hope we did not screw it up. The test of this, naturally, is whether you are actually reading this message, or you are reading some weird error script which informs you that your request Did Not Pass Go, That You Shall Not Collect $200, That The Little Car Thingy Has Been Impounded by the Authorities, and Also, Your Wheelbarrow's in the Shop. We sincerely hope the former situation applies!

If it does, then we invite you to have a look around; not only at our own site, but also at the excellent sites to the left which we have carefully chosen using our Patented SavvyLink(TM) Process. We have every confidence you'll find those sites engaging, witty and fun to read. Again, welcome.

As for the Loyal Rant Readers who are reading this message and wondering what the deuce we're talking about; well, the long and short of it is that we're scheduled to appear on New England Cable News on Monday at 9:30 a.m. That's in roughly twelve hours or so. Anyway, this is your chance to see us live and in color, as the broadcasters say. We'll be discussing blogs.

So if you live in the six New England states and you get New England Cable News (check your local cable listings) -- check us out!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:23 PM | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

The Rant Will Return ...

... on Friday, May 21, 2004. We apologize for the temporary hiatus, caused by dyspepsia, lack of sleep, general fatigue, sinus troubles, aches, pains, and what may or may not be the gout. However, we can assure readers that we will have Great New Content on Friday. Scout's honor!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:09 PM | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

Advisory

POSTING AT THE RANT will be infrequent -- at best -- until Saturday, April 24. Basically, we are up to our eyeballs in doing various minor things, and as such we're going to need to take a few days to catch up with them.

Sorry. We know we should keep up with this on a daily basis ... but it's just not practicable at this precise moment. However, we can assure you we will be back on Saturday with bunches upon bunches of New and Never-Before-Seen Content.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:55 PM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Random Knowledge

SO, APPARENTLY EVERYONE is participating in an exercise in which they grab the closest book at hand, open it to page 23, find the fifth sentence, and post it on their blogs. We don't know why everyone is doing this, but never mind:

"Now, the King's foreign minister, the Marquis de Torcy, had informed him that not only was Law back without a passport but that 'his intentions are not good' and that 'he is serving our enemies as a spy.' "

This selection was from Janet Gleeson's Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler and Duellist Who Invented Modern Finance. The millionaire in question is none other than John Law, an oft-overlooked Scot who is credited with creating the dot-com boom of the early 18th century, through his creation of the Paris-based Mississippi Company.

For a time, things went well -- so well, in fact, that early investors became known as millionaires because of their immense profits. But some verse from the time, reprinted in the book, describes well what happened to the average investor in that venture:

My shares, which on Monday I bought
Were worth millions on Tuesday, I thought
So on Wednesday I chose my abode
In my carriage on Thursday I rode
To the ballroom on Friday I went
To the workhouse next day I was sent.

It is, we note drily, perhaps fitting that we bought a remaindered copy of this book for $4.

(via Emily Jones)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Because It's Not There"

BACK WHEN WE were in school some -- Gad, seven or eight years ago -- we stumbled across a Web page which had what we considered a very intriguing idea.

Now, in the halcyon period of 1996-97, the Internet was still in its infancy in terms of both content and usability. Consider: blogs didn't really get off the ground until four years later. Consider: PINE was a major e-mail client. Consider: people who did have Web pages generally had to hand-code them. Also, folks thought it a great idea to have things called "hot lists," which were like link lists, except they weren't nearly as cool.

A while after we made our first feeble Web page, we came across the page of one Stephen Turner, a Cambridge academic who did not have a hot list. No. He had a cold list -- sites that no one wanted to visit. Naturally, we thought it was a great idea and made one ourself (giving proper credit to Dr Turner, of course).

Both Dr Turner's original site and our own are lost to the mists of time. But, fast forward a few years, and we find Sheila O'Malley has updated the idea with her "To DON'T" list -- that is, a list of things which she never has a need to do in this life. And we thought, "Gee. That's a great idea. We should do this too -- giving proper credit to Ms O'Malley, of course."

Hence, without further ado, we present our "To DON'T List:"

Go Mountain Climbing. Yep. Don't need to do that. Now, we know there are plenty of people who enjoy doing this -- it's good exercise and what not. Of course, they are also putting themselves at risk of great physical injury to climb a mountain. A key reason oft given for doing so is "because it's there." We do not understand this.

You see, our idea of fun most certainly does NOT involve the possibility of contracting sunstroke, getting crushed in an avalanche, falling off a sheer cliff, or otherwise exposing ourself to traumatizing injury. Indeed, we do not even like being near mountain areas, as the air is dry and thin, and we get winded far too easily. Hence, we are going to stick to our preferred areas: deserts, beaches, deserts, forests, deserts, and deserts. Yeah. Maybe when we are close to retirement, we'll go live at Scotty's Castle or something.

Take Up Golf. Yep. Don't need to do that, either. We realize, of course, that the game is immensely popular with a lot of people, and we can see why people find it fun. It's a challenge, for one thing! But as we never grew up in a golfing family -- Mr Kepple was most certainly not a golfer -- we never got the hang of it nor had the inclination to do so. And if we are ever forced to take up a non-contact sport for our health, we'll play racquetball. Now that was fun.

Go to Europe. Yep. Don't need to do that one. Of course, we realize that we probably ought do so for a variety of reasons; we'd like to make a pilgrimage to the Vatican, and pay a visit to the Old Country; and all that. Also, as a student of history, we realize there is so much that we would really enjoy seeing.

But as an American, we also feel we need to spend more time exploring our own country. We have never been to the Pacific Northwest -- and we have never been to the South either. This greatly troubles us, and so we place a personal priority on this. Besides -- we have been informed that everything in Europe costs as much as in America, except that one gets less in all respects. Also, many people there don't seem to like Americans much. So we'll save ourselves some aggravation and go the Caribbean instead.

Buy a Mobile Telephone. Hooo -- yeah -- don't have ANY desire to do that. Christ. It's as if people want to have others call them at all hours of the day or night, without so much as a by-your-leave. No. We are sorry, but we have no desire to join this particular crowd.

Of course, our objections to joining would be significantly reduced if we found a company capable of making a phone that did what we wanted, and no more. By this, we mean that all we would want our mobile to do is: A) give us the capability to make and receive telephone calls, and B) give us access to the stock tickers. We do not need nor want a telephone with foofy games, annoying ring tones, a miniature camera, or a tiny keyboard which requires a set of tweezers to type out an e-mail. We'll say it again. Make calls; receive calls; indexes at close. And that's it.

That said, the makers of such a phone would have to fit into our price point (let's say about $40) were we to buy such a device. Since we would hardly use it, we would furthermore need an economical calling plan. We envision such a plan costing us $5 per month, plus say a nickel per minute for talk time. And then would come the real challenge.

For we have been informed that the nationwide networks are not in fact nationwide, and people can never get signals when their car breaks down out in the desert, and if one happens to live anywhere except on the coasts one is often hit with "roaming charges." This, we submit, sucks. Hence, we want nothing to do with such foolery, and will only get a mobile phone if the nationwide plan is nationwide. Or something. To be honest we are not fully in the loop about all this, but we don't care.

Start Watching Reality TV Shows. Now, we fully admit that this item could easily move to our "to do" list -- IF the industry happens to put out a show we would be willing to watch. Sadly, it has yet to do so.

Indeed, the few minor clips we have seen of reality TV shows have all seemed the same in our eyes. They all seem to feature an alarming number of oversexed morons as contestants; folks notable for A) taking bread out of the mouths of professional actors, and B) being unable to go five minutes without engaging in various petty faults -- such as backbiting, strenuously arguing over minor things, and drinking to excess at some trendy nightspot. (We are hopeful that people can prove us wrong on this, and fearful that no one can).

But for us, perhaps it doesn't matter. For we think the only way we would really become fans of the genre is if true loss was a potential outcome in addition to true gain. Really. Now that would be interesting.

("Uh oh! Jack's closed down-limit on pork bellies again! Let's listen in on his margin call ... and say! Jack doesn't know it now, but fifteen stories below, the bank is repossessing his Mercedes. Let's see what happens when he goes to the garage.")

Sadly, though, we realize that a reality show about commodities traders would have an audience of just one; and even if we are in the coveted 18-34 male demographic, this would just not do. However, we understand that one show featuring a successful real-estate developer has proven quite popular, and we may give its second season a whirl. If only to have something to talk about come the next morning at work.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 03, 2004

Search Engine Queries Answered

YES, IT'S TIME FOR YET ANOTHER round of "Search Engine Queries Answered," in which we mock the people who inadvertently stumble upon The Rant looking for information about ... well, apparently everything under the sun, and not all of it legal.

Honestly, some of these queries are enough to make us despair about the human condition, not that we weren't already despairing about it. Good Lord. Of course, we know full well that by answering certain moronic queries, we simply increase our chances of getting "hits" from others looking for the same things. Thus begins a vicious cycle of despair and misery from which we will likely never escape. But since we can't escape, we may as well go into this with full force! So let's begin, shall we...

QUERY: public nudity

This is consistently the top search request at The Rant, and for the life of us, we can't understand why. People -- there will most certainly NOT be any public nudity displayed here at The Rant. There will not even be pictures of foxy women. The Rant is simply a "dimension of mind," which we note would make a hell of name for a blog.

QUERY: cheer lider free nude sites

The fact that we have received multiple queries for this particular search string truly bothers us. What ARE they teaching in schools these days? It's L-E-A-D-E-R, first of all, and "cheerleader" is one word. Visitors who arrive at The Rant looking for such things ought go elsewhere.

QUERY: clubbing baby seals

Dear God in Heaven. We certainly hope that people are merely looking for jokes about this topic, as opposed to actual photos or videos of baby seals being clubbed. That said, we understand the Canadians unfortunate to live above the sixtieth parallel do this frequently, as seals are apparently rather nasty creatures.

QUERY: how can i listen to the whole song of \ don t tell me\ by avril lavigne?

Some of our friends also haven't figured out how anyone can do this. That said, we have the strange ability to listen to songs over and over and over again, as we "tune them out" into the background. This allows us to listen to the Bee Gees more than others have thought any human being could stand.

QUERY: views on predestination and free will

Predestination is a logical fallacy incompatible with the recognized doctrine of free will. Simply because God is omniscient does not mean He has willed things to happen. That's it in a nutshell.

QUERY: companies that have gone from traditional to transformed organizational model in the last five year

You will find most of those on the OTC exchange. As for the rest, you should have bought into them earlier before they became overpriced. Anyway, show me a company that has gone from a transformed to a traditional organizational model and I might just buy shares in it, provided they're really cheap.

QUERY: protestants do not have fun

This is why we became Papist! Of course we kid. But this is not to say Protestants cannot have fun either; it merely depends on your denomination. For instance, we know from personal experience that a Methodist can commit all manner of vice, and be forgiven for it provided he or she brings a really great dish to the church potluck dinner.

QUERY: the passion of the christ confused about snake and satan

See Genesis 3:15.

QUERY: where are power and glory found in the power and the glory by graham greene

The whole bloody book, that's where. And don't buy the Cliffs Notes version either; just read it. It will be worth doing, trust us.

QUERY: 1974 xenia tornado movie

Ah! Now here's a query in which we're very much interested. As every Midwesterner knows, the horrible 1974 super-storm which blasted through southwestern Ohio spawned hundreds upon hundreds of tornadoes. The Xenia tornado was one of the worst. The top photo here shows just how big this F-5 tornado was; there are also plenty of videos on the Web. Look for Bruce Boyd's 8mm film of the tornado as it unleashed its devastating, apocalyptic fury upon that wretched city.

Well, that's it for this edition of "Search Engine Queries Answered." Look for it again next month!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 02, 2004

UPDATE: Hackers Caught!

HAMILTON, BERMUDA -- Triumphant officials at Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc., an Internet content firm based here, announced early this morning it had caught the hackers believed responsible for defacing its Web site on April 1, 2004.

Alleged hacker Biff X. Stone, 22, of Ypsilanti, Mich., was being held at The Rant's new detention facility located on a small island just off Hainan, in the South China Sea. Company officials were ecstatic over the news, rewarding Vice President for Information Technology Ned Henries with a "paid trip to Miami on the expense account" and "this great old bottle of Haig & Haig we'd been saving up for things like this."

"Mr Henries has done a fantastic job in restoring both the site to its status quo ante performance and serving up this Stone fellow's head on a platter," said Benjamin Kepple, the firm's chief executive. "Mr Henries couldn't be with us today, as we thought it only fair he should get back to his Cozumel cruise. But we've created this handy graphic to show you how 'all that shiznit went down,' as the kids say."

Seeking to allay investor concerns over the damage, Kepple assured them that record traffic to the site had resulted in its wake. He credited the firm's quick response with not only containing damage that could have arisen, but also leading the firm to new heights.

"We can assure you that traffic spiked a full 200 percent above standard daily averages and a full 50 percent over our past high," Kepple said, as The Rant's accounting department did "the happy dance" in the background. "We are incredibly pleased with this, and would add that this should show our parent firm's Financial Services and Transport Divisions that the Intellectual Property Division is doing just fine."

Shares of the firm rose 3p to 94p on the London exchange in mid-day trading; trading in its American Depository Receipts on the NASDAQ exchange were also expected to be higher, according to financial analysts.

"This is a major coup d'etat for the company," said Marvin Wixgate, an Internet analyst with Completely Fair and Balanced Research Really We Swear LLC, a division of City brokerage house Collude and Whipsaw. "We're bullish on the upside, that's for sure."

"Eurodollar petrochem basis point, ECB CES double-plus good!" Wixgate added with enthusiasm. "LIBOR debenture stable."

At the press conference, also notable for its buttery croissants and good coffee, Kepple was joined via satellite by Colonel Yin, the firm's new contractor in charge of its detention facility. Colonel Yin will be tasked with forcing Stone, the alleged hacker, to provide a full and voluntary confession for his reported misdeeds.

"We are pleased to have this opportunity to work closely with our new partners in this exciting new joint venture," Colonel Yin said. Security measures at the facility are top of the line, he added, including this one guy with a flame-thrower who guards a creaky bridge.

"You lose!" said Yin, addressing Stone directly.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:21 AM | TrackBack

April 01, 2004

Communists Hack The Rant

HAMILTON, BERMUDA -- Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant, an Internet content provider based here, said its Web site was hacked sometime around 10 p.m. last night. The company has blamed Communism.

"We just don't understand how they could have guessed the password," a distraught Benjamin Kepple said at a news conference, hastily convened after he was informed of the security breach. "My God. It's not as if anyone actually saw the "Addams Family" movie anyway. Look what they've done to the site!"

"This is just so embarrassing," Kepple added, as he took a sedative and looked, bleary-eyed, into several television cameras. "God. Aspirin. I need some aspirin."

According to Kepple, the security intrusion prompted a Code Yellow alert at company facilities worldwide. While not the most serious response possible -- Code Red involves the mass burning of papers, the activation of the firm's helicopter escape fleet, and moving the precious-metals cache and other negotiable instruments to a heavily-guarded and secure location -- the company was forced to temporarily lock down its facilities, detain personnel, and cancel top executives' vacation plans.

"We can assure our valued customers that we will have the problem fixed within 24 hours," Kepple said, as he prepared another gin. "We're not going to let these scheming Reds ruin all that we've worked so hard to accomplish. We can assure our customers, investors and others that we are already on the trail of these criminals."

"As a precaution, we've also had our security chief, Colonel Payne, cashiered," Kepple added, saying that Lt. Col. Smith had taken over the firm's response.

Investigators looking into the security breach reported that a cryptic note had been left at Rant headquarters two days prior. No one thought much of it at the time, a factor which observers believe may have led to Payne's early retirement. The text of the note, written by a "Comrade Biff" and which was sent from a post office box in Ypsilanti, Mich., read as follows:

"Здравствулте! собаки капиталиста Yankee идущие! Ваши инструменты
невластны против диалектики марксиста! Вы дотла будете разрушены и
ваши требухи devoured витком данным по людей славным!"

Detectives are baffled as to what the note means, and were reportedly consulting history experts to discern the message described therein.

Ned Henries, director of the firm's Information Technology Department, joined Kepple at the news conference. He pledged that normal operations would be restored as of 12 a.m. on Friday, and warned that his staff was well on their way to identifying the culprit or culprits.

"They will not escape. No jurisdictional hassles, no petty arguments about the rule of law, nothing will prevent us from taking revenge upon the people who ruined my cruise to Cozumel," Henries vowed.

The breach was the first to take place at The Rant's Web site since it debuted last June. However, in March 2002, a contingent of the firm's Cayman Islands-based operation was found to have skimmed one of the company's accounts. The skimming operation was shut down after the firm's Bermuda headquarters sent in a squad of mercenaries to deal with the thieves.

UPDATE 4/02/04: The security matter has been solved. However, those wishing to see the damage that had been done may click here.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:23 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

This is a Test

THIS IS A TEST POST for BENJAMIN KEPPLE'S DAILY RANT. This is ONLY a TEST.

Had this been an actual emergency, we would have preceded this post with a great deal of screaming and ranting. Well, we wouldn't have posted anything, since we'd be well on our way to cross the Canadian border as part of our Bermuda Escape Plan.

-----
UPDATE: This is an ADDITIONAL TEST to see if the trackbacks work.

UPDATE AGAIN: Not only do the trackbacks work ... we have now ensured that all the comment spam has been blitzed. Sahweet. Thanks Dean!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2004

E-Mail Difficulties -- Please Stand By

READERS WHO HAVE SENT e-mail to our address listed at left recently should be advised that we are experiencing some minor technical difficulties. We are able to read your e-mails ... we just can't send anything at present.

This situation is being addressed. Officials are looking into the problem, and we expect it to be resolved shortly.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:15 PM | TrackBack

February 11, 2004

WE ARE STUNNED that this has received such little notice .... but South Dakota's House of Representatives has just passed a bill outlawing abortion by a 54-14 margin.

The state's Senate is also expected to pass the law, which declares life begins at conception. The law in full may be read here.

(via Ben Domenech)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:11 PM | TrackBack

January 29, 2004

Sorry About That, Everyone

WE MUST APOLOGIZE to loyal Rant readers for not posting much as of late. We've been busy -- miserably, furiously, wretchedly busy -- and just haven't had the time to do any considerable blogging. Indeed, except for one entry last Saturday, we've had to put the blog on the back burner.

However, we can assure you that this period of work-sleep-work is now over and done; and as such, we'll soon get to the blogging we had been meaning to do. In the meantime, though, please accept our sincere thanks for your continued visits to The Rant. We'll be back in the saddle shortly, we promise.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:31 AM | TrackBack

January 13, 2004

Blogroll FINALLY Updated

AFTER A PERIOD of what could charitably be called "abject and utter neglect," we at The Rant have gone through and updated our blogroll in the left-hand column. This means that when you click on a link, you'll actually go to the site which its author intended you visit, as opposed to the dated site the author had six months or so ago!

Whyever are you scowling? Good God! Have you any idea how hard we've been working? At the end of the week, we're half-dead with exhaustion. Of course our somewhat bad health causes this, but we have come to take all of that in stride. God willing we shall really tackle the problem this year, for we are not getting any younger, and we have no intention of going to our eternal reward (punishment?) anytime soon. Si post fata venit gloria non propero and all that.

But anyway. You do not care about such things. You care that we have added a spiffy new banner with new photos and a new motto. You care that we have judiciously selected new content providers to read. So! Onward!

Actually, we think you shall be incredibly pleased with the four blogs we have added to the 'roll. They are as follows:

First on the list is Will, at Morituri Te Salutant. So far, this looks like an interesting site; also, we haven't any idea what goes on in Oregon so we figure this will be a way for us to learn. Finally, we like anyone who uses Latin, although we wonder whether the gloomy weather over there has contributed to that gloomy sentiment. We prefer the snappier version of that phrase -- We who are about to win salute you!. (We think that's vincemur te salutant, but it's late and we probably got the stem wrong and no one ever uses the future indicative passive anyway). But never mind. It looks like a neat site.

We have also added Allison Kaplan Sommer's An Unsealed Room, which as Mrs Sommer's site says, is "a window on life in Israel." She is quite an accomplished writer, and we look forward to reading her work more in future.

Next up is Val Prieto's Babalu Blog -- which is a great site; it deals very much with Cuban issues. We very highly recommend it. Especially check out Mr Prieto's articles on his family -- they are fabulous and heart-warming reading.

Finally, in a nod to our partial Scots heritage -- we have added David Farrer's Freedom and Whisky. For our health, we drink very little; but as a fellow Scot we must say we are proud to see Mr Farrer hold true to those old traditions.

So do enjoy. As for us, we are off to bed for the evening. Have a great night, and we shall return soon with more acidic commentary. Of that, we can assure you. And if you have any suggestions for blogs we should add to our blogroll, do let us know.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:41 AM | TrackBack

January 03, 2004

Book Notes

A BIT ABASHEDLY, we shall now present proof that we perhaps need to get out more, take up knitting, or some such other hobby.

We were in the bookstore this evening looking for our week's copy of The Economist when we stumbled across a book that we thought looked really cool. Even though we won't have time to get to it for a while, we found the topic so utterly fascinating that we eagerly picked it up and purchased it without a second thought. On the way home, we gleefully thumbed through it to get a glance at what we would be able to later study in depth. In short, this is a book we are excited about.

The book in question is David Hackett Fischer's "The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History," which examines political and social history through the lens of inflationary and deflationary periods, doing so using wage levels, prices for goods and services, etc. We don't mean just medieval history or modern history either -- there's a graph in here for Babylon in the 19th century before Christ. (That's even more impressive when you consider that actual "cash money" wasn't really invented until the 6th century before Christ.)

Money itself, we might add, was a lot cooler back before the British decimalized everything in the Seventies (more proof that everything bad in our lives happened in the Seventies). We heartily approved of the old English system, for the same reasons which everyone else out there has given on the subject. First, it was confusing enough so people actually had to learn how to do math, and second, it maintained a cultural tradition that went back to the Roman Empire.

But we'll shut up now.

Actually, now that we think of it, we do have one very serious request for our readers. We are looking for an English copy of Giovanni di Pagolo Morelli's Ricordi, which is the diary/family history of that medieval Florentine merchant. We have had absolutely no luck in finding one through the usual channels. We are going to inquire through some book dealers we know here, but if you happen to know where we could find a copy -- e-mail us! Address is on the left.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:07 AM | TrackBack

December 17, 2003

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, DEC. 22.

From "our house" to "you and yours," have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Even though we'll be back before either of those holidays take place.

In the meantime, please have a look around the archives, visit the great writers to whom we have linked in the left-hand column, and just have a bit of fun. That's what we plan to do over the next few days. Also, we hope not to get the typhus.

So kick back, relax. We hope your holidays go wonderfully this year, and God bless. And as always, thanks very much for reading.

Cordially,

Benjamin Kepple
Chief Executive
Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc.
"Your Hometown Nostalgia Source"

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 02:51 AM | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

WE GOT HIM!

Now it's his turn.

And God willing, we'll have him soon enough.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How Bleak Life Is ...

IF THE WEATHER REPORTS are any indication, this is what we expect to see when we look outside our apartment windows on Monday morning.

OK, OK. So things aren't going to be that bad. We will have some semblance of daylight to see us through a particularly nasty winter storm headed our way. Still, as always, we fear this storm will bring with it the usual amount of death and devastation -- to say nothing of the chance our car's battery will decide to give up the ghost. We're also not particularly thrilled about forecasts which predict A) a foot of snow B) ice pellets C) dire warnings about travel conditions and D) The Dreaded Wintry Mix.

And to think -- it's not even officially winter yet.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 01:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 13, 2003

Introducing The Rant's Bermuda Index

RANT READERS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY NOTE -- gee, it's not like you can miss it -- the rather large banner in the left-hand column of this page noting something called "The Rant's Bermuda Index." However, as the graphic does not explain what The Bermuda Index signifies, an explanation is warranted. So here goes:

Last night, as we were hobbled by fatigue and frustration, we penned an awfully angry post on an incident at the University of California at Davis, in which we learned that some joyless thought-police type had registered a grievance over the inclusion of the word "holiday" in a department's "holiday party." As we wrote then, our apoplexy nearly caused us to blow out our spleen.

Later, though, we realized that this was -- when all was said and done -- a minor aggravation in the grand scheme. However, we also realized that if too many aggravations were to come down the pike at once, our nerves would be entirely shot. That would reduce us to a shuddering, angry, unpleasant state, in which we constantly mumbled about the impending dangers of Bolshevism.

Hence, to prevent that breakdown from happening, we have instituted The Bermuda Index.

The Bermuda Index runs on a scale from 0 to 100, and is similar to a stock index, in that it can go up or down at random for no particular reason. However, like the market, certain things -- societal stupidity, our dealings with idiots, and other unfortunate incidents -- will be used to explain the movement of the index, whether or not there is any correlation.

Something minor, like the UC-Davis incident, may warrant adding two points; something really minor, such as that televised reality-show wedding, may warrant adding one-tenth of a point. Something major -- let's say an auto accident in which some idiot rammed his SUV into my Taurus because he was talking on his mobile phone -- would be worth adding 30 or 40 points.

A reading of 0 means that all is right with the world, I am feeling fine, and the week just seems to be getting better and better. A reading of 100 means that I am on the verge of losing my last marbles, and to prevent that from happening, I have gone on vacation to Bermuda for at least a week.

So there you have it -- The Bermuda Index: tracking both my own sanity, and that of our nation. It will be updated weekly or as circumstances warrant.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 01:24 PM | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Swell New Digs

SAY, EVERYBODY! ALLISON BARNES has an entirely new site design, now that she's switched her already-fine site over to Movable Type! And it is a very swell set-up indeed. We encourage all of you to check it out.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:06 PM | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

A Momentary Descent into Geekdom

WE WORKED FOR A BIT on the banner last evening, as you can undoubtedly tell. As usual, this led to a good deal of thinking on our part. For we had decided to remove Mr Bob Harris (Bill Murray's character in "Lost in Translation") but were unsure with whom we would replace him. We ended up choosing Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan's character in "Star Trek").

There were a number of good reasons for this. Using Mr Scott allows us to both make note of our Scots ancestry and show our respect for folks who get things done in this world. At the same time, it allows us to emphasize our frequent exasperation with certain aspects of American popular culture in a very Jim Traficant-like way. We fully understand that to Loyal Rant Readers, our thinking may involve too much time, too much effort, and too much justification on our part. But we do take our efforts here at The Rant very seriously.

However, we do have to admit that Mr Scott was not our first choice. Our first choice was Admiral Piett. We are somewhat ashamed to admit that this proves that beneath our rational, real-world, cold exterior, a dormant geekiness still exists. We have very much managed to suppress this over the years -- we got older, we were concentrating on other things, etc. -- but once in a very great while it will still make itself known.

Now, we realize that a good 90 percent of our readership -- perhaps 99.3 percent -- will have no idea of whom we are speaking. Indeed, we asked one fellow of our acquaintance who we deemed likely to know who the fellow was, and even he had no clue. In any event, Adm Piett is the likeable and proper commander of a Super Star Destroyer in the second and third installments of the "Star Wars" series. His key noteworthy quotes ("Right," "Carry on," and "Bounty hunters. We don't need that scum!") are delivered with the proper bearing and gravity which we would expect. As readers might imagine, we approved heartily of the Admiral's performance. Besides, we think that behind all that talk about "peace" and "freedom," the Rebels had plans to nationalize Imperial industry and impose wage-and-price controls. There was a perfectly good reason why their turbolasers were Red!

We decided against Adm Piett in the end, though, because we realized that most -- OK, all -- of our readers would not see this. Besides, we couldn't get the picture just right in Photoshop. But that's not to say he might not appear in future, though. Hell, if we can have Agent Smith on our banner, we can damn well have a Star Wars character too.

RELATED: If you still have absolutely no idea of whom we are speaking, you may visit this excellent Star Wars fan site devoted entirely to Admiral Piett.

We were as surprised as you are. And yes, the whole thing is about a Star Wars character whom even the site notes ranks No. 17 on a list of the Top 20 characters in the series. This, friends, is why the Internet rules.

VERY GEEK-RELATED COMMENT: What? No Web site devoted entirely to Wedge Antilles?

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:40 AM | TrackBack

November 04, 2003

A Merit Badge in Blogging

WE COULDN'T HELP BUT NOTICE that Dean Esmay, kung-fu master of blogging which he is, has declared us to be a veritable Eagle Scout when it comes to this pursuit of ours. We certainly appreciate this acclaim from one of the blogosphere's leading lights, and will of course strive to meet the Eagle Scout designation, which readers may see if they click the preceding link.

One thing that did interest us, however, was a caution mentioned in that designation. According to the good people at "Flame Warriors," Eagle Scout bloggers are prone to turning into so-called Jekyll-and-Hyde types. In our case, we personally think this concern is very much unwarranted.

As long-time readers know, we only very rarely take to task people with whom we disagree, and it is only on the merits of their arguments that we offer up our criticism. It is certainly not due to personal factors, as the Jekyll-and-Hyde description so cruelly suggests. Further, when we do disagree with other writers or bloggers, we believe that our criticism is well-thought out, subtle, and restrained. And they got everything they deserved, too, the disgusting --

Oh! Dear God. We don't know what came over us for a second, there. Anyway, again, we thank Mr Esmay for his kind words, and look forward to continue serving our readers in the manner to which they are accustomed.

Also -- this guy stole our chair!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:53 PM | TrackBack

October 05, 2003

Where Have I Been, You Wonder

GAD.

We here at The Rant must apologize to our legions of loyal readers for not really updating over the past week. Oh, sure, we had that tiny little brief on Friday night talking about Jean Chretien, but that really doesn't count at all, now does it? No, it does not.

Anyway, we have had one of those weeks. No, really -- we have had one of those weeks. We are talking a week so bad that we half-expected Rod Serling to step out of the shadows here at Rant headquarters and deliver a long soliloquy as we were blogging.

Mr SERLING: "Meet Benjamin Kepple, a little-known writer in a medium-sized modern American city. Little does he know, as he sits there wheezing and gasping, recovering from an internal malady, that external forces will soon deliver him into a nightmarish world of fear and frustration. A world we call The Twilight Zone."

Now, we admit that this may be a bit of an exaggeration. OK, it is. Things truly weren't that bad. We have not experienced things that would make us suspect divine forces had decided to make us a successor to Job. Still, what really amazed us was that there were a number of little not-good things that went along with the major not-good happenings; things that truly made us realize It Was Certainly Not Going to Be Our Week. Whether it was our chronic inability to pump gas for an even dollar amount at the service station, or Michigan's inexcusable loss to Iowa, or the botched delivery of our dinner one night, or our spilling things in the kitchen, it all added up. The icing on the cake, perhaps, was on Friday.

We were returning a DVD to our useless local video store. As the establishment was closed at that time in the morning, we were forced to use the outside hatch which lets patrons return their videos outside the store's operating hours. We were checking to see whether the DVD was in fact the DVD we had rented, and not one of our favorite war films, when we found ourselves struggling with the cheap plastic case it was in.

Pop! goes the case. Out! goes the DVD. Into the nearby public ashtray.

We then stared at the cursed thing for a good minute or so in wonderment. For clearly it was a sign; a sign telling us that we were going to be in it for the long haul. But lo! we can assure our readers that we are in quite high spirits. Quite high spirits, indeed.

For we have noticed in our lives that when things go poorly for an extended period of time, they snap back with amazing force sooner or later. God willing it will be sooner, but who can say? In the meantime, we know that with the support of all those very near and dear to us, we shall make it through; and that all will be well in the end. And so on, until morning.

No, really. That's not sarcasm. We are doing quite well.

Of course, we realize that this long explanatory will do little to nothing to answer the key question loyal Rant readers are undoubtedly wondering, which is: when will The Rant resume normal operations?

Pretty soon, we'd say. We're thinking Tuesday. No, really. Tuesday.

We can say with relative certainty that this week, we will have updates on some pretty good writing printed in overseas publications; some long essays on social phenomena here in the United States; and a Bad Cinema with Ben update. Saucy!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:36 PM | TrackBack

September 26, 2003

Bene Legere Saecla Vincere

SAY, EVERYBODY! Our good friend Scott Rubush is back to blogging after a long hiatus -- it seems he has finally fixed his lap-top. Do pay Mr Rubush a visit, and do so often.

Michael Williams has organized a symposium featuring short stories from quite a few recognized bloggers, including our good friend Andrew Dodge.

Dean Esmay is doing yeoman's work publicizing an American soldier's drive to bring toys to Iraqi children. Go take a look. It's a truly good endeavor, and in addition is a way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people during the re-establishment of their Government.

Ken Layne knows music -- and has the finished CDs to prove it. Go buy some.

What in the ... hell?

What in the ... um ... well, Gad.

By the way, we will give MAJOR style points for anyone who can identify the fellow to the left of Maria Bartiromo in our new Web banner. The Swami, one of our many loyal Rant readers, knows!

If you're looking for left-of-center news and views on the Democratic Presidential primary, Oliver Willis is your man. How serious is he taking it? Well, on his index page right now, there's not one picture of a hot girl.

We just had to point out that we're a Primo Blog over at Richard Bennett's site. We offer our sincere thanks to Mr Bennett, and humbly note that we do, in fact, rule.

That anonymous guy over at Curveball -- WHOMEVER HE COULD BE --has a damning review of "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." It seems that, as per usual, Hollywood has screwed up again in portraying how the Granite State operates. Gad. Also there is haiku.

Illinigirl enlightens us about someone called Bob Guinney, whom we are told is searching for a wife on television. We are reminded that a key reason that Joseph Heller finished Catch-22 was because so much of what was on television was crap. Even back in the Fifties.

Tim Blair is excited about Australia's rugby championship. We wish Collingwood all the best of luck.

Finally, if you are going to be in New York on Oct. 5, you owe it to yourself to go see Sheila O'Malley perform LIVE. The details are here.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 17, 2003

The Rant Will Return Sept 23

Until then, have a look at the fine sites on our blogroll, and take care of yourselves out there!

Also, do check out my good friend Matthew Schwartz's blog. Mr Schwartz, a law student at Case Western Reserve University, writes from Cleveland.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:00 PM | TrackBack

September 05, 2003

Clarification

As regular readers of The Rant know, we recently updated our blogroll. In our entry discussing those changes, we had suggested that, due to the sports-oriented writings on Stephen Silver's site, Mr Silver would be the type to shout "Buckner!" in a south Boston pub.

Upon reading this entry, Mr Silver wrote us about his time in the Northeast and said that his remarks about the Red Sox were in jest. We believe him about this because he admitted to being a fan of the Minnesota Twins, which takes guts. We also believe him because he clearly recognizes what it means to exclaim "Buckner!" within 250 miles of Boston. And he assures us he would never do such a thing.

So because we here at The Rant value honesty and accuracy, we have corrected the record. Now go visit Steve's blog.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 03, 2003

No Surprise Here

If I was a nation, the quizzes say, I'd be Singapore. If I was a European, the quizzes say, I'd be a Bavarian. Guess what my battle cry is?

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Stalking across the cliffs, swinging a meaty axe, cometh Benjamin! And he gives a cruel grunt:

"I'm going to smack you until you bleed puke, and plunge you into financial ruin!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:35 PM | TrackBack

We Have Updated the Blogroll

SAY THERE, MISTER! We've updated the blogroll here at The Rant!

We'd first like to direct our readers to Kevin White's excellent site. Mr White's work deals with a variety of topics, ranging from academia to finance, and we can assure you that you will find it always well-written, interesting and thought-provoking. Hence, we encourage all readers of The Rant to read Mr White's site regularly.

Next, we'd like to direct our readers to Stephen Silver's fine blog. Mr Silver is a professional journalist in New York -- or, to be more precise, Hoboken, N.J. As such, he has the professional journalist's often-cruel yet very funny sense of humor. He covers topics ranging from politics to popular culture with a quick wit and keen eye.

However, we must warn our New England readers that Mr Silver seems to be the type who would shout "BUCKNER!" in a Southie watering hole. Yes, we know how serious that charge is, but we don't want you to say we didn't warn you.

We also encourage readers to check out Andrew Dodge's neat group-blogging effort over at Dodgeblogium. A good site for world politics and other popular culture news.

Readers will also notice that we've screwed around with made some minor changes to the order of our blogroll. We do think, however, that this will prove easier to manage on our part, as well as more convenient for regular Rant readers.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 24, 2003

Ooooooooh!

Say, everybody! Layne redecorated!

Also you should purchase his CD.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:38 PM | TrackBack

August 20, 2003

ELDER: "Into one of the Outer Circles of Hell."

IF YOU DON'T read Kirk Elder in The Scotsman every single time the man writes a column, then you definitely ought to begin doing so. In Mr Elder's latest essay, he examines that unpleasant sport we call cycling. I present two out-takes as prima facie evidence that you ought to read him as much as you can:

I AM not, by nature, a sportsman. I was raised to believe that every moment discharged in athletic activity was a moment which could have been better spent in gloomy contemplation. Not for me the nauseous rushing of adrenalin, the happy slapping of victorious team-mates, or the homo-erotic lapping of the communal bath ...

My own enjoyment of cycling has never stretched to treating it as a sport. My bicycle, a 1960s Raleigh Sport, was named as a provocation to the Trade Descriptions Act, as its frame is fashioned from 24-carat lead, and its wheels from the finest mahogany. The tyres are made of solid India rubber, and the Sturmey-Archer gears have three settings: Agony, Inner Turmoil and Dropkick Me, Jesus, Through The Goalposts of Life.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 14, 2003

Outage Updates

The Command Post is on this like a moth to a flame.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:54 PM | TrackBack

Not That Anyone Can Read This, But ...

It seems an absolute miracle that the electricity is still on here in southern New Hampshire, but here at Casa Ben we're without cable television. Fortunately, we still have electricity, unlike most of the east.

The outage was first reported on the AP wires as of 4:23 p.m. Television images showed -- well, when I had access to TV, over at work -- thousands upon thousands of people streaming out of New York City. Power outages have been reported in New York City, much of upstate New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, northern Ohio including Toledo and Cleveland, the metropolitan Detroit area, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. Also affected are Toronto, Ottawa and some Vermont towns are also without power.

Amazing how calm and orderly everything is in the cities. Still, I don't think we've seen this kind of disruption to the nation's business since Sept. 11. What a huge mess! However, this is NOT repeat NOT a terror attack.

Air traffic in and out of Cleveland and the three major New York-area airports has been temporarily halted. However, incoming flights are being allowed to land.

Weirdly, power is out in the southeast suburbs of Cleveland, but brother Jesse in Akron reports that he still has power at his apartment. However, the University of Akron is without power.

Here's hoping everyone in the affected areas is all right and stays all right until the power is restored. That may not be until late this evening, according to New York authorities.

UPDATE: Twenty million people are affected due to the blackout, Drudge reports. The Washington Post has a not-too useful map.

Also, Drudge has helpfully provided the sunset times in New York and Detroit. Gee, thanks for reminding us.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 07, 2003

"Sweet ... MERCY."

So last Thursday, Allison Barnes all gave us quite a start when she announced, with absolutely no fanfare, that she would be taking some time off. We didn't know why at the time, but we learned why in her latest post.

It's one of those things that would be funny if it was in a movie; but unfortunately, life is most certainly not a movie. Basically, the situation she describes pretty much sucks. So go read it.

Also, readers of The Rant are sincerely encouraged to go buy Allison stuff on her Amazon wish list.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 30, 2003

The Rant Will Return on Monday, Aug. 4

... but don't worry, all is well here at The Rant. See you soon, and with even more great features ... such as NEVER-BEFORE SEEN CONTENT!

Of course, given that we're in the business of producing content that's never been seen before, that's kind of a rip-off, but hey. We shall be back, and we shall see you then!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:55 PM | TrackBack

July 11, 2003

Bloggers on Parade

I am pleased to announce that Geoff Brown, my old comrade-in-arms from our days at The University of Michigan, has started his own blog. As if that wasn't good news enough, I am pleased to note that Mr Brown -- making good use of the Journalism Savvy that he gained at that august institution -- has written his first entry in response to my latest post.

Mr Brown, who is studying for the state of Michigan's bar examiniation, writes that stupid lawsuits are not necessarily the fault of the legal system itself, but rather the fault of a society unwilling to take responsibility for its own actions.
Now I can't really disagree with that, although one might note that because our society is the way it is, we might need more protections in place to protect honest citizens and companies from the predatory legal maneuverings of lazy ne'er-do-wells.

In any event, I encourage all of you to keep an eye on Mr Brown's site as it develops.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:43 AM | TrackBack

July 05, 2003

The Rant Shall Return on July 9

Until then, spend some time searching around ... look at the archives ... visit all the wonderful writers on my blogroll ... you know, the usual :-).

Hope you've all had a great Fourth of July weekend. Take care of yourselves out there.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:03 AM | TrackBack

July 02, 2003

That's A Good Thing, Right?

Headline from the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s radio division:
"Laos reconsidering jailing journalists."

Click on the link, and you'll find out whether that wretched state is reconsidering putting more journalists in the hoosegow or considering freeing jailed journalists. Come on, have some fun with it -- call it 'fun with delayed gratification.'

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:06 PM | TrackBack

We're Family Friendly -- Kinda

pg13
What rating is your journal?

brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:37 PM | TrackBack

June 25, 2003

Now THIS is Opinion Writing

KIRK ELDER: "I was convinced I had stumbled into the departure lounge of Hell."

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:48 AM | TrackBack

June 22, 2003

Hello, Readers!

Say, everybody! It's that time -- yet again -- for another Reader Recognition Entry, in which we here at The Rant publicly thank our readers for visiting the site. You see, one of the neat things about moving to our own domain is that we have a great handle on where readers come from. So, without further ado, let's begin:

* First, we would like to thank the good people at the U.S. General Accounting Office for visiting The Rant. We think the GAO is one of America's most underappreciated and most valuable Government agencies, and we have always found the reports it produces quite useful. So thanks for visiting, and keep up the good work.

* We'd also like to recognize the hardworking students over at Cornell University for their visits to The Rant. Especially since we think The Rant is a better read than the Cornell Daily Sin. Er, Sun.

* But speaking of hard work, we can't leave out the good people at the Mayo Clinic either. We know how hard doctors work to keep us alive -- even though we are notorious at failing to follow our physicians' instructions. So we hope that this provides you some enjoyment while "on call."

* Hello, Bank of America guy! We're glad you've taken time to visit The Rant too. However, because you are not a "premium visitor," we're going to have to charge you $2 to see the index page.

Sucks, don't it? Now you know how I felt when I was a BofA customer.

* Hello, Boeing employees! Give Airbus hell!

* Finally, we'd like to say hello to our visitors from the Ideologically Sound Nations of Britain, Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan and Chile! Thanks for visiting -- we hope that you enjoyed your time here at The Rant.

That's all for now, but we hope all our readers will check back regularly for more of the insightful commentary and updates into our insane life you've come to expect.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 18, 2003

All Work and No Play Builds My 401(k) ...

... but leaves little time for blogging. This is why I have been away for the past four days or so without any notice, warning, or other announcement to you, the loyal Rant reader.

Also, to be perfectly honest, I've had a hell of a week. I would go so far as to say that the past ten days of my life are among the worst that I've had in a very long time. I've gone through everything from nearly losing a close relative to really tough days at the office. Then, today, just when I thought things were looking up, I had to make an emergency run to the tire store because I thought I had a flat on the Family Truckster.

But all that is behind me now, for I am tanned, rested and ready to continue blogging! Well, OK, just ready, but you get the gist.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 11, 2003

A Big "Thank You" to Our Readers

As The Rant nears its first week on the new server, we here have been positively astounded at the number of visitors to our site. We do not use that word lightly, either. We mean we were flat-out stupefied when we saw the latest numbers, and we were calling each other over to the monitors, and jumping up and down excitedly.

We are pleased to tell our investors that site traffic to The Rant is up an estimated 336 percent from its all-time high. This traffic has thus far been sustained and is increasing. While we think it will level off and perhaps recede a bit, we have been incredibly pleased with the reception to The Rant's new home.

We would further like to thank Dean Esmay, the force majeure behind our switch to our own hosting service; Emily Jones; Brian Linse; D.C. Thornton; Ken Layne; Oliver Willis; Sasha and Andrew Castel-Dodge, Bryan @ AWS; Illinigirl and all the others who have updated their links, given us a mention, or otherwise contributed to the cause. If we've missed you, please drop us a note and we'll make sure to add you onto the list.

We would also like to thank the UnaBlogger for his link to our site. While our Internal Code of Ethics prohibits us from actually linking to the UnaBlogger's Web site because of its ...um ... you know ... content, we must say we appreciate his interest. We admit we don't understand why he is interested in our site. But he apparently seems to feel we deserve a mention, and we thank him for the 91 hits he has sent our way.

We would also ask who the girl is this time. Please advise.

Sincerely,

Top Management
Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant, Inc.
"Your Hometown Nostalgia Source"

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 09, 2003

Support from an Unexpected Quarter

My best friend in all the world has called me an idiot. Other bloggers have called me insane, even delusional. But my post on the Pittsburgh Steelers has drawn some support from an unexpected quarter.

Sure, Boston-area blogger Oliver Willis takes issue with some of my post, but he does agree forcefully with me on one key point: that the Cowboys do not deserve the mantle of "America's Team."

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:43 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 01, 2003

New Test Post

This is a test post to my new Movable Type site. I rule!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:19 PM | Comments (1)

Good Day Sunshine!

Merry Christmas, Ben. :-)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 02:29 AM | Comments (7)