Ever since I was a teenager, I had always wondered what would happen if a small child started to yell the word "penis" repeatedly in a quasi-nice restaurant.* Now I know.
* When you have children, the definition of an "elegant" restaurant changes dramatically. Nowadays, "elegant" implies that napkins don't come from dispensers and the menus don't have colorful birds on them. I refer here to one where they actually had cloth napkins (although they did have a kids menu).
Is it the late hour, the proliferation of strange news or the hit of ecstasy that I took that is making me feel so connected with all of you who are reading my blog? Come here, I want to give you all a great big hug. I love my Beanie Babies. I really do. That is the first rule of good government. "Thou Shalt Hug Thy Petey Pig" -- Federalist 14.
Follow Up: Didn't Mr. Nader say at one point that if he had been elected president in 2000, the 9/11 attacks would never had occured? Didn't he claim to have the foresight (in hindsight) to reinforce cockpit doors and improve airport security screening? Then how, one wonders, did this breach in pie security escape him?
I have to weigh in on the Fox v. Franken controversy. Britt Hume and all the other anchors have lost total credibility on the tort reform issue. Why couldn't they foresee all the problems with this. including the perverse effect of drawing attention to a book that probably would not have garnered much in sales (as far as comedy books go). D'oh!
To borrow the name from another intriguing blog out there, I have good news. One of the cats threw up on the linoleum in the laundry room instead of the berber carpet. We have to feed them this, which leaves the worst possible stains. However, we have developed a strategy for dealing with these increasingly frequent episodes -- let the vommit dry for a day or two, then scape it off with a credit card and treat the carpet with stain remover. It is much better than using stain remover immediately.
But for those of you leftists who wish me ill will, take comfort in the fact that one of the cats peed on the linoleum and it leaked under the wash machine. And in case you don't know, cat urine is one of the most distinctive smells in all the animal kingdom.
There is a saying that goes "when a wise man argues with an idiot, you cannot tell who is who." Well, that isn't exactly true. Today Alan Colmes was arguing with Bill Bennett. (He gambles, I know. I'm okay with that.) Anyways, Colmes was trying to get Bennett to say something critical of Schwarzenegger, in large part (I believe) to pile on Rush Limbaugh's statement that Arnold wasn't a true conservative. Well, it turns out that Colmes is as stupid as he is ugly. Bennett explained a very basic game theoretic principle -- the maximin strategy (often seen hanging out with its buddy the minimax strategy). In layman's terms, this is choosing the lesser of two evils.
Well, Bennett has some reservations about Arnold's social policy preferences (but probablly not about gambling). Rush Limbaugh does too. So Colmes keeps prompting him -- so how could you vote for Arnold? Well, if Davis survives the recall, or if Bustamante wins, you get a governor with liberal social values and a lack of fiscal restraint. If Arnold is elected, you get a governor with liberal social values and someone who will probably exert a little more fiscal restraint. A better choice for Bennett or Limbaugh might be McClintock, but he ain't going to win. So you take the best of your worst options. Is that so hard to understand? Well, yes if your name is Alam Colmes.
And in related news, it is amazing to see how apoplectic Democrats are getting about this recall election. With Gebhart (Streisand spelling) declaring that this is a GOP conspiracy to subvert democracy. Wow!
This is one of the oddest news items of the day. Not because there is some guy going into the bedrooms of college women and cutting their clothes while they sleep -- sure that's odd enough. What really amazed me was that this guy was able to get access to these women because their doors were unlocked! Folks, there is a reason we put locks on doors! It is to keep the weirdos and freaks out. I can't imagine anyone, or any college (if they bear the ultimate responsibility -- it is not clear yet), leaving dormitory or apartment doors unlocked. Hell, I live out in the middle of the country where I often see more rabbits and deer in a single day than people, but I have deadbolt locks and an alarm system (mostly because this guy knows who I am).
Another glorious day in the kingdom. No rain today and I greet my citizenry with a benevolence that I have become famous for. Unfortunately, there was some minor turmoil in the kingdom. The Beaniebabyville Administrative Center (BAC) was struck by a nasty blaster worm yesterday. Ironically, it came only a few hours after I had installed Win XP and hence I thought it was a problem with the upgrade. Good fortune dictated that I had a friend on call to help with me out, as I am only a moderately competent computer user.
How does this relate to the governance of Beaniebabyville, you ask? Well, Mayor Royale does not take kindly to problems arising in the BAC. Before I knew exactly what the problem was, I called the citizenry together and demanded an answer. Again, only silence was heard. "This will not do," I screamed. "Until one of you confesses to what has happened to the BAC, I shall punish Bubbly the Bear." Bubbly the Bear was then placed into a box of safety pins. Sadly, for Bubbly, all the safety pins were opened. Once the problem was discovered and all Beaniebabyville citizenry were cleared of guilt, I removed Bubbly and put him back in the Dust Bunny Mines, where he could return to the task of filling his Five Month Plan quota.
Now some of you may see this as arbitrary rule. And some of you may also consider arbitrary rule as a poor means of governance. If citizens cannot predict the whims of the ruler, they have little incentive to produce efficiently. Perhaps. But arbitrary rule instills fear and fear is a nice way to maintain power in the short term. And what the hell are you all gonna do? Have the UN impose sanctions and vote on resolutions? Fine.
The other night I saw 28 Days Later for a second time. I highly recommend it. It is a scary film in a psychological way -- gore (not Al) is present but filmed in such a way that it is not overwhelmingly disgusting. Anyways, what got me back to the theatre was (1) a friend wanted to see it; and (2) the producer of the film distributed an "alternative ending." (You will see why that phrase is in quotes in short while here.)
Caution -- mild spoiler below. Proceed at your own risk.
This "alternative ending" was supposedly the original ending of the film but was pulled because it was too grim. The film was pretty grim throughout, especially for those of you who have children.* However, the movie did have a happy ending that was somewhat of a jump in plot, though there was a mild hint to it about 2/3 of the way through the film. The ending did achieve the goal of allowing you to leave the theatre without feeling suicidal. Well, I waited for the "alternative ending" but saw the exact same ending as I did before. Some kid who is Internet savvy told me to wait until after the credits to see the alternative. (Hence, the movie had the same ending -- it wasn't an "alternative ending." I think a more appropriate term for the "alternative ending" would be an "appendix.") I can see why the original ending did not test well. Had I not seen the current ending, I would probably have left the theatre and jumped off a cliff. Had they retained the original ending the movie would have been an exercise in angst-ridden existentialism.** The message of the film would have been "there is always hope, but since your hopes never come to fruition life is just miserable zombie-filled existence."
* Having children has really altered how I view films. It has upped the amount of empathy I have with the characters on the screen. When something bad happens to a child (e.g., see Identity -- kind of), I can't help internalizing it. As you can guess, something bad happens to a child in 28 Days Later.
** I've always found hardcore existentialists to be very miserable people. They're always brooding.
What a glorious day in the kingdom.* The sun is shining and I found my first tour of Beaniebabyville to be most pleasant. Two items were on the political agenda for today. First, we entertained an international proposal by Little Miss Atilla to change the name of the city to "beanieville." Being that I created the polity and named it Beaniebabyville, I presented my case for that moniker in open debate. I asked for rebuttals. None were forthcoming. I then asked for a voice vote to change the name to "beanieville." The citizenry just sat their silent, as if their mouths were sewn shut.
My second proposal needed no debate as it was an executive decree. I announced the beginning of the first of several Five Month Plans to promote economic growth. Such growth is necessary to offset the growing economic threat of Powerrangerburg, a city that exists across the Great Grassy Divide. The First Five Month Plan will encourage the citizens of Beaniebabyville to mine 45 pounds of dust bunnies over the course of the plan. We shall become the greatest producer of dust bunnies in the Global Neighborhood. The producers of Barbiestan will shake in awe at our productive acumen. I have also imposed a dirt tariff on all shoes entering the kingdom. This will not only create an incentive to spur our own production of dust and dirt bunnies, but it will also prohibit our citizens -- particulary Lullaby the Lamb -- from being contaminated from the cultural filth of the outside. All hail the glorious Five Month Plan!!
* While kingdom may sound too authoritarian for some of you, please let me inform you that this is a "philosopher king(dom)," one that would make Plato proud. I take the title of Mayor Royale and was democratically elected. I was the only name on the ballot, I voted for myself, and none of the Beanie Baby citizenry showed up to the polls. To remedy this shocking lack of civic virtue, I am instituting a program called "bowling together." This program will feature teams of 10 Beanie Babies organized in a triangular fashion with the goal of either standing or falling together.
Molly Ivins, who has never hit my radar screen until this morning, really seems to be lacking a sense of irony. Or perhaps it is that she hopes her readers lack one. Here are the first few sentences from her column about the decline of political discourse in the U.S.
"Let us stop to observe a few mileposts on the downward path to the utter degradation of political discourse in this country. A recent newspaper advertising campaign by "independent" groups supporting President Bush shows a closed courtroom door with the sign, "Catholics Need Not Apply," hanging on it. The ad argues that William Pryor Jr., attorney general of Alabama and a right-wing anti-abortion nominee to the federal appeals court, is under attack for his "deeply held" Catholic beliefs. Actually, Pryor is under attack because he's a hopeless dipstick." (emphasis added)
* Maureen Dowd has best been known lately for taking quotes out of context. But she also have been known for lacking an self-conscious sense of irony.
Oh why did we not elect Ralph Nader when we had the chance? Not only is he a hard-working consumer and labor activist,* but apparently he is psychic as wel. This from US News & World Report.
"Likely 2004 third-party presidential hopeful Ralph Nader thinks the 9/11 terrorist attacks wouldn't have happened if he had been president. He claims that amid all the big decisions new presidents have to make after inauguration, he would have ordered cockpit doors to be hardened against attack. He says an old report warning about how easy it is to get in the cockpit still sticks with him. What's more, he would have wiped out Osama bin Laden and his gang without a shot being fired. How? Bribe Osama's friends to hand him over."
* Who opposes unionization for his own organizations. That must be because they are treated and paid so well.