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December 31, 2006

2006: We the reasonable

WE SPENT FIVE years acting hysterically, like a nation that was in a fight with Ricky Ricardo. We were insane people, screaming about politics, shoving tiny American flags on the corners of our news shows, convincing ourselves that flipping houses was a real job. There was a moment there when we even considered shunning French fries.

But in 2006 it all changed. This was the year of adulthood, of sobriety, of pragmatism: the year of acting reasonably. The kind of year when you calmed down, thought it through, weighed your options and realized that there is no upside in telling the media that, yes, it does kind of suck when the vice president of the United States shoots you in the face.

All of a sudden, we decided to approach events unemotionally. In fact, we were downright boring. At this point in Vietnam, college kids were destroying campuses and growing incredibly unflattering facial hair. In 2006, we asked a bunch of retirees to meet for a study group about Iraq. If they had done a better job, we'd probably be moving on to solving the Palestinian issue with a book club. And the Iraq Study Group didn't come up with the radical solution that everyone expected. Instead, it reasonably advised that — slowly, when no one is looking — we get the hell out of there.

It was such a serious, reasonable year that, in an affront to every study ever done about human psychology, millions of people willingly paid $7 to see Al Gore give a slide-show demonstration about carbon emissions.

Faced with the opportunity of giddily discovering a bunch more planets and getting people excited about space for the first time in 50 years, astronomers convened in the most sober of places, Prague, and had their head astronomer guy declare that if tiny, wobbly Pluto is a planet, then my astronomer butt is a planet too.

The symbol for this year was America's most rational man, Warren Buffet, deciding that the best use of $37 billion was to give it away. It turns out you can sock away a lot of money by not getting new glasses since 1896.

Even people with a long record of insanity suddenly became well-reasoned deciders. President Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld. Whitney Houston divorced Bobby Brown. Britney Spears, the Elizabeth Taylor of our time, left Kevin Federline. Homeland Security responded to London's liquid bomb plot by allowing us to put lotion in see-through bags. Donald Trump met with a troubled Miss USA and restrained himself from firing her. Ford got rid of the Taurus. Jack Abramoff, when arrested for corruption, had the good sense to literally wear a black hat. Alan Keyes walked out of an interview with Borat. Oprah lectured James Frey about the rigors of journalism. The Wiggles, unlike all child super groups before them, were able to pass leadership down in a bloodless transition.

When marketing campaigns tried to fool the masses, the masses rebuffed them using the complex risk-analysis skills we learned from Howie Mandel. As much as we loved talking about it, there was no way we were going to actually see "Snakes on a Plane." We used E. coli as a brilliant excuse to stop eating spinach forever. We decided the best way to play video games isn't fiddling with a lot of buttons on a PlayStation 3 but swinging the controller wildly like it was an actual sword or a tennis racquet on our Wii's. Being reasonable, it turns out, often makes us look even dorkier.

It's as if we all got together and tried to prove that James Surowiecki book right. We voted Tucker Carlson as the first one off "Dancing with the Stars." We quit pretending we were going to use Mario Batali's tips on braising pig cheeks and instead watched intently as Rachel Ray showed us the proper way to cut the plastic off of food. It only took us one week to reject Katie Couric as a news source. We heard John Kerry try to tell a joke and decided it was not funny before we even figured out what he meant. We voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger because he made the environmental promises that Bush wouldn't. And we otherwise voted for Democrats based solely on the fact that they were not Republicans.

Principles, we learned, are overrated in this complicated world. When crazy Muslims start killing people over harmless Muhammad cartoons, newspaper editors put aside their journalistic responsibilities, consider their own safety and stop running Muhammad cartoons. When Judith Regan decided to print a too-cleverly-titled book about O.J. sort of, kind of, not really confessing, we thought long and hard and realized there's absolutely no reason there should be a publishing industry in Los Angeles.

People were so levelheaded, I wouldn't be surprised if in the next five days left in the year, everyone sells their hedge-fund shares.

If we keep this pragmatism up for a little longer, maybe we will have an ideology to export to the Middle East after all.

-Joel Stein
LA Times Columnist

I apologize for my laziness and infrequent posting- vacation is just too sweet to have to think about bullshit and I am taking advantage of it. This column by Joel Stein is a great piece that I wanted to share (rip off) on my blog. He nails it so often and I find myself saying, "Damn, that's exactly what I wanted to say."

December 29, 2006

Ding Dong Saddam is dead!

Can someone tell me where to send Cindy Sheehan and Koffi Anon sympathy cards? I'm sure they are devastated. On second thought, I'll just send the cards to Hell; they can pick them up later. And tonight starts the eternal pineapple-ass-reaming as Saddam enters through the gates of Hell- Abandon all hope, asshole.

I only wish our justice system doled out sentence this quickly.

Good old fashioned hanging

Here is a reenactment of Saddam's execution. For those of you feint of heart, suck it up.

December 28, 2006

Juice Bonds

This has to be the biggest "no shitter" in the history of baseball. Courtesy of The Onion:

SAN FRANCISCO—With the publication of a book detailing steroid use by San Francisco Giants superstar Barry Bonds, two San Francisco Chronicle reporters have corroborated the claims of Bonds' steroid abuse made by every single person who has watched or even loosely followed the game of baseball over the past five years.

Read more.

December 19, 2006

Cartoon legend passes

Joseph Barbera, half of the team that founded the Hanna-Barbera Studios in 1954, died today. I would imagine that most kids today have never heard of Hanna-Barbera but my generation sees these two men as the creators of some of the most lovable icons of pop culture- Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Smurfs, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, Quick Draw McGraw, Mogilla Gorilla, Scooby-Doo, The Snorks, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, Space Ghost, Birdman, The Banana Splits, Josie and the Pussycats, the animated Harlem Globetrotters, Superfriends, Jabberjaw, Captain Caveman, Hong Kong Fooey, The Snorks and even the Go-Bots.

To this day, at the age of 37, I have stop channel surfing when I come across Tom & Jerry. It is refreshing to still see animation showing good old fashioned animal-on-animal violence that hasn't been censored by an overly sensitive minority who hates the cartoon. I do have my current favorite animation shows like Family Guy, Futurama, and South Park and I enjoy watching Spongebob with my son (admittedly, I religiously watched Beavis & Butthead and most of the Simpson) but most of the cartoons today seem to be lacking something that made watching them fun- something that made me jump out of bed on Saturday mornings, even earlier than when I got up for school, and sit for hours until my mother kicked us out of the house.

Bravo, Mr. Barbera. You will be missed.

December 18, 2006

Study shows teens do stupid things

I had to shake my head when I read the headline called Why Teens do Stupid Things. The results, announced this week, were published in the September issue of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

So, why do they do stupid things, you ask? Here is the reason:

"...the desire for acceptance among peers wins out in the decision-making process of a young mind. Teens often decide that the benefits of risky behavior immediate gratification or peer acceptance."

Teens also take 170 milliseconds longer to ponder situations than adults. That's it, 170 milliseconds? My computer has more lag than that when I am surfing the internet.

Good job, jackasses. You just confirmed what parents of teenagers have known for the last 300 years or so. If you would like to read some more revleations in teen behavior like these subjects- Why Teens are Lousy at Chores, Human Nature: What We Learned in 2006, A Brief History of Human Sex and Why Teens Don't Care- then visit the link above. Those psychologists are all over it.

Sen. Johnson outlook seems hopeful

A comment by Opinionnation on my last post about the SD Senator reaffirmed just how much class the Republican party has over the Dems. Oh, the GOP has its embarrassments to be sure, but there seems to be less whinning and venom when events unfold that aren't in their favor and when things do go their way they seem to be more graceful in acceptance.

Senator Johnson is doing pretty well considering he had his head cut open and coverage continues on his status.

Opinionation commented on the press coverage Steve Centanni and his cameraman recieved when they were held by terrorists. The supposed $2M paid for their release was like a dog biscuit thrown to a hungry Rotweiler when that tidbit made it to press. The NYT focused more on the staged conversion to Islam of the two hostages than anything else.

I am sure a guick search could reveal more results of mind numbing behavior from the Dems, thier poor loser crying aside, but I am off to fight the holiday crowds and torment the local Santa with more kids to sit on his lap.

December 14, 2006

Hanging in the balance

Not many people have heard of South Dakota’s Governor, Mike Rounds, but he could soon be one of the most important people of the post mid-term Democratic sweep of the both the Senate and the House.

Including the two Independents who are working the Democratic mooring lines around the cleats, the Democrats enjoy just a 51-49 margin of power in the Senate; certainly not the sweeping blowout they would have you believe judging by their actions the day after election day. But, like in a company who’s CEO owns 51% of the stock, that’s all the Dems need to keep the GOP in limbo. The Senator from South Dakota, Tim Johnson(D), suffered a stroke yesterday during an interview and had to undergo emergency brain surgery. What does this have to do with Governor Mike Rounds? Let’s have a little civics lesson.

If a senator cannot fulfill his term then it is up to the Governor of the state to which the senator was elected to fill the slot with someone of his/her choosing. So, if the Governor is Republican he will, more than likely, choose a replacement of his own party. Makes sense, right? If Governor Rounds selects a Republican senator the majority will be lost and the Democrats will be on an even-steven playing field with the republicans. So, during a tie in the Senate, who casts the tie-breaking vote? The Vice President, of course. So tricky Dick (sorry, Nixon) could have a no shit civic duty to perform involving shooting down a Democrat pushed bill instead of shooting someone in the face with a shotgun. Neato!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not waiting for Senator Johnson to croak so that my party can get into the Senate and I hope he pulls through. But I don’t think for one nanosecond that the Dems wouldn’t take the same opportunity to capitalize if the tables were turned. To sum up this situation, I turn to my favorite online RPG- World of Warcraft (WoW).

The Republicans represent the Alliance and the Democrats represent the Horde. The Horde run in packs and will take every opportunity to gank an Alliance who is by himself. When the same opportunity falls into the Alliance hands we take it but then it is the Horde who bitches about it. Pot calling the kettle black classico. The situation with Senator Johnson would play out like this if it was a WoW scenario except that it would be a one on one gank, this time in favor of the Alliance. Still with me?

Geeky scenario aside, the GOP should take full advantage of this opportunity and level the playing field because you know damn well the Dems would do it. In fact, they did when a Minnesota senator and his family were killed in a plane crash. Admittedly, the circumstances are different- there was not such a narrow margin of control- but, to me, that is irrelevant.

December 10, 2006

Mercury, Mars, Jupiter are aligned

The freaks are running for cover until the 14th of December because Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter have aligned themselves in a very small section of the sky. In fact, to the naked eye, they will look like a lopsided triangle.

These planets, especially Mars, may be hard to spot—even with binoculars—because of the twilight glare.

Given a bird’s-eye view of the solar system, you’d notice that relative to Earth, these planets are situated on the far side of the sun right now. All three planets orbit the sun eastward—or as seen from Earth, in the direction of the sunrise point on the horizon. Because Mercury orbits the sun much more quickly than Earth does, Mercury will drop closer to the glare of the sun day by day. As seen from Earth, Mercury will pass behind the sun in early January.

The Earth, meanwhile, orbits the sun more quickly than either Mars or Jupiter. Because the Earth travels eastward at a faster clip, these two planets will appear to climb upward in the dawn twilight throughout December. Next to Mars, Jupiter moves eastward at a snail’s pace. Therefore, Jupiter’s ascent into the morning twilight will be profound, whereas that of Mars will be rather low key.

Here's how it looks from Maui

December 3, 2006

School of Rocks

I apologize for the sparseness of my posts but I have been very busy with work, preparing for retirement, playing World of Warcraft, job hunting, and finishing up my Masters. Below I have some quotes from people in my Masters class, some of whom only 1 class from graduation. I have followed these people, painstakingly, from class to class and I dread seeing them every time.

I would love to play just 10 minutes of a conversation in our classroom but I’m afraid the excruciatingly long diatribes, most of which have nothing to do with the professors questions, would cause you to go into a catatonic trance from which only a whack from a wooden blackjack would break.

“He do evaluations…”
“Many bidnesses…”
“Donalds Rumfeld”
“helf care”
“These are mines…” (used as a possessive, not floating explosives)
“They might axe you a pacific question” (Got a two-fer there)
“You can see favoritism in all faucets of the organization”
“People will put on a fas-kahd”
“lackadaisy attitude”
“unhappy with company constrictions”
“We all in the Army knows this”

This was about half a notebook page of gems not including the conversation by an Army recruiter who tried to tie in the empowerment of recruiters to do their job to Condoleeza Rice and Colon Powell’s relationship. This person always tries to tie her job into whatever the professor is talking about at every opportunity. She is only the second woman I have ever called a dork.

Although I am in the military, and normally the only Navy person (let alone submariner), I do not talk about what I do very much unless specifically asked. I think these people are going to have serious issues letting go of their military speak and transitioning to civilian life.

In all fairness, most of them have good intentions but they just cannot develop or deliver a coherent thought. Fortunately I do not have to work with these nimrods and only have a few more classes with them.