Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

06/11/2010 (1:32 pm)

The Newer, Badder, Chief Ass-Kicker Obama

Since President Obama insists that his chief role in the oil spill clean up is to Chuck Norris the Big Bad Oil Barons, he’s made it fair game for anybody who cares to comment on just how well he projects that image. I consider this two minutes very well spent. The best part is the second minute, so bear with it.

One commenter at YouTube observes that Chuck Norris could simply stand on the Louisiana shoreline and glare at the oil, daring it to come ashore.

It’s a great joke. For Louisiana’s sake, I wish it were true.

However that might work, I think we can all agree that the President is making a clown of himself by pretending that this “ass-kicker” talk somehow fills the gap left by his sheer absence of leadership skills. Barack Obama may be many things — academic, arugula-eater, hard-ball Chicago campaigner — but Chuck Norris, he is not. The irony is that President Obama probably deserves some of the less flattering labels that leftists attempted to paste on his predecessor; “frat boy” seems a lot more appropriate to describe quail-egg-scarfing, party-every-three-days Barack than it did to describe GWB, who really did know how to lead, the opportunistic whining of New Orleans Democratic party operatives notwithstanding.

02/08/2010 (10:35 am)

Who Dat?

saints-thomas-250Well, good for them. The New Orleans Saints finally won the Superbowl. They deserved it, too, for an excellent season and a game well played. Enjoy it, fellas.

A few comments, particularly about the commercials:

I saw, what, five commercials in a row in which the theme was “men don’t wear pants these days?” Hellooooooo!!! This has been true for decades. Are advertisers suddenly starting to wake up and smell the reverse sexism? They’ve decided that they want men’s dollars after all, and are not satisfied getting women’s dollars? Hilarious.

Audi’s “Green police.” Not funny. Not even a little. Don’t they know that that’s precisely what is planned for America? They positioned their car as Vichy French in the wake of a Gestapo-like Green Fist. What do they think we are, Europeans?

Go Daddy and their big hooters: yawn.

Most effective commercial by far: Google’s little French romance. I hate Google for their progressive activism, but doggone it, they’re competent. They’ve got good products and they know how to advertise them.

Funniest commercial by far: Punxutawney Polamalu. But I thought all the Bud Light commercials were well-conceived and well-executed, especially the Observatory Party.

The Who, like most aging rockers making good money by attempting to revisit the youth of their audiences, were sad, Pete Townsend especially. He looked like Grandpa Geahry, my ex-father-in-law. Great light show, though, and they can still play, esp the drummer. He was good.

This was the first game I watched in its entirety all season long. It was entertaining, but I don’t miss regular football. I did try to watch the Eagles take on the Cowboys at the end of the season (I’m from Philly recently, remember?) but it was too painful. I may watch the Eagles again after McNabb retires. He’s a far better athlete than I’ll ever be, he’s probably my brother in Christ, and he deserves to be playing in the NFL, but the Eagles will never be more than “kinda good” so long as he’s there. I hate to admit it, but that Bad Boy Terrell Owens wasn’t far wrong about him, and Rush Limbaugh was right on the frikkin’ money.

02/04/2010 (7:27 am)

Better Than Transparent Aluminum

Usethekeyboard

I’ve been a bit heavy lately, so here’s something positive.

Trekkies recall Chief Engineer Scott altering history by revealing the formula for transparent aluminum to a 20th-century engineer. But real, modern innovation has produced something even better for certain applications: spray-on glass, about 30 molecules thick. That’s 1/500 of the thickness of a human hair, according to the UK Telegraph.

No, you can’t build a whale aquarium in a Klingon starship with it. But it promises to revolutionize institutional sterilization and other cleaning-related applications.

You see, when glass is that thin, it’s flexible, and it breathes, but it still retains the slickness and water resistance of glass. Also, bacteria don’t grow on it; according to the manufacturer, microbes have difficulty dividing on the surface. So, you can spray it onto a food preparation surface — butcher block or hard metal — and you have a surface that remains bacteria-free. Tests have shown that such a surface with this nano-thin, glass coating is more sanitary after merely being flushed with hot water than a comparable, non-treated surface that’s been scrubbed with bleach. And since it breathes, it can be sprayed on seeds or growing plants, making them resistant to mildew and fungus; it’s been tested in vineyards.

It’s stable and non-toxic, being made out of almost pure silicon dioxide — quartz sand. A little water or alcohol gets added as a carrier, so it can be sprayed on. Quantum forces cause the nano-glass to adhere to whatever it’s sprayed on, so you only have to treat surfaces once a year.

Applications abound. Bathroom surfaces. Kitchen surfaces. Medical equipment. Catheters, bandages, and medical implants. Construction materials; termites won’t eat wood treated with this stuff. Seeds. Cutting boards. Monuments; a thin coat slows down natural weathering. Even clothing; since glass is flexible at this thickness, you can treat a silk blouse, and then pour wine over it, and the wine will wipe right off.

The product was invented in Turkey, but a privately-owned German company named Nanopool holds the patent. We can expect these folks to get rich, as it’s clear that you’ll soon be seeing… er, not seeing… this product everywhere.

01/21/2010 (11:22 pm)

Tefillin-Sniffing Dogs

flight_diverted_pamr101A flight from New York to Kentucky was diverted to the Philadelphia airport to investigate what was considered a possible bomb threat this morning. It turned out that the “threat” was a Jewish teenager strapping on tefillin to pray.

I was raised Jewish, so I know about tefillin; I never used them, but I heard about them and have seen them. But lots of people have not ever encountered tefillin, or even heard that they exist (theologically literate Christians refer to them as “phylacteries.” Don’t ask me why.) So, when this teenage boy started strapping a small box to his arm and another to his forehead, it caused some consternation on the flight — enough to make the crew land the plane immediately and greet it on the ground with bomb-sniffing dogs and federal agents.

Apparently the flight left very early in the morning, and the boy, 17, had not had time to pray on the ground. Morning prayers are supposed to be said within a particular length of time after sunrise, so he was trying to get in his prayers on the plane. The boy and his sister cooperated with the feds, and soon everybody was on their way.

Tefillin are a bit of literal obedience to a passage in the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy, in the Torah:

Hear, O Israel! the Lord our God, the Lord is one! …these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart… and you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead, and you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates.

If you visit a Jewish home anytime soon, take a look at the door frame as you enter the house. Chances are there’s a little ornament tacked to the side of the frame; if you took it down, you would find the passage from Deuteronomy 6 written in Hebrew characters inside. This is how traditional Jews obey that particular commandment. And if they’re being serious about obeying the commandments (most modern Jews are not quite so serious,) when they pray they’ll tie little boxes to their forehead and their arm containing the prayer, in a ritualistic fashion.

It’s entirely consistent with the character of Judaism to treat this command literally in this fashion. As a Christian, I read the passage and translate, “Ok, God wants me to surround myself with his law, and study his precepts as though my life depended on them.” But no, the Jewish theologians said “You need to actually write the words on your doorposts. Which words? How large do they have to be? Where on the doorpost should they go?” and so forth. My Jewish readers should forgive me for saying so, but this is what happens when one holds onto the words of God long after losing contact with God Himself. It’s not about wrapping words on your wrist, it’s about paying attention to God.

It’s good that the flight crew was concerned about safety, and it’s good that everybody cooperated. It would have been better if everybody were aware of tefillin, but hey… you don’t see this every day. I’ve embedded a little instructional video about tefillin below. Spend the 100 seconds getting yourself a little education; maybe someday it will spare you a time-wasting flight diversion.

03/05/2009 (3:07 pm)

Take a Break

Chick Corea (piano), John Patatucci (bass), and Dave Weckl (drums) at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, July 2007, playing Corea’s classic composition “Spain.” This is what happens when men pursue excellence within their given callings; each of these guys is among the best ever at what they do. Heaven will be better, but until I get there, this is about as good as it gets.

01/07/2009 (12:34 pm)

How They Keep Warm in Brussels

It’s freakin’ cold in Europe today…

Clipped from the Flemish newspaper De Standaard. Hat tip to Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That, who did not vote for me for Best Conservative Blog, but who’s still Da Man on climate issues. You may cast your vote for Watts Up With That for Best Science Blog, if you forgive him as I did.

12/18/2008 (11:43 am)

Arlington At Christmas

This is probably making the rounds on the internet, but I thought it was worth displaying here.

The wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetary, some 5,000 of them, are donated by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, ME. Morill Worcester, the owner, donates the wreaths and covers the trucking expenses. He and a cadre of volunteers place the wreaths on the graves themselves every year. He’s been doing it since 1992.

Worcester began Wreaths Across America in 2006 to duplicate his efforts at every national and state cemetery where American war veterans are buried. If you would like to participate with or donate to their efforts, visit their web site at http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Story verified at http:/www.truthorfiction.com.

12/17/2008 (8:51 pm)

A Changing Hope, for a Change. I Hope.

Sorry, I just had to. This lovely bit of satirical writing appeared just after 8:30 this morning in the comments under Michelle Malkin’s article on Townhall.com about the Housewives of Crook County, IL. The author calls himself “Democrat For Life.” Notice how many times the words “hope” and “change” appear. This had me chuckling for quite a while. Ok, I’m easily entertained, but still…

It is good to have hope.

We can have hope in Obama, for he will truly change what we all hope for, and those changes will bring us hope, that our hopes may not wither and die, but be hopefully changed to a hope that can change America, and that is a hope that will change unless we can all hope correctly, so that Obama will bring the change we have all hoped for, and that is a hope that cannot change in spite of anyone else’s hope, so do not change your hope.

May Obama bless you.

10/27/2008 (9:43 am)

Couldn't Resist, Sorry

I know this is a bit highbrow, but I’m just tickled by the thought: if I am because I think, what happens if I stop thinking?

For those of you who are not students of philosophy, “Cartesian” refers to the philosophy of Rene Descartes, who famously kicked off Rationalism as a system of thought with the dictum, “I think, therefore I am.”

Image from the folks at mathematicianspictures.com, who have quite a few other highbrow quips on mugs and t-shirts. I guess they’re committed to giving geeks a better look.

06/11/2008 (6:50 am)

Take a Break

My in-laws sent me these snippets from a book entitled Disorder in the Court, by Charles Sevilla. These are actual exchanges taken down by court reporters in American courts, although, in the manner of internet stuff, it’s possible they’ve been altered by someone before being passed along, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy to the original. Still, Shelly and I had a good laugh, so I’m passing them along to you. Enjoy. And so the advertising offsets the use of copyrighted material, please consider buying the book.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
ATTORNEY: Voodoo?
WITNESS: We do.
ATTORNEY: You do?
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he’s twenty.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shittin’ me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh…. I was gettin’ laid.

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you for real? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Guess.

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral.

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh….are you qualified to ask that question?

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.