You can never have too many bills

The Senate has finally acted to stop the millions of underage girls who merrily skip back and forth across state lines getting fun and easy abortions. Next for the House and Senate, separate bills to prevent abortions:
* in churches during Sunday morning services
* while burning an American flag
* on a boat with a goat
* in a box with a fox
* while hang-gliding
* for characters in TV shows
* if Tom Delay is the father (this one has been held up in conference committee)

The best urban school district in the nation

From the July 12 Chicago Sun-Times (I've italicized my favorite part):
'Historic' school test results

Chicago public school students produced stunning, double-digit gains on their state reading and math tests this year -- results Mayor Daley hailed Tuesday as "historic'' but others said could be illusory.

The jump in eighth-grade math -- once the hardest test to pass -- was astronomical, from roughly 33 percent passing to 66 percent. However, that increase came after state officials lowered the passing score from the 67th to the 38th percentile.

Daley and his school team touted Chicago's results -- based on preliminary data -- as "historic,'' an "all-time high,'' and "the largest one-time jump in test scores that we have ever seen.''

"With these results, it's clear we are on our way to becoming the best urban school district in the nation," said Daley.
Article by Rosalind Rossi and Kate N. Grossman.

Boxers or briefs?

Boxers under the briefs, because the ladies like how it makes me walk.

Death by cliche

I know you're not supposed to "speak ill of the dead" but I never heard of this relative until he died of "head trauma" after crashing his motorcycle. He didn't wear a helmet, although somehow, thousands of others manage. At the funeral, the casket was open to show off the Harley Davidson jacket he wore.

A lot of the mourners were obviously, judging from the apparel, Harley Davidson riders, and sure enough, the minister assured them that "If Jesus were among us today, he would be a Harley rider." That kind of celebrity endorsement is hard to beat, although I understand the Buddha is a Kawasaki man.

If a guy chooses to organize his identity around the brand name of a maker of transportation, you're not supposed to ridicule that because it would be like making fun of his religion. So don't you sass me about my subway car, because I'll tell you what, the Transit America-built 27-tonner with the four GE motors, each with 110 horsepower, is the meanest, most powerful machine on the rails around these parts. Yep.

Frontier medicine

I've been watching DVDs of the HBO series Deadwood and just got to the part where one of the characters is suffering from kidney stones. Given that the story is set in South Dakota in 1877, there's a lot of suffering and I was squirming and grimacing through the whole thing. I can't remember ever seeing a TV character peeing blood before this, unless maybe there was an episode of Gilligan's Island that I forgot about.

Video links

Video #1: From a 1988 Late Night with David Letterman, in which Sonny and Cher reunite to sing "I Got You Babe." This is best appreciated by those who saw the two as a married couple in the 1960s and 1970s and were surprised to see them reunite just this once. Clearly it meant a lot to Sonny, and when Cher saw it in his eyes during the song, she concentrated on not breaking down, she'd recall in a book later. (Link)

Video #2: Again from the Letterman show, around 1984, in which Bob Dylan does "Jokerman" in a faster, rockier arrangement than on his Infidels album of that year. (Link)

Video #3: Woody Allen had a TV variety special in 1969 and interviewed Reverend Billy Graham. Woody and the Reverend discuss the relevance of the Ten Commandments for Young People Today, and Woody behaves with a mix of respect and irreverence. At the webpage for the show, click on the link for "Part Three." (Link)

Flying around in her print dress

I checked out a recent anthology of science fiction to see what's new with the genre: Nebula Awards Showcase 2005. In the introductions to each story, the authors' previous literary awards are listed (more than thirty different awards are mentioned in the book). Does that mean you're going to like all the stories?

Maybe not. The first story in the book had the irritating recurrence of the verbs "was all" or "all" in place of the verb "had." Examples: (1) "The village of Penoquot Landing on Mount Airey was all carefully preserved clapboard and widow's walks." (2) "His custom-built Locomobile, all brass and polish and exhaust..." (3) "The Cabin itself was all odd angles..." I was all to quit before finishing.

My highest expectations were for the Harlan Ellison story, but it was apparently just a lengthy version of an old joke, funny to a generation that precedes me.

The highlight was Carol Emshwiller's short story "Grandma," in which a girl reminisces about her grandmother, a retired superhero who used to be able to fly:
She tried to fly, as she used to do. She did fly. For my sake. She skimmed along just barely above the sage and bitterbrush, her feet snagging at the taller ones. That was all the lift she could get. I could see, by the way she leaned and flopped like a dolphin, that she was trying to get higher... The way she flew was kind of like the way she rides a bicycle. All wobbly. Veering off from side to side, up and down, too. I knew she would crack up. And she looked funny flying around in her print dress.

Men's apparel

I'm invited to a birthday party next month but I think it's going to have a formal dress code, so if anyone in Chicago has a clip-on ascot I could borrow, please let me know (any color but blue).