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I’m a proud member of the underground resistance to the Hallmark/FTD/Kay’s Jewelers Axis of Commercial Holiday Extortion, but I have to admit that this is pretty durn funny:

A glass of wine with Dr. Mabuse.

From the Telegraph:

Secret plans have been discovered for a Nazi aerial weapon that worked like a Kamikaze plane but did not kill the pilot

nazibomb An attached balloon allowed the pilot to escape after dropping the bomb Photo: BNPS

The plans to bomb Britain, which are to be sold at auction, involved a glider shaped like a pub dart, a bomb, a balloon, and a brave Luftwaffe pilot at the controls.

The glider would have been released from a larger aircraft before diving at its target at speeds of up to 700mph.

At the last second the pilot would have released a 1,000 kilo bomb and inflated a big balloon attached to the craft.

As the bomb dropped towards its target the balloon would have lifted the glider to an altitude from where it would have travelled to safety.

The carefully drawn plans for the so-called Silent Dart were found by the Allies in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin in July 1945, and have rarely been seen since.

Richard Davie, from the auctioneers who are selling the pencil drawings, said: “The glider would have used the tungsten cored flying principle of a pub dart.

“It would be released from a mother ship and then directed by a pilot, which is not a job I would want.

“Then as the pilot released the bomb a balloon would simultaneously inflate and this would add stability and elevation to the glider.

“This enabled the pilot to get away from the blast so he could make safety and then have another go, unlike a Kamikaze pilot.”

He added: “There is no date on the plans so we don’t know whether they were not acted upon because there was no time, or whether there was another reason.”

I would think it not a bad bet to believe the plans weren’t acted upon because no Luftwaffe pilot could be found  crazy enough to get anywhere near the thing.

simongarfunkel The headline of one of Beth’s recent posts reminds me of a little episode that happened as we drove back from my brother’s house after Thanksgiving.  Being thoroughly sick of the other CD’s we’d brought along, we popped in our Simon & Garfunkel collection.

After a track or two, the inquiry came floating up from the back seat.  “What kind of music is this, Dad?”

“Hippie music,” I replied.

“But, Daaaaad, you don’t like hippies!”

“No, but some of the music is okay.”

“Humph.  We don’t like it.  Did you bring along any Sweet Emma Barrett?”

“Sorry, kiddo.  Maybe next time.”

It’s probably been ten years since I last listened to this album, by the way.   It’s safe to say that I hit my peak of thinking Simon & Garfunkel to be deep and poetical round about the age of fifteen or so – my opinion of them has been tailing off steadily since then.   The musick is still okay, tho’.

A good essay on teasing from the NYTimes mag.  Considering the source, you might be surprised at its conclusions:

Our rush to banish teasing from social life has its origins in legitimate concerns about bullies on the playground and at work. We must remember, though, that teasing, like so many things, gets better with age. Starting at around 11 or 12, children become much more sophisticated in their ability to hold contradictory propositions about the world — they move from Manichaean either-or, black-or-white reasoning to a more ironic, complex understanding. As a result, as any chagrined parent will tell you, they add irony and sarcasm to their social repertory. And it is at this age that you begin to see a precipitous drop in the reported incidences of bullying. As children learn the subtleties of teasing, their teasing is less often experienced as damaging.

In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange. In teasing, we learn to use our voices, bodies and faces, and to read those of others — the raw materials of emotional intelligence and the moral imagination. We learn the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously. We learn boundaries between danger and safety, right and wrong, friend and foe, male and female, what is serious and what is not. We transform the many conflicts of social living into entertaining dramas. No kidding.

Read the rest.  Mrs. R is convinced that the parental pendulum is starting to swing back from the hyper-protective.  Articles like this always suggest to me that she might be right.

I don’t know about this “starting at 11 or 12” stuff, though.  None of my lot are that old yet, but they’re all seasoned veterans when it comes to teasing (both dishing it out and taking it).  Indeed, I would estimate that well over half of our family conversation contains some kind of joke, jibe, parry or thrust.   At Robbo’s house, the tongue usually is quite firmly planted in the cheek.

A glass of wine with Arts & Letters Daily.

I was rather surprised (and gratified) by the outpouring of comments from the TPSAYE lady readers yesterday in response to my question about whether to duct tape the slash on my jeep’s rag top or to substitute some other repair instead, and what kind of effect that choice might have on my image.

The conclusions that can be drawn from their collective opinions are pretty clear.  If I go with the duct tape, I’ll come out looking something like this:


Go an alternate route, and I’ll be closer to this:


Easy choice, really.  Also, I’m going to start calling my ride the Jeep With No Name.

(And Ladies, you’re welcome to a spin any time you find yourselves in the neighborhood.)


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December 2008