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October 31, 2007

Labash on Roger Stone

This article in the Weekly Standard by Matt Labash -- "Roger Stone, Political Animal" -- is as good as they get. It's worth some of your time.

Click here to read more . . .

October 30, 2007

The medical problems of evil

First, we hear that Karl Marx's skin condition may have "influenced" his writings. (via HotAir)

"In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem," said Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

"This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing."
Yeah, that's the ticket. Self-loathing and alienation caused by his medical problems. He didn't really believe any of that stuff about the owning the means of production and the exploitation of labor.

Next, we hear that Hitler had a major problem with flatulence. (via Fark)
It may sound like a Woody Allen scenario, but medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler’s curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonizing digestive attacks would occur after most meals: Albert Speer recalled that the Führer, ashen-faced, would leap up from the dinner table and disappear to his room.

This was an embarrassing problem for a ruthless leader of the Third Reich. With uncharacteristic concern for his fellow human beings, Hitler had first tried to cure himself when he was a rising politician in 1929 by poring over medical manuals, coming to the conclusion that a largely veg diet would calm his turbulent digestion as well as make his farts less offensive to the nose.
At least, the article doesn't claim Hitler devised the Endlösung as a result of that condition. And as much of a fan of flatulence humor as I am, I strongly object to anything like this that humanizes the man, even if it also makes him look silly. I'm not saying it's not true; about that, I'm not going to do any independent research. I'm just saying that spending time discussing his aroma instead of his evil is not, on balance, a good thing. (Having just done it myself.)

Click here to read more . . .

Flu season's coming

I loved this ad mocking S-CHIP's reliance on the cigarette tax. The male actor is pretty good in his role, too.

"Hey, thanks, guys! Flu season's coming."

Click here to read more . . .

October 29, 2007

How NOT to increase interest in classical music

I didn't see it on Saturday, when it appeared in the Times, but there were letters about it today. The "it" is an op-ed piece by Daniel Levitin, arguing that since music and dance typically go together, we should let people dance during classical music concerts.

That's more or less the argument. If you think it's more subtle than that, sue me.

I'm perfectly willing to alter the custom at classical music concerts of not applauding until the final movement. The argument for keeping it is that one movement often flows musically, if not absolutely immediately, into the next -- a flow that would be interrupted by applause. But how often do you hear the musicians themselves stop between movements to re-tune their instruments, fumble with pages, adjust their chairs, etc.? Applause seems perfectly appropriate -- and often well deserved -- at that point.

But Levitin's argument is silly. He's suggesting we encourage audible responses during the music. If you've ever listened to classical music at a concert hall or on a CD, you'll know what a huge range of dynamics a lot of classical music has. At one moment, you're struggling to hear a single bassoon. A few minutes later, the whole large orchestra is playing fortissimo. To allow listeners to experience this aspect of the music, there needs to be silence.

Go dance in your own room, bud.

Click here to read more . . .

Hiring by the numbers

There are very few things in the world that can make me defend the legal establishment, let alone large law firms, but I think I've found one.

According to Adam Liptak's column in the Times today, law students at Stanford have issued a grading system for firms based on what Prof. Michele Landis Dauber, who's the "adviser" for this project, delicately refers to as "diversity" -- or, in the cruder formulation of Mr. Liptak: "The students are handing out 'diversity report cards' to the big law firms, ranking them by how many female, minority and gay lawyers they have."

One firm, Herrick Feinstein, got an "F" and responded with its tail between its legs: "Herrick Feinstein said it reported that it had no openly gay lawyers 'because, at the time of the filing, we did not ask for that information.' There are, the firm said in a statement, openly gay lawyers working there, 'including one on the diversity committee.'"

Liptak quotes Vikram Amar for a sensible point:

Vikram Amar, a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, added that law firms might well be violating employment discrimination laws in the process of trying to improve their rankings.
In other words, a firm doesn't like the "C" it received, so the next year, it makes a woman partner at the expense of a better qualified man. Sex discrimination right there.

Now, to get back to my opening. It's really hard to feel sorry for any of these folks: the spoiled brats at Stanford, the large law firms, the lawyers who are (or are not) discriminated against in these firms. But this isn't what one student calls it: forcing firms "to respond to the market pressures that we’re creating." It's a form of extortion, forcing firms to engage in employment discrimination.

You'd think the students at Stanford would have a clue about that. But if the experienced lawyers at the firms don't seem to, why should the students?

Click here to read more . . .

October 28, 2007

Gov. O'Malley's budget math

(Click to enlarge.)

Click here to read more . . .

Mugged by monkeys

This week's burning question is answered at Slate: "What should you do if you're surrounded by angry macaques?" No George Allen jokes, please! Those monkeys killed an Indian government official the other day.

Slate's answer, in its short version, is: "It's like Mom said about muggers: Just give 'em what they want." In other words, "Act French." Surrender! Be a cheese-eating surrender monkey to a bunch of monkeys. Got it?

And speaking of eating cheese, eating cheese apparently leads to sleepwalking, sometimes in the nude in public places. (hat tip: Soccer Dad)

A surge in naked sleepwalking among guests has led one of Britain's largest budget hotel groups to re-train staff to handle late-night nudity.
According to the article, "Studies have found that sleepwalking can be brought on by stress, alcohol, eating cheese or consuming too much caffeine."

So the moral is: If you stay in a budget hotel in England, don't be surprised to see naked cheese-eating somnabulist monkeys wandering around late at night.

My advice would be that you might want to invest a few more dollars in a better hotel.

Click here to read more . . .

Obama becomes tough

Good news: Senator Obama has announced he's going to be tough.

Bad news: Obama Promises a Forceful Stand Against Clinton.

Worse news (July edition): "Asked if he would be willing to meet separately 'without precondition' during the first year of his administration with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, Obama said, 'I would.'"

Click here to read more . . .

October 25, 2007

Lay off the 'shrooms, dude!

I'm pretty sure I voted for Steve Forbes in the 1996 Republican primary. But the guy seems a bit odd these days.

Publisher Steve Forbes predicts that former vice president and recent Nobel laureate Al Gore will endorse New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's independent bid for president.

Bloomberg will return the favor by naming Gore his running mate, Forbes says.
(via HotAir, which quips in a headline, "Steve Forbes apparently suffering from some sort of head injury" * )

The whole idea is utterly ridiculous. You can't spell "real megalomaniac" without "Gore," and it's pretty obvious that the Goracle wouldn't accept the number 2 slot on a vanity ticket, the purpose of which wouldn't be to win but only to draw enough of a vote to alter the outcome of the two-party race. And how well could a ticket do with an egomaniac paired with a megalomaniac, anyway?

A few possible nicknames for such a ticket:
  • The Nanny and the Professor
  • No-Fat and Fat
  • The Inconvenient Twosome
  • Mike and the Mad Dog (with apologies to the radio team by that name)
I know Forbes has inherited wealth, but how could he have functioned financially with this kind of wild prognostication?

As for me, I'm left with the painful question: What the heck was I doing voting for Forbes in 1996? (Painful answer: Bob Dole.)


* It was a good day for quips at HotAir, which headlined this story "Coal miners encouraged to do more spelunking at home."

Click here to read more . . .

October 24, 2007

George and Laura send me a note

The Republican National Committee never lets up in its efforts to get me to cough up a couple of Benjamins for its forthcoming quixotic crusade to prevent a massacre in next year's elections.

Recently, I received this photo from the RNC. I can tell the President is an admirer of my work, but it's going to require a lot more than this to get me to contribute. Maybe a tour of the private torture rooms at the White House where Dick Cheney personally waterboards the Administration's domestic critics. That would be worth something. This, not so much. (Click to enlarge photo.)

Click here to read more . . .

Another Wednesday linkfest

Some days are good days for drive-by links. Some days are bad days. Today was a good day.

1. If you really want to become a millionaire, don't bother following these rules. You'll become a millionaire in about 40 years, which doesn't really count if you adjust for inflation. Better advice: To become a millionaire, start with $2 million.

2. Why Heidi Klum fell for Seal. (via HotAir, with lots of comments) Hmmm, I wear bike shorts when I ride, and this never happens to me. Back at my high-school reunion, some people were talking about padded bras -- you know, the usual topic of conversation at high-school reunions -- and the gay "partner" of a classmate of mine explained to me that gay men often pad the areas that others are interested in. Not that this explains the Heidi Klum situation.

3. The math of teenage sex: "If you do the math—worthy of an SAT prep course, with fractions and large numbers—you'll find that early sex plus the Pill equals sexually transmitted disease and maybe even pregnancy."

4. There's something peculiarly Japanese about this: "Cell phone message warns train gropers." Huh? Well, read this: "The application flashes increasingly threatening messages in bold print on the phone's screen to show to the offender: 'Excuse me, did you just grope me?' 'Groping is a crime,' and finally, 'Shall we head to the police?'" The only thing more Japanese would be robots.

5. Does this campaign photo of the month remind you of this one -- I mean, the evil grin? (via HotAir, where Allah says, "Mitt should fire his advance team")

6. With the World Series finally underway, we have this year's best baseball injuries from Ken Levine (via Ace). Line of the day: "Somehow in June Washington reliever, Jesus Colome suffered an 'abscess on his right buttock'. The team's General Manager, Jim Bowden is quoted in the Washington Post as saying, 'We pray for his buttocks and his family.'" There's no link to the Post, but I've verified the Bowden quotation here. My own personal favorite baseball injury story was related in Lindsey Nelson's book from the mid-60s called "Backstage at the Mets." Grover Powell, a young left-handed pitcher who'd made a great splash for the abysmal Mets, injured his pitching arm while combing his hair. Casey Stengel quipped: "Greasy kid stuff."

7. If you're a kid who lives in Boston, they want to teach you how to duck to protect yourself against gunfire. (via Fark)

8. You might not want to meet this Australian barmaid in a dark alley, although rumor has it that she's very entertaining in the bar. (via about a million sites)

9. Yiddish makes a comeback in Lithuania, as demonstrated by this syntax: "I feel a very rich person by knowing this language." (via Fark)

10. I just had my 100,000th visitor at Pillage Idiot this evening. Needless to say, it was someone who had been searching for images of the Thai transvestite pageant, which I wrote about two years ago. Somehow that seems appropriate.

Click here to read more . . .

October 23, 2007

Maryland Blogger Alliance FAQs

When I receive emails from people who would like to join the Maryland Blogger Alliance, I often hear the same questions.

So I decided to post some FAQs on a separate blog called (what else?) "Maryland Blogger Alliance."

If you click on the link, I think you'll get the answers to most of your questions. For any remaining questions, just email me.

Click here to read more . . .

October 22, 2007

This airport code sucks

There are many reasons I despise Dulles International Airport, from the repellent Saarinen architecture to the distant satellite parking to the remote terminals requiring a ride in the cattle-movers to the long delays one inevitably encounters there.

But I've always been fond of the airport code, IAD, because it seemed like a bungled acronym for a birth-control device.

I guess Dulles should count its blessings. The folks in Sioux City, Iowa, have been stuck with the airport code SUX. Which Dulles really does, which makes it not at all fair that Sioux City should have to be stuck with the code.

But Sioux City has given up and decided to be a good sport about it. The city's airport site ( even sells products like teeshirts that read "FLY SUX."

Apparently, one of the reasons Sioux City gave up was this:

Sioux City officials petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to change the code in 1988 and 2002. At one point, the FAA offered the city five alternatives — GWU, GYO, GYT, SGV and GAY — but airport trustees turned them down.

GAY? Some bureaucrat obviously had a sense of humor. But I suspect the real reason Sioux City didn't take the code GAY is that Minneapolis put in a claim for it first.

Besides, I don't think the shirts would have sold so well.

Click here to read more . . .

October 21, 2007

Carnival of Maryland -- 18th edition

The 18th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at Creating a Jubilee County.

The 19th edition, scheduled for Sunday, November 4, will be hosted at The Greenbelt.

Send your submissions in for Carnival 19 by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

October 19, 2007

Headline of the month

I swear I'm not making this headline up. Click the link.

"Flaming squirrel ignites car in Bayonne"

And any article that starts with this line is pretty good, too: "It's Rocky the Frying Squirrel!"

(via Fark)

Click here to read more . . .

October 18, 2007

Ron Paul chats with his cocker spaniel

"Doctor Paul": It really isn't very difficult to be President.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": All you have to do is read the Constitution.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": And Article II, which establishes the powers of the President, is very short.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Like only four short sections. There really isn't much to know.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Because the President has very few actual powers.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": I mean, look, he gets to "give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient" and to "receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers."

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": That's swell. But what really interests me about the position is to be able to "Commission all the Officers of the United States."

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": This President reads way too much into Article II. He thinks that when it says, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America," it gives him all sorts of warmaking powers.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": That's plain wrong. All you have to do is read the Constitution!

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": I'm not even sure this President really believes any of what he says, anyway.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": He's just been getting brainwashed by a bunch of Zionist neocon likudnik Straussians who are loyal to a certain foreign power that doesn't have our best interests at heart.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": I have never -- never -- taken one cent from the Israel Lobby, and I will never come under their influence when I'm President.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Well, maybe if I need a good doctor.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Because being an OB/GYN is fine. But it's hard to deliver your own babies.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Though it's been my experience that you should make sure to have a Christian doctor in the room at all times when you're being treated by a Zionist doctor.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Just in case, I mean.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": Because if he knows I won't give a dollar to Israel in foreign aid, you never know just where he might start cutting away.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": And I want to be in top health on January 20, 2009, when I take my oath of office.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul": So I can do the best possible job of commissioning the officers of the United States.

Cocker Spaniel:

"Doctor Paul":

Cocker Spaniel: That's all well and good, but would you mind getting me one of those rawhide bagels. Unless that's, like, a little too Zionist likudnik for you. Hmmmmm?


UPDATE (10/20): Check the comments. After I justify my post against criticism, a Ron Paul supporter comes by to prove my case. Which, I guess, is not surprising. For the latest: Video: Ron Paul supporters getting creepier by the minute (HotAir).

Oh, and I suppose for completeness I ought to link to my two previous Ron Paul posts:

Ron Paul goes to the post office

The reverse of love

UPDATE (10/23): Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but this is troubling: Ron Paul supporters advertising on Stormfront now? (HotAir) Yeah, I know. You can't blame him for his supporters, blah blah blah.

UPDATE (11/15): Cocker spaniel, part 2

Click here to read more . . .

October 17, 2007

Wednesday linkfest

1. They made the trains to Auschwitz run on time: A poll of Germans finds that 25% say that National Socialism had some good things about it. (via Hot Air)

2. "Yeah, that's the first thing I would notice to look at them." -- Baseball Crank, quipping about a Reuters article in which Lynne Cheney's disclosure that Big Dick and Barack "Messiah" Obama are eighth cousins is found puzzling: "The two men could hardly be more different. Cheney is an advocate for pursuing the war in Iraq to try to stabilize the country, while Obama wants to get U.S. troops out of Iraq."

3. The Washington Post is amazed -- amazed! -- that when Republican candidates speak to a Jewish group, they're aware that they're speaking to Jews.

4. "'A police officer who did not tell me he was a police officer just yelled, "shut the f up." I yelled back, "mind your f'in business." That's as far as it went,' Herb recounted." This has got to be the best line in a news story for at least this week, maybe longer. Dawn Herb, a West Scranton (PA) woman frustrated with an overflowing toilet, let loose with some bad language -- and was given a disorderly-conduct citation for her troubles. The Volokh Conspiracy weighs in with some analysis of the Pennsylvania statute under which she was charged. Picture here.

Click here to read more . . .

October 16, 2007

Grand larceny or petty theft?

In the latest survey conducted by the UN Commission on Fraudulent Schemes, a matter about which the UN is well versed, 87.9% of the GDP of Nigeria is attributable to fraudulent emails sent to the U.S. about a mysterious rich Uncle Mopo who died, leaving more than $25 million in a secret account.

This is why I found it quite surprising that there was any free time for a woman in Nigeria to steal her boyfriend's member. (via Fark)

That's his story, anyway. I suspect he simply misplaced it. I'd look in the change drawer, myself.

I have to tell you that I feel a little uncomfortable discussing this story at all, but I'm linking here it in order to respond to readers who have been hounding me with identical form emails written by the Democratic National Committee that read, "How come you've never written about stolen male organs? Do you 'HATE THE CHILDRENTM'?"

No, I don't hate the children. I just think that we have to address the problem of stolen members, preferably with a hugely expensive government program, or else we're not going to have any children in the future, and if we let that happen, we'd only be proving Mark Steyn right, which I know you don't want to do.

Anyway, back to the story. I've heard tales of Africans who suffered shrunken members after shaking hands with some mysterious person -- this article describes the situation well -- but it rarely is the victim's girlfriend.

An Abuja-based beer palour owner called Grace Igbian has been accused by her lover Kingsley Ulame of 'stealing' his sexual organ. They had been dating for an exteded period of time and they last stayed and slept together for 29 days before he travelled home to see his family in Benin, Edo State. But instead of enjoying his stay with his family, Ulame said he started having problems with his organ. He noticed that he could not have an erection. According to him, his organ stopped functioning and he was frightened that it may result to impotence.
You know what they say about the first time you can't do it twice and the second time you can't do it once. More seriously, this story raises a troubling question: Why did he need an erection when his was visiting his family? I'm frankly afraid to ask.

But this story gets grizzly pretty fast.

Ulame insisted that Igbian had at a point threatened him that he will never regain use of his organ unless he has intercourse with her again. * * * Ulame loudly accused her of stealing his manhood and started demanding for it and called his friends and brothers who pleaded with her to return. He resorted to beating her, eventually wounding her.
When Igbian reported this to the police, her situation got even worse.
According to her, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Airport Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Peter Thazilza invited a herbalist called Haifa, a Fulani woman who thereafter claimed that Igbian had indeed stolen Ulame's organ. Subsequently, Igbian said she was forced to have sex with Ulame by the DPO in his office, because they wanted the man to 'regain his manhood'.
That's really, truly sick if you ask me.

I'm sorry to end here on a downer, but I suppose in some way that's appropriate.

(Previous: here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Click here to read more . . .

October 15, 2007

Was the rebbe a Packers fan?

One of the most popular forms of entertainment during chol ha-moed pesach (intermediate days of Passover) in New York is going to Shea Stadium, or Yankee Stadium, depending on which team is at home. Last year, when I was saying kaddish for my father, I went to a Sunday afternoon game at Shea, and believe me, if I'd needed a mincha minyan, I'd have had no trouble finding one.

So it comes as only a little bit of a surprise that people are making such a big deal of this: "Have prayers and Packers, too / Orthodox Jews worship at Lambeau tailgate." (via Fark) I guess there aren't as many Jews in Green Bay as in New York, right?

The article notes that a Chabad rabbi organized a (kosher) tailgate party outside Lambeau Field, which wouldn't be too odd, and also that they also davened shacharit, which the other revelers found a little strange.

Nearby, a few fans wore blank expressions on their faces, unsure of what was going on. A couple of people snapped photos. And nobody noticed that among the group was former Packers offensive lineman Alan Veingrad, who is now known as Shlomo Veingrad.
There are photos at the link.

Click here to read more . . .

October 14, 2007

Photo caption

"Don't lie to me, again! I saw Spiderman's car in the parking lot."

Thanks, Kevin.

Click here to read more . . .

October 11, 2007

Great moments in the courtroom

Everyone once in a while, you read a story that pulls the mask off -- well, a better image would be "pulls the robe off" -- a judge. And no, I'm not thinking of that story, either.

Judges serve an important function in society. They adjudicate disputes; they stand between the citizen and the state; they wear black robes. So we tend to think of judges as serious and dignified human beings, even though we all know what Ruth Bader Ginsburg does in her spare time. (She talks about the tax code with her husband.)

Then, what do we make of this story? A judge in LaGrange, New York, a town located around 80 miles north of New York City, violated the first canon of judicial ethics: "A judge may not, even jokingly, remark that a female public defender has a 'nice butt.'" (via Fark)

I mean, you really can understand this judge's behavior, can't you? A guy sitting under a black robe all day sees numerous lawyers who have fat butts, and he can't resist mentioning a nice one. Right?

Wrong. It didn't happen that way at all. According to the AP version:

After the defendant told [Justice] Caplicki that he thought his attorney was "cute and had a nice butt" -- the judge noted the comments on the arraignment sheet and repeated them to the attorney 10 days later in a sidebar conference in the courtroom.

The judge later repeated them in open court, asking the defendant and three other male defendants if they agreed with them. He repeated them again when the attorney appeared before him the next day.
I mean, once is a compliment. Twice is creepy. Three times is stalking. And four times is a "misguided attempt at humor."

Actually, Pillage Idiot is a misguided attempt at humor. Asking the defendant and three other male defendants if they agreed the lawyer had a nice butt is nothing short of repulsive.

Justice Capicki "agreed that he should be censured," and the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct "decided Caplicki's behavior amounted to 'an aberration' and limited his punishment to a public censure."

Although the Commission has the power to defrock -- er, disrobe -- er, "strip judges of their robes," it apparently was concerned that the butt that the judge would then expose was not "nice."

Click here to read more . . .

October 10, 2007

That elephant

A few days ago, Bruce Godfrey of Crablaw emailed me with the new Republican National Convention logo asking rhetorically to itemize the reasons it was a crappy logo: "The most G-rated one is that the elephant should be red, not blue. PG-13 ones would include the elephant's 'wide stance' and the angle of the poor beast's rear end." (According to a correspondent to Best of the Web Today: "In heraldry the position of the elephant in the logo is called 'rampant.' It is one of a number of standard poses, and the most active one.")

For the record, here is the logo:

Well, Bruce, I want you to know that the current state of the Republican Party just isn't funny!

I thought of doing a photoshop, really I did, but when something isn't funny, it isn't funny. Here's the only thing that seemed appropriate to me, but it's way too close to the truth.

The only thing that would have been more accurate is a laughing Hillary sitting atop the deceased elephant's belly.

You won't be surprised to learn that other bloggers -- mostly self-styled "progressives," which is a term that means they've "progressed" from anger to pure hatred -- have taken up the photoshop cudgel. Here's one such site. Here's another that, sans photoshop, does itemize the reasons the logo is awful. (Bad language warning.)

Oh, well, if I can laugh at Bill and Hillary, I guess it's only fair for them to laugh at the Republican morons who came up with this thing.

UPDATE (10/11): The people at Fark do the photoshop much better. One even stole my idea. (Well, technically, he didn't steal it because he put it up a few days before, but at least great minds think alike.)

Click here to read more . . .

Quotation of the day

Well, it's not even 9 a.m. yet and we already have a quotation of the day.

In an article in the Post about George Washington University's decision to fine students $200 to $300 to clean up the shuttle bus if they're drunk and ralph in it, Supriya Shah, a freshman, is quoted thus: "To just target the Vern [shuttle bus] seems random. People throw up all the time in the dorms, they throw up in the elevator, they throw up everywhere."

Your $50,000 a year at work.

Click here to read more . . .

October 08, 2007

Think, what have you done?

Chinese fortune cookies so often contain fortunes that are insipid or totally inscrutable. That's one of the risks of eating at a Chinese restaurant. (Another being the risk of unintentionally ingesting parts of that cat you saw climbing out of the dumpster on your way into the restaurant.)

I realize that writing fortunes in fortune cookies is a hard life. So it's completely understandable that if you write fortunes for a living, you're an irascible individual with a grudge against humanity. And that you derive great pleasure from making people uncomfortable.

Even so, I don't recommend that you be too edgy. I mean, writing a fortune that says "While you're reading this, your wife's in bed with your best friend" is in extremely poor taste.

I'm not saying anyone ever wrote such a fortune, although last year's experience in Brooklyn makes me wonder.

What I'm saying is that if you think it's amusing to write "Your problem just got bigger. Think, what have you done?" or "Your luck is just not there. Attend to practical matters today," or, even better, to write "Today is a disastrous day. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," you at least have an obligation to put your name and phone number on the back of the fortune so we can show you just how disastrous your day is going to be.

Now, I know the writers aren't really responsible for the marketing plan here. Blame the boss:

Bernard Chow, marketing coordinator at Wonton Food, says he had not set out to insult anybody when he asked his team of freelance writers to come up with some new messages.

“We wanted our fortune cookies to be a little bit more value-added,” Mr. Chow said. “We wanted to get some different perspective, to write something that is more contemporary.”
Value-added, eh? Gotta love that.

I've got two value-added fortunes for Mr. Chow's staff: "While you wait for your $150 check to arrive, thousands burn you in effigy." My other one isn't printable.

Click here to read more . . .

October 07, 2007

Sunday linkfest

Man, I've got a whole bunch of links burning a hole in my pocket, and I just don't feel like writing an entire post about any of 'em. So here's my linkfest. Hope you enjoy these.

1. A "Mom Job"? Oy. You'll be pleased to know that even mothers of college-aged children are having this plastic surgery. "'I had been thin all my life until I had my son and then I got this pooch of overhanging fat on my abdomen that you can’t get rid of,' Ms. Birkland, 39, said. 'And your breasts become deflated sacks.'" Mind you, this is a woman with a 20-year-old son. She was about 19 when he was born, and now she's concerned with her looks -- and blaming him? I shouldn't be surprised about her. Get this line: "There is more pressure on mothers today to look young and sexy than on previous generations, she added. 'I don’t think it was an issue for my mother; your husband loved you no matter what,' said Ms. Birkland, who recently remarried." Personal to Ms. Birkland's new husband: If that's what she thinks, ditch her now; she'll only get "worse" looking.

2. An observatory on the roof of your house? Cool. "'The reason why people don’t use their telescopes is they are such a pain to haul out and set up,' said John Spack, 50, a certified public accountant who had a domed observatory built on top of an addition to his house in Chicago last year. 'Now, if I want to get up at 3 a.m. and look at something, I just open the shutter.'"

3. "Pro-semites" on JDate? When, some years ago, Irving Kristol said, "the danger facing American Jews today is not that Christians want to persecute them but that Christians want to marry them," he was right on the money. It turns out that something like 11% of members of JDate aren't Jewish but are interested in meeting Jews. Pollster Mark Penn writes in a new book "that 'the number one reason they [people he calls "pro-Semites"] gave for desiring a Jewish spouse was a sense of strong values, with nearly a third also admitting they were drawn to money, looks or a sense that Jews "treat their spouses better."'"

4. Vegans dating regular vegetarians. As a former "vegetarian" who actually ate dairy, eggs, and even fish, and the father of a former vegan who was actually serious about it until he had a revelation (that vegans are morons, or something like that) and is now a proud carnivore, I have to admit this line tickled me: "'I'm in a relationship with a murderer,' bemoans Carl, one of many vegans who wrote in to the 'Vegan Freak' podcast for romantic advice." My son was never like that when he was a vegan.

5. Speaking of vegetarians, if you work for Countrywide and you didn't get the memo, W.C. Varones got it for you. Heh!

6. Stupid pickup lines. I did like the final one, which is charmingly cheesy: "Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?"

7. "There are signs that the global Islamic jihad movement is splitting apart." Discuss. (via protein wisdom)

8. WTF? I saw this bumper sticker on a car on the highway in Maryland: "God Bless The Whole World / No Exceptions." Yeah, I understand it now: God bless Johnny, and God bless Billy, and God bless Osama. Because, heck, we're no better than any of those guys who are trying to murder us.

9. Here's a concert I'm glad I missed: Beethoven's 9th, redone according to the "aural graffiti" that Gustav Mahler wrote on the score. Tim Page lays the smackdown on Leonard Slatkin: "Somebody should sit Leonard Slatkin down and explain to him, firmly but not without compassion, that Ludwig van Beethoven actually knew what he was doing when he composed his Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, and that the work he created needs no enhancement from Gustav Mahler or any of the other musicians who followed in his shadow."

10. Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard has an amusing review of Alan Greenspan's new book: "Alan Shrugged." ("Ayn," Alan would say, overcome by some Randian insight, "upon reading this, one tends to feel exhilarated!")

11. Columbia's newest friend, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has another insight: Move the damn Jews to Alaska. Seriously. (Via HotAir) He must have been reading the latest dreck from a Jewish writer suffering from Weltschmerz. Can you imagine the Jews in Alaska? All the Jewish geezers would sit around all afternoon saying things like this: "Oy, it's so cold here." "Moses got the desert, but we're stuck in this icebox."

12. And you just can't miss this last one, but don't listen to it at work, unless you can close a door behind you: Don't try that satire s--- in f---in' New Yawk. (Bad language alert.)

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Carnival of Maryland -- 17th edition

The 17th edition of the Carnival of Maryland -- which we'll call the "Rush Limbaugh edition" -- is up at monoblogue, the Eastern Shore outpost of the Maryland Blogger Alliance.

The 18th edition, scheduled for Sunday, October 21, will be hosted at Creating a Jubilee County.

Send your submissions in for Carnival 18 by using the Blog Carnival form.

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October 06, 2007

The Clintons send their wishes

Previous: Two years, one year, no years.

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October 02, 2007


I took my car in for an oil change at a service station, and I had to pay for it and pick up the keys at the convenience store next to the service station.

The man working at the convenience store, to judge by his thick accent, was African-born. I'd guess he was Nigerian, but that's a wild guess. Anyway, when I told him I was picking up my car, he asked for my name, which I gave him, and I added that the car was a Subaru Forester.

The man then disputed my pronunciation of Subaru. He took out a pad and wrote "SU" on it. "How do you pronounce that?" he asked me. I told him. He wrote "BA" on the pad and again asked how I pronounced it. I told him. Finally, yes, he wrote "RU" and asked how I pronounced it. I told him.

He looked up at me and said, "See? It's Su-BAH-ru. Americans say SU-b'ru."

I fought the temptation to say, "Yes, thank you for that explanation. Just give me my damn car back." Instead, I puzzled over the bizarre image of an African, speaking English with a thick accent, instructing me how to pronounce Japanese. I pointed out to him that the Japanese tend to accent words on the second syllable, as in Mit-SU-bishi, which we always pronounce Mitsu-BISH-i. And I told him that once we had paid for the cars, the Japanese probably didn't care how we pronounced the name.

So the car is a SU-baru or a SU-b'ru. As Reagan might have said, "I paid for that SUV."

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