Random Thoughts on a Snow Day

  • There’s been quite a bit in the news about the holocaust-denying bishop. Lots of folks think it’s uncool that His Holiness un-ex-communicated (recommunicated?) him, because, well, he’s a fracking holocaust denier. Comparatively few people have pointed out the church’s position on this: “Saying the Holocaust didn’t happen is untrue. But that doesn’t make it heresy.” C’mon. If you could be excommunicated for being a jackass, Augustine of Hippo would never have made Sainthood.
  • Another thing hardly anyone is mentioning is that this bishop wasn’t excommunicated for being a Holocaust denier. He was excommunicated for the more or less totally unrelated matter of the fact that he’d been appointed bishop by a breakaway archbishop who didn’t have the authority to appoint bishops. The whole sect got excommunicated en masse for breaking away from the Church.
  • Speaking of news, I’m told that newspapers are failing. Everyone is up in arms and trying to find a way to save them. Most of these proposals are following the example of the music industry and the movie industry: if new media is hurting the sales of your old media, try to force new media to suck. There was a fellow on The Daily Show whose proposal was “Work out a way to stop people from getting news on-line for free.” Has anyone actually sat down and answered the question: So what if newspapers fail? I mean, really, aside from the fact that they’ve existed for as long as anyone can remember, is there any actual value to newspapers in the world we live in? Obviously, it sucks that newspapermen will be out of work, but, well, no one’s bitching about all the lay-offs in the cuneiform industry, and no one’s looking out for the old fashioned manual typsetters’ union. I mean, really. It’s not like dead tree format is somehow an inherently better way to receive news. In fact, it’s worse. The day Mr. Obama won the election, this news appeared on the front page of (almost) every newspaper in the country. The day Mr. Obama took office, this news appeared on the front page of (almost) every newspaper in the country. There was two, maybe three articles worth of news in these events, but there were hundreds of articles published and millions of trees deadened to deliver this piece of information. Which is fine, I think that the election of President Obama is awfully newsworthy. But there is only a finite amount of dead tree. So every article about the Obama election pushed out one article about something else. A newspaper must by its very nature deliver only those stories which are of the broadest interest, and it can cover only a very few of them in any sort of depth. Back in 1997, when I was about 2 or 3 weeks in college, two newsworthy events happened at nearly the same time. But there’s only so much news you can cover if you’re constrained to filling the corpse of a tree, so the death of a popular British noblewoman pretty much stole the news cycle from the death of one of the greatest humanitarians of our time. When I was young, my dad got the Evening Sun, which was the penultimate of what had once been, I think, five editions opf the newspaper that came out in a single day. But in the late 1980s, well before the rise of the internet, the Evening Sun was found surplus to requirement, and the paper was only published once a day. Which means that you get one set of articles in the space of 24 hours, each of which takes time to write, and has to be brought to your house via a car or truck from its place of publication. Which means that you are never going to read anything in your daily paper that is less than 12 hours old, often more like 24-48 hours old. Newspapers aren’t searchable. They don’t include cross-reference hyperlinks. If I’m interested in the content of an article, I can’t ask the newspaper to show me more about this subject. Look, folks. It’s not that my generation is a bunch of attention-deficit, myspace-loving, twitter-pated know-nothings. It’s that, and I can not stress this enough, Newspapers are simply not a very good way to transport news to people compared to the internet. If he coulda, Ben Franklin totally would have been writing Pennsylvania-gazette.typepad.org
  • Of course, you can’t wrap fish in a blog, but that’s not much of a reason to keep newspapers around
  • Speaking of new media, folks are up in arms as usual about kids using things like myspace and facebook and all that, because these are SCARY NEW MEDIA and not wholesome ways of social interaction like banding together to go outside and play improvised sports games using sticks and strings, egg cars, walk down railroad tracks and through leech-infested swamps to find a dead body, evade the Fratellis while searching for the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willy, bond with members of other social cliques during detention, torment classmates on suspicion of homosexuality, or all those other wholesome social interactions they misremember from when they were children. Again, has anyone ever actually checked to see whether there’s any kind of measurable detrimental effect of this? That it’s really unhealthy for kids to make friends based on mutual interests and shared goals, values, and the like, rather than on an accident of geography? Also, shouldn’t it be good that kids spend more time reading and writing? 3ven 1f they r writing 2 a bff4eva lol?
  • Speaking of children and wholesome social interaction, I’ve hit that age where my friends are starting to become parents, and therefore by proxy, I’m learning how much childraising has changed since I was myself a child and got raised. We often stop and pause to note all these “ridiculous” safety precautions everyone’s expected to take all the time and how cherished childhood institutions like “Stick your baby in a small cage and leave it alone for a few hours while you do something else,” “Let your child play with things that produce heat, have sharp corners, or break into tiny swallowable parts”, and walker frames have all gone the way of the dodo. Invariably, someone recalsl that we had all those fun dangerous things, and nothing bad happened (This effect is even more prominent when dealing with people of my parents’ generation who were, I believe, as children, this is at the age of like 3 and under, if I understand, play alone in the woods, with guns and knives, wearing clothing which was made of — I think there had been a study done proving it was healthy — gasoline-soaked asbestos and chewing tobacco, all the while drinking straight whiskey (it helps with teething).). We keep forgetting that when we were kids (and, more especially, when our parents were kids), every once in a while, a young child would die or be horribly disfigured, and that was totally okay. I mean, it was sad, sure, but, hey, sometimes babies just drop dead for no reason. Seriously. This was common enough that both of my parents had siblings who died in infancy.
  • Speaking of disapprovable safety, however, I had to drive Leah’s car just a short distance a couple of weeks ago. Her car has something like six hundred airbags. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on how many accidents were caused by airbags — the added bulk of their storage causes all the trim on her car to stick out about three inches farther than it needs to. She’s got blind spots you could park a Buick in, because those airbags are obstructing the view.
  • Incidentally, Leah and I live together now. We are still working on integrating our separate gigantic stockpiles of possessions. Leah is much more comfortable stacking things up into tall, unsteady piles than I am. Whenever she does this, I hear John Cleese reminding me, and I can not stress this enough, that there are still many things which have not been put on top of other things.
  • Immediately prior to her moving in, I bought a new boiler, as mine was busted. Because googling did not easily get me to an answer for this until much tryign and hand-vetting of answers, here is a google-friendly summary of an issue you may encounter if you are ever in this situation:
    I have STEAM HEAT. At the END OF CYCLE I get a LOUD WATER HAMMER or STEAM HAMMER sound from NEAR THE BOILER. I wanted to know HOW TO STOP STEAM HAMMER SOUND NEAR BOILER AT END OF CYCLE. It turned out that if the WATER LEVEL in the boiler is low enough that AT THE END OF CYCLE when as much of the water has turned to steam as is going to, the level of LIQUID water in the system can drop to a point where even though the LOW WATER CUTOFF hasn’t tripped, the water level is below the NIPPLE IN THE HARTFORD LOOP. Which basically means that the opening where the WET RETURN system (which is a pipe that hangs off of the main steam pipe so that the returning water doesn’t have to push past the steam to get back into the boiler) comes into the boileris above the water. If that happens, the returning STEAM can get into the HARTFORD LOOP. The whole system is connected because this is a single pipe system, but there’s a loop that is physically closer to the ground, where the water will accumulate, following the force of gravity, while the steam, which is lighter, will stay in the the top loop. The Hartford Loop is a looping section between the two which exists to equalize the pressure between the side of the system that is full of steam going out to your radiators and water coming back from them. If steam is forced into the bottom loop, it will bang around in there causing a LOUD WATER HAMMER SOUND which occurs right at the END of the cycle. HTH. HAND.
  • Also, I just love to say “NIPPLE IN THE HARTFORD LOOP”:
  • I also had the living room painted red and the bedroom painted green. I am red-green colorblind and this gets me out of ever being allowed to make important decorating decisions. The dining room is battleship gray, because we neglected to tell Leah’s uncle that he didn’t need to prime it when we hired him to do the painting.
  • I got the place recarpeted as well. (We are now into the range of about $10k I have spent in the past three months on this place). When carpeting, there’s a tool you use to pull the carpet taught to the wall. It’s got a heavy end with hooks that goes against the carpet and a padded end you strike with your knee repeatedly as hard as you can. I wonder if “Carpeter’s Knee” is the common name for some sort of chronic knee injury.
  • Yesterday, I got to stay home from work on account of snow. Specifically, on account of the three-inch accumulating, all-day, school and business-closing snowstorm. In March.
  • New theory: Starbuck’s dad is Daniel The Cylon Everyone Thought Was Dead
  • Eleventh Hour: Based on a british show which ran 4 episodes and wasn’t very good in spite of starring Patrick Stewart, this American show is pretty good and is the only TV show I have ever seen which got that being a genius is not the same thing as being autistic. But halfway through the season, the writers seem to have said to themselves: “Y’know what this show needs? A comedy relief black guy.” So they added one.
  • Knight Rider ditched half its cast and reformatted to make it more like its predecessor. They also removed their first-half-of-the-season trope of having at least one girl in a skimpy bikini in every episode. Which was The only good thing about the show. The voice of KARR was provided by Peter Cullen, who did the original KARR, and also the voice of Optimus Prime. The body of KARR appears to have been also played by Optimus Prime. But we only see KARR for about 3 seconds, and it’s filmed just like the incomprehensible fast-moving jittery scenes from Transformers, plus it’s night so I can’t really tell. On the plus side, the past few episodes have featured a cute kid, a corrupt hick cop, and a pair of humorous mentally-handicapped car theives, so they really are getting closer to the style of the original. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, it was only by the standards of the early 80s that the original Knight Rider failed to suck.
  • ‘Frack’ has entirely replaced ‘Fuck’ in my normal usage except when I am in physical pain. Now, middle school kids, don’t frack this up for us by using it so much that they promote it to be a real cuss word.
  • I also have started using the phrase “Surplus to Requirements” a lot
  • Rush Limbaugh 2001-2008: “Democrats hate america because they won’t support the president just because they disapprove of his policies, and if they really loved america, they’d want Bush to succeed”. Rush Limbaugh 2009: “I want Obama to fail. I hope america goes into the toilet because then we will win.”
  • Speaking of Republicans, I’m not really a pinko, but every time I hear a republican scream “They’re trying to turn America SOCIALIST!”, I think, “Yeah, and that would suck because laissez-faire capitalism has worked so well for us recently.”

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