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.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So far, no apocalypse (Newt aside)

Watch the ultimate videographic comment on the end-o-the-world idiots.

2011 5 26 Update: Sigh.

2011 5 22 Update: The failure of the world to end yesterday or for the second coming to occur or for, apparently, anyone to be raptured calls out for explanation(s). As usual, the Wood-Charles News Service is prepared with an unordered list of possibilities:
  • Harold Camping, the radio preacher responsible for this one in a long running series of Apocalypses-now, is:
    • An idiot
    • A clever marketer
    • On his way to Rio with the proceeds
  • The Rapture did, in fact, take place, but there were so few truly righteous people that it wasn't noticeable.
  • The Son of God did return to earth, having not been paying much attention to current events; he looked around, vomited discreetly on his sandals, and left again.
  • God himself tried to end the world, but was shot twice in the head by members of SEAL team 6, after having been cornered in a Manhattan hotel room.
The serious question for me is, does the First Amendment cover apocalyptic speech? Is the theater in which Camping was crying "Fire" small enough and the number of people trampled in the exodus few enough (think of the folks who claimed, anyway, to have quit their jobs and spent all their savings on doomsday posters, for example) to keep Camping and Family Radio off the hook for liability? Probably. Should it? That's another matter, one which I find myself thinking more and more about: do we give potentially predatory evangelists too much rope? Where is the line beyond which they hang themselves or the law helps 'em do it? I wish I had a concrete answer.
I'm thinking of selling bumper stickers: "Matthew 24:36 -- look it up, Jesus Boy!" If you take it all the way back, past the New Proctor and Gamble Edition, past the Naughty Scriptures, clear to the Vulgate, it still says the same thing: "de die autem illa et hora nemo scit neque angeli caelorum nisi Pater solus" Of the day and the hour, none knows, not the angels of heaven but the Father only. Which I guess means if your dad's not busy, ask him, but pay no attention to some jackass on the radio (unless, of course, it's your father.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A cult is a cult

Told you so.

Irrational devotion to a questionable proposition. Tithing. All that's missing is violent evangelism, and ... well, you saw the physiotype that was promoted in those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads. Not exactly your Seljuk Turk or Moro Tribesman, now was he?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That repeating feeling of unreality

Over the years since we first heard his amusing name -- like something out of Doctor Seuss -- someone in the media or the pundit class has been around to assert that whatever else you might think of Newt Gingrich, he's really smart.

And over all those years, I have been completely unable to figure out why. As John Cleese says in the cheese shop sketch, "Explain, pray, the logic underlying that conclusion." What has Gingrich ever done that can be characterized as anything but smarter than some of his peers in the GOP? And of course the people who voted for him. I'll agree that he's smarter than they are.

But man, oh, man, compared to anyone with actual political chops, he's an idiot. The contract with America, you'll recall, nearly destroyed the GOP, and Newt's other peculations caused him to exit politics with his tail between his legs. Now, in the first week of his formal comeback attempt, he shows his true colors (the plaid and paisley banner of the National Association of Idiots) by savaging a budget plan carefully crafted by -- the GOP. The ones actually holding elected office. The party he apparently expects to nominate him for President.

Well, it's a free country. Even a commie pinko like Walt Kelly admitted that a man has a right to make a fool of himself. And with Trump out of the race, we can be thankful for having Newt's hair to mock. (Yeah, I know, John Stewart said essentially the same thing, and unlike me, his living depends on having things to mock -- for me, it's just a case of my sanity and amour-propre.)

Mark McKinnon at The Daily Beast has a nice summary of the Newtapocalypse, in case you've missed any of it. I really should be doing something more creative -- like making a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Add another one

... to the list of rogue Detroit-area politicians. Courtney Owens is a dapper Inkster city councilman who, like many riders, appears to believe that a motorcycle is actually faster and better handling than a police car. The only other facts you need, beyond what's covered in the article, are a) that Inkster is a small Detroit suburb, uglier and more desperately blighted than Detroit, even, and b) Owens is a small-time Inkster pol, uglier and dumber than Kwame Kilpatrick, even.

I'll be Brief ...

... today, since I just came back from one of my favorite procedures, a bone marrow biopsy, in which they ram a needle into one or another of the bones in your pelvis and aspirate (that's a medical term for "suck") out some marrow. Sedation or no sedation, the whole process sucks, in my (by now well-experienced) opinion.

So all I have to say today is to note for you, in case you missed it, John McCain's comment that maybe tweeting isn't all it's cracked up to be, since:

"I look at a lot of tweets that come back to me, and a large number of them call for my early demise, usually in a painful manner."

Funny article, actually. I'm only vaguely aware of who Snooki is, but apparently McCain knows.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Resigning, dropping out, etc.

Mike Huckabee has decided not to run for President in 2012. He's apparently doing well enough in the private sector that he chooses not to be indicted for any of the various things that would certainly be identified by the press if he did run put his family through the stress of proving that he was actually born in the US and not in a cave in the Pakistan / Afghanistan border area a long and hard-fought campaign. The miserable little fundamentalist bastard ex-governor of Arkansas was seen as a potential front-runner for the GOP in 2012; his departure pares down the crew of imbeciles and half-wits dumb enough to try a run for it to Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and the love child of an affair between Michelle Bachman and Charlie Sheen.

In another example of a politician hitting his Peter Principle level(1), John Ensign resigned last month to avoid an ethics probe. Unfortunately for him, The United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics released its report anyway, They said, in part:

"Based on the record in this matter, the Special Counsel respectfully submits that there is substantial credible evidence that provides substantial cause to conclude that Senator Ensign violated Senate Rules and federal civil and criminal laws, and engaged in improper conduct reflecting upon the Senate, thus betraying the public trust and bringing discredit to the Senate."

I'm having fun (yes, this is my twisted idea of fun) reading the report. You can too, if you'd like. It's here.

update 2011 05 17: Trump's out, too.

update 2011 05 18: Apparently the French, perhaps just caught up in the excitement, are dropping out of elections and resigning from things, too. Dominique Strauss-Kahn won't be running for President of France anytime soon, apparently.

And our own ex-Governor, Jenny Granholm, weighed in as well, suggesting a national gubernatorial policy of pants zippage retention.

(1) See the link for a definition. Essentially, the principle postulates that you advance in your career until you exceed the point at which you're competent to perform. In the case of politicians, the McLuggage corollary to the Peter Principle adds the phrase, "... or until you get caught at something especially illegal or unpleasant," which appears to be the case with Mr. Ensign.

A modest proposal

When I met with Governor Rick Snyder shortly after his election, he asked for my recommendations on the reform of Michigan's tax structure. Now that the legislature has passed the version he presented (more or less -- they dicked around with it a bit,) I can reveal the suggestions I made, which were not included in the current bill. Snyder has promised that if the economy of the state doesn't improve by this time next year, he'll resign and move back to North Dakota consider a new bill that would include my proposals.
  • The Pay to Play Business Tax: Any corporation doing business in Michigan, reporting over ten million dollars in annual revenue, and showing a profit is required to increase its employee headcount, in Michigan, by a proportionate amount of the profit in the subsequent calendar year. In other words, instead of paying tax to the state on profit, you are required to hire more residents of the state, who will then presumably pay income taxes, buy property and pay taxes on that, etc., etc.
  • The Think Twice About That RIF Plan Tax: Any corporation doing business in Michigan and reporting over ten million dollars in annual revenue is required to pay any savings realized from reducing headcount directly and promptly to the persons affected by said reductions, for a period of five years after severance, including maintenance of health care insurance and other benefits. This tax is only waived if the corporation can show evidence of having made good faith efforts, over a period of five years prior to the reductions in question, to increase revenue from existing or new operations.

    Note that both of these measures should be popular with all sides of the reduce government (Republican) / maintain middle class standards of living (Democrat) / take everything out of the hands of the government and don't give it to anybody (Tea Baggers) debate. In each case, instead of the proposed tax being paid to the State of Michigan directly, it's paid to individuals who then, at least in theory, pay it to the state (the trickle-up theory, first proposed by an eminent economist (me) in 1972 ("Destroy the fascist economic stranglehold of the Friedmaniac crypto-fascist bastards! Riot, riot, riot!," McLuggage, 1972, Econ 201 mid-term paper, unpublished.)

  • The Don't Be A Damn Fool Tax: Any corporation doing business in Michigan, reporting over ten million dollars in annual revenue, is required to pay the State a tax of ten percent on the cost or savings of any of the following moronic activities undertaken:
    • Outsourcing software development or customer support to any foreign country except Ireland
    • Responding to profitability shortfalls by cutting training, IT, or advertising budgets without equivalent investment in new product development funding (the going-quietly-out-of-business tax)
    • Entering into any form of strategic agreement with Apple, Adobe, North Korea, Newscorp, Fiat, Facebook, or the Hutaree Militia
    • Proposing or investing in the development of a convention center in Ann Arbor
  • The Are You Out of Your Flippin' Mind? Tax: Any corporation doing business in Michigan, reporting less than ten million dollars in annual revenue, showing a profit, providing its owners and employees decent livings, and generally enjoying a level of success and prosperity that adopts a program or programs to grow beyond that level and subject itself to the other taxes described here shall be required to demonstrate that its management has been examined by a panel of qualified psychologists and declared sane to the extent possible under current mental health methods and technologies.
It is my sincere hope that, after the current measures have been shown to be the hollow sham they are given a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate their success or failure, we will be able to move on to implement my program of business-friendly (as long as you're not a very large business, anyway) tax policy.