Partially sage

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Its own pun-ishment

Despite Mr. Porretto’s suggestion that I have too much time on my hands, I continue to work long hours and strive to get something resembling an adequate quantity of sleep.

Besides, the ultimate goal of the punster is to come up with something as sick and twisted as this:

There was a boy of Italian parentage named Carbaggio, born in Germany. Feeling himself a misfit, with his dark curly hair among all those blond Nordic types, he tries to be even more German than the Germans. In late adolescence he flees to Paris, where he steals one of those brass miniatures of the Eiffel Tower. Arrested by the police, he is given a choice of going to jail or leaving the country. He boards the first outbound ship and arrives in New York. Thinking he would like a career in communications, he goes to the RCA building in Rockefeller Plaza, takes an elevator and walks into the office of General Sarnoff. Sarnoff tells him that the only job available is as a strikebreaker. The boy takes it. When the strike ends, he finds himself on a union blacklist. He goes to work making sonar equipment for a company owned by a man named Harris. After several years, his English has improved to the point where he gets a job as a disk jockey. His show is called Rock Time. He has fulfilled his destiny: he’s a routine Teuton, Eiffel-lootin’, Sarnoff goon from Harris Sonar, Rock Time Carbaggio.

Paul Desmond, who was twenty-nine the day I was born, came up with this classic bit of Parthenonsense shortly thereafter. Until such time as I can top this, I keep on keeping on.

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Only in my dreams

It appears, judging by her Web site, that Deborah Gibson is once again embracing her Debbie-ness.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she looks awfully Deborah-esque here:

Deborah Gibson

Then again, she’s 40 now.

Oh, and the dress is by Alice and Olivia, the shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti, the occasion was a pre-screening reception for 3 Billion and Counting. [Warning: brief embedded audio.]

(Previous Debitude here.)

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Spacing it out

City Council voted this week to phase in a hike in water rates over the next four years, which, says the Oklahoman, will result in the present-day average bill of $42.63 rising to $47.52 by 2013, which I calculate is an increase of just under 11.5 percent.

Mayor Cornett is quoted as saying:

“We made the policy decision that people seemed to prefer to have a smaller increase each year rather than a large increase every three or four years.”

Especially, you know, after the 5-percent increase last year.

What’s going to perplex some people is where that “average” number came from. Who’s got a water bill for a mere $42.63? Not me. And I use very little water for a person who takes eight (sometimes nine) showers a week. The difference, of course, is that what we think of as the “water” bill also covers sewer and trash service, plus a “Drainage Fee … Due To Unfunded EPA Mandate” and, if opted in, a few bucks for the ambulance service. The last bill I got from the city was for $50.84, but only $14.15 of that was clearly for water service. Under the new schedule, this will presumably rise to $16 or so.

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I’m sure it’s around somewhere

I have yet to dig into Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, and I may not, simply because if he can’t identify the Midwest, I’d hate to see what else he might have messed up.

I mentioned this last summer, in fact:

I think it begins around Columbus, Ohio — Thurberville — and stretches west. Anything below I-70 is basically southern. And that’s true right across Missouri. My Midwest is bounded on the south by I-70. It stretches all the way to about an hour east of Denver and includes pretty much all of the Great Plains states north of I-70 … You can take all of Kansas, some of Oklahoma, too.

This is not the description you’d get from anyone who’s ever actually driven on I-70, which incidentally doesn’t get within a hundred miles of Oklahoma.

But I suppose we could give Franzen the benefit of the doubt. D. G. Myers, after critiquing the same passage, made this observation in comments:

Franzen names Fitzgerald as a Midwestern writer, which reminds me of perhaps my favorite scene in The Great Gatsby. On their first drive together, Jay tells Nick that he is “the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West — all dead now.”

“What part of the Middle West?” I inquired casually.

“San Francisco.”

And if you can’t believe Fitzgerald, try Bo Diddley, who in “Say Man” (previously referenced here) claimed to be from South America, by which he meant Texas.

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Born to howl

Let’s see if I have this right. You can tune a piano, you can’t tuna fish, but look what you can do with a pack of wolves:

And no, this isn’t Auto-Tune, but an iPhone (and other iGadget) app called LaDiDa, which generates the background music for you and which costs a mere $2.99.

It might even work on blue whales, though they’re already renowned for staying in key.

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The wrath of Pythagoras

Okay, he’s dead, and even if he wasn’t dead he probably wouldn’t read Sportsday in the Dallas Morning News. But I can’t imagine him being pleased with this:

Remember your old geometry lesson about the long side of a triangle being equal to the two shorter sides. That means a dove 40 yards out and 10 yards high is 50 yards from the gun and clearly out of range.

My old geometry teacher, who was about five foot nineteen and clearly out of range, would frown, assuming he didn’t immediately go for his sidearm.

Now if you do the math correctly, you’ll find that the bird in question is 41.2 yards away. It’s still probably out of range — and you don’t want to go shooting things out of range, just on general principle — but I’m perplexed by that “old geometry lesson.” I mean, is the shot going to go 40 yards out, turn 90 degrees, and then go 10 yards straight up? And if it is going to do that, can I watch?

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Fark blurb of the week

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Justified left

This is Sonic Charmer’s description of “the leftist problem in general”:

[H]ow does one support a system characterized largely by credentialed, centralized bureaucratic privilege and unconstrained power, while continuing to always posture as an egalitarian populist on the side of the masses?

This would seem like an invitation to cognitive dissonance. Then again, we can rationalize our way out of anything if we work at it a bit:

The answer seems to be to continually harness your brainpower to come up with elaborate theories about this and that (why things are so bad for others, etc.), and in particular to extrapolate whatever conflicted personal hang-ups and obsessions you happen to have into a social theory. Hence, “I didn’t keep my kid out of that school cuz it was mostly Hispanic, I kept my kid out of that school because, um, the teachers are so bad. Which raises a troubling social question, why are Our Society’s Teachers so bad? We need to fix that, and you should put me in charge of fixing that!”

“Fixing that,” in general, means throwing more and more money at it under the assumption that — well, actually, you can’t tell what they’re assuming, unless it’s the standard government-as-tumor dynamic: grow or die. One of the few departures from this mindset came via Oklahoma City’s MAPS for Kids, which put half a billion dollars into eliminating “inadequate facilities” as an excuse for crummy schools. Indeed this qualified as throwing money at it, but I admire its approach: isolate a variable and see if it makes a difference. What’s more, voters approved the temporary tax that financed the program, which makes it a lot easier to bear than the usual top-down spending decrees, especially the ones relying on so-called “Federal funds” glommed from the population at large; no one from Bangor or Bakersfield paid for any of this, unless he happened to be around here and bought something during the period the tax was in effect. (If he stopped at Mickey D’s and spent $5.99 on a combo meal, six cents went into the MAPS for Kids kitty.)

This particular program was low on grandiosity, which is why it’s not being shouted from the housetops in Washington or New York, where people don’t want to know from minor improvements in the hinterlands: they want to Save The World, dammit, and they want to make sure you know it. If Walmart, presumably via China, started selling a reliable, low cost Conscience Salve (use only as directed), they’d buy it in ton lots. Or more likely, they’d send the staff to buy it in ton lots, lest they themselves be seen in Walmart.

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Can’t we all just get along?

A bumper sticker we can get behind, so to speak:

Variations on the Coexist theme

This is apparently actually available; my attention was drawn to it here. (Source updates would be appreciated.)

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Wisdom of the ages

I can find no fault whatever with this declaration:

“Do not cheap out on the specially designed adhesive for merkins!”

Just thinking about the consequences of using inferior fastening techniques is making me squirm.

(See also “People for the Merkin Way.” Better yet, don’t.)

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Sometimes things just take a while

For instance: World War I will end this weekend.

Wait, what?

The First World War will officially end on Sunday, 92 years after the guns fell silent, when Germany pays off the last chunk of reparations imposed on it by the Allies.

The final payment of £59.5 million writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

And who’s getting paid, exactly?

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the ‘war guilt’ clause, accepting blame for the war.

By coincidence — or maybe not — Sunday, 3 October 2010, is the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Germany, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Sans professionalism

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. That word is “professional”:

Terra Southern Professional Plaza, Tempe, Arizona

Because nothing inspires confidence like a blatant display of Comic Sans.

This is just one example of the graphic horrors on display at Your Logo Makes Me Barf. Seriously.

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Going out with stylus

Dust thou art, and unto something that needs dusting thou mayest yet return, for a none-too-small fee:

And Vinyly, a UK-based outfit, has this offer: after you die, you can have some of your cremated ashes pressed into a vinyl record. (A tagline on their website says, “Pressed for Time.”)

The downside of this, of course, is that individuals you’d like to see turned into a plastic waffle won’t be until they’re actually dead, and last I looked, it was illegal to speed up the process by anything stronger than “Another piece of pie, dear?”

(Via SteveF at Daily Pundit, who anticipates a thriving market in, um, sampling.)

Addendum: Working title for this was “Vinyl resting place.”

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Tick, tick, boom

I’m assuming that this was a deliberate act and not a divinely-inspired error:

Tonight, I deleted every single song by The Hives that was on my hard drive/iTunes library (and, by extension, my iPhone and iTouch).

Basis for this assumption:

I’m treating this development as a sign of unexpected maturity.

Trini would have endorsed this viewpoint; she can’t stand The Hives.

So far, Randy Fitzsimmons has been unavailable for comment.

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Undeath tax

We knew Harrisburg was in bad shape, but I never thought they’d have to resort to squeezing money out of zombies:

Last year, about 200 of Harrisburg’s ghastly ghouls were able to do their Zombie Walk through the city’s downtown without hassle or fees. This year, the city gave the brain-lovin’ bunch the news that they would have to pay $450 in march and permit fees, plus insurance.

A pound of flesh, as it were.

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