Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A very good Thanksgiving piece I missed

My life, as my mother often observes, is not boring; and more than one friend has expressed surprise at how I have born up under the challenges of the last few years. Well, the credit doesn't really go to me. I am loved by a lot of people, pre-eminently an exceptionally faithful God; and I was fortunate enough to have parents who trained me in one of life's fundamental secrets...which is very well spelled out by Marcia Morrissey in this meditation on 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Criminal Masterminds of the Day

A word of advice, young men: if you must commit armed robbery, try choosing a place where there is more cash than police officers, as opposed to places that have more police officers than cash, such as your local police station.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why I like Sarah Palin

Because what other politician, when criticized for being stupid for saying "North Korea" when she meant "South Korea," without the critics' mentioning that she corrected herself within seconds, not to mention getting it right several other times in the interview...what other politician in the game today would come up with this particular way to make the point that a double standard was in play?
My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…
You don't have to like Palin's politics in order to enjoy the parody. (Of course, you can't be passionately emotionally invested in the idea that Palin is a brainless idiot and/or that Obama is Always The Smartest Guy In The Room; but I assume you, Gentle Reader, are too grown up for such emotional investments.)

Have to say, though, I can't help being disappointed when Palin says ruefully, "I didn’t have enough time to do one for Joe Biden." I think this very much needs to be done. And can you imagine what could be done with Dubya? Needs to happen, folks; needs to happen.

Oh, by the way, credit where credit is due, though: I never said who was the mystery celebrity who gave the following advice.
Any advice for parents of teens? "Look them in the eye and say, 'I love you and there's nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. (pause) So, stop trying!'"
It was, of all people, Dubya!!! A genuinely funny and insightful line from the Dubmeister...who knew?

A comment on the plight of the Euro...

...may be found on the Politics of the Peril blog here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

We all remember Leon Lett on Thanksgiving Day, of course...

...but I had never heard about the very sweet letter than a high-school girl wrote to Leon in order to console him after the game. There was just one tiny little problem with that comforting letter...but watch the clip for yourself. And no fair skipping to the end to hear about the letter; you definitely should watch the whole thing.

Truly classic. (And always nice to be reminded of Billy Bates, one of the NFL's true good guys. Too bad you never could cheer for Billy without implicitly cheering for Jerry.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A very cool technique

This is one of lamest attempts to make a political case that I've ever seen...I'm an avid proponent of term limits and by the time I got to the end of this thing I was almost ready to vote AGAINST them. (Um, dude, having a simple graphics animation shout "THAT'S JUST A FACT" is not an argument; it's a complete and hopeless failure to PRESENT an argument, making it practically impossible to avoid the assumption that you can't think of any arguments to present. It's like you make the statement and then say, "Oh, and just to make sure you can't fail to notice that I have no evidence to back up this assertion, here's a graphics animation emphasizing the fact that I have no evidence whatsoever." What a moron, and how embarrassing that he's on my side.)

But the technique itself is really cool -- it's an interactive series of YouTube videos in which each video snippet poses a question, and based on your answer you jump to the appropriate next stage in the video. So, ignore the genuinely lame political case-making and check out the YouTube technique.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deep thinker of the day

The climactic paragraph of a blogpost entitled (apparently in all seriousness) "Thank God for Kanye West":
The point I'm trying to make is simple: Yes, we come off as douche bags, but that's only because you're probably the douche bag. We don't have time for pessimistic morons who will never contribute anything to society, people who just live to die, alone and purposeless. We earned the epiphanies we had, the moments that separated us from you, the experiences that molded us into the surreal human beings we are today. And the answer to your question is yes, nothing beats a BIG OL' BOOTY.
[grinning] Well I don't think I can refute that. And to think all this time I've longed to be a "surreal human being," and now I have to admit I think I've been well and truly beaten to the punch...

I like this one

From Pablo Neruda, whose politics were moronic but whose poetry is sublime, "Tu Risa":

Quítame el pan, si quieres,
quítame el aire, pero
no me quites tu risa

No me quites la rosa,
la lanza que desgranas,
el agua que de pronto
estalla en tu alegría,
la repentina ola
de plata que te nace.

Mi lucha es dura y vuelvo
con los ojos cansados
a veces de haber visto
la tierra que no cambia,
pero al entrar tu risa
sube al cielo buscándome
y abre para mí todas
las puertas de la vida.

Amor mío, en la hora
más oscura desgrana
tu risa, y si de pronto
ves que mi sangre mancha
las piedras de la calle,
ríe, porque tu risa
será para mis manos
como una espada fresca.

Junto al mar en otoño,
tu risa debe alzar
su cascada de espuma,
y en primavera, amor,
quiero tu risa como
la flor que yo esperaba,
la flor azul, la rosa
de mi patria sonora.

Ríete de la noche,
del día, de la luna,
ríete de las calles
torcidas de la isla,
ríete de este torpe
muchacho que te quiere,
pero cuando yo abro
los ojos y los cierro,
cuando mis pasos van,
cuando vuelven mis pasos,
niégame el pan, el aire,
la luz, la primavera,
pero tu risa nunca
porque me moriría.

"Comply With Me" -- the video

Iowahawk, who is one of the more creative and brutal satirists currently blogging, came up with TSA-inspired parody lyrics for the Sinatra classic "Come Fly With Me" -- and now, with help from a karaoke machine, a musician buddy, some video-editing software, and the ever-helpful Public Domain and Fair Use provisions, he has produced the video:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A movie recommendation

I ran across a Hong Kong romantic comedy in the used DVD store the other day and figured I'd give it a try. Despite the fact that the only available English is in the subtitles (you can choose to hear it in either Cantonese or Mandarin, if that's useful to you), my kids all wound up giving it a big thumbs up.

I don't know exactly how to describe The Trouble-Makers (一屋两火), because I've never seen a movie quite like it. And since a lot of its charm was the fact that I really did not know what was coming next -- which is rarely the case when I watch a movie -- I hate to risk spoiling the effect by explaining what it's all about. Let's just say that the characters are likable (despite being somewhat, shall we say, unrestrained by the strictures of ethical considerations), the chemistry between Maggie Q and Terence Yin is more than adequate, and the twists and turns of the plot are creative and unpredictable, if perhaps not always perfectly hole-free. Bottom line, if you can find it cheap, I certainly recommend it. Not quite as much as I would recommend The Valet [La Doublure], but still very much worth the watching, I'd say.

P.S. Not everybody agrees with me. But don't go read this guy's scathing review if you think you might actually watch the film, because the view is one long spoiler despite being about a movie whose greatest strength is its unpredictability. The reviewer's attitude seems to be that if he can't keep you from watching it he can at least make damn well sure he ruins it for you in advance. "See? I TOLD you you wouldn't enjoy it..."

Bumper sticker of the day

You could use this to make fun of anybody just by swapping in a different picture, but I saw it with Obama's picture:

And while we're on the topic of bumper stickers, Jennifer passes on this one: "How did our oil get under their sand??"

Excellent advice to parents of teenagers

See if you can guess who provided this excellent advice -- I was surprised by the source myself.
Any advice for parents of teens? "Look them in the eye and say, 'I love you and there's nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. (pause) So, stop trying!'"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hey, here's a government official with some common sense

And I'm not even kidding: I think that Idaho County Treasurer Sharon Cox is absolutely right about how taxpayers would have responded to receiving a an advertising flyer touting the desirability of colonoscopies as an accompaniment to their annual tax notices. The only thing is, I naturally think that would be a great reason to INclude the flyers, not to exclude them.

Criminal Mastermind Of The Day Dept

Dude, it's the clerk you're supposed to stab...

HT: Dave.

You Say "Outrage," I LMAO

So I understand that people are not happy with the TSA. Well, whaddaya expect? It's a massive government bureaucracy. In keeping with my habitual attitude of cheerfully dark pessimism about human nature, I figure there's bound to plenty of laughs to be had for those of us who are so inclined. And sure enough, here's a blogpost from a guy who was really really really angry ("Another TSA Outrage"!!) but which I thought was really really really funny.

By all means read the whole thing, but here is a key passage:
A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]


This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns – but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I Don't Own A Dog Dept

Because, being unable to afford a force field, I can't trust them.

HT: The Syracuse Post-Standard

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Historically Well-Informed Soccer Club Of The Day Dept

So, the 11th of November is Armistice Day in England, and Airdrie United decided to honor the occasion with a suitable cover for the program for the day's match. The only problem, as detected by one of Rod Liddle's mates...well, see for yourself.

And if it's not obvious what the problem is, here's the key paragraph in the club chairman's official apology.
The original match sponsor for the game was Network Rail so I decided to base our Remembrance programme images on wartime trains. A number of photos were considered and when the final choice was made, the wrong image was lifted which was almost identical to the one that I had selected. Unfortunately it showed German soldiers instead of allied troops with the nurses.

HT: Andrew Stuttaford

In Flanders Fields

I didn't do any post honoring our veterans on Veterans' Day, being in the middle of grandchild-welcoming ceremonies; but here is one of the classic mourning poems, with its final stanza that expresses so perfectly how most soldiers who lose their lives in honorable causes, would wish to be honored.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Out-Of-Control Small-Town Power-Tripper Of The Day

Thank God the crime wave was stopped in time!!!

Hat tip to Patrick at Popehat, of whose comments one in particular stands out. From the original article:
Couldn't Wolfensohn have simply told the boys that they needed a license, the parents want to know, instead of calling the police?

"In hindsight, maybe I should have done that, but I wasn't sure if I was allowed to do that," he said. "The police are trained to deal with these sorts of issues."
Patrick's response can't be improved upon:
Actually, and to their credit, the police of New Castle, New York are not trained to deal with the issue of thirteen year old boys selling unlicensed cookies and snacks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You know, I've always had problems paying attention to what I was doing...

...but now, thank God, there's a cure. [calls offstage in a sort of sing-song voice] Yoo-hoo, Helen...

HT: Insty.

This one is fun

I really enjoyed this well-written little bit of snark. You should read the whole thing if you're even mildly interested in how politics plays among those who are in Washington for reasons of ego rather than principle; but if you're the kind of person whose mind instantly turns off when it sees words like "neoconservative," then here's a nonpolitical excerpt for you:
What makes Beinart’s campaign of self-promotion conspicuous—week after week, year after year-—is its utter lack of inhibition. There’s a kind of insouciance to it.

As far as I know, it first came to general notice in a brief biographical sketch that Beinart circulated early in his career. Having climbed over the bloody, dismembered carcasses of his co-workers and mentors, Beinart was named editor of the New Republic in 1999, at the dewy age of 28. His self-written bio made unsurprising mention of an undergraduate degree (Yale), a Rhodes Scholarship (Oxford), and a master’s degree in international relations (ditto). And then, deathlessly, there was this: “Beinart won a Marshall Scholarship (declined).”

That “(declined)” became a much-loved inside joke among Beinart watchers, a large and contented group who have known ever since that their man always repays scrutiny.


I’ve never met him nor spoken to him, as far as I recall, but—if you’ll forgive a closing personal note—I do cherish a single, vivid memory of him.

I was living the life of Riley as a writer at Bloomberg News at the time. I returned from lunch to find a voicemail message from Beinart, then the editor of the New Republic. The message commenced with 90 seconds of flattery, densely packed, followed by an insistence that I had to write for his magazine, simply had to. Did I have any ideas? Of course, I had ideas...someone of my stature. He had ideas of his own, though they could only pale next to mine. Perhaps lunch would be in order? He had never dared allow himself to dream that such a transcendent experience would be available to him, but if I might find time...

It had never occurred to me that there could be such a thing as too much flattery, no matter how insincere. I discovered then that my upper limit is about 45 seconds. We were well into overtime when I figured out what was coming next.

Each year Bloomberg News followed the annual White House Correspondents Dinner with a sumptuous “afterparty,” held in a Beaux Arts mansion ringed by rope lines to hold back the hordes who couldn’t get in. Invitations were restricted to Hollywood celebrities, powerful newsfolk, top-of-the-chop politicians, and, grudgingly, employees of Bloomberg News.

My faithful fan made noises as if to ring off. And then came the sudden turn, in a voice that had the texture of Vaseline: “Oh, one other thing. You know it’s so odd, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been to the Bloomberg Party! You don’t suppose...”

My colleagues enjoyed the message as much as I did, and the Beinart legend grew. Even more satisfying was the thought of the word that best described his request: declined.

Well Thought Out Answer Of The Day Dept

HT: Failbook.

Well, it's nice to know that some blogs still maintain high ethical standards

Such as, for example, Iowahawk.

I always like a little dry humor mixed in with my history reading...

...and this, from John King Fairbank's China, will do quite well:
The central myth of the Confucian state was that the ruler's exemplary and benevolent conduct manifesting his personal virtue () drew the people to him and gave him the Mandate. This could be said as long as rebels could be suppressed, preferably by decapitation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Why, No, I Most Certainly Do Not Have My Thumb On The Scale!" Dept

Um...just read the article.

HT: Ace's sidebar.

P.S. My favorite quote from the article? "I've had 40 years in retail and I've never come across anything like this before and I probably won't again because I'm retiring in January."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brains 1 (well, 6, actually), Brawn 0

Full details here; hat tip Dave. Note also this question posed to the Dave Community from Kiwi commenter Andrew, who finds that the rules to American football require clarification: "What exactly is a 'yard', apart from being the international standard unit of beer? Why do you have to drink five of them when a penalty has been awarded?"

So THAT's Why They Call It A "Spoiler" Dept

HT: That Will Buff Out.

Proud grandpa

My granddaughter Angelina (pronounced with hard g "AngeiLEEna") Nadejda (pronounced "NaDYEZHda") Pierce (pronounced "Pierce") was born slightly more than 24 hours ago, in the wee hours of November 10, two days too late to be my own birthday present. And, while I will respect the Orthodox tradition of protecting the privacy of mother and child for forty days' isolation by not posting Angelina's picture here, I do want to thank my vnuchka from the bottom of my heart for deciding NOT to wait until December to be born, as I already have more than enough presents to buy every December.

I'm getting a huge kick out of calling my 33-year-old wife "Grandma," by the way. Fortunately for me, Helen also thinks it's pretty funny.

In the meantime, it's a good thing there are people who are willing to give new, first-time parents helpful advice (HT: Failblog):

Big deal, this happens all the...wait, did you say a SQUIRREL???

Incredibly, alcohol was involved.

Used to be fairly common to hear city boys from Tulsa or OKC trying to excuse themselves by saying, "I thought it was a deer." But this is the first time I've heard this variation.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Your Teddy Roosevelt quote of the day

Remember this one?

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Not Quite Clear On That Concept Dept

HT: Failblog.

Apparently he has lots of experience as a customer in this market space

Somehow I'm thinking I don't particularly want this reviewer to start hanging out with any of my daughters...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Perfect for making your husband say, "Um, not tonight, dear..."

HT: Dave.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

There's a flaw in this plan but I can't quite, um, put my finger on it

HT: Failbook. Standard warning about letting your children surf that particular website.

That makes TWO braille posts for this here blog of mine...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

In honor of Election Day...

...and with no comments on the results thereof (as I have very good friends to whom I do not wish to cause pain), here's a reprise of one of my all-time favorite videos, one that all Americans should be able to enjoy...especially the last minute or so. (If you haven't seen it, then (a) don't cheat by looking at the end first and (b) be sure to watch all the way to the end.)