December 2008 minutiae

  • Follow-up on last month's observation that the two tickets in this year's election were composed of Barack Hussein Obama II, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., John Sidney McCain III, and Sarah Palin née Heath, daughter of Sarah Heath: we can actually keep going in this vein. Obama is succeeding George Walker Bush, son of George Herbert Walker Bush. Biden is succeeding Richard Bruce Cheney, son of Richard Herbert Cheney. Bush's opponents in his runs for the presidency were John Forbes Kerry, son of Richard John Kerry, and Albert Arnold Gore Jr., who served two terms as vice president under William Jefferson Blythe III.

  • I think I've discovered why I like Scary Go Round a lot less than I used to — and it's not just that everyone in it now has a lamentable Pinocchio nose. It's a matter of the balance of the cast. The main characters used to be dotty Shelley, Amy the brat, Ryan the buffoon, and Tim the smart competent one whose reach sometimes exceeded his grasp but who nonetheless functioned as an anchor for the others. And then John Allison shuffled Tim off to Wales and replaced him with Desmond Fish-Man, who is basically a toddler in every respect. You can't have a cast made up of four clowns! That's like trying to write Gilligan's Island with seven Gilligans.

    But then, every time Allison adds a character to serve as the voice of reason — Riley, Erin — he freaks out and gets rid of her. Probably because, as the voice of reason, she inevitably winds up making the extremely reasonable observation that the main characters are annoying idiots whom she'd prefer to avoid. And so we end up with a strip in which the tatted-up spoiled art student with green hair is the grounded one.

  • In writing my article on the Whigs I started in on a paragraph about ostensible democracies dominated by a single party. The first two that sprang to mind were Mexico and Japan, so I did a bit of research. First I looked up the PRI, which controlled the Mexican government from 1928 to 2000 (14 presidencies in a row). Here is its logo:

    That's pretty much what you'd expect from an "Institutional Revolutionary Party," no? Very solid, very official-looking, very Ingsoc. This is the sort of logo you can imagine at the bottom of a press release about adjustments to the chocolate ration.

    Then you have the LDP, which has ruled Japan since 1955 except for a brief blip in 1993/4. This CIA-backed conservative party has supplied Japan with 23 prime ministers over the past 53 years. Here is its logo:

    Oh, Japan. If you ever go totalitarian your image of Big Brother will be Hello Kitty.

  • It's a good thing I keep such weird hours, because if I were trying to sleep I would probably be really pissed off about the loud music on my street at 2 am.

  • I've noticed that for some reason most of the ads on a lot of big mainstream web sites are for "IQ tests." They blare that Barack Obama's IQ or Brett Favre's IQ is some seemingly random number and then ask whether you can beat that score. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I looked into what the story here was. Turns out that they ask you a handful of very simple questions and then ask you to submit your cell phone number to receive your score — and then of course it turns out that by doing so you're signing up for some sort of bullshit "word of the day" or "ringtone of the month" service that costs $50/month. My question is: why did the goons glom onto "IQ tests" as the hook that would snare millions of suckers? Is there some sort of deep vein of anxiety about intelligence that they're tapping into? Or do they simply have a rich sense of irony?

  • Whuh? Anna Paquin was naked on HBO and I wasn't informed?

  • So after a year or two of peace, there is now once again a rooster crowing on my street every morning. I can only conclude it was a Christmas present. Who asks for a rooster for Christmas?

  • About eight years ago I put up a post (since removed due to age) about foods I didn't like in childhood but had come to enjoy between 1990 and 2000: strawberries, salsa, spinach, broccoli, guacamole, enchiladas, home fries, zucchini, bell peppers, and pesto. I figured that it was about time for an update. So, browsing through the index of my cookbooks, I found a fair number of foods I disliked in 2000 but enjoy today:

    Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, chard, corn tortillas, eggplant, leeks, olives, onions, parsley, pistachios, polenta, raw tomato, sundried tomatoes, tangerines.

    I still don't care for: beets, bitter greens, raw carrots, raw celery, most cheese (blue cheese, goat cheese, sheep cheese, feta, etc.), dark chocolate, cucumber, dates, East Asian food, endive, figs, pears, plums, portobello mushrooms, okra, radicchio, radishes, raisins, most root vegetables (parsnips, turnips, rutabegas), sage in significant quantities, soy products (tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc.), sunchokes (evil in vegetable form!).

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