Sunday, March 30, 2014

NAME CHANGE

Welcome to jimjustsaying (formerly SZSEZ).  Same wine, new bottle.  Thanks for visiting; I hope you like what you see and visit here again....Jim Szantor

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--"If Jim writes it, I'm there!"--Larry King
--"Almost too entertaining!"--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.
    • No one has ever complained that their Internet connection is too fast.
    • New name for the third month of the year:   Marchuary, owing to its resembling February more than April, the month once erroneously proclaimed "the cruelest" by T.S. Eliot in "The Wasteland."  Please revise your calendars.
    • Redundancy of the week:  "A possible debris field was found in remote areas of the Indian Ocean."  
    • Comment:  Aren't ALL areas of the Indian Ocean remote?  As opposed to those local, easily accessible regions of the Indian Ocean?
    • Speaking of the Indian Ocean, who knew that every network had a stable of 50 or so "aviation experts"?  Where did they all come from, and what do they do between disasters?
    • People who like to experiment in restaurants usually aren't very hungry.
    • jimjustsaying's Word of the Week:  Slurry . . . "a thin sloppy mud or cement or, in extended use, any fluid mixture of a pulverized solid with a liquid (usually water), often used as a convenient way of handling solids in bulk," according to Wikipedia.  
    • And it's a word you may be hearing more and more about:  ("The food scraps are then put into a machine that turns them into a slurry that could be used to create energy."--News report on promising new sources of energy)
    • I don't know why our Secretary of State isn't making more headway in foreign trouble spots.  But, hey, enough about Dennis Rodman . . . .
    • From a Wall. St. Journal story on the movie "Noah":  "With a multitude of animal species, an apocalyptic deluge and biblical proportions, the filmmakers used plenty of computers—and a boat. "
    • Speaking of "biblical proportions," why is that term always pegged to negative scenarios?  As in "A firestorm of biblical proportions . . . a flood of biblical proportions . . . a plague of biblical proportions.   As opposed to: "An idyllic, picture-perfect Sunday afternoon of biblical proportions . . . ."  "She had a flawless complexion and classic features of biblical proportions."  That you never see.
    • "Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins."--Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • jimjustsaying's substitute word for "selfie":  Narcissipic.
    • I'm not worried so much about registered sex offenders as I am about unregistered sex offenders!
    • Novel ways drug smugglers have devised to smuggle drugs, according to Time magazine:  Inside hollowed-out onions (Pakistan, to foil drug-sniffing dogs); inside frozen squid (Peru); inside a woman's breast implants (Spain); in pumpkins (Montreal); inside hemp shoes (Delhi, India--hashish); and last but not least, stuffed inside roasted chickens (Nigeria).
    • jimjustsaying's nomination for Bad Job of the Week:  Construction zone flag man.  Has to be boring, tedious and dangerous--not to mention the exposure to the vicissitudes of the elements, from broiling sun to bitter cold to  driving rain.
    • “Saying atheism is a belief system is like saying not going skiing is a hobby.”--Ricky Gervais
    • This just in: Archaeologists may have uncovered evidence of the oldest Buddhist shrine yet discovered, dating to around 550 B.C. --a century earlier than dates accepted by many scholars. 
    • Next thing you know, they'll be telling us that Columbus discovered America in 1392 and that Columbus Day can be a personal holiday to be celebrated whenever you feel like it.
    • When is the last time you were asked "Smoking or Non-Smoking" by a restaurant hostess?  I hope someday it will change to "Cell Phone or Non-Cell Phone?"  ("Lady, I'd give almost anything not to be downwind of your banal, shallow, gossipy approximation of what used to pass for conversation.")
    • " . . . [M]ost off-the-cuff advice is useless.  Consider, for example, people who poke you in the chest and say, "A word to the wise."  This expression makes no sense.  If you are already wise, why would you need a word from anybody?  It should be: 'a word from the wise.'  This is the whole problem.  The word never comes from the wise. It always comes from an idiot."--Joe Queenan in the Wall Street Journal
    • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week:  "Buffalo Bill," as in William "Buffalo Bill" Brennan, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Feb 19, 2014.
    • Adding to my list of occupations no child ever dreams about or aspires to:  Seismologist. 
    • Fifty-third Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Forest Junction (R.I.P., LeMeryl Kozlowski, Green Bay Press-Gazette  obituary, Feb. 19, 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 and Flintville.  
    • Today's Latin lesson:  Nusquam successio amo redundo.  ("Nothing succeeds like excess.")


    THE QUOTE RACK

    Putin's Iranian leverage
    The next phase of the Ukraine crisis may not take place in Ukraine, but Iran. Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s delegate to the West’s talks with Iran, was quoted as saying [recently] that if the U.S. and Europe keep raising the stakes for Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, "we will take retaliatory measures as well.” He specifically named the talks as a weapon in Russia’s tit-for-tat arsenal. 

    Uh-oh. Until recently, Russia may have preferred to keep Iran from getting a destabilizing nuclear weapon, but now that Vladimir Putin’s power struggle with President Obama has become personal, his agenda could easily change. If Putin wrecks the talks, it would put Obama into "the horrible, no-win situation he has spent his whole presidency working to avoid"--either accepting Iran as a nuclear power, or launching a high-stakes war to disarm the mullahs.

     Forcing Obama into a corner would be "an immensely satisfying foreign policy coup" for Putin, who delights in proving that the West’s rhetoric is hollow. So beware: "If Russia can derail the Iran talks, it will be sorely tempted to try."
    --Walter Russell Mead, The-American-Interest.com

    Crimea: Khrushchev’s mysterious gift
    Crimea has become a flash point in the struggle between Kiev and Moscow, with Russian troops seizing control of the southern peninsula bordering on the Black Sea. But exactly why this region--which has a majority ethnic Russian population and is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet--ended up as part of Ukraine is something of a mystery. 

    The peninsula had been ruled by Russia for centuries when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev suddenly gifted it to Kiev in 1954. Many Russians think Khrushchev was drunk when he signed the Crimea away, while others believe he was trying make amends for the Ukrainian famine. The handover remains deeply unpopular with ordinary Russians, 56 percent of whom view Crimea as Russian territory, far more than feel a claim on Chechnya. "Many see Putin as the one who returned some of Russia’s strengths,’’ said Denis Volkov, an independent Russian pollster. "I think he will use this idea of the loss of the Soviet Union to drum up support with Crimea.
    --The Week

    Right-wingers' book sales tanking
    "A few years ago, I remember walking into a Barnes and Noble and being astonished at the overwhelming number of right-wing polemics on display.  About 40 tables were loaded with best-sellers such as Jonah Goldberg’s "Liberal Fascism" and Ann Coulter’s "Godless." Publishers launched six special imprints devoted to conservative books, and the genre flourished. 

    But the boom is over. BuzzFeed.com [recently] reported that most conservative-oriented books now have anemic sales, with many titles failing to make back the authors’ advances. The problem? Too many authors flooded into a narrow market that hasn’t grown since the 1990s, so to attract attention online and on talk radio, their premises and rhetoric began to get more and more extreme. Barack Obama’s election drove  conservatives into such frenzies of hysteria that they started producing books such as Jerome R. Corsi’s "Where’s the Birth Certificate?"-a diatribe that claims to prove that the president was actually born in Indonesia. To compete for air times and sales, Coulter and other right-wing bomb-throwers wrote even more hysterical screeds--driving all but the hard-core dittoheads away.  When everyone turns the dials to 11, you aren’t a niche anymore. You’re just a crackpot fringe.
    --Kevin Drum, MotherJones.com

    Suing over bad reviews
    Can companies get away with muzzling unhappy patrons? Always read the fine print.  In an apparent bid to prevent customers from posting complaints online, more companies are slipping non-disparagement clauses  into their contracts. And  consumers who violate these policies could face legal action even if the complaints are 100 percent true. 

    Businesses have plenty of reason to be nervous; more than 53 million reviews were posted on Yelp as of 2013, and postings increased 47 percent from 2012. And since bad reviews are bad for business, companies are trying to prevent consumers from trash-talking. Whether companies can actually get away with muzzling unhappy patrons is still up for debate. As a rule, items agreed to in a contract are enforceable, but with respect to issues like these, judges are often wary of hidden clauses, aka “the gotcha factor.”
    --Catey Hill, MarketWatch.com  

    The smartest way . . .  
    There’s no need for panic. It would be naïve to take Putin at his word that Russia has no designs on territory outside Crimea, and we should use all the nonmilitary means at our disposal to keep him out of the rest of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. But Putin has no desire or ability to wage a Soviet-style campaign of "global conquest." His only real goal is to stay in power. Hence his appetite for continuous crisis and grievance: They distract Russians from their country’s economic stagnation and rampant corruption. 
    --George Packer, NewYorker.com

    . . . to handle Vladimir Putin
    The smartest response to Putin’s provocations  is to quietly remind him of his limitations. The U.S. should flood Ukraine with Western money, so it can withstand his economic blackmail and bribery, and tell Ukrainian officials on unencrypted phone lines that we’ll send arms and special operations forces to help them resist any Russian occupation. This is a regional conflict, not a global one,  and President Obama’s goal should be to keep it that way.
    --Fred Kaplan, Slate.com

    The governor syndrome
    The appearance of a number of GOP governors at CPAC--Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Texas’s Rick Perry --is a reminder that while governors often make the best presidents --and in 2016 can bring needed gravitas and competence to the presidential race --there are also pitfalls for those seeking national office for the first time.

    Christie may not have this problem, but governors who’ve never run for president underestimate what a national vetting is like. Issues they thought were aired and dismissed at the state level reappear, with more reporters and oppo teams combing through the archives for nuggets. The candidate who does not vet himself and is not prepared to respond to hordes of challenges, reveal taxes, satisfy voters on health concerns and have past writings and speeches flyspecked is making a huge mistake.

    Presidential candidates are supposed to have a position on nearly every topic --and very quickly. There is no taking a pass on Ukraine or giving a "no comment" on global warming. That in turn necessitates a group of expert policy advisers who can help turn positions into proposals and find the flaws in their own and other campaigns’ plans.

    All of that brings us to the unfortunate reality for many governors: The trusted staff that got them to the highest office they probably thought they’d ever hold and has been with them for a very long time may not be up to the task of running a presidential campaign. They may not have the expertise in national issues, the national campaign experience or the willingness to give harsh but necessary assessments of the candidate. This doesn’t mean every close adviser has to be left back at the state capitol, but it does suggest bringing in adequate numbers of new faces and putting together a team that meshes, compensates for one another’s weaknesses and is national campaign-ready.

    The governors will also need a rationale for their presidential campaign that is more than, "I’m a successful executive and I’ve gotten things done with Democrats." Almost by definition all the governors will have that going for them. What will make them different? In Texas, Perry, for example, has a specific economic record that is superior to almost every other state. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker can say he’s gone into the lion’s den, whipped Big Labor and made his state the better for it. But a generic –aren’t governors the best? --message is unlikely to elevate one governor over the others.

    Debates in 2016 may be fewer and farther between than in the 2012 race, but there will nevertheless be some. Moreover, fewer debates make each one more important. There are also nonstop interviews to deal with.  It may have been a very long time since some governors last faced off against an adept debater and/or extremely adversarial interviewers. Governors, who often reside in a bubble of their own with security, drivers, taxpayer-funded homes and entertainment, will find themselves quickly cut down to size. They need to get over any sense of privilege and any annoyance at being treated like just one more candidate.

    Governors in 2016 may be among the best GOP presidential candidates. But if history is any guide, ill-prepared candidates will find the process unnerving and disorienting. They tend to underestimate how entirely different a presidential nomination process is from a statewide race. They should start preparing now --once it starts it’ll be too late.
    --Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

    When free is costly
    "Not long ago, we would have bought services as important to us as mail and news. Now, however, we get all those services for free--and we pay with our personal data, which is spliced and diced and bought and sold. Those who aren’t bothered by that exchange should keep in mind that our data is used not just for advertisements. It has also been used to charge people different prices based on their personal information. It has been used to provide different search results to different people based on their political interests. It has been used by the government to identify possible criminal and terrorist suspects. If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product."
    --Julia Angwin in The New York Times

    Washington's reality gap
    To understand the country’s frustration with politics, we shouldn’t focus primarily on "gridlock" and "polarization." The larger problem is a disconnect between what the nation’s capital is talking about and what most citizens are worried about.

    The issues discussed at kitchen tables and over back fences relate to getting and keeping good jobs, better educating our children, improving living standards (or, these days, keeping them from falling), and holding families together. The issues that fixate Washington are abstractions such as tax reform, deficit reduction and whether small government is better than big government. Call the distance between the two sets of priorities the Reality Gap. . . .
    --Dana Milbank, Washington Post

    Meditation no cure-all
    Anew study finds that research on mindful­ness meditation has yielded moderate evi­dence that the practice can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain, but little to no evi­dence that it can reduce substance abuse or im­prove mood, sleep or weight control. And no evi­dence was found that meditation programs were better than drugs, exercise or other behavioral therapies at addressing issues of mental health.

    The latest word on meditation’s effects comes from a meta-analysis --essentially a study of clin­ical trials that sifts, consolidates and distills their findings. It was published in JAMA Internal Med­icine.

    The analysis showed a "small and consistent signal" that different components of negative affect --stress, distress, anxiety and depression --im­proved in subjects who were trained in and prac­ticed mindfulness meditation, the study’s authors wrote.

    The scale of benefits found ranged from 22% to 38% for anxiety symptoms, and 23% to 30% for depressive symptoms. Its effect on pain was more robust, yielding an average improvement of about 33%.

    The authors of the study suggest that little or poorly designed research may have led to their less-than-robust findings in favor of meditation’s benefits. Of 18,753 studies of meditation, only 47 were clinical trials designed and conducted with sufficient rigor to be included in the meta-analysis.

    And the authors cautioned that, despite evidence that the meditator’s proficiency matters, there was wide variation in trainer expertise, the amount of training study participants got, and their skill in meditating.

    If meditation’s widely touted benefits are to win adherents in the examination room, the authors suggested, there will have to be more and better research on meditation, focusing on specific pa­tient populations and looking for well-established outcomes.
    --Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times

    U.S. detainees welcomed
     Uruguay has become the first Latin American country to agree to accept prisoners released from Guantánamo Bay. "I was imprisoned for many years, and I know how it is," said President José Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla jailed under Uruguay’s dictatorship in the 1970s and  '80s. "They are coming as refugees, and there will be a place for them in Uruguay if they want to bring their families."  Uruguay is expected to accept five of the 154 detainees who remain in Guantánamo. The U.S. government said no deal has been finalized and wants assurances that resettled prisoners will be required to stay in the country for at least two years.
    --The Week

    THE LINK TANK

    U.S., like Russia, engages in hegemony
    Panama was the United States' version of Crimea
    http://ee.usatoday.com/Subscribers/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=VVNBLzIwMTQvMDMvMjU.&pageno=Ng..&entity=QXIwMDYwMw..&view=ZW50aXR5 

    Parallel parking in the Arctic Circle
    Warming trend opens up more navigable waters plus mineral and oil exploration
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/friedman-parallel-parking-in-the-arctic-circle.html?hp&rref=opinion 

    The inflation obsession
    The uninformed keep worrying about the wrong thing
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/03/opinion/krugman-the-inflation-obsession.html?hp&rref=opinion 

    Loss leader
    Americans lose faith in U.S. influence
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/americans-lose-faith-in-political-military-influence-b99223031z1-249511921.html 

    Fighting identity theft
    Some of the more desperate and dumb strategies of battling identity theft, via passwords and security questions 
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304256404579449581314039414.html?mod=ITP_review_0

    The broken med-school model
    Time to heal the way doctors are trained
    http://eedition.chicagotribune.com/Olive/ODE/ChicagoTribune2/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=Q1RDLzIwMTQvMDMvMjc.&pageno=MzU.&entity=QXIwMzUwMA..&view=ZW50aXR5

    To be happy, accept yourself
    What the 'happiness industry' neglects to tell you
    http://www.jsonline.com/features/advice/one-key-to-happiness-is-to-accept-yourself-b99228475z1-251799321.html 

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

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

    POPCORN

    By Jim Szantor
    Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
    • The only trouble with Chinese fortune cookies is that 20 minutes later you want to read again.
    • Okay, I'll admit it:  I'm basically self-taut. 
    • How did we ever keep our storms straight without TV stations around to name them?
    • Weather prediction:  There's a 40 percent chance there will  be a rock group named Polar Vortex.   With a 30 percent chance of an Alberta Clipper.  Watch this space for further updates.
    • Overheard: "I really don't understand why people panic and have to clear out the grocery stores before a storm. Don't people keep food in their homes anymore?"
    • "Don't just do something, sit there."--Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times
    • I don't know much about military armament, but I do know that some hawkish politicians like  to drone on and on.
    • "Dr. King's dream has come true. His children are being judged by the content of their character."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    • Message to Big Pharma, whose latest obsession seems to be selling testosterone-boosting products to any male over age 10:  Aging is not a disease, it's a process.  If aging is a disease, then infancy is a disease.
    • "Life is easier to take than you'd think; all that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable and bear the intolerable."--Poet/essayist Kathleen Norris
    • How does it happen that all the Olympic figure skaters are what most people would consider attractive?  Do they weed out the "other" figure skaters before they advance that far?  Or does figure skating just attract the attractive?  
    • Otherwise, the law of averages dictates that occasionally you're going to get a homely skater with a bad complexion in the Olympics.  But it never happens!  (I'mjustsayin'.)
    • Think of the potential commercial tie-ins: "Clearasil--the official pimple cream of the 2014 Olympics. . . . "   "This event is brought to you by the Plastic Surgeons Council of America."
    • "Going down hill at 70 m.p.h. on two thin boards doesn't make you an athlete; an adrenalin junkie at best, or, if it really goes bad, an organ donor."--The Vent, AJC.com
    • Newspaper Obituary Nickname of the Week:  "Freddie Buff." As in Alfred "Freddie Buff" Ruffalo, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, Feb. 9, 2014.  R.I.P., Mr. Ruffalo.
    • Speaking of obituaries: Shirley Temple (R.I.P.) and Judy Garland--two child stars, two very different lifestyles.
    • Speaking of actresses: "Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent.”--Sophia Loren
    • "The money is in my Bill Pay pipeline" just doesn't have the same ring as "The check is in the mail."  (Which isn't always a lie; sometimes the check IS in the mail!  But who believes you?)
    • Jimjustsaying's First Law of Dining:  The hungrier you are, the least likely you are to experiment.
    • And just what is so hard about waitressing (or waitering) that makes good ones so rare?
    • Jimjustsaying's Dine-Out Tip O' the Week:  At a Mexican restaurant, always ask to be seated in the No Guitarist section.
    • Just who are the Gideons and where do they get the money for all those bibles?  Have you ever met a Gideon? And where are all the Gideon churches?
    • Jimjustsaying's Book Title of the Week: "Comets and How to Observe Them," by Richard Schmude. 
    • Once I have a key, I can't throw it away, even if it hasn't been used in 40 years and I can't remember what it was used in.
    • Another Stupid Warning on an Actual Product:  On a wet suit:  "Capacity, 1."
    • Fifty-second Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Flintville.  (R.I.P., Robert "Bob" White, Green Bay Press-Gazette  obituary, Jan. 8, 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 and Pickett.
    • Today's Latin Lesson:  Operor non sudo vegrandis effercio. ("Don't sweat the small stuff.")

    Saturday, February 1, 2014

    POPCORN

    By Jim Szantor
    Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
    • Which would be better: To have the hottest thing on the market . . .  or the coolest thing on the market?  Can one thing be both?  Discuss!
    • This just in:  A new Olympic event has been added at Sochi--the Vacuum Cleaner Bag-Changing Challenge.  Several weight divisions, including the Dirt Devil Decathlon. 
    • The evidence is clear:  If planning to take an ocean cruise, bring your own food!  
    • Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just list the schools that aren't closed/closing instead of showing innumerable school names on the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen?  
    • Ice fishermen are to winter what Civil War re-enactors are to summer.   What's the point of freezing your butt off/risking your life/investing in all kinds of gear in trying to catch $6 worth of fish?   About as pointless as wearing heavy wool uniforms in August while running around pretending to shoot a guy from your bowling team who's dressed as the "enemy."
    • "Travel magazines are just one cupcake after another.  They're not about travel.  The travel magazine is in fact about the opposite of travel.  It's about having a nice time on a honeymoon, or whatever."--Paul Theroux
    • Winter driving hazard no one ever mentions:  Wet snow that clings to highway signs, making them all but unreadable.  How many missed exits or wrong turns result?  If we can put a man on the Moon, there should be a way to fix this.  Yet . . . everybody sees this and nothing is ever done.  Morning in America . . . .
    • "Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire."--Author Wendell Berry
    • All-time-great howler from the Indianapolis Star (courtesy of the Columbia Journalism Review):  "Jazz tunes, including 'Modern Leaves . . . and 'The Girl With Emphysema,' ended at 8:30 p.m. when the jazz trio packed up." 
    • This being the seed-catalog-in-the-mail season, a word of encouragement for all you gardeners out there.  Please don't be discouraged if your stuff doesn't come up looking like the gardens in those colorful catalogs.  Remember, those pictures were posed by professional vegetables!
    • Speaking of vegetables, whatever happened to the Garden Weasel?  Do they still make it?  Will they double my order if I act now (and just pay extra postage and handling)?
    • The latest trend in the automotive world is cars that drive themselves.  Do  they come with a computerized backseat driver? 
    • Jargoneering:  An iKnife, we learn from Jonathon Keats of Wired.Com, is an intelligent electrosurgical kife, capable of identifying cancerous tissue as a doctor cuts out a tumor.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
    • Maybe we should start looking at people's names with an environmentalist's eyes, as in:  "Hey, there goes Clarence.  Not many of those left, you know.  Two in the U.S. and four in England, at last count."   (Not to mention Bruno, Shirley and Mortimer . . .)
    • Drudge Report Headline of the Month (my choice) for January:  "Thieves try to steal Sigmund Freud's ashes in London."
    • No new is good news?  Starting in the 1880s and lasting at least 50 years, U.S. government agencies were forbidden from forecasting tornadoes or even using the word, the Chicago Tribune reports.  Officials were leery of inaccurate predictions and panicking the public. The result was that hundreds of people were killed or injured even when forecasters had been confident a violent storm was imminent.
    • Headline:  "Arsenio Hall returning after 20-year absence."  (All due respect, but . . .. I never missed him before he went missing!) Nobody can be that upbeat all the time.
    • Why do they call them "polo shirts"?   The polo match I saw, no one was wearing anything of the sort.
    • Another Media Word (a word you see or hear only in news reports and never hear a normal person use in real life):  "Inveigle."
    • Statement: "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession.  I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."--Ronald Reagan  Comment:  Well, he should know.
    • Does the world really need these new jet-powered hand dryers?  It's not too far-fetched to envision one of them blowing an infant's head off?  
    • At what temperature are the Fahrenheit and Centigrade readings the same?  If somebody tells you it’s 40 below zero, the Chicago Tribune informs us, you don’t need to ask if they’re talking Fahrenheit or Celsius. At that temperature--and only at that temperature--the two are the same.
    • Redundancy of the Week (from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news story):  "verbal argument."  As opposed to what?  All arguments are verbal; if they escalate to the physical, they're fights, not arguments.
    • Fifty-first Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Pickett.  (R.I.P. , Sue Belter,  Green Bay Press-Gazette  obituary, Dec. 26, 2013).  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 and Ellisville.
    • Today's Latin Lesson:  Ut rectus ex os of equus! ("That's straight from the horse's mouth!")