Monday, June 27, 2011

Not a Novelty Track

Looking back on the gay marriage debate, I feel I should post the incredible song Androgynous by Minneapolis' favorite native sons The Replacements which, though not about same-sex marriage, takes on traditional gender roles:

The song initially comes across as a novelty song, but one quickly realizes that it is a plea for tolerance:

Mirror image, see no damage, see no evil at all.
Kewpie dolls and urinal stalls will be laughed at the way you're laughed at now.

You tell them, Mr Westerberg! Joan Jett recorded a cover version of Androgynous, which is a staple of her live shows:

{ZRM} I am pleased to note that I have seen both Teh 'Mats and Joan Jett live in concert.{/ZRM} Hell, I even ran a 10k in Central Park so I could see Joan play a "Run Hit Wonder" event, which was kicked off by a concert featuring The Donnas.

Gonna Cool My Heels for a Few Days

I'm going to be heading to Maine for a few days, to revel in glorious rusticity- no electricity, rudimentary plumbing, a night sky in which stars can bee seen. Seeing that, the last time this happened, my blog was Zardozed in most brutal fashion, I am going to try to bang out a few posts and use the "Post Scheduling" option that I didn't use in my "24 posts in 24 hours" effort.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

Just in time for Pride Day, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York State. Three cheers for the NY legislature- they finally decided to give bigotry the heave-ho, and strike a blow for equality and compassion. Predictably, the archbishop has complained that legalized gay marriage will destroy the family (as if two d00dz marrying could be as deleterious to the family as low wages, no benefits, and long uncompensated hours could be). Some of Dolan's statements are unintentionally hilarious... “a violation of what we consider the natural law that’s embedded in every man and woman.” (heh, embedded) “we’re realistic to know the forces pushing this are very strong, they’re well oiled, they’re well financed.” (heh, very strong and well oiled) “a couple bones to the dog.” (heh, bones)... Of course, the archbishop's assertion that same-sex marriage will be detrimental to religious freedom (“We just don’t want this definitive religious freedom to be at the mercy of some government whim”) is asinine- the imposition of the standards of particular sects of certain religion on non-believing members of our secular society is not religious freedom. Shorter Dolan, "Interfering with my sectarian authoritarianism is a blow to religious freedom." Yeah, your eminence, right. Also, appeals to "natural law" are bullshit- most organisms on this planet are neither male nor female, and even among vertebrates, there are gender changers and non-sexual animals which reproduce by parthenogenesis. The archbishop's understanding of nature can be characterized as parochial.

Brian Brown of the evil, but hilariously cack-handed NOM has vowed to go after politicians who voted in support of same-sex marriage (yay, conservatives going after Republicans!). Hopefully, Brown will be run out of town, because we don't need his bullshit here in the Big Apple.

In other news, homophobic ministers in Harlem have actually increased interest in Harlem's first gay pride march by trying to get it banned. Few things piss me off more than members of a persecuted minority acting in a bigoted fashion towards other minority groups (this criticism could also be levelled against Dolan).

Why am I making a big deal about this? I'm not even gay! Well, I can't stand bullies, I can't stand authoritarian assholes who try to make life miserable for people they perceive to be easy targets. You're born screaming and covered in slime, you'll die, maybe screaming, likely in pain... why the hell would you begrudge anyone a little happiness in the course of their all-too-short life?

I first got involved in gay-rights activism (albeit unknowingly) when I was six or seven years old. Tommy, the boy who lived across the street, was four of five years older than I was, and he was a really nice kid. The word "effeminate" wasn't in my vocabulary at the time, but Tommy wasn't a rough-and-tumble kid. One day, the asshole kid next door, who was Tommy's age, was pushing him around and taunting him (I can't remember what he was saying, but I wasn't about to stand for his bullshit). Even though the kid had four or five years on me, I went after him, yelling "LEEEEAVE TOMMMMMY ALOOOONNNE!!!!" The asshole, rather than cooling it because the kid standing up to him was so much smaller than he was, knocked me on my ass, and down a hill, and I ended up with a sprained ankle, forced to use crutches and sport an Ace bandage for weeks. So, the bully or the kid who ended up coming out as gay when he was a teenager... who the hell do you think has my sympathies? How can I see a homophobic asshole, and not see the chickenshit coward who thought it was acceptable to fight back against a little kid?

In high school, the two friends who tried to kill themselves were gay. Thankfully, they didn't succeed, although my one friend (who had chronic pain issues from a really bad case of scoliosis) tried to kill herself three times. She was disowned by her family when she came out. Homophobia destroys more families than gay marriage ever will.

At my college reunion, I found out that two of my classmates (unfortunately, neither could be there) had come out- one was a hilariously funny, artistically brilliant Chicano kid from Texas who grew up in an Evangelical household; the other was a true Southern Gentleman without all the bullshit racial baggage, sort of "New and Improved" Southerner 2.0. It's too bad they weren't ready to come out while they were in college, there were plenty of "out" kids in school. I guess it's hard to jettison one's cultural baggage, but I sure as hell wish they had been comfortable enough to be true to their natures back then.

Yeah, I'm pretty much for civil rights and civil freedoms. I also think that the species has to grow up when it comes to sexual matters. I'm going to type the next sentence out in a bold font, because I want someone to needlepoint it on a pillow or tattoo it on their ass:

Morality is not about how a person uses their genitals on a consenting adult, it's about how they use their power on a non-consenting individual.

That, in a nutshell, is why I am pro-marriage equality. I'll stand by my principles, even if it means that I could be forced into being a gaymarried love slave to the food-pr0n obsessed Emperor of Portland.

Hey, rant's over, how about a little ditty? Yeah, marriage licenses in the U.S. shouldn't be subject to religious dictates, marriage is a legal matter:

Happy Pride Day to my gay readership, now shove your agenda down Conservatives' throats!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Whitey and Doug

Being a smartass, while listening to coverage of the arrest of notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, coverage which included interviews with Bulger's associates, I couldn't help but be reminded of Monty Python's "Piranha Brothers" sketch, especially the bit about "Doug", which is at 2:13 in the following video:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Suburban Culture of Violence

The local headlines in New York state have been dominated by the horrific slaying of four individuals in a pharmacy on Long Island. The story hasn't made it to Yahoo's "front page", perhaps because it doesn't "fit the narrative" pushed by the media noise machine.

The shooter was a white male, a veteran of the Army reserves, and he shot his victims with a licensed pistol. The shootings took place in suburban Suffolk County, and were committed in the course of the theft of prescription painkillers. Can't have this horror story getting in the way of the "conventional wisdom" concerning perpetrators and victims.

Especially poignant are the stories of the young woman who will be buried in her bridal dress and the seventeen-year-old girl who will be buried with her diploma.

I don't expect the odious Neal Boortz to discuss this horrific crime anytime soon- it just doesn't jibe with the cultural scenario he's pushing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Emma Peel's Mum?

Generally speaking, the population of the world can be divided into two broad groups- those who love Diana Rigg and those who need to have their heads examined. Recently, though, I came across an awesome video of another beautiful, butt-kicking Brit... I present to you vintage footage of the awesome, adorable Miss May Whitley:

How can you not love Miss Whitley's performance? Witty, charming, plucky, and able to execute a perfect seoi nage without missing a beat.

Hmmm... teh wiki tells me that Diana Rigg's performance debut was in a production of one of my favorite plays, Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle. While this only raises my estimation of Ms. Rigg, I think I have a new schoolboy crush.

UPDATE: It's after 3AM, and I'm at work, I'm in a revelatory mood. When I was in college, I was paired with a female student during shime waza instruction. My counterpart was a very attractive young lady- petite, charming, brilliant... everybody was in love with her. So, I'm in a situation where I'm supposed to choke this girl, this lovely girl with whom I'd often walk to biology class. I felt like a real heel, and all sorts of thoughts ran through my head in a few seconds. Of course, I realized that she was in the class of her own free will, she knew exactly what she should expect, we were in a supervised environment, and that I had her best interests in mind. Put tersely, I had to choke her, and I had to choke her exactly as I would have choked a big bad bald bastard... I wouldn't have been doing her any favors if I "went easy" on her- better to experience such an unnerving event in a controlled setting with a sense of mutual benefit and trust, and learn how to handle oneself should something similar happen in a hostile situation. We practiced several choking techniques in the course of the hourlong class. I know I did the right thing, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like a total shitbag for a few hours afterward.

On a comical note, in the course of another class, I was practicing yoko shiho gatame with her, and was actually doing a decent job of maintaining my composure until she critiqued my pin, "You have to press your head down on my chest harder." Suffice it to say, I had to take a breather for a few minutes after that- can't be brandishing a kanabō on the mat.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cognitive Assonance*

Maybe I'm a little too concerned with a coherent worldview, but I have to say that one comes across as a complete whackaloon when one follows up on one's call to see bodies littering the streets of a major American city by decrying a culture of violence. The boorish Boortz is part of the problem here- nothing more violent than calling for massacres.

Another thing I just don't understand is the mentality of people who believe that carrying a concealed firearm will allow them to defend themselves from a guy who has a bead on them. Yeah, the guy with a pistol in your face is going to let you get your shootin' iron out of the glove compartment- nice fantasy.

I'm not a starry-eyed naïf, I worked off and on in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country, the Longwood section of the Bronx. The first time I worked at my client's facility, I spent a few hours on the roof of the building with a video camera, cell phone (before they were common- this was a company phone), and binoculars trying to find the location of some asshole with a pellet gun who was taking potshots at employees during shift changes. Another time, I left the facility after midnight, and walked to the Intervale Avenue subway stop. I had to return the next morning at 8AM, and there was yellow police tape all over a particular corner- some asshole was shot multiple times during a drug deal turned ugly, not ten minutes after I had walked past the corner. I'm no stranger to urban pathologies, but I recognize that they are the result of class inequality, not genetic tendencies. Working in the barrio, I saw many working class people trying to make it against the odds, the number of criminals was small, but they tended to be around while most people were at work. I learned compassion while working in this milieu. Calling for a violent response to a culture of violence is hypocritcal, brutish, and counterproductive.

Of course, Boortz has been a dyed-in-the-wool racist for decades, having once been a speechwriter for the odious segregationist Lester Maddox.

*It's when an asshole reveals cognitive dissonance. It also reflects the repeated "U" sound in the not-a-dogwhistle phrase "urban thug".

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Soylent Brown is Poopoo!

Eep, this story is a little off-putting, to put it mildly. I pretty much have the discriminating palate of a shark, but this seems to be a bridge fridge too far.

This is the money quote in the article:

The scientists hope to price it the same as actual meat, but at the moment the excrement steaks are ten to twenty times the price they should be thanks to the cost of research. Professor Ikeda understands the psychological barriers that need to be surmounted knowing that your food is made from human feces.

Charlton, Charlton, Charlton, you should be so lucky!

The best thing about this video, is that (at 1:34) the refrigerator has an English label reading "Shit Burger". Now, that's marketing! I don't understand why he's positing recycled food as being for human consumption... dogs eat POOP with relish, why not sell this shit as a dog food?

If this fecalfood actually hits the market, would one make "shitbu shitbu" out of it, or "shapoo shapoo"?

Uh, the title of the "Cooking with Dog" series is unintentionally hilarious, by the way. So much "wrongness" in one post... one shitty post.

UPDATE: To be fair to Mr. Ikeda, turdburgers are not uncommon in the U.S., it's just that U.S. food processors are just not as upfront about their sources.

She's Cribbing My Style!

I see that pop star and chameleon Lady Gaga has sported a "bald" look recently. I just want to make it clear that I sported this look long before she did, and I didn't shave my head so I could be a doppelgaga (I decided to leave the "umlaut" off this time). I think her Ladyship is just trying to get back at me because her grandparents used to live around the corner from me in Yonkers and I probably yelled at young Stephanie to get off my lawn at some time in the past.

Of course, her ladyship could be trying to emulate this guy. Hmmmm... sporting an "Amish" look would be a pretty good move for her.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

24 Posts in 24 Hours, a Retrospective

Well, I set out to do it, and when I hit "Publish Post", it will be a fait accompli (C'est la fait, Jacques!)... 88 Lines About 44 Women 24 posts in 24 hours. This little project of mine has been a microcosm of my blogging experience- a little stargazing, a little crystal gazing, a little gazing into the Abyss, and a lot of navel gazing (well, at least there's been no shoegazing on my part). The best thing about completing this "24 Posts in 24 Hours" project is that I never have to do this again. Once again, I want to thank my beloved readers for being with me every step of the way- if I'm not mistaken, the valiant Thunder has posted a comment on every entry!

Well, I may not have done a NABLOPOMO, but I can say without hesitation that I have joined the ranks of the 24 Hour People:

Excess Ain't Rebellion

I love it how right-wingers try to couch their stupid resistance to energy conservation measures as a struggle for freedom... more like freedumb, if you ask me. Of course, the freedom to use inefficient appliances places one in greater thrall to corporations and hostile foreign regimes awash in petrodollars. I believe the brilliant songsters of Cake put it best when they sang:

Excess ain't rebellion, you're drinkin' what they're sellin'

That pretty much summarizes the right-wing authoritarians' id-based "freedumb".

How about a nice serving of Cake?

Now, that cake is no lie!

Want to Take an Opportunity to Say "Thanks"

Thanks for the comments, dear readers... thanks for indulging my bizarre whim and reading these posts. It's funny, I had been toying with this idea for a while, but needed the catalyst of Jennifer's post and a long slog of a day. I'm planning on whipping up the last couple of posts, and then I'll go over the comments and enjoy the back-and-forth.

Once again, thanks folks!

I Love It When the Good Guys Win

The good people of the Captain Lawrence Brewery of Pleasantville, NY have announced that they are moving to a much larger facility, closer to Chez Batarde. I love it when the good guys do well, and the Captain Lawrence folks are extraordinarily nice people, and they make a nice variety of superb beers. I am partial to their brown ale, and I love the fact that they will refill my half-gallon growler for a mere $9.50.

I wish them luck with their expansion, and I am ecstatic that it will be easier to visit their new facilities for samples, refills, and socializing.

The Kidney Clock

Knowing I'd only be able to nap for a few hours, I not only set my cell phone alarm clock, but I set what I jokingly refer to as "the kidney clock"- I drank two quarts of water before turning in this morning, knowing that I would eventually have to get up to micturate. As C. Montgomery Burns would put it, a whiz like me looks out for number one.

Back, As They Say, With a Vengeance

I got home from work around 9AM this morning, crawled into bed by 9:30, and was up by 2PM to prepare myself for a return to work. After the customary three hours or so of running around, I have a lull in which I can resume my "24 Posts in 24 Hours" push.

Gonna Knock Off for a Couple of Hours

I'm three-quarters of the way through this project- I am in a good position to pull off this "24 Posts in 24 Hours" trick. Of course, I'll be going on a hiatus of a few hours so I can rest up for another eight-hour shift this afternoon.

Posting at this rate has been interesting- at the rate I've been going, I feel as prolific as the redoubtable M. Bouffant. By the time I return to posting, he will most likely have outstripped me in the amount of today's posts.

It's the Little Things that Make One Happy

Cherish the little things, relish the small triumphs that make day-to-day living enjoyable. Case in point, I bought a bunch of packages of "Chicken Gizzards and Hearts (Mostly Gizzards)" for $1.69 per pound, and I found an inordinate amount of hearts in the mix. Now, don't get me wrong, I like chicken gizzards, chicken hearts are one of my favorite foods. What could be better?

Another Half Hour to Go in this Leg

I'm working a "split shift" today- I began with the graveyard shift, but have to return at 4PM. I don't mind the graveyard- one is going home while most people still have a full day of work ahead of them. The "split", like red rum, is murder- at least it doesn't crop up often.

I hope to get a little shut eye when I get home, but I fear that my lovely neighbors' three beautiful children will be engaged in typical child activity, which tends to be joyfully noisy. Luckily, at this point in my life, I think I could sleep in a wind tunnel.


Today is Juneteenth, a celebration of the revelation to the enslaved residents of Galveston that slavery had been abolished. Juneteenth celebrations are becoming more common throughout the States, but the holiday has been a big deal among Texans of African descent for a long time.

Of course, slavery was not limited to the South- slavery was introduced to the New Netherlands colony by the Dutch and slavery was not completely abolished in New York until 1841. The economics of Northern slavery were different from those of Southern slavery- most slaveholders owned only one or two slaves, who were often skilled laborers. Two remarkable enslaved individuals were Caesar, the master miller, and Diamond, the boatman, of the Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills complex- these men were brilliant, they just weren't free.

I'm Digging This Kid's Blog

Life Before the Dinosaurs is, in a word, awesome. I am totally digging this kid's blog. Part of me wishes my 'nym weren't PG-13, rated for language, because I'd love to post comments. A lot of his entries deal with the fantastic, beautiful critters of the Burgess Shale. That being said, I totally want this young scholar to do a post about Moschops.

I also want to take an opportunity to, once again, plug the gorgeous and informative Oceans of Kansas, one of my all-time favorite destinations on the t00bz.

I Figured I Owed Clarence Clemons a Memorial

One of the greats has been silenced- legendary saxman Clarence Clemons is no longer with us. No matter what you think about that Bruce Springstone fella, you must love the Big Man, and mourn his passing. His playing particularly shone in Jungleland off the Born to Run album:

Jungleland is a contemporary epic- it manages to transform New Jersey into a Land of Intrigue, in which a Magic Rat meets a mysterious fate, all accompanied by the siren wail of a brilliant Big Man's enchanted sax.

I have to say that this particular bit in the bio/obit I linked to impressed me to no end:

He moved to New Jersey and was working as a child counselor at a reform school and playing in another band when he first met Springsteen in 1971.

The world is poorer for Mr. Clemons' passing.

Hitting the Half-Way Mark

Twelve posts so far... I think I may pull this thing off. Hopefully Blogger won't "go all to custard" on me today. Speaking of Blogger acting up, I seem to have a problem posting comments on certain blogs (I sign in with my "Google Identity" but the damn comment field reads "anonymous" and I can't post a comment). For example, say I want to post a comment on the literary blog of a hunky poet and all-around great guy, Blogger throws a monkey wrench in the works. Of course, we all remember the great Blogpocalypse of recent vintage.

If Blogger steps on my proverbial dick today, I'll be steamed!

Commenting When the Posts Come Thick and Fast

I'll be checking out the comments from the blog "dashboard", so I can respond to comments on any of today's posts. Please, if you think any one of the posts stands out (I think that "Objectivist Morrissey" may be my favorite in this series), comment on the one you prefer. I'll get back to you, bubbeleh, no need to respond to the current post.

Can't Believe the WaPo Published This

I've had some problems posting on certain blogs (lookin' at AK and Exford!), but I wanted to comment on a piece that I found out about at Mr. Edroso's place. I can't believe that the Washington Post printed Peter Moskos' call to bring back the lash. I can't believe that this piece isn't satire- Mr. Moskos proposes lashings as a humane (?...!) alternative to incarceration, while paying lip service to criticizing the prison-industrial complex and draconian drug policies. Of course, he couches his op-ed in terms of humanitarian concerns, but it's hard not to hear the heavy breathing of the torture-porn fan in the background. How would "impartial" lashings be administered, would a Lash-O-Matic be used to ensure that racial or other animosities would not come into play when lashings were meted out? What kind of follow-up care would one receive after a lashing? Damn, this article is a repugnant piece of garbage, unworthy of a serious news organization. Besides, any new written argument for corporal punishment (and, for that matter monomachy) pales when compared to Gene Wolfe's magnum opus.

Lest Monsieur De Gravitas Chide Me

So, in looking over my Fathers' Day post, I realized that I completely forgot about another appropriate song for Fathers' Day. I figured Substance McGravitas would have reminded me of Boney M.'s Daddy Cool:

Boney M. was the brain?child of German songwriter/producer/Svengali Frank Farian, who went on to perpetrate Milli Vanilli.

Background to the Odious Neal Boortz? NOOO!!!

Protip: When blowing a racist dogwhistle, the whistle should be inaudible. Boorish Neal's racist call for corpse-littered landscapes has been discussed elsewhere, so I am just going to comment that I'm really pissed off that the music in the background is Kraftwerk's Tour De France. Tour de France was always played on the Bronx Bourough Hall steps as the riders would assemble for the Tour de Bronx. Kraftwerk's music has been popular among the "urban" set ever since Afrika Bambaataa sampled Trans Europe Express and Numbers in his seminal hip-hop singlePlanet Rock. I'm so mad I could jam a Moog up Boortz' fundament. Neal should use music beds by acts that are more in accordance with his views- Prussian Blue is more appropriate for his purposes.

Here's Tour de France as it should be heard (actually, it should be heard blaring from a huge set of speakers on the Borough Hall steps on a crisp October morning, after a glorious ride down the Grand Concourse, as riders gather before the kickoff of the main leg of the terrific Tour de Bronx), not as background to the racist ranting of a right-wing hack:

Surprised This Hasn't Been a Talking Point

While there are some who would blame the Vancouver riots, in part, on a "nanny state", I am surprised that I haven't seen any right-wing pundits in the U.S. specifically blame the riots on the Canadian healthcare system. After all, what is more of a disincentive for mayhem in the streets than the prospect of huge medical bills? Damn, I pulled this out of my ass at quarter after four in the morning while working- if I had no conscience, I could become a right-wing shill and get some of that Koch trickle down. Silly old conscience!

Flight of the Peryton

Sure, the mainstream media has been reporting about a deer being dropped by an eagle onto power lines in Montana, resulting in a power outage, but I think they are being untrustworthy and disingenuous. When I read a story about a flying deer caught in some power lines, I immediately think of a peryton. Of course, since perytons are implacable enemies of humans, I think the authorities are trying to suppress this story because it has the potential to create widespread panic. As Borges warned us:

The Perytons had their original dwelling in Atlantis and are half deer, half bird. They have the deer's head and legs. As for its body, it is perfectly avian, with corresponding wings and plumage. . . . Its strangest trait is that, when the sun strikes it, instead of casting a shadow of its own body, it casts the shadow of a man. From this, some conclude that the Perytons are the spirits of wayfarers who have died far from their homes and from the care of their gods. . . . . and have been surprised eating dry earth . . . flying in flocks and have been seen at a dizzying height above the Columns of Hercules. . . . they are mortal foes of the human race; when they succeed in killing a man, their shadow is that of their own body and they win back the favor of their gods. . . . and those who crossed the seas with Scipio to conquer Carthage came close to failure, for during the passage a formation of Perytons swooped down on the ships, killing and mangling many. . . . Although our weapons have no effect against it, the animal-if such it be-can kill no more than a single man. . . . wallowing in the gore of its victims and then fleeing upward on its powerful wings. . . . in Ravenna, where they were last seen, telling of their plumage which they described as light blue in color, which greatly suprised me for all that is known of their dark green feathers. Though these excerpts are sufficiently explicit, it is to be lamented that down to our own time no further intelligence about the Perytons has reached us.

Watch out, good people of Montana, you may be in grave danger! Of course, it could be worse- rumor has it that a couple of mad antipodean scientists are attempting to breed hypnostags with perytons, forming super hypnoperytons. I shudder just to contemplate it.


These past couple of days, the first ripe mulberries of the season have been available. Yesterday, I scarfed down several handsful of the sweet, though messy, delicacies. I make it a point to stake out mulberry trees throughout my travels, and we have four good ones on the grounds at work, several by my favorite bicycle path, and scads of them not far from the Bronx River Parkway near my house. In 1937, an individual named John Ousta made an attempt to raise silkworms in the Bronx. While efforts to raise silkworms in the Bronx were unsuccessful, mulberry lovers such as myself have been the beneficiaries of this muddle-headed scheme.

I am a shameless mulberry glutton, but I figure I am performing a public service. Every mulberry I cram into my greedy mouth is a mulberry that doesn't stain some poor sucker's car.

Objectivist Morrissey

I was thinking, "What if there were a parallel universe in which Morrissey were a hard-core Objectivist? What if The Smiths were forging rearden metal? What would that sound like?"

I would go Galt tonight, but I haven't got a hidden lair.
Ayn Rand said, "It's gruesome, that such a producer should care."

Ten Commandments, Target Field

So, an overzealous knucklehead hassled two ladies kissing each other at a Twins game. When told to mind his own business, the conversation took on a theological bent:

When Culpepper confronted the guard a few minutes later, he repeated the "no grab ass" comment and told her she must "adhere to the 10 Commandments" at Target Field.

Let's see those Ten Commandments, eh?

Hmmmm... nothing about two girls kissing, but what's that commandment number four? Keep holy the sabbath? So, this must mean that the overzealous guard will be kicking the entire Saturday and/or Sunday (depending on your flavor of sanctimony) crowd out of the stadium, no?

Happy Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day to all of the fathers out there, especially to my brothers Sweetums, Vincenzo, and Gomez, to my brilliant brother-in-law, and to all of the dads on the blogroll- you know who you are. Also, happy Fathers' Day to all the lucky guys married to the ladies on the blogroll.

There aren't nearly as many songs for fathers as there are for mothers, so I'll just post one of my favorite "dad" songs- yeah, daddy-o, someday you'll have a situation in which your kid doesn't want to go down to the basement, but you'll just have to be patient:

24 Posts in 24 Hours

So, in a comment on Jennifer's (and not the one you are thinking of) "blogging efficiency" post, I toyed with the idea of doing 24 posts in 24 hours. While I have never seriously taken on the 30 posts in 30 days challenge, I think it's time to try this project.

I'll be working a 16 hour day, and will try to put up short posts during lulls in the action.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Don't Be a Traitor, Collaborator

Said, "I'd rather be a snitch than a cocktail waiter!"

Here's a terrific video for a criminally underrated song by a criminally obscure band, with some incredibly witty lyrics. The video reminds me of one of those movies by that guy what married Madonner:

Ugh, IMDB indicates that Mr. Madonna is doing a remake of Excalibur, the original film having been directed by that guy what directed Zardoz. What the hell good is a remake of Excalibur if Nichol Williamson isn't involved? This new version of Excalibur, may be a dream to some, but it's a nightmare to the Bastard:

Damn, can't anyone in the film industry come up with a new idea? Hell, I'd even settle for a Matter of Britain film with an original title... how about Caliburn?

For the record, the coolest thing ever written about King Arthur was actually not about King Arthur- the Welsh poem Y Gododdin features one of the most badass lines EVAR!!!

He fed black ravens on the rampart of a fortress
Though he was no Arthur.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heartland Fukushima? No Biggie!

Wow, a week ago, an electrical fire caused the cooling system of a spent fuel pool of a Nebraska nuclear reactor to go offline. So, now the Missouri River's rising flood levels threaten to swamp the plant:

Yeah, nuclear power... safe, secure vital- WOLVERINES!!!

I think the love affair with nuclear power is largely due to the desire to keep power generation a monopoly or near-monopoly. Those faggy solar panels would allow local (even indidual/household) power generation, and we can't have that, now can we?

It's time for the population of the U.S. to reconsider nuclear power, like the Germans, Italians, and Swiss have. Nuclear power is overly dangerous, and overly subsidized- time to get serious about shutting down reactors.

I hope I don't sound too paranoid about this issue, it's just that I and about seventeen million of my closest friends live within the "peak injury zone" of one of these plants.

It's great to know that the media is on top of the Fort Calhoun reactor story, because it would be a shame if they were obsessed with stupid, prurient shit that really has no bearing on people's lives.

UPDATE: I changed the post title to better reflect the nature of the post. Thom Hartmann has been discussing it on his radio show, but the story seems to have been buried- I can't even find it among Yahoo's news headlines.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Scurvy Scow with Subpar Chow

Mom called me to tell me she got home from her trip to Scandinavia. Mom took a cruise, and the "floating hotel" that took her from place to place sounds like one of those "As Seen on Cops" no-tell motels. She said the food was awful, and the overall service was poor (although, because of the fluke-y fact that we share the same last name as one of the big-time captains for the cruise line, she personally received a lot of fawning service). Mom basically got off the boat as early as possible (Scandinavian mangoes are particularly tasty) and returned as late as possible- hell, one doesn't travel to stay in one's hotel, even if it is floating (not even if it's nice).

She had a great time in Copenhagen (she stayed in a "minimalist" hotel with eccentric plumbing- I wish she'd taken a picture of the "indirect" bathtub drain which channeled water from the tub to a second drain in the floor). Her trips to Oslo and Stockholm were enjoyable- she did the typical "European tour" thing- hitting the museums, and the churches (she even checked out an old stave church in the hinterlands). She snacked like a native on raw herring and toured a Swedish brewery, all the while basking in the 24-hour sunlight of the far-north. She especially loved the Vasa Museum (you know your accomodations are crap when you prefer the sunken boat to the one you're sailing on). One of the highlights of her trip was visiting an archaeological excavation of a fourth century village, also in the hinterlands- yes, there were Goths long before Bauhaus released their first album.

All told, though, she said she was glad to be back home- some airline SNAFUs, and that awful ship she traveled by (mom's not a "cruise person", preferring to structure her own time and travels- so much for beginner's luck) dampened the fun somewhat. She would have had a better time cruising around Scandinavia with these critters:

Alas, I didn't ask her if she met any sexy ice giants (can one even say "hot ice giants"?) while she was overseas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day

I didn't see any of the Republican primary debate last night (no T.V., no masochistic tendencies), so I figured I'd put up a pretty generic post on flag day.

It's no secret that I am a proponent of soft power, I believe that American exceptionalism is true, but in a fashion which American right-wingers do not understand, and in a fashion that they constantly denigrate and undermine. American exceptionalism is rooted in democratic and egalitarian traditions that Republicans are trying to destroy. The classic American "rags to riches" story is becoming increasingly less likely. The American flag, once a symbol of freedom and enlightenment, has ceased to be a venerated symbol throughout much of the world.

One problem is that American foreign policy, both governmental and corporate have been pernicious both at home and abroad. Rather than raising the standards of living for people in developing countries, "free trade" policies have negatively impacted both foreign nationals and American citizens. While many of the deleterious effects of American (actually transnational corporate) trade policies are unseen by the average American citizen, certain effects are readily apparent, although the wrong people are the targets of the "man on the street's" hatred and fear. By not imposing our formerly high labor and environmental standards on our trading partners, we allow the poor working stiffs in those countries to be exploited, and we allow our own working stiffs to be pauperized. America has exported indentured servitude, and "Old Glory" has been substituted for a flag more appropriate for this wage-slavery.

Although it's a song about a different flag, sung by angry young provincials in an occupied territory, the song Fly the Flag by Stiff Little Fingers could very well have been sung about the American flag:

Substitute "U.S." for "British" and "Stars and Stripes" for "Union Jack", and you have a song which perfectly encapsulates the Randian/Reaganite policies which have undermined American prosperity at home and American prestige abroad:

Gimme a country that's red white and blue
Gimme the British way honest and true
Gimme the chance to be one of the few
Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme

Gimme a kingdom where people are free
Free to do and free to be
Free to screw you before you screw me
Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme

Cos I'm alright
I'm alright, Union Jack
Fly the flag

Gimme a Britain that's got back the Great
A race of winners not cramped by the State
And only the helpless get left at the gate
Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme

Of course, these policies could be reversed, if the political class in this country chose to put the needs of human beings over the desires of corporations. Unfortunately, I really don't see too many politicians who truly give a rat's ass about Joe Schmo and Jane Doe. Pity that, because I would rather have "Old Glory" be a symbol of human rights and fair play. As much as I love S.L.F., I'd rather people thought of George M. Cohan when they saw the American flag waving:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Didn't Mention This in Friday's Post

Before Thursday night's Secret Science Club lecture, we were treated to a performance by Canadian rapper, artist, and polymath Baba Brinkman. Mr. Brinkman is in NYC to perform his Rap Guide to Evolution. I was able to chat with him for a bit, and he's a hell of a nice guy who is doing Good Work. I am going to try to get to the show on its opening night. Here's a sample of Mr. Brinkman's work, The Natural Selection Rap:

I believe Mr. Brinkman is from Vancouver. Hopefully he and New York's own Zach Charlop-Powers won't start an East Coast/West Coast Science Rap feud. The prospect of lab-coated scenesters beating each other with slide rules on the streets of major American cities terrifies me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

As I Promised Earlier This Week...

In my snarky post about Sarah Palin's dumbass version of Paul Revere's ride, I promised to "put up a serious post about a young lady who is largely unknown outside of the Hudson Valley, but who should be known throughout the country as a national heroine and a true feminist icon."

In April 1777, British regulars marched on the town of Danbury Connecticut in order to destroy supplies cached by the Continental Army and to burn the homes of revolutionaries. Having discovered a supply of rum, the regulars started drinking and, in the subsequent breakdown of discipline, decided to burn other buildings in the town.

A rider was sent to inform Col. Henry Ludington, the leader of the 7th regiment, Dutchess County Militia who resided in nearby Kent, New York that Danbury was being put to the torch. Col. Ludington needed to muster members of the militia, and his sixteen year old daughter, Sybil was sent on a forty mile ride on a rainy night (so spät durch Nacht und Wind, indeed!) to alert the militia members. Let me repeat- 16 years old, 40 miles, 9PM to dawn... all the while avoiding loyalists and brigands... during a thunderstorm. Uh, Paul, I'm not knocking your accomplishments, but you had nothing on Sybil.

Sybil eventually married one Edmond Ogden and lived to a respectable old age.

Of course, Paul Revere's name lent itself to poetizing so he's a household name in the U.S., but in 1940, poet Berton Braley wrote a poem commemorating Sybil's ride- personally, I would have started off with:

Prick up your ears, your heart will be a-thudding son,
While you hear about Sybil Ludington.

Probably because I am inspired by this poem rather than Longfellow's.

In 1961, a statue of Sybil Ludington sculpted by Anna Hyatt Huntington was erected in Carmel, NY:

In 1975, a commemorative stamp was released by the U.S. postal service:

There is an annual fifty kilometer commemorative run along Sybil Ludington's route.

Still, though, she is not as well known as Paul Revere. Yeah, that's mostly due to Longfellow's poem, but this post is my attempt to inform persons living outside of the Hudson Valley about the remarkable, valorous Sybil Ludington. Yeah, the Founding Fathers are rightfully venerated here in the states, but how about a shout out to someone who, at the time of the Revolution, would have best been described as a Founding Daughter?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Secret Science Club, Post Lecture Recap

Last night's Secret Science Club lecture by Dr James Hudspeth of Rockefeller University was quite an earful. Dr Hudspeth discussed the tetrapod auditory system, with a particular emphasis on the mighty hair cell.

The mammalian ear features three tiny bones that transmit air compression waves from the eardrum to the cochlea, a snailshell-shaped organ in the inner ear. The cochlea features two fluid-filled chambers separated by the basilar membrane, which supports numerous hair cells, which feature cilia which are bundled into a shape which, under an electron microscope, looks like a rugose cone:

Here's a good animation of a "straightened out" basilar membrane, and its response to sounds of different frequencies:

The cilia of the "hair cells" have ion channels at the tip which are activated by the motion of the cilia bundle, and change the electrical potential of the hair cell, resulting in a nerve impulse (I am grossly oversimplifying in the interest of brevity).

Human hearing is distinguished by relatively low amplitude discrimination (a difference of 10% amplitude is fairly hard to distinguish), but very well developed frequency discrimination.

Tetrapod hearing is characterized by an "active process", which can be summed up succinctly:

The hearing of tetrapods including humans is enhanced by an active process that amplifies the mechanical inputs associated with sound, sharpens frequency selectivity, and compresses the range of responsiveness. The most striking manifestation of the active process is spontaneous otoacoustic emission, the unprovoked emergence of sound from an ear.

Yes, the ears generate sound, as well as discern it.

The lecture was accompanied by demonstrations- human hearing is very sensitive on a horizontal plane, one can typically determine the source of a sound within one degree horizontally, but the vertical perception of sound is not as sensitive (within about ten degrees)- the superior olivary complex plays a role in this discriminatory ability. He also demonstrated phantom tones (especially note the clip labeled "beats at 10Hz-35Hz"- far out!). He also briefly touched on the ability of zebrafish to regenerate hair cells in their lateral lines (similar to those in the tetrapod cochlea), and possible therapeutic implications of hair cell regeneration (humans don't regenerate hair cells, and many of us have hearing degradation and loss as we age, or due to exposure to loud rock and/or roll music... not that I'm singling anybody out here... Finally, Dr Hudspeth discussed cochlear implants, and their use to treat hearing loss.

In the Q&A, some bastard asked Dr Hudspeth if arthropods had a similar hearing mechanism. While insects do not possess hair cells, they have analogous cells. Interestingly enough, insects also have an "active process" similar to that of vertebrates. After the lecture, this bastard also had the temerity to discuss the controversy in the Deaf (note the capital D, denoting a culture) community regarding cochlear implants. The controversy has simmered down somewhat (Dr Hudspeth likened the situation to that of other "bilingual" communities, and recommended the film Sound and Fury and its follow-up.

All told, another fantastic lecture. I'll write about the pre-lecture entertainment in another post.

POSTSCRIPT: The fact that the hair cells in the cochlea and the colour-sensitive cells of the retina are both cone-shaped has got me thinking... maybe the cdesign proponentsists are onto something. Maybe Intelligent Design isreal, it's just that most of the IDers are sorely mistaken about the identity of the designers. Is there a colour (sic) vision specialist in the house to address my point this issue?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Doing the Roastation

Today marks the second day of temps in the 90s... I am pretty much doing the roastation. Thankfully, I haven't had to do any cooking lately, because I made a shitton of rice-filled grape leaves, having had a banner week of foraging success. What better than a cool, light meal washed down with a glass of limoncello on a hot summer day?

I'd love to be able to hunker down indoors all day, but I've got to hump on down to Brooklyn for learning while intoxicated. Of course, the subway trains are (under proper circumstances) air-conditioned, but the stations will be pretty infernal on a day like this. The one benefit to a day like this is that everybody will be wearing as little as possible (I'm like that year-round, typically breaking out the shorts in March and packing them up in November). Yeah, it'll be hot in the city tonight:

Gotta love Billy Idol, with that peroxide 'do and that sneer, though I prefer Monsieur Idol's earlier work, as frontman of Generation X.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weighing in on Weiner

Wow, I'm glad I didn't put up a Weiner post before the sordid truth came out. So, now that Weiner is revealed as a putz, I feel I should make a couple of observations.

First off, I don't think Weiner should resign. Yeah, he acted like a dick, but nobody was harmed, and it's his wife's choice to forgive him or to DTMFA
. If his constituents want to vote him out of office in the next election, that is their prerogative, indeed their duty. Any comparisons to Chris Lee, the former GOP representative from upstate New York, are ridiculous. Chris Lee voluntarily resigned soon after the revelation that he was soliciting NSA hookups on Craigslist, probably in an (unsuccessful) attempt to hide the fact that he was apparently seeking hookups with transgendered ladies. Personally, I think that Chris Lee's transgender fetish is less immoral than the fact that he was involved with a party that would deny transgendered persons rights. Yeah, Mr. Lee, it sure when ain't wunderbar you want to get your six inch cock in someone you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole (a tenpole?). Yeah, Lee chose to hang it up, it's Weiner's choice to follow suit.

I have to say, I'm more pissed off at Nancy Pelosi than I am at Anthony Weiner. Really, House Minority leader Pelosi, you want an investigation of Weiner after you refused to go after Bush? Damn, typing that sentence out made me feel like a fifth grade "wag". This is the damn Clinton era all over again, when substantial crimes are ignored and stupid sexual peccadillos are investigated in minute detail. Really, people, Clinton and Weiner didn't kill people with their dongs... that being said, Clinton and Weiner should have been up front about their misconduct. Shit, if Clinton had merely said, "I got a blowjob in the Oval Office, and it was FUCKING GREAT!", he and the nation would have avoided a lot of grief. Back off, Representative Pelosi, you blew your chance to conduct an investigation that really mattered, an investigation into real crimes that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and injury to countless others.

Weiner, hang in there, you've got to be hard. If you have to push back against those in your own party, do so... thrust against those who are seeking to soften you up and render you impotent.

Damn, the fifth grade jokes keep on writing themselves. As immature as I've been these past fifteen minutes, I've got nothing on the immaturity of Rep. Weiner and the whole goddamn news media.

Now excuse me, I've got some Tenpole Tudor songs to listen to.

UPDATE: Jack Crow has a great post taking Weiner to the woodshed. I have to confess, I did not know that Weiner's first political campaign used race-baiting tactics at an ugly time in the city's history when racial tensions were extremely high.

SECOND UPDATE: In a comment at Roy's place, in response to the line:

But now, because of Weinergate he is, as they say, outraged at Chappaquiddick:

I posted the title by which I will refer to the scandal formerly known as Weinergate from now on... SNAPADICKPIC!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

With Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In light of new scholarship, it's time to update to an old classic:

Listen my children, an I shall tell,
Of Paul Revere and his freedom bell.
The British were coming, gun owners beware!
So Paul saddled Sarah, his pure snow-white mare.

He rode town to town ringing freedom alarms,
And said to the British, "You can't take our arms!"
He said to the British, "In this land of ours,
We won't bow and scrape to your socialist czars!"

He'd ride into town with a jounce and a jolt,
And deftly unholster his trusty old Colt,
He'd aim for the steeple, so tall and so proud,
And shoot at the church bell, the clang would be loud.

The bell that he shot gave an ear-splitting "ding".
He'd say, "Shove off, limeys, and go tell your king
We won't be disarmed by some powder-wigged twits.
You won't pry our guns from our cold and dead mitts!"

He'd shout to the British, so loud and so clear,
"You can't have my gun, and my name's Paul Revere!
I've come here to tell you by bells and by shots,
You can't grab our guns, you old red-coated snots!"

His mare was as strong as the Lion of Judah,
As fierce and as swift as the bright barracuda.
He rode out of town with a wave of his gun,
And said to his snow-white mare, "Run, Sarah, run!"

And that is my tale, kids, but better not look,
The story's not found in a history book.
Beware of the tales of that old lamestream media,
They're socialist lies that the Obots will feed ya!

I think I'll bask in my self-satisfied snarkliciousness for a while. Sometime later this week, I'll put up a serious post about a young lady who is largely unknown outside of the Hudson Valley, but who should be known throughout the country as a national heroine and a true feminist icon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Anniversary of D-Day

Today being the anniversary of D-Day, I figured I'd post about family history.

A few years back, my brother Sweetums and I had a good long talk with our great uncle (mom's mom's baby brother), and he told us about his experiences in World War II. Uncle Bob had been studying engineering at Villanova before entering the war. While he did not participate in the Normandy invasion, he was sent to Normandy after the invasion succeeded and, because of his engineering background and his decent grasp of German (he was the son of German-speaking immigrants), he was put in charge of a detail of German P.O.W.s who were loading materiel onto trains bound for the front.

One day, as he was walking along the railroad tracks, he slipped on some loose stones, and fell on his ass. He slid one way, his dropped carbine slid in the other direction. As he saw half of the P.O.W.s running towards him, and the other half running toward his carbine, he thought, "This is the end of big Bob from the Bronx." The P.O.W.s helped him up, dusted him off, and handed him his carbine.

Puzzled, he asked them why they treated him in this fashion. They told him that they had been lucky to have been captured by Americans. They were being treated well, and were in a much safer position than they would have been on the front lines, or in a Soviet P.O.W. camp. Yeah, being an American meant something exceptional in those days. This sort of story really underscores the horror and idiocy of "extraordinary rendition" and "enhanced interrogation techniques". Back in the day, even America's enemies (at least the white ones) could see that we were "good guys", something that was true at the country's inception.

After the war, my uncle stayed in Europe for a year and a half, working on repairing the infrastructure of occupied Germany. Once again, his proficiency (though he admitted to not being fluent) with German and his engineering background served him, his country, and his former enemies well.

Uncle Bob made the best damn Manhattan I've ever had. As he regaled my brother and I with tales, he kept the Manhattans flowing... I had to take a two-hour "cool-off" break in order to be able to drive home. A few months after our long conversation, Uncle Bob succumbed to the cancer he'd fought for years. He was in his eighties, and had lived an extraordinarily productive, interesting life.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Maternal Glow

It has often been said that having given birth imparts a certain glow to a mother, a fruition of natural beauty. I can vouch for this, because a friend of mine recently gave birth (and not the one you're thinking of*). Yeah, my friend and co-worker Shelly (she's with the grounds staff, her job entails removing organic detritus from the small river on site) gave birth on Sunday. Doesn't she look beautiful?

Shelly sure is a looker, though I have no idea where the father of her children is these days. Unfortunately, he didn't stick around for the kids' sake. Shelly's on the rebound, but I know just the guy for her.

Note, anyone referring to Shelly as a snappy-headed ho is flirting with a lifetime ban.

Hilariously, the Wikiwakiwoo has this statement, which is a remarkable example of understatement: "The common snapping turtle is not an ideal pet"

*Not-so-veiled John Bellairs reference

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Endurance Tour

So, in a three-day span (Friday to Sunday), I will have worked two double shifts (4PM to 8AM) because of some time juggling with a co-worker. Yeah, I worked sixteen hours from last night to this morning, slept for five hours during the day, and am back on another sixteen hour endurance tour. Needless to say, I have a two-liter bottle of yerba mate- this time, I mixed it with some nettle tea (I have been subsisting largely on stinging nettles for the past two weeks) to make an unholy tonic.

Not having time to hit the bank this afternoon, and having all of two dollars in my wallet, I decided to bring some cooked rice to work, and helped myself to some of the wild grape leaves that grow profusely on the grounds (after all, people, this is Vinland the Good that I inhabit). Blanched for a couple of minutes, they can be used to make half-assed dolmades- or, if you prefer, a grape-leaf "taco", with the leaf in place of a tortilla. Luckily, I have a co-worker who orders from the local Chinese takeout place a couple of times a week, so there's a plethora of soy- and hot-sauce packets laying about. Mmmmm... haute cuisine for the skint. I plan on grabbing a bunch of grape leaves after dawn so I can make proper dolmades when I wake up sometime next week. Of course, there are also some tender young nettles for the taking as well, although many of the plants have matured beyond the peak of palatability.

A good friend and co-worker of mine once told me, "You're not happy unless you're getting your ass kicked!" As you can imagine, I am euphoric right about now. Thankfully, the radi-adi-o is providing some good inspirational music for a reluctant insomniac.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Harkonnen on the Hudson

Damn, damn, damn, damn damn... I am not the first person to write that watching a news report of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie riding 100 yards in a car reminded me of Baron Harkonnen from Dune. Damn it all! Yeah, there are no extant gravity repulsors, so Christie has to be chauffeured the final 300 feet after his wasteful helicopter ride:

Man, his ass looks humongous in that video... alternate post title: Bully Got Back.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bon Voyage, Mom

Today, mom flies to Europe for a two week vacation, traveling to Denmark, Scandinavia, and northern Germany. Her itinerary originally included a stop in Estonia, but that portion of the trip has been cancelled. It's too bad, because an Estonia trip would have given my Latvian readership (97 pageviews, baby!) an opportunity to visit their northern neighbor and hang out with mom. Riga readers, I'm sorry mom won't be able to meet you for a black balsam. Also, because she'll miss the Estonia leg of the trip, mom likely won't have an opportunity to hang out with the first pop star to emerge from the Vacuumslayer entertainment conglomerate:

Now, about the Denmark leg of the trip... any brainy Danes out there who could give mom tips on which akvavit to drink? Truly, ég segja þú, my go-to schnapps is svarti dauði.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marrone, Che Schifezza!

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump met over pizza at some joint in Times Square. Sheesh, they look like n00bs, going to a random Times Square pizzeria instead of a New York classic such as Lombardi's or Patsy's. Also, eating pizza with a fork in New York is a sign of effete snobbishness or fey cluelessness. Of course, what's really important is their topic of discussion. I imagine they were congratulating themselves on their talent for fleecing stupid, bigoted, gullible people. I also imagine that much of their conversation went something like this:

Happy Birthday, Sister Mine!

Today's my sarcastic, brilliant sister's birthday. She's a bona-fide rocket scientist (her specialty is battery systems for satellites), married to another bona-fide rocket scientist and mother to two amazing sons.

My sister had the knack for dispensing nicknames... she saddled my baby brother with the moniker "Gomez" and my older brother with "Sweetums". Once time, a friend of mine called the house and she announced the call with, "Another one of your mutant friends is on the line!"

She's mellowed considerably since then, but life's still not dull when she's around.