Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best of 2005: October

Here are the best posts from my personal newsletter for October 2005: * * * * * Steven Wright Thoughts I got pulled over by a cop, and he said, "Do you know the speed limit here is 50 miles per hour?" So I said, "Oh, that's OK, I'm not going that far." My dental hygienist is cute. Every time I visit, I eat a whole package of Oreo cookies while waiting in the lobby. Sometimes she has to cancel the rest of the afternoon's appointments. I have two very rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car. The other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child. I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place. What's another word for Thesaurus? When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask me if I'm leaving. When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, "Well, what do you need?" I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it. A beautiful woman moved in next door. So I went over and returned a cup of sugar. She said, "You didn't borrow this." I said, " I will!" When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety. * * * * * Late-Night Political News from About.com "Some conservatives are upset with President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers because she donated $1,000 to Al Gore's campaign in 1988. In response she said, Come on, we all did embarrassing things in the '80s." --Conan O'Brien "A lot of Republicans are baffled by this choice. You can't really blame them. I mean, think about it. We have a more rigorous selection process on 'The Apprentice' than we do on the Supreme Court. At least let her get grilled by Trump." --Jay Leno "Welcome to the 'Late Show,' ladies and gentlemen. It's like the Supreme Court, anyone can get in here." --David Letterman "President Bush has pledged to grant millions of dollars in tax breaks to national casino companies rushing to rebuild casinos along the Gulf Coast, giving residents who haven't already lost their house a chance to do so." --Daily Show commentator Lewis Black "A White House spokesman announced today that Vice President Dick Cheney's recovery is exceeding his doctor's expectations. You know what that means? He's still alive." --Jay Leno "Pakistan had one of the worst natural disasters ever, up to 50,000 people dead after an earthquake this week. But of course it's not a resort, no supermodels like the tsunami, so it doesn't really get covered. But other nations are trying to help. They've offered food, medicine, corpse-sniffing dogs. New Orleans sent a volunteer team of cops to beat the crap out of survivors." --Bill Maher "You know I love New Orleans, they're vowing to hold Mardi Gras this year come hell or -- no pun -- high water. This is interesting, they've always had a Mardi Gras drink called the Hurricane. They're not going to serve that this year, but they've got a new one called the FEMA. It's strong, it hits you about a week later." --Bill Maher "In the wake of newly-alleged prisoner abuse this week, Senator John McCain said that continued mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners is hurting the nation's image. Also hurting the nation's image: letting people drown when it rains." --Amy Poehler "Have you heard this rumor that President Bush could be drinking again? Yeah, the way things are going for this administration, I'm surprised that Betty Ford's not drinking again." --Jay Leno "I think the President is losing it. The BBC is reporting that Bush told a group of Palestinian ministers that God told him to invade Iraq. You see, that's what happens when you mix the New Testament and Old Milwaukee." --Bill Maher "A former Marine was arrested for allegedly stealing intelligence memos from the White House. How about that? The guy would get into the White House and steal intelligence memos, and I thought, well, at least someone's reading those memos." --David Letterman "No, it's a real mystery, no one knows how he got into the White House, no one knows how he managed to stay in there so long ... oh, no, wait, that's George Bush, I got confused." --David Letterman "Al Gore was speaking at a pep rally in Central Park. Because when you think pep, you think Al Gore. I have to be careful about this, because Al Gore is, uh, not a dynamic speaker. Halfway through his speech, squirrels were climbing on him." --David Letterman "Over the weekend in Iraq, they arrested the Al Qaeda barber. That's right. That's not like a nickname, he was actually the barber. It's an enormous breakthrough, and now we have a lead on Osama bin Laden's aromatherapist." --David Letterman "Former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards has taken a job on Wall Street. He's with a prestigious private investment firm on Wall Street. Remember him, John Edwards? He's the guy always talking about two Americas? Well, I guess we know which America he picked." --Jay Leno "In a scathing new book, former FBI chief Louis Freeh criticizes former President Clinton's moral compass. You all remember President Clinton's moral compass, don't you? I believe his moral compass was always pointing north." --Jay Leno "Last night was the Clintons 30th wedding anniversary. You know what keeps them together -- spite." -Jay Leno "Last night's game was the longest game in World Series history. It lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes. And as it dragged on and on and on, I began to think it was something George Bush had gotten us into." --David Letterman "The White House remains steadfast. They said they will absolutely not withdraw Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court. You know what that means? She'll be out of there in a week." --David Letterman "Ben Bernanke will be taking Alan Greenspan's place. People say he's a lot like Greenspan, except not as exciting." --David Letterman "U2 lead singer Bono met with President Bush at the White House this week. Bono urged the president to help the world's poor. Bush urged Bono to get back with Cher." --Tina Fey "Saddam Hussein's trial began today, and during the proceedings, Saddam refused to identify himself. Luckily, everyone recognized him from that time he ran the country for 25 years. The trial was televised live throughout Iraq. Yeah, Iraqis were glued to their TV sets, mainly because years ago, Saddam had them glued to their TV sets." --Conan O'Brien "Saddam Hussein went on trial today. See, I didn't even know he worked in the Bush White House." --Jay Leno * * * * * The Ig Nobel Prizes of 2005 The Ig Nobels are awards for research which "cannot or should not be reproduced." This year's winners: Physics: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, for an experiment that began in the year 1927, in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly dripping through a funnel at a rate of around one drop every nine years. Peace: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of Newcastle University for electrically monitoring the activity of a locust's brain cell while it was watching selected highlights from the film Star Wars. Biology: An international team of scientists and perfumiers for smelling and cataloguing the peculiar odours produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed. Economics: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, thus ensuring that people get out of bed, theoretically adding many productive hours to the work day. Chemistry: Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for settling the scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water? Fluid dynamics: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany, and the University of Oulu, Finland; and Jozsef Gal of Lorand Eotvos University, Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report Pressures Produced When Penguins Poop - Calculations on Avian Defecation. * * * * * Clippings Swedish researchers showed a pair of female faces to 120 male volunteers for 2 seconds and then asked them to choose which one they thought was more attractive. The researchers then asked the volunteers to explain their choice. In three of the trials the faces were secretly switched after a decision had been made. Surprisingly, not only were a large number of the volunteers oblivious to the switch when ultimately allowed to take a longer look at their choice, they were actually able to gave detailed explanations for why they preferred the face that, indeed, they had actually rejected. Women who have children out of wedlock are about 30 percent less likely to get married than childless single women, according to a new study. When unwed mothers do marry, they are more likely to land husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of women who don't have children. Trying to counter its reputation as "America's Fattest City", Houston, Texas, put on the "Tour de Houston" bicycle event. The response was staggering: at least 2,300 people showed up, raising $50,000 to upgrade the city's parks and recreational facilities. Organizers didn't time the cyclists, noting it was "recreational, not a race." Another reason for the great turnout: participants were given free beer and tacos. The most extreme [weekend warrior training camp] has to be a week in Scranton, Pennsylvania, with Team Delta ($1,400, www.teamdelta.net). Besides running you ragged, these vets will, for no extra fee, kidnap you, interrogate you, and mkae you run for your life through the woods while their team hunts you down. [D]octors at Yale-New Haven Hospital ... put 90 people undergoing outpatient surgery into three groups: One listened to tunes, another heard white noise, and the third [heard regular operating room] sounds. All 90 controlled the amount of propofol, an IV sedative. The white-noise and OR-sounds group needed twice as much propofol as the music group, 72% of whom didn't use any at all. Researchers found that cannabinoids promoted generation of new neurons in rats' hippocampuses. . . . Chronic use of marijuana may actually improve learning memory when the new neurons in the hippocampus can mature in two or three months . . . . The median earnings of workers age 25 and older with only a bachelor's degree have fallen for four straight years. . . . Over the next few years, more parents accompanying high-school seniors on campus tours will be Gen Xers, born in 1961 and after. . . . Far more than boomers, Gen Xers are likely to recall college in hindsight as a waste of time and money. The price of gold is higher than it has been in 17 years - pushing $500 an ounce. But much of the gold left to be mined is microscopic and is being wrung from the earth at enormous environmental cost . . . . Consider a ring. For that one ounce of gold, miners dig up and haul away 30 tons of rock and sprinkle it with diluted cyanide, which separates the gold from the rock. . . . Some metal mines, including gold mines, have become the near-equivalent of nuclear waste dumps that must be tended in perpetuity. Hard-rock mining generates more toxic waste than any other industry in the United States.