Welcome back to "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
This month has been insane...I attended, I believe, somewhere around 50 holiday parties or other events. It was also incredibly busy, and I fit in a frantic move in the last two days. I drank too much, ate way too much, slept too little and basically ran myself so ragged that I feel sick, gross, tired and really kind of disgusting. I’m not at my best…
But, outside of the next month being really busy, work-wise, it should be much calmer! We have moved back into our now-much-larger condo (recap: it’s amaze-a-balls) and now I just need to unpack, figure out where everything should go...and set about buying a lot of new furniture. Also, going to need a new car, since the old one had a little run in with a guy sliding down a very ice hill...but that can wait, I don’t actually need a car for a couple of months, at least.
So...Alex is detoxing in January. I am going to stop drinking, partially to feel better and partially just to remind myself that I can. I am also going to stop eating as if I were a 10 year old who was allowed to feed herself...and I may even start, you know, exercising or something. Anyone have any more interesting New Year’s plans than that?
On to this week’s column, which I hashed out sitting at my new counters in my new kitchen in less time than I probably should have devoted to it! Jimmy wants a third party candidate, which I can only analogize to Scottish Football. Prop Op wants to talk about tired Twitter jokes, and ST asks about television and TV, which leads me to the realization that I am kind of pop-culture illiterate these days. Who ever saw THAT coming?! ING Firebrand has more TV questions, but they are about really old shows, so that is easier. Some guy named Chris may buy a new handgun and the CDP wants to swap squirrel recipes!
Happy New Year, everyone!
Submitted by: Jimmy Free Trade Globalist
Hey @VerumVulnero1 - the GOP was founded in 1854, won the Presidency in 1860. There wasn't social media. Why do people think a third party, or a successor to GOP as a second party is "impossible". Arab Spring was fueled greatly by social media. #AskAlex
It’s not that a third party is impossible - heck, Ross Perot made a legitimate run at the Presidency as recently as 1992, and Bernie Sanders nearly won a major party nomination without being a member of that party. So, it’s not at all impossible, but it is really unlikely. And that is by design.
Other countries have parliamentary systems that encourage lots of small parties that can win a couple of legislative seats in sympathetic areas and then join a coalition to form governments and exert some influence that way. In some countries, legislative representation is based on a national vote...so, a party getting 5% of the vote is awarded 5% of the seats in whatever body legislates.
It is also worth noting that we have some recent history of third party success: at least two current senators (Bernie Sanders and Angus King) are not officially a part of either party, and Joe Lieberman was elected in 2006 from the super-successful Connecticut for Lieberman party (which was supported heavily by Republicans...go figure). Jim Jeffords, Dean Barkley and Bob Smith are all recentish Senators who were not from a major party during at least some of their time in office. Bill Walker (AK), Lincoln Chafee (RI), Jesse Ventura (MN), King (ME), Lowell Weicker (CT) and Wally Hickel (AK) have all been elected Governors without a party affiliation, or as a third party candidate. So, it’s not terribly common, but it has happened recently.
But, to your question, the reason we don’t really have smaller parties competing for the Presidency is that the Founders didn’t want it that way. They didn’t like the idea of lots and lots of fringe parties, so they built a first-past-the-post electoral system with a state’s electoral clout going entirely to whichever candidate won that state. This tends to legitimize winners by making their margin look bigger than it is, and also eliminates any real support for third parties because there is no value in being a third party unless you can win states outright.
Looking at the Evan McMullin campaign gives us a window into this. His strategy as a third-party candidate was not to do well nationally, but rather to win a single state - Utah - by whatever margin he could, therefore making him eligible to be President and then hope that neither of the other two candidates got the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In such a case, Congress elects the President from any candidate who received any electoral votes. This is just one more thing that highlights the premium not on running up margins of victory in some states (ahem) but on winning states, regardless of the final vote.
Our two-party system has grown out of the way we elect Presidents, and that was very much by design. But...I am going to go a little bit Federalist on you here and suggest that the growing power of the Federal Government, and the growing concentration of that power in the Executive, has made this even more pronounced. The stakes are higher, the dollars available from interest groups are greater because the return on those dollars are greater, and the concentration of that money and electoral power to the two “teams” makes it harder than ever for a non-member of those teams to gain any measurable traction.
It is kind of like Scottish Football, long dominated by The Old Firm. Only two teams ever win Championships, which draws fans to those teams, which brings money to those teams to sign better players and win more Championships. Rinse, repeat. It is a self-reinforcing cycle.
And that brings me to your lesson in The World’s Greatest Sports Rivalry: there have been 120 seasons of Scottish Football (121 Champions, it’s a long story). The Loyalist Britophile Heretics have 54 Championships while the God-Fearing Papist Jacobites have 48...and every other team combined, has 19, none since 1985!
It is worth noting that these totals are somewhat misleading, as the Heretics are proven tax cheats and league rule-breakers (of course!) who were kicked out of the league for a couple of years and almost certainly should be stripped of at least the three Championships they won between 2001 and 2009 and possibly two more in subsequent years. Any non-crooked thinking person with any sense would acknowledge that the Hoops are the rightful Champions of every season since the turn of the century.
Plus, the Lisbon Lions (it’s a soft C, by the way, regardless of what you think it should be) won the 1967 European Cup - the predecessor to the modern Champion’s League - and that one win pretty much trumps all of Rangers’ ill-gotten garbage second-rate trophies anyway. The fact that they did it with a squad made up entirely of Scotch-Irish Catholics born within 15 miles of the team’s stadium is both a truly staggering athletic achievement and probably definitive proof that Martin Luther was wrong...
Don’t worry, though, it is a totally respectful rivalry full of a healthy regard for each other’s players, fans and the noble efforts of the two teams. And definitely nobody ever gets stabbed.
Submitted by: Prop Op
What Twitter jokes are the most played out?
Twitter has a habit of playing things out VERY quickly, and a lot of great Twitter jokes are pretty tired. “tfw”, “Life Comes at you Fast”, “Said no one Ever”, “Record Scratch”, “Narrator:”, “Don’t @ me”, “You had ONE job”, “RIP my Mentions”, “@ me next time”, all of the acronyms - ISWYDT, IYKWIM, POIDH, NTTAWT - they are all pretty well worn, but can still be funny if the timing and the subject matter is right. TWSS is still funny when it is used to respond to a tweet that wasn’t intended to be at all suggestive...
But, I am going to note that “Hold my Beer” may now be officially dead. How do I know? Because it has now gone past cutting edge usage, past early-adopter usage, past regular usage, past Baby Boomer usage and now into the graveyard where previously funny things go to die: usage by the official accounts of Major Media Outlets. Just the other day, the Boston Globe used it, and that seems like a pretty sure sign that the party is over.
And then there are a whole bunch of Twitter habits that are just outright annoying - asking for follows, “joke-not-joke” requests for nudes or other provocative material in DM, restating the same exact thought that someone just said (“...the Skipper, too…”), responding seriously to an obvious joke - every one of these is played out, but was never really played-in, so I don’t think they count…
Submitted by: ST
What are your picks for the top (x amount) movies and TV shows of 2017?
I am sitting here trying to figure out what the hell I watched on TV all year, and for the life of me I have no fucking idea. I feel like I watch a lot of TV...or at least have the TV on all the time, but I can’t really tell you what I watch regularly. I don’t really even watch the terrible home improvement, gold mining and Housewife shows that I used to watch so much of.
TV’s in my house are generally tuned to either kids shows (btw, Disney, Elena of Avalor is unnecessarily hot for a 16 year old cartoon) or sports. Both work fine for me as background noise. When the TV is on, I am rarely even paying attention to it...I am either working or, you know, fucking around on Twitter!
As far as I can remember, the only three series that I watched in their entirety this year were Game of Thrones, West World and The Kids Baking Championship. And, obviously, every second of the thrilling season of MY SEC CHAMPION GEORGIA BULLDOGS!
*Rose Bowl Pending*
I was even worse about the movies. I saw Star Wars last week, and that was the only new movie I saw all year. This is down from last year, when I saw both Sing and The Secret Life of Pets in the calendar year. I like going to the movies, I just never actually do it...it’s never something that comes up as the way I’d most like to spend an afternoon or an evening. Maybe I should make this a 2018 resolution...I need to watch more TV and movies. Which means I will need some suggestions!!!
My list of TV-Shows-To-Watch is amazingly long and I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I am never going to get to it (I haven’t even started Breaking Bad yet, in case you are wondering where I am on this). If I am going to, I will need to get into the habit of watching episodes regularly at night before bed, and frankly I am not sure how that fits in. Usually, I get done reading with the girls at about 8:30, at which point I almost always have work to do (contrary to popular belief, I am not, in fact, paid just to look cute). I’m not ready to totally decompress until 10:30 or so, at which point I usually like to check in with Twitter for a bit, and then it gets to be too late to start an hour long TV show if I intend to get to work in the morning.
You know what? Maybe I should retire. That might solve a lot of this...
Submitted by: Ingenious Firebrand
How many classic TV shows could never be remade due to sexual harassment concerns? I came up with Cheers, Night Court, Bosom Buddies...the realized that it might be most shows.
I actually think the opposite is true. There is a lot of TV made nowadays that never could have been made previously because there are so many more ways to deliver good shows. HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu provide financing and legitimacy to previously unproduceable projects that stretch the limits of traditional ideas of propriety.
The subjects would certainly be treated differently - Sam Malone would lose his bar to Diane in a lawsuit over his wildly inappropriate behavior towards a subordinate - but there would be nothing stopping the making of those shows. Actually, in a key episode on the grey areas of consent, she would resist his advances at work despite being in a relationship, leading to an ugly coat-closet scene in which his refusal to take an initial “no” leads to a physical altercation and a classic he-said, she-said police complaint…
None of which would matter, since the family of Norm would have already won the bar in a lawsuit over their constant over-serving of the hapless alcoholic patron. Of no note at all...Norm was actually his middle name and his real name was Hilary Norman Peterson (named after his Grandfather).
I kid you not, you can look it up! His real name, was, in fact, Hilary…
As often happens while I am doing this, I get down Google rabbit holes, and this one has led me to a couple of realizations. First, Markie Post is still pretty hot. And second, Tom Hanks’ debut role on a TV show that required him to dress in drag and lasted only two seasons is maybe the most unlikely beginning for a mega-star as has ever happened in Hollywood. There have been some others - Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin, Meg Ryan, Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, James Franco and Julianne Moore were all Soap stars and Lindsay Lohan was a kid on Another World before The Parent Trap - but Tom Hanks is probably The. Biggest. Movie. Star. Who. Ever. Lived. and he started out playing a very bad cross-dressing advertising agency employee.
Wait...unrelated...why is everyone on a Soap Opera referred to as “A Soap Star”? Same goes for any person who ever appeared in any porn being referred to as “A Porn Star”. Is it just a means of propping up the egos of people who are so obviously slumming it in hopes that they get a job they really want? I mean, nobody would refer to the kid who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story as “a movie star”...and that was the central role in one of the eight best movies of the 20th century! So why does Destiny McFaketits get called a star for being one of four chicks in a hot tub with the pizza delivery guy?! Basic rule of thumb: if your name never goes on the cover of the (now virtual) DVD box, you can’t be called a star.
I can see a 2018 reboot of Mork and Mindy, though, only this time Mork is really a Lebanese refugee named Marakh, sneaking into the US in defiance of Trump’s orders to work in a seedy diner to chase the American dream and send what little he can earn to send back to his destitute family members while also falling in love with Mindy, his devoted, kind-hearted immigration lawyer (played by Anne Hathaway) fighting for the downtrodden and misunderstood.
Plot twist: he really is a terrorist.
Submitted by: Chris Boone
Hi Answer Lady,
I'm considering selling my 3rd Gen Glock model 22 (chambered in .40S&W) to get the new Smith and Wesson M&P Shield chambered in .45ACP. The Smith is much smaller and easier to carry, but I love my Glock. Pros and cons?
There question isn’t really “which gun would you rather have?” but rather “would you like the S&W about $250 more than the Glock?", because that is about what you’re paying to make the swap. It looks like $250 would be a good price for the used Glock, and the new S&W is going to run you about $500. Add in the increased ammo costs for the .45 rounds, and you are committing some actual money to make the change.
I guess I’d also want to know why you are looking at the S&W .45 and not the .40? The .45 is a little bigger, and carriers who also tote spare magazines report that it can be just a little bit bulky to carry. Is it that you maybe aren’t looking for a substitute for the Glock and you are looking at the .45 specifically because it is NOT that similar…
I’m having a hard time justifying the switch, to be honest. The bigger caliber isn’t really a huge difference...it’s not like you are making a massive upgrade in stopping power. It may be a more challenging target shooting pistol because of the increased caliber (or, I may have made that up…) which is something, I guess, but that seems pretty minor. To me, it sounds like you are dropping a couple hundred bucks for a slightly more powerful pistol with more expensive operating costs, less track record and less available parts and accessories than you’d get from the Glock.
Unless they make it in sparkly pink, in which case you should go for it!!!
Submitted by: CDP and Mr P♤♤♧
Hey @VerumVulnero1 how drunk would you have to be to even eat, much less cook, squirrel?
Pretty fucking drunk.
First of all, if I am eating a squirrel, it is definitely cooked. I know that sashimi chicken is sweeping the Japanese culinary scene, and that is plenty gross for me...extending that to rodents is a whole ‘nother level of repulsive.
I’d eat squirrel, though...I am a pretty adventurous eater. And pretty much every Twitter friend I have from Louisiana has eaten or regularly eats squirrel. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of meat on a squirrel...Jared Dimond would surely tell us that squirrels would make terrible domesticated protein sources...but if you can’t find a cow or a pig floating around, little critters like squirrels or rabbits would probably do the trick.
Speaking of horses, one of the more fascinating tidbits from Guns, Germs and Steel (which is a fascinating book) is that horses are so useful that we don’t usually eat them. They meet every criteria for a good food source...they are big, they are easy to feed, they breed in captivity and can be bred to be fat. Under any other circumstances, they would have gone the way of cows or sheep or pigs and become a staple food source for most of western civilization.
But horses are so incredibly useful...as transportation, as draft animals, as military, ranching and hunting implements and even as companions...that we always found a better use for them than as food, even at times when humans were otherwise struggling to find food. Kind of a similar story for dogs, although they are smaller, so they are less attractive as a food source. Dogs and humans are almost perfectly suited for one another...humans shelter, feed and protect dogs and dogs can hunt, work and also protect humans. It is a really remarkable relationship.
Back to the question, though, I’m not above ordering weird things in restaurants...ostrich, rabbit, snails… and I read The Jungle, so I have no delusions about the things that probably end up in sausages and hot dogs. Do you really want to know what goes into Spam? Or Velveeta? Ot Doritos? Unless you are making everything you eat from raw foods, you are probably eating something that on its own would seem super sketchy. Other than being closer to the source, squirrel isn’t any weirder than that.
And think of some of the things we eat voluntarily. Lobsters are a delicacy...and they are really just giant ocean roaches. Oysters? May as well be pancreas secretions from a giant whale. Have you ever looked at a turkey? Like, really looked at a turkey? So, yes, I get that rodents are a step further down the food chain and that eating anything that eats garbage is pretty gross and an invitation for all kinds of weird food borne diseases, but I am not going to turn my nose up at squirrel just because I can hunt them by throwing rocks out my back window.
This reminds me of a joke! A guy wakes up early one morning, grabs his BB gun and goes squirrel hunting. He has a great day, bags a handful of fat squirrels and brings them home to make soup. But while making the soup, he accidentally spills a canister of BB’s into the soup! Not wanting to waste the squirrels, he decides to just ignore it and hope they won’t notice.
So, dinner ends and the whole family raves about his flavorful and rich squirrel soup. But, shortly thereafter, his young daughter comes to him somewhat upset “Daddy, I was tinkling and I heard a ‘plop’ and I looked down and there was a shiny metal thing in my pee!” He told her “That’s nothing to worry about, Sally, just go to bed and you will be fine in the morning.” Then, maybe an hour later, he concerned wife told him “Honey, the strangest thing...I think I just passed a kidney stone.” The husband acted confused but offered words of calm “That is strange, honey, but as long as you are not in pain, why don’t you just go to bed and see how you feel in the morning.” Just then, their 12 year old boy came bombing down the stairs, equally enthralled and terrified…
“Mom! Dad! I was taking a leak and I shot the dog!!!”
Alex’s random old song of the week
Not sure why I am thinking of this now, but Talking Heads are kind of underrated. Maybe not like super underrated, but kind of...they made some really cool stuff, and it was always really, really different than anything anyone else was making.
So, your song of the week is the fantastically brilliant Once in a Lifetime. Special bonus, Kermit killed it...
And you may say to yourself, “My God, what have I done?”
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.