Thursday, April 29, 2010

1237 Refulgent

Sometimes words sound exactly like what you’d expect—“snake,” for instance, or “yogurt.” Other times they don’t sound right at all.
Like this other name for a place that refines stuff. Refine sounds so elegant, eliminating all the ugly stuff and keeping the best. A place that refines stuff is perfectly named when you call it a refinery. Like there’s finery involved.
And tea and crumpets perhaps.
Then there’s the other name: Smelter. Smelter sounds like an icky place. Smelly, putrid, how would anything good come from a place called a smelter? Reminds me of my farm days when I asked the vet if the odor coming from our old cow Flossy meant she was sick.
“Sick?” he says, “Have you smelter?”
Then there’s the weird word that means physical beauty. It’s pulchritude. Spelled p-u-l-c-h- like mulch, so it looks like it means something mashed up, and full of gooeyness.
But it’s actually pronounced pulk-rih-tude. So it sounds like it has something to do with bulk, folk, or President James K. Polk.
You know, the president who promoted Manifest Destiny and brought Texas in, waged a war with Mexico for California, Arizona and New Mexico, and bluffed the British into giving us Oregon and Washington.
Polk did it all with his quiet, firm, and poker-bluffing attitude.
Now that would be a good way to use Polk-ri-tude.
Lastly, there’s the word refulgent. It means radiant or glowing. But it doesn’t sound like it means glowing. It sounds like it means stuffed full of something.
He pushed back from the table as is gut was refulgent with his overindulgence.
Bad move getting in the car with him. He was refulgent from all that chili.
I thought we were driving by the smelter...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1236 Armegreendon

My dear sister Merry called the other day. And she had an insight of deep theological and social import to share with me.
We all remember the first time the lord destroyed the world due to man’s iniquity. By the way, God, fair-minded deity that he is, destroyed all the women due to man’s iniquity too.
Well not all of them. God saved the wives of Noah and his sons Ham, Japheth, and Shemp. Domestic duties of the time being what they were, they probably needed someone to clean up the ark. Which unfortunately had two-by-two worth of stuff on the poop deck even a flood couldn’t wash away.
The second time the lord promised to destroy the earth it was going to be with fire and brimstone. But judging by recent events around the world, the good lord may have changed his/her all-knowing mind.
The leaders of our churches tell us the lord seems to be becoming more and more tolerant. God him or herself hasn’t changed, just our perception of what he/she’s allowing us to know.
Not as in favor of slavery as in the bible. More inclined to support women’s and gay’s rights. So it’s no surprise the method of world-ending appears to be in keeping with modern sentiments.
Let’s face it; fire and brimstone are a definite environmental no-no. Talk about carbon footprint. All that smoke and ash. And if you’ve ever smelled brimstone you know the meaning of greenhouse gasses. Your nose turns green from smelling it.
So as my sister pointed out, they say they aren’t related, but if you’re looking for a reason for all the emission-free earthquakes destroying the world lately...
Either 2012’s a little early…
Or it could be God’s gone green.
Ah...the ap-eco-lypse
America, ya gotta love it.

1235 Crater? I Hardly Know Her

I was listening not long ago to the Republicans in the state legislature talking about how disappointed they were Democrats raised taxes and didn’t make the tough budget cuts.
And how really disappointed they were that a couple of things the Dems did cut were pet items in Republican districts.
Washington State depends on a sales tax for its revenue. And sales tax depends on a good economy. And when there’s a national meltdown, um, people buy less.
So our state budget went to a big hole in a handbasket. Because no handbaskets were selling and no sales tax was created.
The Republicans tell usthey knew this was going to happen.
The Democrats apparently didn’t get the memo.
Maybe because they were out of national power when the memo went out during the previous administration.
Today’s opposing party is fond of saying that it’s Obama’s economy now. But really, it was a pretty big economic meltdown that happened during the Bush administration, and it was a pretty deep crater. Did anyone really believe it could be dug out of in a year?
When George Bush took office, the US had an annual surplus of $236 billion. He enacted tax cuts, and we went to a deficit in his first year. Un-financed wars, Medicare changes, and Banker Bailouts, with tax cuts in place, put it around a trillion or ten.
So you put in tax cuts that put us in a hole. Now you’re mad that they’re uncutting those taxes to get us out of the hole?
As far as prediction though, the Republicans were right. I heard them say they had warned the dumb Dems years ago that this day of massive economic cratering would come.
Spoken like a true crater creator.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1234 Thought Phone

I wrote the other day about how scientists have determined that a magnetic pulse to a brain area right behind the right ear can cause people’s moral judgment to become more harsh and black and white.
Judging with less grey and being less open to extenuating circumstances.
What’s interesting is that this seat of moral black-and-white judgment is only on the right side of the brain. So is there a similar area on the left, but it’s more diffuse and disordered? The brain having its own authoritarian-versus-democratic dichotomy?
I recently read another article, which said that law enforcement agencies are now routinely taking advantage of your cellphone’s GPS electronics to follow you. Thousands of requests a month are made to judges to allow such surveillance.
And the interesting thing is they don’t even need a reason. They just have to say you are the subject of an ongoing investigation. Police liken it to following you physically down the street.
Um, 24/7...?
Some people have no problem with it. They’re happy trading freedom for security. But I wonder. When you are driving down the street and you see a policeman behind you, do you change your behavior in any way?
Maybe you won’t stop in that perfectly legal bar or political office. In some areas of the country, you’d probably stay away from visiting a mosque too.
At least right before you go to the airport.
So my next question, if the police are latched onto our cellphones...and the law has now made us wear handsfree Bluetooth earpieces... and if magnetic pulses near our ears can alter our brain waves...can they send out a signal and mess with our thoughts?
Are mind-controlled zombies on the Verizon?
Thought control...there’s an app for that.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

1233 Moral Pulse

Scientists recently did an interesting experiment. They determined that outside impulses could affect moral judgment. Not impulses like cake and alcohol. Electric impulses.
They set up a moral experiment with volunteers who were told a hypothetical story, where a woman is giving another woman tea. The first woman adds sugar to the tea. Unbeknownst to her, it’s not sugar. It’s poison. It kills the second woman.
The volunteers were asked to make a moral judgment. Was the first woman responsible? Overwhelmingly, they said no. The first women didn’t know it was poison and she had no intention of killing anyone.
They were then given refreshments.
A second group of volunteers got the same scenario, except they were subjected to an external magnetic pulse behind their right ears directed at a brain area called the right temporo-parietal junction, scrambling the neuron signals. Those volunteers overwhelmingly said the woman in the story was guilty because she had poisoned the other woman.
Case closed. Black and white. No mitigating circumstances.
Shades of Hammurabi Batman. You mean it only takes a small magnetic pulse to make you think like an uncompassionate tyrant?
Put out the commoner’s eyes, even though he didn’t know he was ogling the disguised queen.
Yes, it was a tragedy. Yes in a sense, it was a crime, but really, the poor woman didn’t know she was using poison.
I thought about this recently as I took a call on my new Bluetooth attachment. The one I stick in my right ear. The one that was currently receiving magnetic microwave pulses directly from my phone.
I wonder if my phone call had anything to do with my uncharitable behavior to that jaywalker at that moment.
I tried to run the traffic law-flouting bastard down.
Time to wear my Bluetooth in my left ear...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1232 What’s-its-Fritz

I was looking for a word in the dictionary the other day and another caught my eye. Thingamabob.
First, I was amazed it was in the dictionary and second, happy to see they had agreed on a spelling. Because I’ve also heard it as thingabob.
Kind of like the media can’t decide whether certain factions of the Tea Party are made up of white supremists or white supremacists.
Thingamabob, like most nonsense words, does have variations. Perhaps because people named Bob protested. The dictionary also listed thingamajig.
But to me a thingamabob is more of an idly hanging sort of can’t-remember-the-real-name-for-it thing. That thingamabob on your granny’s charm bracelet for instance.
A thingamajig is more of a machine. “Did you-all see the weird shaped marshmallow peeps that thingamajig popped out? I’d swear they were shaped like the baby Jesus.”
Then there’s thingamadoodle. A thingamadoodle is a thingamabob described by one of those people who put hearts instead of dots on their I’s and fill in all their O’s with happy faces.
Indeterminate names are fun though. They come in so handy when you can’t remember specifics. Can’t remember his name is Fred? The tried and true “what’s-his-name” will work just dandy. Even more vague in the memory department? “what’s-his-face” may work even better. “What time’s ol’ what’s-his-face comin’ to the party?” will not only convey your contempt or disdain for said what’s-his-face it’ll keep the apostrophe makers in business.
Speaking of names in vain. There’s poor Fritz. As in “on the Fritz,” “what’s-his-Fritz,” and the ever popular “dingle-Fritz.” Bob may hate thingamabob, but I’m guessing Fritz really hates dingle-Fritz.
Thingamabob sounds like a general indeterminate thing.
Dingle-Fritz sounds like a place where you get kicked.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1231 Nick-a-Namian

I was talking to a guy named Richard recently. Except he wasn’t called Richard. He was called Dick. I’ve always wondered about that.
I can see Richard being shortened to Rich. That’s the American way. We shorten names to be familiar. The nickname.
“Nickname” is an odd word, but descriptive. Perhaps it’s because we nick off part of their name. Or possibly the first person a nickname was applied to was named Nicholas.
Back to Dick. I can see Richard to Rich. I can even almost see Richard to Rich to Rick. A “k” sound at the end seems to be important in nicknaming. But how to you jump from Rick to Dick?
Two entirely separate consonants. When I’m on a steamboat I don’t go rolling down the Divver. It’s possible that instead of ringing the bell I could ding the bell. But what if all the frogs, instead of going rebit rebit rebit, went debit debit debit. They’d sound like a bunch of amphibian accountants.
As my name, Jerry, is already nicked, I don’t get as much fun as other people in the choice of a friendly moniker. And it would be hard to use that other nickname convention—putting a “k” sound at the end.
Forget I suggested that...
People named Charles get the “k” sound. They get Charlie, Chaz or Chuck. People named Robert don’t. They get Rob, Robbie, Bob, and Bobby. But no Buck.
Guys named Francis, get Fritz, Fran, Frankie, and Frank.
I knew a guy named Earl. They didn’t call him Earlie or Erk. But they sure worked hard to nickname him with a “k” sound at the end. So in return for nicking his name they promoted him.
Instead of Earl, they called him Duke.
America, ya gotta love it.

1230 Forever Interest

A while back Congress passed legislation on how Bankcard companies treat their customers. Like they are now prevented from soliciting young people, offering them low initial interest rates, and then lowering the boom when the kids are slow with their first payment.
You kids always do stuff on time.
Um, can you say cramming?
The law also addresses how credit card bills look. The new ones have to clearly say your interest rate, what it will finally cost you when you pay the balance off, and most importantly, how long it will take to pay off if you only make the minimum payment.
The law presumes people would pay more if they only knew what a sucking whirlpool minimum payments were.
Yeah. And people wouldn’t eat that cheesecake if they knew how many calories it had.
One interesting thing about the new system is that banks have had to program their computers to do different calculations. And like all things computer, this can lead to confusion.
Computers don’t think, they just spit out results.
So I just got a bill for an account I paid off. The computer told me in newly correct legal language that my minimum payment was $0.00. Then it said, “If no additional charges are made, and you make only the minimum payment each month, we estimate you will never pay off the balance shown on this statement.”
Pure computer thinking; logically consistent with no bearing on reality. If I owe 0.00, and I pay 0.00, I will never pay 0.00 off.
I hope one of the hidden agendas of the new law wasn’t to eliminate credit card engendered stress.
Because man. Never is a really long time to have a 0.00 payment hanging over my head...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

1229 Tricky Dick 2

A while back, I wrote about one commentator’s theory that the folks making up the Tea Party were disgruntled ex-yippies. The reasoning was that the Tea Baggers were using street theatre tactics from the sixties, and that they were mostly white males in and around their sixties.
There are some other similarities worth considering. Like believing in simple solutions based on arbitrary attributes. For instance, one Tea Party organization manifesto says they want to scrap the tax code and replace it with one no longer than 4,543 words.
Why such a weird number? That’s the length of the constitution. Sounds catchy, except I’m guessing the Founding Fathers attached no, um, mystical significance to the word count of the constitution.
I mean, I can’t imagine James Madison admonishing Ben Franklin over the length of his Article on Regulation of Commerce. “Sorry Ben, that’s thirteen words too long. This document is for posterity. Someday some proud patriot might base the length of the tax code on it.”
An arbitrary length tax code is sort of like the simplistic sixties’ solution “all you need is love.” Sounds nice, but I’m all for food and shelter too.
There are other parallels to the sixties these days. LBJ was a Democratic President. Obama is a Democratic President.
Johnson had rioting in the streets over major civil rights legislation set-in-their-ways white folks didn’t like. Obama has protest marches against major civil legislation on Health Care.
The upshot of the sixties was we got one of our oddest presidents of all time, Dick Nixon.
Nixon has five letters and two syllables and ends in an N.
So does, uh oh, Palin.
Scary thought: is the big heartthrob of the Tea Baggers the next Tricky Dick?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

1228 Mal Wary

I keep telling myself. It’s like the name Hal. It’s mal-ware.
I persist in my brain in trying to pronounce the word mall-ware. Something about the letters m-a-l- makes my brain want to say mall, like the mall. Like mall-ware is something you get to help you shop on the internet, which is the electronic equivalent of a retail mall.
But no its mal, as in malcontent, and malicious.
Not Mall as in the evil Darth Maul.
Speaking of good and bad, I saw something on the online Letterman recently. In order to watch the content you have to sit through a commercial. But the cool part is they give you a choice. You can select commercial A or commercial B. Good because the advertiser knows you selected their ad, voluntarily. And you feel empowered.
That’s a lot nicer than what Google supplies automatically. Because I gotta say, I’m getting more and more weirded out about Google making my choices for me.
The other day I typed in a simple Google query for the word Repo-men. I had a question about the current movie. The first selection to come up on the Google search results page was show times for my local cinema.
As the international probability of my local cinema coming up as the top search result in terms of overall hits was no doubt very small, it’s obvious something far more maleficent is at work here.
Google nosy-bots knew from which location my query originated. Like knowledge peeping toms.
I know it goes on all the time. I know it’s now the norm.
I still feel it’s a little creepy. And malodorous.
Which is just a nice way of saying “stinky.”
Not the perfume section in the mall.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1227 Reason Monger

The other day I was reading some article and the author referred to Glen Beck as a fear monger.
It’s too bad when someone gets so famous pandering to the worst instincts of humanity. It too bad humanity are such fraidy cats.
In any event, it got me thinking about the word “monger.” You hardly ever see it alone. As in, I monger, she mongered, they will be mongering.
And, you almost never hear it paired with something good. You got your fear monger and you got your hate monger. But you never hear anyone called a reason monger. Or a happiness monger.
It always kind of negative. I even remember way back, people saying folks who purveyed fish were fishmongers. Not too attractive sounding, but how else you gonna say it? I suppose you could say they were mongers of fish.
But that sounds almost biblical. “Put down your net Andrew and Simon who is called Peter, I will make you mongers of fish.”
Funny, I never heard the term applied to clothing salesman. “Yeah, he’s a clothes monger.” No, clothing merchants were haberdashers. Something to remember next time you need a haber dashed.
The dictionary says “monger” means broker or dealer, but usually used only in conjunction with other words, like alemonger. Another definition says it’s someone who spreads around something petty or discreditable, as in warmonger.
Oddly, the etymology dictionary says “monger” comes from a Greek word meaning, get this, charm.
Language is weird. So what we’re really saying is, Glen Beck is a fear charmer, or Rush Limbaugh is a hate charmer.
Hmm. Sounds almost like a snake charmer. The better to harvest the snake oil they sell I suppose.
Monger? I hardly know her?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

#1226 Odd Ends

The way folks say things sometimes has unintended consequences when it comes to understanding. Our words can be tricky. Take the following three examples.
I heard someone the other day say something that made me think he was some kind of racist. I had to speculate that he didn’t like people from the land of Lacta perhaps. He said he was Lactose intolerant.
I was appalled and said, “No whey!”
“Yeah,” he said, “no curds either.”
He didn’t tell me how he felt about Iranians.
Speaking of cheesy, I was driving by this motel and it had a big banner on the front advertising to everyone what fine amenities it had. But it used the word “full” a lot.
One of the things they hyped on the banner was that they had a “full hot breakfast.” There was a picture of a steaming stack of flapjacks slathered with syrup and butter.
The other part of the sign said they had a full sized exercise room. It had a picture of a stationary bike. With a very large seat on it.
So do they mean their exercise room is a large room when they say full sized or do they mean it’s for full sized people? Possible those same people who enjoyed a full sized breakfast.
Pack it in, and sweat it off, we put the amen in your full amenity motel.
Speaking of food. This other guy was telling me how he’s not into that whole salt and olive oil thing in his boiling water when he cooks pasta. He also doesn’t care to go to the trouble of stirring it. He’s almost religiously unconcerned about his spaghetti being clumpy and in tangles.
Yep, he’s a pasta-farian.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#1225 Kite Kids

Public art is always a problem. People can’t help but think it represents how a community sees itself. So it’s often fairly neutral and bland. You probably wouldn’t have, say, an 12-foot bar of soap with hairs stuck to it rendered in bronze.
The Olympia City Council once erected a sculpture in a waterside park featuring seven oars stuck in the ground. One wag pointed out it seemed to represent that the Council didn’t have all its oars in the water.
Another idea gone to pot.
The City of Lacey took a less controversial route. They chose to have sculptures of children flying kites adorning two of the major entrances to the city. The public christened one child, “kite girl” and the other, “kite boy.”
Name creativity was apparently soaring like a kite as well.
So my question is, there are a lot more entrances to the city. Will children engaged in other pursuits adorn them as well? “Paddle-ball boy” perhaps, or “jump-rope girl”?
And then I got real. When was the last time you saw a kid flying a kite?
If we were realistically to depict today’s kids, it would look like this: Gender would be hard to determine, as a hoodie would be obscuring his or her face. The kid would be hunched over, because he/she was wearing a fifty-pound backpack, due to school locker issues.
But also because the kid would be intently gazing with glazed eyes at a handheld electronic device. Earbuds in ears, the child would have its thumbs poised to busily engage in either texting or iPod twiddling.
Perfect! “Text boy” and “iPod girl.”
If I suggest this to the city, do you think they’ll tell me to go fly a kite?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

#1224 Constituent Tooting

Some nimrod was on TV the other day saying the census was unconstitutional.
I’m not entirely sure many who wave the Constitution really get the whole idea of what it is. A couple of factoids. It was firstly a multi-partisan compromise document, hammered together by a bunch of white males, some of them Christian, some of them agnostic. One of its chief goals was to make it difficult for any person to take over and call himself king.
They also understood, very wisely, that it was important to count people for purposes of taxation and representation, not necessarily in that order. So in the third paragraph of the main Constitution they called for a census every ten years.
One of the provisions of our great founding fathers, by the way, was to count black slaves as two-thirds of a person when it came to census counting.
Kind of takes the glow off that all-seeing all-knowing founding father halo doesn’t it?
After awhile the faultless document was complete. Well not actually. It wasn’t able to be ratified until they added some amendments. Yes, I know it’s hard for strict constitutionalists to believe, but the perfect document of the Constitution almost immediately needed amendment. The founding fathers forgot a couple of things.
Okay, ten.
They added those amendments and called them the Bill of Rights. Including the famous “right to bear arms” the 2nd amendment people love so well.
Ironic how some of those who take great pride in defending the 2nd amendment think that the 15th and 19th amendments are abominations.
(Those would be the amendments that gave non-whites and women the vote.)
I guess you could say they keep what they want, at their beck and call, and choose to ignore the rest.
Their constitution is more of a constant choosin.
America, ya gotta love it.

#1223 Nails From Brazil

The first time I went by a Nail place my thought was, this specialization stuff has gone too far. Perhaps my erroneous conclusion was skewed by the fact that I had just driven by another company called Tacoma Screw Products.
The amazing proliferation of Nail places inevitably led me to the conclusion they had nothing to do with hardware stores.
They are far more popular.
I can think of no similar pursuit that captivates males, so it’s tough for me to figure their appeal. All I can do is try not to misunderstand too much why many women have so much time on their hands to spend so much time on their hands.
Maybe that’s the point. Such are the ways of vanity, I reflected the other evening as I was plucking nose hairs.
But you got to admit. Nail places do sometimes make you think that they’re actually flooring stores. Especially when they talk about doing “fills.” As if they are using putty to smooth out the depression of a countersunk nail in a hardwood floor.
And the other day I drove by one that offered waxing.
Which I thought was a pretty cool deal. Or it must be as more and more Nail places seem to be offering it.
So if it’s not for floors, what is it for nails? Is waxing your nails some new kind of natural finish? Do they use carnauba or something?
It must be a very delicate art that requires lots of clinical training. Because the signs always say they have waxing “specialists.”
I saw this one place that must really be trying to beat the competition. They even imported a specialist from Brazil.
Their sign said, Brazilian Waxing Specialist.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

#1222 Healthy Civility

We’ve heard lots of violent passion recently regarding, of all things, health care. And I have to say, it’s remarkable. You wouldn’t think that finding a different way for getting people healthy would be such a big deal.
Such is the prospect of change. If we’d had the blogosphere in the 60s that whole civil rights thing would have been even harder than it was.
Come to think of it, it was pretty hard. LBJ predicted at the time the Democratic Party would lose the South over the issue and he was right. Southern Democrats, notorious for their racism, and swollen with injured pride, flocked to the Republican Party in elephantine droves.
We almost had another civil war over it. In retrospect, it seems like a pretty big hoohah over a pretty obvious conclusion; Blacks and Whites are equal.
We don’t need separate drinking fountains.
But separate drinking fountains and the relative seating on busses were nearly a nation breaker. It certainly cracked the political landscape.
So really, are we at a time in our history where there’ll be a civil war over health care? Are folks ready to secede from this great union of ours over being forced to buy insurance to keep them healthy?
In that case, it’s time to park our seat-belted cars on our front lawns and start throwing all our waste in the yard and toxifying our neighborhoods.
Don’t be forced to buy car insurance or have trash picked up by that private company.
So let’s tamp down the violent language. When I see the histrionic voices on the gripe-o-sphere I think there’s one civil right we should definitely assert.
The right to be a little more civil.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

#1221 Constant Commenters

Is there a name for them? Those constantly commenting people you always see after every article in every online news source.
I hope it’s not “Constant Commenters.”
One could assume from that name that they’re all teabaggers. Not true. Many points of view are commented out there. But they’re always out there.
Maybe it’s a function of the high unemployment amongst young males. Most of the comments I see seem infused with enough passion and testosterone to testify to that origin.
Some of them do it so much they dialogue with each other. You’ll be reading along and the next comment will refer to the one before and then they’ll start chiming in about how they feel about other unrelated issues, all under aliases of course. One time I read a commenter who asked where another anonymous commenter was that day, sure he must have an opinion on the matter.
For gosh sake, it’s like our newspapers have become chatrooms.
Except they’re chatrooms filled with gripers. Anonymously griping about everything under the heavens. It’s not the blogosphere at all. It’s the gripe-o-sphere.
And it’s scary. These folks need to smell a rose every now and then. They’re so negative.
I was reading an article in the Seattle Times recently and I noticed they had an interesting innovation. They put a number next to the commenter’s alias. A total of the number of times that particular griper had vented.
You’d think that would engender some respect at their experience. But no, it made me take their comment less seriously, not more.
I just wanted to write in, “Dude, get out of your mother’s basement and see the world.
Drop that alias and make a real name for yourself.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

#1220 Twax Two

I did a piece recently on a new sort of tax revenue—taxing Twitterers. It fit the great sin-tax model of taxing folks who are addicted to something.
I called the new Twitter tax a Twax. My friend Rick suggested that I should apply similar taxes to the other addictive posting things. Perhaps a Myspace tax. They would pay a hefty amount and we would call it a Max. There would also be a Facebook tax, called a Fax. Then the tax police could say, just give me the fax man.
Speaking of facts, a few Twitter facts are now emerging from academia. Researchers have actually demonstrated the smart-phone addiction. When you take one away from people they twitch and get short of breath and suffer anxiety and stuff. Texting, Twittering, and twiddling your smart-phone are true addictive behaviors.
Kind of takes away from some of the darkness of addiction. I can see them at the rehab.
“Yeah, I’m a mainline heroin user, what about you?”
“Um...I’m a heavy tweeter.”
Another interesting result of Twitter research, or tweeter twaddle as I like to call it, is that the 80/20 rule applies. Less than 20% of the people do more than 80% of the Tweeting. So Twitter isn’t as socially networky as we think.
Twee-searchers defined a twue Tweeter as one who has made at least 10 tweets, follows at least ten people, and has at least ten followers. Less than twenty percent of the people signed up with Twitter qualify.
Great news for society, bad news for my new tax plan. I might have to broaden it out to include all texting.
We could calling tax-ting. Or maybe just tex-es.
Yeah...all your taxes would be from tex-es.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, April 05, 2010

#1219 Twaddeal

Now that the Healthcare jobs bill has passed, the next thing the feds need to focus on is taxes. But everybody hates taxes.
That’s why the most popular way to tax is to make taxes small and frequent, preferably on socially annoying things, and get them from people who can’t fight back.
You also want to get taxes from folks who are addicted to whatever it is you’re taxing so they pay no matter what. That’s why taxes on things like liquor and cigarettes and are so effective.
So what’s the next big tax motherlode?
Yes Twitter, that annoying thing that obsessive young folks do 24/7. Think of it as a nuisance tax. Or better yet, a tax on all the hours people take away from productivity as they waste time twiddling their thumbs Tweeting.
A thumb tax perhaps?
A Twitter tax fits all the requirements. It taxes a socially annoying action. The general public won’t be upset if you start taxing Tweeters.
And you can get it from people who won’t fight back. What are they going to do? Tweet each other? Oooh, sounds so vicious. Let’s all Tweet the White House.
And Twitterers are addicted to Tweeting like tweakers are addicted to meth.
And who Tweets more than anyone? People between the ages of 10 and 13. Tweens. Tweens have the most disposable income on the planet. Every tween with a cellphone has his or her parent’s discretionary income by the heartstrings.
Keep the tax small. One tenth of one percent. Let’s called it a twenth. The name? Let’s see…you got your T for Time, your W for Wasting, and your ax from Tax.
How about Twax?
Yeah...Tax Tweens with a twenth of a cent Twitter Twax.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, April 02, 2010

#1218 Obamanufacturing

I woke up on Monday, March 22nd and was surprised. The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting and I could hear the twittering of the crickets and my neighbor’s teenagers. The world was normal. The four horsemen of the apocalypse had failed to appear as predicted.
You know the four—war, famine, pestilence and Obamacare...
So what now?
Hope, and CPAs.
Yes CPAs. Because everyone knows, CPAs are a direct result of our massively complex tax code.
There are 360,000 CPAs in the country. (There are also 100,000 people directly employed by the IRS but who's counting?)
The CPAs mostly have firms, some of them big, some of them small. I’m guessing the average CPA directly employs 5 people. That’s around 1.8 million people.
So they are kind of a core industry.
A core industry that keeps people from getting reamed.
Core industries indirectly generate employment in support industries at about ten to one. A simple calculation tells us that that translates into 18 million jobs.
Total everything, and it comes to 20,260,000 jobs, including the 100,000 direct IRS positions. I didn’t even do the 10 multiplier on them. So one could say the IRS code generates over 20 million non-government jobs.
Now think about this. The new massive health care bill is huge. And it’s incredibly complex. So complex, I’m guessing we’re going to need new specialists. Let’s call them a Certified Healthcare Interpreter—a CHI.
Spelled like the Chinese chi, meaning good energy.
The good energy our economy is going to get when we put 20 million people to work in a brand new industry. Because what CPAs are to taxes, CHIs will be to healthcare.
So Obama’s finally done what his critics have been harping at him to do.
Created a massive jobs bill.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

#1217 Maw Dip

I was explaining in an email to someone the other day the phrase “schliessen dein maul.”
It’s my understanding that it’s the German way of saying “shut up.” A harsher version of the more polite, “please be quiet.”
When the Germans say “shut up” they say “schliessen dein maul,” which more or less literally means, “shut your animal mouth.” Maul being the term for mouths of a more brutish persuasion.
Oh those Germans, what a fun folk. Shut your maw indeed.
My favorite German name was during the first Gulf War when we had General Schwartzkopf. “Schwartz,” as you may be aware, means “black,” and “kopf” is the German word for “head.”
So we were led by a blackhead.
And perhaps the Joint Chiefs of Acne.
As I was writing the email about the animal mouth phrase, I tried to explain to the non-German speaking recipient how to pronounce the various words. One thing about German is it is very consistent when it comes to pronunciation of its vowels. Particularly its vowel diphthongs.
Pardon me while I explain what you no doubt already know, but diphthongs are two vowels together. IE and AU and EI for example. “Schliessen dein maul” contains a few of them.
In German, the diphthong "ie" in schliessen is pronounced with the long E sound, the diphthong "ei" in dein is pronounced with the long I sound and the diphthong "au" in maul is pronounced “ow” as in how.
It goes without saying that when I first heard about diphthongs I was curious. I love to break down words to determine their meaning.
Turns out not matter it sounds, one is strongly advised not to use a diphthong in a public pool.
America, ya gotta love it.