Monday, December 31, 2012

Concrete thinking

Some vegans don't eat honey because it's an animal product. Some do, because honey isn't secreted by bees but actually manufactured by them and harvested by beekeepers who provide luxurious homes and protection from bears and skunks in exchange, making the whole thing a refreshing example of interspecies commerce, especially since the bees are free to leave at any time. Meanwhile, a study from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of California, Berkeley shows “landscapes with large amounts of paved roads... have lower numbers of ground-nesting bumblebees.” I'm guessing that's because cement is harder than dirt.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Although his sideburns were miraculous.

Everybody knows what today is, right? Of course. Matthew Arnold's 190th birthday. Belongs in the Gallery of Wacky 19th-Century Facial Hair, next to the oft-cited Horace Greeley. A smart guy, probably a nice guy, and somebody whose ideas are worth pondering as we search for the real meaning of this holiday season."To pass from a Christianity relying on its miracles to a Christianity relying on its natural truth is a great change. It can only be brought about by those whose attachment to Christianity is such, that they cannot part with it, and yet cannot but deal with it sincerely."

Monday, December 17, 2012

I could use some Victory Gin.

Oh. Okay. Now I get it. It's doublespeak. When they talk about a right, it means they're taking something away from us. The “right to life” means that certain elective medical procedures are not solely the business of you and your doctor; it's the government that gets the final decisive word. The “right to work” means that after all the strikes called and all the heads busted, you can no longer organize effectively and your grandfather froze his ass on the picket line for nothing. And the “right to bear arms?” We all know what that means.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Memo to self:

If you'd have been smart, you'd have planned for this and had something to fall back on. You'd have squirreled something away for a rainy day. You'd have made hay while the sun shone, feathered your nest. Gathered your rosebuds, as it were. Instead you robbed Peter to pay Paul, sowed your wild oats, burned the midnight oil at both ends and never thought about the inevitable, that someday it would be time pay the piper. So now you're hanging on by your fingernails with your back against the wall, staring into the abyss.... Jeez, I still need 6 words.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The NRA should love this.

Do you think there is a sizable subset of gun owners who concurrently give a rat's ass about how many kids are blowing each other to glory over beefs so trivial nobody can actually remember who dissed who first? I certainly hope so. In fact, I'm willing to assume so. That's why I'm inviting them to join me in supporting Guns 4 Grads, a program that reaches out to at-risk youth with after-school programs that combine history lessons with the chance to assemble their own Kalashnikov rifle. The goal: a well-regulated militia of politically aware poor people with assault weapons.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Say cheese.

In the news this morning: New research links smoking and cognitive decline. Actually, the headline used the term “brain rot.” Because the reporter probably smokes, and, you know, syllables. Simultaneously, other research suggests that certain psoriasis drugs may actually slow the process of dementia. So are you thinking what I'm thinking? Probably not. Because I'm thinking Noxema cigarettes. They can't taste any worse than Kools, and will leave your lung cilia lustrous and easy to manage. Actually, the research only shows reduced dementia in mice, not people. How can they tell? What does a mouse really have to remember?

Monday, November 19, 2012

A man needs a dream.

The Pencil Museum is located in England, at Keswick, Cumbria, the site of historic graphite mines and the place where the first graphite pencils were manufactured. I enjoy pencils, and I like to think that I utilize them in a responsible and appropriate manner. But the distance between my home and the Pencil Museum is in excess of 4,000 miles, many of them over the justly famous Atlantic Ocean, creating a serious impediment to ambulation. So a casual visit is out of the question. It's something to be planned for, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Like the Hajj, but much, much sillier.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I live a half block from a kindergarten playground. On warm days, the sound of 5-year olds at play drifts into my yard. It's prettier than wind chimes. Real estate ads should include it as a selling point. Here's an odd thought. Over a billion years or so, the tremendous pressures found about 100 miles down in the cratonic lithosphere can turn normal dingy looking carbon-bearing rocks into lustrous diamonds. With humans, it's the other way around. We start out bright and shiny and over time we become dull lumps. How unfair, to be born butterflies and turn into worms.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I've been very, very good.

You know that good feeling you get when you do something nice? That’s a kind of vanity, right? Whether it’s Bill Gates handing out billions for the Betterment of All Mankind, or me remembering to dim my headlights on a winding nighttime mountain road, nothing feels better than knowing you’re the Good Guy. So being the recipient of a good deed is an act of charity. Therefore, we should all strive to be worthy of the good deeds of others. This may involve sacrifices like allowing people to wait on you hand and foot. That’s something to feel proud of.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Oh. And also, get off my lawn.

Apparently, somewhere in Ohio there's a single solitary mope so feeble-minded to as yet have no presidential preference. That's the vote they're going to spend a combined $1 billion to influence. It's like betting big bucks on where a chicken will crap. Me, I voted already. I got a little sticker that says “I voted early.” Shouldn't I now be exempt from campaign coverage? Seriously, this is like having all the news you want to read or hear preempted by nonstop professional wrestling. Not actual matches. Just the parts where fat guys grab the mike and shout themselves hoarse.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breathe Easy

William Fisk of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has studied the effect of CO2 levels on cognition. Outdoors, normal carbon dioxide levels are 350 to 400 parts-per-million (PPM). Indoors, 600 PPM is considered excellent, and 1,000 is normal. Fisk gave his subjects a bunch of cognitive tests in increasing CO2 concentrations. And the more carbon dioxide they breathed, the dumber they got. 1,000 PPM was bad enough, but up around 2,500 they got positively moronic, basically incapable of rational thought. Thank goodness you only get levels like that when folks are jammed together in a board room or legislative chamber.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scaling the heights

Dang. This guy takes a balloon higher than anybody ever, then jumps off. Here's one way to visualize the distance he covered. Imagine you're so vast that to you the world looks the size of a basketball. You're hovering there in space next to Basketball Earth, and maybe 8 yards away hangs a baseball-sized gray stone: the Moon. If you lean way in, your vast, cool, and unsympathetic eye can detect satellites in low-Earth orbit, about one centimeter from the surface. And from this perspective, Felix Baumgartner dove from a height of around one millimeter, 39 thousandths of an inch.

Monday, October 8, 2012


As I age I'm going to be cranky and weird; the years won't change me. Remember those rock 'n' roll movies where the parents were dead set against this scandalous new music until some greasy but essentially good-hearted lad saved a whole school bus full of puppies or something and then Mom and Pop sanctioned a record hop right in their living room, bringing in plates of cookies and pitchers of lemonade and even joining in with their own ludicrous attempt at doin' the jerk or the twist as the kids all chuckled and the credits rolled? Anything but that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Popcorn Mackerel

Science! It seems that as ocean temperatures rise, the size of fish diminishes. It has to do with oxygen levels, body temperature, and metabolic rates. That's from research led by Dr William Cheung from the University of British Columbia. It seems global warming causes existing fish species to grow drastically smaller than we're used to. Dr. Cheung also writes that the resulting midget fish may have trouble reproducing, with devastating results for the world's fisheries. The good news is, who wouldn't want to open a little can of whole tarpons, or get a bunch of teensy sturgeon on their pizza?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I much prefer Sally.

Ayn Rand is back in the conversation, that tired old hypocrite, that lying apologist for larceny and privilege. And as always, those who beat the drum loudest for her philosophy are primarily middle-managers and shopkeepers, people of quite modest talent and accomplishment. That's not to say there aren't those who could be said to exemplify her tenets, to have succeeded thereby. But they're smart enough to shut up about it, to understand that crowing about it can only weaken you. Who, for example? How about the Hawaiian mulatto who is currently the most powerful single human being on the planet?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gimme a match and I'll check the gas tank.

You expect me to believe a crappy video is making people go on murderous rampages because they feel they've been insulted? Why didn't every new Jerry Lewis movie cause chaos on the short bus? How come the first episode of the Beverly Hillbillies didn't spark violent riots all across Appalachia? Why haven't we seen James Cameron's head on a stick? What I'm saying is, you don't want to focus too much on a single trigger event. Gavrilo Princip was not the mastermind behind the collapse of four or five empires any more than yodeling has the power to create avalanches.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rock Stars Driving Cabs

A lot of people I know make their living doing work they never trained for, but stumbled into. I know a guy with a degree in architecture who writes press releases for hybrid corn, for instance, and a trained physicist who runs nursing homes. I'm not even including all the Drama Majors who are currently acting like waiters and waitresses. Then there's people who train to do exactly what they end up doing – welders, scientists, professors. The weird outlier is dentistry. I don't see how you could just stumble into the job, but who the hell would choose it?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Guess what I had for breakfast

Life can be cruel. Early last week I was telling this one guy, “Man, I'ma hit the thrift stores and find me a waffle iron.” (Because I was thinking of eating waffles.) And he says, “I think there's two of them at our house.” And I'm all, “You're a very lucky person have two waffle irons when some of us have substantially fewer than a single waffle iron to our name.” And he goes, “Do you want a waffle iron? Free?” And he brings it over. And then a hurricane knocks out the power for the rest of the week.

Monday, August 27, 2012

(formerly Formosa)

Ofttimes, imaginary people will ask me questions that help me to start a paragraph. For instance, this morning a purely hypothetical human, let's call her Vivian Blomquist, said to me, “Dave, where do you go for latest late-breaking news you need for your active lifestyle?” A crooked grin crossed my lean features as I replied. “Vivian,” I said, “I get most of my news from the BBC. I like their hardhitting style and unflinching take on today's modern world we live in. Like today I learned that Taiwan's Minister of Environmental Protection is recommending that men sit down to pee.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Driving Force

So have you ever done that thing where you've decided to go out for dinner and you're discussing different places you might go and you're working toward consensus and you maybe disagree on what to eat like Italian or Vietnamese or Lebanese and then you think about that one place downtown you both really like and it’s been a while since you went there and it’s Wednesday so they shouldn’t be busy and it’s perfect until you remember how terrible the parking is in that neighborhood so you change your mind? Did your car just tell you where to eat?

Monday, August 13, 2012

In Memorium, and best left there.

I just found out that Gloria Winters died about two years ago. She was Sky King's pretty niece Penny, and she made a man of me. I have no intention, however, of locating and watching any old episodes. It would be disappointing. The influences of your youth often are. Like, I saw some Man from UNCLE and I Spy reruns, and they're pretty terrible. But it varies: Seuss and Kubrick hold up really well, Salinger not so much. It's embarrassing how Catcher in the Rye once perfectly captured my inner being, and now seems so shallow, callow, and snotty. Ouch.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Also umpires, I'm told.

Some musicians have Blind as their first name, like Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, or Blind Lemon Jefferson. Some others are blind but it doesn't get top billing; nobody says Blind George Shearing or Blind Jose Feliciano. But the question is, does being blind help your playing, or is it that you're just less likely to go for a career as an airline pilot or film editor? It's said that loosing one sense improves the others, and that may be true. We've all met people without a sense of humor who compensate with a heightened sense of their own importance.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Personal Creed

I believe that it is simply wrong for anyone to put mayonnaise on a corned beef sandwich at any time, and also that you might want to give tapioca another chance. I believe no person should make sweeping statements like “Violence is not the answer” without waiting to hear the question. I believe in electrical potential, and in the power of batteries. I believe in the healing properties of Pepto-Bismol, calamine lotion, and by extension all that is pink and viscous. And finally, I truly believe that Zorro and Tarzan would get along really well if they ever met.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps.

Do you ever seriously think about the future? I don't mean pie in the sky conjecture about what you'll do when you win the PowerBall. And also I don't mean apocalyptic visions of a blasted post-holocaust Road Warrior landscape. I mean real, practical planning about what we'll all be doing as we approach the middle of the 21st century. I know I do. I think about whether to bother trying to influence events; am I fated to believe in free will, or should I choose to accept predetermination? And also, I worry that our rocket belts may bind and chafe.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Brando in “Don Juan DeMarco?" Maybe 1.34.

Some things are difficult to quantify. That's frustrating to marketers, who like metrics because that's how they get paid. So I've invented a new one, the measure of Absolute Coolness. One Brando Unit is defined as how cool Marlon Brando was at his coolest moment. That's way too cool for everyday use, so we break it down into tenths- the deciBrando (dB) to precisely state the coolness of ordinary stuff. 1965 Mustang? 6.84 dB. Eartha Kitt? 8.67. And, just as a hypothetical, the only 9.99 I can imagine would be Miles Davis and James Dean strapped together with a rattlesnake.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Human figure added for perspective.

What I am about to tell you isn't exactly breaking news, but it's new to me. I've learned that about 2.4 billion years ago, free oxygen created by a group of tiny photosynthetic organisms called cyanobacteria caused the extinction of untold numbers of species that had evolved to live in the hitherto oxygen-free atmosphere of the planet Earth. Every air-breathing species that exists or has ever existed since then does so thanks to this catastrophic die-off, which has come to be called the Great Oxygen Event, although it seems unlikely the organisms involved actually referred to it as such.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fire Up the Barbeque. I'll Bring the Word Salad.

There was a guy named Clifton Webb, right? And he wasn’t the same guy as Jack Webb, or Montgomery Clift, or Lucy Maude Montgomery? Or what about that tall woman who played Maude, Bea Arthur? And that Douglas MacArthur, gee, good thing Ike throttled him back when he did. Throttle because carburetors have throats, see. You can throttle ‘em, and you can choke ‘em. You don’t actually throttle an injected engine. You don’t dial a phone either. See, this happens whenever I think about Independence Day, and then about the Constitution. Because it guarantees the right to associate freely.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Class Act

A few generations back you spent most of every day hunting and gathering shoots seeds rodents larvae etc. to eat. Once you were all full, you and the gang might amuse each other with stories or music or pictures or dancing. And if one of you had said, “Hey, tell you what. I'll free you from the drudgery of dancing and singing and painting and storytelling if you'll gather enough extra food every day for me to eat,” you'd have said, “Screw that. You're talking about the fun part.” So why do we put up with it now?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Am I overthinking this?

I hate to discard pants that are still good enough for painting. I also hate painting, so I don't need a lot of painting clothes. Still, I just can't see throwing these pants away when they've got some life in them. Also, they're clean, so there's the soap, water, and energy investment to consider. If I'm going to throw them away, I should wear them once more and throw them away dirty. That's less wasteful. They're too good to toss, too worn out to give to the thrift store. As a matter of fact, they came from the thrift store.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Warning: Graphite Content

Longtime readers will be aware of my abiding interest in pencils of abnormal dimensions. It started with my groundbreaking expose of the now discredited Big Pencil of Wytheville, Virginia, which turned out to be merely a replica in sheet metal rather than an actual Very Large Pencil (VLP). I also have great affection for unusually small pencils, such as those in dainty leather loops in tiny ladies' datebooks. (Tiny datebooks- not ladies.) This all comes to mind because today is Sharpening Day. You may see me wandering around later with a dreamy smile, in a tangy cloud of cedar fumes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where's George Carlin when you need him?

Now we got this invasive arthropod in the Gulf of Mexico called the Asian Tiger Prawn, a giant foot-long shrimp. They eat smaller shrimp, and officials are concerned that this might damage the fragile Gulf ecosystem upon which coastal shrimpers depend for their livelihoods. But probably it just requires new tactics to harvest a shrimp that weighs a pound and a half, like punching it in the face or simply hollering, “Get in the boat! Now!” as loud as you can. And on the plus side, maybe they'll learn to eat nutria.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memo. Random.

When you get a three-day weekend and it's spring and the weather is pleasant, there's a natural tendency to throw Grandma and the kids in the backseat of the Plymouth and head out to the beach for hot dogs and potato salad and Frisbee without reflecting that you don't much like any of those things, including Grandma and the kids. But that's not what this holiday is about. It's about the people who have sacrificed so much so that we may enjoy our treasured way of life. For instance, the people who wake up early to write short funny prose.

Monday, May 21, 2012

That's the way (uhuh uhuh) I like it.

First Donna Summer, and now Robin Gibb. It's like some terrible Disco Holocaust. For me, this is a chance to contemplate the fun side of mortality. Because no matter what we may accomplish, no matter what our personal triumphs and failures, no matter how many lives we touch in our brief stay here on Earth, we are all heading inexorably toward the absolute finality of eternal oblivion. Yet it is at times like these we can all take comfort in knowing that right now, up in Heaven, the angels are hearing some of the worst music you can possibly imagine.

Monday, May 14, 2012

To my millions of readers:

The head guy at Yahoo is being shown the door for lying on his resume. Here's the thing: He lied about a Bachelor's degree. Seriously, why did he bother? They say he's being forced out for the lie, but the real offense is the lack of vision, the small cheeseparing meanness of his aspirations, his pathetic poverty of chutzpah. Claiming a PhD from a tech school in Kazakhstan would have shown some imagination. Listing “Supreme Commander, Allied Forces” under previous experience would have shown some cubes. Instead, he emitted his sad little lie – no better, really, than the truth.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Seriously. Waterskis?

If somebody asked me, “Do you like chocolate cake?” I would respond in all honesty, “Yes I do. I do like chocolate cake.” And if they said, “Then wouldn't you like to eat chocolate cake while having sex with Rita Hayworth? On waterskis?” Well, I would have to say, “No, actually. All that at once seems a bit much.” That's why I eschew music Fests. I like to listen to music. I like snacks and conversation. I like watching strangers drink so much beer they're oblivious to the melanoma visibly sprouting from their sunburnt flesh. Just not all at once.

Monday, April 30, 2012


People used to die all the time from getting bled and cupped and purged by physicians attempting to cure ailments that might easily have resolved themselves. These doctors had theories about what was going on inside the human body that had nothing whatsoever to do with any observable outcomes, and they stuck to these beliefs even when their patients kept dying on them. When reality deviated from their theories, they declared reality to be in error. We don't so much do medicine that way these days, but governance is another story. Ideology makes smart people stupid and stupid people beasts.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stealth Bummer

Somebody just told me that whole thing of Ninjas always running around in black is wrong. This guy says the idea came from Kabuki theater, when some clever director used a black-garbed stagehand to represent an incredibly stealthy and well-camouflaged assassin, because the audience was conditioned to ignore them. Which makes sense. The key to camouflage is to resemble the expected. That's probably why my crafty “old blind ragged beggar with a tin cup” rig isn't letting me sneak into the movies for free. And why really serious enemies of the Constitution wear charcoal grey suits and big cheerful smiles.

Monday, April 16, 2012

regarding ants

I was looking at some little ants. Really tiny, even for ants. If they got into the nest of some of those large carpenter ants, the big ants would be; “Dang- we got ants.” They were hustling around in a way that looked disconnected, but they were all actually going about the business of the colony. A school of minnows, on the other hand, look like they've perfectly coordinated every move, but really it's just a bunch of identical brains reacting to identical stimulus, without any cooperation or common goal. That's the difference between a mob and a community.

Monday, April 9, 2012


You'd think finding himself waking up in a fabulous beach house on a sunny Monday morning with nothing but 100 words of drivel and a phone call or two between him and a day of splendid inactivity a guy would be feel free as a bird, light as a feather, happy as a clam, but as always it seems dark thoughts find their way into even the brightest landscape which in this case are of (number one) the heretofore unknown dusky pygmy rattlesnake and secondly that I may end up reading the John Grisham paperback I see on a shelf.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Also an oxymoron: "Foreseeable future."

If more people understood the laws of thermodynamics, we would on the whole be harder to lie to. Listen. The universe is wound up like a big watchspring. We are basking in the waste emissions of a star as it burns itself out. A mill turns because water falls downhill. A bulb glows because a battery is discharging. Rich guys think they create wealth like a toddler thinks his nose creates crunchy snacks. All gain, all profit, is essentially extractive. “Sustainable growth” is an oxymoron; life is parasitic. But still. We can try not to be ugly about it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Concept 4b: Recursive Rant in re: Ranting.

When you've written hundreds of microscopic Monday morning essays, as I have, one of your big dangers is repeating yourself. The other pitfall is writing really stupid stuff. It's like, do you want good ideas or new ideas? You don't get both. Some weeks neither. This applies to my meat avatar as well. I've noticed I only have a limited number of droll anecdotes and wry observations. Then I have to change friends. Old friends say, “How come you never call?” and I'm just; “You've heard all my good stuff.” Every couple of decades, I even change cities.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Normal Bean

There's a movie out right now called John Carter, and the critics aren't being kind. The reviewer at the Daily Telegraph called it “armrest-clawingly hammy and painfully dated." Which, I'm like, shut up. This is a movie adaptation of Princess of Mars, written 100 years ago by the same guy who wrote Tarzan, Carson of Venus, and Tanar of Pellucidar. I've read a bunch of them, and they're all pretty much the same, which is to say, hammy and dated. Plus, he's notoriously hard to translate to the screen; that film version of Naked Lunch wasn't much good either.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Universal Cowboys

As the developmentally challenged little brother of jazz, rock and roll has always followed its older sibling around trying to emulate its style and posture, if not its substance. That's why there's noise, the rock analog of free jazz. I don't hate the stuff, but I think it's like sex – most fun for the performers. But what about other genres? Why is there no Free Polka? Or Free Country? Of course, if you put a bunch of pickers in a room and told them to play whatever they felt, they'd probably settle on “Your Cheatin' Heart” in C.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our goal: keeping you informed.

It's hard not to obsess about Horace, Kansas. See, first I was thinking about Horace Greeley and his terrible, terrible neckbeard, which I've already brought to your attention. If you haven't checked out a picture yet, I suggest you do so right now, then come back and read the final 44 words of this week's rant. Ok, then. In spite of that, he has a county in Kansas named after him (Greeley) which contains an incredibly small city named Horace (pop. 70) which recently declined to consolidate with literally every other place in the county. Bet there's a story there.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hawaii and West Virginia, if you must know

Oh jeez. A new survey, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, has ranked the 50 states in order of happiness. Out of a possible 100, the happiest state scored 70.2 while the most miserable got a lowly 62.3. Not even an 8 percent spread, four points plus or minus. This may be statistically meaningless, especially since you're actually measuring how the regional culture feels about complaining. North Dakota came in second, telling me that folks in that state will say anything to keep you on the phone. Still, it's a way to fill up airtime and column inches. And rants. Those too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to the grind

Sandstone is a kind of stone that's made up of sand. Hence the term sandstone. The sand, of course, is simply tiny bits of what used to be larger rocks. It's goofy, like matzo balls. Because, why bake crackers of flour and water and crumble them up to make dumplings when you could simply make dumplings from the flour in the first place? It's just the universe keeping itself busy, is all. It would be nice to think that we are the larval stage of something better. I can find no evidence, however, to suggest that this might be true.

Monday, February 13, 2012

When your number's up

I have a cousin who had one of his ears bitten off by a horse. Even if he was the only one-eared man in the world, this would shift the arithmetic mean; the average person worldwide has slightly fewer than two ears. So in at least one sense, the vast majority of us can take pride in being above average. Then there's this: Somebody went to the trouble to figure out that the total weight of the entire human species is well over 400 billion kilograms, roughly one trillion pounds. Of course, a lot of that is fat and gristle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'll get back to you with a quote.

Fitzgerald's Law states there are no second acts in American life; that's probably why the parking lot empties out after intermission. But Wolfe's Theorem says you can't go home again, which makes me wonder where everyone goes. Off somewhere making the scene, since the world's a stage and we're all merely players. Then some people say it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Which may be true, but the only way to play the game well is to really, truly, desperately want to win. Most philosophy professors refer to this as Lombardi's Paradox.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Also, no Thurber.

I don't know why I bought a subscription to the New Yorker. Maybe the hours spent in dentists' waiting rooms have somehow conditioned me, like an old lag craving prison chow. Also, it was very cheap. But I don't think I'll be renewing. For one thing, being reminded of the world-class events I'm missing every week is making me unhappy. Then there's the house style, with its excessive use of the word “the:” “The guitarist Bill Frisell appears along with the bassist Ron Carter and the drummer Joey Baron.” I like the cartoons. But I can't stand all the articles.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Process of Elimination

It's been a while since I've updated you on biofuels. Actually, I've never updated you on this important topic. But now there's a major scientific breakthrough worthy of your attention. A team led by synthetic biologist Yasuo Yoshikuni has genetically modified the common E. coli bacterium so that it digests seaweed and excretes ethanol. So in the future there will be no fuel shortages. The next step is to introduce the relevant genes into the human body. Because once each of us can basically subsist on compost while peeing vodka, why would anybody ever need to go anywhere ever again?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Busload of Savings!

Now that the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is uniformly celebrated in all 50 states, it's easy to forget that it was opposed by Senator Helms of North Carolina, who cited the Reverend's “action-oriented Marxism” and other “radical political” views. And really, being opposed by Jesse Helms is more dignified that having a Kmart sale in your honor. Dr. King would undoubtedly be proud to know that he was being treated with same disrespect as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose commemorative holidays are also used as precepts for unseemly retail promotions. Oh, and Jesus Christ. Him too.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Like a possum-fur collar

It must be more than mere coincidence that this year's New Hampshire primary is occurring just a few weeks before the 201st birthday of one of that state's most influential and successful natives, Horace Greeley, who, even had he not died at the age of 61 while waiting for the results of a landslide defeat in the 1872 U.S. presidential election, would certainly have been dead by now anyway. Greeley's paper, the New York Tribune, was known as the Great Moral Organ. Oh, yeah: Then there's his neckbeard, which was so unpleasant looking as to defy the powers of language.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Priestly thoughts

I note with dismay that our public schools are teaching science without any reference to phlogiston theory or Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe. Since when is okay to use government dollars to support just one side in an ongoing debate? Surely there's room in our public institutions for free and lively discussion between many viewpoints. And Flat-Earthers pay taxes the same as everybody else. Also, since churches get government support in the form of protected tax status, shouldn't they be required to teach the controversy by including Origin of Species side-by-side with the Bible in their Sunday school classes?