"Klotz" As In "Blood"

A Testament to the Insidious Impact of Florida Sunshine on Brain Matter

Friday, September 28, 2007

Win Ben Stein’s Wrath

Filed under: Etherea — Steve @ 12:18 am

I despised Ben Stein on sight, long before I knew he was a Nixon speechwriter, scumwad lawyer, wingnut advocate, and intellectual pretender. Call it instinct. I saw his face, heard his voice, observed his demeanor, and instantly felt revulsion. In my line of work you need to separate the bulls from the bullshit, so maybe he just triggered something professional. So it was very rewarding to see him writhing on a hook of his own manufacture.

benstein.jpgSeems Gentle Ben, between pontificating and apologizing for nutty rightwing orthodoxies from the American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc., has taken time out to make himself a movie. The theme of the epic is simple: Religion-hating scientists shut out all debate over the merits of Creationism vs the veracity of Evolution. This, says Ben Stein, is dishonest and morally challenged.

He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and ultimately genocide, an idea common among creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he said, the film would be called “From Darwin to Hitler.” — NY Times

But according to some of the folks who participated, including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (who likens religious belief to a mental defect), Benny Boy intentionally misled them. At first he told them he was making a documentary film called “Crossroads.”

But now, Dr. Dawkins and other scientists who agreed to be interviewed say they are surprised — and in some cases, angered — to find themselves not in “Crossroads” but in a film with a new name and one that makes the case for intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. The film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” also has a different producer, Premise Media.

The film is described in its online trailer as “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.” According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure or suffered other penalties as part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation’s laboratories and classrooms.

Mr. Stein appears in the film’s trailer, backed by the rock anthem “Bad to the Bone,” declaring that he wants to unmask “people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God.” — NY Times

The scientists (as opposed to the religionists) appearing in the film don’t mind having their views examined — hell, unlike religion, that’s how science operates. Their objection is the underhanded way they were manipulated: told one thing by Stein and his producer, then used in another capacity entirely. Even the name of the film was changed.

“It wreaks of intellectual dishonesty and shoddy showbiz,” is how one participant put it. “Very much like [Stein’s] whole career, actually.”

“This is precisely the same kind of context-manipulation and false reality maneuvers that right wingers stamp their feet and cry about when Michael Moore releases films,” another said. “Obviously what bothers them isn’t how the facts are tortured, but the target facts themselves.”

It’s exactly what I anticipate from movies, Ben Stein, and, for that matter, Michael Moore. You want facts, truth, analysis, etc., don’t go to the movies or anybody that makes them. That’s not what films are for.

As for Stein himself, it’s gratifying to discover that the same addled brain which doubts the veracity of Darwinism and evolution produces those bizarre economic pontifications and twisted political perspectives he regularly rehearses. It explains a lot, and while it’s not pretty, neither is natural selection. Neither is Ben Stein.

“I’m living proof that evolution doesn’t explain everything,” he insisted. “Do you suppose in a universe where the smart, the strong, and the good prevailed, a lowlife like me would survive?”

Y’know, he has a point.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Age of teh Internets

Filed under: Across the Fruited Plain — Steve @ 12:51 pm

barracks.jpgThe Navy plans to spend $600,000 for “camouflage” landscaping and rooftop adjustments so that 1960s-era barracks at the Naval Base Coronado near San Diego will no longer look like a Nazi swastika from the air.

“There was no reason to redo the buildings because they were in use,” a spokeswoman for the base, Angelic Dolan, said. She added that the buildings were in a no-fly zone that is off limits to commercial airlines, so most people would not see them from the air.

“You have to realize back in the ’60s we did not have teh Internets,” Ms. Dolan said.– NY Times

Protected Species

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 9:12 am

I had the misfortune to attend both a city and a county commission meeting this month, the agendas of each concerned with impending budget cuts mandated by state law, reduced property tax revenues, and the like. Each meeting was the culmination of many months of panicked hearings, backroom lobbying, angry public campaigns, political posturing, dire warnings, etc., etc., the mothers milk of demagoguery and public life.

Results? Two approved budgets. All systems go. Carry on.

That’s good news, because when governments start their fiscal years with blotted copybooks, the citizenry gets screwed twice, once in service, then again in the purse. Lose-lose. As opposed to say, Lose. Or maybe, draw-draw.

So here’s the part the sticks in my craw.

At both meetings, each chief financial officer proudly noted for the record that after many months of deliberations, budget reviews, hours of work and late nights dedicated to making agonizing choices and hard compromises, a budget was produced and (drum roll) not one single loafers.jpgemployee at any level would lose his job. Services might be squeezed, vacancies left vacant, inventories shrunken, whatever! But nobody lost a job.

Well, whoopie screw. As a home owner, citizen, and taxpayer, imagine my relief.

If you ever doubted that the purpose of government was to bloat itself, here’s your ultimate confirmation. The entire exercise conducted by both city and county was to make sure that no matter what else transpired, All Government Jobs Were Left Intact!

Ever been to your city hall or county government building? You like dealing with these drones in person, or worse, over the phone? Are these some of the least helpful, misinformed, lazy overpaid humanoids ever, with the possible exception of the postal workers (who are also dangerous, but fortunately, just to one another)?  You know that squat surly hunchback who won’t make eye contact you while you stand at the counter, paperwork in hand? The globulous pile of protoplasm propped up at a desk masticating sugared snacks, talking on the phone about her sex life, while you’re desperately trying to make a deadline? How about the code enforcement clown who sneaks around neighborhoods in his air conditioned car all day looking for dirty roof tiles to inspire citations? How about the illiterate stump who helpfully directs your call to the wrong office 9 times out of 10?

Yeah, good thing their jobs are preserved. Good thing they have no incentive to perform, no standard to achieve. Good thing the budget managers don’t use a financial downturn to clean their own house, but actually brag about how they left their garbage untouched.

Adding insult, Hollywood’s biggest budget drain is the payments on its municipal pension plan these same employees will enjoy when they finally retire from non-working. Talk about lose-lose for the rest of us. Talk about lose-lose-lose.

He said it in another context, but President Alzheimer was right: government’s the problem, not the solution. Hey, don’t blame me, I voted for Nader.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Helpful Technological Advice

Filed under: Etherea — Steve @ 8:19 am

why.gifI still have hardware problems.

Tried a new keyboard last night. The computer stops its boot up routine and announces “keyboard error or no keyboard detected.” It advises me to press F1 to continue, or DEL to run SETUP. This is very useful, isn’t it? The computer is aware (so to speak) that the keyboard is either malfunctioning or missing entirely, so to effect repair, use the keyboard.

Seems like the second time it should have been “Keyboard error error.”

Brain to body: No penis detected. Go fuck yourself.

Fortunately, Mistress E plans to drop in and beat it (the computer) into compliance this evening. Meanwhile, sorry for the light posting.

P.S. Unlike the iPod, the computer has an on/off switch, so even when the keyboard malfunctions, it’s possible to determine whether the computer is running or or not. I am reminded of this because over the weekend, I held the iPod in my paw, pressed and held the control that is supposed to turn it off (which you also press to turn it on — brilliant design, everybody says so –), watched it darken and presumably turn off…..only to watch it light up and turn on again. Twice. Yes, I stopped pressing it once it darkened. It did it all on its little own. That’s how the battery runs down.

The third time I did it, it finally turned off and stayed off.  I guess when I cast the spell I got the words wrong the first two times.

Oh, and that nice little Bose unit that cradles and charges the iPod while playing through speakers simply stopped working. No charge, no music, nothing. It’s less than a year old. I have no idea where to even look, other than the plug in the wall, to attempt to fix it or troubleshoot it.

Why waste our military on Iraq or even Iran? Let’s destroy iPod. It’s a far more iNsidious enemy, and it’s iNfiltrated our nation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Johnny They Hardly Remember Ye Fondly

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 3:07 pm

Subject to a rather harsh review last week in Miami New Times, Miami Police Chief John Timoney was less than fondly recalled back in his old, um, stomping ground, where a local blog remarked upon it.

For what it’s worth, the murder rate is breaking records in the City of Bodily Harm. Think Timoney’s departure has anything to do with that?

A Peach of a Speech

Filed under: What A Wonderful World — Steve @ 10:13 am

Hardward problems art home, so expect limited posting. Trouble seems to be keyboard-related, of all things.

() () () () ()

Iran.jpgUp at Columbia University, where students, faculty, and administrators actually entertain the strange as shit notion that universities are incubators of ideas rather than de facto minor leagues for the NFL, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, was invited to speak. In his welcoming remarks, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger noted the following:

“Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator…..You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”NY Times

It isn’t clear if Bollinger was referencing Ahmadinejad’s statement that there were no homosexuals in Iran — not one — or that the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews should not be treated as fact, but theory. Or maybe he was just making a friendly observation. In any event, it’s refreshing to hear such plain, direct talk, especially from a university president.

Even the holy Rev. Dr. O’Neal Dozier of Pompano Beach, who recently denounced gay rights advocates again in Broward County, doesn’t deny the existence of homosexuals, in Iran or anywhere else. He just says they choose homosexuality, and can be cured. Is that brazenly provocative or astonishingly ignorant?

Students lined up for 4 hours to get in to hear this guy, and on-line tickets vanished in an hour and a half, moving the Times to compare demand to a Bruce Springsteen concert. Think that would happen in Miami? Anywhere in Florida?

Iowa Senator Larry Craig sided with the Iranian President. “It’s perfectly understandable that there are no homosexuals in Iran,” he stated. “There’s none in Iowa, neither. That’s why I fly through Minneapolis.”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fork Lift Man!

Filed under: Sense & Sensuality — Steve @ 12:52 am

Update: An expert doubts that Prader-Willi Syndrome is involved.

Just in case you were among the millions of Jews around the world who observed the holiday by fasting this weekend, here’s your inspiration:

Lansing, MI – Firefighters cut a hole in the side of a house and used a forklift to extricate a 900-pound man from his second-floor bedroom after a visiting nurse became worried about his health. The man had not left his home since 2003.

The man’s brother, who lives with him, said he suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that creates a chronic feeling of hunger that can lead to overeating and life-threatening obesity. — MSNBC

fork lift.jpgStudy Questions

1. Is there poetic irony about summoning a fork lift for somebody who has no difficulty lifting his own fork, or is that just a bad pun? Explain.

2. What does it say about the qualifications and/or sensibilities of the visiting nurse — a trained health professional — that (s)he didn’t see a problem when the patient was 800 pounds, or even a more modest 750, but waited until now? Does this illustrate a larger problem with the way health care is administered in this country?

3. After Goodyear drops over a third of his body weight, getting himself down to a manageable quarter ton or so, what happens to all that excess skin? Can it be sold on e-Bay? Is it at least recyclable, maybe for burn victims? Describe a likely scenario.

4. How well would you sleep if you lived on the first floor, under Clydesdale’s apartment? Would you run occasional errands for him, like maybe pick him up an entire pizzeria and a brewery on football Sundays? Does he sound like ths sort of fellow you could become friendly with? Justify your answer.

5. Is the cloth-colored object stuck in the cavernous crack of his ass his pet cat, missing since 2004? You don’t need to answer this one.

Extra credit: Discuss how Lard Ass’s brother exemplifies good old fashioned, middle-American family values, standing by and watching as his sibling expands into the Human SuperDome.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yom Kippur Rerun

Filed under: Etherea — Steve @ 12:59 am

The following post is a rerun, originally appearing on Critical Miami in October, 2005. I suspect nobody remembers it, but at the time it was well received. I think. Maybe this time around we’ll get more jokes about “blowing the shofar.”

If you know any Jewish folks (and “some of your best friends are Jews,” right?), you might be aware that they’re in the midst of the holiest time of year. The 10 days between Rosh Hashana (New Year’s) and Yom Kippur (Juvenile Sardine) include Shabbat Shuva, the “Sabbath of Returning,” a period for self-reflection in which to justify their existence to god. ShofarYeminite.jpgThe way it works, god opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and by the time he slams it shut 10 days later on Yom Kippur, he has determined whether or not your dirt nap is scheduled in the next 12 moons.

Sounds cut and dried, no? But the way it’s set up, you have those 10 days to repent, to cleanse, to ask forgiveness of those you’ve screwed over or treated badly in the course of the year. And if your performance is satisfactory, maybe the Big Guy cuts you a break, although let’s face it—the god of the Old Testament was known for having a shorter fuse than George Steinbrenner. And a little less money.

On Yom Kippur, often referred to as the Holiest Day of the Year, Jews are required to fast, avoiding all food and beverages from sundown to sundown (actually, 25 hours). In so doing, they emulate the angels, which never eat or drink—or bathe, and in fact, certain Orthodox Jewish groups practice this omission as well. In sticky South Florida, this is inadvisable if popularity is a priority. In any event, it means that at the conclusion of the holiday—yeah, some holiday, sort of like calling a trip to the colon cleanser a holiday—there are lots of teeth-grindingly hungry people let loose in the streets. Many head for restaurants to break their fast.

South Florida has a large Jewish population, which suggests that area restaurants must brace themselves for an influx of ravenously hungry diners. I called around to a few that share their neighborhood with synagogues to ask what it was like. (None of them would talk to me unless I promised not to identify them.)

“It’s the worst goddam day of the year,” one deli owner exploded. “I wanna tell you, and remember, these are my people I’m talkin’ about, they’re pushy and demanding when they’re not starvin’ to death. When they bust through that door on Thursday they’re positively drooling. Some of ‘em start licking the salt shakers!”

The manager of a Spanish cuisine restaurant shrugged his shoulders. “The customers are no worse than they are any other night around here,” he said. (Pause. Smile.) “They’re no better, either.”

The Chinese restaurant manager got indignant. “Jews good customers! Jews very good customers! You no make fun of Jewish customers! Thursday very big day here for Jewish customers. You come you see! You no make fun!”

The guy behind the barbecue waved his hand dismissively. “Nobody’s eatin’ pulled pork sandwiches on Yom Kippur, ” he said. “A lotta Jews come in here alla time, but Yom Kippur Pork? That’s just fuckin’ wrong.”

At the pizzeria the chef laughed and clapped his hands. “Oh, boy, Young Kipper!” he exclaimed. “Bigger than the SuperBowl! Better’n Christmas and the 4th of July! What I do is I bake ahead—I got dozens and dozens of shells all set to go half heated. They come through the door all dressed up screamin’ and wavin’ and shovin’ aside the old and the lame and I’m slicin’ and boxin’ and grabbing the cash! You never seen so many people burnin’ their mouths, tomato stain all over their white shirts, neckties and beanies. Hooey! I bring in my whole family to help out. I fuckin’ love Young Kipper!”

So there’s your story, South Florida. Family values, respect for tradition, celebration of diversity, observation of faith. What a great community we share.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just Wingin’ It

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 12:22 pm

angel-wings.jpgLiterally standing still after a sudden stop on northbound I-95, I’m brooding about the funeral mass I just attended when the voice from the passenger seat side says, “Hellish traffic, isn’t it?”

Yeah, hellish. Say, I didn’t see you get in. Did you miss your stop?

Whoever he is pulls at his collar. “Hope your brakes work better than your air conditioning,” he says. “Why don’t you get it fixed?”

Can’t fix what ain’t broke. I don’t like a.c., never use it. So if you’re heating up the fires of hell for me, thanks in advance.

He nods amiably. “I knew that, of course,” he remarks. “In fact, I know everything about you. I even know when you’re gonna die. One of the perks in my line of work.”

Along with custom shirts for the wings. So what can I do for you?

He resettles in his — my — seat. “You’re not a Believer,” he says. “You have no Faith, no God, you entertain no spiritual beliefs. Yet you just sat for an hour in the House of God surrounded by worshippers in the presence of a priest as he performed a holy action. Is there any good reason why you shouldn’t be struck down dead for that transgression?”

Nope. Not that I can see. I just hope you’ll have the decency to wait until I’m off the highway so no innocents are injured.

He nods, thoughtfully, and I see he wants a bit more.

I didn’t attend this mass for my own sake, or for god’s. Or even for the deceased’s. I went to pay my respects for the family and friends, to tell them how much I cared for their loved one, and how I sympathize with them in their time of grief. That’s all. Didn’t mean anything to me that it happened in a church. That didn’t draw me in or keep me out. The incense bothered my nose, though, I gotta say.

He’d been nodding the whole time, looking bemused. “Yeah, I knew that, too,” he says, more to himself than to me. Traffic is crawling again, so I shift to first and start creeping forward, eye on the road.

If you know, why bother asking? What’s your point? Slow day at the office? You got a quota of field visits you need to meet?

But he’s gone…..the passenger seat is empty, save for my suit jacket he’s been sitting on all this time. Damndest thing is, though, it remained unwrinkled, like there ‘d never been any real pressure on it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mere Pennies

Filed under: News from the Nation's Dicktip — Steve @ 4:55 pm

“The last Legislature hit us to the tune of $500,000 or $600,000 [in reduced state tax support], but when you’re a billion-dollar organization, that’s a rounding error.” — Frank Sacco, CEO, Memorial Healthcare System (South Broward Hospital District) in the Miami Hurled

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