Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Patented Pat Robertson Prediction Method

Boy, do I ever feel like a schmoe.

Barely twenty-four hours after I claimed there’d be a billion-to-one chance that Pat Robertson would ever read my criticism of his Haiti comments, we here at the local Bowling in the Dark branch office were stunned to receive a visit from none other than the Reverend himself. He informed us that God had not only told him about the posting but also given him directions to our secret mountain stronghold, so, sure enough, he hopped into his solid gold Learjet and crossed the country to have a good sit-down talk.1

And I’m glad he did. We had a great discussion about—among other things—TV ratings, hypocrisy, tremendous amounts of money, warped self-image, and the nature of bullshit, and it turns out that Pat isn’t interested in any of those things.2

We spent a good long while on the subject of predictions, and any number of things Pat mentioned on the subject made good sense.4 He pointed out, for example, that any old fool with years of extensive education and a degree in meteorology can predict the weather, but by predicting things that haven’t actually happened yet, that poor honest bastard runs the risk of being proven clearly and indisputably wrong.

A fool without a meteorology degree, on the other hand, can easily predict things that have already happened, and can blame their happening on any reason the aforementioned fool pleases, so long as the stated reason (1) matches his existing prejudices and (2) cannot be factually verified in any meaningful way.

I took great notes on all this, and even asked him to help me explain the weather in a couple of select locations across the globe, so I could see for myself how it worked. I’m new to this, so I won’t begin to pretend that I can pretend to explain a devastating tragedy such as a tsunami, earthquake, or New Kids on the Block reunion tour. For now, I’ll stick to today’s weather, but rest assured that Pat (or, as I call him, Pat) and I made these predictions ourselves, basing them on the Patented Pat Robertson Prediction Method personally endorsed by Pat Robertson himself, and available to you for a minimal price plus shipping and handling:

Castro District, San Francisco, California: Mostly sunny, high of 56°F, slight breeze.
Pat Robertson’s God continues to smile, day by pleasant day, on this happy and rainbow-bedecked little neighborhood.

Qandahar, Afghanistan: Sunny, high of 64°F, moderate winds.
Lovely weather for flying kites or being a Muslim.

Los Angeles, California: Sunny, 62°F
The Los Angeles area, home of legions of Hollywood liberals and the International Church of Scientology, is currently being blessed with its 2,130,452nd consecutive day of perfect weather.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: 112 earthquakes within the last week.
All of these earthquakes were minor, indicating that God is merely irritated rather than genuinely wrathful. Turns out he's irked at the U.S. government for limiting snowmobile access to the park, and he's also upset with Himself for the final design for the moose, which He says “looks like a jerk.”

Fairbanks, Alaska: Bitterly cold (–3°F), 17+ hours of oppressive darkness per night.
God’s angry at white Alaskans for taking the land from the native Inuit; at the native Inuit, for being mad at the white Alaskans for taking their land; and polar bears, for being buttholes. Also snow—He particularly dislikes snow, but appreciates irony, so He plans to continue to smite snow by burying it under snow.5

Virginia Beach, Virginia: Overcast, gusting winds, freezing rain. Generally horrible, horrible weather.
Hoo boy—somebody here sure pissed Him off.

1. Pat informed me that he initially wanted a solid gold helicopter, but God told him that He didn’t approve of anything but fixed-wing aircraft. Pat said that God had been on the fence for a long time, and probably would have given helicopters His thumbs-up if only the Army had named their AH-64 Apache the AH-64 White Person, or if Igor Sikorsky’s name hadn’t made him sound “like he was probably a commie.”
2. And I super totally believe this.3
3. Totally.
4. Zero is a number.
5. I don’t actually know anything about Alaskan history. It’s possible that white settlers and Inuit get along swimmingly and always have; I really don’t know. I can say for a fact, though, that polar bears really are buttholes—especially the ones around Fairbanks, who are so self-absorbed and unsociable that people believe that you can’t find polar bears anywhere near Fairbanks. Look it up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haiti: The Fountain of Youth?

I was tempted to either begin or end this particular commentary by calling Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson an insulting, vulgar, and potentially humorous name, and had even begun to narrow down my options. But it occurred to me that I’m thirty-five years old now and—at least chronologically speaking—almost certainly an adult. On top of that, one of the things I find most disturbing and offensive in current American society is our mindless, unbridled incivility, and it’d be awfully stupid and hypocritical of me to contribute to that.

This is not to say that I don’t find what Robertson recently said about the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, to be thoughtless, embarrassing (to him), and appalling (to me). In case you haven’t heard about this already, here it is:

If I’m hearing that right—and please feel free to correct me if I’m not—Pat Robertson is suggesting that the Haiti earthquake is a result if an alleged pact with Satan made by Haitian slaves during a 1791 rebellion against the French. Basically, he's implying that they're getting what they deserve—“cursed by one thing after another”—because they crossed God.

While it’s a bit hard to believe, post–World War II, that overthrowing the French would require breaking a sweat or even particularly rigorous pre-rebellion stretching, much less calling in special support from Satan, what I really wonder is this: How fucking long does Pat Robertson think Haitians live?

By my math, the revolt in 1791 happened 219 years ago. The oldest person in verifiable human history lived to be 122 years old; a Haitian born at the precise moment of the Haitian Deal With The Devil, if she’d lived to the same age, would have died almost 97 years ago.

If we’re willing to accept that a deal with the devil is actually possible, I suppose it’s no less unreasonable to figure that the dealmakers could have been crafty enough to con Old Scratch into giving them some sort of Highlander-style immortality in addition to their freedom.1 But while I generally don’t presume to speak for Pat Robertson, it seems pretty safe to say that this isn’t what he had in mind.

So assuming that Robertson believes that Haiti is populated with ordinary mortal Haitians, rather than 250-year-old immortal Satanists, he’s telling us that modern-day Haitians have been and are being punished—cursed, to use his word—for something they didn’t do.

My older brother and I weren’t exactly hellraisers as little kids, but we got into our fair share of trouble, sometimes on our own, sometimes while working as a team.2 I can’t recall a single time in all our years of acting stupid where I got a spanking for something my brother had done, or vice versa. Our parents, fair and thoughtful but far from omniscient, somehow managed to avoid punishing somebody who wasn’t to blame.

According to Robertson’s apparent worldview, though, either
(1) God is punishing Haitians for their naughtiness because He’s unaware that the actual guilty parties have been dead for a hundred years or longer,

(2) God knows no living Haitian had anything to do with this (probably mythical) deal with the devil, but doesn’t care whether He’s punishing the guilty or the innocent.

I don’t claim to know whether Robertson prefers to believe in an unaware God or an unjust God, but if he really believes that Haitians is being punished for the probably-imaginary actions of their long-dead ancestors, it’s tough for me to see a third option. I prefer to believe in a God that doesn’t behave like some sort of drunken cowboy, firing off bullets in all directions, hurting random people for things they didn’t do wrong.

I’m not trying to say that Pat Robertson is not without his redeeming qualities. He and his 700 Club folks are, for example, working to raise money for disaster relief in Haiti . . . which is more than I’ve done.3 And I’m going to resist writing what the childish part of me would like to write about Robertson, because I’m all grown up now,4 and instead tell Robertson—as if he actually had better than a billion-to-one chance of ever reading this—that it’s not too late for him to consider the possibility that God is more just, more reasonable, and a bit less mean-spirited than some of His children.

1. If you’re going to make adjustments to your standard deal-with-the-devil contract boilerplate, immortality is a good way to go. It’s way more useful than a golden fiddle, and at least as hard to come by these days.
2. At least one team effort involved sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night with several rolls of toilet paper in tow. That was a lot of fun right up until we found out our mom thought we’d been kidnapped and had called the police.
3. The tangled question of whether Robertson is defying God by helping these ageless Satanists—by interfering with the punishment he himself seems to believe God is meting out—is a topic for another day, probably one that will never come.
4. But if I did write what I wanted to write, it'd read “Pat Robertson is a dick.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

The "What If?" Monster

Let's play a game - everyone's favorite game of "What If??". You may want to call it "Hindsight is 20/20" or "shoulda, woulda coulda" or one of any number of other similar names. The dreaded hypothetical. Here goes.

What if there was a young man (let's not get into whether women should play in a men's league) who wanted to play professional baseball. This hypothetical young man is 19 years old these days. He's fast and has good athletic skill and has been playing baseball most of his life. He's very strong, so he can hit the ball a country mile. And he can throw from right field like there's a cannon out there. He strikes out a lot though, so scouts for major league teams have concluded that he likely won't do much in the majors. After much review of his mechanics and studying film and whatnot, this player and his coaches determine that he can't see the ball very well. He can see just fine to drive a car, but needs glasses to read a book.

So the kid needs glasses to play. Except glasses are too dangerous to wear on the field, so he gets these tiny lenses to place on his eye to improve his vision. Contact lenses make his vision pretty close to 20/20. Ballplayers a couple generations ago couldn't dream of that advancement, but now it's pretty standard. He starts striking out less, which is good!

His fledgling career is going aces until he slides awkwardly into third base legging out a triple and tears his ACL. Bummer. He has it surgically repaired and is as good as new in about a year. Players a generation ago would have had a new career selling cars, but modern medicine allows for his baseball career to continue, this just being a speed bump on his way to stardom. He's 20 years old now, almost 21, and still considered a future All-Star!

That is, until he crashes into a wall making a spectacular catch in right field. His knee again, this time the cartilage. Good news for him - there is a new procedure called micro-fracture surgery, and he can keep playing! Players just five years ago or so with this injury would have been done, but this is now a lifeline for his baseball career. Twelve short months later, he's playing again!

Our baseball man is now 25 years old and fresh off his first All-Star season. His vision starts bothering him again in Spring Training, and he's not hitting very well. It gets worse, and he drops in the batting order. He sees a specialist, who recommends laser eye surgery. Zap - one week later his vision is now better than ever, being a tested 20/15! Amazing - he starts tearing the cover off the ball again.

Fast forward four or five years. Our boy is pushing for that big free agent contract a year from now. One game he uncorks a throw from right that nails the runner at the plate, and he feels a pop in his arm. It's his elbow, and he needs surgery. This one has become fairly routine, the procedure commonly known as Tommy John surgery. Twelve months later, still with time left to push for that contract, he's back on the field and can seemingly throw even harder. Players 40 years ago may have had to quit, or at least switch to first base maybe, but not out modern player!

Move forward another five years. After corrective lenses, two surgeries on his legs, vision enhancing surgery on his eyes and a procedure on his arm, our guy is still playing at a fairly high level, but wants one last big contract. At this point in time, medicine has developed a pill that can reverse, or at least forestall, the effects of aging at the cellular level. It's not approved by the FDA yet, but Canada has it readily available. Upon taking this pill for a while our 36-37 year old feels ten years younger, can run as fast as he did when he was 25, can see better and does not get tired anymore. He continues putting up good numbers as an outfielder.

Ten years later our guy retires from professional baseball, having made over $300 million in his career and putting up numbers that will make him a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, including a 75-homer season when the League expanded to 34 teams (more bad pitchers in the L).

Is it just me or is the line between ALL OF THIS and steroids and greenies really, really, fuzzy? Is it simply the illegality of the particular enhancement that bothers people? If so, that I can get on board with. But much more often than not I see the moral argument being made, that the steroid user "cheated the game" (as entirely distinct from "broke the law") and had an unfair advantage. And THAT'S that reason Bonds doesn't really compare to Ruth. Help me find the line, people!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mark McGwire: Counterpoint

It may be a bad idea to post my thoughts on Mark McGwire’s steroid use immediately after the Squid Bandit has done the same thing—it runs the risk of boring those readers who suffer from underdeveloped attention spans or (as a less insulting option) don’t like baseball—but my hope is that going head-to-head with our opinions might generate some good discussion on the topic, even if it’s just between the two of us.1 And I’m also going to use a fun picture. Who doesn’t like pictures?

I can’t say that I was particularly surprised when I heard that McGwire had admitted to using steroids2 off and on for the bulk of his sixteen-year career. His size, his incredible power at an age when most power hitters’ strength and batspeed have begun their clear decline, his evasive testimony before Congress, the accusations made by both Jose Canseco and McGwire’s younger brother (a bodybuilder and admitted steroid user), and the twelve to fifteen baseballs he hit into geostationary orbit all made the notion of Mac-the-steroid-user seem not just believable but even obvious to most folks with more than a passing interest in the game.

I have mixed feelings about his confession. I admire him for his willingness to face the nation—or, if not the entire nation, at least his competitors; his past, current, and future employers; and the fans whose support allowed him to make a living—and admit that he’d failed, that he did cheat not only the game of baseball but also its fans, whether they cheered for him or his opponents. Even if he was merely confirming what so many of us suspected (and thus not doing as significant damage to his reputation), it takes a big man to admit that.3 While I don’t know McGwire at all and certainly can’t tell what’s going on in his head, I’m inclined to believe that his shame and his relief at the truth coming out are genuine.

At the same time, though, his mea sorta culpa is still self-serving, coming as it does several years after the statute of limitations for prosecution had expired, and mere weeks before he’s scheduled to start work as the St. Louis Cardinals’ hitting coach. In short, Mark McGwire ducked the question when there was something to lose, kept quiet when there was nothing on the line, and piped up only when there was clearly much to gain.

What bothers me more than that, though, comes not from McGwire but from media sources—like Rob Neyer, in the article to which Squid Bandit referred—implying or outright stating that to criticize a cheater for cheating is somehow sanctimonious or hypocritical:
You may, if you like, continue to summon from your wellspring of self-righteousness the energy to condemn McGwire for doing what so many of his peers were doing, all in the interest of earning a good living and fulfilling his widely considered destiny.

If Neyer sees it as self-righteous to disapprove of one cheater's cheating, he can take solace in the fact that I'll disapprove of the rest of them when I find out who they are. And I’m sorry, but “all the cool kids were doing it” has not, as far as I can tell, ever been an effective argument. Neither is Neyer’s admission that he’d be tempted to cheat to make himself a better writer (I think the next step up from sportswriting is want ads, right?), or the argument (not put forth by Neyer or Squid Bandit, but one that you can’t help but read if you tune into the discussion) that “you’d do it to if you had a chance.” And I disagree with the notion that “if you [aren’t] cheatin[g], you [aren’t] tryin[g].”4 The opposite seems more obviously true: if you’re cheating, it’s because you’re less willing to try; you're looking not for the way to do things right, but the way to do things quick and (relatively) easily.

McGwire wishes he “had never played during the steroid era.” I take this at face value, and I accept what I feel is the genuine emotion behind it, but I believe it’s also a cop-out. A lot of folks looked at Mark McGwire as a bit of a hero—at least in that very limited, silly way in which athletes can be heroes—when he hit his boatload of home runs in 1998. He’d have been much more genuine a hero, though, if he’d had the backbone to stay clean in his era, the heart to do what was right when it really would have mattered, instead of when it’d do little more than clear his conscience and help him get back to a steady paycheck in the game he did his own small part to corrupt.

1. The other risk worth considering, of course, is that by disagreeing with Squid Bandit on this issue, we risk creating an un-healable schism between readers torn by our compelling points of view and our irresistible personal charisma. It’s possible that in a thousand years, conflicts between the Someguyists and the Squidinistas (or possibly the Squindus, or the Squislims) will tear our society apart, all because of the tensions created right here at this very moment.
2. I use the word “steroids” throughout as an umbrella term to describe any performance-enhancing drug, including androstenedione, which was legal when McGwire used it in 1998; while there are plenty of differences between the varying types of PEDs, I don’t really know or understand them, and for my purposes they’re not particularly relevant.
3. But not an unnaturally big man, of course, as that’s what got him into all this trouble in the first place.
4. Grammar and spelling have been corrected to show, yet again, that I’m an anal-retentive butthole.

Monday, January 18, 2010

End of the Inning

Good Morning Vietnam is a terrific movie and the source of numerous quotes any fan can recall at an instant. One of my favorite lines, the biggest gem in the mine, is the following. Adrian Cronauer, when asked by his superior officer what was the significance of “three up and three down” on his uniform, responded:

“End of an inning?”

That’s sort of how I feel about steroids. In a slow time for baseball (no, the possible destinations of Johnny Damon does not count as news), there came the shocking (shocking I tell you!!) admission from Mark McGwire that yes, he did in fact use steroids. Did you jump up and down in anger? Scream “I told you so!” to the TV? Did you, Cardinals fans, quietly mumble “I want my summer of ’98 back…”? Or was your response somewhat similar to my own:


Perusing the internet for a while on the subject leads to one of two kinds of articles, mostly. Sure there is the occasional rant about how McGwire “cheated the game” or some such nonsense. But for the most part people were either saying “Duh – of course he did” or “Why is he admitting this now?”

It’s that second question that intrigues me. Yeah, I get it. Steroids are bad. They mess up your body, causing everything from shrinking testicles and baldness to high blood pressure and liver tumors. In children steroids can stunt muscular and skeletal growth. Yep, they’re bad. But doesn’t it seem odd that McGwire would lie to Congress about using steroids, but tell the truth just as he is about to get another job in baseball (as the Cardinals’ hitting coach)?

Why do we care so much about baseball players taking them? What about football players? Shawn Merriman got a four game suspension for testing positive – he’s an all-star caliber player, and not many people even remember that he tested positive. Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmiero and Mark McGwire, on the other hand, are seen as sports demons, the personification of evil in athletics. I believe that part of this outrage is the hallowed baseball statistics – no one gives a crap about Guillermo Mota testing positive, because no one has any idea who he is. But McGwire? Saved baseball after labor strife and broke the single-season home run record, a record that has been romanticized in sports as perhaps the greatest record in athletics (a status once reserved for the heavyweight champion of the world in boxing, but I digress). So that romance is shattered, stolen by a cheating liar. Maybe the other part is that baseball players have not expressed extreme remorse over their actions. No hypocrisy there at all – as Rob Neyer so eloquently points out.

I suppose I simply am a terrible person for lacking the proper moral outrage for McGwire’s actions. I just can’t. There’s an old baseball adage goes something like “If you ain’t cheatin’ then you ain’t tryin’”. Despite the fact that apparently they did not know how to speak the King’s English when this adage was first spoken, which is sure to spark Some Guy’s ire, it has endured. Why now is the ubiquitous cheating an intolerable stain in baseball? Like Neyer says, pretty much all of us would have done the same thing. In my view, it’s like being morally outraged by the thief who steals bread for his starving family, among an entire cadre of theives.

When it was first revealed that steroids were a prevalent part of baseball some said the game as we knew it was at an end. That was nonsense. The history of the game of baseball is like a game itself, and the steroid era was a bad inning. But it wasn’t the LAST inning. Hopefully as more information is made public about steroid use we will see an end of the fear-mongering and moral outrage spewed by media types. Hopefully, eventually, we will see the steroid inning in our pasttime's legacy come to a close, as if a Mariano Rivera cutter caught the inside corner for strike three.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

For Your Entertainment

I humbly apologize to my faithful readers for the lack of posts spewing from the Squid Bandit recently. The Holidays are a wonderful, hectic time and I like to enjoy them to the fullest. Rest assured that I am working on astounding, ground-breaking posts of such significance as have not been seen 'round these parts since Some Guy's last missive. For I am, as always, a slave to my readers.

In the meantime I thought you would enjoy this link. If it helps, think of me as the dancing, singing dude with long hair and Some Guy as the costumed midget.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Is Is What Is Is

The unusually long drought between my last column and this one—brought on by technical computer difficulties that, to some degree, are still being ironed out—has given me the opportunity to ponder deeply about the myriad of problems plaguing our nation, our culture, and the broader world, and to focus on my own role in making the world a better place.

Luckily for me, though, that opportunity was quickly and utterly ignored. I didn’t ponder deeply about diddly-squat. Deep thinking is hard work, better left to people who can actually handle it. I’m better suited to shallow thought, the kind that lends itself to TV sitcoms, fart jokes, and making fun of people who probably don’t deserve it.1

In my regrettably extended time off from Bowling in the Dark, with my hours upon hours freed up for deepless thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion (reached when I wasn't searching online for audio and video drivers I couldn’t name for hardware I couldn’t identify) that the most difficult-to-understand word in the English language is is.

This may seem a little silly to you now, but stick with me, it’ll get much stupider. No other word since supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (which, if spoken softly—according to expert linguists and chimney sweeps—can have a hynpocious effect) has led to so much consternation and confusion as the wily, deceptive, mystical is.
Exhibit A: “The thing is, is . . .”
I won’t speak for anybody else—no matter how much I’d like to—but I’ve been hearing this strange little verbal fart more often lately than I used to. I can’t figure out whether the speaker has lost track of the first is or the second, but nobody seems to notice that they’re obviously redundant. Re-arranged into the form of a question, Jeopardy-style, this statement becomes “what is the thing is?” which doesn’t qualify as grammatical even for Yoda.2 Do me a favor: next time you hear this, please correct the speaker immediately and harshly, even if he’s the keynote speaker at your annual board meeting. Your willingness to sacrifice your job for good grammar will be duly noted.
Exhibit B: “It is what it is.”
While I haven’t studied this scientifically, it seems like I most often hear this bit of nonsense coming from professional athletes who probably don’t realize they’re not actually saying anything at all. The statement basically cancels itself out of existence; it’s as informative as saying that all bachelors are unmarried men, or Napoleon’s white horse was a horse.3 Stating that “it isn’t what it is,” while as logically impossible as saying “the Oakland Raiders will make the playoffs someday,” would at least be an interesting start to a discussion, rather than an admission that one has nothing intelligent to say. It can’t possibly be anything other than what it is. I suppose I should probably give pro athletes a bit of a pass for this. For good reason, they’re not generally known for their deep thinking (although this does little to deter them from talking about anything and everything at great length).4 Pro athletes are better known (for example) for their willingness to change their names to their jersey numbers . . . in a language they obviously don’t know how to speak, so maybe we should focus our efforts towards preventing things like “it is what it is” from crossing over into the general population.  
Exhibit C: “It’s it.”
And, of course, Exhibit B begs the question: if it is what it is, what is it? While philosophers/rap-metal pioneers Faith No More explored this question to epic lengths in 1990, not only could they not come to a definitive conclusion, but they ended up seemingly running in circles: It’s it. What is it? It’s it. What is it? The band was able to determine, through dogged research, that even if it can be felt, seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted, it doesn’t matter anyway, because the speed at which it occurs will render it impossible for you to understand. The mysterious “it” also apparently knocks you off your feet—suggesting the possibility that it is some kind of explosive, or perhaps a kangaroo with boxing gloves. Since the late 1990s, however, Faith No More has been silent on the issue.   
Exhibit D: Ayn Rand.
The novelist and verbal diarrheticist’s Atlas Shrugged—a book that, to borrow a phrase from Futurama’s robot devil, is as lousy as it is brilliant—spent around 540,000 words and 1,168 pages describing her philosophy of objectivism, a fundamental part of which could be summed up by the very pithy and obvious phrase “A is A.” Seriously, that’s three words. Three. Or, if you want to get technical, a single character—repeated twice—and one word. It somehow takes Rand another 539,997 words to explain, mostly by way of long-winded speeches by characters with no idea how English is spoken on this planet, what “A is A” means and why it matters.  
Exhibit E: A guy we actually elected President.
While George W. Bush is probably most folks’ go-to president for examples of mangling the English language, this isn’t who I’m talking about at the moment. It was that other guy:

Yes, you heard that (and probably remember it) correctly: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” That’s Bill Clinton—described by supporters, the disinterested, and even many of his detractors as a brilliant guy—desperately trying to suggest, on the air and in front of any number of people with recording devices, that there’s more than one meaning to the word “is.” Dude—ahem, I mean Mister President—if it weren’t several years too late to make a difference, I’d suggest that you stop before you embarrass yourself. Put quite simply, is = is. Or less mathematically, is is is. There’s already a word in place for what isn’t is—that word is isn’t.

So if the most powerful guy in the most powerful nation on Earth can’t comprehend the meaning of the word “is”—or even if he’s merely playing dumb because he didn’t have the sac to admit that he cheated and lied to approximately 260,000,000 people, and got caught—what chance to the rest of us, mere shallow-thinkers or millionaire athletes, really have? Is there any hope but to go with the flow, and admit that the thing is is what the thing is is?

God, I hope so. Just typing that out right now gave me a tiny little brain aneurysm.

1. The good news for them is that they have something like a ten in six billion chance of ever knowing I’m making fun of them.
2. Although actually, when you get right down to it, Yoda’s pattern of speech, while sometimes a bit hard to follow (and, in the more recent movies, a bit forced, so to speak), is pretty consistently grammatical. Yoda, you have taught us all so much.
3. No shit! I literally couldn’t make something like this up.
4. Which makes them a lot like movie stars, except that for some reason we’re willing to believe—or at least somebody is willing to believe—that movie stars can occasionally be smart. How else to explain Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough?