Scientific My Ass

December 14th, 2011

The Atom A well known “scientific” company recently conducted a survey of its customers. The scientific company is “scientific” because its name includes the word “scientific.” The survey was not scientific at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Modern Highwaymen

March 10th, 2011

USPS to its customers: Stand and Deliver.

In 2002 the United States Postal Service was plagued with problems associated with the Culture of Fear that our federal government was so carefully and deliberately fostering. A fearful public was a big advantage in promoting the war in Iraq, and mandatory for full implementation of the PATRIOT act. Not to mention– some home-grown vandal/terrorist was mailing anthrax to public officials, and another thought it was great fun to blow up rural mailboxes. The entire nation was on the verge of panic. In a bid to reassure the public, the Post Office combined the popular “United We Stand” slogan with their own “We deliver for you,” and came up with “UNITED WE STAND AND DELIVER FOR AMERICA.” Read the rest of this entry »

Civility II: George Washington

January 24th, 2011

Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation

At age 16 or so, the student George Washington copied 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation into one of two surviving schoolbooks, preserved in the Library of Congress. The Rules date back to 16th century France, and were popularly circulated in English translation.

Washington’s transcription occupies the last ten pages of the second schoolbook, and in 1926 Charles Moore said that “These maxims were so fully exemplified in George Washington’s life that biographers have regarded them as formative influences in the development of his character.” Read the rest of this entry »

Civility in Political Discourse

January 21st, 2011

The issue of civility in public and political discourse has been getting a lot of attention recently, especially (and unworthily) now that some are blaming physical violence on violent rhetoric. There may or may not be a connection, but it really shouldn’t matter– there is no place for incivility in public discourse, no need for it, and it is always counterproductive. Unless the aim is to infuriate and distract the other party, in which case (obviously) it can be very productive, but then it’s hard to think of it as “discourse.” Read the rest of this entry »

What you lose on the swings…

January 17th, 2011

The other night Craig Ferguson said “what you lose on the swings you win on the roundabout” or words to that effect. It went right over the heads of his studio audience, and Craig offered a partial explanation: it means that things work out, what goes up must come down, a situation has equal pluses and minuses, there are advantages and disadvantages, and, more recently, “it’s a zero-sum game.” But where does the expression come from, and what is its literal meaning? The swings and roundabouts are antique carnival rides, but how do you lose on one and get it back on t’other?
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Super Scam! Rebate Gift Cards!

October 29th, 2009

Did you hear about the computer programmer who spent a day and a half in the shower? The instructions on the shampoo bottle said “Shampoo, rinse, repeat.” Apart from the obvious possibilities for jokes, those instructions represent one of the greatest marketing coups in the history of Capitalism. The only benefit of the repeat shampoo was double the amount of shampoo used, and thereby double sales of shampoo.

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Boo! Bad Form on Trick or Treat Street

November 18th, 2007

Another Halloween is over, so we can get back to important things like getting ready for Christmas. If we’re lucky, there will be only one more interruption, namely that quaint US American holiday “Thanksgiving” when we get together as families, pretend we don’t hate each other, and participate in two activities that best represent our greatness as a nation– stuffing ourselves with food, and watching emulated blood sports on TV. Eleven months from now the armies of the War on Halloween will be surging and these comments will be available to anyone who cares to read them.
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CIA Air Strike in Pakistan

February 5th, 2006

The January 13th airstrike by the CIA against a village in Pakistan is old news now. The target was al-Quaida second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but it is still unclear if he was among the 17 people killed in the attack. According to published reports, the Hellfire missile attack was launched from one of three CIA operated Predator UAV‘s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) seen in the area of the strike. The attack was said to have been ordered a Deputy Director of the CIA, although naturally that can’t be confirmed. The story has been overshadowed by recent events, but there is one crucial question which was never asked– since when does the Central Intelligence Agency carry out combat operations? Read the rest of this entry »

Democratic Party’s Newest Member: George W. Bush

February 1st, 2006

By Richard J. Schneider

With a few exceptions, the Democratic Party should welcome in its newest member: President George W. Bush. The exceptions include defending the legality of his domestic eavesdropping program, making his tax cuts permanent, and nonsensical approaches to health care. For those of you wondering about the War in Iraq – that’s a lost cause. Congress gave that one away when it authorized the invasion. This year, I’m not going waste much time talking about our new method of pounding democracy down the throats of unruly Middle Eastern states. Suffice it to say that Bush, during his very first campaign for President, was dead set against nation-building. Now he’s the Builder Bob of this frustrating construction job. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Brother is Watching You

January 27th, 2006

Heartache in the White House. The Administration’s secret weapon, the National Security Agency, has been dragged out of the closet and exposed to daylight. The White House is in mourning, because the President is being prevented from doing his job. How can we expect Mr. Bush to protect us from The Terrorists if he isn’t free to ignore treaties, international law, and the US Constitution? Only those with something to hide could conceivably object to the US Government reading their mail, tapping their phones, and following them around. The Administration’s position is that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to the President, and they are completely free to ignore it. Because we are at war. With The Terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »