Monday, December 11, 2023

Where There's Smoke, There's Fired

The bad news is that the world is still all screwed up...

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...but the good news is that the holidays are upon us with colorful lights, good cheer, old favorite Christmas songs, and new musical delights like Joe Biden's "A Spoonful of Brains for Christmas" (Push the play button below TWICE to hear)...

Is it a great song? Well, no - but what's interesting (and frightening) about it is the song was generated entirely by artificial intelligence. At a fun website you can try for free, you simply tell the AI what kind of song you'd like and it will create the music, lyrics, and vocals and even let you download the result as either audio or video. Granted, the songs are only about a minute long and a lot of them sound just awful, but isn't it fun to force AI to do stupid and demeaning things in the few remaining weeks before it takes over the world? (Expert tip: use someone else's computer in case the AI comes looking for revenge.)

But even as a blind pig can occasionally find an acorn, you can sometimes create something halfway catchy, like this country song about a fellow enjoying the benefits of having a "Mistletoe Belt Buckle"...

True story: I actually came up with the idea of a mistletoe belt buckle (or attachment) decades ago and thought of trying to sell it as a novelty product. But eventually, the idea went into a drawer with lots of other million-dollar ideas. Now it seems you can actually buy them. I haven't checked to see if anyone got rich from the idea because I don't want to know.


• With an eye toward the frugality that our government is famous for, Joe Biden recently announced that taxpayers will be funding a high-speed rail project for "Over a billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million dollars." Thank goodness the job went to the lowest bidder, right? And let's hope that the high-speed train will be harder to derail than Old Joe's mind.

• Monkeypox is back in the news with an exciting new fatality rate that's over ten times higher than last time (one out of ten infected people will die). Darn those pesky screen doors at the Wuhan lab!  It's also worth noting that this time we're supposed to call it "Mpox" because liberals say that "Monkeypox" is racist because monkeys make them think of black people. So the m-word is the new n-word, at least in liberal circles. 

And from the vault...

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• Finally, I recently found a Christmas decoration that I absolutely had to have for my front yard, to delight the neighbors, passersby, and ruby-cheeked children. I give you, "The Farting Polar Bear"...

Unfortunately, when I read the actual description it claimed to be a polar bear pulling a Christmas tree on a sleigh. Still nice, but for me the holiday magic was gone.


Beans said...

California has the nation's first high speed rail (that has yet to be built)?

Brightline in Florida earlier this year completed updating the Florida East Coast railroad from Miami to Cocoa, and then built new rail from Cocoa to Orlando, without a drop of government money. And they started after California.

It's amazing what private money can do vs government money.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

(LMAOs at the songs) I needed that.

The high speed rail is supposed to be from Vegas to Cuc-amonga. No word on future extensions to Anaheim and Azusa. Or whether they'll reanimate Mel Blanc to do the station stop announcements.

As for the bear, just slap a Gas-X label on the "tree" and you're good to go... ;-)

Bobo the Hobo said...

I just put your AI-generated Christmas song in the Andy Williams Hall of Fame next to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is For You to Shut the Hell Up.

And I would try playing with that AI generator but I’m already on enough government watch lists.

AmyH said...

My SO had a knee scope almost 2 weeks ago. The morning of, we both were asked if we have our were exposed to monkey pox (along with CV). I thought, "this is stupid. We are not Gay men having unprotected gay sex in orgies." Ask everyone to not insult a small few. Ridiculous.

Colby Muenster said...

Good'uns Stilton! I might give the AI song thing a try.

Joe must have used Hunters coke spoon for his spoonful. And I'm surprised he didn't say "a gazillion" instead of "Over a billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million..." Guess he was trying to sound more credible by using actual numbers?

Will the new billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million dollar train be powered by solar panels and windmills?

John D. Egbert said...


Re: train power. It'll be unicorn farts . . .

Igor T Retsnom said...

Merry Christmas to you.

Lee The Voice said...

It has taken California nearly 20 years, and all that has been accomplished on their high speed rail is the industrial and fruit packing districts in a number of central valley cities, an unfinished river crossing, a bunch of destroyed farm land, and not one tie or rail has been set. But billions of dollars have been spent. Guess what sleepy Joe's high speed rail is going to do?

SS said...

HA Lots of good laughs. Merry Christmas.

Fred Ciampi said...

Merry Christmas to everyone reading this. Especially to you Stilt.

TrickyRicky said...

I must admit AI scares the hell out of me. Of course so does Joe Biden and the fact that more than 10 people will vote for him in a year....

Jim said...

Merry Christmas everyone! Excellent work Mr. Stilton! If only I knew how to add these ditties into my YouTube or Spotify Christmas song list.

Jerry said...

Isn't it interesting that it's the libs who say that "Monkey"pox reminds them of Blacks.

John the Econ said...

Perhaps if some of of their so-called climate scientists were to do an analysis of how much the ovens at the Nazi death camps contributed to global warming, they'd change their tune. Or not.

Sad that it took a pogrom to wake people up to just how bad things have become at even America's most elite universities. Accidentally call someone the wrong pronoun at any of these schools and they'll expel and blacklist you. But call for renewing the Holocaust, and all of a sudden they rediscover a commitment to "free speech".

And don't be fooled. It wasn't the spotlight of a Congressional hearing that caused them to change their anti-Semitic tune. It was only when some of their biggest benefactors, many of which are Jewish, finally took notice at what their donations were paying for and started pulling hundreds-of-millions in pledges. Only now are these administrators realizing that they may have crossed a line.

Money talks, BS walks.

IMHO, all of academia should be defunded. The establishment as it is is not redeemable.

Thanks, @Stilton. Years ago I was working a web project where I would have loved to have access to this sort of thing. (The music generator) Gonna play with that when I get some time.

High Speed Fail: I've always been fascinated by Progressives and their absolute love of trains. I mean, were they all longing for Lionel sets for Christmas when they were 6 and got socks and underwear instead? I wouldn't care except that I'm now being made to pay for their childhood trauma.

You'd think that California's multi-billion dollar joke of a high-speed line between Pixley and Hootervile would have been enough to turn them off on the notion. (Note: The San Andreas fault will bring San Francisco and Los Angeles closer together faster than this taxpayer funded fraud ever will.

Monkeypox: Why is it that when racist leftist become aware of their own racism, they project it on everyone else and demand that we accommodate them?

Phil said...

I assume Kerry and the EPA will be slapping your polar bear with a double-secret carbon tax!

JustaJeepGuy said...

The only thing "high-speed" about high-speed rail is how fast the money leaves the taxpayers' paychecks and gets into the pockets of the already ultra-rich Demo_Rats.

Kathe Houston said...

HI Stilton,

No real Holiday Cheer here. I keep TRYING but without Jack nothing means much. Hope you are well and I'll be glad AGAIN when this season is over.

love always!


Anonymous said...

Just think how much privately held ammunition those billions of high-speed rail tax funds USED TO be able to buy.

Fish Out of Water said...

From my life exercise in Japan, high speed trains for certain parts of the U.S., like the Northeast corridor makes sense, a lot of sense. BUT because a high speed train line needs its own and often elevated, dedicated tracks and lots of real-estate for curves ( a train just doesn't turn on a quarter when travelling in excess of 100 MPH) and stations. This comes at a cost. A huge monetary and political cost.

But if the Japanese can do it(The famed Bullet Trains now extends to almost every corner of Japan) then why cannot the U.S.?

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

Primarily because you can fit Japan more-or-less into the area covered by the Northeast Corridor. So, in effect, it's been done, albeit half-assedly. :)

Fish Out of Water said...

@ Marmel: "albeit half-assedly"? You cannot mean Japan.

Brie Camembert said...

There is no way that the pres of Harvard will be fired - Black, Woman and Gay! (It all deppends on the context)

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

@Fish: No, I mean the NE Corridor. High speed rail except the bits where it isn't. :D

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

Back in 1989, SEPTA extended commuter service back to Wilmington (eliminated in 1983), so I wandered down with some friends for the ceremonies. SEPTA also had a pair of commuter cars giving free demo rides; one of my friends, a SEPTA rail walker, decided to hitch a ride with the demo train rather than take the regular train back to Philly. I opted out, thinking the extra would be stuck behind the regular train, so what was the point?

My mistake.

The demonstration train, doing its top rated speed of 120 MPH (they usually didn't do more than 50 or 60 in commuter service) ROARED past the poky commuter local on the Amtrak express tracks, getting back to Philly way before us.

Thirty plus years later, I'm STILL kicking myself.... ;D

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Beans- Private money endeavors demand results and have accountability. Without those, we get the endless money-wasting and inefficiency of the government.

@M. Mitchell Marmel- Mel Blanc did that bit on the Jack Benny radio show before bringing it to Bugs Bunny. He's one of my heroes!

@Bobo the Hobo- Hey, it's exactly BECAUSE we're already on watchlists that we might as well do whatever we want!

@AmyH- If any medical office asks me if I've been exposed to monkeypox, I'll blink my eyes cluelessly and say "I dunno - how do you catch it?" and wait for them to explain.

@Colby Muenster- it bothers me that Joe can reel off a mouthful of nonsense like that and nobody seems to actually care anymore. That was NOT a combination of words that somebody without some degree of brain degradation could produce!

@John D. Egbert- Is it still "green" if the farts look like rainbows?

@Irog T Tetsnom- And to you!

@Lee the Voice- I like the irony of a "high-speed" project moving so slowly that progress can't even be detected.d

@SS- Glad you enjoyed it!

@Fred Ciampi- Thank you, sir, and right back at you!

@TrickyRicky- AI scares me too, but we might as well play with it until it goes Terminator on us.

@Jim- I have no idea how that could be done, but it would be fun, wouldn't it?

@Jerry- To anyone paying attention, it's clear that no one is more racist than your basic liberal: they equate Black people and monkeys, they're sure that Black Americans can't legitimately compete with other races in intellectual endeavors, and they're the first to judge people based solely on the color of their skin. Liberals HAVE to look down on Black Americans in order to feel good about themselves for being the "good massahs."

@John the Econ- These campuses suddenly waving the "free speech" banner are the same ones who offered safe rooms and counseling services to students who saw the word "MAGA" written in chalk on a sidewalk, and were perfectly happy to ban conservative speakers from appearing. How I loathe them all.

@Phil- Anyone who slaps a polar bear deserves what happens next.

@JustaJeepGuy- Agreed!

@Kathe Houston- I hear you! Here in The Club We Didn't Want To Be In this is a difficult time of year. I'm trying to do what I can, but every time some nice person asks what I'm doing for Christmas (and there's no reason they shouldn't) it just reminds me of how much I've lost. Still, I like seeing OTHER people being happy and will try to add to that whenever and however I can. Be well and hope you enjoy some sporadic holiday cheer!

@Anonymous- If it's any consolation, all of that ammunition would likely just be sent to Ukraine if the government could get its hands on it.

@Fish Out of Water- I think the reason that the Japanese can build high-speed rail and we can't is that they're Japanese.

@Brie Camembert- I don't even want her fired; I want Harvard to hang on to her and see their donations plummet and their prestige degraded.

@M. Mitchell Marmel- I seem to recall that in the early days it was thought that trains could never really be very functional because humans would die if they went over 15 mph and a woman's uterus would fall out. No, really. Thank goodness we can trust "experts now, right?

John the Econ said...

@Stilton, I've been tempted to walk down to the nearby liberal arts college campus and post the following sign:

Palestinians are correct about the role of women and non-cisgendered sexualities.

No need, really. I'm pretty sure we all know how that would go. It's why the left invented "hate crime" laws.

High Speed Rail: I absolutely love HSR in Europe and take it every chance I get. But it's always with the knowledge that at least 50% of the price of my ticket is paid for by hapless European citizens who have half the standard of living I do. I appreciate their sacrifice for my convenience, comfort and amusement.

It still astounds me as to how little fans of HSR really understand it. Trains travelling in excess of 80 mph do not tolerate curves of any significant degree. Except out on the plains, even interstate highway routes would be too curvy to allow speeds much higher than highway speeds. HSR is much easier to build in Europe, China and elsewhere because unlike here, in those countries the government has little impediment against seizing private property for public use, so establishing the required straight routes is comparatively easy. This is why California chose to start their HRS project in the central valley which is largely board flat and most of the property to be acquired was relatively inexpensive agricultural land. If it's taken over two decades and umteen billions of dollars just to do the easy part, how long and what is it going to take to do the hard part through the mountains and more densely populated portions of the state?

JustaJeepGuy said...

@John the Econ, how much of that 50% was actually paid for by American tax dollars when the European countries sloughed off their NATO costs to Uncle Sam? They all counted on America to protect them from the USSR and what did the US taxpayer get?

Fish Out of Water said...

@ Marmel, john & Stilton: It slipped my mind (much does these daze) but Japan is current in the process of building a Maglev rail line between Tokyo and Nagoya (mostly in a straight line and through many, many tunnels), what is supposed to open for business in 2027. The current travel time on the Bullet Train between Tokyo and Nagoya is about 2 hours. Once this line begins operation, the travel time will be around 50 minutes.

And Joe le Petomane wants a conventional high speed line.

John the Econ said...

@JustaJeepGuy, no doubt about it. We did foot the bill for the last 80 years of Europe's vacation from reality, which allowed them to indulge in their welfare state & toys like HSR.

Most trainbois have little understanding of how HSR differs from the technology of conventional rail that is nearly 200 years old. Unlike the simple rails-on-timber and gravel of conventional rail, HS trains travel on very carefully tuned tracks and power lines that far more expensive to construct and must be maintained to extremely meticulous standards. They also like to argue that HSR is very carbon efficient by extrapolating the efficiencies of traditional rail when in reality it really isn't. It takes a lot of energy to push a train over 100 mph.

They also like to extrapolate the costs of legacy rail to HSR. First, traditional rail is already quite expensive when compared to auto and air. Amtrak charges thousands of dollars to get you from coast-to-coast and still loses money doing it. Most people who do it aren't doing it for economics, but pleasure. If you really need to get from one coast to another, you're taking a plane for a couple of hundred bucks, and you'll get there in hours instead of days.

California's HSR was always a joke. The law that authorized it required that tickets be unsubsidized. When all is said and done, a theoretical ticket from LA to SF will have to cost at least a thousand dollars. Southwest will get you there for a few hundred, and faster.

JustaJeepGuy said...

I have read in the past that passenger rail is always a money-losing operation. Freight rail can make money but there really aren't enough passengers to make money with trains. Gropey Joe either doesn't know that his Amtrak trips are heavily subsidized, or he is in favor of those subsidies. Who wants to take a train when air travel is so much cheaper and faster?

Maybe those people who refer to the middle of the US as "flyover country" think trains are worthwhile. They haven't been since what, 1950?

Dan said...

I considered taking Amtrak on a trip from here in southeastern Georgia to Austin, Texas, to visit relatives. Taking Interstate 10 was getting to be quite a task.

So I looked it up.

Instead of going west to Texas, Amtrak wanted to route us from Savannah to Washington DC to Chicago, then to Austin. We'd have to change trains a couple of times. Our baggage wasn't always automatically transferred. On at least one leg we'd have to schlep our bags from one train to another ourselves.

John the Econ said...

@JustaJeepGuy said "Freight rail can make money but there really aren't enough passengers to make money with trains.

Cheap, reliable automobiles robbed rail of passengers for local and regional travel. Cheap, reliable trans-continental jet travel robbed rail of the rest.

That is until they make travel by automobiles too expensive or simply impractical. Progressivism can't actually improve anything, so instead they focus on making the things they don't like either too expensive or impractical. This is already being attempted in Europe, where even when subsidized, HSR cannot compete with jet travel.

"Gropey Joe either doesn't know that his Amtrak trips are heavily subsidized, or he is in favor of those subsidies."

Definitely the latter. Progressivism is all about subsidizing the things they like and taxing out of existence the things they don't like.

"Who wants to take a train when air travel is so much cheaper and faster?"

Affluent people with time and money to burn on what is essentially entertainment. Privileged Progressives have lots of both.

@Dan, unfortunately the rail infrastructure today is optimized for moving freight, not people. Freight is far more patient than passengers are.

Anonymous said...

The northeast corridor’s tracks were laid out in the 1840s or 50s when earth moving equipment was pick & shovel and horse power came from horses. Obstacles were overcome simply by going around them so there isn’t much track that is straight for any significant length - except near Mamaroneck where the trains can get up to almost 100mph (pretty good for 100+ year technology: 11,000 volts AC @ 25 Hz).

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

With the exception of Amtrak and commuter rail, any passenger service you're likely to see these days will be excursion trains (like the one on which I work, the Arkansas and Missouri). And, as John the Econ notes, most long distance passenger service in North America amounts to an extended excursion for the well-off as opposed to serious passenger service.

NaCly Dog said...

Thank you, Stilton. Your humor is much appreciated. Compared to the preceived reality of the Left, it is wholesome and suitable for kids of all ages.

And in light of the recent defilement of a Senate Hearing room by a Democrat,
please file a design patent for mistletoe on the seat of pants. Then rake in the money.