The 2007 New York Mets never gave me great confidence, even when they were well ahead of Atlanta and Philadelphia. And I want you to know, I foresaw their untimely demise a few weeks ago, while it was merely a perverse fantasy of the baseball commentatorship.
But then again, I'm an eternal pessimist when it comes to the Mets, and only my brother, who makes me look like a mild optimist, is worse. I'll be watching a game and say to my son, "Delgado's about to hit into a double play." Or -- this actually happened not long ago -- the Mets will have come from behind in the top of the 9th against the Marlins, to take a three-run lead, and the Marlins will have put the tying runs on base. And I'll have said to my son, "They're going to lose this. You realize that, don't you?" In the game I'm thinking of, the Marlins tied the game in the bottom of the 9th and beat the Mets in the 10th.
When your team disintegrates before you in historic fashion, and finishes a mere one game behind the division leaders, you can look to many "what if's" to find one or two that would have changed the bottom line. Now, obviously, the Mets' pitching was a disaster on wheels in the second half, and just as obviously, Jose Reyes became a head case. But I look to August 29, in the middle of the Mets' four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies in Philadelphia. In the 9th inning, down 3-2, the Mets had the tying run on third with one out, and Marlon Anderson on first. Shawn Green hit a weak grounder that should have been a force play at second, scoring the tying run. For some reason, Marlon Anderson, who was a fantastic bench player for the Mets after he was picked up late in the season, made a rough slide outside the basepaths. The umpire called interference, making Green the third out. Game over. And as far as I'm concerned, season over, too.
I have nothing against the Phillies, whose late-season surge brought them up to the border line between mediocrity and respectability. They legitimately won the division with 88 victories after the team in front completely imploded, though in fairness to the Phillies, they would have finished about 10 games behind if it had not. Last year's World Series showed that mediocre teams have a great chance to become World Champions, so it's fair to say the Phillies, likewise, could win it all.
If I said "May the best team win," that would obviously exclude them, so let me just say this: "Who cares?"
UPDATE (10/2): In April, the Mets team ERA was 2.96, in May 3.69, in June 4.20, in July 4.50, in August 4.93, and in September 5.11. Says it all.
September 30, 2007
The 2007 New York Mets never gave me great confidence, even when they were well ahead of Atlanta and Philadelphia. And I want you to know, I foresaw their untimely demise a few weeks ago, while it was merely a perverse fantasy of the baseball commentatorship.
For links to other photo comics, click here and check the sidebar.
Or start with these:
Bill Clinton supports Hillary's cleavage
Bill Clinton grabs some contributions for Hillary
Hillary responds to Kate Michelman
Hillary begins a conversation
When Harry dissed Nancy
September 26, 2007
If the clip I've seen is any indication, this'll be a fun documentary to watch: Indoctrinate U.
To see the clip, click on the link above and scroll down to "Deleted Scenes - Columbia Quiz."
September 25, 2007
In our continuing series on mutilated male members (which would be a good, but not a great, name for a rock band), we will now visit Malaysia, where we find out that it's usually a poor idea to tell one of your two wives that the other wife is better in bed.
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian doctors have reattached a man's nearly severed penis after his first wife, enraged by his comparison of her sex skills with those of his younger second wife, decided to chop it off with a kitchen knife.Please note that the linked article is helpfully illustrated with a photo of someone slicing bacon with a kitchen knife.
The man, a 43-year-old Indonesian worker in southern Johor state, was lying in bed with his 48-year-old wife talking about his newly wed second wife, who is in her 30s, when the incident happened, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.
Now, the New Straits Times article, referred to in the segment above, is entitled "It never pays to compare wives." But that is hardly the best headline on this subject.
That honor goes to "What? Did I say something wrong?" from Reuters/India.
And while we're on this subject, I would be remiss if I didn't mention another incident in what is becoming, sadly, a real epidemic. In Thailand, a woman severed her husband's penis and ran away with it, thus leading to this line: "A 35-year-old Thai woman was at large with her husband's penis Saturday after discovering the man's unfaithfulness, police said." I just know the reporter was dying to get the word "large" into that sentence.
As Ed McMahon might have asked....
For women who are wondering how to dress for a first date, you can relax. It's very simple: Be yourself.
Assuming that being yourself involves wearing $500 to $1,000 worth of clothing.
(And that seems to be in 2003 dollars, which is when this article, just now peddled by MSN, first appeared.)
The good news: "Patrick Mallucci spent many hours poring over photos of topless models in lads magazines and tabloid newspapers to formulate his theory."
The conclusion: "In his opinion, the celebrity with the best pair is Caprice - and the woman with the worst is Posh Spice."
The bad news: "Mr Mallucci will prevent his findings at the first international conference on breast enlargement, to be held in London this week." [UPDATE: Just noticed the article says "prevent" his findings, not "present." Hmmmmmm.]
Here's the link, with semi-NSFW photos of the winner and loser. Click at your own risk.
Miriam thinks so. Maybe that's what the "hockey stick" chart should have been.
Me, I'm skeptical. I'm waiting for a similar chart for the burqa. Then, I'll be a believer.
A correspondent -- we'll call him "Number One Son" -- was in New York and got close to the events at Columbia, where one of the two remaining leaders of the Axis of Evil was speaking.
Here is a lightly edited version of his report. A few photos he took will follow.
So I heard that Ahmadinejad was coming and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to maybe have chance to toss a bag of doo doo at his motorcade. Too bad that when I got uptown and met up with XXXXXX, members of the anti-Semitic New York City Police Department were cruelly preventing everyday Hebrew citizens like myself from rushing the building and kicking Ahmadinejad in painful places as hard as we could.With these photos, I'm going to append the captions supplied by NOS.
Anyway, I couldn't get into Columbia's campus with out a Columbia ID so XXXXXX and I stayed on the west side of Broadway first near the ZOA protest. A lot of kippahs, long skirts, and political opinions that I'm not gonna say whether or not I agree with.
Of course, the crazies came out. Signs like "Honk if Bush is a War Criminal". XXXXXX and I told the guy he was at the wrong protest. Also "The US is to Iraq as Israel is to Palestine as Nazi Germany is to Jews" and "Ahmadinejad Is Bad, Bush is Worse something something I'm An Incredible Moron That Enjoys Smoking Crack Cocaine On A Regular Basis. Oh Yeah And Impeach President John Kerry Or Something".
Luckily these people were yelled at a lot and it was explained just how stupid they were, as if they deserved even being spoken to. It's annoying how they get attention just because they are so outlandishly stupid. If you missed the rest of their protest, you can probably get all the details at the home of the president of Iran, although I don't think these people advocated nuking Israel. (To be fair, I didn't specifically hear any of them say they did).
At this point XXXXXX and I left because the civil, respectful, and well reasoned debates over US-Iran policy and whether or not Bush knocked down the WTC with special mind beams he got from Neo-Conservatives got to be a little much. There were a lot of good signs that I didn't get pictures of and in general I was happy that there was such a good showing. Apparently there was a much bigger protest at the UN.
* Suffice it to say that the word NOS describes as "unprintable" is the compound D-word thrown around a lot at Ace of Spades HQ.
UPDATE: Lots more from Michelle Malkin.
UPDATE (9/26): And even more from the Washington Times Culture, Etc. Blog, especially about Shiri Negari.
September 24, 2007
I need to turn in early, so I'm just going to leave you with this headline from LiveScience.com and the link, and you can write the rest -- or not. Feel free to use the comments section to make the jokes you think I should have made.
"To Get Sex, Monkeys Rub Themselves with Pee"
When the man's right, he's right:
President Hugo Chavez railed against a new trend in beauty-conscious Venezuela, giving girls breast implants for their 15th birthday.As with a stopped clock, Ol' Hugo is right twice: "Chavez, who happily describes himself as ugly, may struggle to change Venezuelans' mind-set to spending on plastic surgery."
"Now some people think, 'My daughter's turning 15, let's give her breast enlargements.' That's horrible. It's the ultimate degeneration," Chavez said late on Sunday on his weekly TV show that lasted a record eight hours.
From the Associated Press: "Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award-winning actress best known on television for playing Esmeralda on 'Bewitched' and Bernice on 'Designing Women,' has died. She was 81."
One of her little noticed gems was a role in one of my all-time favorite Get Smart episodes. She plays Naomi Farkas, a Kaos agent planted next door to the newly married Max and 99. Mrs. Farkas and her husband, played by Tom Bosley, bug the Smarts' apartment, which gives her an opportunity to show up at the door at the right moment. She's the quintessentially nosey but excessively friendly neighbor who, whenever 99 calls her "Mrs. Farkas," protests, "Naomi!"
By bugging the apartment, Mrs. Farkas discovers that Max has invited the Chief over for dinner. 99 has an elaborate meal planned but tells Max she knows the Chief loves dessert and she has none for him. Right on cue, Mrs. Farkas appears at the door to offer 99 some chocolate mousse, which she's poisoned -- not enough to kill them but enough to make them sick so she and Tom Bosley can get into the apartment to photograph the secret documents the Chief has brought with him.
The Chief and Max finish dinner while 99 goes back to the kitchen. The Chief tells Max that 99 is a terrific cook. I'm quoting from memory here -- "terrific Beef Wellington, artichokes vinagrette beyond compare" -- here, he takes a bite of the poisoned dessert -- "and terrible chocolate mousse!" Max and the Chief start groaning. 99 returns to the dining room, and Max tries to disguise the groans -- "ohhhhh!!" -- by singing "Oh, Susannah!" with the Chief groaning loudly behind him.
But back to Alice Ghostley/Naomi Farkas. She and her husband get into the apartment while Max and the Chief go off to check the medicine cabinet. 99 walks into the living room and sees Mrs. Farkas pointing a gun at her. 99 exclaims in surprise: "Mrs. Farkas!" Mrs. Farkas protests: "Naomi!"
This line is a continuing joke with my mother and siblings (see paragraph 2). Alice Ghostley was a stitch.
September 23, 2007
1. Another Ivy League triumph. As you know, Columbia has invited our dear friend, the Holocaust-denying potential genocidalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. But I'll bet you didn't know that Columbia Dean John Coatsworth has said, "Why, we would have invited Hitler, too!" Seriously. The video is here. [UPDATE (9/24): The Columbia U. School of Terrorism? (via LGF) and perhaps Ground Zero will visit Ahmadinejad. (hat tip: fee simple)
2. This is peculiarly amusing, starting with the post title: "Jewish lesbian dKos diarist: I’ve got a crush on Mahdi even though he’d probably have me killed."
3. On a less appalling subject (unless you're one of those lefty wackjobs), here is an article about the Forbes 400 richest individuals that mere mortals can only gawk over. Tip: You need $1.3 billion in net worth to break into the club. Better save those pennies. Also, once you're in, you still can be dropped like last month's fashion: "Also dropping off the list is caffeine king Howard Schultz, whose Starbucks stock has languished over the past year." Put that in your latte and smoke it. Or something.
4. Along the same lines, here are the "priciest zip codes" in the country. Hint: They're not where you live, buddy. Well, maybe you, but not me. Most seem to be in California.
5. Almost forgot: All you need to read in David Margolick's review of Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Supreme Court is the first 5 or 6 paragraphs, which is all I've read, by the way. All of it basically elaborates on this point: "But to anyone who watches the court, or watches those who watch it, Toobin’s descriptions afford something else, arguably even more interesting: the chance to ponder which of those justices talked to him for this book, and which did not."
The 16th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at abolitionofman.com. A very nicely executed roundup, highlighting some interesting posts from around Maryland. Go take a look.
The 17th edition, on October 7, will be hosted at monoblogue over on the Eastern Shore.
Send your submissions in for Carnival 17 by using the Blog Carnival form.
September 20, 2007
I'm starting to sound like a broken record -- if anyone remembers what a record is. I'm not talking about Hank Aaron's recently broken homerun record, either.
I'm sick of talking about how Jewish groups seems concerned about anything but real Jewish issues, but I'm afraid I have to talk about that once again. I'll keep it short.
You know the story: Bush has nominated a former federal judge, Michael Mukasey, to be his Attorney General. Mukasey is an orthodox Jew.
In an article about the nomination published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, there is considerable discussion about Mukasey's record on terrorism. Which makes sense. This is an important part of his background.
But here comes one of my old favorites, Marc Stern of the American Jewish Congress:
The focus [on terrorism] concerned Stern, who noted that the Justice Department's bailiwick is much broader than terrorism.Never mind terrorism, which is the most important issue facing this country -- and, for that matter, that country of no real interest to Jews, Israel. Never mind terrorism; what does this orthodox Jew think about "Jewish issues" like abortion?
"He's a cipher on abortion, he's a cipher on civil rights, he's a cipher on all the hot-button issues that move the administration's base," Stern said.
I suspect the JTA never actually spoke to the real Marc Stern. Some prankster called in and pretended to be Stern. And did a heck of a good job.
What is it with the Croatians, anyway? Last year, a Croatian lumberjack gets a kidney transplant from a woman and suddenly starts doing housework.
And now, a Croatian biker, minding his own business, does his own business outside and gets hit by lightning. Bad enough, but after waking up in the hospital, he has a chat with the doctors.
"Doctors said the lightning went through my body and because I was wearing rubber boots it earthed itself through my penis."Maybe he was wearing rubbers on the wrong part of his body.
But it seems all's well that ends well:
"Thankfully, the doctors said that there would be no lasting effects, and my penis will function normally eventually."Although if I were in his place, I'd definitely check out that word "eventually."
"Stress of Pants Suit Presses Shop to Close"
Headline, Washington Post Express, Sept. 20, 2007, page 13
September 19, 2007
And now, with the opening of its 435th branch in Beijing, Hooters is now being touted as a barometer for globalization.But, of course, the story is as far from serious as possible. Hence this photo, which accompanies the article:
You remember how hard it is to translate names into Chinese? Consider this: "In Beijing, 'Hooters' simply means 'owl,' but that doesn't mean the point goes overlooked." (Especially in a country in which that portion of the body has been growing.)
Which, I suppose is really the point, after all: "When one Hooters patron was asked whether he preferred the food or the waitstaff, he answered, 'The girls better than the food.'"
September 18, 2007
There's a very old joke about the dyslexic agnostic who stayed up late at nights unsure about the existence of dog.
I tell you this because I regaled you last month with the tale of "Naked before God," a convention of religious nudists meeting in Tennessee. Today, I want to tell about "Naked before Dog," which has to do with a naked dog-walker.
This headline actually sounds like a "Help Wanted" ad: "Police look for nude man walking dogs." (via Fark)
LITCHFIELD, Conn. - Police say they are on the lookout for a nude man who was spotted taking a stroll with two dogs on Monday. Police say the man was seen by a female jogger in the woods of the White Memorial Foundation.According to the Litchfield Republican-American, which obviously you can't trust, because it's probably sitting in a public toilet tapping its foot, the naked dog-walker "went au natural in the woods of the White Memorial Foundation Monday, stunning a female jogger and forcing high school cross country teams to take or consider taking precautions." The use of the word "stunned" is interesting. Was she stunned by the man's, uh, natural beauty, or was she stunned in any of the following senses of the word:
Mary stolle, athletic director at nearby Wamogo Regional High School, said the school's cross country teams were diverted from the woods where they had been training into White Memorial's museum as a precaution.
The suspect is a tall white man with thin hair who is believed to be in his 50s.
1. To daze or render senseless, by or as if by a blow.Personally, I suspect she was horrified, not stunned, but that's only because I should know. It won't be too long before I fit the description of the dog-walker, at least when he has his clothes on.
2. To overwhelm or daze with a loud noise.
3. To stupefy, as with the emotional impact of an experience; astound.
The other interesting facet of the story is why the cross-country teams were diverted from the woods "as a precaution." As a precaution against what? Were the dogs dangerous? Or was it a precaution against being stunned by a naked middle-aged dude who had a couple of dogs with him?
One final thought: This clearly wouldn't have happened in California, where they actually have "Naked Dog Walks" in a place called, oddly enough, "Los Gatos" (which means "the cats" in some metric language or other). If you think I'm kidding about naked dog walks, see this announcement and this one.
And it's a damn good thing they specify "naked" dog walks, because otherwise people might dress their dogs up in those silly little sweater things.
September 17, 2007
The Yankees and the Red Sox and their fans always make their rivalry out to be some sort of epic struggle of good versus evil. But it's becoming clear, in case it wasn't already clear, that it's really a battle of stupid and stupider.
Exhibit A: Yankees outfielder Shelley Duncan signs an autograph for a 10-year-old Red Sox fan. (Check the photo of the kid displaying the autograph.)
But not to worry: The Red Sox are busy with what apparently is a tradition with them, making all their rookies dress in drag. (Link goes to video.)
Both links via Fark.
September 16, 2007
My boss is a graduate of Harvard Law School. In our reception area, we occasionally see a copy of a magazine called "02138," which, not coincidentally, is Harvard's zip code. In my boss's defense, this magazine has been sending out free issues in an effort to drum up subscribers.
The magazine is not an official university publication. It's a publication of the VHC, the Vast Harvard Conspiracy, which trades in the university's name in order to shower itself in self-love and show others how wonderful and accomplished the members are.
If you clicked on the link at the top, and it's fall 2007, you probably saw a photo of the enormous head that once belonged to Al Gore, from whom the 2000 presidential election was stolen when the courts refused to order the precise, limited Florida recount that Gore asked for -- the one that would have counted anyone who conceivably could have voted for Gore as a Gore voter and would have excluded from the recount anyone who voted for Bush.
But let's let bygones be bygones. Gore has spent the past seven years campaigning for everyone to reduce his carbon footprint in an effort to fight global warming.
I mean that statement literally. Gore wants "everyone to reduce his carbon footprint," that is, Gore's own footprint, which, as you may have heard, is humongous, very much like his head.
Notice the title "Master of the Universe." This is the description of an article in the current issue that's actually entitled "The Harvard 100," who are the top 100 Harvard alums, according to this magazine. Gore is ranked number 1, which somehow makes him master of the "universe," and not just the top Harvard alum. This is the way people at Harvard think.
In ranking Gore number 1, the article emphasizes he's above the president, who is number 2. (Are they making an Austin Powers joke here? Probably not, but it would fit their approach nicely.)
Here's an excerpt from the entry for George W. Bush:
His legacy will be a quagmire in Iraq; faith-based ideology permeating the civil service; regulatory agencies, such as the FDA and the EPA, serving business interests first; less-progressive tax rates; environmental policies dictated by energy companies; executive branch power trumping constitutional rights; a Justice Department seen as politically compromised; a conservative Supreme Court; and an American reputation sorely in need of rehabilitation in every corner of the globe.Notice, if you will, the standard left-wing bill of particulars, the use of the word "quagmire," the concern for how the world thinks of America, and in the middle of this list a "conservative" Supreme Court, as if that, without more, were evil.
Gore, in contrast, is the subject of a separate, fawning interview called "Man on a Mission." You can read the whole interview at that link, but not the intro, which is too bad, because the intro says it all. Since that intro isn't online, I'll quote it here:
While the man who may or may not have beaten him in 2000 seems to lose influence every day, Al Gore is, literally, trying to save the world. Thanks to Gore, mentions of the climate crisis no longer require scare quotes. His Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth altered the consensus: No one credible argues that global warming does not exist. This year, Gore has testified before both houses of Congress; piloted his cable network, Current TV; promoted his anti-Bush manifesto The Assault on Reason; and presided over Live Earth, a benefit concert held simultaneously in eight cities around the world. He deflects rumors of a presidential run -- perhaps because he might actually lose influence if he ran.As for the remaining 98 people in the Harvard 100, I'm sorry to report that the list of names at the link is not completely in order, so I'm going to have to straighten that out a little for you now. [UPDATE: The link now seems to work better.] Number 100 is Alberto Gonzales, now the former Attorney General, who left office on Friday. To give you a flavor of this whole article, I need to quote the "précis" for Gonzales: "Using twists of legal logic, Gonzales has reinterpreted everything from the Geneva Conventions to warrantless eavesdropping."
Number 98 is Michael Chertoff, described as "poster boy for bureaucratic bungling," a description in which many on the right would concur. But just in case you could have any agreement on this, the article feels compelled to state that Chertoff earned his nickname The Vulture "[f]or being an especially aggressive Republican special counsel to the Whitewater investigation."
Some of the rankings are just plain odd: Why is Richard Posner 73 and Matt Damon 70? Why is Barney Frank 62 and Andrew Sullivan 57? Why, for that matter, is Michelle Obama 58? Why is Deval Patrick 52 and Carl Levin 51?
Why is David Souter 49 and Stephen Breyer 46? Why is Antonin Scalia 30 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg 22? Why is Anthony Kennedy number 3? (OK, I know the answer to that one. He's number three because right now the Constitution means whatever Justice Kennedy's gall bladder says it means.)
Maybe I'm asking too much of a magazine by and for the VHC, a magazine that premiered with a cover of some chick wearing a blouseless suit jacket open to her pupik (tag line "She's Harvard. So Are You. (Discuss.)") This is also the magazine that later had a loving cover shot of the corrupt Democratic governor of New York and his wife, followed by a wholly different type of cover shot of Mitt Romney as a Ken doll (which is highly original, I might add).
Having had my own connection with the place, I find none of this really surprising. Whoever thinks of Harvard as a bastion of conservatism hasn't been reading the newspapers lately. Just ask President Larry Summers.
Starbucks barista: Good morning, sir. What can I get for you today?
O.J. Simpson: Get me French roast, or else you be toast.
Starbucks barista: OK, sir, what size French roast would you like?
O.J. Simpson: Just gimme what I said, or you gonna taste lead.
Starbucks barista: Will that be all, sir?
O.J. Simpson: If that coffee ain't hot, you gonna get shot.
Starbucks barista: Would you like room for cream, sir?
O.J. Simpson: If you don't fill, I'm gonna kill.
Starbucks barista: That'll be $1.94, sir.
O.J. Simpson: If this happened in L.A., you'd be dead yesterday.
Starbucks barista: Is this a robbery, sir?
O.J. Simpson: I'm O.J. Simpson. How am I going to think that I'm going to rob somebody and get away with it? You've got to understand, this ain't somebody going to steal somebody's drugs or something like that. This is somebody going to get his private s--- back. That's it. That's not robbery.
I want to disclose the secret of shofar blowing. This is a topic that most of you will have no interest in, so I'm going to put it in an extended entry. Click below only if you care.
I'm actually serious about this, and I'm writing for any poor soul who's stuck blowing the shofar and is madly searching the internet for "the secret of shofar blowing" or some such thing. And I'm going to tell you the secret -- after an interlude. I'm going to tell you it, but I won't tell you the secret of blowing the shofar after the 26-hour Yom Kippur fast, because that's an even deeper secret. Ordinary humans simply can't do it. It's impossible.
Like many people able to blow the shofar, I'm a former musician. I should say I'm a former French horn player, because it turns out that a lot of shofar blowers are former horn players. Last year, when I was saying kaddish for my father, I was at the daily minyan all during Elul, when the shofar is blown in the morning, in the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah. I have to say that for me, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are very difficult. Judaism is not very big on theology. It's a religion of practice more than belief. (Yeah, I know that's an oversimplification. Don't bug me about it.) But every year on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the theology is unavoidable, as hard as I try. B'rosh hashanah yikateivun, uv'yom tzom kippur yeichateimun. Some other time, I'll explain my theological problems, but for now, all I want to say is that when I was at the daily minyan last year, the daily blowing of the shofar put me more in a Rosh Hashanah frame of mind than ever before (and, for that matter, ever after, i.e., this year).
At the daily minyan, I volunteered that I knew how to blow the shofar. You need to understand that this is an orthodox shul, and I'm just some guy. It took me a couple of months to get to the point where I could actually lead davening, so whenever I showed I could do something -- like read Torah -- there was a little bit of surprise I could do it. Still, when the rabbi, who blows the shofar, and the congregant who usually blows the shofar in the rabbi's absence weren't there, I had my chance. And as I said, I can blow the shofar. In fact, in all modesty, I blow it pretty well. My technique is pretty good.
But one day, during that Elul, the rabbi spoke about blowing the shofar. He said that blowing the shofar isn't about technique; it's about kavvanah (intention or spirituality). He wasn't referring to me in particular. In fact, I'm not sure he was ever present when I blew the shofar. But what he said resonated with me; I felt that his point was valid and that it clearly applied to me. So I started begging off, unless no one else who could do the job was around, or unless our assistant rabbi handed me the shofar and I couldn't decline without being disrespectful to him.
But back to technique. There are many people who blow the shofar who have far better kavvanah than I have -- nearly everyone, as a matter of fact. But there's a wide range of technique. And on that count, I'm here to help you.
Here's my advice, as a former French horn player. Don't blow the shofar as if it were a French horn. I said "Don't" in case you missed it. A horn mouthpiece rests on the lower lip. That's unusual for a brass instrument -- on the lip. Technically, you can rest the shofar on your lip, and you can even get a sound that way. But don't do it. Getting a vibration in order to create the shofar sound requires moist tissue. And take my word for it: Your lip won't be most, even if you lick it. The best place for the shofar mouthpiece -- now, here's the secret -- is inside your lower lip, on the soft, moist tissue on the inner lining of your mouth. That tissue will vibrate, and you'll get a nice sound.
Here's the qualification on what I've just told you: Different shofars have different shaped mouthpieces, depending on the structure of the ram's horn and on the way it was cut. If the mouthpiece is too large around its circumference, you're going to have trouble on the inside of your mouth. But my advice works for most shofars. Give it a shot. I don't think you'll regret it.
Sadly, however, you still won't be able to get a sound at the end of Yom Kippur.
September 12, 2007
A shanah tovah umetukah -- a happy and sweet new year -- to you. May it be better than this year.
To my non-Jewish philo-semitic friends, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your support.
See you on Sunday.
Bruce Godfrey at Crablaw is what might be called an early adopter, in the sense that he was one of the early members of the Maryland Blogger Alliance. (He also has been a great audience for me, often being more amused than he should be by the stupidity I put forth at Pillage Idiot.)
Sadly for us, but happily for him, he is moving on from blogging to focus on professional development and family. I can't blame him, and I wish him the best of luck.
He will remain on the blogroll in case he changes his mind in the next six months or so. Best wishes, Bruce. Stay in touch.
Don't blame me for writing about this topic. This is science: "Bras Don't Support Bouncing Breasts, Study Finds" (via HotAir)
The LiveScience site on which the article appears even has a photo intended to prove it's science. A woman in a jogging outfit on a treadmill has pompoms all over her strategic regions. The caption says the pompoms are sensors. Also proving this is science, there's a woman in the photo standing by, looking scientific, and writing something on a booklet of some kind. I think it's the eyeglasses that demonstrate that she's a scientist.
More evidence that this is science comes from the fact that the BBC has an article about it.
Finally, I have no idea what the site News-Medical.Net is, except that it's obviously British, but the following line confirming this is science appears on that site: "The Portsmouth team are studying the biomechanics of breasts during exercise and other activities to better understand the stresses and forces involved."
If only Einstein had studied this topic, instead of wasting his time on the general theory of relativity. . . . But as a man, he plainly viewed "the study of breasts in relation to exercise [as] something of a joke."
September 11, 2007
Last year's thoughts here. Two years ago here.
We seem to be sick of it already. And, of course, some of the families of 9/11 victims are suing. Yeah, that'll help.
UPDATE: Allah at HotAir has a great video excerpt from the Naudet brothers filming in the lobby of WTC 1 when WTC 2 collapsed.
UPDATE: This page from the BBC explains to children why 9/11 happened. It is totally beyond belief. (via PowerLine) See also this about the BBC's explanation. -- UPDATE (9/12): Removed. (via HotAir)
UPDATE: If the attacks had been thwarted . . . (via HotAir)
UPDATE: More on 9/11 "fatigue" from OyVayBlog. (hat tip: Soccer Dad)
UPDATE: Almost forgot this one from last week. HotAir had a video collecting clips from morning news shows at 8:00 a.m. the morning of the attack. It's eerie looking back at it.
UPDATE (9/12): Jonah Goldberg weighs in on the "emotional half-life of 9/11." (via Ace, who notes how far Andrew Sullivan has fallen in six years)
September 10, 2007
Each year, I read Torah at shul on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The reading is Genesis chapter 21, the story of the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael.
And each year, when I read verse 17 in preparation for my reading, it cracks me up. Here's the first part of verse 17 in English (my rough translation): "And God heard the voice of the boy, and an angel of God called out to Hagar from the heavens, and he said to her, 'What's with you, Hagar?'" The verse then continues.
What amuses me is the Hebrew. The word for angel is "mal'ach"; the word for what's with you is "ma-lach." It's an obvious play on words.
By the way, I'm way less than fluent in Biblical Hebrew, but I've picked up a fair amount from reading the Torah. This past shabbat, I had an unusual experience. I was reading the translation in English to myself, and, I'm embarrassed to admit, I didn't know the English word "imprecation." I looked at the Hebrew, saw the word "alah," and realized that imprecation meant curse. I can't remember ever before figuring out the English from the Hebrew.
With apologies to Christians whose bumper stickers read, "My boss is a Jewish carpenter," I have the next, biggest thing in bumper stickers: "My boss is a nude carpenter."
The carpenter explained last year in an interview, "The primary reason is so I won't dirty my clothes and have to get into my truck with dusty clothes on." "It's more comfortable," he said.
September 09, 2007
I'm a guy who, with no evidence whatsoever, has been insisting since I started this blog about three years ago that Osama is pushing daisies. Hence, Osama bin Toast.
The latest video from "Osama" has been cleared as legit by the same intelligence analysts who advised General Custer. He sounds a lot like the American Left.
Now, there's a lot of interesting discussion about the tape, and about apparent splicing of the tape. Via one of the HotAir commenters, here's the official Clinton commemorative edition of the Osama tape at The Bullwinkle Blog.
Here we are at Pillage Idiot, hosting the Carnival of Maryland, which I last hosted back in March.
The Carnival of Maryland is a bi-weekly carnival run and hosted by members of the Maryland Blogger Alliance, an eclectic group of Maryland bloggers. You don't have to be a member to contribute to the carnival, but if you're a Maryland blogger, you have every reason to join. Just send me an email. In March, when I last hosted, we had 23 members. Now, we're at 34, which is almost a 50% increase.
Well, enough small talk. Here's the 15th Carnival of Maryland.
With fall around the corner, a young man's thoughts turn to baseball. Our very own loyal Orioles fan at Oriole Post went to an O's game at Fenway Park, only to find history being made. He writes an appreciative post about being a witness to Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz's no-hitter in only his second major league start: A Witness to History - the Orioles No Hit by Rookie Clay Buchholz. There's video at the link, too.
Needless to say, September also marks the beginning of the football season. Sadly, there seems to be an academic cheating scandal at the University of Maryland, involving a Terps football player. Inside Charm City reports on this scandal in Josh Portis, cheating, and a possible attempt at silencing the messenger?.
Charlie Dowd, artist and web designer, as well as blogger at C. Dowd's Blog, explains in Baltimore Sun Gameday Ads that his ads for "Baltimore Gameday Radio" on ESPN radio have appeared in the Baltimore Sun. Congratulations, Charlie!
The Ridger, at her blog, The Greenbelt, posts some great photos of the Japanese lantern trees in front of her apartment building. She complains, in Who speaks for the trees?, that the management company that runs her building has mutilated the trees without any real justification.
Marilyn Terrell, of Intelligent Travel, today's only non-member of the Alliance, cites a National Geographic editor's positive experience camping with the horses at Assateague, in Horsing Around on Assateague.
Mike Netherland, who runs the aptly named Mike's Nether Land, has a couple of gripes -- what he calls "peeves." He doesn't like clergy who preach political sermons, particularly from the political left, or for that matter, people who go to church in order to cough, and he really doesn't like karaoke "singers."
Stephanie Dray, whose Jousting for Justice has a great design, had to take her blog offline for a while because of "attacks by spammers and some other technical glitches." She originally came back online with a site design in basic blue. It was nice to have her back, but frankly, blue is blue. Now, she's back in full color: "We're Back In Color."
Local News and Events
Joyce Dowling, at Creating a Jubilee County, tells us what's happenin' in Prince George's County, where there is a lot taking place. Check out this list and see for yourself.
I've never really been satified with the "politics" category, so I've broken it down into local, state, and national politics. The trouble is that it's really broader than what's strictly politics -- the analysis of political candidates, which The Hedgehog Report, monoblogue, Maryland Politics Today, and Red Maryland, for example, do so well -- because it includes as well the relationship between people and their governments, which almost all of us write about. I'm going to need help reorganizing the categories in the future, but for now, let's treat the two facets together.
a. Local Politics
Wade Crodhil, at Politics, Hon, shows the latest poll results in the race for the nomination for Baltimore City Council President: Sarbanes Leading Princess Stephanie In Latest Sun Poll and offers the "Hon Endorsement" in the mayoral primary in Baltimore.
Bruce Godfrey, at Crablaw, really amused me with his non-endorsement of local politicians, Baltimore Elections 2007: No Endorsement from Crab Media. He writes: "My only regret is that I cannot vote for Mayor next week, in part because I am not a City resident and in part because I do not belong to the de facto single party of the City. My only wish is that everyone currently in elected City government - female or male, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, Democrat or Democrat - could be, somehow, caught in an embarrassing sexual act or solicitation inside a toilet, so all could depart in disgrace, yielding every office open for other City residents less obviously and immediately connected with machine politics, payoffs, financial misconduct and a sickening sense of inherited or other entitlement. Every last one of them." Tell us how you really feel, Bruce.
Over at Red Maryland, streiff looks at a bill introduced before the Baltimore County Council that, he says, is The Right Decision for the Wrong Reason. The bill requires that a "need" be shown before the county issues another license to a towing company, but the reason was that the sponsor, Councilman Kenneth Oliver, wanted to break up a "monopoly" of white-owned businesses.
Matt Johnston, at Going to the Mat, describes a 25-year-old 5-4 Supreme Court ruling requiring local communities to provide public education to children who are illegal immigrants and explains that Frederick, in an effort to force reconsideration of that ruling, is considering a bill that would deny funds to help them attend public schools.
Zinzidor writes at Leviathan Montgomery about the need to lower housing costs by permitting "self-housing" -- which means allowing people to build simple, functional houses for themselves, either literally by themselves or by barter with professionals, as opposed to forcing them to clear many regulatory hurdles.
Meanwhile, David K. Kyle, at The Candid Truth, cites the case of a homeowner in Anne Arundel County who built an addition to his house without obtaining the necessary permits. The county is seeking a court order requiring him to take it down. Here's a link to the column David refers to. (See? I provide full service writeups here.)
Stan Modjesky, at blogger 1947, says "In the Future, everyone will be declared a criminal" for relatively minor offenses. He starts with London -- that's in England, folks -- moves to Los Angeles, and then reaches Maryland with Caroline County and Annapolis.
On a more subdued note, Kevin Dayhoff posts a link to his column in The Tentacle about a fire in Mount Airy. Kevin discusses what the town that at one time was "the town that could" and has become "the town that fights." And he expresses hope that Mount Airy can regain its ability to cope.
b. State Politics
P. Kenneth "Kenny" Burns, at Maryland Politics Today, tells us that Franchot Should Have Stayed A Delegate: Peter Franchot, the Comptroller of Maryland, the official responsible for supervising the state's fiscal condition, has been advocating against slots. "Why," Kenny asks, "is the Comptroller of the state of Maryland doing something that is not in his job description?"
At Howard County Maryland Blog, Jim Walsh asks why, if Maryland has become the state with the highest median income, our state government is fighting large structural deficits: The Wealthiest State in the Nation.
Michael Swartz, at monoblogue, writes Rethinking O’Malley, which is an extended meditation on this same subject of high income and deficits. Michael looks at it from a personal perspective and concludes with the idea that education, which is the target of the largest statewide expenditure, could benefit from free-market reforms.
Soccer Dad, a/k/a David Gerstman, writes in amazement that Nancy Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools, has proposed that students who repeatedly fail the state tests required for high-school graduation be allowed to graduate without passing them, if the students do a project instead.
Finally, Rachel Sawyer, at Tinkerty Tonk, has a story that happened a few months ago, but it's really timeless: How just about everything can go wrong when you're dealing with the MVA, the sheriff's office, your insurance company, and the guy who's impounded your car. I had to close my jaw manually after reading it.
c. National Politics
Kevin Dayhoff, in Rashid Ari Rebellion and the Battle of Habbaniya, writes about the historical complexities in Iraq, and wonders whether our armed forces are given an historical primer of the region.
David Wissing, at The Hedgehog Report, writes that there was a Republican straw poll at the state fair, and Ron Paul won it: MD: Ron Paul Wins Straw Poll. How did he win? People could vote in the poll "regardless of party affiliation."
More Ron Paul: At Pillage Idiot, I wrote that I noticed Ron Paul signs on overpasses over I-95 northeast of Baltimore. In The reverse of love, I wondered why the signs, which read "Ron Paul Revolution," have the letters "evol" in the word revolution written backwards, as if it were an ambulance sign. I have a couple of frivolous ideas about that.
Well, that's all folks!
The 16th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is scheduled for Sunday, September 23, and is being hosted at abolitionofman.com. You can submit your posts through this convenient form at Blog Carnival.
September 05, 2007
I guess this isn't so bad. It's not as if the pilots were doing it.
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.(hat tip: fee simple) On the other hand, if this is the sole method of performing aircraft maintenance, you'll have to add Nepal to the list of countries I have no intention of visiting.
Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due the problem.
The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.
According to the BBC: "The offering was made to Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection, whose symbol is seen on the company's planes." This really puts it in context. The symbol of the Hindu sky god is on the plane. Naturally, you'd try to fix the plane by sacrificing to that god, right? I mean, if TWA had had a picture of Carl Icahn on its jets, wouldn't the mechanics have sacrificed a couple of goats to him?
Unsurprisingly, the Post misses the point with the story, suggesting that "perhaps it's time the U.S. airline industry gave animal sacrifice a try. It certainly seems to make as much sense as taking off your shoes before going through the metal detector (and thank Richard Reid for not stashing the bomb in his underwear.)"
Of course, the Post writer is correct about the arbitrariness of airline security, but I have yet to see evidence that aircraft maintenance is arbitrary, which is why the Nepalese sacrificed the animals in the first place.
And we all know how many birds are sacrificed to jet engines each year. If only we could find a way to sacrifice Ingrid Newkirk instead.
September 04, 2007
This is actually more of the same (click on the category link below). It's nothing really new, except that it's not every day that you see a headline at Newsweek's web site that reads: "The Perils of Designer Vaginas" (later amended to "Be Careful Down There").
"What we're concerned about is that there is no safety or efficacy data for these procedures," says Dr. Cheryl Iglesia, a member of the committee that issued the statement and the director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. "There are no studies in peer-reviewed journals that show long-term outcomes." The vast majority of these procedures are not medically indicated, Iglesia says, and women could end up in worse shape than when they started because of complications like severe pain from scarring by lasers used on the vaginal wall, decreased lubrication or incontinence.Yikes!
Clerk: Good afternoon, sir. What can I help you with today?
"Dr. Paul": I'd like to mail out these letters of marque and reprisal.
Clerk: What's the zip code they're being sent to?
"Dr. Paul": There is no zip code. I'm sending them to Pakistan.
"Dr. Paul": Yes, Congress has the authority under the Constitution to issue letters of marque and reprisal to authorize private citizens to take action against person or property that would otherwise be considered piracy. I'm sending these to some individuals in Waziristan so they have our authority to capture Osama bin Laden.
"Dr. Paul": Because the President's authority in wartime is far more limited than this president believes.
"Dr. Paul": And we could have avoided much of the war since 9/11 if we'd just authorized a bunch of privateers to apprehend Mr. bin Laden.
Clerk: You're a member of Congress?
"Dr. Paul": Yes.
Clerk: You're entitled to send mail for free.
"Dr. Paul": It doesn't say that in the Constitution. All it says is that Congress has the power to establish post offices and post roads.
Clerk: You really are a one-trick pony.
(Video of Hugh Hewitt's interview, via Ace.) (Also here.)
UPDATE: Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel.
I've told you a number of times that because I consider Pillage Idiot to be a hobby, my goal is not only to spend no money but also to make no money. Hence, no ads, ever.
In keeping with this goal, I set up a store at Cafe Press, at which I hoped you'd be able to buy a few Pillage Idiot things at no markup. You know, the base price at which Cafe Press sells the stuff. I designed a mug and a tee-shirt (and sweatshirt).
The mug has these images on it.
The shirts and sweatshirt have an image I created by combining the first six frames of my first Hillary photo comic. It looks like this:
I didn't post this until I'd seen for myself how they looked. I ordered a tee-shirt and a mug, and they look pretty awful. I found Cafe Press's site almost totally useless in helping you see what your products were going to look like.
In the past, I ordered Pillage Idiot mugs from a different place, and they looked very good. Has anyone had better success with Cafe Press? Or should I go back to the other guys?
September 03, 2007
Another thing I noticed on my drive back home was that on I-95, there were several overpasses in Maryland, northeast of Baltimore, that had Ron Paul signs on them.
I've occasionally thought about doing a photo comic involving Ron Paul, but there's nothing really funny about him. Even Hillary, as dreadful as she is, has become funny -- or, at least, a good target for humor. Not Ron Paul, although admittedly, I used him -- along with about a dozen others -- in a couple of Inquiring Photographer pieces I did over the summer. He's sort of a one-trick pony, I'd say.
Anyway, the signs I saw said, in blue writing, "Ron Paul Revolution," with the letters "evol" in "revolution" in red and written backwards, so that if you were driving away as fast as your little car would carry you from a Ron Paul supporter, as any sensible human being would do, you would see in your rear view mirror the word "love." Get it? (Of course, the words "Ron Paul" would be backwards, but I'm sure he'd wear that as a badge of honor.)
It looked like this, only with blue writing:
I have to say that, from what I've seen of the online behavior of the supporters of Ron Paul -- I mean, "Dr. Paul" -- love is not the first emotion I would associate with them. Maybe anger, but certainly not love. Maybe that's why the word "love" is written in mirror image.
Or maybe it's like the word "AMBULANCE" that is written in mirror image so that drivers will pull over and let it pass as the Ron-Paul-mobile speeds to the base of the burning World Trade Center towers to collect evidence that it wasn't two hijacked airliners that crashed into the buildings. (Sorry, I'm being unfair. He only gave a couple of interviews to the Truthers on their radio show. He doesn't actually agree with them.)
Perhaps someone can give me a straight explanation of this LOVE sign. I mean, just for curiosity's sake.
And by "someone," I don't necessarily mean the little buggers themselves.
When I was in law school, I shared an apartment with a friend who was studying linguistics. I can't tell you how many hours we spent discussing, and arguing about, whether certain sentences were ambiguous. I was basically his subject. He'd ask me questions about syntax and meaning, and when I'd respond, we'd often disagree. I once polled about 30 members of my law school class on one of the examples. (You can tell I must have been a really popular guy.)
I was driving back from New York today and noticed a sign in lights on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike near the southern end. The sign said: "CARS ONLY USE SHOULDER"
There are three possible meanings of this sign.
1. Only cars may use the shoulder.
2. Cars may use only the shoulder. (Cars, only use shoulder, not main roadway.)
3. Cars may only use the shoulder (not look at it or do anything else to it).
Sentence 3 seems pretty unlikely, and you'd have to interpret "cars" to include the drivers of the cars.
I'd say there's an ambiguity between Sentences 1 and 2, not that it was particularly relevant today, when traffic wasn't yet heavy. Sentence 1 makes more sense, but it's not obvious from the sign that this is what it means.
About a half mile later, near an exit, I saw a sign that said something like this: "Cars Only / Cars may use shoulder if traffic on ramp is heavy."
The moral of the story is: Don't use telegraph-style signs when dealing with lawyers who have friends who are linguists.
September 02, 2007
Twenty years ago this past Friday, Dave Bresnahan, a minor-league catcher, pulled off what's considered one of the top baseball pranks ever. He took a potato, sculpted it to look like a baseball, and deliberately threw it over the head of the third baseman in an effort to pick a runner off third. When the runner ran home, Bresnahan was waiting with the real ball. Everyone thought it was funny, but he was fined by the manager and released by the team, dropped like a (dare I say it?) hot potato.
The other day, he was back at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the event. An article describing this in more detail is here.
I once used this incident to illustrate the problem of statutory gaps, situations that seem to be not covered by the statute although similar situations are. I quoted Bresnahan, who said he'd checked the rule book first. It said that if a pitcher threw anything other than a baseball, it was a balk, but it said nothing about a catcher, and that's what he was.
If Dave Bresnahan happens to be checking his press in the next few days and discovers this, I hope he'll be amused.
Every Saturday, in the Washington Post, there's a feature I read, called "Free for All." I'd describe it as a place where people whose letters are too stupid even to get into the usual stupid letters section can have them published.
Nearly every single week, there's a letter from someone or other complaining about the Post -- a minor grammatical mistake, some outrage or other, or a perceived insult. I call these the librarians' complaints. The tone is typically indignant. (No offense intended to librarians with a sense of humor.)
This week, there was a different sort of letter that struck home with me, for reasons I'll explain shortly. The letter was this (bottom letter at the link):
Regarding the Aug. 23 front-page article "Elderly Staying Sexually Active":This letter made me smile, because the writer is not indignant; he merely wants to poke fun at the poor editing of the newspaper.
The article said that "the elderly would benefit from more frank and open discussions about sex with their doctors."
Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that sex with their doctors is what they need.
-- Mark W. Garrett
Maybe you've figured this out from reading Pillage Idiot over a period of time, but I have something of a compulsion -- to misinterpret, deliberately, what people say, in order to make it into a joke. To use an example from a recent post, I quoted this: "Ingrid Hoffmann, the latest arrival on the Food Network — her show 'Simply Delicioso' is shown on Saturday mornings — seems to be quickly staking her claim as the country's pre-eminent cleavage cook." And I wrote: "I'm struggling to avoid asking how you cook cleavage -- bake it, roast it, or simply warm it gently." Or, in real life, my daughter called from college and said, "I have a question for you about classes." Naturally, I responded, "I'm in favor of classes."
This, my friends, is called being an annoying person.
And I do it compulsively. Can you imagine having lunch with someone like me? I remember one lunch in particular at our friends' house at which I was doing this non-stop for about two hours. The hostess was very polite -- she even laughed at some of my quips -- but I almost felt the need to apologize afterwards. Except for the fact that she already knew what I'm like, and it didn't seem to faze her. (She must really like my wife.)
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article in the Weekly Standard about Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, which discusses the rocky relationship between Sanford and Hugh Leatherman, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. I came across this sentence:
Fowler says Leatherman "just can't abide the governor, and I think the governor feels the same way."Now, most people would know exactly what this sentence means. In fact, I myself know exactly what it means. But that's not the way my mind works.
If you're an annoying person like me, you look at that sentence and deliberately misinterpret it. If you can't see how, yet, that means you're not an annoying person.
Let me rewrite it first: A can't stand B, and B feels the same way.
Anyone reading that would know that would understand that it means "B feels the same way about A." But because the "about A" is only implicit, you can also interpret it as "A can't stand B, and B feels the same way about B." That is, the governor can't abide himself.
Getting back to Mr. Garrett's letter, I have to point out that he cheated. The Post article said that the elderly should be discussing sex with their doctors, and the correct misinterpretation would be that the article is saying the elderly should be discussing the details of the sex they're having with their doctors, not that they should be having sex with their doctors. And the correct objection for Mr. Garrett to make would be that if they're having sex with their doctors, they should keep it to themselves.
But don't listen to me. I'm just a very annoying person.