Thursday, May 31, 2007

Orlando Hogwarts

This can't be good--can it?

J.K Rowling, who became the world's first billion dollar author on the back of
Harry Potter's success, has given the go-ahead for the creation of a Florida theme park dedicated to the schoolboy wizard.[]
...
In a statement rich in entertainment hyperbole, the builders of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" said they planned to "create the world's first immersive Harry Potter themed environment."


I'm not excited. Dismayed, yes. Excited, no.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Comments on comments

I have had to moderate comments. Why? Because the spammers seem to have found my site, and I find myself deluged by statements about how awesome my blog is, coupled with offers for house cleaning in Wyoming. Since I don't have a house in Wyoming, I find these de trop. I also get series of nonsense syllables, apparently from differently mentaled persons of the idiotic persuasion. I am also not in need of penis extenders. Thanks, but no thanks.

Don't get me wrong--I love comments. Even the snarky ones are welcome, as long as you keep it clean. I wouldn't make my adoring fans register--I hate registering myself. I hate passwords. I love my readers. I do not want to discourage free discourse.

So keep those cards and letters coming.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

June is almost here

And so is Naked Bloggers Day.

Naked bloggers day is coming soon.

Well, to those of us who need time to get in shape, it's pretty soon.

How to get ready:

Start working out three times a week;

Walk the dog (or a houseplant, peferably a portable one) for 20 minutes five times a week.

Get a nice big towel to protect against drafts.

You have nothing to lose but your flab!

How about June 23? Time to consult my naked blogging consultant, Matt.

Depressing


The Little Mermaid in a burka.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A little quiz

to test your political savvy:

Here are 10 questions that require you to make nuanced judgements.

1. Where would you rather live? a) Cuba; b) United States
2. Where would you rather live? a) North Korea; b) Israel
3. Where would you rather live? a) Mugabe's Zimbabwe; b) Ian Smith's Rhodesia
4. Where would you rather live? a) East Germany; b) Post 1990 Germany
5. Would you rather? a) Withdraw from Iraq, fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; b) Stabilise Iraq, fight Al Qaeda wherever they are
6. Who would you rather be tortured by? a) Al Qaeda; b) the United States
7. Who was the better President? a) Bill Clinton; b) Ronald Reagan
8. If your child converted religions then which would you prefer them to change to? a) Islam; b) Buddhism
9. If you see Muslims praying loudly and shouting "Allahu Akhbar" in an airport departure lounge what would you do?: a) Not worry about it because all cultures are equal; b) Be happy to see airport security questioning them
10. You believe that the science of Global Warming is: a) settled; b) inconclusive and subject to ongoing research

Score 1 point for all A answers and 0 points for all B answers.

0: Congratulations! Your nuance and judgement faculties are intact and fully working.

1-3: A disappointing result. Perhaps you haven't yet been mugged by reality after being indoctrinated by all of those years in the education system. There's still hope for you, though, if you recognise the danger to your moral compass early enough.

4-7: I bet you think that the New York Times is the world's best newspaper, don't accept blame for the 3 million deaths caused by the US withdrawal from Vietnam, have a 'War is not the answer' bumper sticker on your car, believe Global Warming is man made and that world wide terrorism is the United States' fault and nothing to do with Islam. You are absolutely part of the problem and not the solution.

8-9: You are definitely a Useful Idiot. You contribute nothing to the world while also complaining about everything.

10: Holy smoke, Batman! We have a real Cindy Sheehan, DailyKos, Huffington Post type on our hands. You need to move to Cuba. Or Camp Casey. Just go. And good riddance.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The GWOT

Just a bumper sticker?




Just a slogan?

New zip code for shoes

It's 10002-SHOE.

This summer, Saks will open an entire floor in their Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan dedicated to women’s shoes, offering a footwear-filled area so big it’s getting its own ZIP code: 10002-SHOE.

It's the first time in history that the U.S. Postal Service has issued a ZIP code plus four for a floor of a building. There has never been a ZIP code that included alphabetic characters before.


A long overdue tribute to footwear.

Divorce in the family, Ohio style

My Ohio relatives don't believe in divorce. They get divorced, of course, but they don't believe in coddling the divorced exes of their nearest and dearest. Don't start telling them that there are two sides to every story.

Since my parents divorced, my Uncle Doc's name for my father has been, "That son of a bitch! I'd like to get my hands on him!" Uncle Doc steamed about this for about 30 years, then he developed Alzheimer's and got a mellower outlook.

Imagine his consternation when his youngest daughter got divorced. This was particularly galling since the two families knew each other well and spent a lot of time together, going out to dinner, going on vacation, etc. These activities came to a halt with the divorce and Uncle Doc confided to me that he had never liked "that son of a bitch" (Carol's ex-husband) and that the whole family was "no damned good." He told me that he had always had misgivings and that he had never liked any of them. I guess, retroactively, he didn't. Carol's wedding pictures were removed from the parlor posthaste and replaced by photos of her and her two daughters romping on the beach. As far as the Uncle Doc family were concerned, the girls were the product of immaculate conception. Carol herself maintained cordial relations with him, by the way, even asking him to babysit from time to time. But the official line was, he was a non-person.

My aunt, to the contrary, forgave and forgot, although it took 20 years. When she ran in to one Carol's ex-in-laws recently, , she greeted them cordially and confided in me that they just loved Carol. "They're a nice family," she said. "Except for him."

Contrast that to my father's side, where everyone has had at least one divorce, just to warm up. Even two are acceptable, so why bear grudges? Sometimes you just have to try, try again, until you get it right. So anecdotes featuring former spouses went something like this: "I was married to Evelyn at the time--no,no, it was Maggie--no, Evelyn, it was when I worked for the Acme Corporation and lived in Yonkers, no, that would be White Plains. Anyway...."

I attribute their mellower outlook to the fact that they tend to cluster on the two coasts, where people are more broadminded.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Catskill Game Farm goes out of business

 


My kids used to like to go there when they were little.


Shamus O'Drunkahan reports.
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In the 70's there was a boom of cheesy tourist places, all radiating from the biggest trap of all, the Catskill Game Farm. The closed last year, finally, after a decline that was slow and sad to watch. The smell of that place still haunts my dreams.


When we lived in Upstate New York, we actually went camping not far from there, with another family. It was hokey, but fun.

Robert E Lee discusses the omniscience of the press

His quote is relevant to our times:

Why, it appears that we appointed all of our worst generals to command the armies and we appointed all of our best generals to edit the newspapers. I mean, I found by reading a newspaper that these editor generals saw all of the defects plainly from the start but didn't tell me until it was too late. I'm willing to yield my place to these best generals and I'll do my best for the cause by editing a newspaper.

Don't make me choose

It's a Hobson's choice.

If the U.S. Congress is not smart enough to make the laws one has to ask why we elect them. Certainly they are smart enough to know that they are too dumb to do their jobs and therefore they spend most of their time trying to fake us out and pose as intellectuals. The big dilemma is do you hire an incompetent congressman or a crooked one? The results are generally similar, as you get really bad legislation either way.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

 
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Family pets

Johnny Virgil reminisces about his youthful pets.

The toilet was my mother's solution to not just fish, but all pet funerals. I swear she would have tried to flush cats and dogs if she thought it wouldn't involve hacksaws and plungers. If it would fit, it got flushed.

They must have had sturdy plumbing in Upstate New York in those days.

We in Ohio confined the toilet obsequies to fish, but we did a big business in backyard funerals for poultry.

Every Easter, the local Woolworth's store would sell baby chicks, some of them dyed blue, pink, and green. They were a pretty sight in the store, little balls of pink, blue, green and yellow feathers, and we all fell for them. All the kids in the neighborhood got them. I don't remember what we fed them, but at night we put them in the basement with a hot water bottle, where they cheeped unremittingly until morning, keeping the whole household up. The next day, many of them were dead, and subsequently they all died, mourned by the whole neighborhood.

So we neighborhood kids did bird funerals. There were some doctrinal differences among the group, which almost led to fistfights, until we came up with the world's first ecumenical funeral service. These funerals were very sad.

I guess this got old among the adults, because the next few chicks to disappear were delivered to a local farm, where they could lead long, happy and productive lives, according to my mother. She even showed us which farm, on one occasion when we were driving in the country. I wanted to drop in and see that our chicks were being properly cared for, but mother said there was no time. Anyway, how would I knew which chick was mine? Easy, I said, a green chicken would stand out in any barnyard. Some other time, said my mother.

I believe the sale of baby chicks to kids was subsequently made illegal, at least in the State of Ohio. Anyway, they disappeared from the local stores, mourned by none.

Our next pet was a dog, given to me and my brother by Uncle Doc, who I guess had a spare dog lying about. I believe he wanted to teach us good citizenship and responsibility, and had high hopes of the two of us feeding, walking, and grooming the dog. If he had these hopes, they were disappointed. Almost the first thing my brother did with the dog was to send him down the laundry chute. The dog didn't seem to mind all that much, but when Uncle Doc heard about it, he was miffed and retrieved the dog. The dog was in our care for so short a time that I don't believe we had thought of a name for him before he disappeared.

Our subsequent pets were all cats, which were easy to care for--a good thing, for my mother didn't have too much time, and if any feeding, etc, was done, she had to do it

Uncle Doc didn't care for cats, and didn't care whether we took care of them or not. To him the cat was a disappointing animal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What's wrong with the immigration bill?

Bill Whittle explains:

Large numbers of non-citizens want to live in the United States. Large numbers. A society can only assimilate so many people in a given year. If millions and millions of people come here illegally, they are loading the system to capacity at the expense of the honest, decent people who are doing the right thing by applying to immigrate legally. If we reward illegal immigration with amnesty, we have allowed the illegals not only to screw our own people and laws, but even more so they harm their own countrymen who are trying to get here by cooperating.

The biggest losers in our inability to control illegal immigration are the legal immigrants. What benefit do these honest people gain from playing by the rules?...
And, by allowing this to happen, you also set a precedent, which I think is even more destructive: you are saying not only to the illegals but to the entire society that laws are for chumps. Cheaters win. How much of this do we need to be immersed in before everyone realizes the smart move is to flip from cooperation to betrayal? How much damage does it do when the very people sworn to uphold the law – uphold the rules that allow this amazing cooperation game to continue -- are the ones who seem most enthusiastic to reward cheating?


This article is so perceptive, it deserves to be read in its entirely.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This just in!

May is drive like an a**hole month in Ohio.

It's widely celebrated the length and width of Delaware, too.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My last job

For 13 years I was director of the #&$^&! Library. Each year brought challenges. There was always some damn thing to prevent me from hanging out in my office, relaxing, with my feet on my desk.

Year I. Year of the dragon, personified by a superannuated secretary who had been there so long she thought she owned the place. She did exactly as she pleased. Of course, I wanted to do as I pleased, since I was director, so we locked horns. She also had her fans on the library board who she tattled to.

The largest issue between us was the giant word processor which loomed in a corner of the secretarial office. The thing was a dinosaur, but she was attached to it. I wanted her to learn to use a computer. She was determined not to. When I found out that she had spent $1,200 for a one-year service contract on the dinosaur, I went ballistic. Even in those days, you could buy a computer for $1,200. I finally killed her with kindness and she retired. As soon as she retired, she bought herself a computer. I'm not kidding.

Year 2. Year of the crazy person who thought he had been discriminated against and brought his entire family plus the neighbors to the board meeting. He had a way of dropping in on board members at home and plying them with information on how we had done wrong by him. The town finally paid him off.

During this year, the board and staff decided to look into a complete redesign of the main floor of the building. We hired a consultant, had lots of meetings, and submitted a revised plan to the governing body.

Year 3. Year of the ex-librarian. This man--I will call him Howie--had been a librarian somewhere and offered us his expertise and his services free of charge. He decided to show the board how to save a lot of money by firing the entire professional staff and not buying books or magazines. Also a regular at board meetings, he always dropped by after a snow day, wanting to know why we were closed.

The town council approved my request for a redesign of the main floor and appropriated the money. The board and staff then decided they preferred the main floor the way it was. I then had to explain to the mayor and council that we didn't need the money, thanks all the same.

Year 4. Year of the leaking roof. The mayor and council kept insisting that it didn't leak, and of course, it never did when they were around. It only leaked when it rained or snowed. They only dropped by on sunny days. I retaliated by closing the library when the floor was covered with water, snow, or on one memorable occasion, ice.

Year 5. Year of the bathroom lady. Our next regular visitor at board meetings was a crazy lady who used to, among other things, lock herself into the ladies room, make up her face, wash the makeup off, and cry. This took ages, and the other patrons had to stand outside the bathroom with their legs crossed for hours, which does not work for young children. Bathroom lady also did not care for the quality of the soap we provided. So we began to keep small cakes of soap--the kind hotels supply to their guests--behind the desk. We gave her a fresh one every time she came by. That worked for a while. She still locked herself into the bathroom, however.

Year 6. Year that the staff joined a union. For years it had been a complaint of staff that the other people who worked for the town made more money, and this year the resentment boiled over. The board thought it was better not to involve me in negotiations, possibly believing that I showed too much sympathy for the staff, so I was totally in the dark. The staff, meanwhile, thought I was a tool of the bloated capitalist board. They were not actively hostile, but there are plenty of passive-aggressive ways to make yourself unpleasant.

Year 7. The head of circulation retired and we were not allowed to fill the slot while negotiations went on. And on. And on. Finally, the state sent a mediator whose considered opinion was that they were all nuts. Still, negotiations went on, and would be going on to this day, except that the Mayor locked them all in a room at the town hall--two years later--and wouldn't let them leave until they reached an agreement. Even so, the deal was not sealed until about 6 in the morning. But that was in the future, far far into the future. Meanwhile we had...

Year 8. The year of Eddie. Eddie was the only applicant for the job of head of circulation, which we decided had to be filled. The salary was abysmally low. How can I describe Eddie? He was a world-class slacker, who was never anywhere to be found when there was work to be done. He was also a liar and a suck-up. Every day or so I had to have a talk with Eddie about something he had done or not done. The worst thing about Eddie, among a lot of bad things, was the giant smile he always greeted everyone with, the hypocrite. It was the kind of smile you would see on the face of an alligator who was getting ready for lunch. Just seeing him smile ruined my whole, subsequent, day.

There was a window of opportunity during which I could fire Eddie with impunity, so I did. Eddie was the only person I ever fired who I didn't feel bad firing. The thought of putting up with him after he became a permanent employee and became fireproof, so to speak, was all the spur I needed. It was him or me at this point. Of course, then we had no head of circulation, but that was actually preferable. Yes, it was preferable to have the job vacant than to have Eddie filling it, that's how bad he was.

Year 9. The board treasurer becomes paranoid and decides that my new secretary-bookkeeper, now in place for 8 years, wasn't doing her job properly and goes after her, mainly because he holds her responsible for the union. The stick he chose to beat her with was me. I declined to be his hatchet woman so he turned his ire on me. Every statement was questioned, every piece of paper sent back. A lot of this could be attributed to the fact that I was a woman. A man would have beaten him to a pulp.

He always claimed that he never received papers that were faxed to him, and since he was treasurer, we needed him to approve, or at least look at, lots of papers, budget, expenditures, etc. So I started sending the papers personally, via his nemesis, the aforementioned secretary treasurer. He still claimed he did not receive anything. So I mailed the stuff to his office, registered, return receipt requested. For some reason this made him crazy. I mean, crazier than he was already.

Year 10. The stickwoman with googly eyes becomes board president. If every stick has a wrong end and a right end, she always firmly grasped the wrong end. The union contract is finally signed, and the staff discovers that their cumulative raises are mostly going to the federal government in the form of income taxes. Consternation all around. Several staffers resign or retire. Stickwoman decides that new programs have to be financed with new money--i e, that I have to raise money for ESL and Korean books. I take to the streets with a begging bowl. Meanwhile, stickwoman hires a pal of hers to give a children's program which costs $2,000 and involves 20 children, including two of hers.

Year 11. Pettifogging lawyer is hired by the board, comes to board meetings, wasting time with inane suggestions, and incidentally charging a lot of money. One of his inspirations is background checks for all new hires, including 15-year-old high school students who are employed as pages.

Year 12. Board starts to hold secret meetings before the board meetings, in contravention to state law. When I explain that this is a no-no, the board president says, "So arrest me." Since I had left my junior G-man badge at home, I didn't take him up on this.

Year 13. I started having anxiety attacks, especially before, after, and during board meetings. Fearing that if I didn't retire, I was either going to die or kill one or all of the board members, I retired. I immediately had a total knee replacement, which believe me, though painful, was more enjoyable than board
meetings.

Year 14. There is life after retirement. I become a blogger.

US Christians get their own mullah

The new message: confound the plans of your duly elected successors. Accuse them of bad faith.

"Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson,
Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War."


Next week's sermon: let's all go out and kill us some Jews.

courtesy of Rachel.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another thing you can't put into the disposal

Rice. Who knew?

I am in awe at the number of things you can't put into the disposal. Rice! Every time I see my son-in-law he comes up with something else you aren't supposed to put in there. The list so far:

meat
bones
celery
asparagus
banana peels
rice
oatmeal

That's all I need is a finicky, temperamental household appliance. Does the vacuum refuse to pick up cat hair? Does the washer put the kibosh on washing socks? Will the printer decline to print on blue paper? Nosiree, these household helpers valiantly do their jobs without complaint. After much head-scratching, I consulted the manual for my new disposal to see what this dainty object will accept. Here's what the manual advises:

You can put bones in the thing, but only if you first break them up into teeny, tiny bits (not bloody likely in my case). You can also put pits in, but nothing larger than cherry pits, so if you think you can get rid of peach pits, you're crazy. In fact, it likes pits, they scrub the interior of the unit. But only little ones. It also likes to be fed an orange once in a while. The disposal goddess who lives in there really enjoys an occasional orange, and will reward you by smelling nice.

So now you have two garbage systems: 1) the disposal, a nearly useless object; 2) the actual garbage. Add to that recycling glass, paper, aluminum, and cardboard. All separately. Then there's the hazardous stuff. Don't you dare throw away printer cartridges, household paint, batteries, or computers. They must be delivered personally to some remote location only known to the elect.

In addition, we are not allowed to send our yard waste--leaves, grass clippings-- to the local landfill. The powers that be suggested that they be used for compost.

Could garden waste be placed in the disposal? Just asking.

Jimmy Carter spews his usual hatred

The country's worst ex-president is interviewed by BBC Radio.

I won't trouble you by quoting Jimmy's self-serving criticism of Tony Blair. What has me going is the fact that the BBC interviews this disgruntled loser. The one-term president has certainly got brass balls to criticize the man who saved the British Labor Party and served as Prime Minister for 10 years. Carter undoubtedly envies Blair his successes. He himself has been a failure at everything he ever did, and is a liar to boot.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. He's so crooked that I doubt he ever hit a nail straight in his volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. Have any of the houses he built fallen down yet?

Ht to astute blogger.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Expiring underwear

The 18-hour bra.

Free range eggs

I yield to no-one in my consideration for baby calves: they're cute, they have big brown eyes; therefore I don't eat veal. But that's as far as I go in my concern for farm animals. I don't want them to suffer needlessly, of course. But I eat them, and I plan to continue eating them as long as I can afford to.

So when I saw that eggs from free-range chickens were $3 more than plain eggs from--what must I call them, captive chickens?--I decided to go for the latter. Only there weren't any. I asked them to look in the back of the store and see if there were any stashed there. There weren't. So I didn't buy eggs yesterday.

It's really a stretch for me to care about the welfare and personal life of a chicken. Again, I don't want them to suffer. But what's suffering to a chicken? We're not talking the Einstein of the barnyard here. When not in captivity all they do is run around aimlessly, scratch in the ground and make stupid noises. Maybe the average hen would prefer to sit on her duff and get fed three squares a day without going to the trouble of ranging freely looking for grub. Who knows? The chickens aren't talking.

Prince Harry is not allowed to go out and play with the other boys...

he might get hurt.

Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier and afeared?

Yep.

What has happened to British pluck? First the 15 sailors and marines who were captured by Iran, and now this! If Prince Harry is to be in uniform, why can't he risk his life just like his mates? Is one soldier worth more than another?

Harry ought to resign his commission and be a useless twit like his father.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Saving the earth

Some interesting observations:

I took the Earth Day Foot print quiz and guess what? If everyone lived like me we'd need 7.5 Earths to accommodate for all the natural resources that I consume....

This isn't good but I know a way that we can all make a difference: From now on, all of you walk when you go places. Me? I'll still drive. That way you're more than compensating for me.

Now I know some of you are going to think "Why does he get to drive" or "Why is he so special?" Well, I'm not really. The reason is that I don't feel in the least bit guilty because I'm a bad person, and to be honest I'm cool with that, so you guys and gals with all this eco-guilt are going to have to take up the slack. Sorry, them's the breaks. On the plus side, you'll lose a few pounds walking....

Sunday at the Hagley

We visited the Hagley Museum on Sunday. It was a beautiful day for being outdoors. I thought my 5-year-old grandson might enjoy the museum, and he did, although much of it was over his head.

The Hagley Museum includes a gunpowder factory which operated on the site for over 100 years; a machine shop where tools were made; a school attended by the children of the workers, and a two-story cottage which had been restored to demonstrate how the workers and their families lived in about 1850.

A little old lady in period costume explained how things worked in the cottage. She showed us the stove which the lady of the house used for cooking and heating water. There were buckets to bring water from the pump a few yards from the house; she allowed my grandson to try to lift one of these buckets. It was apparently very heavy. We saw the irons which were heated on the stove and used to iron clothing for the family. As we were about to leave, she asked if there were any more questions.

One of the visitors asked, "How many bathrooms were upstairs?" No, she was not joking.

Best tail

There's a woman who goes to my gym regularly. She has a remarkably youthful figure which does not go with her unremarkable middle-aged face. I would place her age as somewhere between 55 and death. Her workout garb calls to mind the hookers plying their trade at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. She wears skimpy little outfits which show a lot of skin. Her blonde hair is worn in two pigtails, a la Shirley Temple as Heidi. You might call her mutton dressed as lamb.

I don't quite know how to think about this woman. On the one hand, she deserves admiration for the hard work she has done to preserve a youthful figure. On the other hand, she looks, well, stupid. However, she is a heartbreaker among the geriatric set. Some of the older men consider her quite irresistible and vie for her favors. I have heard of fights breaking out in the parking lot over her, proving, if any proof were needed, that there is no fool like an old fool.

The younger men think she is repulsive, which is unkind of them, and think she should be forced to wear more clothes. Some of them feel quite offended by her. I think they would not be so riled if she dressed her age.

Of course, she wears the shortest of shorts. One of these pairs of shorts has emblazoned across the seat, "Best tail."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell dies

I confess to having a sort of a sneaky liking for Falwell. You see, I (alone in the world, it seems) read his autobiography. It seems Falwell's daddy was a flamboyant, rip-roaring drunk, who advised the younger Falwell:

"Don't be a preacher, sonny. Folks will talk funny when you walk into a room."

True enough. I had a dear friend, who I will call the Reverend Alfie. Alfie joined the Rotary or Kiwanis or some such organization, to get away from his congregation, who tended to talk funny when he came into a room, and be an ordinary guy among the guys. One day, however, he was seated at a table with a couple of men he did not know, one of whom was boasting about his extramarital affairs. The man next to the braggart kept poking his in the side, but he did not take the hint, until his neighbor whispered in his ear and looked meaningly at Alfie. The man then blushed and changed the subject. Of the entire crowd, Alfie was the only one who was not embarassed.

As Alfie said, he gave the gift that keeps on giving, guilt.

Are New Jersey residents rude?

Mamacita thinks so.

Maybe. They certainly can be aggressive. But, having lived in Delaware, I can attest that Delaware drivers appear to be operating under the influence of some powerful, but not necessarily legal, substance. They do not seem to be fully awake and conscious.

You drive down a main road and some fool comes darting out of a side street to make a left turn inches in front of your car. They don't necessarily do it fast, either. I've got a message for these Delaware dreamers:

Where are you going in such a hurry? Are you off to discover a cure for cancer? Or to prevent a third world war? If not, how about obeying the rules of the road? My brakes may not be good enough to save your life, or mine.

Ethics, New Jersey style

Jim McGreevey instructs New Jersey youth.

James E. McGreevey, who resigned the governorship under a cloud of scandal, has a new job teaching law, ethics and leadership at one of New Jersey's public colleges.

McGreevey is now an "executive in residence" -- a combination teaching and consulting post -- at Kean University in Union, where he is earning $17,500. The former governor came on board without any announcement on Nov. 1, Kean officials said, and the university makes no mention of his role on its Web site or faculty directory.


Suggested next course: Criminals teaching ethics to police.

Ht to New Jersey guy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What happened to the ozone layer?

Is it still a problem?

When is the last time since they banned R-12 that you've heard about the Ozone hole?
The thinning Ozone layer?

Ok, did we fix it? or did the greenies get their way with bogus science, and then swept the story under the rug?
If we still have the problem, it wasn't Freon- was it? If the Ozone is growing back, shouldn't we have heard something about it?


While we're at it, whatever happened to the population bomb that was supposed to cause mass starvation by 1984? Nuclear winter?

Being an environmentalist means never having to admit you were wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Banquet--what a misnomer

I went to a banquet tonight which in no way resembled the Roman banquets of song and story. I know what you're going to think: bitch, bitch, bitch, that's all she does, I bet it's not that bad.

It was.

First crack out of the box, a piece of flatbread which converts your mouth into a branch of the Saharah Desert, Junior Division. So I take a sip of water. Lukewarm. No ice. I go over to a drinks station. You understand that this is a Jewish function, so no liquor is expected or provided. That's okay, I can live with that. But no diet soda! Jewish women live on diet soda. It is what bread used to be to the ancients, a sacrament, practically. I've only met one Jewish woman in my life who drank non-diet soda, and she bought her clothes in JCPenney's. And no ice. Lukewarm non-diet soda, yum! I can hardly wait to see the rest of the dinner.

Now Jewish food, with some honorable exceptions, isn't too great, and Israeli food isn't much better, consisting I believe of stuff invented by Arabs who passed along the recipes but left out one crucial ingredient just to be spiteful. And these caterers aren't too hot with regular Jewish food but are serving an Israeli meal here.

Here it was: Some kind of watery salad, with all the vitamins leached out into the water in which it floated; couscous with the consistency of wet bread. A woebegone-looking tray of sodden grilled vegetables. Baked ziti! I ask you! This is not New Jersey, there is no excuse for baked ziti, the New Jersey national dish. It only tastes good in New Jersey, anyway.

I don't expect miracles, like sauce with flavor in it, but is it too much to ask to boil the pasta only until it is soft, rather than for 24 hours? The answer, in a word, is yes, at least for these caterers.

Then there is some chicken to be stuffed into pita bread with fake yogurt sauce. This was actually edible, so I ed it.

The festive meal concluded, tea, coffee and dessert were provided. Excuse me, coffee, caf and de, and tea bags. No hot water. Eventually a waitress showed up with hot water, which I requested that she pour over my teabag, since both my hands were full. She fixed me with a look of pure loathing, but she did it. Dessert was some marginally acceptable pastries, which I scarfed down.

I am now going to go into my kitchen and have myself some ice cream with fudge sauce. I deserve it, damn it.

My mother the lawyer

(recycled)

 


My mother hated to be photographed. She always wanted to put it off until she lost 10, or 20, or 30 pounds. Consequently we have very few pictures of her. This is one I like.
Posted by Picasa


Thanksgiving always makes me think of my mother. Thanksgiving was a big deal to us. We used to celebrate her birthday, and my Uncle Moe's on Thanksgiving. It was a Russian custom, or a Jewish custom, or just our family custom to celebrate birthdays in conjunction with some holiday. Mine was Purim, my cousin was Rosh Hashonah. Perhaps the family were just bad at remembering dates.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Re-importation of drugs from Canada is a bust

But you'd never know it from the US Congress.

Many of the very senators who supported or co-sponsored Ms. Snowe's amendment to change federal law and allow Canadian imports hail from states that have seen their own high-profile programs wither or die. That includes Wisconsin's Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Dick Durbin of Illinois
.

Re-importation has not been a success in States where it's been tried.

Three years ago, grandstanding governors and mayors vowed to break federal law and set up state-run drug import programs, giving millions of citizens the "opportunity" to buy cheap Canadian drugs. The media showered these souls with headlines, praised them for being on the side of poor, strapped U.S. consumers--then forgot all about it. Today, most state-import programs are on life support, while some have closed completely. Never mind all Washington's hifalutin arguments about intellectual property, free trade and safety; the overwhelming majority of Americans appear to have little use for import programs that offer few drugs at long wait times, under suspect safety conditions and with minimal savings.


I could never quite figure out how sending pharmaceuticals on a round trip to Canada would lower prices. It seems to me, yes, stupid.

Naturally, the United States Congress enjoys posing as the friend of the consumer and the enemy of Big, Bad Pharma. As long as nothing changes.

A thought that often occurs to me: If these are the people who won the election, how bad could the ones who lost it be? We elected the better person, didn't we? Didn't we?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Shopping with Mother and Bubbe

I really dreaded going shopping with my mother and her mother, my bubbe, especially in classy, high-toned stores. For one thing, mother and bubbe used to talk Yiddish very loudly to one another, deprecating the merchandise on offer and the manners, morals, and appearance of the other shoppers.

I hated to be seen in public with these back numbers who spoke a foreign language which I was sure sounded low-class to everyone else (why couldn't they speak French?). I also feared that someone would understand what they were saying about the fat lady in the tight pants who was in front of us in the escalator. It was a lose-lose situation. Either we appeared to the other, high-toned shoppers like a bunch of huddled masses waiting to be processed at Ellis Island, or someone would actually understand what they were saying and see what low minds we had.

Also, bubbe appeared to believe that she was in a souk, when in reality she was in one of Columbus Ohio's premier specialty shops. She showed no respect.

For instance: we are looking for a blouse. The saleslady brings out a few, I try them on and decide on one. Bubbe grabs it and scrutinizes every inch of it, looking for flaws. She finds a speck of dirt on the collar and attempts to bargain with the snooty saleslady while my face turns red down to my toes. I try to pretend I'm interested in the scarves in the next display case, but in any case, try to look like I'm not with them.

Then, horror of horrors, she pretends to walk away! I could die! (I'm around fifteen at the time.) The snooty saleslady calls her manager, and they do a deal, but by this time, my self-esteem in destroyed. What if someone I knew had seen us? I'll never live it down.

When I was smaller and couldn't protest, bubbe and mother bought my clothes much too big in the hopes I would grow into them. Then they took them home and altered them to fit me, sort of. The idea being that the clothes could be let out next year. They never were, though. I wore them out first. But I went through childhood looking like I had borrowed my wardrobe from a larger child.

Of course, with maturity I could see where she was coming from. This was a woman who split one can of sardines among her three children, while she and her husband made do with dry toast and tea for supper. Fancy salesladies held no terror for her.

Wanted: more amusing families

I have gotten lots of comments (well, three or four) from people who have enjoyed my posts about my family, asking for more. I'm sorry to say that I believe I have exhausted--for now--my family's amusing antics. The rest of their activities are pretty dreary. Most of them are from Ohio, you know.

So, until I remember more and better anecdotes about my family, I am going to have to borrow someone else's amusing family reminiscences. Does anyone have any amusing family anecdotes they could contribute to my blog? Just until someone in my family does something entertaining?

Letter to an ex-bank

Dear Chase/Morgan/Bank of New York/National Community Bank:

It is time for the stalking to stop.

I am sorry that our relationship has to end this way. You have served me faithfully as a bank for a number of years, and I was hoping our parting would be conducted in a civilized way. Alas, that was not to happen.

When I moved to Delaware, I started courting another bank. After a decent interval, Wachovia and I consummated our relationship, and I didn't need you any more. I called the bank and told them I wanted to close my account. I was informed that I had to take all the money out, which I did. I thought. Unfortunately, there was 10 cents interest credited to my account which I had not known about.

You guys just wouldn't let go. Every month you sent me a statement showing 10 cents still in my account. I was hoping you would forget about me and go after other customers, but it hasn't happened.

The latest escalation in our troubling relationship occurred when you sent me a bank debit card for this account. I then called the bank, trying to end our affair once and for all--a clean break. But the lady who I spoke to told me I could not close the account over the phone. I had to write you a letter. She gave me the address.

Well, of course, I lost the address immediately, having jotted it down on an expired 20 percent off card from Macy's, which I discarded when I cleaned off my desk.

So my only recourse is to hope you read this on my blog and accept your dismissal with a good grace. Our relationship was rewarding, but it is time to Move On, as George Soros would say.

A role model for our time

Snoop Dogg is a busy guy.

Barred from Australia, banned in England, just arrested in Sweden, persona non grata in Canada, and convicted in California on drug and weapons charges. Snoop Dogg, one of Al Gore's hand-picked crew of rappers against global warming, is sure racking up a series of criminal offenses on his way to performing a July 7th "Live Earth" concert for carbon depletion.


He's just a high-spirited youth who undoubtedly means well.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The real first folio edition of Romeo and Juliet

A more true to life version than the one we are taught in school:

In this First Folio version Romeo and Juliet do not fall in love, for at the most tender moment of the balcony scene we have these immortal lines. ‘…would a rose by any other name smell as sweet…. Actually thinking about it I could just fancy a kebab and chips. Hang on, love, I’ll be back in a bit.’

But, of course Romeo never does return. Instead he meets his mates down at the kebab shop and by the time they have managed a swift pint or twelve it is far too late for Romeo too call back on Juliet.

Read the whole thing. It's quite poignant, really.

WRTI has a fund drive

I listen to WRTI all the time. They are a classical and jazz radio station sponsored by Temple University. When they had what I thought was their annual fund drive last fall, I stepped up to the plate and gave an annual donation of $120. Now they are having another fund drive. Do annual fund drives take place twice a year? I'm not giving them any more money until my year is up.

I'm fed up with these charities. They follow you around like little puppies who whine until they are given something.

Try this. Donate some money to, let's say, the Americans Against Disease Society. Practically by return mail you will get another appeal. Send another check. You now have a friend for life. You need never be lonely again. The folks at Americans Against Disease Inc will write you, call you, and e-mail you. You will never see the end of them.

These annual fund drives should come annually, dammit! Send me a letter once a year, and I will give you your annual stipend. No more until next year! And if you annoy me, you won't get anything next year either.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Want the government to handle health care?

This horror story might change your mind.

Carnival of Insanities strikes again!

Can sanity be restored?

Removing people from photographs

According to this N Y Times article, technology has advanced to the point where images of unwanted mates or former friends can be edited out of photographs.

The restoration artists are also able to edit people in to and out of photographs. Many customers ask the services to edit former husbands or wives out of cherished family photos.

I employed a similar but low-tech solution to getting rid of pictures of former boyfriends or bad dates. I simply cut their heads out of the photos, leaving a picture of myself looking gorgeous on the arm of a headless guy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Will there always be an England?

Not if these people have their way.

A magistrate writes:

Not for the first time I have sat on a case in which shopkeepers, most of them Asian, seem to be living in a state close to siege. In the latest, a normal-looking parade of shops in an otherwise respectable suburb of London is beset by an amorphous group of locals, mostly but not exclusively young, who hang around doing nothing much apart from giggling, shuffling, and leering. These people routinely steal from the shops, intimidating and occasionally assaulting the owners. In evidence, the shopkeeper who had been assaulted said that assault contempt and abuse was just part of running the business, and that when people steal goods his only priority is to get them back. Often, a trader confronting a thief is surrounded by a jeering and threatening mob, and retreat to the store is the only safe option. There is an obvious racial subtext here, based on the loathing felt by the underclass for brown people who have the cheek to work hard in crap jobs in order to get on in life. This loathing does not prevent the oppressors from buying their cans of Tennents from the despised shopkeepers, and the fact that the shops take their cash serves in some way to reinforce an unjustified feeling of superiority to the 'Pakis'.

Wally Schiarra has died

He was an astronaut. These men were fascinating to me, as much for who they were as for what they did.

Look--either you think the space program was exciting, or you don't. The consensus of liberal opinion at the time could be summarized like this: you could have a space program financed directly by exploiting the poor, taking bread out of their mouths, or you could forget the space program and eliminate poverty. Jesse Jackson, I seem to remember, was of the latter opinion.

If the idea of a human being walking on the moon or orbiting the earth or exploring far-distant planets is a snooze to you, you're entitled to your opinion. But I found when I was doing research on the lives of African American astronauts that many of them were inspired by the space program. According to Charles F Bolden, a retired Marine general, the first Apollo and Gemini space shots took place when he was a boy and excited him:

I was interested in being an astronaut when I was young, but I didn't think it was possible. I put it out of my mind....

I think every kid has an interest in space.... It makes kids want to study, excites them , gives them a desire to be somebody...and that's something no other program can do.... If we want to look to the future, space is it....And that excites people from kindergarten through college; it excites me.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'll take my religion straight up, with a twist

Commitment to Judaism runs very low in my father's side of the family--it is like a low-grade infection that sometimes causes an outbreak of religion, or Zionism, or both.

My dad believes in the Democratic Party, social justice, good SAT scores, and getting into Ivy League colleges. He once bitterly complained that everyone in his housing complex is a gentile and Republican. I don't know which he minds most. All his friends are atheist Jews like himself.

My older brother, who was raised by my mother, is religiously observant, as is his wife. They are observant in the way that people in Ohio of a certain age are--they try to keep a low profile and look like everybody else. No kippahs and payes in public, please.

They are, however, observant, sent their children to Jewish day schools, keep Kosher, don't answer the phone on Shabbat, etc. They also believe in good SATs but are fine with sending the kids to Ohio State. In fact, going to Ohio State is another tradition deeply honored by this branch. Their three children, however, are not religious at all. The eldest, Sam, is studying Arabic (at Ohio State, of course), and wants to go live in Jordan or Syria to perfect his grasp of that language. The other two, who are girls, have that valley girl thing down pat. My sister-in-law says: "I raised three goyim."

Brother #2, however, is not even slightly religious, nor was his first wife. It was therefore surprising when she asked him, on her deathbed, to make sure that their son had a bar mitzvah.

Wife number 2 is a really nice woman but not one to lose sleep over observance. She is enthusiastic about Judaism in a "Isn't Chanukah fun? Let's have a party!" kind of way. They also sent their children to Jewish day schools, as did all their hip, cool and groovy friends, all Jewish, all progressive as all get-out. They live in California, for God's sake. At wedding #2 (second brother, second wife) we sat with a man who said his aunt had known my stepmother in New York, where they were both members of the same Communist cell. Is that progressive, or what? They share the family commitment to good SAT scores and Ivy League colleges.

However, the son of this family seems to have contracted the Zionist bug. After high school graduation, he spent a year in Israel, and he is active in a Zionist organization (but it's the furthest left one there is, according to his stepmother).

My mother's side of the family have a stronger Jewish commitment. My cousin Bernie is deeply devout and conducts services at the local nursing home every Saturday. His three daughters all married Gentiles and are not raising their children as Jews, which I know he minds, although he never complains. His sister has a son who is very religious, lives in Israel, and has a large family.

Where am I going with this? Bless me if I know. I am certainly a Zionist, but I don't know whether this is from Jewish commitment or from being a rabid right-winger. I am actually kind of the oddball. I not only didn't go to an Ivy League college, I didn't even go to Ohio State, but to some forgettable college no one ever heard of. And I voted for George Bush.

Don't tell the rest of them. I could never live it down.

A sign spotted at the side of the road, Wilmington, DE

BARBARA
MUHAMMED
for school board

I guess the lady doesn't want to emphasize her last name.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finicky but religious actor

Some of us would like to hang around John Travolta and take his used shirts when he is finished with them.

Travolta, as it happens, is one of the least profitable actors to appear in movies. Among his more unreasonable contract demands is to receive 8 Armani T shirts ($200 to $300 each) every day of filming. The reason: he is religiously opposed to wearing washed clothing.
I, on the other hand, am religiously opposed to wearing unwashed clothing. Maybe we could do a deal?

What would happen if they gave a Parliamentary (or Congressional )committee hearing

and nobody came?

Perhaps some work might get done.

Cribbed from djomama.

Innovative treatment

by injection.

Stolen from purple avenger.