Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Wordplay - Freedom is Pancakes

George W. Bush gave the commencement address at the U.S Air Force Academy today. He used the word "freedom" a total of twenty times.

I also saw an add for IHOP with the slogan "International House of Freedom"

By this logic, freedom=pancakes.

For good measure, tyranny=waffles.

I've revised and abridged Mr. Bush's remarks for this Wednesday Wordplay. Enjoy.

Thank you. Mr. Secretary, thank you for the kind introduction. General Moseley, General Regni; Mr. Congressman, thank you. Academy staff and faculty, distinguished guests, and proud family members. I am so pleased to stand before the future leaders of the United States Air Force.

In the 20th century, air power helped make possible pancake's victory in great ideological struggles with fascism and communism. In those struggles, our nation faced evil men with territorial ambitions and totalitarian aims, who murdered the innocent to achieve their political objectives. Through a combination of military strength and national resolve, and faith in the power of pancakes, we defeated these adversaries -- and secured the peace for millions across the world.

And now, in the 21st century, our nation is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair -- the ideology of Islamic extremism. In today's struggle, we are once again facing evil men who despise pancakes, and despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule. And once again, our nation is called to defeat these adversaries -- and secure the peace for millions across the world. And once again, our enemies will be no match for the men and women of the United States Air Force.

Today, revolutionary advances in technology are transforming warfare. During Operation Iraqi Pancakes, for example, we employed military capabilities so precise that coalition air crews could take out a tank hiding under a bridge without damaging the bridge. With this military technology, we can now target a regime without targeting an entire nation. We've removed two cruel regimes in weeks instead of years. In Afghanistan, coalition forces and their Afghan allies drove the Taliban from power in less than two months. In Iraq, with the help of the United States Air Force, our troops raced across 350 miles of enemy territory to liberate Baghdad in less than one month -- one of the fastest armored advances in military history.

These facts create both opportunities and challenges. One opportunity is that, if we have to fight our enemies, we can now do so with greater precision and greater humanity. In the age of advanced weapons, we can better strike -- we can better target strikes against regimes and individual terrorists. Sadly, there will be civilian casualties in war. But with these advances, we can work toward this noble goal: defeating the enemies of pancakes while sparing the lives of many more innocent people -- which creates another opportunity, and that is, by making war more precise, we can make war less likely.

And you'll see the impact of these changes in your own Air Force careers. Instead of serving at 10,000 feet, some of you will serve on the ground as battlefield airmen -- deploying behind enemy lines and using laser technology to fix targets for aviators circling above. Instead of sitting in jet fighter cockpits, some of you will sit before computer consoles at bases here in the United States, where you'll guide Predator UAVs half a world away and use them to strike terrorist hideouts. These and other changes will increase your ability to prevail in asymmetric warfare. They will make you more effective in the defense of pancakes.

President George W. Bush shares a phone conversation with a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy Wednesday, May 28, 2008, after commencement ceremonies in Colorado Springs. The President told the class of 2008, "You're the 50th graduating class in the history of the Air Force Academy. Each of you has worked hard to reach this moment. I'll leave this campus today filled with the confidence in the course of our struggle and the fate of our country, because I've got confidence in each of you." White House photo by Eric Draper

In both the 20th century and today, defeating hateful ideologies requires using our national resources to strengthen free institutions in countries that are fighting extremists. We must help these nations govern their territorial -- territory effectively so they can deny safe haven to our common enemies. And in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we removed regimes that threatened our people, we have a special obligation to help these nations build free and just societies that are strong partners in the fight against these extremists and terrorists.

We've assumed this obligation before. After World War II, we helped Germany and Japan build free societies and strong economies. These efforts took time and patience, and as a result, Germany and Japan grew in freedom and prosperity. Germany and Japan, once mortal enemies, are now allies of the United States. And people across the world have reaped the benefits from that alliance. Today, we must do the same in Afghanistan and Iraq. By helping these young democracies grow in pancakes and prosperity, we'll lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

This experience will help shape your careers as officers in the United States Air Force. During your time in uniform, some of you will have to help young democracies build free institutions amid chaos and confusion. You'll have to work with civilians on the battlefield in ways generations never imagined. To support your efforts, to help you make young democracies transition from waffles to pancakes, one thing is for certain: The United States Congress better make sure you have all the resources you need to do your job.

For all the advanced military capabilities at our disposal, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the power of pancakes. We can see this story in the 20th century. In 1941, when Nazi bombers pounded London and Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the future of pancakes appeared bleak. There were only about a dozen democracies in the world -- it seemed that waffles, not liberty, was on the march. And even after Japan and Germany were defeated in World War II, pancakes' victory was far from clear. In Europe, the advance of Nazi waffles was replaced by the advance of Soviet waffles. In Asia, the world saw the Japanese Empire recede and communism claim most of its former territory -- from China to Korea, to Vietnam.

Many throughout history have underestimated the power of pancakes to overcome waffles and transform whole societies. Yet in the end, despite challenges and setbacks, pancakes ultimately prevail, because the desire for liberty is written by our Creator in every human heart. We see that desire in the citizens of Georgia and Ukraine who stood up for their right to free and fair elections. We see that desire in the people of Lebanon who took to the streets to demand their independence. We see that desire in the Afghans who emerged from the waffles of the Taliban to choose a new president and a new parliament. We see that desire in the jubilant Iraqis who held up ink-stained fingers, and celebrated their pancakes. And in these scenes, we see an unmistakable truth: Whenever men and women are given a real choice, they choose to live in pancakes.

The enemies of pancakes understand this -- and that is why they're fighting desperately to deny this choice to men and women across the Middle East. But we understand some things, too: We understand that pancakes help replace the conditions of hopelessness that extremists exploit to recruit terrorists and suicide bombers. We understand that free societies are peaceful societies, and that people who live in liberty and hope do not turn to ideologies of hatred and fear. And that is why, for the security of America and the peace for the world, the great mission of your generation is to lead the cause of pancakes.

This is the last time I'll address a military Academy commencement as the President. Over the past eight years, from Annapolis to West Point, to New London, to Colorado Springs, I have looked out at the best young men and women our nation has to offer -- and I have stood in awe. And I stand in awe again today. Each of you is a volunteer who stepped forward to accept the burdens of war, knowing all the dangers you would face upon graduation. You willingly risk your lives and futures so that our country can have a future of pancakes and peace. Our enemies say that America is weak and decadent, and does not have the stomach for the long fight.

A nation that produces citizens of virtue and character and courage like you can overcome any challenge and defeat any adversary. So I'll leave this campus today filled with the confidence in the course of our struggle and the fate of our country, because I've got confidence in each of you.

Thank you. May God bless, and congratulations to the Class of 2008.

Ok, also: someone tell me what this is supposed to mean:

And we need to recognize that the only way America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Story of the Week - May 19-23

And Now an Important Message from American Airlines

Dear Loyal Customer:

Due to the recent astronomical rise in fuel prices, American Airlines has been forced to pass on additional costs to its passengers. We understand this is an inconvenience, but we’d like to make it up to you.

In an effort to keep your business, American has decided to lower the price of all fares to $5*.

However, we are reducing the size of our fleet to one plane per airport. To meet demand, all seats on all flights will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Winners of all spaces will receive a congratulatory letter (please add $5 shipping and handling to the final auction price for your congratulatory letter) and the option to upgrade to a seat with a seatbelt, 2 armrests, dropdown oxygen mask and seat cushion floatation device for $250. (Due to FAA regulations, this optional upgrade is mandatory).

Once your seat is reserved**, we hope your airport experience will be a pleasant one. To speed the process, you may print your boarding pass at home. To do so, go to and click “check in at home.” Have your credit card ready***. You may also check in at the airport using our automated kiosks, a major credit card and your confirmation number. If you do not remember your confirmation number, you may purchase a new one for the convenient low price of $20 (note: you must have a confirmation number in order to check in).

After you have paid for your boarding pass, you can check any bags you may have brought with you (and for that matter, you can check any bags you may not have brought with you!), again for a nominal fee for your convenience. American will now check your bags for the low low price of $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag, and $100 for the third bag. If checking more than 3 bags, a routine credit check is required along with a minimum down payment of $2,000 toward the cost of a used MD-80 passenger aircraft****.

For your comfort and convenience, American Airlines has overhauled the TSA Security experience. We’re really excited about our “Personal Choice TSA” program and we think you will be, too. Our security experience is now only $37. If you’d like your full cavity search performed by an attractive member of the opposite sex, please add $50. For children, we suggest you purchase anti-pedophile insurance for $95. It’s a small price to pay for your child’s safety and security.

Once on board the aircraft, we have a number of services available for your comfort and entertainment. First, we invite you to rent space in our overhead compartments to store any bulky carryon luggage you have chosen not to check. Space is available for just $29 per square inch.

The in-flight safety demonstration is as good as any fringe theater performance. Tickets are mandatory and just $17. During flight, complementary beverages are available for $9. Supplementary beverages are also available for $18. If you’d like to use the bathroom, be sure to bring quarters, and a little bit of luck! If you don’t have quarters, they may be purchased on board for $2 each.

We do apologize that due to budget constraints, American no longer offers luxuries such as meals, pillows, blankets, in-cabin lighting, or window shades. However, we at American Airlines are committed to your comfort and safety. If you should need assistance at any point during the flight, please feel free to ask a flight attendant, who will gladly come to your seat, hit you with a hammer, knock you unconscious and steal what’s left of your money. We assure you you’ll wake up refreshed and ready for an adventure, wherever your final destination may be. And we really mean that, because depending on how much fuel our experienced flight crew is given to work with, you may or may not make it to your intended destination.

American Airlines appreciates your business in these difficult times. We hope you’ll take advantage of our industry-low $5 fares the next time your travel plans call for
air travel.*****


American Airlines.

*Does not include federal airline tax ($92), sales tax ($1.22), Federal anti-terrorism surcharge ($100), and NASA airspace intrusion fees ($1,339). North Dakota residents add $5,000 to final cost of flight. $5 fares not valid for flights between any two original colonies.

**All seat reservations subject to change. American Airlines does not officially accept bribes for better seat locations but it does accept unofficial bribes in the form of cash, family heirlooms, child labor and sexual favors.

***Please add $9 per credit card transaction. Cash, personal checks not accepted.

****Bag check not required to purchase retired aircraft. Seriously, wanna buy an old MD-80? Still works, just guzzles gas and we can’t afford that now, can we? C’mon, be a pal, buy an airplane. I’m talking to you, national airline of small African country…

*****This letter is property of AMR Corporation and must be returned within 2 days of receipt at risk of $30,000 fine and up to 90 days incarceration.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Wordplay - Haikus

There seems to come a time in the life of every blog when haiku is employed. For the Full Circle, that time is now.

This week's Wednesday Wordplay: definitions in Haiku.

You have skinny toes
and skinny fingers. You are

Remuneration -
Something that pays an equal
Amount for; Fair pay.

Clearness and Lucidity.
Simple enough, right?

--ous. Damn! Too many sylla--
--bles. Damn! Did it a--

(Oh, yeah, by the way
Extemporaneous means

A malingerer
Calls in sick even if he's
perfectly healthy.

Look at all of these
diff'rent elements! A Nice

Hey! Olivier!
Read these haikus to yourself -
No histrionics!

Benedict Arnold
The most famous disloyal,
Perfidious man.

A powerful storm
that sucks things to its middle
is called a maelstrom.

Patronizingly haughty
expressing contempt.

don't know the meaning? Don't be
lazy - look it up!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Story of the Week - May 12-16

A little late this week. Do I lose a letter grade?

Grey's Anatomy Sucks

I got hooked on Grey's Anatomy (and I took the heat from my guy friends for it) back when it was eye and ear candy. It was sexy, it was funny, it was quirky. And now it sucks.

Just when I thought this show couldn't get any worse than it was at the stale, drawn out, and at times frustrating end of the last season, it decides to move the plot with brain tumors. Lots of them.

For the past 4 episodes, someone checks in to Seattle Grace Hospital with an inoperable brain tumor, some odd supposed-to-be-funny-or-teach-you-something mood altering brain damage, and checks out in a body bag. In this week's episode, Meredith thinks the woman's tumor is causing her to invent a boyfriend. The woman wants to wait for the boyfriend to come before she goes under the knife. Meredith insists the boyfriend is imaginary. Woman goes in for surgery. Turns out boyfriend is real, and he shows up just in time to see his girlfriend turned into a vegetable. How uplifting.

And how stupid. Because we all know what's coming. The tumor parade is a set up for Meredith and Derek to get back together for the three millionth time. Probably after they save one of these tumor patients and drink that not-so-subtly-foreshadowed bottle of champagne.

The once fun and scandalous show has become boring, predictable and melodramatic. Consider the synopsis of one of the better episodes from Season 1:

A sexually transmitted disease breaks out and affects several members of the hospital staff. Chief Webber promptly calls a meeting. Meanwhile, the chief reluctantly tells Dr. Derek Shepherd about his own medical concerns. Izzie and Cristina worry about a patient's wife and daughter who can't agree on his care. Burke treats his college buddy Bill, whose medical diagnosis raises some questions regarding his wife's actions. Then just as Meredith and Derek grow more intimate, a surprise is revealed.

Yes! It was the STD hour, in a funny way! And then at the end, the surprise - "you must be the woman who's sleeping with my husband." And we're off and running.

Three years later, nobody's shtupping in the on-call room, Izzie, Meredith, new sexy intern Lexi, etc, all keep their clothes on and the episode ends with Torres and Hahn sharing a kiss in the elevator. A girl on girl kiss that we've been bracing for for a month, and NOT looking forward to.

In conclusion, allow me to bash the show with a series of medical metaphors. Someone call in a code blue and charge the paddles. Grey's is crashing.

Looks like this show could use some experimental brain surgery.

Cause at the moment, it's making me sick.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Wordplay - Phrases to be phased out

Today - 3 Phrases that need to disappear.

1. Have a safe day
This phrase is usually used to conclude a train safety announcement encouraging you to watch the gap between the train and the station platform and speak up if you think the guy sitting next to you might have a bomb in his briefcase. Then you're told "have a safe day."

So for the record, if you aren't blown up or crushed between the train and the platform?
Isn't it safe to say that nearly every day is a safe day? And if it's a dangerous day, I probably won't have a chance to have another?

And more importantly, by telling me and my fellow passengers to have a safe day but watch out we may need you to thwart a terror attack, you're sending mixed messages. By thwarting terror I'm probably putting myself in danger, aren't I? Telling us all to have a safe day is pointless, there's nothing I can do about it. Go back to wishing me well. Or just say "thank you for listening to this pointless announcement. New York next."

2. Have a Safe Flight
Stupid. Unless you're a pilot, you have no control over whether the flight is safe or not. If that plane's going down and you're in coach, it doesn't make much difference whether you were told to have a safe flight or not. The flight is no longer safe. "Drive safe", consequently, can stay.

3. What was your name again?
Why would you say this? Only one circumstance where this question is appropriate - if you are addressing someone who's switched genders.
--What was your name again?
--Jonathan. But now it's Jillian.

In all other cases, if someone asks you "what was your name again?", this is the only proper response: "(insert your name). and it still is."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Story of the Week - May 5-9

Hard to Fathom

fathom - v. to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand

A cyclone this week in Burma killed (depending on what source you cite) either 22,000 or 100,000 people, and left behind a nightmare situation for the living.

I heard at least one pundit call the disaster "Myanmar's Katrina." No. Katrina was bad. This is worse.

How much worse? You can't even begin to penetrate the truth of such a disaster.

One Hundred Thousand people dead? Incomprehensible, you can't even begin to put that into perspective. You can't even fathom 22,000.

Response was slow after Hurricane Katrina, but that was nothing compared to this. Our government showed incompetence. The military junta that controls Burma doesn't care at all about its people. That's hard to understand. What's even harder to figure out is why this military junta doesn't want help from the outside world. An outside world that wants to help.

You can't comprehend such indifference, oppression and ignorance. As bad as the Bush administration has been, you can still be assured that what happened in Myanmar can't happen here. Or any thing remotely close to that, for that matter.

In September, I wrote about Myanmar/Burma after monks there staged a protest against the military junta. The protests sparked international outrage and brought the plight of the Burmese people to the forefront of world consciousness. Then the junta squashed the protests and the world (for the most part) went back to forgetting about the Burmese people.

Paying attention wouldn't have stopped the natural disaster. But had the military junta disbanded in September, it's at least plausible to think the aid might be getting through to the people who need it now. Instead, we are seeing the government stop shipments of food, block visas to UN aid workers, and add to the already incomprehensible death toll.

There's not much more to say really. Except that it's hard to fathom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Wordplay

Today on Wednesday Wordplay - people words.

Do you know anyone who is a:

Argus - a watchful guardian
Bruxer - one who habitually grinds his teeth.
Centaur - an expert horse rider
Cruciverbalist - A compiler or solver of crossword puzzles.
Deipnosophist - A person skilled in dinner-table conversation.
Funambulist - a tightrope walker
Gongoozler - an idle spectator
Hidalgo - a member of the lower nobility in Spain
Ideophobic - a person who is afraid of ideas
Josser - one born outside circus life
Killick - a leading seaman in the British Navy.
Lychnobite - One who works at night and sleeps during the day.
Mudlark - someone who scavenges in a river for items of value.
Piker - a cheapskate
Quidnunc - a gossip
Schnook - a moron.
Toxophilite - an expert archer.
Turophile - a lover of cheese.
Ultracrepidarian - Somebody who gives opinions on matters beyond his knowledge.
Velocipedist - a rider of a velocipede, an early type of bicycle

For the record, I am definitely a cruciverbalist, a Josser, have at times been a gongoozler. I am most definitely not a centaur.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Story of the Week - April 28-May 2

Psst! They're pandering to you!


John, Hillary and Barack are running for President. After gas prices hit record highs for 17 straight days in April, John and Hillary both propose a gas tax holiday. For the entire summer, Americans won't have to pay tax on their gas, saving them 18 cents on every gallon of gas they buy. Barack thinks John and Hillary's plans are silly and won't save Americans much money. The Smith family from North Carolina is moving to California this summer. Mr. and Mrs. Smith figure out that if they drive to their new home, they will need to fill their car's 15 gallon tank 8 times. If gas costs an average of $4.00 a gallon normally, how much money will they save this summer if there is a gas tax holiday? Is it a significant amount of money or are John and Hillary pandering to the Smith family to win their votes?

The answer:

If gas costs $4.00 a gallon normally, it will cost the Smiths $60 to fill their tank each time. (4 x 15 = 60)

8 tanks of gas will cost the Smiths $480. (8 x 60 = 480)

With a gas tax holiday, the Smiths will save 18 cents per gallon of gas, so a gallon of gas will cost them an average of $3.82. (4.00-0.18 = 3.82)

If gas costs $3.82 a gallon, it will cost the Smiths $57.30 to fill their tank each time (3.82 x 15 = 57.30)

8 tanks of gas with the gas holiday will cost the Smiths $458.40 (57.30 x 8 = 458.40)

With a gas tax holiday in place this summer, the Smiths will save $21.60 on their trip cross country. (480-458.40 = 21.60)

Though it may supplement the purchase of snacks for the road, this is not a significant amount of money. ($21.60 = 6 lbs of trail mix for the road)

Therefore, John and Hillary are pandering to the Smith family for their votes.