Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

The First Step

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Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2022 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Humor, Politics

The Year 2038 Problem

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I didn’t even know that there was a Y2038 problem, but there is. The cartoon is by xkcd.

From the Wikipedia article: “By coincidence, the date to which vulnerable systems will reset is a Friday the 13th, considered an unlucky day in Western culture.”

Written by Leisureguy

11 November 2022 at 12:18 pm

Universe Price Tiers

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In Universe Pro®™ the laws of physics remain unchanged under time reversal, to maintain backward compatibility.


Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2022 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Humor, Software, Technology

John Atkinson is a great cartoonist

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Check out the mother lode.

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2022 at 9:40 am

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, Humor, Music

Rowan Atkinson is a master of physical/visual comedy

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And see also:

Written by Leisureguy

24 July 2022 at 11:11 am

Posted in Daily life, History, Humor, Video

31 Comedians Share Their Favorite Joke-Joke

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In Vulture Jesse David Fox and Jason P. Frank have collected jokes comedians tell, not as part of their routines, but as one-off jokes. As they explain:

Jokes like grandpa tells or the ones from joke books you give your kid have no place onstage — at least anymore. A century ago, comics might’ve told “street jokes,” but slowly the practice grew hack. Eventually, as comedians grew increasingly observational, personal, and political, the idea of doing a stock one-liner became absurd. Comedians tell jokes, but they don’t tell jokes. Again, that is onstage. Offstage, it’s a different story. Some comedians love telling street jokes in green rooms, and some carry one around with them in case of a radio appearance or bothersome person sitting next to them on a plane. As a result, if you need a joke in a pinch, a comedian is not a terrible person to ask.

Luckily, Vulture’s comedy podcast Good One has done the work for you, asking comedian guests the question: “What’s your favorite joke-joke?” And now, we’ve compiled a collection of their answers here. That’s right: This is a list with no observational humor, no prop comedy, and no “comedic songs.” Just pure, unadulterated joke-jokes that you can steal for your next icebreaker.

Continue reading for the jokes. Here’s one:

“I was walking down the street once, and I bumped into a man who had an orange for a head. I said to the man, ‘Why is your head an orange?’ And he said, ‘Once, I found a dusty old lamp, and I rubbed it and a genie came out, and he said ‘I’ll grant you three wishes.’ I said, ‘What did you wish for first?’ The man said, ‘For all the money in the world. I ended up a multibillionaire, so much money, and I spent it on all my wildest dreams.’ I said, ‘What was your second wish?’ He said ‘I wished for a beautiful wife, someone who gets me to my soul, understands me the way I’ve never been understood before, and who I understand better than I’ve ever understood any person.’ I said, ‘Okay, what was your third wish?’ And he said, ‘I wished for my head to be turned into an orange.’” —James Acaster

Written by Leisureguy

1 July 2022 at 9:50 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor

Manny Brot in The Case of the Missing Fractals

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Written by Leisureguy

24 June 2022 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Humor, Math, Video

“Happy birthday” in various styles

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Written by Leisureguy

27 April 2022 at 3:46 am

Posted in Humor, Music, Video

Randy Rainbow’s Memoir of Love, Turmoil, and Trump

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The previous post game an example of the excellent of videos by Randy Rainbow (real name: Randy Rainbow). Judith Newman interviews him in the NY Times on the occasion of his new book. The interview (gift link, no paywall) begins:

When your name — your actual name — is Randy Rainbow, your career choices are limited. Bank president? Mafia don? Nope. Neurosurgeon? Probably not. If Tom Brady had been named Randy Rainbow, instead of heading to the N.F.L. Hall of Fame he might be banging out show tunes at a Chelsea piano bar.

So perhaps this fellow’s path was preordained: Rainbow, 40, is a breakout YouTube star. His videos adroitly mixing comedy, satire and musical theater have been viewed half a billion times; his “Pink Glasses Tour” has been crisscrossing the country for the past year; and in certain circles, trying to anticipate what news story will get his attention next is the parlor game. (Current Twitter favorite: Tucker Carlson’s, uh, unusual approach to increasing testosterone levels.)

And now here comes the memoir, “Playing With Myself,” published this week by St. Martin’s Press, about his rise from introverted teenager lip-syncing in his bedroom to social media star.

Randy Rainbow and I are day-drinking at Joe Allen, a Broadway hangout, while dissecting his Bumble profile. Recently Rainbow was thrown off Tinder; he has no idea why. I offer my theory: maybe he got reported for impersonating that online celebrity, Randy Rainbow? “Oh!” he says, a little pleased. I gently suggest that being a public figure on a dating app has its risks. “Why, what’s going to happen? he says, nibbling his martini olive. “I mean, it’s not gotten to the point where I have to be worried about sex tapes …” then, with perfect comedic timing, “God willing, it gets there.”

We’re here to discuss “Playing,” whose title refers to the fact that until very recently, Rainbow has been the editor, cinematographer, and musical director of all his videos, as well as the star. He wanted to write “a love letter to the women in my life — my mother, my grandmother, and also the idols and icons that inspired me.” But it is also a letter to his younger self, the bullied outsider who ten years ago was lying on the floor of his tiny studio apartment in Astoria, pondering the videos into which he was sinking most of his waking hours, and asking, “Why am I doing this? I have to go make money but feel like I need to stay home and work on this, but I don’t know why.”

For many of his fans, Rainbow is much more than the star who makes clever political commentary utilizing favorite Broadway show tunes. Over the past five years, his videos skewering the country’s dysfunctional politics have helped an angry nation laugh it off. They are biting, sweet, and sometimes both at once, such as his tribute to Anthony Fauci at the height of the pandemic, sung to the tune of “Officer Krupke” from “West Side Story,” and his duet with Patti LuPone in late 2020, “If Donald Got Fired” to the tune of “If Mama Got Married” from “Gypsy.”

“Comedy can be a weapon, and Randy is the world-record holder in comedy weaponry,” said the comedian Judy Gold, a friend. “It’s like, ‘I’m so angry all the time.’ How do we release this tension? And here’s this beautifully sung song that is hilarious and so truthful and just somehow elevates us. He speaks for so many in a way they can’t speak for themselves.”

These days Rainbow has been  . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

22 April 2022 at 8:13 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Humor, Politics, Video

Tagged with ,

Strange brief videos

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Here’s a compilation:

Written by Leisureguy

17 April 2022 at 4:52 am

Posted in Art, Humor, Video

In honor of the day

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Written by Leisureguy

15 March 2022 at 10:35 am

Posted in Daily life, History, Humor

A different take on the idea of falling dominoes

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Written by Leisureguy

11 March 2022 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Video

Marjorie Taylor Greene Loses Her Entire Congressional Salary After Judge Rules For Pelosi On Mask Mandate

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After the previous post, I thought a bit of good news would be welcome — a bit of a laugh at the unhinged Right. Jason Easley reports in PoliticsUSA:

Rep. Greene complained to Alex Jones that she has lost her entire congressional salary due to her refusal to comply with the mask mandate on the House floor. Each violation of the mask mandate costs Greene $2,500.

At some point, most people would decide that even if they disagreed with the mask mandate would not continue to lose money until they had no salary left.

By the end of December 2021, it was reported that Greene had piled up over $100,000 in fines. Congressional salary is $174,000 a year, so since Greene has continued to refuse to wear a mask, her salary is likely gone.

Greene and Massie’s lawsuit never stood a chance. Speaker Pelosi has the legal authority to make the rules in the House. There is no constitutional issue. No part of the Constitution says that people can do what they want if they choose not to follow the law. . .

Written by Leisureguy

11 March 2022 at 12:24 pm

Correlation vs. Causation

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We are quite frequently told that correlation does not equal causation — perhaps a little too frequently. (Not so frequently observed is that, although correlation does not imply causation, causation does indeed result in a correlation.) 

But a simple reminder is not so good as specific examples, and that’s the benefit of the Spurious Correlations site (pointed out to me by Montreal Steve). On the site the charts are interactive — for example, hovering over a data point will display values — but this example screenshot is not interactive:

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2022 at 6:24 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Math, Science

How to Make Potatoes While Dread Presses In from Every Direction

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Written by Leisureguy

2 March 2022 at 12:31 pm

Stephen Breyer’s Legacy of Destruction

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Matt Stoller has an interesting post in BIG:

Today I’m writing about Stephen Breyer, whose legacy in antitrust law is important, though not for the reasons you imagine.

First, here are some other stories in BIG this week.

The Bicycle Thieves: There’s a roll-up of independent bicycle shops by the big bike brands. Biking is a unique space, a 200 year-old industry controlled by a bike parts duopoly and then a larger group of powerful branded firms who buy from them, with scattered independent stores and smaller brands as part of the broader ecosystem. The biking business is also intertwined with the history of antitrust law itself. As biking becomes a key transportation mode in the transition to a cleaner energy system, what does the destruction of the independent bike store model mean?

The Fed Can’t Print Semiconductors: Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell pointed out two weeks ago that supply chain disruptions are a significant driver of inflation, and there’s little the Fed can do on that front. Plus the first economic paper on the impact of the semiconductor shortage on inflation is out, and it’s not pretty.

Our Systems Are Down, So You Can’t Have Your Medicine: What happens when the IT system of a health care payment provider monopoly like Surescripts, or that of an important middleman like CVS Caremark, goes down? People don’t get their medicine!

And now…

”Breyer is the candidate of big business and monopoly in America”

“President Clinton has been misled into making a grave mistake in nominating to the Supreme Court Judge Stephen Breyer,” wrote former FTC official Charles Mueller, the then-editor of the Antitrust Law and Economics Review in 1994, on the eve of Breyer’s confirmation. “On the basis of his antitrust record, he is an unjust man. He is also one who is intellectually and politically committed to a set of ‘economic’ theories that are demonstrably false and that will callously reduce the standard of living of the average American family in the decades to come.”

Mueller was clearly very angry as he wrote this. Breyer had, in Mueller’s view, lied to disguise his record during his nomination hearing. Howard Metzenbaum, perhaps the last Senator in the 1980s to take antitrust seriously, had asked Breyer about the track record of big businesses in his court, since it was well-known that Breyer believed strongly in theories that size were a marker not of bad behavior but efficiency. Breyer replied, “Sometimes plaintiffs did win in antitrust cases I’ve had and, as you point out, defendants have often won. The plaintiff sometimes is a big business and sometimes isn’t. The defendant sometimes is and sometimes isn’t.”

In response, Mueller sent a list of antitrust cases heard by Breyer, showing that “no plaintiff, so far as I can determine, has ever won an antitrust case in his court.” Mueller came as close as he could to calling Breyer a liar, saying the judge consistently had “trouble with the facts,” and arguing that “Breyer is the candidate of big business and monopoly in America.” Here’s Mueller’s list.

Mueller’s essay mixed politeness with fury in a manner I’ve rarely seen. Breyer’s adoption of “economics,” Mueller noted, was mere “ideological fiction churned out by laissez-faire ideologues.” After mocking the economic rigor of Breyer’s thinking, Mueller pointed out that “in one of his cases, Breyer suggested that those harmed by the monopoly practices at Boston’s Logan Airport could just go out and ‘build competing airports.’”

Today, in the bar, the thinking is generally that Democrats support stronger antitrust policy, and Republicans seek weaker rules on big business. But what’s remarkable about Mueller’s screed against Breyer, who is the leading thinker on antitrust among Democrats on the court, is that it was basically correct. Breyer really has been a key ally of big business. And those who pay attention to anti-monopoly laws know it. For instance, when his retirement announcement came earlier today, I was watching an event on antitrust at the Mercatus center, which is a Republican-leaning libertarian academic forum sponsored by firms like Google. The big law partners, upon learning the news, immediately turned from bashing Lina Khan to lamenting Breyer’s retirement. Here, for instance, is well-known law and economics lawyer Alden Abbott citing Douglas Ginsburg, about as establishment as you can get in the pro-monopoly camp.

The Law and Economics Movement

When I was writing my book Goliath, I was trying to figure what had gone wrong with the Democrats, why they chose to consolidate wealth and power during and after the financial crisis. I realized that the story went back to the 1970s, when the generation in charge in 2008 came of age. I didn’t focus much on Breyer, but I could have, because he is the perfect legal character showing the triumph of elitism within what had been a populist party. But since he announced he’s stepping down from the court, I’m going to run down Breyer’s career on antitrust and regulatory policy, which started in the 1960s as an aid to Lyndon Johnson’s Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, Don Turner.

There’s a myth in modern antitrust discourse that Robert Bork and the conservative “Chicago School” movement were the only actors in defanging antitrust, that the right and left tussled, with the right trying to help monopolies while the left stood strong against them. Obama-era antitrust enforcers like this myth. But as antitrust expert William Kovacic notes, it is not true. The obsession with the Chicago School simply cannot account for Stephen Breyer. For in many ways, Breyer was part of Robert Bork’s project, or perhaps, Bork was part of Stephen Breyer’s.

Bork and the Chicago School made two key claims about antitrust. The first is that antitrust law is a science to be interpreted by economists, and the second is that those economists should use neoclassical models to guide the law. By far the most freighted ideological claim was the first one, because it removed antitrust from the realm of democratic politics and into the cloistered halls of economics departments.

The last gasp of populist antitrust was in the 1970s, but there were ostensible opponents of the Chicago School in the 1980s, who came to be known as the “Harvard School.” But to call the Harvard School and the Chicago School opponents is imprecise. While the Harvard School objected to certain kinds of economic models put forward by Bork’s crew, they accepted the broader ideological objective that the law should be removed from democratic discourse. As one liberal critic of the Chicago School, Jonathan Baker, put it in 1989, “economics has become the essence of antitrust” and the center-left “challenges to Chicago arise from within the efficiency paradigm.”

Antitrust is part of a broader field known as competition policy, which includes industrial and banking regulation, monetary policy, budgetary matters, and trade questions, basically the allocation of resources in our commercial arena. The goal of both the Chicago School and Harvard School was to remove questions of justice and equity from these areas, and replace them with the notion of ‘efficiency’ as calculated by arid economists, what they called ‘the law and economics movement.’ Both the Harvard and Chicago Schoolers were part of this movement.

One of the key leaders of the Harvard School is Stephen Breyer. His mentor had been Don Turner, the first economist ever to run the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. LBJ appointed Turner because Turner was a ‘structuralist,’ meaning he believed in breaking up big firms. But over the course of the 1970s, Turner was seduced by Robert Bork, and came to believe that size represented efficiency, essentially a ‘diet Chicago School’ approach.

In the 1960s, muckraker Drew Pearson despised Turner, and alleged he was slothful and corrupt, a kind of proto-Obama era enforcer. Turner accepted flights on the corporate jets of firms he was investigating, and lacked the courage to file the most important complaint that had been sitting at the division since the 1950s, a complaint to break up the largest firm in the world, General Motors.

More importantly, Turner was an elitist. Turner brought in a set of young Ivy Leaguers to vet cases, often overriding the line attorneys who actually did the work of taking on monopolists. Breyer was one of Turner’s golden children, on leave from Harvard Law, and widely disliked. In a sense, Breyer was an original ‘law and economic’ bureaucrat, the first to get into the guts of the bureaucracy and start ruining enforcement.

After leaving the Division, Turner quickly shifted with the social currents. In 1975, Turner and Harvard Law professor Phil Areeda wrote a paper attacking the . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 January 2022 at 7:15 pm

An exchange on Quora

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This morning I responded to a comment on my answer to the question “What is the best way to disagree with someone?” My answer, shown at the link, was

[Originally Answered: What is the classiest way to disagree with someone?]

I like H.L. Mencken’s approach. Mencken was a reporter and writer in Baltimore who did not suffer fools gladly (and who considered much of the public fools). Outraged readers who wrote to H. L. Mencken would receive in reply a preprinted card:

Dear Sir or Madam:

You may be right.

Yours sincerely,

H. L. Mencken

More here: “You may be right”

I’ve received a variety of comments on my answer, including one thanking for the link (which does take one to an interesting article). The comment this morning was:

More seriously, be respectful of their opinion. Just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they’re idiots. Try to understand their viewpoint.

My response to his comment:

I absolutely agree. One of the 7 habits of highly effective people that Stephen Covey discusses in his book of that name is Habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” the idea being that unless you show a willingness to listen, to display what some call “cognitive empathy,” in which you are able to view the issue from their perspective, most people will not listen to you or make an effort to understand your perspective. If you don’t seek to understand, most will feel that you just don’t get what they’re saying, and instead of listening to you, they will try again to explain their view.

So it’s helpful to listen to them and ask clarifying questions until you can state their position even better than they can.

I do confess, though, that if their opinion, clearly stated, is that they refuse to be vaccinated because the CIA has worked with Bill Gates to create tiny 5G nanochips that are mixed with the vaccine, then I fall back on “You may be right” and get away as quickly as I can. Experience has taught me that people so far gone into a fantasy require more help than a conversation can deliver.

Nowadays I am often reminded of Don Quixote, who read so many novels of knight-errantry and was so steeped in those fantasies that he no longer viewed the world as others perceive it: instead of windmills, he saw giants, instead of flocks of sheep, he say armies, instead of a discarded barber’s basin, he saw Mambrino’s Helmet, disguised by an enchantment.

His delusions, which certainly made his life more interesting and were comical, had also a tragic aspect. I was told of a high-placed Spanish official who said, back in Franco’s day, that so long as people read Don Quixote and laughed, all was well, but if they read it and cried, then trouble was coming.

Looking about the world today, I believe that reading Don Quixote would be an interesting exercise. (FWIW, in my blog I have written both about Covey’s book — Covey’s 7 habits — and a fair number of posts about Don Quixote — for example, Reading Don Quixote and crying. Searching the blog on “don quixote” will find more.)

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2022 at 11:32 am

The mask conundrum: A dialogue

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Kevin Drum treats us to a Socratic dialogue. He writes:

There’s a fundamental problem with our campaign to get people to wear masks. It’s pretty obvious, but here it is:

Socrates: Our greatest healers and physicians are united in urging us to wear masks in order to fight the plague that runs rampant among us. Do you believe their advice to be sound?

Glaucon: Why yes.

Socrates: And what evidence do they offer that you find so persuasive?

Glaucon: It is obvious that masks reduce the expulsion of bad airs from breathing and coughing. If I am suffering from the plague—but still out in the agora because I am not yet feeling any ill effects—it diminishes the number of malignant corpuscles that I introduce into the world.

Socrates: So when you wear a mask, you do it to help other people, not yourself?

Glaucon: That is so. It is not perfect, but it is still beneficent to the good health of Athens.

Socrates: And you consider this a virtuous act.

Glaucon: Indeed I do. A respect for the good of society is one of the highest virtues.

Socrates: Quite so. But you’ll admit that not everyone thinks as you do.

Glaucon: Unhappily, all my experience among men teaches me that you are right.

Socrates: So on the one side, we have your fellow citizens of virtue. They are the most likely to heed the advice of our physicians, are they not?

Glaucon: I cannot disagree.

Socrates: And being virtuous, they have probably already visited a physician and procured for themselves a potion that protects against the plague?

Glaucon: Indeed, I myself have done so. I believe it was called a “vaccine.”

Socrates: And what does this “vaccine” accomplish?

Glaucon:  . . .

Do continue reading. Drum points out a paradox we need to solve.

Written by Leisureguy

22 January 2022 at 1:36 pm

Mishaps in the service of advertising

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Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2022 at 5:15 pm

God’s Tech Support

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Written by Leisureguy

18 December 2021 at 10:58 am

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