I hear the following (almost inadvertent) assertion quite often and was privvy to it yet again yesterday during a commencement address. I paraphrase: "I once knew a very intelligent man even though he was conservative..." Think about where I put the emphasis. Now substitute in any ethnic minority that you want for the word "conservative" and tell me that would not have generated a fierce controversy. Ha!
And in an obvious attempt to bash Bush, the speaker said we need to get beyond simple notions of "good and evil." Actually, having learned what went on in Iraq under the Hussein regime, I have no problem calling the Hussein regime evil. Here you have a guy who had wealth beyond your wildest immagination and could have lived out his life on the French Riviera. His sons could have done the same and purchased their own pornography business to keep themselves entertained. They didn't for two reasons: 1) they craved power, plain and simple; and 2) most of the shit that they enjoyed during their reign would be illegal in any country that would be desireable to live in. I think even the French would be annoyed with Saddam had he started torturing and killing French citizens for the smallest provocations. Kim Il-Elvis of North Korea would probably also qualify for my simplistic notion of evil. Iran I'm a bit more ambiguous on.
An earlier announcement that John Lemon's Barrel of Fish may be closing down may have been premature. There's alot of fish in the sea and most of them need to go in my barrel. Give me a chance to reload my Remington. I am in negotiations with Mrs. Lemon to see if moving to a new platform (and paying for my hobby -- since I don't have many hobbies other than dressing well and buying CDs this may be OK). I also have to be careful that blogging doesn't eat up too much time as I really, really, really need to get a book manuscript done this year so that I can claim to be waaaaayyyy more productive than people who are paid much more than I do. Actually, I can claim that now, but I really want a basis to be cantankerous. So blogging may continue, though probably not at a regular pace. I seek any and all advice on where to move my blog to...most people seemed pleased with Moveable Type.
Now for those of you who are Clinton Democrats, let me explain this in terms you can understand: When I said I was "ending the Barrel of Fish" and "not going to blog anymore," what that really meant (if you deconstruct it) is that I'm not ending the Barrel of Fish and I will continue to blog.
And for Maureen Dowd fans: "...I've ...service...down...weeks...obvious...that...politics...bit...creative." (I really only think that regular Dowd readers will be able to figure that out becuase I certainly can't.)
Today's reading: They Might Be Giants, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
An odd combination, I must admit, but I'm a bit more chipper today as I can step back away from the day-to-day annoyances of my job for awhile. Though I'm still pissed off that our kitchen remodeling company can't get us the right sink (goind on 3 months now) and our bank keeps signing us up for services we don't ask for...and then charging us.
For those of you with kids, I do recommend the They Might Be Giants CD, "No." It is a CD specifically aimed at kids, but one I don't get tired of listening to. A great mix of music from traditional TMGB ditties to a bit of '70s rock, "Chad & Jeremy" type songs, and even something that sounds like the Andrews Sisters. Seriously. This is a fun album and it has been far and away my son's all time favorite.
Having failed a number of times to get a "schtick," I am now trying this. New to the Barrel of Fish is The Lemometer wherein you can get a read of my mood by the type of music I currently am listening to. Given my manic nature, this should be quite a ride. The Lemometer will only be changed when the mood changes. Think of this as a '70s mood ring (always wanted one, never got one), but that actually does give you some insight into my state of mind.
Being the hypochondriac I am, I wanted to avoid learning about Monkeypox so I wouldn't contract it. Well, I finally broke down and decided to do a bit of research, feeling safe given that I don't hang around with monkeys. Here is what I learned:
1) Monkeypox does not come from monkeys. Huh?
2) Monkeypox comes from gophers (or something that looks like gophers). Huh?
3) Gophers get monkeypox from Gambian giant rats. I'm still not sure where the monkeys come in to all of this.
4) There have 12 monkeypox cases (click this link and tell me if this isn't a eerie coincidence) reported to date, in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Not sure how Gambian rats got there, or why its not called Gambianratpox.
So now I'm worried. I know what monkeys look like, and I've vowed to stay away from Chuck E. Cheese's "Whack-A-Mole" games until this is all cleared up, and I cancelled my trip to Gambia (at least the rat infested part). Still, I wanted to find out how this stuff can be passed to humans so I can further modify my behavior. Here is what Fox News reports (damnit -- that means I must decide.):
Davis said the animals appear to be infecting people through bites or when people touch discharges from the prairie dogs and then rub their eyes or noses.
Now think hard. What this means is that there are at least 12 people who in the last week or so have been bitten by a gopher or rubbed their eyes with gopher pus. How does one get bitten by a gopher?! Why would one want to rub themselves in monkey pus. Well, apparently people buy biting gophers at pet stores. What delightful pets! And this means that at least 12 people have purchased gophers in the past week or so. This is just insane. What the hell are people buying gophers for? Didn't they hear we are in a recession and we can't afford luxuries like gophers?! Do food stamps cover gopher purchases? And I still can't figure out why people would want to rub themselves with gopher pus.
Now we find out that people can spread monkeypox, and there has been one case of that reported of this mode of transmission. But you can't get monkeypox by sitting next to someone on a bus, which doesn't help me since I don't take the bus. Perhaps I will start taking the bus because it appears as if this may be one of the few places you cannot get monkeypox. Does a monkeypox victim have to bite you? Is this like Dawn of the Dead?
I am really, really freaking out about this. At least if I contract it, I will be able to get a job at a local fast food joint (see picture on FoxNews website. I'll link it; you decide...OK?)
"Why, yes! Thank you for asking! I would love to work for your pathetic little public interest group this summer. I could dress like a 1960s drug addict and pass out a bunch of literature that decries how our standard of living is worse than in the Roman Empire. Whatever tipped you off to my burning interest to get paid minimum wage to lobby for a higher minimum wage law? Was it my three-piece suit?"
In other news, MSNBC.com has run the two following links on its frontpage,** which is freaking me out.
"TV news pioneer David Brinkley dies."
"Mortgage rates hit record lows again."
Problem is that with the way they are posted, I keep reading it as "TV news pioneer David Brinkley dies again." This is just like Dawn of the Dead. Aaaargh! I'm staying away from all shopping malls.
* This is not a Hillary Clinton Discussion Group.
** Not a permanent link, so I didn't link it. Just trust me. Would the Internet ever lie to you?
This is just totally amusing, in an "Earth-is-doomed" kind of way. Our great hope for a pollution-free source of energy may cause catastrophic (my word) damage to Earth's ozone layer. And actually, I thought the ozone hole was shrinking.
Read between the line folks. Hardcore environmentalists will never be happy. The only environmentally sound policy for them is the elimination of 95% of the human population. I really wish people would clue into this. We must start an organization called People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans, if one doesn't already exist.
OK, so this is just a cheap way to increase my Internet traffic, but I just wanted to catch your attention to tell you I'm very annoyed by slow people at Kinkos. Also, I am starting to rethink my demise as a blogger and words from a few of you may keep me going. I'm worried about the time problem given that I need to finish a book manuscript this summer and because I am being hailed to give public speeches around town. Plus, I've been hoping to do a bit of grassroots political work. However, a few of you have noted that one need not post daily to have a good blog. Point well taken. Also, the good folks at Common Sense and Wonder (one of my favorite blogs to read, though I don't comment much) have offered me a chance to blog with them. That's very gracious, but they have a good thing going there and I don't want to hedge in on it. The key will be whether Mrs. Lemon allows me to spend some cash to get off of Blogspot. Mrs. Lemon? I guess the tradeoff is that we just feed our kid less and have him wear plastic bags to school. In any event, I will decide within two weeks or so, once my workload stabilizes (it never decreases, it just stabilizes). Finally, I really do hate slow people at copy machines...particularly when I only have to do two copies.
Some government agency just came out with a rating of child car seats. The result seems to be very "governmental," reflecting both a nanny state mentality and the political correctness that has been afflicting our society. Here is the opening paragraph from the MSNBC story:
Only two of the 68 child safety seats tested for ease of use in the government’s first-ever such rating score an “A” in all five categories. Two models of the Graco Comfort Sport got an “A” in every category tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which released the ratings Wednesday. No seat got below a “B” for an overall rating.
Basically the message here is that (almost) nothing is safe [thank you Ralph Nader], yet everybody is OK (no matter how crappy anyone is, you are a super special person). I guess I am more inclined to dismiss the first interpretation given that overall traffic deaths have been dropping * over the past several decades (controlling for population and miles travelled) -- we're very safe, but some want us to be "bubble boy" safe! The second conclusion -- everyone gets at least a "B" -- is probably more attributable to the fact that our economy works -- we do produce safe reliable stuff, companies are not evil entities designed to maximize profit at the expense of consumer safety, and the tort lawyers should all just fuck off. QED. (Now if that ain't a logical conclusion, I don't know what is!)
* When looking at this link, note the difference between the short-term trends that are reported (generally 1998 - 1999), which don't change much. But the longer trend data shows substantial drops in traffic fatalities. Just wanted to let you know in case you wanted to say "I looked at the data and there ain't no downwards trend." Read the post below...I'm not suffering fools lightly today.
Just an odd personal note and revelation. I've noticed that my mood is largely reflected in the music I listen to. When I'm happy, the Beach Boys, Beatles or some ska go into the disk changer. Enya, Enigma or jazz when I'm pretty mellow and just floating through life. Punk rock when I'm angry. And I tell my students to totally avoid me if they hear any Pink Floyd coming from my office -- that means I'm completely misanthropic and you probably don't want to deal with me. The last week or so, I've been listening to lots of Oasis. Not sure why. In part, I think it is a bit of angry defiance mixed with a bit of megalomania, but one would not necessarily associate Oasis with that. ...or maybe one would. I don't know. All I know is that I've been in some sort of mood lately.
It seems as if early sales have made James at OTB rethink his claim that Simon & Shuster won't clear the $8 million advance to Hillary. Well, I'm doing my part in making his original prophecy come true -- I have not purchased a copy. Methinks that there will be a big dropoff in sales in about 2-3 weeks. I remember reports last year of about 10 people showing up for an Al Gore book signing at CostCo. More people were interested in the free chicken nuggets in aisle 4.
James Taranto commented on something that I've noticed for a long time, and which I think I blogged about (but am too lazy to look for since it it midnight) -- that those who claim to speak for "the people" also view "the people" as absolutely stupid idiots if they don't follow their advice. If people are voting GOP, it is not because they are liking their ideas, but rather because they are passive sheep lulled into complacency by a consumerist mentality. I notice this all the time when I talk to other academics. They will decry the advances of the conservative movement. When I ask them why they think that movement is gaining ground, they can only shake their heads and say that people are stupid (or becoming increasingly mean-spirited). If this is how the Left treats their "friends" (i.e., "the people"), you can just imagine the venom they have in reserve for their real enemies.
While this is only one study, it does seem to confirm my intuition (with which Mrs. Lemon adamantly disagrees with!) -- carpal-tunnel syndrome is bogus, at least when it comes to keyboard typing. I am guessing, without any analysis to back it up (which is permitted in the blogosphere), that the biggest factor leading to an increase in carpal tunnel syndrome is the passage of ergonomic regulations (and awareness campaigns) and expansion of health insurance to cover such "ailments." Methinks our politicians suffer from carpal tunnel-vision syndrome.
Is it just me, but is the MLB.com website worse than it was last year? I've been reading their website pretty regularly for the past 2.5 years, but it just doesn't seem as if there is very much information on it this year. I use it to look up stats and standings, but the frontpage news section just seems lame, and typically only focuses on players that hit the long ball or that have huge media markets.
I just googled "Emile Durkheim biography" to check out if one of the founding fathers of modern sociology made it into the 20th century or not (he did). The odd thing was when I googled those three words (no quotation marks), only one picture came up in the image tab of Google. And it was a picture of a helicopter with the M*A*S*H TV logo on it. I guess the connection is to "suicide" (as in the theme song of MASH and Durkheim's classic work).