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Alex Baer

Reminders of Our Place in the Freak Show

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Words and language are odd things: They can make us howl in laughter, or, change the arrangements, they can cast us into a pit of despair.  Then, time went by, and we all more or less made it out of third grade psychologically intact -- but it was close for some, right?

If you kept both those extremes conceptually close, you're probably well-armed for everything else that followed.  However, as we are all spiraling in on dementia, sooner or later, maybe some memory-joggers of those old survival skills will prove useful.

If you are at all fascinated by language, for example, you have to love it when someone gifts you with enough descriptive ammo to build a phrase like, "Romney's a flip-flopper, a stripper, and a flipper."  All we're missing is The Gipper.  Or not, as it turns out.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 18:30 Read more...

Pigeonholing Dragons While Waiting on Answers

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The secret to seeing clearly, as anyone who's operated binoculars knows, is not only which end you look through and where you point the thing, but how well you adjust the focus, too.

The same process is helpful when asking questions, sorting information, and attempting to do any meaningful pigeonholing.  It's also helpful to not stuff dragons and griffins into slots better sized for sparrows or starlings.  But, it can be exhilarating to try.

Take a wide-angled view of fascists, for example:  They have a long history in America and abroad -- Germany and Italy, of course.  But, the fascists of today are not like those our fathers and grandfathers fought here and abroad.

In the 1930s, there was a near coup d'etat in Washington, D.C. that failed during FDR's time -- a wolf pack of fascist bankers and financiers were the basis of that one, just as there were similar (and sometimes the very same) corporate forces maneuvering in Germany and Italy.

Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 20:24 Read more...

Republican Math Invades Europe!

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At first glance, it's a jaw-dropping shock -- and then, the longer you stare at it, trying to peer into its mysteries, it becomes even less real than that.  Like poking smoke rings with a fork.

And, quite a lot like the wildly erroneous math used in recent years by the GOP to justify pet projects while pretending things really -- wink, nudge -- add up.

It appears some of that same logic is seeping into Europe:  A woman in France received a telephone bill for almost 12 quadrillion euros -- about 9.25 quadrillion U.S. dollars.

Yes, of course, it's a goof -- one of the more spectacular ones, sure to join the ranks of other astonishing math blunders of its type, right up there with the more subtle, but equally eye-popping, misplaced-or-missing decimal point in the contract, or a spot where "or" should have been used versus "and," followed by billions in shaken foundations.

In this case, the dazzling math goof in phone billing was more than 6-thousand times France's annual economic output.

(Yep, sounds like the Romney-Ryan math team has been there, all right, advising company accountants and programmers.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 October 2012 17:24 Read more...

Driving Reality and the Fireball Effect

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There are moments in life that make us gasp and seem to stop time in its tracks, submersing us in clear Jell-O -- and then time starts up again, at 1/20th speed.  All the while, at the restart, you know something is horribly wrong, and that you're in real trouble.

You've had those moments:  The tick of the clock when you feel the pit of your stomach leaves and falls through the floor, the temperature instantly plummets to sub-zero.  Yes, and the instant you're sure you're in a car wreck,  already in motion, patiently waiting for final impact.

Sometimes, it's the same feeling, but on a different scale:  The first time you saw initial impacts at the Twin Towers.  That first moment of hearing Kennedy had been shot -- both of them.

Last Updated on Friday, 12 October 2012 19:36 Read more...

Ancient History, Hot off the Presses

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Anything that happened yesterday is still news, while last month's headlines get sifted into the heap of modern-day discards.  If you want to reflect on the America of the 1940s -- or even the 1980s -- then you're obviously an archeologist on a mission.

Unless you're summarizing the most recent yak-fest -- the so-called presidential debates.  You remember:  The ones marketed by hucksters like cage matches from two new species only just now discovered in wildest Borneo.

You know:  The Distracted Professor versus the Gish Galloper Extraordinaire!

One way to reframe the lingering, post-event aftertaste:  You were watching a hot-air duel that could really have been broadcast skips on the chilled atmosphere from just after World War Two, colliding with torrid blasts from the Reagan era, when the hot air really got superheated and shoved around.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 16:53 Read more...

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