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virtual children by Scott Warnock

A simple plea on behalf of children with holiday birthdays

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With the arrival of spring, love is in the air, they say, but there is (at least) one overlooked, terrible consequence of the excessive nuzzling of those early days of bloom: Children with holiday birthdays. These poor forgotten youngsters, whose most important day has always been an afterthought, a shred of wrapping paper discarded in the dusty, dark corner of a warm, fire-lit, festive holiday chamber. [Read more →]

terror & war

Now that was fun, wasn’t it? Ugh, no…let’s not do that again.

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Jerry Harvey, expert on management dysfunction and organizational behavior, has a classic finding called The Abilene Paradox. Basically, it discusses our inability to deconflict — agreement. We may all “want to do X but there are hidden voices saying, We should do Y because…” His story involves the disruption of a family afternoon in north Texas in the summer because his mother in law figured that he and his wife were probably bored. This resulted in a four hour car trip over beat up roads in a beat up, unairconditioned car to a Rexall Drug Store and Lunch Counter in Abilene. It was hot, it was dusty, it was a lot like the Texas in The Last Picture Show. When they finally got home and collapsed in the living room, there was dead silence punctuated by gas and burps from that fine Rexall Lunch Counter cusine for about 45 mintues. As Harvey tells the story, realizing that he was a trained social scientist with a PhD in Organizational Psychology and Behavior, felt compelled “to make a behavioral intervention.” So, he said, “That was fun now, wasn’t it?” To which his father-in-law responded by looking at him and visibly questioning the wisdom of letting his daughter marry this clown and then saying as only someone who’s from Texas or at least spent a lot of time there can say it, “SSSSHHHEEEEIIITTTT –that was awful.” The family did a post mortem, and when their reasoning got exposed — Momma thought the kids were bored and wouldn’t want to eat left overs, the kids didn’t want to deny Momma anything, Papa wasn’t going to push back against eveyone else so…the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in the early 70s, the road to Abilene was paved with kind thoughts and care for other people’s feelings. Book is a classic, and I recommend it to anyone — Harvey is one of my heroes along with Keith Richards, Guy Clark and Kierkegaard. [Read more →]

books & writing

Lisa reads The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

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In a sense, The Woodcutter is a fairy tale. Not a cute Disney fairy tale, but one of those old Grimm Brothers’ tales, with heartbreak and revenge and bad folks meeting nasty ends. Even while parts of the story have a very modern feel, there are still ties to its more mythic underpinnings. I really enjoyed that part of the story.

Wolf Hadda is a successful businessman who describes his life as a fairy tale. His father was a woodcutter, the groundskeeper for a castle, and he grew up in a cabin in the woods. He fell in love with the daughter of the castle’s owner and eventually won her hand. But everything changes when he is accused of a shocking crime and gets swept up in accusations and investigations. In typical Wolf fashion, he doesn’t wait for the wheels of justice to grind him up. In a bid for freedom (more stubborn than desperate), there is an horrific accident that leaves Wolf crippled, disfigured, and near death. He wakes up to a world in which his friends have deserted him, his wife is divorcing him and he has been all but convicted of child pornography. His fairy tale is over. [Read more →]

art & entertainmentmusic

The secret afterlife of Roy Orbison

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For me, like most people, memory is intricately intertwined with music. Another Brick in the Wall pt 2 was a hit the year I started school, and so the song always resurrects those early experiences of classroom tedium. Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus,playing on the ferry that brought me from England to Holland in 1986, summons textures of my first trip abroad from the sinkhole of amnesia; while Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity is forever fused with a 6am walk I took around Amsterdam ‘s Schipol airport. Endlessly and subjectively I can listen to a track and landscapes, people, places and moods return.

What is the mechanism behind this? I don’t care. I note only that the links in the chain of music and memory are almost always forged accidentally- standing in a shop, watching TV, sitting in a café. When I was travelling in Central Asia a few years ago however I decided to conduct an experiment- I would intentionally fuse some music with the landscape to use as an aid to memory later. [Read more →]

recipes & foodreligion & philosophy

Soup and philosophy

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W. H. Auden says somewhere — I believe in one of the essays gathered in The Dyer’s Hand, which I do not happen to have at hand — that he preferred systems of irregular measurement. In other words, inches, yards, and ells to, say, the metric system.

I share that preference, principally because such irregular systems do not pretend to a precision that is in fact unattainable.
Consider the circle.

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health & medicalpolitics & government

Romney’s bluff

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Rick Perry seems to be adjusting his meds with some success. After sleeping through a couple debates and partying through a couple more his native cunning produced a good, if limited result, assuming the goal was to let some air out of Mitt Romney. Maybe there is real benefit to these bi-weekly debates since there is only ever one or two highlights that make it out into the wider world. The Massachusetts Princeling is wishing he had skipped this one after boldly betting Rick Perry ten thousand dollars that his book says one thing and not another. [Read more →]

art & entertainment

I enter the art world

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My friend Will Corwin is a sculptor and painter. These pursuits have taken him places ranging from Germany to China, so it was a thrill when he invited me to join him in an exhibition at the most exotic location of all: Queens. (In fairness, it is where Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall specifically elected to go in Coming to America.) I accepted his offer to participate in a show at the Queens College Art Center and then set about creating some art. [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: NBA abuses its power by vetoing Paul trade

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The NBA is back. What’s that, you say? You hadn’t noticed it was gone? I can’t say I blame you there. The product has gotten so bad over the last few years that I was thinking that a missed season might not be such a bad thing. A new agreement was reached recently, though, and things are moving along toward an abbreviated season which is set to start on Christmas Day. However, what should have been the beginning of an exciting condensed period of player movement, like we had with the NFL this season, immediately went wrong this week. A blockbuster trade that had been made between the New Orleans Hornets, the Houston Rockets, and the Los Angeles Lakers involving superstar point guard Chris Paul was squashed by the league a few hours after it had been completed. The same league, by the way, that currently owns those same New Orleans Hornets.

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Bob Sullivan's top ten everythinggames

Top ten most dangerous holiday toys

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10. The Home Neutering Kit

9. Miss Piggy’s Big Bag O’ Pork

8. Gasp! – The Dry Cleaner Bag Game

7. Mr. Wizard’s Acid Factory

6. Fontanelle Lawn Darts

5. Hello Kitty Tiki Torches

4. Pin the Tail On the Family Dog

3. Mattel’s Bathtub Surge Protector

2. Baby’s First Nail Gun

1. Easy Bake Sushi

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & governmentreligion & philosophy

Perry’s faith-based candidacy

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books & writing

Lisa reads Fabulous Finds: How Expert Appraiser Lee Drexler Sold Wall Street’s Charging Bull

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Well, the title is a little longer than that, but you get the general idea.

Fabulous Finds: How Expert Appraiser Lee Drexler Sold Wall Street’s Charging Bull, Found Hidden Treasures and Mingled with the Rich & Famous is a quick little read (under 200 pages) about art appraisal — determining the value of all sorts of art objects for insurance, estate and sale purposes. She has visited the homes of the rich and famous, of hoarders and eccentrics, and looked at all of their stuff. This is high up on my list of very cool jobs. [Read more →]

politics & government

How the media is turning Fast and Furious into a major Obama success story

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Yeah, I said it.  According to conventional wisdom, the “botched” operation by the ATF and DoJ known as “Fast and Furious” is, to all intents and purposes, a gigantic failure of Watergate scope and size.  The government broke its own laws to try and frame innocent American citizens in the crimes for a political agenda.  Top government officials, many of whom are appointees, are being investigated by Congress, calls for resignations are growing, and we’re uncovering more and more evidence that these people have all been lying to Congress to save their own hides.

And yet I find myself coming to the realization that the media is successfully doing the job of making sure that F&F is a smashing success for Obama and the gun control activists.

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politics & government

Joe Biden for Punchline 2016

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language & grammarrecipes & food

Fast food: Not so fast, anymore

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You know what frightens me a little about us? — people, I mean. We are really eager to accept things the way they are, even if they are way worse than the way they were pretty derned recently. 

Oh, sure, we’ll moan about “how it used to be,” but, for the sake of ease, something in our heads makes us want to accept stuff, “as is.” Things go more smoothly that way, I guess. 

Or maybe we do this because we feel like we simply can’t stand up effectively against things like plummeting standards. One of the most popular American phrases right now (annoying as I might find it [imagine the whole of the American populace not adjusting its phraseology just to please me]) is: “It is what it is.” Usually, this is a resignation: It ain’t changing.  [Read more →]

bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Students injured rushing the field at Oklahoma State

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For many of us, our college years are a time to do things we have never done before, and may never do again. New experiences are necessary in order to learn what we want out of life, and being open to those experiences is a key to maximizing the value we get out of a college career. Unfortunately, many of the things we do at that age are things that we will look back on with a cringe when we have reached a more mature stage of life. The event from this week that has made me think about this happened in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after the Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated their nemesis, the Oklahoma Sooners, for the first time in nine tries. They won in style, spanking the Sooners by a score of 44-10. At the end of the game, thousands of fans rushed the field, intending to bring down the goalposts. In the long melee that followed, thirteen people were injured, one of whom had to be airlifted to a local hospital. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingtelevision

Top ten least popular new TV shows

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10. Law & Order 2: Electric Boogaloo

9. How I Met Your Accountant

8. Mad Cows

7. The Quantum Field Theory

6. So You Think You Can Play the Accordion

5. Grey’s Biochemistry

4. America’s Funniest Voicemails

3. CSI: Bayonne

2. Extreme Makeover: Prison Edition

1. Dancing with the Has-Beens

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

politics & government

Universities are not the birth places, nor the graveyards, of culture

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I got up this morning and began reading the news and opinion pages, which is usually how I start my mornings.  I was cruising through the headlines over at Instapundit.com when I saw the pitch for Dropping The A-Bomb on History, an opinion piece written by Mr. Ed Driscoll.  The purpose of the article was to describe to us how American academia  has been co-opted by a left wing political movement and how they have used that institution for their own purposes.  He concludes the piece with the following line, which was also quoted by Mr. Reynolds:

If conservatives ever want to recapture the high ground of culture, just creating an alternative news media is nowhere near sufficient. they have to — somehow — recapture academia, where culture is ultimately created. And destroyed as well.

In atypical fashion, I must disagree with Mr. Driscoll here.  The creation of culture, and it’s destruction, is too great a power to credit to such a pathetic system such as our universities, and its scope is too much for the people who run those institutions to know how to use it if they did have it.  Society is created and destroyed by none but the greatest human force on Earth:  Your Mother.

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travel & foreign landstrusted media & news

Attack of the Little Satan

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In June 2009, I found myself glued to the TV set, watching the crowds in Tehran protesting the rigged reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran. I was amazed that things seemed to be falling apart so quickly for the motley crew of thugs, thieves, killers and millenarian fantasists that run the country. After all, their despotic regime was only 30 years old, and at that age the USSR was in the full, terrifying flower of Stalinism. It would be another four decades before it collapsed due to institutional senility and internal decay.

Even so, the revolutionary Islamists in Iran were still virile enough to repress those protests. And as the fists and boots hammered down, and young girls were shot dead in the street, there was precious little light relief until the Iranian authorities declared the British responsible for all the unrest. [Read more →]

Since when is an increase in hopelessness cause for optimism?

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WILL WRESTLE YOUR MOTHER IN LAW FOR A BUCK! –Unemployed beggar at truck stop in Southern California

So, the unemployment rate has dropped below 9% to 8.6%. Why am I less than  excited by this? The unemployment rate is based on the number of people who are  considered to be in the workforce, so if you eliminate people from the workforce who are unemployed, the percentage employed is skewed to the right. [Read more →]

moneypolitics & government

Obama lights the economy tree

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