Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goodbye 2010 and Four Loco

2010 was a year of escalating divisiveness in America. White Americans demanded that foreign-looking people show their papers, but at the same time objected to being searched at airports. Some Republican politicians were incensed that an Islamic cultural center might be built near the site of 9/11 bombings but Republicans also refused to address legislation to provide health benefits to 9/11 first responders.

BP Oil, whose well leaked massive amounts oil into the Gulf of Mexico, was the most hated organization in the United States until we found out about WikiLeaks. Leaked catty remarks about foreign dignitaries are much more damaging than mere billions of gallons of oil in our seafood.

Football players, including Ben Rothlisberger, Brett Favre and the entire NY Jets team got in trouble for harassing individual women. That was nothing compared to the outrage created when basketball player Lebron James screwed the entire city of Cleveland.

It was the year of the bedbugs, literally, in terms of infestations and also in the sense of “crazy as a.”

Christine O’Donnell, campaigning for Senator in Delaware, appeared on TV stating that she is not a witch, with her husband Darrin and daughter Tabitha by her side for support. Her mother, Endora, refused comment.

Glenn Beck held a rally to restore honor and said he wanted to “reclaim the Civil Rights movement”. I think he meant to take back the rights that were gained since the 1960s.

Sarah Palin who began her campaign for President by resigning as governor of Alaska in 2009, stepped up her political efforts by getting a reality TV gig showcasing her life of leisure and by getting her daughter onto “Dancing With the Stars”, because it was too late to book her on “16 and Pregnant”.

In other entertainment news, the decrepit Larry King retired but Betty White found work on Saturday Night Live and in Snickers commercials.

Miners rescued from a collapsed coal mine in Chile was probably the biggest rescue story of the year. Runners up for best release from an uncomfortable situation were:
Steven Slater who left his flight attendant job at Jet Blue by jumping out the emergency slide on a plane
Tipper Gore, separating from Al
Elizabeth Edwards dieing to get away from John
Dr. Laura, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, and Juan Williams losing media jobs due to making others uncomfortable with their opinions.

Maybe the story the best epitomizes 2010’s essence of controversy over trivia and the battle of us-against-them is the Four Loco controversy. Four Loco is an alcoholic energy drink – a contradiction in terms and intent if there ever was one. Companies making alcohol & caffeine drinks were investigated by several attorneys general of various US states. The FDA issued warnings about these drinks, “there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.” They also state that concerns have been raised that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. Really? It seems like a lot of stodgy old people upset and confused about some new fad they can’t understand. After getting Four Loco, this “new” type of drink, banned, legislators celebrated with several rounds of Irish Coffee.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Visitation Champion leaves Cold Spring KY out in the cold.

Councilman Denny (“Denny”) Soward sits in the kitchen of his modest, two-bedroom ranch house in Cold Spring, Kentucky and ponders what might have been. He says his surname is pronounced “soured” and that’s the way he now feels about the Catholic Church.

Denny has just learned that the Roman Catholic Church has officially validated reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Champion, Wisconsin. Under other circumstances, he might have been proud that the United States now has one of just a dozen or so such sites in the world. “But it should have been Cold Spring,” he says softly but adamantly, shaking his head slowly.

In 1992, Sandy Rasmussen, a 49-year-old grandmother, claimed to have received divine messages telling her that the Virgin Mary would appear at St. Joseph’s Church in Cold Spring, Kentucky. In 1993, she told a news reporter that Mary had been booked for monthly visitations at the church. Over the next couple of years, thousands of the faithful, the curious and the media flocked to the town to see the apparition or just participate in the type of semi-spontaneous gatherings people had before internet flash mobs.

“We were on our way,” Denny says with a faraway look as he ponders what the new millennium might have been for this fifth-class city, 8 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio and just 16 miles from the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Airport. “We could have been 4th class,” he says, balling his hands into fists in his lap. “Oh, we got a WalMart out of it, but there could have been so much more. Lourdes and Guadalupe are world renowned” (Ed Note: those are the two most famous places visited by the Virgin).

“Cold Spring could have been like them, with annual pilgrimages of folks coming to see our church and feeding our economy. That’s better than any casino and second only to having a pro sports team around. What did Champion do that Cold Spring didn’t do to get the Catholic Church to grant them a Virgin Mary franchise?”

Followers did petition the Church to recognize the Cold Spring as an official site on the Virgin Mary Tours. Most frustrating to Denny is that the petitions did not even get past the home diocese; the holy mission was rejected by Bishop Hughes of the Covington Diocese.

Cold Spring is not on the official church list of Virgin Mary appearances but they are still known for the 1990s visits. That means little to the people here. Denny and others believe it is no coincidence that after the Visitations were dismissed by the Church, the nearby Cincinnati Bengals have had losing seasons almost every year and that air traffic at the nearby airport has declined substantially, with the main tenant, Delta Airlines, going bankrupt. “The Virgin Mary could have saved this whole region,” Denny states wistfully. “Instead they give it to Wisconsin. Why? They already have the Packers,” referring to the pro football team from Green Bay, a larger city near Champion. Champion residents, meanwhile, believe the Church's decision is compensation from God for having taken away Brett Favre.

Denny Soward finds no irony in the fact that Sandy Rasmussen, the Cold Spring visionary, originally came from Wisconsin, where, at the age of seven, she had her first religious visions. “It ain’t ironic,” he muses, “just sort of a wry, paradoxical twist on what you might have expected.” The Church let us down. Asked if he believes the Virgin Mary still makes her monthly appearances at St. Joseph’s Church, he replies brusquely, “Who gives a rats ass? If she shows up and ain’t no out-of-town pilgrims to see her and buy a hot do and a coke whilst they’re doin’ it, it don’t do no good. Besides, I’m a Baptist. I don’t go over to Saint Joe’s anyhow.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I don't know if Google Fight has been neglected or if I am incapable of interpreting the results; but this result from a fight between Google Fight nad Google Ngram seems wrong; I believe 6,480,000 is more than 104,000, but if it says the opposite on the internet, I must be mistaken.

Google Ngram Viewer was brought to my attention by The Velvet Blog who used it to track the uses of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays vs. Seasons Greetings.

Of course it tracks only the occurrences of the test phrases in books; since book reading is an ancient art, Ngram can't measure any meaningful relative usage in popular culture. Nevertheless, it's interesting to me.

I used it to learn that in the 20s and again in the 60s, Paul Bunyan's popularity was giant compared to John Bunyan, the religious author; now they are relatively equal. John Paul Bunyan has yet to achieve an measure of popularity.

But I was more popular than the Beatles until 1964 and more popular than Elvis until he (supposedly) died.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Hypocrites Christmas Song

Republicans have stalled legislation including the START treaty and the Zadroga Bill, which would provide funds for medical care for 911 first responders who are dieing because of toxins they were exposed to while saving lives in 2001.

Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) has said that for Senators to NOT take two weeks off would disrespect Christmas.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complains that SOMEBODY is trying to shove the New Start Treaty down their throats. He says, “They want us to focus on their concerns, not ours.” This from the soulless hypocrite who orchestrated the Senate Republicans refusal to address any concerns of the American people until they got the extension of tax cuts for rich people.

Rupert Murdoch got them all together to sing a Christmas song about it.

(All right you Hypocrites! Ready to sing your song?
-I'll say we are!
-Let's sing it now!
Okay, McCain?
Okay, McConnell?
Okay, John Kyl? John Kyl? JOHN KYL!

Christmas, Christmas time is near
We must keep our schedules clear
We've worked hard, but we can't last
Legislation won’t get passed
We respect the Prince of Peace
So we won’t pass the START treaty
For first responders it’s too late
So, for health care they can wait

Okay fellas get ready
That was very good, McCain.
Very good McConnell.
Ah, John Kyl, you were a little flat, watch it.
Ah, John Kyl? John Kyl? JOHN KYL!

We respect the Prince of Peace
So we won’t pass the START treaty
For first responders it’s too late
So, for health care they can wait.
For first responders it’s too late
So, for health care they can wait.

Very good, boys
-Lets filibuster again! Yeah, lets filibuster again!
No, That's enough, lets not overdo it
-What do you mean overdo it?
-We want to filibuster again!
Now wait a minute, boys
-Why can't we filibuster again?
-[hypocrite chatter]
John Kyl, cut that out..McConnell, just a minute.
McCain will you cut that out? Boys...

Hat tip to my friends at Mock Paper Scissors

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Stop Me, I'm On a Roll

Toilet paper injury lawsuit can go to jury

"DETROIT — A Michigan woman whose hand was broken while she was reaching for toilet paper can sue a restaurant over her injury."

The restaurant is concerned that she might win and they could not absorb the loss. "We'd be wiped out," said the owner.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

People Ask Me Why I Moved From L.A. to Cinci

PASADENA, Calif. - Dozens of fans brawled in a Rose Bowl parking lot before the USC-UCLA football game Saturday, leaving two men stabbed, two police officers with minor injuries and three men arrested, authorities said.

CINCINNATI, OH. - A snowball fight broke out between the crowd and the Bearcat mascot around 1 p.m. during Saturday’s UC-Pittsburgh game at Nippert Stadium, causing police to kick out the Bearcat.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On The Edge

Clinton loses Iran official at 'hello'
Country's foreign minister 'just turned away' when greeted by U.S. secretary of state

And there he stood, firm as salami
He looked fine, until he saw me
I said, “Hello,” but he just turned away

Hey, Mottaki, whatcha building, nuclear?
How are you using it? He turned and walked away. (Turned and walked away)

They are not eager, Iran, to discuss it
We’ll be waiting with an open door

Oooo, there’s Iran (On the edge of atomic bombs)
What’s our plan? (On the edge of atomic bombs)
Reprimand? (On the edge of atomic bombs)
Won’t heed our commands, ‘cause you know
they’re Iran, on the edge (on the edge of atomic bombs)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm Gettin' Nuttin' From Congress

Senate Republicans Vow to Block Dem Legislation Until Tax Cuts, Budget Pass

I’m gettin’ nuttin’ from Congress
McConnell says they won’t do jack
I’m gettin’ nuttin’ from Congress
‘Til rich folks get their tax cuts back

Won’t aid responders to 911
Republicans shit on me
Unemployment extension won’t get done
Republicans shit on me

They won’t repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell”
Immigrants can go to Hell
But at least our TV ads can’t yell
Republicans shit on me

I’m gettin’ nuttin’ from Congress
McConnell says they won’t do jack
I’m getting’ nuttin’ from Congress
‘Til rich folks get their tax cuts back