Thursday, June 30, 2011


My hatred for spiders is well documented, though I can't be bothered to link to the police reports. Just take it from me--spiders are no good! And not in that "hey I'm all for letting spiders have jobs, I just wouldn't want my daughter marrying one" sort of way--nope! I don't even want the damn things anywhere near me. If you named a country that was 100% spider free and could prove it, I'd consider living there (but not Greenland because that's crap).

Would I feel differently if spiders were delicious, like crabs? Well I'm not about to find out, that's for damn sure. I'll leave spider eating to the Cambodians, they can make anything into a delicacy.

But truth be told, I really don't have an issue with very small non-venemous ones. To me, they're like flies, but not even as annoying because they don't fly all over the place. But huge or dangerous ones--screw that.

So today upon learning that my wife encountered a spider in our kitchen--the first encountered in DC since I moved back here in 2009, I'm happy to say, and this is amazing since we live in a swamp--I had to ask the obvious questions:

How big was the damn thing, in terms of body and legspan?

Her answer was "the size of my thumb" and to me that immediately made me think that when I get home I'm going to poison the hell out of the entire apartment in an attempt to make sure that some monster--with a body the size of a human thumb!--never lives again.

She clarified after my ALL CAPS SHRIEKING that the entire legspan was the WIDTH of her thumb, making the spider quite the little guy. Crisis averted!

No plans to visit any rain forests anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Don't Have a Kid With a Crazy Person

If certain things don't outrage you, then the only explanation is that you're an idiot. A good example of something that should outrage you is the fact that "Full House" lasted on television for as long as it did, while "Freaks and Geeks" was cancelled after only one season. But then there are stories that should make you lose faith in humanity.

Picture it--a guy and his ex share custody of their son, and one day she accuses him of invading her home, attacking and torturing her, and he's subsequently arrested. After 83 days in jail and spending $55K in legal fees, the case is ultimately dropped because of overwhelming evidence indicating that the accused couldn't possibly have been at the location of the supposed attack. The accuser sticks by her story, files a restraining order--which of course is withdrawn just before the accused can fight it in court--and uses this to keep him from seeing their son.

If ever there was a good case for tossing this woman in jail for filing a false police report, this is the one--false accusations have a way of ruining a person's life. 55 grand may not sound like much to the yachting set, but for most people that can be a crippling amount to pay, just to prove your innocence. And what if you simply don't have corroborating witnesses, and this drags everything out further?

I'm not saying we need to go all Babylonian about it and rip tongues from the mouths of liars, but at the very least we can chain them to the sides of the freeway picking up trash until they learn to keep their stupid mouths shut.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No One Enjoys Your Special Snowflake Screaming in Restaurants

There are many times when I encounter people in public who would best be served by having a large bottle smashed upon their poorly-formed skulls. But sometimes, it seems that the wrong person gets the business end of the bottle treatment. And in a restaurant in England, this was just the case.

Picture a typical scene: two couples dining in an Indian restaurant, perhaps discussing their loss of empire (I imagine the British think about this a great deal) and the ample bottoms of some lass on Page 3. One couple decided that it was a good idea to bring their toddler to dine with them, after all no one appreciates a fine restaurant meal (and an ethnic meal known for its spicy flavors at that) better than a baby. I recall many fine meals at age 2, where the herb-encrusted chicken with fennel was to DIE for! Anyway, these moron-tards soon discovered that their baby was screaming and crying a lot, perhaps because the tyke realized that his parents were dumb enough to take him to a restaurant at 10 PM and that therefore he would be lucky to make it to age 14 without an arrest record of his very own.

Now, when faced with the fact that your baby is crying unstoppably in public, there are a few things you can do about it:

1) Take the baby outside to calm him down, hoping the crying will subside so you can go back in.
2) Take the baby to the bathroom to see if s/he needs changing.
3) Smash a bottle over the head of any patron who dares complain about your unique snowflake.

Well, since this made the newspaper you can guess that Genius McDouchetard decided to go with option 3, and is now sentenced to over 2 years in prison for his caveman-like assault. What's really unfortunate is that THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE BREEDING when in a just world they would have been sterilized shortly before being exiled to a remote island where they could mine copper or something.

Note to parents of small children--until they're old enough to not scream and cry in restaurants, spring for a baby sitter. If you're too cheap for that, learn to eat at home.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gay Marriage Legal in NY

With the welcome news that New York became the biggest state to formally legalize same-sex marriage, presidential candidate and thrice-married Newt Gingrich is out touting his support for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. But wait--looks like at the time they passed that law, Newt was already cheating on his second wife! Oops! Well at least the president at the time legitimized the law by signing it, and at least the president was the sort of stand up guy who takes his own marriage vows seriously, so as to lend gravitas to something important like the defense of marriage. Oh, wait, it was Bill "Are Those My Pants?" Clinton! Strike two!

All we need to hear now is that Ike Turner had been the principal lobbyist for the DOMA and we'd have the great trifecta.

But forgetting for a minute the mindless bigotry behind DOMA (and that's all that there is--because having an unabiding faith that God wants marriage to be only between a man and a woman does not lead to a logical conclusion that therefore the government needs to ban any other form of marriage)--that law was also a big intrusion on states' rights. Marriage has simply never been a federal issue, unless a constitutional equal protection issue is involved (such as in the '60s when the Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage). Any way you cut it, DOMA was a sign that Congress went bonkers.

And now, with NY legalizing gay marriages, we have a chance to see if the opponents will be proven right. Will straight marriages collapse? Will presidential candidates cheat on their spouses? Will governors rent$5,000 per hour hookers? Only time will tell!

Al Gore, Moron

When people try to explain to me that Al Gore is not a vile douchey douchetard of extreme levels, they always fall short because of the rich subject matter available. Let's get past some of the obvious issues--the creepy kiss with his wife at the 2000 Democratic Convention, the shameless grabbing of credit over the Internet's development (yes, I know he didn't mean that he personally invented the Internet, but he was still trying to take undeserved credit as though he was running one of the companies that pioneered the technology, and not some dipshit Senator), the fact that he lost the easiest layup of a presidential campaign against the weak and gaffe-prone George W Bush. But let's focus on his environmental activism.

First, there's the hypocrisy. He argues for reducing each family's carbon footprint, although his own is astronomical (as happens when you have several SUVs, several large homes, and fly by private plane a great deal). But then, hypocrisy is just a sign of poor character, rather than a sign that the message is wrong. After all, if your favorite baseball player spoke up a great deal about avoiding steroids, and you found out he was roiding up big time, well, that makes him a douche but doesn't make his roid ranting wrong.

But hey, Gore defenders say--he buys carbon offsets! He pays money to plant trees, so he's making up for his lifestyle! And Bush stole the presidency! (Gore defenders tend to go back to that point again and again) To that I say, fiddlesticks! (This is a fambly blog) If Gore's using tons of oil to heat his house, fuel his SUV and fly his corporate jets around the globe, he can plant millions of trees to make the world prettier and clean the air. But even if every American--and let's face it, if we're talking about wrecking the environment, we might want to point our gaze towards developing countries that are pumping a lot more crap into the atmosphere--plants a bunch of trees to offset their carbon use, that doesn't do one bit of good towards a much more pressing issue--our growing dependency on oil.

One imagines that during his eight lonely years as Vice President, Al Gore chafed as he saw federal fuel efficiency standards remain lax, and gas prices plunge to all-time lows, explaining the growth of exurban communities and SUV sales. One imagines he begged his president to raise gas taxes and use the money to invest in commuter rail, or approve the building of nuke plants which if coming online today could replace coal and oil generators just as oil supplies start slipping. So one can certainly sympathize, especially since this guy's silence didn't help him any when it was his turn to go for the White House, and despite little primary opposition, a strong economy and Clinton's high approval ratings, Gore managed to lose the closest squeaker of a race against a guy with plenty of skeletons in his closet and an inability to string two sentences together without screwing it up.

But the environmental message he's sending out now--that we can buy carbon offsets just like rich Catholics could buy indulgences in the old days to alleviate their own sins--is dreadfully irresponsible.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bieber vs. Letterman--a Wussy Slap-Fight in the Making

Sort of like watching a scorpion fighting a centipede, you sometimes don't know which horrible creature to root against. Such is also the case in a spat between Canadian teen idol Justin Bieber and David Letterman. Let's weigh the two:

1) One has a stupid haircut and a following among fans that no one can really explain, and the other is Justin Bieber. Tie.

2) Bieber got famous by singing on Youtube, and thus begat Rebecca Black. Letterman managed to inspire Conan O'Brien. So both have actually done a great thing for our culture. Another tie.

3) Bieber is hawking a fragrance in a bottle that resembles lady-parts. Letterman acts like a giant lady-part when things don't go his way (such as not getting to take over "Tonight Show"). Yet another tie!

With pop culture like this, it makes me wonder if those crazy hermits hiding in caves with no contact to mass media might have a good point.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Thing With Accents

It's well known that Americans often equate the British accent with sophistication and class, until the Americans have been exposed to the yobs and wankers of the British thug culture. This has been confirmed by science. Imagine someone in your history class saying: "was Wellington named after the boot, or vice versa?" With a flat, midwestern accent, you'd be likely to say "silence, fool, while adults are talking!" but with a cultured British accent--and maybe a smattering of "I say!" and "how droll"--it's suddenly seen that the question was intended as wit. And while a Texan yelling at a hippie would sound crass--"up yours, longhair!"--there's something about the British version--"sod off, swampy!"--that just seems to belong in Masterpiece Theater.

About a half century ago it was even common for upper-crust east coast Americans to "Anglicize" their own accents, giving them that insufferable Thurston Howell hybrid that always makes it seem like they're talking down to the help. (Katherine Hepburn and FDR were good examples of this accent). And think about it--despite acting in an offensively stupid movie ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"), Hepburn was able to charm the Motion Picture Academy into giving her "Best Actress" for that farce. And despite some majorly stupid moves (putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps without due process, insisting on "unconditional surrender" for the Axis, selling out half of Europe to Stalin), FDR is not today referred to as the Goober Pyle of presidents. The accent is the key.

So what is my unsolicited advice for presidential candidates in need of image help?

1) Mitt Romney--already seen as a rich guy, should "Texan-ize" his accent, a la George Bush Sr.

2) Michele Bachmann--drop the midwestern accent, since no one ever says "he's from Michigan so he must be smart". Go with a British aristocrat accent.

3) Rick Santorum--go with California Surfer Boy (think, Keanu Reeves). They'll think you're more laid back and personable.

4) Tim Pawlenty--give yourself a Mexican accent. Hell, it can't hurt at this point.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bristol Raped by Levi???

I don't hate myself enough to actually read Bristol Palin's new book, but fortunately some will read it for me and do their writeup. Thank you, internets!

It doesn't appear to have anything groundbreaking--yes, the Palins didn't get along with the McCains, though in their defense the McCains didn't seem particularly nice. And Bristol had the usual "doe eyed" romance with Levi Johnston, the sort of ill-conceived relationship that's unfortunately all too common among Americans without the Palin's money and influence to keep their oldest daughter from living on state aid. And the remark about Levi's "jealous sister" tattooing her brother's name on her own wrist is pretty damn weird and not at all undercutting those stereotypes about Alaska inbreeding.

But the big revelation of the book is that Bristol lost her virginity when Levi got her blackout drunk on wine coolers. This goes beyond the "hey what a couple of drunken tools" level to an outright accusation of rape. And Levi Johnston never directed a movie called "Rosemary's Baby" so he won't have Hollywood defending him this time.

Now, I normally treat everything a Palin says as a lie, because it basically always is. But a rape accusation raises the stakes severely--if Bristol actually is telling the truth (perhaps a recessive Palin trait, gotten from some long dead ancestor who married into that pack of deceitful loonies), then by all means Levi Johnston should be facing criminal charges for what he's done. He certainly shouldn't have been paraded around at Republican conventions and treated as a member of the family until he inconveniently broke up with Bristol. Immediately upon reading this book, Sarah and Todd should have been in a pickup with extra gun racks on their way to Wasilla to mete out some frontier justice, by which I mean calling the cops on this guy. (Frontiers aren't what they used to be, of course). Levi should be in jail for such a thing, is what I'm saying.

And, if Bristol just made this up to sell books and smear Mr. Johnston--well, then she deserves all the vitriol and scorn that goes with false and damaging accusations. Calling someone a rapist is far worse than calling them even a murderer, and here's why--picture you meet someone at a cocktail party and he's like "yeah I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." You'd probably be like "oh, but I bet he deserved it, maybe stole your wife, insulted your honor, some sort of Old West thing, right?" But imagine instead you hear him say "I raped a woman in Reno, just because I could." See, there's justifiable homicide, there's no justifiable rape. You'd likely walk away from the guy and freshen your drink, if not toss it on him.

So what we have here is a pretty damning charge, which perhaps to a Palin is done as lightly as suggested that David Letterman can't be trusted around a pre-teen girl (as Sarah Palin suggested regarding her daughter Willow a couple years ago), and requires a clear answer. Does Bristol assert that Levi actually raped her, and if so, why not formally charge him? And if this is just the usual Palin bullspit, how about an immediate retraction, with an apology to Levi for tarnishing his name--however tarnished it may already be--and an apology to all actual rape victims whose stories are treated with more skepticism every time there's a false accusation like this one?

The Speech the President Should Give Tonight on Afghanistan

"My fellow Americans. Tonight I announce to you that we are beginning the complete withdrawal of all our troops from Afghanistan, and we do this for several reasons. To save time so you can get back to regularly scheduled programming, and Chris Matthews can go back to kissing my ass and Sean Hannity can go back to biting it, I'll run through them quickly:

"One: Osama bin Laden is dead. And just to drive the point home, we've recently greased his next two successors, leaving Al Quada with a worse leadership vaccuum than Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. Sorry Newt! Hope you sell some books when this is over. I have a title for you--'Implosion: The Story of the Most Ill Conceived Presidential Campaign of All Time.'

"Two: There's a good reason no country has ever successfully colonized Afghanistan. It's basically mountains and dirt, with a smattering of angry people. Who needs it? It's sort of absurd that with other, more fun countries out there, we're occupying this one. There's not even any oil to steal.

"Three: They gave me a Nobel Peace Prize two years ago, and now that we're bombing Libya on top of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, the damn medal just seems to mock me. I'm just not hipster enough to handle that kind of irony, so I have to get us out of one of our wars.

"Four: Do you know how much the Afghan war costs us every day? I won't give you the figures, because they'll depress you when you realize how many families' mortgages could have been wiped clean with the money we spend over there in a year. And now that the Republicans are talking about gutting NPR, it just seems asinine that we're burning so much cash in Central Asia.

"Five: The Vietnam War taught us that when we don't define how to win, then there's no way we can win. Well, let's look at what we've done in Afghanistan in ten years--toppled the Taliban, set up a more friendly government, and tracked and killed Al Quada leaders relentlessly, culminating in their grand poobah just this year. What more would we have to do to call it a victory? Carve my head in stone in one of their mountains, a la Mt. Rushmore? Highly unnecessary. Though, I wouldn't exactly protest if they did something so blatantly ass-kissingish. See, Prize, Nobel."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reality Still Bites

Generation Xers often get a bad rap for being nihilistic slackers who whine and complain a lot even though they never had it as tough as their Baby Boomer parents who had to always get up and walk across the room to change the channel and if they wanted to listen to music they had to use a record player rather than convenient mix tapes. As a member of the Xers, I've often felt this stereotype was pretty broad-brush--most of my peers work, keep their complaints subdued (because no one wants to hear your bitching!) and see their cynicism as more healthy skepticism than nihilistic grumbling.

But then I see the film "Reality Bites" and can immediately understand why our elders look down on this generation. The plot, to the extent there is one, is this--a bunch of recent college graduates in Houston (who incidentally don't seem to be suffering from stifling heat, even though this is summer? Hmmm....) are coping with the difficulties of work and romance in Depression-era 1994 (remember how hard it was to scrape by back in the '90s?). The protagonist--played by an ever charming Wynona Ryder, hey what happened to her? Oh yeah, shoplifting--is complaining about not being a major success in media at age 23, which is understandable because at 23 most people have made their first million and wrote a best selling novel. She sabotages her job because her boss was a jerk who was going to fire her anyway (so goodbye job reference! Much better than trying to leave with dignity and burn no bridges, but hey she's 23), and meantime has to decide between yuppie TV producer Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke, who plays the sort of character that most films have get his comeuppance in the form of a tank of sewage landing on him to everyone's amusement.

More on Hawke's character, but first, it turns out that Ryder gets super pissed at Stiller because he takes some video she created and got his network to run with it, and in the process the network "ruined her vision" by editing it in such a way as to make it marketable. Horrors! Imagine a budding artist having to make compromises to get ahead, so that eventually they can have the pull and independence to realize their talents down the road! Especially at age 23, when you only have so many good years left! Instead of pointing out that Ryder is being an idiot, and maybe getting a foot in the door is great for her career, especially since her then-current source of income was ripping off her father's generous offer to pay her credit card for a year, Stiller instead whines and pleads in a way that NEVER gets a guy in bed with a woman ever again. This is the first truly awful lesson of the movie.

The second has to do with Hawke's character, the goateed "artsy" slacker dude who got fired from 12 jobs for "not giving a crap" and has to sleep on Ryder's couch and sponge off of everyone. (His comeback when this mooching is pointed out is to then retort that Ryder is ripping off her dad's credit card--which, albeit true, is beside the point--at least she's paying rent regardless of familial generosity; this doesn't give him license to mooch and not try and help out income-wise) He plays coffee house gigs, which is fine, but doesn't pay the bills. Now, I like a lovable slacker mooch as much as the next guy, but where this guy crosses the line is in his complete contempt for people like Stiller's character--for being "yuppies" and idiots for doing things like working. Hawke's character oozes condescension, dropping smarmy jibes and references while all along complaining about how hard he has it. And instead of learning the error of his snobbish jerky ways, he (SPOILER) gets the girl in the end.

Maybe in 1994--at the height of grunge "complaint rock" and teenage angst--this was a fresh, cutting edge character. The guy with lots of potential, but who got burned out on "the system" at a young age. But this type wears thin--yes, questioning the "system" is fine and all that, but harming others with your sloth and carrying an air of unjustified elitism just makes you a jackass.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things We've Already Heard Too Much Of

Or maybe "things of which we've already heard too much", but the freedom to write that way is what we fought the grammar Nazis over back in WWII. I picture a grammar-Nazi blitzkrieg to be tanks and dive bombers relentlessly correcting us on split infinitives and prepositional phrases. But let's not get off topic:

1) Pippa Middleton. What's more boring than a British royal? How about the "not all that hot" sister of a British royal? Britain has produced many women far hotter (see, Hurley, Elizabeth), who actually do something worth being famous for (like modelling! I don't count Hurley's "acting"). And naming their women things like "Pippa" (or their men "Nigel", "Rupert", or "Basil" for that matter) just makes you wonder how the British held their own against Hitler.

2) Groupon. Folks, it's a coupon! Stop forming clubs around it! You know what the Chinese are doing while we're forming Groupon Clubs? They're forming clubs with which to hit us with when we don't work hard enough in their salt mines when they take over.

3) How LeBron James betrayed Cleveland. Hey Cleveland--the only reason any of you still live there is because you had no where else to go. Don't blame the guy for doing what you all wish you could.

4) The Redskins "next big season". Of course, with the NFL strike, that could be years off. Oh, who am I kidding--it'll be years off anyway! The Redskins are doomed to suck forever, or at least until Dan "I'm Really Half Plant" Snyder sells the team or hangs himself in the shower.

5) Airline fee complaints. Let's face it--airlines are going to do everything "a la carte" these days, which means you can save a bit if you choose not to order a soda on the plane, or have a blanket, or check your bag, or order by phone--but it's either this or ticket prices going up. At least this way you have SOME autonomy.

6) Israel. Not talk about Israel per se, but why this becomes such a key foreign policy point in American politics. We don't concern ourselves so much with the foreign policy of South Korea, Colombia or Brazil, each of which have much more worldwide impact for the U.S. But you'll hear serious presidential contenders actually talk about aligning our foreign policies to meet those of Israels. Folks--it's just another country.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lessons from Weinergate

Now, I'm a pretty traditional sort of guy, but I like to think that when I get drummed out of office for some sort of sex scandal, it better be completely worth it. I'm talking doing lines of cocaine while gambling using the bare backside of a Communist hooker while shooting shotgun pellets directly into an American flag. THAT'S the sort of thing you want to resign over. Not this "hey let me show chicks my crotch via Twitter" crap. Anthony Weiner has shown the world that Americans can no longer even do hard core sex scandals properly. He should resign for that reason alone! And apparently, he has.

What lessons have we learned from his mess?

1) If your last name is "Weiner", for hell's sake, make sure your scandal doesn't involve your weiner in any way. You just know the press isn't going to let that go.

2) Make sure your scandals aren't the sort that leave evidence. Twittering your photos around? You do know that those records can get out, right? Have you heard of this Internet thing? What an idiot. Don't call your paramour from your own phones, don't leave messages, don't buy them gifts. Much easier to deny if it's just their word against yours. The wing nuts in your own party will always believe you, cancelling out the wingnuts in the other party that will never believe you. But leave evidence, and you're out.

3) Make sure you're indispensible to your party. The Democrats rallied around Clinton when Lewinskygate broke, and I think they would have stuck around him even if it turned out he'd traded state secrets to her in exchange for desk quickies. The reason was that there was no way they'd bring down the guy who stood in the way of the GOP majority in Congress, and even then they knew Gore was too much of a flaky replacement to count on. David Vitter, the Louisiana Senator who admitted to using prostitutes, wasn't forced out by his party--they needed his seat in the Senate to remain in Republican hands. Spitzer was let out of the Governorship because no one thought New York would elect a GOP governor anytime soon. Weiner's problem was he was expendable--that seat will stay Democratic, and he's just distracting the party message right now.

4) When caught, immediately weigh the potential damage. Weiner didn't do anything illegal, and ultimately his wife knew more than anyone that he did it. Since these photos went out, and the media was biting, it was time to immediately come clean, admit what he did, and let things blow over. Instead, idiot-man decided to deny, blame unnamed others for hacking his account, and strangely promising to hire a private firm to investigate the hacking (rather than the police, which only makes sense when you consider that lying to the police during an investigation would have turned an indiscretion into an actual crime). Accordingly, this story dragged out for weeks, and the odd behavior and lying became the real scandal. Considering he couldn't kill the story, Weiner might have survived this if he'd come clean pronto.

6 Messages for Thursday

1) To the Moron in the exit lane on I-66 waiting to merge onto the Beltway--generally when you leave 20 feet of space between you and the car in front of you while we're at a dead stop due to unreasonably bad traffic, it means every jerk who wants to cut ahead in line will do so, every time. Clearly you've never driven a car or lived in a society before. Please crawl into the woods and hide from society, as your usefulness is no more.

2) To the Virginia Department of Transportation--I love that the state is running a surplus, and Northern Virginia is an area of strong job growth due to government contracting. Kudos on cashing in! Now how about actually paving I-66, particularly the lunar landscape between the Beltway and Route 50? Our region provides about 100% of the state's tax dollars, considering the rest of the Old Dominion's economy is based on charging audiences for Civil War re-enactments. This stretch of road looks like the German Army blasted across it in an attempt to take Stalingrad. Fix it!

3) To the D.C. area drivers--face it, we're all completely incompetent behind the wheel, and unfortunately no one in government has the brains to create a comprehensive mass-transit infrastructure. It's not entirely their fault, our incompetence also leaks out in our voting patterns which explains the mouth-breathers we have representing us. Considering we're just not good at driving--yes, that includes you too, Mr. Special Snowflake!--maybe we can make up for it by at least being less aggressive drivers? Every time you idiots cause an accident it just makes the traffic jams worse for the rest of us.

4) To the young skateboarders who thought it a good idea to run across Route 50 during rush hour--you know, I have nothing to say to you. Traffic was backed up as usual. You were really in no danger. Just try not to grow up and become a dead-eyed automaton like the rest of us Virginia drivers.

5) To our future Chinese overlords--please be merciful.

6) To the inventor of the hovercraft--according to old science fiction movies, you're way overdue. Get on it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elementary School Graduations?!?

As I recall, elementary school was two parts "Lord of the Flies" and one part kickball, where only the strong survive and the weak were crushed underfoot in the state of anarchy that reigned those days. Of course, I'm only talking about recess, because the classes themselves were pretty simple. There wasn't even much of a grading system--you did your assignment, you'd get a smiley face; you did it really well, you get a sticker! I swore then and there that if I ever were a college professor, I'd put stickers on blue books after grading them, just so the students remembered the good old days when everyone was a winner and you could do no wrong.

Basically, elementary school on an academic level is really about learning a few key things: basic math, how to read and write, and the most rudimentary understanding of our country's history. As long as you knew Columbus got here in 1492, you didn't need to know that he never landed on the North American continent, or that while he was voyaging for Spain, he was actually Italian. (You'd learn that quick enough chatting with the Italian kids in the class) That was pretty much it, and it took six years for them to teach you that. The learning part was pretty damn easy.

Which is why I don't really get the concept of elementary school graduations. Kids these days! We're far behind the Chinese, who by age 12 have already learned how to run a microchip factory, and are learning enough English to know how to order around American slaves that they'll take in about ten years. And yet, we're having these "feel good" celebrations for kids, who graduate off to . . . middle school? I mean, I get high school graduation--it means the end of the basic schooling required, and for many students that's the end of the line. College graduations for the next step. But elementary school graduations, really? What, are some of those kids going to become 12 year old carpenters and computer programmers? They grow up so fast these days!

I hope our Chinese masters are merciful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dogs Rule, Cats Suck

It's no secret that I think dogs are generally good creatures, with the innocence of a newborn baby and the land speed of an NFL wide receiver. Cats, of course, are genetically disposed towards speed and agility, but they have the attitude of a surly 13 year old hipster, and therefore need a good beating. My friend's story this morning of her cats destroying her basil plants just reinforced my contempt for the felines.

But dogs--now, there's some heroics! Reading these stories about dogs saving owners and strangers, routinely taking wounds for the betterment of their masters, even doing more to fight for my country than I ever did--wow, that just gets depressing! Every time I walk into a wall or get stuck in a traffic jam or forget my keys I usually just say "well, at least I'm better than a dog." No more can I say that.

But at least I'm better than a cat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Improve Sports

It's no secret that sports have evolved over the years as rules are changed, either to make the game more exciting or more evenly matched. So whenever purists try and tell me that they can't fix baseball or football because of "tradition", I generally laugh in their face, and if I have a mouthful of water they are treated to a comedic spit-take. Then I tell them that now that I realize they were actually serious, I shall laugh harder. That's how passionate I am about constantly changing and improving sports.

What would I do differently?

1) Baseball. Give baseball a thirty second pitch clock. If the pitcher takes more than thirty seconds between pitches, the batter can charge the mound. Base runners have to carry the bat with them the whole time. And put an extra base in there so it's more a pentagon than a diamond.

2) Basketball. Too much scoring, thus making points too cheaply won. Allow goaltending and much more roughhousing. On the other hand, any actual fouls will result in foul shots that are not worth one point apiece, but rather five points apiece. This will discourage fouls! Also, change the three point line to a four point line. And for any game where the average height of the players is over 6 feet, raise the basket an inch for each inch over six feet for the player average.

3) Hockey. Add some poles at various parts of the ice, and get rid of "offsides" and "icing" since no one understands those rules. Add another two players on each team to make it more likely a fight will break out.

4) Football. A touchdown scored on a pass should be worth an extra point. A missed field goal means not just not getting the three points, but losing a point. Put one extra player on the field who is an eligible receiver. Widen the field by ten yards. Get rid of padding--I actually think players will be more careful knowing they don't have helmets and padding. If not, then oops.

5) Golf. The only way to make this game more exciting is to add a box of live cobras at each green.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Does This Not Exist, #1

I don't watch cooking shows for one good reason--they're completely inapplicable to real life. Cooking shows are great if you happen to have all ingredients handy, pre-prepared, and set up nicely in a big open kitchen that has all the tools and appliances you need. However, 90% of the population will have this experience every time they're in their own kitchen:

1) Hmm, what would I like to make to eat....

2) Ah, looks like we're out of flour.....can we improvise with cornmeal?

3) The recipe calls for dill pickles but I only have this cucumber. Cucumbers are basically pickles.

4) I'd like to use the potato peeler, but that's in the dishwasher and doesn't look clean. Maybe this thing can work with the potato skins still on...

5) Damn, stovetop burners are out for some reason. Maybe I can use the oven and bake this thing instead.

6) Hey, what's that gas smell?

I propose they create a cooking show that truly has a McGyver style chef--improvising with whatever's there, making do when things go wrong, and ultimately trying just to not poison themselves or their guests. Why does this not exist?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Circus Is Under Way

For those of us who think of politicians as being good for only one thing--entertaining us--it looks like 2012 is shaping up to be a great year. (By contrast, 2004 was only amusing when Howard Dean imploded with his "scream" in Iowa, following that with drinking beer from the skull of one of his supporters) What could be more entertaining for us than having Sarah "I can count to potato" Palin in the presidential race? How about Michele Bachmann, AKA "I Can't Believe It's Not Palin"?

Let's see--both are good looking women, darlings of the outsider, Tea Party movement, and prone to saying incredibly stupid things all the time. Surely, they'll be butting heads sooner or later--or maybe sooner. Bachmann adviser Ed Rollins--the guy who helped Reagan use Walter Mondale as a push broom back in '84--has claimed his candidate is more "intelligent" than Sarah Palin, which is sort of like saying you're a better husband than Ike Turner. He's of course had to retract--neither Palin nor Bachmann are official candidates yet, so they have to play nice for now--but man, here I am actually rooting for Bachmann in this one.

Bachmann, to her credit, has been serving in the House of Representatives since being elected in '06, the same year Mama Grizzly was elected governor of Alaska. Unlike Palin, she didn't quit to go on the TV circuit and cash in, so points for Michele. Bachmann also practiced as a lawyer before that, which even for the lowest form of lawyer, requires more work and intelligence than TV anchor (yeah take that Brian Williams, talking head just means looking pretty, unless you're Greta van Susteren which I just don't get). And Bachmann has raised five children and 23 foster kids, none of whom became a national embarrassment. Palin can't even give a normal name to a single one of her awful brood (and youngest child Piper is clearly turning into a nasty piece of work like her mother. News flash, kiddo--your vacation might have been "ruined" by the media because your attention gobbing mother decided to travel in a giant bus with her name on the side. And maybe she should teach a 10 year old how to show a bit of respect to adults). In a head-to-head comparison, I'm finding myself actually liking Michele Bachmann!

But in a "surely the GOP won't nominate either of these nutjobs" way, I welcome the idea of both Sarah and Michele in the race, because I expect plenty of good quotes and goofs over the year. The only way to make this even better is if Jimmy "Rent is Too Damn High!" McMillan gets into the race. Ooh, looks like I'm in luck!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Civil War 150 Years Old

With the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this year, I notice strangely that there is very little ceremony in the North over this. I say "strangely" because the North won that war, unless perhaps Northerners regret not letting the South go when they had their chance and so they don't really think of it as "winning". By contrast, the South seems to still try and keep that history alive, what with Confederate battle flags being flown on state capitols and parades and Daughters of Confederacy cotillions.

Could it be that the entire war was an exercise of reverse psychology? That maybe the North was embarrassed by the slaveholding, cotton growing, unindustrialized South, and was all ready to say "hey, how about you guys go join Mexico or something?" and then the South was like "oh yeah? How about we just go ahead and split!" and then the North was like "wait a minute, you can't quit, you're fired!" Then four bloody years later, the North had beaten the South and forced them back in the Union, and was suddenly like "wait, now we gotta deal with these rebels?"

In the long run, things worked out--though it took a lot of pain (years of Reconstruction and many decades of Jim Crow) to get there. Air conditioning has made the South an agreeable place to live, we now have great football players and warm beaches and deep fried foods and BBQ and country music and blues and soul and oil and whiskey. Plus, an American border that cut off at the Mason Dixon line would have looked weird, and our nation's capital would have been right up against a foreign country. We'd have missed out on some Presidents due to their birthplaces (Wilson, Eisenhower, LBJ, Carter, Clinton). Elvis would have been a foreign musician, and the NFL would have had to have two national anthems at the start of their games (and the NHL would have had to have three).

Happy 150th, trial separation that went badly but ended well!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Just In--Kung Fu Obselete!

If I ever got into a martial arts fight with some dude, and he said he was about to use tae kwon do on me, I'd say "oh yeah? Well tae kwon DON'T" because I think if anyone had a great comeback like that it'd be hard to beat them to death with their own foot.

Martial arts seems like one of those things that is a great idea until you realize you can basically never use it. Just imagine--here you are in a board meeting, and that squirrelly guy from the Customer Research Department makes a crack about your tie, it's not like you can just leap over the table and give them a roundhouse kick. He'd likely lift up his three ring binder and block you with it, and you'd fall back into the end table with the water pitcher, making an awful mess.

Or you get cut in front of at McDonalds. This actually happened to some guy last time I was at McDs, in the line next to mine. He got all irate but the guy who cut in front pretended not to speak English (which, by the way, is a clever tactic, but doesn't work at aforementioned board meetings, where they already know you definitely speak English because they spoke to you before). The irate guy tried to prove the line cutter could understand English, by saying really insulting things, but got no response. The line cutter was ice cold.

Would kung fu have worked in that case? Probably not--it was crowded enough that Irate Man would likely have connected with my face while trying to roundhouse Line Cutter. And while I was simply trying to get a milkshake like any proper gentleman, I would have certainly joined the fracas, turning a basic Chuck Norrissing into a full-blown Road Housing. And, for all we knew, Line Cutter was armed.

Movies make it look really easy to disarm someone, because they always hold their gun or knife limp wristedly, and way in front so all you need to do is quickly kick the wrist and the weapon drops harmlessly. But if the armed goon is more than a few feet away from you, you'd have to move in close to get at the weapon, by which time they can usually pull the trigger or do some slashy motion. So maybe kung fu was great in the days when people were armed with only their wits and maybe some sticks, but these days it's really just for show.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul Revere Warned Patti LaBelle About Riding With the British

Who doesn't remember learning about Paul Revere's wild ride during the early days of the American Revolution? Clearly Sarah Palin doesn't. Now, the fact of the matter is I don't think Palin is particularly bright, but her gaffes and weird lies can often be explained rationally. Her story about taking a 22 hour cross-country plane ride after her water broke for the birth of her youngest son is most reasonably explained as her water not actually breaking until she was back in Alaska, and she embellished her story to add drama to it. Her gaffe about Paul Revere using warning shots and bells and warning the British that we were going to kick their asses is best explained as her misspeaking while talking to reporters (something that happens even to intelligent people when constantly interviewed). That sort of thing isn't all that unreasonable.

What is unreasonable, though, is Palin's insane compulsion to double down. A smart politician can use jujitsu when caught in a snag--a great example is Nixon's "Checkers" speech, when he was accused of accepting improper gifts, and he went on TV to explain that there were no improper gifts, only a little dog named Checkers that was given by a campaign supporter for his daughters. The sappy anectdote about the dog ("Say what you will about me, but don't attack this poor dog!") was enough to turn Nixon's numbers around, and he was kept on the ticket as VP that year. Clinton was also good about parrying political jabs, turning Ken Starr's perjury investigation into "a partisan witch hunt about sex", which left the GOP unpopular and helped the President's party in '98. And an honest politician (not that I'd call Nixon or Clinton dishonest, perish the thought!) can do normal damage control, owning up to mistakes, explaining that they misspoke, or otherwise weathering the storm. Particularly if the snag in question is not a big deal, you can minimize it and let it die a natural death in our fast paced age of news cycles.

But Palin somehow cannot do this. When after the Tucson shootings last year she was accused of contributing to the "violent political rhetoric" that was (incorrectly) blamed for the shooting, Palin had an opportunity to be the bigger person, to say that she agrees that whether violent imagery in politics had anything to do with the shooting spree, it would be a good idea for everyone to take the opportunity to embrace civility across partisan ranks. Instead, she painted herself as a victim of false accusations, and her adviser insanely went on TV arguing that Palin's use of sniper targets over the faces of "targeted" politicians was actually surveyor's symbols, even though this makes no sense at all. Palin, who is clearly insecure about being a moron, cannot ever admit being wrong, out of a fear that such an admission would make her look stupider. Yet we see the results of doubling down on ridiculousness. Likewise, she's now insisting she was right about her account of Revere's ride, even though the story would be written off as an innocent gaffe if she just said "I misspoke, can we get back to the issues?"

I really don't know what to make of this woman sometimes. There are times I'm convinced that she's actually a plant by the Democrats, or perhaps a liberal performance artist, out solely to make conservatives and Republicans look ridiculous and undermine them from within. Other times it seems she's just a fame-seeker out for money and adulation, with no real interest in political responsibility. In such case, it benefits her to appear to be running for President, perhaps even entering primaries, but not actually serving as President because who needs a boring job all day when you can just go on TV, make speeches, and get rewarded handsomely without having to make any hard decisions?

In the meantime, I look forward to a long campaign season filled with entertainment from this woman.

Friday, June 3, 2011


When I heard that Congressman Anthony "At Least I Wasn't Born Richard" Weiner is being accused of using Twitter to send some girl a photo of his (clothed) wang, my first thought was: Is this even news? He's a member of Congress, and therefore a complete idiot. I think real news is something along the lines of "Three term Congressman manages to not get lost on the bus." I sort of expect members of that august body (both puns not intended) to tweet photos of their Johnsons on a regular basis. Why even bother denying it? The lopsided Democratic constituency in Brooklyn isn't going to actually vote for a Republican unless you literally were caught selling poisoned milk to schoolchildren. And even then it'd be a close election.

But this post on Slate's "Double X" blog is pretty stupid. The gist--the press (particularly liberals in the press) should give a pass to liberal politicians caught doing things like this (e.g., sending sexually provocative photos of themselves to young women when you're already married) because those polticians "vote right" on women's issues and therefore are not hypocrites, as conservatives who engage in similar dalliances are. Has Slate started handing out blogging assignments to slow third graders again?

I don't recall any liberal Democrat in Congress ever coming out in favor of cheating on one's spouse. I don't know if Rep. Weiner ever spoke in favor of infidelity, but it's a safe assumption he has not. In fact, all politicians of both parties are essential "family values" politicians, they only differ on certain wedge issues (gay rights, abortion, family planning, etc.). None of those wedge issues has anything to do with sending suggestive pictures to another woman while you're married. If the liberals were "pro-cheating" then yes, no hypocrisy there--likewise, if Weiner helped his wife get an abortion, again, no hypocrisy there.

I dont' know if Weiner actually did send the photos--he denies it at this time--but if he did, it's really between him and his wife. I couldn't care less if he's a liberal "family values mean living wages for working families" Democrat or a conservative "family values mean two-parent households" Republican. I'm more concerned with the fact that they've all been doing to the American people what Anthony Weiner is being accused of trying to do with this young woman.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eek, Weaponization!

If you want to make anything sound sinister, just add the adjective "weaponized" before it. Example: "My neighbor has been growing tomatoes behind his house, and now I can't get a good view of his sunbathing wife." Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Well try this one on for size: "My neighbor has been growing weaponized tomatoes behind his house, and now I am living in fear."

If that can be done with something as natural as tomatoes, just imagine all the evil applications to other things. A "weaponized Chrysler" is the sort of thing you'd never lend to your 16 year old. "Weaponized chalk" should certainly be banned from our schools! If I found a "weaponized Bible" in a drawer at a Motel 6, let's just say there'd be some issues raised on their complaint card.

The term can also be used to make scary things even more so. Weaponized grizzly bears sound like just the thing to ruin a hike in the mountains. It'd also mean an assault rifle isn't quite enough to even the odds! Weaponized gasoline is enough to keep me from stopping to ask the clerk if I could use their bathroom. And then the worst idea ever.

Weaponized spiders. Yes, our doom is coming.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can't Spell Palin Without "Pain"

Sarah Palin--whenever I hear that name, I imagine removing the "L" because all she brings is pain, which would be great if she were French in which case it'd be fresh bread all over, but alas, French-ness is too "elite" for someone of her delicate salt of the earth sensibilities. No crepes and quiche for her! (Though I'd agree regarding the quiche thing, quiche just plain sucks). Instead, she has a "pizza summit" with none other than living Internet troll himself, the Donald Trump. Now, I've never been to "Famous Famiglia's" myself, but Times Square pizza? Anyone with their wealth can hire someone who'll tell those boobs that if they want a pizza summit, they need to host it at John's or Lombardi's.

As for Trump, I've speculated before that he is just doing everything for the attention, and never really wanted to be President. With Palin, it's harder to tell--surely, this national tour she's taking does add value to her "brand" which means more book and TV deals, and of course undeserved fame. But she is just crazy enough, just full enough of hatred for this country, that she would actually subject it to her leadership if she thought she had a chance. A person who considers playing footsie with the cheerleader Sean Hannity to be a "hard hitting interview", a person who has had a disaster of a political career (sinking whatever small hope John McCain had of becoming president), a person who helped kill the chances of the GOP taking an additional two Senate seats last year--this is the sort of person who should be laughed out of the Republican party. (She should also be subject to a media blackout simply because she isn't officially running for anything, and has ducked the media on her stupid tour, and uses expressions as juvenile as "lamestream" to describe them. But if they're dumb enough to keep following her, then maybe they are "lamestream")

But why does she still poll well? She's no more conservative than say Herman Cain or Rick Santorum, and while she may be pretty that surely can't be enough or we'd be talking about whether Kristi Noem should be on the ticket. Her speaking style is best described as "village idiot" and simply being the VP nominee last time around isn't some sort of magical thing or we'd be looking at President Lieberman or President John Edwards (shudder!). But the answer to this is pretty obvious.

If you're a conservative Republican, and you can't stand Obama and the liberals and the MSNBC and all that, and you want to register your disgust in any way you can, just picture then being called up by a pollster who asks your opinion on the candidates for 2012. Telling them you like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty or even Newt Gingrich is one thing. But say that you support Sarah Palin, and man, that sends a message! The message being "I am so pissed at Obama I am willing to put a talking baboon in the White House even if that means this country will go up in a fiery inferno when she mistakenly hits the wrong button."

Yes, Palin is a vehicle for rage. I'm just hoping that in the event this crazy lady really does run, the voters will be wise enough to say "ok, you had your laughs, now go sit down in the corner while real people are voting. Because the person we nominate might actually become president, and might want to serve more than two years."

You Damn Dirty Ape

One thing I get really tired of is all these news reports about how apes are going to rise up and become our masters some day. This was really hammered home with last night's viewing of "Battle for the Planet of the Apes", the 1973 documentary starring Roddy McDowell and Claude Akins (both of whom starred in a number of classic Twilight Zone episodes). The moral was basically this--be mean to apes, and they'll learn how to use machine guns and mess you up real good. There was also an additional lesson--gorillas are the most dangerous apes of them all!

This is hogwash, of course, because gorillas are basically gentle creatures and are more likely to learn to ride tricycles than attack humans (unless you're dressed like a giant banana, in which case you're really just asking for it, and don't give me that "don't blame the victim" crap because really, a banana suit? That's just sick). Baboons, well now that's another story--those disgusting creatures are nothing but trouble and if you see one, make sure you're well armed and if you live in one of those gun-hating states like New York then I feel sorry for you, because what are the chances of getting killed by baboons in Manhattan? Slim, I'd guess.

The film tried to make some other point about how apes and humans can reason with each other, but there's a major flaw in this. Most apes come from parts of Africa that speak French or Belgian (which is to French what Midwestern is to English), and creatures that speak French will only obey you if you scream at them in German. Yell at them in English and all they'll do is look down on you, even if you saved them from the Germans who scream at them. This may not be fair, but it is an example of what we call "ape justice".