Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

SPF How Much? Where?

Leave it to those wacky Brits: while the rest of the world is trying to find the cure for the H1N1 virus, settle things between Israelis and Palestinians and/or discover whether AT&T really DID have an undue influence over the latest voting controversy on "Americal Idol," British scientists have been perfecting swimsuits and underwear that AVOIDS TAN LINES! This occurs as a result of a new fabric which lets in 80% of the sun's rays. In fact, once can see through this "chicken wire synthetic material" which has thousands of microscopic holes when it's held up to the light. However, when the garments are worn, the animal prints and abstract patterns confuse the eyes and retain a semblance of dignity for the wearer (presuming dignity is desired).
To date, the basic two-pieve swimsuit, the "Tan Through Kiniki" has been flying off the shelves in addition to the other products from the Kiniki Company: all-in-one swim suits,wraps, men's briefs (!) tangas and hipsters. To be honest, I had to research some to find out what a "tanga" was, and I quickly had to get to another site before my sweetie demanded an explanation! The same could be said for "hipsters" which I thought were just aging, cool people who authored blogs. Not so...not EVEN close!(and yet another swift website departure!)
Anyway, as you might imagine, the fabric has caused some raised eyebrows, especially among the skin cancer watchdog groups. While it may seem like an afterthought, wearers of the Tan Through are encouraged to coat everything with sun screen just as if it (or they in some cases) were fully exposed to the sun. In fact, John Walker, the owner of the company which produces these suits has added a disclaimer that all wearers should "put on a sensible layer of sunblock" when wearing his apparel. Not easily done when one is already lying on the beach towel! "Here, let me help you with that, honey!" SMACK!!!
And how many guys would be outside in broad daylight their briefs? Boxers, sure, but briefs? Then try to explain that you were just lathering on sunscreen. Uh, no...there's not a vice cop on earth that would believe that one. Best to stay with the board shorts.
And learn "powertexting" with those crafty folks at AT&T.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Man/Woman Thing

I generally do not involve myself in things when I have no voice to make or alter decisions. Decisions like where to put the sofa or what color to paint the foyer...I stay out of those things, merely standing by to aid in any of the physical labor involved, especially painting that line between the wall and the ceiling. Hanging art is another example. In other matters, I COULD be involved but choose not to be: where to eat lunch, for example. I usually don't care; as long as food is on a plate (or in a cardboard box or cellophane wrapper) in front of me, I'm good. I get passionate about things that I CAN control that are important, like the best way to do something that requires skill at woodworking or my self-appointed position as the grammar police. That's why I have I beef with President Obama's pick for Supreme Court Justice.
I realize I have no say in it, but the oft-quoted nominee has raised the hackles on my neck with the quote that's being bandied about on every news program, including FOX and MSNBC. The quote from a speech delivered in Berkeley in 2001 described why she felt her heritage would be important to her role as a judge:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Rush Limbaugh exploded with bombastic terms like "racist," and others have jumped on the bandwagon, some rather gingerly for fear of alienating a BIG part of the electorate. Even the president went so far as to opine that Sotomayor might have chosen to put words together differently. So far, no word from the would-be Her Honor.
I have no doubt that she was dead on right about her ability to understand a life experience which she had lived better than a white male who had lived a life of privilege (probably...poor people don't get elected to office). But why is no one calling her on the egregious grammatical error in that statement? Seriously, people, what's gone wrong here?
"Latina," according to the dictionary, is a woman who is of Latin-American or Spanish ancestry. It's like "alumna" is a female grad while "alumnus" is a male grad. If "Latina" designates a woman as "Latino" designates a male, there was absolutely NO REASON to add the word "woman" to her sentence. (reread it...see?)THAT'S what Rush and all the other pundits should be upset about, especially since they don't have a while, male leg to stand on with regard to the "white male" thing.
It's probably a good thing that I have no say in important matters. Just today my sweetie asked me whay I always get so emotional about seemingly unimportant things. That's easy; I'm an emotional guy.
But I could be Sotomayor's speech editor.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Who's Trying To Fool Whom Here?

In a blockbuster bit of journalistic derring-do, the Chicago Tribune is investigating a shocking crime until recently overlooked at the University of Illinois campus. No, it's not about The Chief...get over it...he's history. It's about academic integrity, to wit: students with SUBPAR ACADEMIC RECORDS are being admitted to the university! Ya think?
Actually, this has to do with what's known as "Category 1" applications at said university. These applications are forwarded by legislators or university trustees to gain entrance for family friends' kids or politically favored clients' kids. Mind you, these applications are being accepted even though admissions coulsellors rate these students as having "terrible academic records" and refusing entrance. On further appeal, however, more than 800 incoming freshmen with poor ACT scores and academic credentials were admitted to the U of I. For example, a relative of Tony Rezko, influence peddler for former governor Rod Blagojavich, was admitted over the horrified sputterings of admissions counsellors. The admittance rate for those on the "clout list" was 77% while the admission rate for "regular' students topped out at 69%. A serious misstep? Maybe, but it still leaves me puzzled.
Is this the first time anyone has raised objections over prospective students' academic records? I daresay that if one were to take an indepth look at the money machine that is college athletics, one might find, shall we say, another level UNDER Category 1. In addition to admittance to a major university, many athletes live a life totally unavailable to the general populace of campus. Need proof?
Check out the latest discovery about the admittance of Derrick Rose to Memphis two years ago. And, of course, carrying a team to the Final Four makes it all right.
Category 1, indeed!
This is yet another reason why newspapers are importnt.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Waters Yet Uncharted

Winter Is Not Yet Over

I think all the major mountains have been conquered. There are really no new countries to "discover," though scientists seem to be constantly finding new species of critter.We've hiked to the North (and South) Pole, sailed alone around the world: some on board luxury liners for a one-year trip. Individuals have walked across continents and visited all of them. Books have been written about the myriad of things we must do and places we must visit before we die...movies have been made emphasizing the "bucket list" of things we need to accomplish before we're infirm. But, really, what is there left to do? I recently reported on a new world record for dancing to "Thriller," but that's not really the stuff of legends. We need one person, going it alone against all odds: trying to accomplish what many of us could only dream about. THAT'S the kind of thing that fires our imagination and provides us with the reaffirmation that mankind is undaunted by the seemingly impossible. Space walk? nah, been done over and over. Skydive at 70? even George Bush, Sr. has done that. Now, it's up to Winter to whip our collective imaginations into a frothy frenzy.
Winter (his legally changed name) has but one purpose in life: he plans to drink a cup of coffee at every Starbucks in the world. This Quixotic dream came to him in 1997 when there were but 1,400 franchises in the world. Needless to say, that task has gotten more Herculean as a result of the veritable explosion in tall mocha lattes drove the number of outlets to more than 12,000, including one in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Winter begins his quest in Great Britain this week in an attempt to finish off the roughly 3,000 Starbucks locations outside of the U.S. with the 400 in the British Isles his first goal. This is how he does it:
At every Starbucks, he drinks one cup of regularly brewed coffee, usually the 4 oz. tester cup; he takes a photo of himself at each location and posts it on as proof. Not all is smooth, though, since every challenge must be, well, a challenge. Starbucks is closing outlets regularly due to the downturn in the world economy. For Winter to get to all of them, he will need more than a trusty steed, Sancho and a lance. His daily record is 29 cups of coffee...a feat which left him feeling a bit less than heroic. He figures to have spent more than $100,000 on his quest, a fact which would deter the average (cuppa) Joe. Then, there is the support level: his parents told reporters that they felt he was "wasting his time." Ouch. Undaunted, he continues through rain, snow, sleet, well, you get the idea.
Winter: a man for our times!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soup's On...I Feel Thinner Already

We never ate much soup when I was a kid. Come to think of it, chili was about as close as we ever chicken noodle soup or broth when we felt poorly: just castor oil and/or dandelion wine. I guarantee you that after just a sip of either of those remedies, you would swear to feeling MUCH better in no time...cured almost miraculously! Of course, there was the wool rag smeared with Vicks plastered to our chests every night if we merely sniffled. That was an idea brought forth during the Inquisition, I think...nothing like wearing wool to bed when the temperature outside is 95. I'm squirming just thinking about it. But, back to soup: not for us, though I understand my sweetie's family ate soup regularly (must be a geographical thing). Even now, I'm much more attracted to something I can chew more than something I can slurp. Maybe that's why my weight is inching upward. Fortunately, there are scientists in Great Britain to help.
The BBC reported today that reseachers may have found a key to successful weight involves water. OK, OK, we all know that drinking water is good for us, and people on diets often drink water before meals to stave off hunger; but, the latest theory is that water by itself isn't very effective: it must be mixed with food to create...soup. Here's the supposed skinny on why soup's the thing:
It appears that when we eat, the pyloric sphincter closes, trapping the solids but allowing water to pass through! (this is important) Thus, the effect of drinking water before a meal is negated. However, if the water is mixed with the food as soup, the thicker consistency allows ALL of it to stay in the stomach while digestion takes over. This delays the next bout of hunger for more than 1 and 1/2 hours longer than the same food taken in as a solid with water on the side. The BBC managed the study. I'll include the URL.
Apparently, the "culprit" in the desire to eat is the hormone ghrelin which is produced in the wall of the stomach when there is nothing in there. The hormone screams "Feed me!" to the brain, and we get hungry...and eat some more. So, keeping food in the stomach longer keeps down the production of ghrelin. The production of this hormone also promotes fat storage and inhibits the breakdown of stored fat, both things designed to fuel obesity. Wow! Who knew? Food terrorists working right now!
I'm going to go make a pizza to slow that ghrelin stuff down! (of course, I'll throw it in the Magic Bullet with water for a stomach-occupying few hours.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yogurt From Turkey?

The secret to becoming a skilful writer, I'm told, is to begin with a titillating title (or use alliteration). I know that idea was expounded to the students with whom I worked in English Comp last semester. Hence, the affiliation between Turkey and yogurt. While it might not seem like much to you, it's the spelling of "yogurt" that has become controversial in Great Britain as linguists try to analyse how to do so correctly...ostensibly because the Americans have been misspelling it for 150 years: a fact which seems to have convinced many in England to adopt the same mistake as rule...I mean, if it's on TV and yoghurt cartons and everything...
You know about words like "theatre" or "centre" or "cheque" which have a slightly different spelling in England than they do here in the U S of A. We smile and think to ourselves how quaint and uirky they are: lost in Victrian times, never for one moment thinking that the British spellings might be labelling us as the miscreants. But back to yogurt.
It seems that the country of Turkey first gave yogurt to the world as a way of getting rid of spoiled milk, I suspect. Anyway, Turks spelled the word "yogurt." So far, so good. It would appear, however, that in translating the letter "g" from Turkish to English, it is represented as the letters "gh"; hence, the British spelling of the word has always been "yoghurt." Now, it seems, many English manufacturers have been deleting the extra consonant, signalling a change to a more American language that is leaving purists in a state of apoplexy...this furor has even extended to the pages of the food industry trade journal The Grocer which decries the abominable spelling change as yet another intrusion of America's crass colonialism into the real English language.
The fact that the Oxford English Dictionary (it even sounds British, don't you think?) spells it without the letter "h" has done nothing to dampen the ardor of the conservatives who remain adamant in their defence of "what's proper." No word on how the word is spelled in the encyclopaedia. Both New Zealand and Australia have thus far refused to join the ranks of "h" users, modelling thier spelling on the Queen's way, but it won't be long before we get to them,too!
As for me, I get queasy at the thought of ingesting live bacteria, with or without the letter "h" involved.
I choose cheese curds.
BTW, see how many words YOU can find that I've spelled like they do in England...other than the ones I've put in italics! as well as my blatant (mis)use of alliteration. You're never too old to learn something!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Collector or Packrat?

I love wearing things I have not donned since last year in whatever the new season happens to be (in Wisconsin, it's winter or NOT winter: 9 months of winter and 3 months of bad sledding). Sometimes, it's spare change, but lately, it seems to be those portable dental floss things I find in every pocket...seriously, dental health is important! It is always interesting, however, to go back through things I've kept,whether because they were seasonal or because I just couldn't get rid of them and discover "new" things. Whether it's a book or a pair of shoes or a concert T-shirt (today it was from the lates tour by The Wrigley Field) or a CD that I've "misplaced" in my wife's care, it's entertaining. (yes, I have a distorted view of "fun," but I'm older and must be allowed such foibles). Anyway, this weekend, it was music discovery weekend...mostly because of my technoidiocy (new word, like "ridunkulous").
As I was attempting to clear my computer in the false hope that I was getting a new one, I mysteriously rid my hard drive of a way to open my iTunes selections. The tunes themselves were safely stored in a portable drive, but I could not get them to open up successfully when the new computer idea got trashed and I was forced to reload files. I must have unwittingly deleted something that I needed, and I could not for the life of me get them back. My genius son tried his best to help me on the phone several times, but none of his suggestions worked. Like a true professional troubleshooter (that gets $75/hr.) he said, "Well, I'd really have to take a look at it." And he said it in that tone of voice that meant he'd be looking for a nursing home for me soon,anyway. OK, so I fooled around with it some more and finally discovered a way that I could get the music to open up...if I reloaded the song titles ONE BY ONE! Mind you, that's a time-consuming task when one has more than 10,000 tracks to copy; at 1:30 per album,...well, you do the math...and, no, I couldn't get the whole file to load at once. After a solid weekend of downloading titles, I have about half of my collection back into the iTunes folder. Why the rush? Big garage sale coming up in two weeks, and I want to see if I can get rid of some of this stuff...meanwhile...
I have rediscovered some music I have not heard in quite a while, and it was quite enjoyable listening to approximately 2 seconds of 5,004 tracks. While doing so, I've also formulated a preliminary list of favorites which, like discovering money in a pants pocket, gave me some pleasant moments.

1. Favorite album in my collection...well, there are three...I can't decide: "Rubber Soul" by The Beatles, "My Aim Is True" by Elvis Costello, and the self-titled first album by Marshall Crenshaw.

2. Favorite reggae artist: Phyllis Dillon

3. Favorite punk album: two again..."Ramones Mania" by The Ramones and "Drunken Lullabies" by Flogging Molly.

4. Favorite Neo-Swing band: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

5. Favorite "Greatest Hits" album: John Mellencamp "The Best That I Could Do."

6. Favoite box set: "Beaches, Bars, Boats and Ballads" by Jimmy Buffett.

7. Favorite 50s artist: Buddy Holly, no contest.

8. Favorite 60s artist: too close to call, but giving the nod to Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

9. Favorite 70s artist: Tie between Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne

10. Most recent album favorite: "Don't Tell Columbus" by Graham Parker...runner-up Green Day's "American Idiot."

While I realize the term "album" dates me somewhat, tough crap. I'm have to make allowances for me...and I can do and say what I want with impunity.
Life is great at 58!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"It'sComing Right For Us!"

"That's Right, Mr. Buffalo, Pay No Attention To Us Pretending To Set Up A Picnic Table Over Here"

In case you're wondering how laws get passed and didn't get the opportunity to watch the cartoon segment years ago about bill in Congress, here's a quick lesson that is somewhat reminiscent of the now-infamous "Bridge to nowhere" made famous by the last presidential election. President Obama signed into law this week a bill that would severely restrict credit card companies' current ability to gouge customers who fail to pay off their balances and charge usurious interest, thus keeping the unwitting poorer-than-he-or-she-used-to-be person in virtual servitude for life: companies will be required to spell out the fine print regarding interest rates: they will have to give a 45-day notice prior to any interest rate hike, and they would be required to show in writing just how long it would take to repay that money with interest; the bill also might restrict the companies' ability to give out cards to those under 18 (a.k.a. college freshmen); and, in a bit of irony, would punish those of us who NEVER carry a balance from month to month by taking away the perks we've been getting for using the card such as free gas cards or actual money or airplane tickets for every $5,000 spent. As I say, if one never carries a balance, it's free money! (though some would argue that we might spend more than we would otherwise, making it somewhat more costly than argument for another day.
So far, so good. I'm down with giving up my perk so that others can be forced into being more fiscally responsible. I'm willing to sacrifice. But here's the deal that illustrates most clearly how we get laws that leave us going, "huh? What the hell?"
Attached to this law tightening restrictions on credit card companies is a law which ALLOWS people to carry loaded firearms in national parks and refuges! What has one to do with the other? NOTHING! It was simply a way to get needed support for the passage of legislation to simplify the credit industry: "you add this addendum, and I'll vote 'yes'."
This is not an argument about our right to carry loaded weapons around. It's about how laws get passed..."Schoolhouse Rock 2009"
Of course, there are two sides to the gun argument as well. The NRA states that in states where concealed weapon carry is legal there has NOT been an increase in gun violence. (No word on how many feet have gotten injured by those practicing their quick draw)The group also notes that carrying a loaded weapon in a national park is a good idea because one might need to protect himself or herself from "criminals or dangerous animals." Dangerous animals?
Most of them in preserves like national parks are totally unconcerned with humans unless there is food involved. Poaching animals is no more difficult in a national park than poaching an egg at home, especially when each ranger in this country has responsibility for more than 1.5 million acres, on average. No wonder Yogi and Boo Boo can get to the picnic baskets so easily!
According to the National Park Service, poaching has resulted in the decline of 29 species of flora and fauna in our parks. This is easily explained by the fact that a dried gall bladder from a black bear is worth $1,000 in Asia PER OUNCE, and that wild ginseng (OK, you don't need a weapon for this one) is worth $400 a pound.
While it is not widely thought that criminals do a lot of camping, the survival types find the wilderness a great place in which to get my having a .44 magnum might deter a deranged survivalist from killing my entire family. Of course, to do that, he or she would have to look for us poolside at the nearest Ramada since camping has too many icky things like rocks under my sleeping bag and a decided lack of warm croissants for breakfast, not to mention those logs that get in my way as I stumble out of the tent looking to relieve myself at two in the morning (you'd THINK there would be nightlights or something)
All of which reminds me of the
South Park
episode where Uncle Jimbo and Ned took the boys on their first hunting trip (episode #103 URL below :). When questioned about shooting harmless, grazing animals, Jimbo indicated that it was OK if the animal was charging...necessitating a cry of "It's coming right for us" just prior to blasting a black bear or rabbit of tame-as-in-a-zoo deer. But that's not the real point.
The real point is that now you know how the system works.
Don't look for me in a national park anytime soon. I'll be poolside.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hats Off To Sammy

$80,000 for this card...No idea how much in Canadian money.

If you were not totally stimulated by the vast hockey knowledge on display here yesterday, go read somebody else's blog because this time, I will exhaust all knowledge I have about hockey traditions (unless I find out why teams still wear sweaters) with as full an explanation of the hat trick as anyone could wish for. Admittedly, many of you probably don't want to know...but then, those of that ilk are already back on Facebook, having dismissed this as tripe.'s the deal with the hat trick (probably more appropriately called the "cap trick" these days).
All of us have heard that Abner Doubleday probably stole baseball from those English guys playing cricket. There are, in fact, some similarities, like the ball bouncing to the plate and having only two bases, and...well, there ARE some, I think. Fact is, the term "hat trick" can be reasonably traced similarly to the game of cricket. Seriously.
In the game of cricket at some time in the past (hey, I know as little about it as you do), when a player scored three consecutive wickets, it was considered quite a feat, and he was given a new hat, called a "bowler." If I am not mistaken, the person bouncing the ball toward the wicket is called the bowler at this point...if he is successful at knocking the tile off the wicket without the batter hitting it, an out is recorded...I think. Look at it this way: a called third strike, except it happens with one tossed ball, for three consecutive batters. Hence, getting a 3-wicket trifecta earns the thrower a new hat, and "hat trick" was coined, though not really called that until Sammy Tetef came along.
Sammy Tetef, who went by the name Sammy Taft (it's a mystery to me, too...maybe those folks at Ellis Island again) owned a, you guessed it, hat shop in Toronto,Canada, provided Maple Leaf players with a new hat every time they scored three goals in a game. Well, that's one theory. Here's another one which also involves Sammy:
Alex Kaleta who played for the Chicago Blackhawks wandered into Sammy's store (maybe in Toronto as well)and admired a chapeau which he found there...but didn't have the money to buy it. Sammy offered the hat por nada if young Kaleta would score three goals that night in a game. Kaleta scored four and got the free hat.
Of course, this was back in the day when a gentleman always wore a, not so much.
And, finally, to cap off my hockey knowledge about the hat trick, the NHL record for hat tricks in a career is held by...come on, you can guess this one...Wayne Gretzky who accomplished the feat 50 times in his career.
Yes, it has been stimulating to share this information with the hockey illiterates of the world. If you knew it already, I'm dropping the gloves and jerking on your sweater!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Now It All Makes Sense


As a childhood resident of Kansas (NO more damn Dorothy and Toto comments, please:o) I didn't have much of a chance to play hockey. There was none of it on TV...we had the Gillette Friday Night Fights for gratuitous violence, which eliminated the need for hockey. My dad watched every Friday night, sitting on the floor in his underwear. This didn't strike me as odd, but it WAS funny the night the parish priest stopped over unannounced! Anyway, back to hockey: in a place where the mean temperature is measured beginning at the boiling point, ice just wasn't an issue, and anything that resembled a "biscuit" was likely to end up in a kettle somewhere. Understand, we didn't have air conditioning...we barely had a refrigerator (being dirt poor and all). Skates? Good one...if I couldn't wear them to school or church, I didn't need them, and only girls roller skated at the time. So...I know little about hockey; that's why the octopus intrigued me.
I am willing to be corrected on any and all of the following by the more knowlegeable folks who grew up here in the North, but I gather this throwing of the octopus on the ice after a hockey game occurs only in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, home of the RedWings. I could fathom NO earthly reason why this was the case so I looked it up (being naturally curious about stuff that has little impact on world peace). Here's the skinny:
Peter and Jerry Cusimano were brothers who owned a fish market in Detroit in the 50s. In an attempt to bring luck to their beloved RedWings, the brothers hoisted an octopus onto the ice one night. Their reasoning? At that time, it took eight playoff wins to capture the hallowed cup of Lord Stanley (that number has risen to 16). So, it seemed their choice was either to find two four-legged critters or one eight-"legged" creature, and a tradition was born.
It really took off in 1993 when Al Slobotka (now THERE'S a hockey name!), the zamboni driver who was also in charge of cleaning the ice, picked up an octopus and started swinging it round and round his head: predictably, the fans went crazy, because, well, it's hockey, and swinging a dead animal is almost like dropping the gloves and grabbing a handful of sweater. BTW, why does every other team sport have "jerseys" while hockey teams have "sweaters"? Icy cold temps? makes sense but sounds a bit sissified to their mothers wouldn't let them play unless they'd dressed warmly enough.
Anyway, the octopus thing got ratcheted up to the point where even the mascot is called "Al the Octopus."
I wonder how he's do against the mascot from the Florida Marlins?
Tomorrow: the hat trick.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not Sinatra's Kind of Town...maybe

My daily sojourn takes me through the major newspapers of the English-speaking world. As such, the London Telegram is on the list. Today, a writer named Malcom Pryce posted an article claiming that Bangkok, Thailand, was "the world's most intoxicating city; part opium den, part Venus flytrap for the soul". He continued to glorify the city as the most amazing place he's been and noted how much he misses it when away. "Bull hockey," I say. It's definitely not Chicago (Sinatra's town) or New York (another Sinatra favorite), and Bangkok is definitely not my kind of town though memories of my stay there verge on the interestingly hilarious, at times. To wit:
On our way to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, we had to catch a flight out of Bangkok. In the hustle and foreignness of it all, we ended up in line for a completely different airline than the one on which we held tickets. "No problem," the ticket agent said, "Get on our plane, we're going there, too!" More than a bit nervously, we boarded, but were not even seated when the plane bgan to taxi toward takeoff. Facing imminent death or a landing somewhere in China, we actually DID end up in the right airport a short time later. Wierd. And then, there's this one:
A teacher from Thailand was our guide on a return trip through Bangkok: Nang had been an exchange teacher in Algoma for a year previously and was anxious to show us around. Naturally, we headed for a restaurant which she highly recommended. As I was sitting there getting ready to eat my dinner which contained some kind of bird meat, my fork struck what looked to be a promising portion of the bird...and an explosion of liquid showered up: I had struck the eyeball! EYEBALL? Not at the Colonel's place...ever! "Check, please!" That bird was definitely in disguise. So then we're off for a walk through the streets.
We sauntered past an open doorway in which lounged young men in tuxedos and dinner jackets with young women in glittering gowns. At this, my sweetie said, "Oh, is this prom season in Bangkok?" Imagine her surprise and our uncontrolled mirth when our hostess indicated that the people thus adorned were "for hire." Prom, indeed! I always heard prom was the most dangerous time of the year, and given the incidence of STDs in Asia, it was also true in Bangkok!
All of that was more or less local color, and we handled it with aplomb, but there were a couple of things I could not abide:
1. we could actually SEE the air! No pollution standards such as catlytic converters made the streets a veritable cesspool of exhaust. Even the policemen directing traffic wore surgical masks. Our eyes watered, and our throats deteriorated to raw, festering masses. It was awful. Then, there was the noise.
2. Walking down the street side by side, we found it difficult to carry on a conversation without shouting...literally. Traffic was horrendous, and the noise was deafening. From our hotel room on the 13th floor, it sounded as if we were on the curb all night. I have never wished for peace and quiet so earnestly, even when babies were squalling for hours on end.
Much of Asia was interesting and fascinating...just not Bangkok...from my perspective. You might like it, but I'll take Frank's towns any day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

College is Thrilling at William & Mary

I'd never heard of such a thing as a "Public Ivy League" school, but apparently, there are eight of them in this country. As I understand it, the term means that a school has Ivy League educataion but is open to everyone, not just those who are 7"3" or have had seven generations attend (still bitter over the Georgetown fiasco 17 years ago). Anyway, this item came to light as I was researching the College of William and Mary, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, the second-oldest college in the country. I didn't bother to find out much about the school itself, but it caught my eye as a result of my blog yesterday on college students wasting time. It appears they do that at "Public Ivy" schools, too.
Wm.& Mary was recently recognized for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, not for some academic feat by professors or students, not for some amazing athletic recod like losing every game for 15 years to non-Ivy schools, but for...recording the largest number of people (242) to dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" at one time and in one place. Seriously.
Remember when everyone, en mass, was doing the Macarena? Apparently, "Thriller" has even more proponents, and YouTube features all kinds of performances, from wedding groomsmenn (looked like fun!) to prisoners in a Phillipine prison (amazing). But back to the new record-holders:
The even, organized by senior Kevin Dua, took place on April 19, so classes were still going on, though finals season had not yet approached. Participants included not only students, but faculty and staff members as well. Take THAT, you Ivy League snobs!(and Georgetown, too)
I think this should be a challenge to everyone who has more than 242 friends on Facebook pages: get them all together at the same time on the same day, and establish the record for simultaneous performances in different locations (a clock must be visible). There, I've given you a challenge, so remember, it's not only college students who can waste time!
Check out the video link below.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Baldemar Huerta (a.k.a. Freddy Fender) could have been talking about college life when he had a hit with "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" back in 1960. Call it a crossover hit if you want to, but I know that most of us had not heard Tejano music prior to that, though Richie Valens might have sprung from the same mold. However, this is not about's about college life and how much time students waste.
My friends and I used to walk back and forth from the dorms past a small lake on our campus. At one point, we discovered an old wooden baseball bat so we would spend, literally, hours trying to hit rocks across the lake and onto the grass in front of the girls' dormitories...yes, co-ed dorms were still light years away. We didn't watch a lot of TV because there was a degree of studying to do, and as athletes, we were required to be up and on the road by 7, so...However, there were also times spent lazing around the student union between classes watching the ladies walk by and hoping just one of them would talk to us...didn't least to me.
My friend Karl tells the story of his adventures winging albums (think of them as 12" compact discs) out his third-floor dorm window just to watch them fly and, subsequently, smash to smithereens on the pavement below or decapitate some unlucky student as if he or she was playing a part in "Goldfinger."
I stroll through the union on campus every now and then, and Guitar Hero and Rock Band seem to be rather engrossing now for those who don't spend all of their time with online poker or Facebook. Plus, there's the added bonus of co-ed dorms now (probably making all other forms of entertainment less attractive). Beer pong has become the party game of choice, replacing "Bob" which was focused on the Bob Newhart TV show: every time someone on the show said, "Bob," alcohol was I was told. So, I don't really know what "games" get played anymore because I'm too busy with Sudoku (trying to keep MY brain from disintegrating).
HOWEVER, the enterprising students at Olivet Nazarene College (where, presumably there are no drinking games OR co-ed dorms) have taken the idea of wasting time to a level we could have only imagined. You absolutely MUST watch this video and marvel:

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Size 11? Not Me.


It has been well-documented (mostly by me) that I am something of a shoe person...OK, shoe freak if you like. I like to think of it as my "feminine side," but the feminine side of my family says I'm just plain odd. There being no dissension except from me, I guess it's true. I alwyas swear that I'm not going to buy another pair of athletic shoes, but then Nike or Adidas or Puma comes out with a "gotta-have-it" pair in just my size. Well, not this time.
The pictured pair of shoes is noteworthy in some respects. It was inspired by the XBox gaming system, hence the "X" on the heel. Battery-operated, the letter actually lights up in either a steady beam of light or in a pulsating, disco-type flashing light. The battery is located in the tongue so as not to get jumped on (I guess).
While the shoe is not really sponsored by either Nike or the makers of the XBox, its cachet is undeniable, as are the two factors which will keep me from buying this product: it's a limited edition of one, so far, in size 11, and the price is $2500.00 as it's listed on EBay. The maker, to be fair, considers the shoes art, and he has done other sneakers in like fact, these are not his most expensive design. (we're talking diamonds and gold here).
So, for now, I'll have to wait for something else to come along at a "Buy it now" price I can afford.
I'm not that big on green and black, anyway.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bringing Back Celebrity Death Match

It's true that I have something of a bizarre sense of humor at times. Reality television is not for me: my life is reality at its best (and worst,at times) so I don't need more of it after the kids go to bed...or before...or any time. The closest I come to reality on the tube is when I occasionally watch Rachel Maddow or that Jim guy who gives advice on picking stocks (Suze can't spell her name correctly).
However, I can watch "The Simpsons" all night,and I can watch the older episodes of "South Park" and laugh until milk runs out of my nose. The new ones are just...well, stupid, for the most part, but Cartman with an antenna implanted by aliens cracks me up every time. "Ren and Stimpy" as well as "Beavis and Butthead" were usually worth a few chuckles as well, though I was not an adoring fan like my buddy Jeff was. His impressions (usually with underwear on his head)were hilarious. But, my favorite non-reality program might have been "Celebrity Death Match," a show which pitted claymation figures of celebrities inside a wrestling ring fighting to the finish. Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond were unparalleled as hosts of the program, and the "stars" who battled it out every week were always topical. I have enclosed the URL to the Paris Hilton vs Nicole Richie bout (watch without the kids looking on!) just for fun. Anyway, I think we have a new version ready for prime time: I give you...
The Republican Party
Don't get me wrong: I am ALL for a two or three or four-party system because it keeps everybody more or less honest. Unfortunately, the Republicans have fallen on hard times recently and have taken to eviscerating each other. This is not good in my book...there needs to be strong resistance if any governing body is going to get better. But let's just see what I mean:
Rush Limbaugh, noted talking head, seemingly appointed himself spokesperson for the GOP after the last election. Now we have a 97-year old woman, Sen. John McCain's MOTHER, bashing Limbaugh on the Jay Leno show as not being part of HER Republican party. Ouch.
Limbaugh retorted that he was certainly not part of her party: the one that "gets shellacked election after election after election." Bout #1.
Then, there are Republicans who elected Michael Steele as the National Party Chairman only to find out that he is "undisciplined, freewheeling, and shoots from the hip too much," that from political analyst David Gergen. Bout #2
Mike Huckabee who recently blasted Jeb Bush for saying that the Republican party, "...must move on from Ronald Reagan." Bout #3
Then, of course, the real hard-line conservatives who fear Mitt Romney's religious views as a Mormon and feel like he might not oppose abortion rights too strenously. Bout #4 (cage match)
The grand finale (only on Pay-Per-View) would be an all-out battle between Romney (providing he survived the earlier match) and Sarah Palin. When it was noted by Time magazine (liberal print media) that Palin was named to its list of most influential people, Romney is said to have replied "Most influential or most beautiful?" Now THAT'S a PPV throw down right there.
Actually, If Palin were to win that one, I think Maxim's top 100 would line up for the next title shot.
Anyway, I still think "Celebrity Death Match" was the best thing on MTV since "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles kicked off a new way of watching for all of us.
Enjoy the Hilton/Richie match with Johnny and Nick.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Do You, Tower, Take This Woman...?"

(Sorry...this would not load yesterday!)

I'm not exactly what you would call a super romantic guy...I mean, my sweetie and I have "movie night" every week with NetFlix because I'm too cheap to actually take her out, but I usually let her pick the movies, and often times, they are romantic comedies. I generally don't buy flowers on special occasions because they're just going to die anyway; I usually go for something permanently meaningful like new power tools or electronics. Recently, it was a photo key chain with 59 picutres of myself...just in case she'd happen to forget, say, on her way to work. Still, I DO try to listen attentively to everything she says unless it's about my driving or my collection of pulp fiction or shoes, or...well, you get the idea. That's why this Erika person struck me the other day. It all started when I began to think about doing something really romantic like taking my sweetie to Paris: the capital of LOVE. I fugured we'd get a baguette, berets, maybe go see that Louie Cans guy's chair collection, and take in all the other sights ("Get an eyeful of that tower! I wonder what they call it!"). Not wishing to appear a total rube, I managed to learn the following tidbits for any savvy world traveller thinking about taking a trip to Straight Paree!
1. Go to the Eiffel tower on a warm day: it's six inches shorter when it's cold. Really...the 984 feet-tall structure really "shrinks" when it's cold.
2. Don't visit the tower early: it opens at 9,but stays open until 12:45 a.m. for those "Sleepless in Seattle" moments.
3. It will cost 13 euros (approx. $17.25 in real money) to get to the top of the tower. If you're on a budget, go to the facsimile in Vegas: it costs only ten bucks.
4. It takes 60 tons of paint in three shades of brown to paint the Eiffel Tower: darker shade on the bottom and lighter shade on the top.
5. And finally, don't bother falling in love with the edifice: it's already married.
That's where the Erika person comes in.
Erika, a former champion archery and military veteran, married the Eiffel Tower in 2007: her legal name now is Erika la Tour Eiffel.
Seriously. You can look it up!
This was more information than I could handle, but I had to continue. This is, uh, a condition termed "objectum sexual," so named by the first woman to publicly admit to having a love affair with an object, though in her case, it was the Berlin Wall. Her theory involved the fact that objects have souls, and as such, were capable of giving and receiving love. Hmmm. The "condition" appears to occur mostly in women, but is just too amazing for me to consider any further.
It also put a serious damper on my plan to visit this famous Parisian structure. Will she be there? Will I interrupt lunch? Will one of them get jealous?
I'm taking my chances in Vegas, I think...and sending my sweetie some flowers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Altercation or Sucker Punch? Puhhleeez!!

I'm glad to see my exclamation point key is back at work. I tried to go easy on it to give it a little recovery time...not as much as Yao Ming's foot is going to require or Andrew Bynum's back, but then I don't change the rules for word processing as fans scream for more action on the keyboard...not like professional sports seems to do.
I'm seriously beginning to think that WWE is the only honest sport left: at least it admits to being "scripted." Everything I've seen lately in the sporting world has left me shaking my head more and more. Let's start with the Scott Walker/Aaron Ward dustup of the other day.
Now, you probably don't know who either of those guys is, but they are hockey players who, get this, HAD A FIGHT! Walker smacked Ward in the chops, Ward fell down, and now the NHL has fined Walker $2500 for the hit. I watched the replay: typical hockey fight--one guy grabs the other guy by the jersey and smacks him. The smackee falls down, and the fight is over. In showing his surprise at the hit by the NHL, Walker had this to say, "I thought I was in an altercation." Now, I don't watch hockey, but that would seem to indicate that there are degrees of fighting, with the "altercation" being an acceptable one. Let me repeat: this is hockey! People watch hockey for the same reason they watch NASCAR, UFC, MMA and rodeo: they know there is violence involved, and they cheer when it erupts...though not as much, maybe, as when fans throw octopi (pre-calamari)on the ice in Detroit.
Now, it seems we watch the NBA for the same reason. Since when are there three or four categories of fouls from the basic foul to the "hard foul" to the "technical one-shot foul" to the "Ron Artest, You Are Out of Here foul." Honestly, let me say this to the officials: Call the damn fouls in the first quarter, and you won't have all the ridiculaous crap going on late in the game. It's gotten so bad that in the Mavs/Nuggets game the other day, a player TRIED to foul Carmelo Anthony to keep him from shooting the ball, and the officials DID NOT CALL IT! (though later, the NBA office said it should have been called...Mavs lose by one).Throw Kobe Bryant out of a game and watch everybody take notice! That elbow that he smacked Artest in the head with didn't merit ejection? Oh yeah, and the semi-circle in front of the basket in which no fouls will be called...let's just mug a guy going to the rim! Honestly, this is getting ridiculous, but maybe not to the degree baseball has fallen.
Brian Wilson of the Giants is mad at Casey Blake of the Dodgers for mocking his game-ending gesture (OOOOOH!!!)which he adopted from some clothing line but says it's to "honor my father and my faith." Wilson, like so many pitchers (Joba and Papelbon may be the worst) has a demonstrative gesture he makes whenever he triumphs. Players point to the sky to thank God for letting them hit that big home run (God has THAT much time on His/Her hands to watch baseball?); everybody, it seems, has to say, "Look at me" whenever they do something they're getting paid a gazillion dollars to do. I don't get it. So now, there's a "feud" between teams because players get cocky: "He started it." "No, HE started it." Isn't winning and losing enough anymore? Childish.
Almost as childish as coming out of a retirement (begun one year too late) just to shove it in somebody else's face with a hated rival...and the media (like God--having little else to do) playing and replaying that story like it's the parting of the Red Sea.
And, sadly, I've devoted an entire blog and FAR too much time to giving the ego-driven figures of the sporting world MORE notice.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Al-Razine, Hanging Judge


I romanticize about the Old West. I like to read about it; I like to watch movies about it, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" being my favorite; I like to fantasize about being there watching it all...from an air-conditioned RV...oh, yes, and be invisible, too. Too damn dangerous to really BE there. There is no doubt that it was tough times all around, and that's where law enforcement people like Isaac Parker of Ft. Smioth, Arkansas, and Roy Bean of Langtry, Texas, come into this story. Both were famous (or notorious, depending) judges in those times, and both were notorious (or famous) for dispensing quick justice: Parker at the end of a rope, and Bean at the end of the bar where he'd accept the fine and put it in his pocket. While Bean didn't particularly like to hang men as Smith did (Smith is purported to have hanged 88 offenders during his time at the (legal) bar, while Bean only sentenced two to hang and let them both escape). Bean is noted to have said, "Hang 'em first and try 'em later." As you can see based on his record of actual hangings, fact and fiction are somewhat intermingled. Anyway, that brings us to fact that just SOUNDS like fiction in Saudi Arabian justice.
You may have read about the infamous (or famous) judge who, last week finally rescinded his order that an 8-year-old girl remain wedded to her 47-year-old husband, despite the mother's (and supposedly the girl's) pleas to be granted a divorce. The barrister relented only after a huge international storm over women's rights erupted like Vesuvius on Pompeii. But wait, it gets worse.
Now, Judge Hamad Al-Razine has handed down a legal opinion that it is totally acceptable for husbands to slap their wives around if, in the husband's opinion, they spend too much money! The judge offered this as an example:
If a man gives his wife the equivalent of $320 to buy an abaya (see women wearing them in photo) used to cover herself in solid black cloth in one of the hottest places on the planet, and she spends as much as $240 for a brand name garment, the husband is allowed to whack her about for "spending lavishly." What? She's supposed to go to Wal-Mart in Saudi Arabia?
The judge feels such punishment is acceptable because of the latest trend in which Saudi women engage in "indecent behavior (in an abaya?) and use of offensive language against their husbands." Damn right! I would, too! But, then again, this is a country where women are not allowed to drive, either.
The Old West is alive and functioning in the MidEast.
I don't even want to be there at all, air-conditioned, invisible RV or not.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

It CAN'T Be JUST Me...I Hope

My niece Traci says it's true...her mother Trish backs up that claim...but I still find it hard to believe. I guess when I consider the facts, it could have happened the way they said it did. I'm just thankful Traci managed to live through the trauma and grow up to be reasonably well-adjusted, though perhaps the amount of physical distance between us was a necessary buffer. She certainly seems normal now when I "talk" with her on Facebook or see her at the odd family wedding (not that our family is odd, mind you, I meant...oh well...). It's gotten to be something of a weight on my shoulders, but constant reminders bring back the memory and I'm dealing with it over and over.
On a related note, a restaurant is Green Bay has changed owners, or at least names. That's a good thing because now I can go to eat there. See, I couldn't before because the restaurant's name was "Xcetera," and I cannot tolerate a public display of poor spelling/grammar. For example, I will NOT under ANY circumstances drink Mello Yello or wear LUVS diapers (though I may not know the difference by the time I have some nurse's aid dressing me!). Likewise, I refuse "Lite" beer of ANY kind, and ChexMix will NOT be found on the shelf at my domicile. You get the picture. Not always so pernickety, I even managed a chuckle when Travis, a student of mine, asked me to proofread an essay he had written on gangs for his writing professor: he began with "Every city in America knows the treat of gangs." Since I type poorly, I let him slide...or Hannah who was making a cover for her portfolio for a class using my office printer, and it came out "PROTFOLIO" in 48 font. The large font got a guffaw...but Hannah is a 4.0 student so she can take it. Anyway...
Because it was a Mother's Day kind of deal, our daughter sprang for dinner Friday night at a pub/restaurant near the university. The owner is a booster of sorts so I was OK with it...until the menu arrived. Smack dab (colloquialisms are acceptable because they are usually spelled correctly) in the middle of the specials was the following sentence: "Free popcorn served at the bar accept on Wednesdays."
I was in the parking lot and reaching for the car door handle when my sweetie caught up with me and conned me into returning for dinner by threatening, well, you know. Plus, I guess I didn't really want to spoil her day...and it WAS a free meal ( though it does NOT count for Father's Day...I was willing to buy my own).
Grudgingly, I bit my tongue (nearly in half) whenever the waitress came by and said in a simpy voice, "Is everything all right here? Do you need anything else?"
Of course, I wanted to point out the egregious error but I managed to hold it in...having gotten several well-placed kicks under the table...which, by the way, is NO way to act on Mother's Day Friday Evening.
Having avoided catastrophe there, imagine my difficulties when, today at a church service, the minister posed a question about mothers, added a "but" then asked us to finish the sentence. "I love my mother, but..." He proceeded to give us several alternatives, the first half of which were negative responses ("I love my mother, but she sometimnes drives me crazy"). However, when he got to possible responses which were positive, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM should have used the conjunction "and" NOT "but"!!!!! (I think I just broke the exclamation point key). He did this not once but five times, and I was halfway out of the pew by the third one, with my sweetie grabbing my shirt and all the little kids around beginning to jump up and down, too (much to the chagrin of their parents who fastened the old "evil eye" on me...and in church, too!
What is wrong with the world? Is it texting or email or that damn Twitter crap? Has the world become totally insensitive to language????(oh great, now I've broken the question mark key)
I need an intervention... seriously (deep breaths, count to a hundred...)I'm going to call Traci and ask for her forgiveness again...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"...At a Pettin' Party or a Poker Game"

Tex Winters Redux

It's been feared for the last few years that China is about to take over the world, not only with massive population numbers (featuring more than 700 men taller than 7 feet), but also with economic strength unparalleled in today's market. It's scary to think that our country borrows money from China every day...As a "half-full" kind of guy, I might be the only one not worried, though...they'll all be dead soon.
Merle Travis wrote a song back in 1947 decrying the addictive qualities of tobacco and complaining that he would gladly commit murder if he ever met the person who invented the cancer sticks...not because they were unhealthy, but because people just couldn't complete ANY task before finishing the fag (if you're too young, that was a slang term for cigarette back in the 60s). Anyway, just because I can, I've downloaded a YouTube (where else?) video of Winters lip-synching the know you want to see it if only to see what 1947 looked like!
Anyway, I figure at the rate they're going, the Chinese will be mostly dead before we have to pay the loans back. Here's why:
Earlier in the week, officials in Gong'an county in China ORDERED its government officials and teachers to begin seriously smoking the local cigarette brand: Hubei. Officials reckoned that if these officials could smoke 230,000 packs in a year, the economy would get a big boost based solely on the tax paid on smokes. Those who did not meet their quota of butts were to be fined or, possibly, fired from their government-sponsored jobs! The same punishment was to be meted out to those caught smoking OTHER brands besides the local one.
This in a country in which roughly a million people die as a result of smoking every year, and one in which more than half of all doctors continue to smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette! Really! No need to have Joe Camel promote cigarette smoking to folks in China: their doctors will do that FOR the companies.
I wonder if cigarette reps in China(like drug reps in this country) visit every doctor's office and provide free samples for patients.
What? It could happen? Anyway, we can keep borrowing money without fear since we'll never have to pay it back.
Of course, if WE start lighting up in numbers akin to those in China, it won't matter either way.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Much Ado About Something

I know I pooh-poohed the idea of the University of Oregon men playing ultimate frisbee in the somewhat altogether state. It wasn't exactly the Full Monty treatment on campus (streaking is out, by the way), but it wasn't plagiarism, either; perhaps I'm a little more tolerant as an older person...or one whose done plenty of dumb stuff in my life...or maybe just because I'm a guy it didn't seem worthy of double-secret probation to me. I mean, I still watch "Soth Park" on occasion and laugh...loudly. Heck, if I were a young man (OK, just dreaming here)thinking about a college, I might just pick Oregon as a result of that stunt. I mean, if students are that madcap on the ultimate frisbee team, how cool must the school be?( nobody mentions the constant rain) The references to Animal House make it all the more appealing. However, it's one thing for students to veer from the straight line of academia; it's quite another thing for professors.
Let's just call this professor...Jeff, as a pseudonym. Jeff teaches Introduction to Theater at an unnamed university...let's just say, oh, UW-Green Bay. Being an innovator of sorts, Jeff gives students an in-depth look at the world of theater: designing and building sets, developing visual aids for promotion, designing costumes, AND performing...the whole deal. It would appear to be a thrill-a-minute introduction to treading the boards (or tripping the light fantastic for the more ambulatory-challenged). Groups are set, and each group is assigned a scene from a Shakespearean play...very noteworthy since the University Theater players just did a rendition of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." I got really excited as a student of mine, let's call her...Anna... described how her group will "perform" their selection on Thursday. I'm checking my 9:30 appointments, disappointed that I have one but still getting quite ennervated about the potentially of going to watch, and then she says,
"Yeah, and each group is supposed to do a modern interpretation so WE'RE doing a scene between Benedick and Beatrice like it was...(wait for it) High School Musical." Her nearly breathless eagerness as she described the transformation sent rockets shooting inside my stomach began to churn, my blood pressure ratcheted up, and I could feel my gorge rising quickly. It was all I could do to minimize my reaction by screaming, "NOOOOOO!" so loudly that security was called. The echo peeled paint from the walls. Barely breathing, I managed to defibrillate myself (no easy task) and return to the land of the living.
Anna was totally nonplussed and began edging her way to the door. "How DARE you transpose the beauty of the Bard!" I rasped. "Whose idea WAS this?" Seems we were back to Jeff.
Imagine...a theater person...allowing, no, encouraging the juxtaposing of some of the greatest works ever written. Flashes of "O" caromed off my cranium, Franco Zeffirelli came unbidden to my brain. It was all too much. As I say, it's one thing for students (whose right it is to reestablish norms because they don't know any better) to drift off course, but a professor? OK, I get making it relevant, but not by making an abomination from what was once an icon.
Such a travesty would be like Brett Favre playing for the Vikings, for God's sake.
What? He what?
Never mind. I'm going for my frisbee.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Pete Rose betting on baseballl...Pol Pot thinking that he could defeat the Vietnamese after killing a couple of million defenseless Cambodians...that Bernie Madoff guy thinking he could go on ripping people off forever...and the list goes on ad infinitum. All examples of people who, basically, do stupid things when the possibilities are endless. And now, these latest shining examples of sh@!* for brains:
Ken Wall, arguably the BEST high school basketball player in the country...ANY school he chooses would take him Duke and NC included, even before he went to the NBA for a gazillion dollars...yes, he's THAT good. So, what happens? He gets arrested on a misdemeanor breaking and entering charge in Raleigh, North Carolina the other day. Granted, it is a misdemeanor, punishable by 120 days in jail, though according to assistant D.A. Frank Jackson, he'll probably get community service. How stupid is THAT? Literally one year away from the biggest payday in his life. You and I know, though, that his payday will still be more than you or I will ever see in our lifetimes...combined, but still...
And his saga comes less than a week or so after the Renardo Sidney escapade. Sidney, who recently signed to play college basketball at Mississippi State University (noted hoops hotbed...NOT) was recruited by everyone as the next big thing. He and his family moved to Los Angeles last year when he was being recruited heavily by both USC and UCLA. Why MSU? Easy...there were serious questions about the lavish lifestyle that his mother and stepfather were living as they moved from one stylish set of digs to another during their time in Tinseltown. The only family income seemed to come from a minor level AAU program which had a small shoe deal. Oh yes, and it was also duly noted that Sidney's stepdad expected to be compensated for delivering the boy to either school...uh, the stupid meter just shot off the charts like a thermometer spraying mercury in a cartoon. Remember, USC is still getting close scrutiny for the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo deals. You KNOW it had to be rotten if UCLA wouldn't take a chance to steal somebody from their hated rivals.
"OK," I can hear you say,"that's guys from somewhere else. That could never happen here." Ah, but you are wrong. One of my students whose family lives in Milwaukee told me yesterday of a young man who, as a sophomore, was already getting heavily recruited by some big-name basketball schools. This young man transferred from a city school to a suburban school last year in order to get more exposure. Now, I have to take my student's word that this kid was good. So, what happens? This past weekend, he and several of his friends break into an apartment, take a woman hostage at gunpoint and make go to the ATM and get cash. The hoops player stays in the apartment with a gun held to the head of the woman's son to insure her compliance. However, she had her cell phone on, somebody heard the call, the police showed up at her house...a standoff ensued, and a career went swirling down the 16.
I guess I have to be glad that I never had any real talent. It might have gone to my head.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


It didn't start with the Islamic fundamentalists. It probably didn't start with the Christians in the Crusades, either. But, somewhere along the line, SOMEBODY decided that hurting other people in the name of a religious deity made it OK. The idea of "Do Unto Others Because Our Religion Says It's OK" seems to have taken over as the modus operandi somewhere in the past and continues full steam ahead today. Conflicts abound for a multiplicity of reasons, but somewhere in the back is a quasi-religious taint. That's why the latest survey was so interesting to me.
Ironically completed by the Pew Research Center, this study sought to ascertain the effect of religious beliefs on a person's acceptance of torture of enemy combatants labeled as terrorists, a subject certainly on people's minds these days. Here's how it went, and you might be surprised at the results.
The Pew Foundation posed the same question to 742 adults, 54% of whom attended church services at least once a week. The respondents in the survey included white, non-Hispanic Catholics, mainline Protestants (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian), evangelical Christians and some who considered themselves unaffiliated with any organized religion.
The question asked was approximately: "Can the the use of torture to gain information from suspected terrorists be justified a) often b) sometimes c) rarely d) never"?

Forty-nine percent of those responding indicated that they would support the use of torture either "often" or "sometimes."
Twenty-five percent of those responding said "never."
The total numbers present an eye-opening least to me. One caveat: in each group, there was a certain percentage who chose not to answer, so the percentages will NOT add up to 100%. I'll give you the link so you can check it out yourself.

white, evangelical
Protestants OFTEN 18% SOMETIMES 41% RARELY 17% NEVER 16%

white, non-Hispanic
Catholics OFTEN 19% SOMETIMES 32% RARELY 27% NEVER 20%

white, mainline
Protestants OFTEN 15% SOMETIMES 31% RARELY 22% NEVER 31%

Unaffiliated OFTEN 15% SOMETIMES 25% RARELY 29% NEVER 26%

I'm not trashing anybody's belief or non-belief, and this is a rather small sample, BUT the "unaffiliated" group was lowest in the "often" and "sometimes" categories, and highest in the "rarely" category while placing second in the "never" category.
I'm just saying...

check it out yourself at

Friday, May 01, 2009

Is Double Secret Probation Next?

The college scene is dying. The atmosphere of learning through experimentation and taking chances is being stifled by snobocrats with no sense of humor and less sense of style. It's one thing for a high-profile group like the Badger Marching Band to be scrutinized and censured for antics befitting, well, college students, but an ultimate frisbee team? Straight from the campus that brought you Animal House? (No kidding, flimed in Eugene just before I got there)You've gotta be kidding me! This is how it all went down, so to speak, in Eugene (well, Corvallis, to be precise).
It seems that the University of Oregon (yes, my beloved Ducks--1984--) field a host of club sports, much as any other university does. I would suspect that Phil Knight has little to do with it, but that's a story for another day. Anyhow, this ultimate frisbee team was ranked #3 in the nation--wait a minute--we RANK club sports now? Pretty soon Congress will be debating a playoff system instead of the BCS of UF. Grr!
On April 11, the Ducks were standing up against the hated Oregon State Beavers in a sectional match. Though the reason is both unclear and unnecessary, several of the OSU players were playing without shirts (they were not sponsored by Nike either, apparently), and the Ducks responded by playing without pants, or shorts, or tights, or underwear, or, well, anything but LONG shirts. There being no contact in ultimate frisbee, there were no safety issues involved, but someone complained nonetheless (probably Niedermeyer), and the team, left dangling for a week over potential punishment, has been finally been suspended from competition. I would be totally aghast as this repression of expression, but it's just another example of how sanitized the college experience has become.
For the uprighteous out there, this was not the first offense by the EGO. The club had already been sanctioned last year for MAKING 'WAY TOO MUCH NOISE AT A PARTY! No word whether or not togas were involved or whether Otis Day and the Nights were playing ("A little bit louder now...a little bit louder now"). As a topper, when being questioned before the student board (puppets, no doubt, of Dean Wormer)who levelled the decision, co-captains Bluto and Otter (pictured) are thought to have said something like "Speeding, drinking and nudity--they're not bad things."
Seriously, folks, this is COLLEGE here. And in Oregon, no less, home to ALL of California's hippie population whose kids named Skly NEVER wear clothes anyway and openminded-bluestatedness! IT'S COLLEGE!
The guys got no love from the administration of the ruling national body (no, NOT Mrs. Dean Wormer) The Ultimate Players Association, located in Boulder, Colorado, where the town motto is "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." The president noted, "You have to wear clothing. It's in the rules." Rules, schmules...IT'S COLLEGE!
So much for the Eugene Gentlemen's Organization and their hopes for a mythical national champioship. It's a travesty of the educational system, and I'm going to take my OU Ducks tire cover off my vehicle tomorrow in protest.
That way, I'll be ready with the marbles for the parade through the streets of Eugene.