Friday, December 02, 2011

Chuck Lorre’s Whisper Channel

One of the most gifted comedy writers (an producers) is for sure Chuck Lorre. He is the brains behind The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, Dharma & Greg, Cybill, and Grace Under Fire. At the end of each episode, a vanity card appears. Each one is a treat in itself. One of my favorites is #249:

More and more, it seems like people are yelling at me. This is especially noticeable on local and cable news, TV and radio ads, morning, afternoon and late night talk shows, religious channels, entertainment tabloid shows, and, NPR aside, radio. It's almost as if all the news anchors, reporters, product pitchmen, talk show hosts, politicians, sportscasters, DJ's and preachers have forgotten how good modern microphones are.

Regardless, the purpose of vanity cards is not just to point out the problem; it's also to propose the solution. And here's one: The Whisper Channel - a cable news channel where everyone, including advertisers, speaks in gentle, dulcet tones. Our marketing tagline will be one word, "shhh."

Instead of grinning, shouting, overly-coiffed failed actors, our news anchors will be regular folks with beautiful speaking voices who, just to be on the safe side, have been heavily sedated.

Just think of it. You've had a brutal day at work. Traffic on the way home was a righteous bitch. You crawl into your home which is worth far less than you paid for it, and, because you want to stay informed, you turn on The Whisper Channel where a pleasant-looking woman with real hair, real nose, real wrinkles, real breasts and teeth the color of teeth, soothingly tells you about the latest terrorist attack, stock market fiasco, school shooting and, just to keep it interesting, emergency recall of the anti-anxiety meds you've been taking because they might cause impotence, blindness and insanity. But because of the way she says it, you are hunky dory.


the whisper channel...
where human civilization sliding into the abyss
is nothing to shout about

Isn’t it brilliant? Just in case the idea will take off: I offer my services!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Devil is in the Details – Giotto’s Cloud Solution

The basilica in Assisi is famous as the burial place of St. Francis. It is also known for its amazing frescos depicting the life and death of St. Francis, partly painted by Giotto di Bondone (known as Giotto) in the 13th century.

The basilica was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997. Restoration work took years under the auspice of Professor Sergio Fusetti, the chief restorer.

But it was Italian art historian Chiara Frugone who made an amazing discovery. She noticed the face of a devil hidden in the details of clouds at the top of fresco number 20. It shows a profile of a figure with a hooked nose, a sly smile, and dark horns hidden among the clouds. Although the figure is difficult to see from the floor of the basilica, it can be clearly seen up close.

According to Fusetti, Giotto probably never wanted the image of the devil to be a main part of the fresco and may have painted it in among the clouds "to have a bit of fun." Quite likely, Giotto painted this devil to get back at someone he clearly despised.

Hurray for Giotto! His cloud solution gave a new meaning to “the devil is in the details”!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Talking about Language

Language is not only a part of our daily life, but also an elementary part of our culture. Even within one country or state, there are regional differences in the same language. The differences between U.S., Australian, and British English (e.g., traffic light vs. robot) are actually modest compared to differences between dialects of Spanish and German.

Idioms are figures of speech that are not be used (when literally translated) in other languages. For example, the notion of “knock it out of the ball park” makes sense in the US, but is not understood in other countries. The noun “serendipity” is also mainly used in the US, and will not be understood by non-Americans.

But information is also transferred in non-verbal communication. In some cultures, people nod to signify “yes” and shake their heads to signify “no;” in other cultures (e.g., Greece, India) this practice is different.

If we look ad neologisms, there is a language issue there as well. Neologisms are terms that have come into language relatively recently as technology or society involved. Computer technology gave birth to the term “spam” and “add-on”. But different countries use different words. A computer is called a “Rechner” in German-speaking countries. A cell phone is called a “mobiel” in Dutch and a “Handy” in German.

Slang exists within almost all languages known to man. Slang does not only vary per region, but also per social group. There are often significant generation gaps in the use of slang (e.g., groovy).

Language is alive and always evolving. It’s one of the most creative tools to express feelings or convey an idea. Every day, new expressions and concepts are being coined (e.g., 9-9-9 tax plan).

Want to know about writing? Contact me at Tip Top Writer.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony, who’s next to join the club?

In an astounding reversal of fortune, Amanda Knox was set free by an Italian jury. She told the jury impassioned: "I did not kill, I did not rape, I was not there." Throughout her trial, she has always maintained her innocence. So now, after four years, she walked out of her Italian prison a free woman.

Was she the victim of a miscarriage of justice? Or is she a second Lindy Chamberlain (“a dingo took my baby”) or Casey Anthony?

One of the main problems is the girl herself (similar to Ms. Anthony). She was quite appropriate referred to as “[the killer] with the stone-cold eyes”. She never even flinched once during her court appearances or showed any grief for the brutal murder of her close friend and housemate Meredith Kercher.

Poor Meredith was forced to kneel, her face was pushed into the floor, and she was then raped at knife-point before being stabbed and strangled to death.

Amanda seems to be obsessed though with former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. To this day, Raffaele denies that she was at his house on the night of the murder (as she claimed).

Ms. Knox also repeatedly changed her story and even accused an innocent man to save her own skin.

So why was she set free? Simple - the evidence was too botched and the forensics too flawed. Does that make her innocent? Far from it! But in any democratic legal system - in dubio pro reo.

The act she put up during her last hearing was an example of great acting. She pleaded: ‘I don’t want to be deprived of my life.’ Yeah, sure, but what about poor Meredith? She for sure was cruelly deprived of her life!

Nicknamed Foxy Knoxy by the media, she will for sure hammer out a great book deal, followed by a Hollywood blockbuster. Ah well, she can always hook up with Casey Anthony and start her own “exclusive” club of accused murderesses set free....

In the mean time, there is no justice served and the parents and relatives of Meredith have to try to come to terms with this latest Italian carriage of justice.....

The public prosecutor announced that they will appeal the latest verdict. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Geert Wilders colorful language – too funny for words?

You might have heard of Geert Wilders, the bad boy of Dutch politics. He made a name for himself with his 17-minute documentary Fitna (which roughly translates from Arabic as "strife"). In it, he juxtaposes the Koran with 9/11 and other atrocities. He is currently heading a political party called

Wilders is head of the popular Freedom Party. After the 2010 election, the Liberal Party has found itself relying on Wilders to support its coalition with the Christian Democrats. The Freedom Party remains outside the government and “tolerates”the current coalition. De facto: Mr. Wilders is the Puppet Master, cleverly drawing the spotlight on his party and himself (often to the confusion of foreign politicians, who assume that he is the Prime Minister).

Back in 2007, he was voted politician of the year in 2007 by the Dutch political press, partly because of his "well-timed one-liners". Wilders has a way with words which is unprecedented in Dutch politics.

During the last few days, the Dutch equivalent of the State of the Union is being discussed in Parliament. Due to the beautiful weather, not all MPs showed up, including the majority of the Green Left. Wilders pointed out that his entire caucus (24 MPs) came back from holiday to debate. He went on to state that the Green Party MPs couldn't pull themselves away from the beach and labeled them 'the beach party' for the rest of the afternoon.

Wilders also repeatedly referred to opposition Labour Party leader Job Cohen as the Prime Minister’s “corporate poodle”, stating: "Mr. Cohen runs around the prime minister’s yard, yelping and peeing on a tree, but when the prime minister arrives he jumps up in his lap." Needless to say, Cohen was Not Amused.

After opposition D66 leader Alexander Pechtold finished asking a long-worded question, Mr Wilders said "I’ll try to react to Mr Pechtold’s diarrhea."

And the story goes on.... Last Thursday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Wilders clashed again. At one point Wilders addressed Rutte with the historic words: ‘Behave yourself, man.’ (or “get a grip on it, man”). Rutte was upset that a member of Wilders’party implied a week before that the Turkish prime minister Recep Tavvip Erdogan as an ‘Islamic monkey’.

Wilders has a way with words. Dutch politicians are not used to this kind of debating. How did the Dutch public react? They love it! T-shirts are already available......

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Case of the Stupid Spamming Scam

Today I received this email. I inserted my comments in italics and brackets. I left all the grammar, spelling and style mistakes as they were....

Attn: Sir/madam:

I’M Diplomat: Jonathan Conahan (which embassy, country? Utopia or The Glorious Republic of Hackistan?),I have been trying to reach you on your telephone (You know my telephone number, but still do not address me by name in your email? Really?!) about an hour (funny, didn’t hear anything, must have my ears checked) now just to inform you about my successful arrival in London Heathrow Airport (Do I care? NO!), am now in Heathrow International Airport (good luck with the outrageous prices for coffee and mineral water there!) with your consignment boxes worth ($1.700.000.00) ONE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSEND DOLLARS (What consignment boxes? The only box I own |(sort of) is a cat litter box!) which I has been instructed by our companying EMS DELIVERY SERVICE to delivered the consignment box to your receiving address (good luck with that – I am not located in the UK! But please contact 12 Downing Street).

The Airport authority demanded for all the legal back up document (you know I am a lawyer, right?) to prove to them that the fund is no way related with drug nor fraud money (what about terrorist funding?) , I presented the entire documents to them and they are very much pleased (really? You think they care?) with the document which I presented, but the only thing that is still keeping me here is the airport Yellow Tags which is not placed on the consignment box (so you are a stupid person; why didn’t you send it by diplomatic mail?), one of the Airport Authority has advise that I should get the Yellow Tags, to enable me exit in the airport and to make my delivery successful to your receiving address (Dear BAA, just throw his sorry ass in jail, thanks).

I try to reason with them and they stated that the Yellow Tags will cost us just $ 127 Dollars (small money for a diplomat!) only to get the Yellow Tags placed on the box, as that Yellow Tags will enable me get to your house successfully (NO, don’t come to my house!) without any interference, they scanned the box and found out that the fund is 100% spend able and accepted by any bank in the whole world (since when can they scan money for that?!) . Please try and reach me with my Telephone number +447045726759 (fat chance!). As I can not afford to spend more time here due to other delivery I have to take care in other countries (just relax, have a coffee...while dodging bullets), am with the entire document that backup your funds together with my id card (please post that one online) which I will accompany you to your bank where you will deposit your fund successfully with those document (do I look that stupid?).

I has more vital document with me but I will only present to you the hard copy when I reach your receiving place (what the f?) , as this is the diplomatic rules, such as authorization to deliver. You can direct the Yellow Tags fee to our Head Office (not your embassy?) as they are entitled to receive and make any payment to foreign countries authority (Libya, anyone?).

E-mail: (dear reader, please feel free to send all your offers, newsletters, etc. to this email)
And: (tk stands for Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific)
Telephone number: +447045726759 (feel free to send them any sms you can think of).

NOTICE: EMS delivering service has been mandated by the ECOWAS parliament (ECOWAS = Economic Community Of West African States and has as such no parliament!) to deliver this consignment box worth of $1.7million dollars in your favor this fiscal year 2011, because of the impostors your fund has been converted to cash fund authorized and sealed by the ECOWAS parliament.

I am waiting to receive your respond to enable me update you our receiver information where you will forward the payment information of$127 us dollars (please hold your breath!) , in order to enable us obtain your Yellow Tags for immediately released of your consignment and for onward delivering to your receiving address.

Diplomat: Jonathan Conahan.

This phisher (or pisher in Yiddish!) send previous mails claiming:

“my name is Mr. Jonathan Conahan and am a citizen of Libya

He also sends emails stating being Mr. Jonathan Conahan
For the management of bank of Africa, Cotonou, Benin

“Jonathan Conahan” is obviously a cover for a gang of cybercrooks, may be even cyberterrorists! Let’s hope the Feds will get hold of them....soon! Or are there Cyber SEALS that could do the job?

Friday, August 12, 2011

You Have the Right to....a Lesson from Monty Python

Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man--
Or woman.
Why don't you shut up about women, Stan. You're putting us off.
Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.
Why are you always on about women, Stan?
I want to be one.
I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me 'Loretta'.
It's my right as a man.
Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
I want to have babies.
You want to have babies?!
It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.
But... you can't have babies.
Don't you oppress me.
I'm not oppressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb! Where's the foetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
Here! I-- I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans, but that he can have the right to have babies.
Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.
What's the point?
What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?!
It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
Symbolic of his struggle against reality.
[clap clap clap]

-- Monty Python's Life of Brian

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

11 Tips on Getting More Efficiency out of Women Employees (‘40s style)

The text below is an actual article in the magazine Mass Transportation published in 1943. As checked with Snopes, it is real and here is the cover. (To see the story in full, go to

If you think attitude towards women in Mad Men is bad, just read these golden tips...

1. Pick young married women

They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters. They are less likely to be flirtatious. They need the work, or they would not be doing it. The still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

Really? Married women don’t flirt? Or *gasp* are unfaithful? How naive!

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives

Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It is always well to impress upon older women, the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

OK, so old (over 30?) women are considered to be witches... How can they not have had contact with “the public”? Did they live on Mars?

3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls - those who are just a little on the heavy side - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters

Bring in the chocolate, bagels, and muffins for snacks and let’s have pizza for lunch! Stay off the diet soft drinks! Christy Alley – you’re hired!

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination. (one covering female conditions)

This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

Are the worried about PMS and menopause? News flash: all my male bosses were moody....and had mood swings!

5. Stress at the outset, the importance of time

The fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

Did they preach the same to male employees?!

6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties

(so that they will keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes). Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

OK, I get it, women can not think for themselves. Do you agree Marie Curie? Angela Merkel? Hillary Clinton?

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day.

Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

I just don’t get this point. Isn’t it rather inefficient to have employees change jobs every day? Time for a McKinsey audit!

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day

You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

Mmm, so male employees can work non-stop because they don’t need to wash their hands – heck, who cares about infections? Guys obviously can run around with untidy hair and ALL women were lipstick!

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms

Women are often sensitive; they cannot shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman - it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

Please, go on verbally abusing male employees......they can take it, the insensitive brutes!

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women

Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she will grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

How insightful! So it is OK for husbands and fathers to curse? What if they work at the same place as their wives/daughters?

11. Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit.

This point cannot be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

Bring in Armani! I want my uniform tailor-made!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Super 8 Stories

Mark V. Moorhead wrote his first novel about ten years ago. It was called Super Eight Days, and it was about a group of teenagers in small-town Pennsylvania in the late ‘70s making their own scary pictures with a Super 8mm movie camera.

After finishing it, Moorhead didn’t do anything with it for several years. Once in a while he would reread a few chapters, and toyed with the idea to turn it into a screenplay.

It was only earlier this year that he learned about J.J. Abrams film Super 8. The flick (produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by J.J. Abrams) tells the story of a group of teenagers in small-town Ohio in the late ‘70s making their own scary pictures with a Super 8mm movie camera.

Moorhead is the first to point out that similarities end there. The movie is a sci-fi thriller (teenagers vs. aliens); the novel is a coming-of-age story.

But Moorhead did something clever – he published his novel as an e-book on Amazon Kindle for a list price of 99 cents ($2.99 international). As he points out: “less than even a matinee ticket to J.J.’s Super 8”.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slow Dance (Poem)

This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital.


Have you ever watched kids

On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain

Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Do you run through each day

On the fly?

When you ask How are you?

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done

Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores

Running through your head?

You'd better slow down

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Ever told your child,

We'll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,

Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time

To call and say 'Hi'

You'd better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last...

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift....

Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Terrorism alert satire attributed to John Cleese

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the
blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the
country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Three more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!", "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend", and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

John Cleese - British writer, actor and tall person

Monday, May 09, 2011

The flexible epaper phone (PaperPhone) - the future?

Researches have developed the world's first flexible smartphone that could change our life forever.

The PaperPhone is flexible and can be controlled by being bent, written on or used as a touchscreen. Researchers from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, Arizona State University, USA, researchers from the E-Ink Corporation determined how people use a flexible device. They built the PaperPhone as the smartphone and tablet of the future.

According to Dr. Roel Vertegaal (director of the human media lab at Queen’s):
This is the future. Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years. This computer looks, feels and operates like a small sheet of interactive paper.”

The PaperPhone uses the same e-Ink technology found in the Amazon Kindle e-reader. The PaperPhone has the same functionality as current Smart Phones: making phone calls, reading ebooks, and play music.

The researchers predict that the technology will spell the end of paper and printers. They foresee a paperless office where everything can be stored digitally and people can stack these new computers on top of each other like sheets of paper.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Flipback Book – the latest book format from Holland goes international

In September 2009, Hugo van Woerden, CEO of the Christian printing house Jongbloed, introduced a new book format at the Manuscripta exhibition. It quickly became all the rage in Holland, where it since sold 1m copies

The format is a "flipback" (in Dutch “Dwarsligger” which has wonderful double meaning – just asl your Dutch friend or drop me a line).

The flipback is a sideways-bound book with a lie-flat binding. It is printed on onionskin (think bible pages) and it size easily makes it fit in a shirt. Most importantly, it is optimized for easy one-handed reading, which makes for perfect reading during rush hour.

After successfully conquering the Netherlands, Flipback is going European. The Spanish publisher Ediciones B is launching the Flipback in Spain under the brandname Librinos.
France will be next, and the flipback will reach UK shores in June 2011 when Hodder & Stoughton will launch a selection of 12 books with a price tag of £9.99. Titles will include David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Stephen King's Misery.

It seems that readers take to this new format. So will it be an addition to the current formats or a threat to e-books? Time will tell, especially once the flipback book format conquers the US.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cool book report - author unknown

Students at a local school were assigned to read 2 books, 'Titanic' and 'My Life' by Bill Clinton. One student turned in the following book report. S/he pointed out that they were nearly identical stories. The teacher allegedly gave the pupil an A+ for this report.

Titanic: Cost - $29.99
Clinton: Cost - $29.99

Titanic: Over 3 hours to read
Clinton: Over 3 hours to read

Titanic: The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.
Clinton: The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Titanic: Jack is a starving artist.
Clinton: Bill is a ???? artist.

Titanic:In one scene, Jack enjoys a good cigar.
Clinton: Ditto for Bill.

Titanic:.During the ordeal, Rose's dress gets ruined.
Clinton: Ditto for Monica.

Titanic: Jack teaches Rose to spit.
Clinton: Let's not go there.

Titanic: Rose gets to keep her jewelry.
Clinton: Monica' s forced to return her gifts.

Titanic: Rose remembers Jack for the rest of her life.

Titanic: Rose goes down on a vessel full of seamen.
Clinton: Monica.. Ooh, let's not go there, either.

Titanic: Jack surrenders to an icy death.
Clinton: Bill goes home to Hillary - basically the same thing