Thursday, September 30, 2010

1344 Little Caesars

It’s a good news bad news sort of thing. A really depressing thing about the economy and a glimmer of hope.
First the depressing thing: The poverty rate is at a low not seen for 15 years. 14.3% of our populace, or 43.6 million people, live below the poverty line. This while the top 1% of the wealthy rake in 23.5% of the nation’s total income.
But here’s the good news. Our pets are more pampered than ever. Luxury pet purchases are up. And now your precious won’t have to be left out in the cold kennel when you go on a trip.
While you spend your hard-earned vacation waiting for hours at the airport and getting virtually stripped-searched on your way to cramped flying cattle cars and overhead bins crowded with overstuffed carry-ons paid for with overpriced surcharges, your little Caesars can bask in luxury. Perhaps at the new 4.4 million dollar pet hotel, just opened up in Fort Worth Texas. It’s the Spa Paws Hotel. And it’s loaded with pet-menities. Like custom upholstered beds—no concrete kennel floor for your Fifi. The Hotel has satin blankets, and 18-inch flat screen TVs.
You can probably upgrade to 52-inch HDTV surround sound.
They also have a wellness center. For that morning constitutional, I suppose. Can dogs do the doodoo on a treadmill? Does the hotel staff use gilded pooper-scoopers?
Wow, you say, my little lapdog is quivering with anticipation. How much does this cost?
It’s only $200 a night. Hey, no need for CoCo to suffer one night just because $200 would buy a week’s worth of food for some starving human child.
Can’t wait ‘til they open one in Las Vegas. Because life’s a crapshoot. And we wanna pamper our pooch at Little Caesar’s Palace.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1343 Legal Questing

Sometimes I find myself searching for some sort of answer when it comes to our legal system. Legal questing as it were. Some things just seem out of whack.
Like recently, a man was convicted for killing a child. He slashed her throat. The news story said he is facing a sentence of 26 years. Really? Ending a little girl’s life, a life that could have lasted another 85 years, and he only gets 26?
Not long after that, it was reported that a guy who was charged with four counts of making harassing phone calls and one count of internet stalking was facing a sentence of 5 years per count. So he was only going to get one year less than a guy who murdered a child.
Something is desperately out of balance on the scales of justice.
I was talking to a law enforcement person recently about the open carry handgun laws in Washington. “So it’s perfectly legal for me to openly wear a handgun into Starbucks, I don’t need a concealed weapons permit or anything?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “Washington is an open carry state.”
“How about a Taser,” I said.
“No,” he said, “It’s illegal to carry a Taser.”
“So it’s legal to carry a lethal device but not a non-lethal one?”
“That’s right,” he said, “Only law enforcement can carry non-lethal devices.”
Well there you go. I guess it cuts down on college pranks.
Maybe the whole problem is how we characterize justice. The famous statue of Justice is blindfolded. We get people out of jail by using bonds, often with a bondsman. We legally silence people with a gag order.
Blindfolds, gags, bonding…so is this a justice system, or some kind of S&M thing?
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1342 Angus Anguish

I think I’m beginning to worry about the loss of luster associated with the name Angus. A little Angus anguish if you will.
And I’m not talking about the guy from AC/DC. He certainly garners all the respect he ever did. No, I’m talking about the burger of the same name. The Angus Burger.
A couple of years ago the very best restaurants in town were feature Angus beef. It was billed as the absolute, most flavorful, best quality meat around. Firm, yet tender, it melted in your mouth and filled it with a rich satisfying flavor. You paid extra, but boy was it worth it.
Then Angus hit the fast food places. Suddenly every Tom, Dick, and Harry was presenting an Angus burger for your enjoyment. But somehow, it never quite matched the Angus experience of a finer establishment. Call it snob appeal, call it atmosphere. Angus did good as elegant; as fast food it was keeping bad company.
Well now Angus has fallen another notch. It’s a frozen food. And like Marie Callender and Spago it didn’t quite make the transition from trendy upscale to flaccid frozen.
I just got an ad from Costco the other day offering $3.50 off on the purchase of a box of Pierre Signatures Frozen Angus Cheeseburgers. Fully microwaveable and eight to a box. Chopped beef steak with cheese and fully cooked. Includes a sesame seed bun.
Why am I not appetized?
Is this really the way you want to waste 490 calories? I’m sure it’s better than a regular microwaved frozen burger with cheese and bun, but that’s like saying I prefer lethal injection to hanging.
Frozen food...too bad Angus old friend, hate to see you go down that slippery highway to hell.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

1341 Modern Letters

Funny about our obsession with modern letters. It’s like if you can’t say it with letters, don’t send it out there.
Like the whole 3-D HD High Def thing. HD. High Def. Okay, I get it. But don’t try to apply it to anything other than electronic things. Recently I heard an ad from one of the paint companies that said they had a new paint with “High Def” color. Please. How many mega-pixels per gallon? Was it plasma or LED paint?
Oh, that plasma paint is so easy to apply.
Letters can get you into trouble. There’s a new payment method called EBT. It stands for Electronic Benefits Card. A modern way to handle food stamps. Unfortunately, when some places advertise they accept it, and those same places don’t insist on high-definition audio quality in their commercials, it sounds more like E-P-T.
So I can see some poor convenience store guy when the listeners comes in looking for a read on their test. “Um, I heard you accept EPT... Look at this stick thingy. Am I pregnant?
And this 3-D thing has gotten way out of hand. They’re now offering 3-D TV in some markets. I don’t think this is going to work for me. I already hate HDTV. The enlarged pores and bleeding injuries of some sports players are way too graphic to enjoy with a TV dinner.
Do I want 3-D in my living room? Am I ready for the Creature from the Black Lagoon on my coffee table? Hey, you’re dripping there! Dude, put down a coaster!
And the name of the whole thing—3-D HD. It’s bound to cause confusion. “Yeah I got 3-D HD.”
“Really? I had that in elementary school... but they OD’d me on Ritalin.”
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

1340 Cheap Help

About 40 years ago, the wealthiest people in America, the top 1%, took in 9% of the nation’s income. Today the top 1% take in 23.5% of total income.
Glad someone got a raise recently.
And with all that extra income, I bet they’d appreciate a tax cut. Maybe if they do, Rupert Murdoch and his media bullies will agree to stop standing in the way of the recovery.
Sir Rupert stands at the tippy-top of the top. The grand poobah or Fox Entertainment, the company that’s destroying our morals, and Fox News, the company that’s destroying our political bipartisanship.
Rupert’s spin machine can turn any semi-positive consumer-confidence-building economy-improving news story into a flurry of accusations and finger-pointing. Maybe his real goal is to destroy the American economy and put his native Australia on top. More likely just himself.
But his minions sure seem to be good at taking care of another problem. That whole pesky immigration thing. The number of illegal immigrants heading into the US has plunged from 850,000 a year to just 300,000 a year. Not only that, some of them who are already here are leaving. Since 2009, the number of illegals living in the US has declined from 12 million to 11 million.
Man, you know your economy’s bad when even impoverished people from Guatemala and Nicaragua don’t want to live here.
But the great conspiracy is working. They hate illegal immigration so much they finally found the perfect way to stop it. Totally crater the economy. It took them 12 years of being in power to do it, but gosh darn it, this economic apocalypse they brought about worked.
It got the very rich richer and the very poor going back to South America.
The only casualty so far is Middle America.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1339 Speeding

If you’ve ever felt that time has been moving faster than usual consider this. We are moving faster than time. Or at least doing a lot more things in the same span of time.
I was reading an article not long ago in which an elderly lady talked about how great it was when they first got a horse-driven carriage. They could make it from Hawks Prairie to downtown Olympia and back in 8 hours.
And this was before the freeway backups from Fort Lewis.
Our new gadgets are the same way. More megabits moving faster in smaller spaces. It cost $1500 for five, count ‘em five, megabytes of storage in 1980. Then you got so you only had to pay $50 for a 10-pack of 1.44 megabyte hardshell diskettes. Today that same 50 bucks will buy you a 32-gigabyte thumbdrive. Which is the equivalent of a stack of floppies taller than the Tacoma Narrrows bridge.
Of course all that tinyness has a greater cosmic purpose. To make our cellphones better. From the brick-sized model of 1983 that weighed almost 2 pounds, cost $4000, and drained it’s battery in an hour, we’ve got a lot smarter indeed.
Today’s phones also save our aching backs by consolidating a lot of other important devices. The iPhone 4 replaces 80s gadgets like the Polaroid camera, the Handycam, the Walkman, the Watchman, the Atari 2600, (I love a phone with Space Invaders) and a Sharp Wizard. And here’s the kicker. Just one of today’s iPhones packs more memory than all of the Apple II computers in the world in 1980.
So with all of that extra time we have, why doesn’t it feel slower? And if it’s going so fast, why aren’t I having fun?
America, ya gotta love it.

1338 Communimicate

There’s no doubt we communicate differently these days. Hooked up to every sort of modern contraption and information-gathering service. Unfortunately, if you’re on things like Gmail or Facebook, little robots constantly assess your web visits and email content, and offer you appropriate ads to “enhance” your experience.
And sell that service to advertisers. One woman reported she bought a pair of shoes online and an ad for that brand followed her around the internet for two weeks. I’m used to ads in every conceivable venue. But ads that are web-stalkers?
I guess I’m okay with running into an ad at a park bench or urinal, but somehow I’m not comfortable with the idea of an advertisement stalking me.
Speaking of unsettling communication, I saw this homeless woman with a sign asking for “any help” folks could offer. But she was ducked behind her sign. We she stuck her head up I noticed her hiding something in her pocket. It was a cellphone, and judging by the size and screen surface, it was an iPhone.
Dang. Even homeless people have more modern phones than I do.
I think I saw the future of communication not long after that. I was walking downtown and noticed a person in front of me who had tattooed on her back a long passage of something or another. Like a block of print. I wasn’t close enough to read it, but it must have been important, enough to tattoo it on her back for life.
So is this the future? When they’re old, they won’t be able to hear because they blew out their hearing with earbuds. They won’t text because arthritis will cramp up their thumbs.
They’ll only be able to communicate by tattoo.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

1337 Techno-dilemmas

I wrote yesterday about the techno-dilemma caused by the new move to make biomass a fuel. Burning wood seemed so stone age.
But we have to do something. The prospect of another BP oil spill is pretty darn scary too. And screw-ups can happen in any industry. Murphy’s Law particularly likes technology. So what if the equivalent of a BP oil spill happened in the biofuel industry? The one that makes corn ethanol?
“Oh my gosh, there’s a giant corn spill! They’s chickens everywarr… And they’sa grinnin’”
And I tell you, it isn’t just fuel technology that’s suspect. My new Bluetooth for my phone only works about nine times out of ten. The rest of the time it fails to connect. Like it’s clogged or impacted or something. Maybe I need a root canal for my Bluetooth.
Sometimes I feel envious of folks with their new smartphones. Especially since I have a little old hockey puck of a phone that actually still has a stubby antenna. Then again, hearing about the new iPhone reception problems, I can at least be happy knowing my dumbphone works as a phone.
But it’s certainly interesting watching people making those swiping motions across their little smartphone screens. I saw one guy the other day making a circular swiping motion as he called one of his friends. Turns out, he’d acquired an app that made his virtual keypad into an old-fashioned circular dial. His ringtone was one of those antique rings too. He still didn’t have the dropout-free audio call quality of old Ma Bell though.
Then again, he continued his call while getting into and driving away in his car.
And that would have been hard hooked to a squiggly wire 8 feet from his kitchen wall.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1336 Wood I?

The eternal question came to mind the other day. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
It came to mind because I was driving behind an Asplundh wood truck and there was a sign on the back that said, “free wood chips.” And I thought, aha. One man’s waste is another man’s mulch—or even beauty bark.
And then I thought about the controversy over the new biomass plant in Shelton. Some residents want it. Some don’t. Some see it as an industry that will employ people. Some see it as an industry that will pollute the area beyond recognition.
Some think of it as a great way of getting rid of wood waste. Others see it as an excuse to level forests. Renewable fuel or greenhouse gas maker? It’s a tough one. Build it or skip it and find a greener industry that can employ folks. Burn it or chuck it.
What would a woodchuck do?
I was reading a different government study on particulate matter in the atmosphere in the South Sound region and it said our air pollution has gone down in the last decade, largely because we curtailed the use of woodstoves. The proposed biomass burning plant will add the equivalent of 150,000 woodstoves to the atmosphere.
If you ever went out on a cold January morning 10 years ago and saw the pall of smoke hanging over the area, you got an idea of how 1/10 of that will look.
Then again, we need to do something for renewable energy. BP oil spills are no environmental fun either. Still, you’d think we could actually make a technological step forward.
Wasn’t burning wood the preferred energy choice of, um, Neanderthals?
They ate woodchucks didn’t they?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1335 Toilet Humors

The other day I was using the fixture at a public restroom when I noticed I was reading something. It was a flyer of some sort for a charity event. And it occurred to me, one of the nicest things about the new millennium is the advent of toilet advertising.
Whether you’re at the urinal or in the stall you can be regaled with someone else’s idea of what you would find interesting while you’re indisposed.
Suffering from incontinence? Here’s an ad for a Lincoln Continental.
Feeling a little loose in the caboose? How about a Taco Bell “Run for the Border” ad.
Need the can, you say? How about a can of Campbell’s Chunky?
Got an uncertain urinary urge? Would you rather see an ad for Flomax or Propel?
Really, is nothing sacred anymore? Do we have so little privacy in this world that we can’t even go to a public restroom without a pitch of some sort? Not have someone think, “Look at all that empty space going to waste, slap an ad on it.”
Toilet advertising, and they used to criticize me for toilet humor.
I think it’s the oy sound that triggers it for me. Some people call going to the toilet “going to the toi-toi” or the “toity.” Which is weird, because regular folk say rich folk are all hoity-toity. Hmmm. And rich folk say the poor folk are the hoi polloi.
But to me hoi polloi sounds like something you get at a luau. A drink to complement your plate of poi, perhaps. So if rich tourists get some tainted poi and wash it down with hoi polloi, is it off to the hoity toity?
Rim shot, please.
Toilet humor need not exclude toilet puns.
America, ya gotta love it.

1334 Brazilianize

I’m getting a little tired of all the woeful news about the economy. Seems we just get some good news, like consumer confidence is surging, and then they rush back in with some bad stuff. Trailing indicators of pork bellies or something.
Come on, for gosh sake. The only way we’ll have a return of the economy is going to be with consumer confidence. Make us think things are going good, darn it. What kind of leaders are you?
Lie to us!
One second you hear it’s going to be a rocky road ahead. Next story says we’re going to have a double-dip recession. What do we got here? An economy or an ice cream cone?
And now the most recent bad news. The Burger King has gone Brazilian. That’s right, the 3G corporation just bought out Burger King.
Some folks are worried about the Chinese buying all our national debt. But it’s the Brazilians that are actually buying our companies. Burger King is the second biggest fast food chain. 3G just bought it. Could McDonalds be next?
3G already owns 4.2 million shares of Wendy’s/Arby’s. Alexandre Behring, managing partner of 3G, has ties to fellow Brazilian Jorge Lemann who is also a director of In Bev, the company that bought Anheuser-Busch, our biggest beer company. Or formerly ours.
Burgers and beer dude, how American can you get? Are Sara Lee and apple pies next? I hope the South Americans don’t buy Oscar Meyer too. The last thing we need is a Brazilian dominating the wiener business.
McDonalds better watch its step. With Wendy’s, Arby’s, and Burger King as leverage, you can bet 3G won’t just give Mickey D’s a close shave with massive stock purchases.
They’ll give ‘em the full Brazilian.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1333 Ryderwood

Watch out for cranky old people.
Seems the town of Ryderwood is full of them. They’re all in a dither because some of their neighbors just won a court case to be able to sell their houses to younger folks.
Ryderwood is an Adult Community. Funny how the word “adult” sounds so different depending on context. You get a whole different visual when you say the phrase “adult community” compared to “adult video store.”
In any event, Ryderwood became an unincorporated retirement community in the fifties. Some of its current newer older residents—they’ve moved there within the last 10 years—want to be able to sell out and move, but, real estate depression being what it is, they want to be able to sell to anyone, of any age.
So they just won an anti-discriminatory court battle to let them. Other residents are upset about the possibility of younger folks moving in. So they’ve been harassing the court winners.
Things like slashing their tires. One anti-agist had a mutilated rabbit hurled against his garage door. Later, another one was thrown over his fence in retaliation for his views.
Don’t get on the wrong side of a seething senior. They’ll turn their next quilting bee into a rabbit-mutilating bee.
My favorite was what one 73-year-old lady was quoted as saying. She said the town’s residents “shouldn’t have to worry about being run over by kids on bicycles.”
Sorry, I grew up in a town on its way to being a retirement community. We kids had to worry about the blind, reaction-slowed, old people running over us. Some old folks drive like they’re permanently on a cellphone.
Bike vs giant old Buick? You learned quick, or ended up looking like a mutilated rabbit.
Don’t mess with bluehairs.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

1332 Power Red

I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with the country. We don’t perceive our leaders as powerful. Because they stopped wearing red ties.
Back in the eighties and nineties, when the country was churning along at full tilt, our leaders wore a lot of red. The red power tie was visible on every news show.
Then, sometime in the Bush era, blue became the fashion. The blue tie, if they wore a tie at all, was all the rage. Bad move. Being red with rage is cool. Being blue with rage is like you’re pouting.
I’m gonna hold my breath ‘til I turn blue.
Red’s always been associated with sexiness in women. But researchers recently found that women think men are more sexy when wearing red. And it’s international. They showed photos of men in various clothes to women in Germany, China, and the U.S. When pictured in a red shirt, the man was deemed significantly more attractive and chosen as someone with whom they were more likely to practice procreative positioning.
But here’s the really interesting thing. Scientists have recently proven that red is more respected too. People associate red with power so much that when contestants are engaged in one-on-one sports, like tae kwon do, the referees award more points to those wearing red. In the 2004 Olympics, competitors in boxing and wrestling that wore red were more likely to win.
Sex and Power. If your tribe was in trouble, who would you want in charge? It’s time for a return to the power tie. Slap those Wall Streeters into shape. Motivate! Dress for Success over those economic troubles.
Unless it was something else from the eighties that got us on top.
Palin? Semi-Beehive?
I hope it’s not time for a return to... big hair.
America, ya gotta love it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

1331 Friendly User

I have this friend who works for a radio station. And he is constantly amazed by how people try to use him to get their word out. Not charities, people who want to make a profit, and make even more by using him for free.
Recently he got a request from a large national company that makes its money selling tickets to movies. They also make money running advertisements before the movies in their theatres.
This company asked my friend to post a link on his station’s Facebook page to one of their pages that gave a “free” coupon for a food item. In order to get the coupon you had to sign up as a “friend” on their Facebook account. The person that wanted to use my friend said she was hoping this coupon would go viral.
This is wrong on so many levels.
The radio station where the guy works has spent considerable time, effort, and creativity building a loyal listener base. It’s also spent a huge amount of time and trouble building a website. It also spends a huge amount of time on the radio directing people to the website. Not to mention the huge amount of money it took to equip and build the station itself.
It supports all those endeavors by running advertisements. Which it charges for. Like the movie place charges for the ads it runs before movies.
And so for the movie place to ask the station to post a coupon whose intent is to build its Facebook base, for free, is the height of audacity.
It’s like Audacity 3-D.
And to hope it goes viral? Sorry, The only things that go viral are videos of sneezing pandas. Not coattail riding, other-business using, make-me-a-friend-so-I-can-harvest-and-use-all-your-personal-data Facebook page coupons.
Friends don’t use friends.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

1330 Receipt of Poison

It’s as if there’s a Global Conspiracy working to eliminate all forms of paper from our lives. What paper trail are they afraid of?
Did you every notice the back part of the word conspiracy is piracy? Prepare to be pillaged. For years banks and companies have been urging us to do everything online—no paper, no receipt. You have to ask them for a copy of your checks. You have to pay them for a copy of your checks.
Then they made it easy for us not to write checks at all. Electronic fund transfers and online bill-paying made those old-fashioned paper checks unnecessary. But they’ll still charge you for a hard copy of a transaction.
Now there are companies who back up your computer and store its files at separate sites—all electronically. Who needs a shredding truck? All your data is secure in some nebulous place in someone else’s hands.
All that’s left to us are the little receipts we get at grocery stores, ATMs, and gas stations. And now they’re trying to scare us away from those.
Because guess what? “Scientists” have concluded that a huge source of the chemical BPA is paper receipts. Bisphenol-A, the icky chemical implicated in hormone disruption, heart ailments, cancer, paranoia, and behavioral problems, is found in greater concentration on cash register and ATM receipts than in plastic-coated cans, or those old discontinued water bottles. 1000 times greater. Three separate studies found the BPA coating transfers easily to fingers and may even penetrate the skin.
So when your checker person asks if you want a receipt after you pay with your debit card, just say no. Who needs a poison paper trail confusing things with a permanent record?
Thanks for shopping at the Global Conspiracy.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

1329 Computer Safe?

I was reading a science magazine the other day and came across two disturbing things.
First, in an article on improving traffic, the writer mentioned that now that we all carry cellphones, navigation folks are collecting flow data from them. Some 4 million phones now report speed and position to Nokia-owned Navtec. If you’ve used a location service of any sort, you’ve been pinged without your knowledge.
Kind of scary. Right now, the info is going directly to the navigation service companies. But how long before Big Brother wants to know when you’re leaving the bar...or the library?
We can only hope that terrorists get lost and ask their smartphone for directions.
The other disturbing thing was about a company that backs up your computer automatically. Kind of like a computer safe to keep your computer safe. It does this by going into your computer periodically, backing up all your files, and then storing them at an offsite data center. Their offsite center.
Their off-site “secure” center.
Uh huh...
Somehow the idea of someone coming in daily and rooting around in my computer, making a copy of everything, then taking it away to someplace else, seems unsettling.
I wouldn’t let them do that with my desk files. Or my picture collection. Sure it’s a good idea to store important documents in a bank safety deposit box. But the bank doesn’t come in and rummage around in my house to find them every day.
Still, every time I go online, I run the risk of some dastardly hacker doing the same thing without my permission. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of all that stuff sitting on somebody else’s server.
Where Big Brother can find it all in one place.
And he won’t even have to fight traffic...
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

1328 Homo Contrarius

We humans are a contrary and shortsighted bunch. Homo Contrarius. We always seem to forget what got us where we are in our attempt to blame our problems on someone else.
Biting the hand that feeds us seems hardwired.
Like how other countries treat the US. We’ve poured a kajillion dollars worth of aid into every country imaginable. Yet those same countries vilify us at every turn. Biting the hand that feeds them.
Or when I read this news item about a big aerospace company that’s made huge amounts of money off NASA. Now that NASA has started to fully privatize things, this company is saying it’s not ready for that. They like the security of an ongoing NASA budget contribution.
Yet their executives contribute to political candidates and parties whose platforms are to “Get Government out of Business.”
I had an uncle that way. Spent his entire life in the aerospace industry working government contracts. Got a full retirement because, as management, he had to have at least as good a benefit package as his union employees. Yet today he hates unions, and is absolutely adamant against government spending tax dollars on infrastructure projects.
He’s like some of the farmers in red state areas. They hate Washington. Yet Washington built them the dams, that trapped the rivers, that irrigated the land, that they’re using to growing bushels of agricultural profits. Or being paid subsidies not to grow.
Not that all of these folks don’t do hard work and plenty of it. But when they have some of their tea parties, they don’t seem to remember that the tea wouldn’t have been grown, or the bag manufactured with space age material, if it hadn’t been for a little tax dollar investment, and a hand, from all the rest of us.
America, ya gotta love it.

1327 Shrunken Brain

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie from the fifties.
Our brains are shrinking!
It’s true. Over the last few thousand years the average size of human brains has been getting smaller. Scientists have many theories why.
Like they were too big to start with and now they’re just paring down. Kind of like the move-down real estate market. The kids are gone, time to scale down to an efficiency.
Another theory is we’re becoming dumber. With new technologies as crutches, we no longer have to carry around the whole of math, literature, and science in our heads.
I don’t know. It’s not like there was a lot of advanced calculus laying around 10,000 years ago. It’s nice having the interweb for research purposes, but I don’t think I lose a lot of gray matter Googling a recipe for grilled eggplant.
The theory I like best is that we are now tame. Seems the other creatures that have lost brain mass with the advent of civilization are domestic animals. Cows, sheep, horses, all have 10 to 15% smaller brains than their wild counterparts. Scientists tell us larger brains are better for the vicious vicissitudes of survival in the wild.
Larger brains have flashes of insight. But smaller brains work just fine using tools. For example, smaller-brained dogs are really good at using their tools, humans, to get things for them. Like food.
Wolves just bite off our hands.
The “tame humans” theory says the cause for smaller brains is that our societies have selected against aggression. The smaller types banded together and ostracized or criminalized the big-brained big guys.
And we went from being hungry like a wolf to living the life of a lapdog. Who needs brains?
That’s what smartphones are for...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, September 03, 2010

1326 Nurdle

An interesting controversy has hit the courts. And it’s given us a new word. Glaxo-Smith Kline is suing Colgate for too faithfully reproducing the perfect curl of tri-colored toothpaste on its packaging.
The perfectly-proportioned copyright-violating squeeze is now called, for legal purposes, a nurdle. Glaxo says Colgate’s rip-off nurdle is an attempt to trade off the commercial magnetism of its Aquafresh squeezing.
I love it when legal maneuverings give us a new word to play with. But I’m not sure nurdle is the thing to call it. Nurdle just sounds vaguely negative. Like some character that always getting picked on in animated children’s movies. Or Mister-Billed in claymation.
Kind of like a combination between nerd and turtle. Who always has to overcome social hurdle. And whose name is Myrtle. One whose identity is blurred and always comes in third. Whose speech is slurred and constantly feels absurd.
What I’m saying is, you don’t want to name something that’s been squeezed out of another something and is laying there in a roughly log-like shape anything that sounds like, um, curd.
Sure, at some point, curds make cheese, and cheese makes cheese logs, but curds and whey just seem so anti-toothpaste-like.
Nice save Funny Guy.
So I’m thinking they should call it something else. Nurdle is just too dangerous. Not least because if it’s stolen, someone could be called a nurdle-burglar...
So let’s see. You got your squib, which is small. And you got your squeeze, from which your squib was extruded. How about “Squeeb”?
Not bad, though it could invoke the negative connotations of dweeb. So how about “Squeeble”? The lawyers would like it because then their arguments would be a squabble over a Squeeble.
And bonus, it would make a great word to squeeze out points in scrabble.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

1325 Sitting Death

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the office.
We’ve had lots of health scares regarding the hazards of the workplace. But we always seem to work around them with technology.
Lower back pain was an issue. Solution? Ergonomic chairs. Carpal tunnel was an issue until someone saw the light. Ergonomic keyboards, streamlined mice and wrist braces saved the day.
Then there was burning out our eyes and brains with cathode ray-emitting computer monitors. Enter flatscreen LEDs or plasmas. Save our eyes, and save the planet using less energy too.
Well now, scientists have come up with another hazard of the workplace and it may not have a technological solution. Because the hazard is a fundamental act.
Sitting itself.
That’s right, sitting can be bad for your health. In a study conducted in Louisiana over 14 years and with factors like smoking and body mass index adjusted out, it was found that women who sit for more than 6 hours a day are 37% more likely to die than those who sit for 3 hours or less.
The good news for men, their increased mortality was only 17%. Apparently, the Y chromosome carries a genetic Barcolounger adaptation.
Researchers suspect inactivity while sitting triggers triglyceride and cholesterol formation, which can lead to heart disease. They recommend a fairly radical solution.
Get up and walk.
I don’t know. I’m thinking maybe they should see if there’s a technological solution. They don’t seem too sure about the cholesterol build-up thing. It could be the strenuous act of sitting up that triggers destructive stress hormones. Maybe new ergonomic chairs might help. Ones that fully recline...
A little laying down on the job might be just the ticket.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1324 Tech Niches

I like to come up with new and interesting ideas to fill tech niches. They’re sure to make money.
If only I had the time, talent, and venture capital.
Like the “Facebook for Rednecks” idea I thought up a while back. It’s called Tater. We send each other Tots.
Recently I’ve heard people complaining about Facebook. Seems they’re missing one thing. Facebook cred. As in, a bevy of followers. Enter my new idea.
I’ll front you five hundred faux followers for your Facebook. Including realistic thumbnail pictures and occasional faux comments. “I really like this site.” “Your life is so interesting.” “I really want to buy something from your business.” “I’m a really satisfied customer from, um, Lacey, and you guys are really, uh, awesome.” “I’m not Nat.”
Stuff like that. A business could start a Facebook account and get instant credibility. “Rent a follower from Facebookies! 500 followers for 5.95.”
Beats having to take the time and trouble to make real friends.
Another thing we’ll offer at Facebookies is CYA service. Cover Your Assets. Establish electronic paper-trail messages in the past.
And to make that happen we’ll offer a new type of tweet. You’ve heard of those ones where someone resends a tweet you sent them to someone else. Or maybe it’s an offsite teambuilding session to learn about Twitter. A re-tweet.
Well Facebookie will offer “pre-tweets.” Not like clairvoyant messages you get before we even send them. We’re still working on that predictive software. Then we’ll load up our psychic gun with premonition and shoot stuff your way.
No, our tech-nique is to change the timestamp of our tweets and voila, you got an important message yesterday justifying your actions today. CYA
Facebookie, a name you can trust for underhanded success.
America, ya gotta love it.