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Collected editorials

Just another pig

The back of her knees

Recently I have been rereading Agatha Christie novels. I sort of think of them as comfort food for the mind. In Cat among the pigeons she makes an interesting observation:

“The knees of a woman ae a very good indication of age. The knees of a woman of twenty-three or twenty-four can never really be mistaken for the knees of a girl of fourteen ofr fifteen.”

I suppose there must be a difference. It sounds like one of those bits of lore that she would make use of. (Is it significant that Hercule Poirot makes the observation instead of Miss Marple?) Dashed if I know what the difference is, though. If it were left to me to distinguish between a fifteen year old and a twenty five year old by their knees I doubt that my results would be better than random chance. And then, too, is it just females? Do boys acquire their manly knee much earlier than girls?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Toenails may hold clue to lung cancer risk

It sounds funny I know, but it really is so, toenails may hold clue to lung cancer risk. Er, yeah, right. No, really. The deal is that smokers don’t actually have a good handle on how much smoke they are sucking into their lungs and non-smokers aren’t necessarily aware of how much second hand smoke they are exposed to.

So what, you say? Well it turns out that nicotine accumulates in your toenails over time. How much depends upon your exposure to tobacco smoke. Who would have guessed. Still, all you CSI fans know that you can detect heavy metal poisoning by checking hair clippings.

I can see it now. Insurance companies are going to start demanding toenail clippings.

Things not to do on facebook

Seen on slashdot.org:

“A Facebook photo of a stolen 3 carat diamond ring recently helped police solve a jewelry theft. After rings and other items valued at more than $16,000 were taken from a home on Saturday, a friend of the victim’s roommate saw one of the items on the social network. 20-year-old Crystal Yamnitzky captioned the photo with the following message: ‘Look what Robby gave me I love him so much,’ in reference to her 21-year-old boyfriend Robert Driscoll. Yamnitzky’s cousin saw the post and told some friends, who alerted police. Both Yamnitzky and Driscoll have been charged in the case.”
The quote references an article on ZDnet entitled Facebook photo of stolen ring puts couple in jail

You might have worded that differently

Recently one of the local hospitals ran an ad about its new cat scanner. It seems that the new one has a larger tube that you slide into. They explained that patients would have less trouble with claustrophobia in a tightly enclosed space. Then they showed a picture of a smiling, calm woman sliding into the jaws of the cat. As she entered, the spokesperson proudly announced that

The new cat scan can handle a wider range of patients.

It may not have been the most fortunate of phrasings, particularly in a state with serious obesity problems, but at least it’s honest. It could have been worse – they could have extolled their handling of their, ahem, broader patients.

Just another pig

Back in the good old days when flowers had power, America was spelled with a k, protests were the name of the game, and the young relearned the hard way why sanitation and cleanliness were necessary, the police were called pigs. I suppose they still are, but I don’t move in those circles anymore so I wouldn’t know.

It’s kind of a bum rap … on pigs. Remember what Winston Churchill said, “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” I don’t feel that calling someone a pig should be taken as an insult. After all, if I were to call you a pig, wouldn’t I just be saying that you are my equal? Maybe that’s an insult after all, but I would just as soon not go there if you don’t mind.

Be all of that as it may, when people call somebody a pig, they seldom mean it as a compliment. Sometimes it is just a jibe at someone’s cleanliness or their dining habits. In politics, however, it usually refers to greed and selfishness, and to social and moral uncleanliness.

Taken that way there is a surprising amount of truth to the jibe when it is directed at Amerika. Our country has a long history of using military and economic coercion in the name of “national interests”. Said national interests all too often are the interests of various corporations. That is to be expected. Powerful countries throw their weight around.

What is disgusting is that we believe a moral right, nay a moral duty, to impose our will and our way of life on others. It is our practice to invade small countries, depose governments, enforce one-sided contracts to the benefit of corporations, and in general play the international bully because we can. We are not content with that. We dress up our actions with rhetoric about noble causes such as democracy. And so on.

The trouble with dressing up your piggery in the language of morality is that people catch on and point to the immorality of your actions. That seems to be the natural domain and function of the left in this country. At least they think it is.

All of which brings us to today and the Amerikan Left, such as it is. Our current glorious leader, the annointed one, the messiah, the bringer of peace and equality was expected to get rid any number of evils, such as playing sycophant to the corporations, getting rid of unsavory interrogation tecniques, getting rid of our little gulag in Cuba, respecting the sovereignty of other nations, and disentangling ourselves from various foolish foreign wars. What are his accomplishments? Well, we don’t do waterboarding any more (as far as we know). Other than that there hasn’t been any real change.

In the end Barack Obama is … just another pig.

How I mean to spend eternity

In the old days it was the practice to bury people in the walls and floors of churches. For example, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried in Westminster Abbey, There are limits to that sort of thing – the supply of walls and floors of cathedrals are limited. Instead, why not be buried in a highway, or, if that is too problematic (after all, you really don’t want your remains to become a pothole) perhaps in a square in some city. I can envision my remains in Harvard Square with a brass plate on the surface with a noble sentiment such as “Here lies Richard Harter who lies no more.” What more could one ask of eternity than to have generations of pretzel vendors vend their wares above your remains? I can hear them now, fathers telling sons down through the ages, “Son, always set up your cart over Harter; that’s the place you want to be when you’re selling pretzels.”

This page was last updated March 21, 2011.

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Collected editorials