Thought For the Day

The likelihood of a bird pooping on a freshly-washed car approaches certainty.

This is true even if you don't park your car under trees where incontinent birds tend to congregate.


One-Liner News Commentary

Jerry Lewis detained for carrying gun at airport

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Jerry Lewis was detained by police in Las Vegas late last week when airport screeners found an unloaded gun in his baggage, authorities said on Tuesday.

Lewis, 82, had a small .22-caliber handgun when he arrived at the security screening area on Friday at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, said Officer Ramon Denby, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The comedian was briefly detained and the gun was seized. Lewis was cited for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, Denby said.

Who would have guessed that Jerry's Kids were named Smith and Wesson?


A Visit to the Great Outdoors

Or at least a teeny-tiny piece of it. But I'm jumping ahead of the story. Let's start at the beginning.

This morning, I went to the library to pick up a book that I had put on hold a few days ago, How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein. After I picked up the book, I decided to satisfy some idle curiosity and pay a visit to the Jim Fleming Ecological Park on the way home. It was created last year on a small parcel of land next to Lee Boulevard, the six-lane road that is the main drag through Lehigh Acres. It's very small, only about a block long and perhaps a hundred feet wide. I drive past it every night on the way to work, but had never stopped off to see what was there. Today, I had the time, the weather was nice and it wasn't so late in the morning as to be unpleasantly hot, so I thought it was time for some exploring.

When I got there, I found that there was a parking lot at one end, with a pair of nearby pavilions containing a picnic table and a grill each. I was amused to note that one was constructed and donated by the local Rotary Club and the other by the local Kiwanis Club. The rivalry meant double the number of picnic pavilions, however, so it's all good. There was also a raised plaque dedicated to Jim Fleming, the county water district employee whose brain child the park was, as well as a port-a-potty for those who could not ignore nature's call.

Beyond that was the boardwalk, which was raised over the surrounding swampy area. There were some small cypress trees and various other water plants, including some with small purple flowers that were being tended by several industrious honey bees as well as a large blue-black bumblebee. I spotted numerous small blue dragonflies, and when I got to the far end of the boardwalk (which was about fifty yards away at the most), I saw a couple of red dragonflies as well.

On the negative side, I saw the trashy side of humanity, with two or three pieces of trash thrown in the water. Come on, people. Use the trash cans. It's not rocket science.


This and That, #2

Spotted in the mail last night: Not one but two glossy postcard mailings from companies advertising psychic services. And they were first-class mail, not standard mail, which was kind of a surprise to me. First-class is more expensive, but gets a higher priority when it comes to getting the mail out to the customers. One offered the chance to try their psychics who normally cost $3.25 per minute at the discounted price of $2.75 per minute. Such a deal! I never get any mailings from psychic companies myself; I guess they know that I wouldn't respond to them. Wow! They must be psychic or something!

I was at Wal-Mart this morning and among the candy at the cash registers, I saw something that sent a shiver up my spine: The Snickers candy bar wrappers had been changed to one of the most godawful designs that I've ever seen. It was kind of a salmon color, with the word "Snickers" in black outlined in tan, with a tan five-pointed star at one side.

Here is what they looked like (Image courtesy of Dr. Momentum at Aces Full of Links, who describes them as looking "strangely soviet"):

Evidently they're only at Wal-Mart, as some kind of special retro packaging. Still, it just seems wrong.


Godspeed, Tony Snow

I was saddened when Tim Russert died several weeks ago, but when I heard the news this morning that Tony Snow had lost his battle with colon cancer at age 53, it hit me a lot harder. I didn't know Tony Snow personally, but he came into my house and talked to me frequently as a Fox News anchor and then later as White House press secretary for George W. Bush. I liked Tony, and his death feels almost like I've lost a member of the family. He always came across as a straight shooter, telling it like it was. His patience and joviality in dealing with the left-leaning White House press corps were legendary.

Just as Tim Russert was a liberal but was known for being fair to both sides of the political spectrum, Tony Snow didn't let his conservatism keep him from being fair and balanced. He was, of course, an advocate of his conservative views, and later for those of President Bush.

My condolences to his wife and children, and to all of his friends both in the media and in government. He will be missed.


Instant Karma

I was driving home from work this morning, and was about four miles from home, doing about 50 mph in a 45 mph zone, in the right lane. At five over, you're invisible, because everyone else is going at least that fast. I usually drive in the right lane, so the speed demons can move on by in the passing lane. My motto is, "If you want to go faster than me, pick another lane."

All of a sudden, a green Volvo goes whooshing past me on the left, leaving me behind like the Starship Enterprise at the beginning of Star Trek. He's doing at least 60 mph, maybe more. I'm driving past a little strip mall, followed by a 7-Eleven, and there in the side street past the 7-Eleven, waiting to turn, is a marked Florida Highway Patrol car.

Green Volvo realizes that he has messed up, because he taps his brakes, but then keeps going at about the same speed. I can almost see the calculation going on in the FHP car, and it turns onto the street in front of me, gets in the left lane and takes off after Green Volvo. Six blocks later, I see the FHP car with red and blue lights flashing at the side of the road, right behind Green Volvo. Someone's having a bad morning.

I have to admit that I said "Ha-HA!" as I drove past.


Springtime For Algore

May 11, 2011. Mark that date on your calendar. Why? Because that's when Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth makes the leap to a whole new format: Opera. And it won't be playing at just any old opera house, but at La Scala in Milan. (That's in Italy for all of you monolingual Americans out there.) Yup, Big Al Gore's Big Old Movie is going to hit the hoity-toity Big Time.

Will there be singing polar bears? That's what I want to know. They can be animatronic; that's fine with me. Even actors in polar bear costumes would be acceptable (although NO REAL FUR, people! PETA would have a, well, cow). Maybe there could be an Esther Williams-style swimming number for the polar bears as well.

One commenter at Roger L. Simon's Pajamas Media site noted that the song "Springtime For Hitler" comes to mind. Yeah, it does seem as if it would mimic the plot for The Producers, with the producer trying to create a play that will be such a flop that it will close on the first night, generating no profits and thus allowing the producer to keep all of the funds he raised to put on the play.

I mean, this will be really, REALLY tediously bad. It will generate so much suckiness that there is a very real chance of it spontaneously generating a tornado within the building. Il Sucko Grandissimo.

Yet Another Post About Chocolate

As the gourmet portion of the candy aisle continues to expand, more and more candy companies seek to gain a foothold in the high-end chocolate market. Hershey, known for its generic waxy chocolate Hershey Bar for many years, came out with more expensive high-cacao content chocolate a few years back. The latest addition comes from M&Ms: Four different varieties of M&Ms "Premiums," with artsy soft (not crunchy) candy shells and different flavors: Mocha, Triple Chocolate, Raspberry Almond and Mint Chocolate. They're about three times as expensive as regular M&Ms; for the price of a 6 oz. package of Premiums, you could get one of the big bags of Plain or Peanut M&Ms.

So, how do they taste? Well, I bought a package of the Mint Chocolate ones, which has a white chocolate-mint center surrounded by dark chocolate, with a soft metallic green shell. The inner plastic wrapper is an ingenious piece of work, with a resealable flap at the top that lifts up and then sticks back to the plastic when closed. The M&Ms themselves are very good, and are smoother and richer than regular M&Ms.

A true chocolate snob would look down his nose at them because they contain white chocolate, which is really not even chocolate at all. I am not a chocolate snob, however. These are tasty, if somewhat pricey at $3.67 for a 6 oz. package.


An Olympic Story For the Ages

The Beijing Olympics will start a month from today, and we've already started to hear the athletes' stories. Every four years, we learn about the Olympians who will represent our country at the Games and about the challenges they've had to overcome to excel at that level of competition. There is usually one constant: They are young people, in their teens or twenties, perhaps early thirties at the oldest, because world-class athletic performance is almost always the province of the young. Almost always.

This year, however, there is an exception: Dara Torres, a veteran Olympic swimmer who has won nine medals (four gold) in four past Olympic Games between 1984 and 2000. She is 41 years old, which in swimmer years is older than John McCain. But she is in phenomenal physical condition and is winning competitions at the American Olympic trials against women who are young enough to be her daughters. I saw a segment on the news early this morning about her, showing her training regimen, and I was very impressed. She will be the first American swimmer to compete in five different Olympics.

Like most Americans, I'm a "homer": I cheer for our athletes and hope that they win. I like to see them standing at the top of the dais as "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays in the background. But in this case, I'll be cheering a little harder, because she's not just representing America but middle-aged people as well. There are very few athletes who not only still can compete at that elite level in their early 40s, but win the competitions and break their own records for the event. Torres did exactly that last August, twice breaking her own American record for the 50 meter freestyle that she set 26 years earlier at age 15.

It's a very inspirational story, and I hope that it has a golden ending for her.


If You Don't Eat Your Meat, You Can't Have Any Pudding!

"How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

Pink Floyd? Nah, it's British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose government has "declared war on food waste." Really.

Seems those wastrels in Old Blighty are wasting some "4.1 million tonnes" of food a year, according to the article. I'm not sure how much those "tonnes" weigh, but I think it's different from American tons. Interestingly, the wasted food wasn't referenced in kilograms. I guess that whole metric thing hasn't completely taken hold in the U.K., either.

Anyway, apparently the British government has nothing better to do than hector its people about the amount of food they throw out. "Go on, cut off the moldy bit and eat that bread!" "Just slice off the brown part of the apple and eat the rest!" "That's perfectly good toad-in-the-hole! Eat it!"

Here in America, of course, we would just tell them our equivalent of "sod off!" Americans don't like being told what to do by government busybodies. Which is why we threw all of that tea in the harbor and so forth.


Thoughts On Mandatory "Volunteering"

Barack Obama has plans for your kids. And, by extension, probably for you as well.

This post by PrestoPundit's Greg Ranson outlines them, courtesy of a speech that Sen. Obama made the other day in Denver. He points out that it's not just the "road to serfdom," it IS serfdom to force middle school, high school and college students to perform public service for 50 to 100 hours a year whether they want to or not.

Obama said:
When I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service. We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities.
This speech probably sounded better in the original Russian, along with the tag phrase "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Or it could have been in Italian or German, because the fascist movements in those countries also had mandatory youth service programs. Maybe he could call them the "Obama Youth." I think Komsomol has already been used.

Note also that Obama would make the program mandatory for all of the states by threatening to withhold federal education funds for any school district that didn't fall into line, much as the federal government said it would withhold road funding from any state that didn't raise its drinking age from 18 to 21 a couple of decades back. We all know how that turned out: The rights of adult Americans between the ages of 18-20 to legally drink were taken away under federal duress.

"So what?" you ask. "Why should I care if the government forces kids to do public service?" Answer: Those kids are American citizens, too. If an Obama regime can force them to perform mandatory "volunteer" work "for the common good," then it can force YOU to do the same. The old Niemoller thing about "First they came for the Jews..." Well, Obama's coming for the kids first, figuring that you're not going to speak up for them. And when the Obamans come to demand your service, what will you say then?

An infringement on the constitutional rights of ANY American is an infringement on the rights of ALL Americans, and it would seem that such mandatory public service for students would violate either the Fourth Amendment ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.") or the Fifth Amendment (..."nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;") or both. Forcing someone to perform mandatory community service is definitely a deprivation of liberty, and could be construed as an unreasonable seizure of their person as well.

Now, I don't have any problem with people performing voluntary public service out of the goodness of their hearts. I don't even have a problem with convicted criminals having to perform public service as a sentence for minor crimes. But I have a huge problem with a potential President who apparently believes that the People belong to the State, and not the other way around. Back when I was in school, we called that Fascism. Guess what? It still is.

What The... ?

I saw in the news that the women from the FLDS polygamist sect now have a web site where they are selling their pioneer-style children's clothing, and they say that they have gotten a lot of interest in the women's dresses as well.

Hmmmm. On the one hand, I can see parents wanting their daughters to not look like trampy little Bratz dolls, but dressing them up like Polygamist Teen Wife #3 seems like it's going a bit too far.

And the women's dresses? Really, how many women would really want to wear something that long and heavy on a regular basis? I looked at their web site, and the only underwear available for both sexes is long underwear. It has to be miserable to wear that combination in Texas heat. You would think that a loving God would tell His prophet to let His worshipers know that it's okay for them to dress comfortably for the climate where they live.

I suspect that the only market for those adult-sized dresses would be as a costume for bedroom role-playing, where He is Polygamist Sect Patriarch and She is Polygamist Teen Wife #3. Not that there's anything wrong with that as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.


In the News

Clyde reads the news so you don't have to:

First, in the "Tell Me Something I Don't Already Know" Department, there's this Reuters article about Stradivarius violins: Wood density holds key to Stradivarius sweet sound
Researchers using a medical scanner have worked out why a Stradivarius violin sounds so good -- it is because of the remarkably even density of the wood.
And why was the density of the wood so even? Two words: Maunder Minimum. That was the period from 1645-1715 when there were almost no sunspots at all, and also the coldest part of the Little Ice Age. Antonio Stradivari, who crafted the violins that bear his name, lived from 1644-1737, and the violins that are acknowledged as his best work were made from 1698-1725, from trees that grew during a period of extremely cold winters and cool summers, a point that was noted in this BBC article four years ago.

The global warming fearmongers would like to return us to this kind of climate, which they consider "normal" compared to today's roasty-toasty climate. It should be noted that cooler climates result in lower crop yields and increasing risk of crop failures and resulting famine, as well as increased disease. A warm climate is not a bad thing.

Second story: Brinkley's husband details affair with teenager
Christie Brinkley's estranged husband said Wednesday he had sex with his teenage lover in his office, then paid her $300,000 while hoping to keep their affair quiet. He also showered her with spending money, including $500 hidden under a rock.
Niiiiiiice. Poking the 18-year-old in his office, paying her $300,000 in hush money, having a $3,000 a month porn site habit, and then having his lawyer try to play like he's the victim? Get outta here! And really, three grand a month for porn? Any reasonably savvy computer user can find plenty of porn out there for free. For that kind of dough, he could have found a nice (or not-so-nice!) girl like Ashley Dupre to get his rocks off.

Finally, there's this, from the UK: 80 per cent of men 'face female sex pests'

Most men are sexually harassed by women at work - but are afraid to complain to their employer, say researchers.

Four out of five male workers had experienced such harassment from a female colleague, according to a study for employment law firm Peninsula.

Two-thirds of the 2,300 men questioned also said that sexual banter was inappropriate at work.

Hey, are those kilts you guys are wearing or skirts? Jesus, "man up" over there! If those "sexually harassing" women are anything close to attractive, just give 'em what they're asking for... Off the work premises, of course!

The last paragraph is true, however, at least for men: If you like your job, it's best to keep it strictly professional, because some woman will take it the wrong way.