Sunday, December 20, 2009


Americans are both blessed and cursed.

It has not always been so throughout our history, of course, but today - and for a very long time now - we have been steeped in a culture that constantly urges us to excel, to rise to the top, to be a "winner", whatever that really means.

It's not just Americans, of course. We have slowly dragged much of the rest of the Western World with us into the endless rat race of one-upmanship and conspicuous consumerism.

If you are a "normal" American, you are in debt. Sometimes scarily so. Gone are the days of the proud self-sufficiency that used to be the hallmark of Traditional America. It would have been unthinkable to Americans only 40 years ago to be heavily mortgaged to the Communist Red Chinese (as we used to call them) and to not even be able to make plastic parts ourselves, much less steel. Perhaps that's an exaggeration, but not so much: as I placed the plastic Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus figures on my front lawn this year, I couldn't help but notice the ubiquitous "Made in China" Americans are now so familiar with. I wonder what the common Chinese workers must think we are like in their minds as they make this stuff?

If it is true that contentment comes from living within yourself and your means, then we are surely the most discontented people on earth. We are especially reminded at this time of year of our rush to consume. We fight to buy things we don't need and, in truth, don't want. All around us we are constantly barraged with advertising. Buy now, pay later. Pay forever.

But we also are about to enter the new year, and with it another opportunity for personal renewal - a chance to mend our ways. It's always a good time to resolve to get one's financial house in order and begin making a plan to return to self-sufficiency.

Living within one's means and actual needs, and resisting the constant urge to consume, is not only a step towards a more sane life, it is an actual triumph in today's world. If you would know contentment, you will first learn to say no to yourself. Coming to practice deferred gratification is perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves in the new year.

This new year, resolve to "simplify". You would be in good company. Take care.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nanoseconds can be important in the right game

You probably already know - or SHOULD know - that computing and the computer you so much take for granted today owe their existence, in large part, to women. Men helped, of course, here and there, but women provided much of the brainpower it took to come up with such a complex contraption.

The first computer programmer, by definition at least, is considered to be Ada Lovelace (1802-1852), the only legitimate child of Lord Byron. She encoded an algorithm (Al Gore rhythm?) in a form to be processed by a machine. She was inspired to do so by Charles Babbage's invention of what was then known as an "Analytical Engine". She also envisioned that someday computers could become much more than simply number crunchers. Even Babbage didn't dream of that.

Women have been a part of the development of the computer and of programming it down through the years ever since. My personal favorite is a lady named Grace Hopper (pictured at the top of this post.) Grace was a rather weirdly wonderful (somewhat eccentric, I mean) brainy lady who rose to the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy, and who had a profound influence on early computing. She used to hand out lengths of wire, somewhat short of 12 inches in length to U.S. Naval Academy cadets at Annapolis with an admonition to "remember your nanoseconds" (The wires being the length of space an electromagnetic wave travels in a billionth of a second.) The point was to remind her computer programming students not to waste nanoseconds. Occasionally she would bring in a 1000-foot roll of wire to show them what a microsecond looked like in those terms. Well, I guess you had to be there.

Grace is credited with inventing the early computer programming language COBOL and developed the first compiler. Words and phrases like "subroutines", "formula translation", "relative addressing", linking loader", "code optimization", and "symbolic manipulation", are still fundamental to digital computing and exist in large part because of Graces pioneering in the field. If you've ever had a "bug" in your program, you owe that word to Grace as well because ever since she removed an actual dead moth from her equipment, she referred to corrective programming as "debugging" work. She once claimed she forced computers to learn English because she was too lazy to learn theirs. Not true, of course - she understood their language perfectly well- but many programmers today are thankful they can type programs in (mostly) simple English.

Thank you, as usual, Wikipedia, for helping me fill in specifics.

Rolling on the ground and talking to angels

There seems to be more than the average amount of religious posts and comments lately, as I travel through my short list in the blogosphere. Since most (all?) of my blogger-friends are Liberal through and through, most of theses religious posts/comments are derogative (disparaging), of course. That's ok, since I haven't caught the religion malady myself quite yet, though I consider myself spiritual (I'm just not into organization) :) Like an old violin, I like to be in tune with something.

I guess the thing that stuck out most in my traveling and reading was the conspicuous discrepancy between the Liberal line of "tolerance for all things and all people" - except those who believe in God and creationism. While I have to put myself in the "amazingly skeptical" camp with regard to creationism, I see no reason to belittle or ridicule the tens of millions of Americans who believe it wholeheartedly. To do so seems decidedly unliberal in one's thinking, or at least selectively intolerant (which in itself would seem to demote one to a Liberal Second-Class at best, I would think.)

One comment explained that, while the writer would probably like the atmosphere of living in a small town, he was worried about the religion disease in such areas. "Before you know it, people are playing with snakes and rolling on the ground and talking to angels." It was obvious the writer felt he would then probably catch the disease himself, the contamination being constantly in the air, as it were.

Another VERY articulate and well-educated Liberal personage made a fine (and very interesting) post about Rhode Island's beginnings, and especially the beautiful city of Newport, and it's surroundings. The post was, mostly, about tolerance and Rhode Island's fantastic history in that regard, and rightly so. The writer went on to remind us that Rhode Island was the home of early settlers fleeing religious persecution, and that many religions lived side by side there in harmony. Even Jews, by God, and all were immensely tolerant of each other's beliefs and everyone got along just famously. Then the writer quickly went on to exclude the Puritans from this otherwise-welcoming umbrella of religious tolerance. Ah, well. The Puritans were assholes, you see, who believed their way of doing things was the only right way and everyone else were just stupid heathens who didn't know any better. Worse, the Puritans were proselytizers who also ridiculed and marginalized anyone who didn't believe the "obvious truth" the Puritans believed. Since that's hardly tolerant, the Puritans not only wouldn't fit in in Rhode Island, but were only worth running away from. So the enlightened tolerant folks fled Massachusetts Bay to Rhode Island environs, or some such, and left the know-it-all Puritans to their own uneducated and unenlightened devices to survive in a pre-globally-warmed world as best they could.

That, believe it or not, brings us to scientists in general - and the Gospel of Selective Tolerance.

What is science? Science is more than one thing, but mostly the word is used to describe an area of knowledge which has been studied in depth and organized systematically. Cool. What is a scientist? A scientist is a person who has expert knowledge in one of these systematically organized areas. An expert. I am not sure if any person who is a true expert in any area of natural or physical science is a scientist, but I am sure a scientist is an expert.

As a seeker of truth, a scientist is surely the most unbiased and open-minded person in the world, right? And yet...

Scientists are mostly liberal in their thinking and approach to things; mostly tolerant unless someone dares to challenge their personal beliefs (which have, of course, arisen from a meticulous collection of information which has been properly studied and systematically organized and subjected to a thorough peer review.) And why not? - what dolt would dare challenge the "obvious" truths of Global Warming or Evolution? Sigh.

Indeed. What dolt would dare to intimate that perhaps all the information is not in yet on certain subjects? - that perhaps we don't REALLY know enough more than to simply formulate an educated theory? Maybe (this dolt continues) we should continue to gather facts while prudently acting to protect ourselves in case the scientists are right. After all, one doesn't have to subscribe to the (theory?) of Global Warming in order to want clean air and clean water and have a desire to make those things happen.

The fact that scientists are in the main mostly Liberals (or at least only selectively tolerant) is not their fault. Scientists are highly educated, usually, and all of our institutions of higher learning are awash in Liberal thought. So it stands to reason. (Here I hasten to exclude Bob Jones University and Oral Roberts University and Brigham Young University and one other which at present escapes my memory.) Of course any scientist worth his salt would now be on his feet protesting the pigeonholing of Liberalism; scientists are ruggedly independent free-thinkers, after all.

People, people, people. (As Chill Wills was fond of saying, may he rest in peace.)

Is there a point to this post? There may well be, if I go back and search diligently. Perhaps that point might be a caution against thinking that your way is the only right way and your truth is the only truth. Or perhaps it might mean I (much like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction) am a messenger from God. Who knows. But I want to tell all of you that the writer of THIS post not only doesn't have all the answers, he is less and less sure of the ones he thought he knew last year. Because this is true, I am not a scientist, but I strive for an open mind.

"We have been so cocksure of so many things that just were not true." So said the late Mortimer J. Adler, University of Chicago, editor of the venerable "Great Books of the Western World" from which this dolt scratched out a meager education while working nights in a factory.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Global warming and stuff

They are still in Copenhagen. All of them. All in their wondrous non-carbon-emitting personal jets.

I was watching Dennis Miller tonight and he opined that if they REALLY wanted to reduce their carbon footprints, especially in this day and age, they would have just scheduled a big teleconference. I agree. But algore's ego is much too large for a measly teleconference, and the leader of the free world MUST zoom across the sea on Air Force One.

Did you know it isn't Air Force One if the president isn't aboard? Probably.

Dennis also pointed out the irony of the Copenhagen protesters today being led away by the police in those cute plastic handcuffs. Not biodegradable, those.

Also making my day was a public apology by that smartass "View" loon Joy Behar for calling one of Tiger Woods' "mistresses" a hooker. I know I was shocked at the thought.

December 8th was the 29th anniversary of John Lennon's death. He was 40.

Blogging is likely to be sparse until after the holidays when Clarity 2009 will be no more.

Peace and Zuzu's petals to you all. 2010 just HAS to be better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Al Gore has left the melting icecaps and has. Not died.

Giant Algore face with evil global warming eye spotted over Copenhagen yesterday morning.

With apologies to Soubriquet for stealing the picture he stole. And apologies to those of you who think man can control the climate. I am trying ever so hard to take you seriously, though not as seriously as you take yourself. But I will do my part, just in case. (I am starting by not flying a jet to Copenhagen or living in a huge house like Algore.)

Ok, you know what REALLY bothers me? I've been hiding it. What REALLY bothers me is there are a LOT more polar bears now than there were 10 years ago. Can you imagine how many there would be if they were not as endangered as brother Gore says they are? HOLY HOPPING HARRY. We would be up to our armpits in polar bears!

Peace. Happy Hanukkah.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Erotica vs. Pornography

To me, erotica - whether it be writing, photographs, or illustrations - requires that the reader or viewer have an imagination. By that I mean erotica must draw the reader in and make him an active participant (mentally) in the story. The same is true if the erotic object is a photograph: the photograph should suggest something rather than explain something. The same holds true for an erotic film, or an erotic scene within a film. To be sure, a certain amount must be shown, or described, but it is that which is left to the imagination that makes the piece erotic.

Pornography, on the other hand, does not really require the viewer or reader to have an imagination. He simply has to know how to read or he has to have eyeballs. Pornography is all-inclusive; it explains and illustrates. It stands alone and doesn't require imagination to fulfill it. One doesn’t get “drawn into” pornography. It is simply a show to be watched, like an old John Wayne western on Saturday afternoon at a small town Bijou.There is no reason or need for the viewer to get involved; the viewer is simply a spectator watching a time-tested plot play out. And, like the John Wayne movie, one can probably guess the ending because they are largely all the same.

Erotica is an unfinished work until it gets lodged in the mind of the viewer or reader and becomes intertwined with the reader’s own thought processes, personal memories and secret curiosities. Even the author doesn’t know the twists and turns the fantasy is creating in the reader’s mind. He only knows what it means to himself as he writes it.

Erotica must always leave something to the imagination. That which is described or shown is important, of course, because without it there would be no fuel for the fire. But it is that which is left to the imagination that ignites the flames. Thinks Max.

The word erotica comes from the Greek god of love, Eros. In Roman mythology, Eros was known as Cupid. Eros was the son of Aphrodite. Although she was very beautiful, Aphrodite became jealous of a mortal woman named Psyche, and ordered her son to go to earth and shoot her in the heart with one of his arrows and cause her to fall in love with the world's ugliest man. But when Eros saw Psyche, it was he who fell in love and he carried her away. They enjoyed great love, but only at night because Psyche was not allowed to shine light on Eros. (See... you have to leave something to the imagination, remember?) There's a lot more, but this post needs to end soon. Cesar Planck wrote an opera called Psyche et Eros. (She didn't really; et means "and" in French.)

In the old Playboy magazine, there used to be a monthly feature called “Dear Playboy” or “Ask Playboy” or something like that. Readers would write in questions about sex, fashion, cars, etiquette, and the like. Mostly frat boys I think, looking back, but they seemed pretty mature compared to my high school ignorance on all social issues.
I remember one letter asked what a woman’s most erroneous zone was. I mean erogenous zone. The letter author offered the Playboy Adviser (maybe THAT was the name of the column) several suggestions to choose from. Such as the ear lobe or the neck or one or two other more obvious ones. But the adviser declined all of the writers suggestions and answered simply, “Her brain.” That answer was to help me greatly in years to come.

Let’s hear it for “imagination”.

Listen to Little Arrows

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jaimee Grubbs

I sure don't want anyone to think I am going out of my way to make fun of someone who is in an embarrassing situation. I would never do that. But the news reports on the ongoing saga of this billionaire's self-imposed tribulation is too funny to let go. So...

I will interpret the daily news gleaned from Google for you.

Cocktail Waitress Jaimee Grubbs Claims Tiger Woods Affair

Police Close Probe of Golf Pro's Auto Mishap; Woman Tells US Weekly That She Had Affair With Woods

A Los Angeles cocktail waitress claims she had a nearly three-year fling with golf superstar Tiger Woods, according to US Weekly magazine.

Golf star paid the fine but still faces public scrutiny over a possible affair.

Jaimee Grubbs, 24, told the magazine that she began having an affair with Woods in April 2007 and has since had 20 sexual encounters with the golfer. [Yeah, right. 20.]

The article, published today on the magazine's Web site, said that Grubbs claims to have more than "300 racy texts from Woods" as well as photos. [Whoa. Racy texts. "Hi bby. Lts fk, k?"]

Voicemails allegedly left by Woods on Grubbs' cell phone will be released on the magazine's site Wednesday, according to the report. [At least she is an honorable woman.]

Grubbs recently appeared on VH1's "Tool Academy." [Fitting. She's a tool.]

Messages left for Woods' attorney, Mark NeJame, were not immediately returned. [No shit? Really? Did you tell him your name was Emily Friedman and that you blogged free-lance for Yahoo?]

Woods apparently referenced the allegations of an affair in a statement on his Web site following his one-car accident last week. ["Apparently?"]

The statement praised his wife for "acting courageously" to help him after his accident and denounced "unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me." [Not so unfounded now, eh?]

He also said: "This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect." [You are also an idiot, Tiger. Don't forget that part.]

WATCH: Tiger Woods Won't Show Up for His Own Golf Tourney
Tiger Won't Show His Stripes At Golf Tournament [Oh, so clever, these journalists]
Woods' Reputed Lover: 'Tiger and I Are Not Friends' [Soooo... that's why she is blabbing to all the tabloids, then?]

The Florida Highway Patrol announced today that Tiger Woods was issued a traffic citation for careless driving but will not face criminal charges stemming from last week's car crash. [I hate to be picky, but a traffic citation IS a criminal charge. Just sayin'.]

Woods was "at fault" for the car accident outside his Florida home Friday, said FHP Sgt. Cindy Williams, and faced a $164 fine and a four-point deduction from his license. [Is this the same Cindy Williams who was on LaVern and Shirley? She's cop now?]

Late Tuesday, Woods' lawyer NeJame said that the athlete had paid the fine. [I thought you said the lawyer wouldn't return phone calls. Oh. Just yours.]

"We are please with the outcome," said NeJame. "It's over." [You WISH it were over. Fat chance.]

There was "insufficient evidence" for authorities to subpoena medical records from Woods, according to FHP Sgt. Kim Montes, and so no criminal charges will be filed and the investigation has now concluded. [And I'm sure EVERYONE gets treated this way. Let me get this straight: two back windows broken out of his car and Tiger has a split lip and his wife is standing there with a five-iron in her hand, and there is "insufficient evidence"?]

Montes added that Woods' "celebrity status" did not have any impact on the investigation. [I'm sure everyone believes that. Thank you for pretending we are idiots.]

Earlier today, the lawyer for the neighbor who called 911 late last week after Woods' car crash said that the golf star's injuries appeared to be the result of the accident and not a domestic incident. [How would he know that if he were just standing there in the dark as he claims, while Tiger is lying in the street? Is the neighbor a medical doctor with zoom-vision?]

Cocktail Waitress Jaimee Grubbs Claims Tiger Woods Affair [Max has flashback and envisons the proud parents Grubb standing over their newborn daughter's crib and Dadgrubb says, "Let's name her Jaimeee, honey." "No, Oscar. Two "E"s are plenty."]

Bill Sharpe, the attorney for the family of Linda Adams and her son Jarius, who is believed to be the 911 caller, said that Woods' injuries were "consistent with a car accident" and "inconsistent with being beaten up." [Jarius? What about the golf club and the cussing Norwegian woman?]

"None of his injuries looked like he was beat up with a golf club," said Sharpe. [He had a split lip and facial injuries. What do you think a face looks like after a collision with golf club? You aren't all that Sharpe if you ask me. And why are we listening to you anyway. Why don't the police just do their job?]

The Adams family "comforted Mrs. Woods," who looked "upset," said Sharpe, speaking from his Orlando, Fla., law office. [Why would she be upset? She owns half of Tiger's Billion.]

Tigers appeared "woozy" when the Adams first saw him and instructed the golfer not to move until help arrived, said Sharpe. [The kid "instructed" woozy Tiger? Puhleeze. That's why he was lying in the street? Anyone think to check the golf club for blood and hair? Or would that be too much of an intrusion by the cops?]

Sharpe added that none of the Adams reported seeing any evidence that suggested a domestic dispute and did not hear anything that would suggest otherwise. No evidence of drugs or alcohol were seen on the scene by family either, said Sharpe. [And they don't expect any money from Tiger for saying that, either.]

Woman Linked to Tiger 'Very Lost' After 9/11
WATCH: Tiger Woods' Crash: A 'Private Matter'
Woods Declares Crash 'a Private Matter;' Lawyer Says He Won't Talk With Cops [Next time you find yourself in a similar situation, tell the cops you won't talk with them.]

Adams is believed to have called authorities after Woods plowed his SUV into a fire hydrant and then a tree outside his Windermere, Fla., home early last Friday morning. [You "believe" he called 911? He SAYS he did. They have the 911 tapes. Maybe you are right.]

Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, reportedly used a golf club to smash a window of his SUV to get him out. [So why not break out the passenger side window and reach in and unlock the door? Why break out both back windows instead? Vengeance is mine, saith the lord. Lucky she just happened to have a golf club in her hand at the time.]

Sharpe said today that his clients did not see any golf clubs at the scene of the accident. [Yeah? Well his wife says she had one and there are broken windows all over. Don't be stupid.]

But in the wake of the accident, during which Woods has stayed mostly mum about what happened -- even refusing to talk with police about the incident -- rumors have swirled around the possibility that an alleged affair between the athlete and night club hostess Rachel Uchitel may have been the cause for a domestic dispute. [What happened to Jaimeee Grubbb? Can't this guy just keep it in his pants?]

In the days prior to the car accident, Woods' reputed affair with Uchitel was reported first by the National Enquirer. That report spread following the car accident. [That ain't all that spread. Tiger's afraid to go to sleep now.]

Cocktail Waitress Jaimee Grubbs Claims Tiger Woods Affair
Police Close Probe of Golf Pro's Auto Mishap; Woman Tells US Weekly That She Had Affair With Woods

But Uchitel denied any kind of affair with the golf superstar and called the rumors "ridiculous" in an interview with the New York Post today.

WATCH: Questions Surround Tiger's Car Crash
WATCH: Tiger Woods 911 Call
PHOTOS: Tiger Woods Crash Scene

"Not a word of it is true," Uchitel told the Post. "It's the most ridiculous story. It's like they are asking me to comment if there are aliens on Earth."

Uchitel said Woods had been to the New York City club where she worked, and she did escort Woods and his group in and out, but that was the extent of their contact. [We'll revisit these indignant denials in a couple weeks and see if she forgot anything.]

Yesterday, Woods withdrew from the golf tournament that was scheduled to begin today and recused himself of his hosting duties, citing unspecified injuries he suffered from the mysterious crash. [Plus he still can't walk straight. I think you mean "excused". He's not a judge.]

"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week," Woods said in a statement posted on his Web site. "I am certain it will be an outstanding event, and I'm very sorry I can't be there." [But I just can't bring myself to touch a golf club right now.]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is an uniquely American holiday, at least the one at the end of November. American families will gather for a big meal, traditionally of Turkey, as well as thankfulness and fellowship.

The holiday commemorates the first Thanksgiving, begun by the English settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts, to show thanks for their survival of their first winter of 1620-1621, and their first successful harvest, made possible in large part by the Native Americans. The first Thanksgiving feast, attended by the Native Americans and the Pilgrims, lasted 3 days, history tells us.

The holiday was made official during the Civil War by a proclamation by President Lincoln. The holiday is meant to remind Americans of their many blessings and to remind them also of their obligations to the less fortunate. Many Americans will spend the holiday volunteering in soup kitchens, serving up donated turkey dinners. Many restaurants will open their doors to the poor and feed them without charge. Thanksgiving is a day when no one in America need go hungry, except by his own choice.

Each year, by tradition, a turkey is donated to the President of the United States, and his family. Until President Kennedy, they ate the turkeys. Kennedy let his go. Since President Bush the Elder, the turkeys have received an official presidential pardon, and allowed to live, unlike so many millions of their brethren.

I don't want to get in the habit of posting too many videos. The one below will be the last one for a while. It shows the pardoning ceremony yesterday of a turkey named Courage, by President Obama. I hope you will watch it.

I wish all my fellow Americans a happy Thanksgiving, and blessings to our esteemed non-American readers as well.

A special Happy Thanksgiving to the wonderful South African families who are today celebrating their second Thanksgiving because of my influence. You honor me and my country. God bless each of you. Ndiya kuthanda.

And to a very special friend who is traveling again as I write this - you know who you are - Godspeed, and I hope there is enough cake left to take a picture of for you. There probably won't be, since I have already started eating it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Speaking of measurement scales: Radioactivity is measured in units called "curies"

Her likeness has appeared on a Polish banknote, a Soviet postage stamp, and on the last French 500-franc note (before conversion to the Euro.)

The element with the atomic number 96 is called "curium".

There are statues of her. Untold institutions all over the world are named after her.

Albert Einstein said she was probably the only person not corrupted by the fame she had won.

Madame Curie died in 1934. She coined the term "radioactive" and discovered two elements: palonium and radium. Her first name wasn't really Madame. Or Marie, either. Her name was really Marya Salomee Sklodowska. Actually (depending on your linguistic persuasion) Mary, Marie, Maria, and Marya are the same.

Madame Curie was the first woman buried in the Pantheon in Paris. Or her ashes, to be more precise. This is a great honor. I almost said "Parthenon" but that is in Centennial Park in Nashville. A copy of the Nashville one is also in Greece.

[Please watch this space for an upcoming post on the beautiful Pantheon of Paris.]

She named the element polanium after her native country, Polandium. She later became a French citizen. Alors.

Madame Curie earned two advanced degrees, one in physics and one in mathematics, from the Sorbonne. Sorbonne doesn't mean anything - it was just named after Robert de Sorbon. It is really many universities. Founded in, like, 1250 or thereabouts. Many of its grounds are exceedingly gorgeous, but will probably not achieve postdom from yours truly. But never say never, eh?

She (our Marya) was the first woman professor at the University of Paris. She was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes (One for physics and later one for chemistry.) Her husband Pierre also won a Nobel Prize. So did her daughter. So did her son. (Not all at the same time.) That is also probably a first.

[Fun fact: Not all famous people are rich: The Curies reportedly used part of their Nobel Prize money to replace the wallpaper in their home, and to upgrade to modern indoor plumbing. Of course, they also gave some money to needy students as well.]

Pierre bore an uncanny resemblance to Vincent Van Gogh, except that he had two ears. If you are using this post as source material for a term paper on Pierre, perhaps you might want to omit that last part, as it is only undocumented personal opinion.

She conducted research into the treatment of Cancers with radioactive isotopes. ("She" again being Madame Curie. Sorry.)

In April, 1906, Pierre was killed in a street accident. Walking across the street in heavy rain, he was struck and run over by a horse-drawn carriage and his skull fractured. It has been speculated that he had been weakened by his long exposure to radioactivity, but this was never proven, so I won't even mention it here.

After her husband's death, the Sorbonne physics department entrusted his chair to Marie, and later she became a full professor there. She was the first woman professor at the Sorbonne. Even so, and despite her education and achievements, the French Academy of Sciences refused to admit her as a member, because she was a woman. Indeed, it would be a half-century later before a woman would be admitted (Marguerite Perey, in 1962.) Ironically, Perey had been a doctoral student under Madame Curie.

Marie and her husband Pierre discovered much about uranium and other elements and radioactive isotopes, and about their attributes and possible uses. But they were never aware of what radioactivity could do to the human body; they worked around and handled the substances for many years with no protection. She died on the Fourth of July, 1934, of aplastic anemia - almost certainly contracted from her long exposure to radiation.

Not knowing the effects of radiation, she carried test tubes of the radioactive isotopes around with her in her pockets, and kept them in her desk. It is said she remarked on the beauty of the blue-green light the material gave off in the dark. A remarkable lady.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


United Nations, Nato, European Union, NASA

Why do bagpipers always march when playing? To get away from the sound. Also, moving targets are harder to hit. What's the difference between a bagpipe and an onion? Nobody cries when you chop up a bagpipe. What's the difference between a lawnmower and a bagpipe? You can tune a lawnmower. What's a definition of a gentleman? Someone who knows how to play a bagpipe but doesn't. What's the difference between a dead snake on the road and a dead bagpiper on the road? Skid marks in front of the snake. How do you get two bagpipers to play in perfect unison? Shoot one of them.

Thanks to Descartes for the idea. And to a couple other websites for posting bagpipe jokes they stole from someone else.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Obama, Olympics, Marijuana, Search engines

Please forgive me. I have decided to start giving my posts more exciting titles.

Speaking of lych and lychgates.

I was re-reading a book I found when I was cleaning out my back room, about the American Civil War, Battle of Gettysburg. It was written by one of the caretakers of the battlefield, or park rangers or whatever you call them, and it is filled with facts and old pictures.

One of the pictures shows the entrance to the cemetery part of the battle ground - the old Gettysburg cemetery where much of the heavy fighting took place - called Cemetery Ridge, I think - and I note a large structure in the picture that was at the entrance to that town cemetery. The picture was taken after the battle, so the building is messed up. Remember, this was in the summer of 1863. Anyway, they refer to it as the "gatehouse" and the cemetery caretaker/sexton lived there with his family. Here is the picture (click to enlarge):Now, I can't imagine anyone using this entrance to prepare a corpse for burial, and the cemetery isn't a churchyard, but I think this might still qualify as a lychgate. My meaning is that some of these old traditions might have been carried on from England in this country too. Maybe. Although Gettysburg was "Pennsylvania Dutch" (Germans).

What do you think? A stretch?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clarity: an attempt to return to the premise of this blog

With apologies to the Travelling Spouse for butting into her business, but because I know most of you have been wondering about the word "Lychgate"...

The picture at the top of this post is a lychgate. This particular one is in Wales. A lychgate (not Lynchgate - that's a whole 'nother post, I'll bet) is a covered gate which enters into a graveyard, specifically into a church graveyard. Literally, "corpse gate".

Since several of you have asked, the word "lych" is from the Old English (actually Saxon; several of our really good words have survived from the Saxon. Ahem) and means "corpse". It is meant to be an adjective/prefix for things having to do with a corpse. Our friend Wally Wikipedia gives such examples as lych bell (a hand-held bell rung in front of a corpse during a funeral procession); lych way (the path down which a corpse is carried to its resting place); and lych-'Donald's (a place where people eat dead meat.) Perhaps this last was not on Wikipedia. I forget.

I want to quickly explain that this word only refers to the entrance to a BRITISH churchyard. In the U.S., we refer to cemetery gates as "gates"; Paths as "paths"; and hamburger places as "junk food joints". But you knew that. To my knowledge, we don't ring bells in front of corpses, being considerably more civilized than your average barbarian Brit who does that and even worse...

I'll not burden you with the Welsh translation of the Saxon-cum-English word (since it sounds filthy) though I am tempted to honor Sage by trying to come up with the Cornish equivilent. It is probably on a sign somewhere in Cornwall already, though. In Irish (yes, I know this is not British) it is called marbhan geata. (Who knew there were so many languages in the UK? And I haven't scratched the surface. Nor will I try.)

Now, wasn't that more interesting than me being unmetricated?

Next: "Different to vs. different than." Holy Huckabee.
Photo of the day: Dean Vernon Wormer:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thatcher Dead

[Rewritten from various news services yesterday]

Canadian Transport Minister John Baird sent a message to phone buddies that read, "Thatcher dead." It was a reference to his 16-year-old tabby cat, named after his idol. But the message was misconstrued and Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper was soon told of the Iron Lady's death.

Calls were placed to 10 Downing Street and even Buckingham Palace, but neither knew what the Canadians were talking about. The BBC reported that the Canadian officials were even in the process of preparing an official statement until the British government set the record straight: The beloved Lady T. Lives on.

Horn of Plenty

The guy was popular and people still enjoy his music a lot. But I had no idea playing a trumpet could be this lucrative.

[The Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2008]
"Eight-time Grammy winner and Los Angeles native Herb Alpert, who in November [2007] pledged $30 million to UCLA to establish the cross-disciplinary UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, has now given $15 million to the School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts. In recognition of the gift... the school will be renamed the Herb Alpert School of Music."

Wow, Herb! You've rode that Lonely Bull a long ways. But it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Below: Herb and Lani Alpert

Friday, November 13, 2009

Metric tyranny: does a 10 cm. piece of toilet paper wipe your ass more precisely than a 4-inch square?

I believe the Metric System is extremely valuable and accurate. I believe its discovery and implementation has been an undeniable asset and invaluable utility to the medical and scientific communities - and many others. Who could argue with that? However, I also believe it is mistaken elitism to assign a greater value or importance to a particular system of measurements than to the people who may or may not choose to use that system, and a mistake to denigrate those who choose to measure things using differing systems - or to assume or infer that those people are somehow backward and unable to think properly.

This post is not an attack on the Metric System of measurements. It is not even an attempt to say that the Metric System doesn't have unique attributes which make it superior in many ways and in many instances. This post is an attack on smug, superior-than-thou attitudes of many who think their way of doing things, their way of thinking, their politics, their interpretation of the world - their system of measuring things - is so well thought out and finely honed that it should be obvious to any intelligent person that their way is the right way. Any other way is therefore stupid, illogical, ill-informed and used or adhered to only by droolers of lesser intellect and assorted cretins.

All hail to the god of uniformity. May we all someday be the recipient of the cookie cutter award. The USA rose to greatness as a country because its citizens refused to think outside the box or dared to be different. Marginalize those who ask questions. Ostracize those who march to that different drummer. Keep in line there! Did you not wear your uniform today? Sameness and acceptance of the status quo is the mother of invention.

The leaders in both Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Big Brother Society both used the Metric System. It was more precise and therefore more capable of controlling things, especially thought. But to demonize the Metric System is just as stupid a prospect as demonizing the other fellow's tools just because they have different markings on them, or demonizing a language just because you choose not to speak it. Uniformity in and of itself is not the cure-all end-all.

In researching this little post, I turned to Google as usual. My goal was to find out why the Metric System was superior to other systems of measurements. I wanted to find out what the great scholars have to say that would make me want to use it and forsake all others. You can do the same thing - Google away. If you do, you will find that the reasons for using the Metric system, according to all the experts on the web, at least, are only three in number:

1. Everybody else in the world uses it.
2. Scientists like it.
3. It is easier and more accurate.

And pretty much in that order. It was rare to find an article by a college professor or other expert that didn't start out with the words, "We are the only country in the world who doesn't use it. Except Liberia and Burma. Ha ha."

I ask you: are you really going to believe a dumbass who still thinks there is a country named Burma? And it would scare you to read how many of these superior folk think the U.S. is on the "Imperial System" of measurements. (The USA isn't on the Imperial System, and never has been.)

In case you missed it, I believe only number three, above, is the only valid reason to use the Metric System. Assuming it is true. Which it's not, in all cases.

Me? Well, I know the metric system well enough to express myself when I write for technical people, and I recognize its deserved place in our world today. But, since I am inherently one of those different drummer people, round-peg-square-hole people - and since I don't believe uniformity ever produced an original idea (or even a happy soldier - even soldiers sometimes were pink boxers under their uniforms), I'll just have to continue in my cretin ways.

Yep, as for me, I'll keep measuring my apple pies in slices, thank you very much, and the apples that go in them by the bushel. I will keep paying for those apples by the pound. Furthermore, I'll take my American football by the yard, my horse races by the furlong and my ale by the pint. And if I try to cook, you may be sure it will be with a cup and a tablespoon and not with a little scale. God bless.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rot in hell, asshole

Only a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Virginia, a serial killer terrified the DC area by committing random sniper killings on his fellow Americans. Innocent people doing innocent things - at gas stations, shopping mall parking lots, outside restaurants and schools, even on a golf course - were gunned down by the sniper, 10 people in all and more suspected in other areas.

It was later discovered the culprit was one John Allen Muhammad and his teen-aged accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo.

A few hours ago, the Commonwealth of Virginia executed Muhammad. Good fucking riddance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Scientific Method

The term "Scientific Method" refers to a specific procedure for acquiring knowledge. It has been around since the 17th century.

Scientific Method consists of systematic observation and measurement, and the formulation, testing and modification of hypotheses.

The above is from a dictionary. The following are my personal conclusions from the above definition.

1. There is only one reality: that which is true.

2. If we THINK something is true, but it is not REALLY true, our thinking it is true doesn't make it "our" reality; it is simply something that is untrue. Remember that it was once thought "obvious" that the sun moved around the earth each day.

3. A good scientist must not allow himself to be unduly influenced by outside opinions, even if those opinions come from well known and well-respected people; even from other scientists. A good scientist will accept as fact - as truth, as reality - only things which are provable by observation, testing, measurement or by producing an unassailable formula. Even then, a good scientist would want to continue to question his conclusions.

4. When gathering information, a good scientist will ALWAYS be skeptical of the source of the information. He will ask himself, "What is the background of the person or institution who is presenting this information? Are they scientifically neutral, or do they have a personal position to defend, or an agenda to promote? Do they have anything to gain by putting out false information?"

Here are some examples of invalid sources, in my opinion.

1. In the days of widespread cigarette smoking, the tobacco industries were presenting "arguments" that smoking wasn't harmful to a smoker's health. No good scientist who was investigating the effects on the human body from smoking cigarettes would (or never should have) EVER given much weight to statements made by these obviously biased institutions and individuals. The same holds true for individuals and institutions who would obviously benefit from the reverse being true, whatever it was. Neutrality is needed for the truth to emerge.

2. In these days, much is being said about "Global Warming" or "Climate Change". A good scientist would NEVER give huge weight to statements made by oil companies or people who stand to benefit by keeping the status quo. The reverse is also true in this case as well: people who stand to realize some sort of financial or other non-altruistic benefit from proving there IS global warming, need to be suspect until their information is proven.

More to follow. I stop for the sake of brevity. I am only laying foundations today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Underground Railroad

This isn't a post about abolishionists helping runaway slaves find their way north.

This past Friday (Nov. 6) another underground railroad (and a marvel of engineering) celebrated 15 and a half years of moving people under the English Channel. Congratulations. Or happy 15 and a half birthday.

North Americans are fond of calling the Channel Tunnel the "Chunnel", although Europeans are not as keen on that nickname. The French call it Le tunnel sous la Manche, meaning... ummm... Don Quixote's Tunnel. I think.

The tunnel runs from Coquelles to Folkestone, which is very close to the narrowest point of the English Channel. Why not Calais to Dover? Who knows.

Those of us on this side of the pond mostly envision a big tunnel with two lanes of traffic to drive your car through, with a toll booth greeting you before you enter. "That'll be 30 pounds, please." Or 40 Euros. Or 12,000,000 Francs. Or whatever France is using for money now. Probably Euros. Oddly, the British still weigh their money in pounds rather than kilos. Fact. A sterling practice, that.

But the truth is, vehicles (and people and freight - and animals too, I suppose) are shuttled by trains through the tunnel. Most of you are waiting for more facts, so here you go:

(I stole these from a variety of websites, including one who billed his list "Amazing Chunnel Facts").

1. "The Chunnel is one of Europe's biggest infrastructure projects ever." [Well big effing DUH.]

2. "Consists of three interconnecting tubes; one train track each way and a small service tunnel." [The word "interconnecting" was not really needed, in my opinion.]

3. "Its length is 31.4 miles, of which 23 are underwater." [Shame that the channel is 51 miles wide at that point. Kidding. JaJaJa.]

4. "The tunnel goes as deep as 150 meters under the sea." (I'm guessing that is, like, 65 feet. Maybe more. Probably more.)

5. "It takes only about 20 minutes [bet it seems like a century] to cover the length of the tunnel under the sea." [Ok, we GET that it is under the sea. You can start leaving that part out.]

6. "There are a total of 95 miles of tunnels." [Why? I thought you said 31 miles! And it only takes 20 minutes? Lying sack. Oh, wait. I get it - 3 tunnels. Okay.]

7. "The tunnel was constructed by nearly 13,000 engineers and workers." [Are you saying engineers don't work? What was the ratio - 3 to 1, something like that? With that many engineers, no wonder you ended up with 95 miles of tunnel.]

8. "The volume of rubble removed from the tunnel is 3 times greater than the Chepos Pyramid in Egypt, and increased the size of Britain by 90 acres, which is the equivalent of 65 football fields [for those who prefer to measure their rubble in football fields rather than acres] and this area has been made into a park." [I'm guessing you meant to say "Cheops", but thank you for saying "Egypt" because I was thinking of southern Indiana until you said Egypt.]

9. "They called the park Coney Island." [I just made that up to keep you reading.]

10. Okay, I'm starting to doubt this guy. Going to Wikipedia now.

A. Wikipedia says at its deepest point it is 75 meters deep. [Discrepancy in depth probably due to the excess of engineers.]

B. Wikipedia: Construction started in 1988 and completed in 1994, amazingly only 80% over budget. [Considering the French only have a 3-day work week, I mean.]

C. Fires have disrupted operation of the tunnel.

D. Illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers heading to England have been a problem. [None headed to France it seems. Or no mention.]

E. The Chunnel consist of three tunnels: two 25-foot bores 98 feet apart (the railroad tunnels), and a 16-foot diameter service tunnel in between the railroad tunnels.

F. Cost was 4650 million pounds. 10 workers were killed.

G. With additions of track and stations since the tunnel opened, one can now ride the train from London to Paris.

H. On high-speed trains traveling up to 186 miles per hour (300 kph), the trip from London to Paris takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. You can go from London to Brussels in one hour 51 minutes.

I. Eurostar carried 9,113,371 passengers beneath the channel in 2008. (This is just passengers, not autos or freight.)

J. According to the Eurostar website, a one-way ticket is about US$147. Ouch. Airfare, London to Paris is $144 (according to Expedia) and that is round trip. I don't know. I guess if you have your car the tunnel is the way to go, but not otherwise. Unless I'm missing something.

Fun (though admittedly unrelated) fact about other underground railroads: You knew that John Brown was a wild-eyed abolitionist, but did you know that Wild Bill Hickok's father's farm in Indiana was a stop on the Underground Railroad? And that the young Wild learned to shoot well defending the farm/station from... ummm... who? That's a poser. Never mind.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Hug O' War"

"Blog Blast For Peace" was a couple days ago, and as usual I am a day late and a dollar short. I didn't have anything deep to say about world peace anyway. Not really. Many other bloggers said it better than I could have. Peace is something we all wish for, but it never seems to materialize. At least not for everyone all over the world all at once.

Here is a children's poem written (and illustrated) by the late Shel Silverstein. It pretty much sums it up for me.

"Hug O' War"

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet memories: Things that go barf in the night

My brother was a few years older than me (and still is) so of course he didn’t want his little 7-or 8-year-old brother tagging along with him and his friends on Halloween, but my mom made him take me.

It gets pretty cold in Michigan in late October and I can remember being all bundled up like little Randy in Christmas Story, to where I could hardly move my arms. But my cold fingers fiercely gripped the big brown grocery bag I hoped to see filled with candy before the night was over.

We set out at twilight, before it was even fully dark yet, working our own neighborhood first. My trick or treat bag was half full before we even got to the more distant neighborhoods.

I was half running to keep up with the older boys, and I soon was sweating profusely. My hot breath condensed against the inside of the cold rubber mask, making it wet against my face, and it soon slipped down so I could only see out of one eye hole and had to tilt my head back until my neck ached just to get the one eye.

Our town was small, so even the distant neighborhoods were less than a mile from our house, but as my bag got heavier and heavier, it began to be an ordeal rather than great fun. I was happy when the porch lights started to go out and we headed back home.

The first thing we used to do was dump our bags of booty out on our beds and separate the candy into piles. Candy bars in one pile, bubble gum in another, suckers in another, and so forth. Why? I don’t know. It all soon got mixed up again anyway.

I don’t know if it was the sweating in the cold night, or simply the ingestion of so much sugar over a period of a few days, but even now I associate Halloween with sickness. Or at least with throwing up.

An odd holiday, Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Something you may not have known-2

9/11 wasn't the first time New York City has experienced an airplane-skyscraper disaster.

On July 28, 1945, at 9:45 a.m., a B-25 bomber struck the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State Building, in the fog, from the 34th Street side, at 300 mph. The impact separated one of the engines, which plummeted down an elevator shaft, starting a fire in the basement. (The two women inside the elevator car survived, as automatic emergency safety brakes slowed the dropping car before impact, the flaming engine on top of the car.)

The crash sent fiery debris clear through the building, igniting another building across the street. The plane itself exploded within the building.

Though it was a Saturday, WWII had caused a shift to a 6-day work week, and the building was still occupied by many workers. The crash killed 14 people (11 office workers and the 3 crewmen.) 26 others were injured.

Oddly, the last radio transmission from LaGuardia tower to the plane's pilot was, "From where I'm sitting, I can't see the top of the Empire State Building."

A need for speed

(Click to enlarge)

Ettarose emptied her piggybank a few days ago and went to satellite broadband. I have always teased her mercilessly about her dialup (she lives out in the sticks and I know her feelings were hurt when I teased her. That's mostly why I teased her.)

Anyway, now the shoe may be on the other foot. I don't think so because I am paying an arm and leg for 7mbs DSL upgrade (the above picture of my desktop a few minutes ago proves I am not getting what I am paying for, of course. The rip-off phone company says it is in my wiring, not theirs. A likely story.) and I live out in the sticks too.

Let's see what you've got Ettarose. Lay your cards on the table.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I know it's pretty lazy to get blogging subjects from the daily news. So call me lazy.

On the TV behind me right now, one of Fox News' opinion shows is debating a news item that happened recently. In Florida.

This neighbor/friend of the family/whatever guy molested a little girl and the father and a friend beat him into a coma. Instead of calling the cops. So of course they are in jail right now. The thing is, according to Florida law (the Fox guys and girls are saying) the perp could have gotten five years in prison for molesting the little girl, and her father is now looking at 15 years to life for the beating. So the debate (on Fox) is that the little girl's assault is not as important in the eyes of the state of Florida.

Now, we just can't have this terrible vigilante justice being meted out, right? What say you?

I am a writer (of sorts) and I collect similes. I collect interesting quotes, too, but that is another post. Similes and metaphors. You know the difference, right? Of course you do. Anyway, a simile has to have "like" or "as" in it somewhere, and a metaphor just substitutes unreal stuff to illustrate something or other. Ummm. Like "The moon was a ghostly galleon, tossed upon cloudy seas." Like that. But a simile has to have "like" or "as". Poets are the best source of both, of course, and Carl Sandburg is better than most:

1. "Mamie beat her head against the bars of a little Indiana town..." (Metaphor, see?)
2. "...a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January." (Simile, right?)

Anyway, I came across a couple from (supposedly) modern college freshmen journalism majors. Not quite Sandburg, but poetic in their own way:

1. "He was a plate of room-temperature pork, and she was growing on him like an E. Coli colony."
2. "Her vocabulary was as limited as, like, ... whatever."

Don't leave yet. This post may still be salvageable.

Did you know that Persis Khambatta had died? I didn't know that. She died a long time ago, in 1998. I was sad when I finally found out about it today. She was Miss India when she was 15 years old, in 1965. I didn't know that either. I only knew about her from the Star Trek movie about Veeger (Voyager). Rest in peace Ilia.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yearning to breathe free

I don’t want to be a conservative or a traditionalist. At least not in the sense that I resist change or am even wary of change.

I don’t want to be a liberal, either, though, if that means seeking and embracing change just because it is different. Change should happen for a valid reason.

Change needs to happen whenever the old way of doing things isn’t getting us where we want to go. But we must be careful to select a correct new course, and not just a different course.

The point is to show continual progress towards goals. In that sense, I am a progressive - though not in the sense that word is often used by liberals.

The whole fuss and fight, then, is about defining goals. We can’t seem to agree on our direction. Everyone has a different idea and is convinced his way is “obviously” best.

The two primary political parties in the U.S. have been fighting and obstructing each other for a long time now. It is no longer a case of two differing sets of values struggling to rise to the surface. Instead, the only thing that is important, it seems, is to block the other party from looking good in the eyes of this or that bloc of voters.

Is this really how we want to run our country? Is it not possible to sit down and find common ground on a handful of general goals? Or have we finally become just like the Israelis and Palestinians? Surely, if the goals were general enough, we could find consensus.

The general goals we set for our country should not be different than the general goals of individual citizens, should they? If individual citizens want the same general things - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - then it should be their government’s goal to secure those things for the citizens. That’s simple enough.

It’s not that simple, though, is it? For, whenever you give the government such a broad mandate, you leave it up to the government to come up with its own list of specific things it believes would make your life better, things that would make you happy. Soon, the government is sculpting out a whole life, or way of life, for you - for your own good and your own happiness, of course. Why? Because what you have really done is tell the government, “Take care of me.”

I think I would be telling the truth if I boasted that I think I have cultivated some of the most thoughtful, educated and intelligent readers a blogster has ever attracted. Right about here is where you exceptional people will begin to remind me that I am not an island; I live in a society. Living in a society brings obligations and limits to personal freedom.

I know. I have no desire to live off in the woods by myself like Thoreau. Not even if me mum brought me pies and sweets and clean shirts on the weekends. I freely admit that I like and want things like paved roads and grocery stores and fire departments and schools and good health care. I also admit I want these things for others and not just for myself. I do understand that having these things, and many others, requires that I subordinate a good deal of my free spirit to the common good. “Common Good” in this case being pretty much run by the government.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us exactly where we are today: haggling over what we want the government to provide. Each of us has a list of things we want. Some of your lists are very much longer than my own list. Obama’s list is very much longer than my list.

Okay, here’s the point (you just KNEW there was going to be a point, right?): Government doesn’t provide ANYTHING. Government doesn’t SOLVE problems. Government, in and of itself, is NEVER the answer. Only PEOPLE can build roads and hospitals and schools and take compassionate care of their neighbors. Government is only a VEHICLE for getting things done. A mechanism. A tool. The actual planning is still up to us. The actual DOING is still up to us.

It is a great mistake to assign some sort of actual “life” to the government and expect “it” to get things done for us.

Stop bitching. Get involved.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something you may not have known

Part two (electricity was part one) (or maybe coffee was part one) of posts which talk about strange and wonderful things you kids may not have learned properly in elementary school. Little Canuck has left and gone away to another school (he had to be set back a grade), but there are still many of you left to abuse. :)

Did you know there is a huge salt mine under the city of Detroit? Detroit is located at the western end of Lake Erie. Can you find Lake Erie, little Sage? No? Well, it's not on the map of Cornwall, dear. Let me show you. :) [click to enlarge map]

There is too! Don't be shaking your head, little Sheila!

• The mine has been operating over 100 years
• It covers 1500 acres
• There are over 100 miles of "roads" down there
• The mine shaft opening is at 12841 Sanders Street
• No more tours currently
• Provides winter rock salt for the roads in Michigan (and other places)
• Salt deposited millions of years ago
[click to enlarge image]

It is truly a city beneath a city, 1,100 feet down, though many Detroiters aren't aware it is down there. But now YOU know!

Credit where credit is due. This post was inspired by a post (partly about salt) from the eminently more interesting blog of the Travelling Spouse.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The World Series is about to begin. The October Classic would not be complete without a tribute to the sweet-natured patron saint of baseball, pictured above. Like my other pictures lately, he needs no introduction. Help me pay homage to this great man.

In other sports news, in about 24 hours, give or take a few minutes, the Yankees will again become the American League's representative to the World Series. They will play some team from the National League. This will make their 11,006th appearance in the World Series.

On this day in baseball history, October 21, 1975, a catcher by the name of Carlton "Pudge" Fisk homers in the 12th inning to hand Cincinnati a 7-6 loss and force a 7th game in the World Series. Although the Sox went on to lose the next game and the Big Red Machine would finally prevail, the 1975 series will go down as one of the most exciting. In fact, ESPN ranked it as the second greatest series of all time.

Johnny Bench
Dave Conception
George Foster
Cesar Geronimo
Ken Griffey
Joe Morgan
Tony Perez
Pete Rose
(Don Gullet)
::Sparky Anderson::

Rick Burleson
Cecil Cooper
Denny Doyle
Dwight Evans
Carlton Fisk
Fred Lynn
Rico Petrocelli
Carl Yastrzemski
(Bill Lee)
::Darrell Johnson::

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Top Ten Photo Captions

Captioning unusual photos is still pretty big across the blogosphere. Two of my favorite bloggers who regularly run photo-captioning contests are Chica and Ettarose.

I am no good at humorously captioning photos. I don't know why, but I can't seem to come up with anything remotely funny for these contests. But I am a pretty good thief. I went through 2 years worth of captions - about 500 or so, and I only found 10 that I thought were funny. These were all stolen from and they appear below in my personal arbitrary order of funniest. The funniest is shown last, at the very bottom. I admit to changing most of the captions at least a little, because they still weren't funny enough. I am good at that - after someone else comes up with the original idea.

Since it is a top-10 list, I guess I am also stealing from David Letterman. If you care. Without further ado, here is my top 10 stolen list of reader-captioned photos.

Number 10:
"Katrina II: Obama doesn't care about white people."

Number 9:
"An awkward silence of the lambs."

Number 8:
"Charlie sensed a pyramid scheme in the making."

Number 7:

Number 6:
"Never pop wheelies if your passenger has narcolepsy."

Number 5:
"Not thinking his 3 wishes through, Ed asked the Genie to give him a dick that reached the ground."

Number 4:
"Michael Jackson petting zoo."

Number 3:
"Ned began to suspect the auto companies were wasting their bailout money."

Number 2:
"Winner of the best costume contest: The Invisible Woman (center)."

And the number one captioned photo:
"Lesbian about to get nailed."


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