Hasty Ruminations

Speaking out, to remove all doubt. http://hastyruminations.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Behind the Scenes

This is a picture of Stew Magoo conducting a job interview for a new assistant.

Stew is on the right.

Well, he really is, but we had to crop the picture a little to fit.

You understand.

She: "Excuse me, I am here for the job interview.

He: "OK. You're hired."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Cutting Off Your Nose...

... To Spite Your Own Face

The State of California (Lala Land to you and me) is having a bang-up legislative session this month!

They recently passed a law prohibiting the state from buying electricity from any generating company which isn’t environmentally “like super OK, dude!”.

Now, they have banned the use of perchloroethylene, the most used dry cleaning fluid in the, like, world. It’s gotta be phased out starting next year.

In the electricity thing, it’s a classic case of “Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Own Face”.

In the second case… well, everyone’s clothes will stink since they cannot dry clean them; but if you cut off your nose already, well, no problemmo, dude!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Reunited Family, Now Change His Name


St. Louis has had enough bad news, with the kidnapping of teenaged boys. And some good news, with their return. Now here’s a nice story, about a long lost dog who is finally home.

Last Friday, the Barczewski family looked at the skinny, graying Golden Retriever. They were sure he was Cujo. (They call him a Golden, but in the picture he sure looks like a Yellow Labrador Retriever, like Lacy! But, the article said he had to be shaved to remove matted hair, so maybe that's why his hair is so short.)

When he disappeared from their yard in 2000, he was seven years old. But the heart-shaped patch of white hair on his head, the white hair on his toes, and the way he rubbed up against people like a cat when saying hi were sure signs.

Now maybe they should change that unfortunate name!

Read the rest of the story, and the reactions of the two kids in the family,

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good Writing, Part II


I am happy to see that the Kansas City Star still uses articles from reporters who know how to write well. Please see the article below, and then my comments. You may or may not agree with the thoughts in the article; we are looking at writing here.


Durbin calls Cheney 'delusional'
By Margaret Talev
McClatchy Newspapers [Owners of the KC Star]

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney is "delusional" about what's happening in Iraq, the Democrats' top Senate vote-counter said Thursday.

That harsh assessment by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., two days after President Bush sought bipartisan comity in his State of the Union address, underscores how difficult achieving that may be.

Moreover, it illuminates how many in Congress especially blame Cheney for the president's insistence on building up troop levels in Iraq rather than pulling out of the sectarian violence there after nearly four years and redeploying troops to Afghanistan and other terrorist trouble spots.

During the Senate Democratic leadership team's weekly briefing with reporters, Durbin cited a television interview from a day earlier in which Cheney told CNN "there's been a lot of success" in Iraq and rejected the idea that the situation was beyond control.

"To have Vice President Cheney suggest that we have had a series of enormous successes in Iraq is delusional," Durbin said. "I don't understand how he can continue to say those things while the president calls them 'slow failure'."

That's the term President Bush used in a separate television interview earlier this month, saying that's where the situation would be headed unless another 21,500 troops were injected.

Margaret Talev

Margaret Talev works in the Washington DC bureau of McClatchy, which is the second largest owners of newspapers in the country. She has worked for The Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times and The Tampa Tribune.

I think it was well written, and it tells what happened – not what should be, or what could be, but what happened and what is.

That is the same lesson the Star taught to a young cub reporter in the winter of 1917-1918. He wanted either to enlist in the Army for World War I, or to learn to write. His father let him go to the Star instead of to Europe. His name was Ernest Hemingway, and they taught him well.


What do you think?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Read This


Otto Penzler makes reading fun, when he writes like this.


Indulge yourself.


Got some money to burn? BIG money?

Exact seats may vary-locations to be comparable
$7475.00 each

$7590.00 each

$8050.00 each

$8050.00 each

$8050.00 each

$8050.00 each


$8050.00 each

$8340.00 each

$9145.00 each

141 best seat numbers by 142
4 2
$9200.00 each

$9200.00 each


$9555.00 each

4 2
$9775.00 each

4 2
$9775.00 each

6 4 2
$10065.00 each


$10335.00 each


$11445.00 each

$11500.00 each


This is just a sampling of Superbowl ticket prices. Parking across the street will set you back another $100+.

I think I'll watch it at home. Otherwise, I'd miss the commercials.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tarot or Not Tarot

You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by... well, the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciously and when you are wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and mathematics, beautifully constructed music, and carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

Which Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

State of the Union

Woodrow Wilson broke the tradition.

He delivered his State of the Union messages to Congress in person.

Before that, only Presidents George Washington and John Adams had delivered the report in person. From 1801 to 1912, it was delivered as a written report, without a speech.

If I were in the same amount of trouble that George W. Bush is in, I would return to the written report method this year.

I would make it short. Maybe just bullet points:

  • Iraq - not so good.
  • Rummy - gone.
  • Health care - whoa!
  • Deficit - well, ...
  • Economy - not too bad.

Then, I would get outta town and lay low for a few days.

Oh, My Gosh!

Snow Tow

Remember how John Belushi used to say "Holy Shit-ta!!", in Animal House? That's what this clip is all about.

They LOST Money?!


Apple just announced great Ipod and MAC sales, huge profits and robust forecasts – and their stock went down.


- MAC shipments increased 28 percent to 1.61 million machines last quarter. That was fewer than the 1.75 million computers Wall Street analysts had anticipated. Not what Apple said they’d sell; what guys like Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. in Minneapolis, THOUGHT they should make. Strike One.

- Apple said iPod music player shipments will jump 50 percent jump to a record 22.1 million units. Sales for the current second quarter ending in March will be as much as $4.9 billion, Apple said in a statement, shy of the $5.23 billion average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Strike Two.

- Apple forecast profit of as much as 56 cents a share, compared with estimates for 60 cents. Strike Three.

Apple stock shot up 11% last week after the iPhone was announced. Now, it’s dropped 4.5% because of the three strikes.

Note: Apple did great, but sorry; the actual performance did not match overinflated Wall Street estimates. Let’s say, COULD not match.

So that guy Munster raised his price target to $124 from $99 today, saying the stock's decline is a "great buying opportunity.''

It sure is: for him and for his buddies, who made the stock lose value by overinflating expectations so that they could get rich. Maybe we can call that iFraud.

It’s so obvious.

I thought we had the SEC and laws about that…

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Doomsday Clock


The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists started their Doomsday Clock in 1947. It shows how close the world is to nuclear destruction. Sort of.

It started at 7 minutes to midnight in 1947. Now, amidst much fanfare, they just moved the minute hand to five minutes to midnight. During Russia’s development of their nuclear weapons in the 1950’s, it sat at two minutes to midnight. In 1991, it moved back to 17 minutes to midnight when the superpowers agreed on nuke reductions.

Two minutes = sixty years. Uh-huh.

These guys are not exactly tuned in. First of all, half of their audience does not know how to move the hands of a clock; they have always been digital. Why are they using a prop from Back to the Future?

Second, they are now including global warming, tsunamis, and petty dictators in their nuclear worry stew. If I am going to worry about the flesh melting off my bones, I need to focus on The Bomb.

Third is that klunky name. How do we address a letter to them: Dear Mr. Bulletin?!

Steven Hawking spoke at their last meeting, using his Speak-O-Machine. You know, the guy who got black holes all wrong. He said so.

These guys are too shrill, and too flamboyant. I think it would be good to move the Doomsday Clock to midnight, thus blowing up the members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and allowing the rest of us some … rest.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Johnny Depp


I thought of writing a kind of tribute to Johnny Depp, but People Magazine did a much better job
than I could on this Blogger-infested blog.

I liked Depp's performance in Pirates: Curse of the Black Pearl, and in Finding Neverland. I am looking forward to Pirates: Dead Man's Chest (which my daughter gave to me for Christmas), and in the 2007 release of the movie version of Sweeny Todd.

He owns a villa in France which he bought for $2,000,000. He decided to leave during
the French riots. In 2004, he bought an island in the Bahamas, and as of last July he moved the family there from France. He is keeping the French villa and the house in the U.S., but the Bahamas, he says, will be the primary home.

Makes sense: Pirates #3 is due to start filming next year, probably in the Bahamas again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Happened?


A future news story.


Dateline: November 5th, 2008

Washington, DC

The only word to describe the universal reaction to yesterday’s U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections is: “surprise.”

Two words? How about “shock” and “awe”?

Looking back, everyone knew that President Bush’s cavalier, cowboy-style handling of the Iraq war lost the Republicans the mid-term elections in 2006. Insiders expected a chastened White House really to change course, to cooperate with Congress, to listen to the public, to work toward what Nixon called “Peace with honor.”

Instead, the lame duck administration continued to shore up Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki (remember him?), and to make excuses for him when Iraqis failed to address, let alone to defeat, the insurgency. The surge of additional troops went on for the past two years, and there still is no end to the war in sight.

That alone explains why two Democrats, a liberal white woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and a liberal black man, Barack Obama, did so stunningly well in the elections yesterday…..


Remember where you read it first!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Inconvenient? Naaah....


Former Vice President Al Gore will be presenting his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", in all of the high schools in Scotland this year.

It will be kicked off at an event in Glasgow, where Mr. Gore will join former U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix. Blix, you'll recall, was the one who could not find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When it comes to big, threatening things, he seems to have a lot in common with the ex-VP.

Mr. Gore's passionate environmental program has been called a "crusade". Folks in the Middle East say that he should spend time in Scotland rather than Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, if THAT's the kind of language he is going to use. Crusades are not very popular in that part of the world.

The first school to get the movie in Scotland is reportedly Sooth Park. I am serial.

He will surely bring the students up to date on that other global threat, Man-Bear-Pig.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Iraqi Justice


I will leave to the historians whether the verdict on Saddam and his two advisers - death by hanging - was just.

The two assistants were hanged today. Reportedly, Saddam's half brother was decapitated in the process. According to experts, that can happen during hanging if the length of the rope is too long.

It sounds like an instantaneous death to me. The Suniis are up in arms, violently complaining of the barbarism. Even some Shiites are upset, again.

Before we go wringing our hands, let's remember Nicholas Berg, Daniel Pearl, Paul Johnson, Gene Armstrong, Jack Hensley and other Americans who were beheaded by middle east terrorists. On purpose, in a manner meant to be very slow and very painful.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rodham-Clinton Flying to Iraq

Following Bush's speech, Hillary is on her way to Iraq.

That brings to mind the great Gary Larson Far Side cartoon:

Don' Cry For Me, Argentina


A judge has ordered the arrest of Isabel Peron, who was married to Juan Peron after Evita died and later became Presidente.


() This is a woman.

() This is a man.

() Too close to call.

() Who cares?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Voices Heard


Things happen fast.

Madonna has now surfaced (like a sea monster, from the middle of the Indian Ocean) to defend Rosie in her dispute with The Donald. Well, let's hope that puts a cap on it, shall we?

And, up until last night, I was convinced that Jimmy Carter, a fellow alumnus of Annapolis, had a lock on being the worst modern president. Last night, after watching TV, I realized that Jimmy now may have some competition.

I gotta get me some tabloids...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Idiots Out, Clothes Pins In


New Jersey is thinking about cutting the word 'idiot' from its constitution.

State Senate President Richard Codey actually introduced a bill to eliminate a section that says "no idiot or insane person should enjoy the right of suffrage".

Codey, a Democrat, was previously acting governor of New Jersey. He said that the term "idiot" is "outdated, vague, offensive to many and may be subject to misinterpretation."

Also, it tends to be used only by Republicans.

In related news, New York says that the bad smell Monday that covered Manhattan “like a sheet” came from … yep, you guessed it, New Joisey. New Jerseians answered the accusation with clothes pins attached to their middle fingers.

Possible Source of the Bad Smell over NYC:

1. Hillary opened an advance copy of Bush’s Iraq plan in Newark airport.

2. Monday washday at Tony Soprano’s after two three-day weekends.

3. They finally found Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

4. Rosie and The Donald took their feud outside.

5. Paris Hilton and Britney Spears both got out of the same limo simultaneously, sans culottes.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gotta Feel A Whole Lot Safer Now


Authority Run Amok

A U.S. college student was imprisoned for three weeks for trying to take condoms filled with flour onto an airplane.

Police and homeland security officials thought the flour was an illegal drug. It took three (3) weeks to test the flour.

The condoms were a joke among students at Bryn Mawr College in Philly. The student, Janet Lee, 21, was taking them home to Los Angeles.

She sued the city, which just settled.

For $180,000.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kids' View of Science


from Crosswalk.com

Q: What is one horsepower?
A: One horsepower is the amount of energy it takes to drag a horse 500 feet in one second.

- You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it you got hit, so never mind.

- When they broke open molecules, they found they were only stuffed with atoms. But when they broke open atoms, they found them stuffed with explosions.

- When people run around and around in circles we say they are crazy. When planets do it we say they are orbiting.

- While the earth seems to be knowingly keeping its distance from the sun, it is really only centrificating.

- Most books now say our sun is a star. But it still knows how to change back into a sun in the daytime.

- A vibration is a motion that cannot make up its mind which way it wants to go.

- Many dead animals of the past changed to fossils; others preferred to be oil.

- Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they're there.

- Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun. But I have never been able to make out the numbers.

- We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.

- I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing.

- Rain is saved up in cloud banks.

- Cyanide is so poisonous that one drop of it on a dog's tongue will kill the strongest man.

- Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

- Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their names sound.

- It is so hot in some parts of the world that the people there have to live other places.

Judges Whine For More Pay


Chief Justice John Roberts has joined Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and others in bemoaning the “paltry” pay of federal judges. These poor guys and dolls are only pulling in between $165,000 and $220,000 per year. At that rate, they say we cannot attract the brightest lawyers to be judges.

Scalia says a judge in southern New York State cannot even raise a family on that small salary. Well, at least not to Tony Soprano’s standards, I guess.

Scalia goes on vacations with “Quick Draw” Cheney, who picks up the tab, so Scalia skates free.


Maybe it’s more important for the prospective judge to weigh his motivation. Does he want the big bucks, flashy corporate image of Johnny Cochran; or does he want to serve the country in the Jeffersonian tradition?

So serve for a while, quit, and go back to the big bucks. We could use a little turnover in the judge ranks.

Consider the mess we have with jury selection. Read a typical story here: http://www.cantkeepquiet.com/ . Do these judges really deserve a pay raise?

Shame on Roberts and Scalia. They should be offering to give some back for the junior enlisted folks in the military who have to pay taxes, while living at poverty levels. We call it “federal SERVICE”, and that includes the greedy judges.

This makes me question their judgment.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation


Over the Christmas break, Lacy and I travelled to visit with my aunt’s family, and then to home base in North Carolina.

There was no reason to haul the fifth wheel trailer, Big Easy, down to North Carolina. I was concerned that it might freeze up in the Chicago winter while I traveled to North Carolina. It has great insulation, and a very good hot air furnace run by propane. In moderate weather, with temperatures above 40°F, one of the two 40 pound propane tanks will last two weeks. But, if we get a cold snap with daily temperatures below freezing, that drops to four days, and the empty tank does not automatically switch over to the full one. To prevent freezing the water and waste tanks (which would be a very costly problem), I called a gas company to deliver a big tank of propane. They brought this monster, hooked it up to my system with copper tubing, and filled it with 400 pounds (100 gallons) of propane. When Lacy and I left two days before Christmas, I set the trailer temperature to 50°F, and it was surprisingly warm when we returned just after midnight on New Year’s Day. It took only 15 minutes to get up to 73°F.

Stew Magoo from Get Stewed invited me down to St. Charles, on the Fox River in Illinois, where he and his wife Jen were visiting from Atlanta with Jen’s parents. I had met Stew last year, but not Jen, so Lacy and I headed down to St. Charles. It’s a great 1800’s town about 20 minutes north of my high school. We met not only the lovely Jen, but also their two Old English sheepdogs, whom the Magoos refer to appropriately as “muppets”. Lacy did her best “bark-bark-BARK” speech, over and over again, during our little walk along (and into) the river. The Muppets are veddy propah English upper class doggies, who kept their comments to themselves. They never barked, woofed, or growled, though there was the occasional sniffle (as Winston Churchill and Maggie Thatcher were wont to do). I can imagine their muppet-to-muppet discussion after we left: “Rawtha excitable Labrador retriever, don’t you know?” “Well, yes, those foreigners, you know, from a lower station and all that. Shedding yellow HAIRS everywhere, after all?!” “Rawther!” The muppets were very well behaved, and delightful; and the lovely Jen is truly a Saint-in-Making! It was a much too short, intensely fun evening. I had to leave much too early to get 60 miles north to the restaurant where my sister, her two daughters and her young grandson waited for me.

When it was time to leave town, we packed up the truck, and attached the six-by-twelve foot cargo trailer to the hitch. I had to take the trailer to North Carolina, to move my stuff out of storage in downtime Durham. The storage place was being “eminent domained” by the city, to build a new courthouse. I’ve been using the trailer as a garage, so I had to unload some stuff from it into the RV, and reload it with some stuff to drop off at home.

Two days before Christmas, we settled in at my aunt’s house in south surburban Chicago. Unfortunately, the bedroom I stayed in has a through-the-wall air conditioner, and one night the winter cover blew off. I have had a terrible cold, which started that night, for the last ten days. I hope that the Robitussin and Sudafed companies don’t file bankruptcy this week.

I got a great bunch of Christmas presents for my kids, brothers and sisters and their familes, as well as my aunts, uncles and cousins. UPS got the distant ones delivered on time, and I handled the local ones.

We had a very nice Christmas Eve with my aunt and cousins, and a great Christmas Day at the home of another aunt and uncle. I was able to go to church at my childhood parish, both for Sunday and for Christmas Day, and it brought back a lot of memories.

We left Chicago on the 26th, and drove into Tennessee before stopping for a nap. The Big Ride is very comfortable with the diesel engine idling, the seats tilted back and a pillow under my head. We got a good five hour nap, and an early start the next day. We pulled in at home by 8:00 am.

There were a couple of problems to get fixed – the upstairs furnace was down with a bad igniter, and the water service had been shut off at the curb without the knowledge of the utility. Maybe my brother got someone with a special wrench to do that when he left, under the cover of darkness last August. I don't know; he didn't even call me. We may never know. Anyway, by 5:00 pm everything was working again.

The house was not in bad shape overall. I am facing quite a bit of work to dispose of my brother’s leavings – furniture, clothes and trash. He unplugged the refrigerator and propped the doors open as I had asked; I just wish he had also remembered to throw out the food inside the ‘fridge. He apparently left in some hurry, without cleaning his rooms or bathroom. He had just turned 50 years old, and he felt his biological clock calling him urgently back to Chicago. He said so. No kidding. Ah, well.

On Thursday, I unloaded the storage room in Durham, and filled the back of the truck and the trailer. I moved it all to home in one trip, and had it stored by 4:00 pm. I was really happy to get that all done so quickly.

That left Friday to relax, and to get ready for the Navy - Boston College bowl game on Saturday.

Navy had a pretty good football team when Roger Staubach played for us in the 1963-1964-1965 seasons. I got there in 1966, and Navy football was poor from 1966 until about 2002. Now, we are good enough to get bowl game invitations again. I went to the Navy - Colorado Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego last December, and now to the Meinecke Car Care bowl in Charlotte, NC, this year.

BC is ranked 23 in the nation, and they played a much better game of football than Colorado did last year. We won last year (51-30), and we led BC for three quarters this year. In the fourth quarter, three seconds left on the clock, BC has the ball on the Navy 37 yard line. The score is Navy 24 – BC 22. BC kicks the field goal, and wins 25-24. I hate to lose, but let me tell you, that game was some fine football! I am glad that I didn’t have to defend against Navy’s triple option. Neither team had much of a passing game, but I got dizzy trying to watch all of the laterals, flips and handoffs! I met some other alumni and classmates, and we had a great time.

Before the game, the Navy Brigade of Midshipmen marches on and welcomes the opponents by tipping their hats to them. Then, they about face to the Navy side and they give a Navy cheer. All of this time, cannons are firing, the Navy band is playing, and to everyone’s surprise, two Navy F/A-18 jets flew over the stadium at 500’ altitude, 600 mph! Man, your heart jumps up into your throat! To the alumni standing near me in the stands, I exclaimed, “Man, this is such a shame!” They looked at me as if I had lost my mind – what a proud, patriotic moment; how could it be a shame? I explained, “Such a clear day, such pagentry – SADDAM IS MISSING ALL OF THIS!” Yes, he had been executed that morning in Baghdad. It took about 1.5 microseconds for the stands in my area to dissolve in uproarious laughter. THAT was fun!

Lacy and I left the next morning for Chicago, and we drove through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois without a nap, arriving at 2:00 am.

Monday was, of course, a serious day of rest.