This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Inside the process of bein' The Decider

Hello, Romania! (Thought you could be unknown country, eh?)


Hello also to the Russian Federation, searching for info about Cecilia Bartoli! Very little escapes us here at Lotsa 'Splainin'! Not the KGB maybe, but still... your secrets are not secrets.


He's kinda tall. I could call him Stretch. Naw, I'm already callin' some reporter Stretch.

He's gotta funny haircut. Can't stop lookin' at the haircut.

Stretchy McHaircut? Hairdo McStretchy?

I got it! Haircut Slim! That's what I'll call him!

Bein' the Decider... it's hard work!

(Note: This is the new nominee for the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick. Like Wolfowitz, he's one of the PNAC crowd that thought invading Iraq was a super-keen idea.)

They Wouldn’t Believe Me™: Volume 4


And when I told them just how beautiful you are
They didn't believe me, they didn't believe me...


Yes, it's Johnny Mercer singing the Jerome Kern classic "They Didn't Believe Me", official theme song of the slightly differently named "They Wouldn't Believe Me" series here at Lotsa 'Splainin'. The concept, of course, is to send information back forty years to amaze and confound our former selves, or for younger readers, the former selves of your parents or grandparents. Hence the picture of the surprised young woman in the upper left hand corner.

Without further ado, here's the fourth list of ten.

1. I don’t even know how I’d explain video games to people from 40 years ago. They wouldn’t even have Pong for a reference, so how could you explain Myst, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto?

2. A TV show will last six seasons where the “entertainment” consists of watching attractive people eat live bugs and horse rectums.

3. Thousands of songs played in crystal clear high fidelity can be stored on a device roughly the size of a cigarette lighter.

4. Nearly all children’s movies will contain bathroom humor. Kids will love it, of course, and parents will resign themselves to the fact that kids seek the stuff out regardless of whether it’s taboo or not.

5. An ounce of gold, which hovered between $35 to $45 an ounce from the era of FDR to the era of Nixon, will be over $650 an ounce.

6. The consensus choice for the best American film of the last forty years will be a gangster movie, a genre left for dead by the 1960’s.

7. Instead of going off the air or showing old movies or test patterns, TV stations will show hour upon hour of 30 minute commercials from midnight until dawn.

8. A little reality check on new consumer products from the 1960’s.
Pantyhose: massive success.
Microwave ovens: ditto.
Trash compactors: Not so much.

9. On TV and radio, ads for cigarettes will be banned and ads for hard liquor will be allowed, the direct opposite of the situation in the late 60s.

10. We will create secret courts to approve secret warrants for wire taps of American citizens, and even that level of legal intrusion will not be enough for one particularly scofflaw administration.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Three links: Two funny, another not so funny

The first link is to The Daily Show. Last week they made fun of how Memorial Day gas prices are always covered by the media, with Rob Riggle letting us know with cheerful bad puns that a Mad Max style dystopia was just around the corner now that we have $3 a gallon gas. I would expect most folk in Los Estados Unidos who read Lotsa 'Splainin' already watch The Daily Show, but Matty Boy says check it out anyway.

The next story in USA Today from yesterday follows the ridiculous premise of the government using the same accounting procedures that businesses have to use. Not so funny punchline: We're broke. Really bad broke. The picture shows a moth flying out of our hapless pal's pants pocket, but we're so broke, the moth would have starved by now. Last year, Fedral Gummint, Inc. would have posted more than a trillion dollar loss, and every American household now has a half million dollar share of the national deficit.

As you might guess, this is the not funny center of the sandwich.

Then there is the newest Blog Buddy, Monkey Muck, run by Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein, who asks many times for you not to look at his monkey, though he shows his monkey a lot. The good Doctor is also a commenter over at Princess Sparkle Pony, and was kind enough to link to the Gigantic Child Brides post I put up on Monday as part of his Lighten Up Tuesday post. He has an unattributed Elvis Costello quote as his subtitle, which scores many points on the Matty Boy scale. I also liked the kind words he had to say about stand up guy Willie Horton, the one who played for the Detroit Tigers back in the day, which he includes as a balance to the nasty things he has to say about Michael Vick, a current day non-stand up athlete guy.

Matty Boy says check them out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to sum up "miserable failure" in one montage

Yes, it's another installment of It's Official™, stuff I gather from the official White House website and share with you, gentle readers, now including gentle readers from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Nice flag, don't you think?


Above is the Renewal In Iraq banner. It sure makes me feel better about our prospects. Think about urban renewal, for example. That always goes well. And the semi-happy little girl that looks like she's peeking out from the rubble. What says hope for the future better than that?

Oh yeah, and there's a new post on The Smirking Chimp today about smaller textbooks and better government and the link between them that was forged in my fevered brain. Enjoy.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Brief History of Gigantic Child Brides

You might think, Matty Boy! It's Memorial Day! Honor the fallen dead!

Go soak your head, says I. Memorial Day is May 31, not the last Monday in May. And besides, it's been
done to death.

Instead, I give you older men with their taller, younger wives. To be fair, most of these guys are much taller when they stand on their money. Also, as a group, gigantic child brides are very loyal. They married for money and earned every penny. (To be fair, I think Sophia really did love Carlo, but that's just what it looks like to me.)

Photos identified in the comments section.

If you really like gigantic child brides, there's even more! Just click on the "gigantic child brides" label at the bottom of this post.








I have to say that before I saw this photo, I had no idea that Ari and Jackie invited The King Of The Hawkmen from Flash Gordon to their wedding. I hope he brought a nice present.











Sunday, May 27, 2007

The neglected third pillar: Dogs

Here's one from Cute Overload, a lazy post on a lazy Memorial Day weekend Sunday.

Have a nice long weekend, y'all!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Gosh Darned Pater Familias!


And many happy returns. He, of course, is the good looking guy in the suit and tie. This picture was taken as a publicity still back in the day when he got a children's book published entitled Dragons Dragons. A decision was made not to include our beloved dog Johann in the family shot, which is a shame now, since I could have given this picture all three labels of all three pillars of successful blogging, but we just weren't thinking ahead that day.

Be that as it may, Happy Birthday to my dad, Donald Hubbard, aka Bud aka Hub aka RAK III. He has a lot of aliases for a guy with no criminal record. (Or at least none that I know of...)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Something Al Gore Didn't Say

Al Gore was on The Daily Show last night, plugging his new book The Assault On Reason. Jon Stewart asked him why the positions that flew in the face of reason, whether they be about global warming or the war in Iraq or anything else, have been so popular. Here's what Al didn't say.

"We need to counter the shock wave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax cuts."

As you might guess, this was said by the guy who didn't get as many votes as Al Gore in 2000. He said it in October of 2001. How does this kind of non-sequitur win the day?

It's easy. It asks people to give into sin. News flash: People like to sin.

George W. Bush says he loves him some Jesus, but his charge to the American people is: don't change what you are doing. Give into your worst impulses. Be greedy. Be lazy. You want some blind, meaningless revenge on sand niggers? We can do that for you. Mission accomplished. Heck, we won't even raise your taxes. We can put this on the credit card the Chinese were nice enough to give us. They said we were pre-approved! How cool is that?

Greed. Anger. Vanity. Sloth. Gluttony. These are the Republican family values.

Envy and lust? Those are the Democratic family values, according to the Republicans. Envy is class warfare, and we know how bad that is. (Much better to have class genocide.) Lust is that weakness that the evil people of Hollywood are always trying to exploit. Boo Hollywood!

In my view, the seven deadly sins are a weak list. Here's my top two sins and how they split up politically in the U.S.

The defining Democratic sin: cowardice.

The defining Republican sin: willful ignorance.

And with that, let's go to this week's Random 10. Tom Waits and Elvis Costello show up, no surprises there. We also have the greatest voice of the last fifty years, Roy Orbison, and the greatest entertainer of the 20th Century, Fats Waller. There is no bonus track. The last song is such a great final statement, I didn't want to have an encore mess it up. If you don't know it, go find it out on the Interweb and listen to it. It's genius.

Is it a Crime Sade
Such a Scream Tom Waits
Big Boys Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Tears Django Reinhardt
The Sick Bed of Cuchulain The Pogues
Christopher Columbus Fats Waller
Sunday Girl Blondie
In Dreams Roy Orbison
Israelites Desmond Dekker
God’s Song (That’s Why I Love Mankind) Randy Newman

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dumbass Design™: Cancer


In some installments of Dumbass Design™, I will be discussing cute, cuddly creatures that folks actually like, but species whose lifestyles fly in the face of common sense, with survival strategies that are very risky, sometimes with very weak rewards.

This is not one of those installments.

The picture here is of bone marrow cancer cells. Just like the cells in the bodies that cancer attacks, there are different kinds of cancer for different parts of the body. As we know, cancer cells are our own cells gone bad, mutated in an often fatal way if left untreated, but still able to use the self-replication system available in all living cells to spread and infect the particular system these cells originally came from, and in some cases able to metastasize and spread new infections to other parts of the body.

Some folks have a belief system that states that God made all the good things in all the universe, and the devil made all the bad things. Of course, we are small limited creatures, and our ideas of good and bad may not be God's idea of good and bad. But why cancer? Doesn't an all-powerful God have some veto power over the worst work of Satan?

Could it be that mutation is part of God's plan? From a different standpoint than our own, mutation could be so important that a wise and all powerful creator knows that it must always exist for the good it can do, even if it means accepting the inevitable life destroying consequences when it goes bad, which is what is seems to do very often.

I've often said I believe in God, but I am hesitant to give Her a job description. Some religions create a world view full of contradictions, and when the most tangled of these pieces of nonsense are exposed, the answer is that we need to have faith. Maybe what we really need is to rethink the world when new data is introduced, to try to expand our understanding even when it means some of our favorite preconceptions no longer do a good job of fitting reality.

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Baby Gangs: Threat or Menace?



The first picture is a recent photo of Big Randy and Li'l E, respectively the chief enforcer and bambino de tutti bambini of the feared East Side Toddlerz. You might think Li'l E's a cute innocent baby sucking on a pacifier.

Earlier that very day, that wasn't his pacifier.

Just sayin'.



In the next shot, Randy and Li'l E are smiling for the camera, giving a shout out to all their peeps, and also the new peeps here at Lotsa 'Splainin', who just hooked up from Argentina and Austria. Hola and Guten Tag, holmes!

Also, a Lotsa 'Splainin' welcome to my newest Blog Buddy, fellow PonyPal™ sfmike, who actually takes the pictures he uses on his photo blog about life in the big city, Civic Center. Matty Boy says check it out, or you might get a visit from Big Randy and Li'l E.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Put On Pants For This?


For a lot of reasons, I don't go to the movie theaters as often as I used to. But it was my friend's birthday on Sunday, so I invited the gang to see Shrek the Third and then go get a burrito for lunch afterwards.

The burrito was pretty good and I was glad to see everybody. The movie stunk.

Shrek the Third is the most popular movie in America. It took the mantle away from Spider-Man 3. Both films have had weak critical reviews. I haven't seen the new Spider-Man and I have little interest in it. If I see it at all, it will be on Netflix.

The inflation rate at the ticket counter is disgusting. It's like buying gas, when you are happy for a week when prices at the pump don't go up. Sure, you are still being gouged, but it the same rate of gouging as last week, so thank your lucky stars. The costs for making American films likewise continues to go through the roof. It wasn't so long ago a movie costing $200 million was in the running for the most expensive film ever made. Spider-Man 3, sluggish as it is, cost $500 million. Are they ever going to make that back? If it is a financial success, what are ticket prices going to be next year or the year after that?

Watching American values spread around the world, even when not accompanied by the barrel of a gun, is like watching the progress of a disease.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spare Cheneys?

When there's a new Situation Room at the White House, it's the Commander Guy who gets to be front and center and cuts the ribbon and everything. But being the Vice President guy has its perks, too, most notably clones on the gummint payroll. From left to right we have Chunky Cheney, Cheney 1.0 (AKA Our Bent Dick), Cheney Grey Beard, The Commander Guy, Dork Cheney and Cheney 2.0 (AKA the Cheneynator).

Sue me for being old fashioned, but I liked the room with the massive round table with the fluorescent light halo and of course, The Big Board.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Soft shelled trilobites?

Welcome to readers in Singapore! Props to Singapore for having one of the lowest rates for infant mortality in world, ranked close to places like Japan, Iceland and Sweden. This is even more impressive when you consider that Singapore is actually on the equator, and therefore more at risk of tropical disease than the others.

The fossil is called a trilobite. They are a fairly common type of fossil of a hard shelled sea creature that went extinct about 250 million years ago, which means they were gone before the dinosaurs showed up.

The picture of the living critter is one of the previously unknown species recently found in the waters off Antarctica. It has been classified as an isopod, a family of crustaceans related to shrimps and crabs.

The rough similarity in appearance is most likely completely coincidental, but when I saw the picture I thought about trilobites for the first time in many years. The ocean is a big place with a lot of regions inhospitable to man that are nevertheless teeming with organisms.

And in my deepest ominous announcer voice (think Ted Knight's voiceover work on Super Friends), I close by asking:

What mysteries await us in the cold and briny deep?




p.s. I have a new essay on The Smirking Chimp that has nothing to do with trilobites.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The People Have Spoken: Buzz Feed Experiment #2


The bar chart shows visits to this page over the past month. The skyscraper spike in the middle is when my Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich post got a link on the website Buzz Feed. The little bump on the right is when my Jerry Falwell post was put on the Buzz Feed.

The numbers say it's true! The public likes pretty girls more than they like dead bigots, even when the pretty girl is the gigantic child bride of a tiny but perfectly formed Vegan. Elizabeth Kucinich earns her own category.

Maybe there should be a sequel to The Three Worlds of Gulliver where Gulliver goes back to Brobdingnag and marries Glumdalclitch when she comes of age. Give the people what they want! (Sorry, the movie was on TCM last night and I got caught up watching it again.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Whose Fault Is It?


"You know, bein' the Commander Guy is hard work, and Tony is Commander Guy in England, except they've got a queen, which is kind of like having a mom you can't tell to shut up. So we have that in common.

"Everybody said I wanted to go to war, and they blame me. But if you remember the sixteen words I got in trouble for in the 2003 State of the Union, what I said was "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." You may not know that the British and the English are really the same. Isn't that interesting? So if they hadn't learned it, I wouldn't have said it.

"Also, there were some things called the Downing Street Memos. You know, Tony works on Downing Street, not me. I work on Pennsyvanial Street [sic]. Heh, heh."

(Photo from the official White House website. Quote is completely made up, except that the italicized part, which are the infamous sixteen words from the 2003 SOTU.)

And with that, let's go to this Friday's Random 10+1.

Half Heaven Gene Pitney
Ask the Lonely Vonda Shephard
Johnsburg, Illinois Tom Waits
Where’s My Everything Nick Lowe
Handful Of Keys Fats Waller
Diamonds Are Forever Shirley Bassey
Caught By The Fuzz Supergrass
I Think We’re Alone Now Lene Lovich
Crows In The Garden Rafael Boguslav
Something’s Got A Hold On Me Etta James
and bonus track
Bald Head Professor Longhair

The most obscure artist here is Rafael Boguslav. The song is from an album of folk tunes called Songs From a Village Garret, which he recorded about fifty years ago. Mr. Boguslav sang and played the guitar and lute on this album. I had the album when I was a kid and was able to find a used copy on eBay last year. I also found Mr. Boguslav via the Internets and had an e-mail pen pal situation going on. He was also a concert pianist and made his living for many years as a graphic artist. He designed some fonts that people still use, and made the logos for New York Life and the IRS. Very cool guy.

Let me close with the refrain from Crows in the Garden.

This busy busy world is full of crows,
Money is the corn that's sure to grow.
Once they catch you napping then away it goes
With a merry little ha, ha, ha!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Serious question. Why 'Czar'?


Hello, Columbia!


Welcome, Iran!


Best wishes to Spain!


And a shout out to this guy, Gen. Douglas Lute, our new War Czar.

The question I have is not why we need a war czar, or even if this is the right guy for the job of war czar, but instead why has it been decided the word 'czar' is what we will call these gigs? Why does a nation proud of its democratic traditions think it's cool to bestow a job named after a hereditary ruler of a backward nation with nearly no successes on the world stage, other than defeating Napoleon largely by out waiting him and letting his troops freeze to death?

Quick, name the last successful czar. My friend Jodi (aka Zhenya), who teaches history and is keen on the Russians, says the last widely acknowledged success is Catherine the Great. There's a whole string of Nicholases and Alexanders after her that even Jodi can't tell apart. None of our czars, like the drug czars, energy czars, fixing up after Katrina czar, can point to much progress.

I don't expect governments (or private businesses, for that matter) to stop creating these bullshit bureaucratic positions with little real power but plenty of opportunity for blame, but can't we find a better name for them? Given our feelings about the Middle East right now, I doubt we'll have a post called the Sultan of BlahBlah or the Emir of WhateverDude. Czar is Russian for Caesar, and Kaiser is the German translation, but those names have too much historical baggage. (Like czar doesn't?) For similar reasons, I think calling these jobs king or emperor wouldn't be popular.

Here's an idea! Let's call the next one a Mikado! At least he could have some really cool entrance music written by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Of course, the job is more like The Lord High Executioner, whose first job is to cut off his own head.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My tribute to the Rev. Jerry Falwell








Respectfully, I must say if it wasn't for the Rev. Falwell, I wouldn't smile every time Bush or Cheney walks around on an aircraft carrier and the local TeleTubbies get in the photographs with them, either posing or just in the backgrounds, doing their jobs.

It's the homosexual agenda! Yay!

AGAIN!

Pillar #2: The Baby Power Salute


This picture was also posted at Padre Mickey's Dance Party a while back, but I think it's pretty obvious by now that I have very little fear of plagiarism. This is Miss Evelyn Mobley once again, doing the funnest thing in the baby world, making a fist. She raises her fist up to show her solidarity with babies around the world, who will one day rise up and throw off the chains of the oppressive system of forced naps. Miss Evelyn is also showing off that she is a possessor of the cutest physical attribute in the world, baby knuckle dimples.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Flags of many lands™ and Dumbass Design™: Republicans

The flags shown today are in honor of visitors from (top to bottom)
Bulgaria,


Taiwan,


Turkey and

the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Howdy!



Not all Republicans are examples of Dumbass Design™, of course. Best estimates tell us it's only three out of ten of the successful ones and about two thirds of the entire herd.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Okay, let's set some rules for the first date...

Thanks a lot for the trinket, but getcher goddammed paw off my butt, sailor boy.

Welcome the second installment of It's Official™, photos taken from the official White House website. The woman's name is Angela An. She is receiving a medal for volunteer service.

At this ceremony, Bush gave a little speech, and the White House website has this excerpt.

"Each of you is part of a legacy of service that harkens back to our country's earliest days. When Martha Washington -- the husband [sic] of the first George W. -- (laughter) -- organized sick wards for wounded soldiers and made visits to battlefields to boost the morale of the troops, she volunteered for a cause bigger than herself."

Yes, the White House doesn't even pretend anymore. It just prints verbatim his mangling of the speeches written for him and puts in the [sic] to remind anyone unclear on the concept that they know he's a fuck-up, even if he doesn't realize it at the moment.

This ceremony was last week. I went back to take a look and this picture had been removed. I can't imagine why.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Shouldn't That Be a Foul?

Hell to the NO!

Lemme 'splain.

Both players are in the air. What Baron Davis, the guy with the ball, in doing to Andrei Kirilenko, the guy whose career is about to be defined, is called incidental contact. You can see from the picture the Kirilenko is much taller than Davis, about six inches taller. You can see from the picture that though the crowd is standing, they aren't particularly excited.

The crowd's mood would change about a half second later.

The Warriors beat the Utah Jazz convincingly on Friday night, but most of the talk was about this particular play, late in the game when the result was pretty much already settled. Baron Davis scored on a truly impressive dunk. The slang term is "administering a facial", though the facial is not supposed to be a hand to the face. The metaphor is that the defending player will be under the basket and the ball hits him in the face. The old school metaphor was "feeding him a Wilson-burger", which referred to the brand of the official ball.

The other slang term is that Davis posterized Kirilenko. This refers to a play so cool, it becomes a poster people put on the wall, or in this case, use as the background picture on their computer screen. Davis is the star of the poster, but Kirilenko is also immortalized, but not in a good way. No metaphor here.

Before this moment, Andrei Kirilenko was best known for his truly awful haircut and the fact that his beautiful bride, bowing to the realities of an athlete's life on the road, has made a rule that Andrei can have sex with someone else once and only once a year.

I'll tell you this. Andrei ain't getting any love in Oakland any time in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Casual Day on the Death Star (and Flags of many lands™)


Let's hear it for South Africa!


I'll Take Sweden!


Switzerland Uber Alles! (No, that can't be right.)


I found this picture on the website Wonkette and felt that I had to share it with my much smaller audience. This is a photo of Dick Cheney addressing an audience in Iraq on his recent visit. He's wearing a sport coat and slacks instead of a suit, so obviously he isn't really evil. But you do have to wonder about the all encompassing darkness that waits just beyond the bright lights, and the shadows on the makeshift shroud that looms above him and his enthralled audience do look something like the spirits of the unquiet dead.

But what really makes this worth sharing is that this is an official photo found on The White House website. This isn't the work of some evil minion of the left-wing press that Hates America, but an official shutterbug names David Bohrer took this snapshot of the Dark Side and some other unnamed functionary decided that it was exactly the image they wanted to show of Dick Cheney hard at work, doing the people's business.

I started browsing around the whitehouse.gov website and OMG! It's a fracking treasure trove of creepy. Someone should tell these people that their photographers are not their friends. I am going to make a new category called It's Official™, made exclusively from photos taken from this site. Some of them are too good to be true, or as Princess Sparkle Pony would put it, Unbelievably Not Photoshopped. Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Babies, Dogs (sort of) and the Random 10 + 1

Today's lunch menu will be hot dogs, tater tots and juice...

......................................................... and Brussels sprouts.

This second appearance by my great nephew Calvin (son of my pretty darn good nephew Josh) leads us into this Friday's Random 10 + 1.

Chopin: #1 Opus 64, (Minute) Claudio Arrau
Ekoleya Angelique Kidjo
Parisotti: Se Tu M’Ami Cecilia Bartoli
I’ll Wear It Proudly Elvis Costello
Police & Thieves Junior Murvin
Trail of Tears Nick Lowe
No Thugs In Our House XTC
Dust My Broom Elmore James
I Saw Her Standing There The Beatles
Flyswatter Blues Lyle Lovett
and the bonus
Somebody Stole My Dog Rufus Thomas

The (somewhat) obscure artists explained.

Angelique Kidjo is a great African dance music pop artist.

Junior Murvin's version of Police and Thieves is from the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels soundtrack album, though some may know the cover version by The Clash.

Elmore James explained to the world why it's good for a guitar to be REALLY GOD DAMNED LOUD!!!!!!!

Rufus Thomas was a DJ who recorded Do The Dog and decided to make a career recording follow up novelty tunes. His daughter Carla Thomas was also a major star on Stax/Volt, the Memphis soul record label.

The others aren't obscure. If you don't know them, it's your fault.