Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe you're sticky

Here's the scenario. Back in the 70's an unsuccessful, obscure movie was made about junkie life. It was semi-documentary style, featuring both actors and actual junkies. So a few years later, some movie critic is writing on it, mentions that one of the junkies was a former child actor.

Now here's a few points? It'd seem that if one writes that any former child actor has substance abuse problems, law of averages favors the statement being correct. This particular former child star, no name recognition there. Explain what TV show he was on, and eventually you'd get a "Oh yeah, him. Never knew what his name was." Third though, this here former child actor wasn't a junkie.

What followed was 27 years of lawsuits. And Mr. Gray eventually prevailed, getting the public apology, made to a public that had no earthly idea who Mr. Gray was. In this scenario, we have a couple of very sticky fellows.

I understand Mr. Gray better than Mr. Maltin, but just barely. If you've made a journalistic mistake and hurt someone's feelings, why not own up to it and make a sincere apology? Why 27 years? Mr. Gray, well spotlight moved on from him a long time ago, and he felt moved to defend his good name. But 27 freakin' years?

That is sticking to your guns, long past the point where it makes any sense. I'm not judging, I'm merely observing this is how some approach their life challenges.

A very un-sticky approach is in the song, "Dazed and Confused." Iconic Led Zep tune, and I must say I'm glad the Beatles broke up when they did. Much as I revere the Liverpool lads, that first Led Zep LP was start of a new musical era, with new royalty. "Dazed and Confused" is a stolen song. Not stolen in sense of twisting some old bluesman's basic structure around. Early Zep was notorious for that. No, I mean stolen in sense of breaking into your home and taking your stuff.

"D & C" wasn't written by some bluesman with a tragic arc who died before Jimmy Page learned to play guitar. Nor is it a basic structure that got the Zep treatment. It sounds from Zep about exactly as it did from its writer, Jake Holmes.

Jake's still pretty much alive, well and happy. He even knows exactly when his song got stolen. According to him, he was playing a set in Greenwich village 1968 when pre-Led Zep Jimmy Page stopped in. This isn't the idle claim of an aging hippie either. "Dazed and Confused" was already on vinyl at that time; Jake's second LP if memory serves.

Oh, I should point out at this juncture? Jake Holmes is the most culturally influential person you've never heard of. If you're too young to think you were at Woodstock, and too old to get Rap, Jake Holmes OWNS the ad jingles inside your head.

"See the USA in a Chevrolet"
"Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?"
"Be, all that you can be, in the Army"

Yeah, Jake wrote all that dreck, for which he was obscenely well compensated, and he also wrote a darned good song that Led Zep stole from him. So what'd he do about having "Dazed and Confused" unceremoniously ripped off from him?

Nothin' is what. In fact, I get the idea Jake thinks the whole deal is rather amusing. Well, I'm not being entirely accurate in saying Mr. Holmes did nothing. According to him, he once wrote a letter to Jimmy Page. Something along lines of, "I really consider the song as an unorthodox collaborative effort. Don't you think you should at least put my name down as shared writer credit though?"

He never heard back from Page, and so went on with his life. That's a very un-sticky approach to life's challenges there. While I'm nobody's judge, I'd a lot more enjoy spending an afternoon with Mr. Holmes than Mr. Gray, I betcha.

Now David, that certainly was wonderful, and I'll be sure to do a needlepoint sampler on the topic in the near future, preserving your thoughts for posterior. You got anything more literal, concrete on 'sticky' people?

Well, there is Liew Thow Lin, who's known as the Magnet Man of Malaysia. Retired contractor, raises fortunes for charity by sticking metallic objects to his chest. No kidding, you can put a fork, frying pan or clothes iron on his chest and it just stays there, defying gravity. It's not a parlor trick either. He's been studied by lots of scientists. Best they can come up with is Mr. Lin has very sticky skin surface, as applies to metallic objects. Or more correctly, as metallic objects apply to him I guess. Doesn't sound like much of a theory to me, but it's all we got for the time being. I've seen pictures of the guy with dozens of spoons stuck to his chest. Very strange really.

What else have I got? Oh yeah, Leonard Maltin is a drug addict. There, that should keep me busy for the next 27 years...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Those Lyin' Mayans

Hey, we haven't had a caption contest in the longest time! So take a look at this picture, what do ya think it is:
1. Cover art for Sir 'Liberace' next CD
2. Ex-Beatle George Harrison relaxing after a concert
3. New poster for the Universalist/Unitarian Church

Nope, it's none of those. Don't feel bad though; I thought it was George Harrison too. This is actually an illustration from a childrens' alphabet book in India. Oh, I know exactly why it was published. I can respect the logic behind it, even while observing it's not going to stop Him. But I don't want to write about those Indians. I've got different Indians on my mind.

Been a lot of media here lately regarding a Mayan prophecy about cataclysmic events coming in 2012. Yeah, celestial convergence, end of the world as we've known it, stuff like that. To me, looks more like a convergence between bad science & bad history. I don't know personally of a single ancient culture that had a doomsday concept, so I doubt the Mayans did either. This 'prophecy' is more likely end of the Feathered Serpent epoch, something like that. Instead of dwelling on the prophecy though, I'd rather think about why it's getting traction.

There is that lure of the 'other' wisdom. Probably ever since humans started living in complex societal structures, folk have believed there's some lost knowledge outside their conventions, that places everything in true context. So there's a deep seated wish to find and connect with the wisdom of the 'other.'

It's all over our culture. Hey, remember that old TV show hosted by Leonard Nimoy, was called "In Search of..." I think the whole dot dot dot thing was a nice touch. Everything was hare brained speculation with question marks.

"Could the ancient lines of Nazca be navigational guides for visiting space aliens?"

Well yeah Leonard, I suppose they "could" be. But if I'm a species that can build interstellar spacecraft, safely traverse hundreds of millions of miles of deep space, and then the last couple miles I have to stop and ask stone age humans for directions, I might feel a tad embarrassed myself.

Eh, it's all about wanting to find & connect with the lost wisdom of the 'other' in an increasingly confusing, complex world.

Fascination with a Doomsday though, I'll never be able to figure that one. It's been going on in Western culture since the Industrial Revolution; I do know that. Not all of them turn out as sadly as that Heaven's Gate deal. There's a very respected Protestant sect right now, founded by disgruntled followers of a guy who kept predicting Jesus' return date. I imagine right this very minute there are at least six Doomsday movements doing their biz, faithfully expecting Jesus, or a comment, or the Great Feathered Serpent to swoop down on a particular day marked on the calendar, known only to the faithful.

I don't know why some people go for that stuff, but I know a better way to approach it. Look around you at the little tribe your life has assembled. OK, come 2012 the big Feathered Serpent will arrive to fly them to Alpha Centauri or some other place where Donald Trump's hairstyle is considered normal. Two years from now, they're all gone from your life, forever.

So why don't you start treating them like you believe that will happen? Not for me to say what that means in your life. If you phone some people daily to say, "I can't hardly wait for 2012" and hang up, that's your biz. But there might be somebody you're wanting to thank, or somebody you're wanting to ask something, or apologize to, or just spend more time with. Well, you have two years to do that stuff. You know those Mayan Feathered Serpents, they're notoriously punctual.

And when 2012 gets here and nothing happens, you can imagine the Feathered Serpent got caught in a holding pattern over O'Hare, but will be here directly. Then you can behave all over again, as if you only have two more years with this tribe you've assembled.

Don't mind me though. I don't have that cachet of being the 'other' with hidden arcane wisdom. I'm just a bald hillbilly. Were I a dead Mayan astronomer though, you betcha!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bastirds with an E

In every long term relationship a more or less informal division of labor takes hold. I mean look, you don't think Butch & Sundance swapped off the gunfighting chores in interest of 'fairness' do you? Well, it's the same in marriage too.

Generally, I'd say wives tend to do more things and more frequently. This is not to knock husbands, who often have specific and quite useful skills, for which there's a limited demand. Spider killer is very indispensable for example; it's simply that meal preparation hits the daily schedule with more regularity.

Now in my marriage? Difficult to explain really. Yes, spider killing. Also take out garbage, and random heavy lifting. But my core strengths are:
1.) Asking me is quicker than looking it up on the computer.
3.) Really good at math.
2.) Ability to solve seemingly intractable practical challenges.

Like that flush mounted bulb, way up there in the kitchen ceiling. Hard enough to get hold of in the first place, but when you try to turn the bulb the socket turns too. Well I solved that problem. How? I'm not telling everbody on the internet! That's intellectual property!

But it's core strength number one that most recently came to the fore. Yes, my wealth of knowledge that, when you get right down to it, most of which ain't worth knowing in the first place.

My wife walked in the door saying, "I rented that new WW2 movie with Brad Pitt in it." A few minutes later, DVD is playing and I say, "Hey, it's Bo Svenson! He was in 'Walking Tall part three' what a lame movie that was!"

"Well where is Brad Pitt?"
"In kindegarten probably, when this movie was made."
"But I rented 'Inglorious Bastards' so what's this?"
"This is 'Inglorious Bastards' ma'am."

Before it got too much like an Abbot & Costello routine, I explained that "Inglorious Basterds" is Tarantino's homage to the ensemble suicide mission WW2 flicks of the 1970's with "Dirty Dozen" being finest one. So Quentin being a film buff titled his movie after this, with misspelling as an in-joke.

Therefore my resevoir of useless information came to the rescue again. Did the explanation make her any less frustrated? Nope, not one bit really. I've found that's often the outcome when I dispense useless information, but I don't let myself get discouraged.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jesus, the Piggy Bank

This week a washed up British pop star said Jesus was gay, and within 15 minutes the news had gone around the globe three times. I'm not going to name this pop star, because I won't play his game. 'Sir Liberace' will do, since the career track is similar.

Now on one level, I'm certain Sir Liberace meant it as a sincere compliment. By the way, did I mention that knighthoods must be really easy to come by these days? They're probably being given away in charity raffles now. But lest I digress; the main reason Sir Liberace said that drivel was for publicity... and it worked! It worked on media outlets with no real interest in Christ, and excelled with pro-Christ media.

And that's the way it works. Insult Jesus and the non-believer media will print it cause controversy sells. Believer media will print it to rally the troops, and that sells. There's a lot of money to be made insulting Jesus! Christopher Hitchen's "God is not good" was on NYT best seller list for quite a while for instance.

There's a trusty stereotype of the TV preacher raking in millions while living a debauched lifestyle and mocking the faithful he fleeces. Christians should be held to higher standards, but do we think often enough about how non-believers exploit Jesus for profit?

Had Sir Liberace instead said, "Jesus was the greatest person who ever lived" would anybody have printed that? No, they wouldn't. It's not controversial, hence no ad revenues.

Now, I'm supposed to be a right wing extremist (or so I've been told recently) therefore I might be expected to say something like, "Hey Sir Liberace, why don't you go ahead and opine on Mohammed's sexual orientation while you're at it?"

While I might daydream such a thing (I have a sick sense of humor) we all know Sir Liberace won't do that, and we know why. But in engineering, you're taught that usually in a manufacturing problem, one has to patiently ask 'why' about five times, before getting at the root of the deal.

It's true, Sir Liberace calling Mohammed gay would lead to more than headlines. But for much of Christianity's history Sir Liberace would've been stoned to death, or burned alive for insulting Christ. The difference is that Islam remains in stasis forever, while Jesus hasn't forgotten His followers.

Across centuries the history of Christendom is a sucession of dissenters who called the Faith to the shadow of the Cross, often at the cost of their lives. We no longer believe Sir Liberace should be burned for his blasphemy. Oddly enough though, the origin of the word 'faggot' is a bundle of sticks used to build a fire. He he he he that's funny! Oh man, I crack me up sometimes.

So our faith is strong enough, you can insult our Saviour. And boy, is THAT a long line! Therefore Jesus is not only Light of the World, but also a piggy bank. Yep, pick Him up and shake Him. Maybe a million dollar book deal there, or a little media attention in a life without any other real center.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sorry for the Duration

All lists are subjective, but the names Babe Ruth, Seabiscuit, Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali would belong on any fair minded person's list of greatest American atheletes. Also Tiger Woods.

Still very early in his career, he's done legendary things, like winning a tournament with an injury that later required surgery.

So it's worth taking a moment to observe a modern prodigy's attempts to rehabilitate his public image, and what that means in context of modern culture.

There was a time in this great land, when the railroad didn't run... hmmm, David? I think that's a Gordon Lightfoot lyric. Oh yeah! Knew it sounded familiar for some reason. There was a time in this great land when Tiger's career would be over forever, period. Maybe go play golf in Europe, but that's about it. These times, societal shunning is less rigorously practiced. There are pros & cons to that. Yeah, it is a very effective method. Shoplifting is nearly unheard of in Japan for example. But shunning has always sloshed over on innocent family members, every time I've seen it practiced. Eh, it's a mixed bag; still practiced in rural America but no longer much of a defining cultural current really.

Therefore, Tiger has a chance to convince fans who identify with him in a neurotic way, that nope, he never was person they thought he was, but he's trying to become that person. I'm not being cynical; that's the man's mission, if he wants the endorsements back.

A few things come to my mind... what is this trend about apologizing to people you haven't wronged? And of course Tiger is sorry. Everybody who gets caught, regrets having been caught. We 'sophisticated' Westerners roll eyes about cultures where miscreants are scourged in public, yet we expect the same thing of our little tin media gods? It seems our culture has progressed from a culture of shunning, to one where elaborate, largely meaningless rituals are required. Why do we do that? Why do we care about the private life of a person we'll never meet? Who buys products based on Tiger Wood's endorsement anyways?

There is one thing though, for which I personally can never forgive Tiger Woods. Read the story on his speech today, and was wiping tears from my eyes. One of those watching was former Tiger Beat member Simone Ste. Claire (or something like that) a recently retired porn star. She watched the broadcast with her attorney, and I only hope lots of Kleenex was available. Though not named specifically in Tiger's Mea Culpa today, nor has she been named by anybody except herself, Ms. Ste. Claire was clearly heartbroken. She said something like (I can't even quote me accurately) "I feel so violated, I trusted him. I want him to look me in the eyes and apologize for the unwanted attention he's subjected me to."

For that one thing Mr. Woods, I can never forgive you. You embarrassed a porn star. Have you no shame sir?

Good Will Hunting again

Well what's in the news? President Obama visits Vegas today to a chilly reception I'd bet. This because he's lately been using Vegas and the 'gaming industry' as a metaphor for financial foolishness. So the speech should start something like, "Hello Vegas! I just flew in from D.C. and boy, are your middle fingers tired!"

And Ms. Palin seems to have moved on from attempts to define proper terms for use of the word "retarded" for now anyways. Was a misstep for sure; her base support is reflexively anti-language police.

And there are always lawsuits in the news. In West Virginia a lady wants to sue GW, Oprah and Laura Bush for $50B. Her petition claims these three caused a tiny video camera to be implanted in her brain, recording data that will later be used to reincarnate her. I try to keep an open mind, but I don't see anything to that case. Oprah, I can believe it of her, but GW & Laura are Methodists, and they don't believe in reincarnation.

And in Florida an inmate is suing to ensure prompt delivery of his Penthouse magazines. He's serving 13 consecutive life sentences, so one might expect a politically ambitious Judge to rule "Get out of my court, you maggot." But I predict this one will wind its way through. There's a sector of the legal profession who are fascinated with defining rights of the incarcerated.

But to me, most interesting thing in this week's news was permission to use fiber optic camera inside Fulke Greville's coffin. Yep, we're gonna drill a tiny little hole, run that camera in there and see what; Fulke Greville's bones? Nope, he's buried elsewhere. Turns out he had this beautiful thing built at cost of $500K in 2010 money, and he's not in it. But something is.

Ground imaging radar has already shown three box like shapes inside the coffin, and that scan was run in the first place with strong expectations about the contents. The believers think one of those shapes is the original manuscript of "Anthony and Cleopatra" in Greville's handwriting. That will make Fulke the strongest yet contender for having been the 'real' Good Will Shakespeare. After that, the big debate will be over. In about another 150 years I mean of course.

The controversy's always broke along one firm line. A butcher's son who never left England couldn't know so many details of other places. So that's why some scholars think Will wasn't the 'real' Will. But that ignores many inaccurate things in plays attributed to Shakespeare. Things from simple geography to that ancient Rome didn't have chimneys, that any ghost writing nobleman would've known.

But we'll have one more piece of the puzzle soon, and I bet Dan Brown will write a swell book about it where Tom Hanks zips around Europe in itty bitty cars. Hey, you know what I think's inside that coffin? Bunch of Penthouse magazines.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Lincoln Legacy

Now David? Is this really something in the news? Well, it depends on what you mean by "news" I guess. (Thanks Mr. Clinton!) There are lots of subcultures operating beneath general attention that are still very interesting. One of them is the Lincoln legacy debate.

They're quite different from anything available on news channel programming. No shouting or personal attacks; just people passionate about a cause, and devoted to furthering their position. And Lincoln's birthday this week produced the expected flare-up, so I guess it's in the news...

History is about revision, else we historians wouldn't have much to do. Eisenhower: Mostly played golf and took naps for eight years. Then somebody comes along saying no, IKE was really cool. It's about like repainting the Mona Lisa once per generation, in efforts to show what she actually looked like. And it's worse than that really. Battles rage about "brushstrokes" if ya know what I mean. There've been historians who spent careers arguing that some previous, prominent historian did sloppy scholarship. It's fun to observe people who have such concentration on one topic, especially for me with my restless curiosities.

Nowhere is it more evident than Abraham Lincoln. Other than Jesus Christ, there is no more controversial person in American culture than good ol' Abe. Not convinced? Well look here? Debate still rages over the proper name for the war Lincoln prosecuted against the South. It really wasn't a Civil War; England's War of the Roses was a legit civil war, contest between factions over governing power. What happened 1861-1865 is more correctly characterized a rebellion, insurrection or revolution. And it's Abe's conduct during the big war that attaches controversy to him.

He suspended Habeus Corpus, a cherished right tracing its roots back to the 1215 Magna Carta. At one point he had the Governor of Maryland under house arrest. It goes deeper than that though. Some really educated folk maintain Lincoln had no right to war against the Confederacy. They're wrong there.
Others anchor around the South's Constitutional right to secede, and they're correct actually. Nothing in the US Constitution bound any member state to perpetual membership. Had it contained such language, never would've been ratified.

My take is more complex. Had the South remained calm around secession, taken it before the Supreme Court, they'd have won the case. The North would've been forced to spit on the Constitution. Of course the South was a sovereign nation, from the day they seceded. That means at Ft. Sumpter they fired on the soldiers of another sovereign nation and started a war.

By rules of war understood since ancient times, two nations clashed. One was eventually subdued, and its territories were appropriated by the victor. That's a dispassionate view of the conflict and outcome of what's known as the Civil War.

Think I'd ever advance that in the hornet's nest of Lincoln scholarship? Well, I'll jump out of an airplane, but some things, even I ain't crazy enough to do. Most of these folk actually know what color dress Mary Lincoln was wearing at Ford's theatre.

Here's what they're really arguing about. After the War Between Brothers, our country changed in fundamental ways, so was the change good or bad? Well... There's one constant in our nation's history. Each time an existential threat has been perceived, the Federal government has drawn to itself rights that belong to the citizens. Every time the threat recedes, the people never get back all their rights. So any time Americans enter full war, it should be with realization one outcome will be a lasting change in the internal balance of power.

Hey, hey! Wanna hear a funny on Abe? Of course you do! When Lincoln memorial was first opened, well see? They have this really shiny floor around the statue, lighting came down from above and bounced off the floor, hitting the great man's marble visage. So it really looked like our 16th President had a shocked expression, as if he was surprised you came to visit him. They alternated the lighting and now he looks all soberly ruminating. I hate I missed marble Abe's "A surprise birthday party for me?" look though.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Born to ponder

Lots of things in this week's news all right, you betcha. For one thing, Palestinian protesters have taken to dressing up like the overgrown smurfs in that movie "Avatar." How delightful; I wonder who put them up to that? Must be a very persuasive person. I'm trying to imagine sitting at a conference table, telling my fellow Hamas members why we should paint ourselves blue for tomorrow's protest.

And this week saw sentencing in the California flaming dancer case. That's where an exotic dancer tried to cremate her rival, except pre-mortem. Not good, not good at all. The attacker got life in prison, which I bet means about seven years. And there's another reason for the erosion of respect for civil authority; prison sentences are dishonestly announced and everybody knows it. But what I found interesting about the flaming dancer case? During a break in the proceedings, defense lawyer went over and hugged the victim, praising her courage through the ordeal. Now, I've never been on trial for anything... yet. But should I ever be on trial, and during a recess my lawyer goes over and hugs my accuser, I'm not going to take that as a good sign.

So that brings me to astrology. Yeah, I'm an Aquarius. "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, age of Aquarius, oooh." Well as of today, the age of this Aquarius is 53. I've never been 53 before; I sure hope I don't mess it up! Better read my horoscope, that'll help. Naw, astrology is a bunch of hooey.

Some folk might argue with me, citing the wise men and the Star of Bethlehem. Well that's a good point. Yeah, long time ago some astrologers noted astronomical anomaly in a constellation they associated with Israel. Good work! Doesn't mean modern astrology is relevant in any way. For Horoscopes, I will use my ultimate put down, my personal WMD, worst thing I can say...

Astrology is so dumb, even I could do it.

Every birth sign profile is essentially the same: Two bits of vague flattery followed by a general dig. Something like...

You are creative and very generous. You often feel that people don't understand you. At times you are self-centered and stubborn.

TAA-DAAH!!! Guaranteed to make any gullible person think, "Hey, that's me!" Yeah, I'm really good at this astrology stuff. Check it out, tell me YOUR birthday...
OK, you like ice cream. See, it's just like I can read your mind, ain't it?

Further evidence that astrology isn't relevant? OK, Jerry Springer, Peter Gabriel and I were all born on this day. Gabriel is an astounding musical talent, and Springer, WOW! Who knew there was a gold mine in the gutter? Well, I guess Jerry did, huh?

My point being though, other than our birthdays, I don't see a whole heck of a lot we three Aquarians have in common. I don't even think our weekends will be similar, so how could a horoscope possibly apply to all three of us?

Today is good for expanding your horizons. Fire the bass player; his technique is too mechanical. You will meet a person with tattoos; avoid flying chairs. Don't forget to pay the electric bill.

So that's why I think astrology is a bunch of hooey. I could write much more, but my schedule today is quite crowded. I have to fire a bass player.

Friday, February 12, 2010

B-B-BIG News

I like surprises, so it made my day when a genetic link to stuttering was announced this week. Always looked like near total environmental stuff to me. But more about that later.

Researchers found a large Pakistani family with a history of intermarriage and stuttering. The DNA tests were indisputable. A vast majority of the stutterers shared the same sequence, while most of the non-stutterers didn't have that sequence. A genetic indicator for predisposition for stuttering has been identified.

My reasons for thinking stuttering is strictly environmental? Well, most stutterers are male, most grow out of it, and the pathology is so diverse. Working in reverse...

Some stutterers hang on only one sound. More commonly it's hard sounds, like K-B-T, but there are plenty who hang on F-S-M. Other stutterers only hang at the end word of a thought, despite it's sound. And some hang on first word of a thought. So it's a quite diverse pattern.

Most grow out of it, even in the pre-Speech Pathologist days. And majority of stutterers are male. So I always put this together as a strictly psychological thing. I figured this is one response when a sensitive personality is placed in gender expected role of assertiveness.

Turns out, I was wrong. There is also a genetic factor in stuttering.

People don't think often enough, what a disability stuttering can be. It's so easy to take for granted, the ability to string words together without stammering. How many have wonderful things to say, but can't get the words out?

Really it's almost as bad as blindness or deafness. Oh, hmmmm. I should name a famous stutterer and end on a surprise. OK then, Marilyn Monroe was a stutterer. Yeah, really.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

News from the brink

To paraphrase Alexander Woollcott, there is nothing wrong with this country... that a miracle wouldn't fix.

So what's in the news?

Mrs. Palin gave a rousing speech at this weekend's Tea Party convention. And in a taped segment aired today she said she's eyeing a 2012 run. Well that's nice. I think the hard Left is making a big mistake in trashing Sarah. They drive up her negatives some, but they drive up their own negatives a LOT. That said, I don't go for Sarah 2012. Why would I replace an unqualified man with an unqualified woman?
Seriously, I could support Newt in 2012, but Sarah? Not so much.

In Vancouver, they're trucking in snow for the Olympics. Hey, know how the modern Olympics got started? France got its butt kicked in the Franco/Prussian war, about 1876 as memory serves. That outcome should come as no surprise to anybody. The only great military leaders France has ever produced were Joan of Arc and Napoleon...and Napoleon wasn't really French; he was Corsican.
So after the Franco/Prussian war, some French guy got the idea that maybe France would do better in the next conflict if French men were in better physical condition. And that's how modern Olympics got started.
That's why there are winter Olympic events where you ski, then target shoot, then ski some more...

My favorite Olympics story is from 1936. Nope, not Jesse Owens, but Eleanor Holm. She'd won a gold at the 1932 Olympics in swimming. Was on her way to Berlin and got TOTALLY blitzed shipboard, I mean like Willie Nelson drunk. She was DQ'ed by coaches for setting a bad example. This is when winning meant less than honor.

Now in Washington DC right now? They're not trucking snow in, but out. Thirty inches of snow is fairly impressive. I believe both Karl Rove and Pat Robertson have characterized it as God's referendum on the Obama administration. Me, I hate this whole blizzard, since it limits access for those who wish to crash the White House Superbowl party.

I bet a thousand dollars in the Vegas party crasher trifecta. Steven Tyler to win, Stephen King to place and Ray Stevens to show. Why didn't I bet on the Superbowl instead? What are you, French or something?

The Superbowl is a really great thing. Why, I don't exactly know, but it is. Finely tuned atheletes who earn millions for working three months per year battle it out for the Lombardi trophy. It's funny to me that I've never heard an athelete, rock star or movie actor called "greedy." Wonder why that is? Perhaps people conditioned to class envy see in atheletes and entertainers a face they can identify with. I dunno.

I also don't know who will win the game, but I'm thinking Colts. All I know for sure is both teams are strong contenders, and either team could conquer France, like two weeks, tops.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

You can't win

Acronyms are fun generally, in their misuse to explain word origins. See, like the word "Cop" for instance? Some folk think that comes from 19th century London, meaning "Constable On Patrol." Not like that at all though. Acronyms as an english language mechanism date from WW2, nearly completely.

Acronyms are fun specifically in looking how groups approach them. Sometimes tortured effort is apparent, in the group flailing for an acronym that spells out a snappy word. Like ACORN for example? Association--Community--Organizations... don't all three of those words mean the same thing? Other times a group seems to have shown no thought at all in what its letters spells out. Nixon's 1972 Commitee to Re-Elect the President comes to mind. Wonder how much they paid some PR firm to come up with "CREEP."

I also wonder if confusion and embarrassment ever arises from similarly initialed acronym groups. Like in Spain, there's that Basque terror group called ETA. I wonder if conversations ever happen like...
"We did that car bomb 'cause we're ETA."
"Oh, that bunch what wants everybody to go vegetarian."
"No! We're ETA! ETA! We don't have any P!"
"Well you should consult a urologist. Blowing up cars won't solve anything."

Now in Washington this week, a brand new acronym group bubbled to the surface. CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington... well, who wouldn't be for that! But wait, there's more? They want abolishment of White House prayer breakfasts. I'm not going to spend much time observing that too much prayer MIGHT not be the biggest problem in Washington right now. Instead, I prefer to imagine the internal wrangling went on, as the group struggled to construct its acronym.

I'd really like to think there was one guy who stubbornly held out for "Citizens Reforming American Politics" and just couldn't understand why nobody would side with him.

Because Proofers can be very dedicated folks at times. I often wish we Faithers were equal in resolve more regularly.

Like here's Proofers for you? Just about every time something gets dug up in the Holy Land, I bet a delegation of Proofers is on the next plane, seeing if it somehow feeds their hunger. I should be fair and say? Many Proofers are only personally involved with their lack of proof a God exists. Some though are looking to prove there is no Creator.

Yeah, no kidding. Keeps a few hundred well educated people quite busy. While some look for natural explanations how the Red Sea parted, others transcend that by maintaining there never was anybody named Moses. They haven't begun denying existence of a Red Sea yet though, not as far as I've heard.

So I read with very little surprise this week, news of a workers' grave being found in Egypt near the pyramids, and the resulting Proofer feedback. A whole bunch of, "See! This PROVES that Hebrew slaves didn't build the pyramids! Ha, you dang old Faithers!"

Well, I don't recall anywhere in the Old Testament where it says Hebrew slaves built the pyramids, but there's another issue? Yeah, graves of maybe couple dozen skilled laborers have been found near the pyramids, I saw Dr. Hawass interviewed about it. Really, pretty difficult for any archaeology fan NOT to see Dr. Hawass at some point. He's a total media hog, far worse than Jesse Jackson.

Me, I don't think a couple of dozen Egyptians built the pyramids all by themselves. Maybe space aliens helped them. Yeah, that could be it.

Well, there's another thought? There are Proofers who believe space aliens exist and have visited Earth often. They just don't believe this beautiful, magical planet was fashioned by a loving Creator. Hmmm, what a marvelously unrestrictive belief system!

Monday, February 1, 2010

You're getting warmer

Well that's fun. Looking out the window at sunlight playing on an ice covered birch tree with two cardinals poised on the branches. Very pretty. And while I do that I can read where Bin Laden's released a statement on global warming.

According to him, the US is causing floods in some places and droughts in other places, by our wanton consumption of more than our share of the world's resources. Bin Laden wants everybody to boycott US businesses. I hope he includes US airlines in that, but I kinda doubt it.

A very good thing about the recent Memphis coldness is nobody got killed last weekend. A bad thing is some people were stalled at local bus station, four days straight, trying to get to St. Louis. Yeah, I thought the same thing too, why would anybody want to go to St. Louis?

But, people are hard to figure out sometimes. Some people want to ride a bus to St. Louis, and other people sit in the basement of some house on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border jabbering into a microphone about global warming.

Myself, I'm a skeptic on the topic, and not because of things like incovenient data being suppressed, or this latest thing about Himalayan glaciers.

Yeah, started out they admitted quoting an Indian scientist, then it was they accidentally transposed numbers, and Himalayan glaciers aren't melting in 2035, it was really 2350. And then it was European glacial melt data came from somebody's Masters' thesis. I swear, it's hard to keep up with these people! Most recently, it's that most all "scientific" data about worldwide glacial data came from article in a mountaineering magazine, which was taken from antecdotal reports from mountaineers.

Look, I know a few mountaineers. I quite respect them. Just have to point out though? A sizeable portion of the mountaineer community tend to say "Dude" often, and also support "medical" marijuana, if ya know what I mean?

But my skepticism on global warming doesn't stem from this furious backstepping on glacial melting. Nor even that the face of global warming is that insufferable, sanctimonious twit, Al Gore.

Naw, I'm a skeptic because I can't figure how to honestly take the Earth's temperature. A biased person can skew results by placement of the thermometer.

That said though? Maybe 100 million homes in Asia are going to want electrification in the next twenty years. Where will that power come from? Coal is plentiful, that part of the world. You want a 100M more homes powered by coal fired electric plants? What's that gonna look like? What about 150M or 200M additional homes powered by coal?

I like birch trees covered in ice, but I realize there must be some point at which human activity can seriously change the atmosphere. Don't want my grandchildren eating soylent green and waiting for the St. Louis bus, after all.