Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Marginalizing Red Sox Fans

The Red Sox are religion in New England.

How many times have you heard that?

If you think that all it means is that the fans are passionate then you probably should stick to books beginning with "Once upon a time..."

Let's start with the religion accusation.

I mistakenly thought that the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory would end the lunacy that is Red Sox fanaticism. I was dead wrong. It's crazier than ever. Then again, only a Moron predicts rational behavior from the jokers up here.

Everywhere you go, at all times of the day, you will see Red Sox fans in their gear. Sure there are lots of Steelers shirts in Pittsburgh and whacked out cheeseheads in Wisconsin, but it's way worse here. People that shouldn't be draped in sports jerseys and caps, like adults and nubile women, see nothing wrong with going to church and out on the town in what I consider clown attire. I know football season is life for many Philadelphia Eagles fans as it is for many college football towns, but baseball drags on, EVERYDAY, for more than half the year. It's an eternity if you count spring training and the playoffs.

A year or two ago I was at the Ninety-Nine Restaurant in Charlestown, Mass. On an April Friday afternoon, my buddy asked the bartender to change one of the numerous televisions to the Masters. Some locals across the bar went absolutely bonkers - almost to the point of belligerence - because we wanted to see Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson compete in a major over a meaningless Red Sox spring training game. (Of course Charlestown is an interesting little place; it's a 50-50 clash of small dog toting yuppies and grizzled old townies.)

I can't scientifically prove that Sox fans are crazier than ever though I will offer my anecdotal best. First of all, at $48 on average per seat, Fenway Park tickets are the most expensive in all of America; they are going on something like 400 straight sellouts. Secondly, I offer up three people I have known for a long time - including my father - who have gotten noticeably nuts over the Red Sox over the last few years. When I was a kid, my dad couldn't care less about "those bums". Now the game simply has to be on, either on the radio, or on the boob tube even if he's at someone else's place. The same applies to my other two acquaintances - for all the years I have known them, only recently have they become diehard Red Sox Idiots.

Last weekend I went to a family reunion to meet some distant cousins for the first time. They had a very nice barbeque going, a large pool, etc. Some of these cousins I didn't even get to meet as they were burrowed inside watching a worthless Red Sox game. Others were lingering in the pool house on this beautiful sunny day also staring at the game on TV. This is the theme throughout New England. If the Sox are playing, NESN is on in almost every house. We left that cookout to go to another celebrating my grandparents' 66th wedding anniversary. Of course the "game" was the centerpiece of that event when we arrived as well - that is until I turned it off and guilted everyone into socialization.

The sad thing is, the fans here actually brag about how passionate they are. Retired pitcher Bruce Hurst bolted out of Beantown years ago for the greener grass of the San Diego Padres. Later on he lamented that he missed the zeal of Boston fans. This is the type of propaganda talking point that makes Sox fans proud, is repeated endlessly among the booboisie and in the Boston Globe, and it is, quite frankly insane.

I see these 25 and 30 year old guys out at bars wearing their Manny Ramirez shirts and I really pity them. First of all, how stupid are these tools? Do you think the ladies will swoon with affection for a dude in an official MLB jersey? Hey Susie, look at that hottie there in the Johnny Damon shirt...What do you think, he's a successful entrepreneur with his own business or lives with his mom?

Can you imagine a studly John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever dancing in his mirror before the big Friday night out - wondering whether he looks better in his home or away Thurman Munson shirt?

I can't.

I once heard an inane discussion on sports radio about what the rules were, age-wise and whatnot, for wearing a team's shirt in public. Actually, I believe I heard this debate separately on both WFAN (New York) and WEEI (Boston). On one of the stations they concurred that "season ticket holders" have a freer rein to dress like a twelve year old boys than the rest of the fans.

Check out this 50 year-old LOSER that sat in front me at a Celtics-Lakers game last year. Nice shirt pal - it really shows off your triceps!

Listen up Red Sox fans, your impassioned pride IS NOT a cause for admiration, it is a badge of LOSERHOOD.

Here are a couple of more examples of Red Sox pagan worship that I mined from the web.

First up is a Jewish guy who decided to revisit his long since forgotten temple because one weekend it got to house the 2004 World Series Trophy. They had never allowed flash photography in the 'gog for Bar Mitzvahs or Rosh Hashanah but an exception was made for this pagan trophy. What priorities!

A Little Old Time Religion

I've heard the talk about the Red Sox being the true religion of New Englanders, and always thought the notion was a bit overblown. Until I saw the World Series trophy in my synagogue.

It was strange to see this sight in the place where I had my Bar Mitzvah service fifteen years ago. However, it gave me pause to consider that it took the presence of this item to bring me back to my synagogue for the first time in perhaps three years. Why is it, I wondered, that I was more inspired to go to temple by the World Series trophy than by the promise of spiritual nourishment? Am I lazy, or irredeemably secular? Or did I feel that I got something from the experience of following professional sports that I was not truly getting here? When I think of my Red Sox memories, they're not just about games watched; they're about experiences with friends and family, stretching back almost as far as I can remember.

Rabbi David Myer led the congregation—mainly families, most dressed in Red Sox garb of one sort or another—in a prayer of thanksgiving. As Rabbis are wont to do, he engaged in a short etymological discussion meant to illuminate a larger point. The word "religion," he explained, is derived from "ligament"...as in, the connective tissue that holds us together.

It made sense to put this most secular activity—professional sports—into the context of religious celebration. I had indeed felt a deep sense of connection with strangers at religious services, as I had in the stands of Fenway Park. In our society of increasingly alienated individuals, that kind of connection is profoundly valuable. But Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox vice president who has ushered the prized artifact around on its pilgrimage, had a more lofty agenda. He made the case for the World Series championship as a genuine miracle. Not a secular miracle, like the gold medal for hockey in the 1980 Olympics. An honest to goodness, old fashioned, Red Sea parting miracle.

Dr. Steinberg compared the Sox' eight consecutive postseason wins with the story of Hanukah, in which a day's worth of holy oil was said to illuminate the temple's flame for the eight days it took to bring in some more.

"If [the team] stopped believing, they would not have won Game Four [of the American League Championship Series versus the Yankees]," he said from the bimmer. "The candle would have gone out. The oil would have run out. But the miracle wound up lasting eight days. It could only have come from above."

Next up is another guy demonstrating the infectious nature of hope. He saw in the Red Sox's improbable championship, a divine omen that the world was morphing into utopia, i.e. that John Kerry would defeat President Bush in the 2004 election. This perhaps bears filing in the Hillary Homerun category.

Is the Supreme Being a Red Sox Loving Democrat?

Either way, from the standpoint of a Red Sox loving democrat, this impossible victory must be cause for hope. Because if the Boston Red Sox can beat the New York Yankees, after coming back from a three game deficit, in the seventh game of the American League pennant series, and win it in the house that Ruth built, then surely the democrats can beat the republicans, after coming back from a bad supreme court ruling, in the final weeks of this election campaign, and win it in the house the George stole.

No matter how you look at it – as either a sign from the Supreme Being or as powerful tale of hope against hope – it was a sign. I’m sure of it.

And the last example I gleaned in about two minutes of browsing was this - some nerd professor type arguing for the academic certification of baseball as a religion in America.

Curses and Catharsis in Red Sox Nation: Baseball and Ritual Violence in American Culture

In this essay I would like to revisit the legend of the Curse of the Bambino for the insights it can provide scholars of American religion on the allegedly religious dimension of baseball. The Winter 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, which was devoted entirely to a discussion of religion and American popular culture, featured a now-widely-cited essay by David Chidester arguing for the inclusion of America’s favorite game in the academic study of religion.1 Chidester put forward a functionalist argument to advance the cause, echoing similar cases made years earlier by such notable scholars of religion as Catherine L. Albanese, Allen Guttmann, and Joseph L. Price.2 For these scholars, baseball exhibits a distinctive set of myths, rituals, and codes of behavior–the formal elements of “official” religions–that function to unite a community of participants/believers and orient them to an atemporal social and cosmic order.

Hah! "Myths, rituals, and codes of behavior..." and rabbis calling the win a "genuine miracle".

Okay now that I think I have sufficiently established my premise I want to scaffold up to my larger point. Consider the following quote:

Organized religion does not invent superstition, it checks it. (Will Durant)

Now bear in mind, generally speaking, organized religion does not exist up here in New England. Jews are less pious than elsewhere, Catholicism is a joke, if you remember I had godparents at my daughter's group Baptism wearing New England Patriots attire on the altar, and Protestantism also exists in its weakest form of anywhere in the country - congregations are so desperate for members that the gay friendly rainbow is on a lot of Protestant roadside signage. To boot, John Taylor Gatto has documented how Boston always had a vacant spiritual heritage - specifically, a disaffected Calvinism going back through the early 1800s. In his books he tells of a forlorn, childless culture that initiated mass compulsory schooling in a perverse effort to fill these voids.

Sure Fenway is an awesome ballpark and sure, the Curse of the Bambino was an intoxicating/nauseating legend. But I maintain that the real draw of being a Red Sox fan is that it provides a sense of meaning and purpose for an otherwise harried and irreligious populace. Reality can be stomached each day by checking the box scores and seeing that the Sox won last night and the Yankees lost...

Sports fanaticism is everywhere really about vicarious heroism and mental escapism. How many millions of fans go to bed each night dreaming about their team, potential trades, the unlimited prospects of their talented rookies? Ask yourself, when your career, marriage, and/or social life have gotten rocky have you deflected your depression by rooting for your favorite team? Looking back, I certainly did.

Here's some healthy advice - if your marriage is rocky or your job dreadful...you might want to work DIRECTLY on the problems. A pennant won't really solve them.

It's like these Deranged Dog People. I would say that roughly 90% of the people I know who put off marriage or childrearing ran out and filled that void with a dog. It's not that Red Sox fans are inherently losers or heathens, their fanaticism is just a natural consequence of human nature. People have always yearned for meaning and direction in their lives. As the famous quote goes,

A man who ceases to believe in God will believe in anything.

Now I am not one of these art museum types that always hated sports. I too have been afflicted with sports fanaticism for most of my life. It's only now that I have become wise as to the reasons why. Once I had a baby, suddenly shows like Pardon the Interruption that I made time for everyday, started to look very, very silly. I got to thinking that soon enough I will be old and grey and will be looking back on my life. I get very depressed thinking about how much of my valuable time, how many hours, days, and years I have spent watching athletes jostle over a ball.

Here's another small point. Today the masses aren't sports fanatics - they are spectating sports fanatics. People don't play football, baseball, and basketball, they mere watch others do so. If anything, it is exercise by proxy - kind of like the executive massage where someone else is doing all the work. So yes, athletics are full of virtues, but that would be if one was actually a participant.

I believe Ancient Greece at its incipience was marked by EVERYONE wrestling, racing, boxing, throwing the javelin, etc. However, the decline of this great culture coincided with a move away from popular sports participation to, like our present day society, mere athletic spectating.

So I want my millions of blog readers to ask themselves, what is more important to you - your family, career, and your epitaph or your team winning the title?

I say try to go a week without watching ESPN or checking a box score and see what happens.

Heretofore I have had "Boston Celtics" listed on my Blogger profile as an "interest". I just deleted it because I know realize it's embarrassing to define myself as demoralized pagan would. (Also, today is a suitable day to jump ship on the Celtics, given that asinine trade they just made for Kevin Garnett.)

The increasingly arrogant Bill Simmons insists that since the Sox have finally won a title he can now "die in peace." He's hardly alone with that sentiment.

To all these knuckleheads I'd like to interject that one must first have a life in order to die.

(The other faux religion up here, fertilized by the exact same causes, is of course pagan earth-worshipping - or as it's euphemized, "environmentalism".)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Indian Tech Support

Someone just sent me these pics in an email jesting about the quality of outsourced tech support. (click any of the pics to enlarge)

Man, I thought the wiring behind my building in Brooklyn was bad.

The Un-Datable Tonya Reiman

If you don't know her by now, this is Tony Reiman a noted body language expert who now makes regular appearances on The O'Reilly Factor. Here's an old clip that I uploaded of her last year.

Her analyses really are amazing but the important question remains,

Would any man in his right mind date or marry this woman?

Tonya - I can tell from your kissing angle that you don't really love me.

Tonya - Your blink rate just elevated to seventy per minute...so you really think it's my turn to do the dishes?

Tonya - When Betsy came into the room you pursed your lower lip and swallowed...now I know you have been fantasizing about her!

From my semi-old guy perspective, she's not a bad looking woman, but really, who would ever want to deal with such a seer? I'd be turning the lights off and moving out of sight before ever answering a question from her. Heck, guys have major problems with undiscerning bimbettes who merely ask, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

So clearly, Tonya's profession makes her un-datable - a trait that she shares with the much more beautiful Kirsten Powers (also a frequent O'Reilly guest).

Don't think she's attractive? There are plenty of clips of her on YouTube.

Just make sure you have the volume muted when trying to make a fair assessment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Deval Patrick, A Socialist Robot

Predictably, your local pols are at work making the housing market weaker. Read the headline below. Boston Globe excerpts in italics. My comments are in red.

The Patrick administration is considering a plan that would make mortgage lenders pay moving expenses as well as the first and last months' rent of homeowners who lose their homes to foreclosure.

The proposal is part of foreclosure prevention initiative administration officials will present today at a meeting with some of the state's biggest mortgage lenders. The plan would make lenders that foreclose on homeowners pay $5,000 for the relocation and administrative costs that nonprofit agencies would incur in finding them a new home, according to a draft obtained by the Globe.

"The Patrick administration is in the process of trying to put together a comprehensive plan to try and solve this foreclosure crisis," Jones said. "We are committed to protecting homeowners and communities throughout the Commonwealth."

Oh boy, another "comprehensive plan"...sort of like the one that will simply wipe away the illegal immigration imbroglio.

Deval, if they have no equity and can't pay the bills, then THEY ARE NOT HOMEOWNERS!

Next thing you know, they'll be calling border-jumping identity thieves "undocumented immigrants"...

The goals are to "prevent as many foreclosures as possible and to minimize neighborhood destabilization by reclaiming vacant foreclosed properties for owner-occupied homeownership," the document said.

What the heck is "owner-occupied homeownship"? How do you analyze or respond to clowns speaking in Esperanto?

The Patrick administration earlier this month unveiled a $250 million fund that would help some subprime borrowers refinance into more affordable mortgages. As part that plan, state officials said they would use hardball negotiating tactics to force lenders to absorb any financial losses on the troubled mortgages the state will seek to refinance.

A taxpayer bailout for over-leveraged Morons? Hardball tactics aimed at making the lenders take the loss? Why don't you just say you want to absolve the borrower of debt and forcibly take the properties from the true owners?

Yeah, this won't have any blowback. Lenders in this state will just stop writing mortgages ALTOGETHER in the subprime category. AND they will just raise rates on creditworthy buyers to cover Deval Patrick's "solution". Higher rates all-around will just aggravate weak home prices and of course lead to even more foreclosures.

This is what I mean about Boston and its Institutionalized Stupidity.

Meanwhile, Countrywide Financial, a large mortgage lender, just saw its stock price hammered yesterday (-10.4%) after reporting increasing delinquencies in all mortgage classes, i.e. in all tranches from sub-prime to prime.

Only an indefatigable Moron can think that foreclosures, number one, are limited to the sub-prime demographic, and secondly, that some little taxpayer fund combined with unconstitutional lender arm-twisting will "solve" the crisis.

The problem for these demented socialists is that they simply can't impose costs on "lenders" for the simple reason that lenders these days are individual bondholders. Gone are the days of one bank holding the deed over an over-leveraged borrower's head. As I said above, mortgages today are stripped up and packaged down into various classes and sold en mass to individual investors (hedge funds, pension funds, insurance companies, etc.)

Point of fact, Devil Patrick is illustrating precisely why the big banks got out of the mortgage-holding business in the 1990s and into the mortgage-package-and-resale business. They have learned from the last real estate cycles that when the market sours they become big easy targets for ambitious prosecutors and politicians.

They will go after the banks anyway because rule one for lawyers (remember that's what they all are) is to sue whomever has the deepest pockets - that would be Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, etc. I have no doubt that they will shake them down for something.

This little trick with individual bonds I believe was popularized by Robert Moses when he was chiseling New York into his urban idyll. He tied municipal bonds to revenue streams from toll bridges. As such, the private bondholders had a sacrosanct contract with said bridges and could not be tampered with by politicians who were increasingly outraged by his over-running expenditures. Similarly, I sincerely doubt that Deval Patrick can meddle with existing private contracts between borrowers and lenders by assessing new terms to those satanic lenders. In all likelihood, all he can do is promulgate new standards and terms of foreclosure for mortgages written in the future.

And to reiterate, that will just raise both creditworthy and subprime's borrowing costs a few more basis points.

Devil's Advocate - Maybe Deval and Co. know this won't help borrowers but just want to market themselves as vanguards of the disenfranchised?

First off, I wouldn't bet on these clowns knowing anything. Secondly, if they have the actual capacity to protect the little people, then how come they didn't prevent them from borrowing beyond their means in the first place?

Deval is just a robot programmed to solve "problems" by more business regulation and prosecution. He knows not what he is doing, nor do any of his constituents. Worst of all, he is oblivious to the collateral damage of his policies (no pun intended).

Not long ago, a news item like this would get me riled up. But the wiser I have become, the more I am becalmed by the sheer predictablity of what happens. Use this knowledge to make money; put off buying that house because you know the "fixing" will most certainly give you a better entry point. Lucky for first time homebuyers, there are Deval Patricks all over the country, hard at work lowering the value of residential real estate.

Life is a comedy for those that think and a tragedy for those that feel. (Horace Walpole)

To me that means, if you cry a lot, perhaps you aren't much of a thinker.

Man Versus Wild Versus Captious Fools

I have received a few emails from my cronies alerting me to news stories "exposing" the show as a fake. Here they are from the BBC and of course picked up by that herald of truth (snort), The New York Times.

Survival show faces 'fake' claim

A TV Survivalist Caught Cutting Corners

Okay, anyone who's watched the show should already know this. He doesn't just have one cameraman. How else could they film him from several angles hurtling down those whitewater rapids? And that raft that he allegedly had help with while "marooned" on a Pacific isle, did you see the tiger sharks swarming about him while at sea? It's plenty dangerous enough to go out there in ANY raft. Of course he was going to be damn sure that his at least held together.

Nonetheless the show is still very entertaining and edifying.

Tomorrow the NYT will probably run a story about how pro-wrestling is rehearsed.

Meanwhile the falsehoods littering the Times impoverish, dispirit, and kill untold numbers of real people.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Boston Sucks - A Tuesday Night Illustration

A friend of mine was in town from NYC the other night; we did our usual bar hopping jaunt that's been the automatic plan for over a decade now.

First stop was Union Street in Newton. It's actually a pretty good place to go - has a vast menu of bar food, it's recently renovated, plenty big enough to find some space, and overall the closest thing around to a modern, Manhattan-style bar.

BUT, we stood there for 5 minutes waiting for someone to wipe down an empty table right in front of us. Then the personality-deficient waitress made us wait 15 minutes before we got a beer. Thus we only had time for one drink and dinner. Had we had decent service, we'd have drank twice as much. These bar owners/managers outside of NYC, Philly, and a few other cities, are so clueless about what is and isn't good business practice. The lost sales due to unnecessarily slow service really add up.

For one thing, waitresses and bartenders up here have no pep and seemingly hate not only their job, but life itself. Also at fault is the ridiculously centralized system of drink ordering employed in most bars. Typically the server takes your order, trots up to the end of the bar and waits for the bartender, to whom they relay your order. Almost without question, the waitstaff is not allowed behind the bar. It's a Moronic, bureaucratic, and inefficient process. For example, even if you just order a couple of domestic bottles, the waitperson isn't allowed to reach in and grab them from the cooler. Everything has to go through the bartender. Meanwhile the thirsty and hungry patrons twiddle their thumbs.

At the fifteen minute mark of our seating, EmptyHead brings our beers. The Budweiser bottle she put in front of me was some snazzy aluminum promotional with "Red Sox" plastered upon it. I looked at the beer, my eyes widened, and I apologized to her,

CaptiousNut - Oh...I can't drink this...I am a Yankees fan.

EmptyHead mutated into Stone-FaceHead. She didn't laugh, smile, or even blink. I have seen this reaction a million times. The young lady couldn't tell whether or not I was serious - she was paralyzed by her own ignorant confusion. Now I am a profoundly sardonic person, after ten years even my wife can't always assess my sincerity, so this waitress' blank stare revealed her entire profile in a nanosecond.

Sarcasm was obviously her Kryptonite. Right away I dialed it back, let out a light laugh, and explained that I wasn't really a Yankees fan. There was still no flinch in her petrified stare. I dialed it back some more and took the conversation elsewhere. She told me she was a grad student. "NO SH*T!", I said to myself - I've only met a couple thousand facsimiles of her, starting with my time a UPenn.

Here's the key to understanding this species - these grad students are usually very dumb BUT think they are very smart. It's a disconnect that tortures every fiber of their being - not to mention the rest of the human race that interacts with them. When I proclaimed that I couldn't drink a beer because of the bottle it came in, she simply couldn't comprehend what I was saying. She went silent because she was afraid to respond incorrectly and make the cardinal sin of appearing foolish. They didn't teach us how to deal with a disgruntled Yankee's fan in the waitress training program! It should have been on the test!

If she couldn't even muster up the courage to ask me, "Are you serious?",then how smart could she really be?

This is why these people go to grad school. At root they possess a deep mental insecurity about how intelligent they are. They believe a specialized degree will somehow certify away their insecurity. Grad school isn't simply about avoiding the real world; I would argue that it's a veritable anti-depressant for these folk. Frankly this is why I have to mess with them. They need to be mocked and reminded of their papered over neuroses. This is also why they do their darnedest to self-segregate - a most illiberal strategy if you ask me.

A couple of examples. Greg Mankiw has made it abundantly clear that he only wants academics commenting on his blog. He's explicitly said as much and used the ruse of "promoting civility" to censor Captious comments.

Also, I have a good friend who spent a total of fourteen years at Harvard: undergrad, grad, and teaching. I once asked him to count up how many "Republicans" or "conservatives" he knew out of all his friends, family, and acquaintances. The number he tallied was five!!! And he was counting me as one of them. Now this is what I call self-segregation. Behold the "diversity"! (I am sure I mentioned him before.)

I had a golf buddy in South Philly who, let's just say that when I call him a toothless Neanderthal miscreant, I am indulging in high euphemism. One day at his place I witnessed him take his shirt off, blow a prodigious snart into it, and toss the shirt in the direction of the hamper. "WHAT?", he screamed at my incredulous StoneFace, "It will get washed!". Of course I have plenty more stories on this guy but you get the point. Anyway, he had a great expression for these young ladies who struggled with basic human interaction - he called them "Hillary"'s. Now he started using this term probably in 1994 or 1995, i.e. back when Bill Clinton's nominal wife might still be confused with a harmless political enthusiast. How's that for some caveman perspicacity!

Usually some goofy, if not ugly, young woman would come into the clubhouse donning a Wharton or Penn Law sweatshirt and my buddy would rib me, "How you like that Hillary, cuz ?!?!?!...I bet you got a lot them Hillary's there at that school of yours...HaHaHa"

And that we did, but not as bad as the bevy of Boston-area Hillary's.

Now I am digressing way too much. So we had a dimwitted, punctually challenged Hillary wait on us at our first stop.

We paid the tab, jumped into my most fuel efficient car (Ford Explorer) and drove into downtown Boston.

The next stop was Rattlesnake. We get there, sit at the bar, and order a beer from a complete dweeb of a bartender. Think Arvid from Head of the Class - but then subtract about 40 pounds. This guy would NEVER get a bartending job in all of Manhattan; they would profile him out in a heartbeat. I am not even sure the better places would dare even let him bus tables. I thought every bar owner in America understood that rule number one is to put, if not a Hollywood-looking person behind the bar, at least to avoid hiring people who look like they belong at a Star Trek convention. On a side note, the bartender did get all giddy upon hearing me talk about Man Versus Wild.

After a few minutes sitting there, we realized that the air conditioning was not on. They had the windows open up front and the cheap owner obviously didn't want to blow cold cash out into the street. But it was ridiculous - and it was Boston. We were sitting there sweating and it was hotter inside the bar than outside it. So we couldn't stay there too long - two beers and hit the road. (No old coots there this time.)

Now here's where Boston reveals itself as a joke of a city. We went back down Boylston Street towards Cactus Club. The walk is .7 miles. WE ONLY PASSED ONE OTHER BAR ON THE WAY THERE. I could not imagine walking in a real city anywhere in the world and having only one bar in a stretch this long, no less in such a central part of town. The walk is actually a nice one; architectural wonders blanket the area and many people could easily confuse the area with a desirable place to frequent. That is...unless you need a beer to slake your thirst.

AND, the lone bar, Solas, that we did walk by looked horrible. They had bright lights on inside and an octogenarian female bartender (I kid you not).

Cactus club was empty. We file back to Lir Irish Pub which in its better days was known as McCarthy's - a place that was actually a ton of fun. The theme there used to be movie songs. They would play the video versions of classics like from Grease or whatever on tv's plastered throughout. The place would get raucous since everyone was singing along to the popular tunes. I had more than a couple jolly nights there.

But now it's Lir. A few months ago I popped in there with this same friend of mine. We sat at the bar for over 5 minutes without even a glance from the bartender. You know, if it's crowded 5 minutes is nothing BUT the bar had maybe 10 people at it in total. So we walked out that time - as we should have this time as well.

I won't bore my millions of blog readers with the details. Though the air conditioning was on and the service prompt, the people in there were bizarre (there was a loud coed gay softball team in there or something) and the bartender was a contemptible young lady - some ugly, rude, arrogant illegal immigrant from Ireland. I just don't see how one can be a bartender and be supremely arrogant. These types always remind me of the loser at Bloomingdales in Manhattan that sold my wife and I a $1,200 couch five years ago. We bought the cheapest sofa they had in the store for our 519 square foot apartment, and while we were paying, the patronizing, middle-aged sales guy quipped, "...I guess it's a good couch for when you are young and struggling."

Yeah, I am sure a retail sales guy, who likely still lived with his mother in Queens, has so much more money than us who both worked in the Wall Street area. In hindsight, I really should have laughed in his face and un-holstered my own condescension.

Back to the Lir bartender - she is also just flat out stupid. She works for tips for crying out loud yet acted like we were bothering her just by sitting at the bar. There was a little more to what happened here but I have to move on. Writing this post is just getting me riled up again.

We walk out and go into the Pour House next door. It was a lot more lively and looked to easily clear the low hurdles set by the preceding bars.

But yet again, we stand there waiting over five minutes for a drink while the bartender completely ignores us - though at least this one had qualities important to the superficial male. Others come up to the bar long after we got there and she serves them first. Now at this point in the night (1:00AM) I am benumbed by the entire night of horrible service. As she is serving the latecomers next to me, I said to my buddy, "How can I possibly give her a tip?".

So I didn't - an extremely rare action by me. In fact, I can't remember any other time that I have had to make such a statement. A couple of minutes later the bar-chick looked at me a little cross-eyed; I was tempted to do something: either count out the $600 I had in my wallet right in front of her or lecture her about basic bartending etiquette but really, what would be the point? One drink and we bolted.

I have declared it before but it needs repeating, WOMEN CAN'T BARTEND.

Oh yeah, and "Boston Sucks".

Friday, July 20, 2007

Have You Seen This One?

Here's a clip of a fireworks factory accident. The cameraman takes some great footage before he gets blown up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Please Throw It Out

Last week we were sitting outside eating lunch when my wife suddenly declared that she had just been stung by a bee.

So her mother ran into the house and came out with this, pictured below.

I laughed and wondered aloud how old that bee sting kit was.

Now while my wife was contemplating if and how to medicate her wound, I found the answer to my question.

You needn't enlarge the pic, unless of course you don't believe me, the bee sting kit expired in....

February of 1985 !!!!

Heck, it was older than Taylor.

Now, what do you think is potentially more dangerous, a sting by a 2007 bee or medicine that EXPIRED 22.5 years ago?

Can you say iatrogenic?

This post certainly stirs the memory of those spice cans I posted on last year.

Might there be a hidden culprit link between these two incidents?

Fighting Inanity With Inanity

"Pagans" and "Homer"? When I first saw the headline, I thought it was a news story ripped from an ancient Greek periodical.

How telling is it that now "Homer" colloquially refers to the cartoon character and not the epic poet? Here are some excerpts if you can bear the double dose of inanity,

PAGANS have pledged to perform “rain magic” to wash away cartoon character Homer Simpson who was painted next to their famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant.

The 17th century chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

Many couples also believe the 180ft giant, which is carved in the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, is an aid to fertility.

A giant 180ft Homer Simpson brandishing a doughnut was painted next to the well-endowed figure today in a publicity stunt to promote The Simpsons Movie released later this month.

It has been painted with water-based biodegradable paint which will wash away as soon as it rains.

Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: “It’s very disrespectful and not at all aesthetically pleasing.

Speaking of pagans...

Recently my toddler son saw the above doohickey on the south shore of Boston (Hull Windmill). He asked what it was,

CaptiousDad - Son, here in Boston, that is a pagan idol.

And then he sounded it out perfectly - "pey-guhn ahyd-l".

My son is already a prolific Earth-scorching fuel waster. He won't touch the tricycle he was given. Instead he emptied out his piggy bank and anted up for a battery-powered tractor.

Ara Hovnanian's Prescription for Foundering Home Prices

Listen to what this Moron just said,

"‘Raise prices,’ said (CEO) Ara Hovnanian. ‘Buyers aren’t buying because they think you’re going to lower prices again. There’s interest but there’s fear. Raise prices 3-4 percent. And quit giving discounts.’"

For those of you who don't know him, Ara is the founder and CEO of Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., a publicly traded homebuilder. This is no small concern, touting a $1 billion market cap. Of course it used to be three times as big - at least on paper.

Well Ara, is obviously an idiot; he believes he can stand the laws of economics on their head and get the mythical buyers to step up simply by raising his prices.

Y'all ought to try this. Go into a job interview and demand an exorbitant salary - that's the key to getting hired!

In his defense, if a homebuilder, real estate agent, or battered home seller is going to fantasize about buyers bailing them out, then why not dream that they bail you out at loftier prices?

Elevating Craigslist

I am moving 30 miles east to the South Shore at the end of this month. Unlike my last two moves, my wife's employer is not paying for this one. So I am currently scrounging for boxes and will likely rent a truck to move myself.

One can easily spend a few hundred bucks on boxes, that is if you are a Luddite. On Craigslist, there are plenty of ads stating, "Free Moving Boxes". Why is that? Well, if you haven't lived in a decent sized place you might not realize how many boxes a small family can fill up when it moves. Probably the guestimate would be anywhere from 50-100 large boxes. Once you move in, unpacking them is a chore in its own right. You'll be swimming in packing paper and you'll desperately want those cumbersome boxes out of your way.

The thing is, free moving boxes don't last very long - especially not in Boston where everyone is cheap and always on the move. The first few ads I responded to too late. But last night, someone posted an ad for their boxes that "weren't broken down" and here was my response.

Hi—we are close by, on the other side of route 9. I can come take them all—doesn’t matter that they are not broken down. I can come any time that is convenient for you. Call or email anytime. Thanks so much!!!

They contacted me early this morning, I put my two kids in the car, and ran over. The guy told me he had tons of responses and he obviously drafted me because I was nearby and because I implied that I would break them down. When I arrived, there it was, a veritable mountain of boxes piled throughout his three car garage. Utility knife in hand, it still took me a good 45 minutes of frenzied work to remove all the packing paper and flatten the boxes out for transport.

I said to the guy, this is what you call a "intersection of mutual needs". In other words, he needed the boxes removed and I was in the market for low cost moving supplies.

In the pre-Craigslist days, this is a transaction that likely would have never taken place. He'd have thrown out his boxes, I'd have wasted money on new ones, and all sorts of time and energy would have been squandered on unproductive activity.

It almost goes without saying that this is the profound beauty of the internet. The web hasn't just lubricated transactions, it's created whole new markets and efficiencies on everything from buying a stock to finding a date to recycling moving boxes.

The bulls yammer these days about "productivity" and how businesses are increasingly getting more done with less. I never liked how academically nebulous that sounded. I firmly believe that the massive economic expansion since 9/11 is due almost entirely to the internet and the enhanced telecommunication it has facilitated. The way I see it, the internet bubble never really popped; it's still expanding and it never really was a "bubble". It's more a phenomenon, a juggernaut, or an elixir whose point of diminishing return is still nowhere in sight.

The gentleman with the free boxes asked where and why I was moving. In a momentary lapse of tact, I left out the part about my hating his new hometown of Newton - after all, the poor guy just paid probably $1.5 million bones for the house he just moved into.

He and his wife were tangibly ecstatic that I had just cleaned out their garage of that massive mess. The guy also bragged that he sold his Brookline condo on Craigslist in three days back in March, sans broker of course. Understandably, he kept singing the praises of Craigslist.

Guy - The other great part about this (i.e. me taking his boxes) is that we get to save some trees.

I rolled my eyes and said to myself,

"This is precisely why he is moving into Newton and we are running far from it."

Man Versus Wild

Man Versus Wild is my new little favorite show.

The man pictured above, Bear Grylls, gets dropped into severe remote areas of the earth and demonstrates the survival skills needed to stay alive and find his way toward civilization.

It's a real "Survivor" show and the guy is quite good. He's funny, articulate, and very edifying to watch. Also, he's one tough dude. The first show I watched he went floating 12 miles down some 40 degree rock-laden rapids. Last night I watched his Outback show and he was eating spiders, toting a massive live snake around his neck for miles to keep it fresh for dinner, and he had to drink his own pee (all day!) in order to stay hydrated in the sweltering (130 degree) Australian Outback.

Oh yeah, my brother-in-law was telling me that there's one episode where the guy picks up elephant dung, squeezes it, and drinks the juice!

The show is more then just stomach-turning nastiness - it teaches you some really important stuff. For example, I had no idea that when lost, you should always follow water downstream to find help.

Set your DVR and check it out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Vacation

This week I have been at the beach on Long Island. I did manage to play a little golf. Will be back in a few days.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Paying to Work

I went to Butternut Farm GC in Stow, Massachusetts yesterday.

CaptiousNut - Hi, 10:15 tee time. I'll pay for one, riding.

Woman - That'll be $55.

CaptiousNut - Wow, it's cheaper than I thought (having checked rates on the website).

Woman - Well, it's a holiday (4th of July).

(long silent pause)

Woman - F*ck!!!

(Obviously she was undercharging golfers all day - charging them a normal weekday rate.)

My buddies asked me what happened. I confessed that I think I just cost us all some cash. One of them then asked her to undercharge us - since we shouldn't be penalized for honesty and she consented.

After nine holes I went back into the shop for some food.

CaptiousNut - Did you tell your boss what happened?

Woman - I just charged my credit card $480 - sixty golfers at $8 apiece.

CaptioutNut - Nooooo. Why? Did your boss make you pay?

Woman - No, he didn't.

CaptiousNut - Well, why'd you pay then?

Woman - It was a big mistake.

CaptiousNut - But it was an honest mistake.

What a dummy! For a nanosecond, I actually felt bad that she had paid for part of my round. Forget that. She's retarded and it is one of the true justices of this world that Morons and their money soon part ways. She was dumb to undercharge and dumb to reimburse.

Imagine paying $400+ to work for a day! She might even need a second job just to pay for this one.

I am going to have to call up today and find out what days she normally works so I can plan future, discounted rounds.

The course is very nice, tree-lined and Hacker-unfriendly. It's much nicer than its overrated neighbor Stow Acres.

This is also cross-posted on my new golf blog, Marginalizing Hackers.

My wife just alerted me to the fact that it's likely illegal to charge employees for errors like this (See the Fair Labor Standards Act).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

If You Had Less Money, My Kid Would Be Literate

A few weeks ago I was out with a buddy in New York and met some young lady (friend of his girlfriend). She was in the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Here is her enlightened view of government schooling,

Idiot - If rich people sent their kids to public schools, then the schools would be fine.

In other words, ALL THE PROBLEMS in public schools, from the rampant violence to the fact that kids are graduating unlettered, un-numbered, and even un-fluent in English, is the fault of everyone who sends their kids to private schools. Damn those dreaded rich people!!!

Yeah, none of the problems germinate from the stone-cold heathen communists that run the schools (or from the inherent flaws of such a massive, third party- or taxpayer-funded, bureaucratic system).

This is Harvard folks, our BEST college.

I have an undeveloped theory that the Harvard grad school students are actally the big "problem" with Harvard. First of all, the undergrads are the smarter ones. Most 18 year-old nerds who gain admittance aren't thinking about the grand social order of the universe. But the grad students are all from less reputable schools and are seemingly hellbent on becoming world-shaping elitists - like the loser I quoted above.

She also let out this doozie,

Idiot - I think a person can be highly educated and still not have the slightest idea who Napoleon was.

I have a friend whose girlfriend is also a Harvard grad student. Get this, she is a registered socialist. My little theory has legs; look at the grad students at other colleges and you'll see much of the same.

Who the heck is that midget on the horse anyway?

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Lack of Good Sushi in the Slums is"Discriminatory"

I am trying to move to an area southeast of Boston. One major problem with this plan however, is the lack of broadband internet out there. All that's available is Comcast with their pathetic 8 megabytes per second service.

It's not like I watch YouTube all day, I need a fast connection to deliver my streaming stock and futures quotes. A slow or unreliable internet feed could cost me mucho dinero.

Why is only Comcast available out there? Well, I am not quite sure but I gather that the People's Republic of Massachusetts granted local monopolies to certain ISPs in an effort to "even things out". Heck, who could ever understand their motivations?

Regardless, Charter, Verizon FIOS, and RCN cable are not available in this area and I can't imagine spending the serious money I am about to for a home and having to endure Third World internet service. Mere words can not express how much this is stressing me out. Right now, my RCN connection runs at a freakish 50-60 MB/s - how the heck am I going to adjust to speeds one sixth as fast?

I called the other cable companies to ascertain if they would soon be expanding service to my preferred destination - but they aren't.

Then I started googling for info on the future roll out of Verizon FiOS and I found a Boston Globe article that just put my angst over the edge.

Network offered mostly in affluent, white suburbs

Verizon Communications Inc. yesterday added four more overwhelmingly white, mostly well-off Boston suburbs to the Massachusetts communities where it is deploying an advanced fiber-optic network that can deliver cable television.

Markey, who is the senior ranking Democrat on the House telecommunications subcommittee and has called for ''legal prohibitions against economic redlining in the deployment" of broadband, struck a middle-ground tone in an interview yesterday.

But Verizon is also deliberately beginning to market services where it sees the best chance to make money.

Elsewhere in the country, who gets next-generation service, and when, sometimes gets controversial. SBC Communications Inc. has been denounced for ''digital discrimination" in video rollouts by Chicago-area clergy members calling themselves the Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide.

Behold the mortal sin of "deliberately" trying to make money!!!

So what next? Are they going to force Sushi restaurants to expand to the slums of Dorchester and Roxbury?

Even with all the yoga breathing and chi management, it takes every ounce of my energy to keep the socialists from depressing my life here in perhaps the worst state in the union.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Congress of Dummies

I had to reproduce this funny email forward that I just received. I don't doubt its veracity in the slightest.

A Washington, DC, airport ticket agent offers some examples of why our country is in trouble!

1. I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window. (On an airplane!)

2. I got a call from a candidate's staffer, who wanted to go to Cape town. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information, and then she interrupted me with, 'I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Cape town is in Massachusetts.' Without trying to make her look stupid, I calmly explained, 'Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Cape town is in Africa.' Her response - click.

3. A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied,'Don't lie to me, I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state!'

4. I got a call from a lawmaker's wife who asked, 'Is it possible to see England from Canada?' I said, 'No.' She said, 'But they look so close on the map.'

5. An aide for a cabinet member once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, 'I have heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need & get; a car to drive between gates to save time.'

6. An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 am and got to Chicago at 8:33 am. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones. Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.

7. A New York lawmaker called and asked, 'Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?' I said, 'No, why do you ask?' She replied, 'Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight. I think that's very rude!' After putting her on hold for a minute while I looked into it (I was laughing). I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT - Fresno Air Terminal), and the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.

8. A Senator's aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, 'Would it be cheaper to fly to California, and then take the train to Hawaii? '

9. I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, 'How do I know which plane to get on?' I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, 'I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them.'

10. A lady Senator called and said, 'I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, Florida. Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?' I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, FL on a commuter plane. She said, 'Yeah, whatever, smarty!'

11. A senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. 'Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those.' I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, 'Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!'

12. A New Mexico Congresswoman called to make reservations, 'I want to go from Chicago to Rhino, New York.' I was at a loss for words. Finally, I said, 'Are you sure that's the name of the town?' 'Yes, what flights do you have?' replied the lady. After some searching, I came back with, 'I'm sorry, ma'am, I've looked up every airport code in the country and can't find a Rhino anywhere.' The lady retorted, 'Oh, don't be silly ! Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!' So I scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, 'You don't mean Buffalo, do you?' The reply? 'Whatever! I knew it was a big animal.'

Now you know why the Government is in the shape that it's in!