Archive for July, 2004

Kansas: A second-world country?

July 29, 2004

Something I wrote for Usenet a couple of years ago:

> That's like calling Kansas a 2nd world country!

Let's not dismiss that idea so quickly, now...

2nd world: Communist Bloc (mainly, Soviet Union)

Soviet Union: Mostly barren prairie
Kansas: Mostly barren prairie

Soviet Union: Hellish winters
Kansas: Hellish winters

Soviet Union: Began with Civil War b/w Whites and Reds
Kansas: Began with Civil War b/w Blues and Grays

Soviet Union: Once known for wild revolutionary fervor
Kansas: "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

Soviet Union: Later known for corrupt bureaucracy
Kansas: Bob Dole

Soviet Union: Unusually high %age of population in agriculture
Kansas: Unusually high %age of population in agriculture

Soviet Union: Economy supported by state subsidies
Kansas: "Parity pricing"

Soviet Union: One-party state
Kansas: One-party state

Soviet Union: State run by aged, stiff party functionaries
Kansas: Bob Dole

I think we can justifiably call Kansas a 2nd-world country.

“Nostalgia or Nausea?”

July 28, 2004

Remember “The Newlywed Game”? The idea of that game show was to have one newlywed answer a series of questions, and then the other newlywed would have to guess how his or her spouse answered each question.

I have an idea for a game show that would be kind of similar. The title of the show would be “Nostalgia or Nausea?” Newlyweds who are roughly the same age would be invited on the show. Each newlywed would be separately shown a series of 10 pop-culture artifacts (people, fads, albums, etc.) from their teenage years, and asked if each artifact inspires “nostalgia or nausea?” The host then brings the newlyweds back together, shows the artifacts, and asks the newlyweds to recite their answers. Hilarity ensues.

Come to think of it, maybe this show should be made part of pre-marital counseling. I’ll defer to the good Reverend Hasty on that one, though.

The British aristocracy

July 25, 2004

Did you know that the British hereditary aristocracy is still around?

I had thought it had mostly died out, since the British government has handed out so few important hereditary titles during the last 75 years (and so few of any kind during the last 40).

But, no, the hereditary aristocracy still exists, though considerably less powerful and wealthy than it once was (this book details why). If you are interested in which peerages are still active:


Walking music: XTC

July 25, 2004

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution asked a couple of weeks ago, “Does anyone listen to XTC anymore?”

I do. I even take them walking every now and then:


Tuesday night at the Meridian

July 22, 2004

After years of being a They Might Be Giants fan, I finally saw them in concert this week. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.

The show was at the Meridian, a new club in an old warehouse on Chartres Street. About 500 fellow TMBG and/or Homestar Runner geeks showed up, most of them younger than me (not surprising for a concert that lasted until midnight on a work night). I met four other people there and had a great time.

John Flansburgh and John Linnell are 20-year veterans at entertaining crowds, and it showed: The concert was fun from start to finish. You had to be there for all the jokes; I’ll just say that they were many and good. The music was at least adequate for most of the songs (though it looked to me as if John Linnell is sick of playing “Birdhouse in Your Soul”). The show didn’t have a particular highlight for me: I just enjoyed the songs and jumping up and down like an idiot for two hours.

(Other Houston bloggers there: Cybertoad and Irfan.)

Am I asking for too much?

July 21, 2004

I bought a new hair dryer this evening.

My hope is that this one won’t catch on fire.

The governing philosophy of the Bush administration

July 11, 2004

From The Tom Peters Seminar (1994), pgs. 109-110:

I’ve long been offended by the whining middle managers and professional staffers who tell me how tough they’ve got it. They’re bound to their desks by dictatorial bosses who might demand their presence at any moment, they say. “Rubbish,” is the way Reagan Pentagon staffer Richard Perle feels about such complaints.

“The question arises as to what authority you have. The answer,” Perle said, “is you have to assume you have absolute authority until somebody tells you otherwise, until somebody stops you. Because if you try to derive your authority, your freedom of action, from any other source than yourself, you are not going to have any fun, and you are not going to get much done.”

Perle claimed that he always “operated on the theory that it was within my authority to make decisions and do things and carry them out, right up until the moment that somebody was able to prove otherwise. And it’s amazing how much you can get away with, how many people will acquiesce in that, if you seem determined and you seem to know what you are doing.”

“[Y]ou have to assume you have absolute authority until somebody tells you otherwise, until somebody stops you.”

“[I]t’s amazing how much you can get away with, how many people will acquiesce in that, if you seem determined and you seem to know what you are doing.”

If you wanted to sum up the Bush administration in a nutshell, you could do a lot worse than using those two sentences.

Another beautiful day

July 9, 2004

I never thought I would savor a July day in Houston.

But there I was an hour ago, standing next to the Main Street Square fountains. Temperature: 84 degrees. Humidity: 50%. Sky: Sunny, but not glaring. Fountains: Doing the full 20-foot jet every few seconds.

Doesn’t get much better than that (and the whole spring was gorgeous, too). I’m heading back outside as soon as the sunscreen dries.

Hawkeye hammers Blue Bell

July 8, 2004

My friend the Reverend Mark Hasty travelled to Austin from the Midwest three years ago to officiate a wedding. It’s a shame he didn’t have any Blue Bell ice cream while he was here, because it would have saved him from writing this post.

A Lutheran pastor would know a gift of the Holy Spirit when he tasted it.

(Good as Blue Bell is, though, it’s not the best thing to come out of Brenham. Hi, Maggie!)

Perp’s wife shuts shop

July 8, 2004

Yet another neighborhood business closes its doors.

I’ll miss having an irresistible tourist attraction eight blocks away to take out-of-towners to.