Fall Festival Season Means Raffle Season

And by “raffle,” I mean gun raffle:

Gun raffle tickets

Somebodies will gasp when they discover that one of the raffles is the local EMTs that are raffling off a gun. Guns are dangerous! And they’re EMTs!

Down here in Southwest Missouri, away from the cities on the east and west coast of the state, even the EMTs are not scared of guns as talismans of danger.

Because, really, what could they give away that’s safer? A bike? A car? A home with a bathroom in it?

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Authentic Proof of Brian J.’s Coolness

On Cracked.com, a list entitled 6 Awesome Things I’m Not Cool Enough To Own.

Let’s compare the listing to my personal inventory:

  • Fedora: Come on, you know me. I’ve worn a fedora, yea, verily, stood out in a fedora for twenty years now, and I’m finally starting to look like a grown up with them. HOWEVER, I wear a classic fedora with a 2″ brim (C-crown, if you’re interested), not those little tipped-up brim raincatchers that the hipsters favor. I also own a couple of Panama hats, although my good Capas hat met its end before the close of its second season thanks to a downpour at Seaworld on Thursday, so I’m in a market for another nice one.
  • Flask: Hey, I’m from Wisconsin. Of course I own a flask. And not a trick flask, either; a nice engraved one. Actually, I received it for being a best man at a wedding six years ago. One where the minister repeatedly warned us against coming to the wedding while intoxicated. Of course it was in Wisconsin.
  • Fingerless gloves: I go to the gym, so I have a nice set of fingerless weightlifting gloves. Also, a back-up pair of weightlifting gloves wearing out at the seams. And a pair of weighted gloves. None of these have fingers. Although I might be slipping into this coolness on a technicality. But I did once buy a pair of fingerless gloves when I had a sports car so I could wear them whilst driving said sports car. I might have done so. Once.
  • An old-fashioned camera: Okay, I have a film camera, albeit one that uses 126 film, not 35mm film. Also, I own an old Kodak Brownie movie camera that I bought that one day in 2007.
  • A Smith Corona Typewriter: Although I used a Smith Corona typewriter in college (how old am I, anyway?), I did not reclaim it after my sainted mother passed away, so my brother might own a Smith Corona typewriter. I do, however, own an old IBM Electric.
  • Pocket Watch on a Chain: I only own a pocket watch, but it’s not on a chain. It’s got a bad clasp, and it hasn’t worked since I overwound it thirty years ago. But every now and again, I consider getting it repaired and put on a chain. Although I’m not sure if I’d wear it with my three piece suit or simply throw it in my pocket with the other assortment of items I carry there. Perhaps in the trousers with the cell phone pockets that are too small for current smart phones. Or maybe all of the above.

There you have it. Science on the Internet has proven I’m cool, or at least that I’m a collection of anachronisms that one person on the Internet thinks would be cool until such time as he would be confronted with the actual embodiment of it, namely, me, at which point he’d think, “What a dork.”

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The Wheels Within Wheels Come Off

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has ties to an organization to defend Republican Paul Ryan:

The arm of the Mark Zuckerberg-backed immigration reform group that focuses on conservatives is going on air in Milwaukee with a pro-reform spot defending Rep. Paul Ryan, POLITICO has learned.

Americans for a Conservative [sic] Direction bought roughly $350,000 worth of TV time targeted toward Ryan’s district, a source tracking the air wars said.

Now notice the subtlety here: The pro-immigration amnesty group has the name Americans for a Conservative Direction to fool the simple mouth-breathing conservatives into thinking the group is conservative. You know, sadly, the same kind of low-information conservatives who turned out for Todd Akin in the primary when Claire McCaskill said Todd Akin was too conservative for Missouri.

So this CINO organization is helping Ryan out to bolster him because he might or does support the immigration reform thing going on in Washington.

But, unfortunately, some low-information liberals who nominally support the effort that the Americans for a Conservative [sic] direction support don’t see the ruse as demonstrated by a tweet:

Mark Zuckerberg is funding GOP asshat Paul Ryan through a shell group. Yet another reason you should not use Facebook.

Unfortunately, even though Zuckerberg is not a conservative, his action here does a two-fer: It helps a Republican through supporting a nominally liberal cause, and it makes out like big business through shell corporations and corporate money is helping the Republicans, which is an illusion that gins up the liberal base. So even if it hurts Facebook or Zuckerberg in the short term, it still helps the liberal cause.

* I include [sic] with the description conservative in the name of the organization because there’s no way this reform ‘conserves’ anything. As with many ‘conservative’ policies, I disagree with some of the loudest, most self-appointed guardians of the Conservative Flame in thinking that the immigration reform is A Very Big Deal. No, it’s a small deal that exacerbates existing problems in the country–namely, too much public spending on social programs, the immersion of the individual into the tribe, too much centralized control through the Washington machine. But it’s a symptom, not the cause, and the rifts this particular Hill to Die On creates in the country and in the Republican Party are far more damaging than the particular legislative package.

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The Unsophisticated Past

City Journal has a long (well, it is City Journal) piece comparing women’s magazines of 1963 to those of today, and finds the material different:

Flip through the weighty 50-year-old issues, and you’ll soon feel, literally, a massive cultural shift in what women expect from their periodicals. In 1963, consuming a magazine could take days. Early that year, Good Housekeeping serialized Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the French Revolution, The Glass-Blowers, cramming much of it into a mere three issues. In May, GH ran a large portion of Edmund Fuller’s novel The Corridor, a feat that required stretching the magazine to 274 text-heavy pages. Redbook’s March 1963 issue featured Hortense Calisher’s novel Textures of Life and five short stories, a level of fiction ambition that even The New Yorker rarely attempts now. There is verse, too. At one point, a dense page of du Maurier’s text makes room for Catherine MacChesney’s “From the Window,” letting Good Housekeeping readers experience poetry and prose at the same time. Marion Lineaweaver’s ode to the coming spring in LHJ (“The wind is milk / So perfectly fresh, cool / Smooth on the tongue”) was one of six poems in the March 1963 issue alone.

That erudition is all the more surprising when you consider that women’s magazines reached a far larger fraction of the population in 1963 than they do now. Good Housekeeping hit a circulation of about 5.5 million readers in the mid-1960s, at a time when there were about 50 million women between the ages of 18 and 64 in the country. Ladies’ Home Journal reached close to 7 million readers. Editors assumed, then, that a hefty proportion of American women wanted to ponder poetic metaphor.

Apparently, those women also wanted to read serious nonfiction. Betty Friedan’s manifesto The Feminine Mystique, widely credited with launching Second Wave feminism, was helped in its quest for bestseller status when women’s magazines like LHJ ran prepublication excerpts. In March 1963, Redbook covered a doctor’s agonizing decision to leave Castro’s Cuba after becoming disillusioned with the socialist revolution.

That is, in 1963, women’s magazines expected a higher level of reader sophistication among housewives than you can probably expect from the college-educated people today. It’s not just women’s magazines.

I read a lot of older books, including those from the first six decades of the 20th century, and the books very often include allusions to classical literature that would pass over the heads of many book (or Kindle) readers today (see also my review for Please Don’t Eat The Daisies).

What do we have in our reading material today that makes us think we’re more sophisticated than those backwards people of white bread America? Snark. We have catty comments and sarcasm serving as an in-joke that puts down others, often celebrities (who otherwise should use their celebrity wisdom to tell us how to live). And because we merely think we’re better than they are, we must be. No allusions to works with deeper themes or even understanding of the treatment of more meaningful insights needed!

(Link via …. uh, someone. Sorry, it was lost in my tabs for 24 hours, I think.)

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An Unspoken Suspicion

At the Telegraph, Celia Walden skates around the issue Hollywood has kissed goodbye to the steamy sex scene:

According to Vincent Bruzzese of Ipsos, a market research company, sex has been all but eradicated from Hollywood scripts over the past 18 months. “Sex scenes used to be written, no matter the plot, to spice up a film trailer,” he said in an interview at the weekend. “But all that does today is get the film an adult-only rating and lose a younger audience.”

The author of this piece blames a number of things: The expense of getting actresses naked, the fact that women over 25 are making more of the movie-watching decisions (which flies counter to the argument that they’re choosing films with explosions, giant robots, and CGI aimed at teenagers, who spend most of the money on films).

The subhead kinda hints at the real impetus: “Today’s directors would rather appeal to a wider audience”.

Who do you think that wider audience is?

Is it the teenagers sexting each other who would be put off by a sex scene in a movie? Is it the American over 25-year-old demographic that’s dragging its overt sexuality into its forties and fifties or who dress or allow their children to dress too saucily because that’s all you can buy off the rack?

You know who that over 25-year-old woman who’s making decisions like that for her family that says no to a film with boobies in it? A Christian and/or a Republican, and that’s not Hollywood’s target as it is.

No, the wider audience Hollywood is going for and that balks at sex on the screen is the rest of the world.

What passes for steamy and risque here is prohibited elsewhere, and I bet Hollywood, the business side of Hollywood, knows that its bottom line depends upon those foreign receipts and that the artistic necessity of baring Halle Berry’s breasts is trumped by the business necessity of getting the film into the Chinese market instead.

It’s not the changing face of Americans’ or Westerners’ sensibilities that Hollywood is concerned with because American and Western values, on the whole, have not been somehow trending to the more prudish in pop culture. The rest of the world, though, has steadily remained more traditional in its moral outlook.

(Link seen on Instapundit courtesy temp blogger Sarah Hoyt.)

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Buffalo Schools Learn the Lesson from Republic Schools’ Example

Back in 2011, the Republic School District (the school district in which I live) removed some books from its library and triggered a national media firestorm that eventually led to the school district to reverse the removal.

The school district in Buffalo, Missouri, is not making that mistake:

A committee has elected not to remove a coming-of-age novel from the library at the middle school in Buffalo after the principal filed a formal complaint against the book.

The book in question apparently has a sex scene in it. You know, when I was in middle school, I was reading adult novels with sex scenes in them, but I had to go to the local library to get them. I don’t think M. Gene Henderson Middle School or North Jefferson Middle School stocked those kinds of books. Of course, in those days, adults did not write books for children and put sex scenes in them. Does this serve to depict reality or to normalize, that is, to create reality? I dunno. That’s a question for another time.

What this illustrates, though, is that national grievance concerns are impacting local-level and community-level governance as they seek to avoid controversy in determining standards and offerings that reflect their community, not the community of the loudest and best-funded nationwide.

Power to the people. Unless the people use that power against the interests of their betters elsewhere.

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I Wonder If He’s Been To Africa Lately

An article in American Profile claims that a man has been to every nation on Earth:

The ink stamps in John Rheinberger’s passports read like the register of an experienced—and dedicated—world traveler: Algeria, Bolivia, China, Germany, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Japan, Libya, Namibia, North Korea, Spain, Ukraine, Vietnam.

Since 1974, the attorney from Stillwater, Minn. (pop. 18,225), has circled the globe, visiting every country on the planet from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—196 in all—concluding his feat last November with a trip to Somalia.

Why do I mention Africa lately? Because the nation of South Sudan is only just over a year old.

The article says he’s been to all 196, which includes South Sudan (as enumerated by about.com). So he must have hit it on the last African swing. Either that, or he counts as visiting a country visiting a country from which the new country sprung, which would mean he would count South Sudan if he visited Sudan and would make sure that he was up-to-date on a lot of former Soviet republics and bits of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

To gain entrance last year to Cuba, Rheinberger, a tax and estate-planning attorney, created a resume giving him credence as an environmental expert.

It looks as though he is not above inflating paper claims to get what he wants.

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Free Republican Voters

You know what would make a couple Republican voters or at least discouraged Democrat voters? Subjecting urban homesteads, especially those with chickens, to USDA inspection.

Here me out, I have a bigger point.

I swim in the milieu of Generation Xish information worker types. They came out of college in the 1990s, often into jobs that paid middle class wages or better at age 22, and moved into urban environments (not "urban clusters"). By and large, they didn’t have children, or maybe just one. In short, they were the Yuppies of our youth, but they voted Democrat and worked in IT instead of financial institutions.

As such, their perceptions are a little askew from much of America, and their experience with government is a little different than that of other people.

I’m sure I mentioned it before, but I run into the government doesn’t stop entrepreneurs! line of thought over and over again. Because, to a person with this skill set, you only need a laptop and an idea to start programming or a little bit more to start a home-based knowledge consulting conference hopping profession.

This runs counter to other-skilled workers, such as nail painters, who in many places need hundreds of hours of professional training and continuing education to meet state requirements to provide manicures plus government-compliant space to work in (one does not professionally trim toenails at Starbucks, after all, although one can still do one’s own there from time to time at least until they ask you to leave, or so I’ve heard). If you like to work on cars, you’ll run into a bunch of environmental regulations, zoning regulations, building inspections, and so on.

So the idea of how businesses work and the government’s relationship to a business are skewed based on the types of businesses they imagine themselves pursuing.

It’s a little similar thing with the having chickens in your back yard thing. Once you get the local zoning board to sign off on it, you’re home free. But if you wanted to do it for a living, you’d be subject to a plethora of regulation from the Federal government. The news feeds and blogs of the urban homesteaders are full of outraged stories of people selling raw milk running afoul of those regulations, but the outrage never extends beyond that instance into hey, maybe the government shouldn’t step on this.

Another person on one of my feeds complained about HOA boards and the power mad people who get onto them. Busybodies who want some power. The Home Owners’ Association, for those of you who are fortunate to be unfamiliar with it, are an optional, private level of governance over suburban developments that are in charge of setting rules for household and yard appearance (to protect the property values, natch) and to levy fees to maintain amenities shared by the development. You know, things the local governments used to handle before they got into the creative-financing-of-strip-malls thing. Personally, I won’t buy a property in such a development because it represents another level of intrusiveness into individual lives. A voluntary one.

But the person complaining about the HOA isn’t someone who extends the disdain for overweening, overbearing people getting power over others to either elected or merit-based government officials and employees.

Because somehow the government remains unsullied by the unsavory portion of human nature.

If only, somehow, we could reach out to these people and convince them that we have a better shot, together, of steering the Republican Party into better stewardship and less intrusiveness, we might grow the tent (to the disdain of party purists, I’m sure). Unfortunately, when I reach out reasonably, I get the LALALALA you’re a Republican response, with the hands clapped over the ears in spirit.

But they’re out there, and maybe they’re reachable, eventually.

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Don’t You Feel Dumb When…

at 5:45 as you’re having a waking up conversation with your beautiful wife, and you somehow allude to blue dog paintings…

Blue dog

…and you name the call the artist Rodriguez instead of Rodrigue?

All my alleged learning and education and pomposity shot down in an instant.

Maybe you’re lucky enough not to have conversations before 8am talking about contemporary New Orleans-based American artists. Or smart enough.

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It’s Like An 80s Mystery Click Pic

So we went to a book fair today, and they offered a handful of old magazines for free, so my beautiful wife took a couple of them because she likes to look through them for recipes.

This particular Family Circle from April 27, 1982, has a woman on the cover that just looked kinda like a generic 1980s honey. Until I noticed the caption. Take a quick look, and see if you can guess who it is without having to click it to read the caption. Continue reading “It’s Like An 80s Mystery Click Pic”

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Nebulous Definition Yields Unclear Results

I forget where I saw the link to the chart at Guess What’s the Fastest-Adopted Gadget of the Last 50 Years:

When we think about the great consumer electronics technologies of our time, the cellular phone probably springs to mind. If we go farther back, perhaps we’d pick the color television or the digital camera. But none of those products were adopted as fast by the American people as the boom box.

That factoid is a sidenote in a 2011 paper that I stumbled on from the Journal of Management and Marketing Research. Author Tarique Hossain included data from the Consumer Electronics Manufacturing Association on the “observed penetration rate at the end of the 7th year” for all the technologies listed above. Hossain’s data didn’t include the starting years for these seven-year periods, but I’m assuming they mark the introduction of the boom box in the mid-1970s. That would mean that by the early 1980s, more than 60 percent of American households owned some kind of portable cassette player with speakers attached to it.

That’s the guy at the Atlantic’s definition of “boom box,” not one found in the study. Here’s one from Wikipedia:

Technically a boombox is, at its simplest, two or more loudspeakers, an amplifier, a radio tuner, and a cassette and/or CD player component, all housed in a single plastic or metal case, with a handle for portability. Most units can be powered by AC or DC cables, as well as batteries.

Note some of the other things on the chart at the Atlantic: CD Player, Portable CD Player. Color Television/Stereo Color Television. But Boombox is nebulous. It could mean a radio receiver with two speakers, it could mean a cassette player with two speakers, it could mean a compact shelf system with detachable speakers. What else could it mean in the minds of respondents? Mono cassette players? Transistor radios?

It’s the only technology referred to by its slang nickname. So no doubt it did the best.

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High Concept

I’ve got it: For our new brand campaign, a Vulcan. A Vulcan with an orchid. A Vulcan wearing platform shoes with an orchid. Yes! A Vulcan wearing platform shoes with an orchid kneeling in front of a low couch. Not a Vulcan as hot as T’Pol, though, wearing platform shoes with an orchid kneeling in front of a low couch with our handbag in front of her.

Make it so.

Lord help us, they did so.
Continue reading “High Concept”

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Walking through Book Stores Today

Tam explains the difference between fantasy and urban fantasy:

Nowadays, if someone tells you that a book is “fantasy”, it is best to ask if it is “urban fantasy”, because the latter, despite the similar-sounding genre name, is not at all the same thing. Sure, it may contain an elf, but if it does, she’s a bisexual wiccan detective elf who owns an occult bookstore in Miami and only increases her psychic powers through knockin’ the boots. People who would rightly be ill at the thought of necrophilia suddenly find it a turn-on if the corpse is still walking around, has fangs, and looks like Robert Pattinson.

As someone who reads some magazines about books, I knew this difference.

But wandering through the bookstore last week, looking to spend a gift card, I found end caps and end caps filled with steam punk historical science fiction. You know, science fiction kind of books set in the Victorian era using a lot of steam and pipes instead of atomic packs and nanobots.

It’s like a less imaginative retread of Jules Verne, without the future speculative nature of the Verne (instead, the stories speculate an unknown future from some safe past era that we know it turns out all right for that generation–aside from masses of their children dying in The Great War, of course–instead of the unknown future ahead of us, whose speculation would be hard).

But they no doubt feature what Ms. K would call “some arch humor and modern sensibilities” that Verne, Lovecraft, Wells, and Burroughs lacked.

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Unforeseen Consequence, Still Unseen

A couple days ago, Instapundit linked to this story blaming an increase in off-premises alcohol purchases on the recession:

And there’s another, perhaps somewhat unsettling, trend pushing up Beam’s bottom line: In the wake of the Great Recession, Americans are increasingly drinking at home. According to Commerce Department data compiled by Bloomberg, U.S. spending on alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption, adjusted for inflation, has gained nearly 13 percent since June 2009, and hit a record in August 2011.

Now, that’s not necessarily bad news for anybody but bar and restaurant owners. But drinking at home is likely to be less of a social activity than raising a glass in public. And it does invoke the disturbing image of men and women across America passed out over piles of unpaid bills at their dinner tables.

Is there anything else at play here in the off-premises purchases? Pay no attention to the nanny state behind the curtain:

In one email, Ruthie’s Bar owner Jean Doublin — whose lawsuit to block the ban was denied by a local judge and now heads to an appeals court — asks council members to grant the bar an exemption.

Doublin said in her email that business at the Commercial Street bar has declined 75 percent since the ban took effect and that her requests to install an outdoor patio have been denied by the city.

Another email from Ibarra includes a message from Knightyme Bar & Billiards owner Jim Knight listing three bars that have closed or soon will, allegedly due to the smoking ban.

“This has happened in just 5 short months,” the email said. “There are others hanging on, but for how long?”

I thought of this today as I passed the corner of Golden and Republic (he’s not going to start with the parenthetical digressions again, is he? Not in this post). There’s a freestanding church that backs right up to a bar in a little strip mall. It lies outside of Springfield proper, and a lot of communities (such as West Milwaukee) like to do away with these pubs you could walk to to have a couple beers and shoot some pool or whatever. So to protect property owners’ home values and to keep the children safe from the depravity of alcohol, prohibitionists made people drive to bars or eateries with bars attached–and then made them drive home instead of walking home.

But that little bar behind the church is probably doing all right. It’s outside the city limits, so smokers can drive there to hang out, have a couple of beers with cigarettes, and then drive home.

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Spot the Commercial’s Fallacy

Watching the baseball playoffs, one has seen this commercial ad naseum:

I don’t see a tire air station right there; they’re mostly at the edge of gas station lots these days, if available at all. The fellow embarrassedly denies he’s going to the bathroom for some reason, but we might be expected to believe it. If so, what is the more problematic error?

  • The man is moving to an exterior bathroom, but on modern convenience store/gas station layout has the bathrooms inside so that people pass buy the expensive convenient drinks and candy.
  • When the man gets out, the car indicates that he has left the keys in the ignition. Ergo, if he leaves sight of the car, the car could very well be gone shortly thereafter. Not far, of course, because it’s an electric car, but gone none the less.

I wish my tax dollars had bought more attentive commercials.

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