Friday, June 11, 2010


I thought of these a couple of years ago and haven't gotten around to publicly deploying them. I decided I'd better tell someone so that if I'm killed in one of those freak zeppelin accidents you always hear about, the world will not be deprived of my genius.

On the desirability of having a surplus of digital horsepower: I need lebensRAM!

The argument for doing something just because it's cool: reductio ad awesome.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It all comes down to this

I was in Yum-Yum Donuts this morning, and they have a big sign on the wall that says, "It all comes down to this: we build a better donut." The same claim is also emblazoned on their donut boxes.

My initial mental response in the donut shop, which I still believe to be completely accurate, was, "Bullcrap. It all comes down to this: you're close to my house." I'll grant that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that someone might think or even say, "You know what? I'm tired of Pachyderm Sphincter Donuts. I'm going to drive the extra half mile to Yum-Yum!" But I strongly doubt that anyone actually has. I know donut snobs who would pass up other donut places to hit a Krispy Kreme--myself included--but a faceless joint like Yum-Yum? No way.

Which led me to thinking about the strange phenomenon of donut advertising. Mainly the near absence thereof. I vaguely recall seeing some TV spots for one donut house or another, but I don't think they've ever been common. What's to advertise? Isn't the whole point of a donut house that you know exactly what you're going to get inside? OTOH, the same is true of the fast food industry, which from all appearances spends many times more on advertising than on food components. But maybe burgers and burritos offer more avenues for customization. That aren't already exploited by everyone else, I mean. Even the most humble donut store has about a zillion varieties of original glazed, powdered, chocolate-covered, creme-filled, etc. I submit that the donut market is already pretty well saturated with product lines, and that everyone knows it. I further believe that everyone who has a mind to buy donuts already knows if there is a donut place in the neighborhood, and doesn't care what name is on the sign. Or maybe the profit margin on donuts is enough to employ donut makers but not advertisers.

Which brings me back to the odd claim, touted in their stores and on their boxes and, as far as I can tell, nowhere else, that Yum-Yum Donuts builds a better donut. You don't even get this message until you're in the store, or munching out of the box of donuts on the counter at the office/station house/rehab. This is post-hoc advertising. Its purpose is not to entice you to buy Yum-Yum Donuts over the competition's; we all know that you're going to the donut joint closest to your home or workplace, and that you don't really give a crap what brand of donut you buy (with the possible exception of Krispy Kreme). The only purpose I can see in the "We build a better donut" claim is to make you feel better about the donuts you already bought. Which is maybe not a bad idea. When you're sitting in your terrycloth bathrobe amidst smoldering piles of cigarette butts, e-Bay junk, and cat poop, you need all the reassurance you can get.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Massachusetts inspires thoughts of violence

In my freshman year at OU I took an intro poli sci course. On the first day of class, the professor went through the syllabus and then started describing in general terms how the US government functions. When he paused to allow time for questions, some pedantic, pencil-neck pre-law Poindexter prick (Ah luv me some alliteration, 'allelujah!) raised his hand and said, "I couldn't help noticing that you referred to the US as including 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories. I just wanted to point out that Massachusetts is technically a commonwealth."

Now, normally I am not an advocate of beating up nerds, but for 15 years now I have been hoping that on the way back to the dorms, some jock grabbed that kid and beat the living hell out of him.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two things worth reading about Obama's first year

Andrew Sullivan's take, and John Scalzi's additional thoughts. Best bit, from the Scalzi piece:

The man has monolithic, unified opposition in the Washington GOP, a fractious and fragile base in the diffuse Washington Democrats, and was handed two expensive, unpopular wars, a profoundly degraded political environment at home and abroad, and a national and global economy which were dual scorching pillars of oh shit we’re all going to die. That the man got anything substantive done, much less had what is objectively a politically remarkable first year, is impressive.

Next up: my thoughts on Avatar (finally).

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Sacked out

Male red kangaroo, LA Zoo.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Walter the squirrel

We have this squirrel that lives around our house. He's kind of a doofus. It's a good thing this is a predator-free environment, sometimes he makes enough racket in the trees that you'd think a couple of sasquatchi were getting it on. I call him Walter, in honor of Walter Sobchak. He's fat, noisy, but basically harmless, and if that isn't enough to earn the name, check this out:

He's also curious and if I'm out and about sometimes he'll just plunk down and watch me. Which affords me the opportunity to practice digiscoping if the birds aren't cooperating--which, lately, they ain't been.

Last Sunday afternoon, he was up on top of the telephone pole next to the driveway, chittering away at me in between breaks to groom his fur and--I am not making this up--scratch his pits. I hauled out my little scope and started snapping.

The lowest useful magnification my scope will do is 30x. To get this last shot, I had to open the gate to the back yard and go all the way to the end of the property just to get a wide enough field of view. That's a good problem to have.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stuff that just occurred to me

Loss of libido: randicapped.

Hyperbole: the greatest rhetorical technique in the history of the universe.