Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Brief Anecdote

A long time ago, I was a brighter-than-average student at Saint Aloysius Catholic grade school. At this time of this story, I might have been in the 3rd Grade.

Our teacher tried to instruct the class on the difference between facts and opinions. A simple concept, I know, and one that we lean on daily, but our class ran into difficulty. The rest of the students didn't agree that facts could be false - a false fact (they felt) was an opinion.

This disagreement ran into a 15 minute discussion and was eventually tabled by the teacher. The rest of the class, rather sullenly I thought, agreed that 'wrong facts' could exist.

I could tell, however, they many of them didn't buy it - they thought that if something was right, then it was a fact - and truth.

I think that, perhaps, this is where my Republican friends have gone wrong. I think they are little children who could not tell the difference between facts and opinions and, now that they are grown, are armored in the steadfast righteousness of their ignorance.

Apparently sincerity trumps accuracy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

File this Under "Should I Be Worried?"

Wireless Home Security SystemShould I be worried that there are so many local security companies offering comprehensive home monitoring services at competitive prices?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughts from the Road

[Author's note: this post contains some thoughts that occurred to me recently on a long drive down from my longtime home on the border twixt Wisconsin and Illinois to a new locale in eastern Texas. I think the content herein indicates that I am very well or very poorly suited for a life over the road. I'm not sure which. As always, feedback is welcome.]

Illinois' budget problems were plain on the roads south of Rockford - I've never seen so many state troopers and county cops clustered on a highway. They were as thick as deer ticks on Pa after a day at the woods in September...I counted six sets of cherries in the first 40 miles.

The patrols and the snow line both stopped just south of the Bloomington / Normal area. (Note to you Wisconsinites - it's getting closer!)

I never appreciated how god awful looooong Illinois is until driving it. When I could no longer trust my reflexes, I called a halt for the night just south of St Louis and got a few hours of sleep.

Admittedly I was pretty bleary on waking, but if billboards can substitute for public opinion the pro-Jesus and pro-porno lobbies are strong in Missouri. I can't help but wonder if there may be some sort of causal relationship in that. I suppose it's convenient for the sort of person who enjoys getting their sins wiped away on Sunday so they can go out and commit a bunch more on Monday.

The pro-Waffle House lobby wasn't nearly as large as I'd anticipated, although they were scattered throughout the state.

Now, up to this point it had been an interesting trip. Then I hit Oklahoma.

Ah, Oklahoma! What can I say about this state? Actually not much: I'm now convinced that Oklahoma's main purpose in life is to give travelers something to drive through on the way to somewhere more interesting. The only people having a good time seemed to be three gentlemen watching a brush pile burn. Presumably, this is high entertainment to Okies.

As a younger man, I once knew a guy who had been raised in Oklahoma. Now I understand.

After crossing 4 hours of howling wilderness, I was terribly excited to finally see Texas. As I crossed the border, the gigantic silver star embedded at the border crossing welcomed me to the state. Frankly, I can respect that ol' Texas pride but at that point I would have appreciated something just as expressive and perhaps a little more plainly spoken. I think a big silver hand with the middle finger sticking up to the north would have meant the same thing and really said what the star meant.

And all of this means that I made the drive safely, though perhaps not quite sanely, and I'm typing this at my hotel room in Plano.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"It's the Gobi Desert. There's Not Much Other Use For It."

Wind power. I love it - even communists (capitalists?) can't deny its potential.

Friday, June 12, 2009

This Is Why You Should Fill Out the "Comments" Section

Those nice folks over at Zagat finished their 2009 Survey, restaurant-style. Copied below are some pretty amusing outtakes from the survey responses. If you would like to play a game, tray and match where the likely eatery to their comment! (Unfortunately we'll never know for sure.)

If mayonnaise were currency, these guys could fund the bailout.

Had a bad experience with a sandwich and a rubber glove.

My children loved it when they were younger, but now they have taste buds.

All the major food groups represented: salt, fat and carbs.

Noisier than the engine room on a tramp freighter.

Service blows harder than a Kansas tornado.

Low-end burgers in a world of Formica.

They use so much cornstarch that the state of Iowa should erect a monument to them.

Usually dreadful, sometimes rises to awful.

The story of my last visit had a big dead bug in the punch line.

Their cheese has never met a cow, nor been in the same room as one.

Looks like the kitchen staff is on a prison work-release program.

Food doesn't taste much better than the facilities smell.

Bad pizza, loud noise, stupid games and every child under eight wants to go there.

Never an extra charge for that strand of hair in your tuna melt.

Slowest fast food anywhere.

Eleven herbs and spices but eight of them are salt.

Good morning heartburn.

They might as well fry the drinks – everything else is prepared that way.

A wine list straight from 7-Eleven.

Steaks as tough as a longshoreman.

A childhood pleasure, an adult nightmare.

Where everybody knows your name because everyone is named Bubba.

Mediocrity would be a step up for this chain.

A blight on the suburban landscape.

If the food doesn't kill you the noise will.

Who cares about healthy options when you are seven years old?

I got a band-aid in an onion ring there 40 years ago.

Are those fruit toppings or melted crayons?

I tend to lose my enthusiasm as the grease begins to run down my arm.

Ground zero for the blandification of America.

They don't have chefs, they have food warmers.

Avoid this restaurant like the plague, which you might be able to catch at a few of its locations.

My concept of what hell must be like.

Another choice for truly desperate times.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Saw It On Slashdot...

by glwtta (532858) on Saturday May 23, @02:36PM (#28068469Homepage
Not every single work of fiction is some deep allegory for some aspect of the human condition. Pong is not about the futility of existence. 

You have an admirably liberal definition of "work of fiction". 

And it is.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Something that made me chuckle

In yesterday's Chicago Tribune "10 things you might not know about Modern art":

#2 Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings have fascinated many people but fuss annoyed the artist. She once told art critic Emily Genauer: "I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why Can't We Be A Little More Holistic?

Dear readers, (who are much brighter than me) I'm sure that this is nothing new to you.

'Learning' never ends.
'Charity' begins, but does not end, at home.
'Nutrition' doesn't come in pills or powders.
'Exercise' isn't something that you do four hours a week in the gym.
'Work' happens all the time.
'Food' doesn't come in a box.
'Music' isn't just something to be listened to. It is meant to be played. And danced to.
'Fun' isn't something you do when all else is done.
Life is life. It can't be subdivided.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Headline I Wish I'd Seen in 1998

He was great in his prime, but am I the only person who read the headline "Madden Decides to Put Down His Microphone" and thought mentally appended "10 years too late"?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Would you like to see Simon Cowell First Stunned, then Entranced?

You may not have known this, but Simon Cowell is also the host of a show similar to American Idol (actually Idol was modelled on this) called Britain's Got Talent.

It's beautiful. Seriously. And moving. And you get to see Simon grinning like a mooncalf.

Yes - a mooncalf.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Overheard at the Airport

Dramatis Personae:
*Anonymous Preteen Pepsquad Member (APPM), age approximately 13 years
*Nathan (At the Tap, prop.), age approximately 30 years

APPM (on cell phone, loudly): Hi Mom! Our flight got canceled and we've got to fly, like, through Chicago now.

Nathan: (waits to board)

APPM: Yeah. It sucks. It'll be like, another 5 hours before we can get home... Yeah, I will.

Nathan: (waits to board)

APPM: Yeah. Ok. See you later - oh wait!

Nathan: (waits to board)

APPM: Yeah, Mom: don't go to Walmart tonight.

Nathan: (waits to board)

APPM: No, I said DON'T GO TO WALMART TONIGHT. There's going to be, like, a gang initiation there.

Nathan: *blinks*

APPM: Yeah... You really don't want to go to Walmart tonight... Yeah, ok. Love you too. (sunnily) Bye!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Apparently this isn't a sea war

From USA Today:

"U.S. combat deaths in Iraq have flattened at the lowest level since the war
began six years ago Thursday, and the Navy has not lost a member to combat in
more than a year.

Three Marines have been killed in combat since August, and
none since December, records show. The Air Force hasn't had a combat death since April, and the Navy since February 2008. "

Well, no shit. It's not like we're traiding 20mm shells with Iraqi task force groups.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well, If It Needs to Be at Least 100 Proof...

From an article entitled "Top 10 Weird Uses for Vodka":

"Many people have reported that if they immediately pour vodka over an area that has contacted poison ivy, the alcohol will wash away the culprit, urushiol oil, and they won't experience an uncomfortable reaction. Some have said that the vodka needs to be at least 100 proof to work.

Others have argued that straight rubbing alcohol works better, but we're guessing you may not have that as handy if you are on your average picnic."

And who the hell packs straight 100-proof vodka to an 'average' picnic? Your summertime daytrips must be more interesting than mine.

Have you heard the mother of all funk chords?

A well done mash-up, if you're into mash-ups.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why I'm Not A Nationally-Syndicated Advice Columnist

Can Gossip Be Good?

Q: The only thing my two sisters and I have in common is celebrity gossip. We love our three-way sessions. Is it so bad to gossip if it's something we love and enjoy? - C.P., New Mexico

A (nationally syndicated advice columnist - abridged): My first reaction: Who doesn't have a few bonding moments over celebrity gossip? I can't count how many times I have called a friend or relative to talk about tabloid stuff -- and relate it to personal experiences. ...

Bottom line: It's OK to let idle gossip into a conversation, as long as you use it for clues to talk about what's really on the minds of your family members or friends.

A (me): Jesus.

You mean to tell me that three sisters who, presumably, have known each other all your lives and have known and shared the most intimate details of your lives have nothing better or more significant to talk about than celebrity gossip?

You either need to do more or talk less.

I mean, shit, not only are you morally bankrupt - you're not even interesting. What a vacant and empty life. Let's compare: the Marquis de Sade may have been an absolute shit, but as least his life was interesting. At least it was a life.

You mentioned three-ways. Go out. Have one. Hell, start a knitting club, get a foreign exchange student, get a dog - do something. Repeat to yourself: I must have a meaningful life experience before I'm allowed to talk to my sisters. Now, go.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ted Strickland Must Be Thrilled

Who is Ted Strickland?

The governor of Ohio.

Why is he thrilled?

Because Ohio is, bar none, one of the most affordable places to live in the United States. According to the National Association of Home Builders:

10 Most Affordable Cities in the US
#7 Dayton
#8 Akron
#9 Cleveland Metro
(Ohio can also claim part of #3, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, split with Pennsylvania)

And also:

10 Most Affordable Cities under 500,000
#2 Sandusky, OH
#3 Lima, OH
#4 Springfield, OH
#7 Canton-Massillon, OH

In the context of our times of course, "affordable" may be a euphemism for "whose economy resembles a giant sucking hole in the ground". Thus, this may be considered faint praise.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Din-Dins In Hell!

Normally I'd just post the entire image, but this is one you really have to see in its native environment.  Really - check it out.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Feeling Low?

Before Prohibition, wives with husbands tarryin' too long at the local tavern had an option: the time-tested White Star Liquor Cure, sold by those stalwarts Sears & Roebuck.  Slip it in his evening coffee, and mr. Mister won't be straying.

Main ingredient?  Tincture of opium.

Of course, wives whose husbands became afflicted with opium or morphine dependency also had an option: Sears White Star Opium Cure.

Main ingredient?  Chemically indistinguishable from Old Crow.

God, I love marketing.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Think They Might Be On To Something Here!

Newspapers on the Internet is a crazy idea but it just might work...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If Ovid Listened To His Parents, He Would Have Been An Etrurian Accountant

And he wouldn't have died alone in Hungarian exile.  But he wouldn't have written Ars Amatoria, either.

The more things change the more they stay the same:

Ovid: Dad, I want to become a poet!

Ovid's Father: Homer died poor, son.  Have you thought about accountancy?

I wonder if Ovid would have done it over again if he'd had a second chance?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monster Manual Comix: Troll

If you have never been to Bad Gods, it's time you checked it out (at least, if your humor tends to the geeky side of life). I don't want to spoil the ending, so here's the setup:

Click here to see the rest.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Words of Advice

When you next visit your local supermarket and you see an employee at a booth talking about a new dog food product, don't ask for a free taste test.

You get an awful dirty look.

An Abomination by Sting (Roxanne)

Microsoft Songsmith is a program that automatically builds musical accompaniment to any vocal tune.  Here is the classic Sting song Roxanne a la Songsmith...

Personally I think it loses something in translation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Words of Advice

Never confuse the words 'diuretic' and 'emetic'.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Encomium GWB

It just seemed appropriate:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to Protect Yourself from Yourself, E-Version

You can tell that 'gmail' (Google's version of email) has been written by and for young adults.

I missed this the first time around, but last October Google implemented a feature called 'Mail Goggles' that "will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?"

That's right: if you're not in a "state of mind" capable of subtracting 43 from 62, you won't be able to send that righteous email to all your co-workers, friends and family.

Come to think of it...that's not a bad idea...hrm.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beware Curmudgeons

To everyone who's said "winters nowadays aren't like when I was a kid", well:

To hell with you!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Kindergarten Student Steals Car & Blames Grand Theft Auto

Perhaps we should clarify the headline first.  According to a news article
The six-year-old Virginia tyke didn't actually blame Grand Theft Auto for the car heist, but did tell authorities afterwards that the game taught him how to drive. Early Monday morning, the little guy hopped into his parents' Ford Taurus instead of taking the big yellow bus, and managed to drive it a surprising six miles before slipping over an embankment into a utility pole not far from school.
No word yet on the (probably inevitable) lawsuits.  I do wonder why the kid's parents allowed him to play a game described as being "all about maintaining your street cred as a criminal. The local crime bosses send you out on missions ranging from carjacking to kidnapping to drug running..."

Perhaps we should all be thankful he wasn't playing 1943.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

"Design" Won't Save the World

It's as good a time as any (and better than most) to re-evaluate how we contribute to society. (thanks to QBN)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Geat Stories (As Written By George W Bush)

Ok, so the Reign of Terror is almost over - but that just means I gotta get my last parting shot in.  

So, for your enjoyment here are ten great books with titles as if written by George W. Bush (real titles below).  See if you can guess them all!

10.  Rove's Ministry of Truth
9. Don't Drink the Wine
8. Didn't They Have Tanks?
7. She's a Hoor!
6. The Great Buchanans
5. I Don't Know What This Is, But It Ain't English
4. Death's A-Comin' For Ya
3. Big Sharks What're Gonna Eat Ya
2. Jesus Never Told Me He Fooled Around
1. The Most Important Book of the 20th Century


10. 1984
9. The Cask of Amontillado
8. All Quiet on the Western Front
7. The Scarlet Letter
6. The Great Gatsby
5. Ulysses
4. Appointment in Samarra
3. Jaws
2. The Da Vinci Code
1. Left Behind

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Touch of Irony for a Tuesday

The Statue of Freedom, which crowns the dome of the US capitol, was originally cast by a slave named Philip Reid.

Do you think the owners bothered to tell him what he was working on?

It all worked out in the end though: the Civil War wrapped up a little over a year later and Reid was granted his freedom.

Monday, January 05, 2009

But Do They Have A Merit Badge In 'Girls'?

As reported by those nice folks at All Things Considered:

"Shawn Goldsmith has accomplished a rare feat for a Boy Scout — he earned all 121 merit badges available. You only need 21 to get the title "Eagle" Scout. "If I run into a stranger, there's definitely something to talk about. I have 121 topics to talk about," he says when asked why he did it."
Impressive and laudable or obsessive and weird? You make the call!

"Vikings think they are built for a deep playoff run"

So how'd that work out for ya, anyway?

Oh, right!