Monday, May 30, 2011

867 The Babes of Badminton

867 The Babes of Badminton

News item: Women who play Olympic-level badminton must now dress in skirts instead of gym shorts. Brings more dignity to the sport according to its governing body.

This is an unabashed publicity stunt. First off, almost no one watches badminton. Second, the only reason men watch is for the babes in gym shorts. Third, the average woman player is not much to look at anyway.

And, oh yeah, fourth, the newly prescribed clothing restricts movement. Skirts, indeed.

Some women wear shorts or slacks for religious reasons and they’ll still be allowed to do that. BUT... they’ll have to wear a skirt over them.

Some players already wear skirts. And if that’s how they play their best, fine. Let ‘em. But those who don’t?

Let’s not show all that flesh! It makes the men crazy. Actually, men who watch this sport are crazy to begin with. Both of them. But there are some more popular sports in which the viewers aren’t.

How about women’s basketball, for example. Showin’ a lot of arm and shoulder, there baby! Not to mention leg. Can’t have THAT.

Soccer? Nah, no problem. They move so fast you can’t see ‘em anyway. Except the goalies. Maybe the goalies should be forced to wear skirts.

And track and field? How about pole vaulting in a skirt that falls below the knees. Or hurdles. Or sprints. (Anyone remember when a sprint was something besides a phone company?)

And how about tennis! Gonna get the Williams sisters in long dresses?

Very ladylike, all this.

And since women of sports set the trends for women of not sports, we can go back to the days when women are required to wear dresses or skirts and blouses at the office.

So where did this dress code idea come from in the first place? From Octagon, the marketing company that markets itself as a “world leader in thought.” (Never mind Einstein, Aristotle, Leonardo and Darwin. Octagon is the world’s mind!)

Wonder if they have clients who are skirt makers. Probably not. That would be too brazen. Or would it?

Anyway, what kind of “thought” is behind a move like this? Well, let’s see. The mere sight of a woman in form fitting slacks or spandex or (heavens!) running shorts is distracting? Or is it “women should be seen as above the fray.” There is a sexual component to athletics and it’s been well known since the start of sports, how many thousands of years ago?

But even swimmers of the Florence Chadwick era wore form-fitting one-piece bathing suits (Chadwick had a pretty good body. So there!)

Sport takes movement. Running, jumping, the swinging of arms and legs.

It’s okay for the guys but not the gals?
Someone hold a seance and get in touch with Babe Ruth. “Hey, Bambino! Could you have knocked them out of the park in a dress?”

Any one got Muhammad Ali’s phone number?


Shrapnel:

--Memorial Day 2011. You know what to do. Do it.

--Radio ratings are essentially vaporware and meaningless. Rush Limbaugh’s numbers have tumbled 30% recently. Conclusion: the drop doesn’t mean much because the original figures didn’t mean much to begin with.

--Oink! The USDA now recommends cooking pork to a minimum of 145 degrees, 15 degrees lower than its early standard, which people have been doing for generations without contracting trichinosis. The “other white meat” lobby’s cloven hoofprints are all over this change.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

866 American Idol Season Ten

866 American Idol Season Ten

With wobbly ratings and Simon Cowell’s withdrawal from Idol, you’d think they’d pack it in after the tenth season. No such luck. They suffered a big spike in viewership late in the season. This provoked a season eleven.

The fond hope is that they find three new judges. Steven Tyler brought nothing to the table but his Mick Jagger looks. Tyler without Aerosmith is like a corned beef on white with mayo.

Randy Jackson’s act is getting real tired. He’s the only genuine musician on the panel and the only original left standing. But he’s become a parody of himself. Is there anyone out there who isn’t sick to death of “Yo, yo yo!” and “...in it to win it?”

Jennifer Lopez doesn’t warrant comment, which itself is a comment.

The tabloids are saying host Ryan Seacrest wants to put on his own show and will give up his $15 million contract to start a production company. Seacrest apparently believes he’s a latter-day Dick Clark and is bigger than Idol. Let’s hope he does that. His act also is getting tired. Plus without Cowell, he has no one with whom there’s dramatic tension, and without that, he’s dull, dull, dull.

Trouble is, guys who think they’re bigger than the show, whatever the show is, generally fall on their butts along with their “Next Big Thing.” (David Caruso learned that the hard way when he got “too big” for “NYPD Blue,” but had enough talent to climb back to the top. Seacrest is just another “Roy Radio” style disc jockey who won’t make it back if he actually jumps ship.)

The real interest in the show this season probably came from the eventual winner, Scotty McCreery of North Carolina. McCreery is probably the most talented performer in the ten past seasons. He has a huge bass baritone voice, doesn’t scream when he sings, sings country songs with tunes you can hum and words you can understand. Gorgeous. Humble. Deserving of stardom. Every bit as good as any of today’s country megastars and better than most. And 17 years old, yet! Beat the screaming chubby blondes the bookies usually predict as winners, the screechy boys who want to be the next Steven Tyler and the Janice Joplin wannabes who get votes because they have great legs and show ‘em well.

Runner up Lauren Alaina, 16, chubby blonde favorite of the bookies was on Leno the following night, and sang beautifully. Maybe there were two winners this year.

Note to Fox: speed it up. The show drags. Get judges who are both qualified and interesting. And give the director a raise -- that’s tougher live TV than a hockey game.



Shrapnel:

--Next year, they’re going to cover the American Idol voting the same way they cover a presidential election, with states, precincts and the like all set up and maps and tally projections. Each of the networks will have their biggest stars at anchor desks, analysts in Washington, “the heartland” and at their “world headquarters.” Can’t wait for the victory and concession speeches that follow.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

865 Car Bunk(le)

865 Car Bunk(le)

Jerry Flint died in August of 2010 and since then a quiet celebration has been on going the likes of which have not been seen since the death of Tom McCahill in 1975.

Who were these guys? Flint was an editor at Forbes and after retiring wrote their auto column. McCahill was purer. He was “only” an auto writer and test driver without pretensions to any higher calling.

Thing is, both guys loved cars and loved Detroit and wouldn’t stand for Detroit’s shenanigans any more than a loving but rational parent would stand for a felonious teenage son or daughter. Now that they’re gone, the goons who run the auto industry in the countries that matter (the US, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy and France) can rest easy.

Flint looked at the auto industry as a whole. McCahill told readers of Mechanix Illustrated about individual cars. While Flint mocked Jurgen Schremp of DaimlerChrysler and later the comical Dieter Zetsche, McCahill mocked the cars the company produced as has this site.

The Obama administration reports Chrysler has paid back $5.9 billion. The press release omits mention of the dreary sales of its generally disposable cars. Chrysler has been a favored topic in these posts, a true nine-lives back-from-the-dead story from the annals of America’s single most important industry.

So, in an effort to channel these Tom and Jerry, we turn to this newly captured captured subsidiary of the world’s unintentionally funniest car company, Fiat.

From the days of Walter Chrysler to the days of Lee Iacocca, Chrysler was “The” engineering company. Thereafter, it was “The” styling company. What’s more macho than today’s Chrysler 300? What is more fear-provoking than today’s sinister Dodge Charger? What’s more rugged than a Jeep? Except that when you read Consumer Reports and talk to owners they’ll tell you what Flint would have told you: these cars are all show and no go and McCahill would have described as junk on wheels. Even Iacocca said “We can’t regain our reputation by shipping crap.”

What would these guys have said about the Toyota floor mat baloney? What would they have said about Renault-dominated Nissan? What would they have said about the Cadillac Escalade, GM’s gorgeous and unreliable science fiction-mobile?

McCahill gave us the 0-60 test, something he created using a heavy foot and a stopwatch. Flint gave us the point of view of a cheerleader who understood the pom-poms and miniskirts and big smiles sometimes needed a rest.

There are people out there who still can do this, but most don’t. And should. One exception: Doron Levin, late a Bloomberg colleague and now writing for the Daily Beast, Fortune and his stuff gets posted on CNN Money. Read him!


Shrapnel (Bar Fly edition):

--A Gen-u-ine saloon has opened in a nearby town. Beer, wine, hard liquor. Smoking is permitted, even encouraged. One tiny problem: unless you drink your entire meal, you can’t get dinner at a place that serves no food, not even bar pretzels.

--Smirnoff has started stamping its name in Russian on the plastic 750 ml. bottles. They say Водочка Smirnoff. An obvious but left over commie plot designed to corrupt American boozehounds.

--And Coors is printing its beer cans in both English and Spanish. This is an obvious plot to Americanize Mexicans. Adolph Coors is twirling in his grave, and let him!

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

864 An Historical Document

864 An Historical Document

Herein, the reader is to discover a posting that very likely will be found to be more difficult to read, comprehend and retain than has been customary in the previous 863 postings.

This Wessay™, number 864, is to become a memorial and tribute to a style of communication that while commonplace has been declared to have died by some of the very persons who assisted in its creation and perpetuation: the Government of these United States of America, its component states, territories, counties, municipalities, community boards and writers of letters to the editor, hereafter to be referred to as “government speak,” (GS.)

The “Plain Language” bill was recently promulgated by the United States House of Representatives as “HR 946,” as proposed by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA.) and signed into law by president Barack Obama (D-Nairobi.)

Under the law, there is a requirement that GS sentences such as this one be written in what is known by grammarians as “the Active Voice.”

Hence, the above sentence might read “the new law says you must write in the active voice.” “Must” will be a template replacement for “you are required to...”, “the respondent is required to...” and similar GS phrases.

Those who use the new law in an appropriate manner, style or form, are under warning to avoid, eschew and shun most synonyms and unnecessary repetition or reiteration of phrases and words.

If this isn’t accomplished by users, investigators from congress will review the facts of each individual case and decide the most appropriate course of action.

Special advice is offered for the benefit of federal employees whose jobs include writing copy for the Internet or World Wide Web. Among the offered counsel: Do not use PDA format, especially in large documents. PDAs, they are told, are awkward and slow loading as well as apt to cause a reader to lose track of the original web page if said file or document were to open “over it,” thereby covering it or blocking its view.

The advice is part of a general handbook which itself is in the PDA format.

Perhaps the most startling admonishment concerns the use of “contractions,” the common conversational form in which two or more
words are made shorter by combining them, often, though not always with the use of an apostrophe or by elision. Examples include such words as “it’s,” “don’t,” “can’t,” or “couldn’t.” Modern linguists would be likely to label this a “sea change.”

The title of this weBLog is “An Historical Document” because if the law is followed by to the letter by those at whom it is aimed, most of whom are law-abiding citizens (or resident aliens whose right to work in the United States has been documented by them,) it will soon be seen that federal writing will be more easily understood or followed and the information therein retained by its readers.


I am Wesley Richards. My opinions are my own and not those of the blog host, the writer’s employers, friends, relatives, or countrymen. That having been said, you are entitled to said opinions. ®

If you wish to comment, challenge, add or debate any of the above, please address your communication via electronic mail to WesleyJRichards@yahoo.com.

The contents herein contained are copyright 2011 by the author and may not be reproduced in print, electronic, audio, video, photocopy, facsimile or any other form without express written permission therefrom.

Friday, May 20, 2011

863 Cut!

863 Cut!

It’s San Francisco, so what did you expect? There’s a measure on the ballot that would make the ritual circumcision of male infants a misdemeanor.

“Mutilation,” say proponents. So far, the Jewish community which has been practicing this rite for how many thousands of years is shrugging. “What can you do?” they seem to be saying, “You can never find a Mohel when you need one, anyway. They have to do it in the hospital these days.”

Yeah. In a hospital. The shame of it! A Hospital! Sterile conditions, skilled technicians or nurses or doctors, even? Who needs that when you can have a bearded guy who hasn’t had a bath yet this year go after your baby boy with a knife he last washed during that last bath.

The anti-cut crowd went out and collected enough signatures to get this brilliance on the ballot. If you’re a San Franciscan, there are good reasons to vote against the plan, even if you’re not Jewish. First, there’s recycling. Foreskins are recycled or at the very least considered medical waste. Recycling is good. And we’ve gotten really good at sterilizing medical waste.

Second, these boys will grow up to be round and chubby and the extra weight of the skin is going to make dieting even tougher and less effective than it already is, plus always having to carry all that extra skin? Oy!

Third, when you round up the Jews, how’re you going to tell who’s who without that requisite drop-the-pants-check.

Fourth, freedom of expression. How many porn films have you seen featuring an uncut penis! Ahah! Circumcision is a constitutionally protected form of free speech performance art.

Fifth, unemployment among San Francisco’s Mohels will rise to 100%.

Behind this nonsense is a guy with too much time and too little grey matter, a guy named Lloyd Schofield. Lloyd? Maybe Lavi at birth?

What’s this guy’s problem? And what’s his next act, yellow armbands with the Star of David?

Wait a minute. Maybe this is more, even, than yet another attack on Jews. The World Health Organization reports that 68% of the earth’s circumcised males are (shudder!) Muslim!

How are we going to tell who’s a cave-trash terrorist and who isn’t? There’s that dropped-pants check thing again.

Not every Jew dresses in black from head to toe and not every Muslim dresses like Osama bin Laden. We need a more effective form of identifying these people.

The penalty for practicing the infant circumcision rite would be a $1,000 fine. Hey, wait -- again. Circumcision hurts, so why not add felony assault charges while you’re at it.

Are today’s infants less able to withstand pain than those of the last five millennia? And if they aren’t, do you think they’re going to remember the pain any more than anyone else does or did?

At any rate, here’s a good chance for the rabbis and the imams to unite in a common cause, if only temporarily.

As the movie directors say, “Cut!”

Shrapnel:

--"Yes, your honor, I did rob that 7-11 but it's only because I was traumatized as an infant by a guy who mutilated my boy-part." "Mr. Richards, you are 69 years old and have no prior criminal record, what makes you link these two events?" "Repressed memory, your honor, my therapist says so."

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and anti-Semitic diatribes to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

862 Kindly Young Doc

862 Kindly Young Doc

A sure sign you’re getting old: the authority figures around you are all younger than you are.

The cop who pulls you over to tell you your taillight is out and please get it fixed and looks at you with sympathy and doesn’t give you the ticket he could because you remind him of his mom or dad.

The TV news anchor who looks like he should still be in Middle School but reports with great gravitas and brings it off.

The fitness instructor who looks like she can bench press an ‘80 Cadillac but can’t quite remember who was President that year.

And Kindly Young Doc, boy cardiologist, who is younger than your youngest kid.

Dr. KYD looks at his patient and then at her chart and then at his patient and then at her chart and says “Are you really in your 60s or did someone make a mistake and type 194_, not 195_ into the computer?”

This is not flattery. He has no reason to flatter the patient or her husband who is sitting with them in the examining room as translator. We kind of have the same reaction. He’s 38, he says.

A friend, also a cardiologist, but --ahem -- somewhat older and more experienced , has reluctantly and off the record guessed at the patient’s condition from afar and on the phone. (That phone call “never happened.”) Dr. KYD with a room full of fancy equipment has confirmed Dr. Distance’s opinion.

It’s not something you want guessed at without an on-site examinations and tests. It’s not something a reliable doc would do for a stranger, on or off the record. But it’s nice to know that all those years of seeing patients an older fellow could take a shot and hit the bulls-eye. Age and experience still counts for something.

Shrapnel:

--A good sign: Friend Ken of Chicago is out of the hospital in NY, after a serious -- make that VERY serious -- operation. Sure indication of recovery: He has banned his home health aid from the house Sunday evening. Priority: the Bulls are in the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoffs, and Game three is Sunday.

--IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, charged in an attack on a hotel maid in his swank suite on 44th St. got an NYPD perp walk in front of the news cameras just like Dom from Bay Ridge would if arrested and charged with sticking up a 7-11. His countrymen back in France are aghast because he (and Dom) supposedly are presumed innocent. Oui, right.

--Schwarzenegger also has a sex-based problem, fathering a child with an employee a decade ago. But that was no crime; he and she knew what they were doing and apparently agreed to do it. Arnold’s biggest problem with this one: Maria doesn’t recognize any statute of limitations, and in this case, she’s cop, judge and jury -- and should be.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

861 Head In The Clouds and Back to the Future

861 Head In the Clouds and Back to the Future

Old computer hands are used to this, but lately it’s become less frequent and unexpected. The site that hosts this blog and hundreds of thousands of others blew up for almost 24 hours. It happened during what was described as “routine maintenance.”

This “routine” was common in the early days of computing. Information Geeks In Charge would tell you something like “the system will be down for maintenance” or an upgrade for about one hour starting at 3am tomorrow. That hour often stretched into much more.

Modern gizmology has “solved” all that and as Google leads the parade into “cloud computing,” it was an “oops” moment. Well, more like an “oops” day.

No wonder bin Laden kept his e-mails on flash drives. No wonder those of us with any sense make backups on a word processing program.

Cloud computing, indeed.

Reminder: this is not some rinkydink outfit doing inventory at a wool factory, or Blackberry which for awhile had more crashes than a bumper car ride or demolition derby. This is the world leader in cloud --off site -- computing. And this is not some rinkydink experiment in an obscure variation of a minor service. This is a huge multinational technology leader and advocate and its second or third busiest and most lucrative service. And it’s not 1985, it’s 2011, which is several dozen lifetimes in computer years.

And it’s not like these guys don’t know their stuff. They’ve owned “Blogspot” since 2003.

Adding insult to injury, a late breaking bulletin from the Google Ministry of Truth tells us that “many” users were affected and that work posted after a certain time two days previous was removed and “will be restored.” It affected everyone, including the people who read the stuff, the non-posters.

Google has trained us to trust it. Good thing we can’t give them a vote of no confidence or they’d have to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections.

--Shrapnel:

--A day after cancelling our pay-to-read subscription, the New York Times sent a half price offer to re-up, so we re-upped. And we found a trick to reduce the number of times the NYT mobile website crashes the Android phone: don’t try to use the app unless ‘droid’s power level is above 60%. Brings new meaning to the phrase “morning paper.”

--A reader comments these Wessays™ have been emphasizing tech subjects at the expense of others, which may mean its Executive Producer may be over-focused and should be broadening his horizons. Done. From now on, it’s going to be an hour a week on a manual typewriter and hand buffing the corroded 1960s “German Silver” guitar picks.

--So bin Laden had a porn collection. Not such a bad thing. After all, the guy had a lot of time to fill and after awhile, maybe he just got bored with his wife... er, wives.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own buy you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

860 Pure Coincidence

Note: Posting was delayed several hours by Google's now-legendary Blogger Crash.
860 Pure Coincidence

This is pure coincidence, of course, and we all know it. One of the five sitting Federal Communications Commissioners, Meredith Baker, 43, is leaving government service. She has a new job. She will be senior vice president for government affairs in the Washington office of the country’s largest cable TV company, Philadelphia-based Comcast.

What does the senior vice president for government affairs do at Comcast? She makes the wishes of her employer known to congress. In the real world, the job is “lobbyist,” in deed if not in name. She can’t lobby the White House or the agency for a couple of years. But there always are errand boys for that. And there are no restrictions on lobbying senators and representatives.

Baker was one of the majority of FCC commissioners to approve Comcast’s acquisition of controlling interest in NBC Universal.

Since the vote was 4-1, Comcast had a field of four “strong external candidates” for the new job.

Pure coincidence. The job just happened to be open and that such highly qualified candidates are around for the plucking.

Of course they probably narrowed the choice to Republicans, and that winnowed the field down to two candidates. The other is Robert McDowell (R-VA), 47. The young-faced but grey-haired McDowell looks kind of like the guy who sends you little prayer cards with pictures of Jesus along with the life insurance policy or bottle of patent medicine he sells you. Better to pick a vigorous woman with a cheerleader smile.

Okay, so Comcast gets to run NBC, a major mistake on the part of GE (which still owns a good chunk, but not good enough to stop Comcast from doing whatever it wants,) and the commission, and everyone else who rushed this thing to approval. (Yes, it took a year, officially. But it was in the bag long before that.)

Comcast insists that negotiations with Baker didn’t begin until after the acquisition was approved. Probably so. But might there have been hints? Perish forbid, no! They just woke up one morning and said “Y’know, that Meredith whats-her-name would probably be a good pick...”

Came to ‘em in a flash of inspiration, it did. Never mind that she was originally a Bush appointee and is a Texan. Never mind that she never met a corporate position she didn’t love and vote for. That’s all just Pure Coincidence.

Highly qualified, she is. Just ask anyone at Comcast.

Well, working in a good private house is a lot safer and easier than walking the streets at night. We all know what the streets of Washington are like after dark.

Shrapnel:

--Comcast raised our cable rates so often and by so much they drove us to switch to satellite. Comcast headquarters is the tallest phallic symbol in Philadelphia. Comcast has big surprises coming when it tries to impose its corporate culture on NBC.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please send comments and lawyer letters to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2011