Thursday, July 31, 2014

Snoops Oops

They were accused on the Senate floor. Their big boss testified and denied. And now they have admitted.

"CIA officials improperly hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers as staffers compiled a report on “enhanced interrogation” techniques, the spy agency’s inspector general has concluded."

On second thought,
we hadn't ought,
but we did it,
and then we hid it.

It was all a dumb mistake,
so won't you please... give us a break?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hoi Paloi [sic]

Lois Lerner emails keep popping up. She sounds cranky. She wrote from England:

"I was going to take the train to windsor Castle, but stuff closes early in winter so it wasn't going to work. Instead, went [to] Hempstead –an Edwardian English village, full of beautiful, huge houses – which have been ruined by letting the hoi paloi [sic] live there! These people have ruined everything with their equality push!"

Some elite. Can't even spell hoi polloi right.

If you want to seem very bright,
by mocking the common folk,
be sure to spell "hoi polloi" right,
or you may just look like a joke.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Benign Neglect

Reason Magazine has a good headline for a bad situation:

No Child Left Outside: Another Mom Arrested for Letting Kid Play in Park

Another busybody made powerful by the local police, if you ask me. The charge, of course, was child neglect.

Vague laws confine the child.
Enforcement allowed to run wild.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Training Run

When choosing a distance,
I felt inspired.

Now, due to persistence,
I do feel tired.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Today, one of the lifeguards at the pool was recruiting me for a big Masters Swimming competition put on by the Chicago Park District in January. I was flattered. I don't think I'm very fast. At triathlons, I am never in the lead pack. But he saw I could swim all 4 racing strokes, and I think he wants me to do Individual Medley. Maybe it's hard to get 60-year-olds to swim butterfly. Actually, that's the stroke he thinks I should work on improving. He gave me a drill to do. Butterfly was the last stroke I learned - in my forties I think - and I guess I've still got some learning to do!

I remember paying for individual lessons, one on one. Butterfly is just the sort of thing I have trouble learning - a complex set of simultaneous steps. If I overthink it, I get analysis paralysis. At least until I practice a lot.

Hopefully, if I practice his drill,
soon my butterfly will kill.


A Forbes columnist writes:

"Gruber really does have one of the greatest empirical minds in health economics. When he’s not wearing his advocacy hat, I pretty much take what he says as gospel."

His inclination to truthfulness
depends on what he wears.

When there's a scholarly hood on his head
believe whatever he swears.

But when his fedora says "advocate",
take all with a grain of salt.

And blame it, please, upon the hat.
The fudging's not his fault!

Friday, July 25, 2014


I went to see Closer, which was put on by the Spartan Theatre Company. The play is contemporary, bleak in outlook, but does keep you guessing.

As one reviewer says:

"The plot of “Closer” is quite straightforward, involving four characters – Dan, a witty, albeit failed novelist; Larry, a kind-hearted doctor; Anna, a talented photographer; and Alice, a troubled ex-stripper – whose romantic lives do not so much intersect as collide violently, with all the seedy undercurrents bubbling to the surface in one way or another."

The pacing as tense. As the lady sitting next to me said at intermission: "I think I've been holding my breath the whole time." My sense is that the production is stronger than the play itself. I haven't actually read the play, and I have not seen the movie version either.

All 4 actors were strong, but if I had to pick a favorite, it was Brianne Duncan Fiore, as Anna, the character closest to sane in the show. One reviewer mentioned her "honest intensity" which strikes me as the quality that I admired about her performance. "Honesty in acting" is one of those paradoxical concepts, of course. But whatever it may be, she had it going on.

It's a form of art
where you step into a part
and then tug the viewer's heart.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In A Fix

In sunny California:

"On the same day the state approved mandatory outdoor watering restrictions with the threat of $500 fines, the Southern California couple received a letter from their city threatening a $500 penalty for not watering their brown lawn."

Caught in a bind.
Either way they're fined!

I suggest a fiendish feint:
Spray your lawn with greenish paint!

Poetry Discussion

Led an interesting Socratic seminar at my wife's Great Connections program. We talked about poetry - an article of mine, a poem by Badger Clark, and a poem by William Blake.

We did not get to our final poem, by Emily Dickinson.

Time ran away with William Blake
(a gross breach of propriety)
and so we missed our chance to take
a certain soul's Society.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


A firefly coolly accentuates 

my yard while searching for hot dates.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Intimate Apparel

I went to see Intimate Apparel, which is reportedly Lynn Nottage's most popular play.

Liked it, didn't love it. Well acted, but some characters who should have had chemistry... didn't seem to have enough. Last night was opening night, so maybe they were just nervous. That can throw things off.

I admired a lot of things about the heroine, an enterprising seamstress of ladies' undergarments in early 20th century New York.

I was kind of waiting for something at the end - and I missed it. Today I looked at the script, at the library - and there it was. The stage directions have the heroine make a certain gesture, which informs you of a new fact, which lends a sense of completion to the play. Anyway, I missed it last night.

Did the actress not make the gesture, or not make it "big" enough... or did I blink?

I was in the front row,
but I really don't know.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rock'n'roll Half


That's my every-finisher-gets-a-medal bling from this morning's half-marathon. I dithered over whether to do this race or a half-marathon yesterday evening. Finally I decided this course was more fun - and better supported - and would be 10 degrees cooler - and was therefore worth the extra money.

There were some fun live bands and DJs along the way. There were at least 12,000 finishers. I did see a few people being treated for medical problems along the way. I hope everyone's okay.

The course went right by the downtown building where I work every day. I resisted the urge to go in and get some stuff done!

I achieved my goal,
which was not to fall in a hole.

Dream Laboratory

I went to see the latest incarnation of Anna In The Darkness at the Dream Theatre Company's new space, which they are calling Dream Laboratory. It's a smaller space, but plenty big enough to put on a show, and there was a lot of audience with me. So I'm thinking that means the neighborhood is actually a better one for putting on shows.

It's a one-woman show performed by Megan Merrill, who is a real trouper. At one point, some late-comers arrived, and Megan managed to find them seats while performing. She did this while remaining in character, of course. It actually "worked" because the piece, like most one-person shows, punches holes in the fourth wall.

When there's no one else up on stage,
you look out and try to engage.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Silent Treatment

Bowe Bergdahl is the American soldier who was recently released by the Taliban in a trade for 5 of their own. His parents were happy at first, but now they're not so happy. One of his mother's friends says:

'"She puts on a smile but you can tell she's suffering in all this," O'Neill said, without offering an explanation for why Bergdahl had not spoken to his parents. "She doesn't understand – how could any mother understand? – why her child literally won't take her phone calls."'

If I had to guess, he's ashamed. I'm not even saying he's necessarily right to be ashamed. But some captors go out of their way to humiliate you, to crush your spirit, to make you feel that you have betrayed your deepest loyalties. It can be hard to face your parents after that.

Of course, to his mom, he's still her little boy,
and she can't understand why he doesn't call her with joy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Plane Down

Not comforting:

"It's pretty scary to consider that three fighting forces in the area—Russian government forces, Ukrainian government forces, and separatist rebels—have the technology that could have taken down the airliner."

But... is that really 3 fighting forces? Or just 2?

Just how separable are the Russians and the pro-Russian separatists?

It's one more way to die in a plane...
Maybe next time I'll just take the train.

But, then again, trains have been targets too.
Staying home might be the smart thing to do.

But, houses have also been known to go boom.
So I'll just dig a hole and await certain doom!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Six Californias

There's a proposal, which is getting publicity, to split California into 6 separate states.

'The quixotic effort, spearheaded by venture capitalist Tim Draper, needs officials to deem at least 807,615 of those signatures valid in order to qualify for the November 2016 election.'

Besides being voted on by the Californians themselves... it needs to get through the U.S. Congress.

Perhaps it would be better for Californians. Perhaps their state is too big to manage right now. It would also have some national political impact, inevitably. The area now known as just-plain-California would have 12 U.S. senators instead of 2.

And it would have 10 more electoral votes. But presumably the whole area wouldn't always go for the same presidential candidate.

Finally, someone needs to figure out how to put 55 stars on the flag.

Anticipating success from California's fracturers,
I'm investing in flag manufacturers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


The weather turns strangely cool
as if it were time to head back to school
instead of a summer day
designed for play.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Death With Archie

The "Life with Archie" comic book is ending. And the authors are killing off Archie, who will take a bullet meant for a gay friend who is a "gun control" advocate.


'Archie will continue to exist in the pages of other Archie Comics, but Goldwater says he wanted the character’s death to be more than just a publicity stunt.'

So, let me say up front,
it's just a publicity stunt
with a political tinge
that makes me cringe.

I'm choosing to move on, to look past this eruption of evil!

Tragic Hero Archie
will meet an end that's gory,
but Comic Hero Archie
will continue with his story.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Geese Mowed Down

In local suburban news:

'A flock of about 20 geese was on 104th Avenue near 159th Street Tuesday morning when a van struck at least three birds and drove away without stopping, said police Lt. Tony Farrell.'

Police want to identify and question the driver. No word on whether they want to charge him (or her) with a crime.

The geese were on busy road where cars travel pretty fast. So let's suppose the collision was an accident. Did the driver have a legal or moral obligation to stop and help these wild animals? How would he have helped them exactly? By calling 911? By calling a vet?

I suppose I would have stopped at least,
but doubt I could have helped the geese.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Plugged-In Wilderness

Some years ago I was in Virginia, staying with my wife and some friends at a cabin in a valley where there was zero cell phone reception. But we were very near the Appalachian Trail, and I hiked up there, where you had a good view of the surrounding country, and all of a sudden I had a signal.

So I wasn't too surprised to see a story in today's paper about "staying plugged in" while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The story mentions dedicated bloggers who write posts about every blister.

'Laurie Potteiger, spokeswoman for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy' warns that '"Smartphones can steal your eyes away from the beauty around you."'

I like
to hike.

And I am not bored
when I cut the cord.

But I do like being able to connect.
Given a choice, it's what I'll elect.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Not Really A Doctor,

Sunday morning, I was at the ER with a relative who had bronchitis. Nurse asks if I'm a doctor.

This morning, I'm at another hospital for a colonoscopy, and two different people ask me if I work there.

I ought to get a white coat
and work some major fraud...
though maybe I should note
that's been outlawed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Empirical Enumeration

I gave a census to my senses,
and counted only five.
Some say a sixth is in the mix,
but that, I fear, is jive.

At least... it's yet to arrive.


It happened in Cheyenne:

'While the plane sat on the tarmac, pilot Gerhard Bradner called Domino's and ordered 38 pizzas — on his own dime — to be delivered to those stuck onboard waiting out the storm.'

The next time I fly
I hope that this guy
is in charge.

I'd like an extra large.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Door Shut Behind Him

It's the kind of situation where someone with a medical condition could have a serious problem:

"A man who came to visit his son was accidentally trapped inside an empty maximum security visiting area of Cook County Jail for about 30 hours over the weekend, authorities said on Tuesday."

His son had been moved. He thought he was following directions. But went into the wrong room and a door shut behind him. And it's a room that's not used on the weekends. So no one checked it... and no one could hear him banging on the "concrete door".

30 hours?

Finally, he came up with a solution that worked.

'"Brilliantly, he broke the sprinkler head off which alerted the fire department so they were able to identify where it was coming from and they went in and found him," Smith said.'

In case, by some mistake,
I'm ever in that boat,
I'm making a carfeul note
About the right thing to break.

Monday, July 07, 2014


Quickbooks Pro 2011 stopped working at one of my client's the other day. I'm still not sure why. It would seem to start... and then would just disappear.

It stopped being "supported" a couple of months ago, so maybe that had something to do with it. I couldn't "repair" it with the original CD, but today I was able to buy a new copy, of the 2014 version, online. And that version installed successfully, after my usual fumbling with "license keys" and so forth.

The online version was like 100 bucks cheaper than the same version in the store. It was "on sale for 2 days only". Well. Did I get very lucky on my timing? Or is it always "on sales for 2 days only" as a marketing gimmick?

Were we lucky it broke just then?
Anyway, it's working again.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Dreaming Up A Mess

A friend asked what Ayn Rand would have had to say about this strange mess we've got at our southern border.

In her life, she often gave answers that surprised me, seizing on details of a situation that struck her as particularly significant. So I kind of wish I could hear what she would have to say.

She was a steady advocate of open immigration. She died before the southern border issue really heated up. I suppose that in response to the "overloaded safety net" argument, she would have recommended removing the so-called safety net, perhaps citing the success of 19th century immigration to this country.

God knows what she would have thought of this fiasco of Central Americans sending their minors across our border. It's one of these "unintended consequences" messes of grand proportions, a result of a very poorly-planned unilateral executive action. I suspect she would have seen both cynical calculation and sentimental altruism at work in the whole DREAM notion of giving amnesty just to children.

She sympathized with people coming here to make a productive life for themselves, but there's something crazy about kids being sent on life-endangering trips across our border.

You drove us into a ditch,
and declared it was only bad luck,
but here's the lingering hitch:
we're still stuck in the muck.

Saturday, July 05, 2014


The headline says:

Clinton Says She's Donated All University Speaking Fees

And as you get into the story, you find out that she donated the fees to... her family foundation.

Ann Althouse asks a number of relevant questions, including, just for starters: "What is her salary from the foundation?"

The Washington Post reports that her standard fee is hefty:

'In one previously undisclosed transaction, the University of Connecticut — which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent — paid $251,250 from a donor fund for Clinton to speak on campus in April. Other examples include $300,000 to speak at the University of California at Los Angeles in March and $225,000 for a speech scheduled for October at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.'

That's a lot to listen to anyone chatter,
but, at this point, what does it really matter?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

No Longer Funny?

The road not taken:

"Katherine Heigl claims 'too many rom-coms' derailed her career"

She thinks she should have done some thrillers instead,
where someone was chasing her... but wanted her dead.

Unable to Verify

This is the sort of thing I work on sometimes, so it interests me:

'The federal Obamacare marketplace was unable to verify nearly 3 million irregularities in the applications for enrollment, according to a new audit by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).'

Irregularities include things like how much income people have, whether they are citizens, where they live, what their social security number is. You know, little things... that have a direct bearing on whether you really qualify and how much you are really supposed to pay.

So, 3 million irregularities, out of 8 million enrollees. Maybe some people have multiple irregularities. But, still a high percentage of ugly steaming confusion.

Partly this is due to the computer system not working as originally envisioned. In that dream, everything would be verified in advance, by marvelous cross-checks to federal databases in the cloud.

Wires got crossed.
Data got lost.
Cookies got tossed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

In Reference To Deference

Megan McArdle writes:

'For the public, this is less a battle about practical outcomes than about who (and what) deserves deference in our society: women, corporations, born-again Christians. This is true of many of the battles that ignite us most passionately these days.'

A slight to one's own faction
will ignite hashtag action.

Hobby Lobby

I wasn't surprised by the Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case today. I must say, mass media reporting on the actual legal issues was dreadful. Not that I'm an expert. No lawyer am I. But I like reading legal blogs for some reason.

I can see where the owners would be upset that a portion
of their money might go to something they see as abortion.