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January 31, 2013


And in other news:

A Texas prosecutor was shot this morning. Maybe a couple of people exercising their second amendment rights against prosecutorial overreach?

Speaking of prosecutorial overreach, what about the Aaron Swartz case, and was that actually prosecutorial overreach, or just a very depressed man, and a very grief-stricken community?

And speaking of hacking, what about the Chinese hacking of the NYTimes, and isn't that justified - I mean hacking to make a point is free speech, right?

And speaking of the times we live in, what about Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense?

And speaking of defense, what about women's responsibility to protect their children from intruders with assault weapons?

Lots of stuff to talk about.

Closer to the topic, iirc there is indeed a Mrs.Ahab in Moby Dick and the narrator even gets a short glimpse of her. I believe there is even a mention of offspring (in a conversation with Starbuck*).

*not at Starbucks ;-)

Oh, yeah, and what about the couple of kid who've been shot dead lately?

And what about Mali?

And what about the Republicans' redistricting plans?

And what about the Beijing smog?

And what about the Israeli strike on Israel?

lj, I agree with your wife - go online and buy yourself a battery.

I assumed from the title this would be about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XnQ5kKmOro

My wife and I joined a group called Great Decisions associated with the Foreign Policy Association. I went a few times last year with my aunt (because her husband had just passed and they had belonged for years) and really enjoyed it.

Basically, you get a magazine with 8 topics ranging from the Euro to Myanmar to China in Africa. There is a meeting for each topic, where there is a leader to guide discussion (and often food and drink associated with the region) and we try and understand the issue and come up with consensus on how to address it.

Like a model UN for the retired set. Our group does a power set, one meeting a week for 8 weeks. Others apparently stretch it out more, but I like the concentrated version where you do like a sports season: 8 to 10 weeks, and then go about your business. Plus the weather in the PNW sucks for these 8 weeks so it is good timing for date night.

We are by far the youngest, most members are in their 70s and 80s...but these guys have so much history at the tip of their finger. Some have belonged to this specific group since 1978, having detailed foreign policy discussions and lessons every year.

Last night the lead had been a econ professor for 40 years and taught in the US and Europe. He led on the Euro, and he was amazing. Last year we had Indonesia as a topic, and the leads had lived there for a decade as teachers. So much richer than just reading about something.

So I recommend everyone to look for your local group that participates and give it a shot. My group is like living history (given the ages) but a lot of fun and very educational.

And my wife has sent me on the same search for batteries as L ahab J, but I refuse to partake. I have never had success in getting replacement batteries for wireless phones that last or work as well as the originals. I think you are better off getting new phones, or getting rid of landlines altogether and just replacing your cell phone everytime the contract is up.

Interesting, jrudkis. Nothing like that in my zipcode. Which is why I read blogs.

Who the heck nicked my post? I saw it accepted and now it has disappeared.

Hartmut, I lost one too...

This is the url to the FPA to find groups:


Sapient, it is like a blog, except it also exercises public speaking and having information at your fingertips, rather than relying on google. I am sure every group is different. It really reminds me of my parents who were from the generation of joiners (like most of the participants). My generation (40ish) just doesn't do clubs, and it is a shame.

Both of those posts were in the spam folder, I'm not really sure why. I clicked on publish for both of them, but they didn't appear. If I have time on Sunday, I'll try and figure out what is triggering the spam filter in those two cases.

Thanks, jrudkis. I actually went to the site and tried to find a group in my area. Unfortunately (for me), although I'd consider being a joiner, I'm not a leader of clubs.

Sounds very worthwhile though!

I guess the bad pun on the name of a(n) (in)famous company (celestial body plus colloquialism for American money) could have triggered a spam reaction.

I went through a period where I was obsessed with items made by The Bombay Company - the original one, with actual stores and lots of whimsical items; the reincarnation is on-line only, and seems mostly to sell fashionable home furnishings.

I used to love going into their stores and yearning after the furniture and storage boxes (esp. the tea chest; I was absolutely obsessed with that); but I was much younger and poorer, and their stuff was not cheap, neither in quality nor in price. When the original Company went out of business, and all its stores closed, I was a little heartbroken.

Fast forward 15 or so years, to a time I was considerably more prosperous. Lo and behold, I discover that the original Bombay Company merchandise is readily available on E-bay.

I went a little nuts. Maybe more than a little nuts.

I now own three Bombay Company living room tables (that lovely dark wood, buffed and sanded to a glassine finish; brass medallions; green marble tops); a tall skinny table with brass lion head fittings and lion-paw feet (I keep an Art Noveau-style glass vase on it) ; a little single-drawer chest (holds camera accessories); a memento box and lap desk (they hold Important Documents)... and, of course, the Tea Chest (its little felt-sided compartments continuously refilled with tea).

I need more Bombay Company stuff like I need another sinus, but every so often I check in to see what E-Bay has, and have to exert some self control to keep from bidding on things like the porcelain tea sets, a miniature medieval village, tasseled bed hangings, the jewelry boxes, and oh my god I could go on.

Oh, my. I feel an urge to go see what's available right now...

Just because I can't resist Moby Dick, this gets my vote for the most unintentionally funny sentence therein:

Of erections, how few are doomed like St. Peter's!

"doomed" should be "domed"
funnier, as well as more correct.


I have no idea where or when this may show up again, but I recently saw a two-person show called "And God Created Great Whales" - by and starring one Rinde Eckert, along with his "muse" - which was one of the great theatrical experiences of my life. About a composer trying to write an opera based on Moby Dick, but who is losing his mental faculties (esp. memory) little by little. Enormously moving; if it shows up anywhere near you, go see it. You'll thank me.

I can get a wee bit obsessive about obscure books and movies (and occasionally music). Often it is just complete-ism, i.e.I have some stuff of a certain author/composer/etc. but want to have all (s)he has done. Still looking for two Rimsky-Korsakov operas and one of Dvorak, dreaming of a complete set of Hammer films (in non-butchered form) and occasionally looking for some out-of-print books from my childhood.


i've been on a quest to find Kleiner Feigling vodka in the small shot-sized bottles.

my wife went to Germany many years ago and brought back tales of having many wonderful times with them. so every year for her birthday party, i try to find a case of them. many times i came close to scoring some, but would inevitably run into depleted inventories or state-to-state shipment issues. and they are now, according to the distributor, impossible to get in the US (as in, not distributed here).

still, i quest. there must be a case of them gathering dust in some liquor store, somewhere in the US.

Heritage night at my 1st graders school. We live in a very ethnically diverse but economically secure area.

We had very informative and interesting displays from about 50 different nations.

So am I wrong that I liked having the Pakistan table next to the India table, and the Israel table next to the Iran table?

I was disturbed that they forced the gallant and deserving Norwegians to be next to the nasty Swedes, but since thier display was much better, I assume it was done to punish the Swedes.

Favorite short ethnic joke:

"Are you a Swede?"

"No, I'm a Norwegian, but I've been sick."

Hey, at least the Norwegians and the Swedes manage without a fortified border and regular sniping across it. If the worst that happens between two countries is snide ethinc jokes, they are probably doing pretty well at behaving in a civilized manner -- one that others would do well to emulate.

Ironically the border fortifications between Norway and Sweden got destroyed when Norway became independent out of distrust (hey, those guys could one day use them against us).

In case it was not self-evident (and I should have known that nothing is on the internet), the reason I like and posted that joke is precisely because (to me) it represents the kind of jocular verbal "hostility" to which I hope all the world's ethnic conflicts might someday be reduced. A similar joke told about Serbs and Croats, or Tutsi and Hutu, or Chinese and Japanese wouldn't be (to me) as funny, and I wouldn't have posted it. YMMV.

I did not take it in any other way. I just wanted to note that this was the result of a long development.
At least in one point they are of one opinion (joined by the Icelanders): Danish is an abomination, not a language. ;-)

Btw, Norwegians and Swedes subtitle each other on TV, although there is no real language barrier. I think this stems from the same tradition.

dr. ngo, no explanation required as far as I'm concerned.

It was a funny joke, along the lines of Garrison Keillor's Norwegian bachelor farmer routines.

Of course, MMMV all over the place.

For instance, on another topic dear to our hearts, I find this joke hilarious.


It's got everything you'd want in a good joke: topicality, geography, irony, etc.

And 300 million Americans who don't get the punch line.

That's the funniest part.

From the Count's "link":

The sniper served in every major battle in Operation Iraqi Freedom and became so well known that the insurgents even had a bounty on his head.

Irony, indeed...

Taking just a cursory look at the reader comments to that story makes me retch. Let's just say that the theory seems popular with these commenters that Obama had that sniper murdered and those who doubt it are called the usual names (plus implied or explicit charges of lack of masculinity).

I am not 300 million people, but I don't find a punch line in that story...Exactly what is it that's funny?

I hadn't read the comments, but going through the first 50 or so, I gather that we hard-working taxpayers are training our own murderers, given the ostensible self-identification of the fever swamp denizens on that thread as ex-military, keeping in mind, of course, that much of that rhetoric issues from fat f*cks sitting at their his and her computer screens, fondling gun show merchandise and whose nearest experience with seals of any kind, Navy or otherwise, has been tossing Cheetos to the barking variety at the zoo, and natch resenting the black Obama for ordering the lowly undercover government zoo attendant to regulate the seal's snack food intake.

These are the enthused, high-information voters hogging the voting booth lines for hours while the rest of us are given faulty voting time and address information by the Republican strategists referenced here in recent weeks by another person who has never been a Navy Seal.

I view fever dreams like many do firearms -- you need to have the biggest and latest large clip effing fever dreams in this mistake we call a country (the biggest mistake over the past 50 years was standing by and permitting the Republican Party to feed the fever dreams of the 20 million or so subhuman vermin typified by these particular posters, without so much as anyone else firing a shot in civilization's self-defense) if you plan to survive the fever dreams of the violent filth around us, who hate our guts.

What size clip does a guy need to defend himself against for 20 million crazy motherf*cking Republican shooters, and who because of their curriculum vitaes in craziness are provided ample time to testify in front of Congressional Committees?

It's very late in the day, but it needs to be brought to them, and as Lincoln concluded once before, it's looks like it'll have to be a government job, given the size of the mistake we've allowed to fester.

Marty: "I'm not 300 million people, .."

I purposely left you out. ;)

"Exactly what is it that's funny?"

It's from the Zen Koan joke book, like "what is the sound of one hand clapping?"

Only you can supply the answer and you'll know it when you know.

Like the well known answer to the real estate koan: "Location, location, location."

But you won't be able to pass it on. Even though it's right in front of everyone's face.

You might be able to sidle up to it via poetry or a long series of questions.

It's an ever-reducing quantity, like the silence we are counseled to keep from certain quarters between Sandy Hook and the next incident, or the incident I referenced above and the next one at ..... I don't know, 1:13 pm next Tuesday.

It's like the answer to the question: "Why does a gun have a safety but society doesn't?"

Search me.

So when all else fails, break the silence with uproarious, helpless laughter, since nothing more is permitted.

Funny is the only alternative.

That you ostensibly view this latest murder as a horrible sad tragedy, barring minute-by-minute updates, results in precisely the same ripple in the universe that my laughter does.


Read some Kafka.

If you don't like Kafka, consult the great mathematician and Beatles interloper, Billy Preston, who came up with this proof:

"Nothing from nothing leaves nothing."

In answer to Bill O'Reilly, the Oprah of rightwing sensitivo bullsh*t:

“You don't have posttraumatic stress or anything like that that you killed so many human beings?” O’Reilly asked. “That doesn't come back at you?”

Kyle said:

“None of my problems come from the people I've killed.”

Well, they wouldn't, now would they?

I know exactly what he meant. I think we all do.

After all, his biggest problem came from a guy he hadn't killed ... yet, but for some reason that never occurs to your average Zen Buddhist down at the gun range.

Funny though, and I do mean hilarious, the guy who shot the unfortunate Kyle multiple times agreed with these formulations.

Put another way, don't all of us, in our heart of hearts, from James Earle Ray to your average housewife shopping for AR15, diapers, ammo, and teething rings down at the local Babies R Us, know that all of our problems come from the people we HAVEN'T killed ... yet, including ourselves?

Heck, the Sandy Hook shooter, were he available, would nod affirmative to this proposition.

One hand claps. The other changes out clips.

The ultimate fusion of applause and gunfire.

Kyle had the remarkable experience of being in both the right and the wrong place at the right and the wrong time.

Read more: The Man Behind the Sniper: Who Was Chris Kyle? - Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/sniper-chris-kyle-15061069#ixzz2K2PjulIq

Kyle, in his own words, was a devout Christian and a professional sniper.

Normally, I'd say settle on one or the other, but then the same week I heard on the radio Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the diminutive sex therapist, had been a sniper as a stripling of a girl in her homeland, so we are more than the sum of our gun parts.

Of course, in our strange, foreign culture, the combination of sniper/sex therapist (I wonder what her views on stalking entail?) clangs of confusion for some more than the formulation -- devout Christian/sniper.

You don't find many folks with all three attributes on their resume: devout Christian, sex therapist, and sniper.

Devout Christian/sex therapist (unless it's the kind that convinces you to not engage in sex) seems mutually exclusive, but devout/Christian/sniper doesn't raise an eyebrow, and if it did, that would be a suspicious move worthy of taking a shot.

There probably aren't many combination devout Muslim/sex therapist/9/11 hijackers, though some of them undoubtedly were good fathers.

You may run across this combination: devout Christian Priest/sex offender, but they rarely, if ever, snipe.

But if they did snipe, rather than offend sexually, that would be fine, at least among those called to testify in front of Congressional Committees on behalf of Frenchmen bearing gunfire.

Now, this combination --- libertarian/sex therapist/sniper seems to be more ... holistic.

You would just never know whether you were cumming or going with such a creature.

So, two snipers and Wayne La Pierre and Countme-In canoe (one of those 4-man jobbies) into a bar/gun range populated by gun manuafacturers.

Which one is the crazy one?

It's O.K. to cackle now.

In Latin explosion is the exact opposite of applause, the former being the hissing out of actors that fall out of favour with the audience.

Ah well, that explains the hissing noise.

I thought it was tinnitus.

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