Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Techo-Lent (Seriously This Time)

In the past month or so I've twice claimed I would be too busy to regularly blog, and then I've proceeded to blog every day. (I'm currently averaging more than a post per day for May.)

But I've decided I need to refocus my efforts for a while, not so much away from my blog as away from a lot of other stuff that has spill-over effects for my blog. For instance, I'm going to spend less time checking sports, news, Facebook, and Google Reader, which means I'll see fewer conversational topics, which means I might post less. Or at least when I do post, it'll be about boring stuff (even more so than usual).

I know it is hard to believe that it is possible to come up with blog posts that are even more boring than the schlock I've been throwing up here, but that's my intention. For about a month, maybe. Just so you know.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What the Hell Is Wrong With Cat People?!

You know how you can tell a lot about a medium by seeing the advertising space it sells? For instance, our local newspaper recently had an add that started out with the following questions in font usually reserved for declarations of war: "Do you have a weak urine stream? Trouble starting and stopping? Going in the middle of the night?" Because the only people who still read newspapers have prostates the size of cancerous grapefruit. (I only had a copy of the newspaper because they give them away at a kiosk in the mall, allowing me to explain to my children the way the news industry used to work way back when.)

Well, Hulu's advertising indicates that it's primarily watched by alienated cat people. Last week I noted the ad that tries to convince you your cat should eat better than the people who actually sell you the cat food. This week on Hulu we saw the ad for those who have asked themselves, "What would happen if I fed my cat LSD?"

That cat is tripping HARD. In fact, he's not even a real cat in his hallucination; he's a CGI cat who has Lisa Loeb in his entourage. And although he's feeding his "senses," I'm willing to bet, since it's an ad for canned cat food, that's NOT including the sense of smell. Even a person who'd set off M80s in his nostrils as a child can smell the putridness of canned cat food at three hundred yards against the wind.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Hope Life Imitates Cinema

Remember the awesome Sinbad movie (yes, there were a lot of them) Houseguest? I hope my life is at least half that awesome this weekend when Erik and Cristin are staying with us. If not, I will sue them like a Mississippi doctor.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's the Deal, Newsweek?

I know Newsweek can't give itself away these days, but still I am a little confused when I click on a link for a slideshow that's billed as a collection of "The Greediest People of All Time" and there are NO pictures of American senior citizens or Greek street demonstrators. If we're judging greediness by how much of other people's property someone took, nobody can touch Americans.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The New Air and Space Museum Is Lame

I hated this museum. Not for anything wrong with the exhibits. It promises an ass-load of airplanes and space crap, and it definitely delivers. Instead, it's everything else about the museum that sucks.

First, the museum is not "free" as it is billed. The only legal ways to access the museum cost money. You can pay $15 to park, you can arrive by taxi, or even ride in on a hotel shuttle. Getting dropped off at the museum, though, is not allowed. The access road is purposely set up to bar pedestrian access, and walk-ups have to bypass a gate that specifically says "no pedestrians." I appreciated the libertarian teaching moment to show my children that we don't follow asinine rules just because a group of self-righteous bureaucrats wanted to feel important by bossing people around.

Second, McDonald's has a concessionary monopoly inside the museum. This type of scenario is so commonplace these days that I don't even mind it. What I do mind is the McDonald's monopoly on eating floor space. We brought our own lunch and had to find a corner of a hallway outside McDonald's to eat. A passing busy-body told me we were technically on the museum floor, where food was banned. Because sandwiches can harm steel airplanes at a distance of 200 yards. I said, "Where should we go?" She said, "You can go in the McDonald's." I said, "Can we eat our own food in McDonald's?" She said, "I'd sit far away from the counters if I were you." Meaning, no.

Third, I could not believe a six-year-old museum had no diaper changing facilities. Jerome told me he was poopy and was pretty adamant about it, which usually means it's the rash-inducing kind. (If you need more imagery, I can e-mail you a picture.) We went to the "family restroom" to discover the only thing that made it "family" was that it was one enormous stall with a locking door. It could have easily been called the "morbidly obese private restroom." There was nothing in the way of a flat surface to change a diaper. (Most men's rooms at my school have diaper changing stations.) Then we went to the men's room, which also had nothing. By this time I was looking forward to changing a giant steaming poo in the main concourse. If you run a horrible museum, horrible things are going to happen to you. I was extremely disappointed when I opened up Jerome's diaper to find nothing but pee.

My final analysis: the museum contents are nice, but the building's design is horrendous. Nine thumbs down.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scenes From My Life: The Local Mall

I realize we're in Virginia, but sometimes you've got to let your heritage go. My town no longer holds slave auctions outside the courthouse, so the fully-functioning tobacco shop in the mall is the last indication that our variety of suburbia was founded by idiots.

The entire end of the mall stinks, and that's even before the shop owners close the "doors" (flimsy glass doors ill-fitted to their jambs) and light up their cigars. Across the corridor is a Pro Image and a Spencer's Gifts, but I will never buy a baseball hat or novelty sexual toy because they will come home reeking like the Old Dominion. (Well, I at least won't buy those products there. I have other suppliers for those needs.)

To top it off, the large area outside the tobacco shop is where the mall stations Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. There's nothing like secularizing up religious holidays while developing a taste for that smooth Marlboro flavor, but if they really wanted to jump-start the idiocy, they would be handing out lottery tickets and tattoo vouchers to the kids waiting in line.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Knee-Jerk Reaction 1, Conscience 0

Barry Goldwater was labeled a racist because he contended that states should determine on their own whether they want to allow racism. Popular opinion held that we had to force "enlightened" views on all states. Goldwater never regained his good name.

Is the same thing about to happen to Rand Paul? Last night--apparently because he likes to be on TV shows no one watches--he was on Rachel Maddow's show and said the banning of private racism is a violation of the First Amendment. Maddow went nuts like it was tantamount to declaring his own racism.

Why are people so stupid? The number of things you can't say in our country is growing. Don't you dare suggest that Martin Luther King's late-life communism made him less-than-ideal for a national holiday. Don't you dare suggest that hate crime laws are entirely inconsistent with the First Amendment. And now don't you dare suggest that 1/10 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 might be ill-advised. (To which I say, only 1/10? What about the idea that "emergency" anti-racism (read: reverse racism) provisions are still needed, nearly 50 years later? The mere presence of any racism is not grounds for ANY law, for racism is a thought and thought-control law is abhorrent.)

The calls for Rand Paul to step down have already begun. Why does the "Democratic" Party not rely on democracy to keep a supposed "racist" out of office? Probably because it is much easier to freak out than it is to actually think.

Scenes From My Life: Petco

Last week our whole family finished school. My last final was Wednesday, and the next day I took Crazy Jane and Jerome out for an afternoon on the town while Articulate Joe took his end-of-the-year exam. Jane wanted to go look at hamsters at a pet store, so I took her to two pet stores, with the library in between. An equivalently wonderful afternoon for me would have been spent having sex twice, with a pecan pie at a baseball game in between.

At the second pet store, we found a misappropriated salad bar from a closed-down Bennigan's. Crazy Jane was unsure if the treats were for human consumption, and to be fair to her, nothing around the place gave any indication either way (aside from the obvious indication of being in a pet store). One of the treats was even called a chocolate chip cookie, even though it's bad form to give a dog chocolate. The people who shop for their dogs at treat bars are probably the same people who have canine heirs in their wills.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scenes From My Life: Best Buy

During a family trip to Best Buy (because we're modern Americans raising the next generation of consumer whores), we moseyed over to look at the ludicrous-sized Apple monitor. A few clicks later, our family picture was the desktop image.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Do You Give to the Kid Who Has Everything?

Here I was thinking the Leapster was overrated. It turns out I should have bought my baby an iPad. Because they're never too young to learn about buyer's remorse.

While I cannot foresee ever buying my kid an iPad, there are other aspects of needless consumerism my kids are learning. Yesterday in Crazy Jane's stack of junk on her desk, I found the following to-do list:

  • Play Fancy Nancy
  • Stock up on accessories like she has

Where All the Money Went

While going through the Sunday ad pack, I came across this clue.

To finance such necessary and proper programs as SHOE GIVE-AWAYS, Debtury Secretary Geithner has expressed interested in the following currency design:

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Man, I got so many blog awards last week I felt like The Last Emperor (a movie I've actually never seen; is it worth my time?).

Purple Cow, who foments revolution over at Australian in Athens, gave me an award with acceptance criteria (there's always a catch). Not wanting to run afoul of what marginally-adoring public I've managed to wrangle up, I hereby meet her conditions with this video acceptance speech.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Legitimate Reason to Hate People No. 4137: Fancy Feast Appetizers

While Super-Hot 111 and I watch our TV on Hulu, we are periodically stunned by this commercial:

Seriously? Over 20% of the world lives on no more than $1.25 per day, while Fancy Feast Appetizers--on sale--cost $1.29.

Cats can actually cost zero dollars per day, if you make them feed themselves the way they're supposed to. But feral cats don't dress up for weddings very easily. Of course, you wouldn't need to get your human interaction from cats if you got it from humans, but alienation is as all-American as sexualizing middle schoolers and winking at steroid usage. If we don't care for our cat better than an Eritrean, the terrorists win.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday Night Date

We went to the mall for Super-Hot 111 to try on dresses we have no intention of buying so I could take her picture in them. She was convinced it was illegal; I disagreed, but since I operate as if I understood Bayes's Law*, her adamancy undermined my position, so we both became furtive and clandestine.

The problem was we got there about a half-hour before closing time, so the store had emptied out to just the essential late-night people:

  1. employees re-stocking all the clothes customers had tried on during the day
  2. Hispanic women with three toddlers each

She tried on the first one and then debated whether I could take her picture. Finally she agreed I could if the flash was off, and our camera was designed by engineers who felt auto-focus and flash were mutually exclusive design features. But the blurriness lends to the subterfuge.

Next she tried on a dress that didn't look that nice, so we didn't bother with a picture. Then she tried on a third and when she emerged from the dressing room, there were two employees there to talk with her about the dress. One went to chase some Hispanic toddlers off a mannequin, but the other remained. The longer my wife stayed in the dress waiting for the lady to walk off, the more it seemed like we were making plans to steal it, so she had to go change before I could take a picture. Which was no real loss, because the dress was just a variation of the first one.

The real shame was that we didn't get a picture of her in the fourth dress, which was the nicest of the lot. But when my wife came out with it on, the sales lady was still there, wanting to chat up how nice dresses feel on you (a subject on which I am less than conversant, it having been over 20 years since my older sister last put me in a dress). Here's a picture of the fourth dress, stolen from the store's website:

I know you're saying to yourself, "But I can't very well imagine it on your wife with that stroppy cow of a professional model in it." No worries. I've got your back.

*=The rules of apostrophe usage don't change just because a word ends with a particular noise.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Song Lyric Analysis

From Foreigner's A Long, Long Way From Home we get the cryptic lyric:

I was waiting. I was over-waiting.
Here are the possible interpretations.

  1. "I was over waiting," meaning I had decided to stop waiting.
  2. "I was over-waiting," meaning I was waiting for too long.
  3. "I was over-weighting," meaning I was getting fat from all the stress eating I was doing to cope with the tension of waiting.

I think Foreigner intended the second interpretation, but every time I hear the song, my brain sides with the third one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The All-Married Man's Club -- Back From the Dead!

I'm done with school for the year (maybe longer if my department has anything to say about it!), so I'm making all sorts of super-ambitious plans to do the crap I should have been doing all along. One of the ideas I'm resurrecting is the All-Married Man's Club. Erik called me tonight and that reminded me of what a kick-ass idea it was. So once each week I'll call either Erik, JT, or my brother.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making Retirement Pay

The teaser headline for this news article said, "How to Double Your Social Security Payments," and I thought, "This article must advocate killing a generational peer."

Unfortunately, the article has other suggestions, but my math is pretty simple; every fellow-retiree you murder can multiply your Social Security benefits by (1 + m/[n-m]), where m is the number of your victims and n is the total membership of your retirement cohort. When m is greater than or equal to [n-m], you've at least doubled your Social Security payments.

Maybe old people aren't going to be a problem if they're going to start Fight Clubbing each other to death. But I'll throw in the standard "old people post" ending anyway: It's time to tell old people that, if they can go on a cruise, they can go to an office.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The First Step on My Way to an EGOT

I won a blog award. I'm not even sure what that means. I guess it means one of two things:

  1. Someone really likes my blog (unlikely)
  2. Someone wanted to generate blog traffic (bingo!)
Awards as a form of promotion have a long and storied history. Lots of sports awards are given by Sporting News. I was named a California Arts Scholar by the state because I had been mailed a tuition check to California State Summer School for the Arts. And of course there's the ultimate "air-quote-award-end-air-quote," the Grammy.

So I clicked over to my awarder's blog with so jaundiced an eye that I looked like Michael Jackson in the Thriller video (even more so, since we're both white). But my awarder ( turned out to actually write a pretty funny blog, so if the intent of her award was to generate blog traffic, I'd say said traffic generation is deserved.

I'm going to parlay my status as a big-shot awards winner into a higher grade in econometrics. And when that doesn't work, I'll try to at least convince my wife to buy me a pecan pie.

My Wife Has My (Lingustic) Back

Super-Hot 111 pointed out two more identically-spelled-yet-differently-pronounced words.

graduate (noun) -- GRAD-u-et

graduate (verb) -- GRAD-u-ate

The presumed graduate will not graduate.

close (adjective) -- CLOSE

close (verb) -- CLOZE

The door almost trapped me; that was a close close.

And obviously there are those banes of my first grade reading experience, "live" and "read". I'd comment in greater detail, but the frustration they caused is still too fresh.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Was Born in the Stone Age

I've written before about how I don't notice just how much technology's advanced during my lifetime until I notice how often I have to explain things to my kids by starting, "Well, a long time ago you used to have to...." One thing that interests me is the stuff we hold onto because we're used to the way old technology did stuff, like calling it "rolling down" a car window, or calling it "dialing" a telephone number. My family hasn't had a rotary phone since I was six. Cell phone cameras make a shutter noise even though there's no shutter involved, and I've read an article before about how electric cars might be equipped with speakers that play "car noises" because otherwise they would be unsafe to pedestrians, who've come to rely on the noise of the internal combustion engine to tell when a car is near.

I am reading a book called Getting What You Came For, which was written in 1996. I am amazed by how unproductive life used to be back then. All throughout the book the author includes advice like, "Your local librarian can help you find a reference guide that will tell you the names of the professors at a particular department." Now you can find that yourself in 30 seconds. That's "bad" news for the librarian and the reference guide's publisher (not really bad because they were obviously wasting their time and can now do something more productive), but that's great news for us, who used to have to spend at least an hour getting information that takes less than a minute.

Another thing that used to waste so much time is the mail. The book gives the addresses for companies that sell products. I'm supposed to send them a letter asking for a catalog, wait for the catalog to come to me, make my selection and mail it back in with a check, wait for the check to clear, then wait for the product to come to me. I can't believe we lived like this! (Full disclosure: I was a legal adult by 1996, and ordered a lot of stuff through the mail over my lifetime, but this process still baffles me.) Now we find the website, order the product, and pay for it, all within five minutes, not weeks. Again, this is "bad" news for mail carriers and mailroom clerks, but unbelievably good news for everyone else.

I predict that the reason airline fees are going up is that airlines are the next newspapers. Just like no one reads a newspaper anymore, soon no one will fly anymore. Airlines have to get more and more money from fewer fliers (or at least relatively fewer flier dollars, taking into account population growth and income growth). Business travel used to be the cash cow of the industry, but technological progress is making face-to-face meeting less necessary. All that will be left is leisure travel, and to some extent that might be phased out, too. I don't feel such a pressing need to fly my wife and kids out to California to see her parents now that she Skypes them a couple times a week. This is "bad" news for airlines, but great news for the rest of us.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Coarseness as a Result of Technology

I was waiting for the bus, which picks us up across the street from the bus stop, meaning we have to wait in a planter. I had arrived a little early and set my backpack down, making sure to not set it on a plant. Another bus rider (with whom I've argued about his love for loudly recounting scenes from Faces of Death on a crowded bus) showed up, taking a position just upwind from me, smoking a cigarette in my face while standing on TWO plants (one under each foot).

Let's say there's a general level of intelligence, normalized to fall between zero (complete idiot) and 100 (total genius). As society becomes more complex, the number of things demanding your attention rises. You have to keep more mental "balls in the air," so to speak. And if your intelligence level is stationary, eventually the demands of society pass you by and you start letting balls drop. Like the balls that say "don't make other people listen to disgusting conversations," "don't smoke upwind of others," or "don't stand on landscaping." So your public behavior, which used to pass muster, now appears rude, but you haven't actually become any more rude than you already were.

Could this explain the supposed "coarsening" of society? The level of intelligence necessary to not be rude is rising, meaning politeness is being defined upward. Many people are caught in a rudeness trap, like income taxes in a period of high inflation. All of a sudden what used to pass for polite is now rude.

I don't think this completely explains the increase in rudeness (a large part of it stems from individual exceptionalism--having been told your whole life you are more special than everyone else, so the rules don't apply to you), but I think this idea of a rudeness trap could at least explain the coarseness that appears non-malicious, like what I experience with this bus rider.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Even British People Can Be Stupid

I was watching BBC election coverage online and some snooty professor on the panel said, "The British people have decided to not give a majority to any of the three parties."

No they didn't. I'm willing to bet not a single Briton went to the polls thinking, "I'm going to cast my vote in such a way as to ensure none of the three major parties has a parliamentary majority." They all wanted THEIR party to have a majority. Failing to agree on WHICH party is NOT the same thing as agreeing on NO party.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Kids, Maybe Don't Stay in School

So yesterday I wrote:

I am firmly convinced that there is too much college attendance in our country. People are going to college because that's what "everyone" does, because that's what their parents want, and because the government subsidizes it. Nearly one-quarter of the freshman class at the University of Kansas does not return for a second year (and hence it's safe to assume a lot of the kids around us were 18-year-olds about to fail out after their first year). Public universities are an incredibly expensive way to spread STIs. Can't taxpayers just hire filthy whores to travel the state instead?
Today I want to ask if all this excess education is necessary. In a world with increasing specialization, the amount of knowledge required by the average person to get through his life is correspondingly decreasing.

Look at computers. It used to be that, to use a computer, you had to have a lot of computer skills (formally known as "skillz" among IT professionals). Then computer knowledge became more specialized and those with that knowledge devised ways to virtually pass that knowledge along, meaning we don't know anything more, but we get to act like we do.

Word processing used to be a specialized task. Now everyone does his own word processing because computer programs allow you to act like you know how to make a computer do word processing. Someone figures out how to make a computer do a job, then someone else figures out how to make a graphical user interface for that job, and then everyone "knows" how to make a computer do that job.

In such a world, how much knowledge is necessary? Of course it requires a segment of the population becoming increasingly smart so that further specialization can occur, but most people can become increasingly dumb as machines now do the things they used to have to know how to do themselves. After junior high school, the only education that 90% of Americans need is basic computer skills, written and spoken language skills, and a calculator tutorial. That will teach them enough to fill all their non-work-related needs, and their on-the-job training will fill in the rest.

People argue in favor of broadly distributed liberal arts education because it betters society. Is our society really better to live in than the one that existed 200 years ago? "Yes, if you're a minority." I don't believe minority advances are linked to people being "smarter," they are linked to people being indoctrinated. The civil rights advances of the 1960s happened when the adult population of the nation, who were past their college attendance, changed their minds on what was acceptable behavior. But in terms of social coarseness and general safety, standards have deteriorated while the level of education has risen.

We've recently been targeted with repeated calls for the reformation of the health care provision system. People on both sides agree that America spends more on medical costs than other western nations while not being any healthier. What about the waste represented by our education system that makes the illogical argument that there can never be too much education? Of course there can be, when the social cost of provision is larger than the social benefit the extra education brings. When high school students can't learn because their school doubles as a juvenile hall for kids who don't want to be there, there's too much education provision happening in that school. The kids who don't want to learn would be happier if they left, and the kids who do want to learn would be happier if the other kids would be allowed to leave. There is indeed such a thing as too much education, and I'm pretty sure we have it right now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I Hate College

Asher Roth can die in a fire. Everything that he "loves" about college is everything wrong with college. College used to be a place young people went to learn. Now it's a place they go for a five-year party before magically qualifying for a job.

Our weekend trip to University of Maryland made me rethink my career plans. People ask me, "What do you want to do when you're done with your PhD?" and I say, "I've enjoyed teaching, so I wouldn't mind if I ended up teaching college." Let me take that back. I would mind. A lot.

Because everyone in college is a narcissistic moron. If they aren't drunk they need to get drunk. If they aren't high they need to get high. If they aren't having sex they need to be having sex. If they aren't texting someone they need to text. And if--heaven forefend!--they are studying or learning, they've done something wrong.

We arrived just as Ben Folds was starting his set. We sat down in an empty area only to learn the area was empty because two rows behind us someone had puked. (At six in the evening, before the sun had even gone down.) But it was two rows away, so it shouldn't effect us.

But it did effect us, because everyone who sat down directly behind us completely freaked out when they discovered the puke. They leaped away from it, running into us, and when one idiot got his "hoodie" (the stupidest word ever uttered by the total fools who use it) in it, he decided to flail it around, trying to get it on us.

The girl with him hated Ben Folds, loudly. I did not notice the armed guards at the gates when I came in, but evidently they were there, because she decided to sit and yell about how much she hated Ben Folds rather than leave.

Speaking of yelling, that's the only acceptable means of communication among college students. Shortly after we arrived a guy to our right yelled so loudly and suddenly I thought he had a serious problem, like his buddy just died right there. No, he just wanted to get the attention of a boy RIGHT NEXT TO HIM.

And since when did college students start acting like junior high school kids, with the constant hugging and yelling out the names of everyone they happen to know who is walking past? A blog I read had this characterization of the phenomenon:

When you were kids, did you hug every friend you ever ran into like you hadn’t seen them since they went to prison, and say goodbye to every friend you ever parted from as if they were going into the army?
Even college kids are into it. The only difference is that they probably had sex last week with these casual acquaintances.

Halfway through the show I said to Super-Hot 111, "How are college kids having so much sex when they are all so ugly?" She said, "I was wondering the same thing." All the boys needed haircuts and were dressed like they're about to mow a lawn, while the girls all were wearing dresses so slutty as to be painful to look at. Yet they probably have more sex than I do (and that's saying something; there's a reason her blog name is Super-Hot 111).

I could not hear a lot of Ben Folds because everyone around us was treating the music as something to shout over. It was seriously louder than a bus station, even louder than our ward's sacrament meeting.

Between acts the people behind us decided they needed a cigarette. I've already written about how smoking is the mark of an idiot. These kids are so stupid that they are affecting idiocy. Chances are they've only been smoking for a few months now (more on that later), so they don't actually crave it, they just want to pretend that they do. They can sit through a concert without a cigarette, but that's not as cool as smoking where you're not allowed. Because that's why you're in college, not to learn about how cigarettes cause cancer, but to be as cool as possible.

I am firmly convinced that there is too much college attendance in our country. People are going to college because that's what "everyone" does, because that's what their parents want, and because the government subsidizes it. Nearly one-quarter of the freshman class at the University of Kansas does not return for a second year (and hence it's safe to assume a lot of the kids around us were 18-year-olds about to fail out after their first year). Public universities are an incredibly expensive way to spread STIs. Can't taxpayers just hire filthy whores to travel the state instead?

My wife and I saw Weezer in Las Vegas in 2001. We were just a few people back on the floor. This time the floor was reserved for people with wristbands (no one quite knew how they got them), so we were much further away. In addition to that, the show was very different because Weezer itself has gone through a shift. It seems Rivers Cuomo is way more laid back than he used to be. I know in response to his broken rib last year his concert activities had a shift, but even before the rib, they all started taking turns singing and playing different instruments on the red album. This time they had a different guy on drums and Pat was on guitars and keyboards. When Rivers has less to do, he runs around being crazy, like a spastic pre-teen boy. One song he wasn't singing OR playing, just causing trouble, bumping against the other band members, jumping on a trampoline (part of the set), and kicking beach balls. When the band began playing a bit of "Poker Face," he had a long blond wig. It was more fun to watch them when they were having fun. I like the new Weezer.

Before one of the encores, Pat came to the microphone and announced, "I just want to say I dropped out of college. But I only did it because it made more sense to be in a rock band."

Final verdict: I liked Ben Folds, but my wife didn't. He didn't really know his audience, expecting us to sing along to songs most of us had never heard before. And he enabled the college idiot mentality when he made everything "cooler" by swearing. Four and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys. Weezer was great. Super-Hot 111 liked that they weren't touring in support of a particular album, so they played a bunch of songs from each album, not just from their latest. Here's the set list:

  1. Hash Pipe
  2. Troublemaker
  3. Undone
  4. Surf Wax America
  5. Let It All Hang Out
  6. Perfect Situation
  7. Dope Nose
  8. Say It Ain't So
  9. Can't Stop Partying
  10. Why Bother?
  11. I Want You To
  12. My Name Is Jonas
  13. Beverly Hills
  14. Pork and Beans
  15. Kids (cover of a MGMT song)
  16. Island in the Sun
  17. Buddy Holly
Seven out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

College students suck. Someone needs to put them in their place, and professors can't do that. I honestly have turned away from a career in academia because of this concert. Zero out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Take a Lesson, GustBuster

Today I wrote the following e-mail to Pilot Pens:

A week ago I bought a three-pack of V5 RT pens. I began using one pen, and that same day it began leaking out of the tip. I had to throw it away. I began using a second pen, which lasted for two days before it stopped writing, even though the chamber is still 80%-full of ink. Yesterday I began using the third pen, which lasted a few hours before leaking like the first. The entire pack of pens was defective (although to spice things up, they were not all defective in the same manner).

I used to use only V5 pens until the airplane problem began to present itself by just driving up and down mountains. The RT promised to have solved the airplane problem. Instead it now happens when completely stationary. I hope you can appreciate that I cannot continue to spend money on pens that don't work. I will no longer buy Pilot pens if I cannot expect to end up with an actually functioning pen. Thank you.

Fifty-three minutes later, a Pilot wage-slave wrote back:

Thank you for your recent email message regarding the Pilot Precise V5 RT Rolling Ball Pen. We apologize for the inconvenience you have encountered but appreciate the opportunity to address the situation.

Your comments will be forwarded to our Quality Control Department. This is not the norm for any of our products. Our pens are designed to provide an enjoyable and consistent writing experience.

We would be pleased to send replacements to the address you have provided. Please provide your ink color preference.

Once again, we appreciate your giving us this opportunity to address your inquiry. Your comments are valued as they assist us in our efforts to provide writing instruments of the highest quality.

Now that's customer service. Last fall when I had my disagreement with Rand McNally (painfully detailed here and here) both Rand AND McNally submitted to my will and kept me as a loyal customer (albeit a customer who now knows not to buy their Washington-area street guides because the cartography's no good). Add Pilot to the list of companies whose products screwed me over but whose customer service helped right a gross injustice.

Are you paying attention, GustBuster?

What I Learned From the News

When I read "an American of Pakistani descent," that means something to me very different from "a naturalized American born in Pakistan." I'm an American of various descents (Irish, English, German, Bohemian, and Greek). Saying the guy is of Pakistani descent instead of origin makes it seem like he is as American as I am, which is the storyline major news agencies want us to believe.

Further into the story, though, other facts come out. The suspect was not born in America. The suspect has a wife in Pakistan. The suspect was apprehended on a flight to the Middle East. And the white guy that everyone was so worked up about the first day, the guy who was proof that talk radio and religion causes "bitter clingers" to go nuts, might be "just someone in the area."

I know there are plenty of Muslims in the world who are not terrorists. But the vast majority of terrorists self-identify as Muslim. This is a huge PR problem for Islam, not a bias problem for Americans. If I hear about a terrorist and assume the attacker would call himself Muslim, I'm not bigoted, I'm merely informed.

Of course this doesn't support the story some politicians want us to believe. Bill Clinton was president while the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, and the Khobar Towers were attacked, but he continually reminds us only of Oklahoma City.

What does it take to be a terrorist? Bill Clinton likes to cite Oklahoma City, but he's curiously silent about the first act of terrorism during his presidency:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Lately Crazy Jane has taken to arguing with us over things she's entirely wrong about. Instances:

  • Two days ago while listening to Pandora, The Beatles' Blackbird came on and I said, "Why are they playing The Beatles on this station?" She said, "This isn't The Beatles." I said, "Yes it is." She said, quite condescendingly, "The Beatles are a rock n roll band."
  • Yesterday while reading 1 Nephi 7:6, I read, "Laman and Lemuel, and two of the daughters of Ishmael," and she interrupted to say, "Only one of the daughters of Ishmael." I said, "Are you disagreeing with Nephi, the guy who was actually there?" She realized she was pretty far out on a limb with this one and retreated with, "I thought it was only one."

In our family we call this being an Arnie, named for a Primary student I had who was convinced "some of the stripling warriors died." Recently not a day goes by that we don't have to tell Crazy Jane she's being an Arnie.

Meanwhile, poor Arnie is now a teenager and has probably outgrown this phase, but he will forever be immortalized to us as an eight-year-old know-it-all. Tough luck, Arnie. Wrong-Way Riegels didn't always run the wrong way, either.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Home-Grown Ter--, Well, Not So Much

We have no reason to suspect Pakistani involvement in the attempted bombing. No reason at all, aside from the Pakistani involvement. If you overlook the Pakistani involvement, as New York's police and politicians were very quick to try, there is really very little other evidence of Pakistani involvement. But seriously, people, if it weren't Pakistanis, it totally would have been some red-state yahoo with guns and Jesus and talk radio.

Now Serving: Not You

If we're serving number 36 right now, you just drew number, like, a billionty. Come back next Thursday.