The grammar police (me) visit an abortion rally

Like 61% of Americans, I was appalled at the massive curtailment of abortion rights that the Supreme Court recently handed down with the reversal on Roe vs. Wade and went to the capitol to protest. The turnout was impressive and the passion was palpable. However, the rhetorical fire was counterbalanced with some just god-awful grammar. The speeches were bad, but the signs were worse. They were all grammatically deficient – confusing at best, almost always had multiple contradictory meanings and at worst, made no sense at all. A sampling of the biggest offenders follows…

Keep your rosaries off my ovaries
The grammatically correct way to say this is “Keep your rosaries off of my ovaries.”

Hot people are pro choice
Looking at that crowd, this one was an obvious lie as there wasn’t a single good looking person around. Unless they were being literal, in which case it was 100% accurate as it was pushing 100 degrees in the shade.

Fuck the patriarchy
Is this a command to have sex with the patriarchy or a request for the patriarchy to fuck off?

Repo rights are human rights
While I do believe that both the repossession of products where payments are not being made and the sale and repurchase of assets are both important functions in society, I am not sure that they rise to the level of human rights.

stop fucking republicans
My favorite sign of all… a complete lack of capitalization and punctuation combined with the power of the English language and the amazing flexibility of the word “fuck” leads to the most incomprehensible sign there. There are 4 separate (very different) ways to interpret this…

  • Fuck as a verb, a command for everyone to stop having sex with republicans (you can fuck anyone else tho)
  • Fuck as an adjective, a command to stop just the republicans who fuck (but the republicans who don’t fuck are ok)
  • Fucking republicans as a noun phrase, a command to stop just the republicans who fuck other republicans (but the republicans who fuck others are ok)
  • Or if you just don’t like republicans, it’s a general statement to stop them all (tho “stop the fucking republicans” would have been clearer, IMHO)

The addition of a comma is another way to change the meaning entirely…
stop fucking, republicans

  • This is a nicer request to the republicans to stop fornicating (but everyone else is still free to fuck)

The addition of a period, completely changes this again…
stop. fucking republicans

  • a request to stop followed by an observation of more than one copulating republican
  • a request to stop followed by an observation of disgust regarding of a group of republicans

Look, all I’m saying is that if you can’t trust 60’s era Batman, who can you trust… good grammar is essential!

Top 7 Fictional Hans

7. Hans and Franz – Saturday Night Live

Hans and Franz, like much of what is on SNL is so so much worse than you remembered at the time. What I remembered as classic skits with a hilarious pair of characters is really just really dumb upon recent review. You can access all of them on NBC’s website to judge for yourself.

6. Prince Hans – Frozen

Number 6 on this list, but number 1 on the list of “twist villains named Hans.”

5. Hans Blix – Team America, World Police

While brilliantly played as the dry dry dry UN bureaucrat he dropped a spot given he is based on a real person and therefore has the worst claim to fictionality of anyone on this list.

4. Hans Zarkov – Flash Gordon

Hans Zarkov is the perfect mad scientist and the best one of the group of heros in that movie. The titular Flash is super generic. Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin is boring and the leader of the Hawkmen Prince Vultan while hilarious, was a little too over the top.

Notable mention, he is also number 2 on the list of “Hans with goatees”

3. Hans Gruber – Die Hard

Hans Gruber rounds out the perfect ensemble that is Die Hard. He is the quintessential greasy European that we all immediately hate. He is menacing and is smart and stays ahead of the cops the entire time. The perfect villain.

Notable mention, he is number 1 on the list of “Hans with goatees”

2. Hans Moleman – The Simpsons

Often played as the butt of the joke, he was a bit character brought out as the most pitiful person on the receiving end of some horrible situation. Comedy gold.

1. Han Solo – Star Wars

While technically not a “Hans,” he is singular “Han” – which makes a good fit for number one! And to be clear, we are talking about the 1977 scoundrel who was not afraid to kill another miscreant in cold blood. Han shot first, end of story.

THIS is the way to social distance while travelling by air

A320 in flight

EMPTY flight, airborne. Leaving the northern coast of Spain, entering the Bay of Biscay.

Was doing a little digital cleanup and came across some pics from our trip to Spain and Portugal (judging from the age of the child, the absence of her brother and how much hair was still on my head, this was some time back). We were on a TAP (Air Portugal) flight that had one of the most circuitous routings – Lisbon to Houston… through Moscow. This wasn’t some hacker fare of different flights cobbled together, this was TAP’s main flight to get passengers across the Atlantic (via the Arctic!).

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Stayin’ Alive – no, that’s not a COVID reference… nor black lives matter…

I’m taking my third break from the news in as many months.

The first was in March, the news was 24×7 COVID COVID COVID and yet we still knew nothing… all the stats were contradictory, our learnings evolving and any real test/vaccine/development was months off – nothing advanced my understanding of anything. Nothing really mattered. So I stopped watching.

In late April, I got in the car for a grocery run and turned on the radio… it was the 24th and literally the first news that I had heard in a month was Trump telling us that he thinks we should inject bleach to kill the Corona virus. I turned off the radio, confident in my decision to withdraw from the news. Nothing still mattered.

The past couple of weeks have not afforded such luxury of ignorance. However, the level of craziness and tragedy had become too much to take so I went searching for a brief respite and happened upon the 1977 video for Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees: Continue reading

Upcoming Democratic Party debates, who’s in (and a recap of my predictions)

The field for the next debate this Thursday on Sept 12th is baked. Following is my original prediction with the actual results color coded – names in green made the next debates, red did not, red strikethrough didn’t make the cut and dropped out of the running.

  1. Folks who will move on to the next round and totally deserve it (i.e. no duh)
    • Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Marianne Williamson
  2. Folks that will move on but really don’t need to be there (i.e. wasted spot)
    • Andrew Yang, Cory Booker
  3. Folks that deserve to move on but probably won’t (i.e. damn shame)
    • Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet
  4. Folks on the cusp (i.e. hmmmmm)
    • Pete Buttigieg, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Kirsten Gillibrand
  5. Folks who won’t make it, and who won’t be missed (i.e. good riddance!)
    • Bill de Blasio, Beto O’Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard

Frankly, I am pretty surprised this thing largely went the way I thought it would. The biggest surprised to me is that Beto made the cut. And while I am surprised that Marianne Williamson didn’t make it, I am also a little heartened. Seeing sanity prevail and logically cutting people with no prior governing experience and crackpot ideas is wonderful. She added to the conversation, so glad she was there, but it is her time.

There are 3 other intrepid souls running not listed above. Joe Sestak and Tom Steyer took advantage of everyone being distracted by summer vacations to do a stealth entrance to the race. Because that is the best way to run a presidential campaign, on stealth. The third, of course, is my man Wayne Messam. I think at this point he is investing nothing in the race so there is really no cost to staying in or dropping out.

Japanese doesn’t translate well (or Japanese people are weird)

For some reason, the 6 year old got a pack of Japanese Pokemon cards and was anxious to know their names. Like any well meaning father who doesn’t speak Japanese, I lied to the child and just started making up names… for example, this guy was Starlord:

However, as my names got more outlandish (Destructo, Pinky Pie, Super Red Rocketman), he started catching on that maybe I am not being completely truthful (either he’s getting smarter or I’m becoming a worse liar).

To get back on the right side of truth, I uses Google translate to get me what the actual names are. Starlord here offered up am incontrovertible truth tho – Japanese does NOT translate well Continue reading

Democratic Debate 2 (or rounds 3 and 4, depending on how you are doing your math) recap

2 debates in and it is still damn early in this process. The best way I have heard this described is that the fist primary election (the Iowa caucus) is after the Superbowl and the NFL pre-season hasn’t even started. And the convention is almost 6 months after Iowa!

However, I tried to make the point earlier, but it well made here as well… we just don’t know how this is going to play out…

Regarding John Delaney, Steve Bullock, John Hickenlooper, and some others who are still a far cry from double digits in polls, remember this: In January 1972, South Dakota Senator George McGovern’s support was around 3 percent, which means he was within the margin of error of zero. Six months later he clinched the nomination.

This election is one of the most consequential I have ever taken part in and it is important to stay engaged in the process.

TL;DR – Looking at the results of 20 people brawling (debating??) for 6 hours, I have bucketized the debate candidates into 5 categories:

  1. Folks who will move on to the next round and totally deserve it (i.e. no duh)
    • Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Marianne Williamson

  2. Folks that will move on but really don’t need to be there (i.e. wasted spot)
    • Andrew Yang, Cory Booker

  3. Folks that deserve to move on but probably won’t (i.e. damn shame)
    • Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet

  4. Folks on the cusp (i.e. hmmmmm)
    • Pete Buttigieg, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Kirsten Gillibrand

  5. Folks who won’t make it, and who won’t be missed (i.e. good riddance!)
    • Bill de Blasio, Beto O’Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard

Anyways, some thoughts…
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The democratic candidates, how full of shit are they? Debate 2 initial roundup

Ugh, 6 hours of debates took some time to digest.

Firstly I do like the time rules that CNN placed – they were very stingy with time and as soon as any candidate started pontificating or bloviating, they were cut off. It was great!!

Each of the 2 debates had very different dynamics based on their participants. The first featured the 2 far lefties Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and while they usually do a better job of controlling the conversation and driving a cohesive vision, the centrists came out SWINGING. They did a much better job of showing that they too can be passionate AND get stuff done. The second was “beat up on Joe Biden” night. Joe was prepared and came out fighting, showed he can take it tho, mostly.

The first debates last month annoyed me to no end because the candidates weren’t offered a chance to give an opening statement so each person just took their first chance (or two) to speak, ignored the question and just gave their opening statements then. Moreover, it generally encouraged them to say whatever talking point they wanted to and not ever try to stick to answering the actual asked question throughout.

I wanted to be prepared with a way to score them this time around. I came up with the following scale:

If the candidate had more than 1 chance to speak on a topic (like Biden, who was constantly being attacked so constantly got a chance to respond) their ratings were averaged for that topic. This was based on the quality of their answers, not necessarily if I agreed with it or not. The opening and closing statements were just graded on a flat 1-5 scale for how good they were.

The resulting table was stack ranked as an average of all of their answers (rightmost blue column):

Some quick thoughts from this:

  • John Delany was the unexpected standout in this exercise. He was on topic, direct and made a great case for the moderates. I was really impressed, especially for someone who came out of nowhere
  • Steve Bullock had a solid night too… as the other guy who came out of nowhere (and being his first time on stage, he didn’t qualify for the first debates), he spent more more time introducing himself which made for some off topic responses, but overall made a strong impact on me
  • Bernie tends to goes off on a rant and then doesn’t answer the question
  • Kamala Harris lost points by similarly not answering attacks against her, just saying “that’s not true” and not offering up any counter narrative why we should believe her
  • Kirsten Gillibrand had a relatively solid performance marred by a rather lame open and close
  • Bill di Blasio spent more time lobbing attacks and not actually answering any question
  • Marianne Williamson didn’t answer a lot of the questions, she spent a lot of time trying to steer the discussion back on to her spaceship with mixed results

Will have a more comprehensive recap tomorrow…