Good morning friends and family.
We are in the throes of yet another winter storm session. If we get the expected snow over the weekend, we are set to have the snowiest January in Indiana’s history. A history that has been tracked since the 1800s. The record holder right now is the January of 1978, which people around here refer to as “The Blizzard of ‘78”. Here’s what it was like back then:
Yup, I could see as how that would have been a really tough time. Blizzard is definitely the right word for that. We are NOT having a blizzard. Just a lot of snow, with 30 to 40 mph winds, drifting, whiteout conditions and just general good fun.
Now, not to worry. Ole Impish Dragon and family are all nestled all snug in their little cave. We have plenty of French toast fixin’s, heat, and cigars, so all will be well here. Any of you who are suffering the same fate this weekend I strongly urge you to stay indoors, stay warm and don’t go out unless you absolutely have to.
And to help pass the time? Well, that’s where Dragon Laffs comes in. Grab a cup of joe, put your feet up, pull your blanket up over your lap and …
Okay, this is just way too much! This thief of a beagle has better skills than some of the professionals I’ve worked with in the past!
Whose plane is it, anyway? Quite funny.
This one is called “The Wrong House”. And it just goes to show you that sometimes the good guys DO win out.
I just think she can’t take a friggin’ joke!!!
I just read “The shorter the journey to work, the more risks drivers are willing to take.” Nonsense. I never take risks on my way to work. And I can get there before my windshield’s even defrosted.
My friend Dave has drunk many weird and wonderful things in his time. I asked him if he’d ever drunk cologne. “No,” he replied. “Always with friends.”
Thanks to the Strike Owl for this next one! I understand completely my brother!
I sat next to a tramp on a park bench today. “It was only last week that I had it all,” he said, “A chef to cook my food, cleaners to do my cleaning and wash my clothes and a nice warm roof over my head.” “What happened?” I replied, “Drugs? Gambling? A woman?” “No, I was just let out of prison.”
A woman was waiting in the checkout line at a shopping center. Her arms were laden with a mop and broom and other cleaning supplies. By her hard glances and deep sighs, it was obvious she was in hurry and not a Happy camper about the slowness of the line. When the cashier called for a price check on a box of soap, the woman remarked indignantly, “Well, I’ll be lucky to get out of here and home before Christmas!” “Don’t worry, ma’am,” replied the clerk. “With a good tail wind and that brand new broom you have there, you’ll be home in no time.”
One morning on the first tee, two guys ,who apparently had not any arranged playing Partners, looked at each other and one asked the other if he would like to play a round together? The other guy looks at him and says, “Yes, I would as long as you don’t mind my little dog Coming along with us!” “Heck No” the other says, and so off they go… They make the turn and get to the thirteenth green. The guy with the dog has a 30 ft. Putt side hill, downhill. He addresses the ball and sends it on its way. It goes out and turns toward the hole and goes right dead center of the hole and drops in. The guy’s little dog jumps up on his hind legs and starts to dance. Well, seeing this trick the guy looks at the dogs owner and says “Wow! That’s a smart dog you have there! What would he do if you had missed the putt??” “Oh well”, he exclaims, “he does somersaults!” “Somersaults!” exclaims the other guy, “how many does he do?” “Well,” says the dogs owner “….that depends on how hard I kick him!!!”
So, it’s 2200 hrs (10 pm for the rest of you) on Friday night and I’m just getting ready to put this issue to bed. Double checking the I dots and the T crosses as it were and I get an email from my buddy Wheats. All it says is: “Now that’s writing!” and a link. Being a writer myself, I enjoy seeing what my friends think is “good writing.” So I clicked on the link and as it turns out it’s from today’s online issue of the Wall Street Journal. Not my favorite of periodicals, but since Buddy Wheats recommended it, and I (we, or so it seems from the comments) like what Buddy Wheats writes, let’s give this one a shot. And here is a link to the website, since I want to be sure to give Peggy Noonan the proper due: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303947904579339142225570548
Noonan: The Sleepiness of a Hollow Legend
The State of the Union is a grand tradition—but only if people are listening.
Updated Jan. 24, 2014 6:44 p.m. ET
So the president’s State of the Union address is Tuesday night, and it’s always such a promising moment, a chance to wake everyone up and say “This I believe” and “Here we stand.” The networks are focused and alert, waiting to be filled with a president’s excellence and depth. It’s a chance for the American president to say whatever the storm, however high the seas, the union stands “rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible.” That’s how Stephen Vincent Benet had Daniel Webster put it, in a play.
In a State of the Union a president tries to put his stamp on things. Here we are, here’s where we’re going, all roads lead forward. We can face whatever test, meet whatever challenge, united in the desire that we be the greatest nation in the history of man . . .
What great moments this tradition has given us. JFK’s father thought his son’s first State of the Union was better than his Inaugural Address. It had a warmth. “Mr. Speaker . . . it is a pleasure to return from whence I came. You are among my oldest friends in Washington—and this House is my oldest home.” Friends, home—another era. LBJ taking the reins in 1964: “Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined.” And you know, that’s what it became. Nixon enjoyed dilating on history, and was interesting when he did.
Reagan dazzled, though he told his diary he never got used to it: “I’ve made a mil. speeches in every kind of place to every kind of audience. Somehow there’s a thing about entering that chamber—goose bumps & a quiver.” There was his speech after he’d recovered from being shot—brio and gallantry. And of course Lenny Skutnik. Just before Reagan’s 1982 speech Mr. Skutnik, a government worker, saw Air Florida Flight 90 go into the Potomac. As others watched from the banks of the frozen river, Mr. Skutnik threw off his coat, dived in and swam like a golden retriever to save passengers. The night of the speech he was up there in the gallery next to the first lady, and when Reagan pointed him out the chamber exploded. This nice, quiet man who’d gone uncelebrated all his professional life, and then one day circumstances came together and he showed that beneath the bureaucrat’s clothing was the beating heart of a hero.
Well. History still beckons, waiting to be made. The great unstated question of today: Can America come back, reclaim her old spirit, confidence and joy, can we make things again, build them, grow, create, push out into the new?
And here I think: Oh dear.
Because when I imagine Barack Obama‘s State of the Union, I see a handsome, dignified man standing at the podium and behind him Joe Biden, sleeping. And next to him John Boehner, snoring. And arrayed before the president the members, napping.
No one’s really listening to the president now. He has been for five years a nonstop windup talk machine. Most of it has been facile, bland, the same rounded words and rounded sentiments, the same soft accusations and excuses. I see him enjoying the sound of his voice as the network newsman leans forward eagerly, intently, nodding at the pearls, enacting interest, for this is the president and he is the anchorman and surely something important is being said with two such important men engaged.
But nothing interesting was being said! Looking back on this presidency, it has from the beginning been a 17,000 word New Yorker piece in which, calmly, sonorously, with his lovely intelligent voice, the president says nothing, or little that is helpful, insightful or believable. “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” “It’s hard to anticipate events over the next three years.” “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now.” “I am comfortable with complexity.” “Our capacity to do some good . . . is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”
He gave a speech on the National Security Agency, that bitterly contested issue, the other day. Pew Research found half of those polled didn’t notice. National Journal’s Dustin Volz wrote that Americans greeted the speech with “collective indifference and broad skepticism.” Of the 1 in 10 who’d followed it, more than 70% doubted his proposals would help protect privacy.
The bigger problem is that the president stands up there Tuesday night with ObamaCarenot a hazy promise but a fact. People now know it was badly thought, badly written and disastrously executed. It was supposed to make life better by expanding coverage. It has made it worse, by throwing people off coverage. And—as we all know now but did not last year—the program was passed only with the aid of a giant lie. Now everyone knows if you liked your plan, your doctor, your deductible, you can’t keep them.
When the central domestic fact of your presidency was a fraud, people won’t listen to you anymore.
The poor speechwriters. They are always just a little more in touch with public sentiment than a president can be—they get to move around in the world, they know what people are saying. They have to imitate the optimism of the speeches of yore, they have to rouse. They are the ones who know what a heavy freaking lift it is, what an impossible chore. And they have to do it with idiots in the staffing process scrawling on the margins of the draft: “More applause lines!” The speechwriters know the answer is fewer applause lines, more thought, more humility and candor. Americans aren’t impressed anymore by congressmen taking to their feet and cheering. They look as if they have electric buzzers on their butts that shoot them into the air when the applause line comes. “Now I have to get up and enact enthusiasm” is what they look like they’re thinking. While the other party thinks “Now we have to get up too, because what he said was anodyne and patriotic and we can’t not stand up for that.” And they applaud, diffidently, because they don’t want the folks back home—the few who are watching—to say they looked a little too enthusiastic about the guy who just cost them their insurance.
They are all enacting. They are all replicating. They’re all imitating the past.
You know when we will know America is starting to come back? When some day the sergeant at arms bellows: “Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States” and the camera shows a bubble of suits and one person emerges from the pack and walks into the chamber and you’re watching at home and you find yourself—against everything you know, against all the accumulated knowledge of the past—interested. It’ll take you aback when you realize you’re interested in what he’ll say! And the members won’t just be enacting, they’ll be leaning forward to hear.
And the president will speak, and what he says will be pertinent to the problems of the United States of America. And thoughtful. And he’ll offer ideas, and you’ll think: “Hey, that sounds right.”
That is when you’ll know America just might come back.
Until then, as John Dickerson just put it: Barack Obama, Inaction Figure.
And the only thing that I can say, and the highest praise I can give to another author is: Damn! I wish I’d said that!
A very avid golfer was lined up and ready on the 17th tee when out of the woods came a naked girl who ran past him and into the woods on the other side of the tee. Being the avid golfer he was, he once again bared down on the ball and right in the middle of his backswing a guy in a white coat ran out of the woods and asked him if a naked lady ran past. Our golfer said “Yes, she ran into the woods.” The guy in the white coat said thanks and ran after her. Our golfer again prepared to hit the ball when all of a sudden another man in a white coat came out of the woods carrying a 5 gallon bucket of sand and asked if he had seen a man in a white coat come through here chasing a naked lady. He said, “Yes, they ran that way through the woods.” The man said thanks and started to run off when the golfer stopped him and asked, “Hey, what’s going on?” The guy explained, “You see we work at a sanitarium institution nearby and every now and then that girl gets away and all she wants to do is get naked and fuck.” The golfer then asked, “Well what’s the bucket of sand for?” The guy in the white coat said, “Oh, that’s my handicap. You see, I caught her last time!”
Unbelievable! You had one lousy job to do….
The real difference between cats and dogs:
This is a video about starlings murmuration. Watch it first, then we’ll talk about it. Well, actually we’ll let wiredscience.com talk about it.
Video of a massive starling flock turning and twisting over a river in Ireland has gone viral, and with good reason. Flocking starlings are one of nature’s most extraordinary sights: Just a few hundred birds moving as one is enough to convey a sense of suspended reality, and the flock filmed above the River Shannon contained thousands.
What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations, as starling flocks are so beautifully known? Until recently, it was hard to say. Scientists had to wait for the tools of high-powered video analysis and computational modeling. And when these were finally applied to starlings, they revealed patterns known less from biology than cutting-edge physics.
Starling flocks, it turns out, are best described with equations of “critical transitions” — systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling in a flock is connected to every other. When a flock turns in unison, it’s a phase transition.
At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When a neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size and speed and its members’ flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. What’s complicated, or at least unknown, is how criticality is created and maintained.
It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbor turns — but what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds? That remains to be discovered, and the implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may simply be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological criticality that also seems to operate in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.
Internet addiction, like other kinds of addiction, is a problem around the world. It is estimated, by one study, that 1 in 8 people, that’s 12½% of the population suffered, in one sense or another, some sort of addiction to technology and the internet. Whether it was having to check email and Facebook on your phone one more time after you’ve laid down to sleep or, as in some of the incidences in the following video, where teenagers have disappeared from home for entire weekends or longer being on line at an internet café the entire time.
We normally associate Internet addiction with teenagers. Those gamers who will stay up all hours playing games, but I knew an adult who ended up losing his job because he was always late to work because he overslept from spending all night playing World of Warcraft. The CRC Group has a page dedicated to Teenage Internet Addiction. This is what they have to say:
Teen Internet Addiction Overview
It’s no secret that many teens are big fans of video games and the Internet. But for some young people, what started as an interest in technology, a means of entertainment, or a way to keep in touch with friends may morph into a serious behavior disorder.
Teen Internet addiction is much more than just a strong desire to be online. As is the case with other behavior disorders — such as compulsive gambling — teen Internet addiction is marked by a progressive loss of control over one’s ability to avoid, regulate, or limit a behavior. In this case, the behavior in question is spending time on the Internet. Almost the exact definition of drug addiction: a progressive loss of control over one’s ability to avoid drugs.
Though some people continue to regard teen Internet addiction as little more than a parenting issue, many experts in the field of addictions and compulsions have identified teen Internet addiction as a real issue that is deserving of continued study. In fact, Internet addiction was seriously considered for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
Though teen Internet addiction did not make it into DSM-V, the substance-related disorders work group (which evaluated proposed changes to the DSM) recommended that Internet addiction be included in the appendix of DSM-V, and called for further research on the topic.
Causes of Internet Addiction
As is the case with other compulsive behavior disorders, no one cause has been identified as definitively leading to teen Internet addiction.
As is also the case with other addictions and compulsions, teen Internet addiction is thought to be more prevalent among teens who are also struggling with disorders such as depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, poor self-image, and low self-esteem.
For teens who become enamored with online MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, the likelihood of addiction may be greater because these games never end. With new quests and adventures continually being added to the game, the user never reaches a point where the game has been mastered or otherwise completed — thus, there is always the enticement to return for more.
For those who are at risk of developing teen Internet addiction, the rush of playing triggers a release of endorphins (brain chemicals associated with pleasure) that mimics what occurs in the brains of individuals who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs, or to behaviors such as gambling. Exactly my earlier point.
For teens who are struggling with other mental health or behavioral challenges, and who have difficulty with “real life” social situations) the power, sense of community, and adrenaline rush of online gaming can be extremely enticing.
Symptoms of An Internet Addiction
The core components of teen Internet addiction are similar to those of any other addiction or compulsion. Young people who struggle with teen Internet addiction are likely to meet many if not all of the following criteria:
- Tolerance — Needing to play more and more in order to experience the same “rush”
- Obsession — Spending most offline time thinking about past online experiences and planning for future online sessions
- Frustration, anxiety, and/or irritability when not able to go online
- Abandoning friends and other hobbies in order to focus on online activities
- Continuing to spend time online even after negative repercussions (such as school problems, deteriorating relationships, and even health problems) Sounds exactly like drug addiction to me.
The following are among the specific signs that could indicate the presence of teen Internet addiction:
- Most non-school hours are spent on the computer or playing video games
- Falling asleep in school
- Falling behind with assignments
- Worsening grades
- Lying about computer or video game use
- Choosing to use the computer or play video games, rather than see friends
- Dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports)
- Being irritable when not playing a video game or being on the computer Need I say more to the comparison of drug addiction?
But, what is to be done about it?
Well, China seems to feel they have more of a problem in this area than most of the rest of the world, and after watching the following video, I’m not sure that I can disagree. See how they have tried to handle the problem and think about whether this type of therapy might not become more prevalent in the rest of the world.
Some of you are going to say that this is very harsh. But think about our own programs of Scared Straight and such and I believe you will see a very large connection between the two.
As for me…is it harsh? Absolutely! But the bigger question seems to be, does it need to be?
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you in either an email or a comment to the blog.
And until next time…