Saturday, July 31, 2010

Votes and more bureaucracy

“Do we believe that if 1 million French-speaking Canadians were invading New England, we would then be likely to suspect an African-American English-speaking citizen pulled over for speeding as an illegal alien? Ponder the current Border Patrol: it apparently profiles near the border any Mexican nationals who are spotted in the general vicinity (and who speak no English?), but yet at some magical spot — 10, 20, or 30 miles from the border — it mysteriously loses that ability or legal sanction?”

(A Brown Beret, anti-Tea Party demonstrator said non-Hispanics should return to the ancestral Europe. She (a) suffers from HDD (History Deficit Disorder); or, (b) doesn't care.)

$50 billion later

"(It can putt another 340 miles on a gasoline powered generator, but wasn't the whole point to eschew the evil-gasoline powered engine?) Thinking of passing that Beamer on the highway? Think again, Kemo Sabe. The ObamaVolt includes many patented SafetyPerformanceRetarding features (SPRFs) for the convenience of regulators. For example, its emisson-free engine delivers next to no horsepower so you won’t even be tempted to speed. Think how much you’ll save in tickets!

"And consider these pluses:

"1. The car will be available only in various shades of green (Bilious Green, Envy Green, Lettuce Green, Edamame Green etc.), thus declaring to the world that its owners are environmentally sensitive persons.

"2. The radios are specially calibrated to substitute any station carrying Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or other unacceptable talk show hosts with a local NPR station, so no one who rides in an ObamaVolt need worry about second-hand pollution from racist, right-wing views.

"3. Offsetting the high sticker price for what is really a glorified go-cart, the United States government, in addition to bailing out G.M., has extracted billions more from taxpayers like you and me in order to provide the suckers, er, proud buyers of the ObamaVolt with a $7,500 federal tax credit.

'Snap Quiz: which of these three implausible pluses is actually true?"

Linked from:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fat Tire and Patsy Cline

Priscilla and I went to a Rotary Club fundraiser last year at the Arkansas Repertory Theater. “Forever, Patsy Cline” was the program that night.

Before the program, though, people mingled and made polite introductions and conversation, nibbled or devoured hors d’oeuvres and other kinds of small foods.

Right after we arrived and before I grabbed a plate and filled the plate with broccoli and cauliflower and small meatballs and little sausages, Priscilla said, “There’s beer.” Ever mindful that I had no cash, but too much plastic, I asked, “How much is it?” Priscilla said, “It’s free.” I spent 15 years working on newspapers and three in radio, plus 16 years a soldier, and learned in those years never turn down a free meal. (OK, so the ticket prices that night more than made up the cost of various hors d’oeuvres and such.) I found the free beer place and asked the kinds of free beer there were. The free beer person replied, “Coors Light, Miller Lite and Bud Light.” “Free” doesn’t always mean “Real,” but (see 16 years a soldier), here is a rule: Never turn down free beer.

A couple of months later, Priscilla and I went to a Girl Scouts get together at the River Market in downtown Little Rock. The soiree was at the end of cookie sales season and a “Thank-You” for adults who gave time and money to Girl Scouts.

Right after we arrived and before I grabbed a plate and (see above about filling the plate), Priscilla said, “There is free beer.” OK, said I to myself, remembering the last free beer episode. But, free is free, so I went to the free beer and asked what kinds of free beer were available. One of the free beer people said, “Fat Tire, Sunshine and Heineken.” (You notice “Light” or “Lite” followed none of the brands named.) I had not tried Fat Tire or Sunshine before, but that night I certainly did. And Heineken as well. One each.

If there’s a moral to this tale, maybe it is: You get better beer at a Girl Scouts function than at a Rotary Club fundraiser.

Fat Tire and Sunshine are good beers. “Forever, Patsy Cline” is a good program, too.”

Dark enough for fireworks

July 4. Launching rockets and Roman candles, cherry bombs and small firecrackers should be at dawn’s early light, explosions and streaks of fire waking everyone to the day of celebrated independence. Then the visits and barbecues, conversations and discussions lasting until night time, then a darkness sparkled and streaked, whizbangs glimmering. Twice the celebration.

For a time tonight, Priscilla and I sat at the table in the back yard while a battle of rockets and such racketed back and forth, one group to the southwest, the other southeast. The Southwesters fired a rocket or three. The Southeasters replied with Roman candles. “Ha!” said the SWesters. “You call that a fireworks display?” A spate of small rockets shot into the air, a dozen explosions sounding like a short firefight.

By now mosquitoes found Priscilla and me, buzzed near arms and ears, landed.

The SEasters, perhaps invigorated by the loudness of the SWesters’ barrage, fired a volley of their own – several Roman candles followed by dozens of firecrackers.

The noise went from direction to direction. A sudden loud sound was the same as a mortar firing, another the same as an M-79 grenade launcher, a sudden crackling the sound of M-16 rifles on full automatic.

Mosquitoes bit, were slapped away.

There was a time … Lying in the grass beneath rubber trees, arms and hands and neck and face covered with oily insect repellant, Claymores out, flares and hand grenades at hand, mosquitoes buzzed but did not land, and we waited for the bad people to walk by and we could kill them.

Now, in the back yard, fireflies blinked and flickered. I don’t remember if there were fireflies in the rubber plantations.

The life lived vs. the life written

Here is an excellent site.

In a writing about Ayn Rand, Anne C. Heller spends the majority of her essay making the novelist less than honest in her proclaimed life. Yet Heller then writes of why she wants to live in the society Rand saw as that which best fits humanity.

“Who is Ayn Rand?”

Why should an author’s real life (whatever that means) be the same as the one philosophized?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Earth abides

Thirty-one years ago a Pemex oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil spewed from the well for 90 days. The disaster was the end of things as we know them. Two years later, the land and the ocean were fine.

Earth repairs things, all on its own.

"The bacteria as well as other marine life forms along the shoreline got a boost from a strategy employed by both the United States and Mexico: to more or less give up on stopping the oil spill from reaching beaches while concentrating on keeping it out of estuaries and wetlands.

"Texas just made a superhuman effort to keep the oil away from rivers, with two or three or four layers of booms to skim it away," said Thomas C. Shirley, a biodiversity specialist at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. "We know how to clean up beaches, and it's simple. It's just sand.

"But you get up into wetlands, where you're cleaning up shrubs and sea grasses, and it's far more difficult. Everything you're cleaning is alive, and you have to be careful not to do more harm than good."

Read more:

(Somebody somewhere must have decided the article is too positive, given the last three paragraphs.)

What a job!

“NOT LONG AGO I was offered work as a quality-control expert with an American company in China I’d never heard of. No experience necessary—which was good, because I had none. I’d be paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province I’d also never heard of. The only requirements were a fair complexion and a suit.”

You don't need to know the language! All you need is to be in China!