Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Matter of Pronunciation

Just wondering why the recording with which The Curmudgeon is greeted whenever he calls a doctor’s office, advising him to have his insurance card ready, always features the word “insurance” pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable:  “IN-surance.”

It’s not like the doctor he’s calling is in Alabama.

July News Quiz

  1. The controversy behind efforts to make it more difficult to get an abortion in Texas is stoked by:  a) Texans who believe abortion is morally wrong because it involves ending a human life –regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court has said about the issue; b) Texans who want to impose their own religious beliefs on others – regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court has said about the issue; c) men who want to impose their will on women – regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court has said about the issue; or d) Texans who are concerned that if too many low-income, undereducated women can get abortions it will reduce the future pool of Texans to put to death in the state’s heavily used gas chamber?
  2. Russia has a new law that prohibits people from talking about homosexuality to minors.  The law was passed because:  a) Russians believe homosexuality is wrong; b) there are no gay people in Russia and the Russians want to keep it that way; c) Russians want to protect children from people who might speak of homosexuality in a way that might depict it as anything less than completely shameful; or d) President Vladimir Putin needed a diversion from speculation inspired by the frequency with which he is photographed shirtless?
  3. The Egyptian military overthrew Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president ever, because:  a) lousy falafels in the mess hall; b) they’re the ones with the guns and tanks and can do whatever they damn well please; c) Morsi had a whole year in office and didn’t fix everything that’s wrong with the country so he’s obviously no good and now it’s someone else’s turn; or d) Egypt is a backwards place with people who have no understanding of what democracy even means and it’s been all downhill for the entire civilization ever since Egyptians invented condoms around 1000 B.C.?
  4. The Whole Foods supermarket chain recalled a brand of cheese because:  a) its name wasn’t snooty enough; b) it didn’t smell foul enough to qualify as snooty cheese; c) it wasn’t sufficiently overpriced to meet the company’s standards; or d) it turned out that the cheese in question was made by Kraft and was actual a solid version of Cheez Whiz?
  5. Former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum was hired as president of EchoLights Studios, a Christian movie company that specializes in wholesome, faith-based entertainment.  Santorum’s first movie as head of the studio will be:  a)  Seventh Heaven:  The Movie But Without That Harlot Jessica Biel; b) They’ll Burn in Hell, starring Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner, and Amanda Bynes; c) Grumpy Old Men 3, a documentary about Harry Reid, Alec Baldwin, Keith Olbermann, and Michael Moore;  or d) Sandy, the story of the hurricane god sent in response to the television series Jersey Shore?
  6. Three lawsuits filed against the puppeteer behind the Sesame Street character Elmo claiming he had abused underaged children were dismissed because:  a) there was no proof of any abuse; b) the court said the people who filed the suit waited too long after the alleged abuse; c) the court found that Elmo has no income because he is, after all, just a puppet, rendering it impossible for him to pay any judgment against him; or d) it’s a well-known fact that Big Bird, not Elmo, is the pedophile in the group?
  7. Texas governor Rick Perry has announced that he will not seek re-election because:  a) Texas is now perfect and there’s nothing left for him to do; b) it’s time to cash in and get rich; c) Fox News has offered him its “former elected official who’s actually a nitwit” commentator slot that’s been vacant ever since Sarah Palin left; or d) he feels he came so close to being elected president in 2012 that he wants to try again in 2016?
  8. George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charge of murdering Trayvon Martin because:  a) there were no real eyewitnesses and it was just one person’s word against another and the jury couldn’t decide; b) the word of white people carries more weight in Florida courts than the word of black people; c) black people out at night in Florida are fair game and everybody knows that; or d) white people killing black people isn’t really considered a crime in Florida?
  9. England’s reaction to the news that the Duchess of Cambridge has delivered a healthy baby boy was:  a) great pride over the arrival of the latest heir to the throne; b) relief that the baby bears no apparent resemblance to his grandfather, Prince Charles; c) amusement that the rest of the world takes such interest in the affairs of a family that is of such little consequence or value; or d) embarrassment that a modern society like their own still has silly things like kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses?
  10. Penn State University recently announced that it will require its 17,000 employees to submit to the university information about their cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure, and waist size or suffer a $100 monthly surcharge.  The university is doing this because:  a) it cares about its employees’ health; b) it will enable the university to save money on health insurance; c) it knows it can get away with it because the university is located in the middle of nowhere and it’s not like its employees can quit in protest and get other jobs; or d) for years Penn State ignored a university employee who was fucking little boys and now the university is pleased to be in a position to abuse its authority to do some fucking of its own?

The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: Lunacy on Capitol Hill

One would think that basic sanity would be a prerequisite for serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.  As this week’s video featuring U.S. Representative Steve King illustrates, however – and as George and Ira Gershwin once wrote – “it ain’t necessarily so.”

See for yourself here.

Nabisco Introduces Watermelon Oreos

Why?  Did someone there think that sounded…good?watermelon oreos

What Did You Say His Name Is?

The Curmudgeon lives in New Jersey, which has a vacant U.S. Senate seat following the death of Frank Lautenberg.  The Democratic primary, to be held in August, features three reasonably high-profile candidates:  Newark celebrity mayor Cory Booker, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, and U.S. Representative Rush Holt.

On the surface, all three would make decent senators, and certainly respectable representatives of their party in the general election, but with about a month until the primary election, The Curmudgeon still hasn’t made up his mind for whom he will vote.  The candidates are certainly not going to help him make up his mind, either, because in New Jersey, candidates for state-wide office seldom travel south of Trenton, essentially ignoring a large chunk of a small state.  (It’s ironic, when the Curmudgeon thinks about it.  He moved to New Jersey from a part of Philadelphia that’s ignored within Philadelphia’s city government to a part of New Jersey that’s ignored within New Jersey state government and a part of the town in which he lives – Marlton – that’s ignored by the government of that town.  It looks like he picks where to live about as successfully as he picks whom to date, which may account for his still being single at the advanced age of fifty-five – well, that and, you know, the curmudgeonliness.)

So The Curmudgeon was surprised – and pleased – last week when a campaign volunteer for candidate Frank Pallone knocked on his door to offer him some campaign literature.

Unfortunately, that volunteer made the mistake of opening his mouth and asking if The Curmudgeon was interested in his candidate.

He referred to the candidate by name, saying “Pallone” as if it rhymes with “Baloney” instead of “Pah-loan,” which is how the name is pronounced.  When The Curmudgeon questioned the pronunciation – surely you didn’t expect him to allow such a thing to pass without comment – the young man, still in his teens, insisted “That’s how they told me to pronounce it.”

It makes you wonder about the candidate.  If he can’t get the people promoting his candidacy to pronounce his name correctly, what chance does he have of making any kind of difference in the U.S. Senate?

Extortion!

Federal law prohibits bringing your own beverages past airport security checkpoints and at Tampa International Airport, they charge $2.69 for a sixteen-ounce bottle of water.  Why?  Because they’ve got you by the short and curlies, that’s why.

Isn’t it just swell when water costs more than gasoline?

What Will President Eisenhower Do?

A black teenager walking through a community at night, minding his own business.  Not smoking a cigarette or a joint, not carrying a beer or a 40.  No, that’s iced tea and candy in his hands.

Iced tea and candy.

A (mostly) white man, ever-vigilant lest his world be invaded by people different from him, follows closely, suspicious.  There’s a confrontation.  The white man, who starts the fight, is absorbing a beating, so he gets his gun and shoots the black man to death.

A southern jury concludes that the black man had it coming.  Its verdict:  not guilty.

It’s not exactly the case of Emmett Till, but it’s not that far off.

Welcome back to the 1950s.

The Curmudgeon Video of the Week: A New Low in Political Campaign Advertising

We’ve all come to expect the worst from television political ads, but this time, The Curmudgeon thinks he may have found the absolute worst:  a new ad from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, the man who, back in 2009, famously declared that his foremost political objective was to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Not “fix the economy.”  Not “get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Not “make this country a better place to live.”

So maybe The Curmudgeon shouldn’t be as appalled as he is by this ad, which in his mind is the most disgusting, repulsive, reprehensible piece of political advertising he’s ever seen.  In fact, it’s so bad, crosses so far over the line, that the only reason The Curmudgeon didn’t post it in this space when he first saw it was that he was certain it was a hoax and spent the next two weeks checking out multiple sources to verify its provenance.

But maybe he shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, we ARE talking about Mitch McConnell, and it’s probably not possible to get any lower politically than Mitch McConnell.

Judge for yourself here.

Hey Publishers: You Can’t Have it Both Ways

For years, publishers have been complaining about how Amazon.com discounts their books.

“You’re devaluing our products.  You’re selling them like widgets, and books are different, books are special,” they would cry.

Well, now that Amazon has successfully killed off Borders and has Barnes & Noble on the ropes, it’s pulling back some of that discounting.

And publishers, needless to say, are not happy about it.

“You’re not discounting our books as much as you used to and they’re more expensive and consumers aren’t going to buy them,” they now complain.

Mind you, it’s not like Amazon is taking a book with a publisher’s list price of $24.95 and trying to sell it for $27.95.  No, it’s taking a book with a publisher’s list price of $24.95 and, instead of selling it for $17.95, like it once did, it’s selling it for $21.95 or even, heaven forbid, what the publisher actually suggested:  $24.95.

Greed comes in all forms.  So does stupidity.  For proof, The Curmudgeon gives you:  the publishing industry.

Taking the Law Into Her Own Hands?

Last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that her office would not defend the state against a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  In fact, she said she “could not” defend the state because the law is unconstitutional – the same conclusion the U.S. Supreme Court recently reached about a comparable federal law.

Supporters of the law have criticized her decision, noting that as the state’s elected attorney general, it’s Kane’s job to defend state law regardless of how she feels about it.  Deciding on a law’s constitutionality, they note, is a job for the courts, not the attorney general.

It’s not an unreasonable argument.  That’s one of the reasons states have an attorney general:  when someone sues the state, the attorney general defends the state against the suit.

In the wake of Kane’s refusal to defend Pennsylvania in this matter, some public officials are calling on her to resign, some newspapers are calling on her to resign, and some ordinary folks are calling on her to resign.

On one hand, The Curmudgeon understands their position and is sympathetic to it.  If she was elected to defend state law and refuses to do so, what good is she?

On the other hand, though, consider this.  What if someone found an obscure Jim Crow law still on the books – say, something that prohibited white people and non-white people from dancing together in public?  Would anyone expect the attorney general to defend the state against a lawsuit seeking to overturn such a law?  Would anyone complain about her deciding that she needed to interpret the state constitution herself rather than just automatically defend every law that’s on the books?  Would anyone – well, except your occasional racist – think anything other than “Thank goodness someone around here’s exercising a little common sense?”

In short, aren’t public officials elected to exercise some judgment, some discretion?  And isn’t that what the attorney general has done in this case, whether we happen to agree with the judgment she’s exercised or not?  And isn’t that why we have elections:  so voters can decide whether they’re satisfied with the judgment their elected officials are exercising?

So where do you draw the line?  Is there a point where she’s allowed to interpret the law and a point beyond which she has no choice?  Does anyone know where that point might be?  How do we know when someone’s gone beyond that point?

It’s not an easy question.  Kane is the first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania since Pennsylvania started electing its attorney general and she’s the first woman elected to the position as well.  She just took office, so she doesn’t stand for re-election for another three-and-a-half years.  That election could very well turn out to be a referendum on her actions of last week.  Of course, a cynical observer might suggest that her very public announcement of last week was actually her first campaign speech in the state’s 2017 gubernatorial election.

Time will tell on all counts.