a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

I never realised this before, but you have a very good point indeed

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 17th March 2010

An ongoing collection of my favorite form of spam comment — suck-up spam.

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But diplomatically dismissive spam is even better!

  • Has anyone used this site before. It looks great and simple to use.
  • …I enjoy seeing websites that understand the worth of delivering a prime resource for zero cost.
  • Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning.

I’ll keep on it.

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Lessons of the Snowpocalypse

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 16th February 2010

Narnia in Takoma Park and other pictures from the Snowpocalypse
Slideshow created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
  1. Magnolia trees do not do well in heavy snow.  If 10 inches or more of snow are forecast, consider chopping down the tree, most of it’s coming down anyway.
  2. Vintage Comfortmaker gas furnaces are sentient, know the difference between good and evil, and have chosen evil.  They do this by arranging for their ignition devices to fail the morning after a blizzard makes your house and neighborhood inaccessible to repair technicians.
  3. To relight a vintage evil Comfortmaker (non-pilot light) gas furnace:
    1. turn the thermostat to its lowest setting
    2. go to the basement,
    3. return to the dining room for a flashlight
    4. return to the basement, turn off the electricity to the furnace and basement lights.
    5. wait 5 minutes.
    6. squeeze through a six inch opening to a 18 inch space behind the furnace, remove panel
    7. light a candle.
    8. yell upstairs to set thermostat to 65.
    9. repeat request loudly but without yelling because you don’t need to yell
    10. light wooden kebab stick in candle flame, wait
    11. when you hear a ‘click’ put lit kebab stick above burner-looking things where you hope gas will be pumped in 5-10 seconds.
    12. wait 15-20 seconds; relight kebab stick quickly at least once.
    13. second 21: FWOOMP.  Resolve not to peer in quite as closely next time.
    14. Since ignition device is still broken, set heat to 78; the furnace will go out, the house will cool, and you can repeat steps 1-14 whenever you’re cold enough.
  4. The co-op will have everything you need that you spent three hours buying inadequate substitutes for at Safeway.
  5. While deep snow is your enemy, it is also your friend, cushioning falls from ladders.
  6. Try not to use ladders any more than necessary.
  7. A cat staring at a door for five minutes is unnerving.
  8. When released into conditions of deep snow, cats will either
    • retreat immediately
    • vanish for unpredictable lengths of time
  9. When you look for a cat in deep snow, the cat will appear at the front door either
    • just after you’re done suiting up to go outside to look for her again dammit
    • just before you return from looking all over creation for her dammit
  10. When removing ice dams from a roof gutter, avoid being swept off your ladder by an avalanche of snow no longer blocked by those ice dams.  One way to do this is by not removing ice dams in the first place.
  11. When snow first falls, take time to really enjoy the serene beauty of the scene.  It’s the last time you’ll feel that way for days.

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I for one welcome our new corporate masters

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 29th January 2010

Campaign web site here. We are the change we’ve been waiting for.

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The option – the option – the public wants options!

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 25th October 2009

Without it, it’s a giveaway!

Via Real News Network and brought to you by Billionaires for Wealthcare.

UPDATE, 10/25: Enthusiastic review by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, hilariously pinch-mouthed writeup by Garance Franke-Ruta in the Washington Post.

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Sentences of the day

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 24th September 2009

In a fitting metaphor, the most recent experiment with social darwinism resulted in mass extinction.

Survival of the Kindest, Eric Michael Johnson, SEED Magazine, describing former Enron executive Jeff Skillings’ “rank and yank” management method based on Skillings’ understanding of books like “The Selfish Gene.”  Johnson summarizes the result: “This system of ruthless competition advanced just the type of personalities that one would expect: crazy people.”

With the notable exception of handing over $700 billion to Wall Street last year, the United States Congress is not known for quick, decisive action. […] The disparity in the treatment of Blackwater et al. and ACORN is part of a larger American problem, what might be called the Inequality of Accountability. We diligently apply the principle of accountability to the poor and the powerless, and the principle of forgiveness to the wealthy and powerful.

ACORN and Accountability — Chris Hayes, The Nation

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment

That’s pretty explicit language.

Senator Al Franken, D-MN, asking Department of Justice official David Kris how the Fourth Amendment can be reconciled with roving wiretaps.  (The Obama Justice Department is seeking reauthorization of PATRIOT Act provisions for such wiretaps.)

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that turning around the huge secret empire built by the National Security State is a hard, perhaps impossible, task. […] Nonetheless, some of us entertain a fondness for the quaint old Constitution. It may be too late to return to its ideals, but the effort should be made. As Cyrano said, “One doesn’t fight in the hope of winning” (Mais on ne se bat pas dans l’espoir du succès).

Entangled Giant — Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books

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Good for a grin

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 20th July 2009

  • What We Really See: GOP Senators Question Sotomayor (Oliver Willis)

    >> …Now, I’m a-looking here at your papers and such and I see where you sez, that you’re a wise latin-a.
    >> Well actually Senator, that pull quote misrepresents the full context of what I was saying…
    >> Well I gotta say ma’am, I’m mighty unnerved. Powerful unnerved by the sen-ti-ments you got here on this paper.

    While the script is great, it’s the “Dukes of Hazzard” stills captioned by each line that elevates this to high art.

  • Similarly, What are we being asked during our confirmation hearings? (Brando, “Circle Jerk at the Square Dance”)

    12) Why do you hate white people?
    11) Let me elaborate: why do you hate white guys?
    10) Given that 106 white men have served on the Supreme Court, do you feel that you’re receiving preferential treatment?
    9) Related question: if Latinas are so wise, how come they have never served on the Supreme Court?
    4) If you were a tree, would you be the kind of tree that would let a white family build a house out of her?

    3) If you had a cat trapped in a tree, would you let a white firefighter get the cat out of the tree? Follow up question: what color is your cat?
    2) We noticed that you’re wearing a white cast on your ankle. Do you find plaster racist? What about white bones?
    1) Why are you so obsessed with race?

  • Caption contest:

    1) Oh the humanity
    2) Hit and bun
    3) I was dreaming that I was driving this big wienermobile into this little garage, and when I woke up I was.
    4) You should see the mayonnaise spill inside.

THE COMPLEAT “Good for a Grin” and “Heh !ndeed” posts
CREDITS where due: Brando, Wienermobile, and ‘hit and bun’ via Lori Learned Robinson, Goldman Sachs update via Steve Bremner, reassurance that futuristic military robots will not kill and eat me via Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

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David Brooks: in search of dignity

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 11th July 2009

David Brooks, the odd little fellow who delivers reliably idiotic conservative pablum on the “Lehrer Hour” and the op-ed page of the New York Times, recently aimed for the George Will demographic by reminding us of the Virtue of a Founding Father.  From his July 7 column, “In Search of Dignity“:

When George Washington was a young man, he copied out a list of 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” Some of the rules in his list dealt with the niceties of going to a dinner party or meeting somebody on the street.

“Lean not upon anyone,” was one of the rules. “Read no letter, books or papers in company,” was another. “If any one come to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up,” was a third.

We can apparently add another one to the list, something along the lines of

“Whensoever a Senator becomes Familiar with Your Thigh, Object Not, but Esteem it as a Signal Honour to be Shared with Your Viewing Audience.”

But let Brooks tell the story:

You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.

I’m like, ehh, “the whole time”?  It’s hard to figure out the upside of sharing a story like this, but maybe Brooks is signaling he’d like to join one of those new “salon” gigs the Washington Post was considering — advertised as “Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No.”

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Ruly mob infiltrates Belgian train station

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 13th April 2009

“Op zoek naar Maria” translates roughly to “Auf der Suche nach Maria” which translates to “In search of Maria.” You’ll figure out why in a minute. Pretty great stuff.

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Business can regulate itself

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 19th February 2009

Possibly Tom Toles’s best cartoon ever, and that’s saying something.

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Congratulations, GOP…

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th January 2009

…on selecting Michael Steele for chairman of the party — a guy who realized his only shot at winning elected office in Maryland was to pretend he was a Democrat.

Steele and Foley: oh yes they are Republicans

Steele: I just have to laugh” at criticism of deceptive sample ballots

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