"He's a Mormon. You know how they are about Leap Day." - Jack Donaghy
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The worse the student, the harder it is to grade his work. He's not getting a zero by turning in a blank sheet of paper; he's turning in pages and pages of crap that hurts your brain without saying anything true.
And what's the deal with answering questions in whatever order you feel like? I shouldn't have to hunt around for the next answer.
I've heard people say before that God answers prayers through those around us. There's that story people love to tell in Sunday School about the guy on his roof during a flood who turns down rescuers because he's waiting for God's help. But what if the people around you aren't receptive to God's direction? This would be an explanation for lingering inequality: those with more don't respond to the prompting to share with those who have less. And it might be an argument why the spirituality of those around you actually has an impact on you.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Two church meetings this weekend, and both let out EARLY. I know, that sentence makes no sense the first time you read it.
I can't really explain it. It's not like any of the speakers refused to talk, or like one of them talked like the Micro Machines guy. They were just regular old meetings that took less time than they were supposed to.
Maybe things are starting to go my way now.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
My daughter loves cartooning. She has become an expert on the life and work of Charles Schultz and--I realize my objectivity might be questioned, since I'm her father--she has an admirable ability to illustrate in the style of various cartoonists. She can draw a character like Schultz would, then draw the same character like Lauren Child would.
A few years back when we first started trying to get her to learn Spanish, she was under the influence of Fancy Nancy books and declared she'd rather learn French instead. So I got a teaching-kids-French video from the library and decided to introduce her to Tintin comics. She gave up on French, but read all the Tintin books.
In my efforts to self-medicate my problems away, I try to read a lot of Wodehouse books, and sometimes I get Archie comics from the library. I've recently begun reading the James Bond books of Ian Fleming, and I was thinking about reading the Tintin books, but the movie came out and every kid in the county was reading them.
Evidently the mania has died down some, because they are available on the shelves again. I started this week with what the binding bills as "Volume 1." However, in real life there's a different "Volume 1," one that contains two controversial Tintin adventures that are busy being buried in the past (life Song of the South, based on the Uncle Remus stories I started reading to our kids this week). One of the stories is Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. Its Wikipedia page describes its controversy thus:
Sociologist John Theobald argued that instead of providing factual material on the Soviet Union, Hergé depicted the Bolsheviks rigging elections, killing opponents and stealing the grain from the people, all of which was done in order to portray them in a negative light in the minds of his young readers.Rigging elections? Check. Killing opponents? Check. Stealing the grain from the people? Check. It seems to me like Hergé did a pretty good job getting the Bolsheviks right. Which is even more admirable considering at the time it was fairly common for fellow travelers to whitewash the Soviet's excesses (like Paul Robeson telling the press Stalin wasn't going to kill Itzik Pfeffer, who Stalin did kill). It seems Theobald is angry Hergé was right more than angry the Soviets were murderous thugs.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I was a four years old when I saw Khan put that thing in Chekov's ear, and it has creeped me out ever since. (Another movie scene that still frightens me: the assembly line castrator from The Ice Pirates.) A more recent example of something I wish I'd never seen is a picture I accidentally looked at two years ago of someone shot in the head with a .50 caliber machine gun.
These are images I can't get rid of. Similarly, I have worries that I can't get out of my brain about how I'll behave in the future. I think it's pretty obvious that my borderline-subsistence level of poverty will continue indefinitely, and that my family will be completely unprepared for the coming demise of society. And how did people behave in these situations in the past? Well, I believe it was in Norman Davies's White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War, 1919-20 that I read about a Jewish father pimping his daughter out to soldiers, and of course it's in Josephus' Wars of the Jews that we read of a mother eating her own baby. And I just really, really hope that when my starvation comes, I can take it like a man. I don't want to eat my kids.
Friday, February 24, 2012
In addition to ending the penny and nickel, bringing back the Ð and the Þ, correctly showing possession by a singular noun ending in S, and ending meetings on time, I forgot about another thing I want to get everyone to do: use the name Czechia.
What's Czechia? It's the preferred English-language name of the nation most people call the Czech Republic. So stop talking about your cousin's semester abroad in the Czech Republic; she was in Czechia.
Right before I awoke this morning, I was dreaming that I was watching a newly-released version of "Return of the Jedi" that had been rewritten in some key ways.
Han had gone missing on a mission, and so Leia and Luke were wondering if they should hook up, this coming AFTER they both knew they were siblings. Also, Jesus was a character, and the part was terribly written. In one scene some doors open and two guys come in with a guy behind them that you can't see. Luke and Leia are anxious to find out if it's Han. The two guys in front step aside, revealing Jesus, who throws his hands up next to his face and declares breathlessly, "Surprise!" Then he slouches down in a chair and starts eating grapes.
I hope my writing this blog post doesn't give George Lucas any ideas.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Why believe in consumption smoothing when retirement continues to exist? Isn't retirement just the lumping together of leisure at the end of a lifetime? Instead of working twenty hours per week until he dies, the typical worker works forty hours per week for half his life, then zero for the other half. Why move all your leisure to the end of your life, when your children are grown and gone? Probably because you're moving work to your prime physical years, when you can earn the most for your effort. And consumption smoothing has to do with expenditures that are evened out over such a lifetime of unequal earnings, but if leisure is itself something consumed, consumption smoothing is a theory based on a giant exception.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Reader loonysuse writes:
My husband has a celebrity crush on [Courteney Cox].Both my wife and I grew up with dads who had celebrity crushes (both for Sandra Bullock, actually), but my wife would never tollerate an openly-declared celebrity crush by me. In fact, she subconsciously sniffs out burgeoning celebrity crushes and snuffs them out. Any time I say an actress looks nice, my wife says, "I don't think so. I think she looks horrible." An interesting trait. I guess it's doing its job, since the number of celebrities I've run off with is still zero.
What signals a celebrity crush? I guess it would be anyone whose work you'd watch solely because he's in it. For instance, I don't think I'd normally want to watch "New Girl," but the presence of Zooey Deschanel makes it more appealing to me, because even if the show sucks, hey, 22 minutes of a pretty girl is better than nothing, right?
"Zooey Deschanel? Really? She looks horrible. Her bangs are terrible, and her voice sounds like a cancer survivor, and she dresses like a vintage hobo." Still doing its job.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
WALMART CASHIER: Do you want your milk in a bag?
A RANDOM STRANGER: Yes, thanks. I have a bit of a walk ahead of me. I parked on the other side of the mall.
WC: You parked on the other side of the mall?!
WC: Then just take your cart.
ARS: No, that's all right.
WC: I'm serious. You should take your cart.
ARS: But then the cart is a half-mile away.
WC: Our guys go around and collect them.
ARS: But that will make the prices I pay at Walmart go up.
WC: No, our guys do it.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
We were sitting around, not doing much, wondering how many stuffed dogs our family owned. So we gathered them up for a family picture.
Back Row (L to R): Barkers, Heart Doggy, Donut, M&M, UPS, Bubble, Grem, Snoopy, Santa Fe, Porkchop, Cuddles Jr., Finn, Lavender.
Front Row (L to R): Cuddles, Caramel, Mint, Fido, Sundae, Spot, Spunky, Curly, Chocolate, Candy, Cupcake.
The answer is 24.
Friday, February 17, 2012
I like to get library books for my kids. I try to get things from genres or subjects they might not explore. Usually they are happy with the results. I got James Marshall's Fox books for my son, and he loves them. I got Patricia Finney's I, Jack, and our kids never laughed more for a book.
Of course, there are misses. My daughter didn't really enjoy Bulu, African Wonder Dog, and I've written before about the terrible fight she's put up against some Greek mythology books. But for the most part, I do a pretty good job getting books they'd like that they don't yet know they'd like.
A few months ago, I came home from the library with a kid biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. My daughter looked at it with a somewhat jaundiced eye. To allay her worries, I told her, "I have an adult biography of her I'm going to read soon. Maybe we should read them at the same time and we could discuss them." She thought that was a great idea, and thus was born our Daddy/Daughter Book Club.
Like most American book clubs, we nearly shut down for lack of interest. She returned the Eleanor book to the library because it was due before I had room in my reading schedule for my version. But we kept the idea, and have recently begun in earnest.
I'm reading Gilgamesh, by Stephen Mitchell, and she's reading Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean. I'm still not sure if she likes it or if it's more like an assignment for her. I have to remind her to do her reading, but she used math manipulatives to build a model of Uruk.
(Uruk is the city at the top of the picture. The triangular prism is Shamhat, hiding behind a bush next to a river, and across the river is Enkidu.)
Upcoming pairs in our book club series include:
- Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney, and Beowulf, by Michael Morpurgo
- The Iliad, by Rodney Merrill, and The Iliad, by Nick McCarty
- The Odyssey, by Robert Fagles, and the Tales From the Odyssey series, by Mary Pope Osborne
- Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, by David Hilliam
We have a bit of an epic poetry theme going on for the next bit, but we'll eventually get out of it. (At the very least, we'll soon run out of epic poems to read.)
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The stories could be merged under the following headline: "When the government gives billions of dollars to a private company, the company then has billions of dollars." And that counts as news these days.
How many jobs would have been lost in a GM bankruptcy? I say none. And here's why: GM was not producing excess cars. The existing demand for cars gives producers incentive to produce the supply. A bankrupt GM still has demand for its vehicles, and still produces them. Even a shut down GM would then leave a gap in supply that would need to be filled by another company, who would then employ laid off GM workers. "But what if those cars came from Japan or China?" They wouldn't, because if it was more efficient to import another Japanese car in the place of a domestically-produced car, that substitution would have already happened. The laid off GM workers could very well be hired by Toyota or Honda, but to make cars at an American plant.
The real question isn't how many jobs were saved (answer: zero), but how many UNION jobs were saved. Japanese auto manufacturers' American plants aren't unionized. Allowing GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt would have gutted the biggest of Big Labor's unions. And the entire auto industry bailout (latest Debtury estimate: $23.7 bil. lost out of $85 bil. spent) was spent to ensure that wouldn't happen. That's a forced gift of over $7,000 from each American to the United Auto Workers union.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The price of pennies and nickels just keeps going up. In a nice bit of reverse alchemy, it costs more than two cents to make one penny. A nickel costs more than 11 cents to make. So the Obama administration has proposed...coming up with a cheaper recipe.
It's not the recipe, stupid. A nickel costs 11.2 cents to make, and the raw material costs "almost 6 [sic] cents per coin." That means the process itself costs more than five cents (11 minus not-quite-six equals something-more-than-five). Produce the nickel out of complete FREE material and it STILL would be a waste of money.
The logical choice to make is to abandon both coins. But Debtury spokeshole Matt Anderson says, "that is not a proposal we have put forward." And why should they? It's not like the nation is running record deficits to finance a non-existent recov-- Oh, wait.
Cristin wrote to ask what's the deal with counties.visitedmap.com. The link on my blog isn't broken, per se, but it goes to a "buy this domain" webpage, which is never a good sign.
I searched around, and found this discussion of motorcycling enthusiasts from December and January. It seems the website owner let it lapse. Which is too bad, because I liked the interface a lot more than that at "Why Do You Think They Call Them Counties?" Which is not to say WDYTTCTC is a bad site, and since it appears to be the only one left, I'll keep using it. But if you had information that was saved at counties.visitedmap.com, it's probably gone now.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
"Utnapishtim asks him the same questions Shiduri asked, and Gilgamesh answers with the same anguished cries, whereupon Utnapishtim offers him yet another piece of conventional wisdom--beautiful words, but as useless to him as Shiduri's were. What's the good of saying, like everybody's obtuse uncle, that Gilgamesh should realize how fortunate he is, that life is short and death is final? It is like all well-meaning advice that tells us to accept things as they are. We can't accept things as they are, so long as we think that things should be different. Tell us how not to believe what we think, and then maybe we'll be able to hear." - Stephen Mitchell's introduction to Gilgamesh, p. 52.
A few months back I disclosed that a new guideline I follow is to stop doing things that produce stress and anxiety. At the time I might have mentioned that this burgeoning personality trait has made me less willing to read e-mails that might contain bad news.
For instance, I have a bunch of crap to do today, and I have an e-mail that might be really bad news. If the e-mail does, in fact, contain bad news, I will have to drop everything on my schedule and spend the day trying to correct the problem. So I will have a better day if I don't read the e-mail and continue with my scheduled work.
However, comma, I do lose some productivity with the (possibly unnecessary) fear hanging over me. What would be best would be for the e-mail to contain good news, and for me to know that right now. But since I can't know that without maybe reading bad news, I can't just read the e-mail.
This is where my personal e-mail reader would come in. Often my wife fills this role. I will tell her I have an e-mail, she will log in to my account and read it, and then tell me if it's good news or bad news. Either way it eliminates the uncertainty and I continue with my scheduled work. That's fine for when the news only impacts me, but when it affects both of us, I feel bad making her find out first. And that's why I need a lackey to read my e-mail for me. Just the potentially bad ones.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Recently a blogger I read--Jeff--has been getting into American football, with disastrous consequences for his blog.At the beginning of January he blogged about what he considered "pointless" football rules, including such rules as holding, to which I replied with a well-timed, "Say WHAT?"
It's the rules that make the game. There are no "pointless" rules in football, because without those rules, it's no longer the same game. Football allows for blocking, but not holding or tackling anyone who is not carrying the ball. That's what football officials, players, and fans want their game to be. You can't allow for indiscriminate holding without dramatically changing the game.
Let's say we agree to play Uno. I say, "Let's change one rule: instead of calling out 'Uno,' I slap you across the face as hard as I want." You might demure. Why? We're still playing Uno, right? I thought you said you wanted to play.
A month later, Jeff blogged again about football, specifically about Ahmad Bradshaw's awesomely-graceless ass-first Super-Bowl-winning touchdown. After quoting an extensive analysis regarding whether or not Bradshaw should have tried to not score on the play, Jeff writes, "Shouldn’t Bradshaw have just stood there on the 1 (far away enough that he can’t be pushed in) and then cross over at the last second?" Again I ask, "Say WHAT?"
Does Jeff think Bradshaw could spend a minute standing on the field, letting the clock tick away, without getting tackled or pushed into the end zone? I don't see how anyone who has watched more than five minutes of American football can consider this sane advice.
What this teaches me is just how ridiculous my blogging must sound to those who know more about my topics than I do. And since I'm not a leading expert in any field, that means ALL my topics are ones I don't know enough about to be allowed to blog them. Including the topic of "how much knowledge should a person have before he's allowed to blog on a subject?" But then, if a blog isn't for sharing embarrassingly ill-informed opinions, what is it for?
Post title from the movie The Hudsucker Proxy.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Michael Bloomberg says the Mormon church is running an illegal-gun-sale website. A bold accusation. What's his evidence. Well, the church owns KSL, Salt Lake City's NBC affiliate. KSL has a website. The website allows for classified ads. The classified ads allow for buyer and seller to interact away from the oversight of KSL. Boom! The church is OBVIOUSLY putting "profits over principle," as one anonymous official linked to the investigation puts it.
Allowing adults to interact with other adults is now a problem. Refusing to bear responsibility for the decisions of non-affiliates now is a mark against a church. Apparently Bloomberg thinks an organization is responsible for all the decisions of those who use its facilities.
Bloomberg's city provides public streets. Some who use those streets sell drugs and shoot people ON THOSE VERY STREETS! [Hyperventilate!] Bloomberg is obviously responsible for every murder to occur on New York streets during his tenure as mayor, right? But perhaps the mayor would argue, "Adults make decisions and are responsible for them."
Friday, February 10, 2012
The president recently argued in favor of a progressive tax code, "But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that `for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.'" He gets half-credit for his attempted possessive construction, but he then loses that credit for his confusion on who does the requiring.
The Jesus quote in question comes from a parable found in Luke, Chapter 12. Jesus explains the parable to Peter, and in verses 47 and 48, says this:
The giving and the requiring are done by the lord of the parable, who is a stand-in for God. Rich men didn't get rich through the beneficence of their fellow man or their government. God can "require" something of a man, but his fellow man (and I would respectfully submit to the president that he still counts as a "fellow man") cannot.
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Progressive taxation is based on envy and theft. Yes, millionaires should give more to help the poor, but it must be voluntary. Progressive tax rates would use theft as a tool of virtue and violate the basic principle of equal protection under the law. If the government doesn't know what tax bracket to put me in until they know who I am, the government is not dispensing blind justice.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
My sister bought a bookstore gift card for my birthday, then lost it, so she gave me a space heater for my home office. Well, last week she found the gift card. If our roles had been reversed in this story, it would end with, "and I bought myself a brand-new book." I mean, after all, a gift had already been given. But because my sister suffers under noblesse oblige, she gave the gift card to me, too.
So now I need to know which book I should buy. I have a few options for you to vote. (This is a non-binding plebiscite, and I feel no compunction about ignoring the results.)
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.
A Goodreads friend recently marked this book as "to read" and it looked intriguing to me, but I have no idea if it's good or not.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
“The book is a masterpiece. Most popular science books are 10% substance, 90% fluff. Kahneman reverses those percentages - yet remains a breezy joy to read. Thinking taught me much about material I already thought I knew well.” – Bryan Caplan.
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, by Charles Murray.
“So, I downloaded Coming Apart. I am not disappointed. It is well argued.” – Arnold Kling.
The Ascent of Money, by Niall Ferguson.
My sister's recommendation. I'm into monetary theory, but some of the reviews of this book say it's just a tie-in to a related PBS series. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad book.
Cast your ballots now! And don't be confused by the post label "contest;" there will be no prizes for you. That's just the post label I use for soliciting feedback.
Hmm, maybe this isn't the type of bubble Sir Mix-A-Lot was talking about.
It turns out that all of the outside-the-bubble experiences of my life were a direct result of poverty. I worked on a factory floor because the office job I had lined up fell through and we were going to starve. That wasn't a culturally-broadening experience; it was a terrible time in my life.
Post title from "Baby Got Back."
"Twelve percent of men and 10 percent of women say they personally have been in a situation where paternity testing was 'appropriate,' according to a recent survey of 1,039 people conducted for Identigene, the Utah firm that markets direct-to-consumer DNA tests." This ringing endorsement of the nation comes from an MSNBC article. Later in the article, an expert estimates the actual rate of "misidentified paternity" is 2-to-4 percent in the US. The difference between when it's warranted and when it's thought to be warranted shows the level of trust in long-term relationships.
We've never had a paternity test, because I've been given no reason to suspect I need one. Our kids are smart, tall, and easily depressed, so until I see contradicting traits, I'll assume they're mine.
To cap this post, I think my wife should leave a comment about her BYU roommate who couldn't identify the father of her baby.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Have you ever wanted to read a long newspaper article about people with misplaced values? Then look no further: the Washington Post has a write-up about people who take their granite counter tops way too seriously.
All around the country, couples leave parties and get in their cars and say to each other, “I’m so glad we went with the Santa Cecilia instead of the Kashmir Gold.”
Joyce pauses. She looks concerned.
“I would be more comfortable,” she says, “if we were talking about something that was important.”
Well, at least Joyce realizes she's materialistic.
When I use the phrase "consumer whore," I'm not referring to a person's specific sex. I mean it like in this cartoon, which as far as I can tell was created by Don Hertzfeldt.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
A set of parents are being charged for their children's excessive tardiness at public school.
There's a whole lot more I'd normally say about this, but I don't really feel like it right now. And I suspect I won't feel like it for a while, so don't hold your breath waiting for a blog post from me. We'll see.
Monday, February 06, 2012
When I start my own ad agency, I expect everything to be just like it is in Mad Men. (I've never actually seen any of the show, but I know the whole early-60s myth.) And my first three clients will be Valero Energy Corporation, TRESemmé Hair Products, and Don Pablo's Restaurant.
Set to the tune of Dean Martin's "Volare," the commercial features patrons at a Valero gas station singing, "Valero, whoa-oa-oa. No dinero, whoa-oa-oa. No wonder your happy car sings. Valero has given it wings. Service and gas, snacks and soda real fast, yes Valero has all of these things. When you're in a hurry there's no need to worry, Valero treats all cars like kings. Valero, whoa-oa-oa. No dinero, whoa-oa-oa. Now wonder your happy car sings. Valero has given it wings." Then the Valero logo comes on the screen and the tag line: "Happy cars sing 'Valero.'"TRESemmé
Set to the tune of The Beatles' "Besame Mucho," a girl with gorgeous hair is walking around town driving men crazy, while a voice sings, "Cha-cha-boom! TRESemmé, TRESemmé mucho. You should use TRESemmé for hair that's truly divine. Yes, TRESemmé, TRESemmé mucho. You can buy TRESemmé for only five-ninety-nine. Cha-cha-boom!"
Set to the tune of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," various tasty Mexican dishes are shown on screen while a voice sings, "Last night I ate at Don Pablo's. Tex-Mex food the way it's meant to be, so good to me. Burritos come with beans and rice, you control how hot the spice. It'd be cheap at twice the price, only at Don Pablo's."
Friday, February 03, 2012
Articulate Joe is unhappy that he doesn't have more time to play during the day, so lately he's been coming up with plans to wake up early. He'll wistfully talk about getting up at four or so, and getting in hours of play while the rest of us sleep like fools. Last night in his prayers he asked, "Please make me get up at six."
This morning at six we had this conversation.
A RANDOM STRANGER: [Articulate Joe], do you still want someone to wake you up at six o'clock or do you want to stay in bed?
ARTICULATE JOE: Mmm m'mmmmm.
ARS: Six o'clock?
ARS: It's six o'clock right now.
AJ: [opens his eyes in disbelief at how dark his room is] I'll stay in bed for a little bit.
ARS: Okay, let me tuck you in a little better.
AJ: [rolls over]
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Remember when I went to that Tax Day rally and came home to blog about how the Tea Party had been co-opted by run-of-the-mill Republicans? (I don't feel like finding the link for you; stop being such a lame-ass and find it yourself!) Well, that is the problem we're seeing played out in the Republican nomination. I'd say most Republicans want a Tea Party candidate, but all the legitimate Tea Party stars (Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, et cetera) aren't running, and the ones who say they are Tea Party stars are really just regular Republicans who want to protect their jobs. The fact that long-time Washington insider Newt Gingrich is getting ANY Tea Party voters, given his excoriation of the movement in its infancy, shows that just about EVERY vote cast in this Republican primary is being done while holding ones nose.
This explains why so many Republican voters want a new candidate to enter the race, even this late in the game. It would be great if we got an olde-timey convention where, on the 40th ballot, Paul Ryan is nominated. However, I think in the modern world, that process would signal to most voters that the nominee is flawed. It's too bad, because really what's flawed is the entire Republican Party.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Then Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Things aren't going well. But no other course would be better. I'm reminded of the Milton Friedman quote, "I am unhappy with what I have done but even more unhappy with the most obvious alternative" (Money Mischief, p. 98).