By Hallie-Lou Jackson, Lebraya Tarpitz, Mary Z. Doats, and Patricia Potrzbie
Epigraph: “The Castro regime has been very popular, though not in Cuba.”
“Whaddya want when you gotta eat sump’n and it’s gotta be sweet and it’s gotta be a lot and ya gotta have it now?” If this rings even a distant bell, you are old.
Lapel pin spotted at train station: “It’s Okay to Say MERRY CHRISTMAS To Me.” How far will this “safety pin” thing go?
“Die Hard” starring Bruce Willis is arguably the best Christmas picture ever made.
“Malloy Declares Zika Mosquito State Insect ‘To Raise Awareness.’” (The Colonel tries his hand at fake news. Again.)
Defeat and humiliation can get you down, but if they came about from or despite your doing your duty, they’re no cause for shame. Be always of the best cheer you can manage under the circs.
Today’s headline beat out the less cheery runner-up: “Holiday Visit Ends With Parents Dissolving in Acid."
John Glenn, “America’s last national hero,” has a place in my mnemonic system as the standard picturable equivalent for the letter G. If it’s a capital G, the spaceman is wearing a jaunty “cap” atop his space helmet. R.I.P.
An “are” (pronounced like the alphabet letter “R”) is one-hundredth of a hectare (which can be pronounced “heck-tar”).
Some voicemail systems transcribe messages using voice-to-text software, like this:
"Janice it's Cathy. I spoke to one of the gals it wasn't gay but it was a coach here. It's. It's just simply trough Garden. You can put a hardy been there if you want but it's just Al Pines or whatever is not herbal strictly. Okay. Thanks a lot. Talk to you soon."
Oddly, transcriptions that bad are often good enough for those who know what the gibberish means: "coach here" is "co-chair" and so on. Those in the know, know.
The 80/20 rule causes “mission drift” in charities and other not-for-profits. When 80% of their donations come from 20% of their donors, guess who influences the direction of the agency? It’s sometimes called the “golden rule”: “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
Mr. Clippy (remember Mr. Clippy, the most hated figure in the history of animation?) says: “It seems as if you’re writing unsubstantiated nonsense. Would you like to turn on ALL CAPS?” (Finder’s credit: Bill Flood)
Cover blurb an author could probably do without: “A sick, sick man in the very best sense.”
Food Porn Alert. The following are from a flyer put out by what a friend calls the “Junk Food for Rich People” store:
Rainbow of Honey, Peppermint Chocolate Bar, Spiced Holiday Libation, Sedimentary Cookies, Jingle Jangle Ice Cream, Salty Honey Toffee Milk Chocolate Covered Crackers, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Cherry Danish, Crunchy Truffle Trio,
Chocolate Chip Waffles, Brie Stuffed with Garlic and Herbs, Canadian Cheddar Aged Five Years, Bavarian Grand Bleu Cheese, Phyllo Dough, Crispy Crunchy Cracker Assortment, Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam, Double Creme Brie With Truffles,
Pistachio and Pomegranate Crisps, Greek Stuffed Olive Triumvirate, Lemon Ricotta, Camembert Cheese & Cranberry Sauce Phyllo Bites, Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Mini Brie en Croute.
Scallops Wrapped in Bacon! Scallops Wrapped in Bacon! Scallops Wrapped in Bacon!
“I prefer someone who burns the flag and wraps himself in the Constitution to someone who burns the Constitution and wraps himself in the flag.” --Molly Ivins
Just to be clear, the Molly Ivins quote is not a food porn thing. Her preference was political, not gustatory.
"The biddies in the train car with me did my head in with all their chuntering on about lambs, holidays, solar panels, grass growing, farming, the health service, marinades, Niagara Falls, the Taliban, and -- honestly -- noisy neighbours.” --Louise James (a Brit)
Too lazy to do the research, but “chunter” sounds like a cross between “chatter” and “chunder” (=barf, "talk to Ralph on the big white phone").
And speaking of crosses, what do you get when you cross a dog and a frog? A dog that can lick itself from across the room.
“A writer can read the work of another writer with one of only two emotions: grinding envy or sneering contempt.” --Stephen King
It’s a weird side-effect of egotism, but if writer A sees a statement by writer B, even if it’s something writer A wishes writer A had written, writer A will look the statement over with an eye like a dentist’s tool, probing for a cavity.
“Repeat after me: Inflation is a tax. A bad, inefficient tax.” --Megan McArdle, on Twitter
"Okay. Inflation is a tax. A bad, inefficient tax." --Jonah Goldberg, known literalist, on Twitter
So is inflation a tax? Depends on definitions, but probably yes. By printing money, the government appropriates purchasing power from everyone holding money or assets denominated in money.
So is inflation an inefficient tax? If “tax efficiency” means ease of collection, inflation may be the most efficient tax ever invented. No IRS, no W-2s, no 1099s, no 1040s, no deductions, no receipts, no audits, no penalties, no liens, no paperwork, no math, no H&R Block, and evasion of this tax requires the difficult trick of staying out of cash and cash-denominated assets.
But "tax efficiency" usually refers to the degree to which the tax affects personal economic choices. If a tax is perfectly efficient, everyone would make the same choices whether the tax existed or not. Such a tax is as impossible as putting a drop of red ink in a shotglass of clear water without affecting the color of the water.
Sometimes taxes are deliberately "inefficient" to achieve a goal, like taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking or low taxes on interest income to encourage saving.
So understanding inflation to mean quantitative expansion of a fiat currency like the U.S. dollar, inflation is a wildly inefficient tax. The conduct it stimulates is diverse, unknown, and unknowable.
The case that inflation is not literally a tax is that by definition, inflation is not the monetary expansion itself, but rises in the “price level” that may or may not result from monetary expansion. The “price level” is an average of prices paid for certain goods and services in a period. So, in that sense, inflation is not a tax at all, efficient or inefficient.
At a service interring a K-9 police dog who was killed in the line of duty, the Wethersfield police chief said of the K-9s, “They give everything they have and ask for nothing in return.”
If you’ve ever wondered whether earless and eared seals are a single marine group, or represent two separate episodes of carnivorans turning to a marine environment, you're not the first. It’s debated. Lento, G.M.; Hickson, R.E.; Chambers, G.K.; Penny, D. (1 January 1995). "Use of spectral analysis to test hypotheses on the origin of pinnipeds". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 12 (1): 28–52. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a040189. PMID 7877495.
A cousin’s daughter is marrying a man who as a boy wanted to be Superman. His family indulged him and he always wore a red towel as his “cape.” On his first day of Kindergarten, the teacher asked him his name in the presence of the rest of the class. “Superman,” he replied. The teacher patiently explained that she needed his real name for important records. “Superman,” he repeated. She insisted she needed to know his real name, so he reluctantly came forward, gestured for her to lean down, and whispered in her ear, “Clark Kent.”
Pop multiple-choice quiz: which of the the following three images most accurately depicts the mysterious “Colonel”?
P.S.: “Put your rat race on paws/ For now is the time/ To deploy your claws.” --Spliff Splaceward, Cosmic Cadet