September 2006 Archives

2006-09-27

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The easiest way to poke fun at someone's lame jokes is to explain — deadpan — why the joke that was just told was funny.

Here's the great Brian Sack, talking about a week in Garfield:

WEDNESDAY

Summary:

Jon reports to Garfield that Liz laughed at his jokes all night. When he is greeted by silence, he inquires as to whether it is wrong to question Liz's sense of humor. Garfield suggests that it is not, implying that Jon's sense of humor is not good. The comedy factor is significantly increased by Jon's polka-dot bow tie.

Why this is funny:

We start by laughing at Jon's outrageous bow tie, then we find ourselves rooting for him. The child-like excitement of a 50-year old man gushing in front of his aged, snotty cat is endearing. When his enthusiasm is greeted by silence (a signature Garfield technique) Jon remembers he's not funny. This is reinforced by Garfield who, like Mo'Nique, is never afraid to tell it like it is. The humor is multiplied because Garfield is a little cat and Jon is a human who could conceivably have the snarky feline put to sleep.

Read the whole thing. Since the funny ones were all R-rated and therefore didn't get posted here.

*****

Update from yesterday:

Okay, so on top of my new trim and svelt figure, I've also taken to doing something about the hair. Like using styling products. Not so much combing or anything, just getting some styling stuff, running it through my hair and hoping for the best.

Anyway, the gel stuff has a tendency to get gummed up in the Dolomite Ring. And since it's now easy to slip the thing off, apparently I took the little guy off and then didn't bother to put it back on.

I know how concerned everyone was about it, and I'm sorry for any anguish I may have subjected you all to.

Although I have decided it's time to retire the Dolomite Ring. We had some good times, but I think it's time to move on. To the aforementioned cooler ring that'll be here in about a year.

2006-09-26

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Tragedy has struck! Captain Tragedy!

I didn't get a class ring. From high school or college. I just got a ring. Since, aside from Texas A&M grads, most people don't actually wear class rings. Or you might wear it for a year and then it goes in a box never to be seen again.

Instead of a class ring, I just got a ring. The Dolemite Ring, it's called. Looks not totally unlike a class ring, but it wasn't. Just a piece of onyx and gold. It's over 10 years old and styles change. I think it looks like something I might have stolen from the set of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but whatever. It's part of my look.

Well, as I never shut up about, I've been losing weight lately. (27 lbs. so far, thank you very much.) In fact, I've been losing so much weight, the aforementioned Dolemite Ring was fitting very loosely. So loosely, in fact, that I looked down at my hand a few minutes ago, and realized that it wasn't there! It would seem that it had just plum fallen off!

So, that's today's tragedy. Granted, it's not too terribly much of a tragedy. For starters, with my new trim physique, I doubt people had been able to pry their eyes away from my body to notice my accessories. And in less than a year, I'll be getting a way cooler ring, and I'd probably be retiring the Dolomite Ring anyway.

But still!

2006-09-22

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File this one under: health experts don't know jack.

As you've no doubt heard by now — you know, unless you've spent the last five years under a rock, in a cave, with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears — hydrogenated fats (or "trans fat" as most people call them now) are really bad for you. Like they're the worst kinds of fat you can put in your system. (If you missed out on the terminology, this is why suddenly everyone was saying "Stop eating margerine. You're better off just sticking with butter.")

What you may or may not have heard is that it's not enough to just not use the hydrogenated fats. Some fats are highly unstable under heat and if you use them for cooking, they'll hydrogenate themselves, leaving you with exactly the same trans fats you'd get if you just had the hydrogenated corn oil.

The most stable fats, the ones least likely to oxidize, are saturated fats. Things like animal fats: lard, tallow, and butter. And of the vegetable fats, coconut oil is the highest in saturated fat, and therefore the most stable at high heats.

Okay, knowing all that, rewind about 10 or 15 years. What was the big public health nuisance? Movie popcorn. The flavor of the month for the nanny state types desperate to ruin everyone's fun was saturated fat. And you can imagine their horror when they discovered that movie theaters were cooking their popcorn with... coconut oil.

So the movie theaters capitulated, and they stopped using coconut oil and instead started using... hydrogenated corn oil. That's right. Switching to trans fats was considered the healthy alternative at the time.

So how long do you think until someone launches a campaign against movie popcorn to get the trans fats out of it? I wonder what they'll switch to?

And how long it'll take to switch from that to something else? My guess is in 10 years they'll switch back to coconut oil. Which everyone says was way tastier than the corn oil they're using now.

2006-09-19

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QOTD:

This is Andrew Robb, the Australian government's multicultural spokesman, to a group of imams.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith. And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem."
Whole story can be found here, if you're curious.

Why can't we get guys like him in this country?

*****

QOTD #2:

Given that skinny women are hopelessly manipulated by the fashion industry, and that obese women are hopelessly manipulated by the food industry, I propose the following magic-bullet legislation:

The government buy every obese person subscriptions to the top fashion magazines; meanwhile every skinny person should be forced to sit through a dozen McDonalds, sugary cereal, and Hostess cupcake commercials.

In six months, we'll all wear the same size, and everyone will finally be equal.

That whole story is here.

*****
Funny story from this weekend.

I watched the game at the sports bar around the corner with my uncle. The Sooners are on fire. A.D. Peterson just picks apart the defense, for a touchdown, putting the Sooners up by 13. My uncle says, "I'm out of here. If we lose this game, I don't want to see it."

I liked his thinking, but there was still 6 minutes left, so I thought I'd at least watch the next drive. Three-and-out. So I left, went home, content in the knowledge that we had nothing to worry about. 3 and 0, baby!

Well, I think everyone knows how that story ends.

Moral of the story: There's always enough time for the Sooners to blow the lead. Assume nothing!

2006-09-15

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Before telling you about this story I would first like to point out that the people in question are Sicilian.
A jealous nun appeared in court charged with threats to kill and an arson attack on a priest's house - after she caught him in bed with a married woman.

Sister Silvia Gomes De Sousa, 39, saw red and set fire to Father Carmelo Mantarro's house after she nabbed him 'in flagrante.'

Read the whole thing. The story just gets more and more sordid.

*****

You all may not know this, but as you all know, I'm not just on this extremely ambitious diet and exercise program because I want to look good. I mean, that's part of it, but that's not the whole story or even the biggest part, really. It's that, after years of threatening to take my health seriously, I finally did it.

Not just take my health seriously, I've decided to live forever. I mean, if you're going to dream, dream big*.

Obviously medical technology doesn't allow people to live forever right now, so I'm hoping that I can live long enough that once something breaks they'll be able to fix it. Though to increase my odds, I should obviously keep myself as well preserved as possible. They're making seriously progress on the robotic exoskeleton but it'd be nice if my endoskeleton were in good shape until then.

Anyway, I read this story with great interest. It was about, you guessed it, longevity.

The point of this story seems to be that longevity has little to do with genes, and is basically a crap-shoot. Which is true. You could have great chunks of plaque lining your arteries for decades, and none of them quite get around to dislodging themselves and giving you the fatal heart attack the actuaries would say you should have had at the age of 43. Or you can be fit as a fiddle, but somehow a vein bursts in your brain and you're dead within minutes.

Or cancer. My mom and one of my aunts are identical twins. They both started smoking at the age of 16. 20 years later, my mom has lung cancer, and my aunt doesn't.

Why? Nobody knows. It certainly wasn't genetics. I mean, they might both be predisposed to cancer, but the plain facts are that my mom was the one who actually got it.

And this is just diseases. It's not even bringing into account accidents. Some people ride motorcycles into their 80's never wearing having worn a helmet. And how old is Ben Roethlisberger?

The point being, I guess my goal of living forever, or even living to 100, is probably quixotic. About all you can do is try to keep yourself in as good shape as you can.

So after some consideration, I've decided the reason I'm losing weight is because I want to look good. If I happen to live any longer, gravy.

*****

Tradesports.com has the Republicans with about an 83% chance of hanging on to the Senate and about a 53% chance of hanging onto the House. The House swing is huge. They were sitting at around 40% just a few weeks ago.

Whether or not that's a good thing is something I don't want to get into. (All things considered, I don't think it is, but never mind about that.) The interesting question is, Why? I mean, the polls have looked up for them, but it's got to be more than that for the futures investor types to become so bullish on them.

No, I think the answer can be found in this story:

The recent sharp drop in the global price of crude oil could mark the start of a massive sell-off that returns gasoline prices to lows not seen since the late 1990s — perhaps as low as $1.15 a gallon.
It's the Iron Law of Modern American Politics: people's attitudes about incumbents is inversely proportional to the price of gas. When gas is expensive, people assume the folks in charge are doing a good job. When it isn't they don't.

Actually the connection to presidential approval ratings was spelled out, among other places, in this post. I suspect it's more general than that. We'll see, though.

All I know is that my personal mood has improved dramatically. Like when I can gas up La Tortuga for under $100, the world seems like a better place.

*****

If you're real bored today read the famous last words of Dutch Schultz. This man was a genius. It's like a prose version of a David Lynch movie.

Too bad it wasn't until he was dying anyone found out.

two thousand; come on, get some money in that treasury; we need it; come on, please get it; I can't tell you to. You are telling the truth, aren't you, Mr. Harris. That is not what you have in the book. Oh, yes I have. Oh, please, warden. Please. What am I going to do for money. How is that; how do you like that? Please put me on my feet, at once. Thank you, Sam, you are a boiled man; I do it because you ask me to. Did you hear me? i would hear it, the Circuit Court would hear it, and the Supreme Court might hear it. Come on, pull me up, sir. All right. Cam Davis. Oh, please reply. N.R.A. If that ain't the payoff. Please crack down on the Chinaman's friends and Hitler's commander. All right, I am sore and I am going to give you honey if I can. look out. We broke that up. Mother is the best bet and don't let Satan draw you too fast.
* My only concern in mentioning this is that I've just given myself the literal kiss of death, and I'll end up getting gored by a wild ox tomorrow morning. Let's hope not.

That's an exaggeration. But not much of one.

2006-09-13

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Did you know that driving while nude is illegal? What country is this? Iran?

George Bush recently referred to the al Qaeda types as Islamic fascists. Well, apparently there are religious fascists in this country as well. Granted, the al Qaeda types would like to have gay folks murdered by dropping walls on them, whereas this guy just got arrested for driving in the buff.

But never mind about that. There's clearly intolerance everywhere, and we should start looking at the man in the mirror before we start criticizing other people.

*****

The word of the day is Cynocephaly. Read all about it.

*****

Things have been quiet around the 'Dog recently, and sorry about that. But certainly things have not been quiet around Chez Famous J.

First off, as I may have alluded to in my previous post, I'm back on the diet train. Nothing gimmicky, really. Just cooking at home. And as I also alluded to, everything starts from something fresh. Nothing from a box, nothing from a can. And no starchy things, like breads and spuds. (Alas...)

Everything me and the fam eat these days starts out as raw meat or raw vegetables, plus about five cloves of garlic, some spices, olive oil, and occasional condiments like nam pla, and (after a few hours' work) is transformed into something delicious. But would this all work for me to lose weight?

Well, the preliminary results are in, and as of this morning, I've dropped 21 lbs. Granted, I have another 23 or so lbs yet to lose, but this is serious progress.

The only thing I'm worried about is that I may just plateau here. I've stopped doing all the things that you're not supposed to do and started doing all the things you are. I've started working out, lifting the weights. I don't snack at all between meals. I don't drink any sodee-pop or really any carbs to speak of, other than the aforementioned vegetables. Then there was this box of donuts sitting inthe break room all day yesterday, just staring at me, saying, "J! You've been such a good boy! Reward yourself! Might I suggest this handsome fellow over here with the delicious coconut sprinkles all over him? He looks delicious and he's just raring to be eaten. So, go ahead! You know you want to."

Did I buckle? Did I fill my mouth with coconut-infused tastiness? No, sir! I did no such thing!

But the biggest impact you can make on yourself is just doing something. Like going from eating the cake every time you're in the vicinity of it to, you know, not eating cake. That's a way bigger lifestyle change than to go from eating well to eating very well. Or to go from the heaviest thing you lift being the remote to lifting actual weights. Really heavy ones. I guess I can lift even heavier things – and I'm sure I will – but that's not going to make as big a difference as just getting started.

Well, I suppose I'll worry about that another time. All I know is that right now, I'm in a better mood than I've been at any point since I quit smoking. And I feel dynamite. I have a ton of energy, a fact that has been driving the Cub and the Fiancée nuts lately, since about a half hour after eating, I just start pacing around the house like a caged tiger.

Anyway, this weekend, if I've lost another pound by then, I'll be halfway there, and I'm going to actually reward myself by blowing the diet completely and taking the Cub and myself for pizza. And to reward the Cub for putting up with the lack of anything fattening.

Let's hope I don't do too much damage.

*****

I mentioned getting restless and pacing around the house. This happened a few days ago after I read this story about light bulbs.

It's about those Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs, or CFL's. They're those little soft-serve ice cream cone-looking things that you've possibly noticed next to the proper light bulbs. The ones that cost $3.50 a piece, versus, I dunno, 50 cents a piece.

Well, as I read the story, I came across this nugget:

What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
Interesting. I kept reading.
Swirl bulbs don't just work, they pay for themselves. They use so little power compared with old reliable bulbs, a $3 swirl pays for itself in lower electric bills in about five months. Screw one in, turn it on, and it's not just lighting your living room, it's dropping quarters in your pocket. The advantages pile up in a way to almost make one giddy. Compact fluorescents, even in heavy use, last 5, 7, 10 years. Years. Install one on your 30th birthday; it may be around to help illuminate your 40th.
Saving the world's dwindling supply of precious fossil fuels, well, that'd be dandy, but I'm probably not going to go through the trouble. This part, however, grabbed me. Specifically, it grabbed me right as I was riding my usual post-prandial energy surge. And I absolutely had to go out right then (at 8:30 at night) and get some of these bulbs!

"Where are you going?" said the Fiancée.

"Don't you see?!" I said, a drop of sweat slowly trickling down my crazed face. "We're losing money right now! As we speak!" I reached into my pocket and dropped some coins in front of me. "It's like we're just throwing money away! Do you think we have so much money we can just throw it away?!"

The Fiancée stared at me blankly for a few seconds, no doubt wondering what she'd gotten herself into agreeing to marry this lunatic. Then the blank look shifted to a defeated one. "All right, fine."

So I got a few bulbs to replace the lights that had been burned out for the last few weeks, like the one in the hallway whose absence almost caused my death a few times at least. And I got a few others to replace some of the lights that stay on for days at a time, like the one right outside the front door. And a few more as backups.

I don't know if it was worth the effort. It certainly wasn't worth the urgency. But I suppose these strange errands at odd hours of the night are part of the darker side of the new, leaner, and overall-improved Famous J.

*****

By the way, the story about the lightbulbs is about more than just lightbulbs. It's also a peek inside the culture of Walmart. Really interesting stuff. Let it suffice to say, the Walmart folks come across as being the exact opposite of what I'd imagine the typical Walmart protester thinks they're like. Which is to say, nobody had a monocle and a Snidely Whiplash-style mustache, nobody lit their gigantic cigars with $100 bills and cackled about how they're going to screw over the little guy. Quite the opposite.

I got the sense that the Walmart people know they're #1, but that they're genuinely serious about making the customer's life better and using their market share to do good.