Thursday, March 31, 2016

Enough already.

"Dude, you still going on and on about that? It's been, like, a day and a half since your dad died!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HP, phone home.

Our HP wireless printer/copier/fax is a handy piece of office machinery, and is used almost every day.

No, not just for printing pictures of the dog!

Sometimes I go to coupons.com too.

But the printer is not without its flaws. Some days it decides it is a teenager, and refuses to connect with the rest of the family. Its screen shows that it is connected to the network; you can reboot its connection (at which time it huffily asks why, since it is already connected, Dad!), and it still remains unconnected. You have to reboot the modem and router and sometimes unplug the cable from the wall for a period of three minutes or more before it will come out and play.

Every time that happens -- or I got to buy toner -- I look at the thing and say, "This is why Carly Fiorina is on the golf course instead of out in front in the presidential race."

Yesterday it demanded a blank sheet of paper for a self-diagnostic, and produced this:


What the hell is that supposed to be? I've had printers produce still-lifes with fruit as frame-quality art for a self-test. But this?

It can only be... some kind of alien message!


Probably just some bizarre means of testing the printer heads or whatever they have in there. So, most likely not anything alien-related.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to brush up on my alien languages, just in case.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Five bad dinosaurs.

Allosaurus grouchomarxii
Brontosaurus racingstripex

Eoraptor caffeinitis

Spirosaurus parisienne 

Tyrannosaurus beehivicus

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Worst Catholic ever.

Yes, now that's it Easter, I feel the need to unburden my soul. I am, as far as I know, the worst Catholic in the entire universe.

He's disgusted.
It may be a common feature among Catholics. There is a legend that when asked "What's wrong with the world?" G. K. Chesterton said, "I am." It's unconfirmed, but it sounds like him.

As Catholics, we are taught right from wrong; that ignorance of morals is a mitigating circumstance, but those of us who have received the blessings of the church must shoulder the full responsibility for our actions. So I may have better morals than Heathen Harvey, but his bad behavior may be the result of ignorance, while mine comes from stubbornness, selfishness, pride, greed, all the usual stuff.

Now, there may be plenty of lapsed Catholics who don't think of themselves as Catholic anymore whose behavior is abominable. They can't claim ignorance, but they have removed themselves from the church, so I can't count them among worst Catholics. (From the church's point of view they still are, unless they very specifically and officially renounce their baptism and demand excommunication, and very few do that.)

As for me, I suck. Here are some reasons why I am the worst Catholic ever.

1) I hate social justice. I hated it even before the Social Justice Warriors began using it as a rallying cry to commit despicable acts in the name of goodness. The French Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution began their butchery the same way. There is no question in my mind that in the modern sense you cannot have any kind of "justice" without someone being punished. And yet the church and many Catholics love and embrace the term, as if it were not a well-trodden path to violence and societal collapse. The term may have come from a Jesuit in the 1840's, but is generally used more by people who want to burn and break than help and aid. Their interest is not so much in elevating the lowly as tearing down the high, a purely Communistic instinct. We should not be making common cause with Communists of any shade of red. Given the choice between ruining the rich and saving souls, they'll grab the guillotine every time.

2) I am a bad person. I get furious with God. I keep thinking I am receiving heavenly guidance on matters important to me while I am probably just listening to my own wishful thinking crap, and then I get my heart broken and I blame Him. He made me, but He didn't make me a moron. I do that to myself. And then blame Him.

3) The viper's nest of greed, pride, cowardice, and spite deep in my heart is nothing I have been able to vanquish. I can't get anywhere with it. St. Paul and C. S. Lewis said that becoming Christian naturally brings us to better things, makes new men of us, but try as I might I'm still the same old jerk. I have changed nothing about myself except out of the most dire and selfish need. This is progress?

4) I'm told to love God, which I still can't figure out how to do, and to love my neighbor as myself, and I'm not sure my neighbor would be happy if I did. As you can tell, I'm not always high on Freddy. Lewis knew he could be that way, and pointed out that even when he didn't like himself, he always loved himself, in that he wished he would be better and be happier for it. Maybe. Doesn't feel like the kind of love that moves one to action, though. And love without works is like faith without works.

5) All too often I wake up in the night with my faith in doubt, thinking about death. Oh, well, back to sleep! (Atheist Philip Larkin wrote about this in "Aubade"; his friend Kingsley Amis advised him to get up and do something, or "put the light on and read Dick Francis.") If I had the slightest solidity to my faith I am sure I would not have these nocturnal bouts of horror.

6) That leads to another issue, which is that I have the same amount of emotional control as a toddler. I'm not sure you can be a good adult Catholic and behave like a twit. I would like to be one who carries on with the light of faith burning inside through failure, heartache, sickness, disaster, straight to the door of death, but I'm a whiner and a dope, and I complain for fun.

7) I don't want to wash anyone's feet in Calcutta or anywhere else. There, I said it. I want to write a check once in a while to feel better about myself and not have to think about the poor and suffering and lonely and sick and otherwise miserable, that vast ocean of humanity that is worse off than I am. I don't want to meet them, I don't want them in my house, I don't want them on my lawn. Here's twenty bucks, sad people. Go away.

And that's why I'm the worst Catholic in the world. I can't see into anyone's conscience, so I can only judge me, and on that basis I have to assume I'm the worst.

So, if you're Catholic, deep in your sins, relax; you're at least one ahead of the rest of the world. And if you're poor, sick, and needy: get off my lawn.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

MAD about the 1970s.

If you'd like to see a microcosm of the 1970s, not that anyone really should want to, I recommend this:


MAD magazine released this in 1978 and it is an absolutely marvelous snapshot of American culture at the time. Of course it's an excellent peek into the mind of MAD at the time, too. MAD was being aimed at young teen boys who could be counted on to fail at "Makin' Out," the title of the single, which was released with MAD Super Special #26 ("Musical Laff Hit - Danceable - Singable - Forgettable").

I won't try to add to the excellent review Gregory Reece wrote of the song and the magazine for Pop Matters in 2014, when MAD editor Al Feldstein died. I will say, as you can hear above, that the song tells tales of people failing at hookups for a number of reasons, often 70's related (astrology and tiny cars among them), while all about them it seemed others were getting their groove on. The whole theme is post-sexual revolution, pre-AIDS, and so very 70's. On the chorus the singers point out famous people and characters who are "making out," and that's where the picture of 1978 really comes to the fore.

Although heralded in rhyming triplets with no pattern, the people and creatures whom we are told are getting lucky include these categories:

REAL
Ralph Nader (whose consumer protection movement was arguably at its height in the 70's)
Jacques Cousteau (documentary series ran 1966-1982)
Oakland Raiders (NFL championship 1976; but a perennial contender during these Madden years)

TV
The Fonz (Happy Days, 1974-1984; Fonzie not yet jumped shark)
Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man, 1974-1978)
a Muppet (The Muppet Show, 1976-1981)
Charlie Brown (I know, mainly a comic strip character, but a true multimedia titan; between 1971 and 1987 there were 1-3 new Peanuts specials per year on TV, annual reruns of favorites, 3 feature films, and 5 miscellaneous specials like Snoopy at the Ice Follies)
Archie Bunker (All in the Family, 1971-1979)
Mr. Spock (no movie yet, but Star Trek was in reruns everywhere)

MOVIES
Darth Vader (original Star Wars out 1977)
Superman (first Christopher Reeve film 1978; second-highest grossing film of the year)

MONSTERS
Frankenstein
Dracula
Wolfman
King Kong
(This is not just fanboy stuff; the classic monster movies of the 30's and 40's enjoyed a huge revival in the 70's)

MISCELLANEOUS
Pet rock (craze dated 1975, but boy, we didn't forget about that fast)
Santa Claus
Jack Sprat

The last two, Santa and Sprat, were kind of there to fill space and provide appropriate rhymes. The rest were damn near perfect for 1978. I was trying to think of other cultural icons they might have left out, but came up dry. Maybe Cronkite? More 60's. Jaws? Could be, but the shark didn't have a name. You wouldn't just call him "Jaws." To be in the song you had to have a quickly recognizable name. Who else would YOU have put in?

And who would you put in if you were doing a song like this today? Who are 2016's icons that would be funny in a song like this? They'd have to be famous and (excepting Fonz) yet not especially known for their success at l'amour. Maybe Bernie Sanders.

Nah, too weird even for MAD.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday.

I've always found it interesting that the New York Stock Exchange closes on Good Friday. I didn't know that NASDAQ does too. And the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Being kind of the opposite of a money person -- I sometimes appear to act as a sort of money repellent -- I'd have no reason to know, really. But I'm glad they do.


It's not a federal holiday, and most of us have to work. So why are the markets closed?

Some say it's considered bad luck, although historically the few days the NYSE was open on the day were not bad investment days. It would seem to be courting bad luck when you consider Jesus's betrayer was paid in blood money, that Jesus had some general but strong rules about money (especially in the temple).

Apparently there's no simple answer to why the NYSE decided to close on the day, but when America was a more Christian and observant nation, the traders would have probably felt too solemn for the high-energy antics involved in wheeling and/or dealing. Or at least they had the sense to realize they ought to look solemn.

Reputations used to require more solidity. No one wanted to trust his money to a flibbertigibbet or a jerk who didn't observe the cultural norms. Thus, banks and insurance companies and investment firms had to have buildings that looked like churches. And money men had to at least look as if they took the death of their Savior seriously.

Now the buildings look like Lucite boxes and the jerk who breaks the cultural norms is A-OK, as long as he has the hot hand.

So it's kind of a nice, even quaint throwback that the markets in the U.S. close on Good Friday. I wish we were more faithful in our reasons for it, but you never know. As long as the holiday remains a marker for the market, it's a reminder that there are more important things than money.

And thank God for that, because I keep repelling it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

PSA from the dog #4.

Hello, friends. It's me again. The dog.


Thank you for letting me join you in your living rooms once again. I am here to discuss another pressing and unfortunate problem that is very very bad and no good for you or your puppies. I am, of course, referring to the shoe menace.

Now, do not misunderstand. I am not saying shoes are a bad thing. I am saying shoes are being terribly misused in our culture.

How?

Thank you for asking!

First of all, they cover up wonderful people feet. People feet that should be free! free to roam! free to run! free to be sniffed by doggies! Feet are among your best features!

"Feat"ures -- that's funny!

People wear entirely too many shoes too often. You all know that puppies have excellent instincts, right? Everyone says so. Well, you know what we think of wearing shoes? Look at this documentary footage!


Hey, "foot"age -- that's funny too!

Anyway, that is not all the problem with the shoes. We pups don't think you should never wear them. We mainly think you wear them for too long. Just when you have a pair nice and ripe, you go and wear them again. You have this weird idea that your shoes should last eight or nine months or even more. And then you won't let your faithful little chum enjoy shoes the way they should be enjoyed, like rawhide or gum.

So, friends, the next time you carelessly put shoes on your feet, please think of the fuzzy little friend who likes to sit at them. He loves your feet as they are. He loves your shoes as they are. He's not so crazy about the shoes on the feet. See where we're going with this?

Let me leave you with this one thought:

Don't cover up those stinky feet
And don't deny your dog the treat
Of shoes.

This has been a public service announcement from the dog.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First-world problems.

Sometimes I complain just because complaining is more fun than being grateful. "Oh, look, Walmart has the Batman cereal but not the Superman cereal! My life SU-HUH-HUCKS!" And sometimes I complain because if I don't I am going to go out of my mind.

Here's the kind of thing I am complaining about at the moment. You can decide which kind of complaint it is.

1) That Darn Book - I mentioned yesterday that I was working on a book that was not too bad, but the deadline was tight. Well, things got worse soon after. I'm doing fact-checking, and the deeper I got into it the more I began to suspect the author was just pulling things out of her hinder. Every page has turned into a fight for the death and I try to verify - EACH - TINY - PIECE - OF - INFORMATION. I'm glad I'm getting paid by the hour on this rather than a flat fee, but the deadline looms and the hours are running short.



2) I'm reminded of a job I once did on a health book that had recipes. I was copyediting the book in Word, and when I got to the recipe section in back I was surprised to find all kinds of weird formatting on some, but not all, of the recipes. On a hunch I started searching online, and sure enough, the weird formatting came from stealing the recipes from someone else's Web site. Had the lazyass just copied them into the document as plain text I would have had no idea. I reported this to the editor, who asked me to flag all of the recipes that I could find in other sources -- essentially, I had to do a deep data search for every recipe in the book. And I was getting a flat fee for the job. And it pushed another job I was doing for the same company, but with a different editor, back a day while I essentially did a lot of extra work for no money, and the second editor got all pissy with me. And no one ever even suggested a bonus for saving the company from a plagiarism lawsuit. So please, don't let your children grow up to be copy editors. Not while they could do easier jobs, like nitroglycerin juggling.

3) P.S.: The goddamn book came out and got a heap of great reviews from all sorts of professionals and a bunch of 5-star reviews on Amazon. Maybe I should have just left the stolen recipes in there.

4) I have to say, my wife and my dog have been wonderful to me while I've been trying to get this project done. I expect that from her, because she's awesome, but never take it for granted. From the dog, not so much. Especially since he hasn't been feeling too well. But he's due for his checkup tomorrow, so if he's still looking ill we'll talk to the vet. I sure hope he's all right.

5) At the beginning of the day Tuesday I made a list of things to do, flagged the things I had to do, and then did nothing but this blasted book. I set myself up to feel like the day was a failure, even though I tackled the most important thing. Why do I do this to myself?

6) And you know what the worst thing is? While a lot of bullcrap was unavoidable when I accepted this current job, I could have made it easier on myself by NOT PROCRASTINATING. I let a couple of days go by while I did no work on it. See, I have an airtight means of being slothful. Say I have Job A, which I know will be dreadful, and Job B, which is less important and non-dreadful. By tackling Job B I can have the appearance of productivity while actually avoiding unpleasant duty. "I'd love to go over the top and assault the Jerries, lieutenant, but I'm busy digging this new latrine. See you when you get back."

Bleah -- that's enough about me. Why don't you complain about my life for a while?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I got nothin'.

I apologize, but for some reason I really have nothing much to say today. I'm under deadline, working on a book I did not write. Some of these projects suck the life out of you; with every tiring, dreadful page you feel yourself get a little older. This isn't one of those. It's a good book but a short deadline.

I thought hey, maybe I should write some more about politics and religion, just in case I have one or two readers left!
So here are some thoughts from Monday, when I wasn't chugging through work:

  • A friend of mine and I decided that we were not Pope material. Which is too bad, because he's looking for a new job.


  • A woman on a rerun of Antiques Roadshow had an old painting from the cellar that she didn't like appraised at $300,000. I'd learn to love that painting. Or rather, I'd learn to love the pile of money I got for it.


  • I was informed that people who enjoy calling themselves seekers will never allow themselves to become finders.


  • I found out that something like 9 out of 10 peptic ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori, not by overuse of NSAIDs or tumors or stress or Mexican food (the latter two were often and wrongly blamed in the past). I don't have a peptic ulcer, but if I get one, I'm going to hunt down the creep who gave me H. pylori and feed him or her Scotch bonnets. 


  • For some reason actual little chocolate rabbits were impossible to find in the supermarket. This happened because I promised some to a friend as a gag gift. The supermarket got wind of this and immediately hid or gave away all the supplies when they knew I was coming. They are in the conspiracy to vex me.

And that was Monday. Let's see if Tuesday has anything less stupid in it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Shove thy neighbor.

Yes, from last year:


Today I'm feeling it worse than ever. I feel like everyone on both sides of the aisle (and scattered about the wings) are determined to vote for candidates whose only mission is to punish our own country.

Seriously, have we ever run a more alarming pack of candidates? The talents and responsibility of our presidential candidates are almost in a perfect inversion of the order in which they have had to drop out of the race.

The parties managed in the past to elect sidewinders and and highbinders and chickenhearts and dingbats to high office, but at least they usually thought to do well by the country, that they would ultimately be thanked for their service. Now no one is seriously campaigning for America (concrete ideas with knowledge of real-world consequences is how that is done), just campaigning against other Americans. What the hell are we doing? Voting for people so they can what, set fire to things?

And that does seem to be the case. I mean no disrespect to the supporters of the remaining candidates, as I understand the motivations behind voting for any of them. A lot of it does seem to be based on punishing other Americans. But whom do we think we are punishing? We all live here. It's like we're all picking up baseball bats to go whack the neighbors while they're coming around the other side to get us. In other words, it's not just opposition, it's insanity. It's not just fighting over who steers the ship, it's one group trying to crash it into the iceberg while the other tries to blow up the hull.

We can all point back to some different spot in time when it started. My personal take is that it would never have started if we hadn't decided we wanted our federal government to be our accountant, our doctor, our adviser, our security, our mom and our dad. When there's less power and money the stakes are so much lower.

The other contributing fact that I have to lay at the feet of the prevailing culture and the current administration is that they only like Americans who fight other Americans. Americans who fight the enemies of America are just okay---we're still fighting a war, and the politicians' goal is not to tout our triumphs but to keep the war out of the news! So honorable service against the enemy cannot be allowed to be a big deal.

But if you had a history of opposing your fellow citizens, you are a hero of unparalleled majesty (provided you were fighting the right fellow citizens). And that motivates us to fight our neighbors more and more. No matter how this election turns out, I expect lots of rioting. Yes, rioting in the streets always makes things better.

I suppose I ought to go back to my separate-with-love idea. Ala-America. You can't stop the addiction, but you don't have to go down the drain with the insane person.

Of course, if the ship sinks, we're all going down with it. But I don't have to be emotionally invested in it before then.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm, tree.

It's Palm Sunday, a holy day I've written about in the past. The Mass is actually second only to the Easter Vigil in its length. I've headed into church some years when the crowds were running into the crowds from the previous Mass just leaving-- normally a half hour gap. (The local parish has since scheduled morning Masses with an hour gap instead.)

Today is also the first day of spring, which makes for an interesting contrast. Palm Sunday is a day in which the Passion is read, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem ending in the Crucifixion. It is not a day of hope; it may be the biggest day of irony in history. Spring, though, is a day of hope, and has been since the earth started turning.

There are similarities between the days too. Spring, of course, is when we hope to see the lazy deciduous trees start budding, although I am always disappointed. Palm Sunday also has a connection to trees, a very strong one.

Palms, of course, are central; palm branches were cut down and used to lay them across the path of Jesus and to wave them in honor, as for a mighty king. This led soon enough to a different tree, one whose wood became the cross upon which Jesus hung. And of course, the whole sacrifice was required to redeem us from the sin of those who ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Which made me think about my tree, the one I tried to save last September. While walking the dog I found an evergreen that was nearly strangled to death by a wicked pokeberry vine. The vine had completely grown up from the trunk through the branches, destroying the beautiful tree, leaving mostly branches bare of needles, brittle, broken. The few branches with green needles gave me hope that it might be saved.

I went back and chopped the vine at its base. It died. Yesterday I went to see if the tree had rebounded.


Looked better in pieces, but the needles were tipped with red and pulled out easily. Far too much of it looked like this:




I don't even know if there's any reason to hope for this tree, but I still do. It's not dead yet. It may be that the vicious vine was throttling it so long that its growth was severely affected, rendering it unable to survive with or without the crippling weed.

When I first encountered it, it was certain that it was going to die. At least I gave it a chance. But there is still plenty of reason to doubt if it will survive.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lot of problems.

The other day I had a lovely time in the bank. No, I did. I was depositing money, which always puts me in a good frame of mind, and the teller was pleasant, funny, and professional. A pleasure. 

Then I almost killed a guy in the parking lot. 

I maintain it was mostly his fault. I looked around left, right, back, mirrors, and started to back out, and suddenly he was behind me, honking. The only way he would have appeared there so quickly was to have raced into the lot. Of course he was furious, because there was no way he would have known he was in my blind spot, and he was too much of an a-hole to comprehend that he was speeding in a parking lot. So I just went on my way, my good mood spoiled. 

I may have allowed a finger to slip loose toward his red, stupid face as I carefully motored away. 

Why do such bad things happen in parking lots? Suburbia is supposed to be known for its pleasant parking, unlike the city, where people shoot each other recreationally over a good spot on the street. Good parking is like our defining feature. And yet people can't seem to do it right. A guy will park too close to one of the lines and throw off the whole row. And for the whole day, because the guys who park by him have to park wrong, and the ones next to them, and even when they leave the others are still there, and so on. 


They leave their goats in the handicapped spot, too.
Leaving aside active idiocy, we know that part of the problem is that parking lots require 360 vision from our 180 field of view. No matter how quickly you look around, something may be coming up in various blind spots, or in areas that you just checked, more quickly than you can deal with it. Despite that you have to take a breath and go. I mean, you have to pull out sometime. Every act of backing out of a spot is a leap of faith.

I applaud backup camera development on cars as a useful thing, but I can't help but wonder if they have their own disadvantage in a false sense of security. It's an additional safety measure that could make us lazier about checking to the rear, thinking that all the blind spots are covered. Kind of like the theory that modern NFL helmets are causing head injuries by making players feel more protected than they are. And in fact, despite the new mandated cameras coming along in 2018 models, cameras are still considered an assistive technology and not a replacement for the old over-the-shoulder checks.

Satchel Paige once famously said "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." Unfortunately, in the parking lot we have no choice.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Oirish Day.

Let's get 'em out of the way, shall we?

***

Paddy and Mike are lost in the Alps when they see a St. Bernard bounding toward them, a little keg under its chin.
"Thank hivvin!" says Mike. "We're saved! Look, it's man's best friend!"
"Yah!" says Paddy. "And will ye look at the soize of the dog that's bringin' it!"

***
Irish Alzheimer's: You forget everything but the grudge.

***

Sean and Declan are in the employment office looking at the want ads. Declan shakes his head sadly and says, "It's no use, Sean. Look, this office wants toipists and we can't toipe. This comp'ny wants plumbers and we can't plumb. And the lumberjacks want tree fellers an' there's only two of us."

***

Tim is a general contractor, giving an estimate on a home improvement job. As he wanders through the house with the homeowner, he suddenly sticks his head out the living room window and yells "Green soide up! Green soide up!"
Later they pass into the kitchen, and Tim once again sticks his head out the window and yells "Green soide up! Green soide up!"
After making many notes on a clipboard and shaking hands with the homeowner, Tim steps out the front door. Suddenly, looking to the side, Tim screams, "Green soide up! Oh, God almighty, green soide up!"
"Excuse me," says the homeowner, "but why do you keep saying 'green side up'?"
"Well, beggin' yer pardon," says Tim, "but me boys are over at yer neighbor's, layin' down sod."

***

You've heard of the Irish accountant? One potater, two potaters, three potaters, four...

***
The Finnegans invite Fr. O'Hara over for a visit, and to see the new baby again.
"Christopher is a fine little lad," says the kindly priest, admiring the baby crawling on the floor.
"What do you supposed he'll be when he grows up, Father?" asks Mr. Finnegan. 
"Well, now, let us see," says Fr. O'Hara, rummaging in his pockets. He places before the baby a coin, a pencil, a small crucifix, and a folded penknife.
"Here's how I learned it," says Fr. O'Hara. "If the boy takes the coin, he's going to go into business. If he takes the pencil, he'll become a professor. If he takes the crucifix, as did I, he's destined for the priesthood. And if he takes the penknife, you can bet he'll be a soldier."
As the adults wait, Baby Christopher looks carefully at each of the four items. Then, with a sudden swoop, he gathers all four to himself.
"Saints preserve us!" cries Fr. O'Hara. "He's going to be a Jesuit!" 

***

MacGillycuddy is standing downtown holding the lamppost with one hand and a rope with the other. The constable comes by and says, "Go home, MacGillycuddy, you're drunk."
"I am not."
"What're you doing with that rope?"
MacGillycuddy looks down at the rope, up at the constable, down at the rope, and says, "Begorrah! Either I've found a rope or lost me horse."

***


Probably an Indonesian.
***

Doyle and Duffy are in the army and have to learn to parachute. The instructor explains how the ripcord works, and the backup ripcord as well. They practice jumping off of things close to the ground. Soon the boys are ready to go up. 
Duffy goes first, bravely leaping out of the plane, counting to ten, pulling the cord. Sure enough his chute pops open, he's grabbed by the harness in a mighty grip, and begins to slowly drift toward earth.
Doyle is not so lucky. He leaps out, pulls the ripcord, and it pops off in his hand. Doyle is terrified, but he remembers his backup cord. He reaches around and finds it, and yanks. It pulls open the chute, but being incorrectly packed, the chute flies away in a lump behind him. Now he's falling fast. 
Duffy is drifting down, enjoying the view, when he hears Doyle coming upon him from above, and then passing:
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
Duffy immediately begins to pull off his harness, yelling, "Oh, so it's a race ye want, is it?"

***

May those that love us, love us
And may those that do not love us, may God turn their hearts
And if He doesn't, may He turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping

***

That ought to load you up with enough material to start a fight. Happy St. Patrick's to you! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Down with that.

Spring is wonderful, but weird.

Out on the front lawn yesterday I saw the dog sniffing at a patch that looked discolored. Even... blue? I went for a closer look and sure enough, there was a bluish area about the length and width of the kitchen table. Looked at first like there was some kind of growth on it -- fungus? weeds? -- that would have popped up just since the night before. How?


Of course, a closer look explained:


But it didn't explain much.

Apparently a flock of birds landed on my lawn, molted like crazy, and vanished.

Do birds molt in bunches?

I looked up group molting online, and most of what I saw was about chickens -- how to make them molt, why to make them molt, how to stop the molting, and so on. Apparently sickness, exhaustion, completion of the laying cycle, and reduced lighting can all cause molting in gangs of chickens. I assume this applies to other birds as well.

If they had just laid a passel of eggs, I would think they'd be with the eggs, not on my lawn. So maybe I had a sick flock camping out on the lawn. Or perhaps they had just flown in from their winter haven in Arkansas and boy were their wings tired.

Or maybe it was the change in the light. Sun's coming up later now than it was on Saturday -- reduced lighting, eh? See where I'm going with this?

#blameitonDST

P.S.: Speaking of nature, I'd like to thank the animals fighting outside the bedroom window at 1:30 this morning. Yes sirree, woke me up good and solid for a while. Then my mind started to contemplate Hillary vs. Donald and I began hoping for death.

Thanks, nature. (Glares at nature.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The end of Pig Fats Kelly.

Today we remember James "Pig Fats" Kelly, one of the most influential blues singers of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Mr. Kelly, of course, was one of the most recognized voices out of Alabama, that, admittedly, being a pretty small group. His nickname, "Pig Fats" or "Pigs," was often said to come from the fact that his family was so poor they could only afford to buy pig's fat from the butcher, which his mother would serve on brioche or scones. The story was disputed later by his cousin, Archibald "Twinkle Toes" Kelly, who said that "he got yclept 'Pig Fats' because he weighed three hundred pounds by his senior year in high school."

Either way, "Pig Fats" was unquestionably a powerful and influential blues singer, who played in clubs all over the south and eventually throughout the north, except in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. (The citizens of Wilkes-Barre just told him, "Please, keep rambling through. Thanks.") His many blues songs were renowned for their depth of feeling. Numbers like "Morbid, Morose Monday," "Life Is Horrible," "Everything Is Miserable," "Agony Is My Friend," "I Wish I Was Dead," "I'm Going to Hang Myself with the Extension Cord," "My Head Is in the Oven," and "Moribundt Cake" quickly established his reputation. During a show in San Diego he once made SEAL Team Two leave a jazz club in tears.

"Pig Fats" recorded two albums in those early days, Can't Get Up and My World Is Hell, and things were really beginning to come together for him. Sadly, though, like so many blues artists, Mr. Kelly had his Achilles' heel, a substance that threatened his career and changed the course of his life. This, for "Pig Fats," was the turning point.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why do I bother?

I one-hundred-percent guarantee this has happened to you.

You order something online from a vendor. You just want to make one order, one time. Happily you note that it has a "checkout as guest" feature, so you don't have to start an account with them. It's not like you want to marry them. Of course, they give you an option right up to the end to turn your information into an account, but you know that you will only order from Vern's House of Duck Statues once, because odds are against your ever drawing Uncle Bob in the Secret Santa again, and even if you did you'd have to be more creative next time.

You suspect, however, that you will start to get e-mails from Vern for the rest of your natural life. Then you see the box:

box

You check the box; you KNOW you checked the box. You order the duck; it arrives; Uncle Bob thinks it's just okay. You get one follow-up e-mail from Vern to ask how you liked your shopping experience, which you delete. You never have to hear from Vern again.

Two weeks later, in your in-box:

VERN'S SPRING FLING! UP TO 13% OFF!

You say, "What the hell...? I told them to never, ever send me an e-mail again!" You poor, pitable fool.

What you didn't realize is that when you told Vern to never send you e-mails, he took that as an invitation to forever send you e-mails, unless you tell him specifically to unsubscribe you. When you have one date with Vern, you have to break up officially; it's not enough to just not call.

Now, you can say, what's the big deal? So you unsubscribe (if THAT works), or report it as junk, or block them, or any of a number of things. But that means you have to bother to do something after you already did something -- checked the box.

Which brings me back to the subject line of this entry: Why do I bother? And why do they even give you the box? Why does everyone lie all the time? What the hell?

I know it's a first-world problem -- but lying is everyone's problem. A culture that devalues honor and honesty is a culture with a sickness at its heart. And it starts with a check box that has no meaning.

(For the record, as far as I know there is no Vern's House of Duck Statues. I used a fake name not so as to avoid singling out anybody; I used a fake name so I could single out everybody. And that goes for charities. Just because I gave a twenty in honor of Uncle Bob's gout to Gout Research of United Medical Physicians -- GRUMP -- doesn't mean I want to see daily e-mails of people whose gout has been alleviated by our donations.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Credible, still edible.

Today I have another one of the promotional cookbooks that I inherited, strange creatures they are, cultural icons of the 1950s1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Some of them aren't dated, leaving me to have to guess how old they are. Including this one:


I've seen a couple of these on sale on eBay, but no one else seems to have a publication date either. Here's a clue on the back cover:


Wikipedia's page on "The Incredible Edible Egg" notes that the campaign began in 1977, which sounds about right. I have always thought that the campaign was a panicked response to the 1970s reports that linked cholesterol to heart failure. Prior to the 1970s, advertising eggs would have been like advertising air; everyone ate them, and if there wasn't a war on you could get them, and good for us! Then cholesterol became a thing and they had to write a jingle.

I think this book might be a second wave of the campaign. That flowy script on the cover, chosen for the book's "classic" theme, was very popular for a brief period in the dawn of the 1980s. After 15 years of psychedelia, hemp, country, and disco, there was a brief vogue for old money and preppy stuff. Including that font.

Classic egg recipes seems like a handy collection for the non-vegan in your life, and mine looks like it got some use. It is a guide for some great basics, like scrambled eggs and omelets, souffles and mousses, and of course, Scotch eggs!


So surely I couldn't find anything gross in this book of classics, right? Like, say raw-egg drinks?

Yup.

"Old Fashioned Egg Coffee"?

I've noted elsewhere that one of the worst drinks I ever ingested was a silver fizz, a gin drink made with egg white that I drank on a dare. This book has a few, like that Instant Egg Pick-Up, that don't even soften the blow with alcohol. And speaking of alcohol, for those who had too much the night before:


Yes, the Prairie Oyster--"this drink is called the imbiber's breakfast." Which includes an ounce of brandy.

Things were different in 1980.

Below that they have the Egg Cream, which is a drink that famously has no eggs in it. But no, the American Egg Board found a way to squeeze two raw eggs into it. "Grownups like it too, and sometimes add a touch of spirits."

I think I'll stick with the Scotch eggs, thanks.

On the whole an interesting recipe tome, but I didn't find anything in the beverage area that didn't make me think of edible snot or salmonella. But I guess these things are classic too.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Hey, bud!

Short one today -- company's a-comin' and the house is a wreck. Literally a wreck; storm blew through and took off the roof, then lightning struck and burned the rest down.

No, it's not actually a wreck, but if that had happened it would be better in one way -- we would not be blamed for the state of the house.

So, yes, some heavy housekeeping is being done. But I don't mind. Why? Spring is in the air! The grass is starting to green! The birds are coming back! The daffodils are awakening! The clocks are leaping ahead tonight like playful gazelles!

And this bud's for you.
When my exposure to nature was limited to whatever was between my home and my office -- before we got the dog, in other words -- I never realized how far behind the deciduous trees lagged in this whole spring thing. All of the rest of nature was bursting out in joy, and the trees looked like a pile of coat hangers.

It's still true for many of them. Mine loll about doing nothing until May. But some early risers are on the move, and the tree pictured above, bristling with buds, is one of them. Belongs to a guy up the street who has better trees. I'm not jealous, I'm not!

Anyway, back to work. If you know where I live and you see clouds of smoke coming out the windows, don't worry. It's not smoke. It's just dust. Company's due at four, you know.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Solidarity for workers!

In New York's Hudson Valley, New Jersey Transit is the train service of necessity for rail riders on the west side, and many thousands here and in New Jersey itself rely on the trains to get to work every day.

So the rail workers' union is showing their solidarity with their fellow workers like this:


Yes sir, the rail guys are going out on an strike on Sunday if they don't get what they want. So, all you people who have to get to work in the city---you can kiss their gold-plated butts.

Okay, I'm not sure if their butts are gold-plated exactly, but it has been my experience that government workers get all kinds of benefits and privileges that workers in the private sector do not get. When someone who has gone to work in any kind of government agency moans that they would have been a rich CEO if they hadn't devoted their lives to public service, I laugh. Yeah, and I could have been a famous movie star if I'd only moved to Hollywood.

The inconvenience will be staggering, maybe insurmountable. You already can barely drive into Manhattan, and the buses are already packed.* The rail workers are planning an action that is going to cost people money, and maybe some of them their jobs.

Now, I'm not saying these rail guys don't work. Maybe there are goldbricks in the pile, but you find that anywhere. It's a job with lousy hours, it requires real skill and technical knowledge, it requires outdoor work in all weather, it's occasionally dangerous, and sometimes people pull an Anna Karenina on the tracks and you're the first one to see it. (Ew.) So there's a lot about the job that makes a nine-to-five desk jockey spot look enviable.

That said, their benefits beat anything you can find in the private sector. They are compensated pretty well and retire young. And they are not underpaid compared to other workers.**

Frankly, government workers in all stripes have done little to inspire me to support them in this job action. It doesn't affect me, since I'm working from home these days, but it does affect 308,523 other people---and it's hard to believe the union is considering them as fellow human beings who need to get to work. More like hostages.

And they say capitalism is heartless.

------

* Maybe the 1.6 million people in Manhattan, who hate the bridge & tunnel commuters, will laugh at us suburbanites, thinking we should live near our jobs like they do, but they're the same people who fight more and higher housing construction in Manhattan's 23 square miles. So where would they like the commuters to live if they all moved to Manhattan, hm?

** By the way, a round trip from Mahwah to Hoboken costs $21.50, so the train is not a bargain as it stands.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

History's mistorys!!!!

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I was working on a freelance project that involved research; it was feared that the author may have relied on Wikipedia too much ("too much" being "at all"). But as it was a history book, it got me thinking about history as an academic discipline.

In college I once had a psych professor who hated history, thought it was the most useless subject possible to study. I guess he was unfamiliar with the famous Santayana dictum. At least my prof admitted that he might have had some weird trauma in his past that caused him to hate history.

I love and validate the study of history. But what occurred to me while going through some period sources and academic journals is that telling the truth based on evidence is not the way to fame and fortune in the field. The best way to get fame and fortune is probably to come up with some astounding whopper and hope there's enough doubt to keep you from being exposed until you yourself are history.

For example: While Kennedy conspiracy theorists are usually relegated to the tinfoil beanie squad, Zachary Taylor assassination conspiracists are still taken seriously. Poor ol' Zach, our late 12th president, became a hot topic when historians decided he'd been killed in office not by dysentery but rather by arsenic, administered by a lethal conspiracy of shadowy pro-slavery forces. So they dug up Mr. Taylor and tested him for arsenic, and he did not have arsenic in him. You know what he had? Residency in the fever swamp of Washington, DC, in 1850. It's amazing we didn't lose a lot more presidents back then.

Anyway, using the Whopper Gambit I think I might yet become a famous historian, with my findings published in esteemed journals like the Daily Mail and Gawker. I thought I'd try out some engaging historical lies; which ones do you think might work the best?

1) Shakespeare's plays were not written by dull front man William "Willy" Shakespeare but by Elizabeth I, in her spare time. The sonnets were knocked off by a guy named Harvey Schonfeld.

2) The English never did conquer the Irish, not in the 12th century or at any other time. The English just came and started freeloading and the Irish were too polite to ask them to leave.

3) Chicago-style pizza originated when the city's Italian immigrants, denied the legal opportunity to buy pizza stones, had to steal manhole covers instead.

4) NASA only pretended to put men on the moon, as the math necessary to land on an object in geosynchronous orbit was too difficult with primitive computers. The Apollo missions instead landed on the heliocentric Mars and pretended it was the moon. That's why all those pictures are in black and white---to avoid revealing Mars's red dirt.

5) The term "OK" does not come from slang for "all correct" (or "oll korrect") or even "Old Kinderhook," Martin Van Buren's nickname, as long suspected. It actually stood for Oscar Kinkeldorf, whose restaurant in Cincinnati was just all right.

6) "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" was not written by Clement Clarke Moore, but was in fact written by a strange little woman named Dolly, who was an outcast because of her progressive thinking.

7) Genghis Khan? Actually got his start conquering as a 10-year-old girl.

8) While the Flavian Amphitheater (a.k.a. the Colosseum) was never used for mock sea battles, it was actually used as a giant salsa bowl.

Chips and circuses.

9) All of Edison's inventions were made by his secretary, Phyllis. He never gave her a raise.

10) John F. Kennedy was indeed shot on November 22, 1963, but what really killed him? Dysentery.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Funny lookin' people.

People make fun of funny lookin' people. In a movie, if you want to show disgust for a bunch of (usually white) people, maybe doing something stoopid like going to church, get a bunch of funny lookin' people and film them lookin' bored. And funny. Unlike the cool kids in Hollywood, these people are obvious all stoopid. If they were smart, they'd be good lookin', right?


Of course, in the Internet age we don't even need TV or movies to make fun of average people. Sites like People of Walmart celebrate the underclass, if by "celebrate" you mean "expose to massive ridicule."

I think our modern attitude is most obviously seen with teenagers, who are not only the biggest offenders and consumers of stuff that's insulting to average goofy folks, but also its biggest victims. They think everyone around them is a geek or dork or just an old fart, because they don't look like people in the media. And yet they take little comfort in their own society, because most teens are pretty funny lookin' too, whatever the YA books say. No wonder life is so painful for even the cool kids.

The fact of the matter is, most people are funny lookin', not just the adults in the vicinity of children. You may think that in places like Hollywood, people would be much more attractive, and you might be right to some extent. Where show business is important, good looks are worth cash money; saying that professional actors look better than normal people is like saying professional athletes are in better shape than normal people. It's a tautology. However, the agents, lawyers, grips, caterers, janitors, everybody else who works to get those pretty faces on screen? Funny lookin'. Ever see Henry Waxman (D-Beauty) who represented Beverly Hills in Congress for four decades?

Yeah, I know.

Our perceptions have become skewed because of our continuous media diet. This may go back as far as the ability to reproduce line art, but it's everywhere now. If you spend a lot of serious screen time every day, the world looks like a stark division between hilarious horror show and sexy catwalk.

The fact is, God must love funny lookin' people, because he made so many of us. Bald, dentally impaired, scrawny, dumpy, saggy, baggy, chubby, weak-chinned, bent-backed, knock-kneed, big-nosed, stoop-shouldered, droop-eared... And that's not even counting the self-inflicted goofiness of bad clothes, bad haircut, bad habits, bad tattoos, bad piercings, bad attitude.

Bad makeup.

What I say is: Relax. Embrace your funny-lookin'-ness. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but don't go crazy over it. Better to be healthy and happy and good than good-lookin' and rotten. It's an imperfect world, and if you have to choose to be better inside than outside, focus on the inside.

Except for hygiene. It's healthy. And it's better to look bad than to smell bad.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why I'm staying Lawful Good.

This is making the geek rounds, although I don't know where it originated:


This appears to be an easy way to start your super villain career. It happens all the time: You graduate from Villain School, and you suddenly realize you haven't given a lot of thought to how you intend to establish your evilness and become a public enemy. "Should I be a wicked genius, like Lex Luthor? A space pirate, like Amalak? A mighty sorcerer, like Mordru? A big pile of goo like the Blob? Or just a random creep, like Paste Pot Pete?"

Well, wonder no more! With this handy chart, you can determine your name, using your real first, last, and middle names, and the date of your birth.

I, for example, am... let's see here...

Strike Fist, the Pestilence of Earth! 


Um...

Really?

Maybe I'll just skip the villainy for now. Seems like a lot of work anyway.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Thunderstruck.

Fourth Sunday in Lent...

Today's reading in the Catholic church is the story of the Prodigal Son (from Luke 15), but I wanted to go back a little in Luke to chapter 10. I've been re-reading some C. S. Lewis, and although this verse hasn't come up, it reminded me of this, Luke 10:18 (KJV, for you old-schoolers):

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

It's one little line with no further information; it's part of Jesus' explanation as to why he has been able to grant safety from the power of the Enemy to his apostles. It's the kind of verse I would shoot past as I blah-blah-blah-begat-begat my way through the Bible, ignoramus that I am, except for its amazing imagery. It immediately tells us several important things:

1) There is a Satan, and he fell. 

It's a key issue -- and it's strange to me that there are people who believe in Jesus but not in Satan. Jesus certainly believed in Satan. In the next verse He describes Satan as the Enemy. He wouldn't do that if there were no Satan, or Satan was just some guy.

I guess it's a temptation among well-meaning people who see evil as a psychological problem rather than a force so real that it actually exists outside human beings. Perhaps they think Luke just stuck that line in chapter 10 because he believed in Satan. But if you start thinking that way, why would you trust the Gospels for any information about Jesus at all?

It also tells us that Satan was in a good state once, and plummeted to a bad state. He didn't start out being rotten.

2) Jesus was there to see it happen. 

This was dogma I always had trouble with, the doctrine that Jesus was present with God before the world was made. I thought that was something the guys in collars just made up. And yet it's right there. We know Satan's been at us in one way or another since the beginning, so if Jesus was present, it follows that He too has been around at least that long. If you accept His words, you have to accept that as well.

It brings me back to that famous quote from Lewis in Mere Christianity: 

You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

3) About the manner of the fall.  



It's an amazing image---when we think of the fall of Satan we might imagine a body being cast from a great height into a great depth, but this is more than that. This is sudden, shocking, brilliant. Lucifer means "light bringer," suggesting a good and righteous duty, but it also tells us how a creature of light would fall---blazing, like lightning; instantly; and amid a terrifying storm.

Jesus was the greatest storyteller in history, as seen in the power and depth of the parables; His concision is such that He could have told War and Peace in a fortune cookie. Here, in just eight words (in the English translation), "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven," He packs a dazzling image with a wealth of information. He puts things unknowable to men in a way that we can grasp. In every profession we see Him turn to---writer, teacher, preacher, doctor, psychologist, boss, vintner---He was the best.

Okay, that's enough depth for me. Tune in tomorrow when I'm back to eating something or complaining about the dog.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Inside out.

Clash of the snacks. But this is more than just a battle of taste. This is a battle of philosophy.

In this corner, ConAgra-owned H.K. Anderson's pretzel nuggets filled with peanut butter:



And in this corner, Hormel-owned Skippy's P.B. Bites, peanut butter nuggets filled with, uh, pretzel:


Two tasty snacks, both with the great taste of peanut butter and pretzel. But they are opposites. PB inside/pretzel outside vs. pretzel inside/PB outside.


Each is the yin to the other's yang. Identical, yet completely different.


Can a person hate one and love the other? How? And yet, how could one love both, as one is the inside-out version of the other?

But can they really be that different? Perhaps this is one of those "Last Battlefield" Trek things?


At what level are they the same? In what realm are they different? Can one repel, one attract? Is one the normal, the other the obverse? Converse? Inverse? And what about Combos, huh? No one's even considered how Combos work into this.

Would one be unable to choose, and be caught between them like Buridan's ass, starving? Or just scoff them all down like a Colorado stoner?

Can one possibly reject one, and keep the other?

Yes. My wife liked the Anderson nuggets better. Says the Skippy ones are too sweet.

See, this is why most philosophers are men. Women take all the fun out of it.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Flocked up.

Yep, neighbors getting all flocked up again. 



I was kind of surprised to see the pink flamingos around here in winter. Usually you'd expect to see them closer to June, to like, graduation time.

Of course these flamingos are fund-raising flamingos, used to extort money from innocent civilians.

If you're not familiar with how it works, this site gives you a good idea. And is happy to sell you a passel of pink flamingos, too. The idea is that a person can hire the kids who want to raise money to plant plastic flamingos on someone's lawn in the dead of night, along with a sign explaining how they can pay the kids to get de-flamingoed. So the kids make money on both ends.

Unless the victim has no sense of humor and just takes all the flamingos and calls the cops. You have to pick your mark carefully.

Another site notes that the fund-raisers can also sell flamingo insurance to people who want to avoid the humiliation of waking up and seeing a plethora of the pink plastic punks all over the place. So that's great; the kids can make money doing nothing more than keeping a record of who paid the insurance. They wouldn't want to accidentally flamingo someone who'd already paid up.

Around here the high school seniors are using this to raise money for the senior sleepover, a big all-night (presumably drug- and liquor-free) party held at the school. I guess they need a lot of money to throw a good party for the whole graduating class, so they've started early.

I think this is a pretty good idea. The plastic flamingo is not a typical lawn decoration in the Hudson Valley, maybe because you just don't expect to see actual flamingos here. And unlike in Florida, virtually no one has a pink house, or a house in any kind of pastel color. Flamingos clash with everything here. When you see someone's lawn all a-sprouting with these things, you know they didn't do it themselves. So it's effective. And compared to the shenanigans kids this age can get up to, this is pretty harmless.

And it's just good, stupid fun.

I also like it because I don't have a kid in the school and I don't work there, and I don't know any kids in the school really well, so I'm very unlikely to be a target. Which is good, because I'm cheap.

As for the rest of you.... Well, nice place ya got here.... Be a shame if anything pink and plasticky were to happen to it....

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spring training injuries.

It's here! The Mets' first Spring Training game is today! Join us on this first leg of our journey as we follow our pennant-winning season with a second- or third-place finish! 

Of course, when you're a Mets fan you totally expect your stars to suffer season-ending injuries before Opening Day. Fortunately, for minor injuries, we have these! 



Yes, the dollar store provided me with these Mets-themed bandages, complete with Mets logo and Mr. Met on the box. Don't you feel better just looking at Mr. Met? I always do.

Teresa Taylor makes all kind of healthcare products, and they don't just do Mets products, they do all MLB teams. Although looking at the company Web site makes you think Ms. Taylor likes the Mets just a liiiiittle bit more.

Anyway, these are really good adhesive bandages, with lots of stick and a good seal. I'm sure they use these down in the Mets clubhouse. Not sure they'll be particularly helpful when Matt Harvey's arm falls off right after he signs a long-term contract. (Sorry, but that's how it goes. Forget it, Matt; it's Metstown.)

---

THRILLING UPDATE: Still sick. Day three. I don't think it's a virus that turns you into a zombie; just one that makes you feel like a zombie. Without the, you know, cranial cravings. Naturally I have an enormous project with a deadline that positively must be met tomorrow. Blarg.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

If only.

The cultural history of the 20th century might have been much better. 


ginsberg

(Apologies for the stupid gag; Tuesday I had work but I came down with a lousy cold, so basically I was in a weakened state and this idea made me laugh. Imagine Backus reading Ginsberg poems if you want to turn it around. "You were never no locomotive, my good chap, you were a sunflower!")

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jobs lost to inhuman aliens.

As if we weren't in enough peril of losing our jobs, and voting for crazy people out of rage over losing our jobs, Boston Dynamics has come up with a robot that they say will mean the "end of manual labor." (Hat tip: IMAO.)

Yeah, thanks, ya big bunch of boffins! We didn't need those jobs and that sense of purpose anyway. Hey, how's the novel-writing algorithm coming along?

Don't you guys remember that episode of Super Friends? Well, maybe not, since the ageism in the technical fields is so strident that most of you were probably chewing your pacifiers while watching the first season of The Suite Life on Deck.



But some of us recall "Professor Goodfellow’s G.E.E.C." In this episode, a nice mad doctor comes up with the Goodfellow's Effort-Eliminating Computer, which eliminates all need for everyone to have to work by controlling machines, including robots, to do the work for us. Everybody starts getting dumb and lazy, and when the computer malfunctions, only the Super Friends can save the day.

All the early seasons of this show were pretty stupid and very preachy (you can watch the whole ep for a couple of bucks here, if you must give Google money), but this one had a pretty good message on self-reliance and the value of effort. Also that computers would fail you and cause people to die.

Well, no one died thanks to the Super Friends, but they're not real, are they? But Boston Dynamics is, and it's owned by Google, which sounds pretty similar to G.E.E.C. to me, don't you think? Hmmmm?

I know this is a situation with tragedy built into it; remember, Goodfellow was indeed a good fellow and meant well. But by trying to help humanity he damn near destroyed it. Before all the novels on Amazon are replaced by computer-generated blather, I suggest you check out Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano, the only novel of his I ever liked, but I liked it a lot.

It came out in 1952, a couple of decades before the Super Friends. If Goodfellow had read it, Wendy and Marvin might have been saved a lot of trouble.