Who Will End Up On Top?

When I looked at the projected starting pitchers for today's baseball games, I had to smile when I saw this one:

Toronto at NY Yankees Bush (0-3) vs. Wang (0-0)

Just because.


Ugly Stamps

I saw a couple of really ugly stamps last night at work. The U.S. Postal Service has a policy that requires people to be dead for ten years before being commemorated on a stamp (The "Heroes" stamp after 9/11 with the living firefighters was the rare exception to the rule). It's too bad that other countries have more lax policies, because this leads to just about any jug-eared crown prince and his horsey bride ending up on the royal postage stamps. Ugh.


That Dude's Gotta Be Gay

In the bizarre news, a woman in Norway just scored a first, becoming the first woman ever to be convicted of raping a man in that country:

OSLO (Reuters) - A Norwegian court has sentenced a woman to nine months in jail for raping a man, the first such conviction in the Scandinavian country that prides itself for its egalitarianism.

The 31-year-old man fell asleep on a sofa at a party in January last year and told the court in the western city of Bergen he woke to find the 23-year-old woman was having oral sex with him.

Under Norwegian law, all sexual acts with someone who is "unconscious or for other reasons unable to oppose the act" are considered rape.

The court sentenced the woman Wednesday to nine months in jail and ordered her to pay 40,000 Norwegian crowns ($6,355) in compensation.

Dude, that's not rape, that's a fucking Penthouse letter! If she had bent him over and banged away at him with a strap-on, that would be rape. If a guy wakes up after passing out at a party and finds some woman giving him a hummer, he should be saying "thank you," not "I'll see you in court." Unless he's really, really gay or she's really, really ugly, of course.



Smart is bringing your umbrella in from your car when you know that it's likely to be raining in the morning when you get off work. Stupid is forgetting to roll the passenger side window of your car completely up before going inside. I was dry when I got to my car. Wish my passenger seat could say the same thing.


Outrage Du Jour

You've probably seen the video of the cops in Largo, Florida, handcuffing the unruly 5-year-old girl. It was on all of the news channels over the weekend. I saw the parts they showed on Fox News Channel, which showed the girl tearing things off a bulletin board, jumping up on a desk, and punching rather ineffectually at a female vice principal. Naturally, the girl's mother sees this as her own personal gravy train and has hired an attorney.

Now, the cops might have been a bit over the top in slapping the cuffs on a 5-year-old. But that's not the real problem in this situation: The real problem is a child who apparently has never been disciplined in her life and was disrupting the learning process for the other children in her class. The real problem is that the mother, Inga Akins, was not doing her job properly. From what I've heard, her little angel had been in trouble numerous times before. Rather than be part of the solution and work with the school's teachers and administrators to rein in her troublemaking daughter, Ms. Akins is part of the problem.

My guess is that unless someone straightens the kid out, her future career trajectory will probably make having handcuffs slapped on her a routine occurrence. If there was a Future Criminals of America, this girl would be a number one draft choice. Too bad.


Thoughts On Commercials

I've recently seen a new commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken which has the guitar riff from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" as the background music. What's up with that? I guess the only song that comes to mind for Kentucky is Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home," which isn't quite as catchy to modern ears and whose original lyrics would politically incorrect today.

Have you seen the commercial for Gatorade Endurance Formula, which features non-Gatorade-drinking athletes shattering into rocky chunks? It's a very clever computer graphics effect, quite eye-catching, and someone in their advertising department deserves kudos for it.


"Old" Is Now 60

The folks at Fox News Channel recently told me about a poll, in which people were asked to define at what point a person becomes "old." The average response was "Fifteen years older that I am." Because none of us are old, of course. It's those fogeys who are so much older than we are who are "old".

Well, as of today, "old" is now 60, at least as far as I am concerned. I had lunch with my dad today and told him about this. He laughed and said that 60 wasn't old at all! Of course, he left 60 in the dust a few years back, so he has a different perspective. I told him that I figured the late Pope John Paul II probably griped about the "old" 99-year-olds.

I've been using birthday gift certificates, etc., to buy DVDs. My mom gave me an Amazon gift certificate and I ordered "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers" on DVD, which will probably arrive in a week or so. I got a mall gift card from my dad and used part of it to buy "There's Something (More) About Mary" and "Demolition Man" on DVD. I will be very entertained!

Late afternoon traffic coming home was a nightmare. I had forgotten how terrible it is to have to drive in traffic, since I drive to work at 10:30 p.m. and come home in the morning with rush hour traffic coming from the other direction. I don't really care if I ever drive in the daytime again. Too many aggravating idiots on the road.


Take It Outside!

That's what we did last night at work. Twice. First, we had a power outage around 11:25 p.m. It was one of those outages where the power goes out, tries to come back on and then goes off again, leaving you with only the minimum emergency lighting. We went outside to the parking lot and waited for the power to come back on. The last time something like this happened was on New Year's Eve day, and the power ended up being out for a couple of hours. This time, we were lucky and it came back on after about 40 minutes. The outage affected a large area nearby, not just our building.

Then, near the end of the day at 6:20 a.m., the fire alarm went off. I was on my last break and just getting ready to go back to the workroom floor. Instead, it was outside into the darkness again. Fortunately, we were only out there for about five minutes.

Amazingly, we still managed to get our mail run and dispatched on time. I was just glad we didn't have the biohazard detection system go off for the trifecta. If it had, I'd probably still be in the parking lot wearing paper clothes.


This and That

Some days there are topics of great import to be discussed.

Today is not one of those days, so you get what you get.

I watched Fox News' coverage of the election of the new Pope yesterday. And like Jon Stewart, I thought their "We Have A Pope!" bit was somewhat overdone. As a non-Catholic, my response was a Tonto-esque "What this we, white man?" Stewart noted on "The Daily Show" that Fox News Channel apparently is now a diocese. If you missed the show last night, like I did, it's on again this morning at 10:00 EDT on Comedy Central.

Fun science site, just because I like you: Universe Today. Check out the ad on the page for Glow-in-the-Dark Mars Mud. "Glow in the dark icky fun. Kids love it. Makes fart noises." For some reason, I suspect that they're right about the kids' reaction. And read the story about the giant iceberg breaking off a piece of Antarctica. I hope it had collision insurance.

Here's an odd story for you: Woman Sues for Being Fired for Piercing. The punchline? She's claiming "religious discrimination" and says that she is a member of the Church of Body Modification. Although I've heard that Michael Jackson was a Jehovah's Witness, I'd guess that he's actually in that same church with her. Freaky.



I was going to go to work last night. At least, I was until the alarm went off, I stumbled over the dog in the dark, tripped and banged my shin into a table. After a few choice words and procuring an ice pack, I was done for the night. Nothing's broken, but I've got a big knot on my shin and a bruise a few inches across. Ouch...


Music Appreciation Day

The "Hogan's Heroes" marathon will have to wait until tomorrow. Along with the DVDs, I also ordered a CD, The Best of Sixpence None the Richer. It has both of their big hits ("Kiss Me" in both English and Japanese, and their cover of The Las "There She Goes") as well as some other interesting covers, including ABBA's "Dancing Queen" and Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over." I had to go rooting through my collection to find my Crowded House CD. I thought that "Something So Strong" was the best track on that particular disc. Now I'm getting ready to pop in some Neil Young: Weld. Both discs. Yeah! Cognitive dissonance: That came out fourteen years ago. Damn. That doesn't seem possible.

A Tax Day Diversion For You

South Park Studio Version 2

Knock yourselves out.


Impulse Shopping

Yesterday, I read on Instapundit that the first season of "Hogan's Heroes" is available on DVD. I went to Amazon.com and found that I could get the 32-episode, 5-disc set for less than $30. Such a deal! I ordered it with 2-day shipping, so I should get it tomorrow. Can you say "Hogan's Heroes" marathon weekend?


Another Night, Another Video

Mercifully, this one was comparatively short at 20 minutes. It was about harassment other than the sexual variety. Yes, it seems that just about anyone can be a victim of harassment, whether due to race, religion, sex, national origin, age, size, pregnancy... I found out that even I fall into a "protected category," since I'm over 40 and now protected against age discrimination. Goody-goody gumdrops.

Remember those stand-up talk scripts I told you about yesterday? Well, among the illustrations was a "person of mass" carrying a hoe and a watering pitcher. I pointed out that this was probably offensive, since it seemed to indicate that "persons of mass" could not aspire to a career higher than landscaping. Apparently I was just one night ahead of my time. But where is the consistency? Don't we all have the right to never, ever be offended by anyone at any time? Isn't that in the Constitution someplace?


Because YOU Wanted to See It!

Video Night

Unfortunately, I couldn't sneak out of last night's video. It was about sexual harassment, and it ran for about 1-1/2 hours. Then we had to read a 30-page booklet of service talk scripts about sexual harassment and appropriate behavior, which was quite amusing because the scripts actually give the supervisors (who are supposed to be reading them to us) instructions on what to emphasize and how to say it. ("Pause and wait for heads to nod." "Say slowly and deliberately..." etc.)

It reminded me of a part in the movie "Demolition Man" when the future San Angeles, California cops of 2032, whose society is peaceful and has had no real crime in years, have to go out and arrest defrosted cryo-con Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). The police station's computer gives the cop on the scene instructions in just the same way, telling him to instruct the suspect to lie down on the ground, and helpfully adds "And say, 'Or else!' "

The video was one of those where you have to answer questions about "Is this sexual harassment? How about this?" The answer is usually "yes," and even when it isn't, sometimes it's better not to say or do it. I could have summed that up in five minutes. Instead, I wasted my first two hours of the night. Fortunately, I had a good helper tonight and we got the mail out anyway.


Annoying Monday

Or is that redundant?

Suffice it to say that last night was mostly annoying, from beginning to end. It's over now, I'm home, and I'm still feeling phantom annoyance, like an amputee feeling a phantom itch from a lost limb. Nowhere to scratch.

I watched a lot of TV over the weekend. I felt kind of sorry for Charles and Camilla. As much money as the British royals get, they live in a fish bowl and suffer slings and arrows from the press and the people themselves that would have resulted in execution for lese majesty in earlier times. On the other hand, some of those hats the women were wearing were fully deserving of scorn and derision.

I watched an HBO documentary on Saturday morning called "Left of the Dial," which was about the liberal Air America (or "Err America", as we conservatives call it) radio network, from a couple of weeks before its launch all the way up to last November's presidential election, and the numerous blunders and pratfalls the network suffered along the way. This documentary did for liberal talk radio what "This Is Spinal Tap" did for heavy metal music, except of course, this wasn't fictional. It was like watching "Titanic" and rooting for the iceberg. I must admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude while watching it, especially the election day coverage. Most of the people involved weren't very sympathetic characters, although I did kind of like Randi Rhodes, even if she was completely wrong in her politics.


The Getaway

As we shuffled into the conference room for our beginning-of-tour meeting, I could see the tell-tale blue glare of the television. Uh-oh. Sensing another intolerable video, I hung back and went in last, dragging a chair in from the neighboring conference room and sitting by the door. I made sure that the door was chocked open, since if it closed, only a supervisor's badge would open it.

The supervisor at our meeting had already watched the video an hour earlier, so he would be leaving shortly. I made sure to sign the training sheet, which I had forgotten to do last time. Then, I waited for the supervisor to pick up the sign-in sheets and take them back to the training room. Sure enough, it was the same annoying blonde woman in the video. I heard the door to the workroom floor open and then click shut.

I counted slowly to 20, then scooted my chair into the doorway and then backwards. Silently, I pushed the chair back into the other room, then stealthily moved past the training room. I darted around the corner and to the door. I opened it, stuck my head out and looked left and right: The coast was clear! Whistling the theme music from "Mission: Impossible," I hotfooted it out of there and made a beeline back to my machine. Total time wasted: Five minutes, which was 25 minutes less than everyone else. I felt a sense of euphoria over my flawless escape. In fact, I had a warm fuzzy feeling about it for the next couple of hours. I probably should have thanked them for enabling me to do something that made me feel so good.

And then it turned out that the supervisor had shown the same part of the video again that had already been shown on Wednesday! (Although I only learned that later, not having been there myself.)

I talked with one of my female co-workers about the video, and she noticed the gender gap in the reaction to the video. "All the guys hated it, like it was nails on a chalkboard," she said. "Most of us women said, 'Oh, it's not that bad,' but then it was more of a subject that interested us." Exactly.


Getting His Fifteen Minutes

Did you see the car chase in Los Angeles the other day, featuring the man in the white car with the glittery purple cape? He was dressed all in white and was hanging out the window as the car rolled slowly down the road, waving his purple cape like a toreador would wave his red cape to draw the attention of a bull. Later, the man tied the purple cape to the roof of his car, which I'm sure was appreciated by the helicopter's TV crew, since it made him easy to track as he whizzed down L.A.'s freeways at speeds over 110 miles per hour. The denouement came when the man pulled off onto a side road and then parked the car and went into a doughnut shop. You have to admit, that shows a certain twisted criminal genius, or at least a sense of irony. Alas for the caped eluder, the cops were not distracted by the doughnuts on the premises, and when he resisted arrest, he got a faceful of pepper spray and was taken out on a stretcher. I can imagine him saying, "Hey, I didn't order my doughnuts with a side order of pepper spray!"

It seems that almost all of the good car chases come to us from southern California. Occasionally we'll get an entertaining one from Dallas, but rarely from anywhere else. I'm not sure if it's something in the Los Angeles mindset that leads to more chases, or if it's just that there are all of those highways out there and it seems to the driver that he might be able to get away. They never do, of course, although once I saw a clever driver zip into a mall's covered parking garage and disappear for a while. The cops did collar him eventually, though.


Feets, Don't Fail Me Now! Part Deux

Last night started badly. We had to watch a half-hour long video featuring some chirpy blonde woman telling us how to reconnect our scattered lives, or some such claptrap. I had a visceral negative reaction as she chattered on about how we don't spend enough time with our children, yadda yadda yadda. The video was obviously intended to help us balance our roles as working women, loving wives and soccer moms. I, however, was 0-f0r-3 on those categories. The blonde had a studio audience which appeared to be almost all women. I saw one man who probably was either someone's hen-pecked husband or else gay. It was pretty obvious who the target demographic for the video was, and it wasn't those of us who can pee standing up. If there had been commercials in the video, they would have been for diapers, children's cold remedies and feminine hygiene products. It wasn't a guy thing.

Finally, after about five minutes, I could stand the woman's inanity no longer. "Gaaaaaaahhhh!!" I exclaimed, causing startled glances from my co-workers. "I can't stand her!" I was sitting at the back of the room by the door. The supervisor had left the room, and the door was open. I slowly scooted my chair to the doorway, and then backed it out of the room. I pushed the chair into the neighboring conference room where I had borrowed it from, and then made good my escape. "Feets, don't fail me now!" I would have made a clean getaway except that the supervisor came back in as I was getting ready to walk back out onto the workroom floor. "Sneaking out?" he asked.

"Yup," I replied. "I'm sneaking out." And I left, feeling very empowered and assertive, just the way the video wanted me to.

It took me a little while, but I finally figured out what the video had reminded me of: My ex-wife used to love to watch "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" in the mornings. I loathed that show, and would have to go into another room and watch ESPN Sports Center or Jerry Springer or something to get Rosie's inanity out of my head. I wouldn't break out in hives when I'd hear the show's bouncy intro music, but it was pretty close. So I guess we can chalk up my visceral reaction to the banal blonde as a sort of post-Rosie traumatic stress syndrome. That's as good an explanation as any, so I'm sticking to it.

The bad news is that the video was supposedly part of a multi-part series. The good news is that there were no repercussions from me bolting from the room, so I won't have any qualms about doing it again. My stance is simple: I don't mind training that helps me in my job, but for chrissakes don't try and feed me that touchy-feely politically correct crap, especially when it has nothing to do with anything in my life.


Things I Hate, Part 1

Daylight Savings Time. Why? It doesn't do me any good, since either way, it's dark when I wake up at 9:30 p.m. And it means that when I get off work at 7:30 a.m. and drive east, I'm facing right into the glare of the freshly-risen sun. I might feel more sanguine about it if I was driving west.


R.I.P., Pope John Paul II

I'm not a Catholic, but I still had a great deal of respect for the Pope and his accomplishments. He lived a long, full life. He was a voice for human rights and human dignity, and he was one of those who helped bring an end to Soviet communist domination in eastern Europe. I didn't agree with all of his policies, but I know that he was a good man.

I clearly remember where I was when I heard that he had been shot back in 1981, because it was my second day in the Army, and I was at the Reception Station at Fort Dix, New Jersey. That's the kind of thing that sticks in your memory.

I got the chance to visit Rome and Vatican City in March of 1986, while I was stationed in Berlin. I saw St. Peter's Basilica, the Pieta (which had been damaged by that madman and was behind plastic), the Sistine Chapel (which was being repaired) and some other things. But unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see the Pope that day.


Coincidence Doesn't Equal Causation

It looks like Pope John Paul II isn't going to outlive Terri Schiavo by more than a couple of days. The news shows are already speaking about him in the past tense, although they are still watching the lit windows in his Vatican City apartments. If we lived in a more superstitious age, we might try to link the two deaths together. We are more enlightened, however, so we know that it's all just coincidence. Right?

Quality of Life

I had a discussion with a friend at work last night about the whole Terri Schiavo situation. I mentioned the Fox News poll which said that 54% said that removing Terri's feeding tube was "mercy" while 28% said that it was "murder." I was surprised that so many people were willing to countenance the barbaric death by starvation and dehydration of a brain-damaged woman. I suppose that they tried to put themselves in her situation and asked themselves, "If I was that badly brain-damaged and had put my family and friends through the monetary and psychic costs of taking care of me for 15 years with no end in sight, would I want to live in that state?" And the answer for most was obviously "No." They viewed her quality of life as being so bad that it was a mercy to end it, no matter how cruel the method of doing so might be.

The problem is that this opens a very large can of worms. If we can accept the ending of Terri Schiavo's life because of her terrible quality of life, then there are obviously many other disabled people who are in danger of the same fate. The mentally retarded, the Downs Syndrome and fetal alchohol kids, the paralyzed, the amputees: The quality of their lives is pretty bad, too. None of us would want to live under those kinds of circumstances, right?

And what about those who live in desperate poverty around the world? Remember all those people who died in the December tsunami? The ones who weren't rich Western tourists were mostly dirt-poor natives, living subsistance lives hand-to-mouth. They've never had a Starbucks triple latte or played on a Sony Playstation, so the quality of their lives must be pretty bad. Maybe they were better off dead, too?

And for that matter, what about the rest of us who aren't as rich as our oligarchic masters in government? After all, if you don't have a ski chalet or a private island off the New England coast as a vacation spot, if you can't afford to enjoy the adrenaline rush of driving a Lamborghini, if you aren't a connoisseur of fine cognacs, why, then you must not have a very good quality of life, either. And remember, our masters in the black robes are the ones who decide who lives and who dies these days, if you aren't responsible enough to make your own plans in advance.