Thursday, December 30, 2010

1405 OMG-Willikers

The whole God thing comes with a few assumptions. One of them is that God is omniscient. All knowing. He’s knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad, so be good for goodness sake.
So that’s why when it comes to communicating with him, it’s okay to say a silent prayer in your head. You don’t have to write a letter to the North Pole. God hears you 24/7. If you need to, it’s even okay to mumble quietly. God doesn’t insist on the silent part, although there is some mention in the New Testament about God preferring you to pray silently in a closet to shouting from the pulpit. But that was a hypocrisy thing.
God, being all-knowing and all-powerful could certainly take advantage of today’s technology if he needed to. But few people have called him on the phone. Even fewer, I suppose, have wasted valuable minutes trying to ring him on their smartphones. Still no app for that.
So when I read about Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson’s recent Twitter outburst I was frankly amazed. Apparently, Steve blamed God for letting him drop a pass that could have won a game.
Steve then tweeted, “I praise you 24/7!!!!!! And this is how you do me!!!!! You expect me to learn from this??? I’ll never forget this!! Ever!!!”
His tweet had a total of 14 exclamation points thrown in. God loves exclamation points. Cause you know, it’s hard to detect emphasis when someone’s just praying from his heart.
I gotta say, though. I was surprised. There’s something so full of awe and reverence sending the creator of the universe a, um, tweet.
And OMG-Willikers, I didn’t even know God was on Twitter. I wonder how many followers he has...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

1404 Antique Migratory Snuggies

Sometimes you can look at something one way and then have this mental flip and, voila, it all looks different.
Like the other day, I was in this antique store. At first it looked normal. Smelled a little musty, bunch of old stuff stacked on shelves. Then I noticed the customers. Everybody in there was over 65. And I thought, what’s the point? Why are they here? Flip¾This isn’t an antique store, it’s a secondhand store for old folks.
The weird thing was some of the objects in there were younger than the patrons. I mean what’s a 70-year-old going to do with a Disco Ball from the 70’s?
Not long after that, I was talking with a friend who was going into the hospital. The subject of hospital attire came up. All the nurses in their crisp new multi-colored scrubs, like camo for medical workers. And all the patients in the lovely one-size-fits-all backless gowns.
My friend pointed out that on him the huge gowns actually made backside wraparound possible, but the neckline hung down like some grotesque d├ęcolletage. The thought of a wraparound in the back led me to think of a robe worn backwards and then I thought of a Snuggie. You know, the blanket with sleeves as seen on TV.
Flip¾The design a Snuggie is nothing more than a repurposed hospital gown.
Lastly, I was talking with this woman at a conference. She said her son had hooked up this deal to see Europe. He would travel from organic farm to organic farm and work free in exchange for a cheap place to stay. She thought it was cool and said we should have something like that over here.
I said we do. It’s called migrant labor.
Mental flips are fun.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

1403 Plane Effects

Ever wonder why you hear so much about horrible weather conditions at airports? I always thought it was two reasons. One, because that’s where the weather measuring devices were. And two, because weather upsetting air traffic was a much bigger news story that snow falling in a deserted forest.
Now there’s a third reason. The airplanes cause it. Yep, those freakishly frequent snowstorms at airports are caused by the airplanes themselves.
Last year a researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder Colorado showed that planes can punch holes in clouds and change the weather below. This is because cold air can actually hold a lot of moisture. Ice crystals do not form easily even at temperatures well below freezing.
That’s in stable cold air. When an airplane takes off or lands through these super-cooled clouds the disruption causes the water droplets to instantaneously freeze. The flash frozen water forms ice crystals that then descend as snow as we know it.
The main effect is locally-induced precipitation. As the researcher put it, “Around airports, especially during wintertime, more snow is generated.” Scientists are so smart sometimes. And so dumb. As opposed to? “Around airports, especially during summertime, less snow is generated.” I think we can assume wintertime is a factor.
It is interesting to note though, that part of the problem with snowy airports is caused by the planes themselves. “We can’t land because it’s too snowy because while we’re circling around here we’re causing it to snow. Let’s go into a holding pattern over that deserted forest 20 miles away and give it a chance to clear up.”
That’s another good question for the scientist: Does snow really fall in the forest if nobody’s there to see it?
There's no way of knowing.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

1402 Sweating Terms

You hear a lot about how the internet has transformed society. And one place it’s done so is in the area of research. It’s rare anyone actually goes to the library anymore to look up a book on the civil war or something. It’s even rarer a high school student reads such a book and gleans from it the necessary facts to string together sentences to establish a thesis to make a term paper.
Nowadays it’s go to the “thesis template” in a word processing program, Google the relevant search items, copy and paste from your search results, and voila, individual paper.
Plagiarized in many ways to be sure, but is that really any different than paraphrasing bulk passages from books? Well yes, because in the grueling paraphrasing process, you are assimilating that information into your brain. When you copy and paste blocks of barely read text you aren’t learning anything.
So I guess it was inevitable the next easy step would arrive at the doors of our technologically-coddled children. Pre-done homework. And cheap too. Why? Because it’s been outsourced.
That’s right, we’re outsourcing our homework. Is this the height of world-dominating luxury or what? According to the London Sunday Telegraph, there are now homework “sweatshops” in India, Pakistan, and Egypt that provide high school and college level essays, math homework, and other school assignments to students around the world for as low as $2 a paper.
Hmmm, judging by the command of English of some of the technical support people I’ve had with computer issues, I’m not sure I’d want a $2 composition essay.
But hey, it’s good we’re paying all those sweatshop workers to learn American educational stuff. They’ll need it.
One of these days they’ll have to run the world for us, too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

1401 Grope On

We all know times have gotten tough for the lower 90% of our populace. So it’s nice we’re pulling together in the social acceptance department. No longer looking down our noses at those not dressed in the trendiest jeans. Tolerant of those just drinking ordinary coffee. And far more forgiving when it comes the use of coupons.
In fact, a recent study concluded that in 2009 American Shoppers used 27 percent more in-store coupons than in 2008. The use of online coupons jumped 360 percent. And here’s the real kicker—41 percent of Americans now believe it’s okay to use a coupon to help pay the tab on a first date.
A first date coupon. What does that show your potential mate? Will she think you’re thrifty, or you’re cheap? You’re an anal-retentive coupon clipper? Or one discount short of destitute. And do you as the coupon user mean to imply your companion is a cheap date? Are you using a group-on and hoping it’s a grope-on. A discount ticket to the land of heavy petting.
That, by the way, may be why online coupon use went up 360 percent. Giant discount offers like groupon. $3 for a $20 bottle of wine is hard to pass up, even if you don’t drink. Or maybe more online sellers are more desperate to sell so are offering coupons for the first time.
But I worry about the college set. Is some Nietzsche studying nihilistic nerd really going to impress his history major date using a coupon? Is she going to think it’s not for nothing he’s into nihilism. He won’t impress her with his tortured soul. He’s not a cool superman, he’s an dorky super-savings man.
Is she going to think, not ubermensch but goobermensch?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

1400 GPS Baby Jesus

If you love Baby Jesus, you’ll be happy to know that science is on the job. That’s right, churches across the country have decided to render unto Caesar what is Caesars and the Lord the Lords when it comes to the salvation offered by GPS science and technology.
Although I’d be perfectly happy, and I’m sure they would too, if they could use HGPS—Holy Ghost Positioning System—in this case lowly terrestrial GPS is the godsend.
Here’s the problem. Seems Baby Jesuses were being stolen from nativity displays in churches across the country. Some new teenage prank perhaps. Or anti-religious vandalism. Or heck, maybe even poor families harvesting dolls for their daughters. It was not so good, Baby Jesus being the main character in most nativity scenes. His lack does not go unnoticed.
So churches are affixing a GPS device to their statues. And it appears to be working. One church took the trouble of announcing their GPS adornment in the media, and have reported absolutely no attempts.
So the Magi bring gold, myrrh and frankincense. The drummer boy brings his drum. And the village geek brings his GPS? I love it when we combine the mystical/spiritual with the technological. This is better than NORAD tracking Santa Claus.
To those cynics who might assert that if science is good enough to design a GPS to hang on a Nativity statue why isn’t it good enough to be right about evolution, I say relax. Where do you think GPS satellites send their signals from? That’s right, the heavens.
I just say Happy Christmas to all. And peace and goodwill towards humanity. And to you scientific folks, thanks for offering a way to avoid the annual frantic news story of a kidnapped Baby Jesus.
Every little miracle helps…
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

1399 Tight Ass

A couple of random observations today.
First observation. I was in a coffee shop with a friend recently and this woman came in. She was wearing those highly fashionable extremely tight jeans. She also appeared to be carrying a cellphone in her back pocket. I’m not saying her jeans were too tight, but I could make out the icons on her touch screen.
Second observation. I was talking to a guy in an interview. As he left, he picked up a paperback book he had brought with him. I recognized the author so we chatted for a bit about it. He said his mom was in one of those book clubs where they all passed an author around and then discussed it. And I thought: This was an example of early file-sharing.
So next question: What about the intellectual property rights of the author? If you’re passing around books you’re not buying books. Why aren’t the book publishers suing folks for that? It’s not much different from trading music. If anything it’s more of a rip-off. Books cost a lot to print. A lot more than pressing a record or burning a CD.
The answer, of course, is we are headed that direction. As soon as the ebook revolution is complete, all book files will have hidden code that insures every user must pay. The only way we’ll be able to have book clubs in the future will be if we all sit around one kindle or one computer monitor.
Reading will bring us closer. Really closer. We’ll be crammed together tighter than buttocks in new blue jeans.
And the donkeys at the publishing companies can be the tight asses they’ve always wanted to be. America, ya gotta love it.

1398 Husking

Recently the University of Washington Huskies made it to the post-season Holiday Bowl. Holiday Bowl¾sounds like it’s filled with chestnuts or something doesn’t it? Freshly roasted from the fire.
I remember when I first heard the term chestnuts. I was in first grade, listening to a Christmas carol about Jack Frost nipping at the air, and my older and more worldly brother shared with me the slang term for certain physiological accouterments that males have in a lower area. Chestnuts suddenly sounded very strange. Especially roasting ones.
I had nightmares for a week.
In any event, the Huskies are going to play a really tough team at the Holiday bowl, The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Now there’s a name to inspire terror.
A mild Midwest cornhusker against a vicious Husky sled-dog? Mascot-wise, the one sounds much more animalistic than the other. But that’s only to folks who don’t understand the grueling muscle-straining labor associated with the practice of husking.
Our few little exposures a year at the shank of summer ill inform us about what it takes to husk ears of corn over and over and over again. That kind of persistence can pay off in a football game. It is interesting, however, that both the Huskies and the Cornhuskers have the syllable “husk” figure so prominently in their names.
I like the word husk. Like dusk, but handier somehow. Husky voices are dark and sultry. Husky-sized clothing was what my brother got to buy. I was always stuck with slim. Neither one of us was fat or skinny.
Still, I think it’s great the Cornhuskers can take a food-oriented profession and make a football mascot out of it. I just hope there’s never a team called the Chestnut-Roasters.
I still have holiday nightmares.
America, ya gotta love it.

1397 Hinky Dinky

Funny how a word form can lead to so many slang words. Like the words hinky, hanky, honky, and hunky. The H-vowel-N- K- Y- thing works so good it’s led to all sorts of fun fake words.
Hunky is pretty straightforward. A guy is a hunk. He’s hunky. Like chunky, but without the negative connotations. The Pillsbury doughboy is chunky, especially if he’s the tollhouse version. The Michelin Man is hunky. Hunky has been a successful candidate for real worddom. It’s in the Microsoft spellchecker as an actual synonym for brawny.
Then there’s honky. Origins uncertain. Used as a pejorative by some people of color to describe folks the color pink. Not from the way dirty white boys play that funky music but from the way they appear to honk when they talk. Or perhaps because they have all the grace of a goose on the ground. Not used often with hunky. “Man, he’s a hunky honky” is rarely heard.
Then there’s hinky. Means not so correct. Suspicious. That deal was a little hinky. It raised eyebrows. Or raised alarm. Something about it didn’t ring kosher. A fine word. Shouldn’t be slang. I nominate it for official recognition. If and only if we can purge from our collective memory the phrase “hinky dinky parlez-vous.”
And last there’s hanky. We’re all pretty sure what it means, short for handkerchief. Give me a hanky. But what about when it’s partnered with the word panky? What is a panky? And why does it need a hanky? And when it has a hanky, why is it naughty somehow? When people are up to hanky panky are handkerchiefs involved? If so, how?
Question: If a person’s smallest finger is suspicious and naughty, is it a hinky pinky?
Different question: Has anyone ever encountered a hinky hunky honky up to some hanky panky?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

1396 Catarrh

I ran across an old word the other day and I think it’s a shame we don’t use it more. It’s kind of spelled funny and in a way it looks like it comes from the days of Morocco hashish parlors or Indian opium dens. Like some British Colonial spelling somehow.
You don’t see too many words ending in H. Unless they’re like “with” or “pith.” Come to think of it, pith helmets come from that British colonial stuff too.
In any event, the word is catarrh, pronounced and inflected like guitar. And it can mean congestion. Or at least a lot of phlegm. It harks back to those words we hardly hear any more, like chilblains and consumption.
Not consumption like it’s time to go shopping, but consumption like some wasting disease of the lungs. What they once used to name tuberculosis or lung cancer.
People, would say they had a catarrh when they were full of snot. It means “inflammation of the mucus membranes in your air passages.” “I’ve got a catarrh” was roughly synonymous with “I’ve got a cold” or “I’ve got a bug.”
Alas, all good words must pass. You don’t hear it much today. Perhaps because so many people own guitars and for someone to say “I’ve got a catarrh” would cause confusion.
“What’s new?”
“I’ve got a catarrh.”
“Really...Gibson or Fender?”
“Neither—in my nose.”
“You’ve got a guitar in your nose? No wonder it’s so red and swollen.”
On the other hand, it could be confused with the Arab country Qatar too. Which would actually make a fine little poem.
Wetness dripped on my guitar
from my nose, from my catarrh,
for a cure searched near and far,
and finally dried it in Qatar.
America, ya gotta love it.

1395 Boyled

Recently the amazing Susan Boyle released an album that immediately went to the top of the charts. Seems the “Britain’s Got Talent” phenom still has a devoted following worldwide. One of the few truly ordinary people with extraordinary talent that made it to the top. More power to her.
But I’m afraid she won’t fully escape the hands of marketers as she moves through here surprising career. Her name’s just too big a temptation.
Her first album “I dreamed a dream” was a success too. Her current album, known simply as “The Gift” is loaded with Christmas songs. So far, Susan seems to have taken the road of singing standards and favorites. Kind of like the schmaltzy crooners and folk singers from the late fifties and early sixties. You remember the ones. Where their album titles traded on their names. The Kingsman had “Kingsize Hits” and the Monkeys were “just monkeying around.”
I fear that will be the fate of Susan Boyle unless she starts to define herself more with her own materiel. So we can expect album titles like “Susan Boyle—Boyled Hits.” Or maybe she’ll do a soft version of hard rock hits like Pat Boone once did. She can call it Hard-Boyled Susan.
When she stirs it up for her third album, she can call it “Just Boylin.” Or how about, “Boylin Hot.” Better yet, a moody album filled with more tender songs, “Soft Boylin. 3-minute songs to cook your eggs by.” Or a seasonal theme of beach and tropical tunes. “Simmerin’ Summer with Susan Boyle.”
Or an album full of Yiddish standards. “Goy and Boyle.”
All I can hope is the tabloids don’t find she has an illegitimate son lurking around. Especially if his name is Lance.
America, ya gotta love it.

1394 Frittering

Not long ago, on December 2nd, it was “National Fritter Day.” My first thought was; Great, just what we need, another day to waste time. Because of course, that’s one meaning of the word. The verb “to fritter”—as in, I frittered, she fritters, and he is frittering—is a word that means to waste stuff aimlessly.
He frittered away is time. She spent the whole afternoon frittering away her inheritance at the shopping mall. He was twittering to his friend about how many cell minutes he was frittering away.
Turns out I was wrong. I apparently frittered away too many brain cells at one time and in the process lost some of my sense of the obvious. Because actually, the day was about the food.
Yep, a holiday promoting a full faceful of fat-encrusted fritters.
The food known as a fritter is usually some sort of deep-fried dough, within which is embedded something healthy. The embedding process does not include injecting. So a jelly doughnut, even though a case could be made for the relative healthiness of grape jelly vs. maple syrup or Twinkie Cream, does not qualify as a fritter.
Think apple fritter. You take something with obvious health benefits, an apple, and mix it through sugary dough and then deep-fry it in fat. One might say you are frittering away the health benefits of said apple. Likewise peach fritters, apricot fritters and the exotic pineapple fritter.
There is no intrinsic prohibition to using vegetables in the frittering process but it is rarely done. I suppose that’s why other cultures invented pakora and tempura. You’ll need to get your deep-fried veggies at the teriyaki place.
You probably won’t encounter either a broccoli or an asparagus fritter at the doughnut shop.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1393 Cold Walk

Caught a cold lately? Take a walk. Forget about that stay in bed, feed a cold, starve a fever, don’t go outside you’ll catch pneumonia nonsense your mom used to spout.
Activity is what minimizes the effects of a cold.
At least according to a recent study. Researchers at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina, formerly only known for studies exploring the effects of inbreeding on banjo performance, have concluded the best way to minimize the effects of a cold is to exercise.
Subtracting out all other factors like age, weight, smoking, and excessive barbecue consumption, the North Carolina researchers found that the people who exercised at least five times a week had the fewest and least severe colds. Their cold symptoms ended 43% to 46% sooner than those who worked out once a week or not at all. And the symptoms themselves felt 41% less severe.
Really? Forty-one percent. That’s a tough number to believe. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt 41% less or more of anything. My feelings just aren’t that finely calibrated. “Yeah, this divorce felt 41% worse than my last one. My heart was broken 21% more and I had 13% more anger and 7.5% more resentment.”
In any event, the most powerful antidote to a cold is to go out once a day for a 30-minute brisk walk. They theorize more frequent exercise gets immune cells circulating and puts them on alert.
I think it’s just getting outside away from the sick relatives during holiday-slash-cold season.
So what about all those maternal maxims? Stay in bed, rest, etc.? Some old time stuff is great. But not all. It’s important to remember that when a lot of those old time sayings were created, life expectancy was in the forties.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

1392 Fly Ideas

I have the blessing, or the curse, of a restless mind. Flitting from notion to notion, some of which turn out to be good ideas, some of which just don’t fly. I like to see it as the secret power of ADHD harnessed for good, but that judgment rests with others.
So when I saw a video of a guy jumping out of a plane with a surfboard and turning the first freefall minutes of his skydive into a surfing adventure I was inspired.
Why stop at sky surfing? I know some heli-snowboarders also do sky-snowboarding and end up on backcountry ski slopes for a big finish. So how about sky kayaking? Get pushed out of plane in a kayak, paddle air, and twirl and roll and stuff, then parasail into some rapids.
Remember Sky Kayaking, you heard it here first.
I was similarly inspired recently when I heard of hotels facing the problem of bedbugs. It’s got to the point where they scrutinize incoming guests more than they used to for inferior signs of hygiene. Couple that with the fact that hotels are encouraging repeat linen use from guests who stay longer and bedbugs have an even greater chance of settling in the inn.
My solution? Couple the fix for this problem to one of our other traveling problems—terrorist detection. Why not use an airport full-body scanner to also kill bedbugs? Surely there’s some radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum that would do both.
Bedbug-killing Body Scanners—the travel industry would breathe a sigh of relief.
Especially if you’re coming back from Europe. And by the way, even though Europe is a very popular continent right now, don’t call it the In-continent.
That’s one of my ideas that flew right into the toilet.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

1391 Blowup Booths

It’s an idea so beautiful in its simplicity it’s captured the imagination of the perturbed public. It’s all over the internet—The terrorist blowup booth.
We’ve known for a long time that the public is frustrated by this whole airport TSA intrusive security thing. X-Ray chromosome damaging scanners that detail your genitalia and enhanced patdowns that over-encourage security person intimacy are just the latest indignities indirectly foisted on us by the terrorists.
And it’s all security theatre anyhow. The 9-11 Terrorists didn’t have bombs. And hey, what’s to stop a terrorist from blowing up a train or a bus or an Oklahoma Courthouse? What about a sporting event? Terrorists look for maximum bang for their buck so are we going to have to be stripped-searched for every public gathering? Will the greeter at Wal-Mart also give me a patdown?
I hope not. I may get hit by a meteorite too, but I’ll be damned if I wear a hardhat all the time.
So that’s why this guy’s terrorist booth idea struck a chord. The Concept is this: Instead of a scanner, everyone goes through a little enclosed bombproof booth. Once inside, an electromagnetic pulse of some sort detonates any explosives you happen to be carrying on your person—underwear bombs, shoe bombs, rectal bombs, even a post-turkey gutbomb.
If you’re not carrying a bomb, no problem. If you are, you get blown up. Simple effective justice.
No cost for a trial.
Easy clean up.
Is it scientifically possible you say? Who cares? The terrorists only need to believe it’s possible. Stage a couple of high profile events at airports. Have the actors entering the booths use a secret magician trapdoor. Then blow them up. Lots of noise. Lots of Hollywood special effects. Blood, gore, and carnage.
Now that’s security theater.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

1390 Tasket

A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket, that’s what I was reminded of the other day. At least that sensibility. Let me back up. I was in the grocery store. And I saw something new.
There’s long been a basket gap in supermarkets across our great nation. Because sometimes it’s not a good idea to get one of the regular-sized pushcarts. You always feel like such a jerk pushing around a giant cart with one can of olives and a packet of floss.
Then again, sometimes the handheld smaller basket isn’t enough. A five-pound bag of birdseed, an unwieldy gallon of milk, and a giant bag of Doritos and suddenly you feel like some combination of balancing juggler and weight lifter.
Damn! I threw out my ACL with a shopping injury.
So I have to hand it to the grocery store planners on one hand. But I have a little apprehension as well. After all, these are presumably the people who designed the car-shaped shin barkers that children insist their moms push them around in.
I love it when two of those clumsy automobile-inspired baskets collide in the cereal department. “Cart collision in aisle 3...generic fruit loop airbags deployed.”
So the in-between basket I saw has a questionable provenance. Still, it fills the size gap perfectly. The tweener cart is about half the length of a full cart, and has two shallow baskets instead of one deep one.
Unfortunately, you look like a prim little priss pushing one. I don’t like it. The position of its handle seems to promote prissy posture too. Folks using them look for all the world like nannies pushing prams.
Tsk-tsk, I only need a spoonful of sugar. Why, this task calls for a tasket.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, December 06, 2010

1389 Re-al-i-TV

Not long ago there was this story in the news about a guy who shot his TV. In and of itself no big deal, people have been shooting TVs ever since both technologies emerged. Or at least as long as Elvis and alcohol proved it as a potent possibility.
But what was interesting about this particular TV executioner was why he did it. He was convinced that someone wasn’t playing fair. Namely the folks at Dancing With the Stars. Or more accurately the folks voting for their favorite star—The Bristol Palin Tea Party conspiracy.
Seems some folks were accusing the Tea Partiers of gaming the system. Mounting a text and pressure campaign to keep getting Bristol to the top of the voters’ choice aspect of the competition, even though the talent judges keep rejecting her.
Darned elitist talent judges. What do they know about dancing? Real Americans are clumsy. Real Americans stumble. They ain’t no bicoastal blueblood snoots playing gotcha choreography every time someone takes a natural God-given patriotic misstep. You want to see a natural dance? Mamma Grizzly will show you how to dance. You’ll dance like a decapitated turkey when she bites off your head.
Anyhow, conspiracy aside, the whole thing just seems like reality TV has become reality period. The distinctions between news and Info-tainment and News-o-tainment have become so blurred simple folk don’t know what’s real anymore. The Palin Circus and the Palin candidacy are indistinguishable.
American psychos are shooting their TVs like they’re shooting their neighbors. Because that box in the living room is their world. America is caught up in its theatre, except all the world’s not a play, it’s a reality TV show.
And re-al-i-TV is all they have.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

1388 Kvetchup

The good news for the economy continues to come in. Recently GM started offering shares to the public again. Let’s hope the public responds better to GM offering stock than they did to GM offering automobiles. Then again, with stock you don’t have to worry about looks and mileage. Look at your average “stock” car....
But one of the most surprising economic surges was the Heinz Ketchup Company. They are oozing with pride. So you don’t want to kvetch about ketchup. Turns out they had incredible growth in the last quarter. Domestic production held it’s own, I guess because in tough times people were making old-fashioned depression culinary choices like white beans and ketchup.
But the real story was Heinz dominance of emerging markets. And by emerging I don’t mean they had to stick a knife in the bottle neck. Their success flowed naturally. Particularly in the Asian rim. And guess what? Malaysia was a big part of it.
Which has a certain irony. Because ketchup, or catsup, originated there. It was a concoction that was vinegar based, with relatively toned down spices, which British sailors picked up in the colonial era. They, having come from a place that was known for bland food the world over, brought it back to the British Isles to flavor their otherwise exceptionally boring boiled foods.
Ketchup and kidneys, yum.
There it was discovered to be the prefect condiment for fried potatoes—French-fried potatoes, although the British called them chips—and a new international, multi-ethnic, flavor sensation was born.
Americans then invented the quintessential burger and fries combination. And now they’ve exported it, McDonalds, fast food culture, and fast food condiments to the world.
Thank goodness Heinz is doing well.
Now if only the rest of our economy would catch up.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

1387 Close Shave

I was reading a magazine the other day and came across one of those class settlement ads. You know the ones. Some group of lawyers has won a class action suit against a major company and they are soliciting for customers that may have been wronged by that company and so are in the class for which the settlement provides. I’m not sure how many people ever actually apply for these things, as the amount to be recovered is usually pretty pitiful.
In any event, this ad was for misused users of the Gillette M3Power Razor. Apparently the Gillette folks maintained that the razor raises or stimulates the hairs away from the skin and makes them easier to cut. As I recall the “power” razor in question vibrated.
The general beneficial effects of vibrating notwithstanding, it was never proved that the device in question actually performed as promised.
You may note the similarity to Gillette’s manual multi-blade razor, whose first blade putatively stretched your beard hair while the second, third, or fifth blades then lopped it off.
The Gillette Company has denied all claims but mysteriously agreed anyhow to pay 7.5 million into a settlement fund. Those affected by the suit may claim up to a 13-dollar refund or 10 dollars in coupons. I love it when a company that screws you offers you coupons for more of their products in compensation.
The interesting thing is this ad was in the National Geographic—paradoxically read by people who may actually respond to the intricacies of a class action lawsuit, but unlikely to admit being duped by a nonsensical ad for a preposterous product.
Vibrating vulnerable whiskers indeed.
Bottom line? At only 7.5 million in settlement, Gillette got off with a mighty close shave themselves.
America, ya gotta love it.