Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Asswipe Factor in Politics

People are disposed to see themselves as rationally evaluating their political choices, whether it be on dimensions that commonly are loosely described as liberal or conservative.  Actually, that dimension, more continuous than dichotomous, is further complicated by there being at least three factors: (a) the social liberal/conservative factor, (b) the economic liberal/conservative factor, and (c) the degree of government intervention factor.  And, obviously, there can be very practical or philosophical reasons a person may cite for his choice.

But there's another, somewhat less admirable factor, that can also play a point.  That's being influenced in your voting by not wanting to be affiliated even in that way with people you hold in contempt.

Let's use the example of the Presidential election of 1884.  In that year, Grover Cleveland defeated James G. Blaine because Cleveland won New York because of what a Dr, Samuel B. Burchard said in a speech:
We are Republicans, and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion. We are loyal to our flag.

That remark antagonized opponents of Prohibition and Catholics, both major sources of votes.

In short, Blaine was screwed by one of his supporters' unfortunate remarks.

And this can happen at other times.  I call it the Asswipe Factor in Politics: sometimes a candidate's supporters can be a burden.  The candidate may be perfectly reasonable, but he's surrounded by a bodyguard of idiots.

After I voted for President in 2008, I had a most depressing thought:  I voted for the same guy that Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Paul Krugman supported.  It spoiled for me any pleasure in my having voted that day.  (In compensation, if I had voted for the other candidate, I would be sobered by the thought that I voted for Rush Limbaugh's candidate!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


While we have an abundance of federal and state government stupidity to draw from, there's also stupidity on the local level.  Sometimes this human folly can have tragic consequences.

Here's one that doesn't.  It just sounds dumb; and buttresses the notion that about half the people are below average in intelligence.  (By definition of "average.")

A flea market operator in Kingsville, Texas launched a campaign to change the word "hello," stating that "I see 'hell' in 'hello,' but once you see it, it will slap you in the face."

The county unanimously passed an ordinance replacing 'hello' with 'heaven-o' as the official greeting to be used within the county.

Does that constitute an example of establishing religion?


For that matter, regarding the afterlife:  There have been different views, from the Christian view of Heaven where we play harps or banjos, the Islamic version where each guy gets 72 virgins, Elysium, or the Isle of the Blest.  But what if John  Denver's view of Heaven is right?

Monday, February 20, 2012


Earworms are those songs, jingles, or tunes that get stuck inside your head.  The Germans, naturally, have a word for them: ohrwurms.  They're often desribed as that "damned song" or even warrant the F-word. 

According to professor James J. Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati, approximately 98% of people have had songs stuck in their head at some time or other.  He reported a survey of 559 students university students; among the prime offenders were the Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" Jingle and with the Baha Men song "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Here's the ten biggest offenders, according to Kellaris's survey:

1.  Other.  Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
2.  Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle.
3.  "Who Let the Dogs Out"
4.  "We Will Rock You"
5.  Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle ("Gimme a Break ...")
6.  "Mission Impossible" theme
7.  "YMCA"
8.  "Whoomp, There It Is"
9.  "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
10.  "It's a Small World After All"

This list is probably dated, and a 2012 list might have differences.  And I admit to liking "We Will Rock You," "YMCA," and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Other offenders mentioned in other articles include Nelly Furtado’s Powerless, Marilyon Mansons “Tainted Love,” and Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart."

As a personal remark, my wife, children, and I did "It's a Small World" at Disney World.  With those manically singing dolls, I got a mini-version of a world poetically described by Dante and Milton.

But my real bĂȘte noire  has to be "Break My Stride," by Matthew Wilder.

Women are more annoyed by earworms than are men.  The most common way of coping with an earworm is to to try to substitute another tune or song in conscousness.  People who are a little neurotic or OCD are more likely to have earworm problems.

Earworms are a part of life.  Not as bad as taxes or suppositories, but they also serve.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl Food

While some people celebrate the Super Bowl with beer and party food, there are alternatives to this.  My son and his wife, for example, are going to have something from the cities that are playing.  This year, the selections will beng chowder (clam, preferably, or cod) and Waldorf salad.

My wife and I are having chili dogs, chips, and dip.  And, of course, beer.

The Cities-That-Are-Playing strategy for Super Bowl food is easier with some places than for others.  For some, I'm challenged to think up a representative food (like Indianapolis), while for others, my thought is "Oh no!  I gotta eat WHAT?"

Still, the Cities-That-Are-Playing strategy is a good plan.  It introduces variety into the menu, unlike the stereotyped turkey associated with many peoples' Thanksgiving.  on the other hand, it tends to possibly bias who one roots for in the playoffs.  Would you rather see the San Diego Chargers or the Denver Bronchos will if it affects Super Bowl food?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tanzan and The Girl on the Road


A Zen Koan

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
"Come on, girl" said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"
"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"