Friday, May 28, 2010

1258 Fungal from the Jungle

Mother Earth is striking back. You’ve probably heard of the largest organism on earth. It’s a fungus. Buried underneath an Oregon forest, it stretches for acres.
All genetically distinct, all one organism, sending up little mushrooms and spreading spores into the surrounding environment. Only dangerous if you are allergic to the microscopic spores you suck in when you walk through that forest.
Guess what? It may be time to put on the avian flu masks. Because a new killer fungus in among us. It’s Cryptococcus gattii, a tropical bark-dwelling fungus. Fungal from the jungle. It’s recently reached the northwest, possibly from imported plants and/or timber.
You’ve heard of poison mushrooms that kill you when you bite them. This is a bark-dwelling fungus that can kill you from just breathing its spores. So this really is a case of the bark being worse than the bite.
Back in the tropics, it had a troubling 9% mortality rate. Apparently it can survive up here because it’s now warm enough. And it’s also suddenly got more virulent. It has killed 25% of the people known to be infected. The scientist Edward Byrnes is quoted as saying, “It’s particularly worrisome because it seems to be a threat to otherwise healthy people.”
Which makes it sound especially horrible. But really, isn’t all sickness a threat to otherwise healthy people? The common cold is a threat to an otherwise healthy person without a cold.
Now he has a cold.
Still, the idea of walking through a forest and sucking in a death cloud of mushroom sex dust seems like a spooky science fiction plot. What would they name such a movie?
“Creeping Mushrooms of Death” perhaps.
Or I know—
“Fungi on the Prowl...”
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

1257 Bygone Crazy

I read an article the other day in which the author actually mounted a defense for Goldman Sachs. His thesis was that although it may be true that Goldman Sachs screwed the public by packaging questionable mortgage securities, selling them to gullible investors who actually believed Goldman Sachs had an honest investment record, and then betting against the investors they just sold the securities to, we should let bygones be bygones.
“Let’s not get people upset with a witch hunt,” the guy said. “It could make the stock market go down and damage our fragile recovery.”
I believe the author didn’t understand the positive purgative value of a witch-hunt to the torch-wielding villagers. Especially the torch-wielding villagers who had their 401ks pillaged by the putative witch.
Notice how every time the poor suffering public wants to hold accountable a greedy corrupt investment banker or a slick pension-killing Wall Street vulture, we hear this new “fragile recovery” refrain?
“Oh yes, we were evil, but that’s all in the past now. Regulation that may prevent us from screwing you again will damage the, um, ‘fragile recovery.’ Let’s let bygones be bygones...”
Here’s the nut. Consumer confidence is the real and permanent engine that drives our economy. Today’s stock market has less to do with the capital needed to invest in companies who make goods to fuel consumer spending than it once did.
Consumers spend more when they see the crooks strung up. That spending has surged each time a Wall Street witch-hunt gets underway. If only because we need to buy more torches.
Not to mention how menacing the rest of us look with our economy-boosting recently purchased pitchforks.
It takes a village... to raise some hell.
Go villagers.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

1256 Hair Apparent

I heard a news story on the radio and it got me scratching my head. I thought it was one of those internet urban myths, it just sounded too weird to be true. But various news organizations have covered the story and it appears to be legit.
Send your hair to the Gulf of Mexico.
They’ll use it to soak up the oil spill.
Yep, it appears human hair, or fur, or feathers, are some of the best natural absorbents to really sop up oil. So hairdressers across the nation are collecting clippings to send to the oil-clotted coast.
It’s only fair, for years and years oil has helped keep America’s hair under control. Now America’s hair can return the favor and keep oil under control.
Hair of all types, permed, colored, foiled, streaked, even tinted blue, is stuffed into old nylons and boomed in. After a due amount of soakage time, it’s lifted out. I don’t know if they wring it out directly into diesel tanks at that point, of if gulf refineries have been retooled to squeeze hairbags.
All I know is, it sounds bizarre. And I’m worried the poor gulf folks affected by the spill may need more in the way of relief. Especially the starving fisher-folk who depend directly on the bounty of the sea to, um, eat every day.
“What’s in the Care package Joe-Bob? Little Billy-Bob’s starving.”
“Let’s see here. Aw shucks, it’s another box of hair.”
“Well toss it in the jambalaya pot...”
“Lookie here, it’s a full Hair Club for Men weave. I love that part.”
“Oh well, hair today, gone tomorrow. It’s protein. We oil have to eat something.”
“Shore doo. And the best part of eating hair?
All the energy we’ll save with built-in flossing.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1255 Last Dollar

The economy must be turning around. Standard stock market wisdom says that certain industries do better during economic downturns and some do better during upturns. Downturn industries are typically things like pawnshops and repair places.
Upturns are new cars and $5.00 latte stands.
So we must be shifting economic direction because I just saw a “going out of business” sign, but it was for, of all places, the Dollar Store.
They had sign shakers standing on the street corner, and I had to chuckle. The signs said, “Dollar Store. Going Out of Business! Everything Must Go! Nothing Held Back!”
I know, A lot on one sign for a sign shaker to hold, but they were big signs. And the different phrases were in different colors, so only one caught your eye at a time.
I’m a fast reader so I got the full impact. Made me want to grab a dollar from the loose change holder in my car right then and there.
But it made me wonder too. How do you slash prices at the dollar store? Everything’s already a dollar. Do they do different discounts? Have the regular store-closing pattern? Everything is 75 cents this week, 50 cents next week and in three weeks a quarter? What happens at four weeks? I’m thinking they’ll skip the 12 ½ cent phase and go straight to the dumpster.
I love going out of business signs that say “Everything Must Go.” Well I guess. If you’re going out of business I presume you’d like to sell everything.
And I’m glad they specified, “Nothing Held Back.” I was really worried they were going to reserve some of their elite, “only for special customers,” one-dollar inventory in the back room.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

1254 Guestimate

A recent study concluded that people don’t like to buy things that are priced with round numbers. If, say, your house is listed at 400,000 dollars, it is less likely to sell than if it’s listed at 399,999.
But researchers found that it’s not the lower price, it’s the perception of a rounding-up effect. Because homes that were priced at 401,298 sold better as well.
Apparently, buyers conclude that the more zeros, the more the seller is trying to cheat them out of a few extra rounding-up bucks. Must be all that guestimating they taught us in school math class.
We perceive guestimating as a sub-category of lying, and trust the seller less. Which is funny. Because I’ve always thought, when I saw a shirt priced at 19.99 instead of 20 bucks, it was a cheap psychological trick.
I guess the fear of a potential liar is more of a motivator than the exasperated eye-rolling at a cheesy ruse.
In any event, a study of home sales in south Florida showed homes sold for more when they were priced precisely and not evened out to round numbers filled with zeros.
Maybe the car and loan dealers with their zero-percent financing should take notice. And the snack chip makers with their zero grams of fat. Saying 1.5 %, interest or trans fat, may sell you product better.
1.5 % still sounds small, but it also sounds more realistic. How could zero percent mean anything real? Really. One percent means one-hundredth of one. Zero percent means one-hundredth of zero. How can you have a hundredth of nothing?
And it stands to reason, the more zeros you have, the more you have of nothing.
Who wants to buy more nothing?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

1253 Archly Comic

Archie Comics recently announced the introduction of an openly gay regular character. The company said it was part of their effort to keep the series current and inclusive. Added to the recurring ménage of Betty, Archie, Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead they’ll have Kevin Keller.
Kevin huh? Could they have been more stereotypical with the name?
I’m all for inclusive, and I think it’s wonderful Archie Comics wishes to be that way. But I don’t remember which Archie character is Hispanic, Asian, Black, Differently-Abled, or a Little Person.
Interesting that sexual orientation is their first move towards inclusiveness. I guess I never thought of Archie and Betty in terms of sex. They were hetero, sure, but they weren’t very hetero.
Even though the series is about high school teenagers, presumably raging with sexual hormones, we never see them doing anything other than going together, with Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Archie swapping partners like a morally airbrushed Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice.
Woohoo…going steady with neuters.
Sexuality has never been a big part of the Archie deal. Even the cartoon pop group, “The Archies” traded their hormones for bubblegum. Their “Sugar Sugar” and the song by their rivals Ohio Express, “Yummy Yummy Yummy I got love in my tummy” pointed out their physiological confusion vis-à-vis procreative expression.
And you know what? Archie Comics already had a gay character. Reginald. Reggie was the classic example of a person in denial. His overt heterocity. His fight-picking behavior. His constant attempts to out-macho Archie with Veronica.
Definitely one of those belligerent homophobes you see who are often repressed homosexuals.
Archie Comics would have done the world a more inclusive favor by letting Reggie out of the closet. It’s okay Reggie, be you, be free.
Say hello to Kevin.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

1252 Perverse Psychology

Did you ever get the feeling maybe that whole moral-religious preachy thing ain’t working? Seems like the harder you tell people not to do something, the farther they fall to do it.
Look at all the recent sex scandals, and whom they’re happening to. Priests told to abstain from sex, then having sex with young boys. That famous antigay guy, former head of the ultra-conservative Family Research Council, getting caught at an airport with a Rentboy.
A Rentboy for gosh sake. Dude, if you’ve issued nothing but anti-homosexual condemnations, and you’re a closet homosexual yourself, take a different flight!
It’s amazing. What is it about these folks that they just can’t seem to put a lid on their desires?
I think it’s the rebellion factor. We once used the reverse psychology trick when we wanted people to do something. These violators of their own values seem to be using perverse psychology.
And they aren’t alone. A recent study shows if you want to have the lowest rates of divorce and the fewest unwed teen pregnancies, you’d be better off in a blue state than a red state. Yep, the highest rates of stable marriages are in blue states.
Turns out the red state abstinence-preaching forces kids underground and into bed without protection. Teen pregnancies swell. Early marriages by both teen parents, and teens who can’t wait any longer for their first sex, frequently lead to early divorces, as the kids are too young to handle the responsibility.
Blue staters have sex. They just use protection and get married when they’re good and ready.
And apparently, they aren’t rebelling against some hypocritical adult constantly yammering at them about what the Family Research Council says they shouldn’t do.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1251 Ash Mad

A friend told me about a new website the other day that appears to be dedicated to vigorously annihilating the 7th commandment. The one about not committing adultery. It’s similar to the 9th, which is “Do not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
Apparently God thought we needed an extra reminder.
Does anyone covet anymore, or is that a word overdue for retirement? I doth think so, how about thou?
That extra reminder is ignored by this website, because it stands that dating-service-for-singles idea on its head, or possibly on its bed.
It’s a dating service for marrieds. Specifically, a dating service for marrieds looking to have an affair. Forget about eharmony, it’s promoting e-disharmony. Yep, a website that facilitates philandering.
It’s bad enough couples are being torn apart with porn surfing and “other life” virtual games. Now a dating service actually supplies and screens your real “other woman” or “other man.”
It’s iniquitous, audacious, and purely capitalist. Talk about a niche market. They purportedly have millions of visitors and registrees. They do electronic matching not unlike the other dating services, except the folks are married and looking to tear off a slice of strange.
So can they still call themselves “matchmakers” when they’re also unmatchmaking at the same time?
The place is Ashley Madison dot com. They say they are just helping people do what they were going to do anyhow, but taking away some of the hassle.
Um, sometimes the “hassle” helps people not do something they would later regret. That whole law/police thing is a “hassle” that stops people from following their desire to steal a car.
I just hope they post a link on their website to my-spouse-left-me-for-an-internet-skank-and-I’m-devastated-what-do-I-do-now dot com.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1250 Hair Raison

I’m not inclined to reinforce sexual stereotypes. Men are perfectly capable of cooking or diaper changing. And women just as capable of oil changing or lawn-mowing. There is no genetic predisposition interfering with said behaviors.
But when it comes to social dynamics, there are definitely differences. Take the average appearance change. At a recent meeting, a female walked in. She had obviously had a makeover. New hairdo, makeup, a vigorous eyebrow pluck.
Various women approached her and excitedly commented on her new appearance. The humidity in the room went up about 50% as the residual moisture from the gushing infused the air.
One of the gushers admonished me, saying, “Why aren’t you telling her how great she looks? You should be saying she looks stunning.”
And I thought, um, no. In these days of avoiding even the suggestion of hitting on someone of the opposite sex in a business setting, no way.
And also because I didn’t want to suggest she looked bad before. When you say how much better someone looks, you’re implying they once looked worse. Not the swamp to jump into.
And also because that’s not how men treat other men who change their looks. A guy at my health club came in the other day and he had just got a radical buzz cut. His hair was shorn to the nubs.
Us guys responded naturally. One said, “Dude, I hope you didn’t pay good money for that.” Another said, “How long have you been out of Auschwitz? You need to put on some weight.” I said, “You look like a picture I saw at the post office. What’d you do with your chest numbers?”
Ah, male bonding.
Sometimes it’s fun living the stereotype.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

1249 Giblet

I was reading an article and it used the initials for Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender, G-L-B-T. But they had transposed a couple of the letters to G-B-L-T and my mind immediately jumped to an acronym pronunciation. Giblet?
Better in some ways than trying to make the G-L-B-T- into gel-bot or gull-boat. Although giblet does suffer from the soft “g” of jib instead of the hard “g” of gay.
But it got me wondering, where did we get the word giblet?
The etymology dictionary says it comes for the old French gibelet which means game stew. But somewhere along the way it came to stand for the parts some folks don’t like.
I remember my grandmother adding the turkey giblets to the Thanksgiving gravy. Culinary unsophisticate I was, I cringed. A classic holiday meal forever altered by a surprise bite of turkey liver. Even when she tried to please us kids, she still put in the turkey’s chopped up heart and kidneys.
By the way, turkey kidneys are not much different from turkey liver. They’re both a little gamey. And forgive me, innards eaters, but what’s the point of eating organs the dead animal used to filter out its toxins?
I’m thinking your average bug-picking turkey had a few environmental toxins accumulated from the insecticides and herbicides the bugs picked up on the farm. The turkey crunched those down, its liver filtered them out, and concentrated them in its chalky organ.
And you just got a big mouthful in your gravy.
Let’s hope the writer is more careful spelling the G-L-B-T- initials in the future. Because I guess the word giblet is not a good word to use.
Who needs painful reminders of bad mealtimes with relatives?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

1248 Brando-coccus

Wisconsin has got out ahead of the rest of the country in a small way. Very small. They recently were the first state in the union to designate their own official state microbe.
It’s the lactococcus lactis bacterium, and it’s used in the making of cheddar and Monterrey Jack. Some folks think this was a cheesy way to get Wisconsin in the national news, but I’m more excited by the marketing and branding possibilities it gives other states.
If Wisconsin can have lactococcus lactis for cheese, maybe Idaho could have frenchfryus lipsmackus for their famous potatoes.
And it doesn’t have to be about food. It could be about attitude. Nevada could be Lasvegas inStayus. It’s a bacterium than only infects one close to the vest.
Washington DC could have politicococcus gridlockus and parts of Oregon could lay claim to it’s relative, politicus anarchus.
The great state of Texas is so big they may need to have three microbes. As the famous home of the recently divorced, they could house exusi texas. And as the last bastion of conservative values, they could be Alamo-remembrous secessionus or texasbookus rewritus.
California’s laid-back liberal lifestyles naturally suggest their signature microbe ought to be lappococcus californicus. And maybe name a special one after their governor, Terminatus Swartzennegrus.
Washington would never be able to settle on a single microbe. The competing camps of UW and WSU alumni would prevent that. Cougarous palousus would fight a constant battle with huskus snootius. Interestingly, both bacteria have been known to have an injurious effect on sheep.
Suffice it to say, one state’s cheese is another state’s possible branding statement. So state tourism boards need to get on it now.
I’m guessing this marketing idea will really be infectious.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

1247 Metric Perversion

Back when I was in school, everyone was weighing in, in measured ways, about the importance of learning how to convert to metric. Inches to centimeters, quarts to liters, that sort of thing.
And I always thought, it’s pointless. Just change over. People will get used to it. Think about it. Do you ever care how many quarts are in a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi?
Or do you just stop drinking when you’re full?
So it was really odd recently when I picked up a packet of Sun Chips and saw the following. Emblazoned on it in a little heart shape it said, “18 grams of whole grains per 1 ounce serving.”
Aargh. They used both metric and American in the same sentence. Now I have to do the conversion!
Even worse, for my math-challenged brain, the package contains 1½ ounces of chips. Fortunately, they also put how many grams 1½ ounces is, 42.5, so the calculation is a little easier. 1 ounce is 2/3 of 1½ ounces, so 2/3 of 42.5 grams is approximately 28.34 grams.
If I were them, I would have done it that way in the first place. Because now it looks really impressive. In every 28.34-gram serving, you get 18 grams of whole grain. That’s pretty close to 2/3 of every chip being whole grains.
2/3 whole grain is mighty impressive for a snack food. Too bad they made it so confusing to us non-mathletes out here with that metric conversion.
Metric perversion if you ask me.
There’s a basic rule of advertising: K-I-S-S-, Keep It Simple Stupid.
“18 grams of whole grain per 1 ounce serving,” may be better for my heart.
But the simpler “2/3 Whole Grain” would be better for my brain too.
America, ya gotta love it.

1246 Not So Specialist

I recently got a flyer in my mailbox. It was from a handyman guy with a gardening service company. The first thing his circular said is that he offers “Experienced Dependable Quality Service.”
That’s great. If I ever need my quality serviced, I’ll be sure to pick their experienced dependable people.
But there was something more disturbing on the flyer and it reminded me of an ad I’d heard on the radio once. A car repair place said that they specialized in “tune-ups, air conditioning, and brake repair.”
This landscaping guy was similar. On the front side of the circular, it says he specializes in landscaping and gardening services for residential, commercial, and apartments. On the other side, it says he specializes in waterfalls, ponds, and outdoor lighting.
Um, I think people don’t know what specialize means.
Specialize means you have studied something and mastered it to the exclusion of all else. A virtuoso violinist has specialized in the violin. You wouldn’t expect him to whip out an oboe and trill a triple-tongued double-reeded glissando.
Whatever a glissando is. I didn’t specialize in music in school.
But you get the idea. If you want to say you offer all these services, fine, but don’t say you’re a specialist. You are a generalist.
Nothing wrong with that. You can even say you are expert in more than one thing. Experts are developed all the time. No one would expect you to devote your whole life to ponds and/or outdoor lighting. Live a little, develop your skills in waterfalls and sod laying.
But say you’re a master. Or say you’re experienced. Just don’t say you specialize in more than one thing.
Yeah, I specialize in being a jack-of-all-trades...
America, ya gotta love it.

1245 Grinder

So the other day I’m eating a submarine sandwich. You know, the kind you can get at Subway.
Interestingly, if you pay attention to their décor, their Subway is the subterranean type. Yet the “sub” in their name derives from submarine…
In any event, I reflected that when I was growing up, we called the sandwich a grinder. No one native to the northwest seems to believe that word. I recently took the occasion to look it up for proof and the first definition in the list said “one who grinds.”
So I skipped up to the definition of grind. Was I surprised that one of those definitions defined grinding as “exotic rotation of the pelvis.”
Not the sandwich I remember.
A further definition of grinder said it was slang for a Hero sandwich. And I thought, here is an amazing sandwich indeed.
It’s basically a long roll cut lengthwise in half, loaded with sliced meats, cheeses, and produce, and it has a more names than stuffings. You have your hero. And you got your grinder. Submarine sandwich of course. Then there’s also the south’s version, the po’ boy.
Po’ boy is interesting, in that people who put it on menus now feel obliged to do the p-o-, apostrophe, then b-o-y-. When we had it for school lunches, the cafeteria lady menu writer always spelled out the “poor” that the current po’ refers to.
I’m not sure why we lost the poor part but I feel really stupid ordering one and trying to affect the New Orleans accent of the apostropheed version.
It certainly gets me P-O’d.
So there you have it, heroes and poor boys and exotic pelvi.
The perfect sandwich to take to the submarine races.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

1244 Fistful

Someone told me not long ago that he was making fistfuls of money. So why do we say fistfuls, when we say sons-in-law instead of son-in-laws and attorneys general rather than attorney generals?
Shouldn’t we be saying fists-ful of money? Or spoons-ful of medicines? Spoonsful of sugar make medicines go down?
The fist is being pluralized, not the fulls. It’s not a fist that is fulls of money. There are numerous fists that are full of money. Or spoons. Or hands. He had his hands full of handsful of money.
And while we’re at it, what does “making money hand over fist” mean? I understand physical references like “he had his hands full.” Or “he didn’t have a leg to stand on.” Or “he was in over his head.” And when it comes to money, I can picture the person who is “laughing all the way to the bank.”
But I have a hard time figuring out the phrase “making money hand over fist.” I can see a guy climbing a rope hand over hand. Or someone giving someone a hand up and not a hand out. But why hand over fist?
I put my hand over my fist and it doesn’t look like anything that makes money. Unless I’m making money for “scariest shadow” in a game of shadow puppets and my puppet looks like a grenade.
Wait a minute, it also looks like the result of a game of rock-paper-scissors. The paper result. Paper covers rock. The “fist” being the rock, the “hand over” the fist being the paper.
So maybe back in the old days, when they made up sayings, people played really high stakes gambling games of rock-paper-scissors.
And choosing paper made fistsful of money...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

1243 Spryt

I guess I have to admit it. I’m getting older. The proof is the other day I was doing something that required both quickness and flexibility and someone else told me I was “spry.” If I was truly younger they would have said I was “agile.”
One the one hand, “spry” sounds like it could be a derivative of sprite, those young fairies that hang out around woodland streams dancing their flighty ways through Greek myths.
But no. Most people think spry applies to old dancers. Such subtle distinctions creep into language. The dictionary definition for spryness is not that flexible. It says simply, “active, nimble, lively and brisk.”
And yet everyone I talk to says they think of it as active, nimble, lively and brisk, but done by an old codger.
There’s another elder word—codger. You know when someone is called a codger he’s a cranky old cuss. It’s a word that comes from cadger, as in to cadge something. So there’s the implication with codger that he’s also a crafty old cuss, liable to trick you out of something, possibly if he’s trying to boost a drink while he’s out playing nickel poker with his cronies.
Crony is one of those words that has nothing to do with age in the dictionary either, but does in real life. You always think of a group of cronies as being older folks too, and usually male. You don’t think of a clutch of women being a bunch of cronies.
When in doubt, use the chicken formula. Cronies are old men with rooster necks. Groups of older women can cackle like a bunch of hens.
A gaggle of young folks are peeps.
Words can be spry too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

1242 Face Off

As more and more security problems come out about Facebook, you wonder why many businesses are opting to use it. Privacy concerns aside, and there are tons, why are companies choosing to use what was supposedly a social thing anyhow?
One word. Free. Even business people are drawn to the myth of something for nothing.
Hmm. They must not value their time too highly.
It’s like Amway. Those who get the most out of it are those who put the most in it. It’s also like a pyramid scheme. The people who get in before the glut get the glory.
But with the glut of Faceusers out there now, late adopters are like a new business in a crowded street of strip malls. Ironically, they have to do something to advertise that they are, um, advertising.
That’s why we’re now seeing people paying to announce their presence on Facebook. Look at me, I’m on Facebook for free! And here’s a sign I paid for stuck in the ground on a street saying “Find me on Facebook.” And here’s another ad I paid to put in the newspaper that also says “Find me on Facebook.”
My favorite is one I saw the other day. If was an ad from a famous “social marketing expert.” She was giving a talk about the amazing low-cost effectiveness of social marketing. And she was telling everyone about it in a paid ad she put in a chamber of commerce newsletter.
So, she had to pay for the ad, and pay to be chamber member to be able to place the ad.
I wanted to say to her: How’s that free socially marketing thingy working out for you?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

1241 Pandora’s Rehab

Sometimes it seems that people who put stuff out there have no idea what they’re saying. It’s either the words they use or they way they use them.
Like the other day. This headline in the newspaper. By people who write for a living and should know better. The headline read, “Pullman Police Arrest Robbery Suspect with Ax.”
Um, don’t police usually use guns when they arrest people? Are things so primitive in the wilds of Pullman that police have hatchets on their belts?
“Let’s see, do I have everything? Zip-cuffs, Taser, gun, hatchet...” Yeah, perfect if they have to chop down a tree to make a roadblock.
Here’s a headline idea. How about, “Ax-Wielding Suspect Arrested By Police.”
Another of my current amazements regarding word misusage is the name Pandora. I heard an ad the other day for the Pandora brand of Jewelry. There’s also the Pandora application you can get to hear free radio and new music over your smartphone.
But as I remember, the Greek myth of Pandora was a cautionary tale. Pandora was told not to open a certain box or dire consequences would ensue. And that made her tiny little mind so full of temptation she couldn’t resist. The imaginary appeal of what wonderful thing must be in the box made her dive in willy-nilly and open it.
All the sins and evils of the world were released. Greed, avarice, envy, hooking your smartphone to a free service that plants ads and supplies personal data to strangers, texting while driving, walking around all the time with earbuds in, wearing flashy jewelry while kids are starving.
And, oh yeah, the sin of not researching the origins of a name.
Pandora? You hardly know her...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

1240 Dumb Doin’s

Ever find yourself doin’ dumb things? I do. And when I catch myself I really wonder about that level of consciousness that we often go through that is barely functional. The drone state of mind when we coast through the day, not totally aware, but still doin’ routine things.
I call it not unconscious, but dumbconscious.
Like the other morning as I finished my shower and was preparing for work, I reached into my bathroom drawer, pulled out a tube of toothpaste, uncapped it, and proceeded to almost smear it on my underarm.
I’m not making this up. Many of the motions are the same, my dumbconscious got my routine out of order, and voila, no armpit cavities.
Or that night when I woke up and it was pitch black from a power outage. The first thing I did was grope for my glasses. And how much better will they help me see in the dark?
My favorite act of dumbconscious is when you’re going down the stairs, and you think the next step is a stair, but you’ve cleared the stairway and it’s actually your second step on flat ground. Your leg still acts as if it’s a stair and your whole body shudders because there’s no down to go to.
And then there’s when I went through a pretty bad period in my life. Yes, even comedians get suicidal. I was having particularly black thoughts one day, and I got into my car to drive somewhere, and I fastened the seat belt.
I had an epiphany. If I really wanted to kill myself, why bother to fasten the seatbelt?
It cheered me up. I guess my dumbconscious was telling me things weren’t that bad.
It ain’t that dumb after all...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

1239 Loads of Bun

I was talking to a friend yesterday and he started telling me about his mother’s bunions. Unfortunately, he told me about them two seconds after I’d passed along a joke to him that Sarah Palin having a TV show about the ecological wonders of Alaska on The Learning Channel was like Jeffrey Dahmer having a show on the cooking channel.
So when my friend started talking about bunions, my sick mind started thinking about the snackfood Funyons.
And I decided never to eat Funyons again. Not a big loss, as I was never that impressed with their less than onion ring satisfaction. And really, naming a snackfood to sound like a foot problem?
You can’t help but instantly think of other food/foot things, like corns and toe cheese.
Or go in the other direction. If things that are bun like in bunion get equated with things that are fun like in Funyon where are you? “Hey man, I really had loads of bun at the fast food joint.”
Another word got me misthinking lately when I was reading about a new lizard they discovered. Biologists who specialize in the study of lizards are called “herpetologists”. Now that’s unfortunate. That’s what we get for basing scientific stuff on dead languages like Greek and Latin.
Lizard-ologist would be better. Because “herpetologist” kind of sounds like he specializes in herpes. Crazy, until you learn they named herpes herpes because it’s a rash that creeps like a lizard. Herpes means creeping.
Creepy indeed.
Let’s hope the guy that invented Funyons doesn’t rashly bring out a new badly thought out snack food.
And call it Ferpies.
They make your tastes buds flare up with joy!
America, ya gotta love it.

1238 Hypocracy

A conservative parents’ group recently called on a school district to stop saying it was educating its students to ensure the “future of democracy”. The group says that a “democracy” relies solely on “majority rule” and is “the road to socialism”. The group’s leader says the US is a republic.
Technically, he’s correct about the republic thing. But isn’t a republic, as we practice it, a representative democracy?
You could say the senate is not directly representative of the numbers of the entire US population but they too get elected by the majority of folks in their state.
Whatever you call it, it looks like majority rule to me. My thesaurus uses “democracy” and “republic” as synonyms, so the parents’ group has no help in the Microsoft grammarcheck department.
Does it seem like people who shout “fascism” and “socialism” the loudest have no idea the words indicate opposite ends of the political spectrum? Maybe they should have paid more attention when they were in a school that was ensuring the future of democracy.
Why is it the loudest voices we hear from the open-carry gun-wielders and the socialist-warners come from the losers in the last election?
Or should I say sore losers?
They started buying guns the minute Obama was elected and drove themselves into this hysteria about oncoming socialism because the Democrats were in power.
Obama never made any move to change gun control. The only thing that could provoke that is if one of the extra-wingnutty wingnuts starts firing on congress-people or federal buildings again.
The same federal buildings they were all for protecting when illegal-wiretapping-take-away-the-constitution Cheney and his ilk were in power.
Where did they stand on majority rule then?
Right. That’s when they were in the majority...
America, ya gotta love it.