Friday, June 30, 2006

One week back and I need a break

I’m still not completely reinstalled in daily life. A long 4th of July weekend should help. I’ve got some LDEP things to work on, I need to start setting up Bump, I’ve got some ideas for polishing the judge how-to, there’s Caveman to complete, philosophy books to read (BenT just made a great recommendation that looks intriguing) and demented cats to avoid. Meanwhile, I offer the following communiqué from my favorite ex-cub reporter, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday.


Dear Mr. Menick:

I hope this reaches you in time. We are announcing this year, for the first time ever, a special program for debate coaches, and I thought you might be interested in attending. As you know, most coaches today know little or nothing about the content of LD debate rounds, and our mission is to bring the Legionnaires of Doom into the present. It just doesn’t seem right that debaters are arguing the merits of postmodernist French philosophers like Rognons Saucisse and Merde-Dans-Baguette and Larson E. Whipsnade while the coaches remain mired in Plato, Marx and Harlequin Romance novels. The best philosophy obviously comes from the philosophers who have been dead for the least amount of time, or are French, or at least French-Canadian. The moment has come for the coaches to see the light before it hits them in the head. That is why we created “Coachanetics: LD for the 24 ½ Century!” This course is guaranteed to turn any muddleheaded adult with ten years or more experience of shoveling Mill and Rousseau and Locke and Kant at their teams into a pomo spewing machine able to reject all resolutions on face, BECAUSE THEY CAN!

Here’s just some of the highlights of the two-week program:

  • Intensive daily lecture program on French and German critical theory books no one has ever read, including their own authors, offered in the original language

  • Speed-talk training from college-level debaters who’ve had their teeth extracted to shave off even more precious moments from their delivery times

  • Recognizing Greatness: A son et lumiere presentation where today’s top debaters are shown in high resolution photographs and sound bites so that, if you happen to judge any of them at some future date, you’ll recognize them well enough to pick them up even though you don’t understand a word they are saying

  • Foucault continuity lab: Who are you to tell students what they should learn? In Coachanetics we apply the principles of Foucault to all learning, and show you how you can have your freshman determine the math curriculum, your sophomores decide what is or isn’t relevant in Global Studies, and even how juniors and seniors, because there are more of them than there is of you, know more about physics than you do, because you’re only one person, and a member of an elite power structure to boot, you evil bastid!

All of the members of the Coachanetics program are housed in our lovely Compostia House dorm overlooking the recycling plant, and we guarantee no more than four to a room except during peak attendance periods. Fees are reasonable, and scholarships are offered to coaches considered especially dimwitted. Since you are all presumably adults, no adult supervision is offered, unlike our student program, where our underage guests are under the exacting supervision of people who just graduated high school two weeks ago and can be trusted one thousand percent to handle all contingencies with a nod, a wink and a flip of a pop top. Full internet reports are posted online every three to four minutes so that your families can see your every move on a nearly real-time basis and know that you are where you said you’d be; we even promise to post only photographs in which you look at least moderately sober. Please note that high-stakes poker-playing for money will not be tolerated; tournament quality clay chips are available from the management for a small fee. Meals are served on occasion, and even more occasionally eaten; we don’t recommend them, but we have noticed that if people get hungry enough, they’ll eat anything.

So, Mr. Menick, please think about joining us this summer. The weather prediction out here is for fine sunny tsunamis with only a chance of siroccos, so it should be a nice break from your miserable existence in bleak old New York. I look forward to seeing you.

Your buddy,

Herman Melville
Camp Counselor

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jet lag almost all gone, life all back to almost normal. Woot woot.

O’C sent me a copy of the Vassar RR invitation. I won’t burden you with too many of the details, but I will provide the tiniest peek of what most of us will be missing: a judging pool so diverse that in that past it has included even me, gourmet dining catered by the Culinary Institute that looks suspiciously like tuna sandwiches and a side of potato salad in the cafeteria (should I break it to Uncle Wiggly that all the people slinging burgers at McDonald’s these days anywhere within a 100 mile radius of Hyde Park are CIA graduates?), and expressions of the genuine and endearing Cruziform enthusiasm that I, for one, always find so touching. (Speaking of whom, my bet is that right now he’s cutting a deal with Homeland Security to get a good spot at LAX to greet the fish students as they deplane and pick up their bottles of vodka bags of text books and head off to Hell in a Handbasket Institute Hell in a Handbasket Institute.) I probably won’t be at the RR, because it conflicts with the annual CFL coaches meeting, although I may try to drop by for a sandwich or something if I get freed up and I can’t find anyone to play golf with. Not that golf comes first, mind you; I hate golf. But then again, junkies hate heroin. Most of the time.

Anyhow, the remarkable thing is, I really like O’C. Yet for some reason I attack him mercilessly. I need to find someone I don’t like, now that I’ve had all this practice. I’m ready for the big game, bwana!

I managed to make my personal deadline last night for getting an episode of Nostrum out to the thoroughly uninterested world at large. I do enjoy reacquainting myself with Jules’s and the Mite’s characters. I had forgotten how many of them there were (and how many voices I am ill-prepared to speak in). The whole Nighten Day speech team is about to be hauled into the Messerschmitt Tournament, and if that doesn’t bring one back, nothing will…

I started trying to get rooms for Yale before I left for my visit with the Habsburgs, leaving a message at the usual joint asking for 10 of the best. When I returned a message telling me I was out of my mind greeted me, and I have now spent most of this week being sneered at by various hostelers up and down the bright boulevards of lovely New Haven. Jeesh! Who are all these people, scarfing up the reserved rooms in June, for God’s sake? Have they no sense of disorganization? Couldn’t they wait till the last minute like they always do, and leave the good rooms for us? I mean, not that the old rooms were all that good; there was usually a couple of layers of fungus growing on the walls, enough hot water to fill half a Coke bottle, and herds of screaming forensicians raging into the night and beyond, plus an unofficial regiment of homeless junkie guards between the school and the hotel that one had to negotiate through late at night. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we weren’t exactly lounging at the Waldorf. One very helpful soul at the New Haven Hotel finally suggested the Fairfield Inn, and I have put in my bid there with a fine fellow there who seemed eager – nay, avid – for our custom. He did think I was talking about Hendrix High School, where the biggest expense would be, I guess, lighter fluid for the electric guitars, but once we ironed that out, we were in pig paradise. The only issue is, it’s not within walking distance of the school. (All right; for me it’s within walking distance, but if you’ve ever herded more than a matched pair of semi-feral adolescents any distance, you know that they have a hundred-yard limit and about as much speed as a garden slug, so it’s just not worth the aggro.) So we may need to keep a bus driver for the weekend, or I may need to seriously examine the parental transport arrangements. It’s still early days for that level of exactitude, however. At the moment, having a place to rest the weary head is plenty good enough. I’ll lock down the signup databases, and we’re practically on our way.

And you thought I was crazy to worry about Yale while I was in Pest. Pah! Shows what you know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Beware of the internet

I know I don’t have to tell most of you this, that there are predators out there, and that it’s people like you who make the best prey. And I’m not addressing students now. Adolescents know perfectly well the dangers of dirty old men, on- or off-line. I’m addressing this, instead, to the dirty old men out there who read this blog; I don’t know exactly who you are, but I suspect that you exist. And I am referring to the cautionary tale recently reported of the two underage teenage girls who arranged to meet some dirty old man over the internet and then robbed him at gunpoint. The world is filled with predatory adolescents! They will attack you given the slightest opportunity! Beware of the internet!

Anyhow, the news of the moment is, unfortunately, the demise of the Modest Novice. I’ll be sending out a broadcast notice today through the MHL gmail account. To wit:


I’m sorry to report that I have been unable to generate the unanimity required in the region in support of the proposal for a standard novice starter topic. Given the overlap of schools in multiple leagues in the area, we couldn’t do it unless all of us were to agree to it.

There was much interesting discussion generated by this proposal, however, and lots of good dialogue both for and against, in emails and in personal meetings. I appreciate the time and effort people gave to weighing the merits of the proposal, and the various suggestions that helped develop the proposal over its months of consideration. In what is a time of unquestionable difficulty, and serious controversy, in LD, I think we need to continue to work toward whatever we think will keep the activity vital for our students. The willingness of everyone to address this proposal was, I think, indicative of everyone’s dedication to doing that work. The bottom line in the decision seems to be that while there may be difficulties with some of the topics as starters for newbies, and therefore the idea per se of a well-chosen starter topic was appreciated, the complications of multiple topics running at the same time appeared simply too daunting when balanced against the benefits.

So, we will continue to trod the path set for us by the NFL, and we (the MHL) will use whatever topic is selected by the organization for Sept-Oct.

Thanks again for your patience and your commitment. Have a good summer. (And keep your fingers crossed for a great Sept-Oct topic!)


And that’s all true. There was lots of interesting discussion, and while I’m a little disappointed, I don’t necessarily feel that it’s that big a deal. It would have been fun, and it would have been interesting, with some easily recognizable benefits, but there is no question that it would have been administratively complex at all levels (coaching, tabbing, training judges). So, we putter onwards.

I did catch up with CLG yesterday, and made plans for a series of Camwegian dinners over the coming millennium now that she’s staying in the US. Rubin is also going to be in her neck of the woods next year. The opportunities for postgraduate noodling will be legion (and Lexingtonian). Of course, now I won’t be able to bring the team over to the south of France to stay with her for a month, as I had originally planned, but one makes the best of the situation in which one finds oneself. Tant pis, as they say in Cambridge. (You can apprise yourself directly of the comings and goings on Planet Claire by reading her blog, noted over on the right. You can also follow Burgers’s adventures in dietary limbo on his blog, if such is your inclination, if you don’t mind going off your feed for a couple of months as a result. That lad's cordon bleu is still just a pipedream.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Getting back into the swing

My brain feels a lot less sluggish today. I’m not quite running on NY time, but at least I’m no longer on HRE time. (Which, needless to say, is not HRE in German or Czech or Hungarian, so when you see it written up in museums as Romanisch Umlaut Dipthongia for the first time or two you have no idea what they’re talking about, which does nothing for one’s sense of history.)

On the home front, Tik pronounced teek, referred to by some as simply Tik the Insane, is his old self. Or new self, given that he is now almost exactly four months old. I can’t remember any other kitten we’ve ever had being such a manic stinker. Maybe, like Pip, I’m just getting old. I’ve noticed that Pip now sits around a lot looking out the window and yelling at kids to get off the lawn, which means he definitely has turned the feline geriatric corner. It was nice to return home, however, and count cats, and find that the number when we came back was identical to the number when we left. Both of these curious creatures seemed to be in fine fettle, which means of course that Sister Emily did a good job, although the fact that she immediately left for parts unknown after the last installment in her caretaking and that it has been reported that she never wants to see another cat again for as long as she lives may reflect a little bit on her private opinion of the experience. CLG will be coming by to drop off the key and give a live update on all the juicy details.

I still haven’t read my snail mail yet. I did sort it into piles, and noticed a few gems, but then I put the junk into the recycle box and the important stuff in a special place so I’d get at it right away, and I haven’t seen it since. As soon as I remember where that special place is--I hope sometime over the next few days--I’ll get right on it.

I did peep over at WTF to see what was happening. I am crushed that I missed their no-doubt excruciating coverage of Nationals; I do wish they’d offer a place for people to contribute to them for not giving full gavel-to-gavel coverage. I see that when all was said and done Draco Malfoy won Carl Kassel’s voice on his home answering machine; having watched him debate at TOCs, I’m not surprised. He had a nice sort of classic approach, at least in the round I saw, with a complex but solid analysis that addressed the resolution without any Nietzsche, and I gather that is the way he normally is, so more power to him. (Speaking of Zen Ethics, I have taken up BGAE where I left off. I couldn’t resist. There’s only a few more pages, then on to the G of M. I’m vacillating over doing the lecture; we’ll see after consuming Morals.)

I have now read all my email. I will report shortly on news therefrom.

I know you’re wondering about the Doctorow. The March, that is, which I brought with me for trip reading. I sort of enjoyed it, on an intellectual more than a gut level. I like what ELD was up to, and I liked much of how he achieved it. On the other hand, I was seldom rapt in the experience of reading it, despite the fact that I worked through it pretty explosively (analogous to its subject of Sherman’s march). You won’t waste time reading it, but you needn’t drop everything to check it out. I finished it about halfway through the trip. I went on then to The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, which I picked up at one of Prague’s many English-language bookstores. (I kept looking throughout the HRE for Moorcock’s Mother London, the spawn recommendation, but I couldn’t find it in any of three countries visited.) Angels has its moments, but as every reviewer has said, Berendt just doesn’t come up with a Venice story to match Savannah’s in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. That latter book, if you haven’t read it, is a drop everything title. Highly recommended.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I have nothing to say yet. I reported on the trip, a little bit, and I'll probably come up with more eventually, now that I have a machine on which to type again, but at the moment I'm still just reorienting myself into the real world (i.e., the job that pays the bills). I have only dipped the proverbial toe into the vast ocean of non-work emails, so there's no news there yet.

But I do have a small issue. We have after every entry in this blog an option for members of the VCA to enter their comments. This is becoming progressively a more disquieting arena of discourse. I mean, I have no idea who people are most of the time, nor what they are talking about. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but in my jet-lag battered mental state I begin to wonder what, exactly, these lunatics are trying to say, and if it's worth the effort to hire a P.I. to track a few of them down and issue sobriety tests. If you feel like entering a comment, would it kill you to put your name on it? You don't see the Honorable O'C hiding behind a veil of anonymity. And if you don't want to put your name on it, then at least make it comprehensible. For instance, the minds of most people ruminating over Nietzsche do not normally reroute into the area of hardware engineering. Try to stick with the program. If my post is about Nietzsche, is there no expectation that your comment to the post would also be about Nietzsche? And if you are going to respond to something specific with a general reply -- e.g., I write at great length on the whiteness of the whale, and you reply "Woot woot" -- could you at least specify, "In regards to your feeling that the whiteness of the whale is an ironic attempt by Melville to criticize his book before the reader can, I must reply, 'Woot woot.' " This would enable me to more precisely understand what has so deeply affected you that you feel you must take electrons in hand and pen a response. Otherwise your comment is like the wrong half of a knock-knock joke, and I am at a loss to know why or why not, exactly, we are or are not on the same wavelength. Or if we are. Or are not.

Okay. Enough. I haven't even looked at WTF yet since I've returned, so you know that I am far from my normal bilious, exegetical self (i.e., the self that likes to find words you have no choice but to look up), and I need a few more days to catch up.

Woot woot.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I'll be 'typing' this on my PDA, using the built-in virtual typewriter, which is about as efficient as... some... really... really... inefficient thing (I'm way too postmodernistic for metaphor, so feel free to add your own). However, there's a nine-hour plane ride ahead of me, I have no real keyboard, and the VCA demands at least some of the details of the annual coachean vacation, so here we go.

Flying to Europe is, of course, usually an overnight deal (unless you do the highly recommended day flight to London), so one must be prepared to sleep practically standing up, and for not very long. I have to admit that the trip began with a good omen: the guy sitting next to me was reading good old Moby Dick. Unfortunately, I'm married, not gay, and the guy wasn't all that much of a hottie, so it was something less than a missed opportunity as those things go. I was briefly going to query him on the whiteness of the whale but the guy slept through the whole flight after reading about 5 pages. MB does often have that effect on people.

For some reason of Czech social structure never properly explained by the authorities, husbands and wives flying together on Czech Airways are barred from sitting next to one another. Much of both flights coming and going was spent by nuptial couples wheeling and dealing their way closer, seat by seat, , much like a sliding puzzle toy, until by arrival time, if they were lucky, they may at least be in the same row. When Liz and I finally got together the first thing I asked her was her opinion of the whiteness of the whale. She gave me a look and kept on moving.

Budapest is the union of 2 cities, Buda and Pest, which face each other aross the Danube. They were united physically and then politically by a bridge in the 19th century, much as was the city of Brooklynmanhattan. We were staying on the Pest side, and aside from eating tourist soup (made for, not from, tourists) we mostly spent our days wandering through secession art buildings and the baroque buildings they seceded from and the various available museum and religious venues. One did learn a lot about Hungarian history, much of which includes Maygars being overrun by this, that or the other competing organization. There's Turks, the HRE, Austria (Hungary seems to have been the Police to Austria's Sting, if you get my drift), the Nazis, the Russians... One does sympathize with the poor buggers.

When the time came we hydrofoiled up the Danube to Wien. (Like wieners, you wiener!) One was disappointed by the sad lack of castleage along the way, but otherwise it was a pleasant trip, and Liz and I were allowed, finally, to sit next to each other without having to bribe the border guards.

Vienna is very much a 'built' city, with its inner ring lined with baroque and neoclassical buildings of enormous dimension: they made for a very impressive capital for the A-H Empire. Which means, of course, another large dose of secession (which is like art nouveau without the frenchiness--it looks like art nouveau, but its roots are more specific). Vienna is the city of Klimt and Schiele, whom I love (especially after discovering all the EG that isn't inducive of a state of permanent depression). We passed on the opportunity to see The Third Man, which plays daily at the local cinema; you can also take a Third Man tour and, presumably, buy black market pencillin and have a twist of Harry Lime in your martini. We did do much of the local grub -- weinerschnitzel, wild boar, cake and coffee in the middle of the day -- and somehow managed to pass on a couple of Indian and Mexican restaurants, as we were still operating on the when-in-Wien philosophy, but they were strong temptations. Ultimately a great city, with the best of Brueghel as well as the Wieners. Even the Reisenrad, the 19th century ferris wheel featured in 3rd Man, is still extant. Unforunately I missed the model of the 1891-ish expo, but you can't have everything.

The currency changed in each country, as did the customs of tipping/stiffing the local help. I was totally lost by the time we reached Prague, although I can report that it's 3 Kc a shot at many public WC facilities, but often only for women; men relieve themselves for free, except at public widescreen airings of soccer games, where the going rate for all your genders is 10 Kc. Given that beer is mother's milk in that neighborhood, you are talking a lot of czump czange at the WC during footballer festivities. And, yes, one does feel foolish after a meal, asking for the check. Keep telling yourself it's a bill: can I have the bill, please? If you ask for the check it is tantamount to proposing marriage to your server.

(They just showed Fantastic 4 on the big screen here at 32M miles over nowhere. Given the situation, you would have watched it too. In any other situation, I wouldn't bother, and neither should you.)

Speaking of entertainment, we did take in a couple of concerts, one mitt schlag in Vienna (Strauss and Mozart). one quite 'American' in Prague, a Moravian saxophone quartet performing Gershwin and Bernstein and Chick Corea. Interesting.

I would explain Prague, which is a great tourist city, as something like Venice without the water: lots of old, tiny, twisty streets that are impossible (and unnecessary) to navigate. Just point yourself roughly where you want to go and eventually you'll get there. Excellent gelato at this one place (I'll send you directions if you need them -- it's on a major blvd). Dumplings that wegh approximately 50 lbs each, Dvorak's grave. Every street sign making you think you're on Placenta Street whereas every other word you see is in desperate need of buying a few more vowels. Speaking of signs, I saw what has to be my all-time-favorite, at a bank. It was a series of icons indicating: no food, no pets, no cell phones, no photos and no guns. You've got to wonder: do that many Czechs absentmindedly bring their Lugers in with them to pay off their Visa bills?

Worse thing about Europe in general? Men wearing clam diggers (aka pedal pushers, aka Capri pants). It's bad enough when women wear them, looking like survivors of a bad laundry day, but when the men start wearing 'em too, you've got trouble. And that starts with T and that rhymes with B and that stands for beard, the worst thing about the Czech Rep in particular. That is, bearded women. A number of them. Thank goodess none of them were wearing clam diggers. Or reading Moby Dick. I wouldn't have been able to take it.

And that is, mostly, the stuff worth writing about on a PDA. Don't blame me for any bad spelling; I'm getting blisters as it is.

And yes, I did lay awake nights thinking about Bump and Yale and Modest Novices. And I missed a chance to see Grand Duke Jules, or Prince Jules, or the Dauphin, or whatever it is he calls himself these days, by exactly one day. He was coming to Vienna while GWB was there, to make some sort of plea of royal legitimacy. But as soon as we saw Bush coming we hightailed it out of there. It's bad enough being a Yank abroad, but having Bush around would be adding insult to injury. I'll catch Julie when he visits the UN, his next stop some time this summer. Something about calling for a special session...

Friday, June 09, 2006

This blog fills a much needed gap (and goes on a much needed hiatus)

So they tell me that Genealogy of Morals will actually read like traditionalist philosophical material. The last time I read it, Coolidge was in the White House, and I don't remember a thing a thing about it, so maybe I'll give it a try before abandoning this project. Putting down Fast Freddy last night, after a heartwarming series of bombasts regarding the female of the species, I felt that he and I were getting nowhere with Good and Evil, although I can now provide any feminist in the LD pool with some pretty good highlights of what it must have been like to, say, go out on a date with old Zen Ethics back in the day. Suffice it to say that it would be unlikely he would be asking you your opinion of the zeitgeist. On the other hand, I found his comments on Jews interesting. Given his inherent political racism, I had expected good-old-fashioned anti-semitism of the highest order, and, contrarian that he is, I found something quite different. Whoda thunkit? While you can fashion a nice totalitarian government around the will to power, and while you can envision Germans as a master race based on Fast Freddy's political racism if you wish to read the man that way, you might be a little harder pressed to go to the point of what we now call ethnic cleansing, a nasty term replacing the dearth of terms to describe focussed mass murder (and maybe there's no language for this because it's rare, if that's not Pollyannaism on my part). Anyhow, I may or may not throw the book into the backpack before I head out today.

Speaking of which, the answer is: Doctorow. The March. I know, this came out of left field, but I love ELD and this may be the only chance I get to read the new one, so there you are. With, maybe, Fast Freddy on the side. There's a trip for you!

So, I'm all packed. Nothing but old clothes. If you want to know where I've been, follow the trail of discarded jockey shorts across the back alleys of Central Europe. (Eeeeewwwww! Too much information.)

In my absence (wow -- no Modest Novice, no email, no Legion of Doom, no Nostrum, no Hen Hud, no NFL, no Nigerian solicitations, no nuthin'), you can sup mightily on the info at WTF, the only other regular beacon of debatism of which I am aware. NFLs will be starting soon, and no doubt the troops will be providing minute-by-minute photographs of the schematics and lots of messages from teammates wishing their reps in Dallas a hearty woot-woot. Thank God for bandwidth! Thank God for Bubba Chut's Intergalactic Communication Chip!

Thank God for vacations... I'll see you toward the end of the month.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some dying embers of biliousness

I think I've become an addicted blogger. This is an offshoot, of course, of being logorrheic. In real life, I manage to keep the affliction under control, unless I get really irritated by novices or fall into too large a vat of caipirinhas. But the blank screen is an invitation I cannot resist. I am not alone in this. Why else does Bubba Chut come up with something every day for WTF when there is, obviously, nothing happening every day? He's more of a logorrhea enabler, however, than a blatherskite himself. And I can understand the need for new content as a maintenance measure for the site as a whole: if it wants to be the central debate hub, it has to have a reason for people to visit regularly. If WTF actually waited for something to say, they'd go offline in a week. I'm not much of a fan of things like profiles of Mutt Lick Academy for the Morally Inert, but I guess that sort of thing has its fans. It's like looking at some class other than your own in the yearbook; I mean, yeah, they're there too, and then you turn the page. The site as a whole has done a mitotic split into what I consider to be incomprehensible pieces, well-intentioned but poorly executed. They need to redesign. I'd be happy to give them advice. They'd be just as happy, no doubt, to consider it; both Uncle Wiggly and Cousin Bietz have both been known to read my ramblings on occasion. (All right, Uncle Wiggly has the RSS plugged into a chip in his brain, because he usually posts comments before I write the entries, but that's because he's afraid that any minute I'll insult Wil Wheaton, and somebody has to be there to stand up for the downtrodden!) The idea of 4 separate sites doesn't work. You need multiple departments on one site. Or one main department referring off to side departments. As soon as you maringalize any content, or highlight some other content, you send a message that this content is marginal and this other content isn't. Granted that all content is not created equal, but at the point where you predetermine its importance, you're making a value judgment that may conflict with the reader's, and the power of being the one sending messages influences the interest of the one receiving the message. It's like when I write an essay and I add footnotes: I am sending the form-inherrent message that the main body of the essay is the important stuff and that the footnotes are the marginalia. This makes sense in an essay where, indeed, the main body is imporant and the footnotes had better be marginal, but do you want to make the same claims on a general website?

The Legion of Doom will have the same problem, and there has been some debate over it. Some of us have been pushing for a forum of some sort where coaches could discuss issues openly. Anyone interested could see the discussion (and maybe participate -- that part is moot). The point would be to open the Legion's ideas to everyone to overcome the perception that they are a naysaying monolithic horde of dinosaurs. The problem is, how exactly do you do it? Where? As soon as you choose a venue, you've made a statement. The medium is the message. Tough call.

Anyhow, I've never been one to want WTF to go away. I'm too involved in the dialectic; I wouldn't know what to write about half the time if they weren't around. And I don't know where else to go easily to find out what's on the collective mind of the $ircuit at any given time. To tell you the truth, I miss the vituperation of the Smilin' Js and Victor Js of life, and I think they should have more of that. Big old broadside attacks are what make this country great; we're not quite as good at guerilla warfare, which is why a sniper like yours truly may go on forever, but I hardly ever take down any enemy combatants. And I make for poor press coverage. The media like big ass invasions with troop landers and air coverage and the like; we here in the resistance will be remembered after we're gone, but all the blockbuster movies will be about Ike and D-day.

Maybe, it should be noted, there is more heroism in Ike and D-day? Imagine how hard and courageous it is to openly land on the beaches with weapons blazing. What kind of idiot thinks of June 6 as Antichrist day, anyhow. Omen, my patoot! Get your priorities adjusted, squirt.

How did I get off on that?

What I really am thinking about today, twenty-four hours before hitting the trail, is banning gay marriage. I don't know about you, but I for one sleep happier at night knowing that our crack heads of state in the Senate are working hard to defend us against this...whatever it is. I remember distinctly watching the WTC towers collapse and thinking, those damned gay married people! Not to mention how gay married people are raising the price of oil and ruining the economy and worsening the deficit. And you and I both know that all those illegal aliens are, in fact, gay married people. It's gay married people who are burning flags in front of our state houses and taking the isthmus out of Christhmus and promoting postmodernism in LD rounds! The bastids! Every time gays get married, global warming gets hotter. It's gay married people behind Katrina. You know it. I know it. The bastids!

Actually, I don't sleep at all at night. I'm like the walking dead. I need a vacation.

One more day.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Apologies to the Sherman Brothers

It's always Scarsdale. First, old JC gets me in as Chairman because of all the alleged hankus pankus occurring in the districts tab room. Then, old JV actually votes in the recent election, casting the only ballots for anyone, and tag, I'm it again.

It's always Scarsdale.

But I'm not complaining. Okay, I am complaining, but I actually don't mind at all, I just like to complain. It is curious how few people actually vote for anything NFLish. I mean, I would vote but I'm never at the school to pick up the ballot after the beginning of April. I know that Rose J-T used to vote, but Rose is God and that's to be expected. What's worse is how few people vote for the resolutions. I forget the exact number I saw quoted, but it was frighteningly small. Which leads one to believe the the upcoming NFL LD committee could pass a motion that henceforth all LDers have to debate in French wearing tricorns, culottes and Disneyland Paris t-shirts, and no one would care in the least. For that matter, few people would hardly notice a difference, but that's another thing altogether.

Nostrum fans (is there such a thing?) will rejoice (or decry) the posting of not one, not two, but three count 'em three new episodes (although I haven't seen them on iTunes yet, curse you, XML!). This will cover the weeks I'm away. If I were you, I'd save the whole shooting match for the trip to Texas, starting with episode one. They'll take up less room on your iPod than a couple of White Castle hamburgers, so why not?

Last night Sister Emily came by for Felinic Briefing, as she will be tending to Pip the Wondercat and Tik prounounced teek while we're away (with the occasional surprise visit from the Spawn). Curiously enough, the first thing she asked me was how to pronounce the name Tik. Obviously a young woman who remains unpoisoned by any membership in the VCA! Anyhow, on the positive side, Tik prounounced teek didn't bite her (although he did try to climb her) and she insulinated PTW without a hitch, so I feel that the chez will be in good hands in our absence. I did forget to tell her not to conduct any wild crack parties, but since she's going to Dartmouth next year, that probably won't be an issue.

HoraceMan TSWAS was asking whatever happened to Herman Melville, the ace cub reporter over at DVM, and I had been wondering that myself, so I emailed him, and got this reply:

Dear Mr. Menick:
How are you? I am fine.
It is good of you to inquire after my well-being; so few people ever do.
I am no longer cub reporting for DVM. My work the first year was deemed so successful that I have been promoted, and I am now running their "The Dream Never Dies" summer program for people who have graduated high school but are still pissed off that they never got to TOCs. This program is open to any college or graduate school student, with special emphasis on students who got only one TOC bid in their four-year careers. We offer many workshops, including a very popular one on how to turn obscure college lecture material into cash by writing cases based on your professors' footnotes and selling them to unsuspecting high school students as mainstream modern philosophy. Daily lectures are given on ways to creatively murder the judges who dropped you in that all-important 2-1 decision before the bid rounds. There is also a lab on how to write winning essays on the backs of at-large bids, including such popular themes as grandparent-dying-the-night-before-Emory and over-involved-in-community-service and the tricky but important student-debates-better-than-his-results approach. At the end of the season we make a field trip to JWP-Land, a theme park in Kentucky not far from the University. Students are able to ride, among other attractions: the new FlexPrep inverted coaster that features no safety harnesses; the Legion of Doom wooden coaster that seems so shaky that it will fall apart any second; the Carousel of Progressives where clever audioanimatronic characters from different periods of debate demonstrate how the only people who know anything are the students of today; and, of course, It's a Forensic World, a boat ride through all the forensic events, populated by colorful singing and dancing adolescent dolls, starting with Declamation and moving on through all the speech events and then into debate, with Pffft and then LD and finally Policy. In each land the speed of the singing gets faster and faster, until by the time you reach PolicyLand, it is completely unintelligible and sounds like chipmunks on methamphetamines. You probably know the tune, as it is one of the most notorious ear worms of all time. "It's forensics after all, it's forensics after all, it's forensics after all, it is for-en-sics./It's a world of Dec, it's a world of Pffft, it's a world of speaking as fast as Sffft. / It's the kids versus coots / While the camps bank the loot / It is for-en-sics."
I know that you will appreciate the value of this program, and I hope you will convince your students to sign up after they graduate. We still have plenty of openings this summer, and even if we didn't, for you, I could move mountains.
Thank you for writing.

Your friend,
Herman Melville, Camp Counselor

One might think, from all of this, that we are in the off season here at CL. But no, we never sleep in our resolve to do whatever it takes to take whatever we do and sleep on it. Which may, in fact, be our new slogan. Then again, maybe not...

(If you are wondering, Robert Sherman's doorbell is, indeed, the music from the particular ear worm noted above. It's amazing what one picks up by listening to random podcasts!)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

EXTRA: Team Spotlight: Macon-Bacon Institute for the Terminally Insane

Graceland, Memphis, TN - Coachean Life exists to undermine the raw underbelly of the community that brings together debaters, coaches, parents, sex offenders, Republicans, mouse whisperers, illegal aliens, illegal citizens, apache dancers and alumni from across the country. Team Spotlight features programs from down the alley and behind the chicken wire — schools that compete locally, statewide, nationally, interplanetarially, and/or intergalactically and interdimensionally — and celebrates the great students, great coaches, and great teams that sit still long enough to get their pictures taken. This week, since the alternative is posting reviews of Star Trek — Dance Fever mashups, I’ll be featuring a Team Spotlight every day. For today’s piece, I was able to chat with Veebie Dee ( to learn more about the forensics program at Macon-Bacon Institute.

PROGRAM: Macon-Bacon Institute
BASE OF OPERATIONS: The Fluffernutter kitchen annex, Graceland, Memphis, TN

DIRECTOR OF FORENSICS: Veebie Dee (Debate Gladiator)
ASSISTANT COACHES: Friar Tuck (In and out of terps), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Center for Disease Control (LD DB8), James Felafel (X-Man), Sean Didaway With Seeds (Refractory), Cunning Debbie Ham (Sandwiches), Tommy Thompson (Support hosiery), Liz Taylor (Husbands)

NUMBER OF ACTIVE MEMBERS: “We currently have 35 members of our team – very large, because we feed them a lot of fluffernutters, and as a result, they grow like mushrooms. We are only at 300 in our Upper School, but there would be more if the rest of the town's population could find the stairs; there's a good 4329 in the Lower School. We are very small in the grand scheme of things, because other schools around here eat chili dogs AND fluffernutters, and we simply can't compete mano a mano with that kind of lunch budget. None the less, we have boosted the top-ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic District out the window, and no one has ever missed them. We have over 234 degrees, but since no one on our team understands how NFL degrees actually work, we are not sure if this is good or bad. We have had five Quintuple Rubies, two of whom are currently rising seniors, the other three of which were stolen off the persons of PF Debaters who were lost at last year's NFL Finals and who, like our top-ranked team, have yet to be missed.”
EVENTS: “We compete in all NFL and CFL events, except for Gangsta Rap.”

CURRENT STRENGTH OF NFL CHAPTER: We bench press way more than Pat Robertson
DISTRICT: Yeah, but dis aint as strict as dem uddas

Bubba Chut: What has been your proudest achievement as a coach?
Veebie Dee: Avoiding Jon Cruz up until today.

BC: What is the most important issue facing the debate community today?
Veebie Dee: Not enough donuts in the judges' lounges.

BC: If you could change one thing about forensics, what would it be?
Veebie Dee: Students should be paid for their efforts, at least twice the minimum wage, plus expenses.

JC: Tell us a little bit about the history of debate at Macon-Bacon Academy.
Veebie Dee: What can I tell you that you can't read in the latest issue of Juvenile Delinquincy Today?

A student reflects:
"If it wasn't for forensics at Macon-Bacon, I'd be a free man today."

Second, Pack

I'm the district chairman again. A little part of me -- no, a large part of me -- was sort of hoping that someone else would get the call. There is no greater joy than constantly getting your colleagues repeated support through reelection to a job no one else wants. I guess I do it okay, but there was the screwup this year, so I'll be definitely on the warpath with yet another failsafe next time.


Anyhow, my mind isn't on debate much at this point, three days away from liftoff. Now it's time to think about packing. More rules:

1. Bring the fewest number of books guaranteed to last the trip. This is tough, and I've talked about it already. You've got to fill up airplane time with something you're sure to like. And you don't want to lug every book ever written if one of them doesn't work out, so one magnum opus is the goal. I do recommend starting to read your choice a couple of days before you leave; that way, if you don't like it, you've still got a chance to replace it.
2. Bring a music player. You will need something for airports and other places devoid of native charm, where it's even too uncomfortable to read. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to bring a charger and a plug converter. That's just the way it is. The alternative is to sit quietly and stare at the walls. I'm willing to take on the extra weight.
3. Don't bring the computer, no matter how tempting it is. Sure, Little Elvis is light, and it would fill up every moment when I'm not staring at Klimt paintings, but this is a vacation. Therefore, vacate. The only possible use of a PC would be to create a diary of the trip, but weighed against lugging a computer, na'ah.
4. Bring a moleskin. Take your notes there. If you're so inspired, write them up when you return.
5. Camera with a gigabyte chip, which is enough to take a gazillion pictures. Plus charger. Plus camera manual, because you need to refresh on all the features you never use.
6. Magazines. Don't expect to find anything at the airport, because they just don't make magazines like they used to. I grab the latest New Yorker, Mac Addict and maybe Wired and (if I can find it) Legal Affairs, and that oughta hold me. Magazines are for takeoffs, landings, and waiting to get into the bathroom in the morning.
7. Snacks. They are not going to feed you well on the airplane. And the next morning, when you're jetlagged and roaming through the Prague airport trying to find your next flight, there's no guarantee there will be any dumpling salesman available. Be prepared.
8. The lightest backpack known to science. Why add any extra weight? When I arrive, I empty it off all this stuff and carry it around empty, filling it with the handful of items I will purchase on the ground, which is usually the official guidebooks from the museums we go to.
9. PDA, because it has all the info on the trip, plus a Hold 'Em game. I probably will jettison this before leaving, but I'm still considering it.
10. Clothes. I do not believe that I am on vacation to do laundry, so I bring enough to cover the entire trip. I also never throw clothes away during the year, and what I bring with me on vacation is all the clothes that I otherwise would have thrown away, which I will throw away now after I wear 'em. That is, say I'm about to toss a shirt. I say to myself, I'll wash this one more time and bring it on vacation. Then, when I wear it in Timbucktu, no one will care that I'm wearing an old shirt, and I can throw it away when I'm done. This way my luggage gets progressively lighter (theoretically) as the trip progresses. This probably only works for someone like me, who never buys any clothes much different from the clothes I've bought before; I simply rotate the crops, so to speak, moving along with a Circle of Life approach to attire. It works for me. It does keep me from getting my photo in the Fashions of the Times magazines, but you can't have everything.
11. Crossword puzzles for takeoffs and landings. I clip the Saturdays during the year that I don't have time for, so there will be a handful for vacation. Takes your mind off the impossibility of something as large as an airplane getting airborne.

Bottom line: try to be as minimalist as you can. The above, to me, is my minimalism. Everything I bring, I have to carry. So, the less I bring, the better, short of looking like I'm homeless. Or not looking like I'm homeless more than, say, about half the time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

First, pick a spot

How to Go on Vacation, Part One: Location Selection

Obviously, choosing where to go comes first. Now, if you're a minor living with parents, you must decide if these are, in fact, your real parents, and if you wish to be seen with them on their vacation, in a spot you presumably had little or no choice in selecting. But if you're choosing a spot for yourself, as I do, you have different issues.

I am not one for the relaxing sojourn vacation. I have only once or twice gone to places where the highpoint of the day is applying sun tan lotion, and I don't much need to return. The idea of sitting around all day reading books hardly strikes me as a vacation; the only difference between that and my regular daily life would be the caliber of the chair on which I am lounging. To me swimming is great on a hot day for about three minutes, then what are you going to do? (Ah, the paradigmatic "then what"!) On the other hand, I have enjoyed occasional short stays at Mohonk Mountain House, where one awakes whenever and then hikes for 4 hours, returning to a big lunch and then either hiking some more or playing golf. I can do that once in a while if it's summer, and it was a great place to bring the spawn when she was younger, as she could go off on her own and hardly ever be missed, and parents do look for that once in a while. Mostly, however, we trained our child to be a traveler, a skill at which she has most definitely outstripped her parents.

The vacation I prefer does include a lot of walking around. I am a naturalized New Yorker; I was raised in the suburbs, I lived on the West Side for a decade after college, I live in the suburbs now. I like nothing better than walking Manhattan, looking around, soaking things up, watching life go on, studying how the city has created and continues to recreate itself. I'm the perfect tourist, in other words, without even leaving home. We've come to look for that kind of experience on longer vacations. Where can we go to roam around and soak up something new, with maybe a little culture thrown in? One quickly gravitates to your basic European cities, most of which anyone who can do NYC on foot in a day can handle in a snap. London may be enormous, but most others are doable, on foot, from end to end, if you've got the inclination, which means that on any given day in most cities, where your goal is not to walk it all but simply to find one neighborhood and explore that, you're fine. Said exploration usually starts with something cultural. So, you'll head over to the local art museum, soak up culture for a couple of hours, eat, roam neighborhoods, pop into the odd church or cathedral or castle, stop in a shop or two, and the next thing you know you're heading for home hungry for dinner.

So you have to pick your countries, and the easiest thing to do is grab for the obvious. One would hardly start with, say, Aberystwyth, when it's a mite easier to simply tour London. One needs to get the major capitals and hot spots under the old belt before getting eclectic. The idea of Central Europe for this year stems from a trip we were going to take last year but didn't, substituting instead the American Southwest (also a fine area for exploration). Everyone seems to love Prague and Vienna, so they seemed to be required visiting. Budapest just happens to be next door, so you've got to go there too. Voila, you've got two weeks. Last year we were also kicking around visiting Kt in Tokyo, but all we had available were those basic two weeks, and the flight alone takes three weeks, plus two months of jet lag, so we'll save the rim for some other, post-employment era.

The down side of this year's trip is three languages, three currencies, and the natives' fondness for dumplings. Not to mention two weeks away from all of this (blogging, reading DMV, sending money to Nigerian diplomats, Tik attacking me at random throughout the house night and day). It'll be tough, but I think I'll survive.

Further rules:
1. Don't go to Disney or Vegas more than once every 5 years. You've seen it. Move on. (After 5 years however, all the cells in the body will have been completely replaced, and who can resist?)
2. Don't go back anywhere unless you've seen everything else, or you're only visiting for the weekend or for purposes of reentry.
3. Don't worry about language barriers. Most people in the US probably already don't understand you when you're speaking English, so you won't even notice the difference somewhere else.
4. Take as many trains as possible. European trains get you where you want to go, and you can look out the window and see Europe pretty much everywhere. Buses will do if there's no train to where you're going.
5. Go when most people don't. Spring and Fall, when people are in school, is the best. Mid-summer is the worst, because everyone else is there too. With their kids.
6. Find one neighborhood per day with one big cultural thing in it, make that your starting point, and don't bother rushing there first thing in the morning because it will still be there later on, guaranteed. By the time you see what there is to see, eat, roam and rove, you'll be back at your hotel for a little rest and then ready for the high point of the day: dinner!

If you can't tell, I'm pretty much ready for this vacation...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Uncharacteristic Saturday posting

But, it's still raining, and I've got a little time on my hands before I run out to the supermarket.

Stand By Me? From Chutney's comment yesterday? If anyone recalls this film well, they will remember that it is framed as a story being typed on a computer. At the end of the movie, the writer, having completed the story, turns off the computer, without saving the story.. Having sat through two hours of this lousy film myself, I had to agree with our writer that, if I were him, I wouldn't have saved it either. And on top of this Bubba Chut tells me that my only competition on the internet is Wil Wheaton's website.

Any wonder why I'm posting on a Saturday?

Anyhow, the writer in question was plaed by Richard Dreyfuss. If he was on your DI team, you'd kick him off for being a ham every time he opens his mouth. He's like Jane Fonda without Vietnam or Barbarella. As for the movie, I realize I'm in a minority here, but then again, quality, like morality, is not measured by how many people do it. And if you really care, from IMDB: Incorrectly regarded as goofs: The narrator does not save his work before appearing to shut off his word processor, but that's okay, because in fact he only switches off the monitor, leaving the machine running and his work intact. Also, the shot of the narrator writing has him seated at his desk; when he turns off the word processor, he is standing, studying his work. It is reasonable to presume that a brief moment went by between the shots, and he could easily have saved the work then. Balderdash! This was the only point in the film where the buddy I went with and I cheered. Don't tell me I didn't see what I saw. I once stood in a urinal next to Stephen King. I know what I'm talking about.

Of course, I'm also progressively more annoyed with Fast Freddy, as I'm learning that he's not really talking about science but about a dry sort of "objective" skepticism that refuses to assert the will, as compared to the wonderful sort of German skepticism (going back to Prussia's Great Freddy and his dad) that is all about grabbing the old will to power by the short and curlies and taking over Europe! No wonder this stuff is, shall we say, a little inflammatory. You don't have to be a genius to see how easily one can pull a rationale for ethnic superiority from this stuff. The more I read of FF, the bigger a crackpot (and the more dangerous) he becomes. What a great guy to turn to for ethical guidance!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nietzsche vs. Sandman

I'm at the point now where Fast Freddy attacks the scientists. Jeesh. HoraceMann TSWAS's comment is right, by the way; you need both hard and soft sciences (and frankly, I prefer to dabble in the latter while I wish I were better at the former). Fast Freddy, meanwhile, just becomes progressively more of a pain in the patoot. Last evening while all hell was breaking loose meteorologically (I refused to turn on the computer during this latest example of G.W.Bush's ineptitude -- yes, I blame our Commander in Chief and Global Warming Naysayer for all bad weather) I sat reading a Sandman book. I got to the part where Dream has decided to help Delirium find Destruction. Later I started reading FF on the errors of science. Gaiman was sooooo much more fun. Better illustrations, too.

While planning my weekend's entertainment, I noticed that Fountainhead is on TCM Monday morning. 6:00 am. It's worth getting up for. By my lights, this is the unintentionally funniest movie ever made. Just watch Coop and Neal go at each other like rutting dogs. And that final scene with the elevator! There haven't been that many laughs since Little Nell died. I always claimed that the movie would make for a wonderful HI piece. And it beats reading the book (but, for that matter, putting your head in a meat grinder beats reading the book too, but that's neither here nor there). In a strange way, Fast Freddy reminds me of Ado Aynie. He's a much better writer, of course, but the two of them make seductive claims to their audience that, by being their audience, you are somehow better than the herd, a head above the common rabble. Everyone, regardless of how egalitarian one claims to be, likes to think that he or she is somehow just that slight bit better than everyone else. Even if I thoroughly worship the common man as paradigmatic, well, I'm more common that you are, you blatherskite. The messages of Ado Aynie and Fast Freddie are different, of course, in their intent if not their result, but I would suspect that both have an especial attraction to a younger audience that does uniquely value its individuality. Life is nothing but a series of phases we all go through; I am presently in the phase of seeing life as a series of phases we all go through, whereas a large proportion of the VCA, having not that long ago come through the phase of pre-adolescent conformity, is now going through the phase of adolesecent self seeking that pretty much demands a sense of the non-existence of phases. (In other words, I'm like some old guy telling you that you're just a teenager, and that there is nothing new under the sun but I only say that because I'm old and you only scoff at it because you're a teenager.) Many people are especially vehement in their detestation of Aynie because she encourages young people, who are prone to be egomaniacs, to overvalue their egomania. Not to mention that her message is one that demonstrates little love of humanity. Anyhow, if you don't want to watch it before school, set your recorder to stun. I assure you that it will.

Speaking of stun and Wil, I now remember why I didn't like TNG when it first came on. I mean, is Wil Wheaton the worst young actor ever? I guess the producers felt that he would somehow bring in the young audience, unlike all those aliens and space ships and androids, which notoriously appeal to the nursing home set. Thank God they eventually got rid of him. I mention this only because last night, after the storm blew over, I watched an early episode. That missing L in the first name is a dead giveaway. Show me somebody who can't spell their own name, and I'll show you a stinker.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The then what

I was tinkering with the settings here yesterday. There's a built-in RSS function that I added, confusing myself further over figuring what, exactly, is XML when it's at home. As compared to RSS. Insofar as this program reads this and that program reads that, and the results are apparently identical, and perish the thought you know what you're doing, but as long as you do get results, what are you complaining about?

Results. That's the key, isn't it?

I'm vacillating in my resolve to do a Fast Freddy lecture, because the bloody Greek never actually says anything useful. If one wishes to consider him a proto-pomo, I can see one getting away with it. The problem with philosophy (etymology: the love of wisdom) is, as I've said many times, it's abstractness. As a rule one turns to philosophy for two reasons: to find out what it's all about (ontology, the study of existence or being; epistemology, the study of knowlege, i.e., what do we know and how do we know it), and to find out what to do (ethics/morality). As for the former, I persist in believing that the modern thinker is better off studying hard science insofar as one has a desire to really know how the mind works. Even the tools of the modern social scientist (e.g. sociology, anthropology) are better at explaining culture and individual than philosophy (although cultural studies do seem to inhabit some vague intersection of philosophy and sociology). On the other hand, ethics and morality, which are purely intellectual concepts even if, perhaps, they are driven by physiology, are the remaining useful area of philosophical study. And obviously, if a book is entitled Beyond Good and Evil the author must have something to say about the subject of ethics and morality and right and wrong, but mostly what Fast Freddy does is criticize his predecessors who have addressed the field (when he's not criticizing religion or Europe or humankind altogether). Interesting, but jejune. He plants a stake in the ground, accurately enough, that the study of morality has been tainted by this or that, but I keep waiting for him to say the then what? Then what? But I don't see it anywhere. Lots of fun writing. Lots of great phrase-turning. Lots of spiffy aphorisms. But if our understanding of morals is incorrect, if we must be modern iconoclasts and go beyond good and evil, then what? Maybe he's saving it for the next book or something. Considering that he wrote this book as some sort of summa Nietzscheumma you'd think he'd get down to it sooner or later, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Scholarship on old Fast Freddy is notoriously vague, everybody claiming that nobody understands him (including him), and it's easy to see why. What a pain! In my utilitarian way (3rd Web 11 def, i.e., seeking utility) I want philosophical thought I can use in a debate round. If I am going to read books for debate, that is, I want to read books that will be useful in debate, otherwise I'll read something else. Life is too short.

In other words, this one is parlously close to be tossed out the carriage window. Long live Becky Sharpe!

On another note altogether, I'm pondering throwing up a little AdSense stuff here. (I know; you're just contemplating throwing up. I'm way ahead of you and your dumb jokes, you spalpeen!) Not that I expect to make a fortune through the Google business model (which, I understand, works quite well in the aggregate) but I'm curious to see what sense, exactly, Google would make of the coachean musings. I mean, let's say I write a thousand words on Nietzsche but use one of my nicknames for him. How will Google make sense of that? How will Google know that Uncle Wiggly is neither a retro game (spelled differently, btw) or a Salinger story? Will Google be able to direct us to the spalpeen's MySpace page? I'm curious about this.

And thanks for all the cards and letters to Tik pronounced teek, welcoming him to the fold. All right, one card, no letters, but that's a record for the chez feline contingent. Neither Pip nor Stripe (nor their various predecessors) ever even got any occupant mail, much less a greeting card. If Tik pronounced teek weren't clinically insane, I'm sure he'd thank you himself.