15-40

I’ve never had much patience for sci-fi buffs.  Maybe it was the sci-fi buffs I spent my time around – I don’t know – but their (stereotypically) prickly anal-retentiveness over their genre always rubbed me the wrong way. 

And so I never really understood the whole “Firefly” thing – especially the show’s fans’ anger over the show’s (I gathered from listening to the tribe talking) sudden cancellation.   But working in technology as I do, I heard a lot of complaints.

No.  A lot.

Never could figure out what the fuss was about.

Then, last year, I finally fired up Netflix Streaming.  And Firefly – a “space western” produced by Joss Whedon – was one of the options.

So I started watching. 

And about ten days later, after getting to the end of episode 14, I started looking for the next epi. 

And looking.

And looking.

And remembering the growls and howls of my co-worker fanboys and fangirls.

And then I got angry.  And then just sad and disappointed at the waste of so much…potential. 

And I stayed a little of both.

Until today

UPDATE:  Or not. 

I guess it’s karma; for all the times I’ve yanked others’ chains, it’s probably fitting that I not only fell for a April Fools joke, but one that’s been around for a few years. 

OK.  The universe is at balance. 

For now.

(Play that joke on me again, and you’ll be awake, facing me, and armed…)

Minor Penalty for (Not) Checking

What’s one way to guarantee fighting will remain a staple of professional hockey?

Have Ralph Nader argue against it.

Reading his open letter to Gary Bettman, you can tell Nader hasn’t watched too much hockey in, say, the last several decades. After conceding there is no evidence directly connecting fighting to brain injuries…he says, “[r]epeated head trauma has shortened the careers of Pat LaFontaine, Eric Lindros, and Keith Primeau.  Currently, concussions are threatening the careers of Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar Sidney Crosby and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Chris Pronger.”

 

First thing’s first: How many of those guys got concussions from fighting? Primeau maybe?

The off-ice deaths of Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak (all of whom Nader cites in his impassioned plea for new rules attention) have certainly re-focused discussion on how the NHL is addressing the issue of concussions and brain injuries.  Every sport is rightly doing so.  But changing any of the rules of hockey likely won’t significantly reduce concussions when the players on the rink are getting bigger, stronger and faster.  Witness the NFL where despite a litany of new rules designed to protect players most at risk for such injuries (QBs, WRs & DBs), concussions were only increasing (167 in total in 2010; the 2011 numbers haven’t been finished but were up to 146 by only week 12).  And this in a sport where fighting might earn you a five week suspension, not a five minute one.

If rules need to be adjusted to reduce concussions, it ought to be on the amateur levels where the differences in size and talent are more extreme than on the professional.  A 2010 Canadian study of junior hockey showed a higher rate of concussions per game than anything the professionals have to worry about.  And those concussions had nothing to do with fighting since fighting is already banned in such leagues.

If the NHL wants to take steps to finally ban actual fist-a-cuffs in games, fine by me.  But let’s not pretend that doing so accomplishes anything related to reducing brain injuries.

My Old Colleague Bucky

One day when I was 16 or 17, working at my first radio station (KEYJ in Jamestown, ND), I worked my usual Saturday “morning” shift – 5AM to 3PM.  At the end of the shift, one of the station’s full-timers, a guy we’ll call Bucky, came in after me to work the Saturday night shift.

I walked over to the newsroom to put the stories I’d done that day into the files.  ”Bucky” sat down at the console and, at the end of the 3:00 network newscast at 3:05, spun the news sounder and started reading the news.

His first story got my ear to perk up.

“According to a publicly-available source, Jamestown man, John Smith [a pseudonym - Ed.], was convicted of shoplifting at the Pamida store.  We are unclear whether it’s the John Smith that lives at 1024 Second Avenue Southeast in Jamestown.  If you are John Smith of 1024 Second Avenue Southeast of Jamestown, please call the station at 252-1400 and confirm whether you are or are not the John Smith who was reported to have been convicted of shoplifting at Pamida.  In other news…”

In a few minutes, the newscast ended, and he rolled a song.  I walked into the control room.

“Um, Bucky?  Where did you get that thing about John Smith?”

He handed me a mimeographed sheet entitled “People Who Shoplifted At Pamida”.  It included a generic-looking list of names – although no details were given – and concluded with an ad for a store at the Buffalo Mall that sold mostly anti-shoplifting products for busiensses.

“Bucky, this is not official in any way!”

“That’s right!”, he said.  ”That’s why I asked him to call in and confirm it was him!”, he said, cueing up another record as the sound of screeching brakes echoed up from the street below.  I looked out the window – it was the station’s owner and manager, climbing out of his car and racing toward the door.

“That’s not how you’re supposed to do it, though.  You get the confirmation before you go on the air…”

“Don’t worry!”, he chirped.  ”I’m a journalist, reporting the news, and I’m protected by the First Amendment, and…” he started, as the manager threw open the control room door, reached over the console, grabbed Bucky by the hair and belt, bodily lifted him from the chair, and hefted him out into the hall.  ”Take over, Mitch”, he bellowed, as I heard more screeching from the street below.  I looked out, and saw four lawyers and John Smith of 1024 Second Avenue Southeast climbing out of cars, as the GM tossed Bucky out into the street, bellowing “You’re Fired!” at the top of his lungs.

As the frenzy started below, the manager walked back into the studio.

“Sheesh.  Who taught that guy how to do reporting?  You do know that you clarify things that could damage peoples’ livelihoods and reputations before you air the allegations in public – don’t you?”

“Sheesh, Bob – of course I do!”

“Good.  OK, I’ll try to get someone in here to spell you.  Holy crap”.   He walked back to his office.

Apropos nothing at all.

Why, yes.  The story is completely fictional.  It’s why I put it in the “Humor” category, silly.

Trumped Up

The Donald leads the field.  I blame women and independents.

Are his 15 minutes of this election cycle up yet? 

It may only be a poll of 385 Republicans nation-wide, but carrying the increasingly limited gravatis of CNN as the poll’s sponsor, few news outlets will miss the opportunity to write the following headline: “Trump GOP’s frontrunner.”

CNN/Opinion Research 2012 Republican Nomination Survey

  • Donald Trump 19% [10%]
  • Mike Huckabee 19% [19%] {21%} (21%) [14%] {24%} (17%)
  • Sarah Palin 12% [12%] {19%} (14%) [18%] {15%} (18%)
  • Newt Gingrich 11% [14%] {10%} (12%) [15%] {14%} (8%)
  • Mitt Romney 11% [18%] {18%} (20%) [21%] {20%} (22%)
  • Ron Paul 7% [8%] {7%} (7%) [10%] {8%} (8%)
  • Michele Bachmann 5%
  • Mitch Daniels 3% [3%] {3%}
  • Tim Pawlenty 2% [3%] {3%} (3%) [3%] {2%} (5%)
  • Rick Santorum 2% [3%] {1%} (2%) [2%] {3%} (5%)
  • Haley Barbour 0% [1%] {3%} (3%) [3%] {1%} (1%)
  • Someone else (vol.) 3% [4%] {5%} (7%) [6%] {5%} (8%)
  • None/No one (vol.) 4% [3%] {4%} (4%) [0%] {5%} (2%)

Trump may be nothing more in the current field than a name ID with an awful comb-over, but the Trump Brand apparently has some political value – especially with Republican-leaning independents and women.  Trump is the first choice of both demographics in the poll, with 24% and 23% respectively. 

The poll may well represent the zenith of Trump’s 2012 candidacy.  On the same day that Trump may capture headlines with his likely dubious polling “lead”, the real estate mogul of New York City politically shot himself in the foot – twice.  First, by publicly claiming that he’d run as an independent if the GOP didn’t nominate him and secondly, by writing scathing notes to a Vanity Fair blogger over a profile.

2011_04_donjtrump.jpg

Harry Truman once wrote an angry letter that caught the public’s eye.  Of course Truman, writing to Washington Post music critic Paul Hume, was defending his daughter against what he believed to be an unfair assault.  Truman’s critique was equal parts Oscar Wilde and Rocky Marciano in it’s prose.  And to channel Lloyd Bentsen: Mr. Trump, you’re no Harry Truman.

Donald’s “Trumpisms” have only continued in recent interviews.  In addition to his “birtherism” fetish, he’s “only interested in Libya if we take the oil,” “I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take over the oil,” and “I would tell China that you’re either going to shape up, or I’m going to tax you at 25% for all the products you send into this country.”

Trump has said he’ll wait until June to make a decision – or perhaps until “The Apprentice” gets off the TV renewal bubble and signed for another season on NBC.

Trump Card

P.T. Barnum runs for president. 

He’s vowed that he’s taking a presidential bid seriously.   He’s sent aides on “exploratory trips” for his nascent campaign.  He’s pledged millions of dollars towards his candidacy.  And what’s more, he’s taken seriously – by the media, the punditry, and the polls. 

Of course, all of that was in 2000.

When it comes to the media’s political fascination with eccentric billionaire millionaire massive debt holder Donald Trump, few could argue that the Donald is the rightful heir to 19th century showman P.T. Barnum.  For Trump’s multiple aborted presidential candidacies, ranging from 1988, to 2000, and now, prove Barnum’s misattributed cultural epitaph that indeed a sucker is born every minute.

Like Charlie Brown convincing himself that this time Lucy will not pull away the football, much of the media has engaged Trump’s third would-be presidential bid with increasing seriousness.  And why not?  Trump polls surprisingly well against the expected Republican field, placing fourth with 11% just days ago in a Fox News national poll.  Even Trump seems to be taking his latest political dalliance seriously enough to risk his most important attribute – his brand – by claiming to seek the nomination of one of the two major parties rather than another circa 2000 independent bid.

What remains harder to fathom is Trump’s appeal in the first place.  For a man known for his super ego, getting to the id of Donald Trump is vexing for many in the punditry.  Some view Trump as a symptom of the weak Republican field.  George Will likewise dismissed Trump as part of the gaggle of “spotlight-chasing candidates of 2012.”  Charles Krauthammer looked pained to even have to discuss Trump’s candidacy.  Others view Trump as the closing argument in their case of the failure of the political class:

Trump is suddenly “winning” as a political figure because the political class has failed. The authority of our political institutions is weak and getting weaker; it’s not that Americans ‘lack trust’ in them, as blue ribbon pundits and sociologists often lament, so much as they lack respect for the people inside them.

There is a lot of crazy surrounding the Trump phenomenon — some excellent, some embarrassing. But the massive fact dominating it all is that never before has such a famous outsider jumped into national politics with such an aggressive critique of a sitting president and the direction of the country — and never before has the response been so immediate and positive.

Um, not quite.

The novelty of Trump 2012 isn’t that novel.  The celebrity politician is nothing new – nor is Trump’s anti-Obama bravado.  Trump’s “aggressive critique” has largely been an ad hoc foreign policy mixing neo-conservative bluster and paleo-conservative isolationism with a chaser of paranoia that Obama is the country’s first super secret Nigerian sleeper agent.  Perhaps the only true novelty of Trump’s “candidacy” is that he would link his image to “birtherism.”  Or maybe Trump is merely projecting and he’s the sleeper agent sent to undermine the GOP.  After all, he did call Nancy Pelosi “the best.”

Understanding how an arrogant, over-the-top self-promoter has risen in the polling ranks of the GOP field doesn’t require searching for some sort of meta answer.  After a number of political cycles in which the presidential race started incredible early, for once the field is not settled nor is any candidate dashing out of the gates.  Trump represents a known name whose actively in the news – for better or for worse.  Few other contenders or pretenders can claim the same. 

The Donald wouldn’t mind being president but would rather use his candidacy as a perpetual trump card whenever his media image needs a boost.  Once the more serious candidates get underway and the early measures of success – fundraising, debate performances, endorsements and volunteers – become the most important yard markers, attention towards Trump will shrink.  With fewer and fewer onlookers to his latest political act, in Barnum like fashion, Trump will fold his tent and move on to his next show.

What We Can Learn from Great Tits

A recent study of Great Tits may lend commentary to America’s over-subscription to government entitlements.

In Britain, the world capital of amateur ornithology roughly half of households put food out for their feathered friends, and it is estimated that around 30m of the country’s birds are given nourishment this way every year. Other places are somewhat less generous, but the general principle holds. Encouraging birds is good, and what better way to encourage them than to feed them?

Dr Amrhein’s team conducted their study in the suburbs of Oslo, in the spring of 2007. The objects of their attention were 28 male great tits, each of which was observed at dawn three times, with 16-17 days between the observations.

The purpose of the study: to see if leaving food out for birds is beneficial or detrimental.

Dr Amrhein expected that males who were being given extra food would perform better during the dawn chorus than those that were not.

The “Dawn Chorus” being the primary element of the males’ mating ritual.

To his surprise, he discovered exactly the opposite. Those who received food supplements got lazy. He and his colleagues report in Animal Behaviour that 36% of the males whose feeders were filled started singing only after the sun had already come up. Among the birds without this extra food, that happened only 10% of the time. Moreover, the effect was sustained after feeders were removed, for it was still apparent at the time of the third observation.

Turns out gratuitous entitlements make birds lazy. Do you suppose it has the same effect on Americans?

All Wheel Drive Anxiety

I apologize.

You see when it snows like this – you know, constant, fine, light snow, the roads get slippery and when you hit the gas you slip and slide.

You sit and spin.

The thing is…ever since I got this car with all-wheel-drive, when I hit the gas, I just go.

Rain, snow, small animals, volcanic ash. Nothing can stop me!

Yes!!! It’s like I’m a God!!!!!

Lord of the Lanes! Baron of the Boulevard! Potentate of the Interstate!

Four-wheeled power – an advantage, right?! Sure…if you’re not in front of me when the light turns green.

And when you are, I get so very anxious. I’ve become an all-wheel-drive snob and I’m not proud of it.

“C’mon! Letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo letsgo! What?! Are you paid by the hour!!!”

(not that there’s anything wrong with that)

It’s like being the guy that gets frustrated and everyone thinks is so annoying because his Mensa IQ affords him the luxury of “getting” things so much quicker, but then he has to wait until everyone else catches up while he rolls his eyes.

He’s not the one that gets the girl, is he.

Like that insipid commercial for AT&T where the portly passenger with the fastest network gets the download quicker than everyone else in the car, and laughs out loud. Thirty more seconds go by and the rest of the passengers get the download and do the same.

They’re the popular ones. They’re late, but having all the fun.

It’s lonely at the top.

This winter we’ve had way more than our share of snow and as a result we’ve been sitting in lines, three lanes wide, like cattle in a slaughter line, waiting waiting waiting to get to the office or home.

And there I sit, with the power to go go go!!!  …if it weren’t for the 1985 Crown Vic in front of me.

It’s like a curse.

God I miss my Harley.

Ohio’s Cinderella Man

By now you’ve seen the viral YouTube video and the media darling it made of Ted Williams.

But is this a true story of redemption or a soon-to-be cautionary tale?

Only time will tell. I’m rooting for him. This guy not so much.

What do you think?

Should The YouTube Guy with God’s Gift of a Voice Get a Second Chance?
Yes. This is how Mitch found Johnny Roosh
No. Columbus would have to find a new Community Organizer
What did you say? I was mesmerized by his sultry smooth articulations.
Check out that penmanship. Maybe he should try blogging instead.
Uh, don’t you mean 7th chance?
Did Bambi’s mother get a second chance?
Hey, if Dick Clark can do it…
Yes, but who will save the mime on 6th and Hennepin?
Where’s Oprah when you need her?
No, isn’t this is how we found Mark Dayton?
pollcode.com free polls

Jamie Lee: You Lie!

I know this is a bit off the radar for SITD but I don’t know of many television commercials more absurd; more ridiculous; more annoying than those yogurt commercials where Jamie Lee Curtis pounces on chipper but apparently constipated passers by all too willing to sample yogurt that’s way too yummy to be formulated to assist you in “cleaning our your accounts payable.”

(…and yes, that’s an arrow pointing to a woman’s crotch)

As if the spots weren’t aggravating enough, it turns out they were bogus. Who can imagine a world where a delicious magical milky pudding that helps you “drop off the kids” and keeps you safe from the common cold…is just a fairy tale?

The U.S. unit of French food giant Danone S.A. agreed to settle state and federal investigations into alleged false advertising about the health benefits of its Activia yogurt and DanActive dairy drinks for $21 million, federal officials announced Wednesday.

The Federal Trade Commission said Dannon, a unit of French food and bottled waters company Danone, will drop claims that its Activia yogurt and dairy products will help prevent colds or alleviate digestive problems. The company wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Well we know it’s not because they were in the bathroom.

Good to know the FTC has the time and resources to care…let alone investigate the claims that Activia helps you “lay down the law.”

I would expect no less than ten additional references to “boweling for dollars” in the comments section. Thank you in advance.

And now, something totally different:

Get Out of the Way

"Oops. Gotta go dearie. I crapped myself."

Just what we need…

To reach the older market, wireless carriers are offering lessons in how to text, introducing phones with oversized buttons and fine-tuning their marketing strategies.

…octogenarians texting behind the wheel…how much slower could they go in the left lane with their turn signal on for the last ten miles?

If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!

Does Bill Cosby Know This?

the substance used to make Jell-O, as well as many gummy candies, marshmallows, puddings and taffies – is often made from the skin, bone and tendons of animals, usually cows or pigs. The manufacturer grinds up these animal parts, treats them with a strong acid or base for a few days to help release the collagen, then boils the mixture. Then, they scrape the gelatin, which rises to the top of this boiling mixture, from the vats. One big user, Kraft, sells 300 million boxes of Jell-O in the U.S. each year and offers 158 products under the Jell-O brand name. (Jell-O is even the “Official State Snack” of Utah.)

“I am proud to be an American. Because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread.” Bill Cosby

That Little Bit Of Wind In My Morning Sails

A few months ago, I attended a get-together with a few candidates.

Now, the upside of a huge surge year like this is that you get a lot of people who are taking their first run at politics, and miiiiight need a little polish to their presentation skills.

But I can feel good that not a single Republican candidate I met came across quite like this.

No, I’m feeling pretty good now.

Orville Freeman Would Be Proud. Or Sad.

I’m proud to announce the winners of the “Write Lori Sturdevant’s GOP Conventi0n Column” contest!

It was the tightest contest in the history of Shot In The Dark, with my evil twin brother Jed’s ”Anger Close” barely tipping Dave from Mound’s “A Tale Of Two Cities“, by a total of two votes.   Speed Gibson’s  “It’s The GOP’s Turn To Unify” came in a close third.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Help! I’m Being Repressed!

I just got a message:

I am [name redacted]: I am a big DFLer, who was a key player in our 2008 legislative landslide, and who is working on one of the front-running DFL gubernatorial campaigns.  I am on a first-name basis with every single DFL leader; I am welcomed into every DFL legislator’s and candidate’s office with my first name.  I am, in DFL terms, the shizzle.

I hate you, Merg, and I am going to kill you; I am going to shoot you in the face as your friends and relatives look on in mute horror.  And then I’m going to steal a helicopter and drop a huge firebomb on the Tea Party, killing all you Teabagger wingnuts.

By the way, hundreds of my public-employee union friends helped me write this email, and want you to know they’ll be there to defile the corpses afterward. 

Please don’t print my name.

Since this key DFL player (seriously!  That’s what his message said!) asked me not to print his name, I must respect his wishes. 

But wow – it’s a threat!  Honest!  From someone claiming to be a huge DFL organizer!   At the head of an angry mob!

Wow. 

So will the DFL and all liberals repudiate this violent threat?  Or do they approve of death threats?

Hey, if Andy Birkey can impugn an entire movement based on his blithe assurance that a crank caller claimed to be a key Tea Partier, really, what’s the problem with the above?

[Note to the dense; the above is pure satire; unlike Steny Hoyer, Reps. Lewis and Cleaver, I make no claim that these slandrous claims are true.   And unlike Andy Birkey, I’m not going to insult your intelligence by asking you to generalize about an entire party, union or movement based on – let’s be bluntly honest – transparent bullshit).

Put Me In Coach!

Michael Moore is pledging to whip Obama and Democrats in Congress into shape – liberal shape – if he is named the next White House chief of staff. And Moore vows to sleep in the White House basement and work for $1 per year if the president hires him.

“Now, don’t get too giddy with excitement over my offer, because you and I are going to be up at 5 in the morning, 7 days a week and I am going to get you pumped up for battle every single day,” Moore writes in a letter posted on his Web site that he said was sent to Obama. “Each morning you and I will do 100 jumping jacks and you will repeat after me: “THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ELECTED ME, NOT THE REPUBLICANS, TO RUN THE COUNTRY! I AM IN CHARGE! I WILL ORDER ALL OBSTRUCTIONISTS OUTTA MY WAY! IF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON’T LIKE WHAT I’M DOING THEY CAN THROW MY ASS OUT IN 2012. IN THE MEANTIME, I CALL THE SHOTS ON THEIR BEHALF! NOW, CONGRESS, DROP AND GIVE ME 50!!”

Okay, put aside for a moment the unrestrained use of all-caps…and the call for a dictatorship…before Michael Moore orders congress to do 100 jumping jacks and 50 push ups, I’d like to see Michael Moore do…just one…of either.

Just one.

One floppy man-boobs jumping jack.

“With or without Michael Moore, Democrats are in for a rude awakening in November”

…but with Michael Moore they’d be in for a rude awakening when they find two years’ worth of chicken wing bones and empty Snack Pack Pudding cups in the basement of the White House.