Thursday, April 30, 2009

Don't turn around, uh-oh

KCMeesha today has a fascinating post about the revisionist propaganda and photographic falsification employed by the post-revolution USSR.

The post includes a discussion of the book “The Commissar Vanishes” and some very interesting photos.

In fact, the photos were so interesting that it prompted me to do my own ad-hoc internet photo search. I was amazed by what I found.

Evidently, our Russian friend is not only the sole survivor of Lenin's core braintrust, he's also some kind of Jewish/Russian/American Highlander.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hey, there's risk in everything

So yeah, like I said yesterday I taught my kid to make coffee for me in the morning. No big whoop, right?

Well, I received this email today from Phillips, makers of the Senseo single-serve coffee machine I use.
Dear Valued Customer:


Philips has identified a safety problem which affects a number of Senseo® coffee makers produced between July 2006 & November 2008. Philips is committed to the well-being of its consumers and has decided to voluntarily recall the affected Senseo® machines and offer a replacement unit.

Affected units can be identified by model type, manufacturing location and production date. Please refer to the information below. Only units that meet the criteria in all categories are under recall:

Models: HD7810, HD7811, HD7815, HD7820, HD7832 and HD7890.

Manufacture Country and Date: units made in Poland from 0627 to 0847 and units made in China from 0727 to 0847

Colors: Black, Blue, Silver, Red, White

Unaddressed calcification in the coffeemaker from use of hard or medium water, when combined with an external electrical fault, can lead to obstruction of the overpressure release system causing boilers to suddenly separate possibly leading to injury. Per year, the risk is less than three per million and there have been no reported cases in the United States.

Philips would like to advise consumers as follows:

1 Please look at the sticker on the base plate of your Senseo® machine to identify the model number, manufacturing location and production week.

2 Please visit or call the toll-free phone number 1-866-604-0051 to register your product and receive further instructions and how to receive a free replacement unit. We intend to replace affected units with the same model product.

We wish to thank you for your cooperation and apologize for any inconvenience.

Kind regards,
Philips Consumer Care
Okay, so maybe it's a little more risky that I thought. On the other hand, when has anyone ever died from an exploding pressure chamber?

Sure, there was that time my cousin Jeffrey (who works for the NYC Parks & Rec department, btw) was seriously injured in a boiler explosion. In fact it blew the entire left side of his body off. Don't worry though. Jeffrey recovered. He's all right now.

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YouTube Tuesday: Nunchaku besuboru

I'm still trying to decide whether this is awesome or lame. Right now I'm leaning toward two parts awesome to one part lame.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

This having a kid thing is finally starting to pay off

I know some of you out there are completely anti-kid. And I must concede that in theory you have a point.

Who needs the staying up all night taking care of a hungry screaming baby. Or the added expenses of childcare and tiny socks and booster seats for cars and special biohazard trashcans designed for radioactive diapers.

But I can tell you that after a few years, these things start to pay dividends as you begin to reap the reward for all of the time you spent on the rigorous child training program.

For example, our kindergarten-age kid is becoming a convenient time-saving device for me. About a week ago I taught her how to make me my morning cup of coffee.

Since I'm the only coffee drinker in the family, I have one of those single serving coffee makers from Senseo (that I got virtually for free). And using a Senseo is so easy a child can do it -- which is kind of the point here.

So I walked the kid through all of the coffee making steps. I showed her where the coffee pods are kept in the upper cupboard and how to avoid being impaled on the rack of steak knives while climbing onto the counter to retrieve the pods.

I showed her how to fill the water reservoir on the coffee maker with scalding hot water from the kitchen sink.

I showed her how to place the pods in the coffee maker and clamp down the locking lid, how to press the appropriate buttons and set the coffee mug under the steaming streams of coffee, and how to carefully carry the mug of hot java to me without burning her fingers.

So for the last few mornings, I've had a nice hot cup of coffee ready for me when I get to the kitchen.

Child labor, ain't it grand?

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Friday, April 24, 2009


Finding good economic news these days is about as easy as finding a chick at a Star Trek convention.

Even in my lower-upper-middle class neighborhood in the JoCo, several businesses haven't been able to ride out the rough times and have had to close (a restaurant and a camera shop).

That's why it was a nice surprise last week when, during a trip to the local grocery, I saw a new restaurant open in the shopping center at 95th and Mission Road.

I took the family to Cupini's the next night. The Italian deli has been a hit in it's other locations around the metro, notably the Westport spot that we're familiar with. We arrived at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening, and the house was packed with a pretty long line up to the counter.

If you've never eaten at Cupini's before, you should expect a deli-style experience. You walk up to the counter, give your order, then go grab a table or booth and wait for your order to be delivered. A lot like Jason's Deli.

The long line was good for two reasons. One, it showed me that this is already a popular place and that a lot of people like the food. Two, it gave me a chance to look through the extensive menu of pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, salads, soups and all of the options and combinations thereof.

Unfortunately, it eventually became apparent that the staff was still shaking down their kitchen routines. The wait in line began to feel a little long, and I found myself ordering about 10 minutes after it felt like I should have.

After finishing the order I joined by Supermodel Wife and kid back at the booth the had staked out. Again, the combination of a kitchen staff in training and a super busy restaurant made for a rather long wait.

I think the long waits will be temporary and go away after a week or so. Luckily, the wait staff was very friendly. They stopped by to chat, recognized out kindergartner was starving and offered some complimentary bread sticks.

We also exchanged friendly words with fellow diners, all of whom seemed to be happy with the restaurant and patient with the opening week snafus.

The food itself, when it arrived, was delicious. I had the Chicken/Prosciutto Tortellini. It came as a large portion with a cheesy tomato sauce. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the prosciutto/chicken filling was delicious. My Supermodel Wife had a custom pizza. I don't remember the toppings she chose, but I do remember that it was delicious two day's later when I ate it as leftovers for lunch.

Cupini's also serves breakfast. I haven't sampled any of their breakfast sandwiches, though we did grab a blueberry scone to take home for breakfast the next day. It kept well overnight, so I'm hoping to hit them up for a more substantial breakfast in the future. Hopefully I'll have better luck that my neighbors.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Protesters are sore losers.

After an afternoon and evening of drinking heavily, I accidentally let myself watch the local news last night on KMBC.

I was Larry Mooretified to see a propaganda piece about a group of corporately backed local "activists" as they were "protesting" the "closing" of a KCK "school."

These "schoolbaggers" as we shall call them, are suddenly all up in arms and picketing because they don't want the school district to close their neighborhood school, Morris Elementary.

As one "concerned" parent put it, "We feel that we need our school, our students need our school, our community needs our school."

To which I reply, "Yeah. Right."

Where were these people four years ago? They're late to the party. If they want to save their school, they should have been protesting two, four and six years ago when the school district was working on its budget.

Today, these selfish, greedy parents are overestimating the attendance of other selfish, greedy schoolbagger zombies at their inherently racist "School protests."

Ostensibly the parties protested the use of taxpayer money to not bail out a local school in danger of financial collapse.

Just ask yourself why they waited to do these protests when a black man was president. It's obviously racist.

If you want to demonstrate to save your school, then fine. But they should’ve done it under President Bush, too. That they waited tells you what the protests were really about.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Mean Janeane

Today's YouTube Tuesday is brought to you at the suggestion of Xavier Onasizzle, who pointed out what a mental giant Janeane Garofalo is.

Not only is she versed in the finer points of pseudoscience she also very capably demonstrates that pontificating on the partisan cable news media need not be brain surgery.

Personally, I maintain that the only value of shows like Olberman's and O'Reily's is to try to perpetuate the myth of the two-party system. The hypocrisy demonstrated here pretty much supports my point.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

TEA P.O.'d

Maybe you guys can help me understand something here. (I doubt it. I'm pretty thick-skulled about a lot of things. But when you need enlightenment, what better place to turn to than the anonymous Inkernetz).

Hold on a sec while I finish listening to this Springsteen song on my iPod. (Ah yes, at some level everybody DOES have a hu-hu-hung-er-y heart). Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

So Tax Day 2009 was quite the event this year. Finally after years of liberals and Democrats telling the country we're wasting money, some people from across the political aisle listened and came out to peacefully demonstrate and to agree and to say that, hey maybe we need to take a look at what we're spending our kids', grandkids' and great grandkids' and their great-great grandkids' money on.

Seems sensible to me. Seems like finally a lot of people are getting on the same page.

To be honest I was surprised by the demonstrations. It gave me the teeniest, tiniest ghost of a shred of hope that maybe our society might not go completely down the crapper.

(Of course, I still maintain that it's too late, that we've already passed the event horizon into the black hole of cultural decline. We already have achieved the critical mass of people in our country who have learned that it's easier to vote themselves somebody else's money that to take personal responsibility for themselves and their community.)

But a lot of the responses to the Taxed Enough Already demonstrations kind of surprised me when I read them. I'm not talking about the unclever, sophomoric sexual innuendos. I completely expected those from the Internet. Hell, I applaud them. I think that sort of thing is the highest calling of Internet self-publishing.

What I didn't expect was for people who for years complained about runaway spending when it comes to fake wars, have suddenly gone quiet when it comes to wasting an order of magnitude MORE money.

Did I say they've gone quiet? Let me correct myself. They're actually criticizing the very people who are agreeing with them.
Today, these selfish, greedy conservatives are overestimating the attendance of other selfish, greedy, brainless Fox-Zombies at their inherently racist "Tea Parties".
Ostensibly the parties protested the massive expansion of government, the accompanying growth of the federal budget and, not least, the use of taxpayer money to bail out private individuals and businesses in danger of financial collapse. These events may well be worthy of protest — and vigorous dissent is a vital, necessary part of the American tradition — but they were happening five months ago. Conservatives were not massing in the streets then, however.
My suspicion is that, as usual, this comes down to partisan politics. The partisans on one side are pissed at the partisans on the other side for doing the exact same thing they used to do. The sides are interchangeable.

It's noteworthy (but not surprising) that despite Mr. Obama's promises to "change the way things are done" and the blind faith placed in him by so many back in November of last year, nothing has changed except for the all-too predictable role reversal.

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out what is the point of people who ask "Where the fuck were these people eight years ago? Seriously, these tea-baggers are late to the party." (This seems to be a standard talking point for one side of the partisan coin).

My first response is "Who cares!" As long as they are now upset enough to say something...

The other answer I would suggest is that the issue might be one of scale. Perhaps the people who were only disgruntled at paying $670 billion for a war that accomplishes nothing have crossed into outrage at ponying up $11.6 Trillion for all of the various bailouts, kickbacks and scams that have come out of the last six or seven months.

FYI, that $11.6 Trillion is enough to pay for SEVENTEEN IRAQ WARS!

Ah yes. It all comes down to money for the partisans. Not how much there is, but who gets to spend it and from whom they take it.

Perhaps The Boss was right after all. Lay down your money and you'll play your part. Everybody's got a hungry heart.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax advice

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Proud to pay my taxes

I had this post planned for a couple of weeks, but that crafty Kansas Jackass kind of beat me to the mule kick. But I decided to go ahead and post it since it's so important.

As most of you fine citizens know, today is an important day for our country - in fact, I think it is probably THE most important day of the year. It's the day when all of the good people of our Republic can celebrate their participation in society by giving back to our Awesome Government the money that it so graciously allowed us to use over the previous year.

I know it has become kind of a fad recently in some circles to look at Tax Day in derogatory terms, to try to view taxation as a burden rather than the privilege that is.

As KJ rightly points out, it is an honor for us as citizens of a great nation to work so hard day in and day out for our Awesome Government's beneficent bureaucracy.

It's true that due to recent economic troubles, Tax Freedom Day came early this year. Unfortunately, this means that we worker bees only contributed everything we earned through April 13 to our Awesome Government. Luckily, as our Awesome Government commits more and more money to various projects, our children and grandchildren can look forward to the satisfaction of contributing much more of their earnings to our Awesome Government.

And even though only three and a half months of our hard work went to our Awesome Government this year, it's important to remember, comrades, everything that our hard work and effort pays for.

Think of all those poor, destitute investment bankers who, but for the support we give them through our Awesome Government, face the prospect of a harrowing life without multimillion dollar performance bonuses.

Or, consider the plight of the U.S. auto industry. Without government money provided by us, we might have to go without a source of overly priced, low-quality inefficient automobiles. My friends, that's not the America I want to live in.

And I hate to even consider where the citizens of less-fortunate countries would be without the good people of the U.S.A. and it's totally Awesome Government looking out for them. And closer to home, thanks to such a kind and caring Awesome Government, we don't have to worry about taking care of the poor and hungry people in our own community, because the Awesome Government has programs to take care of them as well.

There are many other examples of worthwhile contributions made by our Awesome Government on our behalf:
  • $1.7 million sent to Iowa to determine why pigs stink
  • $4.4 million for a military grade stereo (for the Army Center of Excellence in Acoustics)
  • $2.4 for a vacuum packed life raft
When I think of all the great things our Awesome Government does with the money I earn for it, i get teary eyed. It may sound trite and platitudinous to say it, but I'm proud to live in a country where so much is taken from so many to pay for so little.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Ticking away

Returning to my my ancestral home, as we did last weekend for an Easter McBash, is always inspiring. I always seem to come away with a good idea or two.

That was the case this time as well. And as usual, one of the best ideas was inspired by the smallest of creatures.

I've mentioned the prevalence of those small, blood-sucking arachnids, ticks, in previous posts. Well, since it's now spring, they were out in force again in the woods along the river near my parents' house.

Both my dad and my Supermodel Wife (among others) found themselves picking the crawling little critters off their skins. But luckily I escaped the weekend bloodletting unscathed, as did our Jack Russel Terrier.

It was that last bit about the dog that led me to my next million dollar idea.

You see, our dog gets a monthly pill to protect him against fleas and ticks. I'm not sure what kind of chemistry is involved to make it work, for all I know there's some kind of magic pixie dust that wards off sanguivorous creepies.

That's not really the point. The point is, if they can make this kind of pill for dogs, why not make the same kind of pill for people?

I mean people and dogs share a similar physiology, right? Sure, there are obvious differences (dogs have the four legs, much more hair and the ability and irresistible desire to eat poop), but both are warm blooded mammals. Both can catch a ball, chase the mailman, and roll over and play dead.

Heck, our vet has even recommended giving our dog small doses of Pepcid for his occasional discomfort caused by a sour stomach. And if a dog can take human medicine, why can't people take the magic pill to repel ticks (and heck, fleas too)?

So if you're an aspiring chemist/pharmacists who's tired of the meth production game, or some kind or R&D guy at Bayer or some other pharma company, give me a call and we can talk about you buying my idea. Because as of this moment I hereby claim a copyright on Tixaqyll* and any other drug that performs as described.

*As always, consult your physician to see if Tixaqyll is right for you. May cause daytime drowsiness and sensitivity to sunlight and garlic.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Blogthing: Magic is in the eye of the beholder

There's a hidden message in the image below that describes 90 percent of the time I spend online.

If you decipher the hidden message, let me know in the comments. But try not to give away the surprise for everyone else.

(It might be easier if you click the image to embiggen it.)
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Anti social media

A bunch of crotchety old geezers have been kvetching about the invasion of marketing into social media platforms and how if it doesn't stop it's going to ruin the the entire online world.

Here are a few examples:
If one is using Twitter, they are “tweeting” not “twittering.” By the way, if you use Twitter to promote your product to me, you are an ASSHOLE.
They see all of this free and open communication occurring. And, being Marketing Fucktards, their first thought is "How can we piggyback on this shit and manipulate it, without people knowing we are manipulating it, and use it to sell our useless crap to people...
On the other hand, these social media promotional tactics are too close to shilling for my taste. Shills were shunned when the Internet was still a collection of crazy-blinking mile-long one-page framed sites of horrible colors, and they haven’t gained in popularity since. That doesn’t stop them from trying.
Essentially, these social Luddites are saying you're a sucker if you take advantage of your social network to get free stuff. I'm not really sure how that makes sense, then again I'm not a demented old fart suffering from dementia.

They also seem to be suffering under the misconception that these forums for social interaction are free. And I guess in a certain, very limited perspective this is true. After all, the end user doesn't pay a purchase price or subscription fee.

Unfortunately, this is the same perspective that concludes that Skittles are made from unicorn poop.

Here in the real world, there is no such thing as free. Somebody always pays a price for something. You know that time you posted on Twitter about how you just ate lunch at the Who Gives a Shit Cafe? Well, someone had to pay for the servers, bandwidth, application development, etc. that made it possible for you to keep everyone updated on the excruciating minutia of your day to day life.

Look, I hate to fail your whale here but in the real world when consumers want content but they don't want to pay for it, it's usually the advertiser that picks up the bill. That's true for all media -- radio, television, some magazines and newspapers -- and yes, even the Internet.

Social Media websites are no different from any other website -- a vast number of which are supported by advertising. In fact, if you don't like advertising and marketing, you might want to stay away from all moderately popular websites/applications/TV shows/radio programs/podcasts/concert venues/etc. Because here's another news flash for you, marketers like to go where the largest audience is, where they can more efficiently spend their increasingly shrinking advertising budgets.

So Twitter and Facebook, with their combined 114 babillion users, are prime marketing opportunities for advertisers.

Like it or not, there will be advertising. Marketers want it that way because they're interested in getting their messages to the audience. The users want it that way because (despite the ill-conceived objections quoted above) they want the "free" content.

And you know what, Twitter and Facebook and other sites/services also want it that way. They want the money. Believe it or not they aren't doing this for the sole benefit of the whiners who hate advertising.

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Monday, April 06, 2009


I'm telling you people times are tough. The economy is affecting everybody these days.

Even wealthy industrialist (and heir to the famous Wayne financial empire) Bruce Wayne has had to downsize.

Original story here.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

First First Friday

I get home from work Tuesday evening and hear the dreaded, "You need to read the note that the teacher sent home with our daughter today," from my Supermodel Wife.

Oh great. Something bad enough happened that it required a note home from school. We have a pretty good kid. But she is the assertive type, and sometimes that clashes with other assertive types in her kindergarten class.

Usually this results in nothing more than the kids "losing their trophies" for a few hours. It's all good, since it teaches kids how to get along with each other.

But now we've got the dreaded note from the teachers. The only thing worse would be the "phone call from the principal" which we hopefully will never get.

So anyway, I told my Supermodel Wife to just give me the gist of the note.

"Well, it turns out that our daughter and another girl in her class..."

(oh, boy... here it comes... What? Got in a fight? Set the school on fire? Have been selling leveraged credit default swaps in the lunchroom?...)

"... have been selected to have their projects from art class displayed in a gallery in The Crossroads this Friday."

What? Well... that's not bad at all! In fact, that's the opposite of bad!

Our kiddo's interest in fine arts has only become stronger over the years. Her skills and technique have developed nicely since first putting crayon to aluminum siding three years ago.

She has dabbled in cubist/surrealist fusion (see "Friendly Alien-2005"), and has produced some fascinating works of abstract expressionism.

The Kiddo's piece is one of only 12 chosen for display from her school.

While I'm proud to say I spotted this talent early, I'm even more proud that other luminaries in the world of fine art also recognize her potential.

If you're out and about in the Crossroads tonight, and if First Fridays is your thing, then don't miss your opportunity to see this up and coming artist.

The work is on display in the Shawnee Mission District Art Show at the OfficePort KC building -- 208 West 19th Street (between Wyandotte and Central).

Just be sure you get there before 8:30. That's her bedtime.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Read it and weep

In case you missed it, The Atlantic has a great read (penned keyboarded by Simon Johnson) about the covert coup that most people know as the current economic recession.

It's not as expletive-laced or frothing-at-the-mouth as Matt Taibbi's effort, so it might not be as enjoyable to some of you.

But The Atlantic piece does have an air of objectivity to it that makes it more valuable in my opinion (which is the one that counts).

In a primitive political system, power is transmitted through violence, or the threat of violence: military coups, private militias, and so on. In a less primitive system more typical of emerging markets, power is transmitted via money: bribes, kickbacks, and offshore bank accounts. Although lobbying and campaign contributions certainly play major roles in the American political system, old-fashioned corruption—envelopes stuffed with $100 bills—is probably a sideshow today, Jack Abramoff notwithstanding.

Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson’s predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

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