Thursday, March 14, 2013

Various and Sundry For The Week of March 15


So, New Pope.

Well, OK, he’s like five hundred years old or something, not exactly new new – but you knew what I meant.

Now, I’m not Catholic, or any religion for that matter, but apparently I’m supposed to really, really care about the new guy.  

Because it’s on every single damned news station and news paper and news feed and social media news site. 

New Pope is awesome! New Pope still has New Pope Smell! New Pope Hand Selected By God Himself! New Pope is First New World Pope! New Pope carries his own luggage! New Pope celebrates Mass (I didn’t even know the new guy was a fan of the Higgs Boson, but I suppose it sort of figures). New Pope  has no obvious resemblance to infamous Sith Lord – Catholics hopeful New Pope is a Trekkie or maybe even a Browncoat! New Pope begins first day by blessing stuff, New Pope blesses himself (don’t you go blind if you do that too much? I’m just asking. Popes are supposed to be experts on that sort of thing, you think he’d know better), New Pope blesses Old Pope, Pope blesses some random people for practice, New Pope blesses a pickle just to see if he can.  And so on. 

New Popes get to choose their Pope Name.

Popes are the only world leaders who get to do that, choose their own Superhero name. It’s a opportunity unique among the world’s big shots and not a choice to make lightly.

So, what name did this guy choose?


Pope Francis?

It’s just me, right?

Pope: The name's Francis Soyer, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of youse guys call me Francis, and I'll kill ya.
Random Priest [sarcastically]:  Ooooooh!
Pope: You just made the list, Buddy! [pulls a switchblade out of his cassock and flashes the blade at the offending Clergyman] And I don't like nobody touching my stuff. So just keep your meat-hooks off! If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I'll kill ya. Also, I don't like nobody touching me. Now, any of you… homos… touch me, and I'll kill ya.

This guy was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  Didn’t that suggest anything? Pope Jorge (pronounced in the Spanish, Whore-Hey). Because that would be totally awesome, and besides, somebody has to be the first of his name, right?  Or how about Pope Mario – and then we could rename the Popemobile to The Mario Cart, and it would blast that old 8-bit video game music from speakers on the roof, see, and it would make that power-up bonus noise when Pope Mario blessed people and the wahahahahahahaaaaaaa sound when …  

Oh, what?

See? This is why people are leaving the Church, no sense of humor.

Heck, the guy’s last name is Bergoglio for crying out loud, he could have been Pope Coolio!

Instead, he went with Francis.

Who the hell chooses Francis?  On purpose?

I mean Francis? You figure priests and bishops and cardinals must daydream about this stuff, right? For Christ’s sake, you’d think they’d be prepared.  I mean I’m not even Catholic and I was ready if they chose me. I would have totally gone with Pope Hammerscowl Ironbar The Unforgiving, Avenging Falcon Kick of the Almighty, Destroyer of Worlds, Scourge of Sin, Knight Commander of the Velociprator Army and Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!  I mean, shit, you’re The Pope, right? Who’s going to tell you that you can’t?  Think of how cool his business cards would be – maybe with little smity embossed lightning bolts around the edges? Huh?

Look here, Pope Hammerscowl Ironbar The Unforgiving issues a Holy Edict, and for damn sure the clergy would think twice about any Shenanigans with the altar boys, especially if there are velociraptors involved – but get a memo from some little old guy in a dress with matching hat and red pumps named Francis and where are you?


My point exactly.

Nobody would be telling Ol’ Hammerscowl to “lighten up.”

At least they wouldn’t tell him twice.


Meanwhile, speaking of a place that could use a few velociraptors, down in Mississippi they just passed an “anti-Bloomberg Bill” that makes calorie counting and portion control illegal in local restaurants.

Yes, that’s right, the state with one of the highest densities of per capita obesity, diabetes, and diet related health problems just passed a law making it illegal for restaurants to limit portion size or to post the number of calories and fat content in their food.

The bill’s author asked:

If we give government a little more control of our personal rights, where does it stop?

I think’s it obvious that Mississippians are afraid it will stop at the Golden Coral Buffet, I’m just saying.

I glanced at the Constitution to see which inalienable right was being infringed upon if jowly Mississippians  can’t get their pudgy hands on a Big Gulp, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe they meant the Mississippi State Constitution, Article Two, Second Helpings and other God Given Freedoms: Cholesterol being paramount to Liberty, the right of the people to shove as much fat and sugar into their gravy slathered country fried pieholes as is humanly possible, while simultaneously demanding the elimination of government mandated healthcare, shall not be infringed.

Sure, New York Mayor Bloomberg’s portion size law is idiotic and unenforceable and does absolutely nothing to address the growing problem of obesity and is very likely unconstitutional to boot, but is it really something that people are actually afraid of? 


Are We The People organizing over this?  Marching on Washington?  Pillaging health food stores?  Lighting yoga instructors on fire in effigy?  Are state governments and town councils sitting around hot airless conference rooms right now, pounding down stale jelly donuts and slurping whole-milk double lattes, bending to the people’s will, crafting laws to prevent the horrifying tide of Bloombergism from sweeping across American? My God, man, what if we can’t supersize? The horror! It’ll be the end of America as we know it! That’s how it started with Hitler! Not me, man, not me! The Nazi bastards can take my Big Gulp when they pry it from my cold dead sticky bloated ham-sized fist that had to be amputated due to the diabetes! Freeeeeedom!

Half the world is starving to death and in here America we’re arguing about the right to chug a gallon of soda in one sitting and Bloomberg’s city is home to events like professional hotdog eating contests and the World’s Biggest Burger.

No wonder most of the world hates our bleeding guts.

Our fat, fat bleeding guts.


While Mississippians are rallying for the right of all Americans to kill themselves with food, a town in Maine is taking a more direct approach.

In Byron, Maine, town residents will vote next week on a law that, if passed, will require all households within the municipality to own a gun.

The basic argument being that it’s overreach for the federal government to require that everybody buy healthcare, but it’s not government overreach to mandate that everybody must buy a gun.  Individual mandate = communism, mandatory gun ownership = Jesus. Write that down, kids, there’ll be a test at the end of the blog post, followed by a blessing from His Smitiness, The Pope.

Can’t afford healthcare premiums, can afford a gun. 

Can’t afford healthcare, can afford a daily Big Gulp. 

The sound you hear is Ben Franklin drowning a bald eagle in a vat of ketchup.

The law, if passed, of course, would be unenforceable.  

It’s an idiotic waste of time and money and the town council knows it.

Town Head Selectman Anne Simmons-Edmund, the council member who proposed the ordinance, says:

“It was never my intention for anyone to own a gun who doesn’t want to. My purpose was to make a statement in support of the Second Amendment…”

Because that’s what laws are for, right? Not to be enforced, only to make a political statement.

What? You can’t arrest me, officer.  Well, of course I just punched the Mayor in the face. But the laws against assault aren’t supposed to be enforced, they’re more of a statement on our First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of wrongs – and that bitch totally wronged me, so I redressed her right in the nose. Boyah!

This kind if nonsense isn’t confined to Maine.  Here in Alaska, and in a dozen other states, local representatives are busy bloviating on about wasteful government spending and parasites who take a government paycheck while producing little in return – and are busy penning laws and ordinances that they know right up front are unenforceable and unconstitutional and will be struck down in court after costing taxpayers even more money. Every small town pissant Tea Party state representative, for example, is home right now crafting legislation to make enforcement of any new federal gun laws illegal in their home states.  Like you can actually do that.  For a bunch of people who claim to hate the Europeans, these patriots sure do seem to like the idea of a federal model that resembles the European Union – or the long defunct Confederacy.

Honestly, if they really wanted to reduce the size of government and the average total tax burden most of the middleclass deals with, then they’d do what Business does when it’s too big and too complex and too bloated – they’d advocate for elimination of redundant functions. You want to downsize? You want to streamline? Then don’t get rid of Federal Government, instead get rid of fifty different state governments. That would be a start right there. Just eliminate an entire layer of redundancy and bullshit and bureaucracy. Blam!  We’d end up one country, with one government, with one set of laws, with one set of taxes.  Then we can start getting rid of underperforming divisions, starting with Mississippi. And do we really need two Carolinas? Two Dakotas? A Virginia and a West Virginia?  Look, I’m just saying, anywhere that the percentage of Big Gulp slurping Wal-Mart shoppers wearing pajamas pants in public exceeds a ratio of, let’s say, 1 per 10,000 then that state should be looked at for a quick fireside sale. There’s really no downside.

What? Yes, yes, I know, make sure they spell my name right on the Nobel Prize. They’ll probably have to invent like a whole new category – The Nobel Prize of Awesome!


Which reminds me: North Korea. A bunch of you wrote asking what I thought about North Korea’s recent threat to nuke us.

Folks, honest to God, Kim Jong Un, right? You can all start digging fallout shelters in your backyards if you want to, but have you seen this character? Talk about a guy who was voted most likely to win first place on the People Of Walmart website.  Frankly I just can’t take anybody seriously when their chubby pink ass is hanging out of a pair of pajama bottoms – or maybe that’s his head, it’s kind of difficult to tell.  

Kim Jong Un, it’s like being threatened by Crazy Smurf.  


Of course, I’m not exactly sure that we should be talking shit about anybody else’s government, given the silly bastards who’ve taken ours hostage.

It’s now been two weeks since Congress crossed its little pipe-cleaner arms and scrunched up its little red face and started holding its breath like a truculent child.  If I don’t get my way, I’ll just hold my breath until I die! Then you’ll see! Then you’ll be sorry!

Of course, that’s what happens when you elect twits like the freshman republican Representative from Oklahoma, Jim Bridenstine, who was apparently off throwing tea into the harbor or something on the day his high school government class explained how America works.

“Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional.”

Um, yeah, Dude, that sort of is what it means, that’s what we pay them for.

But Bridenstine wasn’t finished, the crux of his complaint is that Democrats have stacked the court in their favor – the Supreme Court, the one dominated by conservatives five to four, conservatives appointed by conservatives. That court. Yeah.

This is the same guy whose website says he’s a veteran of “Operation Shock and Awe in Iraq.”  Operation Shock and Awe? Hmmm, I was there and as I recall there was Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, but I don’t remember any “Operation Shock and Awe.”  Shock and Awe was a strategy, a form of fast moving warfare that formed the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom – sort of an American version of Blitzkrieg, a snappy catch phrase tailor made for the news media.  But, hey, man says he was part of Operation Shock and Awe and the Supreme Court is made up of tofu eating liberals who don’t know about the Constitution, who the heck are we to argue, right? I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.

Left and Right remain far, far apart on spending and taxes.

Paul Ryan says he can balance the budget in less than ten years – all we have to do is let old people die and turn the poor into tasty Soylent Green.

President Obama is supposed to release his budget idea next week, republicans already proactively hate it.

Guy says to me this morning, “Obama? Jesus, somebody needs to tell him ‘you can’t borrow your way out of debt!”

We were standing at the urinals.  Now, look, there are rules. Men don’t talk to men in the restroom, not while they’re doing business – maybe a brief “howsitgoin’” while washing hands, but not during the business phase of the operation.  That’s the only part of the day that’s entirely mine, I don’t want to talk to anybody while I’m emptying a supersized Mountain Dew out of Pope Hammerscowl, if you understand what I’m saying here.  The only way to irritate me more than talking to me when I’m blessing the masses is to say something stupid.

You can’t borrow your way out of debt?


Except for that part where you actually can borrow your way out of debt – and, in point of fact, borrowing is the most common way people, corporations, and countries actually get themselves out of debt.

It happens a thousand times a day.

Take a doctor for example. Or a lawyer. Or any other highly paid professional with a graduate degree – pretty likely they borrowed themselves into debt in order to get advanced schooling which they then used to get a series of backbreaking internships where they wracked up more debt while working to improve their situation which eventually led to a decent high paying job which then allowed them to pay off their debts and start making bank.

Take GM. They borrowed a shitload of money from the government, they used that money to reorganize, reinvest, and retool – and they’re turning a profit again and working their way out of debt right now. If they hadn’t borrowed their way out of debt, they’d be bankrupt and out of business and several million American workers would be on the street.

Any new business typically starts out by acquiring debt. People and organizations borrow money all of the time in order to get out of debt by creating or improving infrastructure, hiring talent, to get past a bad patch, to fund research or construction or any of a thousand other things that improve their lot.

It’s sort of the entire basis of our economy.

You can borrow your way out of debt, what you can’t do is use empty platitudes and idiotic sound bites to achieve the same.

We’re two weeks into sequestration and there’s no end in sight. The full effects haven’t been felt yet, but they’re coming.

A number of folks, like my soon to be furloughed Urinal Buddy, have suggested that we just stop paying Congress until they start doing their jobs.

Uh, no.

Sorry, but that would be unconstitutional.

See, the 27th Amendment requires us to pay them. Period. Whether or not they do their job, whether or not we like it, we have to pay them. It’s the law.  Sequestration will eventually impact just about everybody in the United States, except for the people who created it.

Congress came up with that. Cute, eh?

Which brings up an interesting idea: Turn it around.

See, I figure it’s only poetic justice, Congress wrote a law that says we have to pay them no matter what, so I think it’s only fair that they should have to work – no matter what.

Here’s my idea: we herd the whole goddamned disagreeable bunch of them into the United States Capital Building, Senators into the Senate Chamber, Representatives into the House – and then we lock the doors.

That’s right, we lock the doors, from the outside. And post guards. Big guards, with bad attitudes and tasers – federal police, the guys threatened with furlough. Those guys.

And the Congressional sons of bitches can stay in there until they’ve earned their paychecks.

No pages, no aides, no phones, no internet, no TV cameras, no catering, no breaks. One Port-O-Potty per chamber – with one roll of toilet paper each.

Good luck.

Let us know when you’ve all agreed to a budget.  Slide it under the door and if we like it, we’ll send it over to the President for signature. If he vetoes it, then that’s on him.

Sequestration, as you’ll recall, has several definitions, one of which is to “seclude or lock away.”

I suggest we do exactly that. Sequester. To Congress.

Congress thinks sequestration is such a spiffy idea?

Let them live with it.


  1. I was very happy to see that it is not just my two brothers and I who thought of "Stripes" immediately upon learning of Pope Francis I. Where is Cardinal Hulka when we need him? If ever an organization needed a "Big Toe" it is the Catholic Church.

    Informative and entertaining read - as per usual.

    1. I was very disappointed when I realized you hadn't actually written 'Cardinal Hulk'.

      I would seriously pay to see that movie. "HULK SMASH PUNY PLENARY INDULGENCES!"

  2. First on Pope Frank http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsBFqgkAkXI

    And on locking them all up in an uncomfortable space? Exactly what to you think the Papal Conclave is about (historically) and it is catered by nuns not known for cooking.

  3. Can we sequester congress (the opposite of progress) indefinitely?

  4. Great post Jim! I like the idea of selling off the lower performing states. But I would have to sell my house and move to a state that remains in the US, as I have no doubt Texas would be sold off rather quickly.

    1. There's probably no rush, we have to find a buyer first...

    2. Good luck with that. You'd probably have to run commercials like "Crazy Rick's Deep Discount state property. Come on down. At these prices, I'd have to be Crazy to let the state go."

    3. Sellin' ain't a problem down here in Texas. Hell, we've got a gaggle of folks in Del Rio that make millions sellin' vapor to fools.

    4. We can get rid of Texas rather easily. All we have to do is declare the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo void ('cause really who actually believes that we had a war with Mexico, for Pete's sake) and tell Mexico that they had better come pick up their state RIGHT DAMN NOW, or we'll just drop it off at the curb, where any other country can come by and pick up a few cities.

      We may have to park a couple of brigades along the TX-OK border to keep Mexico from sneaking it back on our doorstep after dark, but that shouldn't cost too much,

  5. I don't know how I found your posts, but they are a bright point of light in my life now that I have. You are SO funny and SO right.

  6. Oh hell yeah. Lock the doors and no snacks. But we'll let the Nuns who catered the Papal Conclave come in and serve. Maybe that will speed things up.

  7. What!!?? The NERVE of those guys! Why should some sanctimonious, holier-than-thou anti-sugar fanatics have the right to interfere with MY PERSONAL and PRIVATE decision to buy a 64 ounce Mountain Dew! That is something that should be left between me and my 7-11 cashier! Those arrogant FASCISTS! WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END!!

  8. The Papal Conclave: Just like ComicCon in that it involves a large group of guys who don't get laid standing around in funny costumes talking about a mystical superhero.

    1. Love it!!

    2. Oh, man. That one is going on my list of quotes.

    3. I'm with pecooper and Barb on this one: all-time great line.

  9. I am so pleased to come home after two weeks in paradise with no tv, no newspapers and limited internet and find that I can just delete all the political emails because you have summed up all the top stories and the madness in this one blog.
    Thank you, Jim! (Forgive me, I meant to say .. Pope Hammerscowl Ironbar The Unforgiving, Avenging Falcon Kick of the Almighty, Destroyer of Worlds, Scourge of Sin, Knight Commander of the Velociprator Army and Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla! ) You saved me from wasting my day deleting and unsubscribing!
    BTW Delicious Smorgasbord!

    1. I'll see you folks tonight. Hope I live up to your expectations. Should be fun.

  10. I am a bit disappointed because...Francis dressed in matching hat and red pumps is not going to make that outfit work!

  11. Warner beat me to it. The papal conclave ("with key") first came about when the citizens of Rome, fed up with the Cardinals not choosing a new pope for 2 years, locked them all in a room until they figured it out.

  12. I needed to laugh long and loudly today. Right on the mark!

  13. (Sorry, the citizens of Viterbo. My Papal election history is a bit fuzzy this early in the morning.)

  14. I have just finished cleaning my computer screen - again. New Pope celebrates Mass (I didn’t even know the new guy was a fan of the Higgs Boson, but I suppose it sort of figures).

    Thanks, I think.

    Ann C.

  15. Not only did the good citizens of Viterbo lock them in, they removed the roof. I think this should be standard practice Congress. We could install a retractable roof, and when they don't produce an acceptable budget, we release the pigeons.

  16. What's with the denigrating of the name "Francis"? It could have been worse. I was named "Gerald", for God's sake! When I went to Catholic school the nuns called me "Jerome" because there weren't any saints named Gerald. My middle name is Max. Now that's a man's name!
    Gerald, Bah!


    1. Greg - ETC(SW) - USN RetiredMarch 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      Try going through life with the first name Walbert. At least there's a Saint by that name.

    2. Could have been worse, I suppose. My great-grandmother was named Kunigunda, intentionally it appears, although I used to find it hard to believe. There is also a saint by that name. Perhaps the Catholic Church should allow saints to change their names post-canonization (and post mortem as well)? What the hell, these no ordinary mortals be.

      Francis barely registers on the scale of Walbert and Kunigunda.

      Jim, stellar work, as usual.

      Are you familiar with the writings of David Cay Johnston?

  17. Actually, one of my closest coworkers is named Francis Xavier. He has eleven brothers and sisters, so you can figure it out. I called him "Your Holiness" for _one day_, then decided to quit being a jerk. At least about that.

  18. Eliminating the redundant state governments is an AWESOME idea!!!!!! Where do I sign the petition!!!

  19. Our wonderful governor of Ohio was floating the idea of streamlining all out local governments and their disparate efforts at tax collection by just having the state handle all of it. "Imagine the savings" they touted. Right up to the point that someone said, "Imagine all the savings across the country if we just let the IRS collect all the income taxes for the states and municipalities." Yea, that idea just kinda sorta went away after that one.

  20. You write: "Sure, New York Mayor Bloomberg’s portion size law is idiotic and unenforceable and does absolutely nothing to address the growing problem of obesity and is very likely unconstitutional to boot, but is it really something that people are actually afraid of?"

    There are problems w/ the portion size law (odd exemptions that make no sense on the one hand, and on the other, a question of administrative overreach -- though, not, I think, a question of constitutionality qua the aim of the ordinance itself). But I think it is important, in thinking about this rather odd law, and whether it is, all things considered, really 'idiotic,' to note a few salient facts:

    First, the law, as you rightly note, does not prohibit anyone from consuming as much soda as he or she wants to; it makes it (slightly) more inconvenient to do so.

    Second, due to perverse subsidies, the cost-per-ounce of soda is badly distorted; this means that the additional cost to the seller of an additional 32 ounces, say, is trivial, and any additional revenue they can extract from the additional amount is profit.

    Third -- and this is really important -- due to a weird and not-well-understood psychological quirk, we adjust our consumption to serving size. For most people, if I give you a bucket with way more popcorn in it than you can possible eat, and I give you another bucket with twice as much popcorn as the first, you'll still eat more from the second bucket than from the first, despite the fact that finishing the first bucket is impossible. Worse: if I do the same thing with stale popcorn with rancid butter, you'll still eat more from the bigger bucket. You'll hate every bite, but you'll choke down more of it from the big bucket.

    Fourth -- we have relatively little control over the phenomenon in (3) - in fact, we don't even notice it's happening!

    Given the above, forcing, a matter of public policy, places to make ordering and consuming huge quantities of cola slightly more inconvenient does not seem, to me, to be an imposition on anyone's rights. We can permit companies to extract small additional profits, with some potentially serious externalities, in the name of "freedom" but why is permitting companies to manipulate us in ways that we have limited control over freedom-enhancing *for the consumer*? Forcing us to go back to get a second softdrink, after we've finished the first, it can be argued, in fact increases the opportunity for us to act in ways that are "free" and responsive to our actual desires, rather than to the subtle manipulation of marketing coupled with the odd psychological quirks over which we have no control.

    Yes, yes, we could tax softdrinks more heavily to address this, but we are already paying taxes to keep HFCS cheap, so that seems a little perverse.

    Whether this particular law, if in fact ever enforced, would have any meaningful impact on average calorie consumption, or on people's views of sane serving sizes in other contexts, is of course a real question. The claim that it would have *no* effect is plausible, but I don't think the claim that it would in fact have a non-trivial effect is a non-starter. And if it were to work, it would have its influence by giving people more, rather than less, power over their own consumption.

    OK, that's me on my soapbox. (Obviously, I think the idea of Pope Hammerscowl Ironbar is right on the mark.)

    1. If you compare the average serving size from the mid 1900s to the average serving size now, you will see that as serving size increased, so did obesity. The average soda was 8 oz, the normal size of a hamberger was the size of today's jr burger, same with fries.


    2. You might be missing the sarcasm I intended in that particular comment, Jonathan.

      I think this is less a question of whether or not a person can buy and consume whatever idiotic amount of soda they wish, or deep fried fat, or salt, or buttered and battered slugs for all I care, than a question of whether it's legal and/or ethical for fast food and convenience store operators - and the large corporations who own them - to engage in information warfare at the expense of the public health. The reason portion size and sugar/fat/salt content is higher now than it was back in the day is because it's more profitable. Because it's more profitable to make shit that's bad for you, and it's cheaper to market stuff that pretends to be healthy but is in fact crap - McDonald's Oatmeal is a perfect example. It's hideously unhealthy, but it's marketed as a healthy alternative to admittedly other crap that McDonalds sells for breakfast, it's cheap to make, and they can charge a premium for it. These companies have invested tremendously in making people want products that are horribly bad for them - the amount of sugar in a Big Gulp is more than you should be consuming in a month let alone a single sitting, let alone daily. Companies have worked aggressively to make you want this stuff - again, McDonalds, pull up to their drive-thru and the first thing they do is push the jumbo size on you. You have to opt out of large. Why? Because it's hugely profitable for McDonalds and for no other reason.

      A mark of just how effective this campaign has been is that Americans actually regard ridiculously huge portion sizes as a constitutional right.

      This form of corporate information warfare is no different than those ads back in the sixties designed to convince people that smoking was good for them.

      Bloomberg lost the minute he told people what they couldn't have. He should have concentrated on making the industry cease their aggressive information warfare campaign - and spent his time explaining to New Yorkers how they were being taken for a ride - just like with cigarettes. He might actually have succeeded.

    3. Fair enough, Jim. Thanks for the clarification. I thought your take on the crazy Mississippi legislation was right on the mark, and should have thought harder about reading the material on Bloomberg in an appropriately snarky voice. :)

    4. Uh, NaluGirl, I think you miss the fact that, back in 1900, the average US Citizen lived on a farm and WALKED 125 miles a week. (Not to mention doing all the other back breaking work running a farm without the aid of internal combustion and electric motors.) If they didn't walk they rode a horse or in something pulled by same. Now imagine if the average US Citizen of today burned an extra 12,500 calories a week due to exercise. Would we really have much of an obesity problem? It's also a fact taht farm workers tend(ed) to eat a LOT at their meals. They needed it! So have the protion sizes really gone up?

    5. Farm population in 1900 was substantially less than half the population so the 'average citizen' didn't live on a farm or walk 125 miles a week. Farmers made up only 38 percent of the labor force in 1900 and by 1910 that percentage had dropped to 31 percent.

      The observance of increasing portion sizes is perfectly credible.

    6. Oh, and by 1990, farmers made up only 2.6 percent of the labor force.

    7. 1900, not 1990.

    8. @10:29, 1900 was addressed.

      @ 10:29 your 'theory', Lucas, was apparently revealed to be without substantive foundation.

  21. Wait - you didn't know the Pope was a fan of the God Particle?


  22. You may laugh at the Pope’s choice of the name Francis, but it depends a lot on who he had in mind when he picked the name. As I recall, Francis the Talking Mule (in the movies with Donald O’Conner) had a pretty mean kick. I wouldn’t want to cross him. It’s also instructive to remember that, while nobody paid much attention to him, he was the smartest critter on the army base. Just saying …

    1. My first thought was also of the talking mule.

  23. Our cR-AZy state legislature thinks it is important to save the lives of thousands of guns: "Thousands of seized guns could be offered for sale or trade to licensed firearms dealers because of a new state law designed to prohibit Arizona police agencies from destroying weapons they confiscate.

    The law went into effect in early August, forcing some agencies to stockpile weapons they used to scrap as they try to establish agreements with federally licensed firearms dealers that they can do business with.

    It raises questions about what police can do with weapons collected through gun buyback programs such as one recently proposed by a Tucson City Council member. It also raises broader policy questions about whether putting weapons back into circulation makes good public-safety sense."

    Apparently our leges' new motto is "Guns don't kill people, people kill guns."


    1. Gun Buy-back programs are notoriously ineffective. there are three categories of guns that show up at these. 1. Crime guns, dumped with no questions asked and no trace, thanks for the gift card. 2. Guns in such terrible condition that the safest place would be in front of them, non-functional, rusted, worthless, Thanks for the gift card. 3. Guns with real value, discarded by people with more fear of guns than knowledge. A police officer friend had a pistol dropped off by a little old lady, the clerk took it in without asking any questions. It was a very good condition Smith and Wesson model 1 1/2, over 100 years old, a true classic and probably could have been consigned to a collector for $3,000-5,000, the kind of money a little old lady on social security can really use. Sadly, it is now going to be melted for scrap, because the rules say so.

    2. I'm not saying gun buy-back programs are the answer. I was commenting on the extreme pro-gun attitude of my state legislature. In the past two years they have done everything BUT mandate that all Arizonans must own a gun. They hate it that the Federal government has jurisdiction over the states but feel that it is okay for the state government to tell cities and towns what to do.

      Most of the Arizona State Legislature worships guns.


  24. Was working in Mississippi last week. Went into a local establishment to order a beer. Barkeep asked me what I wanted. Told him I'd like a Sam Adams...

    Barkeep: "We don't have that. We only sell American beers here."

    Me: "So what do you have?"

    Barkeep: "Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light."

    I did a quick double take and took a minute to explain to him that Bud and Bud Light are made by AB InBev, a multinational company with its dual headquarters in Belgium and Brazil, and that Miller Lite and Coors Light come from SABMiller, operating from a headquarters in England.

    Me: "Sam Adams, a brewery named after one of the founding fathers, has its headquarters in Massachusetts and is now the largest American-owned brewery."

    Barkeep: "Get your Yankee ass out of my bar."

    1. I think that you found the first state that needs to be sold. Unlikely you will find a buyer though.

    2. Greg - ETC(SW) - USN RetiredMarch 15, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Bill Maher, this past week, talked about this briefly on his "New Rules" segment while talking about how everything was becoming political. He stated that Conservatives like Budwieser or Miller (because they're easy to spell) and Liberals like imports like St Pauli Girl. I knew about AB being bought up by a multinational (Bill didn't mention that part, and it would have been a perfect point to make), but I wasn't aware that Miller/Coors were now multinational, as well. I just assumed that the Coors family still controlled Coors.

      Sorta typical reaction when you show someone how stupid they've just been, though. "Get your Yankee ass out of my bar."

    3. I think I've been in this bar.

      And I was arrested twice in one day in Louisiana. Because I had a "Yankee" drivers license - and I was in the Navy.

    4. I'd bet Greg's St.Pauli Girl is brewed in Ft.Worth, Texas, like so many other "imported" beers, at the Miller brewery. I've read where Bud Light sells well in Europe, which boggles the mind. So much for superior culture...

    5. Anyone know what the SAB in SABMiller stands for? South African Breweries. Yep, out of Africa, as they say.

  25. Mississippi could probably change its motto to: "Obitus et Vorax"...

    1. Actually, I suppose "Mortuis et Vorax" would be a cleaner translation...

  26. Another insightful post.
    As to the idea of locking the members of the House and Senate in until the accomplish something. It might get better results if we announce to all citizens of the various states that if their chosen representatives don't buckle down and work together for the good of the country by Memorial day they will be sent back home until their terms expire and the Capitol will be rented out for conventions.
    The country will probably get by just fine without them.

  27. Where to start....

    When we lock congress in, can we do it during the summer? With no air conditioning? And, have the people who empty the port-a-pottys on 'furlough'? Or, we can send them on a cruise.

    Maybe we can combine the offices of Pope and leader of North Korea, as they are equally relevant.


    1. I don't know where you got the idea that we were going to empty the Port-O-Potties, frankly I think the fact that we provided them in the first place is enough.

      Also, summer, winter. You've obviously never used a Port-O-Can at ten below. I'm just saying there's advantages and disadvantages to each season.

    2. Au contaire mon ami, I have used Port-O-Potties considerably below -10 (Hyalite Canyon, Montana) and I have survived the first shuttle launch. ~ 1 million people, Florida summer heat and humidity, and they were not emptied. The first person in line was maybe 100 yards away.

      I will take the back-flap long-johns and the cold any day.

      May the Farce be with you,


  28. Francis - Patron saint of talking mules.

  29. I KNOW! Let's sell the entire tax leeching, traitorous south to the Queen of England for 5 billion bucks (or Euros).

    I say we'll come out on top!

    1. Pounds. England still uses the pound sterling and is unlikely to ever join the euro crowd.

    2. Never, you'll have to tale the pound out of our cold dead hands!

  30. A totally sequestered Congress!! What a delight!! Kept alive on Giant Gulps and McDonalds, with extra helpings of beans. For the more sage of those members, it would give the word 'Constitution' a whole new meaning. And let's supply them with an old pot-bellied stove, that can only be lit when they come to a decision (the smoke thing, it's kinda traditional for these kind of get togethers). No booze, no broads, no showers, sleep on the benches, yeah . . . I bet we'd get some conscensi going in no time.

    Not crazy about the new pope. Not crazy about the 'elite' Jesuits. I don't want to take away from the works of the non-elite, they are kind of like the Marines of the RC, no fear and go into some pretty scary places (all boys HS, for one). But the elite, they are a dangerous lot . . .

    Thanks Jim, great blog. MSD

    1. After all, the idea of the papal conclave is basically sound. Lock everybody up. The trouble is, they let them out again. Surely we could encourage some patriot to lose the key.

    2. You cut right to the heart of the matter, dontcha?

  31. My husband and I have a political guessing game: Who's going to be Nehemiah Scudder? I thought it was Jimmy Carter, really guessed wrong on that one, then I figured it had to be Shrub. No again. I don't think he was smart enough.
    Last election was full of potentials, but candidate Romney was not one of them. The Fosterite, er, Mormon church is more subtle than that. Plus Mitt was more about money than religion.
    If they had picked the American Cardinal, well that would have had potential.
    After all, we are in The Crazy Years.


  32. Thank you for the laughs. Read this on a forum I frequent, today: "It's amazing to think that the seat of Peter has been filled by a new world that wasn't even known during the time of Christ's life!"

    uh...you mean except by the thousands of people who LIVED HERE?


  33. While we might not be able to cut the pay of Congress,
    how about their staffs?

    1. Got it, if at first you can't seem to put the touch on the boss, .... just go after the help, they're sure to be a suitable stand-in.

  34. Not that it's relevant but Kings and Queens of England can also choose their own super name when they ascend the hallowed throne.

  35. "Of course, I’m not exactly sure that we should be talking shit about anybody else’s government, given the silly bastards who’ve taken ours hostage."

    And when congress starts to recognize this fact - maybe some sanity will return to the country - maybe not.

    Thanks Jim

  36. A slightly different view of sequestering the Congress:

    Think it would work?

  37. Francis? When it's my turn, I'm going to call myself Pope Mick and Keith.

  38. Locking people inside until they reached a decision was done in Williamsburg, VA, ca 1774 (or thereabouts), for our own nation. It was done in the dead of summertime, and took days. Not a bad plan.

  39. I think you mean to say that the law forbids local governments from making restaurants reduce portions or admit the calorie content, not that restaurants are forbidden to post calorie contents should they want to. As my husband said, "The South will rise again? No, its fat ass is stuck on the couch (which is on the front porch)."

  40. Jim- Hey, there is so much "low hanging fruit" in the GOP right now, it's hard to know who to make fun of first...HOW have you resisted the juicy stuff coming out of CPAC (Childish People Always Complaining)?? But I clicked your link to Jim Bridenstine's website, and boy was I impressed...with his basic not-there-ness. Beside the listings of "Lt. Commander Jim's" medals, I saw a button for visiting his "Blog". I thought it would be a hoot to see what turns this guy's wheels. Well, it hasn't been updated since October 2012, and the last entry describes his fawning readiness to work with "our next President, Mitt Romney"... I guess he was SOOOOooooo disheartened by the 47% somehow subverting the voting process and stealing the election for our "commie, socialist, NAZI, Kenyan no-good stinker of a President" that he just can't talk about it anymore. BUT, Share the Dream and Donate! Is prominently displayed, so I'm sure he will cash any checks sent his way.
    ANYWAY, as always, LOVE the comments, you are clearly the sanest guy in Alaska...Maybe the Western US! And PLEASE, IF you are going to get rid of one of the Carolinas...please get rid of SOUTH carolina. There is still hope to be found here in NC, although it takes some searching around. At least when OUR government officials say they are going on the Appalachian Trail, they usually are...even if they DO take a cadre of press corps with them to show how they are human too! Take care and keep up the good work!!!

  41. When I was involved with the Shock & Awe aspect of the war, we called it "Crap Your Pants".

  42. Very well written as ususal, even if the first part demonstrates that you're clearly going to hell ...

    Minor point - your assumptions about going into debt to finance lawschool and then getting a high paying job haven't been true for years. Nowadays, most lawschool graduates (from decent schools, not the paste eating emporium which gave Orly Taitz a "degree"), graduate with a debt of more than $150,000 and cannot find a job in their profession. The debt immediately begins accruing interest and cannot be eliminated by bankruptcy. It is very difficult to convince and employer to hire you if you have a "fancy" law school JD, so many graduates now are unemployed and watching their mountain of debt reach Everest proportions. Check out the last post on Inside the Law School Scam for personal anecdotes (err ... sorry, I mean for "scientific data" if you speak Republican).

    1. I have been a paralegal for 20+ years and only the deeply committed with a spouse who has job should consider law school. Only the top 1% from select top school will see the money necessary to pay back these loans without a financial hardship. Such as former Supreme Court law clerks who receive signing bonus up to $250,000 in addition to a $150,000 salary. Even attorneys who have been practicing for 10+ years are scrambling for clients.

      My favorite law school blog is "Above the Law"

    2. We're $17 trillion in the effing hole. At what point does that whole "borrow money to get out of debt" crap start working? It can apply to people who at some point a)stop borrowing money and b)have a good or service others actually want to pay for - but neither applies to the gubmint.

  43. I was all set to comment on your remarkable restraint for not mentioning CPAC, but then realized that's material for a week of posts in and of itself. Alaska and Texas were both well represented, of course. Looks like my fellow citizens in Texas launched a Cruz missile, fully armed but without a guidance system. Exporting our politicians is always dangerous but frequently entertaining.

  44. Don, ....Anyone ever tell you that what you find 'entertaining' blows?

  45. Jim,

    Jarheadjournalist here, long time no talk hope you're well. I loved this post and agreed with most of it. The part I wanted to comment on was the end suggestion of locking congress in the capitol building and forceing them to earn their pay, I have been saying this for years. I know the President is allowed to deploy the Marines anywhere he sees fit with out congressional approval for a limited time, (was 30 I believe it is now 60) I believe a Regiment of Marines would be happy to stand guard and supply cots and MRE's to our congress while they work out a budget or until the time is up and we can no long post Marines at the door. If our elected offials were held to the same standard as our military a lot of them would be facing Captians Mast for deriliction UA and article 134. Keep up the good work Sir.

  46. Ahhhh....I just love it when I laugh so hard I shake. Seems to happen almost every time I drop by. Hammerscowl Ironbar indeed.

  47. Jim, When I heard about Bloomberg's idea I knew it would be trouble and I had an idea of my own that I think would go over better. I'd like your take on it: The main reason portion sizes have grown so large is that Americans place too much emphasis on "value". I want more shit for my money. McDonald's sells its super-sized soda for $1 just like its small size. Very few people are going to buy a 12 oz. if they can get a 44 oz. for the same price.

    My solution is a law that says that companies (restaurants, gas stations, Coffee shops, etc.) have to price their drinks in linear 1-1 proportional to the size of the drink. If you price your small, 12 oz soda at $1 then your medium, 24 oz. has to be $2 and your 44 oz. super size will be at least $3.67. The companies (or the market) can choose the baseline pricing.

    It's a win for everyone. The consumer won't be tempted by the 'super value' of a large drink they don't necessarily want; the company will make money off the people that absolutely have to have their bucket 'o sugar; and the gov't will get extra taxes off $3.67 instead of $1. Plus you get the inconvenience factor of the refill that is in Bloomberg's law.

    1. Hethrow,
      Better yet, let the market set prices. (No, I'm not GOP or gLibertarian.) Let's stop subsidizing corn to the tune of billions of dollars per year. The market price for corn is no where near the cost it takes to produce it. As a result, high fructose corn syrup is artificially cheap, therefore soft drinks are dirt cheap. The real cost is hidden in agribusiness subsidies to corn states from non-corn states. Stopping that corporate welfare will show up as real cost-based prices at the soda fountain. Maybe it will even reduce obesity in this country, so win-win-win. Agribusiness will not lose, because they can just raise prices. (Who am I kidding? This will never happen. These mega-corps own too many lobbyists and mid-west Congress-critters.)

  48. Jim I can't believe that you'd leave your representatives even ONE toilet roll!


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