The Idiom

Can You Grok It? Free Grokistan!

Monday, January 31, 2005

Debbie Downer

That old warhorse, Saturday Night Live has pretty much fallen into disrepair and worse, irrelevancy.

However, I don't agree with people who claim that it is completely unfunny and unwatchable. Sometimes, gems do still get produced.

Kid Various was watching a repeat of SNL the other day with Linsay Lohan as the host and the not ready for primetime players put on a sketch entitled Debbie Downer.

The idea of the sketch is that Rachel Dratch plays a character who is always raining on everybody's parade. The sketch itself is pablum. But the great thing about live TV is screw ups. And every once in a while, the cast of SNL is somehow struck by the humour of their sketch and can't keep it together. I love it when the cast can't keep a straight face. Watch the whole thing. But if you have a slow connection, you can read the transcript. Though it's not as funny.

Debbie Downer: By the way -- [ cracks up ] By the way, it's official -- [ pauses extensively to hold in her laughter; Jimmy Fallon is looking at her. Dratch’s voice breaks as she says the next line]: I can't have children! [Jimmy Fallon covers his face with his hands to keep from laughing]

[ drunken trombone sound effect, as camera zooms in on Debbie’s face, which is distraught with laughter. At this point, everyone at the table is cracking up, except for Fred Armisen, who is just smiling to keep from laughing ]
It was just brilliant. Fallon is just looking at Dratch trying desperately not to laugh, waiting for her to give her line and then just loses it afterwards.

Jaws IV: Baghdad

Important safety tips when answering your door in Baghdad, a skit by the Not Ready for Primetime Players.

#1) The wrong way:
Kid Various: (on the phone) Mom, I'm telling you, I'll be okaaaayy. I'll be careful. Alright. Goodbye…
Doorbell: Ding Dong.
Kid Various: Yes?
Voice: Mr. Bowerton.
Kid Various: Who?
Voice: Mr. Heyahl.
Kid Various: What?!
Voice: Telephone man!
Kid Various: My telephone's okay! Who is this?!
Voice: Are you double-parked, I think you're Humvee is blocking me?
Kid Various: I don't own a car! Come on, who is this?
Kid Various: A candygram! Oh, boy! (Kid various opens the door and is grabbed headfirst by insurgents)

#2) The right way:

Doorbell: Ding Dong.
Kid Various: Yes?
Voice: U.N. Peacekeepers.
Kid Various: Who?
Voice: Uhh,candygram.
Kid Various: What?! I don’t like candy.
Voice: Meat of the Month Club.
Kid Various:
Who is this?!
Voice: Landshark.
Kid Various: What?!
Voice: Insurgency.
Kid Various: Don't want any.

The end. Exeunt Omnes.

Or read it in the original here.


Kid Various is returning to the Sandbox.

Expect no further blogging except for the off-hand post about Green Lantern to let you know he's alive.

Iraqi GOTV

One classic American political "get out the vote" (GOTV) technique is being tried out on the eve of Iraqi democracy, the voter ID and turnout call. Overheard in Tikrit:

Caller: Hi, I'm calling to remind you that today is election day.
Tikrit Resident: Yes.
Caller: If you are planning to vote today, don't forget that if you do go out and vote, we will behead you in the town square and feed your entrails to the vultures.
Tikrit Resident: ...
Caller: So can we count on you to defy the Great Satan and not vote today?
Tikrit Resident: ...
Caller: I'll take that as a no. Bu-bye.

Talk about negative campaigning. Iraqi politics is getting almost as intense as New Jersey politics.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

How Lame Are We?

This from Andrew Sullivan's column in the London Times:

As you read this, some beleaguered Iraqi is risking her life to have a say in her future. She will have recently found out where her voting place is, and will have been warned by local hoodlums that she will be murdered for exercising her new right to vote. Her children could be targeted. Her husband could be shot. But still she ventures out.

I have to say I find that fact as remarkable as it is humbling. We sit comfortably in societies where democratic traditions have existed for centuries. We take for granted that our voices count for something in changing and shaping the country we live in. Many of us stay at home on election day out of inertia or protest.

How freaking lame are we, that we can't get off our butts and vote? The Iraqis had a higher particpation rate than our last election, and they had to risk death to go vote.

Some people in the blogosphere are suggesting that we dip our fingers in blue ink as a show of solidarity with the people of Iraq who today stood up for freedom against tyranny. Kid Various, for one, will be doing it.

The Kid is not optimistic, but he is full of hope.

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Kid Various was watching the Chris Matthews Show this morning (jesus Dick Cavett is a know-nothing schlub) and saw a commercial for Philip Morris talking about how much money they put into the prevention of under-age smoking and giving Kid Various all sorts of useful information on how dangerous smoking is.

Wow. They're really a good corporate citizen who's looking after the well being of the Kid. What is it they produce again? Oh yeah,


Man the Anti-Smoking Nazis really have us all whipped don't they? They even got the tobacco manufacturers trying to get you not to buy their product. That's power baby.

One thing in Europe they still do right is that they allow people to smoke without treating them like freakin' lepers. I got off the plane in Barcelona several weeks ago and saw a woman smoking. Smoking! In an airport!

It was all I could do not to point my finger at her and bellow, "Sieze her!"

Habit you know...

First the Nazis got the no smoking sections, but I figured I could still go into the smoking section so I didn't say anything.
Then they came for the whole airplane, but I didn't fly much so I didn't make trouble.
Then they came for the restaurants, but I didn't eat out much so I didn't speak up.
Then they came for all the office buildings, but I could telecommute so I remained quiet.
Then they came for the bars (bars!!!) , but I didn't drink a lot so I looked the other way.
Then they came for the ski mountain. But there was no one left to speak up for me.

That's right, the whole freakin' mountain! How does that make any sense?

And will it stop there? Not likely. As, apparently, your employer can demand that you not smoke on pain of your job.

Not at the office, mind you, but at any time on your off hours!!! How is this possibly legal in America?

Kid Various does not actually smoke. The closest he comes is a few puffs on a cigar every now and then. But neither does the Kid own a gun, yet he's still a supporter of 2nd ammendment rights.

What enrages the Kid is when annoying busy-bodies try to insert themselves into other people's business, and the anti-smoking Nazis are exhibit A. As Penn & Teller note in their must watch Showtime series "Bullshit!" what the Nazis are trying to do is outlaw something that annoys them. And that, my friends, is Un-American.

Just because something offends you doesn't mean you're entitled to try and get the government to ban it. The fact is, that in a liberal society, if someone is doing something that you don't like - that's your problem friend. It is incumbent upon you to tolerate it.

You know what offends Kid Various? Children.

He despises the rugrats. Maybe the Kid should get some people together and demand government action to remove screaming brats from airplanes...or restaurants...or movie theaters (yes, dumb morons continue to bring infants to R-rated movies.) How is my right to enjoy my dinner in peace less important than your right to enjoy yours without smoke? Oh yeah, I isn't your freakin' right.

Grow up.

Mr. Surly's Book Report

As an antidote to the insightful commentary on Star Trek conventions, Mr. Surly brings you a book review of the timely Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News by Bernard Goldberg, a 28 year veteran of CBS News. You can now see him on Real Sports on HBO, as his views regarding media bias did not go over particularly well with Dan Rather. Rather's current disgrace, brought on by his and CBS News' attempt to discredit George W. Bush's National Guard service during Vietnam, lends support to the central thesis of Goldberg's book.

Goldberg explains that most news outlets, but in particular ABC, NBC and CBS, have a liberal bias, which most Americans are generally aware of on some level. However, Goldberg gets behind the reason for this bias. Liberal bias is not the result of any conscious conspiracy to manipulate the news, but rather the root of the problem is that network news is dominated by liberals who are simply convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs.

Liberal views are simply thought of as "correct." Such views are not challenged because of the homogeneous nature of most newsrooms. Goldberg reminds us of the great anecdote about Pauline Kael and her comments about the landslide victory of Richard Nixon. Kael is said to have complained "I don't know how he won. I don't know anyone that voted for him."

Liberal stances on causes such as affirmative action, gay rights, abortion rights, and feminism are presumed to be the norm. The news is tilted to reflect and support such views as correct. Conservative voices are thus marginalized on network news if included at all in the news. If there is a story on a women's issue, you go to the liberal National Organization for Women for a reaction, as one reporter is quoted in the book. It didn't even occur to the reporter to also get a reaction from a conservative group. Why go to a conservative group that opposes abortion to talk about abortion? That just doesn't fit the liberal politically correct view of the world.

Goldberg examines the many different ways liberal bias has affected the way the news is brought to viewers. Ever notice how conservative commentators are labeled as such, but you never see someone on the news introduced as a "noted liberal commentator." Ever notice the phrase "right wing" is commonly used to describe conservatives, but when was the last time you heard a politician described as "left wing"?

One of the more interesting, to me in particular, examples of liberal bias Goldberg cites is an instance where a producer criticizes a story he worked on about an Alabama prison chain gang. The producer was critical because almost all the prisoners interviewed for the story were black. Coincidentally almost all the prisoners were black, but this did not deter the producer from giving a warning to Goldberg's cameraman to shoot more white faces next time. The producer's actions are not based on any valid concern, such as perhaps the Alabama justice system unfairly targets blacks. Apparently, it's just "insensitive" to show blacks in chains in prison even if that's the reality.

The veracity of this story is apparent to me. I worked in television news for a few years as well, and when I selected videotape for a story about crime, I was told to find more images of whites getting arrested for the story. It just wasn't politically correct to show too many blacks being arrested in a story about crime.

Goldberg's analysis is a devastaing indictment of how liberal bias and political correctness has destroyed the integrity of network news. The book is recommended reading for anyone who wants to understand how CBS screwed up its expose on George Bush's National Guard records.

The Last Word on Catblogging (I mean it)

For all you catbloggers out there, what are you supposed to do when your cat passes off this mortal coil? I bet you didn't know there's still a way for your favorite furry friend to stay close to you and serve a useful purpose. That's right, you too can turn your cat into a purse. Not for the squeamish!

She's Got Sue Simmon's Hair

Now the time has come (Time!)
There's no place to run (Time!)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time!)
But I had my fun (Time!)
I've been loved and put aside (Time!)
I've been crushed by the tumbling tide (Time!)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time!)

Just saw a commercial on NBC for the local news team of Sue Simmons and Chuck Scarborough, set to that awesome tune by the Chambers Brothers.

The fascinating thing is that Sue and Chuck have been the local news anchors for 25 freakin' years! How sad is that? Man even Jack Cafferty moved on to CNN.

You gotta believe that somewhere in the bowels of WNBC, New York there are a bunch of ambitious news producers thinking "When are those two freaks going to die already???"


Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings

(2005-01-30) -- News reports of terrorist bombings in Iraq were marred Sunday by shocking graphic images of Iraqi "insurgents" voting by the millions in their first free democratic election.hat tip Instapundit
The Iraqi Election Commission is now reporting a 72% turnout with less than an hour to go in the polling. FOX News reports that voting activity was substantial even in Fallujah.

Kid Various hopes to God that this turns out to be the case. And that even the defeatist collaborators in the MSM will have to admit that something positive can happen in Iraq. Perhaps they should be reading blogs like this:

This was my way to stand against those who humiliated me, my family and my friends. It was my way of saying,” You’re history and you don’t scare me anymore”. It was my way to scream in the face of all tyrants, not just Saddam and his Ba’athists and tell them, “I don’t want to be your, or anyone’s slave. You have kept me in your jail all my life but you never owned my soul”. It was my way of finally facing my fears and finding my courage and my humanity again …

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Cinderella Story

Just was watching Pretty Woman again on cable, because apparently, they'd rather show that piece of tripe 75 million times instead of exposing kids to the classics like Godzilla vs. Megalon.

The thing that really bothers me about the film is that it is always referred to as a "Cinderella story." But my version of Grimm's fairy tales seemed to include nothin' about no pimps or ho's. I don't remember Cinderella workin' it at Prince Charming's ball.

Hey baby, you wanna date?

Man, if the glass slipper fits...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Weather Forecast/Blogsnap

The weather forecast shows a cold night ahead tonight. Makes you just want to curl up with a cup of chamomile tea and watch the 2nd season of Beauty and the Beast, huh Mr. Surly.

Ohhhh Vincent...

Vincent: In this city of night, in this city of millions, there are countless stories. This is one of two lovers who shared a bond that changed their lives forever. It is my story. Her compassion opened my heart to a world where goodness and truth were stronger than hate or fear. Then, one day, she was taken from me by the forces of evil she battled so bravely. And now, alone with her memory, yet armed with her courage, I have sworn to fight those who would kill or harm or destroy, in the hope that one day I will find what all men seek to find: my destiny...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fatwa: Wardrobe Malfunction

To protect the impressionable Youth of America from witnessing another unwholesome incident at the upcoming Superbowl XXXIX, clerics at the FCC today issued the following fatwa against wardrobe malfunction. Cheerleaders and halftime entertainers at Superbowl XXXII will be now attired thusly:

FCC mujihedeen will be standing guard to shoot all violators on the Jacksonville field during timeouts and the infidel heart of Justin Timberlake will be fed to the jackals during the pre-game show.

Watch those buttons Sir Paul...

To enjoy this blog

To enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of this blog, perhaps you should study.

Meatquest 2005

Mr. Surly was the big winner in last Friday's geek-off entitling him to a free dinner at Baig's Grill. For our next Friday geek-off contest winner perhaps dinner at Brasilia Restaurant is in order. While Baig's Grill has a respectable 9-meat rodizio offering, Brasilia offers an arterty-busting 14 meats and meat derivatives. One of Brasilia's swords carries chicken hearts, so 13! 13 > 9 = more meats. How very medieval though to pluck out and roast the hearts of chickens and parade them around on a pike.

Robocop IV - The Insurgency

Robot soldiers will soon be tackling the Iraqi insurgency. The Army's 18 Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems (SWORDS) will be deployed in combat with standard issue weapons. The robots operate via remote control and can hit a nickel-sized target at 300 meters ffrom a stable platform. My advice, disable the prime directives and scan in a picture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

While we're at it where's Robocop been? Robocop get off your ass and help!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Misconception #3 - Slight Correction

Kid Various explained to me that there are in fact hot women at comic book conventions, they just happen to be crazy. But they do exist and attend such events. Challenge having been made and accepted, I searched for evidence of such a phenomenon. From my searching, I can say that there is at least one example or category of hot women attending a comic book convention: the "Vampirella" models. Thank Dracula in a g-string.

Here is a Vampirella model at a comic book convention. I'm pretty sure she is being paid to sign autographs though. I don't think this counts.

Another happy customer with a different "Vampirella."

She is so into him, looks like it's gonna be his lucky day! Right?

Regardless, my central thesis holds. Even if a Vampirella model attends a comic book convention, I doubt she is going home with the Green Lantern here. Sorry Kyle, maybe you should go for one of those Klingon beauty pageant chicks.

Frankly, I don't think he has a shot with "T'Pol" either.

The main reason that this post is funny is because the Kid won't be able to comment/respond due to its less than safe for work aspect. The Kid's workspace is too public for such prurient blogging. Remember folks, we are blogging primarily for our own amusement...

and just in case you thought you could scroll down into safety:

The Church of Henry

Maybe he just forgot to take his meds that morning, but when I shared this cartoon with the Kid, it really threw him for a loop.

To cure the resultant anomie of the Kid, I recommend a visit to the Church of Henry. Henry, will of course, kick the Kid's ass, metaphysically. In 1998, I introduced the Kid and Mr. Surly to the spoken words of punk rock pioneer and street philosopher Henry Rollins. Ever since then, when any member of the editorial board of The Idiom slips into an existential crisis du jour, it becomes time to pay a visit to Mr. Rollins neighborhood.
Check it, quotations from the Book of Henry:

Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them. If you hate someone, hate them until it hurts.

Go without a coat when it's cold; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it's all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without. In times of hardship, you find out what you're made of and what you're capable of. If you're never tested, you'll never define your character.

Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.

It'll destroy you if you try to make it mean anything to anyone but yourself.

The best revenge is to survive yourself.

I don't want to know. I don't need it. I don't want the information that millions of people have. I don't want to be fed these boring facts and figures. Then you'll become one of the masses. I'd rather starve my mind a bit and have to search out nutrition in stranger places.

There are so many hammocks to catch you if you fall, so many laws to keep you from experience. All these cities I have been in the last few weeks make me fully understand the cozy, stifling state in which most people pass through life. I don't want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. I don't want to go with the smooth skin and the calm brow. I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun - hallucinating, screaming,
giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, "Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case." I will turn and say to them "It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn't even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!" And maybe, the passers by will drop a coin into my cup.

Various, Henry would like a word with you!

The Making of a "The Idiom" Blog Post

To assist you in your own blogging, here is an inside look at a how scintillating IM conversations between and among the proprietors of The Idiom, become brilliant and inventive blogposts on The Idiom:

Mr. Scriblerus: Question: who are the two guys who are in charge of Star Trek? They did TNG, STE, DS9, STV, you know those two guys.
Kid Various:
Rick Berman. Brannon Braga. They suck.
Mr. Scriblerus: Right
Kid Various: Especially Braga.
Mr. Scriblerus:
Any reason why?
Kid Various: Braga ruined Trek. Bad writer, what's more, lazy writer. If something didn't fit in his story he'd just change stuff.
Mr. Scriblerus: Ok, well in Misconception # 2 - Fan Fiction, I’m going to reference them.
Kid Various: For instance Zefrem Cochrane... was from Alpha Centauri, not Earth.
Mr. Scriblerus:
Right, the nefarious Zefrem Cochrane oversight. You can comment on that.
Kid Various: He appeared in the TOS episode, Metamorphisis, e.g.
Mr. Scriblerus: The one with the big bag of goo that ate earth and killed people mistakenly while protecting its young?
Kid Various:
The horta.
Mr. Scriblerus: Right the horta. Was that that one?
Kid Various:
But that wasn't "The Metamorphisis."
Mr. Scriblerus: Or was that the one with the evil shimmery energy being?
Kid Various:
That was the one.
Kid Various: Although that could also describe "Day of the Dove" and "Wolf in the Fold."
Mr. Scriblerus: Yes, lots of evil shimmery energy beings about the universe you know.
Kid Various: Or really, about half of all Star Trek episodes.
Mr. Scriblerus:
They should wear better protection.

Evil Shimmery Energy Being - Look Out!

With conversations like these, I'm beginning to wonder where Various and I fit into the geek hierarchy.

Geek Taxonomy

Western Civilization TM has a predilection for systematizing and categorizing all manner of things. Carolus Linneaus started it: kingdom, phylum, order, family, etc. Lore Sjoberg finished it. Behold the Geek Hierarchy (abridged):

or unabridged.

Query: where are you located in the geek hierarchy if you date her?

Corollary Query: where are you in the geek hierarchy if she rejected you?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Misconception #3 - Hot Chicks

Misconception #3 - Hot Chicks

Hot chicks do not attend comic book conventions. They just don’t. They don’t like Star Wars or Star Trek. They’re too hot and they have better things to do than dress up like a Klingon warrior woman and take your virginity from you.

Sure she might be on Star Trek, but that won't help you.

Misconception #2 - Fan Fiction

Misconception #2 - Fan Fiction

If your blog is cluttered with fan fiction, let's be clear that no one is ever really going to make your Deep Space Nine script into a real episode of Deep Space Nine. You should stop mailing your script in to those two guys who work for Star Trek, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. They’re probably too busy and I'm sure they really don't care.

By the way, if you are one of those people writing erotic Harry Potter fan fiction, you really need help. Get it before the FBI knocks on your door.

I Thought of This!

I just didn't think I'd find anyone to pay me. I'm always missing out on the good deals.

Andrew Fischer, 20, of Omaha, who put his forehead for sale on eBay as advertising space, received $37,375 on Friday to advertise the snoring remedy, SnoreStop.

Fischer will display the SnoreStop logo on his forehead for one month.

Almost $40K for walking around with an ad on your head for 1 month?

Advertisers! I can be bought much more cheaply!

Catblogging 3

Jesus loves my cat

Catblogging Cont'd

Oh look at Fluffy and Mr. Wigglesworth...

Aren't they so cute and anthropomorphic?

I love them so much....

Misconception #1 - Blog Poetry

As long as we are clearing up misconceptions about the blogworthy (this will be a series from your friends at The Idiom) let's address blog poetry.

Misconception #1 - Blog Poetry:

Your blog poetry is inevitably crap. You will never be a published poet. Go get a soul-sucking job at Walmart, it’s your destiny, embrace it.

P.S. There is nothing poignant about rainbows or unicorns. Nothing at all.

An Observation (Not a catblog)

As Kid Various learned from the Wikipedia entry of the prior post "cats eat exclusively meat." Cat food does not contain exclusively meat. There's corn and flour an other non-meat products in there. If only cats could read! J'Accuse Ralston-Purina. Cat food comes in various flavors too like beef and tuna. They should make mouse-flavored cat food. Cats catch mice. Cats eat mice. When was the last time you saw a cat go out on a deep-sea fishing trawler and haul in an 1800-pound tuna?

This is an observation. Not a catblog.


This is a cat:

Scientific name: Felis Domesticus or Felis Catus.

Any questions? Didn’t think so. Pretty obvious huh?

Let’s review. We here at The Idiom, believe that your blogging experience should provide you with more than the self-absorbed, pre-adolecsent, solipsistic blather you so commonly find on the internet, especially in the blogosphere. After surfing through the blogosphere, I have detected a disturbing trend: catblogging. Countless blogs have countless photos and wearisome, droll anecdotes about the family cat. Really, are any of these remotely necessary? No.

Is your cat famous? Is your cat one of those $50,000 genetically engineered hypo-allergenic cats? Is your cat an anthropomorphic, post-modern e-cartoon character? Is your cat the living embodiment of the Egyptian cat-god Bast? Does your cat transmit messages for you to the underworld? Is your cat the subject of a famous thought experiment on quantum mechanics? No? Then spare us and don’t blog about your cat anymore.

Please note that putting a funny hat on your cat does not put it into any of the above blogworthy categories.

Let this be the last catblog:

Growing up I had a cat. He did anthropomorphic things that endeared him to me and my family. He died. I buried him under a tree in the backyard. I was sad. The End.

OK? Will that do? Yet another public service from your friends at The Idiom. Serving the Blogosphere since earlier this month. You're welcome.

Monday, January 24, 2005

What W Meant to Say

Uber-pundit P.J. O'Rourke sizes up the inaugural address and translates what W meant to say with the Alternative Inaugural Address. Excerpts as follows:

"MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I had intended to reach out to all of you and bring a divided nation together. But I changed my mind. America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew in Berkeley, Boston, and Ann Arbor...

The media say that I won the election on the strength of moral values. If the other fellow had become President, would the media have said that he won the election on the strength of immoral values? For once the media would have been right..."

And on the 8th Commandment

"'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor' Especially not in return for vast wealth, abundant prizes, and lavish praise from fellow jerks. I'm talking to you, Michael Moore."

Maybe the 11th Commandment should be "Don't be a jerk."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Friday Sci-fi

Hey, did anyone notice that the Organians showed up on Star Trek: Enterprise this week?

Anyone? Anyone?

Wut up wit dat?

And does anyone agree that Battlestar Galactica is surprisingly good? Is Baltar going to end up with the Cylons?


What is the connection between Baltar and the Organians?

Dinner at Baig's Grill for whoever can figure it out...

Funeral to Last 18 and a Half Minutes

Rose Mary Woods is dead!

News of the Obvious 3

And speaking of Government lacking the competence to do anything right, here's an interesting story about a former government official who managed to climb to lofty heights with a fake PhD.

It turns out Callahan got her precious sheepskin from Hamilton University. Not Hamilton College, the highly competitive school in Clinton, New York, but Hamilton University, the unaccredited fee-for-degree "distance learning" center in Evanston, Wyoming, right on the Utah border. Such diploma mills frequently use names similar to those of accredited schools.
Given my own propensity to make stupid mistakes myself, under normal circumstances I really would feel sympathy for this person. It's a terribly embarassing situation. One brought on totally by her own actions, but nonetheless, people have various failings and I can understand.

But you know what, I'm glad this happened, because this woman was a freakin' dick...

At Labor, Callahan eventually got more power (despite being pushed out of the Clinton White House over the negative Project X publicity) and became less tolerant of those who didn't agree with her. "She had a style where she was right and you were wrong," Wainwright says, "and if you ever questioned her knowledge, if you were a contractor, you were fired, and if you were a fed [employee], you were banished."

Then she got the Ph.D. and threw it in all their faces, Wainwright and others say. "She insisted we call her Dr. Callahan," he says. "And she would belittle people with her technospeak to make them look stupid. In fact, she said most people [at Labor] were basically stupid." They got the last laugh.

I see these people all the time. I mean, how difficult is it to just be f'ing decent to people? Is that hard? Does being a decent person somehow undermine your power and authority?

Bureaucracies are filled with dicks who have power. Which is why it behooves us to fear them. It tickles me that her underlings got the last laugh...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Mr. Surly, Second Class Citizen

It has come to Mr. Surly's attention that Mr. Surly has no administrative privileges on The Idiom. Wut up wit dat? Maybe Mr. Surly would like to put up a hit counter (or have Mrs. Surly do it for him). What else is Mr. Surly gonna do when he's snowed in? Who set up this cockamamie blog? J'Accuse!

Snow Day

There's a foot of snow on the ground. I got the Simpsons Second Season on DVD and all the hot cocoa I can drink. Hit it.

Maybe He Thought it Was the "Noble" Prize

Noble prize winning economist Gary Becker and renowned legal scholar and 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner have a blog. It's a blog with some big brains behind it. Their joint blog functions not unlike the the Idiom as run by the braintrust known as Mr. Surly, Mr. Scriblerus and pet space monkey Kid Various. Becker and Posner have a dialogue where they discuss the big issues in our great land. I can already hear the hoards rushing to say "Whoa, Mr. Surly, you suck. Becker and Posner rule. How can you compare yourself to these esteemed personages?" Step off. I got one thing they don't -- a freaking spell checker.

While discussing tort reform, they bring up the old canard about the woman who sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee in her lap, and one of them misspells McDonald's not once, but twice! I'll give you a hint who got it right -- the lawyer. That's right, Becker, a Nobel Prize winner, can't spell McDonald's correctly. I mean if you're gonna bring up for the umpteenth time just about the most cliche legal anecdote of the last decade you should spell the name of the world's biggest restaurant chain correctly. Guess the Nobel Committee doesn't have a spelling requirement.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

School Free Drug Zones?

I was having dinner recently with a small group of attorneys and the conversation turned to the topic of "drug free school zone" laws. These laws which have recently come into favor with politicians require enhanced penaties, i.e. double the prison time, for the possession and distribution of drugs in a school zone. Theorhetically, these laws are meant to "PROTECT THE CHILDREN!" In reality though, the so called "drug free school zones" are concentrated in the urban areas of the state which are predominintly populated by minorities. Therefore, the "drug free school zone" laws are disproportionetly applied to minorities who are likely not selling drugs to any kids. A former prosector explained to the assembled dinner party that to understand how the drug free school zones actually worked in one urban city you had to look at a map. If you drew a circle around every school on the map to show the "drug free school zones," all the circles would overlap to cover the whole city. EXCEPT, one small area a few blocks in size. The former prosecutor said this area is widely known in the city as the "school free drug zone." It's a big joke. The city should really post signs so all the drug dealers know where to go. The "drug free school zone" laws were basically passed so politicians could appear tough on crime and look like they are protecting kids. Emphasis on "look." When half the state is a drug free school zone, the State isn't targeting particularly aggriegious drug offenders, it's targeting your garden variety drug offender. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no love for drug dealers. You want to lock them away forever, please be my guest -- until it costs me money. I just don't want to pay to incarcerate, I mean send to "college," every idiot drug dealer in the state twice as long so a policitician can look good. Hey, the State has a huge -- four billion dollars huge -- budget shortfall this year. Maybe the State could repeal the "drug free school zone" laws and legalize the sale of marijuana so the stoners could share some of the tax burden. I'd support that if it saved me a couple dollars. Somehow, I don't think that's gonna happen any time soon though.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Camus contra Sartre

From the annals of highbrow intellectual gossip, it looks like Camus turned downed Sartre's sloppy seconds in the form of Simone DeBeauvoir. Algis Valiunas writes in Commentary:

"Simone de Beauvoir, the writer who was Sartre’s lifelong lover, but whose romance with him admitted all manner of extraneous erotic possibilities, told Camus that he could have her if he wanted her. He did not want her. Sartre, one suspects, found Camus’s refusal more disturbing than Beauvoir’s offer, especially as he happened to be toadishly ugly and Camus handsome and charming."

Those randy existentialists.

The story blogs itself

This story blogs itself:

From Reuters: "Pentagon spurned "gay bomb" plan"

If only they could have dropped it at an Al Quaeda chapter picnic.



Rules of this Blog

Blogging can be a fun and safe activity for the whole family, but it is important to remember a few important rules when blogging.

Rules of this Blog:

1. Obey all Blog safety rules.
2. Always blog with a buddy.
3. Children must be supervised by a responsible adult whenever in the Blog.
4. No running around the Blog.
5. No horseplay or roughhousing in or near the Blog.
6. Elderly persons, pregnant women and those with health conditions requiring medical care should consult with a physician before entering this Blog.
7. Please do not pee in our Blog, we do not blog in your toilet.
8. There is no lifeguard on duty, blog at your own risk.
9. No diving.

Remember boys and girls, blog safely.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

News of the Obvious Cont'd

Screw The Government's federal dietary guidelines! We here at The Idiom express a healthy skepticism of government. And with good reason.

Last week I was in the office of a certain government office. In this office (which is more closely guarded than your average Bank of America branch) was a wall sized display that featured a timeline of "Great Events in Election History."tm

On the timeline were various landmarks such as the passage of the 19th Amendment that guaranteed women the right to vote, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, etc.

And way over on the left, at the beginning of the timeline, was the writing of the United States Constitution,

dated 1774.

Normally, I don't get pedantic about such things. Let's face it, most people don't think much about the Constitution in their daily lives. Though it would be nice, I wouldn't expect any random person to know that the Constitution was drafted in 1787 (and ratified in 1789.) But how many people in this Division did this display have to go through before it was printed? Didn't
anybody know that the Constitution was drafted in 1787? Hasn't anyone read The Federalist Papers, or Miracle at Philadelphia? Didn't anyone in that chain remember anything from high school history? Couldn't anybody pick up on the fact that the Constitution couldn't have been drafted in 1774, because in 1774, the nation that would become the United States of America was a set of 13 colonies of the British Empire and would remain so until that most famous year 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was drafted???

If The Governmenttm can't produce an accurate display chronicling it's own founding (it's the Constitution for Christ's sake!) how am I possibly going to trust it to dictate the contents of my breakfast?

Until such time that I have minimal confidence in the ability of The Governmenttm to deliver anything, I'm sticking with the Food Pentagram.
hat tip Instapundit


I want to see a forklift lift a crate of forks. That would be so damn literal!
- Mitch Hedberg

Monday, January 17, 2005

Carnivores Unite!

A fellow New Jerseyan has accomplished an amazing feat of competitive eating. Kate Stelnick, 19, of Princeton, N.J., drove five hours with two friends from The College of New Jersey to Clearfield, PA to meet the Denny's Beer Barrel Pub challenge: down the restaurant's six-pound hamburger - and five pounds of fixins' - within three hours. The 100-pound teenager is the first person to finish the monster burger, dubbed the Ye Old 96er, on the Internet and on TV's Food Network. Those of you that follow the rising sport of competitive eating can appreciate the maginitude of this feat. The sport has long been dominated by Takeru "The Tsunami" Kobayashi of Japan who has dominated the "Superbowl" of competive eating, the July 4th Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Easting Contest. Ms. Stelnick may be another Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas, in the making. Thomas, of Alexandria, Va., is a 105 pound woman who managed to eat 32 hot dogs at the Nathan's contest, more than any other woman and any other American in the contest's history. Let's hope that Stelnick stays active in competitve eating and turns her attention next to hot dogs. In the last five years only one American -- Steve Keiner, coincidently also from New Jersey -- has captured the "Mustard Yellow Belt" at the Nathan's contest. Bring the belt home Kate!

I would suggest a pilgrimage to Denny's Beer Barrel Pub to lay down the Old 96er challenge to Kid Various, but the challenge would be pointless. Kid Various has one gastronomic weakness: all vegetable matter is kryptonite to him. The Kid might down the Old 96er, but not the dreaded "fixins." Therefore, a different food event to test the Kid's eating mettle is called for -- Rodizio Night! Rodizio, a most excellant concept which originates in South America, involves several waiters bringing diners large skewers of dozens of different kinds of meat and cutting off slices of said meat until said diners say "Stop, no more!" The Kid, Mr. Scriblerus and I have previously enjoyed the pleasures of Rodizio at the Barge, a fine establishment. However, I am happy to report that New Jersey has been blessed with an additional restaurant to serve our Rodizio needs, Baig's Grill. Is Baig's Grill up to snuff? Can the Kid find out if all you can eat meat really is all you can eat? We shall see. The gauntlet has been thrown Kid!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Prince Harry Apologizes for Dressing as Nazi...WTF? Cont'd

The whole Herr Harry thing is beginning to get out hand. I'm starting to become more sympathetic to that fool of a Prince.

Now various jewish groups are demanding that he do penance by taking a trip to Auschwitz or face the wrath of the Tolerance Nazis.

OK, we can stipulate that as a public figure, who is constantly hounded by the press who desperately want to catch him in the act of doing something to embarrass himself, his choice of costume was poor. But for Christ's sake, he wore it to a costume party, it's not like he was he was going to the opening of Parliament like that.

I've dressed as Darth Vader at costume parties. That man murdered billions. Does this mean that the tolerance Nazis should demand of me that I express my humility by visiting the Endor holocaust museum?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

My First Prediction for 2005

Tsunami will be the really big baby name this year.

First, Let's Annoy All the Lawyers

Did you hear the one about the two guys arrested for telling lawyer jokes? But seriously folks, it happened earlier this week to the founders of a group called “Americans for Legal Reform,” who were waiting in line to get into the First District Courthouse. “How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?” Harvey Kash reportedly asked Carl Lanzisera. “His lips are moving,” they said in unison. While some waiting to get into the courthouse giggled Monday at the old chestnut, an attorney further up the queue was not laughing. He told them to pipe down and when they didn’t, the attorney reported the pair to court personnel, who charged them with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

The moral of this story is: don't piss off lawyers at the Courthouse. They are frequent fliers there and know the lay of the land. The Court house is home turf for lawyers, and everybody protects their turf. Don't act stupid and disrespectful in a Courthouse or you too may need a lawyer.

News of the Obvious

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued new federal dietary guidelines: to lose weight, eat less and exercise 30 to 90 minutes a day. The guidelines are updated every five years. It took FIVE YEARS to come up with that! That's the best the government can do in five years? Thanks for the update. In other news, its rumored you get wet if you go outside while it's raining.

Statement from the Management

Our philosophy here at The Idiom: Wake Up and Smell the Genius, is that if you don’t get it, that’s your problem.

Who are we? First of all, you don’t know us. We are nobody special. But in all likelihood we are smarter than you are that’s why we suggest you, humble reader, wake up and smell the genius.

Our references are archly intellectual, incisively ironic, esoterically hip, multilayered, nuanced and complex. If we are moving to fast for you, we won’t slow down. If you are confused, take a note. Our mad skills are dazzling to behold.

We are not writing for your amusement. We do not mollycoddle the mean. We are primarily concerned with our own amusement.

We form a cenacle, a cabal, a salon. Nothing here will be sanitized for your protection. If you can’t handle this you should turn off your computer and go back to reading Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Our politics are center right. We are rational determinists. Evolution is a fact not a theory. Technology is inherently good. Free market capitalism is one of the greatest gifts of the Enlightenment.

Thank you. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Speaking of Television...

Lost may be just about the best show on television right now. Carnivale, Deadwood, the Sopranos, Penn and Teller's Bullshit, Six Feet Under and the Simpsons are all great shows I also make time to watch. However, I am hooked on Lost. I haven't wanted to know what happens next on a show since the brief period when the X-Files was actually good. The tone of the show is actually very reminiscent of the tone of the X-Files. Plus there's usually at least one scene in each show where one of the really cute female characters strips down to her underwear. What's not to like?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Battlestar Galactica Redux

Battlestar Galactica is returning to television on January 14. Not the Battlestar Galactica that your uncle who still lives in his mom's basement so adored, but a brand new series on the Sci Fi Channel. Apparently, the big twist in the new series is that there are now smokin' hot Cylon chick robots on the show. Sounds like men living in their moms' basements everywhere will rejoice. I always thought the shiny metal Cylons with their single red eye moving from side to side were the coolest things about the old 70's show. The Cylons were certainly more interesting than most of the wooden actors, so I am not sure an emphasis on sex robots is such a good thing. Does the new show offer something to people other than real doll enthusiasts? Time will tell.

Old Cylon

New Cylon: You've come a long way baby!

[LOVEMASTER] Come here baaaaby, tickle my pickle...

[CYLON] By your command...

Prince Harry Apologizes for Dressing as Nazi...WTF?

The grandson of Queen Elizabeth II apologized Wednesday night after a tabloid printed a picture of him wearing a Nazi soldier's uniform to a fancy dress party. Early editions of Thursday's issue of "The Sun," showed Prince Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, clutching a cigarette and a drink and wearing a swastika armband. The newspaper said the 20-year-old prince had attended a fancy dress party in the uniform of a fascist soldier. In a statement, the prince said he was "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone." He added, "It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize."

Apparently Prince Harry has never viewed a copy of the educational video "Dressing up as Hitler at School is Not Cool!" otherwise he would not have made this mistake. Perhaps he was just showing solidarity with the French. French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was quoted recently as saying the Nazi occupation of France was not particularly brutal.

The comments by the National Front leader were published in the small extreme-right newspaper Rivarol. "In France at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhuman, even if there were a few blunders," he was quoted as saying. Such things were "inevitable" in a country of 220,000 square miles, he said. Le Pen startled France and the world by qualifying for a one-on-one runoff against President Jacques Chirac in presidential elections in 2002.

Leftist Billionaires?!?

What is the deal with leftist billionaires? How do they think they made the money? Hedge funds, global corporations, insurance, and currency speculation are not exactly organic farming and indigenous crafts. Free market capitalism made them superrich, and now what? Is it I got mine, screw you or is it I'm going to go to hell maybe I better make amends for all the lurid excess? Does George Soros' maid have health coverage?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Lincoln's Wang

It seems as if Oliver Stone's $150,000,000 outing of Alexander the Great has competition in C.A. Tripp's The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. Except I can venture to say that it cost a lot less and is not as painful to sit through.

What is it with the speculation about whether or not historical figures played for the other team? If Honest Abe smoked bone, does that have any real impact on how we view his presidency during 4 of the toughest years of our nation's history? (Although, come to think of it, his love of theater was to be his undoing...)

Was Alexander gay? Was Lincoln gay? Was Jim McGreevy gay? Does it matter? Does anybody really care? Certainly not I. I would not have even written this had I not really wanted to pen a post entitled "Lincoln's wang."

hat tip Instapundit

She's Where She Needs To Be 3

Back to the ongoing saga about the hand of God in the Asian Tsunami, refer to William Safire's latest NYT colum entitled "Where Was God?"

In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants driven into human consciousness around the globe, faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?

The biblical answer to this question, basically restated as "why do bad things happen to good people?" comes from, as Safire reminds us, the Book of Job. The story of Job brings us a bizarre form of reassurance. Although God, as demonstrated in much of the Old Testament, may bring down torments as punishment for trangression of the law, that is not necessarily the case.

No, you may comfort yourself in the knowledge that, even though you've done everything right, your misfortune may simply be the result of a sick and twisted celestial bet.

8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

To which God says "nu-uh!" and proceeds to let Satan visit every sort of misfortune on poor Job that is humanly imaginable. So therefore, the 150,00 dead people in southeast asia may have sinned against the Lord and thus brought their fate upon them, but it is also entirely likely that they drowned horribly because God had to prove a point.

Quite frankly, I don't know how the Book of Job ever made it into the canon. God does not come out well in the telling of it. Not only does he allow his loyal servant to be utterly f***'d in the ass by Satan on a bet (and what about Job's original wife and 7 sons and 3 daughters? The ones who were slain/raped/sold into slavery? Yeah Job gets 7 times 7 back in the end - but where's their reward?) but even more amazingly, the Lord cheats on the bet!

Satan's premise, that Job will renounce God if sufficiently pressed, nearly comes true. God has to make a personal appearance before Job and bellow at him from the whirlwind

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

And it goes on for 4 more chapters, just to let Job know what's what.

God has to intervene to prevent Satan from winning the bet, basically yelling at Job "My reasons are not for you to understand! Just shut up and do what you're told!"

Safire seems to flat out misread the intention of the book. He elevates Job to some sort of modern hero. That Job somehow proves that one can question the will of the Lord, indict the Lord and still not blaspheme. But that's the absolute opposite meaning of the book!

The lesson of the book is that God is beyond your understanding, so don't try. Otherwise he just might appear and put the smackdown on you. No wonder God's reaction in that episode of Family Guy

[PRIEST] And God smote Job with boils from the soles of his feet to the tip of his crown...

[GOD] {embarassed} Man, I hate it when he tells this story!

Note: This is one of the few jewish references to the devil. I find the jewish conception of Satan to be interesting in that he is most definitely not the Manichean counter-weight to God that he is in Christianity. He is not the master of evil or pretender to the throne of heaven. He's a normal angel, part of the celestial panopoly under God's will. But he has a specific role. He's the tempter, he's the one who roots out imperfection in the universe. He is, essentially, God's quality control agent.

I'm gonna beat him like...

No way! There is a Christopher Pike as Republican Committeeman in Princeton Borough!

Stupid, Spoiled Whore Will Not Visit NJ School

Apparently, stupid, spoiled whore Paris Hilton (and wing-whore Nicole Ritchie) will not be filming an episode of The Simple Life at a New Jersey school.

Producers for the Fox reality TV show "The Simple Life" decided Monday not to film an episode at Cleary Middle School. They cited, in part, a firestorm of controversy that erupted in recent days among residents who thought the filming would bring embarrassment to the community and expose students to negative moral values.

Had the district and TV show reached an agreement, stars Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would have spent a day at the school as "interns," performing tasks such as substitute teaching and cafeteria duty.

Apparently, Buena Township is not as accommodating as the Colorado burg of South Park, which recently welcomed the intrusion of the Talentless One in their humble town. Of course, the South Park creators’ brilliant savaging of the very personification of celebrity (famous because she’s well-known) goes completely over the heads of irony-challenged conservatives, most of whom are probably residing in Buena Twp.

Having Paris & Nicole as my substitute teachers? That's hot...

The Salvador Option

A lot has been made in the past 2 days about the USA considering what has been termed the "Salvador Option."

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.

Um, we aren't already doing this??? Isn't this what we're supposed to be doing???

How else are we to root out the baathist leaders and money-men in Syria? Now that it obvious that we are not a physical threat to the Syrian regime, they obviously have lost any incentive to cooperate.

American threats at Syria have produced few results. Syria officially denies that these Iraqis are in Syria, even though many are seen there from time to time, slipping out of their hiding places to run an errand, or just get a momentary change of scenery. Syria has made a show of “closing the border” recently. But what they have actually done is to be more discreet in getting Baath money, weapons and al Qaeda volunteers across the border into Iraq.

hat tip, Instapundit

Monday, January 10, 2005

Book Review: I am Charlotte Simmons

Behold the groves of academe at the fictional Dupont College, setting for Tom Wolfe's new novel, I am Charlotte Simmons. Think Duke or Stanford. Wolfe is up to his old tricks, hanging around college campuses "new journalism" style and crafting a novel teeming with social criticism. The story: inject a wide-eyed innocent expecting to breath the rarefied air of intellectural discourse at one of our nation's top-shelf instituions of higher learning. What happens? All she finds is the fetid, beery funk of disaffected intercourse.

There are few writers of " literary fiction" who write from a non-liberal perspective in American letters today. While I would put Tom Wolfe squarely in the center-right of the political spectrum, the establishment belles lettrists of course believe he is a fanatical, raving, fascist lunatic foaming at the mouth. Ironically for a non-liberal, Tom Wolfe pioneered and now embodies this rather post-modern school of writing, the "new" journalism. This is Wolfe's third novel in the Zolaesque style he now champions. From his 1989 manifesto Stalking the Billion-footed Beast: "I argued that the American novel had deteriorated into a 'weak, pale, tabescent' condition so grave, its very survival depended on somehow sending 'a battalion, a brigade, of Zolas ... out into this wild, bizarre, unpredictable, hog-stomping baroque country of ours to reclaim it as a literary property."

Needless to say, Wolfe's new offering I am Charlotte Simmons was poorly reviewed by the critical elite. They saw his take on the American college experience in the 21st Century as both oddly detached and luridly voyeuristic. Let's face it, Wolfe is far from bildung to be writing the definitive bildungsroman, and I am Charlotte Simmons is not Bonfire of the Vanities, perhaps the defining novel of the 1980's. But Wolfe wryly depicts the hedonistic mores of college students, the binge drinking, and the campus culture wars. He acurately skewers big money college athletics, hypocritical liberal professors, and hapless administrators. His plotting is clever but the characters are really just interchangeable archetypes: the jock, the nerd, the virgin, the frat guy. And in today's hyper-sophisticated world the eponymous heroine is really a bit too naive to be credible.

Nevertheless, I think the critics missed Wolfe's point. Oh and those oft maligned sex scenes, they are grossly anatomical for a reason, he's describing sex as gross anatomy. Get it?

All the sex qua sex talk builds on Wolfe's cognitive neuroscience theme, and here is a lot of biology going on here. So where is Wolfe going with all this? Is he aiming for an updated naturalism based on the cognitive sciences, a bionovel? The neuroscience thread is perhaps the most intriguing theme in IACS.

Is this Zola? No. It's not even BOTV or The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but I recommend it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Media

It's OK folks, it's ok. The supermodel who was in that tsunami, she is still OK. Repeat the supermodel is still ok.

Everybody else... Like they have a calendar.

Can You Hear Me Now?

This analysis from The Strategy Page mentions something which I always thought was critical, but no media outlet ever mentioned (at least that I saw.)

The Shia Arabs are less resolute, having been subject to particularly vicious repression between 1991 and 2003. But in majority Shia Arab areas, the Shia Arab police are able to deal with the anti-government forces. The police are aided by tribal militias (every household in Iraq is, by law, allowed one AK-47) and an alert population. The growing availability of cell phones has also made it harder for the terrorists to move freely among a hostile population. One phone call can bring dozens of men with assault rifles.

We really missed an opportunity early in the occupation, when we still had a good amount of goodwill, by not promptly getting the cell phone or land line telephone networks up. They're just starting to be effective now.

There were a lot of people who might have reported, in secret, guys running around in back alleys with RPG's, but they couldn't call anyone. As a result we forfeited a crucial communications link.

Perkins Physics

After a few hours at the gym where I once again devastated Mr. Surly at racquetball (and I got the bloody wounds to prove it) we retired to brunch at the local Perkins.

Like most of us, choices paralyze me. That's the price of living in a free society. We have lots of choices, but we have to make them and live with the consequences. Sometimes I think communism would have been easier.

But at Perkins, you can't go wrong with the "Tremendous Twelve" breakfast option, because basically you are saying "I can't decide - just bring me everything." And for $6.89, it's hard to top. Included are:

4 pancakes
4 strips of bacon or sausage links
3 eggs (any style)
1 order of hash browns


If my math is right.

Which brings up the existential question, is 1 order of hash browns equal to one egg? I tend to think not, which make me wonder if I'm getting a tremendous 9.75.

But even now we are not absolved from moral choice regarding a Perkins breakfast. Because we must choose which to get, 4 bacon strips or 4 sausage links. And when given a choice between two such scrumptious treats, how are we to make a decision?

But Mr. Surly advanced a way out of this paradox. He asked the radical question, can we go two and two? I thought this was madness, but suprisingly, the math works out. You can indeed get 2 bacon strips and 2 sausage links with no problem. Apparently, in the physical world of Perkins, not only is one bacon strip equal to one sausage link, but they are freely transferrable.

Just like matter and energy.

This would seem to infer the possibility of the existence of an "anti-bacon" strip which, if brought into contact with a normal bacon strip would effect an annihliation reaction, instantly consuming both strips, and releasing two links of sausage.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

There's An Unusual Amount Of Iron In Your Blood

Check it! There's going to be Magneto movie. Freakin' sweet!

I'm So In There

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt have broken up! I've been waitng out that relationship for years. Now's my shot!


And while flipping through the video available at ifilm I stumbled upon the classic, never to be topped performance of William Shatner "interpreting" Elton John's "Rocketman."

Just look down the list, you'll find it. And it's got a bonus appearance by Bernie Taupin I never knew about!

God that's so (unintentionally) funny. Even funnier is the scene in Family Guy from the episode "And the Weiner Is," where they take 3 plus minutes out of the show to have Stewie do an exact rendition. In a world of quick cuts and fast gags that Family Guy is actually known for, that's balls.

And The Alexander Haig Award Goes To...

Richard Gere.

For his PSA urging participation in the Palestinian elections [video], whose text ran thusly:

Hi, I'm Richard Gere and I'm speaking for the entire world. We're with you during this election time. It's really important: Get out and vote.

[CARTMAN'S MOM] What? What? What?!

When did I elect Richard Gere to speak for anyone?

UPDATE: Palestinian reaction:

"For years, I thought that Ariel Sharon was the enemy," said Abed Zobaidi, 29. "Now I realize that the real enemy is that 'American Gigolo' bastard."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Physical Exertion

Being utterly and completely fat and weak, Kid Various has joined a gym. It's also the gym frequented by (or rather ignored by) Mr. Surly.

Monday night, it went down on the racquetball courts. Score:

Game 1 - Kid Various 15, Mr. Surly 3
Game 2 - Kid Various 15, Mr. Surly 5

Truly Kid Various has emerged...

Kid Victorious!!!

Holy Jesus!

And speaking of things that are not good, Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit and basically the godfather of the concept of the graphic novel, died Monday at the age of 87.

Man that blows.

She's Where She Needs To Be (Cont'd)

The paradox for Believers continues with people debating whether or not the hand of God was in the Asian Tsunami. (I'd provide a link to the Star Ledger story about it today on page 7, but there isn't one.)

It's an interesting commentary on just how deeply humanist values of the Enlightenment have so deeply penetrated even the staunchest believing communities. Simply put, these people simply cannot believe that God would be the cause of something so destructive. But yet, this implies that they are holding onto to some belief system that exists separate and apart from God. That being a more humanist philosophy that it is wrong (terribly wrong) to wantonly kill. And thus, the notion that God would cause or at least condone such an act, cannot be properly reconciled.

But this means they have assumed several things that border on heresy. Most important, that there is an ethical standard that exists separate from God. They are, in fact, judging God morally. Which is ridiculous because anyhting that God does is right. No discussion.

The answer, du jour, for theologians seems to be that natural disasters are not caused by God - they just are.

But that's patently false, if you believe in the concept of an omnipresent and omnipotent God. In this vision, God is the force behind all things. This can be seen in the modern monotheistic religion least tainted by the Enlightenment - Islam. In Islam, everything that happens in the world happens because of the will of God. If I drop a ball on the ground, God has taken an affirmitive action in willing the ball to the ground. It will not drop by itself. And I am only the tool that creates a point where God's will is then brought to bear.

Certainly even if God did not create the tsunami, it was completely within his power to prevent it. That's the definition of omnipotent. But, he chose not to.

The proper answer is - it's a mystery.

The universe is too big and God too complex for you to understand. The point is you are supposed to have faith. Faith in the fact that God is working for the good of the universe and that somehow, these 150,000 deaths were necessary to that end.

But because the Enlightenment has essentially tainted modern Christianity & Judaism with both reason and humanism, it becomes difficult for people to continue accept on faith that all of God's works are good. And therefore, they skirt perilously close to heresy.

Orthodox Festivus

Yes, Susie there is a Festivus for the rest of us, or is there? Everybody knows the traditions: the unadorned aluminum pole, the airing of the grievances, the feats of strength. As chronicled in the New York Times by Allen Salkin, the annual December 23 celebration of the Festivus holiday is becoming an institution in its own right:

"GATHER around the Festivus pole and listen to a tale about a real holiday made fictional and then real again, a tale that touches on philosophy, King Lear, the pool at the Chateau Marmont hotel, a paper bag with a clock inside and, oh yes, a television show about nothing. The first surprise is that from Tampa Bay, Fla., to Washington, from Austin, Tex., to Oxford, Ohio, many real people are holding parties celebrating Festivus, a holiday most believe was invented on an episode of "Seinfeld" first broadcast the week before Christmas in 1997."

and with that, there there is the inevitable evolution of interpretation in the performing of Festivus rituals:

"Interpretations of the holiday's rules differ among Festivus fundamentalists. Take the pole. On the show Frank Costanza says it must be aluminum and 'it requires no decoration.' But he does not specify what should hold it up nor its exact height."

Do we Fesitvarians follow the canons laid out by Frank Costanza with Jerry Stiller's gloss, or follow Festivus creator Dan O'Keefe's family traditions? What about the clock in the bag? Are we on the brink of a Festivus schism? With all these unsanswered questions individualistic interpretations of a sacred fake holiday tradition when does it go to far?

"Some things just grow. 'Last year," said Ms. Galdes of Chicago, "there was break dancing. I don't know how that happened.'"

Break dancing at Festivus? Heresy!

Hey what's that burning smell? Smells like heretic.

Vandelay, Varnsen & Pennypacker

You can't see this on TV. I refer to the canonical exchange between wealthy industrialists Art Vandelay, Kel Varnsen, and H.E. Pennypacker. But somebody doesn't want you to see it...

SALES WOMAN: Mr. Pennypacker, this is Mr. Vandelay, And you know Mr. Varnsen

KRAMER: Uh, Varnsen.

JERRY: Pennypacker.

KRAMER: Vandelay.

GEORGE: Pennypacker. Varnsen.

JERRY: Vandelay. Wait a second. Mr. Pennypacker, if you're here, and Mr. Vandelay is also here, then who's watching the factory?

You can't see it, but you can read more here. Who's watching the factory, who indeed?

The History of the Fez

As all members of the Loyal Order of the Fez know, the Fez is one styling piece of headgear. But do you know the true story of the Fez?

The Fez itself was first introduced as an instrument of modernization in Ottoman Turkey by Sultan Mahmoud II to replace the distinctly non-European turban. On August 30, 1925, the revered Fez fell to the same fate as the turban when it was banned by Kamal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic, in favor of the brimmed Euro-style hat.

Read the History of the Fez Part I and Part II. It's all there: the pro-Fez riots, the 19 Fez-related executions, the years of forced labor for Fez-wearers, the underground Fez markets, the 15-year sentences for "anti-hat" propagandists. Ataturk wasn't kidding around.

For all you nation builders out there, remember the instruments of modernity leave little room for sentimentality.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Stone Oliver (cont'd)

Next up, Oliver Stone to film the epic life of Governor Jim McGreevy!

This Just In...

Bush wins the election. The score:

Bush 286
Kerry 251
Edwards 1

Man, Kerry was such a bad candidate, not even all his own Electors voted for him! Who was that guy? Let's get an interview!

She's Where She Needs To Be

Did anyone notice that Andrea Yates, the mother who methodically and coldly drowned her 5 children in a bathtub, has had her conviction overturned?

Despite her successful appeal, her lawyer has said he will not seek her release from the Texas psychiatric prison where she is being held:

Andrea is where she needs to be right now, as far as security is concerned for her," he said. "The last thing Andrea needs, quite frankly from my perspective, is to walk from the TDCJ Skyview Unit into the public arena.

Man, you know you're crazy when your own lawyer doesn't want you walking the streets.

In fact, Im amazed that the jury didn't buy her insanity defense. It seems as if anyone was confused as to the nature of right and wrong it would be Yates. You have to remember, she drowned her 5 children because God told her to. And since one of the fundamental attributes of God is that God is good, anything he demands is ipso facto right as opposed to wrong, no matter how grotesque it may appear (remember the Inquistion?)

Now of course, everyone is going to say that it's evident that God wasn't speaking to her. And to me, that's pretty obvious as in my view, the idea of an all knowing, all powerful, all good superbeing rates right up there with Santa Claus.

But for the more devout among us, how do you know God didn't tell her to kill her children?

And don't give me that God wouldn't condone something so terrible. Apparently God was completely down with killing 150,000 people the other week in the asian tsunami. If God is omniscient, then you cannot possibly understand his motives. You cannot possibly judge it morally. Maybe Yates' children would have grown up to become domestic terrorists and kill thousands of people.

If you make the leap of the irrational, to actually believe in a divinity, how can you be sure that it was not instructing Yates - and that therefore, her knowledge of what we would consider to be right and wrong was severely compromised? After all:

God said to Abraham, "kill me a son."

Abe said, "Man you must be puttin' me on."

God said, "Abe!"

Abe said, "What?"

God said, "You can do what you want BUT...

"Next time you see me coming you better run."

Abe said, "Where do you want this killing done?"

God said, "Out on highway 61!"