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Enrich your vocabulary

Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 @ 9:43 AM EDT
Jul 31 2013

Bob Crystal, a Rochester, N.Y., reader, writes:
“Why is ‘defenestrate’ only transitive? Why can’t I say, ‘I had to watch Michele Bachmann’s press conference and after 10 minutes, I defenestrated’?”
Feel free to.
This is accepted among grammarians as the Bachmann Exception.
It is not to be confused with the Trump Exception, which allows “gasbag” as an intransitive verb–for example, “gasbagged” instead of ”said” or “announced.”
And you don’t want to know about the Limbaugh Exception.

From today's QT by Zay N. Smith:

Categories: Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes

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Mutt's Day

Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 @ 7:18 AM EDT
Jul 31 2013

Jellybean Louise

Today is Mutt's Day, a celebration of mixed-breed canines.

Here's one the greatest ones I've ever known.

Categories: Dogs, KGB Family

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Quotes of the day: Henry Ford

Published Tuesday, July 30, 2013 @ 1:52 AM EDT
Jul 30 2013

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Ford did not invent the automobile, but he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle class Americans could afford to buy. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with "Fordism": mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation and arranged for his family to control the company permanently.

Ford was also widely known for his pacifism during the first years of World War I, and also for being the publisher of antisemitic texts such as the book The International Jew.

(Click for full Wikipedia article.)


A low wage business is always insecure.

A man's college and university degrees mean nothing to me until I see what he is able to do with them.

America is not a land of money but of wealth- not a land of rich people, but of successful workers.

An educated person, I think, is one who not only knows a lot, but knows how to do a lot of things.

Any man can learn anything he will, but no man can teach except to those who want to learn. Education is preeminently a matter of quality, not amount.

Anything that is not right, whether it temporarily favors the employees or the employers, cannot last- because it is not right.

As betting at the race ring adds neither strength nor speed to the horse, so the exchange of shares in the stock market adds no capital to business, no increase in the production and no purchasing power to the market.

But to do for the world more than the world does for you- that is Success.

Cutting wages is not the way to recovery. Raise wages and improve the product.

Depressions aren't acts of God; like wars, they are the work of a small group of men who profit by them.

Education is preeminently a matter of quality, not amount.

Every business is a monarchy with, not a man, but an idea as king.

Every man is entitled to make a darn fool of himself at least once in a lifetime.

I believe in 100% Theory and 100% Practice. Theory without practical application is futile.

I believe that any stock that is sold should have real value as automobile or bushel of potatoes, and stock market should be run as a vegetable market.

I believe that music fills a great place. The teaching of it goes far to restore the balance and richness of life, and- I might add- the unit of life also.

I can visualize the time when almost every family will have a small plane in their back yard.

I don't expect to retire. Every man must work, that's his natural destiny.

I don't like old people. I stay away from them.

I don't like to read books. They muss up my mind.

I don't read history. That's in the past. I'm thinking of the future.

I haven't put a pencil to a piece of paper, working out a problem, in years; I do it in my head.

I wouldn't give five cents for all the art in the world.

Idleness is the reason for many of our troubles.

If the boss stands in the way of men getting what they earn, he is not fit to be boss.

If we could get all religions together on a common purpose- the elimination of jealousies and the things that make men covet another's belongings, we would be a long way toward the goal of outmoding war, depression and poverty.

If we had more justice there would be less need of charity.

If you find out what men want and give them that, you are pleasing them. If you find out what is good for them and give them that, you are performing a service.

In the long run people are going to buy the cheapest and the best article no matter where it is made.

Look beyond the individual to the cause of his misery.

Machines were devised not to do a man out of a job, but to take the heavy labor from man's back and place it on the broad back of the machine.

Man minus the Machine is a slave; Man plus the Machine is a freeman.

Many people are busy trying to find better ways of doing things that should not have to be done at all. There is no progress in merely finding a better way to do a useless thing.

Mark my word: A combination airplane and motor car is coming. (in 1940)

Mass production is craftsmanship with the drudgery taken out of it.

Money will ruin the life of any man who treats it like anything but a tool with which to work.

Most fashionable commodity in US is going to be old-fashioned common sense and work.

Most of the sickness in the world is caused by eating too much.

No American ought to be compelled to strike for his rights. He ought to receive them naturally, easily, as a matter of course.

No one ever wins a war.

No one will ever get anywhere in this world unless he becomes a teacher, one who can show others how to do things.

Nothing can be made except by makers, nothing can be managed except by managers. Money cannot make anything and money cannot manage anything.

Of all the follies the elder generation falls victim to this is the most foolish, namely, the constant criticism of the younger element who will not be and cannot be like ourselves because we and they are different tribes produced of different elements in the great spirit of Time.

Only one thing makes prosperity, and that is work.

Paying good wages is not charity at all- it is the best kind of business.

People will try to fix world but world will fix people.

Should a man quit at 40 he is failure- Retire at that age is sorry failure.

Somewhere is a master mind sending brain wave messages to us. There is a Great Spirit. I never did anything by my own volition. I was pushed by invisible forces within and without me.

Stock market never made business-business makes the stock market.

Teach children not to be gullible.

That man is best educated who knows the greatest number of things that are so, and who can do the greatest number of things to help and heal the world.

The best way is always the simplest. The attics of the world are cluttered up with complicated failures.

The best way to make money in business is not to think too much about making it.

The depression was just a state of mind. It is over for everyone who has changed his state of mind.

The farther you look back, the farther you can look ahead.

The home of tomorrow will make women free for work... free to work as they like, not as they are bound to do by the past... work is the only real happiness... industry itself has been modernized so that almost any job in industry may be taken over by a woman.

The most closely organized groups and movements in the world are those which have been the least friendly to the people's progress and liberty.

The only thing you can give a man without hurting him is an opportunity.

The present method of producing milk is too laborious. I believe that we can make milk by scientific process, eliminating the cow.

The remains of the old must be decently laid away; the path of the new prepared. That is the difference between Revolution and Progress.

The sense of injustice, more than the unjust condition itself, is what wears on men's minds.

The unhappiest man on earth is the one who has nothing to do.

The way out of the depression is to start spending and doing things.

The world is held together by the mass of honest folk who do their daily tasks, tend their own spot in the world, and have faith that at last the Right will come fully into its own.

There can be no bosses in our country except the people. The job of the government is to serve, not to dominate.

There can be no lasting peace where hatred exists. Hatreds will continue to arise as long as the causes of war are not rooted out and exposed.

There is nothing ever wrong with ability, ambition, achievement; but they can easily be wronged by being used to bad ends.

There should be no unemployment. There is large percentage of labor now which cannot make a living because wages are not high enough. That is industry's second job. First job is to make good product. Second pay a good wage.

Three most deleterious things of modern life in their present order of importance are: tobacco, alcohol and intemperate eating. Both alcohol and tobacco are taboo in plants.

To be good is not enough; a man must be good for something.

Two classes of people lose money; those who are too weak to guard what they have; those who win money by trick. They both lose in the end.

Wars are necessary to teach us lessons we seem unable to learn any other way.

We are always seeking for those things which are in the clouds, not for those that lie at our feet.

We now know that anything which is economically right is also morally right. There can be no conflict between good economics and good morals.

We ought to know more about the families who founded this nation, and how they lived.

What right have you, save service to the world, to think that other men's labor should contribute to your gains?

When bankers get into business they usually destroy it.

When you once get an idea in which you believe with all your heart, work it out.

Work is our sanity, our self-respect, our salvation. The day's work is the center of everything.

Worry is the most wasteful thing in the world.

You can't tell me you can make any system or country work with low wages and high prices, and high wages with high prices don't mean anything when the prices eat up the wages and don't leave anything over.

Categories: Henry Ford, Question of the day

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Bunny dash

Published Monday, July 29, 2013 @ 3:34 AM EDT
Jul 29 2013

(YouTube video: Bunny Dash)

It's probably because 15-year-old Lucy's vision, hearing, and sense of smell aren't what they used to be, but I like to think she doesn't mind sharing the yard with the bunny that lives in the tallgrass stand. After the rabbit ran away, Lucy took no notice; she just continued her twice daily inspection of the back yard and reported in that everything was fine, and that it was time for me to carry her upstairs to watch television on the couch, and to wait for her 9 pm cheese-and-phenobarbital treat.

Categories: Animals, Dogs, Video, YouTube

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In line at the convenience store...

Published Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 11:40 AM EDT
Jul 28 2013

"This is a picture of me when I was younger."

"Every picture of you is a picture of you when you were younger. That's how pictures work."

"Do you say that to everyone who shows you a picture?"

"Yes, but not that many do anymore."

Categories: Dialogue of the day

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Sunday randomness

Published Sunday, July 28, 2013 @ 2:33 AM EDT
Jul 28 2013

Rehab is a failure if you come out of it and you're still a politician.
-Andy Borowitz

Regarding the Boy Scouts, I'm very suspicious of any organization that has a handbook.
-George Carlin


First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
-Jimmy Carter

Categories: Andy Borowitz, Civil Rights, George Carlin, Jimmy Carter, Miscellany, Observations, Politics, Scouting

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Advanced situational ethics

Published Saturday, July 27, 2013 @ 2:43 AM EDT
Jul 27 2013

If I can be with the one I love, is it still OK to love the one I'm with?
-The Covert Comic

Categories: Covert Comic, Question of the day

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Quotes of the day: Hilaire Belloc

Published Saturday, July 27, 2013 @ 2:41 AM EDT
Jul 27 2013

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (July 27, 1870 - July 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalized British subject in 1902, but kept his French citizenship. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on his works, and his writing collaboration with G.K. Chesterton (Chesterton quotes; Chesterton biography). He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man.

His most lasting legacy is probably his verse, which encompasses cautionary tales and religious poetry. Among his best-remembered poems re "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death".

Click for full Wikipedia article.


All men have an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.

Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.

Be content to remember that those who can make omelettes properly can do nothing else.

Do not, I beseech you, be troubled about the increase of forces already in dissolution. You have mistaken the hour of the night; it is already morning.

I am writing a book about the Crusades so dull that I can scarcely write it.

I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.

I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme.
But money gives me pleasure all the time.

If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative.

It is sometimes necessary to lie damnably in the interests of the nation.

It is the best of all trades, to make songs, and the second best to sing them.

Kings live in Palaces, and Pigs in sties,
And youth in Expectation. Youth is wise.

Loss and Possession, Death and Life are one.
There falls no shadow where there shines no sun.

Nothing is worthwhile on this unhappy earth except the fulfilment of a man's desire.

Of all fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing.

Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine- but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.

The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always outlives her conquerers.

The control of the production of wealth is the control of human life itself.

The grace of God is courtesy.

The moment a man talks to his fellows he begins to lie.

The prospect of refreshment at the charges of another is an opportunity never to be neglected by men of clear commercial judgment.

There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends.

They murmured as they took their fees,
"There is no cure for this disease."

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
'His sins were scarlet, But his books were read'.

Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!

Categories: G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Quotes of the day

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You are being watched. Might as well enjoy it.

Published Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Jul 26 2013

In light of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal, CBS' science fiction series Person of Interest now more closely resembles a reality show:

While not quite as memorable as "Space... the final frontier," the series' opening voice over provides a pretty good summary of the premise:

"You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything... violent crimes involving ordinary people. The government considers these people 'irrelevant'. We don't. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up... we'll find you".

From the Wikipedia article on the show:

John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former Green Beret and CIA field officer, is living as a derelict in New York City after the death of the woman he loves, and is presumed dead. He is approached by Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), a reclusive billionaire computer genius who is living under an assumed identity. Finch explains that after September 11, 2001, he built a computer system for the government that uses information gleaned from omnipresent surveillance to predict future terrorist attacks. However, Finch discovered that the computer was predicting ordinary crimes as well. The government is not interested in these results, but Finch is determined to stop the predicted crimes. He hires Reese to conduct surveillance and intervene as needed, using his repertoire of skills gained in the military and the CIA. Through a back door built into the system, Finch receives the Social Security number of someone who will be involved in an imminent crime, at which point he contacts Reese. Without knowing what the crime will be, when it will occur, or even if the person they were alerted to is a victim or perpetrator, Reese and Finch must try to stop the crime from occurring.

They are helped by NYPD Detectives Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), a corrupt officer whom Reese coerces into helping them, and Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who in early episodes investigates Reese for his vigilante activities. Although Reese arranges for Carter and Fusco to be partners in the NYPD early in the first season, neither learns that the other is also working with Finch and Reese until season two.

Periodically, the team also enlists the aid of Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), a professional "fixer" who applies her skills to particularly difficult tasks. The series features several subplots. One significant story arc involves "HR", an organization of corrupt NYPD officers in league with budding mob boss Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni); in the course of this arc Fusco is forced to go undercover. Another important storyline revolves around Root (Amy Acker), a psychopathic female hacker who is determined to gain access to the Machine; she asserts the device is actually God, and that she has been summoned by "her."

Ah, The Machine...

The Machine is a mass surveillance computer system programmed to monitor and analyze data from surveillance cameras, electronic communications, and audio input throughout the world. From this data, the Machine accurately predicts violent acts. Under control of the U.S. Government, its stated purpose is the identification of terrorist and their planned assaults. However, the Machine detects future violent acts of all kinds, not just terrorism. Unknown to Finch, his partner, Nathan Ingram, installed a routine called "Contingency" prior to delivering the system to the government. The covert software causes the machine to also act on non-terrorist crime. Finch is appalled that Ingram has the data sent directly to him. After Finch fails to prevent Ingram's computer-predicted murder, he further modifies the system so that "irrelevant" non-terrorism data is transmitted to him in the form of social security numbers, via coded messages over a public telephone.

Over the course of each episode, the viewer periodically sees events as a Machine-generated on-screen display of data about a character or characters: identification, activities, records, and more may be displayed. The viewer also sees a Machine-generated perspective as it monitors New York. Commercial flights are outlined by green triangles, red concentric circles indicate no-fly zones around tall buildings, and dashed boxes mark individual people. The Machine classifies the people it watches by color-coding the boxes: white for no threat or an irrelevant threat; red for perceived threats to the Machine, red-and-white for individuals predicted to be violent; and yellow for people who know about the machine, including Finch, Reese, Ingram, Corwin and Root. The white-boxed "irrelevant threat" targets include the Persons of Interest that Reese and Finch assist.

As the series progressed, a wider governmental conspiracy emerged. Known as "The Program", it revolves around the development and utilization of the Machine. Apparently led by a mysterious figure known only as "Control", an unnamed official (Jay O. Sanders) from the Office of Special Counsel begins eliminating key personnel who are aware of the Machine's existence by deploying teams of Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) operatives who believe they are acting to eliminate perceived terrorist threats on the recommendation of a department known as "Research". The members of the elimination teams are classified by the Machine using a blue box.

Person's producers have hinted the third season of the hit series, which moves to a new day and slot (Tuesdays at 10 pm, premiering on September 24) will attempt to be more, er, science fiction-y. Like all television shows, Person does have some reality-bending elements, but the suspension of disbelief level required is remarkably low. The bad guys are still lousy shots, and the key characters make miraculous recoveries from concussions, lethal injections and various forms of physical trauma, often before the show's end credits roll. But hey, it's episodic broadcast television, right?

Where the show excels is in production values and technical accuracy. While Mr. Finch's technology boasts features which are a couple software releases in the future, the indulgences can be forgiven. The show's cellular phone networks, computers, and other devices work at blinding speed. But when you have to shoehorn a rich narrative into 40 minutes of actual episode time, you really don't want to watch systems execute communication protocol negotiations in real time; trust me.

Particularly impressive is the effort the show puts into elements that have perhaps a second or two of screen time. Thanks to high definition and digital video recording, I've been able to freeze frame some of the monitor shots- and it's obvious these guys have some real-world Unix and TCP/IP knowledge. A one-second blip of a phony newspaper article reveals someone actually wrote a faux news story and, apparently, follows The AP Stylebook.

Other one-hour drama series spend eight days or less to film an episode. Person of Interest spends nine and a half, with more camera coverage, extensive location shooting, and substantial post-production work.

They spend money on this show, and it's all up on the screen. The episodes have a decided theatrical motion picture feel.

So... when planning your television viewing for the upcoming season, give Person a shot. Like certain other Warner Brothers shows, the studio hasn't made it available for free, on-demand viewing- you have to buy the DVDs or download the show from iTunes. Update: During the third season, the show became available on the CBS website.

Just type CBS Person of Interest into Google and you'll find hundreds of useful fan sites and video clips from key episodes.

One caveat- the series is produced by J.J. Abrams of Lost fame, which means there's a chance that at some point the whole thing could take a sharp turn into stupidity. But, based on the first two seasons, it's worth the risk.

And, the regular cast includes a dog:

Categories: Amy Acker, CBS, Computers, Dogs, Edward Snowden, Enrico Colantoni, George Orwell, Google, Internet, James Clapper, Jay O. Sanders, Jim Caviezel, Kevin Chapman, Michael Emerson, NSA, Paige Turco, Peggy Noonan, Person of Interest, PRISM, Ron Wyden, Science Fiction, Signs of the Apocalypse, Taraji P. Henson, Technology, Terrorism, The Machine, TV, Video, YouTube

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Plain non-talk

Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 2:53 AM EDT
Jul 25 2013

Jeff Haden: These Speech Patterns Irritate the $#@* Out of Everyone Around You (from Linked In)

Years ago I worked for the poster child of buzzwords. He loved using terms like "cones of precision" and "silos" and "drill down" and... let's just stop there. (He also bought one of the first Palm Pilots, which meant a roomful of people often sat waiting while he laboriously entered stuff on his calendar. Yep, he was that guy.)

One of my colleagues maintained a running list of this guy's buzzwords. Whenever he whipped out his pad to jot down a new one two things happened: 1) our manager looked smug because he thought he d just said something so insightful my colleague wanted to capture it for posterity, and 2) the rest of us tried not to laugh because we knew what was really going on.

Unfortunately, Palm Pilot aside, we all have a little of that guy in us. We use the same words too often. Or we use irritating speech patterns. Or we simply fall in love with certain expressions (I once conducted an all-too-public affair with the phrase, "That's neither here nor there.") When we do, whatever we hoped to say gets lost in the noise of cliche or extreme repetition.

See if you're guilty of any of these:

1. The Double Name: Using a person's name twice (worst case using your own name twice) in the same sentence as a way to justify unusual or unacceptable behavior.

Typical usage: "What can I say?" Shrug. "That's just Joe being Joe." (Worse, "Hey, that's just me being me.")

Whenever you use the double name you're actually excusing behavior you would not tolerate from someone else.

And everyone knows it.

2. The Fake Agreement: Pretending to agree while expressing the opposite point of view.

Typical usage: "I'm with you... but I just don't think we should take on that project."

In reality you aren't really with me because then you would agree with what I'm saying. (Plus beginning a sentence with something like, "I hear you..." is like a condescending pat on the head.)

Don't try to couch a different opinion inside a warm and fuzzy Fake Agreement. If you disagree, just say so professionally.

3. The Unsupported Closure: Ending a discussion or a decision without backup or solid justification.

Typical usage: "At the end of the day, we're here to sell products."

Really? I had no idea we're supposed to sell products!

The Unsupported Closure is the go-to move for people who want something a certain way and cannot or do not feel like explaining why. Whenever you feel one coming on, take a deep breath and start over; otherwise you'll spout inane platitudes instead of objective reasons that may actually help your employees get behind your decision.

Quick note: A Fake Agreement combines nicely with an Unjustified Closure: "I hear what you're saying, but at the end of the day revenue concerns must come first." Win-win!

4. The False Uncertainty: Pretending you're not sure when in fact you really are.

Typical usage: "You know, when I think about it... I'm not so sure shutting down that facility isn't the best option after all."

Oh, you're sure; you're just trying to create buy-in or a sense of inclusion by pretending you still have an open mind... or you're planting seeds for something you know you will eventually do.

Never say you aren't sure unless you really aren't sure... and are truly willing to consider other viewpoints.

5. The First Person Theoretical: Pretending to be another person in order to explore different points of view.

Typical usage: "Let's say I'm the average customer and I walk in your store and want to buy a shirt..."

You can get away with this one occasionally, but more than that is really irritating.

Don't believe me? Let's say I'm the average reader and I know someone who uses the First Person Theoretical to pretend he's putting himself in another person's shoes. And let's say I'm thinking it's really irritating. And let's say I'm...

Let's just say I'm thinking we should move on.

6. The Favorite Phrase: Using a phrase so often that word is all anyone can hear.

Typical usage: Any phrase that gets hammered to death. Here's an example.

I knew someone who never met a sentence he couldn't find a way to shoehorn in a random "in other words," "as it relates to," or "in general." Often he could cram all three into the same sentence multiple times.

Fall in love with a word or expression and not only do other people hear it, they start to hear nothing else. Then whatever you hoped to get across gets lost as they think, "Oh jeez, for once could he leave out the 'that's neither here nor there'?"

Ask someone if you overuse a word, phrase, or figure of speech. At first they'll look uncomfortable and try to avoid answering. Insist.

Eventually they'll tell you, and I guarantee you'll never do it again. Trust me: Been there, been told that.

(Mr. Haden also writes for Inc.com.)

Categories: Inc.com, Jeff Haden, Linked In, Observations

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Way too much Weiner, way too much time on their hands

Published Wednesday, July 24, 2013 @ 12:51 AM EDT
Jul 24 2013

Used to be there were no second acts in American life. Now it's a theater without exits.
-Brent S. Sirota (@BrentSirota)

Slate reports that New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted during a press conference that he is serial sexter "Carlos Danger," and that he sent sexually explicit chat messages and photos to additional women even after he resigned his seat in Congress under identical circumstances.

Slate has also helpfully provided The Carlos Danger Name Generator so you can quickly develop an online alter ego of your own.

Just call me Santiago Verboten.

Categories: Anthony Weiner, Brent S. Sirota, Carlos Danger, Politics, Quotes of the day, Slate, Twitter

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Oh, AccuWeather...

Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 @ 10:34 AM EDT
Jul 23 2013

How would we survive without you?

Categories: Weather, WTF?

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Rain. Again.

Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 @ 7:46 AM EDT
Jul 23 2013

Don't save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain.
-Leo Durocher

Don't threaten me with love, baby. Let's just go walking in the rain.
-Billie Holiday

For after all, the best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

If I were running the world, I would have it rain only between 2 and 5 a.m. Anyone who was out then ought to get wet.
-William Lyon Phelps

Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called rain.
-Michael McClary

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.
-John Updike

Save a boyfriend for a rainy day-and another, in case it doesn't rain.
-Mae West

Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet.
-Roger Miller

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.
-Jimmy Piersall

The best time to listen to a politician is when he's on a stump on a street corner in the rain late at night when he's exhausted. Then he doesn't lie.
-Theodore H. White

The drowning man is not troubled by rain.

The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore.
-W. Somerset Maugham

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
-Dolly Parton

There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation.
-Hunter S. Thompson

Those who profess to favour freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
-Frederick Douglass

Trouble will rain on those who are already wet.

We will never be an advanced civilization as long as rain showers can delay the launching of a space rocket.
-George Carlin

Categories: Quotes on a topic, Weather

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Published Monday, July 22, 2013 @ 8:07 AM EDT
Jul 22 2013

Categories: Miscellany, Observations

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Published Monday, July 22, 2013 @ 6:27 AM EDT
Jul 22 2013

When you're a Sheltie and over 15 years old, your primary responsibility is making certain you get enough rest. Even on Monday morning, Lucy has it covered.

Categories: Dogs, KGB Family

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Stay tuned...

Published Sunday, July 21, 2013 @ 2:04 PM EDT
Jul 21 2013

(YouTube video: ComiCon trailer for "COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey," a 13-part docu-series debuting in 2014 on FOX.)

The original 13-part Cosmos: A Personal Voyage first aired in 1980 on the Public Broadcasting System, and was hosted by Carl Sagan. The show has been considered highly significant since its broadcast; Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times described it as "a watershed moment for science-themed television programming". The show has been watched by at least 400 million people across 60 different countries.

Following Sagan's death in 1996, his widow Ann Druyan, the co-creator of the original Cosmos series along with Steven Soter, a producer from the series, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, sought to create a new version of the series, aimed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and not just to those interested in the sciences. They had struggled for years with reluctant television networks that failed to see the broad appeal of the show.

Seth MacFarlane had met Druyan through Tyson at the 2008 kickoff event for the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a new LA office of the National Academy of Sciences, designed to connect Hollywood writers and directors with scientists. A year later, at a 2009 lunch in NYC with Tyson, MacFarlane learned of their interest to recreate Cosmos. He was influenced by Cosmos as a child, believing that Cosmos served to "[bridge] the gap between the academic community and the general public". MacFarlane had considered that the reduction of effort for space travel in recent decades to be part of "our culture of lethargy". MacFarlane, who has several animated shows on the Fox Network, was able to bring Druyan to meet the heads of Fox programming, Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly, and helped to get the greenlighting of the show. MacFarlane admits that he is "the least essential person in this equation" and the effort is a departure from work he's done before, but considers this to be "very comfortable territory for [himself] personally". He and Druyan have become close friends, and Druyan stated that she believed that Sagan and MacFarlane would have been "kindred spirits" with their respective "protean talents".

(Full Wikipedia article)

Categories: Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan, Cosmos, Fox TV, National Geographic, Neil deGrasse Tyson, PBS, Science, Seth McFarlane, Steven Soter, TV, Video, YouTube

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Apocalypsed out

Published Saturday, July 20, 2013 @ 5:51 AM EDT
Jul 20 2013

With one exception, I've never cared for zombie movies.

The original Night of the Living Dead held my interest because it was filmed near Pittsburgh, featured Chiller Theatre host Bill Cardille, and contained realistic acting, like this classic scene:

While all horror films require a certain suspension of disbelief, zombie movies are especially hampered by their very premise.

Vampires, werewolves and other mythical creatures don't exist in nature and have no basis in science. They're fantasy, period, and all rules are off.

Zombies, however, fall into two categories: the traditional Night of the Living Dead-type, who are essentially reanimated corpses, and World War Z-type, who aren't zombies per se, but victims of some type of disease which cause them to develop unpleasant behavior disorders and odd dietary habits.

Zombies, by their very nature, are self-limiting. The processes which turn them into the walking dead insure their destruction. Rotting corpses lose their mobility after a while, and virulent rage-inducing fevers have a way of turning brains into fatty piles of slush incapable of seeing, hearing, or controlling voluntary muscle functions.

So the stories devolve into what are essentially simple chase movies. And even if the heroes "win," they're facing life in a post-apocalyptic hellhole where human civilization as we know it has ceased to exist.

That's entertainment?

I've had my fill of the apocalypse, regardless of its form. I don't find the collapse of civilization to be entertaining. And to those who say the handful of survivors bravely marching off into a horizon littered with rotting corpses and shattered infrastructure demonstrates man's indomitable spirit, I say bull. When the hero runs out of ammo and potable water, he's going to learn that it's difficult to manufacture antibiotics and water filtration systems with macho posturing, mixed martial arts skills, and a delusional sense of self-confidence.

"The future ain't what it used to be," the saying goes. That may be true, but I wish Hollywood would tone down the pessimism a bit. If I want to watch humankind's slide into dystopia, I'll just watch cable news.

Categories: KGB Opinion

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This is a test

Published Friday, July 19, 2013 @ 10:58 AM EDT
Jul 19 2013


Don't ask.

Categories: WTF?, Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes

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Published Friday, July 19, 2013 @ 7:10 AM EDT
Jul 19 2013

World's slowest-moving drop caught on camera at last
(h/t Joseph Nebus)

Categories: Science, Video, WTF?

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Published Thursday, July 18, 2013 @ 7:32 AM EDT
Jul 18 2013

Apparently, Captain Marvel has arrived in Pittsburgh. (Twitter photo by @timbetler. Taken from USX, July 16.)

Categories: Photo of the day, Twitter, Weather

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Variations on a theme

Published Thursday, July 18, 2013 @ 7:10 AM EDT
Jul 18 2013

We live in a country where voting rights get gutted but Sharknado gets a sequel.
-John Fugelsang

"Sharknader" - via Late Night With David Letterman

Categories: David Letterman, John Fugelsang, Observations

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It could be worse

Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 7:58 AM EDT
Jul 17 2013

Tampa Bay, Florida waterspout, by Joey Mole
(From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day)

We get an occasional heatwave, a tornado or two, some flash flooding and snow. According to NASA, the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts, with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that waterspouts are responsible for some of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle.

Most disappearances in our area can be attributed to PennDOT.

Categories: NASA, Weather

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What if...

Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 9:28 AM EDT
Jul 16 2013

Suppose a small group of extremely wealthy people sought to systematically destroy the U.S. government by:

  1. finding and bankrolling new candidates pledged to shrinking and dismembering it;
  2. intimidating or bribing many current senators and representatives to block all proposed legislation, prevent the appointment of presidential nominees, eliminate funds to implement and enforce laws, and threaten to default on the nation’s debt;
  3. taking over state governments in order to redistrict, gerrymander, require voter IDs, purge voter rolls, and otherwise suppress the votes of the majority in federal elections;
  4. running a vast PR campaign designed to convince the American public of certain big lies, such as climate change isn't occurring, and
  5. buying up the media so the public cannot know the truth.

Would you call this treason?

-Robert Reich

Categories: Observations, Politics, Robert Reich

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Acquitted Development

Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 7:30 AM EDT
Jul 16 2013

Click here. For some reason, the video autoplays, which is annoying.

(The Daily Show: The controversial conclusion to the George Zimmerman murder trial suggests it's time for Florida to change the state motto.)

Categories: Daily Show, Video

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Observation of the day #2

Published Monday, July 15, 2013 @ 8:49 AM EDT
Jul 15 2013

You stand on your own two feet. You don't voluntarily participate in any socialist programs like insurance. And when you get into an auto accident, you get out your checkbook and scribble out a series of checks for half a million dollars, made payable to your doctor, your hospital, the testing labs, the rehabilitation facility and a couple of dozen other related entities. In other words, you pay your own way. But you don't mind this. After all, you're a capitalist. You believe in self-reliance and you will not participate in any liberal social program like insurance. I mean, you could pay into an insurance plan for your whole life, and if you never get sick, you'll never see a dime back! Where is the fairness in that? That's not any better than paying taxes! And the thought of your premiums going to all of those other socialist scumbags who get cancer or are shot in a robbery - you simply can't stand for that. If you let your guard down and participate in a socialist program like insurance, you'll be contributing to the destruction of our way of life! And morons who don't look like they're smart enough to have a job will scream at you at town hall meetings.

And don't think for a second that I'm only talking about health insurance here. Auto insurance and homeowner's insurance are exactly the same. If you carry any of these products, you are a socialist.

Feeling stupid yet? You should be.

The Angry Liberal

Categories: Observations, Politics

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Observation of the day

Published Monday, July 15, 2013 @ 7:38 AM EDT
Jul 15 2013

Categories: Bill Murray, Observations

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Liberty 2.0

Published Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 6:43 AM EDT
Jul 14 2013

Categories: Fourth Amendment

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Published Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 6:59 AM EDT
Jul 13 2013

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, said the intern was a student volunteering his time who answered phones but was supposed to pass on questions to official media representatives at the agency. She declined to say if the intern was fired, but the NTSB said in its statement that "appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated."

I'm sorry, but you can't blame this on the NTSB. My guess is someone at the station called the intern, read the names, and the intern rolled his or her eyes, said "yeah, right," and hung up.

Categories: News Media, WTF?

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Published Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 7:20 AM EDT
Jul 12 2013

It would appear the concept of pizzaria-client privilege is merely a legal fiction.

Categories: Fourth Amendment, News Media

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What might have been...

Published Thursday, July 11, 2013 @ 7:51 AM EDT
Jul 11 2013

Gary Kildall could have become a household name and, possibly, the richest man in the world.

In 1980, IBM approached Bill Gates at Microsoft to license a BASIC interpreter for their soon-to-be-released Personal Computer (PC). They mentioned they also needed an operating system, and Gates referred them to Digital Research, Gary Kildall's company.

For various reasons, things didn't work out, and IBM went back to Microsoft. You know the rest.

There are various accounts of what actually happened, and the Wikipedia article on Kildall offers what appears to be a neutral report.

I used DR-DOS. I used GEM. And I wish more people remembered Kildall's contributions.

(YouTube video: Remembering Gary Kildall)

Categories: Bill Gates, Computers, Gary Kildall, Video, YouTube

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Quote of the day

Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 @ 3:41 PM EDT
Jul 10 2013

Texas just passed a law that says life begins at "Can I buy you a drink?"
-Elayne Boosler

Categories: Elayne Boosler, Quotes of the day

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Flooded out

Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 @ 10:27 AM EDT
Jul 10 2013

Widespread flash flooding in the Pittsburgh area this morning due to heavy rains.

We live in the Library Heights area of South Park Township, so we have no flood problems. But it's pretty much impossible to go anywhere. My wife couldn't make it to work this morning because all the main roads have major intersection flooding.

The video above shows Library station, the end of the line of the Port Authority of Allegheny County's light rail transit system. The tracks are under about four feet of water, and commuters retrieving their cars this evening are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

They're predicting more heavy storms this afternoon, so Pittsburgh readers ought to consider hunkering down for a while. If you live anywhere near a road with "Run" in its name (Saw Mill Run, Thompson Run, etc.) you can be certain you're going to be affected.

Categories: KGB Family, Weather

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No relation

Published Tuesday, July 09, 2013 @ 7:53 AM EDT
Jul 09 2013

I think.

Categories: WTF?

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Quote of the day

Published Monday, July 08, 2013 @ 7:31 AM EDT
Jul 08 2013

The Earth is bipolar.
-Steven Wright

Categories: Quotes of the day, Steven Wright

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Hard times

Published Sunday, July 07, 2013 @ 8:02 AM EDT
Jul 07 2013


Batman has apparently downsized, lacks collision insurance, and works the early morning shift at a 7-Eleven south of Pittsburgh.

Categories: Batman, Photo of the day, WTF?

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On hypocrisy...

Published Saturday, July 06, 2013 @ 8:52 AM EDT
Jul 06 2013

A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy.
-Benjamin Disraeli

A hypocrite is a person who- but who isn't?
-Don Marquis

As religion is imitated and mocked by hypocrisy, so public duty is parodied by patriotism.
-J. E. Thorold Rogers

Don't stay away from church because there are so many hypocrites. There's always room for one more.
-A.R. Adams

Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasions to change.
-Frank Lloyd Wright

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Force may make hypocrites, but it can never make converts.
-William Penn

Hubris and hypocrisy are a deadly combination.
-Anne-Marie Slaughter

Hypocrisy is better than no standards at all.
-William Bennett

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
-Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Hypocrisy is the lubricant of society.
-David Hull

Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue; it needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practised at spare moments; it is a whole-time job.
-W. Somerset Maugham

Hypocrite: a guy who writes a book on atheism and prays that it sells.
-Woody Allen

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.
-Oscar Wilde

I'm disappointed that my own Catholic Church has decided that capital punishment is wrong. Which is pretty hypocritical if you think about it, because they wouldn't even have a religion if it wasn't for capital punishment.
-Stephen Colbert

In all ages hypocrites, called priests, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called kings.
-Robert G. Ingersoll

It's silly to go on pretending that under the skin we are all brothers. The truth is more likely that under the skin we are all cannibals, assassins, traitors, liars, hypocrites, poltroons.
-Henry Miller

Manners are the hypocrisy of nations.
-Honoré de Balzac

No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.
-Samuel Johnson

Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
-Hannah Arendt

Public prayer is no evidence of piety. It is practiced by an abundance of hypocrites. But private prayer is a thing for which the hypocrite has no heart.
-Charles H. Spurgeon

Same old hypocrisy. Life is a fight, and the strongest wins. All civilization does is hide the blood and cover up the hate with pretty words!
-Ursula K. LeGuin

Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a begging.
-Martin Luther

The good thing about being a hypocrite is that you get to keep your values.
-Alan Alda

The greatest and truest zeal gives us no security against hypocrisy: The most open impiety is attended with a secret dread and compunction.
-David Hume

The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself.
-Hannah Arendt

The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience.
-Reinhold Neibuhr

The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.
-Andre Gide

We are not hypocrites in our sleep.
-William Hazlitt

Categories: Hypocrisy, Quotes on a topic

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Published Friday, July 05, 2013 @ 7:59 AM EDT
Jul 05 2013

Action is the antidote to despair.
-Joan Baez

Boredom is the root of all evil- the despairing refusal to be oneself.
-Søren Kierkegaard

Courage is as often the outcome of despair as of hope; in the one case we have nothing to lose, in the other everything to gain.
-Diane de Poitiers

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim.
-Graham Greene

Don't despair, not even over the fact that you don't despair.
-Franz Kafka

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

God does not send us despair in order to kill us, he sends it in order to awaken us to new life.
-Hermann Hesse

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.
-Arthur Miller

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.
-Paul Kurtz

I can endure my own Despair
But not another's Hope.
-William Walsh

I can't tell if a straw ever saved a drowning man, but I know that a mere glance is enough to make despair pause. For in truth we who are creatures of impulse are not creatures of despair.
-Joseph Conrad

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.
-Jimmy Carter

If I were a father and had a daughter who was seduced, I would not despair over her. But if I had a son who became a journalist and continued to remain one for five years, I would give him up.
-Søren Kierkegaard

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
-C.S. Lewis

Life begins on the other side of despair.
-Jean-Paul Sartre

My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage.
-Peggy Noonan

Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.
-Edmund Burke

Remember that despair is never the solution. Remember, hatred is never an option. Remember that hope is not a gift given to us, hope is a gift that we give to others.
-Elie Wiesel

She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes; that is always a sign of despair in a woman.
-Oscar Wilde

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep.
-Harry Ruby

The initial expression of defiance is precisely despair over one's weakness.
-Søren Kierkegaard

The machinery chugs on unabated, belching out its dehumanizing product. It is distressing. But I refuse to despair. I know, one day, the Supreme Court will outlaw the death penalty. Permanently.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.
-H.L. Mencken

Those colorful denizens of male despair, the Bowery bum and the rail-riding hobo, have been replaced by the bag lady and the welfare mother. Women have even taken over Skid Row.
-Florence King

To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.
-Cornel West

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.
-Douglas MacArthur

Categories: Quotes on a topic

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Published Thursday, July 04, 2013 @ 8:50 AM EDT
Jul 04 2013

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
-John Quincy Adams

Free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary mean little when the free market means they are on sale to the highest bidder.
-Arundhati Roy

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.
-Alexis de Tocqueville

If our Founding Fathers wanted us to care about the rest of the world, they wouldn't have declared their independence from it.
-Stephen Colbert

If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worthwhile.
-Samuel Eliot Morison

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
-Thomas Paine

It's all there in the Declaration of Independence. We are the only nation in the world based on happiness.
-P.J. O'Rourke

One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in their struggle for independence.
-Charles Austin Beard

The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.
-Joseph Heller

The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.
-Emma Goldman

There are twenty-seven specific complaints against the British Crown set forth in the Declaration of Independence. To modern ears they still sound reasonable...in large part, because so many of them can be leveled against the federal government of the United States.
-P.J. O'Rourke

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism-
The right to criticise.
The right to hold unpopular beliefs.
The right to protest.
The right of independent thought.
-Margaret Chase Smith

For years I've nursed a secret desire to spend the Fourth of July in a double hammock with a swingin' redheaded broad... but I could never find me a double hammock.
-Frank Sinatra

Categories: Quotes on a topic

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Going boldly... insane

Published Wednesday, July 03, 2013 @ 7:22 AM EDT
Jul 03 2013

After John Larroquette played the Klingon crew member "Maltz" in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and before Brent Spiner went on to play Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), the pair appeared together in a half-dozen episodes of NBC's Night Court. Larroquette won four Emmys as assistant district attorney Dan Fielding; Spiner played Bob Wheeler, a Yugoslavian immigrant with a West Virginian accent and incredibly bad luck.

Categories: John Larroquette, Night Court, Star Trek, TV, YouTube

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Confused cats and founding superheroes

Published Wednesday, July 03, 2013 @ 12:40 AM EDT
Jul 03 2013

Categories: Supreme Court, WTF?

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Trick question

Published Tuesday, July 02, 2013 @ 7:10 AM EDT
Jul 02 2013

Uh... the one you can't use on basic cable?

Categories: CNN, First Amendment, News Media

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I really need to cut the grass.

Published Monday, July 01, 2013 @ 9:24 AM EDT
Jul 01 2013

"Hey, Dad! I think I found Jimmy Hoffa!"

Categories: Animals, Dogs, KGB

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Morning surf...

Published Monday, July 01, 2013 @ 7:50 AM EDT
Jul 01 2013

Random stuff from surfing the net this morning...

If you buy your July 4 supplies at Walmart you can celebrate our independence from Britain and our dependence on China at the same time.
-Andy Borowitz

An interesting take on the Paula Deen business.

Egyptian pyramids were not built by slaves.

Border collie over the edge.

Categories: Miscellany

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