Ride of the Stationery

This utterly contemptible lethargy continues. Not even a Wagnerian chimpanzee was able to snap me out of it today.

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Yes, you read that right.

But it’s a holiday, Father’s Day. MY holiday, right? Certainly that should snap me out of it.

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Relics of a Geek

Earlier today I stumbled across a Facebook conversation regarding those wedding dress shopping shows on TLC and what not. Like my friend, I fail to see the allure of something like Say Yes to the Dress. Beachy, however, is steadily moving away from Disney Channel and towards TLC. That show is one of her favorites.

“I’m pretty sure second-graders are in TLC’s target demographic now,” I commented to uproarious approval.

Then the conversation turned to what sort of things we watched or played with at that age. Some like to play “marriage.” Others liked to play “doctor.” I suppose I had more in common with the latter.

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Although I’ve never been terribly fond of roleplaying.
Image source: crackedmoon

They were my sister’s Barbies. Weirdos.

Anyway, Beachy’s sometimes odd behavior has plenty of precedent. In 1981 my class made Easter Bunny figures out of eggshells. Naturally most of my colleagues went with springy, pastel and/or religious themes. Finding that shit boring as hell, I dressed mine as figures from the then-recent assassination attempt on President Reagan.

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“Chasing Jodie Foster’s tail, up and down the bunny trail ….”

Then as now, not all of my interests revolved around the prurient and/or borderline psychotic. Not even close. My most cherished childhood possession? That’s a no-brainer. It’s my copy of the 1976 World Book Encyclopedia, which I still possess. Every time I sit down to write SB they’re on a shelf less than five feet away, acting as something of a talisman of a simpler time. Or one when Jerry Ford was still president, anyway.

Although I don’t refer to them anymore in this era of Wikipedia, they still rest in a place of honor here in the Command Center, all 22 splendorous volumes. I also have the complete 1945 Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia set originally owned by my grandmother.

So while other kids were reading stuff like Charlotte’s Web and various Judy Blume titles, this was what I was reading. A lot.

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A LOT.

I wasn’t entirely a mutant, though. As a matter of fact, I have an original Optimus Prime from around 1985 in the staff car trunk right now. It’s not in Antiques Roadshow quality to say the least, but I still can’t bear to part with it.

I also can’t figure out where else to put it. It’s been in my trunk for over four years now.

Bits and Pieces

Despite it being absolutely gorgeous outside, I spent the better part of the day filling out hospital forms related to my head injury a couple months ago. Since there’s nothing even remotely amusing about that (like I could remember it anyway), I didn’t have a lot of time to think about what the hell I was going to write today.

But I got to turn on the A/C for the first time this year.

Despite that, I have a couple stories possibly developing for your reading enjoyment. I guess it’s time for one of those potpourri posts. You know, a little of everything but not a lot of anything. That makes sense, right? Good. Let’s get started.

Return of the Moose

For a while I genuinely thought I was done writing about him, but a couple days ago none other than Moose Factory Boyโ„ข showed up in my Facebook mail. His message? “I’m sure that you will be receiving a text/call very soon.” Um, OK. I assume he’s talking about Myrtle, but with him you can never be entirely sure.

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Could be something like this.

As of this writing I haven’t heard from Myrtle, or anyone else for that matter. Whether or not she gets back in contact is anyone’s guess. If she does, great. If not, oh well. Dating hasn’t been a real high priority lately.

What’s the 419?

Speaking of dating, I’ve had an ad in the Boise Craigslist personals for a couple weeks now. Now before you accuse me of contradicting my previous statement, bear in mind this ad mentions Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Bandido Nation, Svalbard, Aotearoa and Erik Estrada‘s teeth, among other things. Not exactly Cassanova-type material.

To their credit Craigslist recently reformulated their policies, implementing an anonymous reply function. This has cut down on the spammers and the scammers significantly. A few still get through, including our friend “Tracy Miller.”

“Tracy” contacted me and assured me “she” was real and wanted to meet. My reply was, “And I’m real. Did you find Erik Estrada’s teeth?”

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Yeah, I’m milking that for all it’s worth.
Image credit: trainman74

The reply mentioned nothing about Estrada, but Tracy did tell me about how she was a fashion school student living with a friend and her grandmother. She talked about her friend getting married and how she wants to get married herself. She talked about her love for God and how much of a good Christian she was. There was a bunch of other drivel I didn’t bother reading.

Most importantly, she responded outside the Craigslist system, which allowed me to track the originating IP:

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Peek-a-boo!

Of course, being the magnanimous guy I am, I replied:

Hey Tracy:

No kidding? I’m into religion too! For the past eight months I’ve served as a dark deacon with the First Boise Church of Satan, Reformed (Nunavut Synod). Just this past weekend we sacrificed some goats during a sunset ceremony up at Table Rock to culminate our annual “Cinco de Chivos” festival. We used to sacrifice children, but we were sued by the Most Antient Order of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli for trademark infringement. And, well, long story short we don’t do that anymore.

I’m not photogenic either. Especially not after my recurring bouts with leprosy. But I don’t let it get me down. Even though I only have eight fingers now, I can still type at 60 words per minute!

By the way, since you’re a fashion student and all, I’m guessing you know quite a bit about fabric. Do you know how to get goat blood stains out of linen?

Writing that was a hell of a lot more fun than filling out hospital forms. I tell you what ….

Ishtar: Another Bad Review

It’s an auspicious occasion here at Superfluous Bloviations. Not only is this the last post of March, it’s the 50th post overall. Rejoice!

Oh yeah, and it’s Easter too, one of my least favorite holidays. A day of forced church attendance, pastel-colored candy and that damn plastic Easter grass which gets everywhere.

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I don’t even like hard-boiled eggs, dammit.
Image source: Ikonact

As if the self-inflicted, sugar-based tummy ache caused by eating too many cheap jellybeans wasn’t bad enough, I always took exception to being hauled off to church for Easter. This was exacerbated by the fact my family have never been regular church-goers to begin with, at least not in my lifetime. I’m not religious. Never have been.

Besides, Easter may or may not derive from earlier celebrations of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, which would moot the point entirely as far as I’m concerned.

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Either way, Dustin Hoffman is blameless.
Image credit: Alan Light

Oh well. I’ll get by. Happy Easter for those of you who feel differently. Here’s an old video of Beachy singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”

She was metal even then.

History Wednesday: Changing the Alphabet

I’m generally against capital punishment except in cases of dumbasses willfully using “alot” as a word. That said, I fully recognize English spelling rules do no one any favors. For example, the words “sail” and “sale” are pronounced exactly the same but have entirely different meanings. So are “scent,” “sent” and “cent.” And don’t even get me started on that “i before e” crap.

Over time many have noted the problem lies in the fact that we use an alphabet which essentially hasn’t changed in 1,000 years. The English of Chaucer’s time only bears a passing resemblance to the English of today. So why are we still using the same damn letters? My guess is a combination of force of habit and general laziness.

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The Georgian alphabet never caught on here, not even in Atlanta.
Image credit: GeorgianJorjadze

๐ข๐ฒ๐ป’๐‘… ๐•๐ช๐‘Œ๐พย ๐œ ๐ˆ๐‘Š๐‘๐ฉ๐บ๐ฏ๐ป!

Today History Wednesday focuses less on a leader’s personal shortcomings and more on ideas which just never took off. Despite a shaky start, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints succeeded in attracting many converts, building many temples and strongly influencing the histories of several areas in the Western United States, particularly Utah. However, not all of their grand plans came to fruition. Take their original 1849 proposal for a “State of Deseret” as an example:

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It’s said during quiet nights on the Metro, you can still hear Congress laughing.
Image source: Mangoman88

Still, you have to hand it to the early Mormons. They were bound and determined to do things differently than their 19th Century contemporaries. Different religious texts, different marriage rules, different ecclesiastical organizations …

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… Eh, same facial hair.

Yup, ending up in Utah after being unceremoniously thrown out of every place else they’d been, the Saints wanted to do everything their way. They even created a new alphabet to communicate amongst themselves. Attempts to change the alphabet were nothing new, not even in the 19th Century. No less than Benjamin Franklin himself made such a proposal in the 1760s. However unlike Franklin, who apparently lost interest in his proposal soon after he made it, the Mormon Church made a serious effort to implement their alphabet for daily use. Thus, the Deseret alphabet was formulated.

LDS Church President Brigham Young, noting many of the same problems with English spelling rules that Franklin observed decades earlier, formed a committee at the recently-established University of Deseret (now the University of Utah) and charged them with creating a more phonetically friendly alphabet. In January 1854, the university announced it had succeeded.

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“Qapla’!”

๐๐น๐‘Š๐‘Š๐ฎ๐‘ ๐ฃ๐ช๐ผ ๐๐‘†

Having between 38 and 40 letters in its various incarnations each corresponding to a different English phoneme, the Deseret alphabet was touted by Young as a solution to those silly spelling rules and that “the years that are now required to learn to read and spell can be devoted to other studies.” Young didn’t elaborate on what those other studies should be, but I’m willing to bet they didn’t involve 8 Ball.

Being a religion, the LDS Church set out to publish its scriptures in the alphabet, including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. For a time the Deseret News published a section in the alphabet as well. A couple of textbooks were thrown in for good measure. There’s even an extant headstone and coin utilizing the alphabet.

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“And you should see how it looks on gold plates, man!”

๐œ ๐‡๐‘Œ๐ผ

Unlike fry sauce and Jell-O molds, the Deseret alphabet never caught on in despite Young’s enthusiasm. Public indifference and the prohibitive costs of transcription and printing combined to doom the alphabet. After Young died in 1877, the project was quietly abandoned.

Still, the Deseret alphabet isn’t quite dead. It’s been part of the Unicode standard since 2001. It’s also the official alphabet of the Republic of Molossia.

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Such as it is.
Image credit: Kevin Baugh

Technical note: Today’s sub-headers are written in an attempt to use the Deseret alphabet. If you can’t see them you may need to download and install a Deseret font. I’m sure you’ll find it very useful in the coming years, or something ….

Friday Crap Roundup V

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen! It’s time once again for the Friday Crap Roundup! Now 30 percent dafter for your reading enjoyment!

Breaking Precedent, Rome Style

Earlier this week I opined on papal names and how they rarely deviate from accepted standards. Only six names had been used by popes since 1800. Well, make it seven thanks to Pope Francis. Now while he didn’t take my advice and go with something screwy, he broke a very longstanding precedent anyway. I like that sort of thing in religious leaders. As a matter of fact one has to go all the way back to 913 CE to find the last pope who chose a name never used by any of his predecessors.

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That’s right. Pope Lando.

And so with the conclave over I don’t expect to mention the papacy again for the foreseeable future. All the best to you guys out there in the Vatican.

Ignoring Precedent, Tulsa Style

Speaking of precedent, someone should explain the concept of judicial review to this guy, who actually said:

Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional …. I hear this all the time from Republicans โ€“ they say that the court is the arbitrator and after the arbitration is done, that’s the rules we have to live under and we can go forth and make legislation given those rules. That’s not the case.

Yeah, apparently he hasn’t heard of cases like Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and so forth. Judicial review, that is the prerogative of the court system to strike down unconstitutional laws, has been a central tenet of the American judicial system since, oh, 1803 or so. But you don’t need me to tell you that; anyone who paid attention in high school government class can tell you that.

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“And tell ’em the Big Marsh Man sent you!”

Well, apparently Jim Bridenstine wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives last year from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. C’mon, you guys. Politics is stupid enough without willfully electing this sort of cement-headedness.

Setting Precedent, Boise Style

Recently I wrote of my adventures (if you really want to call them that) with a mysterious person who may or may not be a woman known as “gr8tits2play.” Well, less than a week later, when one does a Google search for that name guess who comes up, like, a lot?

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Oh, lovely.

I suppose it’s in the common interest for me to inform you I’m not “gr8tits2play,” I don’t have a dead uncle in Mali with a fortune I need to smuggle into the United States, I’m not a representative of the lottery in the UK or anywhere else, and I have no problems whatsoever with penis size.

TMI? Fine, let’s move on.

Track of the Week

It’s been one of those weeks, but I hope to finish strong. I need to. Beachy will be here tonight.

In the meantime, play this over and over.

Habemus Deliramentum!

I’m not entirely sure why, but every time there’s a papal conclave I watch events intently. I’m not Catholic. I’m not even religious. So what’s the attraction?

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White suits? Nah ….

The historical aspect certainly has a lot to do with it. This is only the fourth papal conclave of my lifetime. For those of you who didn’t pay attention, there were two in 1978 and one in 2005. The fact Benedict XVI resigned just makes it more intriguing this time around. As you may have noticed, I’m into history. Besides, with Elizabeth II staying put for the foreseeable future there’s not a lot of excitement in this arena.

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“Tell me about it ….”
Image credit: Dan Marsh

Another facet that captivates me is the regnal name the new pope will take. While this has the potential to be exciting, in reality it isn’t. Since 1800 popes have only used one or a combination of six names: Benedict, John, Paul, Pius, Leo and Gregory. In addition, we haven’t seen a Leo or Gregory since before 1900. I’m writing this before the much-anticipated white smoke appears, but I suspect the new pope’s name won’t deviate from this format much, if at all.

That’s too bad. There are a lot of awesome papal names throughout history. Some of my favorites include Sylvester, Hormisdas, Anastasius, Gelasius, Hilarius, Cletus and Lando.

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Yes, seriously.

I think it would be nice to see the new pope take one of these names, or something equally bizarre like Jehoshaphat, just to force the world media to use it for the next few years. Given the very unfunny scandals the Roman Catholic Church faces and will continue to face, a little bit of levity may be in order.

Or he could go off the deep end and take the regnal name “Blue Ribbon.” Why? Well, the German word for pope is “Papst,” so …

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With my brain constantly coming up with stuff like this, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 1985.

The Catholics are concerned about growing secularization. This is one way to bring the hipsters on board.