Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holidays and anti-holidays

(Originally written in 2008.)
   I've noticed that our holidays have opposites or anti-holidays. It is sometimes difficult to identify an anti-holiday, as the opposition between holidays can be hidden somewhere beneath their apparent purposes. I'll save you the trouble by outlining the holiday opposite-pairs below.

   The most obvious holiday - anti-holiday pair is Memorial Day and Labor Day. I know that Memorial Day is primarily set aside for honoring the great sacrifice of our fallen service men and women and that Labor Day is set aside for recognizing the pains of childbirth. (That was a joke. OK?) There's nothing in those stated purposes that makes them opposites.
   However, the holidays have secondary purposes that are indeed polar opposites. Memorial Day is the day we take off from work in order to open up our swimming pools for the summer. Labor Day is the day we take off from work in order to close up our swimming pools for the winter.
   Now, what about Halloween and Valentine's Day? They're opposites because on one you need to travel around in search of candy, and on the other you have candy delivered.
   New Year's Eve is actually the opposite of New Year's Day. On the Eve, we try to squeeze in doing all the reckless, fun things we hoped we'd get the chance to do all year long. On the Day, resolutions take effect and we try to postpone doing all the reckless, fun things we know we're going to end up doing anyway.
   The Fourth of July's anti-holiday is just 11 days later on St. Swithun's Day. On the Fourth, as we watch fireworks, we all make the same sound, "Ooooooh!" But when someone tells us it's St. Swithun's Day, our sound changes to its opposite, "Whoooooo?"
   Easter and Thanksgiving, both joyous family occasions, are actually holiday opposites because of the stage of life of the bird on the holiday menus: unborn chickens on Easter and overgrown Turkeys on Thanksgiving.
   Christmas has two different anti-holidays. The first is St. Patrick's Day, since on Christmas we try to wear red and on St. Pat's we wear green. The second anti-Christmas shouldn't require any explanation at all. It's Arbor Day.

   Well, I hope you found these observations somehow useful or at least enjoyable. Happy Anti-Arbor Season everyone!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Herbst, UConn prez and invisible-animal lover

The Hartford Courant reported today that University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst earns far more than the median U.S. salary for her position. Herbst may be an obscure figure around much of the country, but she is certainly well known in Connecticut and throughout New England.

She is well regarded in her state for her guidance of UConn, and apparently she is well compensated for that role. She earned $525,000 in base pay in 2014 and another $50,000 in deferred compensation, and she secured a handsome raise at the end of the year. Across the country, university presidents earn a median of $428,000, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education quoted in the Courant article.

In addition to a lot of money, Herbst also receives a lot of attention from the press in Connecticut. I've noticed stories about her initiatives at UConn, her contract extension (which this past December brought her a raise of more than 20%) , her investments, her role with the AAC... But I have seen nothing about her great love of collecting transparent pets.

That's shocking, as Herbst has repeatedly brought her amazingly unobservable animals to press conferences and interviews. Somehow, they have never - not even once - been mentioned in the news media. Their presence has been documented only by news photographers. See below.

Herbst brought invisible cat "Ruffles"
to a recent sit-down with a CT reporter.

Invisible parakeet, "Whistler," accompanied
Herbst to the podium at a press conference.

"Goosey," Herbst's jumpy invisible beagle
was tough to control in this one-on-one interview.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

True purpose of Indiana law?

Terrible misunderstanding. 

The country has been in an uproar over Indiana's new law, which says in part: "A governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability." It seems to many that the law was primarily intended to permit discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens by those who read an anti-gay message into their Bibles.

After some investigation, I am assured that the law's intent was merely to guarantee that Indianans could ignore the highway toll while driving to church.

(BTW, it seems Indiana now needs to keep an eye out for any new religions that consider armed robbery to be a sacrament.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

New wrinkle in GMO conspiracy

New York Times: FDA says gene-altered potatoes, apples are safe

GMO potatoes won't bruise, and they produce
fewer cancer causing chemicals when fried.

Wait a minute. French fries that are LESS likely to cause cancer? Has there been a breakdown in the secret evil alliance between the Big Agriculture-GMO conspiracy and the Big Pharmaceutical conspiracy? Or is FDA cleverly manipulating us to eat more French fries? 
(Hmm. I wonder if it is possible for us to eat MORE French fries?)