Saturday, December 31, 2011

Martini Making as a Survival Strategy

There was a story of an Air Force pilot who habitually carried a small bottle of gin and vermouth, a jar of olives, a mixing spoon, and a large metal cup in his survival kit.

His co-pilot asked him, "How would making a Martini aid him in survival?"

The pilot's response was pretty straightforward:  "If I ever crash and get lost in the jungle, I'll just sit down and start to make a Martini.  If figure that if I were to do that, then someone will come out of the bush and say, 'That's no way to make a Martini.'"

Martini drinkers are typically opinionated on how to make one.  They are hard to please.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guide to American and Other Newspapers, Revised

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times.   They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time - and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is read by people who are embarrassed by the rest of Georgia.

13.  The Nashville Tennesseean is read by people who want their daily fix of UT, Vandy, or Tennessee Titans sports.

14.  The Baltimore Sun is read by people who still bask in the glory of H. L. Mencken and wince at The Wired.

15.  The Daily Sun is read by people who turn to the Page 3 girls immediately.

16.  Pravda is read by people who already had two stiff drinks of vodka to deal with the news.

17.  The _________ Shopper is read by bargain hunters.

18.  The Birmingham News is read by people who eat barbecue and talk without any accent.

[I added a few.]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Douchebags of the Week VI

This week it's the Massholes. Let's face it, the Bay State sucks!  But especially its politicians.  And if you combine Massachuetts status with mailbox-bashing, you got a perfect storm of douchery!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Douchebags of the Week VI

The competition among members of the media for Douchebag of the Week is always spirited, with the NY Times editorial staff and the usual suspect journalists that trot out from time to time.  However, It behooves us to honor the Unholy Trinity of media commentator douchebags:

1.  Keith Olbermann

2.  Rush Limbaugh

3.  Bill Maher

Sean Hannity:  So sorry, but you're not a big-time douchebag yet.  You need some more seasoning in the Minors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Douchebags of the Week V

This week it's Congress, for their collective failure to pass a workable budget.  This is a bipartisan disrespect.  And a special flip of the bird to John Boener and Nancy Pelosi, just on general principles!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Selected Quotations by Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens died yesterday.  He was 62.  He was a man of strong opinions that were forcefully and literately expressed; but he was a man of character.

Here are some thoughts of his to savor:

"Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint." - Slate, 2002

 "[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realise that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods." - The Portable Atheist

"The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics." - The New Yorker, 2006

"Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan." - Letters to a Young Contrarian

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either." - God Is Not Great

"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." - Slate, 2003

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species."- God Is Not Great

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Douchebags of the Week IV

Our fitting awardee for this week is the government of Saudi Arabia, for its mysogenic policies, its lack of religious tolerance, and over all for being an aggregate of pricks who have failed to recognize that this is the Eighteenth century, much less the Twenty-First!  They have no sense of fair play, responsibility, or justice for outsiders, either.  I wouldn't go to that desert willingly!

If it weren't for the goddam oil, they could stew in their juices for all the world would care. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Douchebags of the Week! III

Before other douchebags come into the fore, let's not leave uncited the entire motley cast of the Penn State debacle, including the Prez there and JoPa. 

Somehow, the safety of numerous children and the law was trumped in their thinking to the reputation of the athletic program and the avoidance of scandal.  But it didn't work:  the original problem, while grave, could have been handled in a credible manner.  But . . . . no . . . . they opted for the coverup!

Friday, December 2, 2011

SEC Championship

It is Saturday, December 3rd at 4:00 PM EST in Atlanta.

LSU Tigers 40 Georgia 14

Monday, November 28, 2011

Douchebags of the Week! II

There was a lot candidates, particularly with the several Black Friday fiascos; but that's more old-fashioned stupidity rather than douchebaggery.

However, my second award goes to a pair of intrepid young hunters in Blount County Tennessee, who hunted and killed two bear cubs while shining a light at night!  Black bears are an iconic species, and most people enjoy their sighting, even to the extent of causing traffic jams in the Smokies.

Anyway, there's no eating bears, to my knowledge, so need for food is not an excuse.  Just meanness and total douchebaggery.  Two guys on pot in the woods shooting willy-nilly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 13

Arkansas at LSU: LSU 24 Arkansas 17
Tennessee at Kentucky: Tennessee 26 Kentucky 21
Mississippi at Mississippi State: Mississippi State 31 Mississippi 28
Clemson at South Carolina: South Carolina 19 Clemson 17
Florida State at Florida:  Florida 28 Florida State 17
Georgia at Georgia Tech: Georgia 36 Georgia Tech 17
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest: Vanderbilt 35 Wake Forest 17
Alabama at Auburn: Alabama 38 Auburn 16

Monday, November 21, 2011

Douchebag of the Week! I

The Entire Supercommittee of 12.  Bad job, asshats!  Hasn't anyone heard of compromise?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 12

Citadel at South Carolina:  South Carolina 40 Citadel 7

Kentucky at Georgia:  Georgia 34 Kentucky 14

Samford at Auburn:  Auburn 52 Samford 7

Furman at Florida:  Florida 36 Furman 7

Georgia Southern at Alabama:  Alabama 55 Georgia Southern 7

Mississippi State at Arkansas:  Arkansas 29 Mississippi State 14

LSU at Mississippi:  LSU 42 Mississippi 7

Vanderbilt at Tennessee: Vanderbilt 35 Tennessee 28

I think it's piss-poor that Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Auburn scheduled those opponents for this week.  Those are gross mismatches.

Yes, I said piss-poor.  These are cynically-scheduled opponents that make for easy wins.

At least Louisiana Tech, ordinarily one of those such opponents, stuck it to Ole Miss last weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Moral Flatulence

The recent disclosures of child sexual abuse coming from Penn State are horrific, and should be properly a matter of anger and concern.  Whether it's the fact of the sodomizing of children itself, or the institutional coverup that went on for a long time, there was clearly systemic moral failings that should be corrected, and the perps be severely punished.    In a way, it's unfortunate that there is that Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause in the Constitution.

And, of course, there's the attempts to distribute blame.

I have no problem in squarely placing blame on the perpetrator (s), and all of those Penn State coaches and administrators involved in the coverup.  Very clearly, they were more in a damage control than in a child protection mode.

But some people are going overboard, imposing a guilt trip on society collectively and big-time football in particular.  WTF?  This is a bad, bad idea; it spreads out the culpability to a very large number, and somehow lessens the burden of wrongdoing on the perpetrators' parts. 

Remember this?

"The devil made me do this!"

No he didn't, Charlie . . . . you did.

It was not the sexual revolution, or the American Psychiatrc Association removing homosexuality from being a diagnostic category or an atmosphere of "anything goes" that did it, as Cal Thomas implied.  It wasn't big-time football, either, as some generic writer in The Huffington Post implied.  It was the action of a small number of truly despicable men who harmed children or who played along with it, letting it take place over a long time.

I remember the idiots back in 1963 who were wiling to universalize the blame for the Kennedy assassination on society in general.  No, asshat . . . . American society did not assassinate John Kennedy -- Lee Harvey Oswald did!  Don't try to turn that unfortunate event into a moral hobby horse or a stick to beat the opposition.

That's not moral reasoning; it gets us nowhere in making moral decisions but gives for some an occasion for moral masochism.  Moral flatulence is what it is!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 10

South Carolina at Arkansas:  Arkansas 28 South Carolina 19

LSU at Alabama:  LSU 31 Alabama 28

Tennessee-Martin at Mississippi State:  Miss. State 37 Tennessee - Martin 7

Middle Tennessee at Tennessee:  Tennessee 24 MTSU 14

Vanderbilt at Florida:  Florida 35 Vanderbilt 10

New Mexico State at Georgia:  Georgia 24 New Mexico State 10

Mississippi at Kentucky:  Kentucky 20 Mississippi 17

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 9

Georgia at Florida:  Florida 34 Georgia 17

Mississippi at Auburn: Auburn 38 Mississippi 17

Missisippi State at Kentucky: Mississippi State 30 Kentucky 27

South Carolina at Tennessee:  South Carolina 28 Tennessee 16

Arkansas at Vanderbilt: Arkansas 27 Vanderbilt17

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dove Linkhorn on a True Religious Calling

Jezebel! That's right, I mean you! Now both of you sinners are hurrying past.
You got no business with us mister.
Oh, sinners is my business. You and that hip-slinging daughter of Satan. You know there's the smell of sulfur and brimstone about you. The smell of hellfire.
Who ordained preacher?
I am self-ordained son; I had the call.
You were called by the wrong voice mister.
Lord strike this sinner down. Send a bolt down to smite and consume the blasphemer now!
He won't hear you. Cause you no friend of God or man - standing there hollering hate to the world. God is love. God is mercy and forgiveness. Try preaching that sometime Mr. Preacher. Teach people to forgive, not to crawl in fear. Teach people to love, not hate. preach the good book - preach the truth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 8

Auburn at LSU:  LSU 31 Auburn 17

Tennessee at Alabama: Alabama 35 Tennessee 17

Jacksonville State at Kentucky:  Jacksonville State 30 Kentucky 28

Army at Vanderbilt:  Vanderbilt 24 Army 18

Arkansas at Mississippi:  Arkansas 21 Mississippi 14

Last week: 5-0!

Friday, October 14, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 7

LSU at Tennessee:  LSU 44 Tennessee 14

South Carolina at Mississippi State:  South Carolina 29 Mississippi State 16

Florida at Auburn:  Auburn 31 Florida 24

Alabama at Mississippi:  Alabama 42 Mississippi 17

Georgia at Vanderbilt:  Georgia 21 Vanderbilt 8

Okay, I was 4-2 last weekend.  I blew it on the Tennessee and Auburn non-wins.  That's the way it bounces.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Joe Bob Briggs on "Dysfunctional"

You notice how everybody uses this word "dysfunctional" all the time, like:
"You're dysfunctional!"

"I was in a very dysfunctional relationship."
(Translation:  he was a jerk.)

"I grew up in a dysfunctional family." 
(Translation:  we yelled a lot.)

But the ones that get me are the people who are PROUD of it.  They want you to know just how dysfunctional they are.  They'll tell you how they were SOOOO dysfunctional that it shaped their personality forever and so now they'll never be able to have a lasting relationship because blah blah blah and they keep changing the color of their hair because this dysfunctional thing happened and they're insecure now and blah blah blah and keep using this word, over and over again, like "I'm dysfunctional, and my FAMILY was dysfunctional, and I'm attracted to dysfunctional people," and after a while you wanna say "why don't all you dysfunctionals get up a softball team or something?"  As my grandma used to say, "That boy needs a hobby."

Anyhow, listen to me:

When you're 14 years old, MAYBE you can blame your parents for doing all this dysfunctional stuff that screwed you up.

When you're 34 years old, you are what's known in America as a "grown-up."

You can't blame it on THEM anymore!  Understand?

They might have screwed up the first 14, but the last 20 are YOURS.

This whole "dysfunctional" thing is some kind of psychiatrist deal, isn't it?  They invented it to make more money.

Cause we all know how life works, right?

You're born.

You make up a bunch of goals and plans.

You don't do any of em.

A bunch of stuff you didn't think of comes along and makes you into something you didn't wanna be.

You whine about being "dysfunctional."

You eat a lot of Mexican food.

You die.

This isn't anything new.  This is the way it's always been.

Get over it, okay?

I don't wanna have to explain this again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SEC Picks for Week 6

For Week 5 I was right 5-2.

Week 6 Picks:

Vanderbilt at Alabama:  Alabama 37 Vanderbilt 6

Florida at LSU:  LSU 28 Florida 19

Georgia at Tennessee:  Tennessee 17 Georgia 14

Mississippi State at UAB:  Mississippi State 24 UAB 16

Auburn at Arkansas:  Auburn 24 Arkansas 17

Kentucky at South Carolina:  South Carolina 36 Kentucky 14

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Plan

This is an internet oldie.  Still relevant today.

In the Beginning there was The Plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without Form.

And the Plan was completely without Substance.

And The Darkness was upon the face of The Workers.

And they Spake among Themselves, Saying, "It is a Crock of bull, And It Stinketh."

And The Workers went unto their Supervisors and Sayeth, "It is a Pail of Dung and none may Abide the Odour Thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers and Sayeth unto them, "It is a Container of Excrement and It is very strong, Such that None may Abide by It."

And the Managers went unto their Directors and Sayeth, "It is a Vessel of Fertilizer, and None may Abide Its Strength."

And the Directors spoke amongst Themselves, Saying One to Another, "It contains That Which Aids Plant Growth, and It is Very Strong."

And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents and Sayeth unto Them, "It promotes Growth and is Very Powerful."

And the Vice Presidents went unto the President and Sayeth unto Him, "This New Plan will actively promote the Growth and Efficiency of This Company, and These Areas in Particular."

And The President looked upon The Plan And Saw that It Was Good.

And The Plan Became Policy.

This is how Shit Happens.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My SEC Picks for the Week

Kentucky at LSU:   Kentucky should stick to basketball. LSU 45 UK 7

Mississippi St at Georgia:  A close match.  Mississippi State 36 Georgia 27

Auburn at South Carolina:  Another close one which I see Auburn winning.  Auburn 28 South Carolina 22

Buffalo at Tennessee:  Why is this one neccessary?  To soothe Tennessee's hurt feelings.  Tennessee 38 Buffalo 7

Arkansas at Texas A&M:  The Aggies by a close margin.  Texas A&M 31 Arkansas 27.

Alabama at Florida:  A nailbiter. Alabama 24 Florida 21

Mississippi at Fresno State:  Ole Miss 27 Fresno State 15

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Administrators and Horseback Riding

Five college administrators, having decided to reward themselves with an afternoon's recreation, went horseback riding.  They appeared at the local stable and asked to rent a horse,

The owner of the stable said, "Five horses, coming right up."

But the lead administrator corrected him.  "One horse, please."

The owner was astounded.  "How can the five of you ride on one horse?"

The lead administrator replied, "Don't worry.  We have whips!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marcel Proust on Spending One's Last Hour Alive

In the summer of 1922, the Parisian newspaper “L’Intransigeant” published a questionnaire that included this question:
An American scientist announces that the world will end, or at least that such a huge part of the continent will be destroyed, and in such a sudden way, that death will be the certain fate of hundreds of millions of people.  If this prediction were confirmed, what do you think would be its effects on people between the time when they acquired the aforementioned certainty and the moment of cataclysm?  Finally, as far as you’re concerned, what would you do in this last hour?”
Marcel Proust answered with these observations:
I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say.  Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it- our life- hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.
But let all this threaten to become impossible  for ever, how beautiful it would become again!  Ah! if only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.
The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire.  And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today.  It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Religious Preference

At age 18, back in Medieval Times, I started college as a commuter freshman.  And I discovered the sweet mysteries of college registration.

The process took days, literally.  I attended LSUNO, as it was known then.  (Now simply UNO.)  Anyway, there was a formidable set of meetings/convocations/hoops/hurdles to jump through.  My Good Sport Quotient, being an 18-year-old smartass was running on fumes.  The final straw was filling out a bulky pack of file cards.

When I got to one, the Religious Preference Card, the card did not have the exaustive "M/F" dichotomy for sex; but listed:

Sex: ____________________.

So I answered.

Sex:  Hopeful!

Religion:  Pagan

Other answers could have been used; all other than the one requested on the Religious Prefence Card.

In December, I got a call from the Dean's Office.  He called me in to bawl me out for having "a bad attitude."  In other words, a normal 18-year-old.

It took four months before they noticed my answer in those pre-computer days.

Didn't they teach Deans adolescent psychology back then even in those in loco parentis days?

Incidentally, I never heard from the Pagan Student Union.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gardening in Alabama, Circa 1973

When my wife and I moved to northern Alabama, we lived in a two bedroom house and got a dog.  We lived next to an older couple,Ray and Catherine, who was very heavily into gardening.

Except on Sunday.  That being the LORD'S day, Catherine insisted that they didn't garden on Sunday, saying that nothing would grow if it was planted or tended then.  She affirmed, moreover, that she would allow no liquor in her house. 

She also had a habit of taking a mid-afternoon nap.  I noticed that while she was apparently napping, her husband sneaked out in the yard to enjoy gardening!

Ray had a really neat storage shed in his yard.  One afternoon he invited me into his shed.  I thought it was a strange invitation, but I went because he was so proud of it!

And I found out why h was proud:  He had a nice quart of Jack Daniel in it; and he poured each of us a stiff one!

That drink tasted damned fine!  And it convinced me that when Baptists go off the straight and narrow, they do it in style!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Historic Downtown Farragut

My wife and I puzzled over this recurrent caption on the signs of Farragut, Tennessee located somewhat to the southeast of Knoxville.  When provided with the information, we were intrigued:

1)  What made it historical?

2)  Where is this Downtown?  We were familiar with bustling Kingston Pike and with Turkey Creek shopping; but where was this downtown? 

As near as we could determine, Farragut was named after Admiral David Farragut, a Yankee admiral and I won't say more!

But as for the downtown: it wasn't built yet.  It was a concept yet to be realized.  This planned development combined what looks like a typical small southern downtown with residences in the general area.

It wasn't built yet.

I remember Muscle Shoals.  Back in the 1930's it was projected that Ford would move in big-time, and grow into an urban area with a population of 100,000.  The clock's still ticking on that one.

Friday, August 12, 2011

John L. Sullivan

For quite some time a fight had been brewing between Jake Kilrain and John L. Sullivan (the Boston Strong Boy), but due to Sullivan's lack of training and drinking habits, the fight was repeatedly postponed by the Sullivan camp. It was because of this that Kilrain was crowned Champion in 1889.

This brought rage from the people of Boston, and money started pouring in, which in turn switched the fight back into the public eye. This eventually succeeded in arranging a fight date. In 1889, Sullivan finally accepted Kilrain's challenge for the last professional bare-knuckle championship boxing match in America.

For the first time, newspapers carried extensive pre-fight coverage, reporting on the fighters' training and speculating on where the bout would take place. The center of activity was New Orleans, but the governor of Louisiana had forbidden the fight.  As a matter of fact, boxing was illegal in most states, including both Louisiana and Mississippi.

On July 7th, an estimated 3,000 spectators boarded special trains from New Orleans for the secret location, which turned out to be Richburg, Mississippi, a community just south of Hattiesburg. In the woods, near the railroad track, a boxing ring and stands were set up.  On the 8th of July 1889, the final professional bare knuckle fight in the USA took place. The fight began at 10:30 that morning, and it looked as if Sullivan was going to lose, especially after he threw up during the 44th round, but the champion got his second wind after that and came on strong.

Sullivan had been attended in his corner by his trainer Muldoon, who had supplied Sullivan with tea laced with whisky, and when asked how long he could keep up the pace Sullivan told him "until tomorrow if necessary".  Whiskey will do that for a Hibernian.

After two hours and sixteen minutes, Kilrain's manager and corner finally threw in the towel after the 75th round of a scheduled 80 round bout. John Lawrence Sullivan was re-crowned as the World Heavyweight Champion.

Just as the fight ended, the local sheriff conveniently arrived to arrest the promotors and boxers.  All of the major players got away.  That was good timing!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sin Taxes and Fines

The use of sin taxes or fines represent a possible area for problems in the use of aversive control. Obviously, the person performing the action that is intended to be discouraged experiences a monetary loss; but the taxing or fining municipality, state, or federal government usually experiences an augmentation in the revenue stream as a by-product. This obviously provides the taxing or governing body with a stronger incentive for stricter enforcement of ordinances that are fined.

The philosophical justification for the use of fines or sin taxes is that certain actions are in se malus; and the intent in their use is to discourage those behaviors. Using that perspective, it would seem to be fitting to adopt a schedule of heavy taxation or fines to maximally discourage performing the unwanted behavior. In short, fine the Hell out of them for doing those no-no actions! Make them quit their crappy behavior!

Some examples of activities in these categories include “sin” taxes on tobacco products and alcohol and fines such as for illegal parking, prostitution, speeding or drunken driving. Late fees for paying bills and even the fines for having overdue library books are other minor examples.

It is my contention that in a few cases municipalities might become unwittingly caught on the horns of a dilemma: having to balance two possible consequences:

By levying heavy, severely punitive fines, the agency (a) maximizes the likelihood that an undesired will be seen less often, and become less of a problem. However, the agency may in a few cases be dependent on the collection of fines as part of its revenue stream. This will increasingly motivate the agency towards stringent enforcement; however, if the likelihood of being caught and the severity of punishment are both very high, (b) the potential miscreants will be less likely to offend. And the fine revenues will diminish pretty soon.

Let's take a simple example:  Suppose the present tax on a package of cigarettes went from 62 cents (rate for Tennessee; national average:$1.46) to $10 a pack.  This would price licit cigarettes beyond what a heavy smoker could afford: a two pack per day person would forfeit $7300 per year in taxes!  The chronic smoker would thus be confronted between the legal option, abstinence, and the unlawful ones: theft or bootleg cigarettes.  The law-abiding smoker would have to stop.

Therefore, any official imposition of fines should at least be implicitly accompanied by an understanding of which goal has become more important: Is the fine or tax now still seen as primarily to discourage the action, or has it become primarily a means to generate revenue? If the former, then it would be appropriate to use very heavy fines or taxes accompanied by very intensive enforcement. However, if the goal is primarily to enhance revenue, then calibrate the fine or taxes against the possible revenue produced. In short, the agency is now put in the position of not completely discouraging the behavior, but maximizing its pecuniary gains that might come from it.

While it may sound cynical at first, we must remember that the motives that provide the impetus for human decision-making are not static: humans are very adept in picking up new tastes and de-emphasizing more familiar ones.

 The money from tax and fine revenues are like chocolate for governing bodies.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Back in 1972, George Carlin first performed his signature skit "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television."  It was a milestone at the time, because it formally expressed which words there were; and especially the thinking that there were only seven.

What were these taboo words?  Shit, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, piss, and tits.  These are still the deplorable seven; but may be further revised to only five.

It's notable what didn't make the cut on George's list: dick, suck, boob, dork, and so forth.

And crap.

I can remember when it was a no-no word.

Never mind the popularity of the game of craps.  This dice game was called craps originally because it was played by the French in old Louisiana.  The French were, you see, called frogs.  So it became Johnny Crapaud's game.  Or simply craps.

Anyway, Bernard de Marigny developed a faubourg in New Orleans in the early 1800's; and one of the street names was Rue du Craps.

Transfer to a later time: 1968.  The summer after the Summer of Love.

I was then employed as a counselor in a therapeutic summer camp for children with behavioral problems.  I was one of the counselors for the smallest group of boys.

One issue that came up in group discussion was the promiscuous use of profanity by group members, including the counselors.  To quote one eight-year-old:  "Yeah, we use cuss words; but Big Jerry and Big Don use them a lot; Big Merry does too.  And Big Ed uses them most of all!"


Anyway, we had a discussion which lasted maybe a half-hour; and we unanimously decided that certain words were not to be used: shit and damn being the most notorious.  Another prominent word, crap, was unanimously voted non-profane.

Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, would have been proud.

Or maybe not.  Somehow, a former minister (one of the counselors)  telling one and all that he needed some peace in the john so he could take a crap may not have been impressive.

But I will say that the fucks and damns stopped.

[I wonder if Prohibition would have been more successful if they continued to allow the consumption of beer.]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Anthony Weiner Had to Do It

Why did Rep. Anthony Weiner send pictures of his crotch and chest to various women?  There are many possibilities.

One possible reason is that he felt jealousy towards Vladimir Putin, and wishes to flaunt his physique as the Russian did.

But possibly he simply had to try harder.  To quote P. J. O'Rourke:

"No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal"

 (Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Morganza Spillway

Today they opened the Morganza Spillway in Louisiana -- only the second time it was done.  The first time was 37 years ago.  Doing it directly affects 22,000 people.  I hope everyone evacuated or will evacuate.

So sad. 

But so would the flooding of New Orleans and possibly Baton Rouge.

Sometimes there are hard choices.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Fark Link I'd Like to Post

The Gray Lady goes tits up

Based on my newspapery dream: The New York Times folding.

It's not going to happen; so those wankers Paul Krugman and William Friedman won't be out of newspaper columns.

I've posted 17 thus far.  My favorite is still my first:

Asshat cardinal likens Saddam to cow despite nonfunctional teats.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Odd Psychological Concepts

Coolidge effect -- this is a phenomenon in many species in which both males and females exhibit continuous high sexual performance if they are provided new receptive partners.  Frank Beach originally coined this expression in 1955. It was based on a Presidential legend, probably apocryphal:

    The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around anexperimental government farm. When [Mrs. Coolidge] came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” Upon being told, Coolidge asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” Coolidge: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

Transylvania effect -- This is also referred to as the Full Moon effect -- It is a pseudoscientific theory that deviant behavior is related to phases of the Moon.

Von Restroff effect -- predicts that an item that stands out as unique against a background of more homogeneous items is more likely to be remembered than other items.  Names after Hedwig von Restroff.
Duke of Marlborough effect -- This term was coined by Richard Dawkins to refer to the increase in masculine libido that results from experiencing a victory, whether directly or vicariously. Apparently Sir John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough examplified this, as reported in an entry in Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough’s diary:  “His Grace returned from the wars today and pleasured me twice in his top-boots.”  Male athletes tend to experience elevated testosterone levels before a contest; those who win tend to maintain afterwards those elevated testosterone levels, but the testosterone levels of losers drops dramatically afterwards.

The Flynn effect --The Flynn effect refers to a tendency of the average scores on intelligence tests to increase over time.

The Lake Woebegone effect -- The Lake Wobegone effect refers to the tendency to overestimate one's achievements and capabilities in relation to others. It is named for the fictional town of Lake Wobegone from the radio series A Prairie Home Companion, where, according to Garrison Keillor, "all the children are above average". In a similar way, a large majority of people claim to be above average.

Perky effect -- The Perky effect in psychology refers to the process by which visual mental imagery is thought to interefere with visual perception. For example, if a person is instructed to project by imagination a tomato or a banana on a while screen, an a faint image of a tomato or banana is projected, the person may not be able to tell the difference between the real image and that which was imagined. Cheves W. Perky did the pioneering research on this back in 1910.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Daughery Principle

In the realm of Conventional Wisdom, there are a number of truisms that have not been subjected to empirical testing. One of these is the Daughterty Principle, named after American football coach Duffy Daughery (1915-1987) of Michigan State University. This principle is sometimes also attributed to Darrell Royal (1924- ); hence is sometimes called the Daugherty-Royal Principle. This aphorism in question is: “A tie is like kissing your sister.” Interestingly enough, both evolutionary psychology theory and sociological theory would predict that this familial phenomenon would predict dissatisfaction with that activity. However, it has not been systematically tested; but informal tests of this principle have undoubtedly taken place from time to time primarily in Vermont and West Virginia.

Some intrepid researcher should conduct an empirical study of this type. A simple repeated measurements design might be employed; using familial osculation and extrafamilial osculation as independent variables. There should be appropriate use of counterbalancing to control for the warm-up effect. A serious researcher might look also into possible correlates of hedonic value: attractiveness, age similarity, and so forth.  A possible convention-ready title for this research could be "The Hedonic Value of Familial Osculation: A Test of the Daugherty Principle."

If the results are obtained in the expected direction; and is it consistently replicated, then we can begin to speak of Daugery's Law.

But there are other corrolaries of the Daugherty Principle:

If a tie is like kissing your sister, then what is losing like?

Lou Holtz suggested a comparison to put things in perspective: "They say a tie is like kissing your sister. I guess that is better than kissing your brother."

Finally, it might be helpful to look at things from a non-football perspective.  Historically, the Royal Navy exacted stringent performance standards on officers of flag rank.  For example, Admiral John Byng was executed by firing squad because he "failed to do everything to everything against the enemy" at the Battle of Minorca in 1756, the outcome of which should be regarded as a tie (no decision) rather than a loss.

As for losing, a generation earlier, an Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell managed to run his fleet aground.  They honored him with a dreadful sculpture in Westminister Abbey showing Sir Cloudesley in his birthday suit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Which I Sing for a Job

You might be wondering (if you manage any curiosity remaining after grad school) how I managed to get into this situation.  No, you're right: I haven't shown any singing talent, even in the light of the low standards that prevail currently.

Let me explain . . . .

I was a new almost-Ph.D.  And we know what Ph.D. stands for.  Anyway, I was at the Jung Hotel in New Orleans at the SEPA convention, doing job interviews.  And with such amazing places:  Sour Briar College, Northern Kentucky Beauty College and University, Sam Houston Institute of Technology, and so forth and so on.

In the evening, there were the impromptu parties, including the notorious and fabled bimbo party and the champagne breakfast at dawn: possibly more legend than fact.  Possibly the times have led academics to greater discretion nowadays than when I first went to SEPA; I don't know.  But back in 1969, things were loose away from the home campus!

Several of my compadres were halfway in the bag; as a matter of fact, some of the faculty were too!  Good times . . . .

Anyway, I was at a party for Psych Department for a major institution in North Carolina, and I was accosted by a middle-aged man who introduced me as the Department Chair, and he asked me whether I was job-seeking.

I felt that at last I had a connection; and would be a junior faculty member at a Ph.D.-granting institution.  Not bad for a Frenchie from New Orleans! 

Just then, one of his department members came up, and wanted to get him to sing.  He says, "Sure, if my good buddy Ed here and these two guys over here will be the chorus."

And so we did. 

The song was "Little Red Riding Hood," originally cut by Sam the Sham and The Pharoahs:

The Department Chair claimed the wolf howls as his own.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Possible Effects in Psychology

Sometimes psychological concepts emerge from the primal ooze that constitutes popular culture or lore: consider the well-documented Coolidge effect, the Duke of Marlborough effect, or the Mickey Gilley effect. My point is that we should be aware that sometimes major truths can be found, like love, in all the wrong places.

Novelist and scenario writer Anita Loos wrote two books in the 1920’s that positively beg serious study in research: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Can we talk nowadays about an Anita Loos effect?   Frankly, the 1950’s movie loaded the dice, using Marilyn Monroe as the blonde. We need some research before we presume to do so. Seriously, hard science is empirical!

Some of you oldies might remember Dr. Eric Berne’s pop psychology book, The Games People Play. Joe South put these games succinctly in this song, and you don‘t have to read the book:
But let’s look at a few other possibilities:

Is it true that big girls don’t cry? The Four Seasons implied that to be the case.

If there is, why not call it the Four Seasons effect: is there a relationship between Neuroticism or attendant lacrimal behavior in females and height? Now that should call for a straightforward correlational study: “Feminine height and emotionality.” I’d use a simple correlation between the Neuroticism scale on the Five-Factor Inventory or the Big 5 Inventory and measured height using a sample of appropriately-aged volunteers. That’s a slam-dunk for a SEPA paper -- convenient data, easily done stats!

And Jimmy Soul once hypothesized a prescription for happiness, ably stated in a song by Pokemon masters Ash, Misti, Dawn, and May:

Naturally, any test of it should be reported in an article entitled something like “Spousal Attractiveness and Subjective Well Being”; and we may have -- presto! -- a Jimmy Soul effect!

Of course, dysfunctional families are always in style for research. Ska singer Peter Tosh suggested this topic originally in “Shame and Scandal in the Family.”: But let‘s report it as “Parental uncertainty as a mediator of diminished self-esteem” and launch the Tosh effect.

The Inner Circle suggested an interesting research topic: “Prearrest Disorientation and Confusion in Minor Offenders” in their song “Bad Boys“:

Okay: a Bad Boy Disorientation Syndrome or maybe an Inner Circle effect.

How about research into stereotypes? This little song provides some possible examples of stereotypes in cheerleading (lyrics helpfully provided in “I‘m Sexy, I‘m Cute“):

Naturally, the research should be entitled something like “Negative Stereotypes of Officially Designated Performance Encouragement Personnel;” and out of it should emerge the Cheerleader Stereotype.

.Anyway, you get the idea.

Finally, Jimmy Buffet suggested exploring this topic: “Factors Mediating Nostalgia for Gulf Coast Dives.” I think of The Florabama Lounge, near Gulf Shores -- happy times for generations of Alabamians who will exhibit the Buffet effect some day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Which I Inadvertently Praise an Alabama Town

Years ago, while traveling in Baldwin County, I asked for directions.

I asked a clerk in a convenience store "Which way is it to Faire Minette."

She said, "It's thataway.  And she ain't that purty."

I'm glad she didn't know French.

[Faire minette is French slang for cunnilingus.]