Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Happy Non-Secretary Day

Ever sinceAdam at Organic Mechanic posted a link to her, M_'s blog Your Daily Art has gotten about as half many hits in one week as I have gotten since 2003 (!) Thanks

My laugh out loud quote of the day is from Jen at Very Big Blog:
...don't do a Google Image search for "big toe" - GAH!

George over at Brewed Fresh Daily is onto something on how writing down ideas in a group can be beneficial. Basically, that those writing their ideas down in a shared way get 40% more done than meeting face to face. I think people just pay more attention when they read than when they listen. Imagine the thought-stream of someone listening at a meeting...blah, blah, blah, how can he wear a dress shirt hanging out over his pants like that? I wouldn't hire him to mow my lawn but I have to listen to his PowerPoint presentation...I wonder when the lunch truck will get here...

Michele over at a small victory is excited about Secretary's Day. I have a job that has no day named after it, so I must weep bitterly, mingling tears with the melting snow of spring.

Avedon Carol of The Sideshow is watching the Republicans in case they decide to boil some frogs. Believe, me, if they were an endangered species, they'd be boiling right now. So far I've noticed some counter the argument that the government not only lacks competence but sense with the line that John Kerry "looks French". Well, that's all I need to know, since I don't Hate America (tm). Unless you hate it too, don't read Avedon every day to keep an eye on the politics in the US from an intelligent UK perspective.

Speaking of boiling, Ladygoat's blog, Foodgoat, is burning, but she seems rather please about it. Holy appetizers, there's a lot of food blogging going on...I have not posted much on food because of a story with which M_ is familiar. I had gone on a salad-for-lunch diet, and decided to buy ready-made salads in advance. I bought a week's worth, and was worried they might spoil. So, of course, I stored the salads in my freezer. 'Nuff said

Lastly, Lynn at Reflections in d minor is thinking of other effects besides the debunked Mozart effect. How about the Mingus Effect? After listening to his music, your child is filled with an urge to blast holes in apartment walls with a shotgun, then write a letter to Downbeat?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Irony Monkey

There are two interesting facets to the screencap below from (underlining in red is from me):

Firstly, are the people looking for G rated literature summaries (not sure if the literature, or the summaries, are the G rated part) really the best venue for adds asking you to identify celebs by their boobs? In fairness, I must note the same page also showed an add asking you to identify a male celeb by his boobs as well.

Secondly - college students need G rated lit resources? I can imagine they'll be great lit students. "Who is this Atwood of whom you speak? She sounds dangerous to me".

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Trying to decynicize for Spring

Times are changing...we're about to get a new Pope, there a revitalization of the culture of life (wink, wink). But you still only have to read to the second sentence of an Ann Coulter column to laugh:
Liberals enjoy claiming that they are intellectuals, thrilled to engage in a battle of wits. This, they believe, distinguishes them from conservatives, who are religious fanatics who react with impotent rage to opposing ideas.
Yes, those wacky liberals thinking some conservatives are religious nuts, why whatever could give them that idea?
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
You have to love a philosophy with the kind of flexibility to not only be used by us, but also by any sufficiently insane enemy we have in the world, who need only take that quote and substitute their own religion.

But perhaps I am too quick to what seem to be bad ideas. In searching for things to write and think about, pointing out the insanity/inanity of Ann Coulter may be as endless a task as trying to find America's funniest home video (I must will all due regard nominate the weakest attempt to eat a biscuit in one bite, as performed by my brother-in-law found here).

Perhaps I have played the role of the Cynic too long, and need to both think more locally and more positively. For example, there is a program here in Cleveland to show up late to work if they spend time at a cultural even the night before. This makes so much sense I'm surprised it has not spread across the country like a productivity venereal disease. I'm sure the one thing keeping the cubicle drones away from the theatre is the fact they feel so sleepy the morning after. I know after a good ripping night at the orchestra that I wished I had a couple more hours to sit munching cereal the next day. Beethoven really makes one want to stay bathrobed the next day. Think of the possibilities of expanding on the idea this could have a "Show up to work Drunk" promotion with the local pubs, "Show up to work Wanting to Kiss Everyone" sponsored by Ecstasy dealers, "Show up for Work talking about Scantily Clad Elves" sponsored by World of Warcraft, ad naseum.

My spirits were lifted this weekend by a trip to Chicago, taking in Navy Pier, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Frank Lloyd's Wright's houses. I was armed with information on what to see from M_ and a friend from work, S_. I will only be armed with something other than information after I become a citizen - say, sometime in 2006. Aside from an amazingly busy downtown (that made me feel sad for Cleveland) they also have a beautiful, accessible, and busy Lakefront (that made me feel angry at Cleveland by comparison). Instead of having what few workers we have show up late for work, I might suggest we open up the lakefront and see what happens.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Overheard II

"My neighbor lives near me."
- Anonymous

as opposed to your neighbours who don't live near you at all? -J

"In the future, we'll all be robots."

If you watched American Idol, you'd see we're already there. - J

Worst Birthday Present Ever?

Channel 5 (in Cleveland) reports:
Scott Booher, 48, had been holding his ex-wife hostage in an Eaton Township home since early Wednesday morning. Negotiators said they had been in contact with both Booher and his ex-wife, Teri Baker, each hour.

Booher ended the standoff because today is his daughter's 15th birthday. He told his daughter he would end the standoff to wish her a happy birthday, officials said.
How about some new shoes? A cake? The standoffer has done prison time for a similar standoff in 1997. When it comes time in the future for a wedding present should his daughter marry, I hope she tells him "please, no gifts this time".

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Is it good to be Pope?

Though it may be a little late in the game, I'd like to throw my hat in the ring for the upcoming Papal election. I know what you're thinking - that there have been few ideas as obvious as an unordained unCatholic Atheist running for Pope since a long ago single celled organism decided to split. Some nay-sayers (why can't everyone be positive like me?) may claim I have little, if any, claim to the papacy or to lead any group numbering more than approximately one.Since I do not have easy access to a door in Wittenberg to post my qualifications and points needed for change let me list them here:

  • Went to a Catholic University to study Jazz

  • I used to own an X Ring, which I was told by those selling it to me was the second most famous ring in the world, after the Pope's. I mentioned this to my wife who bursts out in laughter each time, I assume finding it amusing that I didn't know about the fame of the X Ring.

  • I lost said ring in Lockeport, NS (ring not visible from satellite photo) and with the power of the papacy I could probably dispatch underlings to search for it

  • Despite being an atheist, I don't object to people with religious beliefs. I hope to gain a name as Pope Jerry the Consensus Builder

  • I'd bring back the rule about eating fish on Friday - I really like fish. The potential commercial tie-in with Irish pubs could bring in some money to church coffers as well

  • Many scholars agree it's time for a trombonist Pope

  • At big shows, like Easter Sunday, I can sing the Vatican Rag and other tunes certain to spice up the world of liturgical music

  • Would try to bring in church reforms such as allowing priests to marry and mandating they learn to use samurai swords. Ever try to lie in a confessional to a guy holding a razor sharp sword? I think not

  • William Donahue's head would explode

  • Will definitely not be more popular than the previous Pope

  • Would bring back flying Nuns

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Born in Ca-na-da! Moved to America!

There is an anti-Mexican anti-Immigration immigration reform site that posed some interesting questions about the impact of immigrants - like myself - on America. In the case of this article, it's a case of the impact on America as an idea. Perhaps I should take measure of my own impact!
The civic involvement upon which our free society is founded is weakened:

"Inability to speak English impairs the capacity of a citizen to digest political speech, to serve on juries, to participate in judicial proceedings, to serve in the armed forces, and to participate in a military mobilization. From the viewpoint of society, the fact that some citizens will escape the obligations and miss the opportunities of America will only enhance the prospect for isolation and ethnic strife."
My ability to speak English is probably somewhat impeded by the fact that I use British style U's in words. When I speak to friends in the US about my neighbours, they grow puzzled. "What did he say? Something about fuzzy wiffle sticks?". I must always interject: "No my weak-beer drinking American friends, I mean neighbors!". We then share a hearty laugh about my strange outlander ways, and how Canada was so neglectful in not joining in the recent Iraq war. I was hard pressed to think of a war Canada had entered where we ended up waiting for America to join us, as my memory only goes back to 1946. I would think, speaking of military mobilization, that my inability to shoot a gun, to run more than a few feet, and how bad I look in camouflage would stop me being mobilized more than my extra U's. But let us continue.

Business and social transaction costs rise, as time, effort, and money are spent overcoming language and cultural barriers. Communication becomes difficult, often due to language barriers.

"But as more and more commerce is fouled by fast-food clerks who mistake orders, taxicabs drivers who misunderstand directions and telemarketers who canít explain why they called, sociologists and consumer behaviorists detect a palpable, collective complaint thatís evolved into one of the most politically incorrect questions of the í90s: Canít anyone here speak English? ... Poor English skills among foreign-born residents cost more than $175 billion a year in lost productivity, wages, tax revenue and unemployment compensation, says Ohio University economist Lowell Gallaway."
It's sadly true. Most of the time when I go the drive-through, my oddly Canadian way of speaking makes me unable to understand the US Citizens manning the registers, as they ask me "Glurph nick fries fladda daada?".

Language aside, cultural differences alone can create problems. In November 1996, an Iraqi immigrant was jailed in Nebraska for forcing his 13- and 14-year-old daughters to marry men more than twice their age, who were also jailed for statutory rape. The men explained that they were following the tradition of their country and did not understand our governmentís reaction.5

As a natural result of cultural conflict, ethnic strife and separatism grow:

"American secessions have rarely been viewed with alarm [but] in the 1990s...we are more inclined to consider them a serious threat to national unity, especially since that unity is being stretched to the breaking point by ethnic revanchiste movements fueled by Third World immigration. ... In any major city, the peace is disturbed by Latino, black, and Asian nationalist gangs, which in some cases are only the shock troops of ethnic movements seeking the racial dismemberment of the United States. In refusing to control immigration, the Federal Government is writing a script for ethnic civil war. Why?'
Just this past fall, I tried to force my 30-something brothers-in-law to play football using only 3 downs (as in Canada is a tradition). The authorities thankfully saved them from such an ignoble fate. Although I could not be part of a Latin, black or Asian nationalist group. Thankfully, there are no dangerous groups composed of white people.

Sometimes this ethnic separatism is clear and overt:

'A peaceful mass of people, hardworking, carries out slowly and patiently an unstoppable invasion, the most important in human history. ... The territory lost in the 19th century by Mexico ...seems to be restoring itself through a humble people who go on settling various zones that were once ours on the old maps. Land, under any concept of possession, ends up in the hands of those who deserve it.'

"Aztlan is a country with no borders and no government, but it has a militant student movement with big plans. Some of the activists dream of the day when they can 'liberate' a large portion of the southwestern United States, which they consider to have been stolen by gringos, and raise their own flag over it.
I don't want to give away any secrets, but there just may be a secret movement amongst Nova Scotians living in America to make parts of Louisiana whole with Acadia again. Part of the desire to annex is we hear they have great food, and we've gotten tired of Scottish fare alone back home. Don't say we didn't warn you. I think the Nova Scotian threat is every bit as dangerous as the Aztlan movement.

They are also nervous about other ideas that immigrants may harbor:

Sometimes separatism takes other forms, such as demands for ethnic representation, separatist studies, or special status and treatment:

"We submit the following measures:

* create a 100 mile free labor zone from the border;
* illegal aliens should have access to public health care and benefits that are culturally sensitive and respectful of language difference;
* legislation be enacted that mandates institutions of higher learning to incorporate into their curriculum courses which reflect and promote cultural diversity and give full credit for immigrant contributions to this nation.
* decrease the residency requirement for naturalization from five years to one year administer citizenship exams in the applicantís native language;
* increase in the visa quota for Mexico and Latin American countries pass legislation that will afford voting rights to all immigrants in certain nonfederal elections that affirmative action be used so that the INS staff at all levels reflects the service population;"
I take issue with point three. Schools should not be made to "give full credit for immigrant contributions to this nation". I think we should recognize anyone whose forbears were here after 1492, but not before, up to 1910, but not after, and realize they and they alone are responsible for everything good in the country. Any reference to events before 1492 should be relegated to elementary school musicals on Thanksgiving.

'Scratch most nationalist movements and you find a linguistic grievance. ... Language is a convenient surrogate for monolinguistic claims that are often awkward to articulate, for they amount to a demand for more political and economic power'
Very awkward to articulate indeed. It's too bad other places in the world, like Europe and Canada, can't be more flexible by having their kids speak many languages, instead relegating them to European Languages and Canadian, which is hard to speak without imagining you are chewing on some back bacon.

They sum up:
While there are many things that could be done to encourage assimilation in the United States, none can be effective as long as we continue to admit 900,000 immigrants a year. Only by reducing the level of immigration to more traditional levels (say, to below 200,000) can we stanch the contribution of immigration to ethnic separatism in the United States.
Let's just hope no one proposes we go back to pre-1492 levels, which having lasted longer are even more traditional. My favourite form of argument to hear is that something is traditional, because there's no end to the traditions you can find if you go back far enough. So I've learned a lot from this site...immigrants such as me are scary creatures, speaking in odd tongues, proposing to annex whole swaths of land and overwhelm the culture and economy, perhaps even passing out smallpox-infested blankets to unsuspecting Real Americans (© 2005). For now, Canadians in America will have to settle for subtle takeovers (Lorne Greene, Michael J. Fox, Celine Dion etc). Only in America!

The Halls are alive with the sound of breakfast

As you set down to start your day, gathering your thoughts, nothing so disturbs as the sound of someone in the next cube hungrily slurping up what they did not bother to eat at home. In contrast, this place sounds like a nice place to work:
The guidelines forbid at-cubicle consumption of crunchy or smelly foods, as well as the use of china or silverware within 150 feet of anyone trying to concentrate.
I defy anyone to try and concentrate for a sustained period of time when someone in the next cube has heated up a meal to eat at their desk, or - in one case - the worker who has cereal with milk in his cube in the morning. I was tempted to ask him if he considered coming in to the office in pajamas and dressing here. It's probably an old growing trend; there was a woman who called Car talk this week to report she dropped some jam in the gear shift as she had been spreading it on her bagel whilst driving. I think the in-car toaster might have some legs as a product if this trend continues. It could probably fit right below the radio in the dash. I don't see why anyone would oppose it - everybody loves toast. It's drivers like the aforemention jam-dropper that make me glad I take the train to work.

But alas, even there I am not safe from the sights, sounds, and smells of breakfast. Many sneak McDonald's bags onto the trains (I was very unterrified of a terror plot, being that I was both not Annie Jacobsen and I still have most of my brain). Then we get to enjoy them trying to eat McMuffins crouching low in their seats to avoid the driver's baleful gaze. Nothing starts my day out with more joy than hearing the slurping and smelling the grease wafting over from my neighbours seat. The whole revolution where everyone can work from home is going beyond something that would be desirable - it may be necessary if only to keep some of the populace as far from me as is economically feasible.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Can't hard-boil a soft-boiled life

Proud to say I spent an entirely unproductive Saturday. I saw the new film Sin City which does indeed look like a comic book. I debated dragging M_ to it for the neonoir film style, but thought perhaps the violence - flowing off the screen like an ice cream sundae made by someone who is high - might be a bit much. I figured by the third beheading or the second castration she might begin to find it too much. It's hard not to fall into a different way of thinking, and imagining how much more interesting your life would be were it narrated by a gravelly voice...
I piloted a beat up car through the valley underneath poor bastards driving over the 480 bridge. The snow and sleet stuck to the road like bad eggs. I had some hard choices to make - sell some books on Amazon, give them to the library, or go home where maybe I'd have a bullet waiting for me instead of a cup of joe. Soon, I had to get litter for the cat or hell would be waiting for me and my dame.
On second thought, maybe not.

Went over to R_ and K_'s for various fried goodies tonight, including something called hush puppies. K_ says these are used to quiet yapping pups in the South by throwing the dogs some of these pieces of fried cornbread. Some debate was also had on the merits of driving using one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes. K_ said his dad never drove that way in an automatic, since it was unsafe, when M_ remarked:
It hardly matters if you have a bellyful of white lightning.
K_ also mentioned seeing someone with a blogger T-shirt at "Diverse Universe" here in Lakewood, who I think runs the Life Cycle of a Fruitfly blog. Soon everyone will have a blog, I think - I'm not complaining, as I like have additional reading. I'm waiting for my mom to come out with a blog any day, Don't Drive so Fast, or my dad to write Why All Meals Should be Cooked on a BBQ.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Call me dumb if you please

There was an amusing court ruling on yesterday. A web site proprieter was found not guilty of libel for calling some politicians "dumb asses" as the judge pointed out this was just an opinion, and it would be difficult to disprove - ergo, not a fact. So for anyone who was frightened by the media guy at the recent Cleveland Weblogger group, you can feel safe throwing "dumb ass" around on your blog, should the mood strike.

New virus threat

Fear may spread quickly as computer viruses are now being transmitted via a new "medium" - people. Almost all experts long felt this new tech was in it's infacy, but no more. Knowledge as to how to undo the problem are proving hard to come by in the immediate aftermath of the revalation. Experts - some at least were not too shocked: '"I'm not at all surprised," said PC industry watcher and longtime columnist John C. Dvorak. ' (source).

If I called Debbie blonde, would that mean I'm calling her dumb?

Tell me is this line, in a response from Debbie Schlussel to Roger Ebert, disingenuous?
I did not once mention your weight or illness in my column.
. Consider some snippets from the original article (bolded sections were bolded by me)
Normally, it would be unfair to attack Roger Ebert for his addiction to food.

Normally, it would be in poor taste to hold the calorically-gifted film-criticís insatiable taste-buds against him.

But now, Roger Ebertís irresistible yen for a sandwich is literally his excuse to defend an Islamic terrorist, Ibrahim Parlak.

Parlak, who is under deportation orders, owns a restaurant in Harbert, Michigan - a restaurant Ebert frequents, with apparently great appetite.
I guess you could argue she doesn't specifically mention his weight, but I doubt any five year old would miss what Debbie is implying about his weight (recently diminished by 100 lbs) or his eating habits. The main point of the article was something else, an issue about someone they are trying to deport for terrorist connections. But it starts by bashing Ebert repeatedly for perceived eating habits. Which in the reply (first link) Debbie seems to want to back away from, whilst keeping the shots in the original article with a wink.

Once more into the breach

Is it just me or does all the rhetoric surround the Schiavo case stir some memories? I recall in the mid-90's how many, usually conservative pundits and lawmakers casually threw around the idea that the federal government was the enemy of the people's will. I am sure they meant nothing sinister by it - they were merely playing to what they saw as a group of potential voters - angry, disaffected men with anti-government leanings. This overblown talk had it's wind sucked out by the Oklahoma City bombing, done by men whose ideas was not far off from the angry blasts from radio talk shows and politicians hoping to suck in the audiences of said shows. This time around, it's Mr. DeLay saying "the time will come" for those disagreeing with him. Once again, I am certain he means nothing sinister by it, he'd just like everyone's familial battles over life and death played on the public stage (except for his, naturally). he's hoping to swing right-to-lifer's to be more loyal to him and his fellow Republicans. Some (may need to watch an ad to see this link) who claim it's not "religious zealotry" that drives the lawmakers to their actions are only half right. I have no doubt they do not actually hold the beliefs of the people they are pandering to with much seriousness at all. I am just hoping we don't have another wake up call for those throwing around such inflammatory rhetoric. And with that, I'd like to pull the feeding tube on the whole topic for myself.