Sunday, August 17, 2014

jimjustselling . . .




(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS and Amazon are):  


CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"Not bad for a virtually unknown geriatric wanna-be. (I'm just sayin'!)"--Conan O'Brien
--"Almost too entertaining!  (Well, sort of.)"--David Letterman
--"Blogaschizzle!"--Snoop Lion
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"About what you'd expect from a dopey, sniveling piece of execrable skunk vomit from Wisconsin!"--Don Imus
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor
  • Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Latest fortune cookie received:  "In all matters of opinion, you always say it better."  (You could say that there was a very nice takeaway with my very nice takeout.)
  • Whatlet:  An electrical plate on the wall with no holes and consequently no purpose whatsoever--Rich Hall, "Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe."
  • I  imagine that Americans who aren't into soccer probably aren't that wild about rugby, either.  (I'll say this much--I've never heard of a rugby riot!)
  • If there's auto racing in England,  do they drive the wrong way there, too?  (I'm just askin'.)
  • How come the clothes hooks are so often missing inside the fitting rooms at stores and the "facilities"  just about everywhere?
  • Has any company ever had a worse year than Malaysia Airlines?
  • jimjustsaying's Dog Breed of the Month (courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 29 classified ad for Pets, Dogs, etc.:  Aussiedoodles  (Mini & Standards).  Who knew?
  • I wonder how impressed would-be employers are with job applicants with "online university" degrees.    (Those degrees are probably better than no higher education at all, but, me, I'd probably prefer someone with an "offline degree."   I'mjustsayin'.)
  • I'm starting to get nervous about those West Bank bombings. Time to close our account there!
  • Another in a series of jimjustsaying's Occupations No Child Has Ever Aspired To or Fantasized About:  Phlebotomist.
  • Three mysteries I often ponder:  The real story of the JFK assassination, the real story of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, and the appeal of NASCAR and Sponge Bob Square Pants.
  • I'd probably watch more TV if they went back to doing more live shows with live commercials . . .  like the ones where the dogs didn't eat the dog food or the vacuum cleaner didn't vacuum up what it was supposed to vacuum up.   That was reality TV, my friend.
  • Introducing jimjustsaying's GoldenRule 2.0:  Treat others the way they treat you after you have  treated them.
  • Morning in America:  Planes are being shot out of the sky, random gang violence is making some big cities all but unlivable, and people are still sneaking into the express line at the supermarket with more than 12 items.  Not sure which of these things would be easiest to fix and not so sure it'd be the third one.
  • Faded phrases:  "Hang up the phone," "roll down the window" and "flip through the channels." 
  • Next time I hear a policeman says, "Nothing to see here, folks, move along," I'll be tempted to ask the lawman, "If there's nothing to see here, why are you here?  Couldn't you be doing something more worthwhile with my tax dollar?  Therefore, you should move along!"  
  • Overheard:  "My boss in on vacation this week, and so am I."
  • Trash talking:  My wife and I were talking about a female friend of hers and her, er, significant other.  (Actually, in this case, insignificant other.  I'm just sayin'.)
  • jimjustsaying's Faded Word of the Week: Haberdashery
  • You can tell a lot about a person by whether they prefer hard shell of soft shell tacos.
  • Newspaper "Correction and Clarification" of the Year:
  •  "In Wednesday’s A+E section, the Nancy Black horoscope column erroneously stated how long Jupiter remains in Leo. The duration is 13 months.  The [Chicago] Tribune regrets the error."
  • News item:  A black bear showed up at an Olive Garden restaurant in Eau Claire, Wis., around 4:45 p.m on July 11.  He ( . . . or she . . .) must have heard about the Early Bear Special.
  • Baseball Prank for the Ages:  The picture on California Angels' infielder Aurelio Rodriguez's 1969  baseball card is actually a photo of Angels' batboy Leonard Garcia, who duped the Topps photographer.
  • Wish I'd said that: "Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance."--George Bernard Shaw
  • Jargon Word of the Week:  Reliefography.  Reproduction of artworks using digital scanning and 3-D printers.  Said to produce near-perfect copies of classic paintings, Wired magazine reports, down to the texture of each brushstroke.  Fakes are selling for as much as $30,000 in Asia.
  • Fifty-fifth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Black Creek. (R.I.P., William Tesch, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, July 21, 2014).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction and Thiry Daems.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Es vos guys etiam opus in ut?  ("Are you guys still working on that?")

jimjustsaying's Top Eleven List


11 campaign slogans that won't work for
Hillary Clinton "if" she runs in 2016:

   11.  Richly deserved


   10.  Going for broke

     9.  "Hard Choices," easy money

     8.  I love Gucci

     7.  The Free Speech candidate

     6.  It takes a villa . . . 

     5.  Buy one, get none free

     4.  The national debt?  It's on me!

     3.  It's my party and I'll run if I want to, run if I want to . . . 

     2.  Margaret Thatcher 2.0

     1.  Bill bakes the cookies this time!

THE QUOTE RACK

Ready for the 'puke cannon'?
Both Homeland Security and the Pentagon maintain a keen interest in developing crowd-control weapons for occupations at home and abroad. In 2007, the department's science and technology arm “contracted for the development of the 'LED Incapacitator,' a nauseating strobe” weapon meant to overwhelm and disorient targets with rapid, random pulses of light.
Some have called it the “puke saber,” but the final product won’t necessarily be handheld. As the department noted in a cutesy blogpost entitled “Enough to Make You Sick,” “output and size can easily be scaled up to fit the need; immobilizing a mob, for instance, might call for a wide-angle ‘bazooka’ version.”

Then there’s the Pentagon’s “Active Denial System,” colloquially known as the “pain ray.” It’s a truck-mounted millimeter wave gun designed to create “an unbearable burning sensation” in anyone it’s aimed at.

Just imagine what a “puke cannon” or a “pain ray” could do to a crowd of looters — or a crew of pesky journalists. In time, and with the help of federal subsidies, we may graduate from banana republic to a science-fiction dystopia straight from the fevered brain of Philip K. Dick.

As James Madison warned at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, “The means of defence [against] foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
It’s no accident that technology developed for population control in foreign counterinsurgencies is being turned inward--in fact, it’s been a matter of deliberate federal policy. But it’s not too late to reverse the slide.
--Gene Healy is a Washington Examiner columnist, vice president at the Cato Institute and author of "The Cult of the Presidency."
Feminism:  Why some women are opting out . . .
Feminism has a marketing problem. Tired of the hectoring tone of some feminist diatribes on the Internet, teenage girls and young women are uploading selfies to Women Against Feminism on the blogging site Tumblr. The women and girls are holding handwritten placards explaining why they’re rejecting the movement. "I don’t need feminism because the men in my life care about and respect me," reads one. "I don’t need feminism because I am not a victim," says another.
--Alyx Gorman in HuffingtonPost.co.uk

  . . . of feminism
They have a point. For many women, contemporary feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force.  Stay-at-home moms feel that feminists view them with disdain, while mothers of boys recoil from some activists’ stereotyping of all men as sexist pigs and "presumptive rapists." For a generation of American women born with the right to vote, to work, and to run for political office, the patriarchy doesn’t seem to be "living up to its label."
--Cathy Young, Time.com

How to identify a narcissist
Want to find out if someone is a narcissist? Just ask him. That’s the conclusion of researchers from Ohio State University, who found that asking people outright generally yielded much the same result as a commonly used 40-question diagnostic test. 

For the study, subjects were asked, "To what extent do you agree with this statement: I am a narcissist. (Note: The word ‘narcissist’ means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)" They were told to select a number from 1 (not very true of me) to 7 (very true of me). People who agreed with that description, the researchers found, also were identified as narcissists in the 40-question test and openly displayed narcissistic traits such as low empathy and less commitment to relationships.

Study author Brad Bushman acknowledged that the single question couldn’t fully replace the longer, more nuanced test, which diagnoses different kinds of narcissism. But he said the quickness of the test would be beneficial in some circumstances--and even suggested using the question on a first date. "Narcissists are very bad relationship partners," he tells the Los Angeles Times. "It might be nice to find out how much of a narcissist someone is."
--The Week

News that should be but isn't
Too bad we’ll never see this news story: "The U.N. Security Council met today in emergency session to discuss the fact that Madagascar, one the world’s most biodiversity-rich nations, lost another percentage of its plant and animal species." Or this: "Secretary of State John Kerry today broke off his vacation and rushed to Madagascar to try to negotiate a cease-fire between the loggers, poachers, miners and farmers threatening to devour the last fragments of Madagascar’s unique forests and the tiny group of dedicated local environmentalists trying to protect them."

Because that won’t happen, we have to think about how this one-of-a-kind natural world can be protected with the limited resources here. We know the answer in theory -- a well-managed national system of parks and reserves is vital because, given the current trends, anything outside such protected zones would be devoured by development and population growth. For Madagascar, this is particularly vital because, without its forests, neither its amazing plants nor animals will survive -- which are a joy unto themselves and also attract critical tourist income for this incredibly poor country -- and the people won’t survive either. These forests maintain the clean and sustainable water supplies and soils that Madagascar’s exploding population requires.

We have to preserve this natural environment," Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Madagascar’s president, told me in an interview. "One of my major policies is to develop eco-tourism. This can bring a lot of jobs. The problem is the poverty of the people that lead them to destroy the environment. That is very sad."

MADAGASCAR’S ecological challenge parallel’s the Middle East’s political challenge. The struggle here is all about preserving Madagascar’s natural diversity so its people will have the resilience, tools and options to ensure a decent future. A diverse system in nature is much more resilient and adaptable to change. Monocultures are enormously susceptible to disease. They can be wiped out by a single pest or weather event in a way that a poly-culture cannot.

In the Middle East today, though, the last remnants of poly-cultural nation states and communities are being wiped out. Christians are fleeing the Arab-Muslim world. Islamist jihadists in Syria and Iraq are beheading those who won’t convert to their puritanical Islam. Jews and Palestinians, Shiites and Sunnis keep forcing each other into tighter and tighter ghettos. So a human rain forest once rich with ethnic and religious diversity is becoming a collection of disconnected monocultures, enormously susceptible to disease -- diseased ideas.
--Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

Getting up to "speed" in broadband land
U.S. broadband speeds are getting faster, but they still lag behind those in other nations, said Zach Epstein in BGR.com. According to a new report from Akamai, the national connection rate jumped 31 percent to 10.5 megabits per second in the first quarter of 2014. But that growth still only places the U.S. in the No. 12 spot, slower than countries like Ireland and Finland, and far behind international leader South Korea, which claimed the top spot with an average speed of 23.6 Mbps and a whopping year-over-year growth of 145 percent. At home, Virginia, Delaware, and Massachusetts had the highest average speeds, at more than 13 Mbps, while Alaska, Montana, Kentucky, and Arkansas rounded out the list of states with the slowest connections, with average speeds around 7 Mbps.
--The Week

The evils of scheduling software
Unfortunately, the weakness in the labor market has coincided with yet another market development: scheduling software . . .  that allows retailers to manage their workforce as another just-in-time input. Workers are asked to input blocks of hours when they will be available; the software then crunches through everyone’s availability and spits out a schedule that takes account of everything from weather forecasts to the danger that a worker will go over the number of hours to still be considered part time.

Obviously, you can’t string together multiple jobs this way, because each job requires that you block out many more available hours than you will actually work. In this situation, no matter how hard you are willing to work, stringing together anything approaching a minimum income becomes impossible. That makes it much more deeply troubling than low pay.
 --Megan McArdle, The Atlantic

When TV series are canceled mid-plot . . .
Q: Given the number of TV shows with continuing stories that get canceled every year with no resolution or answers (e.g. "Revolution"), wouldn’t it be nice if the producers released a summary of where the story would have gone if it had continued? This would be minimal work for them and would make viewers much less upset.

A: Usually, when a serialized story ends, a producer is asked what would have come next. And sometimes they have answers. A recent question and answer in this column included what might have been for "Dirty Sexy Money. "You can find a video pitch from "Veronica Mars"for what would have been its fourth season--if it had gotten one. "Deadwood" mastermind David Milch explains some of where his show was headed in an extra in the complete series DVD and Blu-ray sets.

But the painful fact is, the people making television do not always know where they are going. For one thing, unless they are given the luxury of an announced final season, they don’t know exactly how long they will be around. So do they prepare an arc for one more season, or expect to have more than that? "How I Met Your Mother" stayed on the air for so long, it eventually morphed into "How Ted and Robin Ended Up Together"--and had to kill off the “mother” to do that. "Magnum, P.I." seemed to end with Thomas Magnum dead at the end of the seventh season, Then it was renewed for an eighth and had to bring Magnum back to life.

But sometimes producers are just short-sighted. A notorious case is that of Fox’s series "Reunion," which involved a murder mystery. Not only was it canceled during its first season, before solving the mystery, it was reportedly dropped before even the producers had decided who the killer was.
--Rich Heldenfels, Akron Beacon-Journal

THE LINK TANK

Enjoy your vacation already!
Companies deal with employees who refuse to take vacation days by mandating time off or paying them to go away!
http://online.wsj.com/articles/companies-deal-with-employees-who-refuse-to-take-time-off-by-requiring-vacations-paying-them-to-go-1407884213 

The (millennial) parent trap
Will millennials fare as poorly as many of their parents expect?
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/1BAF0O/5VMUYP/M3922J/FX99J1A/AMBUSP/W1/h

Liberals discover they have a problem with Hillary
Even her most ardent supporters are getting nervous
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/92KH5M/HYSIUQ/KFECC9/ZBCQDE1/L9ZEJ0/50/h

Has modern medicine gone too far?
Weighing the value and ethics of heroic efforts
http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/when-the-doctor-knows-best-1404416121-lMyQjAxMTA0MDAwNTEwNDUyWj

Wall Street's values are strangling U.S. business
Finance calls the shots--and we all lose
http://time.com/2972333/wall-streets-values-are-strangling-american-business/

From Frankie Laine to "yeah yeah yeah"
An exuberant tour of 60 years of pop music
http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-yeah-yeah-yeah-by-bob-stanley-1405712111 

Does hosting the Olympics pay off?
The Games seem like an economic boon--at least until you calculate how much the host country lost
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/magazine/does-hosting-the-olympics-actually-pay-off.html?ref=magazine 

Listening better
How to improve  your ability to get the most out of a conversation
http://online.wsj.com/articles/tuning-in-how-to-listen-better-1406070727

What Dietrich knew and DeNiro doesn't
The movie camera adores performers who are happy to stare at it in silence
http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-watching-them-be-by-james-harvey-1405098917

Every effort is made to ensure that all links are still available.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor
Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • Piling on:  Saying that Hillary Clinton is "tone deaf" is a bit like saying Lance Armstrong had a credibility problem. (But, hey, in all fairness, she never strapped a dog to the top of her car!)
  • Why doesn't GM just list the cars that haven't been recalled?
  • News item:  A black bear shows up at an Olive Garden restaurant in Eau Claire, Wis., around 4:45 p.m on June 30.  Maybe he heard something about an Early Bear Special.
  • I had a dream in which a guy in India had a problem with his computer and got an American guy when he called tech support!   (And, no, neither party could understand the other one, either.)
  • I don't care what the courts decide, but same-sex marriage won't have arrived until you see same-sex married couples cozying up in Coke/Pepsi, McDonald's and Chevy/Ford Truck commercials.  Or in the Kodak Moment-type commercials.
  • Just finished my martial-arts course.   Black Belt?   Brown Belt?  Well, actually, I was awarded the Pink Suspenders.  (But, hey, ya gotta start somewhere!)
  • You know you're dealing with an old-timer if he says he was looking through his billfold while sitting on the davenport in his dungarees.  That was after he "raided the icebox."  (To name a few words that have passed their sell-by date.)
  •  You want Dextrose with that?  It's not an option,  but it adds the natural sweetness that the blanching of McDonald's french-fried potatoes removes.   (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Jargon Watch:  A gynosome, according to Wired, is a female penis that is unique to Brazilian cave insects.  The spiked organ becomes erect when the female mounts the male, holding him captive for up to 70 hours of copulation.   ("Not the next 2.91 days, dear--I have a headache!")
  • I'm rooting for O.J.Simpson to get released on parole so he can resume looking for the real killer.  Because, obviously, no one else is . . . .
  • I'm glad the Pope finally officially issued a condemnation of the Mafia.  (Let's just hope there isn't a puff of smoke that the rest of us aren't anticipating, if you get my drift.  I'm just sayin'.)
  • Some foods smell better than they taste.  Some foods taste better than they smell.  And some foods are best tasted and smelled by someone else.
  • "Comedy is the blues for people who can't sing."--Chris Rock
  • If you didn't partake of the free breakfast or dinner buffet at the motel, you passed up food that you're going to be paying for when you check  out.
  • "Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow."--Don Herold, in Forbes.com
  • I enjoyed that Patagonian Toothfish dinner I had last night.  (OK, it said Chilean Sea Bass on the menu,  but who would order it under its real name?)
  • Sibling rivalry dept.:  No U.S. president, Mental Floss reminds us, was an only child.
  • Bumper sticker:  Lawyers have feeling, too (allegedly)
  • There will never be a band with a bagpipe, an accordion and a harp (and if there is, I hope the courts will provide injunctive relief.)
  • Overheard:  "My twin brother forgot my birthday."
  • jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Week (a word encountered only in the print or broadcast media and never used by an actual person in real life): "chide."  As in, "The President chided the media for its coverage of the VA scandal."
  • I experience a mix of amusement and irritation when someone ahead of me at the checkout counter pulls out a checkbook.  (Nobody ever has to get a debit-card purchase okayed by the customer-service person!)
  • "We constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare running out of money? What's interesting is the first group 'worked for'  their money, but the second didn't."--The Vent, Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • Newspaper Obituary Nickname of the Month:  "Binky."  As in Donald Leo "Binky" Binkowski, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, June 22, 2014.  R.I.P., Mr. Binkowski.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Commodo dico tergum per ordinarius res hora.  ("Please call back during regular business hours.")