Monday, March 14, 2011


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Is there some kind of rule that says every protest group's chant has to begin with "Hey-hey, ho-ho . . ."? 
  • Fun Fact of the Week:  California Gov. Jerry Brown says he had an uncle who was so cheap, he had a pay phone in his house!
  • I had an interesting week:  I just met the new Chancellor of Northwestern University--Larry Flynt!
  • "The world can be divided into two groups:  Those who divide the world into two groups, and those who don't."--Robert Benchley.
  • (I'll subdivide that:  The world can be divided into two more groups:  Those who quote Robert Benchley, and those who don't.)
  • I don't know about you, but I'm putting Charlie Sheen in the MFATWR category:  Memorable For All The Wrong Reasons.
  • Say it isn't so:  That it's the time of year when goofs who don't know a jump shot from a pus wart have to "fill out their brackets."  This is especially hilarious when women are involved.  I'm just sayin'.  How much commercial productivity is lost due to this ludicrous exercise? March Madness, indeed.
  • (If you're a genuine, knowledgeable fan--fine, more power to ya.  But this "wrong of spring" has gotten way out of hand.  If all these know-nothing dilettantes donated their office pool money to charity, the world would be a better place.)
  • People didn't complain when Social Security benefits rose in 1972 (when Congress indexed benefits to inflation), but possible cuts now trigger howls that a "contract" is being broken. So says columnist Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post.
  • Not so. In a 1960 decision--Flemming v. Nestor--the Supreme Court expressly rejected the argument that people have a contractual right to Social Security. It cited the 1935 Social Security Act: "The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to Congress." Congress can change the program whenever it wants.  (For more, see more of Samuelson in THE LINK TANK.)
  • Why do women think long--and extra-long!--fingernails are attractive?  What's the point (no pun intended)?  They look like talons, and they have to be the opposite of user friendly. . . .
  • Hypothesis:  The longer the fingernails, the longer the rap sheet?  The longer the fingernails, the shorter the résumé?  I'm just sayin'.
  • Bumper sticker: "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder."
  • Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week: Poopsie:  As in Russell F. "Poopsie" Glinski, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Feb. 23.  R.I.P., Mr. Glinski.
  • Why are we spending $110 billion this year supporting corrupt and unpopular regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are almost identical to the governments we’re applauding the Arab people for overthrowing?--Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times, March 6.  (See THE LINK TANK for more on this incongruity/atrocity.)
  • Punk Rock Group Name of the Week:  Beautiful Bert and the Crotch Crickets (now defunct, so hold on to your Crotch Cricket collection!).
  • Nature can be cruel (or Life Isn't Fair, Exhibit No. 292):  People can eat dog food and live to tell about it; chocolate can be fatal to dogs. 
  • Euphemizing the "finality" of us all (according to the new book "Euphemania," by Ralph Keyes):  Undertakers first promoted themselves to "morticians" then to "funeral directors"; "death certificates" have become "vital statistics forms"; those who used to "die" have now "expired."
  • Further, bodies that were "buried" during "funerals" are now "interred" during "services." And doctors now talk of patients who have "lost vital signs" or refer to "negative patient-care outcomes."
  • Keeping up with death-related euphemisms--such as "taking a dirt nap," "biting the biscuit" and "reformatted"--keeps Web site proprietors busy, author Keyes says.  (I'm sure he's dead serious.)
  • Common usage gaffe:  Misuse of words like "trio."  (As in the recent obituary of Hall of Famer Duke Snider, "one of the Brooklyn Dodgers' Boys of Summer and among a celebrated trio of New York center fielders in the 1950s . . .")
  •  "Trio" connotes three people doing something together, whether it is singing, dancing or whatever--acting in concert, if you will.  Three ballplayers playing the same position in the same town do not constitute a trio.   They're three ballplayers playing the same position in the same town!  For all we know, they were never even in the same room together.  How is that a trio?  Three people in a large city who happen to have purple hair are likewise not a trio. 
  • TV news reporter gaffe (Lifetime Achievement Award):  "At that point, police decided to bring in canine dogs to help locate the suspect . . . ."
  • Eighteenth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary sweepstakes:  Florence, Wis.  (R.I.P.  Shelly A. Johnson , Green Bay Press-Gazette, Feb. 15, 2011.)  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer and Cato.
  • Jim's Oxymoron of the Week:  Job security.
  • Today's Chinese lesson:  我不會擔心如果我是你.  ("I wouldn't worry about it if I were you!")