Thursday, November 30, 2017

USS New Orleans

During the 1940's, the U.S. Navy had a cruiser named the U.S.S. New Orleans.  It had a remarkable history, having been awarded 17 battle stars, one of the most cited of the Navy's ships.

She was at the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea.

During the Guadalcanal campaign at the Battle of Tassafaronga (November 30, 1942), she got severe damage due to a Japanese torpedo exploding in a forward magazine. As a result, about 150 feet of her bow was severed, including the first main turret. Somehow, the crew was able to keep her afloat, and brought her to Tulagi for temporary repairs. After being fitted with a truncated, replacement bow, she sailed in reverse back to Pearl Harbor.

The U.S.S. New Orleans was repaired, and continued to serve as part of the fleet in the Pacific. During the War, members of the crew were awarded 206 Purple Hearts, 5 Navy Crosses, and 10 Silver Stars.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Can-Can Dance

Why not take a break and enjoy the high-energy exuberance of the can-can dance? 
It's been popular for nearly 180 years now.

The music used for this can-can is Jacques Offenbach's Galop Infernal 
from Orpheus in the Underworld. This music is the 
go-to choice whenever the can-can is done.

The costumes are part of the spectacle. 
Can you imagine a can-can in which 
the dancers are wearing yoga clothes?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Intrusive Questions

We all have our self-protective areas that we feel put upon when asked questions that we feel are intrusive.  These territories of nondisclosure are highly individual; what some people might feel unconcerned about and cheerfully willing to disclose, others are more circumspect.  Obviously, self-preservation should preclude revealing anything that could lead to identity theft; but we have our own concepts (or they are aroused upon our being surprised) about what things we don't want to reveal.

It might be religious:

"Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your LORD?"
"Do you attend church services weekly?"

It might be political:

"Are you a Republican or a Democrat?"
"Are you a liberal or a conservative?"

It might be regarding your body:

"What's your bra size?
"Do you shave or wax down there?"

Or even on matters of taste:

"Honestly, how can you stand to have plastic pink flamingoes on your front lawn?"
"Do you still like The New Kids on the Block now that you're an adult?"

Your finances:

"How's your 401-K?"
"Do you still buy the gas station coffee?"

Or other things:

"Do you check your email daily?"
"Do you floss?"
"Are you regular?"

All of those were real questions. Surely if you were asked, some would be found annoying.

In an age where people seem prone to disclose the slightest details of their lives on Facebook, it seems that maintaining the sense of privacy is on the defensive: it's an outmoded idea. 

Or maybe the sense of privacy has just evolved into new ways of being defined.  Ashley Dupré, former call girl and former New York Governor Spitzer's friend, who wrote a sex column for the Post, posed for Playboy, and ran a sexy underwear shop in New Jersey, once described herself as "a private person."  I commend her reticence. 

Ashley must just have a more liberal idea of being a private person than I do, I guess.  But what to be sensitive about or what is there surely must in the mind of the perceiver. 
  • Esse est percipe.   Having come up with that insight, would that merit a cute little university city in California being named after me?  I guess not.  The principle was already spoken for.
George Berkeley, the source of that quote.
To my knowledge, he was never asked about 
his bra size or his pink flamingoes.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Colorful Similes for "As Useless as . . . ."

It's time for imaginative similes to the condition of being useless. Here's a few:

As useless as . . . .

1.  a screen door on a submarine.
2.  ejection seats in a helicopter.
3.  a knitted condom.
4.  a color blind interior decorator.
5.  a condom machine in the Vatican.
6.  a ham sandwich at a Bar Mitzvah.
7.  a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.
8.  tits on a boar hog.
9.  handles on a snowball.
10.  a pen without ink.

11.  a grave robber in a crematorium.
12.  Captain Hook at a gynecologists' convention.
13.  a wooden frying pan.
14.  a rubber bill on a woodpecker.
15.  a chocolate teapot.
16.  a fart in a space suit.
17.  whistling psalms to a horse.
18.  a box of Moon Pies at a dietician's office.
19.  a pistol without a barrel.
20.  dinosaur repellant.

21.  a carpet fitter's ladder.
22.  an inflatable dartboard.
23.  a concrete life vest.
24.  a jock strap on a ballerina.
25.  a glass hammer.
26.  a mint-flavored suppository.
27.  a kickstand on a horse.
28.  knickers on a kipper.
29.  silent alarm clock.
30.  square tires on a bus.

31.  a waterproof teabag.
32.  a snooze button on a smoke detector.
33.  a bottomless bucket.
34.  a knife without a blade.
35.  white-out to a computer entry clerk.
36.  nipples on a breastplate.
37.  an accordion player on a deer hunt.
38.  a reggae band at a Klan rally.
39.  a windshield wiper on a goat's ass.  
40.  a concrete parachute.

Can you think of any? Please share with the rest of us!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Leaping to Conclusions about Coffee as an Olympic Sport

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
               -- Alexander Pope

A few years ago,  two Viennese researchers, Christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitemeyer, reported in the journal Appetite that people who have bitter taste preferences might be more likely to have antisocial personality traits. Two US community samples (total = 953; mean age = 35.65 years; 48% females) self-reported their taste preferences using two complementary preference measures and answered a number of personality questionnaires assessing Machiavellianism, psychopathy, narcissism, everyday sadism, trait aggression, and the Big Five factors of personality. 

The results of both studies confirmed a hypothesis that bitter taste preferences are positively associated with malevolent personality traits, with the strongest relation to everyday sadism and psychopathy. Regression analyses confirmed that this association holds when controlling for sweet, sour, and salty taste preferences and that bitter taste preferences are the overall strongest predictor compared to the other taste preferences.

So what? The most commonly-reported relationship in on-line sources is that people who like to drink black coffee have higher dispositions toward the dark triad of personality (sadism, narcissism, and psychopathy. 

So what?

Well, there's a few loose ends.

First of all: there's the cause-and-effect relationship. Does psychopathy and Machiavellianism cause a preference for bitter tasting substances, or what? Not everything is linked in a causal relationship.

Secondly, there's the singling out of coffee. The research was concerned with taste and personality traits, of which bitter is one of the four basic tastes.

To make things interesting, the articles selected black coffee as an example of something bitter-tasting. But it doesn't have to be.

While some coffee can have a bitter taste, bitter-tasting coffee is more likely to occur if the coffee is too finely ground. Use a coarser grind instead. 

Second, water at its boiling point (212 F) is more likely to taste bitter. Using water at 195-200 F is best for non-bitter coffee.

Third, coffee tends to be more bitter if the coffee is left to stand. This is why gas station coffee is so bitter.

Fourth, select a better, less bitter type of coffee. Cheap coffees are more likely to be harshly bitter. Shop around. 

Fifth, using dirty equipment is more likely to result in bitter coffee. Dirty equipment, with residue of coffees past, is more likely to yield bitter-tasting coffee. Keeping your equipment clean may be the most important step.

In short, you can make a not harshly bitter cup of black coffee if you do it right.

But there's other aspects to coffee. These are the cultural ones. 

Some look on it as a quick means of self-medication. These may include the hasty espresso drinkers. And there's the black coffee as an accompaniment to certain jobs. Drinking coffee while performing data entry or being on-line, for example.

Coffee or tea may in some cultures be offered as part of a ritual of hospitality. ("A cuppa," as the English say it.) And some people, dammit, just want it to be bitter!

Disclosure: In general, I prefer a café au lait to black coffee, whether with chicory or not. Anyway, it is possible to enjoy black coffee that is not overly bitter. But use milk; coffee and creamer is a sin; and the good coffee fairy will smite you!


Monday, November 20, 2017

A Little Miscommunication

Cordie Mae Wilson, who ran a gas station and gift shop in Southern Mississippi, hired Brenda, a girl from Jones County to run her store some of the time. Things mostly worked out; but since the store was smack dab long side of I-59, sometimes Brenda had communication issues.

You see, I-59 was the main interstate highway going diagonally through Southern Mississippi, and lots of tourists pass through daily. Cordie Mae got a lot of business with them; and learned over time to understand what they were saying. Or trying to say.

Brenda had a lot to learn also.

For instance, some guy from Massachuetts came in and asked to buy some pee cans. Brenda was a bit amazed; and told the fellow that using their rest rooms were gratis; and what's more, they were cleaned twice a day and even had pot potpourri that her Granny homemade.

Still, the guy got more confused. Brenda thought, 'Wow! This guy has to go real bad or is going to do some serious travelin.'

Along came Cordie Mae. She learned enough tourist English in her time to become halfway proficient in talking with them. Matter of fact, she coulda taught a class in Tourist English at the college if needed.

So Cordie Mae said, "Brenda, sell him a sack of nuts!" And said, "Mister, no offense; but we call 'em pecans (pronounced puh-kawns) 'round these parts!"

Pecans (pronounced puh-kawns)

So harmony on I-59 was restored. Cordie Mae even gave the Massachusetts guy a slice of pecan pie.

And that tourist also took advantage of the cleanest restroom in Pearl River County.

Pronunciation of pecan map

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sakura the Otaku Has a Break from the Usual

Sakura, like many unattached people in their 20's with limited income, continued to live with her parents. To amplify her story somewhat, she left home for a while to pursue employment in Portland, the home of the supergeeks; but returned back home after a year and found a job clerking in a local store.

Shortly after she left home but before she returned, her parents sold their place and moved into a smaller house in response to the lesser need for space as her siblings also left and were on their own. Therefore, the one unused room was in the basement.

To be sure, she found the local scene to be boring; and found her hobbies and time on the internet to be more reinforcing to her. What did she do? Well, she followed a lot of social media; even posting japes at time on web sites. In some ways, she was even an internet troll at times.

These were her hobbies. First of all, she was a collector of anime figures like a true otaku. Also, she was a gamer girl par excellence! And got a great charge out of both.

Not surprisingly, Sakura was a feminist like most millennials; and she was adverse to sexual stereotypes. She regarded them as concepts to be challenged on every occasion. And yet, she was an ironic twist on the stereotype of the guy who lived in his parents' basement, but a better groomed and better smelling one (most of the time, probably)!

For the basement was a totally safe haven, providing a setting with emotional support and minimal risk. 

I think you have to understand why some choose this type of lifestyle. It's risk-free for the timid or unadventurous.

However, recently Sakura had an adventure of sorts. During her morning run to Starbuck's for coffee, while she was checking the e-mail on her smart phone a guy asked if they could share a table. They made perfunctory conversation at first, but soon merged into a full-fledged encounter!

Anyway, Sakura was late showing up for work that day, and the manager was not pleased.

Sakura was, though. And resolved to have that kind of coffee break more often.

Even otakus need to be pleasingly laid sometime.

Sakura in her natural setting.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

An Odd Tomb

St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. It is the resting place of some of the historical notables; notably former mayor Etienne de Boré, world chess champion Paul Morphy, landowner Bernard Marigny, notorious sadistic slave owner Delphine LaLaurie, and voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Not surprisingly, the above-ground graves located there are all old; no surprise since some of them were made before 1800. (A bit of local advice: Don't visit this graveyard unless you're with a tour. There's a high danger of you getting mugged there.)

Recently, a new person may have his final resting place there: the actor Nicholas Cage. He had built a pyramidal grave for his permanent resting place. This pyramid definitely makes a contrast with the typical look of tombs in St. Louis Number 1:

Old school traditional burial oven common in New Orleans cemeteries:

I can say that the Cage tomb will be a topic for discussion long-term, if for no other reason than it raises a lot of unanswerable questions. Why a pyramid?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Spotted Richard?

While browsing among the import foods in World Market, I happened upon cans of something called "Spotted Dick." 

Curiosity got the best of me; and I discovered that it is an English pudding made of suet and currants or raisins (hence, the "spotted" in the food product name). It's usually served with custard.

English food, while often being known for being subpedestrian in its flavor, occasionally does make up for it with original names. Hence Bangers, Welsh Rarebit, Stargazy Pie*, or Toad in the Hole.

I surmised that even the taste-challenged English would have become aware of the possible double entendre nature of this food name; and I discovered that this was so.

The Flintshire County Council seriously proposed renaming it "Spotted Richard!" Now that terminology would be acceptable for use in American restaurants! Spotted Richard, anyone?

*The little fish heads put me off.

Spotted Dick AKA Spotted Richard

Friday, November 10, 2017

What to Do After Sex?

The bi-weekly gathering of les femmes of St. Cletus's Parish in the New Orleans coffeehouse sometimes has conversations that run into the borderline risqué. Let's face it: this is partly due to the inherent interest in some topics and also raising these helps to egg on some more reticent members among the coffee-drinkers to reveal more about themselves than they planned.

Okay, the topic that came up for the day was what to do after sex. Needless to say, both the sexually active conversational participants and the celibate ones found this interesting! One reason why this topic is intrinsically interesting is because some in the group occasionally reporting having  problems with post-coital tristesse. Bonne nuit tristesse! Alas, Galen got it wrong when he wrote that "every animal is sad after coitus except for the human female and the rooster." One wonders about his research sampling methods . . . . Were his partners accomplished in faking orgasms, or happy it was over? 

Anyway, the two usual suspects for post-coital activities, sleeping and cuddling came up right away. Missy Chauvin pointed out that some guys were just not that good at cuddling, and that maybe cuddling lessons should be added to the college curriculum!* That got a rise, to be sure! Still, some said that cuddling is a great way to come down afterwards. 

Also mentioned was that old reliable, Netflix.

Hilda Walspurgis recommended that, if you feel energized after sex, then that's a perfect time to do some house cleaning! Nothing like vacuuming to carry on the feeling!

Missy reported that having great sex made her feel like practicing basketball. She was the reigning H-O-R-S-E champion of the Parish! This explains the popularity of the N.B.A.

Along those same lines, Clotilde Badeaux said that she would immediately segue into her yoga regime. Clara Thibodaux asked, "What about the guy you were canoodling with?"

Her response was, "I don't know. The last one left while I was doing down dog and farted!"

Speaking of cleaning, neat freak Marie d'Aquin said that she always took a shower immediately afterwards. And it saves water to shower with a friend. When asked if the guy she had sex with is a friend, she replied, "Well, I do give him a performance review before asking him to join me!"

Bernadette Richard raised an interesting possibility: spend some time afterwards on a post-performance review. Clearly, she was influenced by some of the new thinking in business! And, who knows, maybe it might increase the enjoyment of future encounters . . . . especially for those not following the short-term (hookup) mating strategy.**

Madeline cautiously inquired whether the same sort of activity choices would apply after making out. Immediately this caused some of the gathering to wonder whether their assumptions regarding her and Officer Pete were valid. Not that anyone had the nerve to ask!

Suzette Picou, AKA the Existential Stripper, said that after sex she would then make a pot of coffee. This mystified the good ladies; but she put it in terms to re-priming the pump for an encore!

Madeline asked, like a typical Orleanian, "Do you serve it straight or café au lait and use real chicory coffee or that weak stuff that tourists drink?" 

*That would be a real plus for the P.E. Department!

**A concept that you can credit or blame evolutionary psychology for.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Piling On

Among the various things that the striped shirt guys take exception to in football are piling on or unnecessary roughness. It's symptomatic of recent times that in the political or social realm too many people are ready to let fly with both barrels over damned near everything! And assuming the worst in others.

Okay, I get it. Many people are disappointed with what they think is the direction that the country is going in; and they have real life problems that are hard to get the proper handle on. Frankly, terrorism, job prospects, the fragile health care system, are real enough and scare me too. And, who knows, maybe some people are not getting laid often enough? 

But there's also a tendency that many people have to jump on others' remarks with both feet gleefully. Godwin's Law, or the reductio ad Hitlerium, is not entirely a myth.  

The reason why on-line forums sometimes degenerate into name-calling, and our national discourse is often filled with acrimony is because some people go through life loaded for bear with the least provocation. It would be good if they could dial it down a bit. And their digestive systems would be better served if they would just chill!

This also applies to the two or three major national newspapers. In spades!

So remember that, whatever your Political Flavor of the Month happens to be: there are good Republicans and good Democrats that also want to come up with real, practical solutions to problems. Demonizing the perceived opposition is lazy thinking, in my opinion. Likewise, whatever religion you might profess, other people professing different beliefs may have a lot in common with you.

And, to put things in a SEC frame of mind: there are even good Ole Miss fans!

An odd cartoon with a timely message:
Pride and Prejudice seen from a non-Austen perspective.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Surprising Yooper Term

The term "Yooper" refers to a resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

Going into the northern peninsula of Michigan is an odd experience of sorts, as it's far less populated and manages to be colder than the mitten part of the state. (Which did not vote for Mitt Romney, by the way.) Anyway, this Yooper part of that northern state has some unique vocabulary and cuisine items.

In our travel across the Upper Peninsula, we were surprised to see cafes offer pasties on the menu. Needless to say, this caused us a little bit of confusion. Where we came from, a pasty referred to a paste-on nipple cover, such as worn by desnuda performers and those who want to go braless without being obvious about it.

Still, some sex shops sell edible panties; did edible pasties happen to make the menu in Northern Michigan?

Woman shamelessly flaunting her pasties.
We soon discovered that in the Upper Peninsula, the term 'pasty' refers to a meat pie: a concoction consisting of minced beef or pork, potatoes, onions, carrots, rutabaga, and other vegetables baked into a hand-held pie. It had its origins from Cornwall, in England.  Here's a sample recipe. (Kind of like a calzone.)

We tried some; they were very good, despite the strange rutabaga vegetable! 

A pasty, a mainstay of Cornish cuisine that is
also popular on the Upper Peninsula
Just a further remark: the wearable kind of pasty is pronounced "pay-stee." The edible kind is pronounced "pass-tee."

Friday, November 3, 2017

An Economic Reason for Opposing Secession

The current crisis regarding Catalonian secession from Spain looks like it's handled in a heavy-handed manner by the Spanish government: a suspension of local government, calling out the funny hatted police, jailing some of the opposition, and a call for new elections so the Catalonians will do it the right way this time. (The right way, according to Madrid, that is.) 

Some people from north of the Mason-Dixon line point out, individual southern states receive far more from the Federal government in terms of benefits than the same government realizes with regard to taxes. To give an example, Mississippi costs more to have around than it pays off in revenues for the rest of the country. Looking at it as if it was a store in a chain, it would be one that produces negative revenues. Using that criterion, that state seceding would have little impact on the rest of the country. Well, maybe northerners desiring to go to New Orleans might have to go through Mississippi customs. I'm sure that if Mississippi had border guards, they could be as inefficient as in anyplace else!  

But, you know, the same could be said for several other states. Suppose the inhabitants of Vermont decided to go it alone; most of the rest of America would hardly notice. Well, maybe the leaf-peepers would have to go through customs, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream would be an import item now. 

The same can be said for South Dakota. Hey, you only need to see Mt. Rushmore only once to be satisfied. And Georgia has its own version of landscape statuary gigantism: Stone Mountain. 

Nevada? It's an easily available place for Californians wanting to misbehave: just a half-day's drive from L.A.!

So why quibble if Mississippi or Vermont or South Dakota or Nevada were to pass ordinances of secession?

Well, it's like this, folks. By allowing them to do it, a precedent is set allowing other states to follow suit if things are not going their way.  And this might include states that punch in a pretty high weight class.

Imagine the impact if California or Texas or New York were to walk away with their marbles and go the independence route. (Do kids still play marbles now, or am I using a folk expression? I must confess to being a marbles virgin.)  Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, and a few others also bring a lot to the economic table.

Well, this is exactly what Spain was looking at if Catalonia were to go. Spain probably could spare Basque Country with little difficulty: that might even solve some problems for them. 

But if an economic and industrial section like Catalonia were to say "adios," this would squeeze Madrid in the huevos!  So, in a nutshell, Spain had to react negatively to Catalonia going independent in that fashion, as crass as that sounds.

And, following this same logic, why can't we take the opportunity to dump Mississippi or Vermont? Because of California possibly getting the same idea. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Lewd Dude's Advice on Scoring with Women

al·go·rithm - alɡəˌriT͟Həm/ noun.
  1. a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

Some guys wish there was an algorithm for scoring with women. Others, like Harvey W., try the lewd, crude, and totally disgusting approach.

The Lewd Dude (our Gentleman from Indiana*) has his own ideas:

"Hello, guys. I'm Milton, your friendly computer store techie and guru on all that is important. In addition, I'm a philosopher and a student of human nature. Life can be confusing, sometimes. Let me help you navigate through the shoals of what you really want: seducing women! They don't call me the Lewd Dude for nothing, you know!

"It's all a matter of learning the algorithms. Yes, it really breaks down into knowing how and when to do it.

"First of all, don't appear to be too interested in them. Women like a challenge. If you seem lukewarm to them at first, they feel slighted and tested; they want to be reassured that they are really hot numbers! So be interested in other things, initially.

"Dress up. Sorry, bros; but slobs rarely make any headway with the ladies. That's clean, ironed shirt, clean pants, the who nine yards! 

"Smile at them; but make it a short one of recognition. Don't give them the 200-watt full grin! You want them to want more.

"Listen to her when she speaks. And appear knowledgeable and confident.

"Women like guys with a sense of humor. But keep it in the PG- range; maybe a mild test of one or two in the R- range. Anyway, don't make it obvious that you have designs of getting into her panties! Not until later; but somehow give her the impression that you were tempted by her irresistible charms!

Invite her for coffee, or perhaps a dessert or on some seemingly mild yet quirky type of activity; like going to feed the sea birds or something.

"Go through a routine of pointing something out. But in the process, touch her lightly on a shoulder or mid-back. (Coincidently, you might check out that she's wearing a bra! If she isn't, consider this to be a green light!)

"Find some excuse to nibble on her neck or ear lobe. 

"And there's a clincher: bring her a gift of chocolate-covered strawberries! Now that's ringing her bells on two levels! 

"Spread this out over several weeks. Leave her intrigued; and wanting more. Now that's how to score with style!"

So much for the Lewd Dude's advice. Some advisors are all hat and no cowboy, as Cowgirl Melinda would say. 

*Also the title of an old book which I haven't read.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Eyes Don't Have It

What do men fixate on when looking at a woman's face?

Research by Dr. Geoff Beattie of the University of Manchester found that men, upon first encountering a woman, would spend about half of the first 10 seconds looking at her lips upon first meeting her provided she's wearing red lipstick.

Men fixated on lips wearing pink lipstick for 6.7 seconds on average; and 7.3 for those with red lipstick. Unfortunately for Goth girls like Dethany in the comic strip On the Fast Track, he did not collect data on dark lipstick. 

If women were wearing lipstick, then men spent only about 0.95 seconds looking at her eyes and 0.85 seconds looking at her hair.

If the woman being viewed was not wearing lipstick, then the guys focused on her lips only for about 2.2 seconds. The moral of the story is to wear a little lipstick! Maybe they might pay less attention to what's below the neck too!