Saturday, May 30, 2015

The floodgates of hell...............(Who knew hell had floods?)

"If Ronald Reagan was (sic) President, ISIS would be WASWAS." - This wins the award for cleverest yet stupidest political meme this month. I was unable to find the source for this, but it combines the revisionist tendencies of the Republican right wing (lying about history) with the conceptual framing (see Lakoff) and slogan manufacturing of the most successful propaganda machine in the history of the world. The existential reductionism with the implication of mass eradication simplifies the horrible reality of difficult or impossible choices. Reducing the difficult and complicated to bumper stickers is their only success: meaningless nonsense cast as wisdom. I do think that casting the 2nd Iraq as the best thing ever will not fly. * * * * * * * * Nebraska is now bracing for a spike in murders fearing that a backlog of killings which were not carried out because of the deterrent effect of the death penalty will now occur. "The floodgates of hell will be unleashed," said a spokesperson for Gov. Ricketts. (Who knew hell had floods?) "Civilization as we know it will come to an end. Nebraska murderers who have been patiently biding their time now for a hundred and sixty years waiting for the death penalty to be abolished are now dancing in the streets looking for someone to kill. In fact, we predict murderers from all over the country will now be moving to Nebraska because of the green light given to killing by the Nebraska Unicameral. It won't be long until Nebraska is the murder capitol of the United States if not the world." Just kidding folks. Governor Ricketts, though is vowing to execute the 10 people now on death row in Nebraska, some of whom have been there for decades. They seem to risk dying of old age more than anything. The Governor proudly announced he acquired the necessary drug cocktail in India - "Psst, got any drugs for sale?" The FDA though announced this week those drugs may not be imported. * ** * * * * Here's an Andy Rooney question for you: "Shouldn't 'phonetic' be spelled 'fonetic'"? And while we are on the subject of language, did you know there is no agreement on whether a sentence should have one or two spaces after a period? I personally use one space if anyone cares.... * * * * * * * * * Republican candidates for President announced and unannounced continue to say and do stupid things: Donald Trump said he has a secret plan to destroy ISIS, but that he won't say what it is. Ted Cruz voted against FEMA aid for New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, but is demanding federal aid for Texas after the terrible flooding there. Prayers for Texas in recovering from the flood and for having Ted Cruz as a Senator. Rick Santorum is now a candidate - he will split the "dumb" vote with other candidates. Chris Christie claims that the reason a majority of New Jerseyites don't want him to run for President is that they want him to remain as governor. Now that's spin! Jeb Bush is sinking in the polls. The Republican party itself will limit their debates to the top ten, yes that's right, the top ten, candidates. Good luck with that. The Dems now have three declared candidates. * * * * * * * I've got to say nice things about Nebraska's Patriot Guard and so many others who came out in force to honor Officer Orozco, killed in the line of duty by a felon who had an illegal weapon, and protect her family from Westboro Baptist Church protestors who showed up in Omaha. I saw one internet post that said "Live your life in such as way that Westboro Baptist Church will want to picket your funeral." Amen to that. Officer Orozco was killed the same week an Officer in Cleveland was acquitted of standing on the hood of a car and firing some 23 shots at the unarmed driver and passenger of the vehicle, even stopping to reload. A total of 147 shots were fired into that vehicle by that officer and others.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pushing up Daisies

An idiom is a phrase in which the literal translation of a group of words appears to have no connection to the actual circumstance of its use but is understood in that particular linguistic culture. For example, "hold your horses," although it once did, now has nothing to do with holding horses. It means wait, but it also has a sense of you are too impatient. And "raining cats and dogs" would be a really strange event, but we native English speakers know what it means and would take an umbrella if someone reported that. And to have butterflies in one's stomach doesn't necessarily mean we've been eating caterpillars. Non-native speakers of English study idioms as part of their language learning. * * * * * ** * To be pushing up daisies is not a good thing for a gardening enthusiast, or for anyone for that matter. And we all inevitably "kick the bucket." In Greek, a comparable idiom is to "shake the horse-shoes." In Norway, we would "park the slippers." And in Hindustan, we might say in Urdu, "the elephant escaped but his tail got stuck." * * * * * * * Other foreign idioms include, Swedish - “To slide in on a shrimp sandwich" when referring to someone who didn't have to work to get where they are. And when you tell a lie in Latvia, you "blow little ducks." In Japan, if you "wear a cat on your head" you are pretending to be a nice person. And in Korea, “A dog with feces scolds a dog with husks of grain.” Apparently this is akin to our "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." * * * * * ** * So I got to thinking about idioms and came up with several I'd like to see spread like wildfire. "To polish one's shoes with cow dung" means to make a bad choice. "To eat a sparrow with a fork" means to strive too hard. "To see grasshoppers on the shark's head" means something's not right here. "To steal the taco" means jumping in line at a checkout counter. "To chase a barn swallow in an oxen-pulled wagon laden with horse manure on a hot day" means to engage fruitlessly in an impossible project. For putting off what needs to be done (like grading this stack of research papers that was in front of me) to do what is more fun and enjoyable: "to watch the stars from the treetops instead of rendering the lard." For taking a break from grading papers to walk the dog is "to skin the mongoose while the snake is watching." For getting tired but caught up in old movie on tv is "to wash fish while the t-shirt dries on the line." To wake up slowly while having coffee in the morning is "to hang carrots from the barn rafters." My new idiom for time to do something: "the armadillo must fly on the afternoon breeze." "The oyster which has no pearl must not be eaten with the morning picked radish" means a necessary task is not yet done. My new idiom for I'm tired and am going to bed: "as the turtle dove coos at night so does the midnight moon fall from the sky." As they say in Mgwamba, when speaking of fate, "As the crows bathe in the afternoon sun, so do the worms consume the flesh of our ancestors." "Rolling the dice in the doggie dish" means to taking in inappropriate chances. My brother Jerry offered this up in response to my making up idioms: A made up idiom for reading made up idioms: "Passing a cabbage through a shredder, blending it with seasoned ground pork, and stuffing it into sausage skins." He's like that. My idiom for making up idioms about making up idioms is "to roast water buffalo meat and eat yams all day while the creek rises too fast." And my brother Jerry further responded: "The people of Ghana make fufu, their traditional food, by pounding yams in a mortar and mixing in a little water. So, another made up idiom for reading made up idioms: Having your brain pounded into fufu." To which I say with all due respect: "don't sit with the goats while the fufu burns."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Just Another trip to Okoboji

I finally did it. I've been chasing the elusive hole-in-one for 50 years. I've had dozens of eagles on par 5s, and maybe 15 eagles on par 4s, and even an albatross, a 2 on a par 5, but never a hole-in-one, until Sunday, May 17, that is. I was up at Lake Okoboji in northern Iowa for a long golfing weekend with several buddies, Bob, Jerry, and Troy. I've been going up there with Bob and Jerry for about 15 years the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. Jerry and Bob have been going up there even longer. Troy is a more recent addition. We play at three courses: Emerald Hills, Okoboji View, and Brooks National. On Saturday we played 18 at Emerald. On Sunday, we played 36 holes at Okoboji View golf and on #7 the first time around, a 175 yard par 3, I finally got my ace. I hit my hybrid 3 iron over the water to an elevated green and zeroed it in perfectly. It landed on the green, took a couple of bounces, hit the pin, and dropped in! Yahoo! Whoopee! Kudos to me! Now the thing is, because the green was elevated, we could tell it was a good shot, and Troy said he thought it might have gone in, but I thought it might have been too long and gone over the green. We were playing a game called Wolf in which you pick a partner each hole based on a rotation and the shots made and it was Jerry's turn and he did not pick me based upon my thinking I might have been over the green. My ball was in the bottom of the cup and we didn't know for sure. When we got up there we located everyone's ball but mine, so Troy checked out the cup and there it was! Since Jerry chose Troy for a partner on that hole and not me, Bob and I earned six skins! And at a quarter a skin, that's some big money, $1.50. Bob and Jerry have had multiple holes-in-one, and Troy is still waiting. All in all, we have a great time playing in the wind and the chill and the sunshine. We played Monday at Brooks in a howling cold wind. After all was said and done, we played four rounds of golf in three days, I made about $5.00, parred a hole I had never parred before, and even got an ace. I'm now in the Omaha World Herald Hole-in-One Database! (one of 4382). btw - for a long time the world record length for a hole-in-one was in Omaha, Ne at Miracle Hills Golf Course: The longest straight shot hole in one in golf history was hit by Robert Mitera on October 7, 1965 at the Miracle Hills Golf Club in Omaha, Nebraska. Mitera used his driver to ace the 10th hole from 444 yards! Mitera couldn't even see the flag from where he teed off. He only realized he'd aced the hole when he arrived at the green and another golfer told him his ball was in the hole. That was surpassed in 2007 when a 448 yard hole was aced in Hawaii although the "straight-line" ace at Miracle is a different type than a hole-in-one made by cutting a dogleg. The odds of an amateur golfer getting a hole-in-one are about one in 12,500 according to one online encyclopedia. Jack Nicklaus has 20. Tiger Woods has 18. Jerry (above) has four and Bob (above) has three, including two hit on two different continents within 10 days. World Herald's Mike Kelly wrote about those two. Sam Snead had 42. Former North Korean Supreme dictator Kim Jong-Il, now deceased, was said to have had 11 holes-in-one during one round of golf although everyone who questioned that was executed. On the other hand, only 18 professional golfers have had an albatross, that is, a double-eagle, one of which I have, in a major tournament with a total of about 80 men and women golfers in the history of professional golf tournaments. The odds of getting an albatross are calculated to be a million to one. I got that albatross about 20 years ago on Benson Golf Course's 514 yard par 5, #11, on a chilly windy day using a 3 wood and a 7 iron.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Building of the Transcendental Railroad

Conspiracy theories in Texas are back in the news: a military training exercise scheduled for this summer, Jade Helm 15, is really a pretext for the US to invade Texas, according to a number of very paranoid Texans. The United States Military, in conjunction with ISIS and Walmart, are preparing to impose martial law, Sharia, and health care for everyone. The secret underground tunnels connecting abandoned Walmart stores so that ISIS can secretly move about is the brilliant stroke of conspiracy genius in this daring invasion plan. Walmart Stores, I kid you not, issued a public statement denying their involvement in any plan to invade Texas. Current Governor Greg Abbot will be calling up the Texas National Guard to "monitor" US troops. Well armed paranoid militias will be on high alert. Former Governor Rick Perry, not particularly known for lucidity, said it was time for Texans to stop this insanity. So both Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Republican candidates for President, and trying to get the wacko vote, said they would ask the Pentagon whether it was planning to invade Texas and impose martial law in conjunction with Walmart and ISIS. So both Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Republican candidates for President, and trying to get the wacko vote, said they would ask the Pentagon whether it was planning to invade Texas and impose martial law in conjunction with Walmart and ISIS. So apparently they think the Pentagon would admit it if they were...... Imagine the conversation: "Hello Pentagon, this is Senator Ted Cruz. Are you guys planning to invade Texas in conjunction with ISIS and Walmart to impose Sharia, martial law, and universal health care? You heard me right. No? Why are you laughing? I'm a US Senator. Quit laughing. No, I'm not drunk. I am too a Senator. No, I'm not off my meds. Quit laughing. No, I'm not a bat sh** crazy f****** moron. No this is not a college fraternity prank. And no, this is not Candid Camera either. Quit laughing I said. No, I'm not kidding. I really am a US Senator. Well, okay, never mind. Thanks. Goodbye." * * * * * * * * * Several more Republicans announced their candidacies for President of the United States: Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee. Sweet Jesus, please help us. * * * * * * * * Fact checking organizations like and announced today they would no longer point out when Republican Presidential candidates misstate facts. "Fibbing is their default position and we just don't have the time or resources to keep up now that there are half a dozen candidates in the field. From now on, we will only make a comment in the rare instance when one of them says something true. It will make our lives so much easier," said a prominent fact checker. "You may not hear from us again." * * * * * * * * So I was reading a student essay about trains today and in one paragraph he wrote about the challenges in building the transcendental railroad across the country. Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson would have liked that. * * * * * * * * * With the charges against police officers in Baltimore in the death of Freddie Gray, police departments across the country are reviewing old cases. Officials in one state are reopening an investigation of a death by police where the 145 gunshot wounds were ruled to be "self-inflicted." * * * * * * * * * Now that Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont and a proud democratic socialist, is running for the Democratic nomination for President, maybe we'll finally get an accurate definition of socialism into the nation's vocabulary. At least now, when Republicans accuse him of being a "socialist," they'll be right.