Monday, April 16, 2012


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Remember when people went fishing but no one went phishing?
  • Boy, you'd think the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking would have merited some media coverage, wouldn't you?
  • Jim's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week: "Say, [party guest's name here], did you know that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis pronounced her first name in the French way: zhack-LEEN?"
  • Baseball pregame shows are a colossal waste of time.  The only people who watch them are the people who tuned in thinking the game was starting.
  • "Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many players on the field?"--Jim Bouton
  • Speaking of the national pastime, the other day the Milwaukee Brewers shortstop was "on paternity leave" and not available to play.  Can you envision Ty Cobb or Pete Rose on "paternity leave"?  (Not that there's anything wrong with that . . . .)
  • And as for the annual Jackie Robinson Day, I think this business of every player wearing No. 42 on April 15 every year is a bit over the top.  Jonas Salk's polio vaccine has saved--and continues to save--millions of lives, but no one has suggested we wear JS-monogrammed clothing every year on the anniversary day of his invention.  (I'm just sayin'.)
  • Speaking of life-savers, Taco Bell comes up with the blatantly obvious idea of nacho-cheese-flavored taco shells (about 20 years after this quite obvious idea could have debuted), and they crow about it in their TV ads as if they'd just invented a cure for cancer.  Only in America.
  • I had  a pretty good day yesterday.  I only had to use "air quotes" two or three times. 
  • SZSEZ Book Title of the Week:  "Mastering Cheese.  Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maire Fromage," by Max McCalman and David Gibbons.
  • What's the difference between a dingus, a doohickey and a thingamabob?  (I don't know, but they are what they are!)
  • I have no idea what really happened in the Trayvon Martin case, but do you think it would have caused the uproar that it has if the economy was humming along like nobody's business (no pun intended) and unemployment in the black community registered at about 2 percent instead of 22 percent? 
  • Much as I abhor racism and gun violence, I think this sad saga touched off a conflagration of anger and outrage that has been ratcheted up by the economic conditions--and the fact that things are the worst the black community has perhaps ever seen even though "one of their own" is in the White House.
  • Doofus Driver of the Week:  A car with a bumper sticker reading "Why am I the only person on the planet who knows how to drive?" (I think you're already ahead of me here) collided with a guard rail on a New York City highway and flipped over.  According to the report in The Week magazine, non-life-threatening injuries resulted.
  • What's This World Coming To? Story of the Week:  Mexico’s cult of La Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, has turned murderous. Police arrested eight people recently, all allegedly followers of the cult, for the ritual sacrifice of two boys and a woman over the past four years. 
  • “They sliced open the victims’ veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,” said José Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors. The cult, which mixes Catholic and indigenous beliefs, has become much less secretive over the last decade and has spread in working-class neighborhoods and shantytowns until it now numbers some 2 million followers. Before these murders, the cult was not known to practice human sacrifice. 
  • Jim's Faded Word of the Week (a word no one other than your great grandparents might still be using):  flibbertigibbet (n., a chattering or flighty, light-headed person).
  • Another in SZSEZ's series of Media Words, words you see or hear only in print or on news broadcasts and never hear a normal person use in real life:  "Foment."
  • All-overrated team:  Craig Ferguson, Keith Olbermann and sportscaster Joe Buck.
  • Wouldn't it be funny if two speed-readers met while speed-dating . . . and their first date was running a marathon together?  Talk about a whirlwind romance!
  • Most abstruse fortune-cookie message I've ever received:  "Do what is right, not what you should."
  • Words fail me--and, apparently, them too!  Methinks something got lost in the translation here--all due respect. 
  • SZSEZ's Jargon Word of the Week:  Xtr.  The name, Wired magazine says, of a proposed "leap week"  that would be added at the end of December to regularize the calendar.  Combined with other reforms--such as altering the lengths of months--rejiggering the calendar would prevent calculation errors of $130 billion in interest on bonds.  (Who knew?)
  • Has a professional athlete ever gone up to the press box and badgered a sportswriter when HE was trying to do his job?
  • "Nothing in life is as important as you think when you are thinking about it."--D.J. Kahneman, in the best-selling "Thinking, Fast and Slow."  (He calls it The Focusing Illusion.)
  • Lynndie England, the former U.S. soldier convicted of abusing Iraqi detainees in the Abu Ghraib scandal, says in a new interview that she doesn’t regret how the detainees were treated. “Their lives are better. They got the better end of the deal,” she  said, even though pictures of her and her fellow soldiers humiliating and abusing detainees may have cost American lives on the battlefield. 
  • Nice!  Your all-volunteer Army in action. (Besides helping "share the sacrifice," a return of the military draft would have other advantages, if you get my drift.)
  • Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week: Nubby.  As in David "Nubby" Ruch (Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, March 15, 2012.  (R.I.P., Mr. Ruch.)
  • Thirty-seventh entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary sweepstakes:  Cecil, Wis.  (R.I.P., Robert "Bob" L. Delzer,  Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Feb. 23, 2012.)  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, Kunesh, Dousman., Butternut and Montpelier.
  • Today's Latin lesson:  Vos can non planto is thema res sursum.  ("You can't make this stuff up!")