Quote of the day – found on these here Interwebs

I was not a fan of Big Bang Theory (as I don’t watch a whole lot of TV), so I found this end card to one of their episodes, which apparently flashed for a couple of seconds. The quote is below, if you can’t read the image.

“Don’t be fooled. Big daddy can’t save us. Our salvation lies within ourselves. Within our own ingenuity and determined effort. ‘Make America great again’ is a bumper sticker for victimhood,” Lorre writes, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan. “But we are not victims. We are the creators of opportunity. Sure the system’s rigged. It always has been. So what?! We are a nation of immigrants who have consistently ignored the rigging. You won’t let us join your club? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own club. You won’t let us go to your school? %#&@ you, we’ll start our own school. You won’t let us earn money your way? %#&@ you, we’ll earn it our way. You won’t give us a chance here? %#&@ you, we will go elsewhere. You want to know what makes America great? I got two words for you.”

— Chuck Lorrie (Big Bang Theory)

The indices of Harper’s Magazine

I have been a fan of Harper’s Magazine since the 1980s. In particular, I loved the Readings section, as well as the factoids list (with citations) known as Harper’s Index, near the front of each issue. Here are 100 factoids I’ve researched from over the years, dates not important, but they have been taken from issues since 2000. I have favoured factoids that are not dated, but that was difficult as many good ones with dates crept in. The URL for Harper’s magazine is http://harpers.org, and is available on some newsstands, but not as many these days as in days previous.

  • Cost to produce Safeguard, the only U.S. ground-based long-range missile shield ever deployed: $23,500,000,000
  • Number of days in the 1970s that the system was operational before it was abandoned as inadequate: 135
  • Pounds of fuel required to maintain this year’s 11,500 Olympic torches: 2,029
  • Ratio of the amount of energy generated by 1 gallon of ethanol to the amount of energy required to produce it : 1:0.9
  • Number of times Colin Powell said, “I don’t recall” or, “I can’t recall” during his 1987 Iran-Contra testimony: 56
  • Percentage of global economic activity accounted for by the world’s 200 largest corporations: 27.5
  • Percentage of the world’s population that these corporations employ: 0.8
  • Minimum number of mentally retarded Americans who have been executed by the justice system since 1976 : 35
  • Estimated chance that a U.S. prisoner is mentally retarded: 1 in 14
  • Days after Time named George W. Bush 2000’s man of the year that Russians named Vladimir Lenin man of the century: 4
  • Places by which Russia’s ranking in the U.N.’s Human Development Index of living standards has fallen since 1990 : 31
  • Rank of the United States and Britain among nations whose residents are most likely to be obese: 1,2
  • Rank of Hungary: 3
  • Ratio of the number of pardons George W. Bush has issued turkeys to those he has issued human beings: 2:1
  • Ratio of the average life span of a commercially bred turkey to that of a wild one: 1:7
  • Year in which Disney’s Mickey Mouse copyright will expire if the Supreme Court reverses a 1998 extension this winter (2002): 2003
  • Minutes that a Massachusetts surgeon left a patient with an open incision while he went to deposit a check: 35
  • Percentage change since 1990 (to 2003) in the number of U.S. schoolchildren labeled “disabled” : +37
  • Chances that a U.S. adult does not want to live to be 120 under any circumstances: 2 in 3
  • Chance that an American adult believes that “politics and government are too complicated to understand” : 1 in 3
  • Chance that an American who was home-schooled feels this way: 1 in 25
  • Acreage of a Christian nudist colony under development in Florida (in 2004): 240
  • Percentage of the 13,129 varieties of dirt in the United States that are endangered: 4
  • Years in prison to which two ex-Pentagon officials were sentenced last year for taking bribes of money and prostitutes: 24
  • Number of years a North Carolina man has been in prison for stealing a television: 33
  • Rank, on the Turkish bestseller list in March (2005), of a thriller depicting a U.S. invasion of Turkey: 1
  • Rank of Mein Kampf: 2
  • Average percentage by which the power of the male heart declines between the ages of 18 and 75 : 20
  • Average percentage by which the female heart does: 0
  • Amount a Chinese online gamer made last year (in 2004) by selling a virtual sword he had borrowed from a friend: $850
  • Months later that the friend retaliated by stabbing him to death with a real knife: 6
  • Number of beetles that right-wing entomologists have named after Bush Administration officials: 3
  • Number of times that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is referenced by name in the Bible and the Koran, respectively: 19,34
  • Number of “Wal-ocaust” T-shirts sold by a Georgia man before Wal-Mart ordered him to cease and desist: 1
  • Ratio, in the United States, of the number of Wal-Mart employees to the number of high school teachers: 1:1
  • Portion of states where the projected climate in 2100 will not be able to sustain their official tree or flower: 3/5
  • Number of words spoken by Clarence Thomas during Supreme Court oral arguments since February 2006 (until Aug 2007): 132
  • Number by Samuel Alito, the Justice who spoke the second-fewest words: 14,404
  • Percentage of single U.S. women in their twenties who are “very” or “extremely” willing to marry for money: 61
  • Percentage of women in their thirties who are : 74
  • Percentage change since 1985 (to 2009) in the number of U.S. newspapers with reporters covering Congress : –72
  • Percentage of six- to nine-year-old American girls (in 2009) who wear lipstick or lip gloss : 46
  • Number of poppyseed bagels that could be made with Afghanistan’s annual poppy harvest : 357,000,00
  • Percentage of British elementary-school students who think Isaac Newton discovered fire : 60
  • Number of U.S. states that have more pigs than people : 3
  • Minimum number of birds that die from crashing into New York City windows each year : 100,000
  • Number of Bentleys purchased in Russia in 2000 and in 2010, respectively : 0, 113
  • Estimated portion of registered voters in Zimbabwe who are dead : 1/4
  • Average minutes more exercise per week that a heavy drinker gets than a non-drinker : 21
  • Portion of the total U.S. corn crop that goes to make ethanol : 2/5
  • Projected worldwide surplus of low-skill workers by 2020 : 93,000,000
  • Projected worldwide deficit of high- and medium-skill workers by that time : 85,000,000
  • Rank of China among global beer producers by volume : 1
  • Rank of the United States : 2
  • Percentage change since 1988 (to 2012) in U.S. teen-pregnancy rates : –36
  • In abstinence rates among white teens : +31
  • Among black teens : +56
  • Portion of Americans who don’t walk for at least ten continuous minutes at any point in an average week : 2/5
  • Percentage of American cats that are overweight : 58
  • Percentage of men in dual-income marriages who said they struggled with work-family conflict in 1977 : 35
  • Who say they do today (2013): 60.
  • Average annual cost of detaining an inmate at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay : $900,000
  • At a supermax prison in the United States : $65,000
  • Portion of all online advertising that is never seen by a human being : 1/2
  • Percentage of U.S. children in 1960 who lived in households headed by heterosexuals in their first marriage : 73
  • Who do today (2015) : 46
  • Estimated minimum gallons of water used annually to produce Coca-Cola products : 8,000,000,000,000
  • Ratio of money spent by Britons on prostitution to that spent on hairdressing : 1:1
  • Years in prison to which a New Mexico man was sentenced last year (in 2015) for shooting children with a semen-filled squirt gun : 18
  • Estimated number of people who will be driven into extreme poverty by 2030 because of climate change : 100,000,000
  • Percentage of the world’s civilian-owned firearms that are owned by Americans : 48
  • Number of Americans aged 60 and older who have outstanding student loans : 2,800,000
  • Portion of those borrowers who have taken on debt to pay for a child or grandchild’s education : 3/4
  • Percentage of children’s toys available in Sweden that contain banned chemicals : 15
  • Of sex toys available in Sweden : 2
  • Average number of people who die in avalanches in the United States each year : 27
  • Number of FBI confidential informants (in 2017) who worked for Best Buy’s Geek Squad between 2008 and 2012 : 8
  • Rank of Nebraska among states with the least liked state flags : 1
  • Number of days in January that the flag at the state capitol flew upside down before anyone noticed : 7
  • Number of US states in which fluorescent pink is a legal color for hunting apparel : 6
  • Chance an American has taken an “active shooter” preparedness class : 1 in 10
  • Percentage of US “active shooters” from 2000 to 2016 who were killed by police : 21
  • Who were killed by armed civilians : 1
  • Number of universities in which half of all the US tenured and tenure-track history professors are trained : 8
  • Number of the twenty largest German companies that are headquartered in the former East Germany : 0
  • Rank of Germany in consumption of nonalcoholic beer : 2
  • Of Iran : 1
  • Portion of Hawaii’s drinking water that comes from underground wells : 9/10
  • Gallons of raw sewage that leak into the ground from Hawaii cesspools each day : 53,000,000
  • Percentage change since 2009 in reports of human waste on San Francisco streets (in 2018): +391
  • Chance that a given day is a public holiday in Cambodia : 1 in 13
  • Rank of Disneyland among the happiest places on earth, according to Disneyland : 1
  • Percentage of Disneyland employees who worry about being evicted from their homes : 56
  • Number of dead people Americans have elected to Congress : 6
  • Factor by which a millennial is more likely than a baby boomer to claim they have a food allergy : 2
  • Number of states that allow roadkill to be salvaged for food : 31
  • Rank of Arabic among France’s most spoken languages : 2
  • Factor by which graduate students are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than the general population : 6
  • Percentage of Americans aged 18 to 34 who say they’d like to live forever : 24
  • Of Americans over 55 : 13

Sounding off on the end of CanCon and the CRTC

I guess with the recent decision to axe all cancon requirements for daytime programming in Canada, the CRTC is crawling toward its own irrelevance. Let’s not be naive, Canadian culture is that much more weakened without the protection it partially enjoyed from American influence. With much less Canadian culture left to protect, and with Canadian voices now playing a smaller role in Canadian media, the CRTC really has less of a job to do these days.

To be more level here, one needs to be reminded that the CRTC kept the Cancon requirements for prime time. In addition, the CRTC cites the fact that television must now compete alongside streaming video, and the world-wide web for quite possibly the same viewers who listen and view “content” from just about anywhere and everywhere.

If I watch a video on YouTube, I am usually not aware whether or not the video is Canadian content or not. Sometimes there are clues, and sometimes the video is so famous that its country of origin is unmistakeable (Gangam Style, anyone?). There is a certain amount of reality to the CRTC’s concerns. My viewing habits have made much of what the CRTC is doing to make me more part of Canadian culture, irrelevant. But then, I don’t really know for sure, because to be honest, I don’t really check whether the video is CanCon before I see it. Same for websites.

We feared the encroachment of American culture when we set up the CRTC. Back then, radio and TV were the only games in town. Now we have the Internet, and the prospect of entertainment and information being viewed on all household and personal devices. Not all of that is American. I would say most of it is. After all, the USA is the heart of Google, YouTube, Yahoo, NetFlix, and AOL. The other players are not quite so big. Also, the USA accounts for an outsized proportion of the Internet traffic in the world. While 43% of a country’s citizens on average use the Internet, in the US, it is more like 87%.

I would like to think that I get “world” culture when I go online, but I watch British, American and Canadian documentaries, and usually British or American-produced videos on YouTube regarding phenomena in science or math. My online mailing lists consist of Candians and Americans mostly. I wonder now if having a “Canadian voice” can be said to mean anything these days? It used to mean a way to air “my” concerns with “my” voice. Others living in my country would do the same thing. And in sum, it would turn out that our concerns would be distinctively different from concerns across the border. It is healthy to know our common concerns as a culture.

The CRTC needs to be reminded that we must hear ourselves or be lost in the cacophony of other voices that are not our own. That is the only way we can have more confidence sharing our dialogue with the rest of the world, taking pride in our identity.

Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The video in question  is quite “mind-blowing” as promised, indeed, at over 13 million hits, it can even be called “viral”, but there are problems in how it presents and handles facts and references. While I don’t have a problem with the facts, and I am quite certain they are based on serious numbers, the presentation was too slick, with style clearly triumphing over detail.

The speaker begins by saying he was disturbed by a Harvard study that said that the actual distribution of wealth, what Americans think that distribution is, and the distribution of wealth idealized by Americans is totally out of whack. Americans are aware of existing inequalities, but have not the slightest idea of the extent of those inequalities. While he cites the Harvard study in his presentation, his only printed citation in his list of references at the end was the Mother Jones website, which, if you scroll down, you will find the “source”. In effect, the speaker, whom I didn’t catch the name of, is in effect citing Mother Jones citing the study by Professor Norton of Harvard Business School. I am aware of “Worstall’s Fallacy”, touted most of all by Forbes commentator Tim Worstall himself (Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, and self-described as a “world expert on Scandium”, a transition metal), that “income” and “wealth” are different ideas that seem similar, and that the speaker in this video was committing “Worstall’s Fallacy” by confusing the two. I am never told quite where the speaker in the video does this. But then I thought that even if you corrected for that in the video, it would not change the overall message, just dull it a little bit.

But an even more worrisome statement in the video was at around 2:24 or so, where he derides socialism. Why does he feel he has to separate himself from socialists? Socialism should not be considered a dirty word. The distribution he labels “socialism” is actually Communism. You can only have absolutely equal wealth distributions (as in Communism) in a command economy where you have “no freedom to choose your major”, as Abbie Hoffman once said about Maoist China in the late ’60s (why else other than in an unfree society would you study medicine if you were only going to make as much as a janitor?). And the “ideal” American distribution cited as supportable by 9/10 Americans (where rich and poor coexist) would only be possible through wealth redistribution. I think the word for that second option begins with “S” and ends with “m” and rhymes with “populism”, and exists to some extent in most advanced capitalist democracies around the world. In fact, capitalist democracies are the only places I think that socialism is possible.

A choice joke I heard making the rounds is the one about a Union worker, a Tea Party supporter, and a millionaire Industrialist in the same room where there is a plate with a dozen cookies. The Industrialist takes 11 of them, and whispers to the Tea Party supporter: “That Union guy is trying to steal your cookie!”

A hate on SWAG

From Planet Minecraft

SWAG has by now been so overused that no one, not even the generation that wear their hats sideways and wear their pants so that half their ass shows, seem to know what it means anymore. And I don’t mean that older people don’t know what they mean, but I am not sure that even young people do either.

Sure, you could come across a blog that has some kind of definition fo SWAG, but if it is from a blog appealing to today’s teens, I can guarantee you that 10 websites will garner 10 different and conflicting definitions. Quite often, if the website, such as a blog, has a message to say, then they often must take the trouble to inform you of which definition of SWAG they are referring to. The Urban Dictionary has over a hundred of definitions for SWAG (I gave up counting after the 20th page of definitions). Some of them seemed to get it right when they note that it is the most overused expression since the major media accused Pol Pot of being “Communist” (he was many awful things, but never a communist). And “overused” has a way of soon becoming synonymous with “meaningless”.

From @swagsteppin on Twitter
From @swagsteppin on Twitter

In my day, which wasn’t yesterday, I confess, we had something called a “generation gap”, where parents often complained that they couldn’t understand us, but knew that we young ‘uns understood each other. That is, we may have invented some words to express everyday emotions in a way that seem to give an impression that we were the first generation that ever felt them, but at least teens could talk to other teens.

But what does it mean when “your SWAG is not up to my level?”, or “Mark and I are SWAG?” It might be letters that stand for something like “secretly we are gay”, or “style without admitting greatness”, or “stolen without a gun”, or “stuff we ain’t got”, “scientific wild-ass guess”, “something we all get tired of hearing”, “sexy with a bit of gangsta”, or … well, after 30 pages of SWAG, I can only conclude no one knows what they are saying to each other anymore. The young generation has reduced the dignity of adolescence to incoherent baby-talk.

From Return of Kings

I am genuinely worried about this since I feel that young people are losing the ability to communicate with each other. A lack of definition means that SWAG is a marketable word in advertising. SWAG means whatever you want it to mean, and so if you want to buy clothes that are “Simply SWAG”, or rings that are SWAG, then your only admission into this exclusive club of users of the word SWAG is to have heard the word previously. People who can’t express their wants or needs properly are also likely not to be able to think too critically — an ideal target market for salespeople. A mere generational gap has now become a huge interpersonal gap where the young have lost the ability to express their feelings, emotions, and opinions to each other. Relationships have become shallow, even by 1970s and 1980s standards, when many older people of that generation lamented that us young folk lost touch with seeking out fulfilling relationships, and afraid to be in touch with each other.

The YBF blog

It was not too long ago that SWAG was a word used at conventions and meant “Stuff we all get”, like T-shirts, pens, note pads, and so on. These things were often handed out at convention booths by vendors advertising their businesses to attendees.

When you brought your SWAG home from the convention, you had their names, their logos, their addresses and phone numbers, so that should you need their services, you knew who to contact.

#swaggeriest yo
Found on Tumblr

Signs that you have become a fossilized fuddy-duddy

This is an updated version of the original post found at this site. Today’s kids who will be old enough to graduate this year (we’ll say 18) will have the following traits:

  1. The kids who are now 18 were born in 1992.
  2. The Soviet Union collapsed a year before their birth (1991).
  3. Apartheid ended before they were born (also 1991).
  4. Operation Desert Storm happened before they were born.
  5. Nelson Mandela was freed before they were born.
  6. The Hubble space telescope was launched before their lifetimes.
  7. They would not have had a memory of seeing Lech Walesa become the first president of an independent Poland.
  8. They were just born the year the L. A. riots happened over the Rodney King verdict.
  9. They would have only learned about the Exxon Valdez or the Tiannanmen Square massacre either through their parents or their teachers.
  10. The fall of the Berlin Wall as a publicity stunt for Ronald Regan’s historical stature is something they have only heard about second or third-hand.
  11. These kids were not alive during the Regan era.
  12. They do not have a meaningful recollection of the era under Bush I either.
  13. Kids graduating today have not known a world where DNA evidence was not used to convict criminals
  14. Black Monday, and the stock market crash in 2008 both have the same significance to them as the Great Depression.
  15. To them, “The interenet” consists only of the Web, chat groups, and text messaging.
  16. They have never known a world that didn’t have a hole in the ozone layer.
  17. The Thriller album and video are a fossilized piece of rock history.
  18. While we’re at it, rock videos themselves have been on the decline during their lifetimes in favour of YouTube and internet videos.
  19. E. T. is a movie their parents like.
  20. Pac-man is something their parents played
  21. They have never played Atari games, except on their parent’s antique consoles.
  22. Their grandparents saw the original Star Trek.
  23. Their world has always involved the risk of AIDS
  24. Their parents were already too old for “new wave” music
  25. The original Star Wars movies are something kids see now on movie reruns or from DVDs from the delete bin.
  26. Their view of the 1970s does not seem to consist of a wasteland of K-Tel and disco.

The new OCT designation (Ontario Certified Teacher)

I have seen the OCT promo video (looks expensively done) that justifies the new letters which are touted to put me on some kind of a footing with doctors and engineers, and others who pay exorbitant fees to have letters placed after their name, like FRCP, and so on. In this designation, “OCT” stands for “Ontario Certified Teacher.” OCT also stands for the Ontario College of Teachers, so it can be a bit confusing.

The promo was received by teachers without a single positive comment that I could find. But in the defense of the OCT, there are some things about the designation that I think would set me apart from say mom or dad who may decide on a whim to give their own children credit courses. The OCT accreditation, to me, says that I am qualified to give credit, I know my ethics, and I can deliver it fairly and with confidence that your kid will be prepared for further education in the career of their choice. Someone with no designation has no such guarantee, and they can’t award credit anyway. It means that both public and private schools can’t just hire anyone off the street, they have to have an OCT crtificate also.  Anyone teaching any high school credit from Calculus to Cosmetology will need this.

But they always have, since the college was first started in 1996. The new letters after my name which they encourage me to use will change nothing. It also hasn’t stopped school boards from hiring “emergency supply” teachers (teachers with no such certs, and often no union representation), or from hiring fulltime teachers from “off the street”, and certifying them later. It also doesn’t appear to stop the growing practice of universities and colleges offering high school credits, and using entirely non-accredited staff to deliver them, even as entirely accredited (and horribly underfunded) adult schools exists all across Ontario with certified teachers in its classrooms.

But since its inception in 1996, the Ontario College of Teachers have acted more like the policing arm of the Ontario government more than an upholder of standards. If they were really serious about teaching standards, then they ought to vigorously defend our profession from practices mentioned above. But they don’t. However, they make a big deal out of taking teachers to court and of publicising the fact in their Professionally Speaking publication (many teachers know them as The Blue Pages). I am not against taking legal action against teachers to defend and uphold a standard for professional ethics, but I am against the “public hanging” approach that is taken by the publication of their names and locations in the Blue Pages. I don’t need to know the names of anyone buy cheap tramadol overnight being found guilty of some abuse of power or other.  I don’t even want to know that it’s happening, unless it is a major social issue. It only serves to demoralize. It would be better, if ethics are such a big deal (and I agree it is), to educate us on ethics in a positive way, if that is the supposed lesson of these blue pages.

The Ontario College of Teachers was formed on an act of the Harris government in 1996, called “The Ontario College of Teachers Act.” Many teachers at the time felt that the OCT was imposed on them, against their wishes, serving only a coercive role.

The link to the YouTube promo is festooned with teachers calling for the banning of the Blue Pages and even an end to the College of Teachers, which seem to serve no useful purpose. One colleague quipped to me that our College fees are being used to finance their lawsuits against us. They are also used to finance a large office building near Bloor and Yonge, which will soon be owned outright by the College, thanks to our fee payments, which we have all paid on time like good little soldiers. Meanwhile the other tenant, who obviously is not making as much money (Alliance Atlantis!) is going to have to find another place to set up.

I have a vision for the OCT that they will not, and cannot, justify themselves as a policing arm of the government, because we pay the dues. In that vein, I can forsee a major change in the role of the OCT, in that it can and should separate itself from the government and become an independent body. That way, it can have the teeth to monitor and do something about government decisions that lead to the watering down of standards, such as allowing non-certified teachers to teach credit courses as they do in the college and university system. That should be regarded the same as allowing a non-certified doctor to treat a patient, or an uncertified engineer to build a bridge. If we don’t do the latter, then we shouldn’t be allowed to do the former. At the same time, it can monitor abuses of power among teachers as before, but I don’t need the constant reminders in The Blue Pages. If I am really interested, I can go to OCT’s professional library and check it out. Or maybe they can give me login access to such filthy details. But I don’t feel that the Blue Pages makes me a better teacher. But the OCT designation? Well, I see possibilities, but the OCT has to change its emphasis.

Search terms that did not quite make it, annotated.

On WordPress, we can see a list of search terms people used to find entries on our blogs. Here are some of the more amusing ones. These won’t lead to anything useful on my blog. While my blog has the odd bit of nudity, this is not the mainstay of the blog. All mis-spellings are from the search string used:

  • valerie bertinelli topless
    • I have only a bad drawing of VB’s face; and it appears with about 20 other celebs on the same crappy album cover (CAC).
  • naked klingon women
    • I have no klingons, klingon women, or naked klingon women. Just a fully-clothed CAC with William Shatner, and a fully-clothed g-rated vid with Leonard Nimoy.
  • topless lobsters
    • If you are looking for topless lobsters, the closest you’ll get is to go to New Brunswick. I have only the odd CAC depicting topless women (human ones). Sorry to disappoint.
  • scottish kilt organist
    • I have nothing with kilts, few to no Scots that I can think of, and maybe a few organists, but they are wearing pants.
  • beautiful naked women with their legs sp
    • This search string was cut off just as shown, but I get the point. Most of the women here are on album covers; and if they are nude, they are not spread-eagled. Frankly, if you are looking for porn, my site is the most boring place in the world to look for it. By Internet standards, what I have in terms of nudity is campy, perhaps “naughty”, but I would stop short of calling it porn. By Internet standards, far short.
  • seventies boobs
    • Seventies boobs. Not the same as eighties boobs I suppose. There is an empty-headed blog article in this one somewhere, I know it.
  • lady wrestler leg photos
    • No lady wrestlers on this blog, so no lady wrestlers legs. The only wrestler I can think of, Sweet Daddy Siki, is male, as implied by the word “Daddy”
  • guy jumping guitar album cover
    • No CACs of guys with jumping guitars, no guys jumping a guitar (WTF?), and no CACs of guitars jumping. Sorry once again.
  • topless seductive nipples
    • … As opposed to “topped” seductive nipples? or topless “ugly” nipples?
  • topless flautist
    • The only topless flautist I have is a CAC of Herbie Mann. No topless women playing flutes (musical or otherwise) on this blog.
  • topless chocolate wrestle
    • Topless women wrestling in chocolate will only make it here if it is a CAC. None have been found, so as of yet we have no chocolate wrestlers, and no topless wrestlers.
  • swedish women football women beach tople
    • No football, no beach football, and no women’s beach football, no women’s football, and certainly none with topless women, topless Swedish women, or topless Swedes.
  • artistic hair dye raccoon
    • ?

(Video) Miraculously good/bad luck (link repaired)

A French vid (no words) from Daily Motion.Com. I believe these stunts were totally unintended. I imagine that people get hurt in many of the car scenes, but take a look at how close the pedestrians came to getting killed or seriously injured, instead coming out unscathed.

[media id=71 width=500 height=375]

Crappy Album Covers #61 — Cool Religion

album-cover-crap-68_karate_preacherNow this is real cool. Wouldn’t you just like to go to church, and instead of those boring sermons and homilies, you instead get a preacher that knows karate, and uses it to show the power of God?

Well, Mike Crain the “Karatist Preacher” must have been packing them in, by striking down the devil every chance he gets, going by his 1975 album “God’s Power”. HIIIYYYA! He’s gonna wup some Satanic ass!

False prophets, idolators, usurers, prostitutes, dittoheads, and propagandists haven’t got a chance, as he cracks their skulls for JAY-sus! Crain looks like Mike Myers with a bowl cut.

album-cover-crap-78_zonicweb_netIt gets better. In between Crain’s homilies, David Ingles would come in and sing songs which paralyze Satan. This has the benefit of holding Satan still while Crain gives them a Karate chop, you see.

Trust me, with these two on the same bill, you would never miss a Church service again. David Ingles has his own website, and claims that God speaks to him.

He now has a daily radio program on a radio network which he owns, called the Oasis Network, and still gives regular church services in his local church Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa.

album-cover-crap-61_bad_santatAnd during can i buy viagra online in america Christmas Season, Swedish singer Eilerts Jul can fill in for Ingles as he returns to his loved ones for a break from sermons.

During the rest of the year, when he is not relieving Ingles of his duties, Jul is a furniture salesman for The Lord with television ads that play every 10 minutes, featuring talking dogs, jugglers, and magicians. After grabbing your attention with the circus performers, he gets on-screen yelling the store slogan and telling you at 300 words per minute where his store is located, and that he will not be undersold.

As part of his publicity, and to keep the local churchgoers from falling asleep (how is that possible?), he buys some of the furniture of his competitors, brings them into Church, while Mike Crain whacks them into splinters, calling them the work of Beelzebub. If you’re going to buy furniture, it must be blessed by Crain and identified by Jul as the work of the holy hands of his furniture suppliers.

You will not get Jul and his ads out of your head. He will be in your dreams. This is all good, since what is good for Jul is good for The Lord.

Crappy Album Covers #59 — Stick Figure Neighbourhood

Welcome to the world of stick figures. In today’s blog, our crappy album cover collection will focus on the world of stick figures.

album-cover-crap-72_spoonsThis blog entry was named after a 1981 album from a band from Burlington, Ontario called The Spoons. I spent a while deciding whether this album cover met my standards of crappiness for inclusion into this collection of album covers. Well, here it is.

The Spoons had no hits from this record. The hits came later. The band members have changed names, and have broken up and reunited, and performed as late as 2007, but two personnel that have remained in their lineup from the beginning was Sandy Horne and Gordon Deppe. The two knew each other since since attending Aldershot High School in Burlington. The album was recorded in Hamilton. I can relate to the title. Parts of Burlington, and come to think of it, Oakville and Mississauga (these places are all close to where I live), can be thought of as stick figure neighbourhoods. Nothing like songs from the heart.

Little did The Spoons know, that their allusion to stick figures carries forward a tradition of stick figure albums that came before. To wit:

album-cover-crap-69_thriftstoreart_com

There’s nothing like stick figures to get you in the dancing mood (yeah, right). While the late Lester Lanin (1907-2004) played the proverbial “weddings, debutante balls, and bar mitzvahs” routine, he was no ordinary contract band leader. He had also played for Queen Elizabeth II, he palyed at the wedding of Prince Chuck and Lady Di, and more than one or two sitting U. S. Presidents.

So, how is it that a person with such impeccable connections couldn’t get decent album art? It could be that the album artist the company had, quit and the manager had to step in.

But I think the truth is far worse. There was a time I remember, where can u buy viagra looking at books published in the late ’60s and early ’70s, which had stick figure drawings, and usually it was found on self-help books or books with a sociology/anthropology bent. In other words, this was part of an aesthetic trend at one time.

album-cover-crap-71_thriftstoreart_com… like this one. Paul Harvey was a radio announcer for KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his place of birth, and another fellow who had impeccable credentials, winning many honorary degrees and medals, up until 2000.  He has also been given numerous awards and continues to broadcast to this day.

Once again, a legendary talent with an artless album cover. In the context of the title and some samples I have heard, at least it gets the point across.

If you look closely, these are very special stick men. They are the ones found on Male restroom doors.

album-cover-crap-70_thriftstoreart_com… and these are the ones found on the female restroom doors. Well, not quite. These are more like paper doll cutouts. Maybe as a pastime, you can count the figures to see if there are really 60 of them in the illustration.

Can 60 French girls be wrong, if they all agree on the same thing?

No information was found on The Djinns Singers, although there are many albums out there, some of them being sold on E-Bay. So, while links to this and other of their records are plentiful, it is difficult to know if there are 60 of them or 6 of them. Oh well…

Below is a stick figure animation for your amusement. These days, all kinds of people are doing stick figure animations. Don’t know if they are really popular, but they seem to have comic potential. See below, courtesy of YouTube:

[media id=102 width=400 height=300]

The most expensive coffee in the world

Bunk Strutts has written up about kopi luwak, which is regarded as the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. I thought I would comment on it, since I have read a fair bit about it.

Asian Palm Civet Facts, Habitat, Diet, Life Cycle, Baby ...
The asian palm civet.

First of all, when I first heard about asian palm civets, they were referred to as “civet cats”.  But “civet cats” have been used to refer to almost any odd-looking small furry animal, ranging from raccoons to actual cats. The asian palm civet is related to the mongoose.

The asian palm civet lives in the islands of Indonesia, and they eat the coffee berries, which passes through their digestive tract only partially digested. These partially digested coffee beans are what is used to make kopi luwak, the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee.

I first read about kopi luwak a few years ago from a science journal (a brief article by Dr. Massimo Marcone of Guelph U), and from then I was hooked on the idea. I just found the idea fascinating that the “dump” of a mongoose is so sought after as a high-class delicacy.

What could you do with kopi luwak beans with an off-flavour? If you covered them in chocolate, it would make the world’s most expensive chocolate.

I can understand the coffee being expensive. Just imagine: someone has to follow a small mammal through a thick rainforest, and pick coffee beans from their dump. Now these are small mammals, with small digestive systems, so how far and for how long do you need to follow these mongooses (this plural is from Wikipedia) around to get a pound of coffee? This is the reason that the entire Indonesian output of kopi luwak is under 500 kg per year, and that the price of a pound can actually be up to $600. (Wikipedia)

Crappy Album Covers #58 — Family Bands

album-cover-crap-67_familyI was going to name this blog entry “family style”, but then I remembered that was the name of a 1990 duet album by brothers Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughan. It would have been an insult to SRV’s memory, I thought. So, I changed it to a straight title.

Now they say that the way to raise a family is to run a tight ship. Now if you can have your family live on a real ship on the high seas and in shark-infested waters, then you have it made. You can rule the roost and threaten to make the kids walk the plank if they misbehave.

According to my reliable secret sources, this “vanity press” album hearkens back to around 1974, and Captain Hook, whose name does not appear to be revealed as otherwise, really does have a hook for a left hand. He lost a leg and an arm in a motorcycle accident and was “born again” while in hospital. Hook became a tele-evangelist in Indiana for over 20 years after he “became Christian”. He also performs ventriloquism as part of his act.

album-cover-crap-66_family_the_macksI was going to place The McKeithens in the Bad Hair entry, but it was only the hair of one person, the mother in the foreground, that I was concerned about.

The McKeithens’ self-titled LP, likely from 1976, likely marks the start of a ministry of singing and fellowship that began in 1976, and lasted until 1991. I can’t say for sure where they hail from. There is a Myspace blog about them, but it is unlikely that the family had anything to do with the blog. I mean, would a family like this make virtual friends with people with usernames such as “Lady Stinky Puss”, “Chris Crocker”, or “Phat Gurl”? Don’t think so. Clearly, the blog is set up to make fun of this record cover. However, there is almost no original content in the blog, and it appears to have been abandoned.

This would have been a plain album that would have been ignored, but for the Winebago-sized hairdo the mother has.  I think it’s a wig. A wig that large could serve a purpose, you know. You could use it to store food, prescription medication, house and car keys, a change of clothes, photo ID, passports, train tickets, the King James Bible, sheet music … all the things you need to go on an evangelical singing tour.

album-cover-crap-62_family_st_heitt

The Heitt family are a study in obscure, small Saskatchewan villages that are little known even inside Saskatchewan. If you blink as you drive past these places, you might not see them, so be careful.

Most of the family belonging to the Heitt Orchestra are natives of Revenue, Saskatchewan, consisting of not much more than two crossing roads, about 200 km west of Saskatoon, as the crow flies (more like 230 km by highway, going by Google Earth). If you look for it on Google Maps, Revenue is where the low resolution area begins.

The Heitt family consist of Brothers Larry (drums), Blaine (electric bass), and Glen (banjo); their father Frank (accordion) and mother Adeline (guitar).

The only non-family member is vocalist is Donna Boser (holding the tambourine), who lives one hour’s drive deeper into Google’s low-resolution area, and closer to the Alberta border, in Fells, Saskatchewan. Although if you ask Donna, she’ll probably tell you she comes from Reward, Saskatchewan, which is a larger community close by. The “Where the Hell is Fells, Saskatchewan?” T-shirts must be selling like hot cakes over there. Boser still sings in the same part of the province.

Donna now lives in nearby Unity. At least they paved the main highways over there. Unity is still a small town where someone spent an idle afternoon counting the houses, and Unity has 960 of them (population is about 2500). And the deal is that Fells and Revenue are much smaller than Unity. Unity boasts its own website. And here is a virtual tour of Unity, where you can see how flat it is (should take about a minute).

Crappy Album Covers #56 — Self-Help for the Helpless II: A Gallery

In today’s blog, I am experimenting with another method of presenting these album covers. I am finding that doing it this way prevents me from looking at the covers directly as I am discussing them. But to see an enlarged image, just click on the ones you want to see.

But from memory, I recall I have three albums on how to stop smoking, one album on avoiding probate, and one on touch typing.

The three non-smoking records appear to promise a painless way to kick the habit, proving that no one has ever lost a dollar by promising the listener that the cessation of bad habits involves some hypnotic hocus-pocus or some other easy way out.

A record about touch typing? I’m not sure how that is supposed to work, unless it comes with a booklet.

“Probate” is a service a court provides to prove the validity of a deceased person’s will, allowing all involved parties to settle the affairs of the estate of the deceased, according to Wikipedia. This can be expensive, and the real beneficiaries to the estate could be the lawyers. Wikipedia says that establishing a living trust is a way of avoiding probate, so that is probably what is being discussed.

All album covers come from thriftstoreart.com. Another side effect of having this kind of  a gallery is that I can’t link the photos to the website. So just click on the aforementioned link, and you’ll get to these albums, and many others.

Crappy Album Covers #55 — I don't need no STIIINKING album cover artist! — I'll just do it myself!

album-cover-crap-45_zonicweb_netGood evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the amateur hour, as our guest Manfred, presumably Manfred Voss sings you the love songs of song meister, Arthur E. Werlang.

We have to be fair here. These albums are definitely as low-budget as you can get, and it wouldn’t surprise me if  the photo of “Manfred” was scotch-taped on the cover, and the lettering was hand drawn directly on to the cover.

As is true of all of the albums in today’s entry, this album is very likely from back in the days when cutting and pasting was an act that involved xacto blades and glue, rather than a computer and Photoshop.

I just worry that our hero Manfred is singing these love songs “with a new accent”. His old accent was too obvious, so he had to make up a new one? Is that how that works?

album-cover-crap-46_zonicweb_net“Gongs: An Audio-Mystical Trip to the Orient”, by Nesta Kerin Crain claims to be “an excellent aid for meditation”. I know of few meditation aids involving gongs that I would call excellent.

This is another scissors and glue effort with more pen work than “Love Songs”.

What’s the swastika doing there in the lower right-hand corner? Creepy.

I now wonder what this album will instill in you as you are meditating while the album is playing.

I also have a certain paranoia about playing records and meditating, outside of all talk about swastikas and other nonsense: what if the record skips?

album-cover-crap-57_showandtellmusic_comThis is by a fellow named Gary Baker, who in 1982, penned an album entitled “Why?” This time, there is no cutting and pasting, just pen and pencil.

Too much is made of this existential question. Much ink has been spilled trying to pursue the meaning of the question, and then trying to formulate an answer.

One essay writer in a university-level Philosophy exam answered it best: “Why not?”

The album is supposedly Christian, but the question and the artwork seems to convey a mood of Elton John’s “If There’s a God In Heaven (then what’s he waiting for?)”, a 1976 song from his Blue Moves album. So, maybe that’s healthy.

album-cover-crap-47_zonicweb_netWhenever a title is misspelled, such as “psychodelic”, (should be “psychedelic”) you get the impression that the mistake is intentional, and that Jr. and His Soulettes are merely taking artistic license.

All fine and dandy, and if that is the case then that really changes the meaning of the word. Perhaps the album is more “psycho” and less “delic”. Hard to say.

The origin of the phrase "silent majority"

This phrase was made popular by Richard Nixon around 1968 when he attempted to discredit Vietnam war protestors as a group of vocal fringe elements, while he was secretly escalating the war into Cambodia. “The silent majority”, it was supposed by Nixon, still supported the US involvement in Vietnam.

It must be admitted, that 40 years later, the phrase still resonates with us. But as clever and smart as Nixon was, he did not come up with it himself; the phrase actually had its origins in classical literature. It was used to describe dead people. So, surely that must mean that in Nixon’s democracy, we should always respect the opionions of the dead, since there will always be more of them than of us. This need to respect their opinions is made more urgent by the fact that dead people cannot speak for themselves, and thus have no voice of their own in our political discourse. In addition, most of them are hard-working dead people who have never committed crimes.

In recent elections, however, dead people have in fact lent their weight to various political parties by voting in several recent elections in several states in the US. Dead people have also run for political office, and one of them won an election in a race against John Ashcroft. In America, dead people are full participants in the democratic process, benefitting both Democrats and Republicans.

Surely, Nixon’s phrase has resonance, not in the apologetic, hawkish, warmongering sense, but in the originally intended sense, backed by over 1000 years of classical European literature.  I think Nixon really was referring to dead people, and he may have even been invoking the spirit world.

What is the true origin of that phrase? I was itching to find out.

At first, I thought “silent majority” must have originated from Dante’s Inferno, where would likely have used it to describe the dead. It turned out to be too juicy a fact to be true. He doesn’t use the phrase.

Phrases close to this have been pointed out a few years ago by the late classical scholar James B. Butrica, who quoted several writers, including the ancient Roman writer Petronius (AD 27-66): “Abiit ad plures” or, “S/He’s gone to the majority”, a fancy way of saying “S/He’s dead”. Butrica says that the same phrase was also used some 200 years earlier by Roman writer Plautus (circa 254–184 BCE).

At any rate, all I have to say is: one man, one death. It wouldn’t be terribly democratic if one man had two deaths. And also, I believe quite strongly that if you vote when you are alive, then if you die right after you leave the polling station, then you shouldn’t be allowed to come back and vote again as a dead person before the polls close.

In closing, I must say that the constant invocation of “the silent majority” over the years whenever most discourse opposes what a politician does, is a fallacy. We only have one way to read “silent majority” (I’m talking about the living this time), which is to say that if you don’t speak up, it is because it (whatever “it” is) doesn’t arouse your passions, and thus you don’t care. If the majority of voters decide not to vote, for example (as is too sadly the case most of the time), then their silence is not seen as a vote for anyone, and their non-votes are never counted. A politician cannot “listen” to the silent majority, because there is nothing for them to hear.

Crappy Album Covers #54 — Scary Stuff, Kids!

album-cover-crap-9_lp-cover-lover1Some of my readers, in particluar the members of the LoudFans mailing list listened to WFMU, at least once, since The Loud Family appeared on there in 2000 or so to be interviewed. They had performed there to promote tracks from their album which had just been released, called Attractive Nuisance.

WFMU also seems to be pretty heavy on this guy: Robbie The Werewolf. Except that this is not a current album. “At The Waleback” was recorded way back in 1964, according to WFMU.

I dispute the claim that this was done in 1964, mostly because of this song: Tiptoe Through the Wolfbane, an obvious send-up to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, a folk song made famous by Tiny Tim. Except that Tiny Tim didn’t release his single for another 4 years. But he is ahead of his time in other ways. Back then, the themes he covered were considered sexually explicit, and would not be considered kosher until at least the mid 1970s.

“Tiptoe” is an obvious parody, but if it were released after 1968, it would have had way more impact. The album is considered rare, commanding between $200 and $500.

album-cover-crap-12_lp-cover-loverOnce again, here is a foreign-language record, whose album cover speaks “scary” in all languages.

Columbian musician Calixto Ochoa released “El Dentista”, a 1962 album that presumably drills down into the heart of Latin music.

I have not heard too much about the author, or, regarding the listenability of the album: “is it safe” to listen to most of the tracks?

This is probably what the dentist is asking the patient in this photo.

I hear that, on the whole, some parts of the album will only hurt a little bit.

.

farragoelvisK-Tel International, I have been reminded, is a Canadian company run from its headquarters in Winnipeg, who can be credited for almost single-handedly rescuing Western Canada from its stereotype of rednecks, farmers, and bald, flat prairie.

This is a 1977 K-Tel release, “For Elvis Amateurs Vol. 2, By Popular Demand”, containing songs sung by Quebec singer and Elvis tribute artist Johhny Farago. Could Johnny just shave off his beard so that he looks at least a little more like Elvis? And maybe grow some sideburns or something?

Crappy Album Covers #53 — With all those Santas, Kids will start asking Questions: A gallery

album-cover-crap-38_lp-cover-lover I guess I might have figured sooner or later that Santa would get sick of the North Pole and would want to go to Hawaii, get on a surfboard, and take in a few rays.

Looks like Santa took a few rays too many. Also, his red suit is now going to be a little too warm. If this is his new way of travelling the globe, I think that there will be a few problems.

First of all, if you live in places like Saskatchewan, Montana, Utah, or South Dakota, Santa definitely won’t come to your house, because all of those places are land-locked. Same goes for entire nations like the Czech and Slovak Republics.

album-cover-crap-34_lp-cover-lover Perhaps there are humorous possibilities in Santa being played by a drunk negro. There is no indication on the album as to who the comedian is, being billed on the cover as the “Clown Prince of Comedy”.

The cover, as you might notice, is rated “XXX” and “FFF” (Fabulous, Funky and Funny).

lpcoverlover.com has this album listed under the category “Black Comedy”. This must be a new definition, since I always thought that this was black comedy (the audio below is by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)):

[media id=88 width=400 height=24]

This is not the most extreme example, but it could qualify as part of a suite of tragedy skits dressed up as comedy. The folks at lpcoverlover seems to think that “Black Comedy” is comedy performed by black people. They might have to find another name for it.

album-cover-crap-37_lp-cover-lover Santa is thinking to himself, “If I find out where this thing folds up, I could get it into the chimney!”

A reader contributed that the shepherd’s staff is a throwback to the days of Saint Nicholas, who was a bishop somewhere within the third and fourth centuries. He used his inheritance to help the poor.

But few know Saint Nick as a bishop. People mostly know Saint Nick the way Coca-Cola depicted him in the 1930s, which is the way he is seen here. The photographers put a staff (called a crosier) in his hand to make the imagery more religious.

Either you’re going to emphasize the materialism of Christmas or its spirituality. There is nothing wrong with doing either one. But when you mix the two, you just confuse people.

album-cover-crap-35_lp-cover-lover Another black Santa. Well, I guess no one can accuse me of having a color imbalance in this posting, since this entry now has two white Santas and two black ones.

If we are to take this posting as a gauge of how blacks prefer to depict themselves, it seems as though they are seen as either drunk or womanizing. Great way to bash those racist stereotypes!

Crappy Album Covers #52 — Sorry Individuals

album-cover-crap-33_lp-cover-loverTalk about Mission Accomplished! Now that a black dick is in the white house, attached as it is to a black body, I think that this album has achieved its object.

Most of Obama’s economic advisors who will set the scene are the ones who accelerated the long slope downward under Clinton. It looks as though the people telling him who to appoint are Obama’s version of Uncle Tom. Some things will never change.

Thaddaeus Martin’s “Black Dick for President” is basically the same joke spread out over all three of its volumes. This is a 3-record set, all spoken word, and containing a sprinking of  profanity.

Very little other information on Thaddaeus Martin or the album is available.

album-cover-crap-41_lp-cover-lover“Cook’s Tour of High Fidelity” is really a “sound check” record, or maybe even a sound effects record.

The guy in the picture is clearly more interested in that reel-to-reel tape deck he has there than the chick in the polka dot bikini. This can only create tension here, since all the lady now has for company is the puppet in her hand.

Perhaps instead of sound effects, it is a recording of pretty women cracking up as they are being ignored by their male partners who instead fall in love with their stereo systems.

Guys and their gadgets… I’ll tell you…

album-cover-crap-21_lp-cover-loverWhile we are on the topic of sick relationship guys have with their stereo systems, I don’t know what comedian Dave Ketchum thinks he is doing, but obviously, his lady has long left him, and he is getting lonely.

What is even more pathetic, however, is that the turntable is pretty dinky looking. I just hope he cleaned the tonearm. I mean, you don’t know where that tonearm has been.

Ketchum has been a character actor throughout the 60s and 70s in shows such as The Odd Couple and Happy Days. There has been no open admission of whether this is the same Dave Ketchum as the one associated with this album, but the photo sports a strange likeness … hmm.

Crappy Album Covers #51 — The International Language of Bad Taste II

In this virtual tour, we go to what seems to be outer space’s Latin Quarter, then back to China.

album-cover-crap-42_lp-cover-lover This album, “en el espacio”, by Los 4 Amigos, is another obvious competitor to the Devo album cover lookalike contest.

We can learn a lot from pictures of aliens. As you can see, they are aliens with tiny bodies and large heads. On their planet, they seemed to have found a way of playing instruments that are merely printed on their space suits. This enables them to play while floating in deep space.

“Los 4 Amigos” appears to be a common phrase that on a Google search I got everything from restaurants to art exhibits. The group also doesn’t show up on allmusic.

album-cover-crap-43_lp-cover-lover Jalaito Sabroson and their album, “Los Ases del Ritmo”. I almost read that as “Jailbaito”. Where is my head?

Translated, this title seems to be saying “The Pace of Aces”. No info available. Probably another Latin-inspired dance record, by that title.

album-cover-crap-39_lp-cover-lover
Red China Rocks was a band, that, by all accounts, attempted to play in China in the early 1970s. They succeeded in playing most of the way through one gig, then were immediately deported.

The Chinese shouldn’t have been so harsh. See this cover? Doesn’t Chairman Mao-Tse Tung (in this decade, I’ve seen his name commonly spelled “Mao Zedong”) look dapper, dressed for a night on the town? It is likely Mao’s head could have been pasted, Oswald-style, on someone else’s body. But clearly, the photo retouchers of this album could have done worse.

album-cover-crap-40_lp-cover-lover Here, a more conventional-looking Chairman Mao meets Richard Nixon. I have no idea what this album is about. Any Chinese translators out there? Or does someone have this album?

But I just thought you needed to see these two leaders in the same picture.One supplied arms and personnel to the South Vietnamese, while the other supplied arms and personnel to the North Vietnamese.

While it is true that Nixon was bombing the crap out of Vietnam and Cambodia, the war ended soon after Nixon left office.