Watching the 2012 US Presidential Election

Once Ron Paul officially departs from the race, it will be a race of people I don’t want on channels I don’t watch proclaiming victories I won’t celebrate. I think I’ll break out my two-disc set of Kill Bill on Blue-Ray and watch it along with all the bonus features and commentary.

The Socratic Method

During a recent grad school class, I had occasion to explain what the Socratic Method is.

Please let me explain the Socratic Method.  A few millenia ago, this brilliant kid named Socrates asked my Jewish great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother Channa why he was not being effective as a teacher.  She said, “Socrates, stop kvetching and don’t be such a maven all the time.  All you do is tell everybody everything.  They know more than you give them credit for.  Ask them questions and let them come up with the answers.  From now on, no more telling, just asking.  Ferschtay-zie?”  Socrates thought for a moment and said, “Bubbe Channa, so is it better for a guy with all the answers to ask all the questions?”  She looked him in the eye and said, “what do you think?”  The rest is history.

Just Say NO to Trolls

A preacher friend of mine sent me a link to a beautiful Christian music video.  When I got done watching it, I noticed a link to this video of Carrie Underwood singing “How Great Thou Art” with Vince Gill.

It was a blessing to watch.  I started writing a nice comment about the video.  Below it, I glanced at a comment from some bitter poop of a supposed Christian that goes by the screen name of atterolevad.

there has been a contemporary christian music industry since the 60′ with many styles including rock. these brave christian ministers have come up against foolishness condeming them for there style of music even though they walk the talk . meanwhile carrie underwood sings about getting revenge if her man ever cheats, while other country singers talk about honky tonk ba donka donk, one more drinking song, whos bed has your boots been under..ect. christian values….I think not.

I had to say something.

For my Christian brethren who don’t think the same artist can sing Jesus Take the Wheel, Before He Cheats, & How Great Thou Art; get a life. This woman is willing to risk popularity & record sales by being very open about her faith. How many risks have YOU taken to proclaim your faith?

Fortunately, God’s grace protects us, even when we strike out in revenge, or, perish the thought, have a drink. The world has much ugliness in it. I suspect that Carrie was telling a story, not writing an autobiography. Just remember, if you are never in the midst of the world, you can’t reach the world. Carrie Underwood has a greater impact on the world by being a Country musician that sings some Gospel than a Gospel musician that sings some Country.

That wasn’t enough.  I was really ticked off at this atterolevad knucklehead so I started doing some research.  In 2009, he/she/it put up a page on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/atterolevad) with a video from this group, the Global Information Network (GIN).  The video was narrated by some kook with a really bad German accent. For ten minutes, he rambled on about how an exclusive membership in GIN, a “club only for affluent, like-minded people” that could help you to raise $10,000 in one day, eliminate bad credit, get a second passport, learn about UFOs, make huge winnings playing baccarat and betting on horse races, attract cars, lovers, and good health, read minds, predict the future, and be healed from almost every disease.  This made me think of a couple of things:

  1. Clearly, GIN couldn’t heal atterolevad’s inability to use the English language.
  2. Since when are Christians interested in mind reading, UFOs, and  being involved in exclusive clubs that wallow in “filthy lucre.”
  3. Doesn’t atterolevad have anything better to do than making stupid comments and promoting cult-like MLM schemes?
  4. How am I allowing myself to get sucked into this insipid discussion?

Then I Googled “atterolevad.”  What I saw was a series of incoherent rants that I can only describe as a cacophony of moronic blather.  atterolevad is what we in interactive chatting call a “troll.”  In fairy tales, trolls are hideous creatures that fear the daylight, hide under bridges, pop up to snatch unsuspecting children from the bridge, and then eat them.  In chat, a troll sits and waits for a spot in a discussion to go on a stupid diatribe, rile people up, and then disappear.

I am writing this for a reason.  atterolevad is a sad little troll.  These trolls tend to suck people, myself included, into their little black pools of putrid ooze.  We waste our time trying to reason with them.  They don’t listen.  Unless you make replies that agree with them 100% they vomit their ignorance upon you and leave you covered in sticky cubes of ochre stupidity.  When we engage them, we might as well go to a theater, wait in line, jump out of the line just before we can buy a ticket, return to the end of the line, and repeat this until the theater closes.  We will have accomplished the same with either activity.

My advice, just say no to trolls.

The Great Wall of Chocolate

P.F. Chang’s has the greatest contrasting items on any menu I’ve ever seen. On one hand are the über-healthy Lettuce Wraps and on the other hand is the insidiously evil Great Wall of Chocolate. I just checked the nutritional information on the Great Wall. It’s insane:

It weighs 560 grams (a pound and one quarter)
1,440 calories (the recommended diet for a male is 2,000 calories for an entire day)
204g of carbs (about a half of one pound)
68g of fat (equal to about 5 teaspoons of Crisco)
1,400 milligrams of sodium (equal to about 5/8 of a teaspoon of salt)

I read an article about this monster from 2009 and the measurements were about 20% higher across the board. I suspect that Chang’s has not chosen to use healthier ingredients. Instead, I’m guessing it just cut the portion from 672 grams (24 ounces) to a much more svelte 560 grams (20 ounces).

I was pondering upon what occasions I would indulge myself with such a thing. The first is if I found out that I had inoperable stage four cancer and the second is if I committed a crime worthy of the death penalty and I was offered a last meal. Other than those, I’ve yet to love myself or loathe myself so much as to make such a big, gooey, tasty, chocolatety mistake (crap, I’m drooling).

Steelers Fans spread like an STD

My wife was reading a catalog and she noticed an ad for checkbook covers and wallets with NFL team logos on them. She was peeved at the manufacturer because, like so many others, the handful of teams they chose to use as samples did not include our beloved Baltimore Ravens. She noticed that the hated Steelers always seem to be one of the teams whose logo makes the sample. I explained to her that is probably due to the fact that the Ravens are a fairly new team with a very regionalized fan base whereas Pittsburgh, being a much older team, had fans that over time had spread out all over the country in a manner similar to that of a sexually transmitted disease.

Demonym

I love words.  Demonym is the latest addition to my collection.  A demonym is the word used to describe a person’s demographic association.  Examples include Marylander, American, Uzbek, and of course, New Yorker.  Here is an excellent demonyms page – http://www.geography-site.co.uk/pages/countries/demonyms.html.

There is a little story behind discovering this one.  It gives a bit of insight into some of my daily activities.  I was chatting with Lois (my wife) at dinner and she asked me if I had any interesting Words with Friends (online scrabble) games lately.  This came to mind to her because she was musing over how some of her co-workers like to use one of the multitude of cheat programs out there.  It makes no sense to her how people can enjoy playing a 152 point word they don’t even know.  A computer program simply told them to play it.  I totally agree.  My Words with Friends player name is i.don’t.cheat.  I told her that I was learning some great new words playing with my friend Eric.  Lois said, “isn’t Eric from Ghana?  I wonder what their native language is there.”  Since in my vocabulary I have replaced the phrase “I don’t know” with the phrase “let me check,” I pulled out my iPhone and checked Wikipedia (yes, I still use it. I have even edited a few pages).  It informed me that the official language of Ghana is English.  It also had an entry in the sidebar on Ghana that said “Demonym: Ghanaian.”  After I got past figuring out how to pronounce Ghanaian with its three vowels and one consonant together (ghana-ee-ahn; not ghan-ee-ahn like my brain wanted me to), I saw the word demonym. I tapped it and now you know not only a little more about how my mind works, but you also know what happened during 30 seconds of our table talk.  This gives evidence as to why after 28 years of marriage, we still have plenty to talk about.

Chaining

I have a very eclectic taste in music. One thing that helps me to expand my musical palette is what I call “chaining.” Chaining is easy. Go to YouTube and find a video of an artist you like. Play it and look at the recommendations on the right side for the screen. Pick one totally on the basis of your whims. Maybe a video is from a different artist performing the same song. It could be another song from the same artist. You might just find something cool looking in the thumbnail. Whatever it is, just go for it.

This Is how I came across The Yoshida Brothers, Buckethead, Epica, Ben Harper, and a dozen more. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day and you get to expand your musical horizons while surfing.

Give it a try and post back here with something that you discovered and a rundown of how you got there. It’s like six degrees of Kevin Bacon without the bacon.

The plural for the fraction 1/8

Am I the only person in the world that struggles with spelling the plural of 1/8 as “eighths?” Maybe it’s the five consonants in a row with multiple H’s that throws me.  It’s almost Welsh-like.  If you’ve never seen Welsh, it is a thing unto itself.  For example:

John 3:16 (English)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Ioan 3:16 (Welsh)

Canys felly y carodd Duw y byd fel y rhoddodd efe ei unig-anedig Fab, fel na choller pwy bynnag a gredo ynddo ef, ond caffael ohono fywyd tragwyddol.

Backformation in the vomitorium

I used to think a vomitorium was the place where self-indulgent romans would go to purge their over-stuffied bellies so they could have another round of over-eating.  In a grammar and vocabulary dialog with a left-coast colleague of mine, I said the following as we discussed backformation:

In writing about backformation, I just found another horrendous one [backformation]. I just used this sentence:
“Edit” was backformed from “editor.”
I guess I could have written this:
“Edit” was backformated from “editor.”
Where, pray tell, is the vomitorium?

After the conversation, I recalled that in the movie Hanna (which I totally loved), the character of Sophie was fond of the word “vomitorium.”  I wanted to find the exact line from the movie because I thought it was so amusing.  As I looked for it, I discovered two entries for the Valley of Wrongness.  The first entry goes to me for not knowing the correct definition of vomitorium and using that incorrect definition since I first saw I Claudius as a young teen.  I thought it was a socially acceptable place to practice bulemia.  The good folks at Dictionary.com say otherwise:

Main Entry: vomitorium
Part of Speech: n
Definition: in a theater or stadium, esp. ancient, a passageway leading to and from the seating
Etymology: Latin vomitorius, alluding to the path’s discharging of the spectators

That makes perfectly good sense.  Then, they put the nail in the coffin of my Wrongness when they stated:

Word Origin & History

vomitorium
1754, “passage or opening in an ancient amphitheater, leading to or from the seats,” from L. (Macrobius, Sat. , VI.iv); see vomit. Erroneous meaning “place where ancient Romans (allegedly) deliberately vomited during feasts” is attested from 1923.

The second entry in the Valley of Wrongness goes to the dozens of sites that stated “vomitorium” was nothing more than teenage jargon.  I’m only slightly better than them.  I knew it was a real word.  I just didn’t know what it meant. 

Mea culpa.

References

vomitorium. (n.d.). Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon. Retrieved July 13, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vomitorium
 
vomitorium. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved July 13, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vomitorium

Stupid versus ignorant

A stupid person lacks knowledge because of a limited ability to learn whereas an ignorant person lacks knowledge because of a limited desire to learn.  The former has a reason for not knowing while the latter merely has an excuse.  Excuses are like asses.  Everybody has one and it stinks when they use it.

Lost time

The funny thing about a blog is the nagging little dates that show up in the left margin. I posted something and saw that eight days had passed since the previous post.  What happened to those days?  I know that I went places and saw people but where did the last eight days go?

I recall the events but not necessarily in any given order.  Odd…