Saturday, April 28, 2012

Funny Signs

Here are some funny signs from here and there.

It's in Arkansas.

In case you need some in France.

Not a lot of fun there.

Truth in advertising?

Or at least pay them for the privilege.


                              A triumph of self-advertisement.

Ths dubiously-named place is in Phoenix.

We have a lot of characters.

Fight with roosters there?

Kept around as a spare.

Someone can add, at least.

It's but a small place; but there are those who love it.

Houghton is out of this world.

Or frown while doing so.

Don't eat the burritos, wither.

Is there a lot of need for Quazimodo to have his own crossing?

They don't look that tomboyish.

Louisiana does have a Pumpkin Center near Hammond.

                                            It's in Texas.

For country types.

Next time, wear a hat!

I don't know it means the same thing there.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Compensatory Hypothesis

This is a popular notion that some people lazily adopt without much reflection, namely that people with greater amounts of some ability or some trait must compensate for possessing it by also having a corresponding deficiency on another: "Beautiful but dumb," "Genius is next to insanity," "Great athlete but dumb as a rock," "Unattractive but with a nice personality."  I can go on and on.  In fact, many traits of these types are independent, and the possession of one in no way influences the presence of another.

This is a good thing when it comes to mate selection.  Here's why.

What would a woman want in a husband? Well, we can list a few things: kindness or sweetness, physical attractiveness, works hard, is faithful, loves children and dogs or cats, intelligent, can really satisfy you sexually, has a sense of humor, is patient, and so forth.  (Consider these traits as listed in a random order.)

And, guys, you can come up with a similar wish list.  Somehow big boobs probably makes many lists.

Let's raise a hypothetical case.  Let's stipulate "faithfulness," since you cannot quantify it: a guy is either faithful or he isn't.  No 65% faithful, unlike us reckoning ourselves as 80% pure if he can't get past second base.  And let's say that you want four things in a guy:

1.  He's attractive -- no make that he's knee-quaking handsome  
2.  He's intelligent
3.  He's kind and considerate, and puts up with your moods
4.  He's a tiger in bed and gives you - oh so wow - orgasms
5.  He has a sense of humor

And you have 100 points, and you get to design your own guy by specifying how much of those 100 points you assign to each, maximum of 30 points in each category.    Let's say you value attractiveness very high, and assign 27 for that category.  That means that the remaining 73 points are distributed in the other four categories.  Would you skimp on kindness, intelligence, humor, or what?   If the compensatory hypothesis had a basis in reality, we would have to select on the basis of one trait; and accept the limitations on the other.  Yes, you would be stuck with a beautiful but dumb guy.

Of course, the same could be self-applied.  Oh dear, should I be smart but less attractive?  That is a dilemma.

So why does the compensatory hypothesis persist?  Because some people have a view of some cosmic justice, rather than the roll of the dice.  In a way, God does play dice with the universe, and we can come up with snake eyes sometimes.  But we can also roll a winner!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How the Other Half Would Live

Unlike Tireseas, we get the view from only one side of the great divide between men and women due to the fact that we are (with a few exceptions who aren't talking much) women or men, but not both at different times.  And because of this, we develop certain limited notions about what the others are like.  And some of us do worry: does the result of men and women living together have the effect of domesticating them into a female-oriented everyday life?  Would most guys go in for lace curtains, furniture that is matching, objects of arts that aren't risqué like from Pottery Barn, room scents, and toilet seat covers?  In short, what do guys do when left to themselves?

Remember that most little boys are heavily socialized by women; their mothers, daycare workers, teachers, and other women.  And, when they reach their teens, they aspire to have girlfriends, who further direct them into female-oriented interests and everyday surroundings.  For many, besides their father, the only male role model around is the ubiquitous sports coach.

I decided to discover what guys would do on their own by using my womanly wiles (however limited they are), but also by a little in-field social research.  There's a reason for the feminization of the behavioral sciences, you know. 

And I asked three reliable and candid sources: my brother Mike, my guy friend Dee-Doh, and Crazy Chester, my bookie and confidant.  To help things along, I also employed that noted truth serum, cerevesa.  Yes, I bribed them with beer!  And not Bud, I might add.

Anyway, one thing came out for sure: the guys all admitted that they would like to spend some Saturdays doing nothing, just sitting around in their underwear, watching sports on television, eating junk food, doing a little online surfing, and sleeping!  No great works, no magnificent projects.

I decided to try it one open Saturday.  I stayed in my apartment, got up at about 11 A.M., went to the fridge and drank milk out of the carton, burped, and sat around in my bra and panties, and watched the fare on ESPN.  To futher authenticate the experience, I rested my hand on my tummy under the waistband and burped!  And scratched, although I had no itches to speak of.

Since HGTV seemed to feature ex-athletes talking about sports, I gravitated to HGTV.  For viewing snack food, I ate Cheetos and drank beer.  Exhausted by my efforts at relaxing as guys do, I took a nap. 

I had an urge to telephone someone or to go to the mall; I resisted that urge.  The afternoon seemed to drag on.  Who would have thought that Saturday television was so dismal!  Almost as dismal as Sunday morning.

Ultimately, I was forced to admit that I was as bored as Hell!  I reverted back to the natural order of things, and understood why things are the way they are.  Guys need us; without us they would be bored.

Now all I have to do is convince Dee-Doh that our trips to the mall are improving him! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lolita Fashion

Lolita fashion is a fashion style from Japan that is based on the look of Victorian-era or Rococo period clothing.   Contrary to much modern dress for girls and women, the Lolita look began primarily as one of modesty and winsomeness.  It is the deliberate cultivation of innocence, not sexiness; it is not at all related to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

The Sweet Lolita, also known as ama-loli in Japanese, is heavily romantic and winsome in style, influenced by Rococo as well as Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Focusing on the fantasy aspects of Lolita, the Sweet Lolita style adopts the basic Lolita format and uses lighter colors and childlike motifs in its design.

The wearer of the sweet Lolita style prefers makeup using pink, pearl, or peach tonesch, or Pearl make up styles are highly 'sweet' and used by many Sweet Lolitas. This look is often accompanied by a shade of bright pink, red or sometimes nude-pink lipstick.  Dresses of sweet Lolitas usually employ pastels, fruit themes(cherries or strawberries), flowers (roses, jasmines, lily, cherry blossoms) lace, bows, animal themes (cats, bunnies, puppies) and ribbons to emphasize the cuteness of the design. Popular themes in the sweet Lolita are references to Alice in Wonderland, sweets, and classic fairy tales. Jewelry often reflects this fantasy theme. Headdresses, bonnets and bows are a popular hair accessory to the sweet Lolita look. Bags and purses usually have a princess-like design and often take the shape of strawberries, crowns, hearts, and stuffed animals.

The typical Lolita dress's silhouette is of a knee length skirt or dress with a 'cupcake' shape assisted by petticoats, but may also consist of a floor lenght skirt.  Blouses, knee high socks or stockings and headdresses are also worn. 

Gothic Lolita fashion is characterized by darker make-up and clothing.   Red lipstick and smoky or neatly defined eyes, created using black eyeliner, are typical styles, although as with all Lolita sub-styles the look remains fairly natural.   Some Lolita uses dark color schemes including black, dark blues and purples, although black and white remains popular. As with the Goth look found in the West, crucifixes, ankhs, or other accessories such as those shaped like bats, coffins, or hexagrams may also be used in this look.  There's a tension between the wholesomeness and the creepy produced in this style.

So much for the intro.  The discouraging thing about this style is that it is mostly restricted to Japanese teens.  The rococo look seems pretty; but it probably would not go over in most situations. I can just imagine those great avatars of Puritanism, the assistant principals, reacting to a girl coming to school with the Lolita look!  Or can you imagine a grown woman in her 20's or 30's wearing this at work or even while going out in the evening.

Sometimes some of us just want to look like a pretty confection; but not sexy or modern or efficient or so functional!  We need a resurgance of Romanticism!

Gothic Lolita

Here's Nana Kitade, dressed in Lolita fashion, performing a song:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jesús Malverde

Many saints in the Catholic tradition are associated with occupations.  For example, Joseph with carpenters, John Vianney with priests, Luke with physicians, and Jean Baptiste de la Salle with teachers  As bizarre as it sounds, even drug dealers have their own saint: Jesús Malverde.  For true, I didn't make it up!  This saint is sometimes known as the "angel of the poor".  or the "narco-saint"  He's a folklore hero in Sinaloa, and his cultus is among those involved in selling drugs.

I have seen his figure on the dashboard of some automobiles in New Orleans, a sure tip to the NOPD that the owner is in the business, if they care to bust a simple pot-seller!

The Catholic Church does not recognize him officially as a saint; however, sainthood is sometimes conferred from below rather than above. I once asked a priest if he would bless a statue of this saint or St. Expedité.  He indicated that he would.

Don't ask that of an Irish priest, though.  They don't have a sense of humor in such matters.
Here's a little statue of Jesús Malverde:

And a prayer for his intercession:

Friday, April 13, 2012

A New Tourism Publicity Stunt

Heather had a problem. She was working for the Tourism Commission in Louisiana and was looking for some new angle to attract visitors to the Bayou State. While jazz or zydeco music, Cajun or Creole food, Cajun life, the plantations along the Mississippi, and the quaintness of New Orleans and Baton Rouge were perennial standbys, other themes did not make the hit they had hoped for. For example, very few people in the test market focus groups worked up much enthusiasm for Yam Festivals or Crawfish fights or Toenail-Painting Festivals.

So, messing around, she looked on-line for some ideas. There she read about some new entries in the Guinness Book of World Records. One intrigued her: There was a person that actually got 982 people together to sit on whoopie cushions. Now, why 982? Heather looked in her handy book of numerology on her desk (don't ask why she had one) and found nothing of consequence with the number 982.

But then she applied Occam's Razor and realized the obvious: The event was planned for 1,000 participants, but 18 failed to show! That's true: the simplest explanations are often the most likely So 1000 is do-able. Yes!!!!

Heather then had an inspiration. Why not have a whoopie cushion seating en masse; one that would unquestionably be so extraordinary so that the record would never be broken? Or so she thought. But, what about the cost? It turns that the cost was reasonable per unit: the vendor that normally sells the whoopie cushions for $2.99 apiece would sell them at $2.00 apiece for orders of a dozen or more.

How many? And where would you get thousands of cooperative persons? Two possibilities came to mind: A typical New Orleans Saints game, or (even better) the LSU - Ole Miss game. This could be presented as an Expression of Louisiana - Mississippi Friendship and Amity. Now everyone has heard of the excesses associated with this game, and what could be better than a visible expression of interstate friendship that also would make the news.

Yes!!!! What an idea!!! To have 100,000 happy people simultaneously, uh, expressing their whoopie cushions immediately before the kickoff and strategically during the game. Let's see: 100,000 - 105,000 people at $2 a pop. That comes to about $200,000. Now we can get corporate sponsorships if the corporations could get their logos stamped on the cushions. For an occasion like this, some local big-name entertainment will be needed. And that'll attract the media.

It turned out that Heather was more than successful with this idea. She got approval for the idea both from the Tourist Commission and LSU, the cushions were paid for by a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and several girl pop singers volunteered to lead the crowd in the expressions from the cushions. Several old jazz and zydeco performers signed on, and the New Orleans industrial music embraced the idea like a French intellectual would embrace a new intellectual trend.   (If I was on a date, I'd describe that sort of embrace as "being felt up.")

Each of the four major networks plus the faux news networks CNN, Fox, and MSNBC carried a film of the 100,000 Whoopie Cushion Event in their newscasts, with several shots of the audience's enthusiasm. But no one mentioned the score of the game.  Newscasters sometimes miss what is important.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Priest Shopping

An advantage of being a Catholic in a big city with several parishes is that you're not stuck with whomever the bishop chanced to pass your way; you can shop around.  Is the padre of your parish too conservative?  Does he harp on not using birth control?  Does  he disapporve of gambling?   No problem, check out another parish. 

Actually, the biggest factors that New Orleanians use in determining which mass to attend are time of Mass, length of Mass, and possible ethnic loyalties.  Let's face it, while going to a 6 A.M. Sunday Mass might be a sign of piety, it comes at too big a price!  Most are content with having a little Infant of Prague statuette on their dresser. 

And with regard to the length of the Mass, a good priest does it all, from entry to when the fat lady sings, in a half hour.  Now if you're going to 12 Noon Mass, and there's a 1 P.M. kickoff of the Saints game, you don't want Father Logorrhea to run over!

As for ethnicity, some have a desire to hear the mass in the language of the old country, and participate in contacts within one's ethnic group.  And, let's be frank, sone simply want to get away from folk Masses or some of the modern insipid hymns!

Once The Prophetess was taken to task by her nominal parish priest for going to another church.  She replied that Father Donnelley gave good tips on picking the nags at the races through his selection of hymn numbers.  He saw her as possible competition because of her unusual devotions.  And Crazy Chester, he insisted on a saxophone accompaniment on some hymns -- The same priest was too old school, so he moseyed over to Fr. Wilson's parish, where that trumpet-playing padre held jazz masses.

The first priest was, in a way, relieved that The Prophetess and Crazy Chester went elsewhere.  Her enthusiasms and his saxophone was too, too New Orleans for him.  Once The Prophetess hasked him to bless seven statues of miscellaneous saints (one for each day of the week) and included St. Expedité among them.

"Miss . . . . St. Expedité is not a real saint!"

"Oh yes he is.  He gets the horses I've bet on to run well in the stretch."

One rather confrontational cleric objected to some baby's name selections by proud parents.  It seems that he balked at baptising one infant Scarlett because there were no Saint Scarletts.  Needless to say, the parents took their custom elsewhere, and they have a proud red-haired daughter named Scarlett who is now training to be an altar server.  Who knows: she might be especially saintly, and one day there will be a Saint Scarlett!

And, not surprisingly, there's the occasional schism that results from differences in opinion that develops during Parish Council meetings.  One rather intrusive Parish Council even wanted to mandate the skirt length of the Catholic school students.  (Well, the girls.)  A combined protest by the older girls and cash-strapped mothers swiftly ended that council initiative.  The Good Padre diplomatically did not take a side in this dispute.  After all, his job was to keep the doors continually open for the faithful!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

University Roommate Rubs Her the Wrong Way

I read this bit of advice from Prudie, the Washington Post advice columnist featured in a recent installment of Slate:

"Q. Lights Out Happy Time: I am a freshman at college. My roommate is pretty great—except for one thing. I'm pretty sure she "takes care of herself" after we turn out the lights and she thinks I'm asleep. The motions and noises she makes are consistent with this theory. I have no problem with her doing that, but it makes me uncomfortable that she does it while I'm in the room. I'm also absolutely mortified about possibly discussing this with her. They did not cover this in freshman orientation, so I'm counting on you for some insight."

Prudie's suggestion was that it fell in the same category as bathroom noises -- you pretend that you don't hear them.  That's good advice; though it was not one of those things covered at Freshman Orientation; or maybe it was when I nodded off after the sixth hour.

The fact is, many college students live comparatively sheltered lives and may not have had to share a room previously.  Not my case; I had an older sister.  And we both had our favorite stuffed animals.  But, because of that, they're not disposed to be tolerant of others' quirks, needs, or wishes.  Lots of dorm arguments go on over the volume and content of music played.  And things like this too.

Anyway, probably most college students adapt quite well to this living with someone else aspect.  Or they move to a single apartment off-campus, if affordable.  If your roommate has a need to comfort herself in that manner, it's best to pretend that you're asleep or otherwise occupied.  And, for the most part, this is part of the orientation into adulthood when applied to other areas.  It's not a bad model to deal with several things in which you find out things you were not intended to do so, as long as no one is getting hurt.

A little story.  I'm not a heavy sleeper; and during my freshman year in the dorm, I woke about around two A.M. to certain noises going on in the room.  My roommate had her boyfriend in, and they were actually doing it!  They were not practicing to be missionaries; too much information.

Anyway, I kept silent.  I do not know whether my roommate or her b.f. knew I was aware of what was going on, but maybe we need a word in our language to cover the mutual pretending that someone does not know what is going on, even if she does?

I asked the Lucky Dog Guy: seller of hot dogs and independent philosopher.  He said that the Russians have a word like that: vranyo.

Vranyo - This is the phenomenon of semi-lie or semi-truth with a twist of fantasy, white lies and suppression of unpleasant parts of the truth.  In effect, It goes something like this: “She knows that she is pretending that nothing went on, I know that she is pretending that nothing went on, and she knows that I know that something went on, but we both smile and act as if nothing did.”

Does that make sense?  Anyway, I changed roommates at the end of the term.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pascal's Wager and Faking Orgasms

Blaise Pascal was a French polymath: philosopher, mathematician, theologian, scientist, inventor of the barometer .... he dabbled into a number of projects, including developing an earlier calculator.  (The old computer language Pascal was named after him.) 

He was also a religious philosopher, having gotten involved with the Port Royal Jansenist sect that advocated a too, too strict brand of Catholicism. 

Later in his life, he wrote Pensées, thoughts about religion and other subjects.

In this book he gave a very interesting interpretation of why one should be a Christian: being one is a safe bet.  Consider these possibilities of choice, and possible outcomes that might emerge.  Its important to remember that the empirical probability of God existing is unknown.

If we approach it in terms of decision-making theory, given that we cannot assert the likelihood that God exists, it makes good sense to focus on the possible payoffs by choosing the one with the higher possible outcome.  This line of reasoning can be applied in other situations, as Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes illustrated:

There's a lot of debate, pro and con, regarding the faking of orgasms.  Does the faking of actual religiousness or belief come into this same degree of debate?  As the picture above indicates, it might be futile to try to fake an omniscent being out by pretending to believe in Him.

Pascal may have an out, though.  He suggested in the Pensées that, if you're not spiritual or religious, but wish to be, then perform religious behavior.  Doing the actions may often lead to the inner feeling or emotion or belief.  In other words, faking it may lead to the action that is desired.

Can we extend this principle a step further?  Could routinely faking orgasms lead to an increased likelihood of experiencing the Big O now and then?  If that's the case, then maybe we can apply Pascal's thinking to justify faking orgasms!!!

Thank Blaise if that works.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

New Soldiers for the French Foreign Legion

The French army has achieved an exaggerated reputation for haplessness, despite some staggering examples of military success and endurance.  This is a bad, misinformed stereotype; but anyway, with Gallic logic, the French have found a way to exploit it.

Consider the storied Légion étrangère, commonly called by people with the bad habit of English the French Foreign Legion.  This is an exception; but the members of the Legion are of foreign origin, often ruffians, and located in exotic settings.  When you look for rough, you think of the Legion.  They're the heavy hitters of the French Army.

On  the other hand, what could be more refined than French maids, dressed in their prim maid outfits?  Capital Michel Bergeron of military planning division had an inspiration after an afternoon snack of croissants and café: why not a brigade of soldats in French maid costumes to be undercover specialists?  This collection of unlikely soldiers could serve as shock troops to infiltrate into urban settings where covert operations seemed more appropriate.

With Staff approval, and those involved on a 'need to know' status, they selected a cadre of 36 comely madamoiselles, trained them in the advance skills of housekeeping, the art of coquetry/seduction, karate, and hand-to-hand fighting.  Each volunteer was given expert styling, clothing selection, and language skills, and were eventually reckoned to be the deadliest of the Legionnaires!  Their use also exemplified a tenet of the Art of War: the need for surprise.  Suprise, in this case, was not achieved by being dull or gray against the background, like old Cold War spies, but by being in-your-face noticeable!  After all, a sexy French maid in a hotel is definitely noticeable, but nevertheless seems to be part of the setting.  And are easily able to blend in with the setting.

Les filles de chambre have successfully undermined the Government of Canada and are hard at work in spreading the influence of France in Eastern Europe, where they also serve as "room secretaries" in the Balkans.  They were recently involved in a covert operation in a NYC hotel in which a Fench big fish was a player (which both governments pretend never happened).  Clearly, France has new way of playing the Great Game!

Fierce Legionnaires with Uzis take control of an urban setting.