Happy Leap Day!

Hey, hey! It's February 29th. Enjoy it; you won't see another one for 1,461 days. And be glad that it's not your birthday today, because you'd only get to celebrate your birthday on your birthday once every four years.

It's all about keeping the calendar working properly, of course. The Earth's year is 365.24 days long, and every fourth year, we have to add that extra day in February. Well, unless the year is divisibly by 100, in which case it's not a leap year, except when the year is divisible by 400, like 2000 was, which means that it is, indeed, once again a leap year.

Don't worry about that too much, since if you're old enough to read this, you're unlikely to still be around in 2100 when that becomes a problem again. If you are still around, you'll probably be too decrepit to care whether it's a leap year or not. I myself would be 139 years old in February 2100, which is currently long past my expiration date. It's possible that medical advances may make a 140-year lifespan attainable by the end of this century, but I'm not counting on it. I expect that the second number on the tombstone will start with a 20.

And on that cheerful note, get out there and enjoy your Leap Day!


Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

I'm here to tell you, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. Let's go to the news stories, shall we?

Police: Denver woman, 20, stabs boyfriend, 72

A 20-year-old woman and a 72-year-old man were "intimate friends" until romance turned to violence, said Denver District Attorney's spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough.

Jennifer Stroth was arrested on a domestic violence charge in Loveland on Feb. 17, after the couple had moved from Denver.

The ensuing investigation turned up evidence of two earlier knife attacks on her paramour when they shared a home in the 4900 block of Raleigh Street in Denver, Kimbrough said. Stroth is accused of stabbing the man on Feb. 1 and Feb. 16.


According to court records, she has been arrested numerous times on drug, theft and assault charges since turning 18 in June 2005, including an arrest by Aurora police on assault, battery and damaging private property charges stemming from a domestic violence case in November 2006.

Drugs? I'm shocked, shocked! A lot of words come to mind, all starting with C-R-A: Crazy. Crackhead. And Cradle-robber. A word to would-be long-in-the-tooth Lotharios: If she's more than fifty years younger than you and crazy enough to let you poke her, then she's probably crazy enough to poke you with something sharp. Don't do it, grandpa.

And then there's this one:

Devil-Worshipping Rapist Attacks Fiancée During Prison Leave

A British woman who regularly visits prison inmates fell in love with one, and it almost got her killed, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports. The West Yorkshire woman, whose identity was not released, fell for a convicted rapist serving a life sentence and would visit him for several hours every few weeks.

After the prisoner was released on parole to a hostel, he began spending weekends at her home and they eventually became engaged, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.

"For the first six months things went very well," the woman told a jury, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports. "He was very kind and very caring; I always found him to be like that when he was in prison."

The woman told a jury that the relationship took a turn for the worse when the convicted criminal "started saying 'there's no such thing as God,' and then started praying to Satan."

She went on to say that her fiancé would go "absolutely crazy," insisting that they were not having intercourse often enough. When she tried to end the relationship the man allegedly attacked her with a carving knife at her home, holding it to her throat, saying, "Well, this might make you change your mind," the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.

But he was such a "kind and caring" fellow! I mean, sure, he was serving a "life" (ha-ha-ha) sentence for rape, but that must have just been a misunderstanding, right? Equal time for advice here, ladies: If he's in prison, he ain't no Prince Charming. Even if he's just in there for dope, it proves he's an idiot. And rapists? You're probably safer taking up a new career learning to juggle chainsaws. Seriously.

Music Thoughts

I watched a documentary on the Independent Film Channel the other day titled "Before the Music Dies." It was about the various factors in the music business that were stifling the development of great music and promoting mediocrity, including: The consolidation of commercial radio stations in the hands of fewer companies like Clear Channel Communications, with an increased emphasis on rigid play lists and the bottom line; fewer recording companies, now publicly owned and answerable to shareholders; and the production of formulaic music as a product, with a strong emphasis on "pretty" people who don't need to have musical talent to have a music career. The film makers showed how it was possible to pick out a pretty woman with no singing talent and then run her vocals through a computer program that "fixes" the off-key tune.

The part about the radio stations and their rigid play lists didn't surprise me at all. As they put it, radio's job is to sell products, and the music is there to keep your ears listening through the commercials. The music doesn't have to be good, it only needs to be inoffensive enough to keep you from switching the channel. The dissatisfaction with mediocre repetitive music is one factor in the rise of satellite radio networks like Sirius and XM, with dozens of different choices for consumers.

Locally, there's a fairly new station called Bob-FM. It's a quirky name for a radio station, but over the past couple of years, it has risen to the #2 ranked station in the area, behind only WAVV-FM, the easy listening station for the old folks. It's moved ahead of WINK-AM, the local talk radio station which sits at #3. "Bob" has a very wide play list: The station plays rock and pop music from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and even more recent stuff from the past few years. Their tag line is "We play anything." It even plays music that I don't immediately recognize, which can be a good thing.

Contrast this with your typical "classic rock" station: You know that if you listen to it, you will hear a Led Zeppelin song within one hour, or it's free! A couple of nights ago, I was driving to work, and Bob went to commercials. I hit the button for a classic rock station from the Tampa Bay area. First song: "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin. I rest my case.

Now, I don't have anything against Led Zeppelin, but you know, sometimes I want to hear something different, something I haven't heard before. Something NEW. And on the classic rock stations, you won't ever hear anything you've never heard before, because the format prohibits it. When listening to them, it's like all of the crazy lefties were right back in the '80s and Reagan got us into a nuclear war and brought about the end of the world, because apparently no music was made after that.

Not too many years ago, the classic rock stations ruled the ratings roost, but in the latest ratings article in the paper a couple of weeks ago, I think there was one classic rock station mired somewhere in the bottom half of the top 10 stations in the area. The rise of Bob and the decline of the classic rock stations tells us something about the changing tastes of the radio audience. We really don't want to hear "Carry On Wayward Son" again today. Throw us something different, please. Or we'll change the station or get satellite radio and listen to the really cool stuff.


Taking the Scenic Route

I got a bit better acquainted with one of the back roads in Lehigh Acres this morning. Not by choice, mind you; no, it was a detour brought about by an accident on State Road 82.

I was driving home from work and had turned on SR 82 and driven a mile or so until I suddenly noticed that the traffic in front of me had slowed from the normal 60 mph to a standstill. Uh-oh. It was a foggy morning, and moments later, the radio helpfully told me that there was an accident on SR 82 with injuries and road blockage. Great. Now they tell me! It would have been nice if they'd mentioned it five minutes earlier and I would have taken an alternate route.

I thought about doing a quick U-turn, and in retrospect, this would have gotten me home much faster. Instead, I inched down the road behind the line of vehicles in front of me, and the sheriff's deputy whose cruiser was blocking off the highway diverted us off onto a narrow side street. Things moved along reasonably well for about a mile, but then we came to a complete stop. I slowly crawled down that road, taking about 15 minutes to go another mile or so. Finally I got to the next major road and turned left. It took another couple of miles to shake the traffic and finally be able to drive at normal speed.

It could have been worse, I guess. I could have been trying to get some place by a specific time. And I was certainly better off than the poor saps who were involved in the accident that caused all the trouble in the first place. Sometimes, it helps to keep things in proper perspective.

(Later, after some reflection) So what did I learn from this little involuntary side trip?

1. It is best to trust your instincts. If your gut feeling is "this would be a good time for a U-turn," your gut feeling is probably right.

2. The shortest path is not necessarily the quickest path.

3. When the traffic guy on the radio says that there's an accident with road blockage on the road ahead of you, he means it. Really. See #1 and #2 above.


iPod iNdigestion

I spent a big chunk of the weekend ripping CDs to iTunes and rounding up cover art to go with them. By the time I was finished, I had almost 20 GB in my iTunes folder, which is about 2/3 of the capacity on the new iPod. I also made a few tweaks to the sort order on some of my older CDs, which were listed as "Various Artists" because the album's artist was performing a duet with another artist. To get around that, you just select all of the tracks and then put the album's main artist in the Album Artist sort field. Then I imported all of the new stuff and changes to the iPod, and took it to work with me last night.

When I turned it on, I was nonplussed to find out that an iPod that had worked perfectly with 13 GB on it suddenly would not work properly with 20 GB on it. It took forever to show the album listing, and then it would play about one song and then crash back to the main menu. I quickly figured out that the problem was in the new data that had been added. Either it didn't like having new information added in multi-gigabyte chunks, or it didn't like the album sort changes, or both.

I brought it home this morning and took all of the data off, then re-imported all of the songs from iTunes. When you're talking about some 5400 songs, that's a lengthy process. The good news is that after I did that, it appears to be working perfectly again.


The Audacity of Mope?

Oh, boy, we've got another presidential candidate! Yes, the lugubrious Ralph Nader has just announced that once again, he is going to run for president. Because we just didn't have enough candidates in the race who didn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting elected, I guess.

As the Sunday Fox & Friends crew just noted, the gloomy-looking Nader isn't particularly charismatic. A picture of Nader was shown on screen, and they noted that he was smiling. "That's as much as you get?" one of them asked. Apparently. Nader is the anti-Obama, but he's not going to get elected on the "audacity of mope." Indeed, he's not going to get elected at all, and anyone who gives him money for his election campaign might as well just set fire to it. Quicker that way.

They Might As Well Have Skipped the Valentine's Day Gifts

Rules for having an argument with your significant other:
  1. No hitting
  2. No hitting with cars
  3. No fighting while one of you is hanging on top of the car, punching through the window, while the other one is driving down a busy road and running into several other cars
On the other hand, the make-up sex for this fight would be something spectacular, assuming that they can set up a joint conjugal visit at the prison...


Thoughts on the 32 GB iPod Touch

My new toy arrived yesterday. I had downloaded the latest version of iTunes, which I needed to run it, so when I hooked the iPod Touch up to the computer with the USB cable, it synched my entire music collection to the new iPod. All of a sudden, I was carrying around almost twice as much music as my 8 GB iPod Nano could hold, and the iPod Touch was less than half-full. It's actual usable capacity is 29.96 GB after the operating system is subtracted out.

You might know that a while back, there was a big flap between Apple Computer and the surviving Beatles and their heirs' company, Apple Records, over trademark infringement claims. Due to this problem, no Beatles music was available to be purchased via the iTunes store. Recently, however, the two sides came to an agreement, and all is now peace and love between them. How lovey-dovey is it? Well, on the cover of the black box that the iPod Touch came in, the illustration shows the cover of Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon, with Lennon himself in his trademark shades looking at the buyer.

The iPod Touch has a nifty sensor in it. When you turn it horizontally, it shifts to show your album covers, allowing you to flip through them until you find the album you want to play and then tap on it. When your turn it back to vertical, you can scroll through the songs on the album.

It's called an iPod Touch because the controls are all on the touch-sensitive glass face plate. The only real drawback is that it does have a tendency to get streaked with fingerprints, but you don't really notice it when it is lit up.

The back supposedly can get scratched fairly easily; it's not anodized aluminum like the iPod Nano, which was comparatively tough. If you buy one of these, you really need to get some kind of case or holster to protect it. I got a DLO Leather Hip Folio for it, which has a clip which can go on a belt or back pocket. It has holes at the bottom for the USB cable and the headphone jack.

I've been busily ripping CDs this morning, and I added 30 of them, plus the cover art for each one, to iTunes. Once I finish doing my ripping for the day, I'll synch everything up again. I still have a lot of CDs to rip, and I'm not yet up to 15 GB. Rome wasn't built in a day, and this task won't be finished today, either. It's a process.



The shuttle Atlantis is getting ready to land. Right now, it's over the south Pacific, but it will be landing at Cape Canaveral in about 25 minutes. It will be coming right over the Fort Myers area as it moves across the Florida peninsula. I'll be going outside as it approaches to see if I can see it going overhead. I should hear the double sonic boom, even if I don't see the shuttle itself.

Update: I didn't see anything, but I definitely heard the sonic booms. All the dogs in the neighborhood started barking...


Adios, Fidel?

Fidel Castro has been out of the limelight for a while, but yesterday he officially announced that he was not going to return to office. The aged Cuban dictator was succeeded by his kid brother, Raoul, who is a youthful 76 years old. Fidel was forced into semi-retirement by health problems a while back, and Raoul's been running things ever since. It's kind of a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." The lives of Cubans have not improved, and nobody is building rafts trying to get to the island nation.

I don't expect the icy relationship between Cuba and the United States to change any time soon. There's too much water under the bridge, and as long as communists from Fidel's generation are running Cuba into the ground, there's no reason for us to change our policies. If at some point in the near future, the Cuban government changes its policies and starts respecting the human rights of its citizens, then we can start thinking about rapprochement with Cuba.


Politics Imitate Art

Raphael's The Transfiguration of Christ.

The picture below came from the Is Barack Obama the Messiah blog:

Obama - The Transfiguration

[Obama at fund-raiser at Steven and Judy Gluckstern's home, April 9, 2007. George Soros is seated to the right of the stairs. (Published in New York Magazine April 16, 2007 - Credit: "Daily Speculations"]

I talked with my dad at lunch on Friday about Obama, and mentioned the whole messianic aspect of Obama's campaign rallies and the fervent, adoring crowds. As I put it, these people are mostly secularists, and they are filling the hole in their souls that would normally be filled with religion with Obama.

What does he stand for? It doesn't matter! He's the New Messiah, and allows people to project their hopes and desires onto him like a blank movie screen. He's smart and wise, and we're smart and wise, so of course he believes in everything that we believe in! Tom Maguire at Just One Minute took a look at this in a post about Obama being the Mirror of Desire.

Finally, Obama was quoted on Super Tuesday as saying, "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." To which I can only reply with the old T-shirt slogan, "We are the ones our parents warned us about."

Yielding to Temptation

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I kept going back to the Amazon page with the new 32 GB iPod Touch and lusting after it, and going back, and going back. Inevitably, I finally yielded to temptation and bought one this morning. I also got a leather holster case for it.

I also finally gave in to reality and decided to accept their offer to join Amazon Prime, which for $79 per year gives you free two-day shipping on all orders. As much as I buy from Amazon over the course of a year, it makes sense to just pay a lump sum and get two-day shipping on everything from now on. This means I should have my new iPod Touch on Wednesday. Then I'll go into a frenzy of CD ripping on the rest of my music collection. We'll see how close to 32 GB I can get. Currently, my iTunes has 13 GB worth of music. I'll probably end up doubling that by the time everything is ripped.

I don't know how useful the wi-fi functions will be on it, since I live out in the sticks, and I don't know if there's any kind of wi-fi network at work that I can latch onto. Then again, I have other ways to access the Internet. And for lugging my music collection around in the palm of my hand (which will be its primary function for me), it will serve the purpose admirably.


Happy Valentine's Day

Hey, it's Valentine's Day, so hopefully you're getting some love from somebody special. If not, well...


Story Updates

First, from yesterday, Uno the beagle won the Westminster Dog Show. You go, dog!

Second, yesterday's robin count in the backyard was about twelve; it was hard to count them because they kept hopping around looking for worms for their breakfast. It looked like a gang convention back there. There was no sign of Mr. Blue Jay. It appears that the Bloods chased his Crip ass out of the 'hood.


Random Thoughts

This date will be much more hyped next year than it is today. Why? Because today is Abraham Lincoln's 199th birthday. Next year, February 12th will be the Lincoln Bicentennial. It will be a big deal, at least for one day, because we like round numbers that end in 00 or 50. It's just how we are. Today? Not so much, since nobody gets Lincoln's Birthday off as a holiday any more.

Hillary Clinton needs to start beating Barack Obama in some states. She hasn't won anything since Super Tuesday, and she may lose all three primaries taking place today in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Well, it wouldn't be correct to say that she "hasn't won anything" lately; she sure put a beat-down on that MSNBC chump who said that it was like the Clintons were "pimping out" Chelsea on the campaign trail. Unfortunately, getting maladroit talking heads fired doesn't win any delegates. It does let the networks know who's boss, though. Expect the regular fawning coverage to resume from MSNBC if Hillary gets the Democrat nomination.

Uno the beagle is trying to break a jinx at the Westminster Dog Show. No beagle has ever won "best of show" in its 100-year history. Uno won the hound competition yesterday to go on to the grand finale, the first beagle to do so. He's a literal underdog, so I'm pulling for him to win.

It was 40 below zero in International Falls, Minnesota yesterday. Al Gore, call your office!


Spotted in the Back Yard

Three robins, one blue jay. I can't blame them for wintering in Florida, because from what I've seen on television, it's darned cold Up North.

Yesterday, I was reading an article on a Madison, Wisconsin newspaper's web site. There was a little weather widget showing the predicted high for the day there as being -1 degree. No, that's not the wind chill; throw in the blustery winds and it was far worse than that.

Well, it's winter time. It's supposed to be cold up there in the winter. All of this talk about global warming probably made some people believe that they'd soon be planting palm trees in Fargo, North Dakota.

Ain't gonna happen, folks. Ain't gonna happen.


Obama as Messiah

"Is Barack Obama the Messiah?" That's the tongue-in-cheek question this blog asks. It shows the religious fervor of the converts to Obama's cause. Looking at the pictures that might have come straight from an evangelical revival meeting and reading the fervid prose of Obama's acolytes, I was suddenly struck with a strong sense of deja vu. I HAVE seen this before, and it only took me a minute to figure out where. The last time around, though, the part was played by Roger Daltrey (Okay, that's Pete Townshend singing the song in that clip, but in the movie, Roger Daltrey played the role of Tommy and sang "Sensation.")

Hey! I got mentioned at Instapundit!!

Cultural Insensitivity

Don't you just hate it when this sort of thing happens?
Palestinian group calls on Egyptian minister to apologize to Gazans

DAMASCUS, Syria: A radical Palestinian faction on Sunday denounced a recent statement by Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in which he warned the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip not to cross the border into Egypt or else they would have their legs broken.
How culturally insensitive is that? Anyone who knows anything knows that the Palestinians show their joy at meeting their neighbors by setting off explosive devices and firing automatic weapons into the air. "Breaking legs"? Only crusader infidels or occupiers from the Jewish entity would do something so gauche! Come on, Ahmed Aboul Gheit! Get with the program! Show your love to the Gazans in ways that they would understand.


Fun With Wikipedia

If you've ever been to the Wikipedia home page, you've undoubtedly seen the long list of languages in which the articles are written. Most of them are real languages, but I almost think that the Scots language articles are somebody's idea of a practical joke. Here, for example, is the Scots Wikipedia article on the United States:

The Unitit States o Americae is a kintra on the North American continent, an it is bund bi twa oceans (the Atlantic, an the Pacific) an bi twa kintras (Mexico tae the sooth, an Canadae tae the north). Its current Presses is George W. Bush o the Republican Pairtie.

Follaein the European colonisation o the Americaes, thretteen o Graet Breetain's nineteen American colonies spleet frae the mither kintra an formed the Unitit States, the warld's first constitutional an democratic federal republic, efter thair Declaration o Unthirldom in 1776 an the Weir o Unthirldom (17751783).

Ach, come on, yer pullin' mah laig!

Here is the same article in Anglo-Saxon:
Þā Geānlǣtan Rīcu American is trēowiendlicu cynewīse þe ligþ mǣst in Norðamerican. Hīe gebyrdaþ norþ Canadan and sūþ Mexico. Hīe habbaæ 50 rīca and āne trēowiendlice scīre, and habbaþ sume foldan mid syndrigum gradum sibbe. Man spricþ ymbe hīe, in syndrigum fiellum, swā þā Geānlǣhtan Rīcan, America[1], þā U.S., þa U.S.A., þā U.S. of A., þā Rīcu, oþþe (leōþlīce) Columbia.
And just for fun, in Esperanto (Here's enough to give you the flavor of it):
Usono (angle: The United States of America; mallonge: USA, USAmerica) estas federala konstitucia respubliko kiu konsistas el 50 subŝtatoj kaj federala distrikto.

Usono estas preskaŭ tute en la okcidenta hemisfero. Ĝia kvardek-ok apudaj subŝtatoj kaj ĝia ĉefurbo Vaŝingtono situas en Nordameriko; la plej granda parto de Usono (la t.n. 48 ŝtatoj, krom Alasko kaj Havajo) limitiĝas norde de Kanado, oriente de la Atlantika Oceano, sude de la Golfo de Meksiko kaj Meksiko, kaj okcidente de la Pacifika Oceano. Alasko lokiĝas nord-okcidente de Kanado, kaj Havajo lokiĝas enmeze de la Pacifika Oceano. Usono ankaŭ posedas dek-kvar teritorioj, inkluzive de Gvamo kaj Puerto-Riko.

Man, they love their J's and K's in Esperanto, don't they? And just for the hell of it, read their list of American cities at the bottom of the article.

And yes, in case you were wondering, there is, indeed, a Latin version of the page, for the Civitates Foederatae Americae:
Civitates Foederatae Americae[1] (Anglice: United States of America), breviter Civitates Foederatae vel Civitates vel America, in quibus quinquaginta civitates insunt, in America Septentrionali anno 1789 conditae sunt; quarum urbs Vasingtoniae est caput. Septentrione Canadam, austre Mexicum, oriente Oceanum Atlanticum, occidente Oceanum Pacificum tangunt. Praeses est quadragesimus tertius Georgius W. Bush.
There does not, however, appear to be one in Pig Latin. Ixnay on that idea! Be sure and read the list of American states and their capitals in Latin at the bottom of the article, and see how many you can puzzle out. Cenomannica? Mons Viridis? Novum Eboracum? Terra Mariae? Have fun with those!


WTF?! (Again)

I heard that some wacko shot up a town hall meeting in Kirkwood, Missouri, killing five people, including two cops, before being shot and killed himself. Fox News showed a picture of him, a friendly-looking black guy with a toothy grin, which apparently belied his explosive nature.

But the WTF? moment came immediately afterward, when the man's mother said on camera, "It was an act of God, like a tornado," saying that the town had pushed him too far by giving him tickets. "Act of God"?!?! WTF?! Who do you think you're kidding, lady? It was a violent act by your son, who was obviously a disturbed individual, not some sort of natural catastrophe! Why the hell can't some people properly lay the blame when someone commits violent acts like this? "Act of God!" Get outta here!



The other day, my friends at Apple sent me an e-mail, suggesting that an iPod would make a nice Valentine's Day gift. They also mentioned that they are adding a new member to their iPod Touch line, with a new 32 GB version available. The cost: $500, give or take. Amazon.com has it available for pre-order at $494.

It looks really, really cool. I like my little 2nd generation 8 GB iPod Nano, which I've had for a year and a half, but I already have more than 13 GB of stuff that I've ripped to iTunes from my CD collection, and I could probably rip several GB more, but I can only squeeze 7.45 GB onto the Nano. To put on something new, I have to take something off, because it's almost completely full (currently 57 MB free).

The iPod Touch is a bit larger and heavier than the Nano, and I don't know whether it is quite as robust, but with 32 GB of Flash memory (less the amount needed for the operating system, of course), I would be able to put all of the music I own on it! Add that it has built-in wi-fi, and it looks like a pretty cool gizmo.

I'm tempted, I'm very, very tempted. It would indeed make a great Valentine's Day present, and who would I rather lavish such an expensive present on than myself? The list is quite short...


Zeitgeist Flashback

So last night, I'm driving to work, listening to the radio station that plays all kinds of pop and rock music. I'm almost there and I hear a song that takes me back a quarter-century: "99 Red Balloons," the 1984 English version of the song by the German singer Nena. (Here is the German version; if you prefer the English, click the link above.)

I first heard the German version "99 Luftballons" back in 1983 when I was in Germany. It kind of tapped into the fearful zeitgeist of the mid-80s, when all the Europeans were afraid that Ronald Reagan's forceful, confrontational style was going to trigger a nuclear war with the Russians. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and we can look back on the angsty feelings of the time with a bit of a smile. Things weren't really that bad.

There were other songs that were popular during the 1983-85 period that also captured the fearful nature of the times: Men At Work's song "It's A Mistake," from 1983; several of the songs on Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome album from 1984, especially "Two Tribes" and their cover of "War"; and the piece de resistance, Sting's funereal "Russians" from 1985, a dreary dirge of a song.

Note that none of the artists listed above were Americans; Men At Work were Australians, and Sting and Frankie Goes To Hollywood were British. I think that most Americans weren't quite so fearful as the Europeans were of the Russians. In the end, the good guys won, the Soviet Union disappeared, and the nukes stayed in their silos.


Super Bowl Half-Time Show Questions

I like Tom Petty's music, and I loved the Full Moon Fever album that came out in 1989, but... Shouldn't the Super Bowl's half-time show feature an artist who has topped the charts a little more recently? The song selection is telling: "American Girl," which was on the debut Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album in 1976; and "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," and "Runnin' Down A Dream," all of which came off Full Moon Fever. They're great songs for a tail-end Boomer like me, but how relevant are they to the twenty-somethings that were shown dancing around on the field in front of the stage? Why must a musical act be inducted into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before they can play at the Super Bowl?

I guess it goes back to 2004's Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction." The NFL figures that if you have folks in their 50s and 60s out there on stage, they're less likely to prove an embarrassment on national television. Since 2004, it's been Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

Why is it that I suspect that when Super Bowl LXII rolls around in twenty years, we'll be watching some musical act from the mid-2000's doing the half-time show? Maybe a clean-and-sober Britney Spears, if she doesn't Anna Nicole herself.

The Unkindest Cut

I just read that Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh (age 67), Bob Weir (age 60) and Mickey Hart (age 64) are reuniting for a concert on Monday in San Francisco as part of a GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaign for a Democrat presidential candidate. Hmmmm... Which one do you think it is? Would it be the 60-year-old former hippie chick who hung out in Berkeley in the summer of '71 with her boyfriend Bill?

She fits in nicely with the age demographic of many Grateful Dead fans. But no, they're not playing for Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama, this note's for you.

They did a nice job on that poster, by the way, fusing the Dead logo with Obama's campaign logo. "Fired Up And Ready To Go!" And I don't think they're talking about their bong.


Mississippi: The Nanny State?

Health nazis: I hate 'em! They go against everything that America stands for: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And unfortunately, they think that they must change our unhealthy behaviors "for our own good," because they are so much wiser than we are about how we should live our lives. So they want to legislate away all of our unhealthy choices: Tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, and on and on.

In the state of Mississippi, hardly a bastion of liberal folly, three members of the state legislature have proposed a bill that would ban all restaurants that are licensed by the state health department from serving any food to people who are deemed to be obese. That's ALL food, not just fatty food. If that bill were to pass, obese people in Mississippi would have no choice but to eat at home, because they wouldn't even be able to purchase a low-calorie salad or vegetable platter at any restaurant in the state.

Two of these three morons are Republicans, one is a Democrat. As the linked article at TheSmokingGun.com notes, this bill is probably dead on arrival, as it should be. But for the citizens of Mississippi who elected those dimbulbs who proposed it, this should be a call for action. All three of those fools should be invited to return to private life at the next electoral opportunity.

Can you imagine all of the restaurants in the Magnolia State having to purchase scales in order to weigh any customer who looks like he or she might be obese? Do you trust fast food workers who can barely get your order right to read the height and weight tables? And what about drive-through lanes? Since everyone would have to come in and be weighed before they could purchase anything, drive-through lanes would go the way of the dinosaurs in Mississippi.

"I'm sorry, Jim Bob, but I can't sell you anything. The law says you're fifty pounds overweight for your height, and there's nothing I can do about it. There's a health food store across the street, though. Maybe you can get some tofu and sprouts there. Come back when you've lost the weight and you can have that Big Mac and fries you want."