Friday, January 20, 2017

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Today is January 20th, and here in the United States it's Inauguration Day - the day on which we ceremonially transfer power and authority from the outgoing president to the incoming one. This year, the pomp and ceremony of the inauguration is likely to be overshadowed by raucous demonstrations both for and against Donald Trump's assumption of the office once held by the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. It's going to be a heck of a day.

Today is also the alternate Friday we dedicate to Great Moments in Editing and Signage, and I thought it might be appropriate to honor the incoming administration with a collection of editorial and signage wonders on a common theme ...

Yes, we're preparing for a magical invasion, as the GOP prepares to show us how they'll build a wall, fix the infrastructure, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, remove restrictions on silencers, and ensure religious freedom for those who practice the right religion ...

I'm not sure it would be considered an actual highlight, but ...

I missed out on this when I had my colonoscopy a few weeks ago ...

I think this counts as too much sharing ...

I'm curious to know how this would work ... but not curious enough to try it ...

You'd have thought they could have found a better picture ...

In whose opinion?

Nice to know ...

I think that if I tried to use this as a Valentine's gift, it could be ugly ...

Must have been a very close game ...

And there you have it - your Inauguration Day special edition of Great Moments in Editing and Signage. Don't thank me ... I think we all needed a gut check today, as we step gingerly into the new era of Trump.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

How On Earth Did I Miss This One?

Actually, I didn't miss it ... it just fell in a stretch of days for which I'd already had posts planned. But lest we fail to give it its proper due, last Sunday, January 15th, was National Hat Day.

Hats are one of our oldest forms of dress, and serve many uses: they provide protection against the sun in summer, keep the head warm in winter, cover bald spots*, designate a person's rank or social position, and serve ceremonial uses, such as the miter or biretta** worn by a clergyman.

Few men nowadays wear hats unless they're baseball caps with sports team logos or silly slogans on them***. Nevertheless, I predict that hats are about to make a major comeback with the coming of the new administration; here's a look at some of the stylish headgear you'll be seeing as the Trumpsters take charge ...

Get yours now. "Make America Great Again" engraving is optional.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Great Moments in Editing and Signage. More thoughts then.


* Not that I would know anything about that.

** No, Second Amendment enthusiasts, not Beretta. A biretta is a hat worn by a Roman Catholic clergyman, whereas a Beretta is a handgun.

*** And who decided it was okay to wear them backwards, or crooked?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Putting Suppressors on the Wrong Noisemakers

As Congressional Republicans scramble to remake the country in their image, they are laser-focused on tackling some of the most critical issues facing the nation - like removing restrictions on the purchase of "silencers" (more accurately described as "suppressors") for firearms. Somehow, the uninfringed right to own suppressors was omitted from the Second Amendment during its writing, and the GOP is anxious to redress this awful historical blunder.

What the well-equipped shooter will be carrying in the future, should the act pass.

Fox News (among others) has reported that South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan and Texas Representative John Carter, both Republicans, have introduced the "Hearing Protection Act." According to Duncan and Carter, this piece of vitally important legislation would help save the hearing of "millions" of Americans who dislike wearing hearing protection while shooting. The effort should fly through Congress, since the new Republican majority has extensive experience with the enabling of suppression. Of course, suppressing voting rights is a little different, but it's practical experience nonetheless.

Snark aside, I'm very glad that the GOP is so interested in public health. Perhaps this means they are also ready to make serious attempts to remedy the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act, bring down the price of prescription drugs, attack the Zika virus, deal with the problem of lead contamination in public water supplies, and come up with a viable plan for storing millions of tons of deadly nuclear waste.

And in any case, "Hearing Protection Act" does have a much better ring to it than, say, the "Enable Criminals to Fire Weapons without Attracting Police Attention Act."

Maybe it's just me, but I think we're putting the suppressors on the wrong noisemakers.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Hate Crimes"

One of the things I've always found interesting is that the Bible contains ten commandments (or "Ten Commandments," to put in the capitalization) which lay out the essential rules for righteous behavior. Since there are only ten of them, they can be printed on less than half of one side of a standard 8x10-inch page.

In contrast, Title 18 of the US Code of Laws ("Crimes and Criminal Procedure"), Part 1 ("Crimes") has 123 chapters which contain 2725 sections. And that's just the Federal level ... multiply that my many hundreds to account for state and local criminal laws.

So, if The Almighty only needed ten commandments, why do we need tens of thousands of laws? At what point did we decide that "Thou shalt not kill" needed to be nuanced into "Homicide," "Murder in the First/Second Degree," "Felony Murder," and "Voluntary/Involuntary Manslaughter?" Murder is the taking of a human life ... how much more do you need to parse it?

And to get to today's point, why do we need a new subset (or overlay) of laws that specify some already-defined crimes as "hate crimes?"

The FBI defines a hate crime this way on its website:

"A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate itself is not a crime."

It seems to me that any vicious crime - particularly murder and rape - is by definition a crime based on hatred, and that describing it as a hate crime doesn't necessarily make it any worse or more despicable. All it does is provide an avenue by which to generate statistics.

Let's tell it like it is. It's murder or rape or assault or arson or whatever. There's no need to call it a hate crime to prosecute it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, January 16, 2017


I recently learned an interesting new (well, new to me, anyway) word - gaslighting.

The word derives from a 1944 noir film called Gaslight, in which a husband tries to drive his young wife insane by manipulating her perception of reality. The title comes from one of his ploys, which involves raising or dimming the gas lights in their home while telling his wife that there's no change in the level of the light, causing her to question her senses.

Gaslighting has thus become a term used to describe attempts by unscrupulous individuals to sow confusion by making people question their objective reality - to doubt known facts or question their beliefs on the basis of information which is false or willfully distorted. It uses such tactics as fake news, selective quotes taken out of context, denial of evidence contrary to one's beliefs, and the credulous belief without proof in anything that agrees with one's preconceived notions.

Freida Ghitis summed it up in this thoughtful article: Donald Trump is "Gaslighting" All of Us.

Don't let yourself be gaslit for the next four years. Watch. Read. Think.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Poetry Sunday

I turned 65 last year, and think often about where I've been and where I'm going. William Butler Yeats thought about it, too ...

When You Are Old
by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Have a good day. Remember the good times, and plan to make the times to come good as well. Voting would be a good start.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cartoon Saturday

Agnes and I are on the road, cheering our granddaughter Leya on as she competes in the divisional rock-climbing championships in New Jersey. Thus, the usual news summary won't appear this week ... but I'm sure you can find enough bad news on your own.

This week, for our last Cartoon Saturday before the inauguration of president-elect Trump*, I thought a selection of cartoons about fortune tellers might be appropriate as we cringe and wait for what's to come ...

Those annoying online ads are everywhere ...

Financial advisors and fortune tellers, the same caveats apply ...

True enough ...

That's probably how it really works ...

Fortunetellers can be annoying, no matter how famous they are ...

Well, events developed as foreseen ... 

Be sure to read the sign correctly ...

Yes, that would put a damper on her business ...

Must be embarrassing ...

Sometimes, the fortune isn't as good as it first appears ...

And there you have it - just in time to help you steady yourself for the inauguration. A few shots of good stuff from the bar won't hurt, either.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then.


* I can't bring myself to say it out loud.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for January, 2017

It's a new year, which offers us the opportunity to heap well-deserved dishonor on deserving ass clowns ... and judging from the news, there will be no shortage of candidates.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, it's time to announce our first awardee of the year,

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for 2017

and the dishonor goes to

Unless you've been living in a cave in Outer Mongolia, you've heard of the uproar caused when the online news site BuzzFeed published an unverified document containing highly salacious "opposition research" about president-elect Donald Trump. The document had been provided to the president-elect as part of his intelligence briefing on Russian attempts to influence the presidential election, and was intended to warn Mr Trump of material which could be used to influence blackmail him. Someone leaked the document - which had been widely circulating in Washington for some time - to a number of news agencies, virtually all of which declined to publish it because it was both unverified and not verifiable, but BuzzFeed decided to go public with it.

Leaving aside the propriety of airing such inflammatory and unverified material, BuzzFeed's ill-considered action has helped Mr Trump do what he does best - change the topic of discussion to divert attention from legitimate issues and concerns. Publication of the document damages the image of the Intelligence Community and allows Mr Trump to continue his depiction of legitimate news agencies as unfair and politically biased against him*.

For their despicable airing of unverified information, which has caused untold damage to the image and moral authority of the press and the authority and integrity of the Intelligence Community, BuzzFeed is named as our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for the month of January, 2017.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.

More thoughts then.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Trump Thesaurus

This post is an expanded version of a shorter item I posted to Facebook yesterday. Sorry if you're having to read it twice ...

Yesterday, January 11th, President-Elect Donald Trump held his first formal press conference since July 27th of last year*. It lasted about an hour, a large part of which was taken up by an introduction in which incoming press secretary Sean Spicer yelled at the assembled press corps, a fawning introduction by Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence, a prepared statement by Mr Trump, and a lengthy presentation by Mr Trump's legal counsel Sheri Dillon concerning his plans for addressing conflict of interest issues. The actual amount of time spent evading answering questions was, thus, fairly limited, and that was probably not a bad thing, given that there was very little specific information provided to a press corps that Mr Trump clearly despises unless it reports on him with fawning adoration.

Here's my linguistic take on the news conference:

(1) Mr Trump tends to use adjectives describing expected results rather than nouns defining what those results will be.

(2) Things Mr Trump does or likes are "amazing," "brilliant," "fantastic," "tremendous," "huge," "phenomenal," and "total."

(3) Things Mr Trump does not like are "a disgrace," "dishonest," "sad," "pathetic," "failing," and "unfair."

(4) The adjective "unfair" is most often used to describe news coverage with which the president-elect is not pleased.

(4) The adverb "very" is liberally (pardon the expression) used to intensify the adjectives that take the place of nouns in Mr Trump's remarks.

He's easy to cover from a linguistic standpoint ... a particularly large vocabulary is not required.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* The Washington Post last October 6th documented 71 times that Mr Trump or his surrogates had criticized Senator Clinton for not holding a press conference - as of that date, she had not held one for more than 270 days. When Mr Trump finally held his press berating conference on January 11th, it had been 168 days since his last press conference on July 27th, 2016. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Copulatory Vocalization"

Warning! This post is for adults only ...

There's an old joke in which a fellow complains that he got a sweater for Christmas, when what he'd really wanted was a moaner or a screamer.

Which brings us to today's topic: noise during sex.

If you watch a television show or movie which contains a sex scene*, one of the things you'll notice is that there's a considerable level of noise being made, usually by the woman. Why is this? Other activities can be very pleasurable as well, but we don't usually hear the participants screaming and gasping during, say, an exciting game of gin rummy.

As it happens, other people have investigated this very issue, as you can read in this article by Ian Kerner from last November: Why Some Make So Much Noise During Sex. In the article, Mr Kerner discusses a 2011 study on "copulatory vocalization" conducted by two university researchers, in which 71 sexually active heterosexual women were questioned about the sounds they made during sex. What the researchers found was that many of the noises the women made did not equate to her having an orgasm, but to her attempts to speed up their partner's climax and boost his self-esteem, or to relieve boredom, fatigue, and pain or discomfort during sex. The abstract of the study notes that,

"These data together clearly demonstrate a dissociation of the timing of women experiencing orgasm and making copulatory vocalizations and indicate that there is at least an element of these responses that are under conscious control, providing women with an opportunity to manipulate male behavior to their advantage."

Well, I can't speak for all men, but having my behavior manipulated through copulatory vocalizations is preferable to having it manipulated by fake news and political ass-clownery. And the copulatory vocalizations usually don't last more than four hours.

Have a good day. Vocalize to your heart's content.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* That would be just about all of them except A Charlie Brown Christmas.