Thursday, May 30, 2013

The "Stuck On Stupid" Dictionary #40

The normally lazy lexicographers of the 'Stuck on Stupid' Dictionary have, to amazement of most of the staff, produced a second effort within the same month.  Some here at headquarters many are convinced that they felt that they were concerned at being out performed by the Department of Just Blowing Smoke Security: but I'm convinced that this latest effort is a challenge that they could not refuse, since it was a suggestion by Maggie Thurber, to whose inspiration they owe their miserable little positions.  Quite frankly, those in Senior Staff don't really care what the reason is as long as they don't have to continue to make excuses for their lack of control over this normally rogue department.

Such inconsistent production however, means that there may actually be those of you reading this who have somehow managed to miss previous postings on this subject (shame on you, now go back and search all of the postings under the label of  'Dictionary').  For those of you thus unfamiliar, the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appears to mean something entirely different when looked at through the jaded eyes and rose colored glasses of the SOS dictionary staff.

Double Dip:

1. The achievement of getting a second (and sometimes equal or better) measure from the same source.

2. To earn a salary from the source of one position while collecting a pension from a similar source or especially from having held the same position previously.

3. The circumstance when a city charges taxes of every resident to create a police or fire department, then charges them additionally for the costs involved with using it (voluntarily or not).

4. The situation where utility company charges an individual at a standard rate for a provided service, then charges them additionally if the such usage is considered too much or too little service to make the utility profitable enough.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Today's posting is a repeat of a previous effort, but sums up my feelings on the subject in a way that I doubt I could improve upon.  I hope you enjoy it, as well as the first 3-day weekend of the summer.

Every year I struggle to come up with something fitting to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle for this nation that this day honors, and every year I fail miserably.  How can mere words hope to come close to conveying the debt we owe them?  While most of what I write about are the petty political squabbles and the partisan political battles fought in the halls of Congress, this day is instead about those who have stood up to a real enemy and faced the terrors of war; sacrificing all to defend that which those in political office more often than not demean.

They never asked about the foreign policy ramifications of their duty assignments, or the orders they were asked to follow; nor did they concern themselves with how their actions would affect the next election.  They accepted politically correct "Rules of Engagement" from their superiors (who in turn had to accept them from a 'civilian authority'), regardless of the additional danger such nonsensical rules often placed them in.  Mostly however, they fought for those they fought beside, for their country, and for their sacred honor.  

And while it cost some of them all that they had, it cost their families as well; leaving far too many fatherless or motherless children behind and far too many grieving spouses in a land that has far too few good ones to believe that it can afford to lose any.  A folded flag in a glass case may well be a great honor for a person's service, but it doesn't warm the other side of the bed, nor comfort a frightened child against the terrors of the night. 

These are the cold, hard facts that I not only wish far more of this nation's citizens understood when they hear the names of the lost intoned at the end of a newscast.   Far more than that however, I wish that it was something our elected representatives comprehended more fully before coming up with their half-baked plans to save a world far less interested in saving itself (and usually from itself). I wish that these public servants appreciated the potential consequences of their 'votes' before seeking to resolve the historical prejudices of human nature in conflicts that have been going on since the dawn of civilization.  I wish real thought of the success these gambits was considered before risking the best and brightest of these brave men and women in yet another political misadventure designed to make politicians in some way 'look strong'.  The bi-partisan political posturing and madcap misjudgment in Washington have become a never-ending debacle placing far too many in harm's way may ... a place they may never return from.  Oh hell, enough.

Instead of trying to express what may in fact be inexpressible, I will do what I inevitably do each year at this time and fall back on using the monument which most aptly describes what this day is truly all about, and on those who are granted the honor of guarding it: 
  The Tomb of the Unknowns
The tomb has at one time contained the unidentified remains of a soldier who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam, and has been guarded continuously since 1930. (Though a soldier killed in Viet Nam was originally interred here, that body was later removed and identified through DNA testing. It was subsequently decided to leave the Viet Nam crypt empty.)

*  The Guards are members of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and wear no rank insignia on their uniforms while on duty so as not to outrank one of those lying in the Tomb.

*  The Guards take 21 steps, in recognition of the 21 gun salute; the highest honor given anyone in the military or any foreign dignitary.  Upon completion of those steps, the guards hesitate 21 seconds in memory of that same honor, turns 90 degrees and hesitates again for 21 seconds, then completes another 90 degree turn and hesitates yet one more time before resuming their march.   

*  The Guards march with moistened gloves to prevent the gun from slipping from their grasp while on duty.

*  Guards are changed every 30 minutes; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   

*  The guards always carry the rifle on the shoulder furthest from the tomb. This move places the sentinel between the tomb and any threat. 

*  The Guards of the Tomb, an honor currently carried by very few soldiers (there were just over 500 people in 2008), is awarded only after careful examination and is recognized by the award of a wreath pin. They subsequently live under very strict guidelines of personal conduct for the rest of their lives. 

*  For the first six months of this duty, guards spend most of their free time learning of the most notable people buried in Arlington National Cemetary in preparation for their exam. With their rigorous training, hours of marching, and rifle drill, they have little time for anything else. 

*  Each guard spends five hours each day getting his uniforms ready for this duty. 

In 2003, as Hurricane Isabella approached Washington and while Congress took 2 days off in anticipation of the dangers of this storm, these guards stood to their duty. Soaked to the skin, they continued to march their rounds in the pelting rain of a tropical storm. They had been offered the opportunity to suspend this assignment but refused; stating that such duty was not simply an assignment, but was the highest honor afforded to a serving member of the military.  (They repeated this act  of courage in August of 2011 as Hurricane Irene similarly bore down on Washington DC.)

Honor indeed should be given to our troops for serving in defense of freedom around the world today, and to those who have done likewise in every conflict where Americans have been called to do so. Greater veneration still is due those whose service led them to the ultimate sacrifice for those they served with and for the nation that honors them this day. May this day continue to serve as a reminder to us all that the price of liberty sometimes carries a very high cost indeed.  May we remember to accord those that made it and those who served with them equal esteem on every other day that we live in freedom.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Terror Alert: IRS

In a rather rare showing of unasked for enterprise, the Department of Just Blowing Smoke Security has released a second terror alert during the month of May.  Upon reading the Cheetos-stained scrap of paper that was slipped out from beneath the locked door of their Command Center (an attic room that we keep them locked in for their own protection, as well as ours),  I couldn't help but note the timely nature of their warning.  Well, not exactly timely, unless of course you measure timeliness based on when Congress finally gets off of their fat behinds and tries to do its job about something that everyone else has know about for over a year; but I just figured that like the President, they just finally got around to reading about the issue in the papers.

I guessing that by now some of you may have already figured out what's coming here ... a special alert regarding a group of federal government bureaucrats who are making everyone in this country's life a living Hell.  No, I'm not talking about Department of Homeland Security or the Environmental Protection Agency (though Lord only knows I could be); but instead about pernicious pack of pencil pushers known as the IRS.  Surprisingly enough, this is not to be confused with the Internal Revenue Service (though they are certainly an organization made up of poisonous pond scum ..Oh crap, now I'm going to get audited), but an even more corrupt crowd within the mindless minions of the unelected elite, the Insidious Reprisal Syndicate.

These deceitful bureaucratic bastards actually have their hooks into most of the federal bureaucracy, and are largely responsible for attacks on citizens in this country who refuse to lie down quietly and do what they are told when instructed by those far wiser than they in government service tell them to.  Drain a mosquito-infested pond to protect you children from blood-sucking parasites (no, not the Internal Revenue Service again) spreading disease and they will be the ones taking you to court to make you refill (and restock) it.  Turn a parking lot into a green space (or vice versa) and they will contact you to perform a site restoration.  Attempt to move jobs to another state (let alone country) in order to provide lower costs goods and services to the public and they will work their will to prevent it.  Seek to create jobs in any state in this country, and they will be the ones reprimanding you over violation of arcane regulations in the massive document known as the Federal Register that prevent you from doing so.  And of course, try to start a tax-exempt group to teach the Constitution written to define and limit the government to a nation that has mostly long since forgotten it and a bureaucracy which simply seeks to ignore it, and they will be there to stall the paperwork.

What's amazing in this particular alert is that the government has already somehow managed to correctly identify the perpetrators in the Internal Revenue Service in this case, as low level employees in the bureaucratic maze who acted in such a horrifying fashion without instruction from management, without written guidelines (in triplicate) to follow, and without the knowledge of managers at any level in their respective bureaucracyWe know this of course, because no one certainly at the managerial level, the senior staff level, or certainly not at the cabinet level itself, would allow such a blatant violation of the First Amendment, nor an obvious politicizing of the bureaucratic process to knowingly occur ... let alone condone it.  (Sarcasm, you decide.)  In fact, this secret society of depraved drones has once again so successfully managed to work their evil will on Conservative groups, that their efforts have mostly escaped current Congressional inquiry, testimony before Congress by the acting Internal Revenue Service Director (acting in fact, seems to have multiple meaning where this job is concerned), and an internal Inspector General audit (which was only able to conclude that no government funds were misused any more than normal by the departmental employees committing these egregious acts).

Not surprisingly, the DJBSS was unable to provide any identifying characteristics for members of the IRS, which of course is exactly the point of their existence.  Outwardly they are just as inconsiderate, smug, and unproductive as any other nameless, faceless bureaucratic drone, so they are well able hide amongst other innocently bungling brethren at will.  They seldom achieve (by choice) either notoriety or guilt.  Having burned off their fingerprints as part of a particularly gruesome initiation ritual, they never leave evidence behind.  Their particularly destructive actions however, eventually come to light.  (Some say that this is on purpose, and acts as a sort of 'Kilroy Was Here' signature for them.)  Like a rotting corpse, at some point the sickening smell of their misdeeds gives them away.  Strangely however,  their transgressions seldom lead to  anything beyond a few weeks of newspaper headlines and a string of meaningless Congressional investigations that allow the Committee Chairman and a few other members to grab some posturing, camera time, and cheap headlines in the political lull before seeking campaign contributions for their next re-election bid.

Because of the particularly bloody trail that these vile, villainous vandals leave in their wake (sorry, I was having a "V is for Vendetta" moment), the DJBSS is raising the terror threat for the couple of days until the inconsequential hearings in Washington can resume to RED.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TFP Column: Mainstream Media No Longer Recognizes Mission

Sure it's only Monday, but with the storms that were blowing through my area over the weekend, it seemed like a good idea to write while the lights were on and the Internet was working.  Which brings me to the subject or this weeks TFP effort, "Mainstream Media No Longer Recognizes Mission".  Sure this is a longer title than usual, but I suspect that smarter people me needed to do it because I was confused and had used this title before.  

Speaking of confused, it seems the Pew Research Institute has discovered that as many young people get their news from the Comedy Channel as do from ABC, NBC, and CBS.  Not to be left out of the party, Fox News has added a couple of more comedic efforts to its line up.  It's bad enough that most of the punditry passing for editorializing is a joke, but these latest crossover non-hit are bad news and worse comedy.

Fortunately, those of you in Toledo and Northwest Ohio can at least rely on both the 'Star' and weekend editions of Toledo's largest Sunday circulation newspaper and Ohio's best weekly newspaper for the last four years; the Toledo Free Press.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The 'Know Nothings' Are Back

For those of you who didn't pay attention during history class (or were educated recently in public education), this title probably means nothing.  Don't feel bad.  It's probably because you knew nothing of the first incarnation of the 'Know Nothing' Party as it came to some prominence in the United States during the 1850's; when xenophobic Americans were concerned over the swarms of Irish and German immigrants who chose to try and start a new life in a new land rather than starve in their own.  Others whose parents had made much the same choice 200 years earlier were terrified by these newcomers and convinced that the nation was in danger of being taken over by hoards of Irish Catholics and Germans (and perhaps eventually the Pope).  Their party eventually settled as the American Nativist Party, but is far better known for the instructions that members were given in the event that they were asked about their semi-secret movement, answering "I know nothing" to their interrogators.  Though the party had mostly disappeared only a few years later, it seems that some part of it may have survived and has, without fanfare and without much bother,  taken over the the current leadership of the Federal Government.  This latest incarnation of twisted political leadership is being fully demonstrated in the troika of crises facing the current Administration.

While many believe that the this latest incarnation 'Know Nothings' may have reared its ugly head as early as October of 2009 by taking control of the DEA's and ATF's disastrous efforts more commonly known as "Fast and Furious", most believe that this peccadillo was little more than a practice run to determine if a multi-year campaign of dissimulation, obfuscation, and prorogation could succeed with the Mainstream Media (MSM), Congress, and the American people.  Having thus proven the success of their tactics, their dedicated membership now seems ready to hunker down in the trench warfare of endless Congressional hearings in which information is dribbled out in leaks slower than maple syrup in winter, while placing tourniquets on information of events viewed under a media philosophy of 'if it bleeds, it leads', and counting on a general population with the attention span of a 3 year-old that still believes that 'Reality Shows' and wrestling are unscripted.

Eight months after Benghazi, a hundred pages of emails tell us that the talking points for UN Ambassador Susan Rice were rewritten more times than the last episode of "Duck Dynasty".  While the CIA had the facts of story straight to begin with, behind the scenes movers and shakers felt the need during the run up to election to 'correct' them.  In a bizarre game of 'Telephone', these departmental power brokers throughout the Executive branch managed to edit out the truth and substitute a rather unconvincing plot that four people were murdered as a bad review on a YouTube movie.  What we still don't know however, is who initiated the plot change and who approved it.  

More importantly however, as the government and media argued over this script approval, is that we don't know who staged the scene at the Benghazi compound.  The British and the Red Cross abandoned the area as too dangerous; but after the US compound had been attacked months before, it not only remained, but reduced rather than beefed up its security force.  When the inevitable attack occurred, defense forces in the region that might have assisted were told to stand down, in spite of (or because of) their lack of information on the ground according to one story, or because of knowledge that they couldn't reach the battle in time according to another.  

When asked after the attack what the hell happened, Press Secretary Jay Carney initially told us to wait for the completion of the investigation.  Having completed it, he now tells us it's 'old news' and he can't or won't speak to it.  As for the Defense Department, the State Department, and the White House; they don't know or can't tell us who is responsible for the horrible decisions made before, during, or after the attack that caused the death of four Americans on Embassy Grounds.

Cut to the IRS targeting of Conservative and and religious groups that were seeking 501c4 tax status.  We were originally told in March of 2012 by then acting IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman that the IRS was not in fact targeting these groups.  When an Inspector General report this month was about to reveal otherwise, the IRS's Lois Lerner (whose division was responsible for this targeting)  planted a question with Celia Roady so that she could do a soft-release of the reversal.  Soon to be ex-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller now tells Congress that it did happen, that it was real wrong, and that their 'investigating' to insure that it never happens again.  (Can you hear the Benghazi script writers scribbling away?)

Apparently, we are supposed to believe that this was the effort of a couple of rogue employees in Cincinnati.  (Does Oliver North work at the IRS?)  Despite the fact that some of the documents already released on this breaking story came out of Washington and the cast of characters in this charade is becoming as long as the one in Benghazi, no one again seem to know anything about what happened, how it happened, and who sanctioned it.  In spite of the fact that an Inspector General was appointed to look into it, no one at the IRS, in the Treasury Department, or the White House knew anything either.  It seems in fact, that of all these career bureaucrats (and the nation's Chief Executive) no one anywhere knew that anything bad, illegal, or in violation of the Constitution might be going on.  They told us in fact that they had to read about it in the newspapers to discover this ongoing skulduggery. (And who says newspapers are dead?)  The fact that this began in the run up to an election and is being released only after it's over is suspicious to no one, and at the pace of White House document releases and Congressional hearings, we may manage to get partial answers about a year after everyone has lost interest.

Cut to scene three, in which the Department of Justice, without subpoena, obtained the phone records of a number of Associated Press employees.  Ostensibly this is about going after a serious national security leak (you know, like releasing the info on who killed Bin Laden), but the Keystone Kops at the DOJ decided to go after the records of reporters who might have been involved in releasing the story instead of the limited members of the government employees who had access to the information in the first place.  This was not, according to our government, an attempt to intimidate the press in any way, or to impede the rights of a free press to do its job. (Sure, I buy that.)  The fact however that AP has traditionally been a friend to this Administration and the fact that it was they who were attacked certainly sends a clear message to those in the press who might choose to oppose it however.

As for who made the decision to pursue this particularly egregious effort in this misguided way; Attorney General 'Eric the WithHolder' said "I don't know" so many times in his recent Congressional appearance that he made "Hogan's Heroes" Sergeant Schultz look like a college professor.  (Can you say plausible deniability?)  Nobody at the Congressional Hearing however seemed to know enough to ask who was in charge of the program so that they could subpoena them to testify, and nobody else in the Executive branch seems to have any knowledge (at least that they're admitting) about how and why it happened.   (The President did however, suggest that Congress pass a law to defend the Press against an abuse of power committed by his DOJ.  Really?)

I thought at first that the White House was attempting to debut a new Reality Show with its name ripped off from the 1995 Alicia Silverstone movie "Clueless" (you know how Hollywood likes bad remakes.); but I have since come to believe that this is an unexpected resurgence to power of the 'Know Nothing' Party.  (There are many who believe that both major political parties could pass for 'Know Nothings', but that's a tale for another day.)  They were after all a secret society (and you know how we like to blame those), are lost far enough in our past to have become forgotten or misunderstood in intervening years, and could merely have transferred their rabid xenophobia from Irish-Catholics to the current target du jour of Conservatives.  It may not be great theory, but at the very least has unique quality of fitting a number of the facts that we possess.  

There be no lanterns hung in the steeple of the Old North Church this day, nor will Longfellow pen an epic poem as the news is spread.  Make no mistake about it however, you heard it here first that the 'Know Nothings' are back. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Maybe I'm Not Smart Enough To Be On The Left

After a great deal of self-analysis, I may have discovered a serious lack of mental accuity in myself; though I can't say that I find it particularly worrisome.  It doesn't appear that it was a lack of intelligence, at least I have been given to understand it, as I've always measured pretty well on the IQ scale.  Neither was it a lack of knowledge, as I have loved to study since I was a small child; and have worked assiduously at maintaining the standing of a well-read person.  It couldn't have been a lack of education, as I've was given my early lessons in a very good private grade school, spent most of my high school years in the 'first track' (honors program) of one of the finer college prep schools in the city of Chicago, and attended classes at a couple of well-respected seats of higher learning. It don't think it could even be considered the lack of ability to communicate, though many who've been reading the efforts in this blog for any length of time could probably make an argument to the contrary.  Regardless of being able to set aside all of these potential drawbacks to my brainpower however, there still seems to be something missing intellectually in my case. 

So maybe it's not a question of knowledge but one of maturity instead.  As many of you know, I make no claims of maturation, hoping in life to go 'from immaturity to senility without noticing the transition'.  This sarcastic pose however does not prevent me from making my own decisions (such as they are), choosing my own career path (when the industry I'm in isn't collapsing around me), cooking my own meals (and doing so quite proficiently if I do say so myself), maintaining my own residence (when not improving it), and paying my bills (usually on time).

Being therefore what could be considered fairly intelligent, well-educated, and well read, it should be no surprise that there's a lot of subjects of national interest on which I have formed strong opinions.  These range on a wide variety of subjects from access to abortion to gun control, and I hold them regardless of the level of controversy attached to the subject.  None of these opinions if you must know, are based (except perhaps in some small part) on emotion, sentiment, or a 'gut feeling' about the situation; but instead rely on fact, logic and careful analysis of the short and long term consequences.  When doubt arises, as it must inevitably, I fall back on the concept of the 'rule of law' as embodied in the second attempt to define this government of this nation in a single document, The Constitution(I had a friend in Toledo that finally cured me of such things a few years back.)  Not surprisingly, you would find that these opinions are logically consistent from one subject to another.  I don't use one set of criteria to judge one issue, and its polar opposite on the next; in a pattern of logical inconsistency that hopes to achieve some twisted form of emotional self-satisfaction.    

These methods me at odds with some of my acquaintances, fellow pundits, and political opponents from the left however. You see, unlike many of my Liberal counterparts, progressive advocates, mainstream media reporters, and most of the statist politicians of both major parties; I don't appear to be able to make the same kind of decisions that they can.  Oh don't get me wrong, I'm more than capable of making decisions for myself; but draw the line at that point.  In their minds therefore, I'm suffering from apparent form of intellectual inadequacy that I find myself unashamed of:   

I'm not smart enough to make decisions for other people.
Fortunately enough for me, I'm not allowed to make decisions for other people.  Unfortunately for all of us, many of those who I've previously described think that they not only have the right to decide for the rest of us, but in fact have the obligation to do so.  Someone might get injured, so we'll decide not to expose you to the risk.  Somebody else might get hurt financially, so we'll take the risk for you to keep yourself from taking it.  Worse still, somebody might make the wrong choices, so we'll take those choices away from you for your benefit.  Heaven forbid that you should expose yourself to the potential of poor choices, potential harm, and future regret.  After all, that's only life as we know it.  No we the smart ones, the caring ones, the ones in political power will make these decisions for you regardless of whether you're capable or not because after all, we're smarter than you are.
Strangely enough, I find that there is no jealousy in my heart for those on the progressive left who believe that they are possessed of such a singular form enlightenment, but in fact a fair amount of pity.  Imagine the burden of knowledge that this progressive intelligentsia possesses, believing themselves capable to decide for all.  What a trial it must be to find one's self the discerning statist and recognize that one is so smart that they're incapable of allowing others to decide for themselves.  What fearful stress and emotional turmoil it must be for far too many of today's legislators, administrators, and of course political leaders to recognize the erudition in themselves that forces them to carry the responsibility of limiting the free choice of so many in order to defend freedom itself.

While I can certainly imagine the kind of progressive self-righteous sagacity must be required to assume the role of mother and father protector to those one barely knows in order to prevent those apparently unwilling or unable to accept the burden of making choices for themselves (lest it interfere with their Reality Show schedule), I certainly don't feel myself burdened with such personal perspicacity.  Oh yeah, I consider myself smart enough as far as it goes (just smart enough at least to refuse to use the Tom Hanks line from "Forest Gump"), but it appears that I may not be smart enough to be on The Left.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary #39

In what may in fact be the real first sign of Spring, the lazy lexicographers of the SOS Dictionary have apparently come out of their hole, failed to see their collective shadows (which would have been difficult at best, considering the bloodshot conditions of their eyes), and decided to stay out in the fresh air for a bit.  (This had nothing to do with locking the door behind them after their 'temporary exit' I'm sure.)  Their efforts are at best sporadic and at worst all but nonexistent recently, and Senior Staff felt obligated to try something new.  Having given up on the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) for assistance, we have instead contacted Lindsay Lohan's people to recommend potential detox facilities.

Having all but reconciled ourselves to a level of production consistent with the output of common sense from the federal government is a bit disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.  Their chemically-induced maunderings however still manage to pass Senior Staff editorial muster; so we print 'em when we get 'em.

Such inconsistent production however, means that there may actually be those of you reading this who have somehow managed to miss previous postings on this subject (shame on you, now go back and search all of the postings under the label of  'Dictionary').  For those of you thus unfamiliar, the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appears to mean something entirely different when looked at through the jaded eyes and rose colored glasses of the SOS dictionary staff.


1.  A Member of a political party whose opinions (sometimes also called feelings) on a given issue can run from fiercely Conservative to wildly Liberal.
2.  A Member of a political Fraternity House that is indoctrinated with the concept that loyalty to their fraternity brothers and sisters is of far greater importance than that to the constituents who elected them
3.  A Member of a self-appointed aristocracy who consider themselves through such party participation to be a representative of a political elite (which they falsely like to believe is a meritocracy) that makes them far better, smarter, and prettier than the rest of those outside their group; and therefore entitled to special privileges as a consequence.
4.  A Member of political team whose largest ambition is to score more points than their opponents, regardless of consequences to fans in the stands or the condition that the field will be in when the contest is concluded.
5.  A member of a political party that is in turn part of a larger rule-making body (you know, kind of like NASCAR, the NHL, the NFL, the NBA, MLB, or the NCAA) who rule by fiat; and with the clear understanding that none of the rules they create can apply to them. 
(See Republican)


1.  A Member of a political party whose opinions (sometimes also called feelings) on a given issue can run from fiercely Conservative to wildly Liberal.
2.  A Member of a political Fraternity House that is indoctrinated with the concept that loyalty to their fraternity brothers and sisters is of far greater importance than that to the constituents who elected them
3.  A Member of a self-appointed aristocracy who consider themselves through such party participation to be a representative of a political elite (which they falsely like to believe is a meritocracy) that makes them far better, smarter, and prettier than the rest of those outside their group; and therefore entitled to special privileges as a consequence.
4.  A Member of political team whose largest ambition is to score more points than their opponents, regardless of consequences to fans in the stands or the condition that the field will be in when the contest is concluded.
5.  A member of a political party that is in turn part of a larger rule-making body (you know, kind of like NASCAR, the NHL, the NFL, the NBA, MLB, or the NCAA) who rule by fiat; and with the clear understanding that none of the rules they create can apply to them.
(See Democrat)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

TFP Column: The Seventy Percent Solution

What in the world could a Sherlock Holmes tale written in 1974 by Nicholas Meyer (also famous for his contributions to 'Star Trek') have to do with the water and sewer systems in Toledo, OH?  Surprisingly enough, the relationship is elementary.  If you haven't figured it out however, you're going have to read this week's effort for the TFP, "The Seventy Percent Solution"

While it has nothing to do with the subject of my effort ... being that this is Mother's Day weekend, you have to believe that the TFP will be extensively covering covering this most important of holidays.  I would be willing to bet that there might even be a few other subjects worthy of your attention that will be delved into as well.

But what would you expect from Toledo's largest circulation Sunday edition, and something that's been Ohio's best weekly newspaper for the last four years.  Of course I'm talking about nothing other than the Toledo Free Press.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It Could Happen

During one of the coldest springs that I can remember (certainly in the last few decades), I have been reading a story about how the decline in snow cover "could push some creatures to extinction".  I hate stories like that!

Don't get me wrong here.  I'm a news junkie and I like reading news stories about as many different things as I can get my grubby little hands on.  Stories like these however, annoy me beyond my capacity to absorb new information.  My particular distaste for them is not that the stories are wrong (or right for that matter); and it has nothing to do with whether I believe that the premise is correct or incorrect (well, maybe a little bit).  My problem with any story like this is that it is in fact not the reporting of fact as news, nor is it taking a position in editorializing about facts in evidence.  It is instead pure speculation posing as something news-like that never says enough about a subject to even face the potential of being wrong.  They are so riddled with the terms 'could' and 'might' that they become almost meaningless and all but useless.

Do not be deceived by these cowardly scribbles.  While such stories often do a fair enough job of picking out particular observations of phenomena or data (often local or temporary), their use of such information leads them to do little more than attempt to weakly speculate about conclusions.  In a complete abandonment of scientific principles and simple symbolic logic, they don't bother to fix a relationship between the observations they make and any kind of conclusion.  These attempts to gain notoriety, panic the general public, or simply simply bloviate on the printed page do little more than hide behind their lack of conviction in either their observations or conclusions, and in the end make them worth less that the space that they take up. 

So for example, the cold spring that the Midwest has experienced this year 'could' lead to a cooler than expected summer, in spite of the dire predictions of Global Warming.  On the other hand, the same data on the lateness and coolness of spring 'might' lead to even warmer summers than those that the Midwest has experienced in recent years.  The waffling nature of both claims make both conjectures equally possible, and predictively useless.  You may as well claim during the Bible's 'Great Flood' story that rain falling for 40 days and nights 'might' mean that it will rain forever.  On the other hand, such unprecedented and consecutive rainfall 'could' mean that such rain will end as soon as tomorrow.  

There is no courage in either alternative, nor is there any danger in making them.  Regardless of the outcome, the person making either of these potentially dire predictions is allowed the weasel defense of the using could or might to excuse their cowardly inaccuracy, while still allowing them to claim success if their 'coin flip' of speculation proves in any way to be the case.

Far too much of what we see these days as news pass as 'could' and 'might' stories; and their collective uselessness has become a testament to how the mighty have fallen where gathering news is concerned.  And let's face it, it's not that our mainstream media outlets are afraid of being wrong.  Hell, they're wrong all the time.  Of course many of them have the luxury of burying admission of their errors (and their retractions) in sections of the newspaper or segments of their broadcast in such a way that they can go all but unnoticed.  Even with this media backstroking available however, it seldom prevents these bastions of fact and truth from running off in meaningless and idle speculation about facts not in evidence.

Looking at the far too many mealy-mouthed stories like this posing as news, one cannot help believe that this 'might' have something to do with the reduced stature of the current mainstream media outlets.  Of course it 'could' also have something to with the rather biased methods that this same media uses in its often-failed attempts to bring their version of the facts and the truth to light.  Perhaps if these news outlets returned to reporting news instead of attempting to influence events, such efforts 'might' even have a positive effect on their current lack of profitability and 'could' even lead them to a far brighter and more long-lasting future.  Then again, it 'might' be too late for a public far too sick of idle and pointless speculation to dig themselves out of the hole that they've dug themselves into.

On the other hand, many of them 'might' be reading this blog right now and manage to slow if not stop their fall before it's too late.  It 'could' happen....


Monday, May 6, 2013

May Terror Alert: MOTHERS (2013)

Those of you with remarkable powers of observation and an equally outstanding memory will recall that a similar alert was previously issued last May.  Considering the nature of the threat involved however, it's not remarkable to see that it has  re-emerged at this time of year ...

The month of May is once more upon us, and while many look for the flowers that were supposed to be coming from April's showers (at least according to the song); recent weather has instead been filled with days colder than an IRS auditor's heart.  Despite the inclement weather however, the Department of Just Blowing Smoke Security (DJBSS) has continued in its tireless efforts to root out potential terrorists threats in this nation. (Though perhaps the reason they are so tireless is because someone substituted the real stuff as a joke for the decaf normally used for the copious quantities of Irish coffee they consume as a breakfast bracer.)    While I admit that they've been a bit more silent than usual on potential threats against the nation, they are still head and shoulders above Janet Napolitano and her merry band DHS minions for intelligence gathering.

It was no surprise therefore, when a threat assessment was slipped out from under the locked door of their Command Center today (an attic room that we keep them locked in for their own protection, as well as ours), that it was a serious one indeed.  In fact it was a warning (and just in time) of the impending annual appearance of a particularly nasty group of miscreants ... MOTHERS. 

Do not be deceived into believing that we are for one moment talking about those wonderful female progenitors who have served us tirelessly, wiping our butts as babies, our noses and foreheads as children each and every time that illness beset us, and our tears to this very day as life's trials and tribulations attempt to overcome us.  This group is in fact the antithesis of their venerable namesake: Malicious and Obnoxious Troublemakers who Hate Everything Regarding maternal Sentimentality.  

Reliable sources have confirmed rumors that many of the members of this particularly evil little bunch ne'er-do-wells in fact never had mothers of their own; and were in fact created in a under-funded (and still ongoing) government research project, performed at a long since de-certified junior college.  (Some hint that it wasn't a junior college at all, but in fact 'The Wanda Trossler School of Beauty'.)  If in fact correct, their mothers were apparently little more than dirty test tubes, apparently manufactured in a factory built on a toxic waste site in China (allegedly right next to where the current I Pad factory is today).  Government spokesman have of course vehemently denies these claims, stating firmly and for the record that: "There has never been any such thing as a under-funded government research project."

Showing all the twisted jealousy one might expect for any of those around them not produced as part of one of these failed experiments (a project allegedly designated 'It Takes A Village').  With years of the kind of progressive theory, state-approved mothering that only 24 hour per day government control could provide, these misguided motherless bastards have now dedicated their twisted and tawdry existence to program designed to denigrate that which they will never know by methods so disgusting that even Stephen King has rejected them for use in his story plots.

Of course you've all seen them over the years.  They're the ones who insist on jumping off the bridge, just because everyone else did.  They're the ones who always put their elbows on the table, stubbornly refused to drink their milk (or Ovaltine or Tang for that matter) and who scoff at claims that starving children around the world would gladly eat the vegetables that they have turned their noses up at.

They're also the ones, by the way, who spend far too much time these days on the late afternoon talk shows, hyping their new books decrying the role of motherhood as something only fit for women unable or unwilling to pursue a more satisfying professional career (mostly because, male or female, they are those least likely to find someone willing to participate in reproductive process with them).  They're also those whose career in fact seems to involve writing scripts for what are considered 'hip' sitcoms about women who look down their noses at those they consider 'chained by the bonds of parenthood', while secretly longing to take their places.

May is normally the peak period of their perfidious activity, as they become most irate during the month in which a holiday exists in celebration of that they fear and detest most.  Castigating the day of maternal reverence for this most challenging of responsibilities as nothing more than a 'Hallmark Holiday', they can sometimes be found performing curiously contradictory observances.  While acknowledging the existence of the festival, they will undoubtedly seek to glorify the capitalistic perversions of it; attempting to demean its festivities as simply another occasion to get a great price on a breakfast at IHOP, a mattress, or a set of tires.    

MOTHERS are easily recognizable in public.  They can clearly picked out by scars on elbows and knees that were neither correctly bandaged, nor properly disinfected by a kiss.  If their limbs are for some reason covered, they can still be identified as those with unbrushed hair or teeth, or who haven't washed behind their ears.  If you do see one, do not attempt to confront them, as they're also the ones who don't wash their hands before dinner or after they've gone to the bathroom (which paints a particularly disgusting picture if they've done the latter just prior to the former).

Owing to the sheer volume of their nefarious activities over the next week, the DJBSS hotline will be open 24 hours a day until after Mother's Day.  While the call volume at 1-800-RAT-BUTT is expected to be high and some delays are inevitable, please remain on the line and all relevant information regarding their evil enterprises will be taken down for future reprisal.

Because of the particularly disgusting nature of their transgressions (and personal habits) the Terror Threat is being raised to a particularly dirty shade of Gray.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pop Culture Identity Theft

All the syndicated radio talk show hosts in the country are trying to convince us to buy identity theft protection.  So are our banks, our credit cards, our mortgage companies, and even some of our favorite TV shows.  I'm now ashamed to say that I have traditionally rejected these entreaties to protect myself.  I always figured that being me was not only nothing to brag about, but has in may ways been a serious detriment to my past, present, and future.  I therefore couldn't understand why anyone would attempt to steal an identity like mine, what possible good it would do them to have it, and if they did for some reason find themselves in possession of it, would probably pay me money to take it back..

After all, I was a geek long before it was popular to be one.  I not only owned a number of pocket protectors (cartridge pens leaked and ruined white school shirts), and wore them rather proudly.  I owned a 24" slide ruler in a fake leather case, and was rather proficient in its use.  I began reading sci-fi soon after learning how to read, beginning with the Tom Swift adventures, before moving on to Jules Vern and eventually graduating to the classics of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein; along with the fantasy of Tolkien, Robert E Howard's Conan, Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, and Fritz Leiber's Fafhd and the Gray Mouser (with a overlarge and perhaps unhealthy dose of comic books filling the spots in between).  I enjoyed school and loved learning, especially history, math, and science.  I fulfilled every requirement for the position of geek in fact except for glasses with tape on them, and this only because it took me until my twenties to wreck my vision through reading too much in darkened rooms with the book crammed within three inches of my nose.

As you might expect, this didn't make me the most popular guy in my social strata during my youth.  I was often only reluctantly picked for sports, had only a limited number of friends, and wasted far too much of that youth with the TV or a good book to bury myself in.  I watched every episode of "Twilight Zone", "Outer Limits", and "Star Trek"; and was easily caught up in every cheesy sci-fi 'B' movies.  As I grew up (I refuse to use the term 'matured' as I'm still waiting for that), this led to the obvious awkwardness in social situations.  Speaking to members of the opposite sex was proof of ineptness and a source of lingering terror (actually, it still is).  Dating was what be termed an infrequent occurrence (you know, like rain in the desert) and it's likely that I was saved considerable failure and embarrassment in this area by attending a Catholic all-boys school for most of my high school career. 

Unlike many others, I failed to grow out of my 'geekhood'.  I've owned as many computers in my life as I have cars.  In my late fifties, I'm still playing video games (when I'm not caught up in weekend of cheesy movie festivals on the ScyFy channel).  I spend much of my spare time (such as it is) researching and writing on a computer, when I'm not reading other literary efforts online and off.  As for the state of my social life, let's just say that two marriages allowed me to be a small part of the lives of two pretty good women and continue to allow me to be part of three great kids and five grand-kids.  Other than that, I have trouble even making Facebook friends and the concept of dating is one that should largely be considered an intellectual pursuit.

I'm sure many you are asking yourself why I'm admitting to so much that's at the very least embarrassing and borders on humiliating.  (The rest of you are getting ready to click on to the next blog you follow or see if there's something on TV.)  I'm enduring this personal torture however, so that you can clearly understand that my life is not one that anyone in their right mind would choose to covet.  And yet ...

Now suddenly "The Big Bang Theory", a show fulls geeks, is one of the most popular situation-comedies on TV (and here I thought that laughing at geeks was restricted to schools).  Sci-fi movies like "Oblivion" are the rage, and the latest incarnation of Star Trek is getting ready to release its much-anticipate sequel "Into Darkness".  Science fiction has its own channel on cable these days with the 'ScyFy' channel (though I'm still trying to figure out where wresting fits into it).  Fantasy has likewise taken its rightful place with the beginning of a successful portrayal of "The Hobbit" coming after the hugely successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.  And need we even have to mention the unparalleled successes of Marvel and DC's characters whose movies have just come out ("Iron Man 3") or are much anticipated (Superman's "Man of Steel").  But it's not just the mainstream media.

Facebook is full this weekend of "May the Fourth Be With You" images from "Star Wars" (as well as "Revenge of the Fifth" or Sixth if they want to leave Cinco de Mayo in), and the Toledo Mudhens (wow, there's a geek name if ever there was one) are wearing 'Chewbacca' jerseys for their game today.  Disney has recently purchased the entire 'Star Wars' franchise from George Lucas with a promised release of new movies, video games, and collectable crap coming out every year.  People are even out there buying the 'red-shirts' from 'Star Trek', in tribute to their rather twisted meaning (these were usually the security guys who never had first and last names and seldom lasted half way through an entire episode).  Something has turned the world upside down and inside-out, and it's become popular to be a geek whether you actually are or not.

I'm sorry people but this just isn't fair.  I've had to spend in excess of a half a century attempting to deal with, if not hide my geekhood as best I can from the rest of society.  To no one's shock, those attempts have been largely unsuccessful.  That being said, I'm finding it far too painful, time-consuming, and largely unsuccessful for me to now calmly surrender this once pariah status identity to the whims of popular culture.  Do you have any idea what's going to happen to the cost of replacement copies for my worn out John Carter books?  Do you comprehend what kind of inflation is happening to the 'Star Trek' Enterprise collectibles market?  Don't you realize that I'm now going to have to buy a Chewbacca Cubs jersey when I'm sure it will come out next year?  Enough already!

You captains of the football team and ex-cheerleaders need to keep your grubby hands off of the geek identity that's been my private burden for so many years!  Isn't it enough that you were able to establish superior social status in my youth without now attempting to rip the only thing left to me in a lost-in-book, front-of-the-class, pocket protector distinctiveness.  Having murdered me in the past by pointedly remarking on my awkwardness and terminal shyness among my fellows, must you likewise now rob me of my ability to commit social suicide every time I now attempt some form of reinstatement to your existing social order?  Having submitted to your whims in paisley, tie-die, and bell bottoms in my youth; must I also now surrender my technological hideaways and fantasy and sci-fi sanctuaries.

Dammit, that's it!  I'm calling Lifelock tomorrow.  I don't know if they can actually protect from all this rampant Pop Culture Identity Theft, but it's at least worth a try.  Now where did I leave that slide ruler case?