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Joseph Cannon, the man who gave us Kos Zombies now gives us the holiday classic, How The Bro Stole The Country.

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Thank you, Joseph Cannon; your way with imagery is...eloquent.

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From Newsweek:

Fatness has always been seen as a slight on the American character. Ours is a nation that values hard work and discipline, and it's hard for us to accept that weight could be not just a struggle of will, even when the bulk of the research—and often our own personal experience—shows that the factors leading to weight gain are much more than just simple gluttony. "There's this general perception that weight can be controlled if you have enough willpower, that it's just about calories in and calories out," says Dr. Glen Gaesser, professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and author of BigFat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health, and that perception leads the nonfat to believe that the overweight are not just unhealthy, but weak and lazy. Even though research suggests that there is a genetic propensity for obesity, and even though some obese people are technically healthier than their skinnier counterparts, the perception remains "[that] it's a failure to control ourselves. It violates everything we have learned about self control from a very young age," says Gaesser.

In a country that still prides itself on its Puritanical ideals, the fat self is the "bad self," the epitome of greed, gluttony, and sloth. "There's a widespread belief that fat is controllable," says Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. "So then it's unlike a disability where you can have compassion; now you can blame the individual and attribute all kinds of mean qualities to them. Then consider the thinner people that are always watching what they eat carefully—fat people are symbols of what they can become if they weren't so virtuous."

I personally, take no pride in the Puritanical foundation upon which the United States was built. If anything, I find it disgusting, as it is nothing more than a vulgar cycle of abuse which the Puritans perpetuated. They claimed oppression from which point they set forth to conquer a new land and become the oppressors. And so it has been throughout history: the oppressed are never satisfied with becoming free - satisfaction comes with taking the place of those who were doing the oppressing.

Granted, that interpretation simplifies matters greatly. However, I see "fat hatred" as yet another extension and manifestation of that particular mindset.

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Inspiration from misfortune (part one):

Sons of Maxwell - "United Breaks Guitars"

Read the full story.

Should I ever become successful enough to require an aeroplane in order to travel to gigs...well, I'm not so I'm going to avoid thinking about it and giving myself yet another thing to worry about unnecessarily. Suffice it to say that I can't even stand the thought of putting my keyboard in the belly of a Greyhound bus, which is one of many reasons I always rent a vehicle when I perform outside of Pittsburgh.

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Link stolen from Business Insider. "Beaker" starts rantings at 1:50, for those of you who want to skip nearly two minutes of bullshit about how the economy is improving.

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BDBlue at Corrente posits a theory as to why the Democrats are not taking a more aggressive stance in pushing policy. An excerpt:

[Obama] is a symptom of a disease that the left caught some time ago, going back at least to the 1980s if not to the 1970s. In other words, the left is not weak because we have Barack Obama. We have Barack Obama because we are weak.

There are lots of reasons for why the left weakened since the 1960s. The domestic successes of the Johnson era were undermined by Vietnam, in both its political and economic costs. The rise of the conservatives and neocons fueled in part by resentment over the civil rights victories of the 1960s (backlashes against minorities and women). And so on.

The Democrats have the White House, and majorities in Congress. Yet, there remains no fight in this party...the phrase "learned helplessness" comes to mind. I can only wonder if I'd have a chance of winning if ever I ran for public office; would I lose because I am truly unelectable or would I lose because I don't care what the world thinks as I pursue the course I think best, which is something the establishment simply couldn't allow?

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Ted Rall's syndicated column this week takes aim at Obama's half-assed plan for healthcare reform. The money quote:

There is no true middle ground on healthcare. The most civilized and efficient approach, tried and tested by the rest of the industrialized world, is fully socialized medicine. Put the insurance vampires out of business. Cutting out the health profiteers and encouraging preventative care will save hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Failing a comprehensive solution, let the free market reign. True, 20,000 Americans will continue to die each year due to lack of insurance. But private healthcare corporations will continue to invest in innovative treatments and medications. The city of Hartford will keep adding shiny new skyscrapers to its skyline--and our taxes won't go even higher over this issue.

Obamacare offers the worst of both worlds--it would be expensive and inadequate.

The main reason I do not support Obama's Public Option plan is because, unlike Single Payer, it does not address the problem: the insurance companies. It is vulgar that we in the United States have placed dollar values on human lives. I recently had a friend mention that due to reorganisation in the company they work for, their employer insurance deductible has sky-rocketed to over $1,000. Under Obama's plan, for-profit insurance companies will be allowed to continue abusing people like that. It is the rare, privileged few who can afford a $1,000 deductible.

Obama's Public Option plan is like sticking a band-aid on a broken leg. It doesn't even begin to address the real problems with the healthcare system in the United States.

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So sayeth Prince. Yes, I'm a curmudgeon who agrees with him - video games like "Guitar Hero" are a pox on real musicianship the same way that Twitter is a pox on in-depth expression.

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How to make cricket exciting; From Reuters:

MUMBAI (Reuters) – A helicopter stopped play in a domestic cricket game in India after the pilot mistook the pitch for a landing pad, local media reported on Sunday.

Players were forced to abort Saturday's one-day game and scurry for cover when the hapless pilot set the chopper down on the letter 'H' painted in the corner of the cricket ground.

The 'H' stands for the name of the Himachal Pradesh team in the north-west Indian state.

A fire near the stadium also added to the confusion of the pilot, who misinterpreted it for smoke signals, according to the Hindustan Times.

A giant H and a fire causing a chopper to set down on a cricket field...who needs television sitcoms anymore!

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That controversial octuplet mother...the one who already had six children but got ultra-fertilised anyhow. The one who has no way of supporting all of her crotch-droppings without massive welfare handouts. There are now photos of her belly from mere days before the babies were born. It's...hypnotic...

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"Six more weeks of winter for waking me from my Superbowl celebration hangover, you jagoffs! Go Steelers!"

Bonus: Rob Rogers Cartoon

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Ted Rall's column this week is a blistering piece on how Obama, not even receiving a fraction of the criticism of George W. Bush, may end up ultimately being worse for the country than the former president. A sample:

The soaring optimistic rhetoric of the campaign ("yes we can") is no more, replaced by the sober, string-synced cello strains of Yo-Yo Ma. So is Obama's million-dollar smile. The Dour One is demanding patience. And he's getting it, for now: "Most respondents [to the New York Times/CBS News poll taken January 19th] said they thought it would take Mr. Obama two years or more to deliver on campaign promises to improve the economy, expand health care coverage and end the war in Iraq."

Setting the bar low seems to be working. Seventy-nine percent of Americans say they're optimistic about the next four years under Obama.

Sad, pathetic Americans! Like a dog that's been beaten eight long years, they're so psyched about the fact that their new master doesn't drool and speaks coherent English that they'll follow him anywhere. The media is in love with The One and so, therefore, is the public. No one questions him.

The whole column is well worth reading, of course. Also it is certain to bunch of the shorts of many a Kool-Aide drinker out there. It was these first three sentences of the final paragraph however which struck me as the only blemish on an otherwise perfect piece:

Give the man a chance? Not me. I've sized up him, his advisors and their plans, and already found them sorely wanting.

The actuality of course that Ted Rall did give Obama a chance in the same manner as millions of other Americans: Rall voted for Obama. I, however, read the tea leaves during the campaign and opted not to give Obama a chance as I leveraged my vote against him.

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I remember being taught to write in Cursive in grade school. While forming loopy letters didn't much bother me (except for the letter Q, which I have always refused to write in Cursive, as it looks like a "2") having ignorant teachers berate me for slanting my letters the "incorrect" way certainly did. I have something in common with President Obama: I am left-handed. However, unlike the President, I learned the proper way to position my writing paper so as to avoid hooking my wrist and smudging what I was writing.

The fact that I learned this independently says something about the public school system. When writing in Cursive, the proper position for a right-handed person to slant his or her paper is with the top angled towards the left. This aids in creating the distinctive rightward slant of Cursive writing. Just the opposite is true for lefties: the proper position for the writing paper is with the top angled towards the right. This, of course, would naturally lead left-handed people to slant their Cursive in the opposite direction and was exactly what happened with my writing. Certain teachers of mine were relentlessly critical about this development. Of course, the disapproval of a few educators with overinflated egos wasn't about to cramp my personal style - especially when I was the only left-handed student leaving class without ink smudged down the side of my hand.

In grade school, I was told how important Cursive writing would be later on in life. I was told a lot of lies in grade school. As it stands, the only times I ever write in Cursive anymore are when I make out a cheque or sign my name to an official document. Most of my writing done with my hands on a computer keyboard, learning how to type having been a far more useful skill than learn to write in Cursive. When I write song lyrics, which I do on paper, rather than at a computer, I write them out in Manuscript (honestly, it wouldn't matter if I wrote them in either style, no one but me is able to read them regardless).

So, for me, Cursive is well on it's way to extinction and this IndyStar article buttresses that argument:

Cursive is still widely taught in U.S. elementary schools, according to a 2007 nationwide study by Vanderbilt University on handwriting instruction. It surveyed a random sampling of about 200 teachers in grades one through three.

Ninety percent of teachers who responded said their schools required instruction in handwriting. Of those who taught it, half of second-grade teachers and 90 percent of third-grade teachers offered cursive instruction.

Also, the emphasis has shifted from the beauty of handwriting to writing efficiently, the study found.

With the ever-increasing role of computers in our lives, I don't see the "efficiency" argument flying for very long. Even when I was in college, term papers were typed into MS Word and printed out - they were never written in Cursive.

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From Pennlive.com:

Ellen Ewing, who has two Brittany spaniels buried in the Humane Society of Lebanon County's animal cemetery behind its Myerstown headquarters, said she and other pet owners couldn't believe what they saw recently.

She and others "walked around in shock" after seeing how gravestones were removed and markers covered over as the society converts the cemetery to a memorial park.

"We feel very violated," Ewing said, adding it looks like someone took a backhoe and pushed the headstones to one side of the cemetery, breaking some.

Tracy Stevens, president of the society's Board of Directors, has said the ground was sinking, making the cemetery difficult to maintain. Plans are to fence in the plot and create a memorial area in which dogs can exercise and prospective owners can meet pets, with no further burials planned.

Eventually, remaining headstones might be placed along a new memorial walk in a wooded area next to the cemetery, Stevens said.

Owners of pets in the cemetery weren't notified of the changes because the society lost the list of names, Stevens said. But the society did put a notice in its newsletter, she said.

So far, Stevens said, no one has asked for a refund of the fee paid for burial, which ranged from $75 to $300.

So, I guess it would be safe to assume that no one at the Humane Society of Lebanon County has ever read a Steven King novel?

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Just now, I dropped by Yahoo! News and one of the current top stories is a riveting Associated Press piece with the following headline: "Obama takes a break for some chili and sausage." Depending on the President-elect's intestinal fortitude, I predict that within the next hour, the AP will post a follow-up story bearing the headline "Obama takes a break at the loo."

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This article contains what I believe to be one of the best introductory sentences ever typed: "With her pierced nose and ripped jeans Eliana Burki is a symbol of anarchy in the Swiss alphorn scene."

U-crash

Dec. 13th, 2008 03:30 pm
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Dallas/Fort Worth television station WFAA reports:

A man just meant to pop the hood on his U-Haul truck Friday night. Instead, that simple act started a chain reaction of dangerous and destructive events.

The truck was parked in front of a house on Joe Pool Drive, where a family was moving out around 7 o'clock.

Fire investigators say the driver reached in to open the hood, but apparently disengaged the parking brake by mistake.

In his frenzy to stop the rollling truck, the driver made another mistake — he hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

Witnesses said the moving truck careened across the street at a high rate of speed, running over the driver's friend, who was standing right in front of the vehicle.

Then the U-Haul crashed into the front of the house where Amy Nicholas and her fiance were inside.

Unanswered question: why was he popping the hood in the first place? Furthermore, how could one ever forget brake left, gas right? At least the only people hurt in this case were the ones "operating" the truck.

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From the Department of Random Top Ten Lists: The Ten Most Disturbing Puppets Ever Shown on TV. And yes, I did have nightmares as a kid after seeing the "Egyptian Ernie" sequence of Sesame Street, but that is nothing compared to the Wiggles clip shown on the page.

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I'm guessing that this guy will eventually be caught in a scandal involving a men's restroom stall and a republican politician. It's a gut feeling I have.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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