John Lemon's Barrel of Fish

Posterboy for the whining conservative academic set. Candidate for troll of the week.





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Saturday, June 21, 2003

 
BEING AL GORE

Many people have been blogging about Al Gore's search for a liberal media outlet. I don't think I can add much to the debate. But reading this over, I came upon the following thought reminiscent of the movie Being John Malkovich.

Imagine that you were in Al Gore's shoes for a few minutes. You get to go to cool parties and meet lots of interesting people, such as Chicago media moguls. But here is the rub. Every time you meet somebody at one of these big liberal shindigs,* the first thing that people will likely say to you is, "I really think you won the 2000 election." I'm sure there are several versions of this that are mentioned each time somebody meets Al for the first time since Nov. 2000. Now think about this. Every time you meet somebody new, you will be constantly reminded that you did not win the 2000 election. Even if you have convinced yourself that you actually did win the electoral college vote (a highly suspect assertion based on numerous recounts), you still are not sitting in, nor will you ever sit in, the Oval Office of your own right. Losing is now your one and only defining characteristic. Hell, I think even Walter Mondale and George McGovern were known for their other public service.

If I was Al Gore, that would really, really suck.

posted by John at 11:34 PM

 
CRITICS SCHMITICS

I just got back from seeing Hulk. I admit that I almost didn't go largely because the reviews I heard were quite negative, including a very, very negative review from Michael Medved. However, much to my surprise (probably owing to low expectations), I found it to be a very good film. I thought the plot line was basic, yet still interesting. Actually, the psychological origins of the Hulk were handled quite well, and we start to see the good side of the "angry man" appear when he wrestles with an airplane. The animation was a bit fake at points, but nothing so glaringly bad that I could suspend disbelief and enjoy the movie. (Medved's comment that the animation was almost on par with Roger Rabbit was way off.) I was most impressed with the film style, which the most "comic book-like" of all the comic book films I've seen. Ang Lee made good use of multiple panels and the desert battle scene could have come straight out of a comic book. The acting was a bit flat, but in the final analysis the movie held my attention -- I didn't go to see The Pianist; I went to see a large green monster smash things.

I would rank Hulk up there with Spiderman and the first (modern) Batman (though the Adam West movie was a classic). Spiderman and Batman were better overall, but Hulk pulls up a close third.

Here is my plot summary:

Boy grows up with crud in blood.
Boy meets girl.
Boy gets blasted by gamma radiation.
Boy becomes angry, green and large.
Boy still keeps pants on.
Girl still loves boy and not freaked out by size of large green angry man.
Boy smashes tanks.
Boy battles father in guise of electronic water monster.

Again, like Spiderman, this is a basic Shakespearean plot (or at least what I remember of Shakespearean plots from college).

posted by John at 11:01 PM

 
HARRY POTTER DISCUSSION GROUP

Just wanted to let you know that my son did not cry for his haircut today. This was a first. And it is also the first time he had a decent looking haircut. Now, if I can just stop crying at my haircuts, that would be great. For those of you visiting to discuss Order of the Phoenix, don't bother -- Golem dies, Hillary knew and Charles Barkley finally wins an NBA Championship. Now put down that overpriced book and read the rest of this blog!

posted by John at 3:48 PM

 
OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

No, its not that I'm moving off of Blog*Spot (though look for that soon). Rather, I am declaring an official end to the Harry Potter trend. It's over folks. Don't bother reading the last book. Golem dies.

posted by John at 3:45 PM

 
LEMOMETER

Today's reading: Sky Cries Mary and smooth jazz.

posted by John at 3:44 PM

 
WHY SOCIALISM WILL NEVER WORK

One might argue that the rapid pace of technological innovation, primarily in the storage and dissemination of information, will make it easier for planners to direct large economies. Ha! This is a specious argument. How do I know? Well, first, I just made it up and presented it poorly so it is a "straw man" argument. But second, and more importantly, the answer can be found at Blockbuster Video. I rented The Time Machine (most recent version) on DVD tonight. This is the 3rd movie in the past four rentals that has had major skipping problems. Examining the disc, I saw large amounts of crap (literally, I think) that was almost impossible to clean off. This means that previous renters somehow managed to destroy the quality of this DVD by wanton carelessness. The Big Lesson here is that if people don't have a stake in property -- by way of rights of ownership -- they won't take care of stuff. The communal pool of goods will quickly degrade and life will totally suck. Now I know renting a video is not the same as nationalized property, but the underlying principle that people care less for what they don't directly own can be generalized from this case. Since people typically only pay a rental fee for a single use of the DVD, they have no incentive in preserving its quality for the next user. (Kind of similar to college classrooms.)

It is unfuckingreal that people can't take care of a simple DVD for a few hours.

BTW, The Time Machine -- at least the parts that weren't inadvertantly skipped -- was an excellent film. Visually beautiful, an engaging plot and superb acting. I was most impressed by Orlando Jones (the guy who used to do 7*Up commercials). I think Orlando will have a long and successful career in film as he has a range that reminds me of Steve Martin or Will Smith. (Unfortunately, one of the parts that skipped dealt with the philisophical argument on why he couldn't save his fiancee. If anyone can explain that, I would be most grateful.)

posted by John at 12:28 AM

Friday, June 20, 2003

 
FACT

One of the primary differences between human beings and oak trees is that our species has the difference to make pancakes. (There's also that DNA thing, too.)

posted by John at 7:04 AM

 
UH-OH

I don't find this to be a very encouraging trend in the university. While I will blog on this later (short of time now), my first impression is whether they have actual data showing Asians are turned down for loans at greater rates that whites, after controlling for basic economic risk factors (i.e., not having any money). The propensity of Asian immigrants to start small businesses makes me think that they are not less likely to receive loans. (Part of the capital needed to start their own businesses might come from personal savings or from support from the Asian community, but it would be hard to sustain and/or grow these businesses without getting a loan from a bank.) I also happen to recall a recent study showing recent immigrants from Africa and the West Indies were also successful in starting businesses or climbing the economic ladder, though I don't have time to find the link now.

posted by John at 7:03 AM

Thursday, June 19, 2003

 
GOLDEN OLDIES

Here is a post from Common Sense & Wonder that was published some 10 months ago but is so good it is worth revisiting. The title? "Why My 5-Year Old Is a Leftist." Those of you with kids will immediately appreciate the keen insight. Those of you without kids...well, let's just say this post is more effective than a Trojan.

posted by John at 11:28 PM

 
FINISHED, AGAIN!! (THE WHO'S 9TH FAREWELL TOUR)

Below I noted that I was finished with my paper. Well, guess what. I wasn't. I went back an edited it to smooth out a few rough spots in the content. I think I have a more seamless paper now and am much, much happier with it. This was a fortuitous turn of events prompted by a lack of toner in my ancient laser jet printer (which is going on 10+ years)! Had my printer not run out of toner, I would be sending off a worse paper than I am now. Wish me luck again folks. My field of study (and, more so, my approach to it) is rather obtuse, so I really need to overcome some significant predispositions editors have in order to get published.

As part of my reward for finishing, I'm taking my son to see some dinosaurs tomorrow...and then he gets to eat with the big kids at the college cafeteria. Too bad it looks like rain tomorrow, otherwise it would be a football or baseball afternoon. (And before any of you say that you can still play football in the rain, and that it is more enjoyable that way [agreed], just let me remind you that my son is 3 years old. If you still don't understand, go get yourself a 3 year old -- legallly, of course.)

posted by John at 11:25 PM

 
NEWS ALERT?

I am subscribed to MSNBC's news alert system. It has been quite weird today. The most recent piece of breaking news I received was this.

posted by John at 4:28 PM

 
FINISHED!!

Ha! The paper is done, and it is one of the better articles I've written. Wish me best of luck with the brutal publication process.

posted by John at 4:27 PM

 
EAT YOUR VEGETABLES

There will be no more blogging for me until I finish off this paper for publication.

posted by John at 11:29 AM

 
LEMOMETER

Today's reading: Beach Boys, new age crap . I'm in a chipper mood having stayed away from the office for 3 days (though I'm expecting news that could irritate me...or make me happy). I love "Farmer's Daughter" on Surfin' USA. As for the new age crap, I need some background music to keep me going while writing, yet not so interesting that it distracts me.

posted by John at 11:29 AM

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

 
COMMON SENSE AND DECENCY

The good folks over at Common Sense and Wonder have again volunteered to help me host my new site (coming soon). I hate being a freeloader, so I turned down their invitation. But because they are such great folks, I urge you to go visit them.

As for when I'll make the move, give me a week or so. I'm finishing up a rather cool paper and have to write a couple of other things I've promised to folks.

posted by John at 1:05 PM

 
WATERED DOWN RESEARCH

This is a brilliant parody site, found courtesty of James Taranto's Best of the Web.

posted by John at 1:04 PM

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

 
LEMOMETER

Today's Reading: Bach Violin Concertos and Vivaldi. I'm doing some writing today. But now its time to go for a run and listen to Michael Medved.

posted by John at 1:23 PM

 
DEFICIT GOT YOU DOWN? HERE'S THE ANTIDOTE.

Let's say you get into an argument with a friend (or enemy) over the Bush tax cuts. Among other arguments posited, your sparring partner says these cuts will increase the deficit (and supposedly "crowd out" investment by raising interest rates -- though the past 20 years shows little evidence of this). Among the other counter-arguments that you could make (e.g., the deficit is still small historically compared to GDP), have them put their money where their mouth is. Tell them that they can donate their personal amount of the tax cut directly to the US Treasury to reduce the debt that will result from the deficit.

Here is the link (scroll to bottom of page if not directly connected).

I bet you any money they won't do it. They will argue that it should be incumbent upon everyone to contribute. Or perhaps they will claim that they are not the "rich" (and I have heard people making a household gross of about $180K argue this point). ...but then again, this is usually the crowd that asserts that every revolution begins with a brave individual action.

And if they argue that tax cuts for the "rich" will increase the gap between rich and poor, remind them that donating to the US Treasy will help alleviate that problem one taxpayer at a time!

Homework assignment: read the post below.

posted by John at 9:15 AM

Monday, June 16, 2003

 
SHOULD FIVE PERCENT APPEAR TO SMALL...

New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz* has just proposed a tax on "junk food" to counter a growing trend of obesity on children. Such taxes are used to discourage certain behaviors and fund "education" program. Yeah, right... they are principally meant to collect revenue -- politicians would shit if everyone stopped smoking -- and money set aside from recent tobacco settlements are not being used to educate smokers and children, but instead to bail out indebted states.

Here's a better proposal to change behavior, if I may propose it to Mr. Ortiz. Let's tax fat people. Seriously. Every 6 months you have to go to the Dept. of Weights and Measures and plop your fat ass on a scale. Those who come out obese get hit with a fine (i.e., tax). This will certainly provide an incentive not to be fat, much better than would a tax on Twinkies. Plus, it is more "socially just" in that people who can handle their Ho-Hos wouldn't be punished. Of course, the government would find a way to "dumb down" the definition of obesity. (Your humble blogger is officially obese by government standards, despite having a larger chest than gut and having run several marathons.) But hey, just start jogging more.

And speaking of fat asses (literally), I just saw an ad for Letterman where Hillary walked out on stage. Holy shit!

* BTW, Felix Ortiz appeared on a local talk radio show and all he could mumble was bumper sticker slogans about caring for children and the need to educate people. C'mon, anyone who doesn't know that eating lots of cake and Big Macs is fattening is just plain stupid... or a Congressman from New York. Pass the stapler.

posted by John at 11:31 PM

 
CSI

While folding and hanging laundry this evening (yes, I'm a "liberated" man), I decided to turn on CSI: Miami since there wasn't any baseball on. I know a few of my neighbors rave about CSI, but I found several problems with it:

1) No hot chick would ever take a job cutting open bodies. (The first scene damn near made me puke. I couldn't imagine taking a chick out for a date who just put her hand in someone's stomach to examine what they had for dinner before dying. Yech.)

2) No CSI lab would ever be stocked so well, or be in such a cool, hi-tech building.

3) David Caruso.

posted by John at 11:18 PM

 
EVEN MARY KAY IS AGAINST ME*

Ever since my father was diagnosed with cancer (he's better now), I've been pretty much going through a mid-life crisis and have been focusing on trying to look younger. Part of my new regiment -- upon the advice of Mrs. Lemon -- is to use moisturizing cream every night. I know that sounds sissy, but just cut me some slack here and remember that my mid-life crisis is coming with a bad-ass case of chronic irritability. Anyways, this moisturizer that I use is shit-like expensive, so I don't like to use alot of it. However, the jar says "apply liberally." So tonight, I rubbed it on my face and shouted "Bush lied; there were no weapons of mass destruction" and "free drugs to seniors" and "tax credits to those who don't pay taxes" and "mommy, can I have some more arsenic in my water?"

* I actually don't use Mary Kay. It is actually Oil of Olay (smells more feminine -- I'm hoping to bring out my tender side). Mary Kay just sounds better in the title.

posted by John at 8:59 PM

 
LEMOMETER

Today's reading: Laika & the Cosmonauts, Johnny Cash. I'm really not sure what kind of mood I'm in today.

posted by John at 12:49 PM

 
PACKING IT IN

An interesting observation from Anne Coulter on Townhall.com. If this is true, it makes one wonder even more about the reporting in the NYT.

Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."

It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated "man on the street" for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans' Day Parade. He was quoted at not one – but two – New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new "Star Wars" movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games – even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium.

Well, I just did a Lexis-Nexus search of my own and Greg Packer is all over the place. Another blogger has done this as well. And here's a picture of the ubiquitous Mr. Packer, who looks like he could be a lineman for the Packers.


posted by John at 12:35 PM

Sunday, June 15, 2003

 
HURTIE AND THE BLOWFISH

Today following soccer practice, I took my young son to McDonald's for a Happy Meal. I had one too. I must admit to being suckered in by their "Finding Nemo" promotion, as the toys they give are pretty cool and the movie was excellent.

So the new toy (3rd in the 8-part series), was "Bloat, the Blowfish." To date, it is the largest of the toys and looks like a fist-sized yellow ball with little spikes on it. Given that the other two toys in the series either giggled or glowed, my son asked me "What does this one do Daddy?"

Well, the instructions that come with the toy are all but useless, being dumbed down and made to be sensitive to the point of being simply squares or circles. So I looked at it, thought awhile and then whispered something in his ear. My son then got up and ran to the next table where he smashed the blowfish on the head of a child of similar age. He ran back to me and I looked at him fondly, knowing that he had just learned a valuable lesson in empirical testing. I said, "Son, you wanted to know what this toy does. Now you know. It makes other children cry."

posted by John at 12:32 AM

 
MULTIPLICATION, SUBTRACTION AND AD-ING

There is a new trend to be horrified about. Some public schools are allowing ...now sit down for this... corporations to sponsor events in schools. Gasp! While the title of this article seems to imply that corporations are actually buying the curriculum, they actually are just sponsoring contests and events that may be related to a small portion of the curriculum. While the "Sweet Tarts contest" may be a bit silly, I don't consider this a nefarious trend in any way, shape or form. Here is my favorite passage from the story, though:

While companies say they are filling a gap left by school funding deficits, some experts decry the trend. “It’s a very dangerous thing for a corporation to have this kind of presence in school,” said advertising critic Jean Kilbourne. Children are more susceptible in school, she said, because they tend to believe that what they learn there is valid. So a commercial message in schools, no matter how subtle, “gives an aura of responsibility and truth,” Kilbourne said.

How the hell does one get to be an "advertising critic"? How much does one get paid for this? Do you just sit around all day and whine about commercials? Hell, I can do that for half of what that lady makes, I bet. I hate talking chihuahuas selling me tacos. There I said it. I'm an advertising critic. Whoo-hoo. Pay me. Cite me. Make me scream more!

Now, I would agree that some ads are not appropriate in the schools. I would personally not want Playboy sponsoring anything in my kid's school (though I might have had different views on this when I was sixteen). But that is not what is going on here, and anything that is too outlandish would likely be vetted in the public and the school shamed. This is just another "freak out" by some hypersensitive folks who have too much time on their hand. If they were really worried about what goes on in school, they would lobby first to get rid of all that postmodernist, "feel good" self esteem building "new math" and crap. From my own observation of what the local kids are learning in our school district, there is more damage being done by "advertising" of bullshit political perspectives in our schools than whatever a corporation could do. How about an honest debate about the environmentalist agenda in schools before getting rid of an Oscar Mayer science prize. Methinks the real fear behind this campaign of "advertising critics" is that some students may get warm, fuzzy feelings toward private corporations and this will really hurt their long-term goal of socializing or regulating everything we do.

And let's not forget. We encourage kids to read the newspaper in school (though too much NYT and not enough WSJ)...and lo and behold, newspapers have ...ads! Eeek!

On another note, I am in the process of writing to Phil Knight (one of my corporate heroes -- being a runner and all) and asking him to sponsor my lectures. I will gladly wear a Nike lapel pin to classes in exchange for $100 a year -- a much better deal than LeBron James, I might add.


posted by John at 12:26 AM

 
MORE GRADUATION WISDOM

One of my favorite things to do )and I often do this for my students) is to come up with sayings that sound very profound, but which are absolutely vacuous. Here's one I thought of while sitting through a graduation ceremony.

Grab a hold of your future, lest your future grab a hold of you!

My first college graduation was "sponsored" by Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan). And I think it was filled with this kind of wisdom. Sadly, Bunny Rabbit did not show up.
(If you haven't already...plese read the post "This Is Annoying" below. I welcome all comments relating to inane or insulting graduation speeches you have witnessed.)

posted by John at 12:09 AM

 
MIDNIGHT NUDE BLOGGING

Is pretty much like blogging with clothes on at other times of the day. Just thought I'd let you know.

posted by John at 12:03 AM

 

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