Thursday, July 31, 2008

I meme it

If you didn't want to know any of this, blame Anthromama. She started it.

Or, you could take responsibility for your own actions, but that's, like, so Old Morality, so you might only want to do that in some sort of ironic retro way.

  1. Never in my life: Have I stood on the moon.

  2. When I was five: I have no idea what I was doing. However, according to what we've unearthed in Mom's house, I was quite the natty dresser:

  3. High School was: Formative for damn sure. In the best ways, for the worst reasons.

  4. I will never forget: Watching my wife fall in love with our son the instant she saw him.

  5. I once met: John Elway. Actually, we met every Saturday that Stanford had a home game. He wore red, and was about nine feet tall; I also wore red, was about three feet tall, and carried a Stanford Daily that he would always autograph, as he did for all the kids.

  6. There’s this girl I know who: Can as soon kick me in the head as easily as she can shake my hand, pick out a tune in 10 seconds on a toy store ukelele, and give me hope for the future of this world.

  7. Once, at a bar: I can't remember.

  8. By noon, I’m usually: Ready for sangria and a siesta.

  9. Last night: I got to hang out with one of my best friends.

  10. If I only had: Paid attention in class.

  11. Next time I go to church: I'll wonder, "How did I get here?"

  12. What worries me most: Is my children suffering something painful. [Stolen straight from Anthromama...I couldn't have said it better myself.]

  13. When I turn my head left, I see: The sun rising over the backyard of the home where I grew up.

  14. When I turn my head right, I see: A teapot from Mount Vernon that Mama and I gave Mom.

  15. You know I’m lying when: I'm writing in my blog.

  16. What I miss most about the eighties: Thinking I might just grow up to be immortal.

  17. If I were a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Bleeding.

  18. A better name for me would be: That know, that one...that guy.

  19. I have a hard time understanding: How I got this far.

  20. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: Be visiting 3B's classroom.

  21. You know I like you if: I let you read my blog.

  22. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: My parents for bearing me into this world, and my wife and son for bearing with me in this world.

  23. Take my advice, never: Pass up a good nap, a good laugh or a good person.

  24. My ideal breakfast is: A cafe con leche and a madeleine with Mama and 3B.

  25. A song I love, but do not have is: The recording of almost any performance I heard at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Oh, and that one by those guys, you know, with the hair and it was about that thing...

  26. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: Going into the foothills.

  27. Why won’t people: Be nice?

  28. If you spend the night at my house: You'll have to fight Barky for a seat on the couch, and probably for a spot on the guest bed, but you'll have the floor all to yourself, if you can find a spot amongst the toys and toddetritus.

  29. I’d stop my wedding for: Nothing.

  30. The world could do without: Violence.

  31. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: Eat a cockroach.

  32. My favorite blonde is: ...I can't play favorites among my many blonde relatives.

  33. Paper clips are more useful than: Shoelaces.

  34. If I do anything well, it’s: Not obvious.

  35. And by the way: Do you remember that time that time I said I was going to tell you about that thing you were always wondering about? Yeah. I forgot what I was going to say.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pick me up and turn me round

First, I'm happy to report that Barky is doing better with just the anti-inflammatories, according to Mama's latest report. He started antibiotics today, just in time for Mama to hand him off to our neighbor, who will get to clean up any of the side effects, should they come up. Or out.

Apparently, he even got up on S.S. Bed, which is what a friend dubbed our 7-foot high monstrosity. It's comfy and all, but seriously, I'm still not sure what benefits a 5 1/2 foot tall mattress has over a regular height mattress, other than that when I'm 63, I'll be able to fall off of it and snap my pelvis.

That's also good news for 3B, who got a pretty mean barking to when he was driving his cars up over the haunch of Mount Barky yesterday. 3B burst out crying, and Mama did her best to explain, but he was still pretty upset. Fortunately, these things pass pretty quickly.

And this week has passed pretty quickly too, even though it seems to drag. All of a sudden, tomorrow is Thursday, Mama and 3B fly out the day after that and I see them the day after that. Oh yeah, I also see Brother #2 and Sisters #1 & 2 then as well. Oh yeah, and all the nieces and nephews. Oh yeah, and aunts, uncles and cousins. But I still can't wait to see Mama and 3B.

It's been nice to be back in my hometown, and it's been a week full of strange thoughts about place--why do we like certain places? familiarity? memories? inherent qualities of the location? or some overlaying of all those and other factors?

And what is familiar? a memory? Every day, I have woken up in the house I grew up in, eaten breakfast as my father did, gone to the train station as my father did, ridden into the same city my father did, and walked to work in a building my father worked in. It's all so familiar, it almost feels like I'm remembering it, and yet I've never done it before. And he hasn't done it for over 20 years. And the city's not even the same place any more, so are there inherent qualities that are triggering this feeling?

Perhaps it comes from the fog, which is a constant presence here, flying and sitting, illuminating us through reflected radiance and dimming the world into shades of slate, chilling everything and burning off, an ephemeral constant.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Buggin' out


I made it back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali...sorry, I couldn't resist...where I'll be in training for work by day this week. At night, I'll be catching up with my best friend, hanging out with my sister, and continuing to clean out Mom's house.

Mama and 3B are back at home, tending to Barky. One of the many aspects of parenting that nobody every adequately described to me was what it would feel like to leave my family. Then again, I'm not sure how they would sum it up...stressful? heartwrenching? lonely? exhausting?

I already miss walking in to get 3B out of his crib and hearing him say, "No! Want Mommy to come in!" I miss hearing him ask, for the 387th time before noon, "Do you want to see those fiddlers, please?" [Translation: Can I see those fiddlers, please?] And watching him bob his head to the music--because I can't bring myself to write "bang his head to the bluegrass." And I miss the smell of lavender-scented steam slipping through the house as Mama showers.

And of course, I worry about them, but during this trip, most of my worries are focused on Barky, who seems to have come down with Lyme Disease. He's been showing all the classic symptoms for a few days now, although at first, it was difficult to ascertain if anything was wrong. Once we determined that he wasn't just being obstinate or lazy or, in other words, himself, it was hard to figure what was up. However, we were sure he was not feeling well when he couldn't even mount his throne--otherwise known as our couch--to nap.

The blood tests come back tomorrow to confirm the diagnosis. Until then, they have him on an anti-inflammatory to help with the joint pain. The good news is that we probably caught it in time for the antibiotics to do their thing effectively, which we hope means that he'll be as right as rain in a month or so.

That's what all that good country livin' gets us, I suppose.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

No, really, I mean it this time...

A year ago, I promised a video of 3B walking. Now that I'm a year older and wiser, I made sure not to promise anything, so I'd be sure to deliver something.

This year, walking is old hat, but talking is lots of fun. Wonder where he gets that from?

For the record, this was all shot on 3B's birthday weekend: party on Saturday, opened gifts on Sunday, actual birthday on Monday--by which time 3B was pretty skeptical when Mama and I announced that it was his actual birthday. OK, so we had been saying "happy birthday" for two days by then.

Then again, as you'll see, 3B is the master of repetition, so maybe he has just stopped trusting anyone over 40, like his old man. Or, perhaps, he's done with all the ridiculous things his old man you'll hear...

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Don't hose me, Hasbro!

Those of my six loyal readers who know me in Facebook know that I've developed a mild addiction to Scrabulous. I won't even try to type the words "I can quit anytime I want" with a straight face.

So, I'm more than a little hacked off that Hasbro is suing to ruin the fun that I'm enjoying along with 2.3 million other people.

Is this what innovation has come to in this country? Do corporations just wait for someone to advance their product where they should have and then sue the crap out of the innovators to hassle them into shutting down what so many millions enjoy--and wish that the corporation had done to begin with? Well, if we're thinking of the music industry, and if you're thinking that they would try to obfuscate their avarice by hiding in the cloak of an anti-terrorism law, the answer is yes. And if you think they're not still trying to spy on you, you're not paying attention.

I shouldn't be so surprised. Corporations argued that seat belts would cut us all in half rather than save lives, until an Air Force doctor used a rocket sled to prove that seat belts worked even when the person they were restraining was pressing against them with up to 45 times the force of gravity. Corporations--specifically the Ford Motor Company--have argued that it's cheaper to let people burn to death than to make safe products. Car companies have also argued that there was no way to install airbags in cars--too expensive, nobody wants them, blah, blah, blah. (Now that they realize, of course, that people want them, they can't get enough of the things into cars. I think all of the cup holders in our car have their own airbag.)

U.S. car companies have also argued that there's no way they can raise fuel efficiency of cars they make in the U.S., while they seem to have no problem making cars that meet Europe's continually more stringent mileage requirements. And while they're spending piles of money on lobbyists who fight against cleaner air, lower consumer costs and improved national security, all of which higher gas mileage would get us, they're losing piles of money to companies who are making cars we actually want to buy.

Then again, we have a president and his vice whose pockets have been filled by the oil companies and so agrees with the car companies that making more efficient cars is impossible and a vice president Dick who refuses to open emails from government agencies--how 1st grade playground petty is that?--because he doesn't want us to know that pollution is killing us.

Impossible? I don't mean to get all jingoistic, but ferchrissakes, this is the United States of America. What do you mean, we can't do that? What we do best is innovate. Unfortunately, with Uncurious George as president, exploration, science, creativity and our can-do spirit have suffered. (Seeing as how McCain doesn't even support educational benefits for veterans, this failure to inspire the American spirit would continue, should we have to suffer through four years of a McCain administration.)

And now, Hasbro is taking that to the next level--killing our fun. How about this, Hasbro? Why not fire a lawyer or two, which should give you enough money to hire 100 or so game developers to develop a game we like, rather than a lawsuit that offends us and makes us all choose to stop playing any of your games?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Satire is dead! Long live satire!

"As Obama Visits Germany, McCain Visits German Restaurant"

With the WaPo printing headlines like this, the DailyShow is facing stiff competition from real news outlets. My favorite version was hearing Jim Lehrer intone an almost identical description, even if it did leave me waiting for the cut back to Jon Stewart doing a double-take.

This moderately surreal event reminds me of the observation of another Lehrer--Tom--that giving Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize made satire obsolete.

Some reported that this was McCain's way of mocking Obama. For what? For Obama accepting McCain's challenge to travel abroad more, and then using that travel to expand his popularity in the U.S. and demonstrate his popularity with foreign leaders? McCain's own laments at the restaurant that serves "The Best of the Wurst!" didn't really make his case for himself:

"Well I'd love to give a speech in Germany to -- a political speech -- or a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in."
Hell, why not start closer to home and give a speech in the U.S. that Americans would be interested in?

Perhaps someone on McCain's staff can do a Google to find an effective campaign strategy.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Having a half-hour meeting with the CEO, which goes very well, then going to the bathroom and finding a large stain right in the center of my...ahem...lap.

Hearing that my son was in time out at day care for punching a smaller kid in the nose. Four times.

Watching my son's first guitar recital, which includes duets with Mama, Eeyore, and a hammer. Grammy, who our little rhymer often refers to as Grammy Ptammy, sent Mama's guitar at my request to accompany my birthday gift of guitar lessons, and also sent 3B a guitar of his own. 3B appears to favor Mama's guitar for his rock star work and tantrums as well as his avant garde experimentations, while he saves his own guitar for his more intimate material.

UPDATE: Also priceless...finally getting Blogger to put the correct title on this post for the love of all that is holy!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The delicious irony of sanctimony

I'm not sure where to begin, or even to end, with this story about a father who was branded a "pervert" for taking pictures of his own children on a slide in a public park.

I will point out my favorite line in the article...

One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.
A few thoughts...
  • By making such an accusation, that woman all but guaranteed that the pictures would show up on the innernets. Ah, the blindness of sanctimony.
  • Where exactly is this place where it's considered so outlandish to post pictures on the innernets? It sounds perfectly blissful, given that ignorance is bliss.
  • And, if taking pictures of kids with the intent of posting them on the internet becomes a crime, I'm in trouble (and at 24 fps, I'm in even more trouble)...but I'll have plenty of company.
If that woman really wants to protest something obscene on the innernets, she needs go no further than the very paper that reported on her Ludditic outburst, which shows that there are plenty of other obscene online displays for her to rail against.

...and yes, "Ludditic." My blog, my lexicon. So there. Besides, nobody's ever alone on the innernets.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

3B is 2!

We survived the party and the Dark Knight--thanks to Auntie H for babysitting 3B so I could take Mama on a hot date for her birthday--now all that's left is to see if we have nightmares of Heath Ledger's Joker. Holy creepy, Batman!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Can you smell that?

Two years ago, I had enough spare time to write about losing my sunglasses. (To your credit, my six loyal readers, few of you had the time to read about that thrilling incident.)

Two years ago, it was hotter than it is now, it was windy, and some impatient knucklehead nearly killed Mama.

Two years ago, I wasn't quite a father, but I was still a jackass.

Two years ago, when he was born, 3B had two grandmothers. Now he only has one. Grammy--Mama's mom--is wonderful, and I'm so grateful for her--not just for the favors she's done for Mama and me, but for all that she's given to 3B: love, toys, time, and so much more. However, at times like tonight, when I'm thinking about 3B's second birthday party tomorrow, wondering what we should do, how it will go, and trying to remember to do things like take pictures to share with family, I miss Mom.

I know that I'd have every intention of calling and asking her questions tonight and then I'd space out and fall asleep before I did. And I know that tomorrow, when we talked, I would ask, and she'd say, "I don't know, you'll figure it out. Before I forget, did you see that story about the sewage plant in San Francisco?" I'd tell her that Brother #2 sent me the link to the story. And then I'd ask her if any Starbucks near her were going to close, and then we'd keep talking so long that I wouldn't prepare for the party at all.

Then, I'd have to hang up because guests were arriving, and even though we would be unprepared, we'd figure everything out...which is pretty much how I operate every day around here.

I wake up most mornings totally unprepared, still unable to find my sunglasses, and still I somehow figure it out, because it's worth it--so much more worth it now than ever before, and every day more so. Mom explained this best when she wrote me a follow up email after I called her for some comfort as I suffered through leaving Mama and 3B to go back to work. We had been talking about how much we change after we have children.

Subject: It all started with Brother #1
Thinking about daddy going to work every day, reminded me of how I got into the routine of showering every morning before making breakfast for him. The routine lasted through 6 kids. I was afraid that the baby might have a problem while I was in the shower, when I could not hear him/her. While daddy was still there, he could hear and take care of any difficulties. And so new habits were created. I learned to get up when daddy got up, to get my shower before fixing breakfast. I've never been a morning person, but it was worth it.

More later. Love, Mom
Back in those days, I would sometimes get up before Mom and Dad did, and go snuggle between them in bed. These days, I soak up all the sleep I can get, so when I'm on daddy detail in the morning, I sleep as late as possible and skip showering.

What can I say? I'm still a jackass.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bad dad. No biscuit.

3B has become fascinated over the last several weeks with pouring out the contents of his sippy cups. We've stymied his experiments by only giving him sippies with lids that require suction to get the contents out, like his Klean Kanteens with Avent sippy lids, and avoiding those that let the contents run out, like his Sigg or Born Free sippies.

Last night, while we were driving to Noodles & Co. to pick up dinner, our little genius found a loophole. He now sucks up a mouthful of water and spits it out. Yes, in the car seat. Yes, on himself.

And then, when he's out of water and thirsty, 3B cries out, "No! No! No! You [read: I] can't have any water!"

To which I said, "That's right. You can't have any water because you spit it all out."

We repeated this exact exchange several times while waiting for Mama to return to the car with dinner until I finally found some water in another bottle to refill his sippy with.

He took a huge pull from his refilled sippy, puffing out his cheeks to take it all in, looked straight at me with a devilish twinkle in his eyes, and pursed his lips. Looking down at his already soaking wet shirt and shorts and car seat, I said what popped into my mind.

"Here's hoping your diaper doesn't explode."

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Monday, July 14, 2008

What's the point?

And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!
--Neal Page, in Planes, Trains & Automobiles

For the 4th of July, we did our patriotic duty, as we do almost every year--for the benefit of our nation's security, we spent money and burned gas. Specifically, we burned through about $120 worth of gas, because we know that if we all stopped driving and admitted that blowing tons of smoke out our tailpipes and into our lungs will eventually kill us all, the terrorists will have won.

Unlike past years, it was a working trip for me, so I spent our days in Vermont on phone calls, in meetings, videotaping interviews, driving through the Green Mountains, and pulling water chestnuts out of Lake Champlain.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me start at the beginning...

We drove for approximately eight hours to Mama's aunt's house in Saratoga Springs, just up the road from the Serotta factory. Even though he was a little screamy at times, in general, 3B was a rock star the whole way, content to roll along while we read him books and tossed snacks back to him...

Not that the trip was boring

And, in case you're wondering--yes, it is possible to survive seven straight hours of listening to Wheels on the Bus on repeat.

And then, because we thought our hotel didn't allow pets, we dropped off Barky at a nice place. If only we had known that they had a limo that they could send around for him...

Barky's hotel had a limo, ours...not so much

Also, if you were staying near Saratoga Springs and were woken by someone running up and down the hall, I wish I could blame it on the teen soccer team that was staying there, but I think that might have been us...

3B had a good time with his second cousins, and their yard, and their toys, and in the rain, and on their train...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

OK, just kidding about the train, but the week was peppered with references to Green Eggs and Ham, even though that's one book we left at home.

3B prepares his jacuzzi

In the hotel, after fixing his jacuzzi--seriously, how weird is that tub next to the bed?--3B went to sleep in the hotel Pack N Play. Seriously, how cool is that?

Very cool--even when he joined us in our bed at 3 a.m. He snoozed for a moment between us, then sat bolt upright and asked, "Would you, could you, in the dark? Would you, could you, in the rain?" Fortunately for all involved, he then lay down and slept until a reasonable hour.

On our way to Grammy's, we stopped at the home of the beautiful MLTU, and her beautiful new baby brother, DMTU. 3B and Barky immediately took to their backyard, and even managed to avoid getting any ticks while playing there, although 3B did work up a bit of a sweat playing with toys in the yard, and playing the blues on the back porch...

(Full disclosure: There are several pictures of the TU's beautiful daughter and new baby boy, as well as some of Mama and friends fruiting around in the back yard, so if you don't like looking at cute babies or beautiful Mama...well, this probably isn't the right blog for you...)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Then we were at Grammy's (Mama's Grammy, 3B's Great Grammy), where work in the sawmill commenced immediately...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I missed the daytime activities, like 3B catching his first fish at Perch Pond with his Grammy (full disclosure: the fish were all tossed back after 3B, who has long been fascinated with fishing, examined and touched them--"Slippery!"), but I was still around for activities in the early morning and into the long summer evenings.

And then, suddenly, it was the 4th. There was the daily mule (actually, a small 4wd vehicle complete with car seat) ride, a visit with Cousin D, some time checking pictures of his cousin Z with Grammy, and then an evening boat ride on Lake Champlain on Uncle P and Aunt J's boat, after which we didn't stay up long enough to see the fireworks at Devil's Bowl Racetrack, but we did enjoy some sparklers by the lake.

On Saturday, after sleeping in a little, we took our daily trip to the sawmill, threw red rocks in the stream (where we managed to recover one of a pair of socks that fell in during a vigorous game of Pooh sticks on our first day at the farm), walked up through the woods to a pasture, and saw a frog in the puddle in front of the manure spreader up at the barn. (You can see all of this fun now, or wait for the video at the end, which has most of the fun in it.)

I know that some of these activities--OK, most of these activities--seem dangerous, and it's true that most of them do have elements of danger. However, while 3B does play in a sawmill and sit on a 4-wheeler and handle tools and roam around near farm animals, he is never operating any of this equipment, and we keep him a safe distance from the animals. So, none of what 3B does is nearly as dangerous as the work that his uncles and cousins undertake around the clock.

Unfortunately, every so often that dangerous potential is realized, as it was on the day before we headed home. On the night of the 4th, the cows in the pasture by Grammy's were apparently spooked by the fireworks at Devil's Bowl Speedway, broke down their fence, and bolted up the road. A cousin managed to get the cows penned in a neighbor's pasture where, the next morning, they had to be separated from the neighbor's cows, loaded up, and hauled back home after the fence was fixed.

While Uncle P was loading the cows, one butted him in the face and bolted. Uncle P was initially transported to Burlington, then airlifted to Dartmouth. Eventually, he was sent home to wait for the swelling to go down enough for the plastic surgeon to see what he could do.

We love all of the uncles and each has captured a special part of 3B's heart. Uncle P is the one who is taking 3B for a tractor ride in that first video of a trip to the farm, and who always takes 3B for a ride--most recently taking him out every morning on the tractor pulling the manure spreader for half-hour long trips into the pastures. 3B loves this to the point that, whether we're on the farm or not, he cries out, "Want to ride on the manure spreader with Uncle P!" several times a week.

While 3B often balks when we ask if he wants to ride on a tractor, four-wheeler, or fire engine, Uncle P is smarter than Mama and I and simply grabs 3B as soon as we arrive at the barn and carries him up into the tractor for a ride without asking. And 3B loves every ride with him. And when we are away from the farm, it is that video that is the single most requested item in our house, and has been ever since I posted it--always requested with the plaintive cry, "Want to see Uncle P."

So, we were all glad to hear this weekend that Uncle P is recovering from successful facial reconstruction surgery...or, as we told 3B, and as he repeats, that "A cow butted Uncle P in the face. He has a bandage, and he'll be OK."

Hope you all had a happy and safe 4th, and next time you take a sip of milk, don't forget to give thanks to a dairy farmer.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Papa for President: Diaper Change We Can Believe In

It must be true--I saw it on the innernets.

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Friday, July 11, 2008


As of today, my age is a pentagonal pyramidal number, a Størmer number, and the atomic number of zirconium.

If I had left Egypt with Moses the year I was born, I'd just be arriving in the promised land, and if I were Mozart, I'd have been dead for five years, and if I were a beer, I'd be wrapped up in a paper bag, sitting on the curb.

I suppose the classic American response to this turn of events and calendar pages would be to buy a little red sports car, but I'm going to wait for 3B to become a child prodigy in something and buy for me what my father always wanted me to get for him...well, perhaps a slightly newer version.

Until then, I'll settle for this mini concert, in the theme of me. Well, except that last one, which is for a Foghead on a Friday.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Obama: Dirty Hippy. Ferret owner?

I never cease to be amazed at the crass naïveté of advertisers who believe that they can still win over the postmodern generations with such simple-minded tactics as equating Obama with a dirty hippy, making out in a mud puddle at Woodstock. (And what's the hidden message there: "Vote for me--I'm against fun"?)

And for thinking that no postmodernist would bust them for it as Romano does.

Although, perhaps this ad works if your target market is aging white men who still believe that the Vietnam protesters had it all wrong, and that if we'd just been willing to stick it out for another 100 years, and bomb Cambodia and Laos and Thailand and maybe even Burma too, for good measure, that we would have won. And maybe it works if you want to demonstrate that, no matter how strong the evidence or public sentiment is to the contrary, you'll continue to support a losing war that doesn't achieve its stated goals.

For me, however, it's not quite enough to convince me that bombing Iran to get rid of our dirty hippies is worth it. However, if it turns out that Obama has a ferret, I might reconsider.

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