Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"This Is Not Your Colonel Speaking" -- Popcorn by The Colonel #61

This is not The Colonel.
Don't you hate it when you get your ontological categories mixed up with your epistemological categories while you're on the deli line and when they call your number you still haven't sorted it out, so you're just not ready to order and they make you start over and it's like the biblical feast where somebody took too high a seat and the master of the feast makes him go to a much, much lower seat where he can hardly hear the toasts and punch lines and has to laugh when everyone else does because it's just too shaming to have to turn to a neighbor and ask, "What'd he say? What'd he say?"

"This parrot has joined the Choir Invisible!" --not The Colonel

Ross Hashana had worked for the company two years already, but they still called him "the newish Jew here." Old jokes die hard.

Farbeeyit Frummy writes: "I don't think it's fair that they rule you out for high office in the National Funny Names Club just because you legally changed your name to something funny." Sorry, Farby, we're not going to weigh in on this one because -- full disclosure -- we're tight with club president George Papoon, nĂ© George Papoon.

Speak ill of the NSA if you will, but it's the one branch of government that really listens.

The question under discussion was whether to have written contracts with Chinese vendors, in view of the trouble and expense thereof, including translation costs, when if there's a problem or a hitch, it goes before Chinese courts and arbitrators anyway, and they'll make chalk into cheese to favor the home team. Apparently Brazilian firms do an enormous volume of business (brazillions!) with Chinese firms with nary a written contract.

The argument for written contracts with Chinese firms is (a) written contracts can't do any harm; (b) negotiating written contracts can serve to flush out potential problems at a stage when they can be addressed before they blossom; and (c) even when the written contracts aren't real-world enforceable, they can modify the Chinese vendor's behavior at the margins. 

For example, if there's a "no subcontracting" clause in the contract, and the Chinese firm gets too many orders from its customers to fulfill at its own factories, of course it's going to subcontract the excess. But if there's a clear "no subcontracting" clause in your contract, it may well subcontract another customer's work (some Brazilian firm's, say) instead of yours.

When the series "Lost" ended, there were grumbles about how the various plots and subplots were or were not resolved. As the series "Breaking Bad" reaches its last few episodes, we are hearing from people who want to believe that the ending will match the quality of what went before. "I want to trust these writers, but I've had my heart broken so many times before," a friend puled.

 We are inclined to trust the writers, because after some years of disaffection from television, we were blown away by season three of "The Killing," especially the final episode, especially the final two minutes. Apparently today's screenwriters are capable of some of the best television drama ever.

Also some of the worst, but we'll leave the discussion of that to some other time when everyone wants something really depressing. Does "never" work for you? Maybe it's enough to say, with Theodore Sturgeon, "Ninety percent of everything is crap." 

A cheerful corollary is that if ten percent of what you do is not crap, you're like a batter with an average of .300 -- you're doing well. And if thirty percent of what you do is not crap, you're like a batter with a .900 average. And if thirty-three and a third percent of what you do is not crap, you're like a batter who hits every pitch. 

A sad corollary of the happy corollary is that just as no batter can bat more than a thousand, no one's production is more than one-third not crap. But that's more than good enough, it's great.

Now that Labor Day has passed us by, everyone's white pants have to go to the cleaners and be stored till Memorial Day 2014. What a bonanza for the cleaners. Though we are not a native New Englander, we have absorbed Yankee thrift, so we throw our white pants into the wash with non-colorfast items of verdigris, titian, bisque, puce, cattleya, smalt, damask, jasper, bittersweet, and vermillion and lo! the pants are not white anymore, and can be worn till next Memorial Day, when a wash with good, strong bleach will make them again as white as the driven whatchamacallit. This is like the white bridesmaid's shoes that after the wedding the canny bridesmaid dyes another color for everyday use.

Which reminds us of the cartoon of the woman telling the shoe store salesperson, "Quick, I need a really good pair of marry-me pumps!"

Reflective moments in architecture: from Jag to slag.

It has long been forgotten, but  St. Paul, the Christian missionary to the gentiles, financed his travels in part by his skill at poker. In some quarters, he was known as "Minneapolis St. Paul."

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