Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Thursday, 2021.06.24
I used to have a drinking problem. Now I love the stuff.

2007.06.04

Monday Evening Roses

Rose

Rose

2007.05.28

From The Good-Doggie-Gooooooood-Doggie Department

I don’t get it. This is America. We can put a man on the moon, evaporate milk and, most miraculously of all, find a way to entertain ourselves with the likes of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. So why is it we can’t figure out a way to get coyotes to attend some anger management classes? There ought to be a LAW that makes them behave, damn it! Please, think of the pets! If is saves at least one Bichon Frise it will have been worth it.

Coyote Warning

Came across this sign while on a bike ride this afternoon. Huge sections of field and brush were marked off, crime scene tape style, with these big scary red signs planted at regular intervals. Any PETA persons available to get in there and teach these pesky coyotes how to play nice in the neighborhood? I’m sure all you’ll need to do is sit down with them and show them you care. Perhaps some hugs and kisses will help, too.

Monday Afternoon Columbine

Columbine

2007.05.25

TSA – Safe Haven For Creepy Cretins With Stunted Self-Esteem

Ever since grade school, I’ve had to deal with a particular attitude among hyper-insecure short people whereby they have an impulsive need to somehow “prove” themselves by doing me harm. “Get the big guy, it’ll look good and if I lose, well hey, I lost to the big guy and I sill look good.” It’s not just me. All big guys seem to have to deal with this at some point. As the big guy, it means either way you loose. In grade school, it meant getting picked on a lot and occasionally beaten up. Wasn’t much of a fighter thanks, in part, to that “turn the other cheek” crap. On the rare occassion I did fight back, it was a net loss because the poor, smaller underdog usually gathered sympathy from those unaware the runt initiated the conflict.

When the teenage years brought muscle to my lanky frame, the intimidation factor pretty much closed the door on the physical proving grounds, even though I was still clinically shy and quite the accomplished wimp. (Adding an Aikido black belt to my set-O-skills sealed this avenue off permanently.) At this point, the weak-ass diminutive efforts at sniping hits of self-esteem off of others perceived as self-confident becomes much more covert. Also at this point, it is no longer limited to just males. The covert field is a level one that offers satisfaction for both genders.

It’s easy to recognize the attempts at marginalizing who I am or otherwise confine my choices like a hawk recognizes a rabbit. Water off a duck’s back, these days. Ignoring the attempt is all I have energy for. There are, however, occasions where I have no choice but to deal with such stunted emotional growth. And it’s always situations where the self-esteem starved cretin is on the other side of the fence, taunting from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch, as it were. The secondary and tertiary consequences of September 11, 2001, and the rise in power of the TSA security agent at airports is a real time example of this environment.

It’s a low level job with a relatively low skill threshold to qualify. But you get the uniform and, with the full weight and power of federal law, you get to ply your trade from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch. An attractive environment for the feeble-esteemed. What a joy they must feel, knowing that with a wave of their hand they can force whom ever to do the “little security dance” for their pleasure. (The fact most of the airport security hoopla is all theater belongs in a separate post. Better yet, go here.)

When traveling, I tend to get tapped for the extra security screening. Not that I’m sporting the terrorist look, rather, I suspect, because I’m tall, muscular and probably have a displeased look on my face due solely to the fact I have to squeeze my 6′ 5″ frame into a puny lawn chair inside an aluminum tube and remain frozen there for the duration of the flight. But maaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’m just having paranoid dilutions. So I started keeping track. So far, every time I’ve been tapped, it’s been by members of the 5′ 5″ or less ruck of TSA agents.

Still…water off a duck’s back. The strategy of choice is to acknowledge the runt only as much as necessary and get the hell out of there. But like with the school yard, the runt knows they get to win and all I can do is loose. So, I do the “extra security dance”, update the mental score card and go on my way. A recent trip to Dallas was a little different. It’s the closest I’ve come to empirical proof that this attitude exists within the TSA ranks.

It was a short business trip, so I had one carry on with everything I needed, including all those extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels sealed in the required 1 qt. zip-lock bag. I do my dance – shoes off, belt off, watch off, wallet out, laptop out, bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels out, boarding pass held in my teeth…

All goes fine. I’m on the other side getting dressed again and I look up to see a short, fat, unattractive female TSA agent holding up my bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels. She has one of those half grins going. And I think, “Uh-oh.”

“Is this yours?”, she asks. (No courtesy “Sir” at the end. Uh-oh.)

“Yes”, say I.

Slowly, deliberately she takes out the toothpaste. “This is too big.” I just look at her. She unrolls the end of the tube down a bit and points to the label, “It’s 5 ounces and has to be less than 3.” I just look at her. She is holding that more than half empty tube of toothpaste up with a condescending, self-satisfied smile on her face. I imagine the same smile slithers across her face after finishing off that quart of vanilla crunch ice cream each night back at the hovel. But there was more to the vibe. If I could read her mind (scary thought), I suspect there was something like “Go ahead, you bastard. Give me a reason to take you down. Make my day.” Given this blubbery TSA hag was wearing a TSA uniform – the most powerful, illogical, contradictory, uncaring authority on the concourse that can blow my life clean out of the water – I wasn’t feeling lucky.

I trade glances with the lady next in line and think, “I’ve already lost here. But, I still can choose how much I want to loose.” I could have helped TSA hag with the math, but that would have meant getting to know TSA hag much more than I cared to in this or any other life time. I chose to loose the toothpaste.

It’s schadenfreude, to be sure. Any bureaucracy that gives this kind of power over the minutia of other people’s lives gets exploited by the emotional runts it hires to implement it’s intrusive, ineffective policies.

[Edit History]

2007.05.25

I’m sure these petty types lash out at others for similar reasons against different traits. I happen to be tall and male, so that’s the filter I get. For being pretty, well dressed or intelligent…not so much.

2007.05.27

Grammar and typo fixes.

2007.05.24

Urban Scare Crow – The Fine Print

I’ve written previously about my urban scare crow. It has served me well for close to 3 years now. A recent rash of arrogant, smug, self-rightous doooooo-gooders of various sorts have seen fit to interpret the scare crow’s message, shall we way, rather liberally. “I’m not really a solicitor. I’m here for an important cause.” Well, it had better be to tell me my house is on fire, the locus are coming or you’re bleeding to death.

Turns out, their important cause is to tell me what heinous damage I’m doing to the planet animals my soul what ever gross nominalization they have printed on their clipboard and how money and/or a signature can heal my evil ways. This has prompted an addendum to the urban scare crow:

Urban Scare Crow - The Fine Print

Lucky for the clinically thick I lack the time to chase after my 50 bucks. But hey, at least I know of one hobby to pursue in retirement.

🙄

2007.05.21

Monday Morning Iris

Iris

2007.05.20

Blog Haiku #20

The dog and her bone
Echoes
The bird at the feeder.

2007.05.14

They Chose…Poorly

What freaky non-reality are our educators swimming in before class?

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

“The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation “involved poor judgment.”

What’s next? Push the kids in front of a moving bus that stops just in time so they get that all valuable learning about evil, dangerous buses? How about forcing their hands on a stove burner that’s just rigged to look hot? Assistant Principal Don Bartch said this was intended as a “learning experience.” Just what were they expecting the kids to learn? Fear and terror as a way of life? Principal Stephens is right. Sadly, she probably fails to realize it involves years of poor judgment on the part of educators stretching back decades.

2007.05.08

Animals Are Such…Animals!

Another case, via the Darwin Awards, of a human being surprised by the fact animals are not human:

(August 2006, Florida) A scuba diver was bitten on the lip when he attempted to kiss a nurse shark. The bite was a surprise to the diver, as he had already kissed hundreds of sharks. He explained, “You pick ’em up, rub their belly, scratch ’em, hug them, you might as well give ’em a smooch while you’re out there.”

Yes, I’m certain with over 450 million years of evolution behind them, sharks have a highly developed sense of “hug” and “smooch.” This particular shark probably and a momentary lapse into the evolutionary dark ages and confused “hug and smooch” with “slash and tear.” Oooops.

Keep at it, Diver Dan. I hear the really big sharks are just as cuddly as a bear.

2007.04.29

The Truth Never Changes

Except when it does. The Truth defined by Claudius Ptolemy stood for some 1,400 years before the Truth defined by Nicolaus Copernicus ground Ptolemy’s cosmological Truth to dust. The Truth had changed. When one Truth, however, stands as long and has as deep a roots as Ptolemy’s, it can take a great deal of time to be eroded by the new Truth. Such was the case with Copernicus’ Truth. When so many of a society’s beliefs have been built upon a particular Truth, society is loath to relinquish the old Truth in favor of the new.

It is the same for personal beliefs and what each of us perceive as the “Truth.” An attorney friend of mine leverages this inertia when questioning witnesses in court. He begins with “Would you agree the Truth never changes?” The answer to this question is usually “Yes.” The one exception I know of was when this question was asked of a research MD expert witness. Science types, if they learned the idea of science at all, know the Truth changes. But the average bear believes the Truth, as they understand it, is as solid as a block of stone. My attorney friend then skillfully guides the witness into acknowledging the Truth of the case he is presenting. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

When the battle is between one who knows the Truth changes and one who believe it does not, my money is on the one who knows they are dancing on quicksand.

There are, of course, areas of human experience where the unacknowledged absurdity of immutable Truth make the experience what it is. Take this for example…

The Bean

It’s “The Bean”, as the locals call it, in Chicago. I took this picture last week while there on business. Is it art? Does it reveal a Truth to you?

Most of the visual arts are lost on me. I know what I like. Asian calligraphy and the works of David Lee and Frances Ku are particular favorites. But “The Bean” wasn’t revealing any Truths for me that day. That is, not until I looked no further than my own feet. There it was. The Truth revealed just as clearly as if it had been, well, chiseled in stone.

AT&T Plaza

It’s a commercial. (I did say most of the visual arts are lost on me. That’s probably why I play piano and cello rather than muck about with paint or clay.) But what about this…

Wacker 1

Found this after wandering East on Wacker to Lake Michigan. Again, no Truths were revealed, not even chiseled in stone. But I do know it had puppies…

Wacker 2

I shall leave the subject of Truth from Art alone and instead focus on the Truth that drives, reassures and comforts most of us. It’s the Truth of “reality.” But here again, there is an often unacknowledged contamination of subjectivity. There is the Truth of facts and the Truth derived from those facts, the interpreted Truth.

Just West of where I live can be found baked into the stone footprints from some long dead giant lizard. Virtually everyone agrees to this fact. The footprints are there. The creature, and any such creatures like it, have long since vanished from the planet. Where the Truth of these footprints becomes schizophrenic is in how the fact of those footprints are interpreted. My interpretation, and the resulting Truth I carry around, says those footprints were left there millions of years ago. Others interpret those prints has being no older than a few thousands years, what with the Earth not being older than some particular reference claims. A single Truth of fact with two associated, yet incompatible interpreted Truths.

A popular and politically correct Truth to hang your hat on these days has to do with global warming and whether or not it’s an established fact. My read is that it isn’t. Man’s experience with the weather is just too small a window from which to claim having any kind of clear view of what the global climate is doing. One hundred years ago, some scientists and much of the press was all abuzz with claims that the next ice age had begun.

I believe it is a good thing to reduce the amount of pollution we, as a species, spew into the atmosphere. I’ve believed that since high school when the high pollution alerts in Denver, compounded by the city’s infamous temperature inversions, left the air smelling like a sewer for weeks. Today, even with the population having growing significantly, the air is much cleaner. The global warming hysteria has not deepened my conviction in this regard.

So Al Gore is burning tons of jet fuel to haul is ass around the globe in order to set up circus tents and parade his “An Inconvenient Truth” dog and pony show. (Sidebar: When was it the Academy created a slide show category for it’s award?) I’m left with several questions. Who’s Truth is Gore selling? Inconvenient for whom? How can such a complex issue contain just one Truth? Frankly, I don’t think the Earth gives a damn about us. 4 billion years ago it was a sea of molten rock with no atmosphere. Life has been wiped clean from the surface and recreated anew probably more times than we know. The hysteria about global warming is a self-serving one and those on Gore’s band wagon are more interested about their own skin that saving the planet. The planet will save its self and will do so with the same indifferent cruelty and violence from which it began.

Listening to Gore and his evangelists leaves me with the creepy feeling that the solution to the “problem” of global warming is for others to solve (usually through some sort of sacrifice) so that they can continue living the life to which they have become accustom. (Man, are they going to be pissed if some killer asteroid is discovered for which they can’t buy impact offsets.) Setting the problem to rights, assuming it exists, will take something Al Gore and the eco-elites are apparently incapable of: An Inconvenient Effort.

[Edit History]

2007.05.01

Interesting article from ScienceDaily (“Earth’s Climate Is Seesawing, According To Climate Researchers“) illustrates my point about our window to the nature of Earth’s climate being rather small. For all their credentials, the scientists really don’t know for sure what is happening with the climate. Those that claim to be sure, probably aren’t honest scientists. (H/T Bryan at Hot Air)

2007.05.02

Added link to David Lee’s work at Lahaina Galleries.

2007.04.25

Flying Pig From Seattle, WA

Looks like Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments “found” my $2,000 deposit. Apparently, “posted no later than March 31st” means “April 16th” on the Jensen business calendar. I’ll find out tomorrow if the bank is impressed. Assuming it’s good, it means a modification to the Jensen Musical Instruments web site. Until Mr. Jensen compensates me for lost interest and the cost of the Jensen Musical Instruments web site, it will stand as a warning to others who may be considering doing business with Mr. Jensen. I have heard privately from several people similarly burned by Mr. Jensen that my efforts to shine light on his business practices have yielded positive results for them as well. To that end, I am satisfied and consider it a small miracle my $2,000 deposit was ever returned.

Refund Check

[Edit History]

2007.04.26

Several grammar changes.

2007.04.15

Being Physically Sick Is Better Than…

…watching daytime television.

I was sick for a few days last week. Bad cold. When ever bugs like that descend upon my person for a visit, my distinct preference is to be sick 100% and push through the fight toward wellness. It’s rare when I’ll take medication of any sort. And all the cold/flu fix-it-up potions and pills from the Super Drugs-R-Us Store do squat for 1) making me feel better and 2) shortening the illness. My immune system is faaaaaaaaar more capable of accomplishing the task of returning to health than any pharmaceutically manufactured cold remedy could ever be. Supporting my body’s natural abilities toward optimum health is where I put the effort. So it’s lots of sleep, soups, teas and generally sweating through it.

Convalescing as I was, I tuned into broadcast television for the first time in over 18 months. I don’t have cable and except for the occasional nature show on PBS, the only thing showing on my television set was fed in through the DVD player. (Netflix is your friend!) Watching for about an hour had me feeling worse than before, and not just because of the cold. Flipping through the channels (all 10 or so of the regular broadcast channels) revealed nothing but crap. The sinking feeling I got, the feeling that had me feeling generally worse than before tuning in, was that people, lots of them, are actually watching this junk and most likely enjoying it. And as far as the news…the phrase “sound bite” suggests a generous portion of information when compared to what is actually delivered. That’s what passes for reporting? Being fed such nano-news nuggets leaves viewers with the feeling they are “informed?”

Broadcast television will continue to be excluded from my diet. And I won’t even have to work at it.

I found repair after a few moments with the elegant splendor of nature. The tulips survived the snow…

Tulips

…and the apple blossoms are on the verge of exploding.

Apple Blossoms

Alas, I will miss this treasured proclaimation of Spring this year as work will have me on the road this coming week. Hey, do you suppose hotel television is better in that margarine sort of way? I’ll explore and report back.

2007.04.09

Blog Haiku #19

Friend and foe.
Fiend and fair.
One becomes the other.

2007.04.08

Althouse’s Law

[The blue ribbon panel of scientists at the prestigious Java Zen Institute for the Proliferation of Inconsequential Science and Humanities debated long and hard on whether the effects described herein should more appropriately be labeled “Althouse’s Catch,” but in the end settled on “Althouse’s Law.” The simple reason being that law professors ought to have laws named for them. That and a threatened law suit from the Amalgamated Union of Catchers, Baggers, Trappers and Boxers. Since it couldn’t be substantiated that Althouse has caught so much as a single cold in her life, the panel elected to avoid a reckless and litigious war of definitions. Besides, catches should be named after judges. – GPE]

Althouse’s Law: A law of discussions whereby the central point of an argument is increasingly marginalized by exaggerating, accentuating or obsessing on either the example elements of the argument or trivial, yet entertaining, side bars. The most common end result when Althouse’s Law has taken effect in a discussion is that the examples initially used to illustrate the original point or the trivial side bars become themselves the central theme of the argument. The effect of Althouse’s Law is accelerated if the examples or trivial side bars include so called “hot button” references such as breasts, divas or tears.

Similar to Godwin’s Law, when a discussion is trapped by the effects of Althouse’s Law, all meaningful discourse related to the original argument is no longer possible. Left unchecked or unrecognized by those caught in the flow away from the original argument, the extreme and ultimate end of Althouse’s Law results in the unfortunate casting of the unwitting into Althouse’s Vortex1.

Althouse’s Law was named for University of Wisconsin Law Professor Ann Althouse, who’s personal blog was instrumental in elucidating much of the underlying effects described by Althouse’s Law.

_______________________________

1 Althouse’s Vortex is a theoretical blogosphere construct. There is much anecdotal evidence that Althouse’s Vortex exists, however no one has ever returned from having been caught in such a structure so very little is know about its nature. What is know is that those who claim to “get” Althouse generally end up in the Althouse Vortex. There seems to be a force at work in regards to the Althouse Vortex that is similar to determining whether or not one is a “hacker.” You’re not a hacker until someone else, preferably a recognized hacker, calls you a hacker. Likewise, you don’t “get” Althouse unless someone else, preferably someone on the “gets it” list, says you “get” Althouse. This quandary was at the heart of the debate on whether to call the effect defined in this post Althouse’s Law or Althouse’s Catch.

Evidence of having fallen into Althouse’s Vortex usually comes in the form of repeated ad hominem attacks against a particular author even though the attacker may, in fact, agree with the author.

[For the record, I don’t get Althouse. At all. – GPE]

2007.04.07

Dog Sense

If you’re a puppy and your owner has just given you a bath prior to a trip to the vet, what do you do just before leaving? Why, you sneak outside and dig in the muddy flower beds, of course.

Rose


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