The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum

The Harmful Rays of the Moral Vacuum
Please be advised that for your safety you must exit this blog on foot, calmly and quickly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How'd you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?

I know it's been a long time since I've posted, but it's my blog and I will do as I please.  Now silence, you insolent fools!  I'm about to drop some holiday cheer on you.  Read on, dear friends.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I think it's about time for the NAACP to fold up shop. Their work is done.

I try to avoid political, racial, and religious topics on this site, as well as other "third rails."  This blog is sort of an escape from the pressures of my day to day, and I want to keep things light and airy.  Once every so often, I read something so ponderous that it forces me to break my own rule.  So here goes.

The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP has expressed outrage over a Hallmark greeting card which has been on sale for three years and is intended for graduates.  The card has one of those tiny voice chips in it and features those annoying cartoon rabbits, or whatever those creatures are supposed to be.  The cartoon voices express pride at having graduated and a willingness to take on the universe, including "ominous black holes."

Anyhow, some old fool misheard the card as "black whores."  The NAACP led a pressure campaign and got Hallmark to pull the card from its shelves and destroy the remaining stock.  Some huge drugstores such as CVS and Walgreens have also pulled the card.  The ever rapacious NAACP says that's not enough.  They want an apology from Walmart.  Apology for what?

If I were a Walmart exec, I would give them a counteroffer.  You shut the hell up and it will prevent me from lodging a nuisance criminal complaint and from suing your organization out of existence.  I am a firm believer that we have made great strides in race relations in this country.  But presumably, there is something more important for the NAACP to be doing.  This kind of organized thuggery and race baiting actually HURTS their argument.  It stirs up racial resentment and it makes the NAACP look like a bunch of clowns.  John McWhorter, a brilliant linguist and scholar on race issues, writes that many civil rights organizations now encourage a culture of "victimology."  This is a good case in point for McWhorter's thesis.

Perhaps the Los Angeles NAACP has outlived their usefulness?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The people have spoken

The true genius of the founders was that they established a Democratic Republic.  A system of governance in which when the people speak, the powerful must listen.  Well the people have spoken, my friends.  And I am not talking about the political primaries last night.  Boooooooooorrrrrring!

I am talking about America's new favorite sandwich, the KFC Double Down.  The sandwich was supposed to only be available until this coming Sunday.  But KFC has reported that sales have been so brisk, they will continue to make the sandwich available for as long as it remains profitable.

Those corporate fat cats at KFC thought they could introduce the sweet, sweet Double Down to the American public and then take it away like a thief in the night.  But we told those oligarchs.  When you offer us a sandwich comprised of two slabs of chicken in lieu of bread with bacon strips and cheese and sauce in the middle, you must continue to make it available indefinitely.  We are a proud people, and we deserve no less.

So remember, "Don't Just Feed Your Hunger--Crush It!"  Head in to KFC for a delicious Double Down.  The founders would be proud.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Plum Island Update

Way back in January, I wrote about Plum Island, a mysterious complex off of Long Island, NY where the U.S. government does secretive research on highly contagious animal diseases.  Yesterday, a friend (thanks, Liz!) clued me in to a report on Huffington Post that a local congressman has some serious questions about the proposed sale of the island.  Rep. Tim Bishop has written to the House Homeland Security subcommittee to express his concerns about the sale.  He says that a proposed replacement lab could cost more than $650 million, whereas the sale of the island might yield only $50 million to $80 million.  Anyone in the market for beachfront property?  Guess where they're slated to build the replacement?  Manhattan!  Manhattan, Kansas, that is.  Guess I won't have to break out my gas mask and biohazard suit anytime soon.

Bishop, incidentally, faces a potential challenge from a 30 year old grandson of Richard Nixon who is one of at least six people seeking the Republican nomination to run for the Eastern Long Island seat.

I'd like to note a new addition to my resource list on the right hand side of this site.  I have just linked to The Black Tie Guide.  The is billed as a gentleman's guide to evening dress, and it delivers.  Most importantly, the site provides a simple guide to appropriate formal dress with pictures of dos and don'ts.  I wish this site was required reading for anyone attending a Hollywood premiere, as even the richest and most famous actors tend to look like they're wearing piles of rags on the red carpet.  In addition, the site gives a detailed narrative of the history and evolution of formalwear.  Nerdy, I know, but you might find it interesting anyhow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who's up for some world music?

In my previous entry, I mentioned the breakup of A-ha.  The music video for their greatest hit, "Take on Me" is iconic.  If I asked you to think of a random 1980s video, chances are that one would pop into your mind.  But most music videos from foreign pop acts don't translate so well here in the U.S.  I'd like to share some of my favorites.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Believe me, the sun always shines on TV

Here's a piece in the NYDrinker which takes me back to my college days.  My friends and I used to spend our leisure time at a watering hole called the Blarney Stone.  Founded by a man named Daniel Flanagan, the Blarney Stone was a chain of dive bars which catered mainly to the lunchtime construction worker crowd.  By some accounts, there were more than 30 Blarneys at one time in New York, plus similarly named imitators that did not want to kick up to Mr. Flanagan.  Based on my knowledge of the four that I have been to, I am sure that each location was more dingy than the last.  Alas, there are now only five Blarney Stone pubs left, including the one from my college days (though that's not entirely true, as even that one closed and reopened around the corner when I was a senior).  The NYDrinker piece documents a daytime pub crawl they went on of the remaining five.  Hat tip and photo credit to NYDrinker.  I will be sure to take a closer look at their site.

In other food news, I just read on the NY Eater blog that T'Poutine has shuttered it's doors.  Poutine is sort of the national food of Canada.  It is essentially french fries smothered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds.  Sort of similar to what those of us who grew up with local diners and luncheonettes would call "Disco fries" or "Elvis fries."  I first heard of T'Poutine because of actor Michael J. Fox.  During his presentation in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics a few months back, Fox mentioned poutine.  It sounded delicious, so I searched for a place which serves it in New York.  T'Poutine did, at least for a nine month period, but is apparently no more.  For what it's worth, the Mrs. and I very much enjoyed our poutine when we made our one visit the weekend following the Olympics.

Here's some news that made me go "Nooooooooooooooooo!"  The 80s Nordic synthpop band A-ha, best known in the states for their infectious 1986 hit "Take on Me."  While that song promised "I'll be gone in a day or two," A-ha was around for about 30 years.  Apparently they were a huge act in other countries, despite only having two U.S. hits.  Sort of like David Hasselhoff.  A-ha's lesser known song to chart in the states was "The Sun Always Shines on TV," which is a favorite of mine, although I have been advised by at least one friend that it is an incredibly effeminate song.  Speaking of effeminate, here's a piece of trivia: I auditioned for high school show choir with "Take on Me."  A-ha, you will be missed.  I have embedded below their biggest hit, as well as Family Guy's take on the same, and the "literal video" version, which is always good for a laugh.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cub Scouts encourage video gaming?

I was a Cub Scout when the original Nintendo Entertainment System was at the height of popularity.  My friend's mom was our Den Mother, and I remember how we used to sneak away during den meetings to consume snack foods and play classic games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mike Tyson's Punchout.  I have fond memories of my time in Scouts.  I enjoyed many opportunities as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout which I would not have had otherwise as the kid of a single mom--such as camping.  But while my time in Scouting came and went, video gaming is still an active part of my life (much to the dismay of my dear wife, who does not necessarily share my excitement for the latest X-Box releases).

I was surprised, given that we are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic which is the pet project of the First Lady, that the Cub Scouts have started offering a "Video Gaming" belt loop.  For the uninitiated, belt loops are the Cub Scout equivalent of merit badges.  They are little metal tabs which slide around the military style webbed belt worn by Scouts.  They also make putting the belt on or taking it off near impossible without sending little metal tabs flying all over the place.

This is likely an effort by the Boy Scouts of America to remain relevant in a time when kids are fixated by technology and gadgets.  The requirements for the badge include selecting and purchasing an appropriate video game under the supervision of an adult, and playing a video game with a friend for one hour (though when do kids ever stop playing video games after one hour?).  I fully intend to contact the Boy Scouts and request my retroactive video gaming belt loop based on all the hours I logged playing video games at Den meetings.  I would personally prefer that new merit badges and belt loops be based around concrete real world skills.  But I don't think this necessarily signals the death of physical activity for kids.  Many of the children in my karate dojo spend hours playing video games, but they also do karate, play sports, and participate in other extra curricular activities.  It's all about balance, as my wife likes to remind me.