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Quote of the day

Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 9:49 AM EDT
Oct 31 2012

I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time- when the Unites States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
-Carl Sagan

Categories: Carl Sagan, Quotes of the day

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Photo of the day

Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012 @ 6:04 AM EDT
Oct 31 2012

"You can come out now..."

Categories: Photo of the day, Weather

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How bad was it?

Published Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 11:37 AM EDT
Oct 30 2012

Pretty bad.

Categories: Photo of the day, Weather

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The free market is healthy. You, not so much.

Published Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 10:02 AM EDT
Oct 30 2012

The last line of a letter from my health insurer, informing me of new restrictions on my pharmacy benefits:

Remember: Treatment decisions are always between you and your doctor. Coverage is subject to the limitations and exclusions noted in your plan materials.

In other words, you and your doctor may decide what's best for you, but that doesn't mean we're going to pay for it, even though we may have for the past ten years.

Tell me again about the horrible restrictions guvmint-run health care would impose on my treatment options...

Categories: KGB Opinion

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Happy anniv&@<@! NO CONNECTION

Published Monday, October 29, 2012 @ 12:06 AM EDT
Oct 29 2012

The first message on the ARPANET (the predecessor of the modern Internet) crashed the system.

Sent at 10:30 pm local time on October 29, 1969 by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline, the message text was the word "login." After transmitting the letters "l" and "o," the system then failed. So, the first message over the ARPANET was "lo," and the result was a failed remote login. (Sort of like if Samuel Morse's first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought" had come across as "Wha".)

About an hour later, the computer at UCLA successfully connected and logged in to a computer at Stanford Research Institute. A permanent link between the systems was achieved about a month later.

Categories: History, Internet

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Whistling into oblivion...

Published Sunday, October 28, 2012 @ 10:29 AM EDT
Oct 28 2012

Random stuff, as we await the arrival of Sandy Frankenstorm:

God is so busy making sure women get pregnant, I don't know where He finds time to make a hurricane.
-Andy Borowitz

Bill Maher: "You once called Mitt Romney the most intellectually dishonest man in politics. Do you still believe that?"
Barney Frank: "I would strike the word 'intellectually.' "
-(Real Time with Bill Maher, 10/26/12)

If you are having trouble multi-obsessing over both the hurricane and election I will be visiting my mom and will get some tips.

Bloom's Taxonomy defines educational objectives in terms of three core domains: knowing/head, feeling/heart and doing/hands. These categories are also useful in dating.
-The Covert Comic

How Not To Get A Picture Of Me.
Lesson 1: poke my girlfriend in the back at baggage claim and offer her money.
-Sir Patrick Stewart

There are few things more laughable than a political party that can't get its lie together.
-Robert Brault

If they just called it 'Survivor: Evil/Dumb/Hot/People.' people would start watching again.
-John Fugelsang

Good thing Zooey Deschanel just sang the anthem cuz it's not like Detroit has a rich and vibrant musical history to draw from or anything.
-Jay Satellite

Detroit gave us Motown, Aretha, Bettye LaVette. But none of them has a Fox TV show, so, hey, let's get Zooey Deschanel to sing the World Series anthem.
-Greg Kot

Romney promises Hurricane Sandy will not unfairly target rich people.
-Elayne Boosler

Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once and space is what keeps it all from happening to you.
-David Gerrold

BREAKING: Weather Forces Romney to Shift Lying to Other States
-Andy Borowitz

However, we had them in the past and will probably have them in the future, so if you have a time machine, no problem!

Categories: Andy Borowitz, Bill Maher, Covert Comic, John Fugelsang, Patrick Stewart, Photo of the day, Quotes of the day, Robert Brault, Twitter, Weather

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Sandy Frankenstorm

Published Saturday, October 27, 2012 @ 2:15 PM EDT
Oct 27 2012

Pittsburgh generally only gets remnants of hurricanes, but sometimes they do wreak havoc. The heavy rains and flooding from Agnes in 1972 and Ivan in 2004 come to mind. And we've been nailed by large cyclonic storms, like 1993's "Storm of the Century." But I don't think we've ever had to deal with a hybrid beast like this one, especially one with high winds over a sustained period of a day more.

As a public service, here's something to take your mind off the coming apocalypse: one of the dumbest- and funniest- movies ever made. Absurdist humor at its best.

Bob: I didn't know you smoked.
Nick: Just after sex, Bob. I'm trying to give it up.
Bob: Well, at least you don't smoke that much.
Nick: About a pack a day.
Bob: That'll kill ya!
Nick: Bob, it won't kill ya. But it will make you very sore.

(YouTube video: "Real Men" (1987) with John Ritter and Jim Belushi)

Categories: Movies, Video, Weather, YouTube

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Observations of the day

Published Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 9:06 AM EDT
Oct 26 2012

Experts say the entire 2012 election could come down to just eight states. The states are: confusion, dismay, depression, apathy, shock, disbelief, despair, and anxiety.
-Jay Leno

After the debate... experts agreed that President Obama won on substance and I thought: Well, big deal, Lance Armstrong won on several substances.
-David Letterman

In fairness to Sarah Palin, "shuck" and "jive" are just two of the many thousands of words she doesn't know the meaning of.
-Andy Borowitz

One week after Election Day, the banks will be closed and the military will be marching in the street.
It's called Veterans Day.

I'm tired of every Republican politician being a medical supergenius on vaginas. I want to hear gynecologists talk about the national debt.
-Bill Maher

This campaign has dragged on so long Newt Gingrich is abandoning it for a younger, hotter, healthier campaign.
-John Fugelsang

Karl Rove said the Tea Party is “not sophisticated;” which is sort of like saying the Jonas Brothers are “not black.'
-John Fugelsang

I have never been more ashamed for a candidate, Politicizing fallen Americans is pitiful and unacceptable.
-Colin Powell

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. Makes sense. They're both moderate Republicans.

There's something wrong with our politics if we can't even agree about rape anymore.
-Andy Borowitz

I’ll be glad when this election’s over so I’ll know for sure whom I should have voted for.
-Steve Martin

The audience at the debate was instructed to turn off their cell phones because they might interfere with Mitt Romney's circuitry.
-Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog

Categories: Andy Borowitz, Barack Obama, Bill Maher, Colin Powell, David Letterman, Elections, Jay Leno, John Fugelsang, Sarah Palin, Steve Martin

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Political joke of the day, Presidential edition

Published Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 7:59 AM EDT
Oct 25 2012

(YouTube video: President Obama answers Jay Leno's question, "What's this thing with Trump and you?" )

Categories: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Elections, Jay Leno, TV, Video, YouTube

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Here's the rub..

Published Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 7:14 AM EDT
Oct 25 2012

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an article about teenagers “grinding” at Mt. Lebanon High school dances. The Urban Dictionary defines grinding as a dance style in which a girl stands in front of a boy, faces away from him, and rubs her rear on his crotch.

When I was in school, kids who broke any rule at a dance got tossed out; if they did it more than once, they were banned from attending any school social functions.

A college student commented in the P-G's Facebook comment area:

Rules established without logical reasoning are less likely to be followed than rules established with logical reasoning. This rule is trying to control the hormones of kids, and is based on what undesirable outcome? A fading societal rule that expressing sexuality is bad? That rule won't be respected and thus won't be followed.

In my day, if the school did something we didn't like, we told them so. Vocally, and in action. Vox discipuli is being ignored here.

I imagine that your suggestion is already in place. Or, call it a PDA [public display of attention-Ed.], since many schools have (unsuccessfully) banned those. Or just play music that no one can dance to! Oh, wait, these are kids and they tend to be creative, since that's what we send them to school to become, no? They'll figure out a way to do what they want to do, even if their new dance is mocking the draconian rules and/or administration.

If the school doesn't wanting dancing to occur, then it shouldn't host dances.


Well. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, allow me to retort:

Kevin G. Barkes • Progressive Curmudgeon at KGB Report

I don't know precisely when “your day” was, but I grew up in the 60s. Every generation likes to think they invented outrageous sexual behavior, but the contributions made by us in those golden, halcyon days raised the bar to an unprecedented level. We were a part of something called “the sexual revolution.” Maybe you heard of it. It's in Wikipedia and everything. So your observation about fading societal rules regarding sexual expression is just, well, adorable.

It's not that we old fogies are offended by you kids dry humping on the dance floor as much as we're confused. Don't you have back seats anymore? I've seen cargo areas in SUVs bigger than the VW bug I had in high school.

Now, that was tough. We had to drive to our make-out spot with bald tires. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways.


By the way, the name of the principal of Mt. Lebanon High School is Mr. McFeeley. My admiration to the P-G's headline writer for exercising admirable restraint.

Categories: KGB Opinion

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A pair of parodies

Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 8:28 AM EDT
Oct 24 2012

It's the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Allan Sherman's first record album, My Son, The Folk Singer, which broke sales records and hit number one on the 1962 Billboard pop album chart.

I was eight when I first heard Allan Sherman.

I memorized all of the songs on all his albums.

That should explain a great deal.

Sherman is best known for his hit single Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. My favorite Sherman pieces aren't even complete songs, but medleys comprised of two or four lines, or a single verse, concatenated, recorded before a live audience, and positioned as the last track on the record.

Herewith are Shticks and Stones from My Son, The Folk Singer, and Shticks of One and a Half a Dozen of the Other from My Son, The Celebrity.

For those of you not familiar with early 60s culture, you may need to click the links which following to appreciate the references to Levittown, David Susskind, Geritol, Billy Sol, and Metrecal.. As for the Medicare reference, the songs were recorded prior to the program's creation in 1965.

Also note my cats were fascinated by the pigeon in the second video. Turn down the sound, put it on an endless loop, and watch the ensuring hilarity.

Categories: Allan Sherman, Music, Video, YouTube

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Quote of the day

Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 @ 9:10 AM EDT
Oct 23 2012

‎Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship where we're counting ships, it's “what are our capabilities?”
Barack Obama

Categories: Barack Obama, Elections, Mitt Romney, Politics, Quotes of the day

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Happy birthday, Johnny!

Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 @ 12:29 AM EDT
Oct 23 2012

John William “Johnny” Carson (October 23, 1925 - January 23, 2005) was an American television host and comedian, known for 30 years as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992). Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Governor Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Johnny Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993. Although his show was already successful by the end of the 1960s, during the 1970s Carson became an American icon and remained so until his retirement in 1992. Click for full article.

(A portion of David Letterman's 2005 tribute show for Johnny Carson.)

Visit our Johnny Carson page.


One of Carson's funniest routines was Carnac the Magnificent, an alleged psychic who would hold to his head a sealed envelope, divine and announce the answer, then open the envelope and read the question. He adapted the bit from routines previously performed by Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs, but Carson perfected the format.

Herewith are some of the more memorable Carnac gags. For the complete list, go to the source at www.nightscribe.com, But be certain to watch the video at the end...

A: Peter Pan.
Q: What do you use to fry a peter?

A: Mount Baldy.
Q: How do you play piggyback with Telly Savales?

A: A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
Q: What were some of the earlier forms of Preparation H?

A: Clean air, a virgin and a gas station open on Sunday.
Q: Name three things you won't find in Los Angeles.

A: Black and white and twenty feet tall.
Q: Describe Sister Mary Kong.

A: An unmarried woman.
Q: What was Elizabeth Taylor between 3 and 5 pm on June 1, 1952?

A: Cyclone.
Q: What do call the clone of a guy named Cy?

A: ”Hi diddly dee.“
Q: How do you say "Good morning" to your diddly dee?

A: The Orient express.
Q: What is a drink made with soy sauce and prune juice?

A: Gatorade.
Q: What does an alligator get on welfare?

A: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Q: What's the best thing to do if you swallow a hand grenade?

A: Until he gets caught.
Q: How long does a United States Congressman serve?

A: Kumquat.
Q: What do you say when calling your quat?

A: Defrost.
Q: On a cold morning, what forms on de-grass?

A: Gunga din.
Q: What do you hear when you put an amplifier in your gunga?

A: Igloo.
Q: What do you use to keep your ig from falling off?

A: Shoo be doo be doo.
Q: What do you look for when you're tracking a shoo be doo be?

A: Trapper John.
Q: What do you call an outhouse built on quicksand?

A: Rub-a-dub-dub.
Q: What does a masseuse do to your dub-dub?

A: Zeppo Marx.
Q: What do you get when something gets caught in your Zeppo?

A: Touchback.
Q: What's the smart thing to do if a Dallas Cowgirl touches you?

A: The big ten.
Q: Describe the five finalists in the Miss Universe contest.

A: All the President's Men.
Q: Who won't be let out to see the picture?

A: Bifocal.
Q: Name a focal that goes both ways.

A: Timbuktu.
Q: What comes after Timbuk one?

A: R-O-L-A-I-D-S.
Q: How does a stupid person spell “backgammon?”

A: Jello and “Charlie's Angels.”
Q: What looks delicious, quivers all over and can't talk?

A: The Loch Ness Monster.
Q: Who will they find sooner than Jimmy Hoffa?

A: The diamond lane.
Q: What does Zsa Zsa Gabor call the center of a church?

A: A nine foot base with two feet of powder.
Q: Describe Mick Jagger's nose.

A: Putting on the dog.
Q: What do you call dressing up as a tree?

A: "Yes man."
Q: What should you answer to everything George Foreman says?

A: You asked for it.
Q: How do you get it?

A: Big Ben, Joe Namath and the candidates' campaign promises.
Q: Name a clock, a jock and a crock.

A: Groundhog.
Q: What's in Jimmy Dean's sausages?

(The best of Carnac.)

Categories: Johnny Carson, TV, Video, YouTube

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Observations, Debate-a-Palooza Edition

Published Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 11:39 PM EDT
Oct 22 2012

From social media, collected in real time during the debate:

Elayne Boosler:

“Boca Raton.” Mouth of the Rat. Just sayin'.

Maybe Mitt could fire Iran.

Mitt: “Gender equality for the middle east.” But not for American women.

Wait. Is this a rerun?

He's gonna ask his parents for the money.

Blame the tumult of the middle east on Obama, because it started only four years ago.

Tumult, that's three! Can meshuga be far behind?

We owe China billions. They've kept us afloat. Let's threaten them!

Mali just declared war on Appleton Wisconsin.

Forget the flag pins. They should have worn squirting carnations.


Albert Brooks:

Romney won the coin toss so the line between them is white.

Romney can see Russia from two of his houses.

Even Syria is bored with this debate.

Romney's expression says “The afterlife is going to be so tough for you.”

The Pentagon just turned to Monday Night Football.

A half hour in. What have we learned? They both don't like war and like peace. Wow.

I don't know who's winning but Iran has just gone to Def Con 4.

Okay. We're back home again. They couldn't talk foreign affairs for more than 30 minutes. That scares me.

Romney keeps bragging about the Olympics. I saw him. His figure skating was embarrassing.

This Christmas Neiman Marcus is selling maps without Israel.

Get tough on China. Make Walmart close at six.

If Romney sweats any more, I get a royalty.

Romney will call China a currency manipulator. China will laugh and sell him another flag pin.

Romney needs a binder full of kleenex.


John Fugelsang:

It's unfair to say Mitt Romney is politicizing the tragedy of Benghazi when he's actually exploiting it.

“The only way to deal with your enemy is to make him your friend.” Abraham Lincoln, appeaser.

“We can't kill our way out”- Mitt Romney. “We need to kill them.”- Mitt Romney, two minutes later

“We have to help these nations build civil societies”- Mitt Romney, previously opposed to Nation Building.

If Iran develops a nuclear weapon Romney/Ryan would respond with the strongest possible tax cuts.

Barack Obama just said the debate table was round & Mitt Romney said it's actually flat.

Mitt Romney will stand up to Iran, Syria & Putin and is also afraid to go on The View.

”Attacking me is not an agenda“ Mitt Romney, whose foreign policy plan has consisted of attacking the president on Benghazi.

Romney strongly supports gender equality in middle east; and will get back to you with his opinion on Lily Ledbetter act here.

It's fitting that Mitt Romney resembles Reed Richards from Fantastic Four as his magic power is superhuman stretching.

Mitt just said we should've been more involved in Syria & also been less involved. Those Bush aides were worth every penny.

Mitt Romney believes our government has to solve problems in Syria while letting the Free Market solve problems here.

Romney is clearly winning on making the foreign policy debate not about foreign policy

Mitt Romney just found a way to bash teachers' unions during a foreign policy debate.

I want Bob Schieffer to grab Romney by the lapels and scream “WHERE'S THE MONEY, LEBOWSKI?!”

Mitt wants to repeal Obamacare and increase the Pentagon budget to defend Israel's right to universal (health) care.

Mitt just mentioned how he balanced the budget for the Olympics, leaving out the millions in government earmarks that balanced it.

Non millionaires who voted for Bush and support Romney deserve presidents like Bush and Romney.

Hey, Mitt- If you hate our tax system and want a religious conservative government with no abortion or gay marriage, Iran is waiting for you.

Mitt Romney is ahead on impersonating Albert Brooks' flop sweat from Broadcast News.

“The tightest sanctions must be tightened.”- Mitt Romney. He said that.

Obama took out bin Laden but wait til President Romney takes out Oscar the Grouch

Somewhere in Hell Richard Nixon is embarrassed over Mitt Romney debate sweat

GOP blaming Obama for the slow recovery is like Lucy blaming Charlie Brown for missing the football.


Andy Borowitz:

Romney: “No one has more experience abroad than my money.”

Romney: “I would bring all female troops home in time to cook dinner.”

Both candidates' use of the numbers 1 through 5 underscores the importance of keeping Sesame Street.

If he loses, Mitt Romney has a bright future as a Clipart character.

Romney: “Across the Middle East, women are being kept in binders.”

When Romney is listening he looks exactly like my dad did when I told him a lie.

We are now discussing the most pressing foreign policy issue facing America today, the reading tests of fourth graders.

Romney: “There's no place more important to me than Israel except Ohio.”

Romney: “If the Prime Minister of Israel called me, I would do what I do whenever someone talks to me: interrupt him.”

Romney: “Not only do I believe in drones, I am one.”

Romney: “The greatest threat to the world is nuclear powered women.”


Beachwood Reporter

Suddenly every schmo on Twitter is a foreign policy expert.

“That's a perfect segue into the next question which neither of you will answer.”

“And now, a ridiculous question that allows each of you to dispense talking points to your base.


Bill Maher:

Trouble already: Mitt says he wants to impose sanctions on ”Romnesia“.

“Kill our way out of this mess” is the theme of every American movie not about talking animals or weddings.

Aside from talking points, Mitt doesn't know his Assad from a hole in the ground.

Mitt, you do know that most of America thinks Mali is one of Obama's daughters, right?

It's good they agree armed Americans should be involved with everyone, everywhere. We loved armed intervention like Paula Dean loves butter.

Aside from talking points, Mitt doesn't know his Assad from a hole in the ground

Mitt's entire debate strategy: What he just said, but from a white guy.

That's an amazingly specific number Mitt keeps pulling out of his ass, 12 million new jobs. But fellas, this is the foreign policy debate!

Jobs, teachers, education - gentlemen, please, can we get back to killing foreigners?

Bob Scheiffer, could you ask about what's IN the military budget? If people knew specifics,”I wouldn't cut nuttin'” wouldn't sound so good

I like hearing Mitt say how great he was for Massachusetts, the state that will never, ever, ever vote for him.

I can't be the only one who's surprised to find out Buster Posey is a white guy. Sorry, flipped to the game.

I've seen wider ideological differences between Jehovah's Witnesses.

Oh no he din't- Romney said his ultimate BubbleFact, “Apology Tour” right in front of the guy who NEVER WENT ON ONE.

To clarify, Mitt is for moving heaven and earth, but only in regards to mining.

You're losing, Mitt- bring up the fact that we have fewer knives and rocks than we did during the French and Indian War.

Shorter version of Romney: Me strong. Obama weak. Hulk smash.

OK Mitt, one more try: we have fewer catapults and barrels of boiling oil than we had in the crusades.

First debate, all agreed, Obama lost; second one, i say he won, but Romney not trounced. But this one? Only bubbledwellers can say Mitt won

Mitt keeps taking issue with being criticized tonight - did they tell him this is a debate?

OK, one last try: We have fewer Andrews Sisters and Ritz Brothers than we did in 1944. So glad we're done with THAT!



“The audience has taken a vow of silence.” But not celibacy, one hopes.

We are debating during the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is very important, because we are painfully aware that neither of these men is a Jack Kennedy.

Cutting Obamacare, which the CBO has projected will reduce the deficit, will save money, because MAGIC.

Mitt is in favor of crippling sanctions like the ones Barry has put in place. If elected, he will have the Doctor take him back to the Bush administration to put them in place sooner, and more crippling-er.

Mittens, again with the “tumult.” Why does it sound like Yiddish when he says “tumult”?

You know all about shipping jobs overseas, don’t you Governor? BOOM!

Mitt is pretending that he can feel empathy... Brent Spiner pulled this off a lot more convincingly.


Various fact checkers:

Politifact rated the claim that the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force are smaller than in 1917 and 1947 “pants on fire.”

Romney wants to add $2 trillion to defense that it didn't ask for it. True.

Obama 'promised' 5.4 percent unemployment? Mostly False.


The Onion:

Romney Pledges To Replace All Foreign Policy With Jobs Right Here In America

Categories: Albert Brooks, Andy Borowitz, Barack Obama, Bill Maher, Elayne Boosler, Elections, John Fugelsang, Mitt Romney, Observations, Politics, The Beachwood Reporter, The Onion, The Wonkette

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Quotes of the day

Published Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 4:11 AM EDT
Oct 22 2012

(American Humanist Association photo.)

Paul Kurtz (December 21, 1925 - October 20, 2012) was a prominent American skeptic and secular humanist. He was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, having previously also taught at Vassar, Trinity, and Union colleges, and the New School for Social Research. (Click for additional information.)

A skeptic is one who is willing to question any claim to truth, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic, and adequacy of evidence.

Atheism, like agnosticism and skepticism, can be a dignified posture when it is based on careful reflection and civilly expressed. It should not be mean- spirited. Many of us prefer a kinder and gentler form of secular humanism.

Each person must face death: life has meaning only if we realize that it will end.

Far from living in a moral vacuum, secular humanists wish to encourage wherever possible the growth of moral awareness.

Homo religiosus invents religious symbols, which he venerates and worships to save him from facing the finality of his death and dissolution. He devises paradise fictions to provide succor and support... In acts of supreme self- deception, at various times and in various places he has been willing to profess belief in the most incredible myths because of what they have promised him.

Human life has no meaning independent of itself. There is no cosmic force or deity to give it meaning or significance. There is no ultimate destiny for man. Such a belief is an illusion of humankind's infancy. The meaning of life is what we choose to give it.

Humanists hold that ethical values are relative to human experience and need not be derived from theological or metaphysical foundations.

I believe that a person should take an affirmative outlook. There are always problems in life, old and new, uncertainties, and unexpected contingencies. The optimal way to deal with this is not to give up in despair, but to move ahead using the best intelligence and resources that we have to overcome adversity.

Life, when fully lived under a variety of cultural conditions, can be euphoric and optimistic; it can be a joy to experience and a wonder to behold.

Most humans feel the transcendent temptation, the emotional drive to festoon the universe with large-scale meaning.

No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.

Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion suffices in itself.

Secular humanism is avowedly non-religious. It is a eupraxsophy (good practical wisdom), which draws its basic principles and ethical values from science, ethics, and philosophy.

The beginning of wisdom is the awareness that there is insufficient evidence that a god or gods have created us and the recognition that we are responsible in part for our own destiny. Human beings can achieve this good life, but it is by the cultivation of the virtues of intelligence and courage, not faith and obedience, that we will most likely be able to do so.

The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; on the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the Tree of Life and by living in the here and now as fully and creatively as we can.

The skeptic has no illusions about life, nor a vain belief in the promise of immortality. Since this life here and now is all we can know, our most reasonable option is to live it fully.

Three key humanist virtues are courage, cognition, and caring- not dependence, ignorance, or insensitivity to the needs of others.

We need to be skeptical of utopianists who offer unreliable totalistic visions of other worlds and strive to take us there. We need some ideals, but we also need to protect ourselves from the miscalculations and misadventures of visionaries.

Categories: Humanism, Paul Kurtz, Quotes of the day, Religion, Secular Humanism

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Observations of the day

Published Monday, October 22, 2012 @ 1:33 AM EDT
Oct 22 2012

I have learned that saying “no” is the password to the next level.
-Alvin Williams

True, everyone lies, but there's a difference between “No, those pants don't make your ass look fat” and “No, there's nothing incriminating in those unreleased tax returns.”
-Kevin G. Barkes

Obama and Romney should open the next debate with a really well-rehearsed rendition of that “God, I Hope I Get It” song from A Chorus Line.
-Seth McFarland

GOP blaming Obama for the slow recovery is like John Wilkes Booth blaming Lincoln for missing the second act of the play.
-John Fugelsang

The people who gloated over the landslide defeat of George McGovern in 1972 seem to have forgotten its consequences.
-Kevin G. Barkes

It occurs to me that if another country's candidate had financial interest in voting machines, we'd be lecturing them on sanctity of voting.
-Rose Auerbach

For the record, nobody's actually “blaming Bush.” They're blaming Bush policies. “Blaming Bush” implies he was in charge.
-John Fugelsang

I'm thinking of becoming a motivational speaker. But I'm not sure. Should I? Maybe yes, maybe no. Undecided. Kinda thinking about it.
-Steve Martin

You can tell a person is a Republican when they refer to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party. You can tell a person is a Democrat when he's speaking very slowly to a Republican.
-Kevin G. Barkes

Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.
-Andy Borowitz

The creator of Mad Libs died. His friends described him as a warm and pulpy man who loved his wife and pelicans. He will be deeply pooped.
-John McNamee

Categories: Alvin Williams, Andy Borowitz, John Fugelsang, John McNamee, KGB Opinion, Observations, Rose Auerbach, Seth McFarlane, Steve Martin

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Understanding the Electoral College

Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 2:41 PM EDT
Oct 21 2012

(Mo Rocca on CBS' Sunday Morning, explaining how the Electoral College works, and a way to fix it without amending the U.S. Constitution.)

Categories: CBS Sunday Morning, Elections, History, Mo Rocca, Video

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October 21, 1977

Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 1:04 PM EDT
Oct 21 2012

Thirty-five years ago today my daughter was born, and I was offered a job that profoundly changed my destiny. It started my career in typesetting, consulting, technical writing, and computer software.

I was hired as a typesetter at a legal/financial printing company because of my future boss' somewhat unconventional interviewing technique. He recited from memory a random lyric from the libretto of Jesus Christ Superstar; I was to respond with the next line. We did this for about ten minutes.

I nailed it.

I don't recall there actually being any typesetting-related questions during the interview. I don't think he even asked if I could type.

The point of all this is to remember Heinlein's admonition: specialization is for insects. While you should be an expert in at least one field, you should learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. Arcane knowledge can be useful, even though its acquisition can seem pointless. That funny-looking key you picked up a few years ago might eventually unlock a door leading to a totally unexpected opportunity.

PS: If I hadn't been familiar with Superstar, the next category would have been Star Trek.

Even a pragmatic humanist cannot deny destiny.

PPS: I really owe Tim Rice a nice thank you card.

Categories: Jesus Christ Superstar, KGB, KGB Family, Robert A. Heinlein, Star Trek, Tim Rice

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Quotes of the day

Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 8:40 AM EDT
Oct 21 2012

George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922 - October 21, 2012) was an historian, author, and former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.


And above all, above all, honest work must be rewarded by a fair and just tax system. The tax system today does not reward hard work: it’s penalizes it. Inherited or invested wealth frequently multiplies itself while paying no taxes at all. But wages on the assembly line or in farming the land, these hard – earned dollars are taxed to the very last penny.

I am fed up with a system which busts the pot smoker and lets the big dope racketeer go free.

I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in. permalink

It is simply untrue that all our institutions are evil,... that all politicians are mere opportunists, that all aspects of university life are corrupt. Having discovered an illness, it's not terribly useful to prescribe death as a cure.

National security includes schools for our children as well as silos for our missiles. It includes the health of our families as much as the size of our bombs, the safety of our streets, and the condition of our cities, and not just the engines of war. If we some day choke on the pollution of our own air, there will be little consolation in leaving behind a dying continent ringed with steel.

National strength includes the credibility of our system in the eyes of our own people as well as the credibility of our deterrent in the eyes of others abroad.

No man should advocate a course in private that he's ashamed to admit in public.

Politics is an act of faith; you have to show some kind of confidence in the intellectual and moral capacity of the public.

Richard Nixon would have been better off if I'd beaten him. Then he'd be remembered for the EPA and China instead of Watergate.

So let us stand for justice and jobs and against special privilege.

So, I think that's the centerpiece of morality: Don't lie. But to do that, you have to go a step further and find out what the truth is.

The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plane.

The longer the title, the less important the job.

There is a depletion allowance for oil wells, but no depletion for the farmer who feeds us, or the worker who serves as all.

This is the time for truth, not falsehood. In a Democratic nation, no one likes to say that his inspiration came from secret arrangements by closed doors, but in the sense that is how my candidacy began. I am here as your candidate tonight in large part because during four administrations of both parties, a terrible war has been chartered behind closed doors.

Truth is a habit of integrity, not a strategy of politics.

You know, sometimes, when they say you are ahead of your time, it's just a polite way of saying you have a real bad sense of timing.

Categories: George McGovern, Quotes of the day

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Cartoon of the day

Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 12:02 AM EDT
Oct 21 2012

(via Tom Cheney in The New Yorker)

Categories: Cartoons, Internet

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Great moments in science

Published Saturday, October 20, 2012 @ 2:16 PM EDT
Oct 20 2012

Categories: Cartoons, NASA, Rich Tennant, The 5th Wave

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Observations of the day

Published Saturday, October 20, 2012 @ 8:15 AM EDT
Oct 20 2012

Get the full context: Read Jen Hatmaker's powerful post here.

There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, Business as usual. But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.
-Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never- failing stream!
-Amos 5:21-24

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations- I cannot bear your worthless assemblies… When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
-Isaiah 1:13-17)

"Why have we fasted," they say, "and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?"... Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
-Isaiah 58:3-4, 6-7

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
-Micah 6:7-8

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God's, that the self-righteous should rush.
-Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Categories: Hypocrisy, Jen Hatmaker, Life of Pi, Observations, Philosophy, Quotes of the day, Religion, Yann Martel

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Published Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 2:48 PM EDT
Oct 19 2012

(YouTube video in which The President of The United States offers hope to those suffering from "Romnesia")

Categories: Barack Obama, Elections, Mitt Romney, Politics, Video, YouTube

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Adventures in customer service, II

Published Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 1:54 PM EDT
Oct 19 2012

Kudos to Comcast.

Following Wednesday night's call, the correct replacement modem arrived today- just one business day after calling, and two days ahead of their ETA.

Of course, it didn't work when I initially plugged it in, but that's not unusual when you replace a cable modem with a different model. Ten minutes going through a recording reciting the obvious- make certain everything's connected, disconnect and reconnect to modem to the power line, etc.- and I was connected with a tech who did a reset from his end. Two minutes and we were back on the air.

80 meg/sec download, 10 upload. Not too shabby.

I have to admit that while Comcast engages in lots of irritating customer behavior- lots of recordings, punching in numbers- trying to get me to buy a pay-for-view wrestling event(!?)- when you finally do get to a real human, they solve things quickly, are pleasant, reasonable, and quite accommodating. And this has been my consistent experience for the past two years or so.

Just lose the pay-per-view sports messages that pop up on the cable box, ok? If I was an ultimate fighting fan, believe me, I'd know when the next big event was occurring.

And here's hoping the whole ship the old units back via UPS business works as well...

Categories: Comcast

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Quote of the day

Published Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 9:03 AM EDT
Oct 19 2012

Do you think the Job Creators who are against equal pay for women would be satisfied if we accomplished it by lowering the pay for men?
-Zay N. Smith, Quick Takes

Categories: Quotes of the day, Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes

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Photo of the day

Published Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 12:13 AM EDT
Oct 19 2012

You've heard of the wolf spider, but how about the spider wolf?

Categories: Animals, Dogs, Holidays, Photo of the day, WTF?

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Adventures in customer service

Published Thursday, October 18, 2012 @ 12:06 AM EDT
Oct 18 2012

Transcript of my Comcast customer support chat. Elapsed time, about 30 minutes.

Perhaps I'm being overly critical, but I thought the description of my problem was concise and accurate. I suspect the first person was actually a program with a badly designed heuristic pattern-matching algorithm. Or someone for whom English is a second language.

It will be interesting to see if: a) I actually get the correct modem, b) it functions properly; and c) if the process of returning the incorrect replacement modem and my current modem generates any more problems. I'll keep you posted.

analyst Dareen has entered room

Dareen: Hello Kevin, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Dareen. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Kevin: My Issue: I obtained a new digital internet and voice modem, via www.comcast.com/deviceupgrade since you said my current modem could not take advantage of recent upgrades. The modem I received from you is data only; it has no digital voice capability

Dareen: Glad to have you on chat. How are you today?

Kevin: Just ducky.

Dareen: I understand that you have concern with your modem device.

Dareen: Let me go ahead and do my best to assist you with this.

Kevin: ok

Dareen: You mean that your modem is only a cable modem?

Dareen: And you would like to have a telephony modem?

Kevin: Correct. It has no RJ11 jacks for connecting the telephone.

Kevin: Just an ethernet connection for the computer.

Dareen: May I please have the make and model of your device?

Kevin: My current device, or the incorrect device you sent as a replacement?

Dareen: Yes, the one that was sent to you.

Kevin: Arris Model CM820A/CT

Dareen: Thank you.

Dareen: Have you tried connecting the phone at the back of the modem?

Kevin: IT HAS NO PHONE JACKS. It has a power connector, a coax connector, and an internet jack.

Dareen: I understand. Let me connect you over to our Sales department for them to process your concern.

Dareen: Before I connect you over, is there anything else?

Kevin: No. Thank you.

Dareen: I will be connecting you to our partners in the Sales Department. You will see a message that says I have "left the room"; however, you will still be connected to the next available agent. Please stay online and connected to the chat for the next agent who will assist you as soon as possible.

Kevin: Thank you.

Dareen: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst

analyst Angelie has entered room

Kevin: My Issue: I obtained a new digital internet and voice modem, via www.comcast.com/deviceupgrade since you said my current modem could not take advantage of recent upgrades. The modem I received from you is data only; it has no digital voice capability

Angelie: Welcome to Comcast Chat Sales. My name is Angelie, and it's my pleasure to process your order and answer any questions you may have throughout this chat. How are you doing today?

analyst Dareen has left room

analyst Dareen has left room

Angelie: Please give me a few minutes to check on your previous chat with the previous analyst.

Angelie: Will this be fine?

Kevin: Take your time.

Angelie: Thank you!

Angelie: One moment please.

Angelie: Kevin, I see here that you were sent with an incorrect modem. Is this correct?

Kevin: Correct.

Angelie: Thank you for confirming that information.

Angelie: Let me process a shipment of the correct modem then.

Angelie: One moment please.

Kevin: Thank you.

Angelie: Before anything else.

Angelie: For account security verification, can you please provide me the last 4 digits of your SSN?

Kevin: nnnn.

Angelie: Thank you!

Angelie: Your request has been completed.

Angelie: Please take note of the order ID no.: 100099999999.

Angelie: You will receive the new modem within 3-5 business days from now.

Angelie: I am grateful that I was able to process and complete your order today. Is there any other COMCAST related concerns that I can assist you with before we end?

Kevin: No, that's it. Thank you.

Angelie: Wonderful!

Angelie: You are most welcome.

Angelie: It has been a great pleasure being able to assist you today.

Angelie: Thank you for your time and patience and for choosing Comcast as your entertainment needs! Our goal is to provide you with a consistently superior customer experience – that’s our guarantee. Learn more about the Comcast Customer Guarantee at http://www.comcast.com/corporate/Customers/CustomerGuarantee.html?fss=customer . Please do not hesitate to contact us anytime we are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Angelie: I would appreciate your feedback about the service you experienced with me today. It was really great working with you. It is our priority to provide you the best customer service. Kindly answer the 11 question survey following this chat so we can continue to improve our service. To close the chat and proceed to the survey, please click the "Exit Chat" A popup for exit confirmation "Take Our Survey".

Angelie: Bye and you take care! Have a good one!

Kevin: May all your Christmases be white.

Angelie: Thank you so much.

Angelie: Yours too.

(The Adventure Continues... here.)

Categories: Comcast, Internet

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Observation of the day

Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012 @ 9:27 AM EDT
Oct 17 2012

On this day in history 79 years ago Albert Einstein arrived in the United States, and why we keep allowing all these so-called immigrants to traipse into this country, QT will never know.
-Quick Takes, Zay N. Smith

Categories: History, Observations, Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes

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Quotes of the day: Arthur Miller

Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Oct 17 2012

Quotes of the day- Arthur Miller:
Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (one-act, 1955; revised two-act, 1956).

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Prince of Asturias Award, and was married to Marilyn Monroe. (Click for full article)

A character is defined by the kinds of challenges he cannot walk away from. And by those he has walked away from that cause him remorse.

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.

A suicide kills two people... that's what it's for.

An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.

Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.

Few of us can surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that The State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.

He's liked, but he's not well liked.

I believe in work. If somebody doesn't create something, however small it may be, he gets sick. An awful lot of people feel that they're treading water- that if they vanished in smoke, it wouldn't mean anything at all in this world. And that's a despairing and destructive feeling. It'll kill you.

I figure I've done what I could do, more or less, and now I'm going back to being a chemical; all we are is a lot of talking nitrogen, you know...

I love her too, but our neuroses just don't match.

If a person measures his spiritual fulfillment in terms of cosmic visions, surpassing peace of mind, or ecstasy, then he is not likely to know much spiritual fulfillment. If, however, he measures it in terms of enjoying a sunrise, being warmed by a child's smile, or being able to help someone have a better day, then he is likely to know much spiritual fulfillment.

If I have to be alone I want to be by myself.

Immortality is like trying to carve your initials in a block of ice in the middle of July.

It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time- the heart and spirit of the average man.

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.

The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.

The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.

The enemy is within, and within stays within, and we can’t get out of within.

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.

The wedding of Christianity or Judaism with nationalism is lethal.

The world is an oyster but you don't crack it open on a mattress.

There might be a dragon with five legs in my house, but no one has ever seen it.

Until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.

When any creativity becomes useful, it is sucked into the vortex of commercialism, and when a thing becomes commercial, it becomes the enemy of man.

When the guns roar, the arts die.

Where choice begins, Paradise ends, innocence ends, for what is Paradise but the absence of any need to choose this action?

Why is betrayal the only truth that sticks?

Without alienation, there can be no politics.

Work a lifetime to pay off a house- You finally own it and there's nobody to live in it.

You can quicker get back a million dollars that was stolen than a word that you gave away.

You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away- a man is not a piece of fruit.

You specialize in something until one day you find it is specializing in you.

Categories: Arthur Miller, Church and State, First Amendment, Politics, Religion, Video, YouTube

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Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 @ 9:10 AM EDT
Oct 16 2012

I made the Federal income tax electronic filing deadline with three minutes to spare last night (we had an extension), and my experience underscored the lunacy that is our tax code.

I did three returns; one joint filing, and two married filing separately. The tax liability varied from a $5 refund to owing nearly $1,500. All were accurate and all were legal, and, frankly, that's just crazy.

$1,500 may not seem like much (especially to someone who makes $10,000 debate bets on health care), but that's what I spent in prescription drugs last year. Which, incidentally, I could not deduct from my taxes because my total medical expenses didn't exceed 7.5% of my adjusted gross income.

I should start drilling for oil in my basement.

Categories: Photo of the day, Politics, Religion, Taxes

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Ah. This explains it...

Published Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 4:55 AM EDT
Oct 15 2012

Categories: Animals, Cats, Photo of the day, Science

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Quotes of the day: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Published Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 12:31 AM EDT
Oct 14 2012

Quotes of the day- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He had previously been a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II, and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe; he had responsibility for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45, from the Western Front. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.

On the domestic front, he covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy but contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern expanded version of executive privilege. He otherwise left most political activity to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. He was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies, expanded Social Security and launched the Interstate Highway System. He sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the first time since Reconstruction to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools, and signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote. He implemented desegregation of the armed forces in two years, and made five appointments to the Supreme Court. (Click for full article.)

A famous Frenchman once said, “War has become far too important to entrust to the generals.” Today, business, I think, should be saying: “Politics have become far too important to entrust to the politicians.”

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

But these calculations overlook the decisive element: what counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight- it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Censorship, in my opinion, is a stupid and shallow way of approaching the solution to any problem.

Change based on principle is progress. Constant change without principle becomes chaos.

Dollars and guns are no substitutes for brains and will power.

Don't join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels- men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.

I am not here, of course, as one pretending to any expertness on questions of youth and children- except in the sense that, within their own families, all grandfathers are experts on these matters.

I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.

I have no use for those- regardless of their political party- who hold some foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when unorganized labor was a huddled, almost helpless mass.

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.

Now, the education of our children is of national concern, and if they are not educated properly, it is a national calamity.

Oh, that lovely title, ex-President.

People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things... a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Some politician some years ago said that bad officials are elected by good voters who do not vote.

Teachers need our active support and encouragement. They are doing one of the most necessary and exacting jobs in the land. They are developing our most precious national resource: our children, our future citizens.

The gravity of the time is such that every new avenue of peace, no matter how dimly discernible, should be explored.

The hope of the world is that wisdom can arrest conflict between brothers. I believe that war is the deadly harvest of arrogant and unreasoning minds.

The only way to win the next world war is to prevent it.

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.

The world moves, and ideas that were once good are not always good.

There can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends.

There is an old saw in the services: that which is not inspected deteriorates.

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.

Today in America unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of unreconstructed reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions. Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice.

Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un- American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.

Unlike presidential administrations, problems rarely have terminal dates.

We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.

We are so proud of our guarantees of freedom in thought and speech and worship, that, unconsciously, we are guilty of one of the greatest errors that ignorance can make- we assume our standard of values is shared by all other humans in the world.

We have erased segregation in those areas of national life to which Federal authority clearly extends. So doing in this, my friends, we have neither sought nor claimed partisan credit, and all such actions are nothing more -- nothing less than the rendering of justice. And we have always been aware of this great truth: the final battle against intolerance is to be fought- not in the chambers of any legislature- but in the hearts of men.

We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

We need an adequate defense, but every arms dollar we spend above adequacy has a long-term weakening effect upon the nation and its security.

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.

Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he'd like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership.

You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.

Categories: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Quotes of the day

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Photo of the day for The Snake's Mommy...

Published Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 5:02 PM EDT
Oct 13 2012

The rare Fosse Constrictor. You're welcome.

Categories: Animals, Photo of the day

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Déjà vu all over again...

Published Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 8:44 AM EDT
Oct 13 2012

Ladies and gentlemen:

From force of long habit I almost said, "My fellow delegates."

Tonight you and I join forces for the 1936 campaign.

We enter it with confidence. Never was there greater need for fidelity to the underlying conception of Americanism than there is today. And once again it is given to our party to carry the message of that Americanism to the people.

The task on our part is twofold: First, as simple patriotism requires, to separate the false from the real issues; and, secondly, with facts and without rancor, to clarify the real problems for the American public.

There will be- there are- many false issues. In that respect, this will be no different from other campaigns. Partisans, not willing to face realities, will drag out red herrings as they have always done- to divert attention from the trail of their own weaknesses.

This practice is as old as our democracy. Avoiding the facts- fearful of the truth- a malicious opposition charged that George Washington planned to make himself king under a British form of government; that Thomas Jefferson planned to set up a guillotine under a French Revolutionary form of government; that Andrew Jackson soaked the rich of the Eastern seaboard and planned to surrender American democracy to the dictatorship of a frontier mob. They called Abraham Lincoln a Roman Emperor; Theodore Roosevelt a Destroyer; Woodrow Wilson a self- constituted Messiah.

In this campaign another herring turns up. In former years it has been British and French- and a variety of other things. This year it is Russian. Desperate in mood, angry at failure, cunning in purpose, individuals and groups are seeking to make Communism an issue in an election where Communism is not a controversy between the two major parties.

Here and now, once and for all, let us bury that red herring, and destroy that false issue. You are familiar with my background; you know my heritage; and you are familiar, especially in the State of New York, with my public service extending back over a quarter of a century. For nearly four years I have been President of the United States. A long record has been written. In that record, both in this State and in the national capital, you will find a simple, clear and consistent adherence not only to the letter, but to the spirit of the American form of government.

To that record, my future and the future of my Administration will conform. I have not sought, I do not seek, I repudiate the support of any advocate of Communism or of any other alien "ism" which would by fair means or foul change our American democracy.

That is my position. It always has been my position. It always will be my position.

There is no difference between the major parties as to what they think about Communism. But there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism.

I must tell you why. Communism is a manifestation of the social unrest which always comes with widespread economic maladjustment. We in the Democratic party have not been content merely to denounce this menace. We have been realistic enough to face it. We have been intelligent enough to do something about it. And the world has seen the results of what we have done.

In the spring of 1933 we faced a crisis which was the ugly fruit of twelve years of neglect of the causes of economic and social unrest. It was a crisis made to order for all those who would overthrow our form of government. Do I need to recall to you the fear of those days- the reports of those who piled supplies in their basements, who laid plans to get their fortunes across the border, who got themselves hideaways in the country against the impending upheaval? Do I need to recall the law-abiding heads of peaceful families, who began to wonder, as they saw their children starve, how they would get the bread they saw in the bakery window? Do I need to recall the homeless boys who were traveling in bands through the countryside seeking work, seeking food - desperate because they could find neither? Do I need to recall the farmers who banded together with pitchforks to keep the sheriff from selling the farm home under foreclosure? Do I need to recall the powerful leaders of industry and banking who came to me in Washington in those early days of 1933 pleading to be saved?

Most people in the United States remember today the fact that starvation was averted, that homes and farms were saved, that banks were reopened, that crop prices rose, that industry revived, and that the dangerous forces subversive of our form of government were turned aside.

A few people- a few only- unwilling to remember, seem to have forgotten those days.

In the summer of 1933, a nice old gentleman wearing a silk hat fell off the end of a pier. He was unable to swim. A friend ran down the pier, dived overboard and pulled him out; but the silk hat floated off with the tide. After the old gentleman had been revived, he was effusive in his thanks. He praised his friend for saving his life. Today, three years later, the old gentleman is berating his friend because the silk hat was lost.

Why did that crisis of 1929 to 1933 pass without disaster?

The answer is found in the record of what we did. Early in the campaign of 1932 I said: "To meet by reaction that danger of radicalism is to invite disaster. Reaction is no barrier to the radical, it is a challenge, a provocation. The way to meet that danger is to offer a workable program of reconstruction, and the party to offer it is the party with clean hands." We met the emergency with emergency action. But far more important than that, we went to the roots of the problem, and attacked the cause of the crisis. We were against revolution. Therefore, we waged war against those conditions which make revolutions- against the inequalities and resentments which breed them. In America in 1933 the people did not attempt to remedy wrongs by overthrowing their institutions. Americans were made to realize that wrongs could and would be set right within their institutions. We proved that democracy can work.

I have said to you that there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism. Conditions congenial to Communism were being bred and fostered throughout this Nation up to the very day of March 4, 1933. Hunger was breeding it, loss of homes and farms was breeding it, closing banks were breeding it, a ruinous price level was breeding it. Discontent and fear were spreading through the land. The previous national Administration, bewildered, did nothing.

In their speeches they deplored it, but by their actions they encouraged it. The injustices, the inequalities, the downright suffering out of which revolutions come- what did they do about these things? Lacking courage, they evaded. Being selfish, they neglected. Being short-sighted, they ignored. When the crisis came- as these wrongs made it sure to come- America was unprepared.

Our lack of preparation for it was best proved by the cringing and the fear of the very people whose indifference helped to make the crisis. They came to us pleading that we should do, overnight, what they should have been doing through the years.

And the simple causes of our unpreparedness were two: First, a weak leadership, and, secondly, an inability to see causes, to understand the reasons for social unrest- the tragic plight of 90 percent of the men, women and children who made up the population of the United States.

It has been well said that "The most dreadful failure of which any form of government can be guilty is simply to lose touch with reality, because out of this failure all imaginable forms of evil grow. Every empire that has crashed has come down primarily because its rulers did not know what was going on in the world and were incapable of learning."

It is for that reason that our American form of government will continue to be safest in. Democratic hands. The real, actual, undercover Republican leadership is the same as it was four years ago. That leadership will never comprehend the need for a program of social justice and of regard for the well- being of the masses of our people.

I have been comparing leadership in Washington. This contrast between Democratic and Republican leadership holds true throughout the length and breadth of the State of New York. As far back as the year 1910, the old Black Horse Cavalry in Albany, which we old people will remember, was failing to meet changing social conditions by appropriate social legislation. Here was a State noted for its industry and noted for its agriculture- a State with the greatest mixture of population- where the poorest and the richest lived, literally, within a stone's throw of each other- in short a situation made to order for potential unrest. And yet in this situation the best that the Republican leaders of those days could say was: "Let them eat cake." What would have happened if that reactionary domination had continued through all these hard years?

Starting in 1911, a Democratic leadership came into power, and with it a new philosophy of government. I had the good fortune to come into public office at that time. I found other young men in the Legislature- men who held the same philosophy; one of them was Bob Wagner; another was Al Smith. We were all joined in a common cause. We did not look on government as something apart from the people. We thought of it as something to be used by the people for their own good.

New factory legislation setting up decent standards of safety and sanitation; limitation of the working hours of women in industry; a workmen's compensation law; a one-day-rest-in-seven law; a full train-crew law; a direct-primary law- these laws and many more were passed which were then called radical and alien to our form of government. Would you or any other Americans call them radical or alien today?

In later years, first under Governor Smith, then during my Governorship, this program of practical intelligence was carried forward over the typical and unswerving opposition of Republican leaders throughout our State.

And today the great tradition of a liberal, progressive Democratic Party has been carried still further by your present Governor, Herbert H. Lehman. He has begun a program of insurance to remove 'the spectre of unemployment from the working people of the State. He has broadened our labor legislation. He has extended the supervision of public utility companies. He has proved himself an untiring seeker for the public good; a doer of social justice; a wise, conscientious, clear-headed and businesslike administrator of the executive branch of our Government. And be it noted that his opponents are led and backed by the same forces and, in many cases, by the same individuals who, for a quarter of a century, have tried to hamstring progress within our State. The overwhelming majority of our citizens, up-state and down-state, regardless of party, propose to return him and his Administration to Albany for another two years.

His task in Albany, like my task in Washington, has been to maintain contact between statecraft and reality. In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, "Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything."

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity- twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job's being done.

Look to the source of the promises of the past. Governor Lehman knows and I know how little legislation in the interests of the average citizen would be on the statute books of the State of New York, and of the Federal Government, if we had waited for Republican leaders to pass it.

The same lack of purpose of fulfillment lies behind the promises of today. You cannot be an Old Guard Republican in the East, and a New Deal Republican in the West. You cannot promise to repeal taxes before one audience and promise to spend more of the taxpayers' money before another audience. You cannot promise tax relief for those who can afford to pay, and, at the same time, promise more of the taxpayers' money for those who are in need. You simply cannot make good on both promises at the same time.

Who is there in America who believes that we can run the risk of turning back our Government to the old leadership which brought it to the brink of 1933? Out of the strains and stresses of these years we have come to see that the true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning. The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative.

Never has a Nation made greater strides in the safeguarding of democracy than we have made during the past three years. Wise and prudent men- intelligent conservatives- have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve." I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.

Citation: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y.," September 29, 1936. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15142.

Categories: Elections, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, History

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Quote of the day

Published Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 10:25 AM EDT
Oct 12 2012

The first sentence of the Constitution mentions unions and welfare. I don't know what to tell ya.
-Jon Stewart (debating Bill O'Reilly)

Categories: Bill O'Reilly, Jon Stewart, Quotes of the day

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Fifteen years...

Published Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 8:42 AM EDT
Oct 12 2012

Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer/songwriter, activist, and humanitarian. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. His greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. Throughout his life, Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his enthusiasm for music, and relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country and western, the Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning him 12 gold and 4 platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".

Denver further starred in films and several notable television specials in the 1970s and 1980s. In the following decades, he continued to record, but also focused on calling attention to environmental issues, lent his vocal support to space exploration, and testified in front of Congress to protest censorship in music. He was known for his love of the state of Colorado, which he sang about numerous times. He lived in Aspen, Colorado, for much of his life, and influenced the governor to name him Poet Laureate of the state in 1974. The Colorado state legislature also adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its state songs in 2007. Denver was an avid pilot, and died while flying his personal aircraft at the age of 53. Denver was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970s. (Click for full article.)

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you.

Categories: John Denver, Music, Video, YouTube

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Observation of the day

Published Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 1:02 PM EDT
Oct 11 2012

America 2012: The Learning Channel has Honey Boo Boo, History Channel has Cajun Pawn Stars, and the Science Channel has Pumpkin Chunkin.
-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Categories: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Observations

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Quote of the day

Published Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 7:04 AM EDT
Oct 11 2012

I think you guys are missing the point here. The script says Jack died. He has to die. So maybe we screwed up and the board should have been a little tiny bit smaller, but the dude’s goin’ down.
-James Cameron, explaining to The Mythbusters that sometimes art trumps physics.

Categories: James Cameron, Mythbusters, Quotes of the day, Titanic

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Mister Romney's Neighborhood

Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 11:48 AM EDT
Oct 10 2012

Categories: Barack Obama, Jimmy Fallon, Mitt Romney, Video

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Quotes of the day

Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 7:42 AM EDT
Oct 10 2012

Quotes of the day- Orson Welles:
George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 - October 10, 1985) was an American actor, director, writer and producer who worked extensively in theater, radio and film. He is best remembered for his innovative work in all three media, most notably Caesar (1937), a groundbreaking Broadway adaption of Julius Caesar and the debut of the Mercury Theatre; The War of the Worlds (1938), the most famous broadcast in the history of radio; and Citizen Kane (1941), which is consistently ranked as one of the all-time greatest films. (Click for full article.)

A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what's for lunch.

Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid.

Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him.

Gluttony is not a secret vice.

Hollywood is Hollywood. There's nothing you can say about it that isn't true, good or bad. And if you get into it, you have no right to be bitter- you're the one who sat down, and joined the game.

I don't regard my career as something so precious that it comes before my convictions.

I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.

I don't take art as seriously as politics.

I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.

I have always been more interested in experiment, than in accomplishment.

I passionately hate the idea of being “with it.” I think an artist is always out of step with his time. He has to be.

I started at the top and worked down.

If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.
(spoken by Orson Welles in the film The Third Man)

It's about two percent movie-making and ninety-eight percent hustling. It's no way to spend a life.

Living in the lap of luxury isn't bad, except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up.

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.

Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.

Old age is the only disease you don't want to be cured of.

The director is the most overrated artist in the world. He is the only artist who, with no talent whatsoever, can be a success for 50 years without his lack of talent ever being discovered.

The ideal American type is perfectly expressed by the Protestant, individualist, anti-conformist, and this is the type that is in the process of disappearing. In reality there are few left.

There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.

There are three intolerable things in life- cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women.

We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.

When you are down and out, something always turns up- and it is usually the noses of your friends.

(YouTube video: Welles' final interview. He died a few hours after this taping.)

Categories: Orson Welles, Quotes of the day

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Puppets and numbers and math, oh my...

Published Tuesday, October 09, 2012 @ 6:28 AM EDT
Oct 09 2012

Fox News is upset that empty-headed puppets are trying to brainwash and indoctrinate Americans... Perhaps you could sue them. The charge could be copyright infringement.
-Jon Stewart

Categories: Daily Show, Fox News, Jon Stewart, Mitt Romney, Video

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A far more entertaining and informative debate

Published Monday, October 08, 2012 @ 7:55 AM EDT
Oct 08 2012

Download it here.

The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium: Bill O'Reilly vs Jon Stewart. NSFW language.

"Why is it if you take advantage of a tax break and you're a corporation, you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher?”

Categories: Bill O'Reilly, Jon Stewart, Politics

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Photo of the day

Published Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 2:58 PM EDT
Oct 07 2012

Princess Vader finds your lack of pink disturbing.

Categories: Photo of the day, Star Wars

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Have a nice day

Published Saturday, October 06, 2012 @ 2:17 PM EDT
Oct 06 2012

(From The Park News, October 5, 2012)

Categories: News Media, WTF?

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Quotes of the day: a quasi-cosmic perspective

Published Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 12:55 AM EDT
Oct 05 2012

Quotes of the day- Neil deGrasse Tyson:
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (b. October 5, 1958) is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and Visiting Research Scientist and Lecturer at Princeton University. Click for full bio.

(YouTube video: Neil deGrasse Tyson debunks the 2012 Mayan calendar apocalypse.)

As your area of knowledge increases, so does your perimeter of ignorance.

Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.

Dinosaurs are extinct today because they lacked opposable thumbs and the brainpower to build a space program.

I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.

I simply go with what works. And what works is the healthy skepticism embodied in the scientific method. Believe me, if the Bible had ever been shown to be a rich source of scientific answers and enlightenment, we would be mining it daily for cosmic discovery.

I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime.

If aliens did visit us, I'd be embarrassed to tell them we still dig fossil fuels from the ground as a source of energy.

If all that you see, do, measure and discover is the will of a deity, then ideas can never be proven wrong, you have no predictive power, and you are at a loss to understand the principles behind most of the fundamental interconnections of nature.

If pizza sizes were given in area not diameter, you'd see instantly that a seven inch is less than half the size of a ten inch pie

If scientists invented the legal system, eyewitness testimony would be inadmissible evidence.

In modern times, if the sole measure of what's out there flows from your five senses then a precarious life awaits you.

My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.

Not only are we in the universe, the universe is in us. I don't know of any deeper spiritual feeling than what that brings upon me.

Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.

People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah's ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.

Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance.

Scientific inquiry shouldn't stop just because a reasonable explanation has apparently been found.

Seventy percent of Earth's surface is water and over 99 percent is uninhabited, so you would expect nearly all impactors to hit either the ocean or desolate regions on Earth's surface. So why do movie meteors have such good aim?

So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.

The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.

The more I learn about the universe, the less convinced I am that there's any sort of benevolent force that has anything to do with it, at all.

The remarkable feature of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. After the laws of physics, everything else is opinion.

There is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.

We fail in even the simplest of all scientific observations- nobody looks up anymore.

We spend the first year of children's lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.

When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.

Whenever people have used religious documents to make accurate predictions about our base knowledge of the physical world, they have been famously wrong.

Within one linear centimeter of your lower colon there lives and works more bacteria (about 100 billion) than all humans who have ever been born. Yet many people continue to assert that it is we who are in charge of the world.

You don't take a dead cat to the vet. I mean you might, but why?

Categories: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Observations, Philosophy, Quotes of the day, Religion, Science, Video, YouTube

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Remembering Chuck

Published Thursday, October 04, 2012 @ 1:35 AM EDT
Oct 04 2012

When I think of Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008), I can't help but recall his performance in the 1974 disaster epic, Earthquake.

At the end of the film, Heston's character; his soon-to-be ex-wife, portrayed with delicious villany by Ava Gardner; and his stunningly attractive mistress, played by Geneviève Bujold; are trying to escape from a sewer being rapidly flooded by a deluge from the earthquake-shattered Mulholland Dam.

Geneviève Bujold's character has already climbed to safety. On her way up the ladder, the totally unsympathetic Ava Gardner falls into the raging torrent and is swept away.

In probably the best display of stereotype self-awareness ever committed to film, Charlton Heston first looks up the ladder, to safety and the braless Bujold, who is reaching out to him.

He then looks over his shoulder to see the rushing water carrying away the überbitch Gardner.

Watch Heston's face. This is a man in torment, a man struggling with the most important and painful choice he will ever make.

He doesn't utter a word, but his decision and internal dialogue is nonetheless writ large upon his handsome face:

"Oh, God damn it. I'm Charlton Heston."

And he hurls himself into the rapids, where he, Gardner, and countless extras are washed into oblivion.

I remember seeing this in its original release at the Warner Theater in Pittsburgh (remember "Sensurround"?). The cries of disbelief and despair when Heston made the plunge rose easily above the loud subsonic rumbling.

"Chuck! You're an idiot!"

No, he wasn't.

He made the only choice available to him.

He was, after all, Charlton Heston.

(YouTube video of Charlton Heston being all Charlton Heston-y in "Earthquake.")

Categories: Charlton Heston, Movies, Video, YouTube

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Lydia The Tattooed Lady. Annotated.

Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 2:44 AM EDT
Oct 03 2012

(YouTube video: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady,")

Yesterday was Groucho's birthday, and every other year or so I post this clip of him singing Lydia, the Tattooed Lady from the classic Marx Brothers film At The Circus.

I was just about to re-post the video when I remembered an e-mail I had received from a reader the last time I published it. A 21-year-old college student asked if Lydia was a "gibberish" song, because many of the lyrics made no sense to him.

No sense?

Lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg was at the top of his form when he wrote Lydia. It's fiendishly clever, invoking historical and contemporary references, and he effortlessly blends them with oblique asides describing Lydia's impressive physical characteristics. The result was an instant classic.

I watched the video again, and then it dawned on me... if my young reader had failed to pay attention during his history, literature, and geography classes, he just wouldn't get it.

So, if you've listened to Lydia and found yourself not only tapping your toes but scratching your head, here are the lyrics. With footnotes.

There will be a quiz later, so please pay attention.

Lydia The Tattooed Lady
(music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg,
the guys who also did "Over the Rainbow.")

Ah, this meeting brings back memories. Childhood days... Lemonade! Romance! My life was wrapped around the circus... Her name was Lydia. I met her at the World's Fair in 1900 (marked down from 1940). Ah, Lydia...

She was the most glorious creature under the sun...
du Barry!(2)
Rolled into one...


Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady
She has eyes that folks adore so,
And a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.(4)
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo,(5).
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus(6) too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue(7).
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
If you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee(8) or Paree(9),
Or Washington Crossing The Delaware.(10)


Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Oh Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.(11)
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.
Oh Lydia the queen of them all.
For two bits(12) she will do a mazurka(13) in jazz,
With a view of Niagara(14) that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.(15)
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


Come along and see Buffalo Bill(16) with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.(17)
Here is Captain Spaulding(18) exploring the Amazon(19).
Here's Godiva,(20) but with her pajamas on.


Here is Grover Whalen,(21) unveilin' the Trylon.(22),
Over on the West Coast we have Treasure Island.(23)
Here's Najinsky(24) a-doin' the rhumba.(25)
Here's her social security numba.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Oh Lydia the champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
For he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
He said Lydia...
I said Lydia...
We said Lydia...
La la!


 (1) Thaïs, a stunningly beautiful and rich fourth century courtesan who lived in Roman-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. She eventually saw the error of her ways, converted to Christianity, gave her money to the church, spent three years immured in a convent cell as extreme penance, and died 15 days after her release.

 (2) Jeanne Bécu, a.k.a. Madame du Barry (August 19, 1743 - December 8, 1793), the stunningly beautiful and, alas, final Maîtresse-en-titre (chief mistress) of King Louis XV. She was convicted of treason for helping people flee the French Revolution and was beheaded on the guillotine.

 (3) Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, (September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990), the stunningly beautiful Swedish film actress and international star. She made fewer than 30 films during her 1920-1941 career, retired at the age of 36, and spent her remaining years shunning publicity.

 (4)A book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.

 (5)The military engagement in which an imperial French army under the command of Emperor Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition on June 18, 1815.

 (6)The Wreck of the Hesperus is a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describing... well, bottom line, we're talking about a tattoo of a wrecked, ice-covered ship on a reef with a dead little girl tied to a broken, floating mast.

 (7)The colors of the U.S. flag, a reference to the flag itself, or a reference to the country.

 (8)Kankakee, Illinois, a city about 60 miles south southwest of Chicago.

 (9)Paree (Paris), France's capital and largest city.

 (10)German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb's 1851 oil-on-canvas painting depicting, with numerous inaccuracies and anachronisms, then-General George Washington standing in a boat, leading his troops in the Christmas 1776 sneak attack against Hessian mercenaries stationed in Trenton, New Jersey.

(11)Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), the seventh President of the United States, serving two terms from 1829 to 1837. He's best known as the guy on the $20 bill and the first President someone tried to assassinate. Prior to entering politics, he was a noted military leader whose exploits included leading his troops up a steep hill near Tohopeka, Alabama on the March 27, 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the War of 1812. (The War of 1812 lasted until 1815.)
The reader is encouraged to learn more about Jackson. His presidency makes the current situation in Washington look like a 60s' hippie love-in. Old Hickory was ill-tempered, unforgiving, and the target of vicious personal attacks. During the 1828 election, his opponents called him a jackass. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast later used the jackass to characterize members of Jackson's then newly-formed Democratic party, a symbol that remains to this day. Jackson had been involved in numerous duels and had so many bullets lodged in various body parts that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles."

(12)25 cents. The etymology is left as an exercise for the reader.

(13)An upbeat Polish folk dance.

(14)Niagara Falls, the three cataracts located on the border of New York state and the province of Ontario, Canada.

(15)The island in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated there from 1933 to 1963.

(16)William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917), whose eponymous wild west shows toured the U.S. and Europe.

(17)Either badly-punctuated references to geneticist Gregor Mendel and artist Pablo Picasso, or lyricist Harburg coupling the last name of a world famous artist to a funny-sounding Jewish first name. You know, like Shlomo Warhol. Come to think of it, Shlomo Picasso is funnier.

(18)The character Groucho portrayed in the stage play and film Animal Crackers.

(19)The river in South America, not the website.

(20)In 1028, Lady Godiva repeatedly asked her husband Leofric (the Earl of Mercia) to not pass along to the impoverished citizens of Coventry the taxes levied on him by the King of England, Edward the Confessor. ("Trickle down" had a different meaning then.) Leo told Lady G that if she'd ride naked through the town market on a horse, he'd nix the tax hike. The next day she did just that. Leofric kept his promise and eliminated all taxes in Coventry except for those related to boarding horses. The bits about her covering her, uh, bits, with her long flowing hair- and the story that Tom the Tailor was struck blind when he took a peek as she passed by his shop (the origin of "Peeping Tom")- are later embellishments.

(21)President of the New York World Fair Corporation.

(22)One of two large structures located at the center of the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

(23)A man-made island in San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland.

(24)Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1889 or 1890 – April 8, 1950), considered by many to be the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century.

(25)A style of ballroom dancing based on the Cuban bolero-son. Not to be confused with the terminal emulation software. Or the autonomous robot vacuum cleaner.

Categories: Groucho Marx, History, Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, Music, Video, YouTube

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Question of the day

Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 1:27 AM EDT
Oct 03 2012

One of these things is not like the other,
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you guess which thing is not like the other
Before I finish singing this song?

Categories: Elections, Mitt Romney, Photo of the day, Politics, Question of the day

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Three decades of iconic wonderfulness

Published Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 6:18 AM EDT
Oct 02 2012

Late Night with David Letterman observed the 30th anniversary of the iconic disco tune It's Raining Men yesterday with a big end-of-show production number featuring surviving Weather Girl Martha Wash; Paul Shaffer on keyboards; an augmented CBS orchestra; six(!) backup singers; three female dancers; and three male acrobats suspended from ceiling-mounted silk streamers.

No wonder it's Homer Simpson's favorite song.

Why Letterman, you may ask? The song was co-written by Shaffer, the late night host's sidekick/bandleader, and was featured early in the run of Letterman's late night show on NBC- episode 174, which aired on January 12, 1983.

Originally written in 1979 by Shaffer and Paul Jabara, the song was rejected by Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Cher, and Barbra Streisand. Martha Wash and the late Izora Armstead, originally performing as "Two Tons O' Fun," became "The Weather Girls" and released "Men" in October, 1982.

An international hit, it sold 6 million copies worldwide. While it reached #1 on the US disco chart, it only climbed to #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. In April 2001, Geri Halliwell released a cover version that was used in the film Bridget Jones' Diary. It was a big hit in the UK and Europe, but received little airplay in the US.

Used for decades in dozens of films and television episodes, "Men"'s most recent reincarnation is in the Broadway production of the stage musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert- The Musical. It was performed by the show's cast, plus Wash and Shaffer, at the 2011 Tony Awards.

The clip from last night is at the bottom of this post.

My all-time favorite version remains this one. The quality leaves a bit to be desired and the audio is slightly out of sync for the first minute or so, but it's, well, two tons o' fun. Watch the audience, especially when Martha heads into their midst and intimidates those in the aisle seats with her powerful gospel soprano. As Letterman commented later in the show, "They ripped the roof off the joint."

(YouTube video: The Weather Girls perform live on NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" in January, 1983.)

(YouTube video: Martha Wash and Paul Shaffer lead a lavish (for late night TV) 30th anniversary performance on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman".)

Categories: David Letterman, It's Raining Men, Martha Wash, Music, Paul Shaffer, Video, YouTube

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Learn stuff, indeed...

Published Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 7:31 AM EDT
Oct 01 2012

Thanks to Hannah Edwards of LearnStuff.com for pointing out a bad link in a post containing a video from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report.

The clip itself displays correctly; the error was in the code of the html "border" Comedy Central wrapped around the video. When Comedy Central redesigned its assorted sites a while back, it somehow mananged to properly retain the links to thousands of videos files, but screwed up the URLs to its main pages.

This isn't a problem any more- I routinely remove any extraneous material around the videos I embed here, and I also fix dead links on old pages whenever I encounter them. But with 1,900 pages dating back a decade or more, I really don't go looking for them. Thus, I'm appreciative when someone takes the time to point them out.

You can check out LearnStuff.com's article on The Colbert Report here.

Categories: KGB Blog News, learnstuff.com, Stephen Colbert

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Quotes of the day

Published Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 4:42 AM EDT
Oct 01 2012

Quotes of the day- Jimmy Carter:
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981) and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office. Before he became President, Carter served as a U.S. Naval officer, was a peanut farmer, served two terms as a Georgia State Senator and one as Governor of Georgia.

After leaving office, Carter and his wife Rosalynn founded the Carter Center in 1982, a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that works to advance human rights. He has traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and also remains particularly vocal on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.


America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America.

Earlier in my life I thought the things that mattered were the things that you could see, like your car, your house, your wealth, your property, your office. But as I've grown older I've become convinced that the things that matter most are the things that you can't see- the love you share with others, your inner purpose, your comfort with who you are.

Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.

I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.

I can't deny I'm a better ex-president than I was a president.

I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe, as I always have, the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

If any agreement between two nations is to last, it must serve the best interests of both nations.

In a nuclear age, each of us is threatened when peace is not secured everywhere.

In the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

Iraq is an unjust war. I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false.

Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities- not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.

Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.

Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.

The drug culture has shaped at least one major chance since the sixties; It became the basis for overloading our prisons.

The government and the church are two different realms of service, and those in political office have to face a subtle but important difference between the implementation of the high ideals of religious faith and public duty.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had- and still have- an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty.

To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is essential to our strength.

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

We are a purely idealistic nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness.

We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.

Whatever starts in California unfortunately has a tendency to spread.

Categories: Jimmy Carter, Quotes of the day

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