Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Blogthing: We all scream

With a heat index forecast to be near ball-boiling today, one sure way to keep cool is a nice scoop of ice cream (or, as I prefer, Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard, but that's just me).

Anyway, be carefull what you order. You're ice cream selection can say a lot about you...

Your Ice Cream Personality:

You are an incredibly modest person. You don't feel comfortable bragging about yourself... or even receiving complements.

You are incredibly cautious. You rather miss out on something than make a mistake. No one would ever call you wild... but they would call you responsible.

You are a somewhat open minded person, but deep down you're fairly conservative. You don't like trying new things very much. And if you do find something new you like, you stick with it.

You tend to have a one track mind. You prefer not to multitask.

You are a serious and contemplative person. You definitely do your own thing in life.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bullitt list -- 05.29.08

Today's category:
Names I'm considering for my new punk band...

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Movie Mini Review: The Curse of the Golden Flower

Title: The Curse of the Golden Flower (Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia)

Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jay Chou, Liu Ye, Chen Jin

Plot summary:
Set in feudal China’s Tang Dynasty, Emperor Ping (Chow Yun-Fat) returns home to the Imperial Palace to celebrate the Chrysanthemum Festival with his family. The Emperor has summoned his second son, Prince Jai, home from the frontier, and he has ulterior motives. But while the emperor has been away on military campaigns, his wife, Empress Pheonix (Gong Li) has been making clandestine plans of her own. Behind the silk veneer of the Forbidden Palace, all is not as it seems and tragedy awaits.

My thoughts:
I was home sick a couple of weeks ago and, while in a drug-induced stupor, the only activity I could effectively manage was channel surfing.

Luckily, I hit one of the action movie channels at the upper end of the dial while The Curse of the Yellow Flower was just beginning.

I watched the subtitled version, which I always recommend because overdubbing ends up looking awkward and cheesy. And even though I don’t understand the spoken language of the film, I think overdubbing tends to strip out the emotional inflection of the actors and waters down the director’s original vision.

And the director had a stunning vision for this film. Director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) brings us his stylized view of 10th-century China with sweeping vistas and vibrant colors. The camera work and musical score are really amazing, creating an epic film in the best sense of the word.

In the early scenes, I was expecting a martial arts tour de force, but Yimou soon exceeded my expectations. This isn’t just another wire-fighting kun-fu movie, although there is plenty of that (not to mention cleavage) and fans of that style won’t be disappointed.

But it is also a provocative story about the excesses and pitfalls of absolute power, the complexity and fragility of family relationships and the destructive force of greed.

The Curse of the Golden Flower has been criticized as a soap opera set in feudal China, a kind of dynastic Dynasty. And the film can be a bit over the top, especially in the final act. But in my opinion it’s a good kind of over the top, like a tragic Italian opera, and completely in context.

My final rating: Set Your DVR.

Favorite quote:
"What I do not give, you must never take by force."

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

White noise

So I head to my favorite, well, head at the office to, as the Facebookers these days would say, download a brownload.

Anyway, I open the door to the john and immediately hear the familiar sound of a urinal flushing. But entering the room, I find it empty. Nobody zipping their fly, washing their hands. Nothing.

It seems the urinal I heard is stuck on permaflush, a condition caused when the automatic flushing mechanism malfunctions making the water flow continuously like a waterfall.

I was annoyed at first to see such a waste. Why can't the building maintenance people fix the damn thing so I don't have to put up with all the noise while I'm dropping the kids off at the pool.

The noise was annoying for the first minute while I chose my stall and settled in. Then, I began to appreciate the relaxing effect of the falling water. Take away the florescent lighting and the synthetic smell of sanitizing air freshener, and I could almost imagine myself on the beach listening to the waves crash upon the shore.

Plus the sound was loud enough that it mitigated the need for the otherwise obligatory camo cough.

So while I still object to the waste of water, I gotta say I've changed my tune on the "audio" issue. I'm thinking about bringing in one of those sound-machine alarm clocks to provide background music the next time I take the Browns to the Super Bowl.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sectual abuse

News outlets are reporting that a Texas appellate court judge has ruled state officials had insufficient cause to take custody of 460 children from members of the Yearning For Zion Ranch.

According to the report...
The Third Court of Appeals ... ruled that the grounds for removing the children were "legally and factually insufficient" under Texas law. ...

The ruling comes the same day as authorities learned that half the mothers in the sect that Texas child welfare authorities put in foster care as children have now been declared adults.

Attorneys for Child Protective Services say 15 of the 31 mothers are adults. One is actually 27. Another girl listed as an underage mother is 14, but the state has conceded she is not pregnant and does not have a child.
This is a dicey issue, despite the knee-jerk reactions of those who would like the government to come in and solve all their problems for them.

On one hand, we as a society must defend those least able to defend themselves.

My Supermodel Wife and I took a training seminar a few weeks ago that certifies us to work at our church with children, youth and dependent adults. During the seminar, we learned that in 2001, Kansas had a higher rate of child abuse and neglect (12.4 per 1000 children) than the national average (11.8 per 1000 children) (source pdf).

So there's a lot of work for us all to do to make sure we are doing all we can to raising a generation of healthy individuals.

On the other hand, we have increasingly been ceding our responsibilities and freedoms to The Government. We want The Government to feed the poor so we don't have to. We want The Government to make us stop smoking. We want The Government to monitor internet communications to protect us from people who write mean things.

The problem is that The Government is really good at taking power and abusing it. We end up on a slippery slope where we have given The Government power to do things we never intended it to do. The plight of Christopher Ratte is a great example.
Almost everyone Chris Ratte met the night they took Leo away conceded the state was probably overreacting.

The sympathetic cop who interviewed Ratte and his son at the hospital said she was convinced what happened had been an accident, but that her supervisor was insisting the matter be referred to Child Protective Services.

And Ratte thought the two child protection workers who came to take Leo away seemed more annoyed with the police than with him. "This is so unnecessary," one told Ratte before driving away with his son.

But there was really nothing any of them could do, they all said. They were just adhering to protocol, following orders.
So we find ourselves caught with opposing imperatives. We need to do as much as we can to make sure that women and children aren't being oppressed and worse, but we can't trust an overbearing bureaucracy to keep the personal rights of individual citizens in mind.

I don't know what the answer is. But I do know that we as individuals should focus more on our responsibilities. We should ask what we can do for each other, rather than what the government can do for us.

I'm reminded of this quote from Thomas Jefferson...
Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have ... The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.
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3AM Poll: Sanguivorous

My previous post along with some of the comments prompted me to ask myself whether I would rather be bitten by 45 ticks or 45 leeches.

Tough question, and there's no right answer. But I wonder what the least favorite blood-sucking parasite is? Please vote and leave a comment.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tick talk

I visited my ancestral home last weekend to attend the graduation of my niece.

We stayed with my parents in the home where I grew up, in the heart of Kansas' Flint Hills. It's always nice going back there visit. My childhood home is in a wooded area next to a stream. The house was originally built in 1875 on a plot of ancient river bottom that also was home to apple and pear orchards and vineyards. Even today, two 100-year old pear trees still bear fruit every fall.

It was a great environment to grow up in. The hills and woods provided an ample supply of communists for a 12-year-old and his friends to hunt and kill in our quest to repel a Red Dawn-type of Russian invasion (nowdays, kids probably fight off imaginary Islamoradicals. Well, actually, they're probably too busy playing Grand Theft Auto IV to spend anytime using their imaginations and being out-of-doors, but that's a different post).

I like taking my daughter there, fishing in the stream and hiking in the woods. Spotting giant herons, crawdads, bullfrogs and snakes.

We did all that this passed weekend. But my nostalgia had filtered out a certain little menace.

The ticks.

They seem to be particularly thick and bad this year. Saturday, getting ready for bed, I picked a middle sized one off my Supermodel Wife's lower back. The next day I found one crawling across my jeans.

The kiddo didn't escape the pestilence either. During bath time Sunday morning, I saw what looked like a mole on her chest. But I didn't remember seeing a mole there before.

"Come closer and let me check out that spot, I think it might be a tick, " I told her.

Not what she wanted to here.

"I don't what you to look at it because I'm afraid if you look at it it will be a tick," she said, worried almost to tears.

I called in reinforcements in the form of my Supermodel Wife, who checked out the spot while I held the kid still. Sure enough, a tiny tick had started it's bloodsucking activities on the flesh of my daughter.

We picked the little bugger off and with the minor emergency over went about attending the day's graduation activities.

But for the entire rest of the day I couldn't shake the feeling of tiny insect legs crawling all over me.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Package deal

I don't know about you, but I have a huge economic stimulus package.

I was admiring it the other day after taking it out of its wrapping. If you’re single, and you don’t have kids, chances are your economic stimulus package is no where near as big as mine.

Don’t feel bad though. Not everyone is endowed with such a large economic stimulus package. If you happen to have a small economic stimulus package, I hear there a many programs out there that can help you make the most of it.

For example, I saw an ad on The Home Depot website a couple of days ago saying they could help you stretch your economic stimulus package. It probably means buying one of their cheap hoes, so I won’t be taking advantage of that (let’s face it, I’m too old and dignified for that sort of thing). But it might be an option for some of you.

You can also get your stimulus package to last longer by going to Branson, Mo. According to their website, they are offering a number of services to extend your economic stimulus package.

Personally, I'll be giving my full economic stimulus package to my Supermodel Wife. She is particularly talented at getting the most out of my economic stimulus package. I actually enjoy the experience of having her take hold of the economic stimulus package and putting it to good use.

Regardless of the size of your economic stimulus package, it's important to remember that it's there to be enjoyed. And don't forget, the entire country is counting on all of us making use our economic stimulus packages.

So even if you have a tiny economic stimulus package, don't just leave it tucked away in a dark place somewhere gathering dust. Take it out and enjoy it.

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YouTube Tuesday: Subprime

Just when I was about ready to give up on This American Life for being too preachy, sanctimonious and full of themselves, I heard their excellent report on the subprime/credit crisis that threatens to plunge the world economy into a recession.

They do an excellent job explaining how we got to where we are, but John Bird and John Fortune are much funnier.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Monday's child

I want to post a special and heartfelt congratulations to my little bro, Boomer, on the announcement of his soon-to-be adopted baby son.

Boomer and his supermodel wife have been trying to adopt a child for a long time (years). I'm sure it's been a long and at times frustrating wait for them, but I can't think of two people more deserving of a son, and I know they'll make great parents.

I can't wait to meet the little guy, born last Monday (fair of face).

This is dedicated to the little fella, who has already brought a lot of happiness into the world.
Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

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This is a great take from Barely Political on the now infamous 20-year-old Bill O'Reilly meltdown...

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Friday Blogthing: The beat goes on

Here's more proof of the inaccuracy of online quizzes...

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are reflective and complex.

You are intellectual to the point of being cerebral.

You are very open to new experiences, and even more open to new ideas and theories.

Wisdom and personal accomplishment are important to you.

You are naturally sophisticated. You are drawn to art, especially art by independent artists.

You are likely to be financially well off... and not because you were born that way.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Book Report: Shakedown

Title: Shakedown

Author: Joel Goldman

Kansas City FBI Agent Jack Davis cuts corners and calls in favors to piece together seemingly unrelated clues in a mass murder while battling a debilitating nerve condition that has cost him his job.

My thoughts:
This blog has benefited me in a number of ways. It has allowed me to meet some really fun and talented people. It has given me a creative outlet (though, admittedly, the "creative" bit is debatable). But the real reason I started it is to try to get free stuff.

My first score on this point was a review copy of the That Thing You Do director's cut.

And most recently when I received an invitation to review Shakedown by local author and trial lawyer Joel Goldman I jumped at the opportunity. Who am I to turn down a free review copy of the book?

Shakedown is Goldman's fifth book and takes place in various neighborhoods throughout the greater Kansas City area. Genre-wise, I guess you would call it a crime/suspense thriller, which isn't really what I usually go for. Still I was excited to dive in and give it an honest try.

I was a little concerned in the first couple of chapters where the author used, in my opinion clumsily, a written street vernacular for the inner dialogs of some minor characters. This was soon forgiven though, as I came to appreciate the pace of action in the story.

I also appreciated Goldman's use of the Kansas City area as a character device in the novel. He does an excellent job of describing the different neighborhoods, from the tough and gritty Quindaro, Strawberry Hill and the rail yards in Argentine to the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping district and the suburbs of Johnson County.

Goldman also peppers in several literary Easter Eggs for his Kansas City readers. The main character, for example, uses the alias of "Detective Funkhouser" in some scenes, an obvious reference to the KCMO mayor.

I also was interested in the way Goldman incorporated aspects of another book I recently read, Malcom Gladwell's Blink. One of the main characters is an expert in the Facial Action Coding System (which Gladwell discusses in detail in his book) and uses this skill to help solve the murder. But it ends up costing her.

The writing is solid and the narrative tight enough to keep me turning the pages. I thought the plot was a bit contrived at times, and several sequences were easily predicted.

But I’d still give it a solid recommendation for your summer reading list, especially for those of you in Kansas City. Add it to your beach bag or take it on that road trip. It’s a good read.

Rating: Recommended summer/beach reading

Note: Read more 3AM Book Reviews.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Malcom in the middle

Speaking of The New Yorker, I saw a video excerpt from its recent "Stories from the Near Future" conference.

The excerpt caught my eye because it is a presentation by author Malcolm Gladwell, whom I wrote about recently.

Gladwell is as fascinating as a speaker as he is as a writer. I think part of that has to do with the fact that he looks like a Saturday Night Live character, or a human version of a muppet.
Eddie Muphy's Buckwheat meets Jimmy Fallon's IT guy.

His topic deals with why so often the wrong people are hired for the job, from teachers to policemen to presidents of the United States. It's much more interesting than it sounds so go check it out at the link above if you have some time over lunch.

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YouTube Tuesday: Toast to Hillary

The presidential campaign of the last two years really has me worn out. I still haven't decided which of the three democrats still in the race (Obama, Clinton and McCain) I could vote for.

It seems like the Democratic party, in it's quest to squelch democracy, is really putting the pressure on Hillary to drop out of the race. Evidently according to the Party Bosses, the gajillions of people who support Clinton don't really deserve to have their votes counted.

Be that as it may, I've been enjoying the Naked Campaign series from The New Yorker illustrator Steve Brodner. In his latest webisode, he toasts Hillary's campaign...

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

RE: Your Brains

Props to Zach for snagging some horrific pictures of the Kansas City Zombie Walk in Westport.

Go check out the ghouly images. It's yet another example of local bloggers breaking important news stories that the mainstream media are afraid to cover.

Also, in honor of the event, here's another apropos song by Jonathan Coulton...

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Friday, May 09, 2008

HEADLINES: This week's tough SOB award goes to...

You remember that story from last year about the Florida guy who fought off a bobcat with his bare hands. Yeah, that d00d was one tough SOB.

This week, we met another tough old SOB, Steve Wilder of Omaha, Neb.

Wilder awoke a few nights ago to find that his throat had swollen shut and he was unable to breath.

What to do? Call 911 and die while waiting for an ambulance to show up too late? No thanks. How about give yourself a tracheotomy with a FREAKIN' STEAK KNIFE!!!
"Got a knife and located it and pushed in and blood went gush.” Blood was gushing out, but air was gushing in. Wilder was successful at performing a self-tracheotomy. "I think I closed my eyes, but fear or something took over. I didn't feel no pain or nothing."

Surgeons train for years to do what took Wilder only moments, though it wasn’t an entirely new experience. He had throat cancer several years ago, which is where his breathing problems originated. The same thing happened some years back, so he grabbed a steak knife and went to work.
Dayum! Makes my self-ingrown toenail-otomy look kind of wussy by comparison.

Look for a story link similar to this to show up on ER or Grey's Anatomy in the next few weeks.

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Friday Blogthing: Sometimes you feel like a nut

Sometimes you fee like three nuts, right The D?

You Are a Cashew

You are laid back, friendly, and easy going.

Compared to most people, you have a very mild temperament.

You blend in well. You're often the last person to get noticed.

But whenever you're gone, people seem to notice right away!

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

And to wash it down...

Mad props to Chimpotle for hepping me to the latest fast food artery clogger, the 60-slice bacon cheeseburger.

But after ordering a cheeseburger with 60-slices of bacon, it seems silly to wash it down with a plain old soda. If only there was something more appropriate.

Hmmm... Oh yeah!

It's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes!

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Book Report: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Title: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is a non-fiction essay about the ability of the human mind to make highly accurate snap judgments, the process by which we make these kinds of judgments and pitfalls and dangers that can occur when we don't realize what influences this kind of decision making.

My thoughts:
This book was highly recommended to me by many people. Several of my managers at work are Gladwell disciples and have also recommended his earlier work The Tipping Point.

There are also some pretty smart bloggers out there who recommended Blink as well as one of my favorite football coaches.

So why all of the acclaim? Well, for one thing this is a really well written piece of non-fiction. Gladwell covers several case studies where split second decision making has been successful and where it has led horrible, tragic mistakes.

Case studies run the gamut from marriage to military games (not much difference there, right?) and from fine art to speed dating.

Gladwelll introduces fancy terms like "rapid cognition" and "thin slicing" that and explains them in a clear and entertaining way.

There is also a fascinating discussion of facial expressions, or rather the various component parts of facial expressions made up by the various individual movements of facial muscles.

Microexpressions, as they are called, can involuntarily reveal a glimpse of a person's true emotional state to the trained observer.

And interestingly, just as emotional states cause these involuntary facial movements, voluntarily producing certain facial movement can influence one's emotional state. It's a two way street.

Gladwell's writing style is conversational and easy to read, a reflection no doubt of his time in the newspaper world.

It's a fast 320-page read and the insights into how our minds work (or don't work, in some cases) makes it well worth your time.

Rating: Recommended

Note: Read additional 3AM Book Reviews here.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Man and the moon

You may have seen the news story trumpeting the new surveillance video cameras recently installed in some areas of Kansas City, Mo.

According to the story linked above, the police state installed the cameras in part at the request of neighborhood groups.
"So far I've been stopped by two citizens who have thanked me and said they've been praying for these,” said Sergeant Patrick Rauzi, who is overseeing the project. “One gentleman said he owned three different houses in this neighborhood and has been waiting for the cameras. He couldn't thank me enough."
I wonder if these potentially hypothetical neighborhood groups had really thought through what they were requesting.

Now I'm all for police patrols. Increase the frequency of cops on the beat if you must. Absolutely demand that when there is a call for help, help arrives within a reasonable amount of time.

But inviting the police to spy on you in your neighborhood seems a like another step toward the pre-crime world of the Minority Report. You're essentially giving the "authorities" the right to watch you without first getting a warrant.

And I know there's an argument that people who aren't doing anything wrong shouldn't worry. If your not breaking the law, you shouldn't be concerned, right?

Not so fast my friend.

According to one of my many inside sources* police abuse of this type of surveillance is already happening.

Police in Northumberland, Great Britain, are trying to track down a man who took a crack at sharing his deepest feelings about unwarranted government invasion of privacy.
A front seat car passenger was photographed baring his backside at a speed camera in Northumberland.

The "mooning" man was snapped by the mobile camera as the black BMW X5 drove past on the A1171 Dudley Lane in Cramlington last month.

His behaviour has been labelled as "dangerous and offensive" by road safety campaigners.

Police may take action against the man for public order offences and not wearing a seat belt.

Officers have the registration of the car, which was not breaking the speed limit, and intend to contact its owner.
So there you have it. The jack-booted thugs are just waiting to bust you for daring to speak you mind.

Well, I say KCMO shouldn't stand for this. I hereby call on all freedom-loving Kansas Citians to moon these surveillance cameras in the downtown entertainment district and wherever else you see them.

Show the police state where they can put their cameras!

*© Greg Beck at Death's Door

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Oh boy, the show on next is Barnaby Jones

Remember back in the day when the first CSI teevee series came out?

I'm not talking about CSI: New York, or CSI: Miami, or even CSI. I'm not even referring to Medical Investigation or Crossing Jordan or House.

The first time these shows were on teevee, it was called Quincy (or Quincy, M.E. for you purists) and Jack Klugman had more acting chops in his receding hairline than David Caruso has in his entire pint-sized, dramatic-sunglasses-taking-off body.

Take a trip with me now down amnesia lane to those golden days of yesteryear when television shows had cool theme songs.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Random Photo XI: Grand Canal (in miniature)

I was trying out a tilt-shift Photoshop technique that I recently read about. I chose a picture from our trip to Italy a few years ago.

Click to enlargify...

What do you think?

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Posted On, Vol. 2

It's time for another installment of Posted On, the weekly feature where I showcase my cleverness and laziness by copy-and-pasting what I've recently posted in the comments sections of the blogs of people who are much smarter than I am.
  • Posted on Frighteningly Uncommon Sense:
    Faith was weighing the relative benefits (pun intended) of adding her spouse to the title of her house. I chimed in with this valuable advice:
    The way I see it, adding him can only hurt you.

    If you die, then as your spouse he automatically inherits all your crap (unless he dies at the same time in some kind of horrible meat-cleaving accident or a suicide-murder (that's right, he commits suicide and then kills you. It could happen.) or unless he offs you for the money (which he would never do, right?). So that pretty much covers you from the death perspective.

    You guys already have a strong marriage, so no need to stroke his ego by adding him. There are other things you could stroke, however, that wouldn't hurt your marriage any. Just sayin'.

    Feel free to add me to the title, though, as your trusted adviser.
  • Posted On General Blather:
    Heather remarked on the trials and tribulations of boat ownership, saying a boat is a "pain in the ass" to maintain. I empathized:
    "It's too much of a pain in the ass to maintain."

    My Supermodel wife says the same thing about me.
  • Posted on Hip Suburban White Guy:
    XO posted a "well-considered" and "cogent" "argument" of how stupid Christians are. I "agreed" with him:
    Hahahaaahh. That is HILARIOUS! Christians are soooo stupid! Feeding the hugry? Healing the sick? GIMME A FREAKING BREAK! Those idiots. Don't they know that's what the government takes our money for (well, that and killing brown people).

    You really hit the nail on the cross, er, head here, XO. Christians! Pftt! They make me LOL.

    Do unto others as they would do unto you?!? Yeah, right. Suckers. If they were smart like you and me, they would to others BEFORE they do it to you.
  • Posted on May's Machete:
    May offered some great do-it-yourself tips on how to go green without any effort. I considered the policy change it would take at my household:
    Hmmm.... this would necessitate a change in my "If it's yellow, let it mellow" policy.
  • Posted on Midtown Miscreant:
    MM stated the obvious, that there seems to be plenty of room for prosecution at the Yearning for Zion Ranch. I wondered why people don't get this upset over teen sexual abuse outside of these splinter groups:
    No argument from me on this. Although I wish our society would put this much effort into stopping sexual abuse and teen pregnancy in economically depressed urban areas.

    How many 14-year-old mothers do you think there are east of Troost? I guess it's easier to just throw out free condoms and food stamps.
Make sure to follow the links for the complete context of the comments. And while your there, leave a comment of your own. Come to think of it, leave a comment of your own here as well. Comments, people That's what makes this whole thing work.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

You say tornado, I say tor-NOT-o

I'm a little surprised at all of the blog reaction to the so-called tornado so-called coverage of the local so-called news media last night.

I mean, we've all pretty much been in this town long enough to know that, given a stiff breeze, the local weather mediots will pre-empt your favorite TV show to tell you the sky is falling. Nothing new there. Hey, at least they don't interrupt the commercials, right?

Beating up on the so-called news so-called media is fun, but at this point it's become the dead horse of the local internets. Besides, you shouldn't be watching so much TV anyway.

What I want to take a few swipes at is the geniuses who run the tornado sirens around town.

My family and I were on our way home after a meeting with a volunteer group we're involved with yesterday evening. We had just decided to make a quick stop at Home Depot when the first sirens went off.

We flipped on the weather coverage on one of the local AM stations (can't remember which one it was, probably 980) to hear the dreaded news that the world was ending. But it was quite to the contrary...

The announcer was telling us that "the tornado warning for Johnson County has been lifted" -- note that this is happening as the sirens are going off. The announcer noted it as well: "The sirens are going off all over Overland Park, but the National Weather Service is telling us that the tornado warnings have been allowed to expire."

It seems the announcer was just as confused as I was (and that's hard, because I'm always pretty damned confused).

You see, what I don't get is, why turn on the siren if there's no tornado in the first place. People are heading for the root cellar and saying their last goodbyes when they hear those sirens. But not only was there no tornado, there wasn't even a tornado warning or watch. WTF?

Look, I already have an unhealthy disregard for tornadoes. I've lived in Kansas for more than 35 years. I've never been outside of the state borders for more than 4-weeks at a stretch. And I've never seen a real tornado in person.

Sure, I've see the coverage and aftermath on TV. On an intellectual level, I know they exist and they can be devastating. But in my heart, I still don't think it can happen to me.

And it doesn't help when we have a bunch of chicken littles with their fingers on the panic button waiting to cry wolf (hurray for mixed metaphors!).

It's a matter of credibility, people.

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