President Obama’s Top 10 Secret Winning ISIL Strategies

President Barack Obama!

Our Commander-in-Chief gears up for conflict as part of Operation: Desert Suavé.

The past several years have not been America’s best in the realm of foreign policy. All that never-ending awkwardness, tension, and/or bitter feuding wasn’t exactly alleviated this week when President Barack Obama delivered a special address Wednesday night outlining our military’s proposed strategies for tackling the Eastern-Hemisphere forces of ISIL or ISIS or whatever this week’s code-acronym is for headline news’ newest bad guys.

Depending on where you stand with him and/or this escalating conflict, the speech was either too long, too short, too detailed, too vague, too overdue, or too Obama and you’re not listening no matter what LALALALALALALALA. Rest assured, our President and his speechwriters know better than to provide sensitive information to all listeners equally. We three hundred million onlookers will never know the full story behind all the extensive plans being concocted and implemented by our top officials, officers, politicians, diplomats, advisers, think-tankers, and other various hangers-on with useful knowledge or arsenals at the ready. Whatever they’re coming up with, the best we can do is hope it doesn’t blow up in our faces like an explosive cigar from a third-world novelty factory.

This realization, then, begs a question. Given that his speech was merely a superficial overview to assure Americans that they do indeed have concrete plans afoot, even if they can’t share blueprints or instruction booklets with us; assuming they aren’t just trying to save face and feign confidence in the face of roiling international controversy; knowing that the U.S. hasn’t exactly been scoring A-pluses in overseas negotiations over the past several years; I ask, then, because I can’t possibly be the only one who wants to know: What does Obama really have in mind here? How much is he not allowed to tell us, either to withhold info from enemy hands or to forestall embarrassment at the parts that might not work?

Right this way for tonight’s list!

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Indiana State Fair 2014 Photos, Part 3: The Great Local-Celeb Milking Contest

State Fair Milk!

The winner’s cup. MILK: what it’s all about.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides and big-ticket concerts by musicians that other people love. My wife and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context.

In our previous episode I touched on the variety of shows and competitions happening around the fairgrounds. One of the events we usually miss is the annual Celebrity Milking Contest. In this context the “celebrities” are local personalities unfamiliar to anyone living outside Indianapolis and to some of us lifelong citizens. We’d only watched the contest once before, a few years ago when the winner was the then-governor’s wife. Sure, they may not be movie stars or even YouTube headliners, but how often do we have the chance to watch cow-milking competitions? Besides, it was free.

Right this way for your 2014 contestants!

Apple’s 9/9/14 Superinfomercial and the New U2 Album, Track by Track

Songs of Innocence!

Ready and waiting for its future home on a Starbucks spinner rack.

I’m not a regular Apple customer. The last time I used one of their products was in college in 1991 when I took a “Statistical Psychology” class that was equipped with three rows of Macintosh units. In a time when DOS and BASIC had been the sole domains in my little computing world, the Macintosh was my introduction to the concept of the Graphic User Interface, which wasn’t a commonplace thing until the advent of Windows. Yes, I’m that old.

But I’ve never owned an Apple product, bearing in mind that digital downloads barely count as “ownership” in my mind, and my iTunes “library” so far is more like a Hot Wheels bookmobile. Apple’s ostentatious new-product announcements are usually outside my fields of interest. I’m not an early adopter in any tech-related areas. At all.

New iPhone? Pass. My phone is a Samsung S2 that accomplishes my simple daily needs as long as I remember to reboot once a week. (Longtime MCC readers may recall I was once staunchly anti-smartphone in general, until life gave me reasons not to be.) My phone isn’t broken, and once survived a ten-foot drop onto a metal catwalk with zero damage. I’m good for now.

New smartwatch with triple-digit price tag? Pass. I can’t function away from home without wearing a watch (see: “old”), but I rarely need to shop for a new one because any given fifteen-dollar waterproof department-store digital watch with a lithium battery will last me years. They’re arguably one of Walmart’s most durable products, and it’s faster for me to glance at my wrist than it is to pocket and unpocket any other time-telling gizmo, including my phone. And that lithium battery drains ten thousand times more slowly than any phone battery will.

But then Apple went in an unexpected direction with their third platform plank: a new U2 album. For free. Finally, a product in my price range and tangential to my personal interests. Sold!

Right this way for the listening results…

There’s Nothing Wrong with Your Internet Connection. For Now.

Net Neutrality.

90% of the following message was provided as an unpaid courtesy by Battle For The Net. The other 10% is value-added MCC editing and reformatting.

* * * * *

If you woke up tomorrow and your internet looked like this, what would you do?

Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites. Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?

On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help show the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.

If you’ve got a website, blog or Tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown at the official site. The Internet Slowdown official Tumblr also has a quick list of other things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown.

Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

Net Neutrality.

* * * * *

Special thanks to Automattic, the talented minds behind WordPress, for supporting this effort all the way. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen them advocating from the front lines of the internet battlefield. If I could hug or high-five each of their employees personally, I totally would.

Our 2006 Road Trip Photos, Part 17: the Season Finale and the Lost Outtakes


Outtake #1 of 5: baby piggies napping at the Minnesota Zoo. When we arrived home late at the end of our drive, this is how peacefully we slept that night.

[The very special miniseries concludes! See Part One for the official intro and context to this MCC remastered edition.

Fun trivia: the original 2006 version of this entry was posted entirely without visuals because neither of us took a single photo on Day 7. As a special bonus to break up the monotony for today's readers, especially for anyone who craves photos but couldn't care less about my writing, this evening my wife and I delved into the deep end of our closet and disinterred the rest of her 35mm hard-copy photos from 2006. Previous entries used a combination of excerpts from her scrapbooks and saved files from my first year as a digital camera owner. The five unrelated photos seen here, each of which reference activities from previous chapters, have never been scanned or shared online until now. Nothing fancy or disappointing about them; we basically forgot they existed.]

Right this way for the extended epilogue!

Our Annual Family Reunion Adventure

Turkey Run!

For fifty-seven years my wife’s family has held their annual reunions at Turkey Run State Park, a ninety-minute drive from our suburban HQ and well outside the range of my phone carrier’s disappointing 4G coverage. For the space of one Sunday afternoon it’s an opportunity to unplug from the internet and all its problems, experience fresh air, enjoy good weather live and in person (Lord willing), catch up with loved ones that we’ve been too preoccupied to visit, exchange pleasantries with distant relatives whose names we’ll never remember, test which family members will still commit to a long drive for any of these purposes, and remember how to mingle in large, awkward groups without access to Words with Friends as our consolation playmate.

Or, while everyone else is talking, you can escape the shindig for a while and go explore the best part of Turkey Run, the beautiful forests crisscrossed with several miles of nature-trail adventure.

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