February 18, 2007

Head Scratchingly Amazing.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:49 pm

agicianM.jpgI love watching skilled magicians. On one level, a good magician provides us with a few moments of joy that come with suspending reality. On another level, a great performance reminds us that we cannot always believe what we see.

Years ago I saw Doug Henning on stage in New York City when he performed in The Magic Show. He rolled a cage onto the stage; he spun it around and stuck his hands between the bars. My eyes told me that the cage was empty. One of his leggy women assistance climbed into the cage. He placed a cover over the cage and spun it around three times and then removed the cover. The woman was gone, and in her place was a damned lioness walking back and forth in the cage. Holy Crap!

Now, there are only two possibilities. Either Doug Henning defied the laws of physics and biology and instantly transformed a human being into a large jungle cat, or he very skillfully fooled everyone in the audience. I think that everyone beyond the age of, say, seven understands that the second alternative is the correct one.

My friend Brian, the Air Force Vet, sent me a video of some jaw-dropping magic. The background is in Japanese, but it doesn’t matter. Check it out.

I’m dedicating this post to my friend, the Stardust Shrink, who performs brain twisting card tricks (many using the same general premise as the one in video) – only he does the while sitting at the table eighteen inches away.

Pick a card — any card.

February 17, 2007

Imagining a State-Run Convenience Store.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:13 pm

This morning I happened to be clearing out the one spam comment that managed to sneak by the spam blocker and landed on this April 25, 2006 post, which was another cell phone vulgarian story that unfolded in my local 7-11. In the comments, the subject of coffee came up, and I had mentioned that the price of a 20-ounce cup of coffee was $1.33.

Shortly after I had written the post, the price went up to $1.44. This past Thursday, the price went up to $1.55. WTF? That’s a 16.5% increase in ten months. I got to thinking, “Holy crap, increasing prices like that, who do these people think are? The State of New Jersey?”

I then realized that if they were the State of New Jersey, here’s the way the prices would go for a 20-ounce cup of coffee:

The “Rich” would pay $14.95 per cup. (Note: In Jersey, you can be “rich” and still worry about how you’re going to pay for the brake job.)

Most people would pay $4.95 per cup, but they would get a twenty-five cent per cup rebate at the end of the year – maybe.

Other people who never bought coffee would be paid to drink the stuff in the form of a “coffee rebate”. It’s only fair.

Pay up! It’s for the kommon good, komrads.

February 16, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:24 pm

1. Anyone even remotely familiar with this place knows that I like to write funny things (at least I think they’re funny) about Nancy Pelosi. I confess that, at the moment, I cannot think of any way to write anything funny about this. It’s too easy to say that I’m outraged – I am, to be sure. More to the point, as an American and as a veteran, what happened today in the House of Representatives breaks my heart. What they (and a dozen so-called Republicans) did comes with consequences, which they will have to live with.

2. Speaking of Americans, I just watched a History Channel piece on Apollo 11. The documentary featured the flight controller and Buzz Aldrin discussing the mission accompanied by footage of the trip to and from the moon. Watching it, I was taken by the historic value of the program. It would be as if we had a video of Lewis and Clark’s expedition and narration by Lewis and Clark themselves.

I am old enough to have watched on television (albeit in a foreign country) in awe as the Apollo 11 mission unfolded. What the documentary cannot possibly convey is the pins and needles on which the nation sat wondering whether these brave men would return to Earth and, if so, would they return alive, and would they bring with them some sort of “Satan Virus” that would wipe out the population of the planet.

The documentary also reminded me that the decision to land on the moon or to abort the mission (a most difficult task) was still on the table at a time when the Apollo 11 capsule was spitting distance to the lunar surface. Land? Crash on the lunar surface? Crash while trying to abort? There was no time for non-binding resolutions. A decision had to be made then and there. The decision was made to land. Everyone at NASA and in the United States held their breath while Neil Armstrong (a test pilot) manually steered the capsule to the lunar surface with 17 seconds worth of fuel to spare.

Grit. I think America has lost it.

February 15, 2007

Dubai Ports World Meets …… Paulie Walnuts?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:25 pm

Remember the huge hoo-rah last year when it was announced that several U.S. Ports had been acquired by a Dubai-based company named Dubai Ports World? Sure you do. How could you forget? Politicians and regular peeps raised all sorts of hell focusing on security concerns, resulting in the Dubai Ports World deciding to sell its interests in the American ports to AIG Global Investment Group, subject to approval of the deal by regulatory authorities in the various states concerned.

Apparently, the only agency now standing in the way of the consummation of the transaction is the New York, New Jersey Port Authority.

So, what’s the problem? In short, money.

According to the Star Ledger, the Port Authority wants to be paid $30 million for improvements it made to the docks “since 2000”. However, according to the New York Times, the amount being demanded is as high as $84 million, some or all of which will have to be spent by the new owner for “capital projects”.

I concede that there are probably many facts of which I am unaware, but, having said that, these payment demands sure sound like normal operating procedure in Jersey, particularly when it comes to the the way things historically work at the ports.

For instance, I frankly don’t understand the basis for the $30 million demand for improvements made since 2000. I have to assume that the original buyer (Dubai Ports World) is responsible for improvements made to the ports through the date of 2006 transfer. As such, either the Port Authority has already been paid for the improvements, or it has a contractual right to payment from the Dubai Company (and quite possibly also from AIG if AIG has assumed Dubai Ports’ liabilities, giving the Port Authority two pockets to collect the debt from).

The demand for commitments by the new buyer (AIG) to pay $54 million (84 -30?) for “capital projects” is quite astounding. I am assuming that such a demand was not in the original deal. A Port Authority spokesman was quoted by the NY Times as saying, “Dubai Ports World has ‘made a pretty substantial profit here, and we want AIG to make a commitment to reinvest money in the capital projects so that we’re sure they’re going to operate the terminal responsibly.’”

The Port Authority’s making the payment a condition of giving its consent to the sale, strikes me, at best, to be a gutsy way to get a second bite at the apple (i.e. this should have been demanded in the first deal, but wasn’t) or, at worst, to be a Jersey shakedown worthy of Tony Soprano and his crew.

We’ll have to wait and see who blinks first.

February 14, 2007

Valentine’s Day.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:14 pm

ancyC eartsH.jpg


February 13, 2007

Welcome to New Jerseyfornia.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:01 pm

orzineC.jpgThe entire business (and I use the term “business” advisedly) of “global warming” makes my hair hurt. I suppose you can classify me as one of the “Deniers”.

Perhaps the planet is warming ever so slightly (as of this writing) but it has been warming and cooling in cycles for, oh, about a gazillion years. I also think it is far from clear that human activity has much, if anything, to do with this cycle of heating and cooling, notwithstanding what Al “No Controlling Legal Authority” Gore, the inventor of the internet, has to say on the matter. In addition, I am not persuaded by the pronouncements of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a political, not a scientific body — of the U.N., no less) urging that human activity is “very likely” the source of “global warming”.

So, imagine how pleased I was to see that Governor Corzine will issue an Executive Order that contains long-term “global warming” goals matched only by those in California. Dude! Global warming – like sooooo not cool.

The state legislature will have to pass a statute in order to implement the goals that are contained in the Executive Order. No problemo, that. Democrats Linda Stender and Barbara Buono are ready to hold hearings on New Jersey’s “Global Warming Response Act”. According to the Star Ledger, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection “will develop plans for meeting the goals in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, Board of Public Utilities [and] Department of Community Affairs …”

The prospect of four state agencies given the task of writing new regulations is downright frightening. Regulators just love to write regulations – lots of them. More regulations mean more bureaucracy, which in New Jersey means … yes, more taxes. Count on it.

If this continues, one day the only business left in New Jersey will be state government, and the only people left in the state will be state government employees. They can amuse themselves by regulating hell out of one another.

One has to wonder whether this decision to unleash the fury of four state regulatory agencies on the citizens of the Garden State was the net result of careful analysis of a complex issue, or whether it was a politically correct, feel-good maneuver designed to appeal to the folks who put Mr. Corzine into office. According to the Star Ledger, an unnamed Corzine staffer stated, “In the absence of leadership from the Bush administration, state action to address this global challenge is that much more important.”

Well, there you go.

February 12, 2007

The Pelosi Plane — A PRS Scoop!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:13 pm

I’m sure you’ve been aware of the Washington dustup over Nancy Pelosi’s use of a government plane to take her, her staff and relatives back and forth between Washington D.C. and California. The issue caused much spinning and teeth gnashing on both sides of the aisle, which even the White House characterized as “silly”.

Since 9/11 the Speaker of the House, for security reasons, has been provided with use of a government plane to fly back and forth to his district. The reason for this is because the House Speaker is third in line for the Presidency (heaven forbid). As such, the issue has become whether the type of aircraft used by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (whose Congressional District was in Illinois) could make the trip between the coasts without stopping to refuel.

One of the questions that was grist for the media was whether it was Speaker Pelosi or the Congressional Sgt.-at-Arms who actually requested the plane.

PRS Operatives have managed to secure a copy of the original letter drafted by Speaker Pelosi to the Pentagon requesting the use of a government plane. Here it is:

February 1, 2007

The Pentagram
Washington, DC 20301
Attn.: Secretary of Defense

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld, you Fascist Dog Gates:

Listen up, Bob.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am the goddamned SPEAKER in the House. Yeah, that’s me up there with the gabel and the good looks. As the goddamned SPEAKER, I am entitled to a plane to take me (and whomever else I damned well please) back and forth between Washington and San Francisco, and I don’t want to hear any crap about it from you mutts at the Pentagram. Remember just who it is who hands out the money for your people and their stupid, expensive toys that go boom.

Here are my requirements:


The plane better damned well not be one inch shorter or one inch narrower than the one that President Stooooopid rides around in. I may not be the President, but I damned well might be (Look it up, Bob), and I’m way more sophisticated than he is. I also need more room for my shoes and stuff.


I want something, like, groovy – you, know, psychedelic, but in pastels – heavy on the dusty rose, with big swirly letters on the side of the plane that spell “Madam SPEAKER”. Oh, and I don’t want any goddamned flags painted on the exterior. They would clash with the design and, besides, the people in my district don’t much like the American flag anyway. I want the plane to display peace signs instead of flags.


I want everything that President McHitlerburtonchimpymissionaccomplishedrunkcollegefratboydrugaddledmoron has on his plane, plus the following:

Hot tub for four
Steam Room
Mirrors on all four walls and ceiling in my bedroom
Two walk-in closets
Incense burners
Aroma Therapy-capable ventilation system
A safe in which I can store some special seasonings (I do so like to cook)


I insist on having a cabin attendant who is a real chef, like from France? Helloooooo? I don’t want some damned broken down army cook with a goddamned crew cut serving me army slop.

Speaking of the flight crew, I want them to dress in designer suits, not in those stupid soldier uniforms. The people in my district become upset when they see soldier uniforms. In addition, I don’t wish to be saluted by the flight crew – that’s, like, such a fascist thing. A deep bow when in my presence will do.

Very truly yours,

P.S. Don’t even think about jerking me around on this, Bob. Remember what I said about the goddamned money.

February 10, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:23 pm

icrophoneM.jpgThe Truism
As many of you know, I have spoken and sung into microphones for the better part of my life. One of the things that comes from having done so is my recognition of the following truism:

If you want to see a perfectly normal person make a complete ass of himself, just hand him (or her) a microphone.

Typically, they examine it by turning it in all sorts of directions (usually while wearing a silly grin), as if they are not quite sure which end to speak into. They then give it a tap or two tap, tap; they sometimes blow into it, and they almost always end up saying, “Is this thing on?” Problem is that while asking that question they inevitably cover the microphone with one of their hands (presumably so the audience cannot hear), which results in the inevitable blast of feedback sufficiently loud and shrill to sterilize everyone in the room and cause dogs a half mile away to howl.

Once you assure them that it is “on” and ask them not to cover the microphone with their hands, they will often again confirm that the microphone is indeed on, only this time so the audience can hear, “OK, this thing is on now.”

Satisfied that the microphone is indeed live, they begin to speak. The audience complains that the speaker cannot be heard. The speaker turns around and gives you the “You-said-this-thing-was-on” look. You explain that one must actually speak into the microphone in order to be heard and that holding it just slightly north of the navel will not get it done.

They resume speaking, but insist on holding the microphone a foot from their mouth, so you adjust the gain in an attempt to pick up the voice. That’s usually when they finally get around to bringing the microphone the proper distance from their mouth, which causes another blast of feedback and yet another dirty look from the speaker.

Naturally, the audience assumes that the speaker is doing just fine and reason for the ear-splitting squeals and speaker’s inaudibility is the incompetence of the boob turning the knobs.

I harbor fantasies handing such a person a flashlight instead of a microphone. Wanna bet they’d tap it, tap, tap and say, “Is this thing on?”

The Flip Side
The opposite of the type of person described above is the one who stands before a group of several hundred people and pushes an available microphone aside proudly saying, “I hate microphones. Never use ‘em. Can everybody hear me?”

Hearing no objections (It is rare that anyone will shout “No!”), he begins speaking, only after a minute or two to be completely drowned out by those in the audience who begin talking, because they cannot hear him.

At that point, he his handed the microphone, and the inevitable fun begins.

February 9, 2007

Another Cell Phone Vulgarian Story.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:08 pm

oN ellC honeP ignS.jpgI often wonder if there are a finite number of Douchebag-Uses-a-Cell-Phone stories.

I’ve decided that the number is indeed finite, but it is possibly matched by the total number of grains of sand on all the beaches and in all the deserts in the world.

That said, here is yet another one.

I was sitting in a waiting room at a nearby surgical center. An intake/receptionist window was at the front of the room. All the chairs in the room were arranged much like church pews facing the front of the room. To the right of the receptionist window was a large sign that read, “Cell phone use is not permitted in this room.” Those words appeared below the symbol showing a cell phone in a red circle through which a diagonal red line is drawn (very similar to the sign shown above).

Got the picture?

May I be hit in the head with a bag of boogers if I’m lying, but a guy sitting in the front row, directly opposite the sign (It couldn’t have been more than six feet from his nose) pulled out his cell phone and made a call and proceeded to blab for several minutes. Note: He did not take a call and leave the room to talk. No, he placed a goddamned call.

There were some mutterings from others waiting in the crowded room, but they went unheeded by the cell phone vulgarian. I (and I suspect others) were all hoping that one of the peeps behind the window would enter the waiting room to tell the inconsiderate putz to “take it outside”, but it did not happen.

I should have moved to the front of the room to sit directly in front of the “No Smoking” sign and fired up a smoke. Just to make a point or two, ya know.

February 8, 2007

Full of it, Not.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:53 pm

Today I underwent what has become a fairly common diagnostic procedure, which required 24-hours worth of advanced “preparation”. The preparation consisted of four laxative tablets and two ten-ounce bottles of citrate of magnesia spaced several hours apart. It also required close proximity to the loo.

Let me just say that Klee Irwin ain’t got nuttin’ on me.

I have been advised to “take it easy” today, which is nooooooo problem.


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