18 December 2011

Bizarre Space Triangle

An immense orange UFO witnesses describe as “Dorito shaped” returned to the skies over Dudley.1 It flew around for a while, then left.2

I recall writing about the Dudley Dorito’s earlier appearances, but find no mention of it in the archives.3 I also remember seeing an advertisement for the Chia® Hitler in the back of a magazine, sometime in the early 90’s, but I can’t locate any evidence such a product ever existed, which complicates my Christmas shopping.

1Apparently the seductive contours of junk food are crowding basic shapes out of the popular mind.

2The timing is slightly suspicious.

3The inventor of Doritos, Arch West, died in September. He was 97.

30 November 2011

Soggy Situation in Whitby, etc.

The Whitby Gazette reports Whitby is “under water” after a “freakish set of circumstances”. Does Whitby ever have any other kind?

The Whitby Gazette is not reporting a number of Whitbians were nearly drowned by something in the floodwater that grabbed their ankles and tried to pull them under, but my sources tell me it’s happening.

On this day in 1974 a Frenchman, whom we will call Jacques M. because he wishes to remain anonymous, was driving at night when he “suddenly saw a man at least eight feet tall in the light of his car's headlights, standing by the roadside. This being was milky white in color, as if wearing a tight white coverall, and his round head was without hair or facial features.” 

On this day in 1979, a couple in Puerto Rico saw the same figure in white coveralls standing on a “luminous“ flying platform, only now he was also wearing a “large helmet with a dark visor that completely covered his face”, and had shrunk to a height of four feet.

On this day in 1982, a Brazilian named Joao Valeiro da Silva was awakened by “two strange little men and a woman, each about three feet tall”. The trio were wearing “brilliant blue coveralls” made out of a “a rubber material”. Then a naked girl showed up. Joao doesn’t remember what happened next, but complained afterwards his genitals “were burning”. We‘ve all been there.

The elusive, self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Datu Mohd Akjan Datu Ali Muhammad, who disappeared in May, remains at large. Sabah Commissioner of Police Datuk Hamzah Taib is confident “He is not in Sabah or in Kuala Lumpur (at the moment).” Confusingly, the self-proclaimed Sultan’s self-proclaimed Prime Minister Datu Albi insists the self-proclaimed Sultan has not yet ascended to the throne, but has accepted an offer to do so. From whom? Himself?

20 October 2011

International Items

Mulazim Awwal Moamer  Mohammad Abu Minyar al-Kazzafi.

In Libya, Sarkozy and Obama helped rebels murder Muammar Gaddafi*. Why is unclear, perhaps they envied Mr. Khaddafi’s style.

Obama inserted troops into Uganda, which sounds vaguely dirty, and probably is.

In the UK Mike Newman, a blind man, flew a plane for a record setting 26 consecutive loops. He insists he did it on purpose.

*Prounced Qadhdhafi.

25 September 2011

Now It Was 1993

I can’t always remember their names, but in my nightmares I can see their faces. As the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections from 1992 until 1995, I oversaw five executions. The first two were Thomas Dean Stevens and Christopher Burger, accomplices in a monstrous crime: as teenagers in 1977, they robbed and raped a cabdriver, put him in the trunk of a car, and pushed the vehicle into a pond. I had no doubt that they were guilty: they admitted it to me. But now it was 1993 and they were in their 30s. All these years later, after a little frontal-lobe development, they were entirely different people.
- Allen Ault, "I Ordered Death in Georgia."

05 September 2011

A Waning Moon, Haunted

Footage of the legendary Zambian Space Programme has turned up:

To this day many question official explanations for ending the Apollo missions. I sometimes wonder if we stopped going to the moon because we found ZSP Afronauts up there.

31 August 2011

Looking Ahead

Scientists say the asteroid Apophis could crash into the Earth in 2036. The impact wouldn’t end life as we know it (Apophis only weighs 46 million tons), but damage would be significant, particularly for those foolish enough to get between the asteroid and its chosen landing place.

Luckily for Earth, the Chinamen are sending a solar sail powered spacecraft to intercept the celestial boulder. Shengping Gong of Tsinghua University in Beijing explains: “When the asteroid gets within range, the spacecraft will spray it with melamine tainted milk, then bombard it with an assortment of lead contaminated gewgaws . If that fails to deter, the craft will crash into the asteroid, deflecting it.”*

And if that doesn’t work?

“If that doesn’t work, we will put pee-pee in your Coke.”

So there you have it.

*Mr. Gong’s lack of a stereotypical accent surprises me, too.

23 August 2011

Upper Volta

The Reconnecting With The People bus tour continues...

“Driver, why have we stopped?”

“I’m having trouble locating Upper Volta on the map.”

“Find Lower Volta, then head north.”

“It’s not called Upper Volta anymore. They renamed it Burkina Faso.”

“They did? Burkina Faso sounds like some sort of seaweed-tofu pie you might get at one of those horrible vegetarian restaurants. I narrowly escaped eating at a vegetarian restaurant once. It had a deceptive façade, so I walked right in. Waiting to be seated, though, I managed to sense something was wrong. Then it hit me - I’m in one of those horrible vegetarian restaurants, and I got out. I’ve had a lot of narrow escapes. Remind me to tell you about them some time.”

“I will.”

“Maybe we should forget about Upper Volta.”

“Burkina Faso.”

“Both of them.”

“As you wish.

Western Illinois

The Reconnecting With The People bus tour continues...

Crossing the border into Western Illinois you see smoke and fires in the distance. Further on you pass a tree festooned with the bodies of skinned animals. A group of ragged children, some wearing Halloween masks, stand in a field. Motionless, watching. They carry sticks and machetes.

Press on, driver. We shan’t be stopping in Western Illinois.

22 August 2011


To Decorah, Iowa,  the first stop on my Reconnecting With The People bus tour of northeastern Iowa, western Illinois, and Upper Volta. A crowd of townsfolk gathers in front of a picturesque barn to greet me; after brief introductory remarks I open the floor for questions.

C. VAN CARTER: The lady in back.

Q Hello, my name is Gladys Cook. You say you are reconnecting with the people…

CVC: Yes.

Q But I thought you hated The People?

CVC: Yes, I do, of course. I also hate traveling by bus. Let’s not get sidetracked with technicalities.

The man down front, with the parrot. Not him, the other one. Not the green parrot, the red parrot. Go ahead.

Q Hello. I’m Leonard Faldet. Like many who live in small towns in the American heartland, I enjoy orange telephones. Could you do more of that?

CVC: My staff and I have been working on plan, an orange telephone plan. We’ll be rolling it out as soon as we can.

Over here, the man over here with the vaguely homosexualist moustache. Yes, you.

Q Hi. My name is Barry Timp. Whatever happened to Florentino Floro Jr.?

CVC: No more questions.

14 August 2011

While I Was Out

Widespread riots in the UK, none in Whitby, though a hedge burned, after a garden fire got “out of hand”.

The police and government non-response to the mayhem reminded me of the case of Simon Ledger, who was arrested for singing 70’s novelty hit “Kung-Fu Fighting” at bar on the Isle of Wight because the lyrics offended a Chinaman and his mother (the technical term for this state of affairs is anarcho-tyranny).

In Jertih, Malaysia, two bomoh captured nine djinns, at the home of a young woman  who  “vanished on several occasions, only to be found in odd places like inside a cement mixer and a cemetery”:
Hundreds of residents flocked to the home…when they heard that the "culprits" had been captured and imprisoned in special containers. Curious onlookers jostled to take photos and video footage of the containers and the djinns said to be inside.The two bomoh, who refused to be identified, offered their services for free on Friday after reading about Siti Balqis' plight in newspapers. At 7.30pm, one of them started praying inside the family home while the other recited verses outside the front door. About 15 minutes later, the bomoh outside the house saw a figure dashing away. He gave chase and captured it. Subsequently, eight more djinns were captured one by one as they tried to flee. The bomoh said the sealed containers would be thrown into the sea so that the djinns would not bother anyone again.
 Also in Malaysia,  a new “Reuniting Families-Child Safety” program was launched.

Social workers attempt to reunite a lazy child with his neglectful mother.

Deranged New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof announced “My hard drive overflows with photos of children bleeding from shrapnel.” I’ve long been suspicious of Kristof. I find his reports on Third-World prostitution overly enthusiastic.

Professional blogger Matty Yglesias announced he was writing a book about "housing policy":
The basic idea is to make the case that pathological elements of our housing policy that increase the cost of living in desirable neighborhoods of key metropolitan areas are an underrated of America’s economic and social problems. Longtime readers will be familiar with the general shape of my thinking on this issue, but the ideas are going to be laid out in a more systematic way with a much more comprehensive look at how it all fits together and what levers might exist 
It goes on like that. Mr. Yglesias is a graduate of the Dalton School and Harvard University.

Uruguay strengthened ties with Iran. I thought part of the appeal of being Uruguay was that you didn’t have do things like form alliances with countries like Iran.

In Bihar, a forest dwelling Maoist was arrested with “arms and explosives”. I thought part of the appeal dwelling in the forest was that you could escape ideological entanglements.

05 June 2011

Synchromystic Sorcery or Coincidence

Saturday, June 4th:
Wild winds lifted three inflatable bounce houses - with kids inside - into the air, and then tumbling end-over-end on a Long Island soccer field.

The bizarre incident at the Oceanside United Soccer Club event sent 13 people, including several children, to area hospitals..."It was the craziest thing you ever saw," [said] one father...
Monday, May 30th:
Three children have been hurt after a bouncy castle thought to have been caught by a gust of wind left the floor and became wrapped around a telegraph pole.

Horrified onlookers who were attending a double christening celebration at the White House pub in Whitby yesterday screamed as the youngsters fell off the inflatable suffering multiple broken bones...the children are said to be in a stable condition.

11 May 2011

An Evening of Stuff

To the White House for an “Evening of Poetry”. Scanning the East Room, I don’t see any actual poets. I mingle about, carefully avoiding Billy Collins. I chat with that girl from 'Til Tuesday. She's overcome severe cat allergies to become a fixture on “adult alternative” radio (or so I'm told).  I ask various people if they've seen Edward Williams, and receive blank looks. One of the guests is a rapper. I try to explain to him that “frabbajabous” isn’t a real word. He gives me a blank look.

Eventually the President gives a speech. I give him a blank look. Some doggerel is read. A comedian plays a banjo (why?).

As the festivities wind down, a Secret Service agent approaches, and quietly asks me to follow him. After an elevator ride, we walk down a lengthy hallway, through a door, into a martial arts dojo. Standing there is the First Lady, with a pair of aides slathering oil on her nude body. My mind whirls. I realize she wants to engage me in hand-to-hand combat, au naturel. I'm loosening my tie when Billy Collins walks in. Pointing to my bad knee, I persuade him to take my place. He enthusiastically strips down, and bounds onto the mat. He swings his arms wildly. The First Lady easily takes him to the ground, and proceeds to choke him into unconsciousness.

25 April 2011

Bihar Days

I spend the morning in Bihar, photographing the poor and lawless state’s various large ditches. (Expect to see some of the images in my forthcoming book, Various Large Ditches of the Third World.) In the afternoon I join Bihar’s Governor Devanand Konwar for lunch. We discuss the plans to build toilets throughout Bihar, so women and girls no longer have to “defecate in the open.” I warn him giving in to one demand only encourages women to make more demands. He insists on moving forward, saying the toilets will be installed by the year 2135, at least if everything goes according to schedule.

22 April 2011

Nine Pints of Beer

I get word of the Greg Mortensen scandal while visiting the Tieraufstapelung Academy, a school I founded in the poor and lawless state of Bihar which teaches wayward girls the ancient art of animal stacking. It’s sad the deceptions of a man I've never met cast doubt on my legitimate travel accounts and charity work, but that’s the world we live in now.

14 April 2011

Time, Tide, Edit, Emit

In a lengthy treatise I have not read, Bradford W. Scharlott (journalism professor, potential sex offender)  argues Sarah Palin faked the pregnancy and birth of her fifth child, of whom she is actually the grandmother. It’s an interesting theory. A more interesting theory: what if Sarah Palin traveled back in time, to give birth to Barack Obama? It would explain why he’s gone to such lengths to conceal his long form birth certificate. We know for a fact, courtesy of the FBI,  USG recovered crashed flying saucers.  Lt. Col. Philip J. Corso has stated the craft were not spaceships from other planets, but time machines from the future. Corso, I just realized, kind of looks like Brad Scharlott. How many layers are there to this thing?

21 March 2011

Blazes Baffle Botswana

Spiritual fires like the ones that bedeviled Malaysia are now breaking out in Botswana:
A family of eleven is begging for help after a series of mysterious fires destroyed their property and left them homeless. 
The latest in a trilogy of devastating blazes occurred this week when a remaining storeroom and the police tent in which they had been sheltering also went up in flames. 
The unexplained fires that have been tormenting the family in the Southern District village of Goodhope since January, has baffled police investigating the incidents... 
As suspicions abound that the fires were the cause of a demonic curse, a Pentecostal church leader was expected to visit the family on a spiritual intervention mission.
The Malaysian spiritual fires, you may recall, were impervious to the prayer recitations of ten ulamas. Given the trajectory of the phenomenon, FEMA should consider setting up spiritual fire monitoring stations on the East Coast, as a precautionary measure.

03 March 2011

Things to Read or Not

A Bear-Wolf prowls Wisconsin:
Steve Krueger was doing his job...removing road-side deer carcasses overnight for the Department of Natural Resources.
Krueger said he had just made a pick-up along a remote road near Holy Hill about 1:30 a.m., and he was in the cab doing some paperwork. When his parked truck started shaking, he looked in the rear view mirror and got the scare of his life.
He said his flashing lights illuminated a huge hairy beast standing on its hind legs -- dragging a deer off the open tailgate.
With luck, the beast will make its way to Madison, and feast on the hippies infesting the Capitol. I’ve spoken before of Nature’s moral degeneracy, the existence of a Bear-Wolf is another example.

In an important new essay, noted historian Ian Kershaw says Fascism is on the rise in Europe.1 Or something of the sort, I read no further than the following paragraph:
Though the immigrants were actually important to the continued economic growth of the wealthier nations, their settlement—largely in poorer parts of towns and cities—was often greatly unwelcome. Many people, themselves underprivileged and living close to the poverty line, objected strongly to “interlopers” who, they thought (usually incorrectly), were being given unfair advantages in employment opportunities, housing allocation and the granting of social benefits.
Sir Ian should hire a fact checker.2 Or else read his country's newspapers:

"Ten years of record immigration to Britain has produced virtually no economic benefits for the country, a parliamentary inquiry has found."

"Seven in 10 new jobs go to foreigners...Up to a third of skilled migrants are also coming to the UK to take jobs that do not have to be advertised here first."

"Thousands of Eastern European citizens are given council houses every year, leapfrogging millions of Britons who languish on waiting lists."

1Why does nothing fun ever happen here?
2Kershaw has argued “Hitler was a very unbureaucratic leader who was highly adverse to paper work.”

28 February 2011

Mysteries of the Orient

Fainting spells afflict Vietcong school children: “Since January 17, between 12 and 40 students faint every day at school, mainly between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.” The cause of the fainting is a mystery. Also a mystery is why these children are in school, when they could be in a factory making sneakers.

From Malayisa comes an amazing report of “spiritual fires” plaguing a house. The unusual blazes have left the entire nation baffled:
A weird "spiritual fire" broke out in a residential house at Jalan Pantai Cahaya Bulan, Kampung Barembang, Kota Bharu recently.
More than ten ulamas failed to put out the "fire" by way of reciting the Koran verses, and incidents of spontaneous fires burning the clothes continue to take place for more than twenty times thereafter.
[O]wner of the house, Zainab Sulaiman, 73, said even though the incidence of "spiritual fires" had somewhat slowed down after the ulamas offered the prayers, they still came for about four times. 
The mysterious phenomenon appeared again during day time for more than twenty times... 
The "spiritual fires" have burned the clothes, spoiled the food, turned on the gas cooker and burned the new school uniforms and veils of Zainab's two granddaughters, 11-year-old Nur Fartili and 13-year-old Wan Nurfatifa, making them unable to go to school. 
The incidents have lasted for 13 days now and many "supreme masters" have been consulted but to no avail. 
Zainab could hardly understand why such strange phenomenon could take place in her house, which was built on the land belonging to the Islamic Affairs Bureau...
Those poor girls. They must be miserable.

Ignis fatuus

“The foolish fire, is an Exhalation kindled by meanes of violent moving, when by cold of the night, in the lowest region of the ayre, it is beaten downe, and then commonly, if it be light, seeketh to ascend upward, and is sent downe agayne; so it banceth up and downe: Els if it move not up and downe, it is a great lumpe of glewish or oyly matter, that by moving of the heat in it selfe, is enflamed of it selfe, as moyst hay will be kindled of it selfe.”
- William Fulke (1563), A Goodly Gallerye: William Fulke's Book of Meteors, pp.10-13.

“There is some evidence that phenomena such as the Will o' the Wisp in England and Min Min Light in Australia are luminescing Barn Owls Tyto alba (e.g. Purdy 1908; Gurney 1908; McAtee 1947; Bunn et at 1982; Macnamara 1989). However, the source of the luminescence is yet to be resolved. The most common explanation for such luminescence is that the owls have become contaminated with luminous fungi that grow inside hollow trees (e.g. Bunn et al. 1982) although, for reasons discussed herein, that explanation is unsatisfactory. 
Is there any reason why birds could not bioluminesce? In a private letter Peter J. Herring, editor of Bioluminescence in Action (Academic Press, London 1978) said, 'There is no fundamental reason why there should not he a self-luminous bird (or mammal or reptile) but none has been reported'... 
This paper considers four premises: 
1. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that one or more of the following are true.
2. Barn Owls are indeed luminous, as has been often reported.
3. Luminescence is intrinsic to the owls and does not arise from contamination with luminous fungi.
4. Luminous natural phenomena, such as the Will o' the Wisp and Min Min Light, represent sightings of luminous owls. 
Only the Barn Owl is considered in this paper, because all the evidence gathered points to that species…”
- Fred Silcock, "A Review of accounts of luminosity in Barn Owls Tyto alba," Australian Raptor Studies II - Birds Australia Monograph 3 (1997). 

14 February 2011

History Is a Great Dust Heap

The beautiful Greek undressed when she went to rest for the night, yet her bed wanted the delicate and refined ventilators - sheets. When she arose from her blanket covered plane of repose, to array herself in woollen, she had no stays, nor stockings to add to her comfort, and a buckle only, or a skewer instead of a paper of pins, to make her garments air tight. If this perfumed model of womankind, with her painted cheeks and lips and eyebrows, did not indulge in the luxury of the shift, neither had her lord any shirt, nor drawers, nor hose, nor buttons, nor handkerchief, nor pockets, nor lining to his cloak, nor gloves,-items essential to the perfection of the most common modern portable climate.
- Walter Bernan [Robert Stuart Meikleham], On the History and Art of Warming and Ventilating Rooms and Buildings: By Open Fires, Hypocausts, German, Dutch, Russian, and Swedish Stoves, Steam, Hot Water, Heated Air, Heat of Animals, and Other Methods; with Notices of the Progress of Personal and Fireside Comfort, and of the Management of Fuel, p.38.

06 February 2011

Super Bowl Notes

The Stadium

A Cyclopean tomb.

National anthem

Having free-jazz alpehornist Fritz Entegeliebter play it would be an improvement.


Beneath a frantic surface the primary quality of the advertisements is one of exhaustion.

Halftime show

Bringing a herd of donkeys out to bray a bit then defecate on the 50 yard line would be an improvement.

The game

I met a double murderer once (wife, mother). We had a friendly conversation about football.

La Siècle de la Raison

The eighteenth century has been called the century of reason. I’ve never understood that: they’re all mad! They give reason a responsibility which it simply can’t bear, it’s too weak. The Encyclopedists wanted to know everything...But that direct relation between the self and – as the Italians say – lo scibile, the knowable, was already broken.
- Samuel Beckett.

I am willing you should call this the Age of Frivolity as you do, and would not object if you had named it the Age of Folly, Vice, Frenzy, Brutality, Daemons, Buonaparte, Tom Paine, or the Age of the Burning Brand from Bottomless Pit, or anything but the Age of Reason.
- John Adams.

02 February 2011

Zambia Report

Heightening  ethnic tensions in Zambia. The Nkoyas, Mbundas, Chokwes, Luyanas, Luba-Lundas, Luchazi, and the Muzungus are not getting along, and Harrison Musonda reports the Barosteians want to secede (I think the Barosteians are Lozis, but you never know).

China has been busy in Zambia - building Chinatowns, beating miners, shooting miners, “developing” the local media. It’s not only Zambia; everywhere you go in Africa there's a Chinaman with a tiny finger in a pie. China’s foreign policy must seem quaint to the progressive experts ("Minerals? We're way beyond minerals.") who oversee our State Department.

At a wedding in Zambia, a “jubilant” man’s attempt to “express happiness” reminds us silence is the perfectest herald of joy.

30 January 2011

Reheated Cabbage

The sharing of praise for all who suffered and aided the suffering made me think of another speech, Henry V’s at Agincourt. That is a kind of proleptic memorial for all who fought with their brother the king, looking forward to the future celebration of such heroes. The prologue to the Agincourt act describes how visits from the king cheered his men, giving them “a little touch of Harry in the night.” Shakespeare makes oblique reference here to “the king’s touch,” which was supposed to heal people. In a more superstitious age that is how people might have seen the fact that the wounded congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, first opened her eyes right after Obama visited her. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, her friend who was in the hospital room when she opened her eyes, says that the moment seemed as miraculous as when her children were born.
The loudest cheers at the Tucson speech were for the news that “Gabby,” as she was known to all her many friends, was recovering. Perhaps there was the sound, there, of a nation recovering.
- Author, professor, and "public intellectual" Garry Wills, on President Obama's Jan. 12 speech  in Tuscon.

24 January 2011

Invited Guests

Disturbing notice in the Whitby Gazette:
Whitby to host clergy conference
WHITBY will be the venue for a summer conference hosted by the Bishop of Whitby to which guests from all over the world are being invited.
It is due to take place between the 11 and 15 July and will look at how the Celtic tradition can help the Church in its work today.
The conference will consist of four major sessions featuring internationally known speakers as well as field trips, services and time for relaxation.
Delegates will be based in Whitby but will have the opportunity to visit other parts of North Yorkshire...
Obviously, the idea is to lure a large number of clergyman to Whitby, then ritualistically murder them. Let us hope my exposing this diabolic plan will deter the wicked Whitbians from bringing it to bloody fruition.

17 January 2011

Forthcoming Fiction

Excerpts from my soon to be published mystery novel, Dead Man’s Trombone:
I lit a Pall Mall with one hand and lazily steered the big Buick down the darkened streets with the other, because I‘m the type of guy who disregards fuel economy, Surgeon General’s warnings, and traffic safety. In the back seat was a black case. Inside the case was a dead man’s trombone.
“I enjoyed your set of post-bop improvisations,” I said, as I lit a Pall Mall.
“Cool, man. A lot of cats don’t get what I’m trying to do with harmonic structures. I‘m not sure what you want from me, though.”
“There’s something I would like you to take a look at.”
I flipped open the case and spun it around. The jazzbo’s eyes widened.
“Damn! Is that a dead man’s trombone?”
I opened the door, and found her lying on the couch, the dead man’s trombone on top of her, nestled in the cleavage of her ample bosom. I lit a Pall Mall. For once, the unflappable detective was thoroughly flapped.
I lit a Pall Mall, then gave him a cold stare. “You’re going to tell me where Rickey Mivers is,” I said.
“If I don’t?”
I stared colder.
“See this?” I pressed the dead man’s trombone up against his neck.
“What’s that, a slidey horn?”
“It’s a dead man’s trombone, idiot. Tell me where Rickey Mivers is, or you’ll be playing tunes on it, Bulgarian style. Get it?”
“Actually, no.”

What others are saying about Dead Man’s Trombone:

“The ending will haunt you, the way that goat haunts me.” - Prof. Glen Morangie

“Transcends the hardboiled genre.“ - Joanne Pearson, Whitby Literary Review

“I couldn’t put it down, what with all the slam bang action, twists and turns, detecting and whatnot.“ - Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov

13 January 2011

The New Studies Are Here

Pterygotid sea scorpion, tickling a bird.

Pterygotid sea scorpions, 8 foot long arthropods that lived hundreds of millions of years ago were not fearsome predators, a new study says.  Their oversized, lethal looking claws were actually weak and clumsy, making them the buffoons of the Paleozoic ocean. Scientists exposing and embarrassing them now, after all this time, strikes me as mean-spirited.

Another new study says “giant pandas need old-growth forests as much as bamboo forests.” Am I the only one who finds Pandas’ demands excessive? I've never seen them do anything to warrant the adulation heaped on them, either.

After observing a group of Ugandan chimpanzees for 14 years, a pair of easily entertained scientists concluded “young females in one group of African chimpanzees use sticks as dolls more than their male peers do.” I forwarded the report to the Women’s Studies department of a local university, with the suggestion they deploy faculty to the jungle, to teach the chimps how to overcome stereotypical gender roles.

10 January 2011

Lost Trails, Lost Cities

On weekends, certain parts of downtown are virtually deserted. Sometimes I walk through them, like an explorer walking for the first time through the remains of a colossal city, built then abandoned for unknown reasons by some deservedly extinct civilization. That ominous, slab-sided tower - was it a monument to a god of death? Behind that building's hideous mirrored façade - did sacrifices take place?  That convenience store - it's open? I think I’ll purchase some Altoids.

06 January 2011


The President and the Speaker of the House smoke cigarettes, yet both are so feeble neither will lift a finger to reduce the burden of taxes and regulations which weigh upon ordinary tobacco hobbyists. Embodiments of the modern male type, they've been drained and transformed by prevailing sentiments; not leaders, they wriggle about the nation’s capitol like some strange species of giant, fleshy earthworm. Their inaction is a tragedy for America, as the graph below irrefutably demonstrates:


Alan Gribben, who pretends to be a scholar of Mark Twain, has edited new versions of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer with the word “nigger” removed:
The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with "slave" when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the "n" word ("My mother said it's only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people") and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. "My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it."
Instead of sanitizing books written in more civilized eras, liberals should do what other cults have done to handle taboos, and devise some sort of purification ritual adherents can perform after reading or hearing “nigger,” or any other “unclean” words. A little self flagellation with a stalk of organically grown bok choy, followed by a bottled spring water ablution, would do the trick.

From "Materia Poetica"

"To make a clam play an accordion is to invent not to discover." - Wallace Stevens.