Friday, February 28, 2014

Lego Movie

Everybody should be free
To build the things they want to see. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heed This

7 types of lists to not read:

Lists of lists,
lists of things that don't exist,
lists of people who haven't been kissed,
lists of people who wouldn't be missed,
lists that end abruptly without delivering the promised number of items.

Voting for Nazis

The article says it's well known among historians, but I didn't know: As the Nazis were gaining power in Germany, Protestants were a lot more likely to vote for them than Catholics were.

"Taken at face value, our estimates suggest that Catholics were about 50% less likely to vote for the Nazi Party than their Protestant counterparts. We are currently testing multiple hypotheses to explain this effect and are in the process of collecting additional data."

This made intuitive sense to me, but I wasn't sure why. My wife, who was raised Protestant, thought maybe it was because Catholics already had a religious leader. It's obvious that there was something quasi-religious about the Fuehrer-principle.

When I went looking at a version of the paper, I found this:

"With one important exception Germany’s old elites either condemned the new [Weimar] democracy and supported parties that sought to abolish it, or they remained politically uninvolved. The Catholic Church, however, took a public stance against the Nazi party, even forbidding Catholics to vote for it."

So there's a big hypothesis - the Catholics listened to their leaders. The next question might be why the Catholic leaders showed such discernment.

Whatever their reasoning process, they chose well.
Voting for Hitler loosed the hounds of hell.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Authentic But Brief Existence

I'm no Heidegger aficionado, but I liked this summary of a book I've looked at: “Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy.”

"[The author] traced the connections between the völkisch themes in both Heidegger and Nazi ideology and the shared conviction that only a return to a presumably earlier and more authentic existence can save us from the spiritual wasteland wrought by modernity."

Stated that succinctly, it reminds me of Rousseau.

The worship of the primitive,
as a more authentic existence,
is a march toward disaster.

When civilization is "no way to live",
and savagery meets small resistance,
death comes so much faster.

(via Stephen Hicks)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Freak Storm

Just finished reading Freak Storm, a play by Matt Pelfry. It certainly kept my interest, and it lived up to its title, but I wouldn't recommend it for the squeamish, and the final resolution... well, it left some things unresolved in my view.

It starts off being about a couple of very scared guys driving to a friend's house.

As for having a pleasant sense of life...
I'd say it's more about the storm and strife.

Monday, February 24, 2014

British Accents

My friend David Ramsay Steele is blogging at the London Libertarian, and I was amused by this paragraph:

'Walking in Chicago’s Loop a couple of weeks ago, I was stopped by a pleasant young woman who asked me to sign something for Greenpeace. I said, apologetically, that she was wasting her time on me because I am opposed to Greenpeace. She donned a maternal frown of concern and asked why, and I responded: “Because I’m evil” (though with the twinkling smile of a rough diamond, and if I’d had a mustache I would have tweaked it roguishly; the English accent always counts for something too; in England my voice betrays me as a prole, but over here the natives can’t tell me from Hugh Grant).'

David is being ironic here. He's highly educated, and a professional editor, so I don't think he could really count as a prole in anybody's book. But I suppose his accent must be less than posh by British standards.

I think his accent is charming and very intellectual sounding. Typical American, that's me!

In London, perhaps, his speech is a bust.
But here in Chicago, he's so upper-crust!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Polar Express Return Trip

We're supposed to get more subzero Fahrenheit temps, and some more snow. Such joy. We are undeserving of such winter fun.

The Trib today ran a nice article about some people in another state, mining away underground, to help us keep our roads passable. They're working overtime to provide us with the NaCl we crave.

We've got snow and ice.
That's global warming's fault.
But here's news that's nice -
Kansas has more salt.


I saw the new production of RIO at Dream Theatre last night. I saw an earlier production, years ago, which I also remember enjoying. It was so long ago that I didn't remember exactly where the story was going, so I was kept in suspense.

I thought this reviewer summarized the evening aptly:

With just a cast of four, it grips and captures a range of emotions for audiences who come face to face with the twisted mind of a serial killer.

The RIO of the title is the Rio Grande, and the play is authentically Texan in its feel. The serial murderer is "getting away with it" partly because the victims are illegal immigrants, and neither the Texas government nor the Mexican government really seems to care much about illegal immigrants.

Actually, one man does care, a Mexican Federal officer, who is determined to bring the murderer to justice.

The play's moral center is Mary Graves, an abused woman who, by conventional lights, has bad judgment when it comes to choosing men. Mary is played very sympathetically by Nicole Roberts.

Texan in its feel,
at times a bit surreal,
with karaoke song,
RIO rolls along
into a twisted mind,
half killer but half kind.

UPDATE: A big thank you to Deb Ross for suggesting I untangle my original sentence about Mary Graves.

There was way too much room
to play "Which Phrase Modifies Whom?"

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Perhaps the world could be rid
of middle names. They're mostly hid -
except for the frequent official
request for that middle initial.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

More Art!

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that: President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost 500,000 jobs in 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office."


That's half a million people who can be freed up to do art!
Thank you Mr. President, for doing your part.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What If Nothing Changed

Ann Althouse asks:

"What if women became fully autonomous, empowered individuals and nothing changed? What would that mean?"

I'm reminded of a theory presented by Sister Grace Marie, my 7th and 8th grade teacher. She asked us to consider what would happen if property were to be distributed evenly. She said that in a few years property would be distributed unevenly again, in more or less the same patterns as before.

It was kind of a mind-blowing thought experiment, for me. I mean, I still remember it.

People's choices rarely conform
to the reformer's dearly-loved norm.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Hard To Make Some People Happy

People always tell you to avoid Turkish prisons, especially if they've seen the old movie, Midnight Express.

If you ask for the most preferred prisons, Norway's system is often brought up. But it turns out that even Norwegian prisons are not quite as pleasant as actual freedom.

You may recall the case of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian Neo-Nazi who killed 77, most of them kids at a summer camp.

He is not a happy camper: "He described as 'torture' the conditions in two prisons -- Ila near Oslo and Skien in southeast Norway -- where he is serving out a 21-year sentence."

One particular complaint is that he needs a newer video game system, and better games, too, of his own choosing.

So now he is threatening a hunger strike.

"You've put me in hell."
Oh, well.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Poetry, Parker, and Obamacare

Kathleen Parker has a column in WaPo headlined: "The poetry of bad news around Obamacare"

Of course, I was suckered into reading it...

Hoping that she had taken to verse...

But, no.

Actually, what she's referring to is the fact that the law rewards not working. And she zooms in on a particular form of not working as worthy of scorn:

"In an earlier iteration, Pelosi even suggested that Obamacare would allow people to quit their awful jobs to write poetry."

As for me, I think I'll keep my job,
along with the rest of the toiling mob,
and work at rhyme
in my spare time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Pavlovian

Spent some hours in the dentist's chair this morning. I had something that needed a quick fix. I was numbed enough that I felt no pain. And it all went well.

But still the sound of the drill
gives me a chill.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lunchtime Pursuit

I had been reading at the library at lunch, and was set to go back to work, heading for the down escalator, when I heard a woman yelling "Stop him. He stole my phone. Call security."

Sure enough, a young man comes barreling along and heads down the escalator. I headed down the escalator after him, taking multiple steps at a time, keeping up with him, but letting him stay ahead. I didn't personally want to catch him. I figured he could probably kick my butt, and I also figured the easiest way to stop him was to have the security guards do it. I knew that to leave the library he needed to go by the guard station - where you have to show the contents of your bag, if you have a bag, to prove you're not stealing any books.

I chased him from 7 down to 3, which is where the "main exit" guard station is. We encountered no one else on the escalators, fortunately. He slowed down, walking to the guard station, with me 25 feet behind him. I heard another man, a guard I think, shout "Stop him!" and I shouted "He stole a woman's phone!" and the guards stopped him. He complained to them, "What are you doing, man?"

The woman showed up, maybe a minute later, having taken the elevator down, complaining about the difficulty of moving quickly in heels.

So I left. I hope she got her phone back. I had my eyes on him all the way down the 4 flights, and I didn't see him toss anything.

Of course, I didn't see him steal the phone, either. Maybe he was innocent. But the flight made him look guilty.

Don't know the full outcome of the case,
but that was my lunchtime downhill race.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Who Lives By The Sword

NY Times reports:

Suicide Bomb Trainer in Iraq Accidentally Blows Up His Class

A lesson in terror,
cut short by an error.

I don't see how it could be much fairer.


In non-news from the land of the chilly: cold snap continues to slap us silly. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Less Is More

A snowflake, symmetrical, unique,
is lovable enough.
But give me millions, all at once,
and I can't stand the stuff.


Olympic narrative:

'I'm sorry, did NBC's intro to Russia just call 70+ years of communist imposed human misery a "pivotal experiment"? DVR rewind say, "yep".'

A pivotal experiment
in dictatorial merriment!

What work is "pivotal" doing in that phrase? Is the idea that after running the experiment, the world pivoted away from the socialist hypothesis? There's some truth to that, but it was certainly a slow-motion "pivot", since, as the quotation above mentions, the experiment in Russia was allowed to run for decades after very early signs of fatal failure.

I gather it's bad manners to bring up those fatalities.

The guinea pigs were starved and shot,
but now let's hope that's all forgot.

Friday, February 07, 2014


One of the amusing things, for me, about these Olympics, is that I wrote a play where one of the characters is from Sochi, and keeps trying to persuade her daughter to move there, telling her how beautiful it is there.


She didn't tell her daughter
about the yellow water.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


Cheery science headline:

Oversized Rats Could Take Over Earth After Next Mass Extinction

Rats will get large,
and will soon be in charge.
At least that's what they're inferring.

Please tell me it's not already occurring.

I Thought Poodles Were Smart

After one of a man's poodles fell in the icy lake, he fell in after it, trying to rescue it.

Fortunately a couple of people nearby acted quickly. One threw the guy a rope, and the other called 911.

"At first I threw the rope over him but the dog was kind of pulling on him with his weight pushing him under the water," Dominik said. "He kept saying, 'Save the dog first,' I kept saying, 'No, we're going to save your life first and then the dog, your life is more important,' but he insisted on pulling up the dog first."

Then a whole passel of emergency professionals showed up. They had to hurry, but they actually got this guy and his dog out of the water alive.

'"Running in about 12 inches of snow as fast as you can to get to somebody who's fighting for their life ... it was a desperate situation," Officer Jean McCarthy said.'

Poodle was oodles of trouble,
but rescuers came on the double.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Coyote On Ice

I've walked across frozen lakes, but they were little lakes, frozen solid across the top. One lake you don't want to try that on is Lake Michigan, because it doesn't really freeze all the way across. And, actually, when you're standing on the shore, it's hard to tell sometimes when you're standing on ice that's on top of sand, and when you've unknowingly stepped out onto an ice shelf that is over the water itself. Anyway, the problem is that the huge chunks of ice can break away - and go drifting. Nowadays, at least, you might have your cell phone with you. That would give you a chance of survival, even if no one was with you.

I was put in mind of all this by a story today of a coyote that was spotted, and photographed, walking on Lake Michigan.

He was gone by the time Animal Control got there to rescue him.

I'm not sure what they were going to do to him after they would have rescued him.

Probably it was smart
on his part to depart.

Coyotes dislike control -
it's how they roll.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Weren't the Broncos Supposed to Play?

As often in the days of yore, today we had a super bore. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014