Friday, January 30, 2009

#936 Beetle Mania

Not long ago I was talking with a coffee snob. You know, one of those guys who would never deign to foul his palate with the likes of Yuban and Folgers. He was waxing rhapsodic about the delicate nuances of the particular coffee he loves and he went over into that blah blah blah section of my brain I reserve for the pompous and the adolescent.
People who know everything are handy to have around sometimes, other times you’d rather dwell on the sweetness of the phrase “silence is golden.”
This guy was a barista or, since he was male, possibly a baristo, so I guess I should forgive him his enthusiasm. But not his attempt to belittle those of us who find it economically appropriate to buy and use a big can of Folgers.
So to shut him up I said, “Oh, I don’t know, I kinda like Folgers. Nothing like the occasional acrid taste-burst of an accidentally ground up beetle.
I affected everyone’s palate at that point.
But guess what? If you eat the red food coloring carmine, you’re eating ground-up bugs that are a lot like beetles. The cochineal bug to be exact. It’s legal to use in American food products. It’s also used to blend the colors pink, orange, and purple. Ground-up bugs, a pallet for your palate.
Since some people are deathly allergic to carmine, food activists are pressuring the FDA to include these ground-up bugs on food labeling. As of this writing, the FDA only requires that companies use the designation “artificial coloring” to describe it.
And frankly I’m outraged.
It’s driving me crazy. A little beetle mania if you will. Because there’s nothing artificial about a bug. It was a living thing. If anything does, it deserves the honor of being described as a natural food color.
It gave its all for you. Unable to skitter away from the grinding blades, it ended up in your purple skittles.
So let’s not demean it any further by including it with unfeeling, uncaring, chemical dies.
These guys died to be a dye.
And if you’re allergic, a dye that can make you die too.
BTW, Folgers uses no artificial colors.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

#935 Mildly Humorous

Back around New Years, I was at this party and a guy came up who recognized me from the Local Access TV show I did back in the 90s. He was much taken with it, and by extension, me.
“You were really funny,” he enthused, “I said to all my friends, this guy is really going places.”
“Thank you,” I said, “for making me very happy and very sad all at the same time.” Because here I still am... From wannabe to has-been without any of the annoying fame stuff in between. I’m counting my blessings though. Look at the great period of drug addiction, dissolute living and self-destructiveness I skipped right over.
No, I’ll just sit and nurture my small smoldering ember of creativity, condemned to plumb the depths of the mildly humorous.
Like yesterday’s essay dwelling on the reasoning behind the grocery store giving a six-cent rebate to people who bring their own bags. Why 6?
Or possibly reflecting on what would be the appropriate new description for a person born with no pigment. “Albino” is probably not right any more. Would the term chromatically–challenged suffice? I checked it online and it apparently is already being used by some people to describe those who are colorblind. Although I think a more accurate name for them would be chromo-visually challenged.
Or this reflection I had recently. I have been married three times. My son was born of my second wife. I briefly confused him the other day when I informed him that his mother was my midwife. Technically true. But young folks tend to take things so literally...
My own brain jumps around quite freely. I was watching a news story on a naval battle and kamikaze pilots trying to kill our people. Wow, I thought, what an extreme way to wipe out sailors. Right after that a commercial came on for Flomax. As they went through their side effects thing, I thought, ahah! Too bad they didn’t have that weapon.
Because according to the disclaimer I think I heard, Flomax can cause a drastic decrease in seaman.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

#934 Plastic Hormones

A while back I read another article about the dangers of plastic leaching into our bodies. One of the issues surrounding plastic is that breakdown products may be mimicking our sex hormones and causing health issues leading to infertility. Some of the plastic derivatives act in our system like the female hormone estrogen.
The article I read recently was pretty fatalistic. It recommended to science labs that they may want to stop using hard plastic beakers and test tubes. Especially if they heat those things, as contaminates may be getting into delicate experiments.
Reminded me of all the rat experiments that determined that some substances were carcinogenic, when the largest cancer risk the rats faced was the breakdown of the rubber stoppers in their rat cage water bottles.
But when you stop to think about it, if plastic is causing infertility, we’d better evolve quick because eliminating plastics from our society may take longer than a fortuitous genetic mutation making the next generation immune from it.
There’s plastic all through the medical world—test tubes, beakers, pipettes. Or how about IV tubes? Soft plastic. How about the bags in which they store blood? There’s a great way to mainline estrogen mimickers.
“I don’t know Honey, a couple of blood transfusions and suddenly I’m infertile, and I seem to need a bra.”
Of course, household plastics are even more ubiquitous. BPA is found in a place you’d least expect. The lining of some metal cans. That’s right, those cans of food we keep taking to the food bank? They’re lined with estrogen mimicking plastic.
What an insidious way to sterilize the poor.
Or how about plastic drinking straws? I’d start drinking directly from the glass if I were you. You know, every little bit of plastic avoidance helps. And make sure the water you drink without a straw comes straight from the tap. Who knows what plastic breakdown chemicals are leaching into your water filter?
Who’d have thought you’d get infertility from filtered water.
Maybe that guy in the movie The Graduate did have the answer. At least to overpopulation.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

#933 Six Cent Bag

Not long ago I was at the supermarket. I went through the self-checkout line¾I love pretending I make grocery checker’s union wages. At the end I was rewarded with a bag credit. The alert checker whose job it is to monitor all us amateur checkers was the person to bestow said reward.
I’ve taken to bringing my own cloth bag to the grocery store. It’s easier to carry than all those plastic things. And I get so annoyed with the build up of all those plastic things—in my home and in the landfill.
Occasionally, I’ll pick up a paper bag so I have a place to put my paper recycling at home, but for the most part it’s the cloth route. But what got me thinking was the amount of the cash rebate for using my own bag.
It was 6 cents.
So naturally I wondered, why 6 cents? Why not 7 cents, or a nickel? Did some marketing committee do some vast psychological survey with a multi-age and multi-ethnic demographic focus group that determined that 6 cents was the ideal amount to both encourage people to bring their own bags and still save the company money on the bags they weren’t using?
Because you know the company is saving money. My big cloth bag holds the equivalent of 5 plastic bags and easily 2 paper bags. But when my bag is full of more groceries they don’t pay me more. And when I just have two items I still get the 6 cents.
I’m not sure I fit the incentive profile anyhow. I used a cloth bag for weeks before a checker caught on and insisted I take the 6-cent credit. But then again maybe I do. Now that I know about the credit I make sure the checker supervisor does notice and I get my thrice tuppence.
But still, I think I could have been similarly bought for a nickel. Maybe because a phrase resonates positively in my brain from my youth, perhaps from some early Spanky and Our Gang film, “For a nickel I will.”
Then again, it makes sense that the supermarket doesn’t want to be associated with the term “nickel bag”...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

#932 AC Creepy

The other day when I was writing about the willies, I offered the explanation of one etymological dictionary that the use of the word to mean nervous agitation came from “the woolies.”
One’s “woolies” were like one-piece long underwear that itched and therefore made you fidgety. Nervous agitation and itchy-fidgety movement being indistinguishable, the willies emerged from the woolies.
I dismissed that as idle speculation in my essay. But the other day I saw an old ad for a type of pajama for toddlers called “Creepers” and it got me re-thinking. Perhaps the name refers to “jeepers creepers” as in where’d you get those eyes. But I think it’s more likely a reference to toddlers creeping and crawling along the floor to get from here to there.
At least I hope that’s what they meant.
As any adult will tell you, naming any garment “creepers” conjures up an uncomfortable image of badly fitting underwear. Panties or shorts that have nothing better to do than creep up your backside and cling. You might as well call the garment “chafers.”
The thought certainly gives me the willies.
And that leads us back to another apparent concurrence of horror and bad fitting garments. The term creepy. As in, that guy makes me feel creepy. Or did you see the latest episode of Creepshow? Creeps can be just annoying—my mom would call all my teenage friends she didn’t like “creeps.” Or they can be another type of ghoul or goblin of something else we fear.
And when we feel that sense of creepiness come over us, why, we get the willies.
Which I wonder if Anderson Cooper got recently.
How’s that for a hard segue?
Seriously, I’m thinking someone may have challenged Anderson Cooper’s sexuality. Because I don’t have a problem with him being gay, but I think he may have a problem with people thinking he’s gay.
Why else would he have come up with his new program graphic, “AC-360”? Instead of Anderson Cooper 360, it’s now AC-360.
Why the focus on the AC? As opposed to DC perhaps? Did someone question his masculinity at some point? Is he compensating?
It just seems a little creepy.
America, ya gotta love it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

#931 Word Willies

Words are like balls. Billiard balls to be exact. It doesn’t take much to send them careening off willy-nilly in different directions. So even though they’re our best tools for communication they often cause miscommunication.
It’s not for nothing marriage counselors recommend paying attention to words when communicating. Of course, your attention can read other meanings into words too much.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been married 3 times. Which has led to some interesting uses of words. Like my son. He was born of my second wife.
Or one might say my son’s mother was my midwife.
A great example of how an accurate description can still sound kind of creepy.
Or the other day a friend of mine was talking about a big truck-trailer rig that was only half loaded. He called it a partial semi.
“Why don’t you just call it a redundant?” I asked.
He looked at me blankly for a moment and then laughed. “Oh yeah, a partial semi...”
Sometimes words just make you wonder where the heck they came from. Like “the willies.” As in, I’ve got the willies. Or she gave him the willies. Or the haunted house gave the teenagers the willies.
In this context, it’s apparently not the name of a person. Hey Willy, how ya doin’? It’s obviously also not a reference to a captive whale. These willies appear already to be free.
And it most certainly isn’t a euphemism for a certain male appendage. Although the exposure of said organ can cause arrest and imprisonment on charges of indecency, it is not a thing that causes horror or nervousness in the entire population per se.
No, these willies that one feels are always plural. An etymological source says “willies” is no doubt a corruption of “woolies.” Wearing ones woollies leads to itchiness and therefore the appearance of nervousness as one fidgets with the itches. Sounds pretty far-fetched to me.
The willies aren’t itches you scratch. No, the willies are adrenalin pre-cursors. You’re right on the edge. Ready to bolt in panic and run away—willy-nilly.
As that word indicates, the running uses up the adrenalin and makes the willies nil.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

#930 Control and Service

So the other day I drove by a truck that does mobile pet grooming. Their business mission is to drive to your house, take your pet, lead it into their truck/van thing and groom it there. Apparently keeping hair, soiled suds, and nasty nail clippings out of your house and saving you the trouble of corralling your own animal and taking it to a site-based grooming establishment.
Hey, they can deliver milk and pizza, why not a dog haircut?
Not long after seeing the mobile pet grooming van, I passed another large enclosed van. Painted on its side was “Animal Services.”
Huh, I thought, could be taken just about the same way. What animal services do you provide? Grooming, check, washing, check, testicle removal, check, euthanasia...
It’s this whole branding thing again. Used to be we called it “the pound.” If your dog isn’t licensed they’re going to take him to the pound. I was never sure where they got that name. I suppose the word is a contraction of impoundment, but who knows? As a kid, I always thought they were going to pound on the poor dog. Not unlike the way my older brother would say he was going to pound on me.
Pound and punishment were inexorably interwoven in my intellect.
From “pound” they began to call the place “Animal Control.” Or sometimes they would say “Animal Shelter.” The yin and yang of animal management. Control and shelter. We’ll gather up the strays and wild ones, we’ll hold on to the abandoned ones for a while and then we’ll control their population again with the ultimate solution.
At some point, it became obvious that it wasn’t all about control and it certainly wasn’t just about shelter. With computerized licensing, spaying and neutering, and micro-chipping there were numerous new avenues of animal affairs to administer.
So “Animal Services” was born.
Still, it’s hard to shake the notion that a roving van with a sign that says “Animal Services” might offer a mobile pet-i-cure.
Though with neutering as one of the possible services, you may want to be careful how you ask for certain types of grooming.
Specify you want to have a pet clipping, not have your pet clipped.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

#929 Street Smarts

Humans can be so smart and so dumb.
Case in point: The other day I had to go up to Seattle to see my son’s band play. The band is called The Tailenders and they were playing at a club in Seattle known as the High Dive. Normally I resist going to drinking establishments with the term “Dive” in them but sometimes parental love transcends ordinary prudence.
The Dive in question was in the Fremont area and, unfamiliar as I am with Seattle, I first used Mapquest to help me find my way.
Let me also say at the outset that I don’t have one of those newfangled navigator ladies in my dashboard to tell me when to hang a left.
Having determined the basics of the route, I used Google maps to get a satellite overview of the terrain. It’s all well and good to say turn right and turn left. You’re much more prepared when you know to get immediately in the left lane to turn left then jog instantly to the right lane to prepare for a merger with another major thoroughfare.
So far so good. I then used Google’s new Streetview to get an on-the-ground actual picture of the battleground. You can also use it to zoom in on the place you’re going to and get direct visuals of problematic intersections.
Your memory remembers stuff like this better than black and white verbal directions too. Google Streetview gives you an actual view, so when you drive it later you have kind of a deja view.
My next problem was parking. So I used Steetview to scope out nearby streets. I actually found a group of back-in slots but wondered if they were public parking or just for the apartment building in front of which they appeared to be. In the picture, I saw a little green sign next to the curb and was actually able to zoom in close enough to read it. It said “Free Parking.”
So, technologically prepared by Google, I drove to the place without a mistake, went right to the parking area and ended up parking parallel in a strangely empty slot across the street. Next to a sign that said, “Do not park West of this sign.”
Which totally freaked me out.
What the hell’s the city of Seattle thinking? To those of us who are compass challenged wouldn’t it have been better for the sign to say do not park in front of or do not park beyond this sign?
I had no idea which way West was. Where’s the sun when you need it? Best laid plans of mice, men, and Google.
Using the most sophisticated technology to get here and then being undone by a single stupidly-planned primitive metal sign.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

#928 Search and Be Searched

I worry about my dependence on Google. And about what Google’s doing while I depend on it. I used it the other day to go to some website or another in the pursuit of a fact for one of these essays. While I was at the website I couldn’t help but be distracted by this flashing advertisement.
That’s one thing about web ads. They do stuff. The good old newspaper was confined to two types of ads—Black and White and Color. Occasionally you’d see white writing on a black background but that was as flashy as they could get.
Now ads really are flashy because the actually flash. And jiggle, and vibrate, and have little dancing people. Very distracting.
This free stuff is annoying.
Anyhow, the flashing ad was for Classmates dot com--where those who still have a hankering for their worse-than-they-remember high school days can try to finally hook up with the prom queen. She’s there all right. But after a lifetime of heavy drinking, she’s not held together as well as one might hope.
What got me about this ad was it was flashing all the Olympia area high schools. And only the Olympia area high schools. What a coincidence, I thought. I live in the Olympia Area. And then my brain—wait a minute—late hit—got slammed by a piano dropping from a third story epiphany.
They know that.
The website knows I’m from Olympia. Google knows I’m from Olympia. So much for web anonymity.
If they are divulging even that amount of place recognition from the bowels of my browser, where I have never to my knowledge inserted that information, then everything about me is a hop, skip, and fatal jump away from being collected in a dossier for all and sundry.
Well not all and sundry, just the government and anyone with sufficient cash to tap the data stream or grease the palms of the I-T-unscrupulous.
Little do they know, I may live in Olympia, but I didn’t go to high school here.
And my high school burned down. So my permanent record was destroyed. So type that in your search box and Google it.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

#927 M-R-Why?

I suppose one sign of approaching age is the feeling that technology is moving ahead way too fast. From Model T flivvers to iPhones in one generation is tough for old birds like my Dad.
I myself, who was totally amazed by the electric safety power scissors of my youth, am constantly blown away by the multi-bladed vibrating technology of the latest rechargeable shaver.
Electric scissors for kids. Now there was a great idea. They had a safety snub nose so you couldn’t cut your fingers. But you had to plug them into a wall. So we lost a lot of pre-school paper-doll cutters in the bathtub.
Unforeseen consequences. Like MRIs. There’s not a day goes by we don’t hear of one sports figure or another having his knee checked with an MRI. Do you know how expensive it is to get an MRI? If you’ve ever wondered why ticket prices for professional sports have gone up so much, you might check their medical bills.
There was a story on 60 minutes recently about functional MRIs being used to read thoughts in people brains. This had the correspondent worried that the government could pry into a person’s most private thoughts.
Well not without their consent. Just going la la la la la in your brain could screw up an fMRI. And if they knock you out they wouldn’t have any thoughts to read, not to mention they’d still have to tie you down and make you lie in a giant magnet. A very, very powerful magnet. So powerful it sucks every piece of metal in your body out.
My multiply pierced friend Rick would have his face ripped apart by an MRI.
So the investigating government would have to be thorough in that regard too. Checking for pacemakers, artery clips, internal staples, skull plates and hip joints and stuff.
“The guy died from having his artificial hip joint ripped out through his lap?”
“Yeah, the G-Men thought he was a terrorist so they were trying to read his mind. The suspect was just asking his Muslim family where the safest place to sit on a plane was and suddenly its involuntary MRI time.”
Man, talk about pulling your groin.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

#926 Eau D’ Whoppaire

Recently, Burger King has come out with a cologne for men. It’s part regular fragrance with, as they say, just a hint of scorched meat.
Oh yeah. Bring it on. Mix your basic pleasures, young people—sexuality and fast food. A natural combination in this fast-paced rat race we call life. The joke going around is that girls love a guy who smells like a Whopper.
But my thought is they probably already do. I’ve seen some teenage guys eat in fast food joints. Or worse, coming out of a drive-thru. And a good portion of them jam the burger into their faces without regard for niceties like chewing and napkins, so a large portion of their whoppers end up on their shirts. There to congeal and reek for the evening.
Voila. Eau- D’ Whoppaire.
But hey, think of the possibilities when all the fast food places start their normal copycat routine and get on this bandwagon.
You could have Taco Bell toilet water next time you think out of your buns. Or Eau D’ Chalupa.
“Oh honey, you know I love you when you smell like a chalupa.”
“No, I like it baja style. I love a man that reminds me of a peninsula.”
“Do I smell burrito or are you just glad to see me?”
“I should have known he’d be a cheap date when he smelled like cheesy nachos.”
“I like my man wearing a bacon cheddar gordita crunch or nothing at all.”
Or how about Kentucky Fried Chicken? There’s a set of fragrant possibilities.
“I wouldn’t date him if I were you Sally. He smells like a chicken.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes I like them a little cocky.”
“Not that kind of chicken. Original recipe. Chicken as in not so brave.”
“But when he smells like chicken strips for some reason I just can’t keep my clothes on.”
“What’s got into you? I wouldn’t cross the road to go through the drive-thru with that guy.”
“But don’t you see? He’s just the kind of guy I’ve always had on my bucket list.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

#925 Dues and Don’ts of Diet

Lately, I’ve been troubled with hunger pangs. Sharp, painful, hard-to-avoid-except-by-eating-something hunger pangs.
I first figured it was another in the annoying changes brought on by age: crumbling teeth, achy joints, fading eyesight, occasional memory lapses, repeating yourself, occasional memory lapses, repeating yourself.
Great, I thought, another discomfort to endure for thirty years until I die. Just paying my dues for living. Turns out, they’re the dues I’m paying for the don’ts of my diet.
I found out it may be because of my gum. Not my gums, although they are receding as well, contributing to the confirmation of that phrase often uttered about old people, he’s sure getting long in the tooth.
No, the gum I recently started chewing. It all goes back to my dry mouth. For years I’ve be salivarily challenged. For some reason my mouth always feels dry. So to compensate I would suck on mints. Eventually, like all addictions, I increased the dosage and frequency. I advanced to the strongest mint there was. The Altoid. I became an Altoid addict.
My teeth finally started to crumble. A brittle honeycombed molar. An incisor breaking off like a termite infested two-by-four. All that sugar, all that acid, weakened my teeth and made them as fragile and porous as hummingbird bones.
So I switched to sugarless gum. And according to this article I just read, hunger.
Scientists have recently determined that artificial sweeteners may cause you to gain weight. The blast of sweetness of a calorie-free sweetener detected by your tongue tells your system that a bunch of calories is on the way. Your body, finely tuned chemistry set that it is, responds by injecting all sorts of hormones and what not, preparing it to digest and store all those calories.
Then it doesn’t get them. Because you had a Diet Coke. Or a sugarless piece of gum. So your body sends out hunger pangs to get those promised calories—and slap you around a little for fooling it.
You cave in and eat food. Artificial diet sweeteners turn out to be real appetizers.
Maybe it’s time I tried an old-fashioned sugar-free remedy for dry mouth.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

#924 Income Negligible

I often complain about the modern uses of language. Some of the new words and phrases seem to do more harm than good. Some of the old reference points are slipping away—to the detriment of good comedy.
Case in point, the type of shoe known as a buck or a pair of bucks. Pat Boone wore them. You may remember Pat. He was a crooner from the fifties. Often lovingly called the white Elvis. Squeeky clean. In the era of bobby sox he was known for his white buck shoes. Too bad his popular footwear wasn’t around for the President Bush Iraqi journalist shoe-throwing incident.
The Prez could have joked, “I guess the bucks stop here.”
Words can raise unintended interpretations. Recently I heard about a football playoff called the Humanitarian Bowl. My first thought was, it was given as a consolation bowl for losers.
So another thing we’ve been doing with language is creating phrases meant to be more sensitive. In many cases, I agree. But language always evolves and what was once good becomes bad because bad people uses it meanly.
The term “retarded” was originally meant as a nice alternative to stupid or moron. It has since evolved through “mentally disabled” to “mentally challenged” to “special needs” to the broader “persons with disabilities.”
“Crippled” went to “handicapped” to “disabled” and then the more value neutral “differently-abled.”
Recently I heard an ad for a place that was accepting poor people. But they didn’t say poor. They didn’t even say low income. They put a positive spin on it and called it income eligible. Non-income eligible is more like it.
Or perhaps income negligible.
I’m all for putting a positive spin on things. And I’m all for not diminishing a person’s self esteem by insisting on words that brand them a charity case.
Pride is an important motivator.
Which makes me worry that when we say things like “income eligible” we are not empowering people. Maybe we’re getting them to resign themselves and accept their position more.
There is fine line between contentment and complacency.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

#923 Gift of Fortune

Not long ago my son and I ate at an Asian restaurant. At the end of our meal, we were served the obligatory fortune cookie. Fortunes in cookies have been getting blander and blander in recent years. Partially because just about anything can be twisted to offend someone and they want to avoid that.
You just never know. A fortune saying your mom is beautiful may hit you when you’re having your first Thai cuisine after her funeral. No matter how happy they try to be, fortunes (like jokes) can make someone sad sometime.
I think the ones I got were destined to be received by someone else. And in light of recent current events, that someone was pretty important.
I think I got the President Bush fortune cookie.
I was really lucky because I got two fortunes in one cookie. The first fortune was weird. It said, “You will receive an unexpected gift.”
Well not any more! Now that I got the fortune, I’ll be expecting it all the time.
The other fortune said, “Everything will now come your way.”
Everything? I can tell you, when we left the restaurant, I was very wary crossing the street.
But a short time afterward, when Bush was doing his surprise farewell press conference in Iraq, these fortunes totally applied. He definitely received an unexpected gift. To the tune of two shoes flying through the air whose most immediate destiny appeared to be his head.
Bush was amazing when he ducked them. And the journalist was an amazing shoe shooter.
Bush’s gift was not only unexpected as the first fortune indicated but, in fact, as the second fortune predicted, everything was now coming his way.
Much has been said about the lax security that allowed the shoe flinger. And from now on you can bet the Secret Service will be asking everyone to remove their shoes during press conferences.
So at least one good thing has come of all this: The hardwood floors of press conference rooms everywhere will be saved.
But an ounce of prediction is worth a pound of cure.
Maybe the Secret Service should have been intercepting Bush’s fortune cookies…
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

#922 Red Econ

I’m not sure this whole economic bailout thing is working. And I know a lot of banks think so. Especially the ones who aren’t getting a piece of the bailout security blanket.
Part of it is in the name—the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The acronym has been made much of—TARP. Not a very good name. Usually associated with ugly blue plastic things that are supposed to protect from the harsh elements, but rarely do.
One stiff wind (of economic reality perhaps) and over it blows, revealing, and making vulnerable, all and sundry.
Then you got its non-specificity for the task. A tarp is a catchall solution. An attempt to make one-size-fit-all that fits none. Throwing money at the banks doesn’t seem to be working.
As an example, I just got a flyer from WaMu the other day.
You remember WaMu, seized by the feds, sold to JP Morgan for a pittance, after all its stock was lost, along with countless trust funds and retirements. Now that same WaMu is offering $100 cash to anyone who opens an account. With very few restrictions.
I read the fine print, and if you open a checking account with $100, after 12 weeks they’ll give you $100. Sounds like one of those investment schemes devised by Bernie Madoff.
Hope they keep getting new depositors. Or it looks to me like they’re going to have some troubled assets pretty soon.
There’s just something non-inspirational about a tarp. I guess it’s because it sounds like the ultimate redneck solution. How to beautify your yard. Gotta car wreck in it? Throw a tarp over it. Gotta gaping whole in it? Throw a tarp over it. Big bloody mess where the fox got into the henhouse? Throw a tarp over it.
Redneck economics. Don’t fix it. Cover it up.
But there’s something more insidious about it too. Because the treasury secretary suddenly has all this power to choose. One man can make a financial institution survive or fail. Like a Commissar of Commerce.
Sounds suspiciously like a certain soviet solution. So maybe it’s not redneck economics. Maybe it’s red economics...
Was Marx right? Is capitalism in its dying throes vomiting up communism? Does TARP really stand for Triumphant Achievement of Red Politics?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

#921 Snot True

Remember when your mom told you to wear a hat if it’s freezing outside or you’ll catch a cold? Snot true.
Well, not accurate, to be exact. Seems having your head uncovered does involve heat loss from your body, just not any more or any less than any other bare patch of skin exposed to the elements. Your mom could as easily have told you not to go out with your pants down or your armpits uncovered.
But like most folk wisdom no one ever brings that up, because it’s obvious. And being pants free feels colder than not wearing a hat.
Nonetheless, two scientists have recently set about disproving all kinds of motherly advices we’ve come to accept without question.
Science... what do you do? First, it was the sun not circling around the flat earth and now this. What a bunch of spoilsports.
One of the debunked old wives tales, excuse me, elderly female spouses tales is the notion that eating at night increases your poundage. Not true, say Doctors Aaron Carroll and Rachel Vreeman in the British Medical Journal. Repeated studies have found no link to eating at night and excess weight gain.
Eating too much, yes, eating it when, who cares?
All right. Late night Ben and Jerry’s I’m coming back to get ya.
Although I don’t know if I trust these scientists. They’re actually from Indiana Medical University and they had to publish in a British Medical Journal. And we all know Britain was once strong on curing everything with bleeding.
In any event, they also found there’s no connection with kids eating sugar and hyperactivity. It’s just that parents expect to see it, and so they notice it more after the grandparents deliberately and insidiously set out to undermine their authority and try to get the Kids wound up.
Obviously some passive-aggressive generational issues rearing up.
And lastly, the scientists say Poinsettias are not poison-settias. In almost 23,000 cases where people porked down a poinsettia, only 4% needed medical attention.
Still, that’s 920 sick folks. Enough to insure poison poinsettias will enter the next generation of bugbears.
Because I’m guessing those 920 people were old wives.
America, ya gotta love it.