Let Us See Each Other Again 

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Twelve seconds of gunfire have left an indelible mark on a small town in South Carolina.

An Unholy Combination 

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Pizza is great. Bikinis are great. The ’zakini is awful.

Model wearing a pizza bikini
Dear John, do I hope this is photoshopped!

Meditating Deeply 

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Members of the Divine Light Awakening Mission sect in India believe their spiritual guru is not so much dead, as in a state of deep meditation. As such, they’ve been preserving his body in a freezer for the past three years. A court has just granted them the right to continue to do so.

Here’s Hoping 

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Thomas Jefferson’s last public letter was written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence, and it contains this hopeful passage:

“all eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born, with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves let the annual return of this day, for ever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them.”

The article also does a good job covering the contradictions between Jefferson’s noble words and far-from-noble actions. Here’s hoping we can live up to the high-minded ideals, and that every generation can indeed be a little better than the one before it.

Hell of a Card 

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

91 years ago, the US celebrated our sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the country. At the time, the nation of Poland passed around a birthday card for folks to sign. It got a little large.

This Week in Trump: June 30th, 2017 Edition

Friday, June 30th, 2017

We almost made it out of June without needing another edition of “This Week in Trump”. This week, however, was really a doozy. Here’s a (no doubt partial) list of the recent deplorable doings of Donald Trump.

June 26th: After repeatedly and falsely insisting that his inauguration crowd was bigger than Barack Obama’s, Donald Trump wasted taxpayer money by having the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior investigate the matter. Their conclusion was exactly what you’d expect: Obama’s crowd was bigger, and no one had to alter any photos to make that so. (Link)

June 27th: The Washington Post reported that a pathetically fake Time cover featuring Donald Trump hangs in multiple Trump-owned golf clubs. Following much mockery of the president’s childish ego, Trump is asked to remove the false covers by Time Magazine itself. (Link)

June 27th: While on a call with Ireland’s new prime minister Leo Varadkar1, Trump singled out Irish reporter Caitriona Perry, beckoning her over to him. He then told Varadkar he was speaking with her, saying “Caitriona Perry, she has a nice smile on her face, so I bet she treats you well”. The conversation was both weird and inappropriate, exposing the type of subtle sexism that exists for too many women in the workplace. Perry later described the incident as “bizarre”, which was extremely generous. At this time, there is no word on whether the president will be attending a sensitivity training seminar anytime soon. (Link)

June 29th: The president attacked journalists Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in a sickening pair of tweets. As if to confirm to the world that he does in fact have deep seated issues with women, he made specific note of Brzezinski’s appearance, claiming she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” back in December. Even many members of his own party publically condemned Trump’s comments. (Link)

You probably thought it couldn’t get any worse after Trump explained where and how he liked to grab women, and yet, here we are. Here we are. I’m sorry.


Footnotes:

  1. Varadkar also happens to be gay, a fact which shouldn’t matter at all, but makes Trump commenting on a woman’s physical appearance to him somehow yet more ridiculous. Did Trump know about Varadkar’s sexual orientation, widely discussed in the media? Was he attempting to needle Varadkar, or ensure that no one had reason to question his heterosexual bona fides? We should avoid venturing too far into unproven psychoanalysis, but this added wrinkle does seem worthy of note. ↩︎

Lettuce Reflect

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

I recently spotted a billboard around Boston which was apparently advertising, well, leafy greens. I was driving on the highway when I first saw it, so I couldn’t snap a picture, but it later popped up within walking distance of my home. I made sure to grab a photo, so that you too could see Foxy’s “House of Chards” billboard:

A billboard from Foxy Organic, showing a picture of chard, with a 'House of Chards' logo.
Why?

Many readers will understand that this is a rather bizarre spoof of the Netflix series “House of Cards”. The otherwise-clumsy “Vegflix” logo on the right side really drives the idea home. Here’s a comparison shot from the actual television series, with Kevin Spacey looking none too pleased at being parodied:

“Foxy did what?!”

Setting aside the sheer pointlessness of advertising chard, I’m left to wonder why on earth Foxy would wish to associate themselves with the only show that makes the Trump presidency seem halfway palatable. I’ve found myself with no desire to watch the newest season of “House of Cards”, because I feel like I’m living it every single goddamned day. The biggest difference is that reality is even more vindictive, and also far stupider. Why would a produce company make this ad? The wordplay involved really isn’t that good, if it’s even good at all.

The ad’s biggest fault, however, is a bit more subtle. It hews closer to the original than might be advisable. You see, the official “House of Cards” logo contains a simplified inverted American flag, a subtle nod to the distress the fictionalized America faces due to the machinations of Frank Underwood. The spoof “House of Chards” logo replicates this. Without this imagery, the imitation might not be successful. With it, however, the billboard is sending a very dire message indeed.

A simplified upside down American flag

Then again, perhaps it’s an intentional cry for help.

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

On Monday evening, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona left the ballpark early due to illness, eventually finding his way to the hospital. A series of tests turned up nothing serious, though Francona did take Tuesday off. As a result, the team issued a short press release, reprinted here in its entirety. Emphasis has been added.

Terry Francona was evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic by a team of doctors last night and into this morning. After undergoing a series of tests, the doctors have ruled out any major health issues at this point. He will continue to be monitored over the next several weeks to determine the nature of his recent symptoms.

Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills.

Mills will manage the club tonight and Francona is expected to return to normal duties tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28. “Tito” is spending the remainder of the day at his residence.

Using an official team press release to zing your long-time friend and colleague, who also happens to be the guy stuck covering for you at work? That’s good stuff.

Self-Driving Cars And Traffic Cops 

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Let us assume a future where self-driving cars are a reality, and indeed, the vast majority of cars on the road. In such a reality, there are many interesting facets to consider, from insurance prices1 to car ownership itself2. I find the possibilities fascinating, and I’ve thought about this quite a lot.

One thing I hadn’t previously considered, however, is how self-driving cars could affect police work. From the demise of the traffic cop to a reduction in revenue to the end of pretextual stops, self-driving cars may have a dramatic impact on police work.


Footnotes:

  1. It seems likely that driving your own car will become a very expensive proposition, because you’ll be so much more dangerous than a self-driving car. ↩︎

  2. When cars can drive themselves, it may make far less sense to own one yourself. Instead, a much smaller fleet of vehicles could roam, just waiting to be used, like an automated Uber system. ↩︎

One Good Turn Deserves Ignoring 

Monday, June 26th, 2017

As an infant in 1944, Mitch McConnell was stricken with polio. He and his mother were given assistance by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, to help him recover and lead a life nearly free of after-effects. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis eventually became the March of Dimes, and seven decades later it’s still working to improve the health of mothers and babies.

And yet in 2017, now-Senate Majority Leader has opted not to meet with representatives from the March of Dimes who wish to discuss his proposed changes to healthcare.