Thursday, January 1, 2015

jimjustselling . . .




(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.
  
http://tinyurl.com/JimsLOLbook

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"Jim is obviously making a name for himself--Mr. Irrelevant!"--Don Rickles
--"Almost too entertaining!  (Well, sort of.)"--David Letterman
--"Blogaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"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.
  • When we weren't looking, the Bermuda Triangle appears to have moved to somewhere in the Java Sea.  
  • Three things I've never done:  Changed my own oil, cleaned a fish, or stood out in the frigid night to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve.  
  • Who decides which doctors are expert enough to have TV shows and influence millions of people?  How exactly is that determined?  Where are these people on the quack-to-Nobel caliber continuum?
  • Here's a concept that's never been tried: Wrestling on radio!  (If you think soccer is boring on TV, imagine it on radio!)
  • Three good names for French restaurants that are going to waste:  Le Indifference.  Le Extravagance.  Le Exorbitant.
  • Is there a League of Men Voters?
  • Overheard:  "When AT&T calls, I tell them I work for Verizon.  And when Verizon calls, I tell them I work for AT&T."
  • One problem with home schooling:  No yearbook!
  • Why is it that companies can take your credit card info over the phone and process it in two days or less but can't process a refund for six to eight weeks?
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
  • Speaking of children, I don't understand all these school-closing "snow days." Why? Because you go to the gym, the library, the mall, and what do you see?  Wall to wall kids!  It's not like the school closing kept them safely at home, so aren't they're better off on the school bus and in the school instead of individually heading out into the very same elements they're supposedly being "protected" from?  (Yes, but when the school is closed, then it's the parents' fault, not the school's, if Johnny gets run over by a snowplow.  That's probably what it boils down to.)
  • (How far are we from having "heat days" when it's 95 and humid in mid-May? I'm just sayin'.)
  • Overheard:   "I went to a TGIF party.  It was BYOB, and I had enough VO and JB to send me to AA with the DT's!"
  • What's in a Name/Nomenclature Disconnect Dept.: There are few if any commercial entities that label themselves what they actually are and what people actually call them.  
  • Therefore, there are no "grocery stores," "convenience stores" or "pool halls"  but rather "SuperCenters," "Q-Marts" and "Billiards Parlors."  (Kudos to Ace Hardware, which apparently never got or choose to ignore the memo.)
  • And who started this business of stores asking for charitable  donations at the checkout counter?  Do they get a tax break by doing this?  Hard to  consider something "good PR" when it irritates the customers!
  • "People like to 'hate-watch' things.  People are very cynical. That's a much more fun way to watch television."--"Peter Pan" star Allison Williams  
  • (Hate-watching is watching a show or movie you suspect you will emphatically dislike, for the purpose of being able to talk about how much you disliked it, either during the program (on social media) or afterward, says Brandon Ambrosino of Vox.com.)
  • Newspaper Obituary Nickname of the Week:  "Bads. " As in Thomas "Bads" Beth, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, Dec. 11, 2014.
  • "I've always found myself fascinated by midgets--both the physical and mental varieties."--Stephen King via  William Mochnik,  jimjustsaying's Missouri bureau chief.
  • Jim's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [fellow partygoer's name here], did you know that Robert M. Pirsig, author of the best-selling  "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values," once wrote technical manuals and ads for the mortuary cosmetics industry?" 
  • "Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food."--Robert M. Pirsig
  • Phonesia:  The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as soon as that person answers.--"Sniglets," by Rich Hall &Friends
  • Fifty-eighth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Lunds. (R.I.P., Patricia A. Giese, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Sept. 9, 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, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain and Ledgeview.
  • Today's Latin lesson:  Est is gelu satis vobis?  ("Is it cold enough for you?")

LAGNIAPPE

THE BEST OF
"IF LARRY KING WROTE FOR US" 
FROM ESPN THE MAGAZINE

Betcha when A-Rod and Madonna dine out, neither looks at the prices on the menu . . . Mark my words, if anyone can break The Rocket's record of seven Cy Youngs, it's Ricky Nolasco . . . Wore my football helmet to cut the lawn to see what training camp is like . . . If Yao and Yi were on the same team, would they have to share a translator? . . . Worst thing about global warming?  The Winter X Games will seem like the Fall X Games . . . Betcha dollars to dougnuts that when Roger Federer was a kid, he had a friend with a tennis court in his backyard . . . Goose Gossage is now my favorite Hall of Famer named Goose other than Goose Goslin . . . Anyone who blocks a field goal should get a free pizza . . . If Floyd Mayweather is mad at you, it's gotta cost you some sleep . . . How come when NCAA hockey teams win tourney games they don't cut off a piece of the net? . . . If I took the Bucks GM job, it would have come with a reserved parking spot and a decent health package . . . Question:  If you're in the Olympic torch relay and you need to use the john, what do you do with the torch? . . . Write it down: Jeff Suppan is going to make the good people of Milwaukee forget about Warren Spahn . . . Sometimes when I see Nicky Saban screaming at someone on TV, I think he's yelling at me!

THE QUOTE RACK

Thoughts on the Cuba thaw
Other totalitarian states must be overjoyed. Cuba used Gross as a bargaining chip to extract more concessions from Obama, and by bending to that pressure, Obama has told the likes of Iran and Syria that "Washington can be fleeced if a U.S. hostage can be held for ransom." Moreover, it’s far from clear that a rapprochement will end Cuba’s "long Communist ordeal." More likely, the "infusion of American cash and legitimacy will give a failed, bankrupt yet vicious government a new lease on life.
--Jonathan Tobin, CommentaryMagazine.com

A closer look  . . . 
This victory for the banks is not as major as it may initially seem.  The original reform demanded that banks funnel some of their derivatives trades through separate subsidiaries that aren’t backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., in order to force the banks to absorb more risk themselves. But that rule had huge loopholes; billions of dollars of interest rate swaps and currency derivatives were already immune from it. In fact, just 0.5 percent of total U.S. bank assets were ultimately covered--hardly worth the fuss [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren made. 
--Stephen Gandel, Fortune.com

 . . . at Wall Street 'reform'
This rollback also didn’t come completely out of the blue.   More than a third of House Democrats and virtually every House Republican voted last year to change the rule, and many top bank regulators opposed it way back in 2010.
--Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times

Obesity as disability?
 . . . [T]he evolving European policy [of considering obesity as a disability] could very well cross the Atlantic --that is, if it hasn't already. In 2012, a Texas court ruled against a company that fired a 600-pound materials handler without first trying to find ways to help him perform his duties. This year a federal court in Missouri, considering a lawsuit by a man who said he was fired for his severe obesity, agreed that the revised ADA may apply to him.

There are obvious objections to this line of thinking. One is that it flies in the face of what the ADA was meant to do--help people with serious physical and mental impairments, like paralysis and blindness, be productive members of society.

Had Congress wanted to include the obese --and publicize that inclusion to the American public --it could have made that step unmistakably clear. It didn't. The EEOC, however, thinks the 2008 amendments offer enough latitude to suit its purposes.

One problem with its approach is that it could greatly expand the number of people classified as disabled. One in 3 adult Americans is obese, and nearly 7 percent--more than 15 million people-- are morbidly obese.  . . . The expansion is also at odds with the basic idea of the ADA: empowering people who are the unfortunate victims of fate. Obesity is usually the result of individual decisions, and it can be ameliorated by individual decisions. Those facts argue for leaving the government out of this realm.

No one pretends that healthy choices are easy. But the fact remains that people can avoid weight gain, or achieve weight loss, by eating less and exercising more. Blind people, by contrast, can't get their sight back by any form of self-discipline. No amount of willpower can give a paraplegic the ability to walk.

If employers must accommodate the requirements of obese workers, are they also entitled to adopt policies to prevent workers from becoming obese? Could they require all employees to make regular gym visits, or run 15 miles a week, to keep their jobs? Once companies are forced to make changes to benefit individuals with serious weight problems, they will have strong incentives to meddle in personal lifestyles.

Providing exceptional treatment to people with a common, curable condition isn't a good way to encourage self-discipline, which ultimately is the only way to control weight. It's more like a shortsighted indulgence we will come to regret.
--Chicago Tribune editorial

Income not only loss for unemployed
"It wasn't that the skills were going; it's that my memory wasn't as good," says Brian Hatfield, a 33-year-old from Escondido, California. After a recent, one-year bout of unemployment, he says had forgotten a few minor, basic skills from his former administrative and retail jobs. But it wasn't those that troubled him--he found himself getting duller and slower in day-to-day conversations.

He might not use the term, but Hatfield is describing a phenomenon economists call skill erosion, the tendency of the long-term unemployed to lose their skills (and therefore their value) in the labor market. Even while the headline unemployment rate falls, those who have been out of work for a long time, sometimes years, are feeling the lingering damage of the recession on a personal level. And even while the number of unemployed falls, the share who are out of work six months or more remains abnormally high.

. . .  skill erosion [is] much more subtle than forgetting your old job skills--and even when those skills do go, they often can easily come back with new work--rather, it can be a slow creep of falling out of step with new technology, falling out of touch with people in your industry, and falling out of practice of working with others.
--Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox.com

Many faces of torture
A lot of critics are saying torture was contrary to American values. In truth, America did far worse in the Second World War, deliberately incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden. Even today, Obama routinely orders drone attacks that result in “collateral damage”--the death of women and children. Is nuking Nagasaki or firing missiles into family compounds in Pakistan morally superior to torturing terrorists? Were Harry Truman and FDR war criminals? Like President Bush, these leaders all faced complicated moral dilemmas, and if you’re not in the shoes of those who are responsible for protecting Americans from ruthless enemies, don’t be so quick to condemn them.
--Max Root, CommentaryMagazine.com

Only in America
An Ohio woman was denied welfare benefits after she failed to attend mandatory job-training sessions because she was in a coma. Kimberly Thompson spent a month in the medically induced coma while battling a series of infections. When she woke up, officials told her she would no longer receive $700 in monthly benefits. "How are you supposed to go to class when you are in a coma?"  Thompson asked. 
--The Week

When it all happened
The true age of innovation ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the Internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights. Feminism. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable, and safe automobiles. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox, and discovered the double-spiral key of life. Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. As the U.S. technologist Peter Thiel once put it: "We wanted flying cars; we got 140 characters."
--Michael Hanlon in Aeon.com

Cops are the most obese workers in America: study
Their job is to protect and serve--but it seems some police officers interpret this as an excuse to enjoy too many extra servings at the lunch table.

A study has revealed US cops have the highest rates of obesity among any profession in the country.  Along with firefighters and security guards, nearly 41 per cent of boys in blue are obese, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Social workers, clergy and counsellors come in second, with 35.6 per cent having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, the standard definition of obese used by the study.  Home health aides and massage therapists are third at 34.8 per cent.

Surprisingly sedentary professions such as truckers, bus drivers and crane operators, come in only fifth in a group with garbage collectors on nearly 32.8 per cent.  The slimmest workers are economists, scientists and psychologists, of whom 14.2 per cent are classed as obese.  Other svelte professions at the bottom of the list are artists, actors, athletes and reporters.

The proportion of all American workers who are obese is 27.7 per cent, according to the 2014 study.

Roughly one-third of US adults are obese, which costs companies more than $73 billion a year in health-care bills and lost working hours and productivity, according to researchers from Duke University.
--Tim Macfarlan, Mailonline

THE LINK TANK

In 2014, the joke is on us
The Sony hacking scandal is an example of why 2014 reads like a comic book
http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752489f.onl/VKPlYcPoWudHn-etA235d

TV snow jobs
Lay off the incredibly hyped “storm tracker” coverage and give it to us straight
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fajrarchive.org%2FArticle.asp%3Fid%3D2659&ei=UOylVNjfOIisyASU14GYAw&usg=AFQjCNH3n2rp1owNYg-89MnM4Be-ZDXLHg&sig2=R999FIQNOpYs6r9eyeY7Fw&bvm=bv.82001339,d.aWw

The Slacktivist Generation
This generation needs a recommitment to the idea of service
http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752489f.onl/VKMevkmOeqwoSbxjA39dc

Time for Clinton to stop dithering
Hillary fatigue turns to Hillary exhaustion
http://www.suntimes.com/news/simon/31424473-452/hillary-should-stop-dithering.html

Reforming  Congress
Term limits could help cut reckless spending and the practice of buying votes with federal grants
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/KYNZS9/TU6QRV/FQXGGD/OJLZDZN/VTLF99/28/h

Enough already with cosmetic changes
How about improving the product itself?
http://online.wsj.com/articles/cosmetic-change-joe-queenan-wants-us-to-get-real-1417796386

Inconvenient economic truths
Bright spots create dilemmas for both parties
http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752489e.ofl/VKKBCMPo-rO-T0lQA0a75

Why so many health articles are junk
University health shops overhype scientists' findings
http://www.vox.com/2014/12/10/7372921/health-journalism-science 

Digital 'nose' can sniff out disease
Microchip can pinpoint what ails us
http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/19/tech/innovation/digital-nose-disease-breathalyzer/

Is vacation over?
Falling oil prices could topple foreign regimes
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/opinion/thomas-friedman-is-vacation-over.html 

Material question
Graphene may be the most remarkable substance ever discovered. But what’s it for?
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newyorker.com%2Fmagazine%2F2014%2F12%2F22%2Fmaterial-question&ei=jvCdVJOsLoT5yAT7sYKYAw&usg=AFQjCNFgnNwRCf78xNSMh4QX6HMGAvlmrg&sig2=o55HzCLHxzmHIu92dN4FjQ&bvm=bv.82001339,d.aWw

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • This Christmas season I'm going to send a calendar to every insurance agent and real-estate person I know (just to see if they have a sense of humor).  
  • What did they call a Napoleon Complex before they had Napoleon to name it after?
  • jimjustsaying's Name for Something That Doesn't Exist But Should: Fitting Persons Bureau:  
  • (Where you need to go to find out if your wife is trying something on when you can't find her anywhere in the women's clothing department of whatever store you are in.)
  • Peepola:  The gap in the dressing room curtain that can never be completely closed.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall & Friends
  • Women spit only at the dentist's office.
  • Of all the artists represented in my collection, I would really hate to lose Lautrec.
  • Overheard:  "What was the best thing before sliced bread?"
  • Q--What do Attila the Hun and John the Baptist have in common?  A--The same middle name.
  • Is the third time always the charm?
  • Jim's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week.  "Say [actual party-goer's name here], did you know that the cummerbund was first adopted by British military officers in colonial India as an alternative to a waistcoat and later spread to civilian use?"
  • What if there was a comeback and no one came?  I keep reading about the big resurgence in vinyl--as in phonograph records.  (What, you thought I meant auto upholstery?)  Start asking your friends and wait for the blank stares.  
  • Jargoneering: Nanojuice.  An ingestible fluid containing colored nanoparticles, administered to diagnose disorders in the gastro-intestinal tract.  The tiny particles, Wired magazine reports, vibrate when pulsed with laser light, creating pressure waves that reveal intestinal activity in real time.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Fortune Cookie of the Month:  "One must dare to be himself, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be."
  • Would a veterinarian who specializes in elephants be called a pachydermatologist?
  • Tonight's highlights on TV Land/Iraq, according to jimjustsaying's vast network of sources: 
  • 7:00--"Husseinfeld"
  • 7:30--"Wheel of Fortune and Sanctions"
  • 8:00--"Mad About Everything"
  • 8:30--"Family Fatwah"
  • 9:00--"Veilwatch."
  • 9:30--"Allah McBeal."
  • 10:00--"Iraq's Wackiest Public Execution Bloopers"  
  • And, of course, all of this is always followed by the "No-Witness News" (except for viewers on the West Coast).  
  • Speaking of television, I've confirmed it:  The mute button was invented because of Larry King and Regis Philbin.
  • Obituary Headline Nickname of the month:  "Elevator."  As in Michael "Elevator" Burkhart, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, Oct. 23, 2014.
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Si ego operor non animadverto vos have a mirus feriae! ("If I don't see you, have a wonderful  holiday!")