Archive for the 'Current Affairs' Category

Change we can believe in

November 21, 2008

In case you don’t already have enough to worry about:

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – People in a vast seismic zone in the southern and midwestern United States would face catastrophic damage if a major earthquake struck there and should ensure that builders keep that risk in mind, a government report said on Thursday.

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said if earthquakes strike in what geologists define as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, they would cause “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States.”

 

FEMA predicted a large earthquake would cause “widespread and catastrophic physical damage” across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee — home to some 44 million people.

That’s nothing we didn’t already know. What we don’t know is how likely such a catastrophe is, which they . . . don’t say. Thanks. If an airplane hits your house tomorrow, there will be catastrophic damage, so it would be best if your weren’t home! Chances of that happening — somewhere between zero and 100 percent. You’re welcome.

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Flush with success

November 21, 2008

Ain’t progress wonderful?

AS the world celebrates World Toilet Day today, sanitation experts have called for the end of the flushing dunny to save water and provide fertilizer for crops.

Leading health advocates have called for the use of “dry” toilets which separate urine from faeces and remove the need to flush.

Speaking at the recent World Toilet Summit in Macau, World Toilet Organisation founder Jack Sims said the concept of the flushing toilet was unsustainable.

We will save the planet by reducing all societies to third-world status. I’m kind of rushed for time — aything else I’m supposed to feel guilty about today?

Spend to save

November 21, 2008

Consumer prices dropped by the largest amount last month in the 61 years the records have been kept. Why that’s not the immediate good news we might think:

While falling prices especially for such key products as gasoline can provide a break for consumers, analysts said the worry is if price declines become so entrenched that consumers stop buying things, awaiting further price drops. That is one of the problems facing housing as buyers in some markets stay on the fence, expecting home prices to drop further.

We can’t put off filling the car’s tank until gas hits $1.50 a gallon, but if something we want has already come drastically down in price, why buy it now when there’s every chance the price will come down even more? I’d sort of like a new laptop, but any day now I can probably pick one up for pocket change. If a lot of people behave that way — and a lot are — hello, deflation and . . . that other “d” word.

There’s someone in my gift-exchange circle who gives me cash every Christmas and birthday — not a lot, but it can add up if you don’t spend it. I put it aside one year, then forgot about, Next birthday and Christmas, I did the same thing. The more money I accumulated, the less likely I was to spend it. It’s quite a tidy sum right now, and, guess what? It’ll grow a little more this year.

So there you have it. It’s all my fault. Well, yours, too. Our economy is so consumer-driven that we can pump it up or tear it down just by our collective mood. So let’s get out there and spend to save the country!

Novak’s whacks

November 20, 2008

A fascinating interview with Robert Novak, who has been the man so many have loved to hate for so long. A tease:

Reagan was a great leader. I think Kennedy was terribly overrated, but he was a good leader. I don’t think George Bush even comprehends the demands of leadership. I went to see him when he was governor of Texas. I should have gotten a warning at the time. He expressed such contempt for Washington. If I were smarter, I would have seen huge trouble ahead from somebody who has that many negative feelings about the job.

The only president in my time I give a passing grade to is Reagan. I thought Nixon was the worst — a vicious little man. He never should have been president. The one I have the hardest time giving a grade to is Clinton. Did he have talent? Absolutely — he was a very accomplished man. But what did he do? I don’t think he accomplished anything. I think he was very good on the Cold War. But he seemed to be a man with limited horizons and ambitions.

You might have some sympathy for him because he’s dying of a brain tumor, but he’d snarl at you for that, too. Gotta love this:  “I find that politicians as a class are up to no good. Sometimes they accidentally do the right thing.”

In over their heads

November 20, 2008

The Sistine Chapel it ain’t:

What $23 million buys.

What $23 million buys.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, frequently accused of coddling some of the world’s most repressive governments, threw itself a party in Geneva Tuesday that featured the unveiling of a $23 million mural paid for in part with foreign aid funds.

In a ceremony attended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo told the press that his 16,000-square-foot ceiling artwork reminded him of “an image of the world dripping toward the sky” — but it reminded critics of money slipping out of relief coffers.

Oh, well. A lot of real damage could be done with $23 million, so maybe we ought to be happy it’s staying, um, in house. Hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Congo could not be reached for comment. Or anything else.

Us, too

November 20, 2008

On Monday, I did a post taking The Journal Gazette to task for not identifying those quoted in a story about illegal immigration:

I wonder if the JG would pull that “first names only” stunt if this were a bank robber or a burglar. As a matter of fact, would law enforcement let them get away with it, or would some reporter be hauled in front of a grand jury?

An alert reader (and, coincidentally, a JG employee) e-mailed to point out something I’d forgotten, a column by The News-Sentinel’s own Kevin Leininger from Aug. 4, 2007, about a man named Juan: “Juan is here illegally. That’s why he doesn’t want his last name used, even though he was willing to be photographed.” Now, it’s a lot more fun to bash The Journal Gazette, because — well, just because. But we deserve our lumps, too. By not naming illegal immigrants — by helping them stay “in the shadows” — newspapers contribute to the notion that immigrants who break the law by coming here are a separate class of lawbreakers whose only sin is that the rest of us are so heartless and xenophobic. Things are either illegal or they are not. Breaking the law either has consequences or it does not. Those who insist on blurring the lines because they have sympathy for the people in question help breed a disrespect for all laws and the very notion of law.

Betrayed by reality

November 20, 2008

The “give peace a chance” crowd is getting a little nervous:

Reporting from Washington — Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama’s national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

Actually, the fact that they’re worried is enough to give the rest of us a little hope — national security has always seemed to be Obama’s greatest area of weakness. The antiwar activists appear to think there are only two possible ways of conducting foreign policy — the “reason with our enemies until they love us” approach or the evil, war-mongering, imperialist course, and that initial support of the Iraq war puts one ipso facto on the imperialist side.

But a lot of people supported the war, based on their consideration of what they thought was the best evidence available. That doesn’t mean they didn’t change their minds when better evidence was found or that they will always consider war as the first or best option. Anyone chosen by Obama will get their direction from Obama, so we have to rely on his judgment more than anyone’s. I’m glad he doesn’t seem inclined to surround himself only with people who think force is never needed and that diplomacy can get us everything. It’s still a dangerous world, and we should hope America’s commander in chief operates from that knowledge.

Or maybe we should just believe that Ayman al-Zawahri was kidding around when he said that “America continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses.” Maybe so, because what are all the stories putting in headlines and first pargraphs? Stuff like this:

Al-Qaida No. 2 hurls racial slur at Obama

In a propaganda salvo by al-Qaida aimed at undercutting the enthusiasm of Muslims worldwide about the U.S. presidential election, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy condemned President-elect Obama as a “house Negro” who would continue a campaign against Islam that al-Qaida’s leaders said was begun by President Bush.

Al-Qaida commandeered our own planes and flew them into our buildings, killing thousands, and has declared war on modernity and Western civilization. Hey, no big thing. But using a racial slur? Man, that really crosses the line — go arrest the bum and put him in a cell without cable TV.

Join the buycott

November 19, 2008

Let’s have a round of applause for National Ammo Day:

It is a nationwide BUYcott of ammunition.  You buy ammunition.  100 Rounds a person.

[. . .]

The goal of National Ammo Day is to empty the ammunition from the shelves of your local gun store, sporting goods, or hardware store and put that ammunition in the hands of law-abiding citizens.  Make your support of the Second Amendment known–by voting with your dollars.

Let’s see — 75 million gun owners X 100 rounds = 7.5. billion. Talk about a boost to the economy. And, remember, guns don’t kill people unless they’re loaded.

Home rule, up in smoke

November 18, 2008

Our editorial today remarks on the inevitability (though not necessarily the desirability) of a statewide public smoking ban, because of rather than in spite of the 36 counties or communities that already have smoke-free ordinances of some kind:

But the ironic truth is that the more local smoking ordinances there are, the more likely there will eventually be a statewide ban.

[. . .]

The increase in local bans makes people more familiar with the concept and lessens opposition.

[. . .]

Local control” is still the best operating principle – it assumes that communities know what is best for their residents. But it is not exactly the norm. That is especially true in Indiana, where every ounce of home rule for cities and counties is given up by the state only grudgingly.

But the trend everywhere is bigger and more uniform and more central. States are more powerful at the expense of cities and counties, and the federal government looms over states. As of last month, 29 states, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have smoke-free laws in effect. So don’t count out the possibility that there will be a nationwide smoke-free law sometime in the future.

Sure enough, The Richmond Palladium-Item also has an editorial today, saying that “Smoking ban deserves uniform action.”

Persuasive arguments have been waged here and elsewhere, for example, as to whether a private club is deserving of the same privacy protections of an individual’s home, or whether such a club would fall under the broad umbrella of “public places.”

For any anti-smoking effort to survive statewide it is going to have to be relatively simple and very fair, and that can be a tall order, as local governments wrestling with anti-smoking ordinances have discovered.

But how can a state law be both “simple” and also take into account such complexities as the fact that some communities might want to exempt private clubs and some might not? I suppose the law could set a minimum set of rules, which communities would be allowed to exceed in toughness. But that wouldn’t be much different from what we already have, except that no jurisdiction would be allowed the option of having no rules at all. What does it matter to those of in Fort Wayne or to the pooh-bahs in Indianapolis if folks in, say, Spencer County want to accompany their brain-cell-killing excursions with a little smoke? Home rule, it’s a beautiful thing.

The real deal

November 18, 2008

From Wikipedia:

The saying “Do not drink the Kool-Aid” now commonly refers to the Jonestown tragedy, meaning “Do not trust any group you find to be a little on the kooky side,” or “Whatever they tell you, do not believe it too strongly.” Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly is known for using the term in this manner.

Having “drunk the Kool-Aid” also refers to being a strong or fervent believer in a particular philosophy or mission — wholeheartedly or blindly believing in its virtues.

Kind of disheartening that such an infamous expression has Indiana roots. The Indianapolis Star has an interesting 30th anniversary story about Jonestown exploring the memories of a Hoosier couple who lost 20 extended-family members to Jim Jones’ madness. The couple recall a lot of details of Jones’ change from someone who just seemed to be preaching the truth as he saw it:

In a Peoples Temple bathroom, June discovered a box of chicken livers that looked amazingly like the “cancers” that Jones would pull from the mouths of sick people cured at healing services.

“I kept saying to myself to keep quiet,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to be a doubting Thomas.”

Then there were Jones’ incessant morning phone calls to issue what June called his daily “orders.” He wanted Gene to do things such as change light bulbs in the church, fix his car or tweak the choir practice to suit his needs. The calls became an irritant to June, who had three kids in diapers at the time. “I got disgusted with him,” she said.

Scary stuff. In the overheated world of political rhetoric, this or that group of political adherents is sometimes said to be “drinking the Kool Aid” by blindly following a charismatic leader (Obamamanicas being the latest group). It just takes a peek at the real deal to show how exaggerated such claims are.

Bad time to be solvent

November 17, 2008

Darn good question:

Should you keep paying your mortgage?

If you have significant equity in your home, absolutely.

If you don’t, it’s getting harder to answer that question, especially when our government keeps giving people who owe more than their homes are worth so many reasons not to pay.

I just made my last house payment in June. Talk about bad timing! And this just in:

A radical change in perspective could spare the nation a lot of grief down the road. Rather than subsidizing the auto makers directly (and almost certainly sucking Washington into their management), why not give Americans the financial incentive to accelerate purchases of cars and light trucks? The consumer-subsidy approach would be a less wasteful route to the desired end, as well as one that would leave a less toxic legacy of market intervention once the economy has recovered.

I just paid off my car, too, and it’s in good running condition! Man, can’t get a break at all. Maybe I should take out this huge home equity loan and use it to buy a fancy new car. What have I got to lose? Not the house or the car, certainly.

Beginning to look a lot like quichemass

November 14, 2008

Times-are-even-tougher-than-you-thought department:

In this brutal season of cutbacks, the office holiday party is getting downsized, too.

From American Express to MTV to the Bend, Ore., city government, employers are canceling Christmas celebrations because of the gloomy economy. At some other workplaces, last year’s catered affair is this season’s potluck.

“It’s grim,” said Daniel Briones, president of the National Association of Catering Executives and catering director at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. He called the drop-off in business the worst since 2001, when the holidays unfolded in the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

For some companies, this is about appearances as much as money. No firm wants to be pilloried for plowing cash — in some cases, taxpayer dollars — into ice sculptures and raw bars while workers fear for their jobs and shareholders for their investments.

Grim, indeed. I’m happy to say we here in the newspaper business have been way ahead of this curve. When I started out, at a small chain in Wabash and then Michigan City, there was always an actual Christmas party at somebody’s house — usually somebody from upper management who wanted to seem like a regular guy. And it worked, at least on me — my affections couldn’t be bought, but they could be rented for the season.

When I came to Fort Wayne, I discovered the Christmas party was held at a nearby watering hole, either Henry’s or the back room of Coumbia Street West. In addition to a nice buffet, there was an open bar until the money provided by the newspaper ran out, after which we started paying for our own drinks, which we were more than happy to do.

But that was years ago. For about a decade now, our “holiday” (not “Christmas”) party has been a potluck carry-in. This year, I’m bringing a vegetable dish and my famous quiche.

Bah, humbug. I mean, Happy Holidays!

Hello, my pretty

November 13, 2008

Better sit down for this shocker:

LONELY hearts beware: looking for love at a speed-dating event may leave you feeling unlovable. In big groups, people judge on looks so much that the less stunning may as well forget their clever chat-up lines.

[. . .]

So why do humans seem to differ from other animals? In smaller groups, says Lenton, people trade off different qualities in prospective mates – physical attractiveness for intelligence, for example. Faced with too much choice, however, we resort to crude approaches such as choosing solely on looks.

So, good-looking people have a better chance of picking somebody up than ugly people? Who knew? Guess I’ll quit working on my opening lines.

Down for the (head)count

November 12, 2008

The best euphemism for “fired” ever:

And while certainly nothing new, the art of dodging plain English when it comes to describing mass firings continues to advance, so to speak, as the ongoing economic crisis piles mass firings one on top of another. For example, here’s a headline on a press release forwarded to me this morning: “Nokia Siemens Networks enters final stage of synergy-related headcount restructuring.”

“Hi, honey, I’m afraid I have bad news: I’ve been synergy-related headcount restructured.”

I love all those news releases about people who have left companies “to pursue other options,” which means the person has been let go and everybody has agreed not to talk about it. I’ve been “involuntarily separated” and “re-engineered” and “freed up for the future,” and it all felt about the same. But being headcount restructured sounds downright painful.

The fun continues

November 11, 2008

OK, show of hands. Who’s shocked, shocked, shocked and dismayed by this?

Reporting from Washington — Will $700 billion be enough? That question emerged Monday as the Bush administration decided to pump more money into insurance giant American International Group Inc. and lawmakers pushed to extend the government’s rescue to the ailing automobile industry.

The extra money for AIG, part of a major overhaul of the effort to keep the company out of bankruptcy, brings the government’s tab to about $150 billion, up from about $123 billion. In a concession that the previous fix was inadequate, the Treasury Department said it would also spend $40 billion to buy an equity stake in the company.

Just spending billions to prop up failed institutions. After the bailout is extended to the auto industy (the part of it based in Detroit, at least), what would be the rationale to deny anybody who gets in line? A bankruptcy wouldn’t necessarily mean a GM, for example, would go out of business. It might force executives and union members to rethink what they’re doing and how, in a way a bailout wouldn’t. But that would be letting the market work, and we can’t have that.

Trouble brewing

November 11, 2008

For those who aren’t quite sure yet the economy is really in trouble:

Fewer customers and venti-sized costs for closing stores led to lower sales and profit in the fourth quarter at Starbucks Corp., the company reported Monday.

Starbucks said profit in the quarter fell 97 percent to $5.4 million, or a penny a share, from $158.5 million, or 21 cents per share. It earned 10 cents a share when the costs from closing about 600 stores in the U.S. and 61 locations in Australia are excluded.

Starbucks began shutting stores this summer in a campaign to reverse slowing sales.

Spending several bucks a cup for coffee was the perfect symbol of mindless discretionary spending, so it’s not too surprising Starbucks would be a quick victim of a downturn. Or maybe it was just a fad we were ready to let go of anyway. I remember rejoicing when Starbucks announced it was opening an outlet just a few blocks from my office, but I’ve yet to visit the place. Their coffee is strong, but the stuff I make at home and bring to work every day is even stronger, and a whole lot cheaper.

I can’t HEAR you!

November 7, 2008

I love this sentence from the piece about the Internet generation being lousy jurors: “Orality is the crucial ingredient of the adversarial system.” Really rolls off the tongue. Anyway:

In a speech, Lord Judge of Draycote, the Lord Chief Justice, said it might be better to present information for young jurors on screens because that is how they were used to digesting information.

He said: “Most are technologically proficient. Many get much information from the internet. They consult and refer to it. They are not listening. They are reading. “One potential problem is whether, learning as they do in this way, they will be accustomed, as we were, to listening for prolonged periods.

“Even if they have the ability to endure hours and days of sitting listening, how long would it be before some ask for the information on which they have to make their decision to be provided in forms which adapt to modern technology?

This inability — or unwillingness — to listen probably endangers a lot more than the system of jury trials. A lot of things — classroom learning and military training come to mind — depend on interaction with someone you must pay attention to.

What’s brown and sticky?

November 7, 2008

The folks at the National Toy Hall of Fame ran out of ideas back in 2005 when they inducted the cardboard box. They did it again this year:

A magic wand, a fishing rod or a royal scepter?

The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child’s imagination, landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday along with the Baby Doll and the skateboard.

The three were chosen to join the Strong National Museum of Play’s lineup of 38 classics ranging from the bicycle, the kite and Mr. Potato Head to Crayola crayons, marbles and the Atari 2600 video game system.

Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of a 2005 inductee, the cardboard box. They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child’s creativity.

 I have a suggestion for next year — the rock. It can be anything from a baseball to a hand grenade. Heck, a few years ago, it was even sold as a pet. Anyway, here’s “Dear Santa” from the “Bob & Tom Show,” which celebrates, among other things, the value of the lowly stick.

Seems like old times

November 6, 2008

This is a bad year in a bad decade for newspapers, but at least we’re having a good week:

It was a good day to be in the newspaper business. The historic November 5 editions proclaiming Barack Obama‘s White House victory flew off the newsstands and major newspapers struggled to keep up with the demand for copies.

Those who didn’t rise early enough or who lacked the foresight to keep up their subscriptions to the print editions could find them online, but at a steep price. By early on Wednesday evening, nearly 800 sellers offered copies for sale on eBay.

That pesky paper that gets yellow and accumulates in stacks in corners and clutters up the recycling bins also provides artifacts. Going back in 20 years to scope out the pdf-file copy of the Page 1 headline about Obama’s victory isn’t as likely to stir the memories as much as looking at a framed copy of the actual page. The digital world is all about the future . . . move it along, move it along, too much to see here, gotta make room, more, more, more, faster, faster. Sorry about that, past. No time for you. That would mean slowing down.

Our state of being

November 6, 2008

So much attention was focused on what the presidential election tells us about America that we gave scant attention to a bunch of state ballot initiatives. Those can tell us where we are — or aren’t — even better. Apparently, we’re not ready to be led down the (green) garden path just yet, for example:

Among five major energy and environmental ballot initiatives from California to Missouri, all but one were voted down. Does that mean that apparent public support for clean energy withers away when the rubber meets the road?

Not necessarily. But it does suggest that any government plans to boost clean energy have to be sharply focused, realistic, and present a clear win for voters, who are also consumers.

Massachusetts voters decided to lighten light things up:

After Massachusetts voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, top law enforcement officials are scrambling to figure out what they need to do to put the law into effect — despite their efforts to defeat it at the polls.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who joined all 11 of the state’s district attorneys in opposing the ballot question, said Wednesday she was working to determine exactly what it will require the legal system to do.

Social conservatism won the day in Florida, California and Arizona, as voters there decided to adopt same-sex-marriage bans. But voters in several states decided not to tighten restrictions on abortion — rejecting, for example, a measure that would have granted “personhood” status to fetuses. And Washington voters voted to make that the second state (after Oregon) where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

That last one is the most depressing to me. Everybody has the legal right to commit suicide, inasmuch as once the act is committed it is impossible to be punished for it, and there is a good case for our right to control our own destinies. But once somebody else is brought into the picture, it becomes more than an individual choice, and it’s on a whole different moral plane.

But if you like the concept of federalism, which says that states should be able to experiment, you have to be prepared for experiments that don’t turn out the way you want them to. Freedom is like that. Still, I don’t have to live in Washington if I don’t want to, and Washingtonians don’t have to kill themselves, assisted or otherwise, if they don’t want to.

Kids and dogs

November 6, 2008

One of President-elect Obama’s first acts is something we can all get behind:

Along with picking his Cabinet, finding just the right people for his White House staff and deciding what to do about two wars, President-elect Barack Obama has one other decision to make: which dog to get for daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

In a way, the Obamas already have done the heavy lifting on that one.

After announcing they planned to buy a dog as a reward for their daughters being such good sports about the grueling campaign, animal rights and animal welfare groups started campaigns of their own — for the Obamas to adopt a shelter dog and not buy a dog from a breeder.

[. . .]

Then the news broke on “Entertainment Tonight” a little over a month ago: Michelle Obama announced the family would, indeed, adopt a rescue dog.

There are millions of dogs and cats awaiting their fates in shelters — going to a home or to sleep? This is one of those “setting an example” acts that can inspire others to do good. My words of advice for Obama (the first of many!) is not to pick out a dog but to take the girls to a shelter and have them walk around until a dog picks them. I took that advice from a friend before getting my cats, and it worked out great.

It’s time we had kids and dogs in the White House again, but we should prepare for the stories to get too cute by half.

Our turn

November 3, 2008

Getting ready for the future:

Most of the evil entrepreneurs and businessmen who drove the economy and paid 95 percent of our taxes for years, and who soon will be enemies of the state, took measures in anticipation of the business-unfriendly new administration. For some reason, when Obama said that he was going to “create jobs in America” by raising taxes on businesses/estates, strengthening unions’ powers to organize, raising capital gains taxes and making companies pay into a socialized health care plan, these did not feel like policies employers would like.

[. . .]

 I want to appease the new administration and not be too productive. So, upon Obama’s passing his new redistribution plan, I will slow my work schedule, lay off a few people (Obama’s got their back) and let someone else bust his tail since I will now be able to get “redistributed wealth” from those poor fools who are ambitious, energetic, work hard and have made good decisions.

Sounds like a plan. Those of us who have paid in and paid in should now start collecting and let otehrs pay in for a while. Let Obama try to run the country based solely on taking more from that evil top 5 percent.

Boffo socko jack-o

October 31, 2008

Carve your own virtual jack-o-lantern.

Rocks and stones

October 31, 2008

I never got this:

Sometime after midnight, nearly 200 people will throw toast at The Artists’ Studio stage.

Though some consider throwing food to be poor manners, it’s all part of the fun of “The Rocky Horror Show LIVE!” which encourages audience participation.

I heard for years and years from people who went to see the movie version several times — some even made a weekly ritual of it. I had a chance to finally see it on TV, and it just seemed silly. Some of the parody was too broad and some too cute, and it just fell flat. But I watched it alone, and the whole point or the movie has always been the social experience, everybody shouting and throwing stuff at the screen at the appropriate moment.

I had the same experience with “Reefer Madmess,” which is supposed to be hysterically funny because of its wild exaggerations of the dangers of marijuana. But its deadly earnestness was so excrutiatingly boring that I could only stand about 15 minutes of it. Maybe it would have helped to be stoned.

Comic relief

October 30, 2008

For the “world keeps getting stranger” file:

A JAPANESE man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the “two-dimensional world”.

[. . .]

“I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world,” he wrote.

“However, that seems impossible with present-day technology. Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorise marriage with a two-dimensional character?”

Yeah, darn those limits of “present-day technology.” If all he’s interested in is length and width with no depth, I can introduce him to a few women I’ve met in bars.