Friday, April 20, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

After a week like this one, we all need a little taste of the innocently bizarre ...

In case you need affordable supplies for your pet termites ...

Um ... I think I'll skip this event down at the elementary school ...

Well, I can understand the "less sex" part ...

Now accepting recommendations for a change of name ... 

And there's whipped cream on sale as a garnish for the main dishes!

Somehow, I'm not surprised ...

Well, he got what he deserved ...

Gives new meaning to the term "a real steal" ...

Part of the witness preparation for the next round of indictments from the Mueller probe ...

I think I'll stick with Lucy, thanks ...

There you go ... another batch of great moments in editing for you. If nothing else, it'll get you into the mood for Cartoon Saturday.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Assessing the Odds

So, here's something interesting I found online a few days ago - click to embiggen it or, if that doesn't work, click here to see the original ...

It's a chart from a UK Accident Claims Advice website that gives your general odds of suffering a fatal injury in various situations. There are a few interesting points that arise from a brief look at the various categories of fatal situations.

For instance, you have a 1 in 358 chance of being killed by firearms in the United States, but only a 1 in 1,018,182 chance in the UK. The odds of death by self-inflicted gunshot are 1 in 399.

Other interesting odds include:

Your chance of being killed by "Unintentional Poisoning by Exposure to Noxious Substances*" is 1 in 96. 

The odds of death by "Accidental Strangulation in Bed" are 1 in 5,730 ... probably less if you choose your partners carefully.

And, your chances of death from a dog bite are 1 in 16,448, while death from bites by a different animal** are 1 in 3,839,216. 

Not listed under the "Self-Harming" category is death by choking on bizarre pronouncements made by the White House Press Office.

Be careful out there ... it's a dangerous world, and I need all of you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Fox News is not listed as one of the "noxious substances" to which one can be fatally exposed, but perhaps it should be.

** The type of animal is not specified, so there is conceivably a statistically measurable chance of death from an alpaca bite. Stay away from them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Balanced Budget Amendments and Other Fantasies

On April 12th the House of Representatives voted down House Joint Resolution 2, a proposed balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would have "prohibit(ed) total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year unless Congress authorizes the excess by a three-fifths roll call vote of each chamber," required a three-fifths vote in both chambers to increase the debt limit, required a majority vote to raise taxes, and required the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. All of those requirements would have been waived if a declaration of war was in effect.

Speaking as a middle-class retired guy living on a fixed income, I understand fiscal responsibility. I understand that I need to balance my budget. After all, Real People go to jail over indebtedness, and cannot avoid their obligations by waiving them in the event war has been declared. And when was the last time you saw a corporation or member of Congress go to jail because of poor budgeting?

Riddle me this, Batman ... why do we need to amend the Constitution to force Congress to do its job? Hint: it's because they want cover to protect them from the fury they'll face from voters who don't want to face the pain of running the country properly. And what's the point of amending the Constitution when the amendment provides ample escape clauses?

Politicians, Republicans in particular, are always demanding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It's a safe public relations ploy. Amendments and laws are only words, after all, unless there's the will and the willingness to obey them. And it's clear that if Congress can enact one law, it can pass another to undo or avoid it.

Forget balanced budget amendments. Pass real budgets, based on sound and thoughtful national priorities, for a change.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tax Day, 2018

Today is the last day to file your Federal income tax return for 2017 and render unto Trump what is Trump's. You'd better do it quickly, because the combination of the administration's recent huge tax cut* and its enormous budget, means Uncle Sam needs your largess as soon as possible.

Here are a few cartoons that deal with the sheer, unutterable joy of calculating your taxes ...

Good luck.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Hope you're enjoying the few dollars it got you. Of course, if you're a corporate titan or other part of the 1%, it probably looks better.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sadly Useful Synonyms

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary published a timely article in its "Words at Play" series yesterday: Seven Words for Lying. This is not only timely but very useful, given Donald Trump's at-best nodding acquaintance with the truth, as these seven synonyms can be useful to keep all the news reports from sounding the same:

Prevaricate - (verb) to avoid telling the truth by not directly answering a question. Prevarication is the noun.

Palter - (verb) to act insincerely or deceitfully.

Mendacious - (adjective) likely to tell lies. Mendacity is the noun.

Dissemble - (verb) to hide under a false appearance.

Fib - (noun and verb) a trivial or childish lie.

Equivocate - (verb) to use unclear language especially to deceive or mislead someone. Equivocation is the noun.

Perjure - (verb) to tell a lie under oath*.  The noun form is perjury.

Don't thank me. Be sorry we need so many different ways to say it, when God Almighty only needed one commandment.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Musical Sunday


Tom Lehrer, whose birthday we celebrated last Monday, was one of the funniest satirical musicians ever, although his peak fame lasted only a few years through the 1960s. This week, in honor of the upcoming premiere of season 2 of the HBO hit series Westworld, how about this classic from Tom Lehrer - "The Wild West Is Where I Want to Be" ...

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of the weekend! More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Quite a week we've had, eh?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill answering (and often dodging) lawmakers' questions about Facebook's data collection and sharing practices; Washington is tied in knots once again as leaked passages from the memoir of former FBI director James Comey (described by Donald Trump as an "untruthful slimeball," spun up both allies and enemies of the chief executive; House Speaker Paul Ryan became the latest GOP member of Congress to decide it's time to spend more time with his family, announcing that he will not run for reelection; after Russia threatened to shoot down aircraft or missiles targeting its Syrian allies, Donald Trump trolled on Twitter that the Russians should get ready for "nice, new, and 'smart'" missiles; and federal agents raided the home and office of Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, apparently in response to tips provided by the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

This week, in honor of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's grilling by legions of holier-than-thou (and utterly clueless about social media) members of Congress, our theme is - what else? - social media ...

It's all in how you look at it ...

I think this is how it works in the White House, too ...

Why you need to check Facebook often ...

Specialized online sites ...

A new twist on an old staple of the movies ...

High Noon, 3.0 ...

21st century menus ...

Dealing with the Trump Organization ...

TMI ...

Being careful what you post is a good idea ...

And there you have it - your social media edition of Cartoon Saturday!

It looks as if it's finally going to be a beautiful weekend here in NoVa - bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Naturally, I'll be spending it outside in an attempt to get rid of the winter pallor.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow on Musical Sunday.


Friday, April 13, 2018

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for April, 2018

How quickly time flies! It's time once again to sift through the teeming throngs of worthies and select

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for April, 2018

This time, like every time, it's hard to select a single most-worthy Ass Clown on whom to bestow the award, but I think I'm going to pass over strong candidates like Scott Pruitt, Paul Ryan, and Vladimir Putin and name as our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for the month

Mark Zuckerberg

The founder and CEO of Facebook spent about ten hours this week testifying before scores of members of Congress who were shocked (shocked, I tell you!) about Facebook's misuse of the information hoovered up from tens of millions of users.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I am an avid user of Facebook. My association with the platform began in 2009, when one of my old high school friends encouraged her classmates to start Facebook pages and post photos in advance of our 45th reunion so that we would have a better chance of recognizing each other. Since then, Facebook has been one of my major ways to remain in touch with family and friends, distribute my blog, and share my thoughts on a wide range of issues. With a background in cyber policy and security, I went into this with my eyes open, wary of over-sharing, well aware that the platform was free because the information I posted would be shared with advertisers, and carefully locking down the security of my pages as best I could - something that Facebook made difficult and cumbersome to do. What I, and many others, were surprised (not shocked, really) to learn was the extent to which the Facebook platform was able to collect information from people who didn't even use the program, and to share that information not only with advertisers*, but with political operatives who used it for nefarious ends.  

Mr Zuckerberg's defense of Facebook's policies was, in large part, disingenuous and self-serving. I would like to believe that he will change the popular service and make it harder for data miners to abuse the information we make available ... but I doubt he will either want or be able to do so. The genie is out of the bottle and the toothpaste won't go back into the tube. Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mr Zuckerberg has released powers that can be used for good or for not-so-good ... and as a result of his philosophies and business model, the not-so-good may be pulling ahead.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, Mark Zuckerberg is named as our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for April, 2008. And you can share that on Facebook if you wish.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - you know you need it. More thoughts then.


* This is, after all, the devil's bargain we make when we use "free" services.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thunderclap Headaches

About five years ago in this space, I wrote about the official announcement of the world's hottest pepper - the Carolina Reaper, with a heat index of up to 2.2 million Scoville units (for comparison purposes, a good old jalapeno pepper checks in at between 5,000 and 15,000 Scoville units).

This is, as we say, a seriously hot pepper.

Well, Dear Readers, the Carolina Reaper is back in the news in this article, which reports that a man in Cooperstown, New York, was hospitalized with a debilitating "thunderclap headache" after eating one of the brutally hot chilis in a contest*. A thunderclap headache is so called because it strikes with the force of a thunderbolt, often without warning. It can be caused by any number of triggers that drive the body to a sudden reaction ... like chowing down on a pepper so hot that people who handle them usually wear protective gloves.

According to this summary from the Mayo Clinic, other signs and symptoms of thunderclap headaches include fever, seizures, and an altered mental state**. One might argue that you need to be in an altered mental state just to consider eating a thermonuclear chili pepper, but I guess it takes all sorts of people to make up this sad old world.

So, Dear Readers, if you feel a thunderclap headache coming on, run quickly to the nearest emergency room (if you have unwisely ingested a Carolina Reaper) or to your local polling place (if you have voted unwisely in a past election).

Who needs headaches, after all?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Reminds me of the old joke that asks what a redneck's last words are ... "Hey, y'all, watch this!"

** Which can be brought on either by excessive belief and trust in a manifestly unqualified and erratic president, or by excessive fretting over ignorant and unbalanced tweetstorms.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

National Holiday Proposal

I saw an interesting comment on Twitter recently ...

I think this is a pretty good idea. 

Some of you will recall that the holiday we now call Presidents' Day was originally a celebration of the birthday of George Washington. In 1968, discussions in Congress led to the redesignation of that holiday as a general holiday honoring all of our presidents. While most of our presidents are worthy of honor and respect, I think that the shortcomings of some of them* argue against a general presidential holiday. 

The suggestion to make Election Day a national holiday has often been made, but never adopted. Considering our dismal turnout record for elections, I think it couldn't hurt to do something to make it easier for people to vote. Whether they vote intelligently is, of course, up to them.

What do you think - would replacing the Presidents' Day holiday with an Election Day holiday be a good idea? Leave a comment and let us know. I need something else to bug my elected reprehensives about.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* You can guess my opinion on at least one.