October 26, 2012

Mmm, Those sweet Youth-Glands


Before Ritalin, before Sudoku, there was "Youth-Gland" tablets, chock full of "Glands to Make Dull Kids Bright." Says one Dr. Bruner: "Much has been done with the transplantation of monkey and goat glands for reviving physical functions, and we expect to meet with success in putting new brains into the heads of subnormal children through the exclusive use of a sheep gland diet."

It's SCIENCE!!! You have to love the phrase "Much has been done. . . " The good doctor couldn't be a tad more specific? Well, it's comforting to know the origins of SNL's "goat boy," I guess.

Another excerpt: "Youth-Gland revives the ductless glands by feeding them and you feel this stimulation as surely as you feel revived when you are hungry and give your stomach food."

In our Millennium, we tend to refer to "giving your stomach food" as "eating."

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Washing Clothes, The 1921 Way


State of the art clothes washing from 1921! It washes! It wrings! It weighs more than your house! Come the 1980s, these would be converted to accept carbon negative copier sheets in schools nationwide. Check out the adjoining ad. You can almost imagine the Minneapolis Tribune switchboard operators frantically trying to connect an angry "Will-O-Wisp Hair Net" company with the paper's ad department, DEMANDING to know what the HELL happened to their ad!

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October 25, 2012

I'm Going to Write a Book

I know, I know; everyone says they're going to write a book--it's the "I'll start working out/dieting on Monday" of the wordsmithing world.

Seriously though. I'm GOING TO WRITE A BOOK.

Okay, ANOTHER book.

That's right, I've already written a book. Two, actually. Not that you've ever heard of either, most likely, but they do exist, as Amazon Kindle creations, which is still in the HAM radio infancy of book publishing. But! Amazon Kindle digital self-publishing sure as hell beats getting rejected by every legacy publisher from New York to San Francisco and all stops in between.

So, yeah, two books.



Obviously, I'm not getting rich off either of those books, but they've both sold copies, and that's more than any publisher rejection got me, so there. Nyahh, nyahh, nyahh.

So, my third book--the one I'm going to write, really--is going to entail some of the stories about my wife and me opening our current store. As the stories originally unfolded, they didn't strike me as at all funny. On the contrary, they struck me as stressful setbacks that cost us money, time and ulcers. In retrospect, however, they did have humorous components that can be fleshed out, hopefully, into. . . CHAPTERS!

My current working title is Thank God We Didn't Build That: Otherwise This Would Be Really Embarrassing.

Perhaps you can see what I did there. . .

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October 24, 2012



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The Sweet Science of Suing

As I've pointed out countless times on this blog over the years, I'm a journalist. And, because I'm a journalist, I wield certain journalistic powers. For example, I can write something and generally assume I'm right, because nothing journalists write can ever possibly be wrong.

How powerful are journalists? Well, we can actually shape public opinion to the point that admittedly imprecise sciences can eventually be held up as unimpeachable sources of authority.

And, no, I'm not talking about climate scientists here, although you'd be forgiven for thinking that's what I was leading up to. No, I'm talking about the science of seismology--the study of earthquakes. Unfortunately for seismologists, however, at some point they went from simply studying earthquakes to biting off more than they could chew and trying to actually predict earthquakes, and that's when they really stepped in it, so to speak.

This week, PBS science news reported that "Seven people -- six Italian seismologists and a government official -- were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison on Monday for failing to warn people of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300 people."

Now, most reasonable people would correctly surmise such a conviction is a bit excessive, if not downright ridiculous, considering specific earthquake predictions have a success rate of about nothing percent. Sure, seismologists can point to the San Andreas Fault and say something like "An earthquake will probably happen around a 500 mile radius from there, or thereabouts, maybe next week, maybe the week after, but maybe not, we're not really sure," but getting much more specific than that is about as successful as reading pigeon entrails while balancing a Ouija board on your head.

So, convicting seven people for not getting earthquake fainting vapors and inciting panic about an earthquake that may or may not have been impending is a bit questionable, to say the least.

But, I'm a journalist! So, I'm going to write, right here, that ALL imprecise sciences should be held up to the same litigious scrutiny.

Specifically, I'm talking about meteorology.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of meteorologists getting to hide behind terms like "partly cloudy" and "partly sunny," and allowing the collective national weather discourse to morph from "blizzard" to "snow event." We need to start holding these so-called "professionals" accountable for their imprecise prognostications! They have the audacity to stand in front of their green screens and tell us via the medium of television that there's a 30 percent chance of rain. What kind of percentage is 30 percent? I'll tell you what kind! That's a COP OUT PERCENTAGE!


We need to start marching meteorologists into court on a daily basis and convicting them each and every time they can't precisely tell us when to expect very specific weather. It's time to do away with tornado or thunderstorm "watches" and "warnings." If they can't perfectly tell me how much to expect in my water gauge the morning after a hard rain, they need to be clapped into stocks in the city square, with their heads locked and turned to us in shame, their faces pelted with eggs and rotten fruit, while being taunted by schoolchildren.

Thankfully, I'm a journalist, so I'm always right and can never be sued for anything, ever--unlike those meteorology charlatans.

That's a relief.

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October 19, 2012

From the 1926 Newspaper Files


That's right, folks, there was Listerine even back in 1926. And considering today's variant is just one step up from gargling stomach bile, you can just about imagine what it tasted like nearly 90 years ago--like gasoline mixed with skunk spray, I'm guessing.

You have to wonder about the "--even for lazy people" qualifier. Did lazy people somehow miss the crazy newfangled toothbrushing craze of the 1920s? Could you spot a lazy person entirely due to their gummy, toothless grins? "Poor soul. Too lazy to brush, that one. . . if only he'd known about Listerine Tooth Paste."

Also, since when was it considered lazy to be sitting all lethargic-like behind a typewriter? Maybe she was exhausted after 10 minutes of fighting the gag reflex trying to expel that horrid Listerine taste.

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October 13, 2012

The Modern Muddled Liberal

You are the very model of a modern muddled Liberal,
Your information comes to you from sources mostly mythical,
You suffer from myopia, and lack most things historical.
Do you recognize hypocrisy? I'm sorry, that's rhetorical.

You're very well acquainted, too, with straw men; you're fanatical.
You have problems with caucasians; your reverse-racism's quite magical.
From HuffPo, Kos and Maddow, you're teeming with a lack o' news;
You have misplaced hate for Israel, and all those Zionistic Jews.

You're quite passively-aggressive, yet lash out as anonymous;
Online you're such a tough guy, with the handle "LiberalMaximus."
In short, in matters political, mathematical, historical;
You are the very model of a modern muddled Liberal.

You know your mythic history, with your little Marxist building blocks?
Well, Communist fields are stacked with death--an overflowing litter box.
Socialism is Communism-Lite, which you think is fabulous;
In your world shared mediocrity is somehow pretty glamorous.
You tell uncounted tales of wealth's gross inequities;
How rich people are evil and should be taxed as much as you dare please.
When the world's an even playing field, and the wealthy are no more?
With the money gone, what then? That you conveniently IGNORE.

Then there's "climate change" or variants of "human planet harm,"
Wherein the world is getting cold. . . No wait! Now perhaps It's getting warm!
For clarity, there's politi-science. Better yet, consult the Gore-acle!
You are the very model of the a modern muddled Liberal.

The "facts" you know? Mostly wrong. Ignorance is your pathogen.
Statistics frighten and confuse. "Oh, no, not that MATH again!"
You kneel before regulations--an endless source of wonderment.
To you there's no term quite so frightening as "Smaller Government."
You've redefined "progress" such that it means "modern dumbery."
If I may, here's Liberalism, wrapped up in succinct summary:
Wealth is bad, taxes are good. Entitlement's a strategy!
Once attained, we'll never see a better cowed society!

You lack military knowledge, and your logic's rudimentary.
Your economic understanding insults the word "elementary."
Thus, in matters political, mathematical, historical;
You are the very model of a modern muddled Liberal.

UPDATE: *AHEM* Wow, I wish my SiteMeter stats were working, so I could see where the flash of hate came from. But whatever.

For those of you who are slow on the uptake, which I'm assuming is most of you who left comments here, I don't take this blog nearly as seriously as you. Go outside. Pet a dog. Have some sex. Have sex with a dog outside.

Posted by Ryan at 07:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 11, 2012

What Are They Screening For, Exactly?

If you've raised children for any amount of time, you've probably reached a startling conclusion. Namely, children have a completely unstoppable drive to grow up. You know, "grow up," is probably too strong a term. It's more accurate to say they "age." After all, I'm 37 and I haven't even begun to "grow up," but I sure do age.

Anyway, late last month, my boy officially "aged" three years, an event that was marked with cake and presents and, a couple weeks later, a letter arriving in the mail indicating it was time to bring him in for early childhood screening.

Now, it's been a few decades or so since I went through early childhood screening, so my memory of it's a bit fuzzy, but if I do remember correctly, I seem to recall there was no such thing as early childhood screening when I was three years old. Nowadays, however, early childhood screening is considered essential starting at the age of three, because nothing is quite as important as judging children as inadequately prepared years before they're adequately prepared.

Nevertheless, I dutifully brought my boy to an early childhood screening appointment last week fully anticipating--since he knows his alphabet and can count to ten--that he'd pass the testing with flying colors. This anticipation took something of a negative hit when I directed my boy in for his weight and height check and he steadfastly refused to stand on the scale, and by "steadfastly" I mean he blew several raspberries at the testing woman and then sprawled on the floor in a classic act of passive resistance.

Undeterred, the testing woman asked my son if, instead, he'd like to play some games, which perked him up somewhat and he followed her into an adjoining room. The "games" were pretty straightforward to start with. The woman handed my boy several objects and asked him to describe them, and she went through a series of pictures asking my boy to identify them, and he seemed to be doing quite well, so I busied myself with filling out the ream of paperwork that was handed to me prior to the testing, occasionally lifting my head to see how my boy was faring.

"Now," said the testing woman, "We're going to try some association games."

"Brother is a boy; sister is a WHAT?"

I looked up from my paperwork, somewhat surprised. I was surprised, both because a word association "game" like that seemed particularly advanced for a three-year-old, but also because it left the door open for a variety of possible answers. Given that my boy has been known to push and run away from his sister in frustration, he may have a fairly strong opinion as to WHAT a sister is, after all. Not surprisingly, however, he just stared at the test woman with a perplexed/concerned look on his face, as she scribbled in her book.

"A bird flies in the air; a fish swims in WHAT?"

Again I looked up in surprise. What kind of screening question is that? He's THREE YEARS OLD. Why not ask him "The square root of grasshopper is WHAT?" Again, my boy just looked at her with a perplexed/concerned look. As he should have.

"This table is wood; the window is WHAT?"

OK, it was at that point I started wondering if maybe the whole early childhood screening thing was somewhat of a racket. Seriously, my boy can name every single character in the "Thomas the Tank Engine" universe, which I find astounding. Somehow, marching my boy around the house trying to make him understand the difference between wood and glass and plastic and composite materials just struck me as stealing his toddler childhood right out from under him somehow.

After one more similar ridiculously complex question that my boy had no chance in the solar system of being able to answer, the test woman informed me that--because he missed four questions--that part of the screening would be halted and screened at a later date. That, in itself, was astounding to me, because it suggested there were even more difficult questions yet to be asked.

"The primary gas makeup of Jupiter is hydrogen; the primary gas makeup of Neptune is WHAT?"

"Newton's 'Principia' explored the natural movement of massive bodies reacting to a variety of forces, particularly gravity; Einstein's 'Special Theory of Relativity' explored WHAT?"

Seriously, the kid is THREE. Ask him about the alphabet; he might surprise you.

Posted by Ryan at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2012

Cats Aren't the Only Thing Named "Fatima."


From an era before cigarettes were the "Devil's Cancer Sticks." You could enjoy Fatima cigarettes at the impossibly low price of 20 for .25 cents. "Here, honey, let me infuse that lung spike with some nice, refreshing candle wax smoke." The photographer didn't capture the next thirty seconds of the reluctant smoker hacking and gasping for air, thinking "No potential sex during a power outage is worth THIS!"

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October 04, 2012

By Popular--One Person--Demand!

One of the sole remaining ThunderJournal readers expressed an interest in more newspaper pictures from 1921 - 1926. Many of these I've already posted to Facebook, but what is digital social networking without overlap? Let's begin:


Take the picture already! This totally impractical fan weighs A TON! PETA didn't hold much clout back in 1921, obviously, what with every woman on the street wearing their weight in fur.


Ah, yes, the November 27, 1921 issue of the Minneapolis Tribune, when it dared to juxtapose images of the last rites of the unknown soldier (top) with a young girl giving a goat a reach-around.

This picture is fascinating, particularly because of the three women in the center shot. The caption reads: "SOCIETY GIRLS RETURN FROM EUROPE. Left to right--Miss Mimi Brokaw, Miss Helen Lowe Rice, Miss Barbara Brokaw -- All arriving in New York last week on S.S. Olympic." If the "S.S Olympic" sounds familiar, it should. It was one of the two sister ships of the Titanic. No doubt all three women spent the journey gripping the boat's rails, scanning for icebergs. . . and Leonardo DiCaprio.


"Enough of the pictures of Page 8E crap, Ryan!" you say. "We want to see what the front page Minneapolis Tribune headline stuff was back on November 27, 1921!" Fine, here you go.

That would be Marshal Foch. Not the NFL running back. Marshal Foch of France. There's a helpful arrow pointing him out. You can almost hear the crowd yelling "I can't see Foch!" "Where the Foch is he?!"


And now over to sports, where the Tribune selects its all-state football team for 1921. Not many surprises, with five picks coming out of Hamline. The shocker was Sivenson of St. Olaf (middle right) who was ridiculed all year for wearing ha
lf a football on his head for what he called "protective purposes." He insisted it would catch on eventually, the fool. The quarterback (top left) showcases his unusual squatty, ostrich egg cradling technique.

Posted by Ryan at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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