Dec 30, 2016

Happy New Year Roll Out....

Granted, Black Death is the high bar we're looking at - so I'm not going to promise 1353 levels of greatness.... but I'll be there's going to be some big surprises!

Dec 21, 2016

New Feature: Elder Goths

Oh, I do wonder what wacky adventures the Elder Goths will get into?

Hipster Nativity 2016

Oh, that's real - and you can purchase here:

Dec 12, 2016

It does seem a tad premature...


For folks who don't know their history: The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building (The German Parliament - directly translated it's the 'Diet of the Realm') in Berlin on 2/27/1933. Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutch council communist, was caught at the scene of the fire and arrested for the crime.

Dec 8, 2016

Perfect gifts for the little ones

When you pull the tap it plays, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." And when you sit on the barstool it yells, "Norm!" 

And after you're done at the bar you jump into your Lit'l Tyke's Coupe - 

And then you can practice saying your ABC's backwards! This is fun!

Oops R comes after S when you're going backwards, Timmy! But now we can play a new game!

And if you don't win you get to play in Jail!

What a great Christmas!

The War on Christmas

Poor Poor Rudolph. Wrong place, wrong time.
I do wonder why Rudolph was in Aleppo. Reconnaissance?

Dec 5, 2016

Nancy (With the stretchable face)

Ms. Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco 'progressive', was expected to easily win re-election when her colleagues voted on Wednesday. She has become the lightning rod for complaints that Democrats have failed to offer a compelling, broad-based economic message to the working-class voters in the Midwest and South who helped them capture the House 10 years ago and made Ms. Pelosi the first woman speaker.

Judging by the House Democrat's vote, it seems they've not listened or still don't understand why they're not doing well with the voting public.

(Picture lovingly borrowed from Terry Gilliam's Brazil, played by the wonderful Katherine Marie Helmond)

Nov 30, 2016

Trump Cabinet

The List So Far

Vice President: Indiana Governor Mike Pence

Chief of Staff: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

Chief White House Strategist: Trump Campaign CEO Steve Bannon

Attorney General: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions

Housing and Urban Development Secretary: Dr. Ben Carson

Health and Human Services Secretary: Georgia Congressman Tom Price

Transportation Secretary: Former Labor Secretary for George W. Bush Elaine Chao

Education Secretary: Betsy DeVos

Treasury Secretary: Steven Mnuchin

Commerce Secretary: Wilbur Ross

The one's we're all still waiting on:
Defense Secretary

Secretary of State

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary

Homeland Security Secretary

Interior Secretary

Agriculture Secretary

Labor Secretary

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

Office of Management and Budget Director

United States Trade Representative

Council of Economic Advisors Chairman

Small Business Administration Administrator

Nov 27, 2016

New Cartoon 11-27-2016

Relevant text and link:

"Donald Trump refused to say that he'd respect the results of this election. That's a direct threat to our democracy! " ~ Hillary Clinton 10/24/16

Hillary Clinton’s Team to Join Wisconsin Recount Pushed by Jill Stein

Nov 3, 2016

When the Cubs Win the World Series

Full Disclosure: I am an abnormal fan of the Cleaning Ladys. Have been for decades. Related to one that I am willing to share.

Last night was the first time that I cried watching professional sports.

My beloved Cubs won the World Series. 

Let's read that sentence again. The CUBS have won the world series. Do you feel that? That little flutter in your heart. The CUBS have WON the world series. There are great things in life. Finding your love, birth of a child, life long friendships. They create a feeling in your soul. The CUBS have WON the WORLD SERIES. Sometimes all seems right in the world. Problems seem a little smaller; life seems a bit better. THE CUBS HAVE WON THE WORLD SERIES!

Seems impossible, right? Years of Grace, Dunston, Sosa, Dawkins, Sandburg, Williams, Banks, Santo.... they got so close. All those years are in the rear view mirror now. The 2016 Chicago Cubs are the World Series Champions. Today, we no longer live in the past. Today, we are winners.

Seems like not too long ago that we were the joke of sports. "Wait 'til next year" sign were held up at home openers. Cardinal fans wagging their tongues every visit to our fine city. In popular culture it was something that was always decades away. Depicted as a fantastical occurrence that would not happen. Last night it happened. Last night we won the World Series.


There was a song performed by the Cleaning Ladys circa 1997 named, "When the Cubs Win the World Series." As you can tell by my cohorts below, it is an election season. So, I decided to fact check the song polifact style.

Oct 27, 2016

Who I'm Voting For: None of the Above

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, supposedly filed a petition with the Federal Election Commission to change his name to “None of the Above” to improve his chances of winning the presidency. (He'd win in a landslide)

Johnson’s pollster Con “Spin” Fabulist told him that None of the Above was polling at 17 percent in national polls, trailing both Clinton and Trump but still above the 15 percent threshold to participate in the debates. The commission, however, requires that anyone participating in the debate “must be an actual person.”

Clearly, it's rigged.

Oct 9, 2016

Swingin' & Missin'

[editorial note: This posting will be classified
 "Not Safe For Work."  As stated on previous
 occasions, we normally try to minimize outright
 crudity of language on this site.  In this case,
 however, such crudity is the very germ of the
 discussion.  You are hereby advised to don some
 sort of protective eyewear before proceeding.]

"Well Aren't You Just the Sweetest Little Cuntcake."

"Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and
 tits, hah?  Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker,
 and tits... and 'tits' doesn't even belong on the list!"

"I... personally... prefer... the word...
 ...'pussy' hear me out!"

commentary by michael j wright

Credits for the quotations above...
The first comes from James Alexander, author and (I assume) artist of Memos to Shitty People: a Delightful and Vulgar Adult Coloring Book, which was a recent gift given to a woman I know well from a woman I wish I knew better.

The second quote is from an infamous George Carlin routine known by the titles "The Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" or more simply "The Seven Dirty Words."  Carlin did not compile the list himself.  He merely parroted a memo produced by the Federal Communications Commission.  The FCC is one of those sinister, semi-secret agencies of the Federal government that engages in freedom-robbing overreach by --ugh!-- regulating things, and nixing radio station call-letters like WHOR or KUNT, both of which would likely feature a music bloc known as the "Hot Wax Weekend," or their marketing department wouldn't be doing its job.  (Strange, is it not, that "wax" still manages to be evocative even though the substance's use as a recording medium died around the same time as the last Cubs world championship?  Go fig.)

The third is from comedian Kathy Griffin.  It is worth noting that she was not expressing her preference over the dreaded c-word, but rather her preference over the clinical term "vagina."

Now then, on to what raised my hackles...
You may of course go see for yourself the, ugh, meme we'll be discussing, or you can, heh, skip all that hopscotching around and just read about it here as if you possess impulse control.  The image is of a woman in a coffee shop reading E.L. James's 50 Shades of Grey.  The book dominates the foreground of the photo; the woman's face is out of the frame; there is a (I assume) caffeinated beverage nearby.  Get the picture?  The text overlay (I'll spare you the all-caps rendering) reads:

"If American women are so outraged
 at Trump's use of naughty words

 who in the hell bought 80 million
 copies of 50 Shades of Grey?"

Hear that?  That's the sound of someone taking a vicious hack and completely missing the pitch.

In a way, a swing and miss like this was inevitable.  For some time now our society has been polarizing itself along socio-political lines, like tiny iron flecks migrating toward red or blue magnets, to the point where we are developing two distinct dialects of American English.  It was one thing, once upon a time, to disagree, even passionately.  That is the way of a democratic republic: we argue, then we vote.  You can look it up in the book.

Now, though, we find it both hard and difficult to even understand each other.  Yes, I did that on purpose.  It is a poor example, but I'll use it anyway.  One side uses words like "hard" while the other side uses words like "difficult."  The blue team speaks in polysyllables, which the red team increasingly finds either confusing or pretentious, and in both cases suspicious.  The reds prefer short, blunt words, which the blues see as (hold on, now) inherently imprecise and indicative of an ignorant ideology in regard to important and intricate issues.  Basically, the blues feel the reds are trying, verbally, to perform surgery with a plastic spoon, while the reds think the blues are silly, and possibly dangerous, for trying to eat soup with a scalpel.

Still, despite all this, I find it difficult hard to believe I have to explain the actual source of the most recent exasperation outrage that is toward Donald Trump.  Perhaps the people who try to make this argument, such as it is, are being deliberately obtuse: avoiding the issue of what Trump said by falsely fixating on how he said it.

Yet I sally forth...

"If American women are so outraged
 at Trump's use of naughty words..."

You will want to mark the time and place at which you encountered the following argument, Dear Reader, because I --of all people-- am about to advise not getting bogged down in semantics.  Hard to believe, I know.  I feel faintly like a guy who has just stepped out of a tilt-a-whirl.

It isn't Trump's "naughty" words that have gotten people upset; it is the sentiments ideas he expressed with those words.  Oh sure, some of his critics will try to score bonus runs by pointing out the vulgarity of the terms he used, but that is mere steak sauce on the red meat of his profane attitudes regarding women and sex, and his sense of entitlement to same irrespective of the other person's interest in or willingness to grant such attentions.

In... well, in other words, a man who groped a woman's breast without permission is every bit as much a creep as one who unwantedly "felt up her tits."  A man who swats someone's derriere is being, chances are, just as inappropriate as one who "smacks them on the ass."  A man who, in the absence of foreplay and/or a medical license, firmly grasps the area of another person's genitals, or even talks about doing so, should be slapped in the face by whomever is closest.

I could escalate these examples, but modesty fucking forbids.

"If American women are so outraged
 at Trump's use of naughty words..."

People are not outraged by the naughtiness of Trump's words.  They're not even surprised.  What they are appalled by is the notion of a 70-year-old man who still has the emotional attitudes of a particularly crass 15-year-old boy, and the blind arrogance to believe he truly is the absolute shit.

P.S.... I, personally, prefer the term "tallywacker."  Enjoy the playoffs.

Sep 26, 2016

HoDown in Hempstead!

NBC's Nightly News host Lester Holt moderates - and/or fact checks -  Monday night's most interesting thing on television tonight as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump finally face off for the first time.

The debate is expected to have a large viewership, with an estimated 100 million potentially tuning in as the pair tackle issues like "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity' and "Securing America" on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The debate takes place at Hempstead, New York's Hofstra University at 9 p.m. ET and can be watched on any major cable and broadcast network, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and C-SPAN. Monday Night Football is the only counter-programming, apparently.

Twitter will live stream and Facebook Live will carry ABC's live stream as well as various news networks' live broadcasts. YouTube will also have live streams from many organizations, including PBS, the Washington Post and Telemundo.

It's going to be split screen, not unlike a video game, so you can watch each of their reactions real-time.

Warning - if you're planning on making this a drinking game - YOU WILL DIE. So don't. Okay?

Over under on Hillary coughing to being able to stand for 90 whole minutes. Or you can play the Trump contradicting himself in 90 minutes, or just in his opening statement.

Winner? There are no winners. We're deciding between a shaved Orangutan with a Twitter account and Nixon/Burr with pearls.

Sep 16, 2016

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

George Washington had a famous story about cutting down a cherry tree and didn't lie to his father about it. Hillary Clinton denies ever having a cherry tree. It wasn't classified as a cherry tree. Maybe it was a peach tree? Obviously, there's a massive right wing conspiracy about trees ever being on her property. It's just a cough.

Jul 29, 2016

Propaganda Posters Are Getting Creative

Given the choices this election cycle - both arms of the Business Party are getting extremely creative. I haven't seen this amount of creativity since George Bush's early 90's.

Hopefully, this type of activity will continue for the next couple months?

Tell us which of these posters piss you off the most?

Jul 19, 2016

Trump Wins Survivor Cleveland

After about a year and a half, reality TV star has become the official nominee for the GOP. It looked close as the voters staged a little wrinkle that almost put his title into play - but it was quashed by the Republican National Committee. Apparently the back room deals and alliances were already in place making The Donald the winner.

As we go to the final two contestants where votes are cast on archaic paper ballots rather than texting in their choices - The Donald will face off against the winner of the Philadelphia DNC challenger - which appears will be Hillary, as she already used her immunity idol against James Comey about a week ago.

Jun 2, 2016

Throws Like A Girl

"I don't know what's going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day."
- Babe Ruth

The Sultan of Swat retired this day (June 2) 1935 after discovering that Braves owner Judge Emil Fuchs had maybe been less than honest when he had promised to make Ruth the manager of the Braves. This was going to be a piece on Babe Ruth, who to me, personifies the United States in all it's excessive glory. This was going to be something like what Ruth's biographer states.

"He is a bombastic, sloppy hero from our bombastic, sloppy history, origins undetermined, a folk tale of American success......He stands at the heart of the game he played, the promise of a warm summer night, a bag of peanuts, and a beer. And just maybe, the longest ball hit out of the park."
- Leigh Montville

That is where I was going to go with this article when I found the quote at the top of the piece. Aware that the 1930's were a bit different than they are today (read: intolerant) it seemed odd that this quote would persevere. Mainly because it does not seem a unique thought for the 1930s. Looking into the context I came to discover that this quote was stated shortly after Ruth was being dragged away from the home plate umpire by his teammates while screaming vulgarities. He had been struck out. By a broad. Well, a 17 year old girl. In front of 4,000 fans.

Jackie Mitchell was born in Chattanooga, TN in 1913. Her father was a baseball enthusiast who had his daughter on a diamond soon as she could walk. As luck would have it her next door neighbor was pitching great "Dazzy" Vance who showed her how to throw the "drop ball" which helped him strike out 2045 players in his career. A fact made more amazing considering he only played 33 innings before he turned 30. 

During a baseball camp she caught the attention of the Chattanooga Lookouts (still active) owner Joe Engel (not active). As a publicity stunt, Mr. Engel signed Jackie on March 25, 1931. On April 2, 1931 she was put into an exhibition game against the New York Yankees making her the second woman to play major league baseball. (As a quick side note: Do not be afraid to look into the publicity stunts of Joe Engel including trading a player for a turkey to serve in the press box.)

The idea that a 17 year old girl would be facing the great New York Yankees created the buzz that Engel was hoping to create. However, there was an issue. Jackie had been playing basketball for the past 6 months and had not been throwing a baseball. Although I cannot find out how much she practiced for the big event we do know that the Washington Post claimed "she was laid up with a sore arm." Luck was on history's side, however, when a rain out pushed the game back a day giving Jackie some needed rest. 

April 2, 1931 Jackie buttoned up her loose fitting uniform and warmed up with Ruth and Lou Gehrig watching. If you are like me and had to know, take a look and then let me describe the scene:

A crowd of 4,000 eager fans are waiting to see a girl pitch to Murderer's Row. The press box is full of men in hats writing sentences such as, "The curves won't all be on the ball when pretty Jackie Mitchell takes the mound" or "She swings a mean lipstick." The Yankees are on the field watching warm ups and making remarks best left in the last century. 

The starting pitcher for the Lookouts is Clyde Barfoot. The first batter he faces, Earle Combs, rips a double off the outfield wall (fence?) which is followed by Lyn Larry driving a single up the middle and scoring the first run of the game minutes after it started. Next up is Babe Ruth. Chattanooga's manager calls for a "snip-nosed blue-eyed girl" and, according to the Washington Post "[w]ithout so much as powdering her nose or seeing if her lipstick was on straight, Jackie strode to the mound."

After warming up Ruth strides into the batters box, tipped his hat, and assumed "an easy batting stance." Mitchell winds up "as if she were turning a coffee grinder" and lets loose a side arm delivery of the "drop ball." Ruth lets it go for ball one. Her second pitch is also a breaking ball that Ruth swings through or according baseball historian Andy Broome "missed the ball by a foot." The third pitch is "a hell of a curve" that Ruth once again swings through.

At this point, the Bambino asks the umpire to check the ball. The fourth pitch is an overhand fast ball straight down the middle that freezes Ruth. As the umpire calls the third strike, Ruth slams his bat to the ground and begins to lay into the umpire. His teammates help him back to the dugout.

Next up is Lou Gehrig. Less is written about this battle but the Iron Horse goes down in three straight pitches. The Baltimore Sun has a great line, "Lou could hear Jackie’s girlfriends squealing delightedly." He, being an adult, walks calmly back to the dugout. 

The third batter Mitchell faces is Tony Lazzeri whom she walks in four straight pitches the last of which does not make it to the plate. My speculation is that sore arm was coming back into play. That fabulous Washington Post article has a slightly different theory, "Jackie probably remembered by that time that she was a woman, and after all the excitement she undoubtedly wanted to go off and have a good cry so they let her retire from the game."

As Jackie walked off the field to "a hail of cheers" and went into the dugout to watch her team get trounced 14-4.

The next day her picture was in the New York Times with the headline "Girl Pitcher Fans Ruth and Gehrig" and a very different tone than all other newspapers, "The prospect grows gloomier for misogynists." Unfortunately, the commissioner agreed with the Ruth statement which starts this article and voided her contract although to be fair each article I have read claims that there is no proof of this outside word of mouth.

That is where this story ends. However, I encourage you to look into Jackie Mitchell as her story does not stop here. To "tickle your ass with a feather," as my grandma would say, Jackie went on to play for the House of David, one of the most popular barnstorming team in history known as the "Beards of Summer" while occasionally sporting a beard. Here is their picture. Enjoy.

Apr 28, 2016

Things People Grind

"She said, 'How'd ya like to waste some time?' and
 I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind."
                                              --Prince Rogers Nelson, a rockin' fellow

"America is not just a power, it is a promise.  It is not enough
 for our country to be extraordinary in might; it must be
 exemplary in meaning."        --Nelson A. Rockefeller, a prince of industry

commentary by michael j wright

Things people grind: grain, spices, gears in a manual transmission, r,
coffee beans, teeth, hips, noses to the stone, the daily, axes and beef.

By the way, Blasphemes now has a Facebook page.  We've been meaning
to tell you.  It is called Blasphemes.  It's on Facebook.  Go fig.

Scrollin', scrollin', scrollin'... Oh, here's an interesting rant.
I hereby present it to you once, uninterrupted.  Then I'll discuss.

"Military, Hamburgers and Minimum Wage
Makes a good point...

Low military pay was not mentioned in the State Of The Union speech.  However, increasing the minimum wage was for those fast food employees striking for $15 an hour.  Let's do some math:

At $15 an hour Johnny Fry-Boy would make $31,200 annually.

An E1 (Private) in the military makes $18,378 or $8.85/hour.

An E5 (Sergeant) with 8 years of service only makes $35,067 annually or 16.86/hour.

So you're telling me, LaTisha McBurger Flipper, that you deserve as much as those kids getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their collective asses on the line every day protecting your unskilled butt!?

Here's the deal, Baconator, you are working in a job designed for a kid in high school who is learning how to work and earning enough money for gas, and hanging out with their equally goofy high school pals.  If you have chosen this as your life long profession, you have failed.  If you don't want minimum wage, don't have minimum skills.

If you can read this, thank a teacher.  If it's in English, thank a Veteran."

If the grammarian in me should at some point come to the fore,
Dear Reader, please remember it was not I who opened the door.

The argument being made here is not a new one, although this version of it is, at least, freshly ground.  It is apparently a letter to an editor, and the portion above the underscore --both title and editorial comment-- is the responsibility of said editor.  The title is fine, I guess, but the comment bespeaks a person who is unfamiliar with the essence of the argument, and/or is unduly impressed by it.

Everything below the underscore is from a citizen who shall remain nameless, but who was obviously moved to put their own english on what is quickly becoming an old and somewhat off-target sniper shot.

Point by point:

"Low military pay was not mentioned in the State Of The Union speech.  However, increasing the minimum wage was for those fast food employees striking for $15 an hour."

Yikes, that second sentence is clunky.  Sorry, but it is.  Problems abound, and the whole thing should probably have been rewritten, but at the very least it cries out for a, ahem, dash of punctuation.  I raise the issue of its clunk for two reasons.  One: The writer of this letter will later charge all high-schoolers with being collectively "goofy," yet he or she employs here a sentence structure that causes the word juvenile to leap to mind.  Two: Quality presentation is part and parcel of making a good argument and having it taken seriously; that seldom happens when the presenter trips over the carpet on their way to the podium.

"Let's do some math:"

Yes, by all means, let's do some math.  Unfortunately, the math the letter writer is about to do is at best unfounded and at worst utterly pointless.  That's almost forgivable, though, because the arithmetic itself isn't what's important.  The real point is the comparison of numbers, rather than the crunching of them.  On a seemingly unrelated topic, I recently commented that television and movie scenes involving a pump-action shotgun often require that the actor, by a now long-standing convention, work the pump action just before firing (or threatening to).  This is not the way such a firearm would be operated in the real world, where a live shell would already be in the firing chamber and the gunman would ready for firing by clicking a small button to disengage the safety feature.  They do it the way they do in the movies because the pumping action is more dramatic than pressing a small button, and the accompanying sound effect --a ringing, metallic *chung-CHUNK* versus a thin, plastic *tick*-- sounds more deadly.  Similarly, "let's do some math" is less accurate than "let's compare some numbers," but it sounds more authoritative.

"At $15 an hour Johnny Fry-Boy would make $31,200 annually."

Unfounded.  The only way Johnny makes thirty-one grand is if Johnny works 40 hours a week for all 52 weeks in a calendar year.  This is unrealistic in most cases, and in some states it is downright illegal.  Minimum wage is synonymous with part-time work; forty hours a week is synonymous with full-time work.  Many states require employers to grant full-time workers full-time pay and benefits.  Since certain employers don't want to do that, such laws have the inverse effect of limiting the work hours of minimum-wage employees.

Even if Johnny is working in an area where such statutes are not on the books, his boss is unlikely to give him forty hours a week no matter how much Johnny begs, and since Johnny is just as unlikely to work 52 weeks in a row because he sometimes gets sick or has to attend a family function, Johnny would be lucky to earn $24,000 a year (before taxes).  Now, 24k goes further in some parts of the country than in others (which is an important point, though I'll not dwell on it right now), but it doesn't go very far anywhere when you consider Johnny has to use that money for his transportation, clothing, groceries, health care, rent (Johnny's alter ego is "Johnny No-Mortgage"), and at least some of his utilities.

Oh yeah, and taxes.  Johnny has to pay taxes, because:

"An E1 (Private) in the military makes $18,378 or $8.85/hour."

Technically, an E1 is a private in the Army, not "the military."  The Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard don't have the rank of "Private."  The Marine Corps has privates, but they don't pay them.  They feed 'em barbed wire and bilge water, make 'em burrow into hillsides of gravel for shelter, and teach 'em a word and a half of Latin so they'll have something noble to scream when they beat the [solid waste] out of you for some perceived affront like not knowing the lyrics to a song, or not becoming aroused by a picture of an automatic rifle, or pointing out that it is only a word and a half.

Also, please note that converting Jack Private's yearly earnings into an hourly rate here is a useless exercise.  For one thing, the working hours of army privates are not tabulated for the purposes of base pay.  Moreover, the whole point of converting Johnny Fry-Boy's hourly wage into even a pipedream of annual earnings was to weigh the two men's paychecks using the same scale.  Crunching the private's salary into an hourly wage does not serve that purpose.  Instead, it is little more than an attempt to bury the reader in numbers so bereft of meaning they are tantamount to telling a lie.

In fact, the numbers are inaccurate.  It took me all of 75 seconds to discover that an army private's salary in 2016 is really $1566.90 per month (I did some googling), which works out to $18,802 per year (I did some math), before bonuses* and benefits.  That's about 2.3% higher (doin' da math, yo) than what is quoted by the letter writer.  That isn't much, but it does demonstrate the U.S. Army believes in the concept of a cost-of-living increase, which is more than can be said about employers of minimum-wage workers... and, apparently, their customers.

*Military personnel who are deployed into a combat zone, for instance, are paid more, so the letter writer's later claim that "those kids getting shot at" are as underpaid as stated here carries less weight.

So, let's compare numbers.  It is far less dramatic than doing some math, but it has the virtue of actually addressing the topic.  Yes, Jack Private earns a couple bills shy of nineteen grand and Johnny Fry-Boy makes maybe a couple bills more than twenty-four grand-- a difference of nearly 5500 dollars.  That is unfair on its very face, especially when you consider Jack may be called upon to dodge hot lead while Johnny will only be called upon to dodge hot grease.  There are, however, mitigating factors.  As stated, Johnny must use his $24,000 for transportation, clothing, food and sundries, rent, utilities, and visits to the clinic.  Jack, on the other hand, is given free transport, free clothes, free meals, and free shelter-- paid-for, in part, by the tax dollars of Johnny and others like him.  Jack's expenses?  Hookers, beer, and maybe condoms.  (If not, his visits to the clinic are free.)

"An E5 (Sergeant) with 8 years of service only makes $35,067 annually or 16.86/hour."

Translation: "Hey, everybody!  I am/was/am-related-to a sergeant in the Army, and I think I/they deserve more money!"

These two absolutely shocking revelations aside, this statement leaps beyond pointlessness and lands just over the chalk line of detrimental.  To begin with, the hourly rate here is as empty and useless as the example of the private, and the salary claimed is just as inaccurate.  As of 2016, an Army E5 with eight years' service makes $2989.80 a month, which comes to a base salary of $35,877 a year.  Not surprisingly, this is also a pay increase of 2.3 percent.  Good news, Sarge: you no longer make "only" $35,067.

Of greater significance than the precise numbers, however, is the sergeant's strategic misstep of including this bit of axe-grinding in his or her argument.  Consider the ill logic.  A purely hypothetical fry cook, earning a proposed fifteen dollars an hour and working an ideal and possibly illegal forty hours a week for an (arguably) optimum fifty-two weeks, makes a fresh-out-of-adjectives $31,200 in a year.  An actual army sergeant, the recent recipient an actual pay increase, earns an actual $35,877 (more than $4500 more) plus bonuses and/or benefits in the same timeframe.  Ergo, the fry cook is an [sphincter].

To put it another way: S makes more money than J would ever make even if J got a wage hike and more hours, so J is wrong to ask for a raise.

"So you're telling me, LaTisha McBurger Flipper,..."

I'm unclear why Johnny's double surname warrants a hyphen while LaTisha's doesn't.  Racism?  Sexism?  Hyphenism?

"...that you deserve as much as those kids getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their collective asses on the line every day..."

LaTisha is not making that comparison, Sarge.  You are.

What LaTisha is telling you is that when she totals her earnings and her expenditures and then compares the two, it doesn't add up to enough to realistically pursue the so-called American Dream for which those kids are supposedly fighting.

Don't get me wrong.  How well or how poorly our servicemen and -women are compensated is a discussion worth having, and there is almost certainly some rational merit in relating their salaries to earnings in the domestic, civilian workforce.  The author of this particular letter-to-the-editor, however, adopts a tone so vehement that it seems to go beyond simply castigating minimum-wage workers for wanting higher pay, which is a bit like a dog who barks at the neighbors for mowing their own lawn, to flirting with actively blaming them for low military salaries.

An aside... Until just a couple of days ago, I could have said, "Actually, relatively few of our service personnel are currently being shot at.  Thanks, Obama," but then the president announced he was expanding our military presence in Syria, nullifying my point.  Thanks, Obama.

"...protecting your unskilled butt!?"

Thank you for protecting my posterior.  [Screw] you for using the terminology of a ten-year-old to denote it.

As if the name-calling and loosely hinged ranting this argument has quickly devolved into weren't enough, the sergeant now seeks to hammer home the childishness with some good ol' double punctuation.  It should be noted that the classic exclamation-point/question-mark combo was popularized by Charles M. Schulz, a cartoonist writing dialog for a whole neighborhood of the most emo eight-year-olds to have ever appeared in print.

Moreover, the exclamation point is sort of the little red Corvette of punctuation.  In the same way a middle-aged man might buy a sports car because he fears getting older, would-be writers often employ an unnecessary exclamation mark to buttress a point they feel insecure about having made.  It is the printed word's corollary to speaking more loudly lest anyone question your confidence.  It is the next best thing to writing in all-caps.  Consider: the paragraph which begins, "So you're telling me," and ends, "your unskilled butt," is one long sentence consisting of no less than 38 words (one of them a contraction).  After all those syllables, our letter writer felt his or her entire point still needed reinforcement.

"Here's the deal, Baconater, you are working in a job designed for a kid in high school..."

The job was designed to keep the owner's expenses down, much like the pseudo-food they sell and the assembly-line way they prepare it.  The job was designed for anyone, of any age, who is willing to take it (and/or is forced to by circumstance).

"...who is learning how to work and earning enough for gas, and hanging out with their equally goofy high school pals."

By far, the two places in any written argument you most want your grammar/syntax to lose traction are the introduction and the conclusion.

Also, not all high-schoolers are goofy, let alone equally so.

"If you have chosen this as your life long profession, you have failed."

No-one chooses a minimum-wage job as their life-long profession.

I'm going to go ahead and reason that our letter writer's charge, "you have failed," is supposed to mean they feel the minimum-wage worker has failed at life in general, or at least at the grand career-choice carousel.  Otherwise, the sentence contradicts itself.

"If you don't want minimum wage, don't have minimum skills."

It is dicey to make the assumption that the sort of person who would engage in an argument like the one made in this letter would also be the sort to rail against the overseas exodus of good-paying manufacturing jobs thanks Obama.  After all, that would make our letter writer a hypocrite.  A person cannot lament a shortage of good-paying, relatively low-skill positions and then blame the workers themselves when they settle for the low-paying scut work that is left.

Not unless they're looking to save a few cents on their next burger.

"If you can read this, thank a teacher."

If you can do the math, thank your calculator.  It's probably foreign-made.

"If it's in English, thank a Veteran."

(Psst.  They're not sure what language this is.)

Found on Mars this week... a purple guitar, bearing a rune
              that looks like a fleur-de-lis trying to fellate itself.

Mar 1, 2016


Synonyms for "Tricky":

Cunning, crafty, wily, guileful, artful, devious, sly, scheming, slippery, slick, calculating, designing, sharp, shrewd, astute, canny

Antonyms for "Dick" ...  results not entirely helpful. I'll take the first one and go from there.

Synonyms for "Arteria Vaginalis"....

Duct, Maidenhead, Fanny, Urethral Orifice, Epithelial Duct...

I'm sure someone, somewhere will come up with a less Clinical word to use.

They say Hillary has a "likeability" gap. A bit of a "turn-off factor."

Yes, yes, I agree. She does have a fantastic resume. As did Richard Nixon. It's the CHOICES they made while performing those jobs are what needs to be examined. Not just their likeability, but their morality as well.

If you think HillDog has some scandals in the past, just wait until she wins the seat formally held by her husband. Some scandals will not be warranted, as that's politics - but it's the ones that are - well, they'll make her husband's indiscretion with an intern the same age as his daughter seem almost silly.

Look I can make a laundry list of scandals and poor decisions that Hillary has made in her career. She's facing two separate FBI investigations while campaigning for the Presidency. That seems unprecedented. Spiro Agnew was only running for Vice President.

So far, Hillary has gotten by as she flexes her Clinton Machine to get what she wants. And she really, really, really wants to be the President. Why? I'm not sure. She doesn't seem to articulate that very well. Well, not on stump speeches. Probably in the speeches she gives behind closed doors to people writing checks to her and her Foundation. I don't know - she won't release the transcripts. It makes me wonder what she's willing to do to get there.

Remember, Nixon only 'got caught' because G. Gordon Liddy and the Plumbers put their slice of tape on horizontally, not vertically over the door lock when they entered the Democratic HQ at the Watergate Hotel. That's how they got caught. And Watergate, it's been said, was what Congress was able to get Nixon for. How about the Plain of Jars in Lous? Who knows just how many skeletons were left hiding in that Oval Office closet before he rushed out? Watergate was just the one that brought him down.

Ironically Nixon was a conspiracy theorist nut. It was the "Jews, Intellectuals and Ivy Leaguers" that he ranted about on the tapes. HillDog is convinced there's "a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" against her too. Maybe there is.

On the bright side, we have one more party than a Communist nation - as George Carlin so poignantly pointed out. But if you've looked on that side of the fence lately it's either 1933, or just a train wreck in an airport. But, again, looking on the bright side here, ding-dong, Jeb! is gone!

Jan 6, 2016

Auld and Knew

"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--
 the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden
 turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
                                                                     --C.S. Lewis

"[It] is not a milestone ... that I intend to go unnoticed.
 I want to make some noise. I want to make a joyful noise.
 I want to make too much noise. I want the neighbors to complain."
                                                                     --Joss Whedon

commentary by michael j wright

Part One
Before I get to what is almost an obligatory topic of this day, I'd like to express a thought or two regarding Comedy Central's re-re-vamped The Daily Show..., which you already know is now hosted by Trevor Noah, but which form demands I spell out for you: ...with Trevor Noah.

I completely understand his and his producers' need and desire to differentiate Noah from the institution that was Jon Stewart.  Consequently, I was fine with the new set and the new graphics.  I was even okay with the decision to have Noah standing, out from behind the desk, while handing us our tag-riffic (if sometimes obtuse) Moment of Zen.  Such things were no big deal.

When the show returned to the air for this first full week of the new year, however, bigger deals were afoot.  I'd tell you I chose the word afoot with care, but the truth is words like that sometimes just pop into my head.  The reason afoot is particularly fitting here is that the first thing one notices about The Daily Show's most recent cosmetic tinkering is the decision to open "cold," in the parlance of the biz, with Noah standing in/walking from one of the sizeable set's seldom-seen crannies, trying valiantly to fit his South African accent around distinctly American words like "Ar-egon."

I don't yet know whose decision this was.  Perhaps Noah lobbied for it; perhaps the show's producers told him to give it a try.  Likewise, I don't yet know the thinking that went into the decision.  Maybe Noah is more comfortable standing than sitting.  Maybe the obvious fact that Noah's face and physique are more appealing than Stewart's led someone to the, um, epiphany that those assets should be more often showcased.  Whatever the cause, and however awkward it may seem in the short term, the results are nowhere near disagreeable enough for even a curmudgeonly nit-picker like me to raise a proverbial ruckus.

What happens after the cold open, on the other hand, is sacrilege of the first order: they changed the theme music.

Actually, to say they changed the opening theme doesn't do the dastardly deed justice.  It would be far more accurate to say they did away with it.  For years, the straight-outta-central-casting, big-voiced announcer's list of date, location, and title was followed by a stirring snare-drum roll and rousing guitar riff.  It got the blood pumping.  Now, that same litany is followed by a handful of fall-flat notes, probably (judging by the utter lack of soul, depth, warmth, et cetera) generated by a computer.  It is to its predecessor what erectile dysfunction is to arousal: I want to watch the show, but I don't think I can now.  It's depressing.  Instead of being pumped to see The Daily Show's clever take on the events of the past few days, I now involuntarily say, "Nope!" and wonder why I suddenly feel so blue.

{Addendum:  Having seen two additional episodes, I now realize The Daily Show did not "do away" with its theme, but merely substituted a different arrangement or mix.  Maybe yelling "Nope!" isn't the best way to listen for sonic subtleties.  With that acknowledgement, I stand by my characterizations of the new mix's aural impact.}

Daily Show, please take note...
When Disney bought LucasFilm, millions of fans were a little brought-down by the realization that the next installment of Star Wars would not be preceded by the trumpet-laden 20th Century Fox fanfare.  When they went to see The Force Awakens, however, John Williams' familiar opening measures still underscored the sudden STAR WARS logo and opening text on the screen-- and they cheered.  There is a lesson to be learned from that.

Part Two
An acquaintance of mine recently wondered openly if there was an official date when he could stop pretending to give a [negative term of your choosing] how every-damned-body-he-has-ever-known's holidays were.  (I'm paraphrasing.)  I suspect the question was prompted by the phenomenon of every-damned-body he has to passingly interact with asking how his holidays were.  You know the type.  People who can actually convince you they give a [see above] are said to have charisma; people who try very hard and don't quite pull it off are almost always in sales.

Fortunately, there is a firm date when the holidays are over.  It's today.

Centuries ago, the religious clerics who invented Christmas --and by invented I mean they stole it from some sun-worshippers and re-vamped it to differentiate the new host from the old; new set, new theme music, the whole schmeer-- decided the season should be twelve days long.  (Hence the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," which appeals mainly to choir directors and autistics.)  The basis for this time frame is the legend that the Magi, or Three Wise Men (who were up-jumped to kings in their theme song), did not arrive to pay homage to the newly born King of Kings for the better part of two weeks.  Because even wise men who are running late can learn something new, the event was called the Epiphany (which basically means realization), and because January 5th is the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6th was dubbed the Day of the Epiphany (or usually just Epiphany).

Of far greater relevance to most of us, with our modern, temporally
expanded, more secular notion of the holidays, is this...

By the church's own calendar, January 6th of every year is the first day of
It Officially Ain't Christmas Anymore, Jack, So Stop Asking.

Part Three
Today, we here at Blasphemes celebrate ten years of impiety.  For reasons loosely tied to the discussion in Part Two, it was on January 6th, 2006 that this here site was officially launched, or founded, or opened, or whatever.  Please honor this milestone, Dear Reader, by engaging in a vice of your own choosing.  At the very least, give a passerby a dirty look and let them wonder why.

Found on Mars this week... a fragment of star map,
                            and a mile post numbered 1138.