Saturday, July 26, 2014

The California Pear Flag

The internet hoax and urban legend debunking site,, had a neat little hoax of its own with regard to the origins of the flag of California:

The story goes as follows:

Back in 1846, Capt. Jedediah Bartlett, leader of a band of rebels fighting against the Mexican authorities in California, supposedly drew up a flag for the future state.   On it he included a lone star and a pear, adopted to represent the emerging republic's horticulture.  He was also an amateur plant hybrid scientist, and developed the juicy Bartlett pear. His words on the design instructions were misread and the flag maker inserted a bear on the flag instead of a pear.  Whoops, his bad.  But when they got the Bear Flag, they liked it.

Since then, California had a bear on its state flag.

Can you bear with me on this?  The Museum of Hoaxes reports this as being a hoax.  And a careful reading of the Lost Legends category would establish that the Pear Flag was really made up.  

Apparently, I just didn't read it right the first time.  Darn it, I like the pear flag.  It's cute.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Really Bad Pick-up Lines

Guaranteed to be cheesy, and not to be used under any circumstances.  Unless you're just going through the motions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nationalizing Bikinis

Recently Salon on-line magazine had a provocative article in which the writer proposed nationalizing such corporations such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook.  I have no idea if this was just to give Jeff Bezos an upset stomach, to make Republicans' heads explode, or simply to engage in a little bit of "look at me; I'm provocative" writing.  I don't know.  This isn't going to happen, any more than a President less than two years' away from the end of his second term is likely to be impeached.

Oh well, politics is

". . . . a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

[With apologies to Bill Shakespeare.]

But suppose our sicko Federal government decided to nationalize the bikini industry?  Given their track record of successes with the VA, FEMA, GM, the IRS, and the Post Office, this would be another cock up to crow about!

Well, the first thing they would do is write national standards for swimsuits and set up government overseers of the swimsuit industry.

Next they would appoint some Bikini Top Administrator* from some dismal cold, Eastern M state to run the whole thing.  This could serve as an opportunity for political patronage.

Since they would have a lot of free time, the overseers would quickly standardize models and colors of bikinis.  For example they would phase out the string bikini and the micro bikini, arguing that its style origins are foreign; and that the minimalist fabric requirements is detrimental to the remaining part of the nationalized garment industry.  As far as color is concerned, basic black, light gray, and dark gray color schemes would be allowed as per government regulations.  But, even better, the simple purchase of a bikini would require that extensive forms be filled out so that the bureaucratic machinery could properly regulate things.

It goes without saying that wearing Daisy Dukes and a top was now illegal.  Jessica Simpson cried.

The sale of swimwear would be only in government stores and purchase subject to review by a screening committee.  These stores would be located only in metropolises in which bureaucrats would deign to dwell.

And an additional enforcement agency could become required.  Actually, this could provide an additional raison d' être for the Revenuers still dealing with moonshine, since moonshining is only practiced in backward places such as North Carolina and Tennessee.  These New Revenuers could patrol beaches along the reluctant Gulf Coast and Californian coasts where violations of the new regulations could likely occur.  Oh well, harassing girls is a magnitude less dangerous than breaking up some mountaineer's still.

Furthermore, revenuers who got into trouble could be assigned beaches in Alaska or Maine.

Obviously, older swimsuits would still be permitted provided they were obviously dated or the wearer could produce a bill of sale for said swimwear.  Of course, these fake or backdated bills of sale could be provided by bikini bootleggers.  And snowbird visitors to the United States could help underwrite their time off in Florida sunshine by bring a few extra suits along for sale!  

And adventuresome entrepreneurs would smuggle bikinis across our Canadian and Mexican borders, much like there was a smuggling market for toilets that used sufficient water to adequately flush wastes.  Americans will go to great lengths to be flushed with success.

A complication of regulation came from the lively Caribbean cruising industry.  Suddenly another reason to go to Aruba or Saint Martin is to purchase bikinis to sneak back into the U.S.  In response to this, more customs agents were required to screen the disembarkation of passengers, and the searching of suitcases made this process more complicated.

However, one bright form of resistance came from American striptease artists.  They would wear on stage the brightest and most outrageously patterns of bikinis for the edification of Americans!  Strangely enough, government regulators either failed to take this form of resistance into account, or did not want their agents to enter those dens of iniquity.

They had more success when they prescribed weight and waistline standards for speedo wearers later on.

*Instead of being referred to as the Bikini Czar, she or he could be referred to as the Big ****.

Visiting Canadian or wearer of contraband swimsuit

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It Takes a Village, Whether You Want It or Not

This is not a bash of Hillary Clinton, or her book (which I never read), but simply a commentary about the reality that new parents seem to face. 

Obviously, whether desired or not, some mothers, mothers-in-law, and complete strangers may dispense advice like Pez dispensers to the new parents.  But this was probably the case even in Paleolithic times.  And there are siblings, themselves in some stage or parenthood themselves or not.  And busybody neighbors.

But there are the infancy and childhood cause advocates, who seem to have an opinion on just about any topic there is.  Breast feeding it is hot button one.  While there are some advantages in doing so, it might not be possible for everyone.  But there are some who take breast-feeding up beyond the next level: until the child is four or five or so.  (Hopefully, this is long over before he starts dating, or it may some awkward moments with his girlfriends!)

And there are those who admonish the parents on how to dress their children.*   Not just regarding modesty or comfort, but even color.  There are some feminists that argue against allowing little girls to wear pink or lavender (Hello Kitty colors?), even if that might be the child's preferences.  Seriously, most preschool girls don't want to dress in colors that look like they're from the Duck Dynasty.

Some parental advocates argue for attachment parenting, including baby-carrying, co-sleeping, breast feeding until nearly kindergarten age, and so forth.  This is despite the fact that there is zero evidence to demonstrate that child-mother attachment requires going to such lengths.

How much supervision should children get?  There are some that see having a child unscheduled in an activity at any time to be undesirable: each day for the child is scheduled; and those who call for free-range children.  In effect, like kids were in the 1950's, as folklore has it.  Children do need some unstructured time.  They don't have to have totally structured days.

In the history of child-rearing advice, there were different viewpoints: the rigid-scheduling proponents such as the rational, limited emotional expression approach such as John B. Watson advocated, the "Tender Loving Care" school, and the advocates of attachment theory, including some who went beyond the scope of known data. 

And how should a child act?  Should budding left-handedness be thwarted?  What about gender less common behavior or interests?  What about cussing?**  And -- major issue -- what about excessive activity?  Presently, the frequently-chosen strategy is pharmacological: methylphenidate HCl, also known as Ritalin.  Unfortunately, there's no really objective assessment of hyperactivity.  It often devolves into the little boy (usually) pissing his teacher or mommy off.

Not surprisingly, what kind of television fare is allowed the child is a matter of extra-familial opinion.  At what age may the youngster or tween watch "adult fare"?  Is it so awful is a parent allows her daughter to watch such classics as Animal House?

Anyway, there's a lot of people willing to get into the act.  But especially those who are quite willing to assert that children are going to the dogs nowadays!  If you look hard enough, you can dredge up some support for your presupposition.

*My Mama allowed me to wear a Hello Kitty playsuit and a fake tiara when I was aged three or four years.   Still, she recounted being criticized for doing that.

**The F-word and the S-word were forbidden; but it was okay to say that school sucks with my family.  I had to go anyway.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dividing California

Apparently Californians, having nothing else compelling on their ballots, will vote in 2016 on whether or not to peaceably divide their state into six different states:  Jefferson (red), North California (olive), Silicon Valley (green), Central California (light blue), West California (dark blue), and South California (purple).  This initiative, pushed by billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, supposedly has the required numbers of signatures of unhappy residents of the Golden State.

Will this pass?  But, also, would it pass in any of the areas of the proposed breakaway states.  My guess (from my vantage in NC) is that it has the greatest likelihood of passing in Jefferson (the red area) and slim to none in West California.

But suppose it does pass.  It would still need the approval of Congress.  Even the Lord's Prayer could not get passed in that "deliberative" body.  It is true that, one state, Texas, is Constitutionally allowed to divide into five smaller units if they see fit.  Given that the Republicans and the Democrats are strongly in competition for control of the Senate, there might be considerable reluctance to add additional states if they're likely to turn into opposition votes.

And would some of the less populous new states be economically viable?  Central California in particular?

What is troublesome is the lack of imagination in the names of the proposed states.  The proposal seems to follow the pattern found in the Carolinas, the Dakotas, and West Virginia: dividing the larger unit into smaller units by just affixing "North" or some other directional tag.  And, frankly, Silicon Valley smacks of the media and the Chamber of Commerce.

Whoops!  I am endangering two sacred cows of American society.  My bad!

Anyway, what do you all think of this idea?  You don't have to be a Californian to have an opinion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The New York Lawyer and the Blonde Flight Attendant

A lawyer boarded a plane in New Orleans with a box of frozen crabs under his arm. He asks a blonde flight attendant to take care of them for him.

She took the box and promised to put it in the crew's refrigerator.

The lawyer advised her that he was holding her personally responsible for them staying frozen, mentioning in a very haughty manner that he was a lawyer, and proceeded to rant at her about what will happen if she let them thaw out.

Needless to say, this arrogance ticked her off greatly. 

Shortly before landing in New York, the flight attendant used the intercom to announce to the entire cabin, "Would the gentleman who gave me the crabs in New Orleans please raise your hand?"

Not one hand went up, so she took the crabs home and shared them with her roommate. 

I think that you can get two lessons here:

1. Lawyers aren't as smart as they think they are.

2. Blondes aren't always as dumb as most folks think.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Women Wearing Red or Pink

Recent research suggests that wearing a red or pink dress or shirt can be provocative for women.  First of all, it may unwittingly signal to others that she is in her most fertile part of the menstrual cycle.  (Unlike in several other mammalian species, there is no obvious sign of this time of the month.)  However, Beall and Tracy (2013) found that women are three times more likely to wear red or pink clothing at that time of the month in which they might become pregnant.

Additionally, men are more likely to view her as receptive to amorous activity and possibly a pushover.

Finally, according to research by Pazda and his associates (2014), wearing red or pink garb might put other women on the defensive.  When they see their husband or boyfriend talking with someone wearing red or pink, they are more likely to derogate her later and engage in mate-guarding strategies.

Derogation can take many forms: finding fault with her looks, casting aspersions on her morals, or even ridiculing her intelligence.  Mate-guarding strategies can include hovering by, clinging, or even employing physical means (in some rougher settings).

Do women see the lady in red or pink as a potential mate poacher?  Evidence suggests that they do.

This effect might be multiplied if the red or pink wearer is blonde or is sexily dressed.  Would it be strategically advantageous to wear blue or black?  It depends on what ends one has in mind.