Friday, September 30, 2016

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Let's escort September into history with a new collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage, shall we? ...

Sometimes, you have to wonder about either the eyewitness or the sketch artist ...

Hey, 12 cents is 12 cents when you're on a fixed income ...

Just the dish to enjoy during the election season ... 

I wonder about that "Ear Speculation Meat" ...

Sometimes the surveillance camera footage isn't especially helpful ...

At this price, you should get two ...

I've never seen bra size as a recipe measurement before ...

Send CV and a self-addressed, stamped envelope ...

I think I'll stick with the spaghetti, thank you ...

Well, hell, I can get that in a German restaurant ...

And that's your last set of Great Moments in Editing and Signage for September. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for the ritual turning of the calendar page and the first Cartoon Saturday in October.

More thoughts then.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Helping You Sort Through the BS

In the roiling wake of the first Clinton-Trump debate and as we move into the end game of the 2016 Presidential scrum, I thought it was time to dig out a few useful charts to help you think properly amid the outright lies, distortions, spin, and general BS ... these are complex charts, so click 'em to embiggen them for easier reading.

First, here is a guide to 20 cognitive biases to which we are all subject, which will hopelessly screw up your ability to make rational decisions ...

This chart is much more detailed and does not include the level of explanation of the previous chart, but it has plenty of information to steer you in your search for more understanding. If you can't read the attached image, click here to go to the source ...

Don't want to go to that much trouble and thought? Just remember this ...

Don't thank me. Use them.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for September's last collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage. More thoughts then. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's in a Name?

The United States Air Force recently announced the name of the new long-range stealth bomber now in development. The B-21 will be known as the "Raider," in honor of the Doolittle Raiders who flew the first bombing mission to Japan in World War II.

There is a long tradition of giving fearsome, intimidating names to weapons of war. World War II Germany fielded the "Tiger" and "King Tiger" tanks, and American warplanes have borne names like "Flying Fortress," "Superfortress," "Avenger," "Lightning," "Thunderbolt," and "Warthog." A weapon should make our enemies quake in their hobnailed boots - naming a warplane after a flower wouldn't have the same effect.

In seeking a name for the new bomber, the Air Force held a competition in which airmen were encouraged to submit proposed monikers. About 2,100 "original" names were submitted, and the list of finalists from which the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff made their selection was:

Liberator II
Mitchell II
Night Fury
Shadow Fortress
Zeus II

However, the full list of submissions* included some ... interesting ... recommendations. Here are a few of them:

Lurking Sasquatch
Nukey McMeltface
Chuck Norris
Hammer Time
1,000 Schools
Insert Sponsor
Bomble Bee
Cost Overrun
D.E.A.T.H. (Deterring Enemies Around The Hemisphere)
Hole in the Sky to Throw Money Into
Mecca Wrecka**
Primordial Atlas
Sequester Bomber

You can read the entire list here.

The cascade of tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, and politically incorrect submissions was expected, based on the experience of the British government when it sought names for its new polar exploration ship by means of an Internet competition. The winner was "Boaty McBoatface," although the government decided to ignore that result and name the vessel after Sir David Attenborough. One of the ship's remotely-operated submersibles, however, was named "Boaty" in a nod to the competition results.

The lesson: be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* More than 4,000 were received, many of them duplicates, which is why I mentioned the 2,100 "original" submissions above.

** The ultimate in political incorrectness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

After the Debate

Well, the first of the 2016 presidential debates is over. If you watched it, as Agnes and I did, you'll have formed your own opinions. I'll just provide a few comments based on what we saw and our interpretations thereof ...

1. In general, Mr Trump appeared angry and aggressive, and presented an apocalyptic view of a nation in hopeless decline; Secretary Clinton appeared poised, articulate, comfortable, and presented a more positive vision. Mr Trump repeatedly interrupted Secretary Clinton, which I - as an experienced public speaker - found offensive.

2. During the exchange on Mr Trump's failure to release his tax returns, Secretary Clinton said: "... the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax," to which Mr Trump replied, "That makes me smart." Clinton followed up with this comment: "So if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health."

As I've often written here, nobody likes paying taxes, but taxes provide the money our government needs to operate. Is it "smart" to legally pay no taxes? From a business perspective, probably yes. From a civic duty perspective, not so much.

3. Continuing on the issue of taxes, Mr Trump said this: "... if you want to change the laws, you've been there a long time, change the laws. I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I'm running a company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that's what I do."

Point to Mr Trump. It's not illegal to take advantage of laws that work in your favor, and in Mr Trump's view it's good business. Do the laws need to be changed? It depends on whether you're a person who benefits from the current laws or one who has no opportunities to legally evade their tax burden. In my view yes, the tax laws need to be changed to ensure that all of us - individuals and businesses - share the burden. Will it happen? Not in my lifetime.

4. Mr Trump doubled down on falsehoods that have been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked - his role in the birther controversy, his position on climate change, and his claim to have opposed the Iraq war. While he and others have painted Secretary Clinton as a "serial liar," every reputable fact-checking organization has agreed that Mr Trump has only the most tenuous relationship with the truth, and is far ahead of his opponent in his repeated use of flagrant untruths. Secretary Clinton is a politician, and every politician spins facts and events to his or her advantage ... is this "lying?" In my opinion, there's a significant difference between spinning and deliberate falsification and denial of the proven record.

5. When attacked on the subject by Mr Trump, Secretary Clinton acknowledged that she made a mistake by using a private e-mail server while serving as Secretary of State. In my view, this was less a "mistake" than a serious error of judgement that could have compromised our security. This is my most significant problem with Ms Clinton.

Well, I could go on, but here's my bottom line: people who love Donald Trump still love him and believe he "won" the debate; people who love Hillary Clinton still love her and believe she "won" the debate. Every observer can find something in the transcript that supports their views of the candidates, whether positive or negative.

Now it's up to us. The facts are out there. The important thing is to weigh them carefully and cast a good, well-informed ballot on November 8th.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, September 26, 2016

The Yellow Pages Game

Yesterday we received our updated copy of the Northern Virginia South Edition of the Yellow Pages - for those of you in other countries, it's the quasi-authoritative guide to local business addresses and telephone numbers.

The book is divided into two sections: one (the "White Pages," a straight alphabetical listing of NoVa businesses, from "A 1 Express Towing" to "Zyuzin Technology;" and the other (the "Yellow Pages") sorted alphabetically by the type of business. The latter section allows you to find, say, a plumber if you don't know the name of a specific plumber, and it facilitates your search by listing guide words at the top of each page, much like a dictionary. And this is gives rise to what we call the Yellow Pages Game.

Sometimes, the guide words at the top of each page give you some ... interesting ... combinations, and the Yellow Pages Game challenges you find outrageous combinations and then define them. Here are a few examples:

Abortion-Accountants. I'm not sure whether these are more likely to be employed by "pro-choice" or "pro-life" advocates.

Payday-Pest. The people who seem to come out of the woodwork with outstretched hands as soon as you get your paycheck.

Hair-Handyman. Because sometimes you need a specialist, like Praty down at the local Hair Cuttery who makes me look like a movie star every few weeks.

Fire-Flood. In case you need to order up a biblical scourge on your enemies.

Lawn-Lawyers. When you really want to sue the SOD ... I mean, SOB.

Chimney-Chiropractors. For those specialized repairs.

Beer-Birth. Whatever helps the woman get past labor.

Swimming-Tax. Good Gawd, they're taxing that, too??

Bankruptcy-Barrels. Where Donald Trump files his business records.

Medicines-Morgues. You're covered, regardless of the outcome of your treatment.

and one of my personal favorites:

Snow-Speech. What you hear from any candidate for office.

Dig out your local Yellow Pages and leave a comment to let us know what you found.

Have a good day and a good week. At least here in NoVa, we should have cooler weather than we've been suffering for the last few weeks ... perhaps Mother Nature is lulling us into a false sense of security before flipping the switch from "sweltering summer" to "snow up to your armpits."

More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Poetry Sunday

This past Thursday, September 22nd, was the autumnal equinox - the official first day of autumn. Each of the four seasons has its own magic, and autumn has much to recommend it: cool, crisp mornings, the splendor of fall foliage, the smell of burning leaves (where it's allowed), apple cider, football, and much more.

There are chores associated with autumn, as there are with all seasons, and Brian Fanelli writes about one of them in this poem ...

Raking Leaves 
by Brian Fanelli 

There is something soothing about the scrape of a rake,
the rhythmic process of pulling dead leaves,
bending to pick them up, dumping them
in curbside lawn bags,
something soothing about the way the sun
warms your hair one of these last
seventy-degree days as you labor past
soreness in your arms, until you forget
emails to send, reports to file,
take-home work you left at the office,
until you forget the splendid mums will shrivel,
the tree that sheds now will wear nothing soon,
and you will curse the cold.

Yes, the time is rapidly approaching when we'll curse the cold, and those who deny the reality of climate change will snort that the onset of winter proves that "global warming" is a hoax. As for me, I'll enjoy the fall weather while it's here and get ready to break out Agnes's stockpile of beautiful homemade quilts for those cold nights that are right behind.

Have a good day. Enjoy the days. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

Welcome to the last Saturday in September!

A man armed with a rifle murdered four women and injured one man at a mall in Burlington, Washington; a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been charged with felony manslaughter in the first degree after shooting an unarmed black motorist; Yahoo has confirmed that data "associated with at least 500 million user accounts" have been stolen in what may be one of the largest cybersecurity breaches ever; Texas senator Ted Cruz has endorsed Donald Trump for president, evidently forgetting that Trump is the man he once called "utterly amoral," who called him "Lyin' Ted," insulted his wife, and implied that his father was involved in the assassination of president John F. Kennedy; and 75 retired senior US diplomats have signed a letter opposing Donald Trump for president.

This week, in "honor" of the huge scam Wells Fargo pulled on millions of its customers, our cartoons are on the theme of banking and creative accounting ... because if we can't laugh, we'll all cry.

I think the word "trust" is overdue for replacement in this context ...

And he'll probably sue the estate of the other guy for the cost of the bullet ...


What an amazing development that would be ...

And following up on that ...

If a bank is too big to fail, it's too big to give a rat's ass about your measly checking account* ...

How terminology changes over time ...

So let's see ... how many bankers have gone to jail for wrecking the economy and gouging their customers? Yes, that's what I thought ...

The banks are in a tight contest with the airlines to come up with the most creative new fees and charges ...

Very, very true ...

And that's it for the last Cartoon Saturday of September and the first one of autumn. I hope you enjoyed a few laughs at the expense of the monied classes.

Agnes and I are headed up to Rockville, Maryland this morning to cheer our granddaughter Leya on in her latest rock climbing competition. She's one tough young lady ... I get winded just taking the pictures. Wish her luck!

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you again tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.


* I can tell you a personal story about that ...

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2016

Where does the time go? It's already officially fall, and time to name the

Left-Cheek Ass Clown
September, 2016

John G. Stumpf,
Chief Executive, Wells Fargo

Mr Stumpf was hauled before Congress this past week so that lawmakers puffed up on righteous anger could castigate him for the enormous scam in which thousands of Wells Fargo employees created as many as 2 million fake accounts to meet sales goals. In some cases, bank customers were charged fees for accounts they didn’t request, and Wells Fargo employees often took money from authorized accounts to create a fake new ones. In some of the worst cases, Wells Fargo customers saw their credit scores downgraded because they were late in making payments on accounts they had no idea existed.

Although Wells Fargo fired more than 5,300 "rogue" employees over the scandal, none of those fired were senior executives who were ultimately responsible for the sales goals imposed to bolster the bank's profitability. Senator Elizabeth Warren accused Mr Stumpf of "gutless leadership," noting that he earned a $19 million salary while firing thousands of lower-level employees and - as yet - not reimbursing bank customers whose lives and credit histories were damaged.

For the latest example of greed and corporate malfeasance, coupled with unwillingness to acknowledge responsibility or make appropriate restitution, John G. Stumpf is named our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2016.

Have a good day. Check your bank statements frequently. And come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Slightly Morbid Interlude

I don't often talk about matters of life and death in this blog. Except for the upcoming election.  But be that as it may, and at the risk of being a bit morbid, let's talk for a few moments about the ways we die.

According to this interesting summary, the life expectancy for an average man in 1901 was 47 years; for an average woman, it was 50. The top causes of death in 1901 were:

The top causes of death today, by comparison, are:

How about accidents? These were the top causes of accidental death in 1901:

I haven't been able to find a similar summary of the top causes of accidental death today, but this interesting chart breaks out the top ten causes of death by age group in 1914 (click to embiggen it, or go to the CDC website on Injury Prevention and Control: Data and Statistics for much more detail):

I think this is a fairly comprehensive list, but I'd add a few other causes of death to it:

- Politically-Induced Cranial Fulmination*.

- Electro-optical Cerebral Deliquescence**.

- Fecal Encephalopathy*.

- (Men Only) Accidental death from broken neck caused by rapid head snap to observe an attractive woman.

What do you think are some other under-reported causes of death today? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Head explodes as a result of cognitive distress induced by available choices of presidential candidates.

** Brain dissolves from excessive watching of "reality" TV shows.

*** Shit for brains. Common among supporters of Donald Trump.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Now Accepting Donations

If any of you happen to have any spare change lying around, why not send it to me for my latest investment opportunity?

You may recall from my posts in 2008 and 2012 that I'd really like to own a tank. Unfortunately, they're expensive and not easy to come by. But I saw this article on CNN last Friday and saw an opportunity: You Can Now Buy a Real D-Day Tank.

For a mere $440,000, I can buy a World War II era vintage M4 Sherman tank at auction ...

I'd rather have a German Tiger

or King Tiger

or a Russian T-34

but I'll settle for the Sherman. It'll be good enough for parking at the local mall, and stupid drivers probably won't try to cut me off.

E-mail me for details on where to send your donations. I'll give you a ride when I take delivery, and I'll even let you shoot the gun at political campaign signs.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.