Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Harry Balzac Needn't Apply

We don't generally cover the foreign affairs beat here, unless Romania is involved, but one of our stringers in Riyadh thought we might be interested in this bit of international intrigue:
"In Saudi Arabia, size does count.

A high level Pakistani diplomat has been rejected as Ambassador of Saudi Arabia because his name, Akbar Zib, equates to 'Biggest Dick' in Arabic. Saudi officials, apparently overwhelmed by the idea of the name, put their foot down and gave the idea of his being posted there the kibosh."
Somewhere, John Cleese is having a mighty chortle.

63 comments:

rob said...

d.c. is second in the nation to syracuse in total accumulated snowfall this season. fucking syracuse.

zoltan said...

Snowlapalooza here in NYC. The email went out last night saying "you better get your ass into the office on time. And if you stay home it'll cost you a vacation day." Only in a nicer tone than that.

rob said...

at least in nyc you can move about underground. here in the suburbs, we're limited to tauntauns and snowshoes.

zoltan said...

And the accumulation here is nothing near half a Hungarian peckerlength, let alone two. My heart is full of schadenfreude though, after spending 7 years of my life listening to allegations that "Fairfax County and Montgomery County are the richest counties in the country" and another 3 years listening to allegations that the free market is the solution to everything, that the richest counties in the country can't hire some out-of-state plows and salters to dig them out.

Yet another reason to get some sort of commuter rail system that goes out to Loudon County.

TR said...

Upsides to working from home: no shower, shave or collard shirt necessary, extra 90 minutes of sleep, Man U vs. Aston Villa live at 3 PM EST, happy hour starting on my couch at 3:01 PM.

Downsides: productivity seriously hurt, wife starts leaning on you, no cable TV in basement, only one monitor making life tedious. Never thought I would fall in love with my two-monitor set-up at work as much as I have.

zoltan said...

I just started with a 2-monitor setup about 2.5 years ago and I don't understand what took me so long. I may even get an extra monitor for when I WFH.

Is your collard shirt green?

rob said...

please to be telling me about the benefits of this two-monitor system. i confess that i don't really get it.

Whitney said...

Woo French Hookers?

TR said...

Rob - I'm not sure if I translated your ebonics correctly, but you appear to question the added value of a 2-monitor set-up. If you're a spreadsheet jockey who gets a lot of e-mails, it's a big productivity enhancer. Having multiple apps open at once makes it much easier for me to do a lot of projects. And when I'm balls deep in Excel work, it's nice to be able to spread Excel over both monitors, vertically tile documents and have it all there in front of me.

TR said...

And, most importantly, 2 monitors form a larger shield for me when I want to pick my nose at work, which is all the time.

Marls said...

I heartily agree with the Z-Man and the TR-Man. Two monitors is a godsend if you need to review documents while creating another.

As for the snow here in NYC, it is a joke. Half my office, when told to use their better judgement about coming in, took this as an opportunity to stay at home in their bunny slippers.

zoltan said...

Working From Home, but I like your acronym better Whit.

I am a professional Word document jockey and email monkey. So I put the document database app and my email on one monitor, usually behind one Word doc, then have one or more Word docs (and gmail/G:TB) open on the other monitor. Much easier to copy and paste between docs, from email to a doc, from Wikipedia to a doc, etc. when you don't have to minimize everything.

The image of TR "balls deep in [Nick van] Excel" is disturbing.

zoltan said...

And here's a fascinating wrinkle for the Rapture Clause in your will:

http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/

TR said...

With all due respect, Mr. Marls, the snow is no joke out here in the swamps of Jersey. And Strong Island is getting pummeled as well. The creaky train systems don't need much to break down, so I decided not to tempt fate.

If you're referring to the 5-borough folks who are bailing, you have a case. But, unfortunately, that just makes you a sucker for not bailing out of work and doing snowy day-drinking while doing the WFH thing Z-Man mentioned, which I'm pretty sure means Walloping Fuck Holes.

Whitney said...

Homer: Marge, name one successful person in life who ever lived without air conditioning.
Marge: Balzac!
Homer: No need for potty mouth just because you can't think of one.
Marge: But Balzac is the name-
Homer: [interrupting] "If ifs' and buts were candy and nuts..." um, how does the rest of that go?

Whitney said...

On this site, if you say you are WFH, it will always be translated into Wearing Facial Hair.

I assumed Z-Man meant "2 mirrors" instead of "2 monitors".

zoltan said...

One mirror for Wearing Facial Hair, and the other for ... Watching Fierce Hemorrhoids?

Whitney said...

Good facial hair is such that multiple angles when trimming, grooming, or just admiring can be handy.

Geoff said...

The snow/wind situation in Arlington right now has a real "wrath of God" feel to it. I'm "working from home today" in the sense that if you email me, there's a 40 percent chance I'll respond.

Shlara said...

I'm on day 3 of working from home. This blizzard totally sucks. The wind is insane. I'm making myself an Irish Coffee to get thru the rest of the morning.

rob said...

and so gheorghe: the podcast proves its social utility.

zoltan said...

Let's get an Edgeworth box plot going here - Gheorghecasts on one axis, WFH on the other. Where's the intern? The Teej - we need an intern search. Tah-Tah-Tootie, round up some potential interns and see if Stephon Marbury is available to help.

Whitney said...

A ha! Rob, I was just thinking the same thing. I knew that our smooth voices would creep into listeners' subsconscious and take over their brains. Next topic: best restaurants to which you should take Whitney out to dinner.

Whitney said...

Vancouver is reporting a high near 50 and rainy this weekend as the Olympics are set to start. There is talk about moving some of the events to RFK Stadium.

rob said...

nws is saying we have sustained winds of 30mph and gusts up to 50. we will have 40+ inches of snow on the ground in loudoun county when this is over. it's hard to overestimate how jaw-dropping this weather pattern continues to be.

Whitney said...

The fear in Tiny's words as he talks about 40+ inches of snow is palpable. Gripping times at G:TB.

TJ said...

I am pumping gas right now. It is exactly like the ice planet of Hoth. I am the only car. Wind is rocking car.

TJ said...

I think I'm gonna die out here.

Jerry said...

Hold on...a blizzard is that free markets don't work? I'd love to hear the rest of this story.

Whitney said...

Oh, here we go. It's on now.

rob said...

what the fuck is the teej doing outside?

TJ said...

Back in my garage. Eager to hear free market/snowgasm synergy.

Jerry said...

Teejay still hasn't purchased the Big Bite rollers for his kitchen....thus...outside.

zoltan said...

The blizzard is snow. The free market is the unseen hand.

My perhaps ill-stated point is: it's odd that the richest county in the country can't pay a contractor to get all the snow off the roads. As opposed to wallowing in it for days without power.

rob said...

in this case, it's not a matter of funding. it's a matter of expertise. there's usually no reason for this area to maintain skilled snow removal personnel. and when we need them, it's difficult to import them because of...the lack of skilled snow removal personnel.

rob said...

i suppose you could argue that our largesse should enable us to keep reserves of sherpas on the payroll in case of emergency, but even the wealthiest local jurisdictions aren't that flush.

zoltan said...

That makes sense. But wouldn't the snow removal personnel arrive in snow plows? And thus plow their way down there, mooting the importation problem?

TR said...

Jerry - on a scale of 1-10, how salty are you at the Gunners shitting the bed over the last couple weeks? Two tremendous high-profile failures on consecutive weekends. Not trying to rub it in, but did you think this team had a shot, at least before injuries?

Whitney said...

I suppose you could suggest that if West Virginia or western PA weren't targeted for a particular snowstorm, you could pay their people a substantial sum to bring their machinery to you for the week.

Thing is, meteorology -- even in 2010 -- is akin to fortune telling or Steve Phillips' baseball prognostication skills: a lot of uneducated guesswork and ultimately not what you want to bank on. Other places would be more than leery of f'ing themselves.

rob said...

6-8" more projected for monday. mwahahahahaha.

Whitney said...

So unfratty, Rob.

zoltan said...

Fair enough. But if you already have 20+ inches of snow laying around that you can't clear, and you are about to get another 12+ inches today, and another 6-9 inches on Monday ... shouldn't you ask for help at some point? Maybe even offer someone some cash to dig you out?

rob said...

fuck that, zoltan. it's way more fun to complain about it. i'd have thought four years in williamsburg would've taught you at least that much.

Marls said...

You could likey get the NYC snow removal team down there really soon. We have about half an inch and it appears to be raining.

SNOWMAGEDON 2010 is actually just a slushy February day.

Jerry said...

First of all the plowing of roads is not a market economy (although there are private elements in the form of contractors as you say). But the plowing enterprise is orchestrated by the public sector. There isn't a market apparatus in place because it's assumed that the needs will be met by the state. Most people, even rabid free marketeers, are fine with this arrangement. It's a fine example of a public good.

Second, it's really not odd at all that there is a shortage of plows during an anomalous snowfall. There are a certain number of plows/trucks/plowers in an area at a given time. That number is roughly related to the expected need for those resources. From a public or private standpoint, it wouldn't be sensible for an area to have 20x the expected required resources on hand. Governments shouldn't budget for it and contractors would not invest their capital in people/products that would not be likely to generate revenue.

If free market principles included teleportation, you might have a point. I'm sure the landed gentry in Great Falls and Potomac would fork over some of their wealth to make a few dozen plows appear in their neighborhood. Unfortunately the laws of economics are still subject to the laws of physics.

Marls said...

As per TR's note above, Manhattan must be in some mythic eye of the blizzard with all hell breaking loose in Jersey and Long Island.

The storm must hate guidos. Maybe that is why my assistan from Staten Island decided WFH.

rob said...

cuse/uconn 6 ot game on espn classic. just went to overtime.

Jerry said...

Really bummed about the last 2 games. I was fired up for them and they just fell flat on their faces in really predictable ways. I did think they had an outside shot this year. The Van Persie injury was a killer - he scored twice at Chelsea last year and he's a guy who can unlock top defenses. Even with all the injuries, I thought they had a shot, but it's pretty much gone now. United keep winning, but they're not even close to what they were the past 3 years.

Great slate of games today though. I suppose there's a chance Arsenal could close the gap to 6 if the results go the right way.

Geoff said...

Growing up our neighborhood and most surrounding neighborhoods had contracts with private plowing companies.

Marls said...

Clearly the government cannot be trusted with snow removal. In fact, just when our nation is in a time of crisis, what does Barry do but give federal employees the day off. We need to privatize snow removal. Poor people don't have jobs so who cares if they are stuck in their homes.

Jerry said...

Liverpool @ Arsenal
United @ Aston Villa
Chelsea @ Everton

That's fantastic. The Chelsea game is on tape delay for me, but I'll get the other 2 live. Nice afternoon on tap.

rob said...

i fear that our reaction to the snow means that the terrorists have already won. the north pole liberation army has no regard for human life.

Jerry said...

If this happened when we lived at Rhodes Street it would've been one of the great all-time benders.

rob said...

there's a topic for discussion. back in the early 90s, whit and i entered chris marston's house on the friday evening of conference hoops tourney weekend and didn't leave his basement until after the selection show on sunday. it was a disgusting display of personal hygiene and gluttony. and one of my favorite weekends ever.

TR said...

The footie schedule today is the best turn of events from this storm. For those who care about the Yanks overseas, Landon Donovan is getting tons of action as a starter for an Everton squad that continues to hang in the middle of the pack, and Altidore just scored his first goal for Hull.

Geoff said...

If we lived on Rhodes Sam would be making a large vat of Viking food and Greg would be rolling a keg down Wilson Boulevard...and it seems like Mad Dog 20/20 would have been somehow involved.

zoltan said...

Nick Saban loves getting Yanks overseas. Oh!

Geoff said...

50 car pile up on I64 near Williamsburg. Campus police have dispatched Pedro to breathalyze and arrest them all.

Greg said...

Right now, DC is 21 degrees......as is Moscow.

Shlara said...

OT #4 on classic.
This is still a fun game to watch.

rob said...

campus closed in williamsburg, but basketball game still on. half-assed this week in wrenball coming in a hour or so.

Jerry said...

Definitely a Class 5 Killstorm out there. Just walked up to Shopper's - when the wind is in your face, it feels like you're not going to make it. Snowpocalypse is fairly accurate -- no visibility, no people, no cars. It's crazy.

And Landon Donovan is playing really well for Everton. I wish he'd stay over there.

TR said...

My Monday evening liquor store run to get the wife her favorite cheap white wine and a bottle of Johnny Black for myself may turn out to be the best decision I've made this week. If only I could find the off switch for my kids.