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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A living substance

Did you know that oil is alive?

Me either.


[L]ike Dracula and his creatures of the night, oil is .. undead.
Some may call me a madman and dismiss my theories are foolish peasant superstitions, but how else can we explain that the fact, like the vampire can change himself into a bat, oil can transform itself into gasoline and varieties of plastic. It ventures forth from its resting place in pipelines and tanks to feed upon the environment and to gain control over the minds of men.
The only thing that kill oil is a bullet fashioned from fragments of Al Gore's skull.

Suggested theme song for Barack Obama

This is approporiate for the Obama message:

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company...

I tried to import the video, but for some reason couldn't. The sappiness and sheer meaninglessness of the video--actually a Coke commercial--makes it the perfect Obama Anthem. That's because the Obama campaign has a lot in common with Coke--both are substances with lots of sugar but no nutritional value.

Also on Carnival of the Insanities.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Miriam's ideas?

Truly a lame name for a blog, don't you think? It really does seem feeble.

But at the time when I discovered that blogger would give me a free blog, I strained my brain to come up with something clever--and came up empty.

Finally I decided to go with "Miriam's Ideas." No one else was using it, and it had the virtue of roughly describing what I wanted to put out there. Also, I knew if I waited for inspiration to strike, I would never be able to think of anything. So here I am, four years later, stuck with a stupid blog name.

One hand washes the other

and the taxpayer gets his --- caught in the wringer.

No wonder Congress's approval rating is so low.

Monday, July 28, 2008

This is the moment....

Bring on the barf bags! If Obama is elected president we can expect to hear this twee stuff daily. Doesn't this New Age baby talk offend anyone but me?

Fountain of Shame, Palermo, Sicily

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Initially intended for a private villa, this collection of statues caused scandal when it was first acquired from the 15th century equivalent of Apparently it could not be returned.

In the heart of Palermo's loveliest square, Piazza Pretoria, stands this magnificent fountain, the work of the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani in 1554 and 1555. It overlooks the facades of the two churches on the square, S. Caterina and S. Giuseppe dei Teatini.... The fountain is floodlit at night, a 24-hour sight.

Shocking, Outrageous, Disgraceful! -- When the Fontana Pretoria was first unveiled in 1575 at Piazza Pretoria, the outcry was so loud it could practically be heard across the city. Originally intended for a private Florentine villa and not a public square, the fountain is adorned with nude figures galore. In time, Palermitans learned to live with this "outrage," although they forever afterward referred to it as Fontana della Vergogna, or "Fountain of Shame."

I walked all around this magnificent fountain, snapping pictures from every angle of the magnificent statues, all depicting magnificent bodies. Not an ounce of cellulite on any of them.

I couldn't help but wonder: are these representations of typical 16th century Florentines? Were they all beautifully shaped and proportioned? No lard butts, jiggly thighs, big stomachs, fallen arches, bad posture, droopy bosoms, scrawny limbs? If so, what has happened to the human race since those days?

Then I figured out that the average Florentine probably lived to be about 25, maybe 30 if he were lucky. Most Americans under 30 would look pretty good without their clothes nowadays, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Britons sweltering under heat wave

Temperatures soar:

A spokesman said a temperature of 83F (28.3C) was recorded yesterday at Cranwell, Lincs, the highest so far this year.

They ought to try Washington, DC. Or Charleston, SC.

How did the ancestors of these people ever settle the American South?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Running to stay in place

We've been engaged in the homeowner's marathon: running hard to stay in place. We have had the computer guy, the Internet guy, the power-washing guy, the electrician, and the plumber. All this not to improve our lot in life but to restore our household to the status quo ante, that is, getting the computer to work, the Internet connection tow work, the light fixture in the basement to work, etc.

Meanwhile, I have been spending my days sitting at home waiting for the plumber, etc. They give you a window during which the person in question will come, say 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is a large window. Especially when you arrange over the phone that you will not be there from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and the person in question shows up at your door at 12:59 or calls on your cell phone just as you are pulling into the dentist's driveway at 1:10.

The funny thing is, when one of these fixers actually shows up, fixes whatever was not working, and doesn't charge too much, we are as happy as if Ed MacMahon had showed up at the door and handed us fistfuls of cash.

Meanwhile, all is harmony and gratitude chez Charm. Now if the guy who's painting the deck just shows up on time....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The gospel according to Garrison Keillor

Via James Lileks, here are some really bad, nasty despicable people, according to Keillor:

“hairy-backed swamp developers, corporate shills, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, hobby cops, misanthropic frat boys, lizardskin cigar monkeys, jerktown romeos, ninja dittoheads.” In 1994 he called them “dim figures emerged from the mist; lo and behold, the same old gang of frat boys, geezers in golf pants, cheese merchants, cat stranglers, corporate shills, Bible beaters, swamp developers."

I believe he's talking about, you know, Republicans. Lileks offers his own variation:

"Fat shapes emerged from the fog; hail and fare-thee-well, the same ancient mob of sorority sisters, Masons of the moment, backwater frog-heads, spumoni disciples, swamp-cheese franchise experts, Cartesians in LaCrosse socks, ferret-ticklers, and Rosicrutian tract-whappers.”

This can be kind of fun. Here's my contribution:

Pot-bellied salesmen, lawyers in tasseled loafers, dog groomers, librarians in sensible shoes, bus-driving bigots, pasta-eaters, Limbaugh listeners, ugly hairdressers, SUV drivers, flag-wavers, overweight Presbyterians....

Oh, goodness, I could go on forever, but it's unfair to hog the limelight. I'm sure my readers would like a try at creating this pretentious but meaningless crap. I invite you to do so.

responds to the challenge:

Prius drivers reeking of sanctimony, community college professors, slow food cultists, Unitarians, expatriates wearing Obama buttons, Earth Firsters, celebrity friends of Fidel, granola-chomping birkenstock wearers, feminazis for the burqa, PBS contributors, poetasters for peace ..

Well done!

Also, from Snoopy:

Shimmering in a beer-induced haze of intoxication: defrocked cable technicians, pimply-faced connoisseurs of fried Mars bars, emasculated yachtsmen, unwashed solipsists, tweed-clad and horny Eng. Lit. professors, earnest aluminum siding salesmen, card-carrying PETA ghosts, undernourished Lambada dancers, eager but shy Norwegian bachelor farmers and, of course, sensibly shod librarians.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In love with mass transit

Why do our betters favor raising the tax on gasoline, which goes to the highway trust fund? Simple. The highway trust fund is unable to accomplish the things it was set up to do, such as build and repair highways and bridges. The funds originally meant for highway construction and improvement are being spent on fripperies like bicycle paths and mass transit for people who don't want to take mass transit.

The love politicians bear for mass transit is touching. Particularly since none of them would be caught dead using it. Their favorite means of getting from place A to place B involves private jets, helicopters, and chauffered limosines. Mass transit for the "little people," the jerks who pay taxes through their employers and don't have the opportunity to use gifted accountants to "minimize" their taxes. These little people have been getting ideas above their station in life--driving around in SUVs and vans and turning their airconditioning way down. They need to be taught a lesson by the arugala eating classes.

Also on the Carnival of the Insanities.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lileks tears the Archbishop a new one

James Lileks expresses it so well:

“The Archbishop said that faiths which reject the use of violence should learn to defend each other in their mutual interest.
'If we are in the habit of defending each other, we ought to be able to learn to defend other groups and communities as well,' he said.
'We can together speak for those who have no voice or leverage in society - for the poorest, the most despised, the least powerful, for women and children, for migrants and minorities; and even to speak together for the great encompassing reality that has no voice of its own, our injured and abused material environment.

That's right--it's all about the environment. Psalm 24 came to my mind as I was loading the dishwasher, thinking the Archbishop's words over, so I looked it up:

24:1 The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

24:2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Compare the nobility and beauty of these words to the drivel that comes out of the Archbishop's mouth. The man obviously hasn't a clue.

Baby-killer exchanged for two corpses

What a terrific deal!

I am so mad I could spit. The Lebanese are dancing in the streets! They know what is going on: they won, Israel lost.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back to Best Buy

As all three of my readers know, I have been having computer problems. I've brought two computers back to Best Buy, and the boys and girls who work there are starting to be familiar with my face; so much so, that when I walk into the door, those working in the Computer Department all tend to want to take their break at the same time.

Well, I bought this printer, which for some reason I did not get around to installing earlier. This time I followed the printed instructions, one through four--to wit: 1. Remove printer from carton; 2. Check to see that all the parts are there; 3. Connect the power supply (this was a tough one, it came in two pieces, but I managed to do it); 4. Remove all the packing material from the printer.

Then came number 5: Turn on printer, by pressing on button. That one didn't work.

So, I have to go back to Best Buy, where I am known to one and all as The Crazy Lady. I know this because if this were the library where I worked this is the name I would inevitably have earned.

So I have to dye my hair black, put on shoes with lifts, and paste a false mustache on my face, maybe even get cheek inserts like Marlon Brando wore in the Godfather before I dare go in there again.

Maybe I'll just donate it to the Synagogue Garage Sale, which is taking place shortly. I'm such a coward.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Carnival of the Insanities is up

Good stuff, everyone.

Customer support

I brought my new Dell home on Thursday and I already found out that there is no support for anything you are likely to do with the computer. What is actually covered I don't know. Perhaps shooting the computer out of a cannon over the Mojave Desert might get the attention of customer support.

I couldn't download Adobe reader or Adobe flash player, no matter how hard I tried. So I went to Firefox and downloaded a bunch of stuff, the names of which I cannot now remember. But I am getting videos now.

Except for the audio part. I checked control panel, and the speakers are installed, so that's not it. Back I went to web support, and I got this little handy-dandy suggestion:

Turn off the computer, unplug everything, and then plug everything in again and restart the computer.

I don't know whether I should do this at midnight while sprinkling salt over my left shoulder and then walk in a circle 7 times. All I know is that I have a backache from crawling around on the floor and a headache from trying to see all the little USB ports. Oh yes, and it didn't work.

I'm getting to the point where I am stopping being defensive about my lack of computer knowledge and starting to wish they did this another way. When I bought a car I did not get several large unwieldy boxes containing the chassis, wheels, tires, clutch, and automatic transmission. It was already assembled, in a place quaintly called a "factory" by persons known as "workers." And though I am ignorant about motor vehicles--all I know about them is that you have to put gas in them to make them run--it hasn't stopped me from driving, using the aforementioned wheels, etc, like a pro.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Foods of the past

Today we are going to discuss Green Jello, but not just yet.

Methods of cooking and serving foods sure have changed in my lifetime. I can remember when beef Wellington was considered an elegant dish; guests were actually served steak, roast beef, and brisket. Nowadays you could probably perform a citizen's arrest on any host who dared to serve beef to his guests. Even burgers are made of turkey these days.

Things were different when I was young, back in the twentieth century. You expected your host to provide grub and plenty of it. Nobody worried about their weight unless they were morbidly obese. Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren were considered fine figures of women and even Jane Russell had her admirers.

A young couple of our acquaintance were ahead of their time, foodwise, and we were victims of their hospitality. Our hostess proudly served a cheese souffle, which I swear had only 4 eggs in it. For 4 people. A finicky little salad--3 or 4 lettuce leaves and a slice of tomato--accompanied this. Dessert was half a pear in syrup that had a few cranberries floating in it.

As soon as we decently could, we left, and on the way to the subway stopped in Wolfie's for a double-decker pastrami sandwich with a chocolate shake on the side.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes, green Jello. Jello molds were considered haute cuisine in those days, and for some reason green was the color of the day. The truly elegant hostess provided Jello, part of which remained green and contained--let's say pineapple, coconut, and slivered almonds. You could actually put anything, reasonable or not, in it. The other part was mixed with cream or cream cheese, at any rate something white. So it became a light green, which set off the other, darker Jello. The two were layered in a fancy mold. When ready to serve, the mold was dipped into warm water and downloaded on a fancy plate. Whether anyone ate it is not recorded, but everyone took a little piece to be polite.

Nobody eats stuff like that any more. Green Jello has gone the way of ambrosia salad (which contained marshmallows, among other things), meat loaf with tomato soup poured on top of it, and iceberg lettuce.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I did the unthinkable

Yes, I am the one and only person in the United States and Overseas Possessions to actually return a Mac...

I know I was supposed to enroll myself in the small exclusive Apple fan club and start looking down my nose at the unenlightened who cling to their guns and PCs and fear of people who are different (better) than them.

I had the iMac from Hell. I couldn't download the installation software from my printer, digital camera, or scanner using the CDs, nor could I download it from the internet. I couldn't open my digital photos.

I called Apple, who were amused I was trying to pawn off an old Lexmark printer on my fine new equipment. Okay, I'll accept that, even though the said printer was working just fine. But my camera is new and I don't want to dump it. So I called Olympus tech support. Nothing they tried worked. They were stumped. HP the same. I bought a new Photosmart printer and attempted to install it, but the Apple would have none of it. Tech support for said printer became very annoyed because by God it's supposed to work.

Finally, I called Apple at 6 a.m. their time, and their tech support attempted to grapple with the program. They finally advised me to take it back. Yes, Apple couldn't get the bloody thing to work either!

Now I have Mr Charm scratching his head and trying to put together my new Dell.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Is a college degree worth anything?

It makes you feel good about yourself.

Sooner or later the truth about the value of a college degree will get out. It is irrational to pay $100,000 for a degree that will get you a $25,000 a year job. The earning premium for a college degree isn’t evenly distributed - engineers, doctors and other professionals get most of the additional lifetime earnings attributed to holding a college degree. Many of these students will graduate with big debts, and not much in the way of prospects for a good job.

Unfortunately, the idiocy taught in our colleges has real life consequences. Students start life deeply in debt, besides being totally ignorant and naive. Four or five or even six years of their lives which could have been productively spent are lost. And the stupidity seems to be working its way down to the lower grades. Just to make things worse, Catholic schools, which were a beacon of light in a dark landscape, are closing just when they are needed most.

Also at Carnival of the Insanities.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

mainstream media mourns death

I was unable to link to the headline in the Charleston newspaper's coverage of Jesse Helms' death on July 4, but it went something like this:

Conservative Bigot dies

Very objective.


Poppies and other wildflowers in the Sicilian countryside.

My dream library

I had dinner with an old friend who is still working in the trenches of a library. When I met her, I worked at the Cute Little Library. She left the state before I began to work at the Library from Heck (13 fun-filled years of heavy pain killer use). We started to speculate about what the dream library would be like.

1. It would have all the books you read when you were young, all the books you've been meaning to read for years, nice clean copies of classics, multiple copies of the book of the moment. When the moment ended, the extra copies would be discarded, not left sitting on the shelf like wallflowers at a dance. Whatever you wanted to read would be there when you wanted it. Books on tape. Books in braille. Books, books, books, and nothing else. See #3.

2. No ranting and raving by the homeless. The homeless could sit quietly in their chairs as long as they kept their clothes on, well, most of their clothes. They also would not smell of anything but soap. Originally I wanted to bar the homeless, but I realized that they were part of the library scene. Where else would they go? No one wants them around except the librarians, bless their hearts.

3. No DVDs, CDs, computer games or comic books. They can get that garbage elsewhere, and do. If literacy ever becomes a lost art, blame these media.

4. No Internet. The crazies who want to look at porn sites can jolly well buy their own computers. People shouldn't do what these folks are doing in public places. Need I draw a picture?

5. No cell phones, pagers, iPods, or other devices that deafen young people and cause their brains to rot. No one would be talking to an unseen Other or muttering to themselves except the librarians.

6. Only nice adults, nice teenagers, and nice children would be allowed within the doors of the Dream Library.

7. People would not have heart attacks or seizures or just plain fall down.

That's as far as we got.