Saturday, July 30, 2016

"No One Expects the Spaniel Inquisition": The Colonel Carries On #43

By Marx and Joyce Brothers

Epigraph: “If the market response to the Brexit referendum was the predicted apocalypse, it was a very British one. It was all over by tea time.” --John O’Sullivan

My favorite part of Mrs. Clinton’s acceptance speech was her reference to her opponent’s acceptance speech of “seventy-odd minutes -- and I do mean odd.”

Does “starkers” mean crazy or naked?

“Materteral” is to aunt as “avuncular” is to uncle.

Parkour is a non-combative martial art consisting of techniques of getting from point A to point B despite obstacles.

As “aristocracy” is rule by the best, “kakistocracy” is rule by the worst.

Bribe-takers hate those who won’t take bribes, because the non-takers remind the takers that the takers had a choice. We hate those who shame us.

Here are some more African proverbs that I can’t figure out:

“One never regrets going, only coming back” (Kenya).

“The key that opens is also the key that locks.”

“A person is what he thinks.”

One comment on the third: surely it doesn’t mean that a person is not what she thinks, feels, and does, but only what she thinks.

We must hope that rationality is not the essence of humanness. As Chesterton has said, the purely rational person will not marry and the purely rational soldier will not fight.

“The best way to fight crime is to go from electric chairs to electric bleachers.” --Jerry Doyle

If there are “wasting assets” (a carload of ripe tomatoes), must there not also be “wasting liabilities” (a debt owed in a rapidly depreciating currency)? Yet a Web search of the latter phrase avails not.

“Groupthink” is conformity enforced by scapegoating. --John O’Sullivan

“In any free society, the conflict between social conformity and individual liberty is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary.” --Kathleen Norris, novelist and columnist (27 Jul 1880-1966)

“The claim that racism and xenophobia inspired Brexit is a pyramid of piffle -- nasty, vicious, slanderous piffle.” --Boris Johnson

“It is a remarkable horse that falls at the first fence only to rise and fall again at every other fence along the way. Yet some arguments are like that horse.” --after John O’Sullivan

Many group names are fanciful, like “an exaltation of larks” and “a murder of crows.” I humbly offer “a snore of speechwriters.”

“[When power lies in the hands of officials chosen by elections,] the future belongs to those who show up.” --Mark Steyn

“All analogies limp, some more than others, some on both legs. The only exceptions are those carried in on stretchers.” --Roy Marshrigger

“We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong.” --Karl Popper, philosopher and a professor (28 July 1902-1994) [Plagiarist’s Motto? Certainly mine.]

Isaac Newton is supposed to have said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

At a mid-twentieth-century physics conference, the moderator said, “The advances in our field in this century have been so rapid that you may be sitting next to the giants on whose shoulders you stand.”

He might have added, “Or you may be a giant on whose shoulders the person sitting next you stands.”

The physicists at that conference must all have done yoga.

I don’t like the abbreviation “FYI” because “eff-why-eye” is clumsy to say. How about “fo-yo-in”? Sounds like the sign on the entrance of the yogurt place.

The late Rodney Dangerfield complained, “I don’t get no respect, no respect at all.” As in, “When I get in the elevator, the elevator boy looks me up and down and says, ‘Basement?’”

I have a similar complaint. A well-known local activist and I sat across a table from each other at a public meeting. She saw the word “Books” on the cover of my shirt-pocket notebook and asked whether the notebook contained the names of books I had read.

Rather than answer verbally, I slid the little notebook across the table for her to see for herself what was in it. She looked at it without touching it for a second, then pushed it right back, saying, “I just realized it might contain the sorts of things that show up in Captain Popcorn, and I wouldn’t be able to unsee them.”

I laid one of my theories on a friend who listened patiently. At the end, I said, “What do you think?” He said, “Thoughts, mostly.”

If you detect a note of bitterness, I’m not being clear. You should be detecting symphonies of bitterness.

“If we cannot love each other yet, let us not hate each other too much.” --Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, on declaring a cease-fire against the guerilla insurgents

Something’s going on at Easter Island:

A familiar story of which we need occasional reminding:

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions. In a little while the servant came back, white and trembling.

He said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. When I turned, I saw it was Death that had jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Now, Master, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra, where Death will not find me.”  

The merchant lent the servant the horse. The servant mounted and spurred it and galloped off as fast as the horse could go.  

Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and saw Death standing in the crowd. He went to Death and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?”  

“That was not a threatening gesture,” Death said, “It was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him here in Bagdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

No, Virginia, that story is not called “Appointment with S’Mores.”

“I applied for a job selling hot dogs at the stadium. They turned me down because I wasn’t qualified to sell hot dogs, so they hired me as a security guard instead. Look, they gave me a gun!” --Harry, on Third Rock from the Sun

“Verbing weirds language.” --Bill Watterson

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July 29-30 Kali: Laugh Live Love, Sweet As Sugar

Kali: Laugh Live Love

July 29 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm | $10

Kali is a Boston based alternative / folk artist and singer-songwriter with many influences. Join Kali here at The Buttonwood Tree as he presents music he has been working on for his next recording entitled “Laugh Live Love.”

 Check out more of Kali and his music here!

Aligned with Source: An Interactive Workshop

July 30 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm | suggested minimum donation $5 

Hosted by Annaita Gandhy, A Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India, who is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a wide range of situations. In these inter-active workshops, Annaita seeks to empower, sharing her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges, live a healthy, fulfilled & confident life.
To learn more about Annaita Gandhy and her work click here!

Sweet As Sugar

July 30 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm | $10

Sweet As Sugar

“Sweet As Sugar” is Bill Shontz, Zack Danziger and Kate Nicolau. At their core they are jazz based, but mix in originals and cool medleys and fusions of well known songs. Bill Shontz, writes, sings, and plays Flute, Clarinet, Saxophones and more. Kate is a wonderful vocalist with a sweet, jazzy, sound, and Zack is a brilliant guitarist and vocalist/songwriter. They combine their voices to make some terrific, sophisticated harmonies making for great original arrangements.
More the fantastic trio Sweet As Sugar can be found here!

The Tile Project

Members of The Buttonwood Tree are mounting a fundraising campaign that will bring a beautiful visual art installation to the foyer of The Buttonwood Tree. A 46”x 58” space on the wall will be filled with a ceramic tile mini mural of an artist’s interpretation of both the mission and Buttonwood Tree logo. The area holds a total of 154 tile squares used in the artwork. Each tile, sold for $50.00, represents an investment in the extraordinary performances, connections, and good will found at The Buttonwood Tree every single day.

Names will be engraved on a bronze plaque that will hang alongside the finished piece. The tile work will hang in the lobby for a period of two years or more before being retired to another location in the facility.

Purchasers of tiles will also be invited to a special reception where the work will be unveiled for the first time and be given an opportunity to meet with the artist as he/she discusses the work.

Be part of the Tile Project HERE


The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center
605 Main Street / PO Box 71, Middletown, CT 06457
CLICK TO GO TO WEBSITE: / 860.347.4957 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

VIDEO: DOT Meeting on Route 9

Here's video of Tuesday night's public meeting with the state Department of Transportation, detailing their proposal for Main Street, Route 9, and Route 17. The DOT presentation lasts about 35 minutes, then public comment begins with Common Council members Seb Giuliano and Gerry Daley.

Kudos to all those who chose to come out and participate.

Roundabout Solution To Route 9 Traffic Woes

Proposed double roundabout on Main Street Extension.
Designers and engineers from the Connecticut Department of Transportation presented proposed changes to Route 9 to a crowd of around a hundred interested residents at Middletown's Elks Club Tuesday evening.

Presented by the DOT's engineer, William Britnell, the two formal proposals include a proposed solution to rid Rte. 9 of stop lights (Project 82-318), and to remove a stop sign at the Rte. 17 on ramp (Project 82-316).

Find more complete information here.

Britnell explained that the Rte. 17 on ramp was high on the list of DOT accident sites.  The plan calls for a widening of the overpass over Union street to create a standard acceleration lane on ramp.  In addition the plan calls for a redesign of the intersection of River Road and Harbor Drive, the conversion of Harbor Drive into a cul-de-sac and the construction of a double roundabout at the Main Street Extension entrance to the Rte. 17 entrance to Rte. 9.

Few in the crowd were concerned about the entrance ramp redesign, though former Planning and Zoning member Catherine Johnson noted that the double roundabout on Main Street Extension seemed to be a case of "over-design."

Roundabouts figured large in the proposed redesign of new entrances and exits from Rte. 9 to eliminate traffic lights from the highway.

Britnell explained that the traffics, which many in the city and state see as nuisances, create regular traffic jams, and are the cause of accidents.

Britnell explains the proposed plan.
The proposal calls for the construction of two bridges to bypass the Hartford Avenue and Washington Street entrances/exits and new entrances and exits at both locations with a roundabout at the intersection of Washington Street and DeKoven Drive.

Britnell conceded that there would likely be increased traffic at these exits and entrances, and associated increase traffic on Main Street, Washington and DeKoven, but he portrayed the increases as inconsequential.  To mitigate increased traffic, and to promote pedestrian safety, Britnell and the DOT propose a series of curb bump-outs at intersections all along Main Street.

In addition, the plan calls for the construction of a pedestrian bridge from the site of the current city parking garage adjacent to the court house, over Rte. 9 and to the river.  Britnell called the pedestrian bridge "a lovely space" from which to view the river.

The pedestrian bridge.
Reaction from those gathered was nearly unanimous in agreement that the traffic lights on Rte. 9 were a problem, but few agreed with the merits of the DOT plan.

One of the chief complaints about the new highway bridges was that they would block the view of the river for a significant length along DeKoven.

Common Council member Gene Nocera expressed concern about the obstruction of view.

"I hope this project will be done creatively so as not to obstruct the view of the river," Nocera said.

Washington Street roundabout and Rte 9 bridge.   
"If there has to be a bridge, does it have to be like the bridge in the picture," asked resident Joan Hedrick, noting that the Arrigoni Bridge was an example of a beautiful structure.

Another concern was the increase flow of traffic on Main Street and through other adjacent neighborhoods downtown.  Business owner Rich Bergan called the plan another assault on the North End, which is already plagued by traffic problems.  Dmitri D'Alessandro, a Main Street business owner also noted that the increased drive-through business would be a detriment to traffic and business, and that the Bridge Street neighborhood where he lives would be further isolated from the city.

Many who spoke indicated that they thought traffic would snarl on Middletown's Main Street, and that the curb bump-outs would only exacerbate the problems.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Stephen Devote expressed an alternate view, urging the DOT to consider adding additional traffic lights to Rte. 9 to make it more like highways that run through cities like Manhattan and San Francisco.

Main Street bump-outs.
Jennifer Alexander, who created Kid City, downplayed the urgency of the need to fix a problem which amounted to an average "six minute delay" at the Rte. 9 traffic lights.  She also noted that the pedestrian bridge to the river was an inelegant solution, and that such bridges in other cities are rarely used.

The DOT urged those who could not attend, or would like to raise questions, concerns or make suggestions to send those concerns by mail to: William Britnell, Transportation Principal Engineer, Department of Transportation, PO Box 317546, Newington CT. 06131-7546.

D'Alessandro suggested that if the DOT were really interested in input, they would allow suggestions to be made online, or via email.

Cat Tales -- Cat of the Week! Anastasia

Cat Tales -- Cat of the Week!


Gender:         Female
Breed:           Bengal
Color:            Brown Tabby
Age:               2 years old

I'm a very smart girl who is very sweet. I love head scratches and I seek out attention to be pet. I do not like to be held. I am a very high energy and busy girl who is very curious and loves to play. I always need to be doing something. I get along fine with other cats but I'd also be happy alone as long as you are devoted to giving me attention and playing with me. I am okay with children that understand cats and understand that I do not like to be picked up. Please adopt me!

No Dogs

Phone:          860-344-9043


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just the Facts, Ma'am

In late June, city and state officials announced a plan to elevate Route 9 between the river and downtown, which would allow the removal of the traffic lights.  

The above image shows how lifting the highway would look at the bottom of Washington Street (that white building represents DeKoven House.)

Here's a bit more information:

•  You can see all the 3D renderings of the proposed changes at this link, provided by the DOT:

•  There's a public meeting for input tonight, Tuesday, July 26, at 7 pm at the Elks Club at 44 Maynard Street.   Apparently the venue was selected so that there would be ample room for the public to attend.

•  Here are two editorials on the subject, with differing viewpoints:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Waiting for Godot or His Doppelganger -- The Colonel Carries on #42

By Terry Binth of Mamre, New Hampshire

Epigraph: “If Godot don’t show, love the one you’re with.”

πŸ’¬ Why do German households use less electricity than U.S. households? Basically, because electricity is much more expensive there than here, so they economize. Here’s how they do it.

πŸ’¬ They mostly don’t use air-conditioning or even fans.

πŸ’¬ They mostly don’t use clothes dryers. They hang things out to dry. In laundromats, there’s often a high-speed spinner/wringer between the washing machine and the dryer, so things going into the  dryer are already largely dry, so the dry/fluff session is shorter than in the U.S.

πŸ’¬ Home heating is never electric. Most homes use gas.  Older homes use oil. Distance heating (aka district heating, heat networks, and teleheating) is growing fast.

πŸ’¬ Houses are smaller. And many more people live in apartments and row houses, so heat is “shared.”

πŸ’¬ Germans don’t light their homes so brightly, preferring the intimate darkness of “GemΓΌtlichkeit.” And they don’t leave lights on needlessly.

πŸ’¬ Germans rush to adopt energy-saving technology like CFL and LED bulbs and energy-efficient appliances, because they save serious money quickly.

πŸ’¬ That German lifestyle may seem attractive or repellent, but if the U.S. replaced, say, the federal income tax with a carbon tax, we’d all be “going German” in short order. Hello, little bitty luxury cars!

πŸ’¬ The same would happen if the carbon tax revenue went to pay off all federally guaranteed education loans in a massive act of retroactive subsidy. The point is not what the tax revenues would go to, but the effect it would have on consumption. There’d have to be energy stamps like food stamps, too.


πŸ’¬ “The infinite monkey problem” is the name I like better than “the monkeys with typewriters problem.” How long would it take an infinite number of monkeys, each typing randomly on a typewriter, to produce Hamlet (the play, not the prince)? Almost surely several hours at least.


πŸ’¬ If Elizabeth Montgomery hadn’t landed the role of Samantha in “Bewitched,” Erin Gray would have been a good choice. Instead she was in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” Couldn’t wriggle her nose the right way, I guess.

Erin Gray with natural teeth

πŸ’¬ Speaking of Erin Gray and Elizabeth Montgomery, do you know that you are reasonably likely to have at least one doppelganger, and maybe many? At first, second, and third glance it seems unlikely, but...

πŸ’¬ A study of a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel measured distances between key features such as eyes and ears. The chances of two people having even eight identical such measurements are less than one in a trillion. Sophisticated facial recognition software would catch only 135 people in the world with doppelgangers.

πŸ’¬ But the brain apparently doesn’t work like facial recognition software. It takes shortcuts that produce a lot more matches. Consider these lads:

πŸ’¬ And these:

πŸ’¬ And these:

πŸ’¬ (Grammatical note: I use the generic “lads” to cover “lasses,” too. It’s not only efficient but also a tiny way to honor the patriarchs who built the world in which we live. Note to self: don’t go out in public any more.)

πŸ’¬ And here are Hallie Jackson and Lizzy Caplan, both reportedly of NBC News:

πŸ’¬ Apropos of nothing, did Jim Morrison of The Doors ever marry Sting of The Police?

πŸ’¬ The several pairs above are far from identical, but the brain pairs them nevertheless. Hence the popular “separated at birth” novelty feature.


πŸ’¬ And now a meditation on gun control. The Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms), applies by its terms to Congress and by extension to the whole federal government, but not to the states.

πŸ’¬ Enter the Fourteenth Amendment, which bans the states from violating due process and equal protection. This has been held to “incorporate” the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment, so that not just Congress, but the several states are banned from infringing Second Amendment rights.

πŸ’¬ Wouldn’t it be hermeneutic child’s play to replace “incorporationism” with another theory of due process and equal protection that doesn’t embrace the right to bear arms? That would leave the states free to pass any gun control laws they pleased.

πŸ’¬ There might be the side effect of leaving the states also free to establish churches and abridge the rights of speech, press, and assembly, but there may be lemonade to be made from those lemons. Think state-passed campaign finance restrictions not allowed to Congress under incorporationism (Citizens United).

πŸ’¬ And imagine Metropolitan Community Churches as Connecticut’s established church, the first since 1818.

πŸ’¬ We may be on the verge of a new era in which novel omelettes can be made because previously sacrosanct eggs can be broken. One more “living constitutionalist” on SCOTUS and they'll outnumber the “dead constitutionalists.”


πŸ’¬ Many sayings are hard to interpret. Here are two examples.

πŸ’¬ “One thing about being successful is that I stopped being afraid of dying. Once you’re a star, you’re dead already. You’re embalmed.” --Dustin Hoffman.

πŸ’¬ One unsatisfactory interpretation is the “John Wayne interpretation”: once you’re a star, you get typecast, and it’s like being embalmed. That’s probably not only a bad interpretation of the saying, it’s demonstrably false: Meryl Streep.

πŸ’¬ Here’s the other difficult saying: “Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.” --Guinean proverb. Obviously, it means knowledge is inferior to wisdom in some way. But how? “A without B is like C plus D”? Puzzlement.

πŸ’¬ Reminds me of the French saying, “Dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin)

πŸ’¬ Many allegedly African sayings befuddle me. Some I get, like “Never compete with the elephant in defecating” (Kenya).

πŸ’¬ But what to make of “Never climb from a lower branch to a higher”? Know thyself? The higher you climb, the farther you fall? Higher branches are less sturdy than lower, so keep safe, y’all? Beware ambition, Macbeth, those witches haven’t your best interests at heart? You don’t have to go looking for Coyote, because Coyote is always waiting? The higher you climb, the more you will see, and what you see will drive you mad?


πŸ’¬ This is a couple of years old and does not reflect Brexit:


If the following is the sort of thing that excites you, it will surely excite you: "New Yale-developed device lengthens the life of quantum information." Weren't we just saying how nice it would be if our quantum information only had a longer shelf life?

Potrzebie, y'all!