Monday, May 29, 2006


Both of my grandfathers served in World War II. One, Charles J. Schueller, was an Army Captain and a doctor who spent four years in North Africa and Italy, from 1942 to 1946. He survived the war--though he nearly succumbed to a extreme case of malaria--and returned home to Dubuque, Iowa. My mother was four years old and met him for the first time when he got off the train. He practiced medicine in Dubuque for another forty years, and he died not quite six years ago after a long illness. He was an often cantankerous man who did not suffer fools gladly, but he was also, I'm told, an expert diagnostician and deft surgeon who was held in high esteem by his patients.

My other grandfather, Nicholas L. Koster, was not so lucky. After growing up in Cascade, Iowa, he enlisted in the Navy in the mid-1930s and served on a number of submarines, rising to the rank of Chief Motor Machinist Mate. On December 29, 1943, he left Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Scorpion (SS-278) for a war patrol in the northern East China and Yellow Seas. Contact with the Scorpion ceased in February 1944, and on March 6, 1944, the vessel was presumed lost, probably due to a recently laid enemy mine line.

I have nothing to add, really. I just thought that Memorial Day was deserving of some memorializing.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I'm no fan of bridezilla-sized weddings, but this is ridiculous:

The Climate Care group says the average wedding emits 14.5 tons of carbon dioxide. When set against the 12 tons emitted by the average person during a year, it means getting married can cost the environment as much as the father of the bride.

Ms Culver offers personal consultations, a "green audit" of the planned event and, if needed, eco-friendly management of the day.

Makes me root for foie gras to be served at the next nuptial I attend. With plastic disposable cutlery.

Just Sit There Quietly! has just spawned a series. The original post is here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


We're all fascinated by the American obesity endemic. Admit it. It's reassuring that no matter where you fall on the fatass scale there's always someone with a fatter ass than you. And frequently you get to watch that disembodied ass waltz slowly away from the camera on national TV (no face shown, in case it's you they filmed; gotta avoid those lawsuits). Oooh boy do they need to go on a diet!

And when we get tired of shaking our heads (too much like exercise) at the fat folks, we can gasp at the food that might be the culprit. I'm not talking McDonald's. McDonald's is for amateurs. Behold, the "hamdog," a half-pound of hamburger meat wrapped around a hotdog, which is deep-fried and served on a hoagie topped with chili, bacon and a fried egg:

No wonder the "stunning new research" doesn't seem so stunning:

Americans had higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and cancer -- findings that held true no matter what income or education level.

Those dismal results are despite the fact that U.S. health care spending is double what England spends on each of its citizens.

Maybe we really ought to forgo that whopper. But wait! Turns out even fat Brits are healthier than fat Americans. So, what's the reason for the difference?
  • The New York Times thinks it's our eagerness to label and diagnose people.
  • Slate says it's stress.
  • Winterspeak speculates that it's because we're not dead yet:
... [maybe] Americans were less healthy than the British because they were less dead. Advances in medical care have basically moved people from being dead to being alive but unwell, which is why all arguments that better health reduces medical costs are bogus (they may delay some medical costs, but we all need to go sometime and we usually do it kicking, screaming, and running up expensive medical bills). ...
The Warrior Monk thinks the root cause is that we don't drink enough Guinness over here. I believe he's conducting a Phase I study of the subject.

Monday, May 22, 2006


We at Spitbull are fascinated, one might say even obsessed, with the science of fake etymology. After all, we're the ones that uncovered irrefutible evidence of the tooth fairy's real name. And now here's another gem to add to our collection:

Jon Stewart: Uh, the way you've explained the tax cuts doesn't really seem fair.

John Hodgman: Fairness isn't really the point. They don't call economics the dismal science because it's fair.

JS: Well, I suppose not.

JH: No, no, they call it that after Sir Eustice Dismal. The 18th century English economist who proposed making smokestacks out of children.

JS: I uh, I actually never knew that.

JH: Yes, it was a very interesting proposal but ultimately flawed. I mean if you make the smokestacks out of children who will you force to clean them?...

JH: Yes, it's referred to as Dismal's paradox.

(Via Marginal Revolution)

We did not know that!

And, if you ask Spitbull, passing out negotiable tender in exchange for, of all things, human teeth, should be known as the Dismal Deal. Our heart goes out to Flitterpuff. (No, we don't want to know what she intends to do with all those teeth, thank you).

Friday, May 19, 2006


Five and a half years ago I lost a fight over clothing issues with the (now) nine year old. She insisted on wearing a dress to day care on a subzero Minnesota morning (day care in Minnesota has the kids go outside to play no matter what the temperature--toughens them up I guess). She was willing to wear a clashing pair of pants underneath but I, sleep-deprived and stupid from the recent birth of her younger sister, said no. The stand-off continued until it slowly dawned on me that my daughter's choice of what to wear didn't matter so long as it wasn't likely to make her sick. Style is an oxymoron where a three year old is concerned. As I gave in I promised myself never to pick a fashion fight with my kids again.

And I never have (my all-time favorite outfit choice consisted of a raggedy pink tutu worn over a jumper sewn by my nearly-blind grandmother, rubber ducky boots and topped off with an Easter bunny ears headband).

So that's why I said OK when the five year old decided to paint her nails pink in anticipation of today's kindergarten welcome session (she starts school this fall). Well, that and a short-sighted bid for peace to try to get a few last-minute items done for work. So she painted her nails ... and her hands and her shirt. The Warrior Monk was appalled and hosed her down with nail polish remover. Yes, they were late to the welcome "party." But they had a good time and no one seems to have commented on the odd pink spots on her shirt. Is that vindication?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Congratulations to our co-blogger John!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Sisyphus revels in the glories of modern art. Be sure to read his response to the rabble that take issue.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Savvy politicos know to watch their candidate's Wikipedia entry to prevent hanky-panky but do they know how to safeguard electronic advertising systems?:

Bewildered Toronto train passengers were left scratching their heads after a hacker altered advertising signs to announce that Stephen Harper, the country's prime minister, "eats babies".

An unidentified ne'er-do-well broke into systems controlling electronic signs on Toronto's westbound Lakeshore GO Transit train to substitute transport updates for banners mocking the Canadian political leader.

Scrolling LED signs on several trains repeated the message "Stephen Harper Eats Babies" every three seconds during the duration of the attack, which took place on Thursday and Friday last week as well as Monday 1 May. Some commuters, unsurprisingly, thought they were hallucinating.