The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Friday, December 31, 2010

"I'm in ..." what? Jail?

A Detroit public schools teacher tried to pawn her clearly-marked school netbook. Marked how, you ask? With some kind of school slogan or other, reading "I'm in." To their credit, the pawn shop turned her in.

Maybe I've been over-rating the teacher's union. Maybe they're really not getting paid enough.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Remainders and literary evidence from the book sellers

Sick of this yet? I confess I may be a bit, but still, I find it interesting what kind of books get into the "bargain books" catalogs, of which I get a large number. Here, with some opinionated commentary, are a few notes from what I hope is the last of 2010's batch.
  • Atheism gets a big mention, I presume since most people who have already given up on God have read or written the books. From Richard Dawkins' mostly brilliant work on why religion is a Very Bad Thing (from which he leaves out, unfortunately, the compelling reasons why people have had to invent God for themselves,) we find the genuinely pathetic document described as follows: God's Problem: How the bible fails to answer our most important question -- why we suffer. Bart Ehrman. The author ... discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the bible's contradictory explanations for suffering and invites people of faith -- or no faith -- to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us. Get the impression that Mr. Ehrman may have done some suffering himself lately?
  • Pimpology: the 48 laws of the game. Pimpin' Ken with K.Hunter. Color photos. I bet there are.
  • How to succeed with women. R. Louis and D. Copeland. Foolproof ways to a woman's heart ... oh, hell, you've heard all this before. Just read Pimpology and do the opposite.
  • Or read: Asshole: How I got rich and happy by not giving a damn about anyone and how you can too. Martin Kihn.
  • The complete idiot's guide to alchemy. Dennis William Hauck.
  • Aftermath: A guide to preparing for and surviving apocolypse 2012. Problem with this one is that, as I've noted elsewhere, the Maya dates probably don't translate to 2012 at all, and may be off by a positive or negative number. But why let that spoil a great idiocy? The world could still end in 2012, just not for this set of reasons.
  • How to make millions in real estate in three years starting with no cash. Tyler G. Hicks. And end up with no cash, too. Special fourth edition forward by B. Madoff.
  • Any number of books by Ann Coulter. Too many to bother typing.
  • And my personal high-value recommendation, for only $9.95, A Salute to Hee Haw: Collector's edition.
In the unlikely case that anyone cares, my personal reading lately has ranged far and wide (since that's about all I can do right now,) and has included a second look at The Arikara War: The First Plains Indian War, 1823 by William R. Nester. Since the "war" consisted of two inconclusive battles, the book is mostly about the before and after and causes; the Arikara were an unpleasant and treacherous bunch of plains Indians living along the lower Missouri River, just about the time that a bunch of unpleasant and treacherous fur trappers decided to push the boundaries of manifest destiny further west, in conflict with the Indians, the US government, the Hudson Bay Company, the English government, and each other. Surprisingly, bloodshed and military incompetence, on all sides, abounded. Great stuff, if you think the history of the west starts after the Civil War.

Changes at Paesano

After 12 years of feisty, not always very successful direction of the East Side's sole Italian restaurant, Isabella Nicoletti is leaving. Although Michael Roddy disses "red sauce Italian" in the article, I was always a bit disappointed with the lack of comfort food and reliable pasta quality -- if Isabella was in the kitchen, things were fine, but if not, dishes could come out cool, under done, and clearly mystifying to the help. She knew how she wanted it done, but didn't seem great at passing that along. When Chaad Thomas left as wine director, reasons to go seemed to decline. I make a better bolognese, for example, to my twisted taste, nor did Roman dishes ever make much of an appearance -- if you wanted alfredo, carbonora, or all'amatriciana, you were out of luck. Poultry was usually ok, if it was duck sauce, but chicken seemed to elude them. Red meat -- hit or miss.

I don't know David Whitney, the sous chef who is stepping into Isabella's clogs, but here's hoping he'll back off on the Veneto and expand just a bit south and west to take on Tuscany and Rome. (Tuscany: imagine getting a bowl of zuppa di farro with a dash of real Luccese olive oil on a December night. Can anyone even spell "farro" in Ann Arbor? Does anyone know where Lucca is?) It would be great to have a slightly less micro-ethno-centric place over here on the city wall.

All that slightly snarky stuff said, I always liked Isabella and her piquant attitude, and I hope she does well. Paesano and the Roddys are great supporters of the community and of good food. Here's hoping for an evolution, not a revolution.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

He's back and running again

Wasn't there a football player years back called Mean Al Green?

More detail (sort of) on Snyder's fix-Michigan-quick notions

So a touch more detail, most of it wide-eyed, about Snyder's fix things in six months ideas. Mostly about budget, consolidating school non-educational services, prison services, and -- best of luck with this -- getting business to agree to a 6% tax on profit instead of a new sales tax on consumer services. Less and less impressed by the minute.