Sunday, August 2, 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:
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"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

FARRAGO

JIM'S TOP TEN INTERNET "CLICK BAIT" TOPICS OF THE MONTH 
  1. Celebs who've gone bankrupt
  2. The surprisingly large number of deceased Seinfeld characters
  3. 10 things to never say to pregnant women
  4. 7 products to never buy in bulk
  5. 12 weird jobs you'll be surprised to know existed
  6. 10 awkward family camping photos
  7. 2 simple steps to remove bags and wrinkles from your eyes
  8. How to confront a war criminal
  9. Transgender people:  10 common myths
  10. Illinois city condemns Dick van Dyke's childhood home

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life  
    (Cue jaunty  flamenco guitar music and film clips of Jim cavorting with a coterie of adoring, attractive females.)


                His credit cards have no expiration date.                            

    If  his blood pressure goes up, the stock market goes down.

    When he delivers a speech, Hillary Clinton pays HIM $250,000.



    My Photo


      He's Jim Szantor, the most interesting man in Wisconsin.   


        "I don't drink beer often, but when I do,  I prefer Spotted Cow.

          Stay thirsty, my friends."
          • Headline I wanted to see but didn't:  Lions 1, Dentist 0.
          • Memo to TV weathercasters:  Why do you call rain “a rain event”?  Will refreshments be served?  Are there guest speakers?  Are tickets available?  
          • Seems like there's an app for everything these days--for everything you only do once in a while but few if any for what you do daily.  
          • Where, for instance, is the bedmaking app?  The dishwashing app?  The clothes-folding app?   The tooth-flossing app?  The world is waiting.
          • jimjustsaying's solution to the gun problem:  A bullet tax.  Forget fighting the NRA; instead, levy a $100-a-bullet tariff.  Because if you really want the gun for self-protection and not to shoot up a movie theater, is a couple hundred bucks really too much to pay?
          • Speaking of violence:  "There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no cause that I am prepared to kill for."--Mahatma Gandhi
          • Newspaper headline:  "NY Stock Exchange says software upgrade caused outage."  
          • Don't you love those "upgrades"?   Shades of  "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" of Vietnam War-era infamy.
          • "An uneasy conscience is a hair in in the mouth."-- Mark Twain
          • Seems as if everything in baseball is sponsored these days:  "Here's the Brewers starting lineup, brought to you by Milwaukee-area Chevy dealers." . . .  "Let's set the Brewers Pepsi defense for you." . . . . "This pitching change is brought to you by . . . ."
          • (What's next?   "This between-innings Announcer Bathroom Visit is brought to you by Quilted Northern, the official bathroom tissue of the Milwaukee Brewers . . . .")
          • All Over-Rated Team (in this case, the G Team):   Whoopi Goldberg,  Jim Gaffigan and Greg Gutfeld.
          • If it isn't bad enough that the media apparently has no intention of abandoning the ubiquitous "gate" suffix to anything remotely scandal oriented, along comes a new one:  "ghazi." 
          • As in "Brunchgazi," stemming from a highly publicized incident in a Portland, Me., restaurant in which a diner owner loudly berated a screaming toddler, a tactic that proved surprisingly effective (though it has earned the man considerable scorn in some quarters).  Others, though, have lauded the man and lambasted oblivious parents who let their carpet rodents scream on endlessly without intervening or removing them from the premises.
          • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say (actual fellow partygoer's name here), did you know that there’s a spider that secretes a webbing 25 times more powerful than steel, a moth that sends sonic illusions to jam bats’ radar and a termite that can shoot poisonous glue out of its face?"   (Thanks to Wired magazine for making me the sparkling party conversationalist people say that I am.)
          • Sixty-second  Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Cloverleaf Lakes, Wis.. (R.I.P., Lloyd Schoenfeld, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, July 1, 2015).  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, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood and Beaver.
          • Who is your favorite TV doctor?  Dr. Oz?  Dr. Drew?  Me, I'm sticking with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  At least he's not afraid to give his full name.
          • I wonder how uneasy aviation experts feel when they have to fly to scenes of airplane tragedies?
          • Wise words:  Some people feel more alive when  they travel . . .  because at those times sense perception--experiencing--takes up more of their consciousness than thinking.  They become more present.  Others remain completely possessed by the voice in the head even then. Their perceptions and experiences are distorted by instant judgments.  They haven't really gone anywhere.  Only their body is traveling, while they remain where they have always been:  in their head."--Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth"
          • Shouldn't those  public-service ads (or those tags at the end of beer commercials) say "Please drive responsibly" instead of "Please drink responsibly"?  If you're home alone, I don't much care if you drink irresponsibly (as long as you don't "drunk dial" me!)..   
          • Today's Latin lesson:  Ego sententia nos erant in haud dico album! ("Hey, I thought we were on the no-call list!")

          THE QUOTE RACK

          How ads smother the web
          Advertising technology is ruining the internet. Reading articles online today increasingly feels like  an exercise in pain and frustration, with an almost unthinkably enormous ecosystem of ad software clogging up the pipes.

          Every time you click on a link, dozens of tracking and ad sites spring into action behind the scenes to deliver you personalized sales pitches.  The result is a  hugely degraded user experience--bordering on the completely unusable.  Ads are voracious eaters of bandwidth, which means they can radically slow the speed of your connections.  The sheer weight of all the ad tech attached to a 500-word post, for instance, can eat up as much bandwidth as a 7 million–word post that is free of ads.

          Not that it matters to web publishers. Their top priority is to monetize users, having already decided it’s acceptable to force their viewers to sit through a video ad not just before they watch video content, but even before they read a text story.  The worst part?  There’s no realistic hope that websites will actually improve from here.   If anything, people might respond by flocking to ad-free native articles in Facebook or Apple News.  But then  it won’t be Facebook and Apple who killed the news brands. It’ll be ad tech.
          --Felix Salmon, The Guardian
          The North has its own racial sins
          Stop blaming the South for all of America’s ills.   In the wake of the Charleston shooting and the battle over the Confederate flag, smug Northerners have gleefully indulged their scorn for everything below the Mason-Dixon line, scapegoating the South for most of our country’s racism, obesity, and  general stupidity.   But if the South seceded tomorrow, the North, Midwest, and West would still have racially segregated housing and schools, prisons filled with black men, and  urban neighborhoods devastated by poverty and crime.

           Of America’s 25 most racially segregated cities, just five are in the South; Detroit, Milwaukee, and New York top the list. White suburbanites across the North--including in Hillary and Bill Clinton’s adopted hometown, Chappaqua, N.Y.--are still fighting the construction of affordable housing in their highly segregated communities.  In search of jobs and cheaper housing, many African-Americans are moving back to the South.  That reverse exodus, along with brisk immigration, has remade the South as a far more heterogeneous place. So enough finger wagging at Dixie. Change begins at home.
          --Thomas Sugrue, Washington Post
          Hillary's e-mails
          Whether she behaved criminally is beside the point, said Noah Rothman in CommentaryMagazine​.com.  Clinton jeopardized national security through idiosyncratic email practices "she followed out of her own privileged sense of 'convenience.' "  Hillary is now hiding behind a classic Clintonian defense, said Ron Fournier in NationalJournal​.com.   She’s blaming the media and the GOP for persecuting her, and using legalistic and deliberately deceptive language to spin her actions, insisting that questions about classified information in her e-mails arose only because of "my desire to have transparency and to make the information public"  Yeah, sure.  The real issue, of course, is that Clinton chose to use a server in her Chappaqua, N.Y., basement in violation of White House policy, deliberately shielding her work as secretary of state "from congressional oversight, media inquiries, or any accountability."  Every voter--and journalist--has the right to ask: "What were you hiding, Hillary?"
          --The Week
          Digital carjacking revving up
          The era of digital carjacking is just beginning.  Cars are adding Web-connected features far more quickly than they are developing defenses.  Experts say future attacks could involve hackers remotely disabling cars and only agreeing to revive them for a ransom.  There’s also the unnerving possibility of drive-by hacks, using wired traffic infrastructure.  Imagine a single infected Wi-Fi beacon on a stretch of highway delivering a virus to every passing vehicle.
          --Craig Timberg, Washington Post
          A chronicler of the world’s most dangerous lockups
          Valerio Bispuri has ventured into cellblocks that even prison guards are afraid to enter.  The Italian photographer has spent the past decade documenting the lives of inmates at 74 of South America’s most notorious lockups.  Some facilities, like Pavilion 5 of Argentina’s Mendoza prison, are so dangerous that authorities forced Bispuri, 44, to sign a safety waiver before going in.  Others had bizarre rituals, like the PenitenciarĂ­a in Chile’s capital, Santiago, where prisoners settle disputes by dueling with swords made from drainpipes.

          The inmates were mostly welcoming, says Bispuri--barring a few menacing exceptions.  "Some prisoners had prepared a syringe of infected blood for me," he says.  "Another time, a smiling guy came to me and, in front of the guards, put his arm around my neck, pulled out a knife and asked me if I was enjoying myself by taking pictures there."  But the most aggressive inmates, Bispuri says, were in the all-women prisons where conjugal visits are strictly forbidden.  "They touched me, whispered in my ear, asked me to go to the toilet with them."  Occasionally, the encounters were more poignant. "  In Ecuador, a 24-year-old girl called me into the prison library and suddenly kissed me behind the bookshelves.   It was a quick kiss, but very intense," says Bispuri. "Then she thanked me."
          --Sean O’Hagan, The Guardian (U.K.). 
          When did companies start snooping?
          Bosses have always kept a close eye on employees.  Henry Ford famously paced the factory floor with a stopwatch, timing his workers’ motions in a bid for greater efficiency.  He also hired private investigators to spy on employees’ home lives to make sure personal problems didn’t interfere with their work performance.

          But modern technology has greatly expanded the possibilities for employee analysis.  A point-of-sale computer system connected to a McDonald’s cash register, for instance, can capture how well a server sells customers on the latest meal deal; at a supermarket, such a device can record how quickly a cashier scans each grocery item.  With this information, management can measure how hard each employee works--and how necessary each is to the business.
          --The Week
          Supreme Court:  A new liberal era?
          If you think this is a liberal court, a little historical perspective is necessary.  In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, the court was far more liberal and activist than it is today; during that era, many of the Roberts court’s rulings would have been considered "reactionary."  The court’s 2013 ruling striking down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, despite repeated renewals by Congress, would have been unthinkable.  And as for the conservative legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, they would have never even reached the court in previous decades.  Roberts’ critics have got it backward:  The court is way more conservative than it used to be.  "There are just limits to how far to the right some of the current right-of-center justices are willing to go.
          --Sean Trende,  RealClearPolitics.com
          How ‘medical’ is marijuana?
          Touted by many as a kind of wonder drug, medical marijuana may be all but useless, according to new research from Yale University.  Previous studies suggested the substance was not only an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and glaucoma  but could also relieve post-chemotherapy nausea, boost appetite among HIV patients, help insomniacs sleep, and ease symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome.  But after analyzing numerous studies involving almost 6,500 people, the Yale researchers found no reliable evidence that marijuana could help treat any of these conditions, says the Los Angeles Times.  The drug may alleviate some pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, the study said, but those modest benefits fail to offset possible side effects, such as vomiting, disorientation, confusion, and hallucination.

          Though legal in 23 states, medical marijuana has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  And for good reason, say the study’s authors, Drs. Deepak Cyril D’Souza and Mohini Ranganathan, who note that states have largely approved medical marijuana based on "low-quality scientific evidence," anecdotal reports, and public opinion.
          --The Week
          Why GDP no longer matters
          Our obsession with gross domestic product needs to end.  Economists and pundits collectively lose it whenever GDP dips, as it did last quarter, but they needn’t get so anxious.  GDP "is a product of a world that no longer exists." It measures all output as positive; as such, it was an excellent gauge for "mid-20th-century industrial nation-states that manufactured things."  Not so much in our globalized, technology-infused modern economy, where companies like Google offer apps and internet services for free.  Efficiencies that are created by cheaper goods and services are treated as a loss, even if the overall effect is to improve standards of living.  "GDP treats higher gas prices as a positive," for instance, and lower health costs as a negative. Phosphorescent bulbs are a positive because they burn out and must be replaced, and LED lights are a negative, because they last longer.  The "clinching argument" against the indicator’s modern irrelevance is that GDP growth easily coexists with declining income.  A factory that replaces workers with robots might increase its output, and thus add to GDP, but it simultaneously eliminates paychecks for workers.  "It’s long past time to discard this antiquated, and often wrong, indicator.
          --Zachary Karabell, Politico.com
          The useless Internet of Things
          We’re being duped into thinking smart devices are making our lives better.  Visit any crowdfunding site and you’ll see campaigns for every imaginable smartphone-connected gizmo under the sun, each promising relief from a "harrowing first-world problem."

           There’s the "smart" propane scale that lets you monitor the fuel level in your backyard grill, so that--horror of horrors--you don’t run out of propane during a barbecue. Or the $110 bike lock that promises to "eliminate the hassle" of a forgotten bike-lock combination by operating via your iPhone.  "It makes you wonder what we did before the Internet of Things came along to rescue us."

          Such devices initially seem advanced ("Never worry about propane again!"), but in reality they are just basic tweaks on existing products, with an added layer of "superfluous computing."  Even the most popular smart devices "seem to solve problems that have already been solved."   Everyone loves the Nest smart thermostat, but don’t many of us already have programmable electronic thermostats? Apparently, all the Internet of Things is doing is "enclosing ordinary life within computational casings" and handing tech companies vast amounts of data on our daily habits. Is this really all Silicon Valley has to offer us?
          --Ian Bogost, The Atlantic
          China market fears overblown
          An epic economic collapse in a giant Asian economy isn’t necessarily a huge problem for the United States.    Japan suffered a "lost decade" in the 1990s, America had its most robust growth in a generation. Nor is continued growth in China "particularly significant to American businesses":  Total U.S. exports to China account for just 0.7 percent of U.S. GDP.
          --Matthew Yglesias, Vox.com
          Hope in Iran
          [T]he hard-line clerics do not speak for the Iranian people. Predominantly young, sophisticated, and pro-American, they have "an intense desire to rejoin the world.   It’s these ordinary Iranians whom Obama is hoping to empower over the next decade.  Yes, it’s a risk.   But we’ve been taking all sorts of bellicose risks throughout the Middle East since 9/11--and almost all have failed.  It’s time, finally, to take a risk for peace.
          --Joe Klein, Time.com


          THE LINK TANK

          20 reasons for Biden to run
          Democrats should encourage him to jump into the race
          http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752uxw8.29gx/Va_a28Po9HfIxRP9A5044 

          Inflation low?  Guess again!
          Prices may be higher--a lot higher, in some cases--than you think
          http://www.wsj.com/articles/inflation-is-low-but-u-s-consumers-still-feel-a-pinch-1436727650

          Dating again at 88
          Yes, there are nursing home dating services
          http://www.wsj.com/articles/dating-again-at-88-1435769473

          Where are all the young voters?
          They’re leaving politics, or politics is leaving them
          http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752ubcv.2ai9/VbGQL8Ponnh6gdGSAbe28

          The unsettling addiction debate
          If it is a brain disease, addicts are mad, sick and defective. If it’s a failure of will, users are bad, immoral and weak.
          http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB12324425499102173446504581100600623101290-lMyQjAxMTI1MzIyMTQyNDEyWj?mod=wsj_share_email

          Hillary's flawed profit-sharing plan
          Gains are overstated, the costs understated
          http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752ubco.2b2p/VbDJOkmOej8BeGylAf3b6

          Not an introvert or extrovert? 
          Chances are you could be an ambivert
          http://www.wsj.com/articles/not-an-introvert-not-an-extrovert-you-may-be-an-ambivert-1438013534

          5 myths about summer
          It may be hot, but not for the reason you think
          http://link.washingtonpost.com/5483c2293b35d0de428f8e752v9ah.27n5/VbJeNsPoj7TZEZsHAd968

          Wednesday, July 1, 2015

          POPCORN

          By Jim Szantor

          Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life  
          • Yes, it's sadly true--there really is nothing new under the sun.  I mean, whoever thought beheadings would be making  a comeback?   (Can tarring and feathering be far behind?  Stay tuned.)  
          • It will be interesting to see if the Catholic Church changes its position on performing same-sex marriages when (not if) its tax-exempt status is challenged.  (We'll see which principles/priorities prevail!)
          • Is is just me, or isn't pink-skinned, white-haired Bill Clinton looking more Albino-like with each passing press conference?  (Not that there's anything wrong with that;  I'mjustsayin'.)  Kind of a  strange transformation for  our self-styled "first black president."  
          • How bad is your life going if you turned down for a Wal-Mart greeter job  (if "job" is really that applicable a term)?   How does Target survive without them?  
          • Memo to pundits and headline writers:  Stop calling the members of the highest court in the land The Supremes!  Because (a) doing so  trivializes an important bulwark of our government,  and (b) if there hadn't been a popular Motown group of the same name, you wouldn't be doing it.  Sometimes there's such a thing as being too "clever" by half.  
          • "Rome wasn't born in a day."--Former major-league baseball player Johnny Logan
          • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say (actual partygoer's name here), did you know that the average American woman now weighs 166.2 pounds, about the same as the average American man weighed in the early 1960s?   Over the same time period, U.S. men have gained nearly 30 pounds, from 166.3 in the ’60s to 195.5 today.  (Thanks to WashingtonPost.com for this alarming statistic.)
          • I think it's time for an AILU--American Indecent Liberties Union.
          • Poker has become so popular, young people are even getting into it.  What's next? The Little League World Series of Poker?  ("I'll see your Skittles and raise you three M&M two-packs.")
          • jimjustsaying's Techno Term of the Month:  Forensic Holodeck.  An immersive 3-D simulation of a crime scene, viewed through an Oculus Rift headset, Wired magazine reports.  
          • Named after "Star Trek's" simulated reality chamber, this device will help judges and juries picture bullet trajectories and see crimes from victims' and suspects' perspectives.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it!)
          • Speaking of crime, there is this police imponderable:  Why is it that those foot chases you see on Fox TV's "Cops"  invariably have an out-of-shape cop catching up to and tackling a guy who looks like a marathon runner?  Uncanny.  But it happens all the time.
          • Speaking of law enforcement, haven't we become an investigation-happy world?  Two elderly terminal cancer patients are found dead in an obvious murder-suicide.  Yet  . . .  "the investigation is ongoing."  What's to investigate?  Where the shooter bought the gun?  Who cares?  We have two dead people with an already-documented history of the Bad Disease.  So, nothing to investigate here, folks, just move on.  
          • Then there was the "second black box" hysteria from that GermanWings tragedy--you know, the one in which a pilot made the skies decidedly unfriendly by purposely flying his plane into a mountain, killing 150 people.   
          • Even if undamaged, what can the box possibly reveal that (a) we don't already know and (b) what possible difference would it make?  The hydraulic system--even if faulty--didn't make his girlfriend jilt him and turn him suicidal. Yet . . . "The investigation is ongoing."   
          • (The investigation business must be immensely profitable to someone because there is a lot of superfluous investigating taking place.  Or else the investigators want us to think our tax dollars are "at work" when, in reality, they are most likely being wasted.)
          • "There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing!"--Mary McCarthy, "The Vita Activa"
          • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  "TV Duke."  As in Patrick "TV Duke" Duchac, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, June 10, 2015.  R.I.P., Mr. Duchac.
          • jimjustsaying's Amazon.com Product of the Week:  Orcon LB-C1500 Live Ladybugs, Approximately 1,500 Count, $14.89.
          • Who really uses all that extraneous stuff on those elaborate watches they make these days?  And how did I manage to lose 90 pounds and keep 80 of it off for 10 years without a Fitbit?
          • Believe It or Not Dept.: A Christian church-design company, The Week magazine reports, has proposed building McDonald’s restaurants inside churches to attract more worshippers. Lux Dei Design (see their Web site) says its “McMass Project” will “draw a wider audience to the church” and spread “the message of Christ’s love.”  (Do you want fries with that message?)  
          • jimjustsaying's Faded Phrase of the Week:  "Put on the feedbag."
          • It would be easier to cure cancer and achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East  than to get people to stop using Google as a verb, to stop mispronouncing "asterisk" and to refrain from saying "reason why," "VIN number" or "ATM machine."
          • Neutron peas:  n.  Tiny green objects in frozen dinners that remain frozen even when the rest of the food has been microwaved beyond recognition.--"More Sniglets (any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should)."--Rich Hall & Friends
          • Is it just me, or are you also not getting as many free return-address labels in the mail these days?  
          • Today's Latin Lesson: Haud, muneris, illic nusquam in vehiculum vos postulo ut fatigo super. ("No, officer, there's nothing in the car you need to be concerned about.")