Saturday, October 31, 2009


Behold an ass
trying to pass.

Happy Hallowe'en

They speak of the need to care, but their stares are cold.
And they lecture on sacrifice, but their coats are warm.

They praise your brains for being above the norm,
as they scoop them out of your skull with spoons of gold.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Heartland Institute Celebrates 25 Years

We attended the Heartland Institute's 25th Anniversary Benefit Dinner. The Heartland's a free-market think tank, which started out dealing with local Midwestern issues, but which found a different niche over time - namely, supplying information to state and municipal legislators.

The 50 states have many legislators.
The good news is they're not all liberty-haters.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stay Loyal To The Royals Or Else

News headline:
Morocco punishes journalists over royal reporting
In countries with kings,
one must take care
about the sorts
of things
one dares

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Patching a Theory

The climate's getting colder,
but the explanation's bolder:

"When the planet's getting hot,
its temperature swings a lot
in a wild up-and-down line.

And so this apparent decline
in temperature is just
proof of an upward thrust!"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flu Emergency

The government runs the flu vaccine program. The vaccine is "distributed free".

Predictably, there are chronic shortages.

I have to agree with Donald Tabor's assessment:
Had the government simply stayed out of the way, there would be adequate supply in the United States, and it would only have been necessary for the CDC to issue recommendations for priority, leaving it to health care providers to see to it that those who needed the vaccinations most got them first.
We're now to the point where Obama has declared the swine flu to be a national emergency. The purpose of the declaration seems to be to allow doctors to cut through federal red tape:
For instance, federal rules do not allow hospitals to put up treatment tents more than 200 yard away from the doors; if the tents are 300 yards or more away, typically federal dollars won't go to pay for treatment.
I urgently hope to somehow make it through
this scary and unnecessary
emergency of flu.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animals vs. Animal

Last night my dogs got in a fight a young adult raccoon.

So Romeo and Juliette
today had a trip to the vet.

They both seem okay. Juliette, who was wounded more, is going on antibiotics.

It's painful, I suppose
when a bandit bites your nose.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fresh Eyes

Talking with a child can be a gift
that shifts
your perspective,
removes your blinders.

It's not so much a corrective,
as it is a reminder
of what it's like to view
the world anew.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Balloon Boy

I know this is one of my recurring questions, but here it is: What were they thinking?

They knew the boy would turn out to be hiding in an attic all along. Did they think no one would suspect it was all a hoax?

Did they think a young boy would keep his mouth shut under questioning?

What were they thinking? They weren't.
And that's why they got burnt.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Their Days and Their Bodies Were Numbered

A murder victim in Illinois was identified by his pacemaker.

A murder victim in California was identified by her breast implant.

A murder victim in Florida was identified by her artificial hip.

When trying to hide your murder victim's identity,
be sure to remove every serial-numbered entity.

Welcome Home Poem

My wife has returned from the East,
where she traveled with our daughter,
on Virginia's Skyline Drive.

So I'm glad, to say the least,
for it's not the same without her,
even though I did survive.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Phidippides was First

Detroit had a combination marathon / half-marathon race today. Three runners died, in separate incidents.

That's 3 dead out of 19,000 runners. A lot higher than average:
The Detroit Free press reported that deaths in marathons are relatively rare, occurring in about one in roughly 67,000 participants or 1 in 100,000 participants, according to various studies. About half of all deaths happen in the last mile.
That statistic about "the last mile" is interesting. A lot of people decide to really crank it up to a sprint for the last mile. Sounds like now and then they overdo it.

Anyway, I'm still planning to run a marathon in the next month or two.

I'll try not to go too fast.

Don't want my last mile
to be my last.

Marsupial Advantages

Giving birth, for humans, is dangerous. You've got this big-brained head to squeeze through your "birth canal".

Isn't there a better way? Perhaps that favored by marsupials? Why not squeeze the young out early, and allow their later development to take place in an easy-to-exit pouch?

If people were in possession of pouches,
like those that belong to kangaroos,
birth would not involve terrible ouches,
since virtual preemies would crawl outside,
ready to jump in the pouch for a snooze
and a multi-month ride.

Jeff Recommends

The Black Duckling, which I wrote about the other day, has now been "Jeff Recommended".

If you live outside the Chicago area, you're probably wondering who Jeff is and why his recommendation matters.

"Jeff" in Chicago is a bit like "Tony" in New York - it's our big local theater award committee. There are 3 stages in the Jeffs: Recommendation, Nomination, Award.

It's an important first for Dream Theatre. In the competitive world of Chicago theater, it's an important marker of respect, and a public recognition that helps to draw in new audience members.

After years of off-the-beaten-path brilliance
and bounce-back-from-problems resilience,
what could be sweeter
for the artists of Dream Theatre?

Toward The End I Was Miserable

Did a 24 mile run.
I'm glad that's done.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Our nominal allies, the Saudis, are worried that the West might stop buying so much oil.

The NY Times reports that they are proposing a solution:
Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.
Money for NOT supplying oil?
Could it be they've gotten spoiled?

Too Tired To Insert Verse Breaks

I think that when you stay up late, you should get a text message from Next Morning offering a friendly warning that tomorrow may not feel that great.

The Black Duckling

My friends at Dream Threatre opened an extraordinary play tonight, The Black Duckling, by Jeremy Menekseoglu, the prolific playwright who was tonight proclaimed "the Ibsen of Pilsen". (Dream Theatre is located in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.)

The play is presented as a "silent melodrama", much of it with a live musical accompaniment by composer and flautist Trevor Watkin. I'm no musicologist, but Watkin's music struck me as a fusion between jazz and classical, and very pleasing to listen to, when I could pull my brain off the storyline and focus on the tunes. I think they should come out with a soundtrack CD.

A projection screen is overhead, and words appear there in sync with the action. Sometimes it is dialog. Sometimes it is rhymed narration. The actors move in sync with the musical background - which takes us back to the 19th century meaning of melodrama.

I found it took some getting used to, watching an unvocalized but musical play onstage. For a lot of the first act I was still thinking about the impression it made as a mode of story telling. That went away with the second act. By then I was fully emotionally engaged in the story and characters.

The setting, to me, felt like a European town, pre-World War II, a town with a cemetery, and a burlesque hall, and a eugenicist doctor. Not a town where I would want to raise a kid. They style of the play is somehow closer to a fairy tale than to a naturalistic story, closer to the poetic Ibsen than prose Ibsen.

The play has enough thematic material for 4 ordinary plays, which kind of leaves your head spinning with ideas when it's over. Menekseoglu is never short on ideas. In this case, a lot of the ideas revolve around the beauty of a certain kind of innocence.

That beauty and innocence is embodied by the luminous Anna Weiler, playing Slee, a young woman with an overbearingly religious father, played with characteristic gravity by Menekseoglu himself. Slee finds a job working as a maid for a burlesque dancer, but doesn't tell her father the exact nature of the work done by this "fine lady".

Slee proceeds to slide into the confusing world of people who see sex - and imperfect children - as curses upon humankind, a view she is never learns to share, despite being betrayed repeatedly by people who imagine they are trying to protect her.

Megan Merrill is wonderfully hardbitten as the "fine lady" burlesque dancer who wants to spare Slee the fate that befell herself. Bil Gaines is charming as the idealistic poet who finds himself torn between Platonic Love and Earthly Lust. Danielle Gennaoui shines as a crippled child with love in her heart. Dori Scallet and Stacie Hauenstein are disturbingly pleasant as the eugenicist doctor's efficient nurses.

There's some choreographed burlesque dancing, but be forewarned (or reassured) that none of the young ladies ever gets anywhere near to being nude.

One of my own obsessions is rhyme, and one of the things I like so much about the play was its use of verse and rhyme. An actual poem, about "the black duckling," plays a key role in the plot, and makes a strong thematic statement as well. The poem has a William Blake feel to it, perhaps because Blake, too, was fascinated by innocence - and its opposite.

The innocence of a child's fresh start
rarely survives in the grown-up's heart.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kindly Disregard The Rope

The FTC is trying to reassure bloggers that they're not interested in investigating individual bloggers or "playing gotcha in gray areas".

Ann Althouse, law school professor, responds:
Not yet. But once the law is on the books, will you never feel tempted? Nothing will motivate you to venture into the gray?
"Don't worry about this new law -
we plan to be lenient."

But here's the flaw:
they'll tighten the noose when convenient.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Go For It

The AP picks
on the Man's verbal tics:
Yet in the portfolio of presidential phrases, none is more pervasive than Obama's four-word favorite: Let me be clear.

It is his emphatic windup for, well, everything.
I'm willing to let him be clear,
but very often I fear,
what follows is pleasantly quirky
but strangely murky.

Waiting for Duck-Go

My friends are in a whirl,
and no doubt frazzled,
rehearsing the tale of a set-upon girl,
but I simply expect to be dazzled.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicago Marathon Photo

I took a photo centered on the woman in the pink top.

But later I saw this other figure, that I hadn't noticed originally.

Framed against a wall of stone,
she stops to stretch, amid the crowd, alone.

Maintaining Pace

Just got off a conference call. One of the participants, an older gentleman with a thriving business, had his heart stop several times on Friday.

Now he's got a pacemaker installed and he's feeling fine.

I'm very glad he's okay, and I'm very glad to live in a high-tech civilization with a wonder-working medical system.

I hope we're not about to wreak havoc on it.

Don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Don't throttle the docs with deadly rules and regs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Intruder Nightmare

Know your limits:
John Tabutt, 62, told investigators he got his gun when he thought he heard an intruder, then fired at a figure in the hallway, according to Brunelle. It was Tabutt's live-in fiancee, 62-year-old Nancy Dinsmore, who family members say he was going to marry Saturday. Tabutt told authorities he thought she was next to him in bed the whole time.
If you don't wake up quickly... if it takes a while to perceive reality clearly... if you frequently wake up in a panic... be careful about keeping a loaded gun near your bed.

Especially be wary of just shooting "an intruder" in your house. Wouldn't you like to get a good look at the person you're shooting? Wouldn't you like to be really sure it's a bad guy?

Be astute.
You can't unshoot.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sweat Lodge Deaths

"Sweat lodges" are sort of Native-American saunas. And lately they're getting a lot of use by New Agers. Overheating seems to yield contact with the cosmos. But be careful out there:
Two people died and an estimated 19 others were taken to hospitals after being overcome while sitting in a sauna-like sweat lodge during a Sedona spiritual retreat, authorities said Friday.
They haven't figured out what went wrong yet.

Beware of setting off on a spiritual quest
that detours into cardiac arrest.

The Prestigious Seinfeld Award

I'm announcing the International Seinfeld Award.

The Seinfeld Show, you may remember, was a self-proclaimed "show about nothing". And it was a huge hit.

Similarly, the Seinfeld Award is an award about nothing. Not just any kind of nothing, of course, but nothing that passes itself off as something!

And there's a very special cash prize. Of, you know, nothing.

Needless to say, Jerry Seinfeld knows NOTHING of this award.

So if you can spout
without being found out
give me a shout!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Return to Sender

The FTC is ordering bloggers to alert readers if they get free books.

If you return the books, you don't have to alert the readers.

But if you got a free Kindle download
how do you return it?

And if you got a good insight
how do you unlearn it?

In Case Real Life Chicago Isn't Scary Enough

Anna in the Darkness has won a place on the Top Ten Rated Haunted Houses of Chicago.
A horror play in its 4th year...

Dream Theatre’s Annual Horror Play takes a horrific new twist by taking the Audience out of Anna’s living room and into the bowels of the basement…

A young teacher has barricaded herself in the basement while the entire bloodthirsty town masses to kill her… And lucky you... You're down in the darkness with her...

There's something scary about the placement
of a barricade in the basement.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Degrees of Health

Wonderful internally rhymed headline news:
Study: Choose an Educated Wife for a Longer Life
I'll be living longer because
my wife has a master's degree.

And I might live longer yet
if she'd just pick up a PhD!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Gone Viral

Hmm. Swine flu is widespread across the states. And the vaccine is not.

Be careful and keep your hands clean.
The flu has outflown the vaccine.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Blog Regulations

The FTC has decided to keep an eye on bloggers who review stuff:
...the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
Oddly, from what I've heard, the regular press isn't covered.

And the regular press does review stuff they get for free. Constantly. Like movies and books and CDs, for example.

But bloggers are suspect and all their endorsements
deserve extra special rules and enforcement!

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Interesting defense against claims Letterman engaged in sexual harassment:
Yet these liaisons were apparently consensual. The women were older than 21. There was no banishment post-affair. Letterman was not married. And this is network TV, not your local Wal-Mart.
It was making sense until that last sentence.

So this would have been wrong at Wal-Mart? But it was okay here?

Do different standards of legal and moral propriety
apply to TV network society?

No Spring In My Step

Yesterday I ran 21 miles. I wasn't very fast, but I covered the ground. I should be ready for a November marathon.

Today Marsha and I went for a 17 mile bike ride.

By this process,
I have acquired
a pair of legs
that feel bone-tired.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Olympic Fail

Chicago has been spared
the cost of getting prepared.

Now it's the Brazilians
who will end up spending billions.


Chicago's Olympic fate?


At noon standard time, we will know. Is that 7pm in Copenhagen?

The downside is that the city might lose money. The upside is that I would get to watch some of the games.

Chicago awaits
its Olympic fate.