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Alex Baer

The Words Say 'Welcome Home, Vets'...

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With the exception of flag officers having ego management problems, no veteran ever alive has expected to come home down a red-carpeted aisle.  Confetti, cheering crowds, and marching bands were never in the daydream, either.

But, then -- a backhanded cuff, a knee to the groin, and a karate chop to the jugular wasn't supposed to be part of the plan, either.

It's not quite what we do, and have been doing for decades, but it's figuratively close.  Of course, it gets worse than that, too.  Far, far worse.

Take the story of one man, Christopher DeLara, who filed for disability after his tour in Iraq:  The Army said it could find no records of him having been overseas.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 November 2012 18:09 Read more...

Penny Wise and Million-dollar Foolish

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Consider the plight of aging garments separated into heaps:  this one for fixes, this one for donation, this one for auction in Beverly Hills...

The signature dress worn by Judy Garland in the film, The Wizard of Oz, has been auctioned, bringing $480,000.  If that raises an eyebrow, consider this:  A similar dress, worn only in tests, last year brought almost twice that -- $910,000.

How are your eyebrows now?  Still holding up OK?  Think they might un-arch and relax by New Year's?  The explanation raised for the price difference is that only a couple test dresses were made, while there were at least seven made for use in the film.

One need be mindful we're likely talking bidders here who have exceptionally high requirements in the first place, to shell out that kind of loot on a 73-year-old dress -- and even higher, to differentiate between a test and a real dress.  In any event, the name of the buyer has not been revealed.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 November 2012 18:06 Read more...

Toilet Traumas & the Republican Flush-O-Ramas

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No matter how much we would like it to be so, not every news story in the known world can be about the entire nation bounding off budgetary bluffs and buttes, en masse.

Every once in a while, the news universe requires a massage of more than one or two of the Four Humours.  Take the lesser known of these, Potty Humour.

Oh, I know -- but it's been a dreadful week, reeking of stale politics, dank backroom deals, and damp gym shoes from being on the constant run.  So, kick back, let your socks air out, and give vent to a short, spleeny foray -- what the hey.

Besides, no matter how rough you think this patch is, just wait until we get back to The Impending Armageddon Doomsday Apocalypse of Falling off the Edge of the Financial World, aka The Great Fiscal Cliff Drop and Souvenir Nose Dive.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 November 2012 23:26 Read more...

Never Look into a Street Sweeper's Ashcan

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There is a bizarre irony involved for members of the clean-up crew, tracing the long street and avenue routes after a parade featuring elephants.  Oddly enough, crew members find themselves shoveling the same material from the back of the parade route as the GOP politicians were shoveling onto the crowds, up front.

Figuratively, figuratively.  At least, one hopes that is the case.  So, please bear with us while we keep sweeping up around here, trying to get all this... this... stuff off the streets and off our agendas.

For example:

Consider the plight of Romney campaign staff, heading home, exhausted, burnt to a crisp, right after Mitt's concession speech -- and discovering your campaign-paid credit card had been immediately shut off, leaving you reclining in a cab with a declined tab.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 November 2012 18:40 Read more...

The Devil's in the Data and Won't Get Out

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He may risk becoming known as Dances with Data at some point.  For now, statistician, data-set analyst, and New York Times blogger Nate Silver has been all but inducted into the Pocket Protector Set's Hall of Fame, and been crowned a rock star for good measure.

Silver's achievements create an understandable draw for the populace:  call it the popularity of prediction wed to perfection.  How does one improve on 100% accuracy in calling the electoral nature of all 50 states, sometimes down to the same fraction of a finish?

Such is the power of crowd-wowing feats in creating a perfect score, so to say, in any area of human enterprise -- especially in dry-seeming areas having few memorably-high scores, and where the possibility or probability of perfection seems an impossible, unknowable dream.

Any acts of acing cryptic endeavors therefore become legend, and are entered into the League and Lore of Really Big Deals.  Such victories become talismans and touchstones for most people -- those who recognize their status as mere mortals and coin-flippers, and who contend with lifetime success rates that waver in the low to middle 50% range.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 November 2012 21:18 Read more...

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