Archive for October, 2007

Scared the Babums

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Scary!Looks like someone is going to try to make an issue out of how kid-friendly the grocery stores are, or aren’t. I hope like the dickens that someone fails.

A North Texas mother said a Wal-Mart Halloween display gave her three daughters nightmares.

Adriana Whitney, of Hurst, said she and her daughters saw the life-size Halloween decoration while grocery shopping.

“It looked like a real, live monster,” 4-year-old Grace Whitney said.

The display, complete with a gory head that popped off, was by Wal-Mart’s front door. Adriana Whitney said she didn’t expect to see something like it while shopping for groceries. She said it was too much for her three young daughters, the youngest of whom is 20 months old.

See, this is one of those things of which I’m quite sure, but upon which very few agree with me. It is the basis of Item #22 on the When I Start Running This Place list, which places a bounty on the head of whoever invented those damnable children’s shopping carts.

Simply put, folks, kids don’t belong in grocery stores. They don’t belong there any more than your dog’s fecal matter belongs on the sidewalk. Somehow, because once upon a time it would have imposed an inconvenience on someone, somewhere, to be expected to keep their adorable crumb-cruncher out of the household foodstuff-hunting expedition, we got this nonsensical dictum that this is the way things are supposed to be done.

Well, it isn’t. If I wasn’t such a big believer in the right of businesses to determine how they should be lawfully run, “When I Start Running This Place #22” would be much more draconian. Something about how you may take your children under sixteen years old grocery shopping with you…if and only if shopping for groceries involves killing something. Like what you see in this movie here. That kind of “shopping” you have to learn to do when you’re fairly young.

Let’s face facts: What we do nowadays, is about as undemanding as it can possibly get. It is emasculating. This is never more evident than when a man goes out and does it. Let me break it down for you: He pulls a crumpled up paper out of his pocket, covereed with cryptograms that are as stylish in penmanship as they are illegible in substance. He follows these instructions someone else gave him, as close as he can…doing no thinking for himself, none whatsoever. Like a little boy instructed by his second-grade teacher how to clean the blackboard erasers or empty the trash. He stares in confusion at the pork chops, or the feminine hygeine products, or the coffee creamers, and then back at his instructions, with the inside tips of his eyebrows edging toward the ceiling…another tip-off to masculinity’s imminent, or recent-past, demise.

The next thing he has to do, that manly men don’t do or shouldn’t have to do, is whip out a cell phone in order to obtain further instructions. If masculinity has sunk beneath the waves before, this is where it tumbles into a bottomless fissure on the ocean’s bottom, never to be seen again. The real irony with the additional-instructions ritual is this: Whatever insignificant residue is left of what was his dignity an hour before, is stripped away most thoroughly if he has shown competence in the very few manly attributes he was called upon to use. Because in that case, when he says he isn’t able to find something, as a thinking, perceiving, objective-fulfilling hunting gathering manly man, if it was there he would have found it. Which means the store doesn’t have it.

This will be his fault. That’s the bitter irony. The guy who lacks not only masculine dignity, but ability as well, is thought to be a nominally more pleasing masculine figure because with a little bit more guidance from the “brains” of the family outfit, he can mutter “oh, okay honey, now I see it” and thus fulfill the mission. The guy who has surrendered his dignity, but retains the ability, frustrates his lady by presenting an unsolved puzzle that she, likewise, cannot solve. Mission failed; nothing pleasing about that.

I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been both of those guys, at one time or another.

And so that second guy will fail to please his mistress, and be subjected to some unknown number of “are you sure” inquiries followed by a raspy sigh. And this is the final indignity. His masculinity is not simply forcefully stolen from him, it is re-defined. By someone who’s supposed to have picked him, because she needed the masculinity he was supposed to bring to the table in the first place — someone who now imagines this to be something along the lines of following instructions. Someone who cannot be pleased; someone who can only be disappointed. And now is.

Now, admittedly, those who endure this gelding ritual with good cheer, have endurance that I don’t have. A lot of gals would then argue they are more “manly” than I. They’re right — provided we agree that manliness has no meaning beyond the tolerance of humiliation without complaint. Some of us would have hoped it still has something to do with seeing what needs doing, making decisions, and acting on those decisions with all the competence required. But those who re-define masculinity to the beast-of-burden stuff must have some kind of a point; they are far-and-away in the majority now.

Grocery shopping, I mean the pussified kind that involves pushing a cart around a bunch of aisles, whipping out my cell phone to get more instructions, and getting back some guff — really does wear on me. If masculinity in 2007 is defined in terms of the ability to endure this ritual cheerfully, I must confess to my failure in matching what even the average man has, let alone in showing any surplus above that. But I do have one thing to say in my defense.

I’d be able to put up with it much longer and with far less stress for everyone if you’d leave your brats at home.

This ritual I’ve outlined above, is not only devoid of masculinity to the point that it re-defines manhood into some caricature of it’s former self — there is a more salient point I wish to make about it, one more germane to my primary complaint. It can be learned, in life, anytime. Kids don’t need to go. At all. There’s no reason for them to be there. Some will say it is necessary to do this. They’re simply wrong. You can have the Dad watch them. Unless the Dad is being subjected to the humiliating ritual I’ve described, in which case, the Mom can watch them. Some will insist that’s not fair, what about the single-moms. The single-moms, themselves, have moms. If they don’t, they can hire a sitter — although I would expect, and certainly hope, that by now we are talking about a very narrow range of people.

I’m not saying women raising kids by themselves have it easy. They don’t. I’ve personally known quite a few of them. I have yet to meet one that didn’t have some kind of support system, be it family or friends — something. Some resource that could be deployed for an hour or two while the shopping gets done.

Kids don’t need to be in grocery stores. If I ran the country, we’d have far fewer customs and devices to make it enjoyable or expedient to bring them in. And if I owned a store, I’d make it dang nigh impossible, or at least, impractical. I’d buy one of those cartoon figurines off some amusement park that was being demolished, you know, the ones with the yardstick or limbo bar that says “you must be this tall…”

…or, with apologies to Ms. Whitney of Hurst, TX, maybe I’d get hold of the Halloween figure that scared her babums. Put that sucker up there, year ’round. As for public relations, I can certainly find a way to spin this if I try. How about “we are protecting our merchandise from contamination and destruction by keeping the brats away from it, and passing the savings on to you, while significantly enhancing your shopping experience.” Isn’t that a nice spin? How much other spin are we accustomed to seeing, each and every day of our lives that is far crappier, less sincere, and more forced & awkward.

I’m tellin’ ya. Put me in charge of some of these problems, and with the right attitude they’re so easy you have to wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s just good engineering. Kids…grocery stores. They don’t go together. Whoever said they did? And for reasons that by now should be more than obvious, I’m laboring under some real misgivings about the idea that men should be in there. The married ones, anyway. Unless that happens to be where they work.

President Fred

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Glen Dean says my candidate is going to win.

Well, I’m certainly more inclined to believe him than conventional wisdom. The old tried, trusted and busted conventional wisdom, aside from laboring under the burden of a rich history of being just-plain-wrong, is trying to tell me that Hillary would kick Fred’s ass. Being a technical guy, I’m a big believer in the devil’s advocate, and I’ve been trying like the dickens to envision Hillary kicking Fred’s ass…with her perhaps-record-setting “unfavorable” rating. And I dunno. Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part. It’s just tough to see.

Granted it is difficult to keep my feelings out of it, since the survival of this country may very well be determined by such a contest. But to weigh it objectively — the first thing we have to inspect, is what does Hillary have to offer that Fred does not? Name recognition? Y’know, I think Fred has that one matched. Toughness? Ditto. Oh, and he’s taller, too.

Hillary has hair. But she isn’t known for her hair, she’s known for being an unpleasant woman. We don’t have a history of voting for pleasant, but we dang sure have no precedent, none whatsoever, in electing unpleasant.

She could continue President Clinton’s legacy. Now, granted the Clintons do have a considerable fan club; can it win an election? Seems to me if it could, it would have done it in 2000. Yes — Al Gore did win the popular vote. You know the real reason that makes big news? It’s something Bill Clinton never did. So yes, the Clinton fan base is formidable, but not too much. If it’s all that Hillary Clinton has, she’d better get something else.

There is opportunity to learn about scandal with Fred. This could be a potential advantage for Hillary, because we probably know everything about her we’re ever going to know, or something close to that; but we can certainly manage to hear a little bit more noise about it. In late 2007, there is this “Wall of Silence” because if nobody says anything, the first-time voters in 2008 (age at “Travel-Gate”: three) might be persuaded to punch Hillary’s space on the ballot without understanding who they’re nominating or electing. This wall is not only regrettable, but it’s ill-advised — a full presidential election is a tempestuous affair, and all bubbles burst in a tempest. Our potential for “learning” about Hillary and her various shenanigans, seems to be sky-high. So it’s fair to say we can see “new” scandals generated, on both candidates. Which field, once plowed sown and harvested, would produce the biggest bumper-crop, is a matter to be decided by Thompson’s personal integrity and character. I have faith that he has some.

To inspect the matter further at this early date, is to inspect to the point of distraction.

But conventional wisdom says Fred’s ass is going to be kicked by Hillary. Common sense, as it so often does, says the opposite. When conventional wisdom and common sense say oppositional things, conventional wisdom almost always bites the mat. It’s record in those match-ups is pretty dismal…kind of like Volkswagen versus freight train. And if that’s how this is most likely to shake out, then I’m going to go make some popcorn.

This Is Good XLIV

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Good satire is hard to find, being such a careful balance between things that are actually happening, and the absurd. If, by it’s very existence, it cannot whip the canvas off a “Big Reveal” that something is becoming silly, that ought not be, then the satire runs the risk of becoming silly itself. It is a demanding work of art, the soufflé of political humor.

This is what I call good satire.

Rush McFatso Limbaugh, for those of you who haven’t already been told what to think of him, is a right-wing, hate-mongering hater who uses The People’s Airwaves to spew his vile hate-speech into the primitive, insect brains of the dittohead masses. Anyone who listens to his hateful tirades risks becoming one of his mindless neo-con herd. Thank Goddess we have Democrat leaders like Harry Reid to listen to Limbaugh’s show for us and whittle his entire 3-hour program down to two words.
…it’s especially infuriating that Limbaugh should attack soldiers who openly criticize Bush’s illegal and immoral war, as those are the only kinds of troops who deserve and have the respect of progressives everywhere. So much so that we won’t humiliate them by checking their credentials before we wheel them out to denounce the U.S.’s imperialist acts of aggression.

I do not have what it takes to write satire; I’m more inclined toward the monotonous, bloated, puffy essay. But one of the points upon which this piece relies, is an arcane, abstract matter that’s been bugging me like a pebble in my shoe for a long time now, that I haven’t seen pointed out by anyone, anywhere. Maybe I spilled a few words about it in the recent past, and can’t find my own ramblings. It’s possible. Let me expound.

It has to do with this thing about “those are the only kinds of troops who deserve and have the respect of progressives everywhere.” This is where the piece is nudged away from the plane of reality, since a progressive is not supposed to be heard qualifying classes of people who receive the respect or alms or comfort or assistance of other progressives…as much as they’d like to, and as accurately as this would reflect their actions and true intent. No, you won’t hear the liberal donks say such a thing, because in the domain of gutteral sounds the correct word is “all.” All, and things related to all. Everybody. Everyone, universal, every.

Of course, I’m not speaking of respect for our troops…not just that. “We support higher educational opportunities for all.” “Everybody deserves a living wage.”

What makes me queasy, is these face-to-face debates I’ve had over the last handful of years, here & there. And the “respect for troops” thing is just the most unsettling example of a phenomenon that transcends many different issues. It takes a certain level of diplomatic skill to keep these conversations light, because our donks have apprently been given instructions that they should look for opportunities to accuse the opposition of questioning their patriotism, and having detecting such an opportunity, should lash out with as much childish emotion as can be managed. You see them doing this in those letters to the editor they’ve been instructed to write, and in their left-wing blogs that exist pretty much for the purpose of repetitively recycling instructions on what is to be adored and what is to be deplored. Questioning My Patriotism! Grrrr!

And always, in the Iraq situation, one which both sides acknowledge is generally sucky, and on which both sides acknowledge a solution is elusive, and which just about everyone acknowledges to be complicated…the subject is directed, without me or anyone else bringing it up, to how the liberal feels about the troops. I’ve come to see it as a “Doth Protest Too Much” kind of a thing. And like any other issue, the word “all” is stuck in there. The donk supports the troops. All the troops.

I ask…what about the troops who want to listen to Rush Limbaugh?

What about the troops who not only support other troops like you do, but the mission as well, as you don’t?

What about the troops who re-up when they don’t have to?

What about the troops who voted for George W. Bush? Twice?

Those — too? That “all”?

I never get back the emphatic “Yes!” that you might expect. Maybe if I participated in such exchanges more often, I’d have seen it by now, but I’m a little timid. If I’m to come to blows with someone and start losing some friends, I’d much rather the issue be something genuine and real. To become a pariah because I’ve fallen into the role of “bad guy” in some script that has been circulated by Dr. Howard Dean, a charming and intelligent charlatan I’ve never personally met, just isn’t my cuppa.

But by far the most typical reaction is a “homina homina” thing followed by a hasty change in subject. That freaks me out, a little.

And as I pointed out above, it has ramifications with many other issues. “Everybody deserves a living wage” has been exposed, many times, as a crock. Liberal donks don’t believe this, even if they say they do. What if, for example, an evil, crooked CEO of the Ken Lay variety lost all his income and assets, and couldn’t get a job that paid a living wage. Forced to sell pencils in the street, like it’s 1929 all over again. Would that represent a sub-standard situation which decent people would feel some moral compulsion to jump into & fix? Because, of course, however you define a “living wage” this guy probably wouldn’t be cranking it out.

No. Of course not. It’s silly to think so even for a second. Well then…what about a CEO who wasn’t as wicked as Ken Lay? What if the same thing happened to an only-halfway crooked CEO. Or a CEO who wasn’t crooked at all? What if it was just some guy who had it good for awhile, and now, was taken down a few pegs to the point where he couldn’t even earn that “living wage”?

This is exactly the kind of dream our donks have before they get that twisted grin on their silly donk faces and that sick twinkle in their donkey eyeballs. I believe they call it “finding out what it’s like.” Is it an ethically compromised situation in which they feel compelled to run interference…get that guy the “living wage” he “deserves,” just as “everyone” does?

Again — anybody who’s been paying attention, understands that is just ridiculous. In short, they don’t mean “all.”

I’ve come to learn, slowly, that donks never seem to mean “all.” It’s the one word they can be counted-upon to start throwing around, when what they really mean is the exact opposite. There is always a filtering process in place when they use the word “all.”

Free speech is another great example. It’s pretty easy to produce or happen-upon a donk who claims it to be breathtakingly important, that “all viewpoints be heard” and that “freedom of speech” should be a right “enjoyed by all.” If they meant that for real, they would make a priority out of seeing to it the neo-Nazi skinheads could reach as big an audience as could be managed, so we could hear all about the “n-word” people don’t know their place, and the Jews made up the story about the holocaust right before they took over all the businesses. So I’m a little relieved that the donks don’t mean what they say. But if you took their words at face value, you’d have to infer this is exactly what they mean.

The donk has freedom of speech…the donk’s enjoyment of freedom of speech, is measured in his ability to reach an audience, voluntary if possible; captive, just as good. We “all” have a “right” to “freedom of speech”; therefore, the Nazi skinhead deserves a captive audience too. That would be robust, durable, simple logic. What spoils it is not that the brakes are slammed on before the Nazi is given a podium and a bullhorn, but it’s intrinsic insincerity. “All” doesn’t mean “all”; it never does.

It’s the solidarity. The living-in-tribes. The “my team is right about everything, the other team is never right about anything” stuff. It keeps getting in the way. In the last few years, I’ve developed this confusion about whether to laugh or cry when I come across this: The donks have this unwritten code, this “gang” doctrine. They are very much like sports fans who support a team, don’t know why they support the team, and adore each other all the more because nobody can offer a reason why the team should be supported. This puts them on a higher plane with each other. I guess if a well-justified reason for this team-adoration would or could be produced, this would introduce the possibility that perhaps the love is conditional.

And so no reason is produced. I don’t understand if this is a necessary ingredient to their group identity, but it certainly enhances the experience. I expect this lack-of-justification must be some kind of dessert to the feast. Or at least a garnish. The little boy who loses the ball game, by receiving the same ice cream sundae awarded to the other little boy who won it, at least knows that his Mom will always love him no matter what.

But Job Number One is the solidarity. Love the tribe with or without conditions, above all other things you must love it. Thou shalt not be caught saying or doing anything that might hurt the tribe. Nor shalt thou be caught saying or doing anything that might help the other one.

And this is why, I’m gathering, “all” never means “all” — as often as the gutteral sounds are trotted out and run through the lazy disconnected voice box. Every, everyone, each of us, all.

Hey, politics is inextricably intertwined with insincerity. But I would hope when a political ideology forms the habit of using a phrase, month in month out, year in and year out…and it can be counted on each time to indicate something logically opposite from what it’s supposed to mean…the rest of us would apply some pressure toward that phrase’s retirement. Otherwise, we’re all just chumps. It’s like a philanderer’s wife being told he’ll be home in time for dinner, and continuing to have that yummy pot roast and mashed potatoes ready at 5:30, fresh out of the oven, each and every single night even though it’s always wasted. There comes a point, to be frank about it, where the poor miserable woman ceases to be victimized and starts to be just plain stupid.

Not Buying It

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

I’ve got a mild buzzing migraine that I can tell is going to get worse throughout the day, and I’m in the mood to be pithy. Let’s see if I can veer off my more usual schtick of the zillion-word essay.

John McCain, President Bush, and I are in agreement. This is rare. The Senator went on record to say he agrees with the President’s veto decision against expanding the children’s healthcare program.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN Wednesday he agrees with President Bush’s veto of legislation expanding a children’s health insurance program, saying the bill provided a “phony smoke and mirrors way of paying for it.”

“Right call by the president,” the Republican White House hopeful told CNN’s John King. “We’ve laid a debt on these same children … that we’re saying we’re going to give health insurance to.”

The bill, which would cost $35 billion over five years, is meant to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide coverage to an additional 10 million children.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a different view. Because, once again, it’s all about the chiiiiiiiiilllddddddrrrreeeeeeeennnnn….

Today the President had an opportunity to sign a bipartisan bill that will bring health care to 10 million children in families struggling to make ends meet. Instead, President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say ‘I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.’

And my beef, here, is about the radio airwaves. The boob tube bluster. The water cooler chit-chat. Surely, the “average” American sees things Speaker Nan’s way, right? Not a single thought about the expansion of the welfare state, it’s all about the poor precious babums vs. the “cruel veto pen.” Hells bells, if democracy worked we’d have fully-funded door-to-door baby formula delivery and diaper-washing service, with not a single thought as to who’s paying for it.

I am NOT buying it.

I have been scolded, as a “blogger,” for jousting with liberal straw men that don’t really exist. And this time, I’m inclined to believe the scolders are right. I think, if you can find me some people who see this Speaker Nan’s way, you will be sampling from a truly elite whacko-fringe group. I think at this point, most people understand that the Government doesn’t “bring” a damned thing — it confiscates. What it does bring, it confiscated from somewhere else. At this point, if you still have need for it to be pointed out to you, you’re never going to get it and I don’t think there are too many people in that club.

That goes for those who are in favor of the bill President Bush vetoed, by the way. I’m calling ’em out. I don’t think they give a damn about the chiiiiiiiiilllddddddrrrreeeeeeeennnnn. That’s just an excuse. Oh, here and there you’ll find some weepy chuckleheads who are going to honestly wonder how the poor whelps are going to make it now, but by-and-large this is something different. It is a debate about what is to become of America, and her ideals, and people on both sides of the fence see it that way.

Next subject: Why did this vet cut down the Mexican flag? Was he really upholding the law, and his country, or is he bigoted against Mexicans?

I predict some folks are going to swarm out of the woodwork and advance the notion that Jim (insert last name here after verifying correct spelling) is just a racist bigot, or at least that is what they honestly think about him. Not buying it. Flying the Mexican flag over the U.S. flag is against the law in Reno, and furthermore, Veteran Jim’s comments on Mike Gallagher’s program are a hundred percent correct. We have become culturally spineless on the matter of standing up for our nation — it’s customs, legacy, principles, language, and border. We aren’t cowards, and we’re not trying to save our hind ends; rather, we’re afraid of being accused of racism. The thing is, though, I’m not buying that any of the folks who stand ready to accuse others of racial hatred, really mean it. Sure they do the accusing. But it’s nothing more than an activist tactic.

Why in the world should they not resort to such a tactic — it works like a charm. What would have happened if Veteran Jimbo had not popped on to the scene with his Iraqi Freedom Knife.

A fun mental exercise in which I’ve invited people to partake, those who are worried about the “racist” angle, involves albinos. Suppose our nation bordered another, that was populated by albinos. Leave all other aspects in the illegal-immigration debate…every single minute, insignificant, arcane detail…unchanged. Just pretend it is albinos climbing the fence — people with lighter skin, instead of darker skin. In fact, while we’re at it, apply this exercise to the “Is Islam a violent religion or not?” issue and to the “Should we profile by race at the airport?” issue.

Leave everything else unchanged, just think about the skin color. Make it lighter instead of darker.

You’ve changed everything. What we “can’t” think and “can’t” say, suddenly, now, in our thought exercise with the albinos, we can. And what we can say now, in this otherworldly thought-exercise, suddenly, we can’t. People who are in reality opposed passionately to racial profiling, suddenly, are going to be in favor of it. People who are opposed to Veteran Jim taking down the flags with his big knife in our universe, in that thought exercise, suddenly would have no problem with it at all.

And all you’ve really changed, is that instead of these issues involving people with darker skin, you’ve tweaked the issues so they involve people with copy-paper-white skin and pink eyes.

We’re supposed to be all a-twitter about racism. What is racism, but an unreasonable weight placed on the factor of skin color in the making of decisions?

So I’m not buying the racism angle, not even a tiny little bit. I do not think we’re doing any worrying about racism at all; not even as much as we should be. What I think we have been doing, is practicing it. People take patently absurd positions on these issues, allowing foreign flags to be flown above their own country’s flag when it’s clearly against the law to do so, demanding that Scottish grandmothers with red hair be frisked at the airport in the name of “randomness” — because of dark skin. It’s the hue that results in these decisions that, otherwise, logically make no sense whatsoever.

What really amazes me is that while both Mexicans who cross the border illegally, and Muslims who support terrorist organizations in some way, can lay claim (with some tiny kernel of truth) to the “I’m doing it because I’m so poor and put-upon” defense — there is very little in history to connect the two societies with each other. In fact, you could make the argument that the most meaningful and tangible connection between the two, by far, is the fact that we in America happen to be arguing with each other about both those demographies at the same time. They haven’t got anything to do with each other. Or very little.

But they both have darker skin. Darker than — that hated Archie Bunker guy.

And so the issues that affect them, we treat exactly the same way. The situation has deteriorated to the point where the United States has a border less meaningful than the border of…just about any other country on the face of the earth. It makes no sense. It’s supposed to make sense to the people who disagree with me about it, people with a different point of view, perhaps buying into the “doing what is necessary to feed their families” angle. I don’t think that’s it. I’m not buying it. I think the open-borders types don’t give a damn about the anchor-babies. They just want cheap labor, they’re acting out of white guilt, or both.

It’s racism pure and simple. They’re insisting on utterly irrational decisions about people with darker skin, just because of that darker skin, and for no other reason. Take the skin color out of it through the “albino exercise” and their position becomes indefensible, even to them.

We’re supposed to be a color-blind society. We’re supposed to stand up to, and confront, racism wherever we find it. We haven’t been worthy of conferring that kind of compliment onto ourselves; the big “We” seems to like racism just fine, so long as it’s the right flavor.

Well…thus ends my attempt to say something pithy. Gonna go take some Aspirin and get my day started.

Smart Hot Women

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Yes, you misogynist pigs they actually found more than ten.

I was browsing through the list looking at some accomplishments filed under “Evidence of Brains” that were probably exactly that, but could just as easily have been evidence of specialized aptitude coupled with mediocre intellect. Graduated from Harvard, played piano at a young age, majored in philosophy, etc. Actually, the Valedictorian stuff and the “knows a lot of languages” thing, those both impress me a great deal more. But on a whim, I decided to look at the honorable mentions where someone thought Mira Sorvino belonged. Yeah, Sharon Stone beat Mira Sorvino in this thing. Whatever, guys…but I did kind of a double-take when I ran across this:

[Hedy] Lamarr coinvented the first form of spread spectrum, which is the basis for pretty much all modern wireless communication.


No, it’s true. I “proved” it by proving the way you prove anything on the innernets, which is to define the extent to which a conspiracy would have to be concocted in order to make a false thing look true. And in this case, I found here & there a lot of mentions of it, the most detailed one being probably here.

Beautiful and smart as a whip, Hedy befriended a maverick musician, George Antheil. He is known for his experimental symphonies. One required 16 player pianos. They met at a Hollywood party where they discussed the war in Europe and the threat to America from Germany and Hitler. The following afternoon, Antheil went to Lamarr’s home to discuss what they could do to stop Hitler.

With Antheil’s help, Lamarr designed a new kind of guidance system for torpedos. Eventhough her formal education consisted of private schools without technical training, she had absorbed quite a bit about weaponry during her marriage to the arms merchant, Mandl. Her role was the proverbial “arm piece.” She was present at all of her husband’s business meetings, but her brain was always in high gear.

Hedy knew that “guided” torpedos were much more effective hitting a target, a ship at sea for example. The problem was that radio-controlled torpedos could easily be jammed by the enemy. Neither she nor Antheil were scientists, but one afternoon she realized “we’re talking and changing frequencies” all the time. At that moment, the concept of frequency-hopping was born.

Antheil gave Lamarr most of the credit, but he supplied the player piano technique. Using a modified piano roll in both the torpedo and the transmitter, the changing frequencies would always be in synch. A constantly changing frequency cannot be jammed.

They offered their patented device to the U.S. military then at war with Germany and Japan. Their only goal was to stop the Nazis. Unfortunately or predictably, the military establishment did not take them or their novel invention seriously. Their device was never put to use during World War II.

End of story? Not quite. Better than even odds you are using Ms. Lamarr’s invention as you read this very sentence.

By the 1950’s, the patent on the device had expired when engineers at Sylvania “re-discovered” frequency-hopping. They called it “spread spectrum.” These electronic devices were designed for use during the Cuban Missile crisis in the sixties. Hedy’s film career was winding down. She had turned down the lead in Casablanca and made a few other bad career decisions. In one interview, she estimated that she went through about 30 million dollars. She never made a dime on her and Antheil’s invention.

Today, spread spectrum devices using micro-chips, make pagers, cellular phones, and, yes, communication on the internet possible. Many units can operate at once using the same frequencies. Most important, spread spectrum is the key element in anti-jamming devices used in the government’s 25 billion Milstar system. Milstar controls all the intercontinental missiles in U.S. weapons arsenal.

Fifty-five years and five marriages later, Lamarr was recently given the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Award for their invention. Antheil was also honored; he died in the sixties. Hedy’s son accepted the award for her since she no longer makes public appearances. From her Florida apartment where she lived on a pension from the Screen Actor’s Guild, Lamarr responded, “It’s about time.”

Now…what’s Britney done for you lately?