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

In youtube: 100 worst _____ (using auto-complete)

100 worst … youtube channels

There are thousands of “worst channels” all tied for last place, if it must have definition.

  • Channels with no videos or playlists
  • Channels with no videos but no original content
  • Channels that slander or promote racial bias or hatred
  • Channels that are advertising, disguised as entertainment or information

… pick up lines

  • That might be a worthwhile topic, but only if it’s funny, since a bad pickup line could be just boring

… video games

  • For me, they are the ones that are either
    • Impossible to win
    • Impossible to lose
    • Involve battlefields (since I always seem to get stuck in a place with no combat)

… movie lines

  • Be careful there … sometimes the worst lines are the best ones of all

… songs

  • While this is subjective, we could pick songs that were either
    • Auto-tuned to death and are not singable by any human
    • Bad quality audio, or sung/played badly
    • And, yes, the usual bad lyrics

… Spongebob episodes

  • I have a hard time distinguishing good Spongebob episodes from bad ones. I thought they were all bad.

… games/games of all time

  • We already mentioned video games, but same criteria

… pop records

  • Bad songs that were hits. Another worthwhile topic. Let’s see if Disco Duck and Who Let The Dogs Out make the list.
  • Because the list is long, a lot of tunes make the list because they were simply overplayed over the years (and become horribly annoying for that reason), but are actually decent songs:
    • Ebony and Ivory
    • My Heart Will Go On
    • We Built This City
    • Tie a Yellow Ribbon
    • Love Will Keep Us Together
    • Seasons in the Sun
  • A survey conducted by listchallenges.com (http://www.listchallenges.com/100-worst-songs-ever/) showed in its results, what I imagine to be people who tended not to pick songs they didn’t recognize (obviously) – except there appeared to be agreement on what is not recognizable. I don’t recognize any of the 30 or so songs at the bottom of the list, but I recognize nearly all of the songs at the top 30 of the list. We tend to perceieve as “worst” songs, songs that are actually hits (usually big hits), but are overplayed. The top 10 songs appear to be nearly all rap/hip hop tunes (except for Achy Breaky Heart, My Heart Will Go On, I’d Do Anything For Love, and We Built This City)

Alex Jones and his nutty ideas

As you may have known, I have a thing for loonies in that I find their stuff so entertaining. Alex Jones is neither a lefty, nor is he right-wing. He’s nothing more than a conspiracy nutjob, pure and undiluted by rational thought, although there is the occasional flash of bright light which gets quickly clouded over again by the next whacky conspiracy theory or statement which is unsupported by any document or fact that exists outside of the world Alex Jones’s imagination. And on it goes. Alex Jones has been head of InfoWars since before 9/11, and he has only gotten crazier with age. And the one thing about nutjobs — they cannot be parodied. Their heads are so far up their ass, they are already enough of a spectacle in that their own words are enough. I already said the same thing earlier about Rob Ford.

What follows has appeared before on the Perry Logan website. It is mostly reproduced here, stripped of commentary, since I think that Alex Jones needs to be best experienced without comments of any kind, since that would clash with rational thinking. Here goes:

  • Israel microwaved a hundred thousand of its own children.
  • Your cell phones are watching you every moment.
  • The main source of meat in North Korea is executed prisoners.
  • SWAT teams are being taught that Christians are evil.
  • The government can control the weather.
  • The Mafia was started by Julius Ceaser’s grandfather.
  • Vaccines are killing our children.
  • Texas is run by the Masons.
  • Masons can commit murder.  They make a secret sign to the judges and are immediately set free.  This has been solidly confirmed.
  • They sacrifice babies at Bohemian Grove.
  • “Cell phones have been proven in hundreds of major studied to cause brain tumnors.  There’s no debating it.”
  • The NRA are gun grabbers.
  • There are government-run white slavery rings.
  • Columbine was a government op.
  • Wal-Mart is a Defense Department front.
  • Illegal aliens get to go to the front in emergency rooms.
  • They put mercury in your vaccines to brain-damage your children.
  • The Aztecs would take hallucinogenic enemas and cut their penises off.
  • Alex Jones has correctly predicted everything that has happened in the last 10 years.
  • FEMA has a giant private army.
  • Illegal immigrants get free tuition and discounts on their Twinkies.
  • There’s a worldwide takeover going on, perceptible only to dumb white guys… …but everyone is waking up. 
  • The ruling elite of the world worship Moloch.
  • During his inauguration, President Clinton openly gave the sign of Satan for all the world to see.
  • The secret rulers of the world can live forever.
  • The elite have openly announced can you buy tramadol online that they want to kill 80% of us.
  • Jacques Cousteau wanted to kill 80% of us.
  • You can’t succeed in academe unless you agree that 80% of the population has to be killed off.
  • Dick Cheney writes papers saying terrorism isn’t real.
  • The U.S. Government went around Italy blowing up school busses full of children…& admitted it.
  • There are little wires in dollar bills that keep track of what you buy.
  • Vicente Fox can morph into a green devil.
  • The Communist Chinese Army has taken over the Massachusetts Port Authority.
  • Noam Chomsky is a mongoloid idiot.  Also an agent.
  • There are Illuminati symbols on Starbucks coffee cups.
  • Exits on tollroads are 50 miles apart.
  • There are live AIDS viruses in the corn.
  • 91% of Americans are Nazis.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is a known Nazi.
  • All of Clinton’s cabinet were Jewish.
  • Devil-worshipers run the country.
  • The United Nations goes around Africa, sterilizing women at random
  • The Founding Fathers were basically stupid
  • All throughout history, governments have always been Evil.
  • Power outages are government plots.
  • Illegal immigration is a government plot.
  • The counterculture is a government plot.
  • Vaccines are a government plot.
  • Thumb scanning is a government plot.
  • Environmentalism is a government plot.
  • The National Seat Belt Initiative is a government plot.
  • Feminism is a government plot. (and Gloria Steinem is a CIA operative.)
  • Toll roads are a government plot.
  • The drug culture is a government plot.
  • Cell phones are a government plot.
  • Wal Mart is a government plot. 
  • Sports are a government plot.
  • Antidepressants are a government plot.
  • All domestic terror attacks are government plots.
  • The government keeps “giant, honeycombed hives full of toddlers drugged on lithium”
  • The government brings in all the drugs.
  • The government is spraying us with EVIL CHEMICALS contained in the cone trails of planes
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is part of an Austrian plot to take over America.
  • Skull & Bones is part of an English plot to take over America.
  • The United Nations is part of a (very slow) plot to take over America.
  • Children’s cartoons are part of a government plot to brainwash us.
  • Organized religion is brainwashing us.
  • The secret ruling elite of the world are putting up buildings that look like owls.
  • Most major police chiefs are CIA operatives.
  • The voting-machine companies are openly run by the CIA.
  • The Quakers are communists.
  • Lyndon Johnson had John Kennedy killed.
  • The UN has sold thousands of children into slavery & for snuff films.
  • Gays are actively recruiting in our schools.
  • The United Nations goes around Africa, sterilizing women at random
  • Every soldier who died in any war since the Civil War was a chump
  • 9-11 was only the beginning; there are going to be lots of even bigger domestic attacks
  • They only hire people with IQ’s below 100 to become police officers. 

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

Crappy Album Covers #119 — From Here To Paternity

Album_Cover_Crap_197_Flickr Not much is known about Fontanna and His Orchestra. But the guy on the cover of “Music for Expectant Fathers” seems a little presumtive. He seems to be all geared up to have a boy, but how does he know that? I am guessing that this LP came out before the days of ultrasound.
Album_Cover_Crap_196_Flickr

Germans Ralf Bendix and the voice of a little baby girl named Elizabeth made a worldwide smash hit in 1961 with Babysitter Boogie.

When the single viagra best buy review came to North America it was played without any translation. It didn’t need any. It was a delightfully funny novelty song. Bendix made me laugh when I first heard it, and I don’t understand a word of German, or for that matter German baby-talk (which I would suppose is the same in all languages).

Here is Babysitter Boogie, with a much older Ralf Bendix (and, uh, the baby looks older too) from 1979:

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]

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.

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.

Crappy Album Covers #50 — Christmas Records

album-cover-crap-27_xmas_bizarrerecords_comImages for this blog entry came largely from the Amy Oops blog.

The song “All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” has been around as a recording since at Daryl Gardner penned it in 1946. The one I remember most was one sung by a kid I don’t know the name of, who whistled all his S’s due to lack of said front teeth.

I sometimes think of that kid. He got so famous for not having front teeth that when they did grow back, he probably paid someone to punch him in the mouth so that he could be without them for the rest of his life and stay famous. He probably grew up to be Norberto de Frietas, a crappy album cover maker from another entry.

It was probably not sung by the kid depicted in this photo.  As you can see, he clearly has his front teeth. But what is more worrisome, and what he really needs are corrective lenses.

album-cover-crap-26_xmas_amyoops_com1If I have to spend Christmas with Rico, I will pay him to take off the costume. And what makes him think that colouring his eyebrows blue makes him into any more of a Santa Claus?

You get the feeling he has a screw loose. Santa is supposed to be cheerful and jolly; Rico does not appear to be smiling. I think I remember seeing a guy like that lined up at a soup kitchen once.

I hope his eyebrows grew back into their proper colour.

.

album-cover-crap-28_xmas_bizarrerecords_com1In the last post, comedians Joe and Bill were wrestling a rifle from a cockeyed farmer. There seems to be a trend with comedian crappy album makers that they just go by their first names.

Here, we can see Swedish comedians Stan and Doug adding the comic conclusion to the saga begun by Rico.

The house looks so bare and dishevelled, that it looks like these guys are breaking into it and stealing everything in sight. They appear to have even stolen the family photos from the walls. You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch!

Crappy Album Covers #48 — Couldn't hit the broad side of a barn …

album-cover-crap-25_lp-cover-loverNot clear on this idea of double-barreled handguns.  Especially guns that use actual wooden barrels to guide the bullet.

Some guns are not made for actual shooting, I suppose.

Dave and Ansel Collins put this reggae album out in 1971. The title track of this album peaked at #22 on Billboard back then. It was a bigger hit in the UK, where it topped the singles chart.

If that’s double-barrel, then it’s a trigger and a hammer short.

album-cover-crap-2_lp-cover-loverThere’s farmer John with a rifle. And there’s the broad side of a barn. I think he missed.

After farmer John’s 10th attempt at seeing if he could hit the broad side of a barn with his shotgun, Joe and Bill come on the scene, trying to take the gun away, because he is getting dangerous with it.

And, during the ensuing struggle, the damned thing goes off again.

Crappy Album Covers #47 — I don't get this

album-cover-crap-6_lp-cover-loverDonnie and Joe Emerson’s 1979 offering, Dreamin’ Wild, is classed in some blogs in the psychedelic rock genre.

So, then I if I look at this picture and think that I see two heads growing out of one body, then I suppose that it’s because I am on acid?

If this is not the case, then, is it Donnie fretting the strings on the guitar or is that the hand of Joe? Am I still tripping on acid?

Also, the background of this photo looks like it was rented from the same outfit that shot their high school photos. Soul-Sides.com has found some actual digitized tracks from this album for your listening pleasure.

album-cover-crap-4_lp-cover-lover“Sterling Blythe Sings” is one of those crappy record album covers with crossover appeal. I don’t know whether to say that it fits in as a “crappy cliche checklist” album, or as a “crappy-by-ambiguousness” album. The background for this album cover could also have come from some kind of background used in high school photos.

On the empty cliche checklist:

  • Cowboy hat? Check.
  • Tight pants with rhinestones? Check
  • Cowboy boots with fancy stitching and dye work? Check.
  • Sitting on a … uh….

… and that’s where the ambiguousness comes in. What the heck is he sitting on? A long branch with his legs dangling in the sky? Or a fence (with his legs still having nothing to rest on)? Looks like he could easily topple over and fall down, and that could be the end of his career.  What we do know, and what the artwork appears to show, is that his right heel is off-camera.  So, if that is the case, then he is sitting on a fence with his feet on the ground. With his legs allowed to rest at that angle, the fence can’t be more than 2 feet off the ground, and so the fence can’t be of the type to keep animals (horses, cows, sheep) out, if this were a real farm. In fact for all we know he could be sitting on a fence in a suburban part of Los Angeles or Boston, the only purpose of the fence being to keep the neighbours off his lawn.

The TI-Inspire is not what it is cracked up to be

84_pad_max192wThis is the TI-Nspire, the calculator that promises to foment lazier minds in students than ever before. I teach math, and I look at all these new calculators with jaundiced eye. Ever see the new caclulators these days (non-graphing) which can come up with exact answers to sum and difference functions of trig angles? This is stuff I want my students to do. Those calculators are banned from tests in our school.

But, OK, I’ll pull in my horns for the moment. This next-generation calculator, which has an interchangeable keyboard so it can also emulate a TI-84+, does most of the TI-84 operations with better graphics, but with more menus and steps, with some new features thrown in.

But there is missing stuff in the Inspire which the TI-84 makes obvious. For one thing, there is no “startup” program. That seems trite, but it is not. In a school setting, a startup program can put an image on the screen which can identify the calculator number and the school name. It is hard to change or erase, which makes it a good addition to a physical marking on the calculator (an etched serial number on the case, for example) to identify the calculator and keep easy track in case a student may carry one of these things and it gets mixed up (this happens sometimes). My personal graphing calculators can do this (TI-84+ and TI-83+), all except the TI-Nspire. The TI-84+ “personality” of the Nspire can do it, except that it flashes the image on for only a split second. It doesn’t wait for a keypress.

But what is more pressing is that the Nspire has no way (yet) to find the intersection of two graphs. The method I am using to find this, and the x-intercept does not seem like a surefire method, and does not seem as intuitive.

The programming language with the Inspire is more sophisticated than with that of the TI-84. It allows for user-defined functions, for example. But it does not have an “INPUT” command to my knowledge. The TI-84 has one, but not the Nspire. The NSpire has an I/O menu, and the only selection there is “DISP”, which is like BASIC’s PRINT command. Without a means for input from the keyboard, the programming functions are pretty useless, unless you want to call up one of their spreadsheets and fill things in manually. In the TI-84, I would be prompted for a number of different inputs and I would allow the calculator to figure out which row/column my input could go in. With the TI-84, I could program statistics commands, fill in tables, and do row/column calculations, all inside my program. I would often use the last row in the table after the program executed to give a bar chart of that data. This has been very useful to get a picture of class mark distributions, for example.

I have to amend what I have said earlier that there is no way to run the code. You can run the code in calculator mode, but without an INPUT statement, you need to pass parameters to it as if it were a function. Of course, I would guess the NSpire’s functions (which are new to the NSpire) work the same way, meaning there is probably little syntactic difference between calling functions versus programs in my view. I have written my first function and ran it in calculator mode, and it works as advertised. But no input.

So far, they are making customers wait for a long time before they put out these new features. And so far, I consider the lack of programmability make the NSpire less useful than the TI-84. The Nspire has been available to the mass market for about 2 years, and it looks like we are going to be made to wait a lot longer for features like these. What is the reason they put out a $200 product that is only half-finished in many areas? I purchased it expecting it to be at least as complete in itself as my other TI calculators. But I have come to the conclusion that it is still a work in progress.

For now, I am not shelving my TI84+ just yet, and am still doing most of my math on it. And for the record, I don’t feel totally ripped off. After all, they do update their operating system and allow us to update our calculators with new firmware upgrades. And some of those upgrades will change the way you do things before the firmware upgrade. Maybe one of these days, one of those changes will be the inclusion of an input statement, and the making of a more genuine programming language.

I attended a conference on the TI-NSpire recently, and one thing I heard teachers say is that kids pick up on the technology a lot faster than us. But of course, there is a motivator. The calculator just hands you the answers, which relieves the student of all the bother of having to think. Well, if you’re a kid who ought to be learning the concepts, that must feel REALLY motivating. Thinking is hard. Pushing buttons is easy. The kids that they had there helping us out at the conference were as stumped as I was when they were presented with my NSpire, having only worked on the CAS. Eventually, I got it to do most of the things we were doing. I hope they were being paid to be there. Looks like they were there as cheap, untrained labour.

At any rate, as for us teachers, we are really focusing on the concepts. My concern is whether this new gadget will deliver the concepts to them better than if I worked examples out by hand on the board. My focus is not on the calculator, it’s on the curriculum. We can change questions to make people think about what the calculator is doing and why, but we are moving away from doing the algebra. The question “why” is a good one, and I make sure I get people to think about things like “what does the log of a number give us?” and so on, every chance I get. But people always need to be drilled on algebra, all the time, every day. Letting a caclulator do this work for us can give the impression that it isn’t as important as it used to be. Algebra is important, even if you will never use it again, because it helps kids develop analytical skills needed in everyday life.

Crappy Album Covers #45 — Teenagers

Teenagers are a difficult demographic to reach, unless you don’t know anything about them. If you know nothing about the demographic, then it does’t pose a difficulty for you. I know that’s kind of like saying that if you don’t know anything about painting a portrait, then slashing the brush in any direction or color at random poses no problem to the painter. It seems that way, with the covers below. If your album overtly suggests that “This album is for teenagers”, I will guarantee you teens won’t buy them. On the other hand, if you say this is “R-rated”, and contains cuss words and sexual suggestions that would put a blush on a two-dollar hooker (you know, like Rap), and that young people shouldn’t buy them at all, then they will fly off the shelves and teens would be the biggest part of the market.

album-cover-crap-19_bizarrerecords_comCase in point, this realistic portrait of teenagers having a good time. I bet you already knew they were listening to this very record, recorded by Bobby Krane and His Orchestra, and distributed by Bravo! Records.

Look! The young lady in the foreground is saying it too! — Bravo! Bravo! At least that looks like what she could be saying.

Look at the photo and indulge in the fantasy that there is still a world where young teen girls don’t dress like sluts; the guys stay straight and sober (by “straight” I meant drug-free, but I guess it could also be taken the other way) and don’t dress like plumber-butt pimps. And the guys even ask the girls “may I have this dance with you?”

And then there’s Tex Ritter. Tex Ritter? And that’s when I woke up.

album-cover-crap-20_bizarrerecords_comThe TOPS record label, which previously warned us about the world ending, are shown here producing records of “12 Top Hits” so you can party like it’s 1999, or more to the point, like it’s 1959.

You have to admit that the one thing that stands out most about this cover is that the lady who is dancing is wearing argyle socks. I thought there was a law passed by Joe McCarthy’s HUAC banning women from wearing argyle socks. It was supposed to be a guy thing. It totally clashes with the pink blouse.  If this is a fashion statement, then she should be arrested by the fashion police for bad fashion grammar.

Once again, the cover consists of the tamest teenagers you’ve never seen. And I don’t think they existed in 1959 either. Even in 1959, teens got drunk, and they had sex. Perhaps the only worthwhile thing that the photo realistically illustrates, is that in 1959, the guys didn’t have the bad taste to wear plumber-butt pants or hoodies, which would have made the chick in argyle look like Elizabeth Taylor (I mean Liz Taylor in 1959, not in 2008).

To anyone born after the 1960s: HUAC = “House Un-American Activities Committee“. It’s sort of like Homeland Security against commies and hippies.

album-cover-crap-18_lp-cover-loverThese seemingly adult-age folks may as well be adolescent, since they are depicted in the way their parents would approve. “I Love Music” was a sampler sent to radio stations across North America from Capitol Records back in 1958. The album cover gives every indication that the HUAC would have approved of this album. Going by the cover, for instance, it is obvious that these two folks are not planning the overthrow of the proletariat, and of taking over the means of production.

The artlessness of these depictions are a sure symptom of the McCarthy era. I recall when I began collecting old issues of Mad Magazine (digested in paperback form) going back to the 1950s, the most boring and least funny issues were during the period of 1958-1963. It couldn’t have been a good time to be a satirist.

And there was one more I forgot to add:
tammy_casual-slack-080726Yes, this 12″ LP of hits, which by the cover seems to treat teenagers as younger than they really are, may not have been headed for any kind of landmark success.

A toy doll with a toy record goes to a toy jukebox to pretend to play music on it. And, what’s left? You can only sing along to the music you are pretending to play.

I must say that much of the advertising I see today parallels the kind of mentality depicted on all of these albums in today’s blog. There is a certain advertising these days that points to a certain clientele, or a certain lifestyle as we would like to see it. But it is made to look artsy, so that you can’t accuse advertisers of appealing to people that don’t really exist. Instead, it can look naive, even idealistically so.  Sticking to album covers, the Putumayo Collection, discussed earlier, is an example of album covers that are like this.