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February 29, 2008

Repost/reminder: Pillagemail

For those of you who want to keep us with the latest writing of an immature nature at Pillage Idiot, this is a reminder: You can sign up for Pillagemail on the sidebar.

Here is a repost of the announcement of Pillagemail from last year to explain in more detail:

Some of you may have been alert enough to have noticed a new feature on the sidebar. You can now subscribe to Pillage Idiot by email -- what I call Pillagemail, a once-daily email, currently set to go out shortly after midnight, containing any posts from the immediately preceding day. No posts, no email.

I'm not totally sure why I'm doing this, because if I send you Pillagemail, you won't come and look at Pillage Idiot, and then you won't count on my site statistics. That will leave me exclusively with people searching for nude photos of people you don't want to imagine in that state of undress.

But I'm a guy, and this is technology, so I'm in. Today, Pillage Idiot by email. Tomorrow, I'll beam it directly to that filling in your tooth.

Now, before I leave this subject, let me show you a sample. I subscribed to Pillagemail, just to test this out, and here's the result (click to enlarge):

As you'll notice, you can unsubscribe, too. Check out the privacy policy at FeedBurner, if you're concerned. You should know that FeedBurner gives me a listing of email addresses of subscribers when I log in and navigate to the page where I can set options. If that gives you heartburn, don't subscribe. Be aware, though, that I absolutely couldn't care less about having your email address. Don't want it, won't use it, won't sell it, won't disclose it even if I'm being waterboarded. Well, maybe if I'm being waterboarded. Anyway, you get the idea.

Click here to read more . . .

February 28, 2008

A photographic pillow

Hillary may be a complainer, but the press really does keep offering Obama a pillow. Latest example: Photos of the two, highlighted by Ace, who captions them "St. Obama, wreathed by opalescent Godlight" and "Hillary Clinton, as the walls sweat blood which forms a portrait of Satan/Karl Rove." You have to click on the link and see for yourself.

But I've come across another photo (this time of a former candidate) that really amused me, which I found in a publication of Obama's law school alma mater.

Former butler for Addams Family speaks at Harvard Law

I particularly loved the quotation on the photo: "'We only have about a ten-year window left to try to get this right,' he told students." Good old Lurch. Moving faster in the wrong direction, as always.

Click here to read more . . .

February 27, 2008

Wednesday linkfest

I've been pretty busy, so the best I can do for you is another linkfest. I would apologize, but that would presume there's anyone actually reading this to whom I can express my regrets.

That said now, let me catch you up on some interesting articles. There are a bunch of unrelated topics here, so stay with me until the end.

1. The science is settled, but the facts are apparently unaware what the science is. "All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously." Supposedly, the one-year temperature drop has nearly wiped out the past century of temperature increase. Look, I'm not a scientist; I don't even play one on TV. And maybe this is a temporary drop in a long-term rise. At the very least, though, it tells us we shouldn't be as certain as we seem to be.

2. If the fourteen Starbuckses on your block were all closed at the same time last night, that was deliberate. Memo to Starbucks: The word "re-education" has some horrible connotations. And it wasn't a coincidence that a billion newspapers used the term; check this from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. In case you missed the three-hour closing yesterday, I hope these two old posts will make up for it: Mr. Smith goes to Starbucks (photo comic); O.J. Simpson goes to Starbucks.

3. An article (via MetsBlog) discusses great brawls in Mets history, including my all-time favorite, a duel between Ray Knight of the Mets and Eric Davis of Cincinnati in 1986. There were so many ejections that when the game went deep into extra innings, the Mets had to use one of their relief pitchers in the outfield -- well, actually, two of them. Relievers Jesse Orosco (a lefty) and Roger McDowell (a righty) alternated on the mound, depending on whether the batter was righty or lefty. The pitcher who wasn't on the mound would then take his position in the outfield, in the position opposite from the batter's side, to reduce the chances he'd somehow have to field a ball that was hit out there. So Orosco and McDowell kept trotting back and forth from the mound to the outfield. It doesn't get any better than that. (Note: The article says that Cinci manager Pete Rose "furiously tried to find a rule that prevented the Mets from rotating pitchers, to no avail. The Mets won the five-hour, 14-inning marathon on a three-run Howard Johnson bomb.")

4. Scary toilet alert: "Don't Sit on That Toilet!" (via BOTWT) "An employee of an Auburn nursing home called firefighters for help on Tuesday because the toilets were exploding with steam." A boiler explosion set off a sprinkler system, which led to flooding of the nursing home.

5. Always looking for ways to support this country, Hollywood has developed (with the able help of the ACLU) the orange ribbon and wristband, to protest our treatment of Al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo. See this, too. (both via HotAir) And if that were not enough, we get the "Torture Playlist" of music allegedly used by the military "to induce sleep deprivation, 'prolong capture shock,' disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams." (via BOTWT) I'm sure I'd confess to anything if I had to listen to that dreck.

6. While Hollywood is blaming us for detaining Al Qaeda members and fellow travelers, the British are showing us what happens when you follow Hollywood's advice: "Terror trial exposes network of terror camps in picturesque rural England." (via LGF) The trial described in this article "exposed a network of alleged British terrorism training camps with a serious intent to prepare recruits for mass murder."

Click here to read more . . .

February 26, 2008

D.C. commemorative quarter update

For reasons that elude me, the U.S. Mint will issue a commemorative quarter for D.C. and the U.S. territories to go along with the quarters that have been issued for each of the 50 states.

Mayor Fenty asked residents to propose designs. And now, says the Post, here are the finalists:

Yesterday, the District submitted three ideas for its quarter, part of a popular program that has produced coins representing each of the 50 states. One would feature the three stars and two bars of the D.C. flag; another would portray Benjamin Banneker, the 18th-century abolitionist who helped survey the city; and another would depict jazz great Duke Ellington, a D.C. native.

Each design would include the inscription "Taxation Without Representation" or "No Taxation Without Representation."
As the Post article notes, it's far from clear that the Mint will allow the slogan, because it doesn't allow "controversial subjects" on coins.

So which designs were the also-rans?
In addition to monuments, birds and flowers, there were calls for exploding manhole covers and red-light cameras. One person suggested a picture of Alexander "Boss" Shepherd, the 19th-century public works czar, eating a hot dog from Ben's Chili Bowl, a well-known restaurant. Another sent a drawing of a subway escalator, apparently aimed at educating clueless tourists. "Step to the Right on Metro Escalators," the motto read.

Scott and her team did not limit themselves to the e-mails, calls and letters from residents. They checked out local blogs that solicited ideas, which ran from the serious to the sarcastic.

The suggestions included making use of such potential D.C. symbols as a rat and a crack pipe. One blogger called for commemorating a takeout joint called Fish N Stuff.

"People were definitely into this," Scott said.
I offered my own design over a year ago, and since it beats the crap out of all these other things, I'm going to show it to you here again.

Click here to read more . . .

The manly scent

This fake ad for a product called Mandles is a hoot. Mandles, referring to candles for manly men.

Back when I was in high school, we saw a hilarious anti-smoking movie called "Too Tough To Care," about an ad agency's efforts to counteract the increasing evidence that smoking is harmful. After several failed campaigns, the advertisers decided to run commercials showing manly men who were "too tough to care." The construction worker who lights up . . . and falls off the girder. You get the picture. The final scene shows the advertisers congratulating themselves as they drive down Lombard Street in San Francisco. The camera focuses on a building near the bottom of the street, and the car carrying them comes through the screen and out again. After which you hear the inevitable sounds of a crash.

Click here to read more . . .

Flushathon update

I complained the other day about missing out on the flushathon at the new Nationals Stadium, where they tested the plumbing by repeatedly flushing the toilets at the same time.

But a guy who was there wrote about it, and if you read his report, you'll know why he was there and I wasn't. Not a single stupid joke about synchronized periods. (via Baseball Crank)

And by the way, one of his commenters suggests selling the naming rights to Hebrew National, which would be pretty cool, given the name of the team and the fact that Ted Lerner is a big supporter of Jewish institutions.

Click here to read more . . .

February 25, 2008

Monday evening linkfest

I've been collecting items that don't necessarily warrant their own post, and I'm going to dump them all here. Don't thank me. It's for your own good.

1. Have you ever thought to yourself, "Sure, Barack Obama is a well groomed and articulate young Negro, but what has the gentleman done for me?" Think no longer. Barack Obama is your new bicycle. Don't forget to keep clicking once you get there. (via Ace)

2. I'll tell you, though, what Barack Obama's done for a little townhouse in Greenwich Village that disappeared one day in 1970. Undoubtedly out of compassion for their loss, Obama has befriended some of the folks in the Weathermen unit with the guys who blew it up.

3. Speaking of Obama, an Obama supporter was choking his Hillary-supporting brother-in-law, who responded by stabbing the Obama supporter. Did you understand that? No? Well, read this, then. (via JammieWearingFool, via HotAir) And here's the punch line from the article: "On a side note: Voter registration records reveal that Ortiz, who supports Clinton, is registered Republican." Although that doesn't mean a heck of a lot these days.

4. Nobody but nobody gives Governor O'Malley credit for dealing with the crime problem other than the superannuated WaPo columnist David Broder. Maryland Conservatarian has got the goods.

5. Martin Kramer has great news for you if you enjoy being majorly depressed about the state of academics at certain Ivy League universities located in Morningside Heights. Amnon Rubinstein, a visiting Israeli professor has written a column about his time at Columbia. In Kramer's words: "Rubinstein discovered that the only truly active friends of Israel on campus were orthodox Jewish students. For him, a self-avowed secular humanist, it came as crushing disappointment that like-minded Israelis weren't standing up." Disappointment, yes; surprise, no. As Kramer points out, a professorship of Israel studies was set up in 2005, but the search committee included two notoriously anti-Israel professors. The result is that an Israeli was hired who "isn't a hard-left post-Zionist, but [is] far enough left to have signed a May 2002 open letter by some Israeli faculty" supporting Israelis who refused to serve as soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza.

6. On the lighter side, if The Graduate were being produced today by the U.N., it would not be "plastic" but rather "bugs." The headline says it all: "U.N. Conference Promotes Insect-Eating for Everyone From Famine Victims to Astronauts." (via Fark)

7. For those of you who are afraid to undergo a colonoscopy, please read this important public service announcement. From Dave Barry. (also via Fark) This will ease the fear, or at least keep you laughing about it. Regarding the "prep" -- that stuff you're supposed to drink to clean out your colon -- Barry writes: "The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground."

8. How do you know if your newspaper is on life support? One answer is: The entire 8-page sports section has two quarter-page ads, and they're both for non-medical remedies for erectile dysfunction. And I use the word "remedies" loosely. (via Ace)

9. Related: How do you know if your country is on life support? Answer: Your hospitals buy unisex underwear for the patients: "Male and female patients admitted to Swedish hospitals will soon be required to wear the same underwear." But there's a silver lining to these underwear. Now, some moron on MTV can ask Hillary this question: "Boxers or briefs?"

Click here to read more . . .

February 24, 2008

Taking the Green Line, not the 7 Train, to Flushing

When I was in college, you probably will not be surprised to learn, some of my friends were pretty immature. One of them used to make cracks about synchronization among the female students. At "that time of the month," he'd say, there'd be a mass simultaneous flushing of toilets, putting the entire plumbing system of the college at risk.

This was actually one of the less immature versions of the stories I heard. Supposedly, it's a common college prank to have the guys engage in coordinated flushing of the toilets, with the goal of actually breaking the system. My buddy's joke was a lot less destructive, I'd say.

But all of this was brought back to me by an article in the Washington Post today. I am very unhappy that I was not asked to participate in this project, which would have been a blast. And you couldn't even call it immature, because it was part of a planned testing program to ensure the plumbing in the new Nationals Stadium can handle 30,000 or so beer-sodden fans (assuming they ever get that many).

The project I'm referring to is this: "A Test of 7th-Inning Stretch Proportions, Flush by Flush."

It was an important, if not highly skilled, job required of 175 volunteers yesterday at Nationals Park. They were present for a synchronized swooshing, a choreography of commodes to test whether the new stadium's plumbing could handle the nearly steady flushing of more than 500 toilets and urinals.
Synchronized, eh? Did they invite the women from the college dorm?

Just as with the immature pranks I described above, you have to test the system to the max. How often would each urinal be used during a game? Every 30 to 45 seconds, perhaps? Well, you have to test it with a shorter interval.
"Please instruct your people: every toilet every 10 seconds, every urinal every 15 seconds," Howard reminded over the radio. "No more, no less."
The trouble is that when you let the women get involved in a project like this, which is really saturated in male immaturity, they don't quite get it right.
And the volunteers took their jobs to heart. Inside a ladies' room on the 300 level, Emily Harris, 24, kept a steady eye on her watch. "Five, four, three, two, one," she counted off as she and her mother, Kit Harris, 54, and another volunteer, Morgan Dodd, 56, alternated their way down the row of stalls, flushing one toilet every 10 seconds.
Ladies, it's not one toilet every 10 seconds; it's every toilet every 10 seconds. If they had invited me to participate, you can be sure I wouldn't have screwed that up. And I would have earned my commemorative tee-shirt.
"We were nowhere near straining the system," Kirlin project engineer Tony Giampapa said happily as he handed out commemorative T-shirts after the test.
I'll bet I know what the tee-shirts said. "My brother flushed more than 500 toilets and urinals, and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt."

I hope the Nationals realize it'll be a long time before I get over my bitterness about having been excluded from this.

Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 27th edition

The 27th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at monoblogue. Click on the link to check out some of what's been happening in Maryland over the past weeks.

The 28th edition is scheduled for Sunday, March 6, to be hosted at Crablaw's Maryland Weekly.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

Click here to read more . . .

The dis-unitary Executive

When people ask me what it's like to work for the federal government, I usually try to disabuse them of some basic stereotypes. Like, for instance, that everyone is incompetent, lazy, and (if you're lucky) corrupt. It's just not true.

I tell them that the lawyers I work with are first class, many of them coming from top law schools, clerkships with well known judges, large law firms, etc. They've chosen to work in government for a variety of reasons, and they're giving up a chance to earn quite a lot more money. (The pay is actually pretty good, especially if you understand you're not working for a profit-making entity, but I realize that a lot of federal lawyers think the pay should be comparable to what the firms are paying. I certainly don't.) Overall, the quality of lawyers I've dealt with is high, and the taxpayers are getting their money's worth.

The support staff, I'll admit, is a mixed bag. We have a lot of capable secretaries, paralegals, and so on, but you'd have to concede there are some who just wouldn't make it in the private sector.

I think I had a conversation with one of those the other day.

I was calling someone at another federal agency that will remain anonymous, and I had the following conversation with the woman who answered the phone:

Woman: Office of the General Counsel. May I help you?

Me: May I speak to [name of person I'm calling], please?

Woman: Who's calling?

Me: [My real name] from the [agency I work for].

Woman: What's your name?

Me (slowly and distinctly): [My real name.] I'm at the [agency I work for].

Woman: Does he know what this is in reference to?

Me: I'm calling him about a Supreme Court case.

Woman: What's the name of the case?

Me: [Name of case.] We haven't spoken about this yet. In fact, I haven't spoken to him in about four years.

Woman: About four years?

Me: Do we have a bad connection? I could call back.

Woman: No, it's just that you were mumbling, or that's what it sounded like. If he's not there, do you want his voice mail?

Me: Yes! [I kept myself from adding the insult I was thinking of.]

This incident really made me wonder. Is there a training program somewhere that teaches people whose jobs involve answering the phone exactly how to fend off calls from callers who are obviously calling about business matters? I mean, it's not as if I were trying to sell someone a life-insurance policy or a magazine subscription.

By the end of the day, the lawyer I left a message for hadn't called me back yet, but I wonder whether he's going to call back and say, "Did you leave a message for me? It was hard to tell because the guy was mumbling."

Click here to read more . . .

February 21, 2008

Is that a paintbrush in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

The jokes write themselves.

That is, if you happen to be a guy whose shtick is painting with your male member.

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A cheeky artist who uses his penis as a brush has entered a racy self-portrait for Australia's top art prize.

Australian Tim Patch, who calls himself Pricasso, usually exposes his talents at sex product fairs around the world, but has decided to go upmarket by entering a painting for Australia's Archibald Prize -- the nation's top award for portraiture.

In a unique painting style, Patch does not use paint brushes, but his penis to apply paint to the canvas.
I thought I'd heard it all when I learned about a guy who painted with his butt. But that's old hat; as Mr. Patch explains, "'I had to use my bum to paint in the background, because you have to have the occasional break,' Patch told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Wednesday."

Because, in answer to the question you've got all bottled up inside, it's not the most pleasant sensation in the world:

"Painting on canvas for hours on end is not very kind to your skin. It's pretty tiring and it gets really sore."
So, what does his oeuvre look like? Well, you may recognize this guy:

Exit question: What does this artiste think of the new enhanced-privacy urinals? (via Toner Mishap)

Personally, I find it a little creepy, sort of on the level of a photo of the President painted with some dude's hingie-dingie.

Click here to read more . . .

February 20, 2008

Sin and the city

Perhaps they ought to add stupidity to the list of deadly sins, because this is a truly stupid article.

Forbes looks at proxies to determine the top ten cities suffering from each of the vices. Avarice? Check the cities with the most individual fortunes per capita. Lust? Try condom and contraceptive purchases at grocery and drug stores.

You get the idea.

Even one that makes sense -- wrath, based on the cities' murder rates -- is trivial. Why not just say we're running an article about the cities with high murder rates?

Click here to read more . . .

Barack Obama shows he's human

[Welcome, Lizardoid Minions. Feel free to check out the Pillage Idiot Cheat Sheet for other insanely infantile stuff.]

Scene at a recent speech by Barack Obama.....

Obama: "Gotta blow my nose here for a second." *


Obama: There! OK, now, as I was saying, uh, hold on . . . BWARRRRRRPPPP!!


Obama: Hmm, not bad. I can do "Dwight David Eisenhower the Third" in one belch, too. DWIGHTDAVIDEISENHOWERTHETHIRD.


Obama: Yeah, babeeee!! Now, let me move the mic a little lower . . . there! Pfffffftttt!!


Obama: That was the dog. At least, that's what I tell Michelle, because you know what kind of temper she has. Say, wanna hear me make armpit noises? BWAP, BWAP, BWAP!!


Obama: I can do both pits at one time, too. Under my knees, my chin . . . bwip, bwip, bwip!


Obama: Hey, wanna see me take a leak?

[Audience mutters loudly. Boos are heard.]

Obama: Hmmmmm, tough audience.

( * via HotAir)

Click here to read more . . .

February 19, 2008

The expert

Suppose someone googled you and the only thing of any consequence that came up under your name was a "science" question you'd posed -- about flatulence. Would you change your name?

Not if it was "Nayna Kumari," I wouldn't. Because that's a pretty cool name, and besides, I'd like to be considered something of an expert on flatulence.

The reason I ask is related to this: "How and why does the human body produce wind? What causes the odor of gas? asks Nayna Kumari, via e-mail." That's the opening of an article that goes on to analyze the flatulence situation, in a largely serious vein, except, perhaps, for its comment that people tend to blame the dog. However accurate that may be.

Earnestly, the article quotes a gastroenterologist, whom it identifies as an expert: "Dr. Michael Levitt, a gastroenterologist and flatulence expert in Minneapolis." Dr. Levitt is the kind of guy, after all, who's widely recognized as a flatulence expert, as in the following randomly selected article, which, by the way, I commend to your attention: "Flatulence expert defines 'normal' output rate."

Wouldn't you just love to be known as a flatulence expert? I'm sure Nayna Kumari would.

Click here to read more . . .

Headlines of the day

1. Man Found Naked, Intoxicated, Urinating From Lookout Tower In Park (Bonus: there's a video at that link.)

2. Nude burglar in video cock-up

3. Toilet break to last five days

(first two via Fark; third via BOTWT)

Click here to read more . . .

February 18, 2008

I'm back

Thanks very much to Soccer Dad for posting twice in my absence. Two very interesting posts, which you can read by scrolling down or clicking on the links.

I want to offer you greetings from the boys.

And one photo of an interesting flower in the dark.

Click here to read more . . .

February 17, 2008

Soccer Dad: Still the (first) one

Posted by Soccer Dad

Don Surber observes that the Clinton and Obama campaigns are buying votes and concludes:

Funny how liberals screamed about money corrupting politics. Now they have the dough and nary a word is said by the good government people in protest.

He's not bothered by the fact that they are buying support but at the way the practice is accepted by those who would presume to be above such sort of "corruption."

Of course, vote buying is a time honored tradition of the American political system. And this President's day weekend, it's fitting to recall that the practice goes back to ... our very first President, George Washington.

As Pogue told Knight Ridder reporter Matt Stearns in a 2002 interview, Washington viewed the liquor business from both a business and political perspective. It made him money and got him votes, Pogue explained, since it was customary at the time for politicians to treat voters to liquor at Virginia’s polling places.

Washington once lost a campaign when he failed to do so, Pogue said. “From then on, he always treated. And he always won.”

But then, I suspect that the Father of our Country's (other) views on alcohol wouldn't be so accepted nowadays.

Although it’s not known if Washington drank his own whiskey — he was a light drinker who favored rum and fortified wines — he was convinced of the salutary effects of alcohol on his troops as they were battling the British. As he wrote to a congressional leader in 1777, “The benefits from moderate use of liquor have been experienced in all armies and are not to be disputed.”

Or, as he instructed the commissary general of purchases for the Continental Army in 1777, “There should always be a sufficient quantity of spirits with the army, to furnish moderate supplies to the troops … such as when they are marching in hot or cold weather, in camp in wet, on fatigue or in working parties, it is so essential that it is not to be dispensed with.”

I suspect that a soldier nowadays imbibing so much as a bit of extra Nyquil might find himself on the way out of the army very quickly, whether or not the beneficial effects of alcohol are disputed.

Click here to read more . . .

Soccer Dad: Different Directions

Posted by Soccer Dad

While Attila's away, I was invited to guest post here. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance until now.

Attila and I have a lot of shared interests, such as sports. Tennis playing bison for example. Another sport we both like is baseball. Truth is we don't discuss it much because, for me, it is quite painful. Since we've gotten to know each other, his team, the Mets has been pretty good and my team, the Orioles, stink. (Yes, I know that the Mets suffered a historic collapse last year and that can't have been fun to suffer through. But at least they collapsed from the top of their division to second place; the Orioles collapsed from barely adequate to positively hopeless spurred by a historic 30 - 3 drubbing.)

To make matters worse the Mets traded Kris and Anna Benson to the Orioles for John Maine. Benson provided the Orioles with one perfectly mediocre season before suffering an injury and Maine has gone on to be the Mets #2 or #3 pitcher.

Another sign about the relative strengths of our teams are the blockbuster trades they've made recently.

The Mets, with apparently fond memories of the Frank Viola trade, traded five prospects for Johann Santana of the Twins. Now Baseball Prospectus thinks that the Mets might be the best team in all of baseball.

The Orioles though - and still in that seeming passive aggressive mode - traded their best pitcher, Erik Bedard to the Mariners for five prospects. On one hand the team did the right thing. The Orioles were not going to be very good this year even with Bedard. Instead of attempting to reach .500 by signing the likes of Jay Payton or Aubrey Huff, the Orioles finally realize that they need to blow things up and start from scratch.

And that's what bugs. Sure it was correct to trade Erik Bedard and acquire a guy who might well be the second member of a top notch outfield. But there's something frustrating about a team that hasn't been able to operate competently for so long that it becomes necessary to trade someone like Bedard instead of keeping him and giving the fans someone to cheer about. Like Mike Mussina. (Whoops, they didn't keep him either.)

Click here to read more . . .

February 12, 2008

Primary Tuesday linkfest

You may have heard that the Maryland primary was held today (as were the primaries in Virginia and the District of Columbia). I showed up at 7:00 in the morning as the polls opened. Why I bothered I'll never understand. It was down to a decision between my fourth and my fifth choices for the nomination. (I registered a protest vote by voting for my first, who was already out of the race.) But I did vote for the Mission Impossible guy to run against our Democratic congressman in November, and I voted for school board, too.

Although I declined it, the election judges foisted an "I voted" sticker on me. I tried to convince my 16-year-old son to wear it to school today, but he doesn't like his father's sense of humor.

Anyway, here's tonight's linkfest, starting with the political:

1. In last week's linkfest, I pointed you to a video of Obama supporters in a Luntz focus group being asked to name a single accomplishment for Obama. Today, we have the second installment in the same quest. Not as good as the first one, but one member tries to "pass," as if this were law school, and another says Obama's accomplishment was being the only black senator.

2. From a few days ago . . . Mickey Kaus: "Marion Barry to endorse Obama: Isn't there something Obama can do to stop this?"

3. The Republican Jewish Coalition begins an ad campaign that hits home for Jews on the most sensitive issue ever: "I Used To Be A Democrat." Truly hitting below the belt. At this rate, within no more than 50 years, the Republicans will increase their share of the Jewish vote to 30 percent.

4. The BBC: "With Valentine's Day around the corner, don't trust your instincts when it comes to selecting a mate." No, you should choose mathematically. Yes, mathematically. Or, to quote the Brits, you should use "maths." (In America, we can't even do math in the singular, let alone the plural.) Here is the formula, in case you were wondering:

Putting this into an equation, we could come up with the following (W=Witty, G=Aggressive, Ay=Your Attractiveness, AH=Her Attractiveness, R=Her "Amount" of Current Relationship; all variables from 1-10 with 10 being high):

You would, of course, have to evaluate the results on some type of scale, like the one here:

If ASK is less than zero you should lower your standards
If ASK is between zero and 1, you have exactly a snowball's chance in hell with her
If ASK is between 1 and 10, game on!
If ASK is greater than 10, consider her more attractive friend instead
(via Fark)

5. Don't hit the "Reply to All" button. And don't reply to a message where the settings are borked and any reply is treated AS IF it were "Reply to All." That's the lesson from a Department of Homeland Security contractor's experience, related in The Belmont Club. Bonus: The distribution list for this intelligence report somehow included a fellow in the defense industry of Iran. Yes, that Iran. (hat tip: fee simple)

6. If you've been dissatisfied with the current generation of composting toilets, I have good news for you: "The Next Generation of Composting Toilet Technology is Here." (hat tip: Son of the Right Hand) But if this toilet won't dispose of the dead bodies I have lying around, I'll just have to wait until the next generation after that.

Click here to read more . . .

February 11, 2008

The non-lunch

I don't get much chance to meet other bloggers. Mostly it's my own choice, because I crave anonymity.

Actually, that's a lie. It's usually the other bloggers' choice, because they tend to ask, "Attila WHO?"

One blogger who doesn't ask, "Attila WHO?" is Little Miss Attila, my "cousin," with whom I've had lunch the previous two years while she was in town for CPAC.

LMA was in town this past week, but we didn't have lunch this year. I know it was nothing personal, because a lot was happening at CPAC, what with the McCain speech and all. (By the way, if you haven't seen my photo comic version of that speech, now's the time to read it.)

In fact, I urge you to go to Little Miss Attila right away to read her various reports, because there's a lot of excellent stuff there, not least of which are the photos of her with well known bloggers (John Hawkins) and columnists (Mark Steyn).

She's also got a description of Ace's speech when he presented with the Blogger of the Year award. The video of the speech is here.

Regarding Ace, Hawkins had a wonderful description, which I excerpt:

Ace runs a pretty wild blog, uses a lot of profanity, and so I'm thinking, "Hey, here's a great opportunity for a 'Coulter' moment. Ace could come out wearing a Motorhead 'Ace of Spades' t-shirt, spit beer into the crowd, drop a few F-bombs. This could be great!"

So, when I finally see Ace I am completely and utterly shocked because he sort of looks like Mark Steyn. But, I figure, "Hey, maybe the guy is just dressed up for the convention, you know like a thug who gets dressed up for court."

But, then Ace starts to talk and -- dude, he sounds like a political science professor. He talks about the differences between European and American political parties and I am wondering if somebody conked Ace on the head and replaced him with a local college professor.
There sure is some cognitive dissonance there....

And as for my "cousin" Little Miss Attila, next year isn't an election year, so please pencil me in for lunch when you're here. If you remember what a pencil is.

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February 10, 2008

John McCain reaches out to conservatives

For more photo comics, start with the Pillage Idiot Cheat Sheet and go from there.

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Carnival of Maryland -- 26th edition

The 26th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at The Spewker. Go there and read.

The 27th edition is scheduled for Sunday, February 24, to be hosted at monoblogue.

Send in your submissions by using the Blog Carnival form.

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Shut up and play the piano

I'm sorry to report that Leon Fleisher, the pianist, is an ignorant fool.

Techically, I'm not reporting that; he reported it himself in an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday.

The story he told is that he was honored by the Kennedy Center but didn't want to have to attend the White House ceremony, because, when it comes to the current occupant of that building, he's completely deranged.

Come on, man! You're an artist! Don't just use the same tired language about "shredding the Constitution," etc.!

Anyway, the "powers that be" told him not to rock the boat. Go and be silent. So he went and presented a daisy to the military thugs who were pointing rifles at him.

OK, I'm kidding about that. But it was close; he went and wore "a peace symbol around my neck and a purple ribbon on my lapel."

And then wrote about it in the Post.

Totally true fact: During a significant part of his musical career, Fleisher was unable to use his right hand and performed works written entirely for the left hand.

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February 07, 2008

Up in the air

If you're an Israeli pilot in the air, you've got a lot to worry about. But maybe you're also thinking of this or this or this.

Which leads to the question why "Israeli fighter pilots may soon be receiving Viagra-style pills to help them to perform better at greater heights, according to a study by military officials released yesterday."

Apparently, a study of mountain climbers at high altitudes found that the substance found in various E.D. drugs helped fight fatigue and dizziness. Keeping the pilots up in the air. You can even use it on Passover with the right preparations.

(hat tip: fee simple)

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February 06, 2008

Exxon undertaxed?

Paging John Edwards!

What do you mean, he's taking a well earned vacation?

Let's all beat up on major greedy corporations, because their profits are astronomical. And while we're at it, let's complain that ExxonMobil paid roughly $27 billion in taxes in 2004. That's billion with a capital B.

This is fascinating, actually:

Over the last three years, Exxon Mobil has paid an average of $27 billion annually in taxes. That's $27,000,000,000 per year, a number so large it's hard to comprehend. Here's one way to put Exxon's taxes into perspective.

According to IRS data for 2004, the most recent year available:

Total number of tax returns: 130 million

Number of Tax Returns for the Bottom 50%: 65 million

Adjusted Gross Income for the Bottom 50%: $922 billion

Total Income Tax Paid by the Bottom 50%: $27.4 billion

Conclusion: In other words, just one corporation (Exxon Mobil) pays as much in taxes ($27 billion) annually as the entire bottom 50% of individual taxpayers, which is 65,000,000 people! Further, the tax rate for the bottom 50% is only 3% of adjusted gross income ($27.4 billion / $922 billion), and the tax rate for Exxon was 41% in 2006 ($67.4 billion in taxable income, $27.9 billion in taxes).
(via Instapundit)

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Another email horror story

Two years ago, I wrote about a hostile email exchange that became public between a lawyer and a job applicant: "Latest law jerks." I'm not entirely sure how the exchange became public, but it presumably was forwarded by one of the parties to a third party.

Which is how most of these things become public.

As Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company, and its lawyers have found out to their dismay.

Picture this: You're a company that's in confidential settlement talks with the government. Confidential, by the way, means non-public. And that's with good reason:

With the negotiations over alleged marketing improprieties reaching a mind-boggling sum of $1 billion, Eli Lilly had every reason to want to keep the talks under wraps. It was paying the two fancy law firms a small fortune to negotiate deftly and quietly.
I'm sure you've figured out by now that this story doesn't have a happy ending for Eli Lilly. Last week, the New York Times published an article disclosing the confidential settlement talks. Who had leaked the information?

Here's a hint: The Times reporter is named Alex Berenson, and one of the company's outside lawyers is named Bradford Berenson.
So when the Times' Berenson began calling around for comment, and seemed to possess remarkably detailed inside information about the negotiations, Lilly executives were certain the source of the leak was the government.

As it turned out, one of Eli Lilly's lawyers at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia wanted to email Sidley Austin's [Bradford] Berenson, about the negotiations. But apparently, the name that popped up from her email correspondents was the wrong Berenson.

Alex Berenson logged on to find an internal "very comprehensive document" about the negotiations, the consultant said, and on January 30, Berenson's article, "Lilly in Settlement Talks With U.S." appeared on the Times' website. A similar article followed the next day on the front page of the New York Times.
If I were the lawyer in question, I'm sure I'd be on the phone with headhunters STAT. An innocent mistake, no doubt, but even if the lawyer is kept on, she's going to suffer from Ralph Branca Syndrome.

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The meaning of is, etc.

"Clemens denies drug use during testimony." I'm glad, because if he can't keep his hands off the stuff during his congressional appearance, he's in bigger trouble than I thought.

Sounds like when Bill Clinton parsed the meaning of the word "is" at the grand jury, and the prosecutor asked Clinton whether his position was that his testimony was accurate because he was not engaging in sexual activity at the time of the deposition.

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February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday linkfest

It's Super Tuesday today. So if you've come here to get informed political commentary, you'd better find another site right away.

But if you want a few interesting political links, try these:

1. Sean Hannity gets Frank Luntz to ask his focus group of Obama fans to name one specific accomplishment of Barack Obama. As the Fark line goes, hilarity ensues. Watch the video here. I swear one guy says Obama's a "great oratator."

2. In all the numerous bills of particulars that conservatives are posting against John McCain, the one I haven't seen yet is that, in the days when Cindy Sheehan was a big deal in the media, McCain met with her as if she were a respectable person. I did a photo comic at the time, which I think caught the essence of the encounter: "Cindy and John: He said, she said."

3. A Weekly Standard review (subscribers only) of a couple of books about the United States from Spain is illustrated with a photo of protesters in Madrid in 2001 when Bush visited the city. Sadly, it's not in the web version of the review. Take a look at the photo. Notice what the signs at the lower left and in the middle say? I'm famous. Sort of.

4. This amusing story of voting in the Republican primary in Brooklyn has the ring of truth to it.


OK, that concludes the political part of the linkfest. On to other topics. First, sports.

5. You may have heard that the Super Bowl was played on Sunday. But have you heard of the Puppy Bowl? (hat tip: Mrs. Attila)

6. I know that more people read this site than Instapundit, Ace of Spades HQ, and Best of the Web Today combined, so I doubt you'll have seen this one before. First they came for dodgeball and I said nothing. Then they came for Intentional Flatulence, which by all rights should be an Olympic sport. This is nuts: If you force them to hold it in, they'll explode. (hat tip: Soccer Dad, but don't mention that to his kids) [UPDATE 2/6: Story is an exaggeration, apparently taken from a gag sheet prepared by eighth-grade girls. The true school newsletter says: "I just want to make sure parents know this actually is not an official ban or new school rule. Some eighth grade teachers did tell eighth graders that if they continue to disrupt class by intentionally farting, they will get a detention. There is truth to that. Intentional flatulence can be a disruption to class, and we already have rules addressing disruptive behavior." Is that clear?]

And now, other bodily functions.

7. Remote control to undo vasectomy? Surely, you jest:

A man would then use the handset, or fob, to open it around the time of having sex if he and his partner wanted to conceive.

Once the handset is pressed, it sends a coded radio signal through the skin to the implant, which contains a tiny antenna. The antenna picks up the signal and converts it into sound waves that "ripple" through the valve.

Since the valve itself is soft and flexible, the sound waves make it flap open - allowing sperm to pass through. As with cars, each device would have its own unique code so it could not be opened by anyone else.

"It's based on a radio signal, like the device on your key ring, which is coded so that you cannot open someone else's car," Professor Abbott says.
This was a "Dude" headline at HotAir. With good reason.

8. Today's headline of the day (via Fark): "Booze bra gives women a wine rack."

9. Leave it to the Brits: "THE minefield of lingerie shopping for lovers can be avoided this Valentine's Day with a new website which lets you visit a virtual dressing room and ask models to try on underwear." Nearly as good as the Tower of Boobel I wrote about two years ago.

Click here to read more . . .

February 04, 2008

Earl Butz finds a warm place

If you read the obit in today's Washington Post for Earl Butz, which oddly is not online, you'll immediately notice two things. The first is that the headline associates him with the racist joke that drove him from President Ford's cabinet.

The second is that the Post won't tell you what the joke was, and the article actually mentions that most of the press at the time wouldn't tell you what the joke was.

Well, I'm not going to tell you either, but I'll quote the version that Time ran:

Butz said that "the only thing the coloreds are looking for in life are tight p—, loose shoes and a warm place to s—."
As told to John Dean. You know the rest.

By way of comparison, here is the relevant portion of the NY Times obit today:
On a plane trip following the Republican National Convention in August, accompanied by, among others, John W. Dean 3d, the former White House counsel, Mr. Butz made a remark in which he described blacks as “coloreds” who wanted only three things — satisfying sex, loose shoes and a warm bathroom — desires that Mr. Butz listed in obscene and scatological terms.
The euphemisms are precious, aren't they? Leave it to the NY Times.

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Those ads

Sure you watched the ads during the Super Bowl, and sure you know where to go to watch them again, in the order they were ranked by a panel of viewers.

But do you know the "sleaziest Super Bowl ads of all time"?

I'm taking guesses on which descriptions made me laugh most. Hint: Immaturity.

Click here to read more . . .

February 02, 2008

The looming nickname gap

When you're a guy who writes under a nickname, you sometimes pay a little more attention to that subject than perhaps you should. And I was thinking back to some of the presidents of the mid-20th century: FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Ike. For fun, we could throw in Tricky Dick.

Who is there like that in the current election cycle? Really, nobody. Maybe "Huck" for Huckabee, but that's about it.

So let's expand our definition of nickname to include a distinctive first name or middle name that a candidate is truly known by.

Among the major candidates on the Democratic side, that brings in Hillary, but not Obama (Barack is distinctive, but it's not used much in the campaign) or John Edwards. On the Republican side, we get Huck, Mitt, Rudy, and Fred! (always with an exclamation point). John McCain is still nowhere to be found, and "Maverick" doesn't count, since it's usually his detractors who use it.

This is actually very troubling.

Going into Super Tuesday, it looks as if Hillary and McCain could be well on the way to winning the nominations of their parties. One with a nickname, broadly defined, and one without.

Why is this troubling? Consider the history. I'm going to go through the past presidential elections starting with 1952 to show that there is a slight but distinct edge for the candidate with a nickname. For each election, I'm going to rate the nickname comparison on a scale of 1 to 3 (slight, moderate, or strong) with a plus or a minus sign to indicate whether the candidate with the nickname won or lost.

Next, I'm going to commit an act of mathematics that would have gotten me a 15-yard penalty at my undergraduate math department for "intentional oversimplification": I'm going to average the scores. If you disagree with my approach or my numbers, put it in the comments.

Here we go:


Ike vs. Adlai. One could call this a wash, but "Ike" was used by his supporters much more during the campaign. Eisenhower beat Stevenson. I'm going to rate this a + 1.


Ike vs. Adlai again. Same result. + 1.


JFK vs. Nixon. Serious nickname. Kennedy beat Nixon. + 3.


LBJ vs. Goldwater. Johnson beat Goldwater. "AuH2O" was a cute bumper sticker, but it wasn't a nickname for Goldwater. This election gets a + 3.


HHH vs. Nixon. Lots of people referred to Humphrey in writing as HHH, but he wasn't identified as such in nearly the same way that Kennedy and Johnson were with their initials. And in any event, Nixon won. I rate this a - 2. The negative sign means the candidate with a nickname lost.


Nixon vs. McGovern. Neither had a real nickname, other than Nixon's "Tricky Dick." I call this a wash. A big, fat 0.


"Jimmy" Carter vs. Gerald Ford. Carter had to take action, sometimes legal action, to force states to list him as "Jimmy" on the ballot, instead of James Earl. Most states then required an official, legal name. Carter won, so I give him a + 2.


Reagan vs. Carter. Reagan was sometimes known as "Dutch," but really, Reagan was REAGAN, larger than life and without a nickname. Carter, execrable as he was, was "Jimmy." Reagan beat him, so this election gets a - 2.


Reagan vs. Mondale. Mondale was sometimes known as "Fritz," but his supporters rarely used that name for him during the campaign. I'd call this one a wash, or 0.


Bush vs. Dukakis. Neither really had a nickname. Both were indescribably dull. I'd call this a wash, too, or 0.


Bush vs. Clinton. Clinton played up the "Bubba" angle, not so much for a nickname as for his southern background. He won. This is a close call, but I'd give it a + 1.


Clinton vs. Dole. Bob Dole's nickname was Bob Dole, in the third person. He gets no credit. He loses big time. As above, this is a + 1.


Bush vs. Gore. Bush was often "Dubya" or "W," and his supporters used those appellations a lot of the time. Gore was simply Gore (or, if you're Rush Limbaugh, Algore). Bush won. (Yes, he really did, you lunatics.) So I give this a + 2.


Bush vs. Kerry. Kerry wanted to be the second coming of JFK, but no one paid any attention. Bush won again. I give this a + 2.


The total of all the ratings is 12 for 14 presidential elections, an average of just under 1, a slight but very distinct positive correlation with nickname.

This truly is not a good sign, because Hillary! has a noticeable edge over McCain.

We have a looming nickname gap, and the Republicans would be well advised to do something about it.

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