Sunday, February 28, 2010

A line I'd forgotten

A nice gentleman with whom I once, long ago and at great length in an internet discussion, disagreed on matters theological, got in touch with me to ask me to remove his name from the blog, as apparently prospective employers were googling his name, finding the discussion, and deciding not to hire him. Of course I stopped what I was doing and went through the whole history of the blog taking out every instance of his name, and in the process I ran across this throwaway line, which I don't remember writing but like very much now that I've met up with it again:

"Non-Christians will probably find things to be outraged about herein, but then if a non-Christian has yet to be outraged by Christianity, he probably doesn’t know much about it yet."

[grinning] That's the real reason I keep the blog -- once the stuff gets old enough, it's like reading somebody else's stuff, with a surprise around every corner.

Or maybe it's not so much a matter of the blogpost's getting old, as it is of the blogger's...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Um...I think the commenter's right on this one

Not all of us, apparently, really grasp the whole point of this Lent thing...

Revisiting a great comment from a hilarious lady

My mom asked me today for the location of the free throw post, in which I explained how to shoot free throws with greater than 90% accuracy (as I did in my own high school career)...I think she plans to send it to the UWV women's basketball team, but that's neither here nor there. I looked it up for her, re-read the comments, and rediscovered this highly enjoyable exchange with the irrepressible Kris with a K:

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Kris with a K said...

Great exchange!

Your remark of "because when I advise a man, by George I advise him." reminds me of a comment my russian grandmother once made about my uncle (her son in law's brother...ya folla?)......"when you ask George a question, you should really have a chair handy."

(when you read 'ya folla', you need to hear it with Robert Shaw's irish accent from The Sting.)

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Ken Pierce said...

[chuckling delightedly] That's a great line. Was his name really George?

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Kris with a K said...

Yes, it is. Another: in my dad's family, the word 'actually' is used. A LOT. And it is pronounced slowly. As in: "you are so very wrong; you couldn't be wronger, and I am now going to point out to you and everyone else here the numerous ways I am righter than you, the ways you have erred, and will support my position will nonsensical logic based on half-information and transient theories."

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Ken Pierce said...

[holding stomach with both hands] Kris, you're killing me here...

[composing self] I'd never thought of it, but "actually" said slowly and scornfully enough really does mean exactly that. Subtext is everything, I suppose. [sliding off into helpless laughter again]
I figured you guys would enjoy that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Better Luck Next Time Dept

[Deion and Denae are still at Uncle Kenny's, perhaps a half hour after Denae's search for the cookie jar (see previous post), when Rusty decides to help entertain Denae by performing a card trick.]

RUSTY [holding out the cards to a somewhat mystified Denae]: Pick a card, Denae.

[She does so.]

RUSTY: Now, look at the card -- no, no, don't show me, just look at the card yourself.

[She does so.]

RUSTY: Okay, put the card back.

[Just then Deion wanders up.]

DEION [watching with interest as Denae carefully inserts the card back into the deck]: What are you doing?

DENAE [slightly glumly]: I picked the wrong card.

Well, At Least There's No Hidden Agenda Dept

[The Peril's four-year-old "nieces" Deion and Denae are spending the evening at Uncle Kenny's house.]

DENAE [pointing at the tea jar]: Uncle Kenny, is that a cookie jar?

UNCLE KENNY: Nope, that's...I'm not sure what that is, actually.

ANNA [from her seat at the kitchen table]: That's tea, Papa.

UNCLE KENNY: That's the tea jar, Denae.

DENAE: Can I see inside it?

[Uncle Kenny flips open the lid, lifts Denae into the air, lets her look for a second, and then sets her down.]

UNCLE KENNY: There you go.

DENAE [without missing a beat, pointing at the big latching sugar cannister next to the tea jar]: Is that the cookie jar?

UNCLE KENNY [who knows this one without help]: No, dai, that's the sugar jar.

DENAE: Can I look inside it?

UNCLE KENNY [grinning]: Sure. [Picks her up again, and then as she gazes down into the sugar jar from above...] So, are you just going to keep on going until you find the cookie jar?

DENAE [cheerfully and firmly]: Yep.

Sixth-grader question of the day

[The Peril is perched on the desk of Rusty's sixth-grade teacher, talking to the class about Kazakhstan, which he was asked to do by the teacher on the grounds that the class was studying Central Asia this week in social studies. While undergoing the third degree by some very interested and curious young persons, Peril calls upon one young man and is asked:]

INQUISITIVE SIXTH-GRADER: Are there any Asians living in Kazakhstan?

[For the benefit of the Gentle Reader, a map of Kazakhstan's location on the globe is duly provided below]


I should add, however, that shortly thereafter I was asked to say Rusty's name in Kazakh. I explained that Rusty's name was actually a Persian name, not a Kazakh name, but then went ahead and pronounced "Rustem" for them. And at that point one of the girls in the back of the room raised her hand, announced that she was herself Iranian, and proceeded to provide the class with a deft three- or four-sentence summary of the career of Rustem, Slayer of the White Demon. So, we had sitting four desks away from each other a young man who had to ask whether Asians could be found in Central Asia, and a young woman who had at least a passing acquaintance with the Haft Khân-e Rostam...though, to be fair, a little gentle clarifying of the boy's question established that all he really wanted to know was whether one could expect to encounter Chinese people on the streets of Almaty.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Please Rob Me

Well, I mean, not me personally, you understand...

(By the way, I read elsewhere that it took the guys four hours to build their whole website.)

Hanky alert

This is both a triumphant, and an appalling, story.

Years ago, fresh from the bedside of a teenaged girl who had just failed in an attempt to commit suicide, I ended a letter to friends with the words, "Sometimes it seems the whole wide world is a cross." Well, yes. But every now and again we get to witness a small resurrection.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An announcement, from a very proud Papa

Kristina just passed all of the tests that HCC gives to home-schooled students wishing to demonstrate that they are ready to enter college. This means -- under the terms of the home-schooling deal I made with her when the rheumatic fever forced her to drop out of public school and start studying with a computer curriculum at home -- that she has just won from me her high school diploma, and is now officially a graduate of high school.



Tikvochka, I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of you and everything you've accomplished in this past year.

All my love always,


UPDATE: In honor of the occasion, I highly recommend an old post entitled "Some Kinyisms."

The thing I love is, how much time the guy spent on his answer

I mean, talk about a man after my own heart...

(Clicking on the picture will give you a full-sized version that is much easier to read.)

HT: (remember to be very careful in following any link to, which tends to be not family-friendly).

A prayer of Sir Francis Drake

Not related to Lent, particularly; I just happen to like it and don't think I've ever gotten around to posting it.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Peyton Manning: Living the Dream

As Randy Guidry points out, Peyton grew up throughout his whole childhood dreaming of throwing the touchdown pass that would give the New Orleans Saints their first Super Bowl victory.

The lesson, children, as always: never give up on your dreams, for sometimes Dreams Do Come True.

(Randy also notes that only eleven fans turned out to welcome the Colts back to Indianapolis after the Super Bowl loss...which is to say, fewer people than can be found in a typical Minnesota Vikings huddle.)

The Winter Olympics: more redneck than I had realized

Maybe I should start watching.

HT: Dave.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And God Created West Virginia Dept

My parents, proud inhabitants of Clarksburg, West Virginia, send along newly revealed information about God's creation of the world:

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired, "Where have you been?"

God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put life on it… I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, "I'm still confused."

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor. Over here I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things.

God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?"

"That's West Virginia , the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains. The people from West Virginia are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of good things"

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance..."

God smiled, "Well, right next to West Virginia, I've established this place called Washington, D.C...."

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's all a matter of which special interest group you appeal to

For example, would-be Texas governor Farouk Shami expects to poll very well indeed with bald men and wrinkle-faced ladies.

HT: Dave.

I Don't See The Problem Here Dept

By the way, I feel that I have been remiss in not warning you that 90% of the things you'll find at the site where I find these things are horrifically obscene or revoltingly scatological or both. Probably best not to follow the links; if there's something good that's family-friendly I'll blog it for you. I predict that the Valentine's Day bloodbath in particular will not be for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

Could You Please Explain What "Irony" Means? Dept

Good Question Dept


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two things I find outrageous with regard to the Nodar Kumaritashvili tragedy

1. That the Houston Chronicle ran a front-page photo of the moment of Kumaritashvili's death as his body crashed into the steel pole.

2. What the hell -- I mean, seriously, what the HELLLLLLLL!!!! -- were the track designers thinking? Okay, granted, I've worked for three years in a company that's fanatical about safety, but still, you have people hurtling down a track at insane speeds (89 mph at the moment Kumaritashvili lost control), with no seatbelts...and you have unpadded steel poles lining the edge of the track????!!!!?????. Who in [failing to summon an adequately non-Baptist expletive] though that was even marginally sane?????

Well, apparently Georg Hackl, who said he thought the track was safe "shortly before the accident" according to ESPN.

You people are out of your mind, those of you who designed that track with those poles and then approved it. There is no way in hell -- absolutely no way in aitch ee double-hockey-sticks -- that anybody working for BG would ever in a million years have approved that design.


In all seriousness, I'd love to see some solid empirical exporation of this hypothesis

In a society where one extra-familial system or institution, the first young people enter, distributes rewards, those who do the very best therein will tend to internalize the norms of this institution and expect the wider society to operate in accordance with these norms; they will feel entitled to distributive shares in accordance with these norms or (at least) to a relative position equal to the one these norms would yield. Moreover, those constituting the upper class within the hierarchy of this first extra-familial institution who then experience (or foresee experiencing) movement to a lower relative position in the wider society will, because of their feeling of frustrated entitlement, tend to oppose the wider social system and feel animus toward its norms.

That's the thesis sentence of this interesting little essay, which is just the development of a hypothesis in need of empirical exploration. It makes intuitive sense to me, and certainly fits in with what I've seen in a life that has involved a lot of interaction both with rednecks and the most toweringly self-impressed of intellectuals. But just because something is intuitive, doesn't mean it's true.

Four things certainly do seem true to me, however:

1. The "chattering class" doesn't like free markets very much.

2. The chattering class (at least insofar as I dealt with it at Princeton and have observed it since in print and media) has an absolutely impenetrable sense of its own innate superiority to persons who lack proficiency in chattering.

3. In pretty much all of the characteristics that actually determine human value to society (honor, self-discipline, humility, courage, intellectual integrity, generosity, the capacity for self-sacrifice without drama, simple honesty, and common sense) the chattering classes are generally speaking inferior to those persons who have invested their lives acquiring skills other than proficiency in chattering.

4. Therefore if the free market genuinely rewards people based on their value to society, I would expect the chattering class to feel underappreciated and under-rewarded, and to feel that there's something wrong with the free market.

But my own evidence is anecdotal -- it's based entirely on my experience and perception -- and so I'd be very interested to see how it would hold up under empirical fire. Nozick's hypothesis is close enough to my own take that I'd be happy to accept it as a proxy. Here's hoping somebody honest and professionally responsible (which excludes the vast majority of sociologists in American academia, alas) goes to work on it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Criminal Mastermind of the Day Dept

Key sentence: "Investigators said he passed a note to the teller demanding cash, but the note was written on Hall's parole instruction form that was given to him by his parole officer."

HT: Dan Kirtane

Criminal Mastermind Of The Day Dept

Ideally one would choose a profession in which one's services either were legal, or else made one's customers more mentally alert rather than...well...

The Perfect Comment Dept


I'll Never Facebook Love Again Dept


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Criminal Mastermind Of The D...Well, I mean, not technically Criminal, I suppose. But definitely a Mastermind.

You know, the thing that takes this dude into Darwin contention, is the fact that this idiot had to know, in advance, that his mom was in the habit of packin'. (Relax, he hasn't died yet so far as I know. But it seems he's unlikely to reproduce in the future. Which is probably a good thing.)

HT: Dave.

Must-see video of the day

I'm serious, stop whatever you're doing, right now, and watch this video. At least if you're American and know your Declaration of Independence and the history thereof.

HT: Maitenloch.

The demon sheep

Can't vote in California and don't have a dog in this political hunt, but I just have a question for my Gentle Readers...

...have you, in recent memory, ever seen a weirder political spot? The demon sheep (it takes a while to get there but it's, um, I suppose "worth it" is about as close as I can hope to get to le mot juste) Wow. What a, um, costume. To use the word generously.

My favorite moment is the shot from the rear of the demon sheep as the demon sheep crawls...I should say, there's only so much disbelief one can suspend: that's definitely a guy in a very bad sheep costume crawling away from the camera across a field. Kind of a stretch to call a costume that badly made "sheep's clothing" when no self-respecting sheep would be caught dead in it.

I think it's hilarious...I just don't know whether it was meant to be.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Standing up for Barack Obama

Let me be the first to say...the people slamming Barack in this video are the people with a serious problem, not Barack. The absolute fury with which the mayor speaks of the President is hilarious, albeit unintentionally so.

Mr. President, if you want to continue to use Vegas as our country's universal one-word metaphor for irresponsible blowing of wads of cash on socially non-constructive spending...well, hell, that's what the town's there for, ain't it? You go, dude.

Serious You-Tube Title Of The Day Dept

Okay, granted it's in French, but how can you resist "Une subvention de 128 000$ pour faire voler une banane géante au-dessus du Texas" -- that is, "A government grant of $128,000 to make a banana fly above Texas"?

The full description: "Une subvention de 128 000$ accordée à l'artiste César Saëz pour qu'il fasse voler une banane géante au-dessus du Texas. Une banane qui n'a jamais volée !!!" That is, "A grant of $128,000 awarded to the artist César Saëz so that he could make a giant banana fly above Texas. A banana that has never flown!" Think of it, Gentle Reader: a banana that has never flown! Whoever heard of such a thing?

(Backstory: some Canadian government agency or other gave the guy the money to make a giant banana float in the skies above Texas, which in some way was supposed to show the artist's, and presumably Canada's, distaste for George W. Bush. The artist happily took the cash, and then left the country without making the giant banana, leading to my favorite moment in that YouTube interview, where the interviewer asks, "Mais où est le banane?" Thus it was the artist, rather than the banana, that split...)

HT: Mark Steyn

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A giving opportunity

One of the nicest things God does for us, in my opinion, is to put people in our lives who both need help and deserve it, so that we can have the blessing of helping them. At the moment I know two young ladies whom I'd love to help...but I'm pretty strapped for cash what with the nine kids and the legal bills and all; and I'm not likely to be able to help them myself. But just because I can't enjoy the privilege, Gentle Readers, is no reason you can't. So I'm passing on the opportunity to y'all. If you think you might be interested in one or both, then consider it; if you're a prayerful person, pray about it; and if you decide that this is something you're called to do, then let me know. I'll pass on 100% of the money to the young ladies.

1. I know a truly delightful young lady, of very admirable character, who a few years ago was all set to go to college -- and then her mother fell on hard times financially. So my young friend dropped out of college "temporarily" to help pay the bills. She works like a horse but never complains, and her attitude is always sunny and joyful. Well, to my delight, she's decided now, as she comes up on her twenty-fifth birthday, to go back and get that degree, working herself through community college after four or five years of helping her mom. Great young lady, plenty of brains, wonderful character -- this is tuition money that I'm confident won't be wasted. If I had the tuition money lying around I'd pay her way through school myself, on the grounds that thirty years from now I'm not likely to be getting any pleasure from remembering that I once drove a brand-new Lexus rather than a used Nissan truck, but I'll still be able to get pleasure every time I remember that my friend's life is different because I was able to help. [UPDATE: It occurs to me that this could be read as moral criticism of friends who drive nice cars; that was not the intent. Didn't have anybody in mind except myself. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.] Well...doesn't look like I get that privilege.

But one of you (or a few of you together) might want it. I'm not sure exactly what she needs for this semester but I'm guessing it's in the $700 to $1000 range. Let me know if God's assigning this one to you, and I'll get the money to her.

2. The other opportunity has to do with my "niece" Nurgulya back in Kazakhstan. (The polite way for a respectful young lady to address affectionately in Russian an honorable gentleman old enough to be her father but not in fact related to her, is as "Uncle Kenny.") She is graduating from college and is therefore getting pushed out of the youth house -- which means her only option, until she can save up close to $10,000 to buy an apartment, is to live in the Karaganda equivalent of the housing projects, in both poverty and danger. I mean, last time I checked, those things didn't even have stoves in the kitchen and most of the light bulbs in the halls tended to be missing -- oh, yeah, that's exactly where I want a twenty-one-year-old young lady whom I care about to be living. Here again, if I had the money, I'd be happy to buy the apartment for her (it's not like Dessie and I didn't put up the money to help buy apartments for these kids more than once back before the divorce left me worse than broke). About all I can do in my present situation is set up a savings account earmarked for Nurgul's apartment, put as much money there as I can spare, and get her out of those projects as quickly as I can manage it.

But again, if any of you want to be a part of that, you can send me the money and I'll sock 100% of it away in that savings account.

You may very well not be interested, and no hard feelings if you aren't. But I have gotten so much pleasure over the years out of helping people, that I wouldn't feel right knowing the opportunity was there and not sharing it with you guys. And for the Christians and Jews in particular...well, our Bibles have pretty strong words to say about our responsibility to help the widows and the fatherless, and both these young ladies fall squarely in the second category.

So there's the opportunity. Do what you want to with it.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that you guys might like to see a picture or two. I don't have a picture of Miss Daniela, but here is Nurgul, wearing the half-smile that is her most characteristic expression (you'll have to fill in the eye-twinkle with your imagination):

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jesus Is Just Testing You Dept

Randy Guidry forwards on this Facebook exchange:

By the way, I was going to tell this story to my friend Veronica, and suddenly realized that this isn't a story you can tell aloud -- because the ambiguity in the printed "Jesus" doesn't exist in speech. If you tell the story aloud, then Ms. Garcia begins by saying, "Hay-SOOS makes things so hard on me," which kinda gives the whole thing away...reminds me of other things that are funny in print but can't be told aloud, such as:

"There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who think in binary, and those who don't."

Or (courtesy of Bennet Cerf, who is too dead to appreciate the hat tip):

An Indian maiden, a Sioux,
As tempting as fresh honeydioux,
Liked to show off her knees
As she strolled past teepees
And hear the braves holler, "WIOUX! WIOUX!"

Or one of my all-time favorites:

Little Mary donned her skates
Upon the ice to frisk
Her friends all thought it foolish thus
Her little *.

Monday, February 01, 2010

How To Report The News Dept

You'll never watch a news story the same way again.

This reminds me of something I saw a few years back on how to make a beer commercial...don't know where I'd find it now, though.

HT: Obviously I've been catching up with Dave, who is failing to cure my insomnia. (3:13 in the morning and not a PRAYER of going to sleep anytime soon despite having to work tomorrow [sigh]...) In Dave's comments, by the way, one finds a link to an incendiary blog post that is not to be missed on any account.

For New Yorkers, the jokes just write themselves on this one

We certainly would agree that taxi licensing regulatory agencies should not discriminate --

(Okay, the Braille bit was nowhere NEAR worth the trouble.)

HT: Um...I forgot because it took so long to draw the Braille in MS Paint. Sorry about that, Dave.