Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Election Retrospective

If I were a serious blogger still, and not shy about spouting forth my opinion online, I would have gotten about 100 posts out there this past election season. Certainly there was plenty I would have liked to have said. But, really, given the size and mostly like-mindedness of my audience, it would not have been all that persuasive or useful.

Now that the election is over, what I have to say about the current state of politics is even less relevant. So, rather than wondering aloud about the future of the GOP, or fretting about the fiscal cliff, or prognosticating on whether Obama's got any mojo left for the next four years, I have a different plan. I find that the best antidote to the sturm und drang of presidential politics is satire and silly fun. The creator of the youtube channel Bad Lip Reading understands that, and created a number of hilarious videos.

Ahmed, how did you know about whodunnit in the lounge? Oh you didn't! They started clapping for the mad cow. Until someone sold him. And when he died they had him stuffed like that water buffalo: stuffed.

Cause even log legged women can't tell there's a blue-eyed hobbit, and I am a witness for them....Are you really drinking my bottled judgment? Y'all think I won't whip them pintos.

[Shucks, the man ain't funny even in parody.]

I had to fire someone. He was flippant. He was probably suffering....Let's go parachutin' on Tuesday....Oh yeah, I got swag. Because everybody needs toucan stubs!

Save a pretzel for the gas jets.

Where I'm from, mama gets a what-what. You know I represent!...And when I buy stickers for folks in prison, I bring milk, not backyard meth. It's a prison party.

Join the laughs: it's the only way to heal our nation!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


This hardened kernel, about the size of a large grape, is the dried seed of a tree. This is what I buy at the grocery store. After scraping it against the grater shown next to it, I have a pile of small bits that, collectively, I call nutmeg. The tree it comes from is called a nutmeg tree.

But can anyone tell me what to call this little guy? The nutmeg nut? The nut of meg?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


   I do not know to what extent ignorance of science and mathematics contributed to the decline of ancient Athens, but I know that the consequences of scientific illiteracy are far more dangerous in our time than in any that has come before. It's perilous and foolhardy for the average citizen to remain ignorant about global warming, say, or ozone depletion, air pollution, toxic and radioactive waste, acid rain, topsoil erosion, tropical deforestation, exponential population growth. Jobs and wages depend on science and technology. If our nation can't manufacture, at high quality and low price, products people want to buy, then industries will continue to drift away and transfer a little more prosperity to other parts of the world. Consider the social ramifications of fission and fusion power, supercomputers, data "highways," abortion, radon, massive reductions in strategic weapons, addiction, government eavesdropping on the lives of its citizens, high-resolution TV, airline and airport safety, fetal tissue transplants, health costs, food additives, drugs to ameliorate mania or depression or schizophrenia, animal rights, superconductivity, morning-after pills, alleged hereditary antisocial predispositions, space stations, going to Mars, finding cures for AIDS and cancer.

   How can we affect national policy - or even make intelligent decisions in our own lives - if we don't grasp the underlying issues? As I write, Congress is dissolving its own Office of Technology Assessment - the only organization specifically tasked to provide advice to the House and Senate on science and technology. Its competence and integrity over the years has been exemplary. Of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress, rarely in the twentieth century have as many as one percent had any significant background in science. The last scientifically literate President may have been Thomas Jefferson.

   So how do Americans decide these matters? How do they instruct their representatives? Who in fact makes these decisions, and on what basis?

      -Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996
It is usually considered poor form and a little dishonest to make a quotation at such length from someone while contributing so little yourself. But the nature of this statement, recently rediscovered in this book that had long sat dormant on my bookshelf, seemed so timely, so prescient, and so well stated that I could neither abbreviate nor amend it in good conscience.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


As a fine counterpoint to my previous post, here is a NYTimes article, on the eve of the New York City Marathon and its 50,000 competitors, about the awful realities of race-day photos.

When caught in mid-stride, most athletes do not look awesome. They look haggard, in pain, with jiggly rippling muscle and fat. You think you are going fast? One ill-timed photo will reveal a short stride, all heel-strike, no different than crude power walking. Think your super-aerodynamic tri bike with full carbon race wheels lets you cut through the air like a knife? Well, your bike might, but the photographer can find the angle and moment that makes you look like an uncoordinated, slack-jawed goof on two wheels with the seatpost shoved way to high up your arse.

The lens is often not kind.

A candid shot, taken by a coworker, mid-stretch after Lobsterman. Oh, and I was waiting for a port-a-potty to open up.

Water exit from our first ever triathlon. It did not go so well for Hilary, true, but the gasping for breath look is not entirely justified.