Friday, May 27, 2011

1504 Widows 3.0

It was interesting to note some of the sidebars to the whole death of Osama thing. First, there was the stash of internet porn. Leading to the excruciating pun that Osama was Laden with porn. But that only worked as a written pun, since Laden and laden are spelled the same. Like Polish and polish.
Then there was the apparent contradiction between him blasting the west for bad morals and his own lonely time spent with a keyboard, a mouse, and a laptop.
Living in a high-tech cave has its temptations and its frustrations. Ask any comment troll still living in his mom's basement. Interesting to note how Bin Laden was not unlike a troll. Locked inside a dark house, never leaving to associate with other people, sending out inflammatory comments to the rest of the world.
Osama bin Laden, Terrorist and Troll.
But what struck me the most was this one article I read that said he had three grieving widows. Or as Bill Gates would put it, Widows 3.0. And that shows the hazards of saying which culture is the culture of the evil Satan. Osama didn't like the corruptness of the west. But here he was pursuing the virtues of traditional marriage—with three women.
Polygamy is considered quite evil in the west. In fact, it is righteously condemned by most fundamental Christians, although it's quite clear it was practiced in the Old Testament.
Maybe because with divorce prominent in the west too, there are nomenclature problems. I have three ex-wives. When I die, are they my three ex-widows? And if they're my ex-widows, am I alive again?
But back to Osama. Three wives and porn?
Some people need to get out more.
Comments anyone?
America, ya gotta love it.

1503 Nooglin'

I often click the News tab on the Google mainpage and go to their news aggregator. All the news that's fit to Google. Google news. Noogles, I like to call it.
When you go to the Google newspage they have a cool feature. On the lower right they have the top ten "most shared" news articles. It’s a great indicator of what news people are spreading around to each other. The viral newsbeat as it were.
I like it because it gives a quick overview of what's most important to Americans. Turns out the news articles that are the most shared are the ones that are most gossipy.
The more lurid the better. Juicy stuff travels at the speed of tittle-tattle.
So it's no surprise that the top ten stories the other day featured the following:
"Porn Found In Bin Laden's Compound."
"Porn Found with Bin Laden."
"Ashton Kutcher Joining Two and a Half Men."
"Drop Box Lied to Users."
"Osama Bin Laden's Porn Stash."
"Bin Laden Hideout Had Porn."
"We Have Found Bin Laden's Porn."
"One Third of Food Produced For Human Consumption Uneaten."
"Porn Found In Bin Laden Compound Files."
"Social Security and Medicare to Run Out Sooner."
The last story obviously indicates that there still aren't enough senior citizens on the World Wide Web. Medicare scare stories burn like tinder amongst the oldsters.
But isn't it amazing? Six out of ten most-shared stories dealt with Bib Laden's porn. Sure, it's interesting to see the person who most decries evil western morals occasionally sneaks a peek.
I'm sure it's just so he can recognize Satan when he sees him or her.
We, on the other hand, now have the internet as a psycho- sociological tool to see our own devils. And prove once and for all why sales are so high for the National Enquirer.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1502 Birth of a Nation

Sometimes you look at world events and say, really? When President Obama released his long form birth certificate that was my reaction. Really? It's come to this? But polls showed that 25% of Americans and 45% of Republicans believed he was born in Kenya.
So I ask, and be honest with yourself, did you have a little tittle of belief in the birther thing? And if you did, then ask yourself this. Would you have had that tittle if Barack Hussein Obama's name was Barry Henry Abrams?
Would you have had that tittle if his dad was born in Czechoslovakia? If his last name was Lebowski? What about if he was born in the exotic backwoods of Minnesota and his dad was an exchange student from Sweden? One of those crazy Swedish socialists.
Would you have assumed he must be born elsewhere simply because his father was a different culture than his mother? Or was it because his dad was a different race?
People think of racism as segregated drinking fountains and KKK lynchings. But racism is deeper than that. Racism fuels your underlying assumptions.
As does sexism. What if Obama's dad had been White Baptist American and his mom had been Black Muslim Kenyan. Would there have been any doubt?
I doubt it.
But the president managed to trip all kinds of fears at once. A weird name—a name with Hussein in it for gosh sake. An African father. Raised in Hawaii, a state many of us consider a foreign country anyhow. Raised by a single mom. Born of a mixed race marriage.
Prejudice runs deep. And pushes fear to the surface in bad times. Ready to explode like a volcanic crater of folly.
I'm glad we didn't burn ourselves too bad.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

1501 Omeletade

Oftentimes what's old is good. Sometimes it needs changing. So sometimes, I'll say things like "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it." It captures a different attitude than "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." More like throwing a bunch of tea into the harbor rather than paying taxes on it and still having it to drink.
Or maybe it's nice to be a little whimsical. Saying, "I'm the type of guy that if life hands me lemons, I make an omelet." Signaling that I can transcend misfortune, depression, and reality.
I also like to say, "If life presents you with a dilemma, make dilemmanade." Why not? Use the resources at your command to come up with a solution. And make sure that solution is both tart and sweet.
Sometimes new is not better. Change for the sake of change can be bad. There's a reason why the wheel ended up round. Let's not reinvent it every time we turn around.
So it is with the new water bottles. In their attempt to become more environmentally sensitive, plastic water bottle manufacturers have made them too darn thin. Oh, they're okay when they have water in them, but as you drink and the counter-pressure of the water is relieved, the bottle collapses in your hand.
Even the frailest grip crushes the bottle. Arthritic oldsters feel like the Incredible Hulk. You have adopt this prissy grip and hold the bottle by the bottom, balancing it like a fine china teacup, or risk crushing it like an egg and propelling a giant spurt over your mouth, neck and chest. It's even messier if the bottle is filled with lemonade.
So if life hands you a new bottle of lemonade, hand it back.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

1500 Trailer Leader

It's funny how stereotypes develop a life of their own. How they persist through the generations and get perpetuated by the media. Take trailers. Or Mobile Homes. Or Manufactured Housing. Perfectly fine places to live. Peopled by perfectly ordinary people.
But stereotypes tell us trailers should be inhabited by gap-toothed miscreants suffering from three generations of inbreeding. As if no mobile home park has ever been built within commuting distance of a dental clinic.
Or a family counseling center.
Mobile homes are not the Great Plains answer to Appalachia. Mobile homes were simply built to save costs and be transportable to different locations, there to be set up on perfectly good foundations and while away their days in cozy comfort.
Folks who chose to live in mobile home parks were actually the first practitioners of the credo of urban density. Cutting down their carbon footprint, whether they knew it or not, by living closer together on smaller lots, and saving on concrete and excavating costs to boot.
Trailers were leaders.
So it was with amazement that I read the following statistic in a national magazine the other day. It said, "About half of all people killed by tornadoes live in mobile homes (don't they mean lived in mobile homes?) which are ripped apart and sucked into the air because of their flimsy construction."
Oh please, like site-built homes can't be flimsy? And look at how they skewed the statistical emphasis. If half of the people killed in tornadoes lived in mobile homes, where did the other half live? homes?
You see how they cheated on the statistic? That's like saying 50% of all divorces are caused by women. And the other 50%?
The truth is, when a tornado hits 'em, just about all homes are mobile.
America, ya gotta love it.

1499 Les More

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes it's just less.
No one knows that better than the new online news aggregator headline writers. There's so little room on the aggregator display page, you have to craft a headline that in just a few words will make someone click on the link, be clicked through, and read the article.
The goal? To get someone to come to your individual news website. The gain? A hit for your article and your web address. And hopefully one more statistic you can show to a potential advertiser so he buys an ad.
In the old days, headlines sold newspapers. You had to catch the eye of someone walking by, who would then shell out some cash. Big bold and loud. Extra, Extra, Read All About It.
Today you have to catch people through their much more rapid filters as they surf the web. So you don't want to tell the whole story, or even complete the thought.
The headline, "Sarah Palin Says Something Dumb" will most likely not get as many hits as "Sarah Palin Says..." Those ellipses, or dot–dot-dots, as I like to call them, suck someone in like a wormhole on a hook. Likewise the headline, "President Launches New Education Initiative" would probably get fewer hits than, "President Launches..."
So the art of web-hit headline writing is even more refined than the art of newspaper headline writing. Less is more. And it's important to remember that curiosity and emotion are intimately entwined. Heck I'd be willing to go so far as to say that curiosity is a mega-emotion. Fear, lust, gossip, it trumps them all.
But be careful. Less is not always more. The headline, "Science Teacher Says..." will get fewer hits than, "Science Teacher Says, 'Alien Donald Trump Ate My Mother'"
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

1498 Frail Mail

I've been struggling lately with the challenges brought on by aging folks in my life. It's so hard for them to keep up with all the changing technology. Heck it's hard for me.
You think some things are an improvement. But sometimes ease is too easy. Like with touch-tone phones. Or any key pad for that matter. Light pressure is actually difficult for someone with age-related Parkinson's. Shaky fingers, a timid touch, and a simple 11-digit long distance number to upstate turns into an accidental expensive call to Alaska.
And then the poor elder doing the calling thinks the number is wrong, or the phone company is wrong, or on and on, creating a cycle of stress that sends their blood pressure overwhelming their medication.
In this case, an old-fashioned rotary dial phone would actually be a blessing. Not just old-fashioned, but fashioned for the old.
Or how about email addresses? Same problem with light touch keyboards, as opposed to positive pressure typewriters. But the frailties mulitply, as you add in bad eyesight and poor memory, especially when you have to type in some of the long addresses.
Business people beware. They may be easy to remember because you worked in the name of the store but hard to type because the font is usually so small in email addressing windows. Telling an oldster to send an email to will guarantee an email sent to the Ethernet void. Never to be bounced, never known by the recipient to have occurred. Never known to the frail email sender why no reply was forthcoming. A valuable shopping relationship lost.
I see why oldsters still use stamps and envelopes. Forget about the drawbacks of snail mail. Frail Mail is the ultimate slow, because it never arrives.
America, ya gotta love it.

1497 Snappshots

I was sitting in a restaurant not long ago waiting for a to-go order to be ready. As I did so, I played my favorite game of watching people conduct the ordinary business of their lives.
There was one big table of convivial folks, obviously extended family members together for a reunion of some sort. And they were passing around pictures of their loved ones who weren't present at the table—snapshots of children, dogs, and suchlike. Except they weren't actually passing around pictures. This is the 21st century. They were passing around smartphones.
Yep, instead of passing lightweight pictures back and forth, any one of which could accidentally slip through fingers and end up in a bowl of guacamole, they were passing around expensive electronic devices, ready to be short-circuited in a tureen of chili con queso.
But pass them they did, recipients swiping shared screens with nacho-greased fingers. So sanitary, is this another way to go viral?
It seemed a little sad though. How another bridge from the 20th century has been crossed and forgotten. The snapshot has been replaced with the snap app. And those loving mementos, once stored in dark closets or cleverly decorated scrapbooks, are now just one giant electro-magnetic pulse away from oblivion.
One big sunspot or solar flare and bye-bye 21st century digital electronic memories.
And even sadder, another industry gone to dust. The poor people who for years and years manufactured wallet sleeves. Those clear plastic booklets or accordion-folded pockets of posterity. With loving pictures of the spouses and kids warmly nestled next to hunter's license, draft card, social security I.D. and expired parking validation.
Farewell photosleeve manufacturers. You served us well. Your snapshot-protecting days are over.
Another faded memory of the 20th century.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1496 Pro Mascots

Is it just me or do sports figures recently have a lot of names that sound, well, odd. Like their parents ran out of ideas. Or like they're mascots rather than players.
Like Chad Ochocinco. What's that about? Ocho means eight and cinco means five. My first thought was, was the child named after a personalized license plate? Chad 85. Or was part of a series of chads. Maybe his parents were really upset about the Bush/Gore election and one of their votes didn't get counted because it had a dangling Chad. Number 85.
But no. True story is Chad himself changed it to reflect the numbers on his Cincinnati Bengals uniform. Let's hope he doesn’t get traded.
And how about Milton Bradley? What were his parents thinking? That they wanted a Monopoly on publicity. That it would help, if not in the game of baseball, in the Game of Life? That life itself was no Candyland, though it could be more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys. And you could develop a really good swing if you kept flexible by playing Twister and a good eye and steady hand if you concentrated on the Operation.
But my favorite guy is Coco Crisp. Now admittedly, the Coco part is a nickname he got from his sister, who actually thought he did look like a cereal character. But still. It sets a precedent. I'm not sure Major League ball wants to see a game with product mascots.
The Arby's Oven Mitt behind the plate. The California Raisins in the sun of the outfield. Count Chocula and the Boo-berries in the infield. And a batting/pitching duel between Coco Crisp and Toucan Sam. Forget about knuckle balls. That Toucan Sam can throw a curve like a Fruit Loop.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1495 The El Espiritu

We live in such a diverse world, and sometimes it presents challenges. Like not long ago I went to the website of a Christian broadcasting station. They had a little video on the site starring what I assume was their DJ morning crew.
The video was for a promotion at a local resort and started out with the male DJ grabbing a fake fish from the water. Oh no, I thought, they aren't going to try to tie in loaves and fishes to the abundance of food and fun one can have at this resort?
But no, not that at all, but something worse in a way. The female DJ commented on the lack of liveliness of the fish. The male DJ then said in a mock English accent, "He's not quite dead yet." Yep, straight from Monty Python's "Holy Grail" movie. One of the most sacrilegious films of all time.
So I had this vision of the DJ originally applying for the job. "Yeah I can do Top 40. And I can do Country. Christian you bet, I can do Christian. Christian Rock, Country Thumping Bible Belt or Modern Mountain Evangelical?"
No wonder he forgot about the Monty Python origin. Oh well, you gotta work. Help's keep your spirits up.
I recently heard another DJ radio challenge. DJs are often faced with tough choices regarding pronunciation. And problems with other languages. I heard this one announcer telling folks that a musical group was going to be at "...the El Corazon." Since the "El" in El Corazon means "the" it sounded like a particularly bad bilingual botch-up to me.
The The Corazon huh? Are The Los Lonely Boys playing there? Or The Los Lobos? I hear The The Edge is doing a lively guest set with them.
America, ya gotta love it.

1494 Eye Dotting

I had the pleasure recently to volunteer at the St. Martin's DragonBoat Festival down at the Port. It was cool. DragonBoat teams from all over, pulling for their clubs, racing through the waters of the south Puget Sound.
There were dances and music from various cultures too. Like Chinese Lion dances. The Lion dancers sort of looked like dragons. Giant heads and colorful sequined fur bodies made up of humans underneath, the human legs representing the legs of the creature. Like one of those dancing donkeys you once saw in vaudeville, but a lot more classy.
Certainly a lot more sequins.
The way to tell the difference between Lion Dancers and Dragon Dancers is there are only two lion dancers per lion body. Dragon dancers have up to twelve. Far more men to fill up a dragon.
I felt a little inadequate. My only contribution to the festivities was dragon breath.
I did help at the first aid booth. The Doctor who asked me to spell him reminded me about the new CPR—just compressions, no mouth to mouthwhich was good, what with the whole dragon breath thing. When he came back, he asked if anything had happened and I said no heart attacks, just a guy who was lost.
Fortunately, I also knew GPS.
The best part of the event was at the beginning, when they did the special and traditional "Dotting of the Eyes" ceremony, where local dignitaries took paintbrushes and dabbed pupils in the middle of the eyes of the carved wooden dragonheads before they were placed on the boats.
I suggested to the officials that next year they should also cross arms and pass each other ceremonial cups of tea.
That way they could do the dotting of the eyes and the crossing of the teas...
Olympia's Mayor told me to go mind my Ps and Qs.
America, ya gotta love it.

1493 Magne-trash

I was recycling phonebooks recently. They do build up these days. With some years bringing two and even three phonebooks, there are only so many pieces of furniture you can use them to prop up.
But I almost panicked not long after that. I had decided to raise the monitor on my desk to the proper ergonomic level, after I had just thrown out the aforementioned phone books. Fortunately, I found a couple collecting silverfish in the garage.
And bits of silvery metal too.
Because here's the thing. When I was recycling the phonebooks, I first had to strip them of all non-paper accouterments. And in the last few years everybody and their brother in the plumbing, heating, and lawyering industries has decided to stick on a refrigerator magnet for advertising.
I don't know about you, but having a lawyer or a plumber stare me in the face every time I reach for my morning orange juice is not the wake-up experience I relish.
No matter how nice that face may be.
I'd like to see one for a private detective. Magnet PI...
Do they consider how many of those magnets are on phone books? How much space do I actually have on the front of my refrigerator? What with magnetized shopping-list tablets, kids' crafts from school, and sports schedules, I'm magnetized out.
So I tossed them in the trash. But then I worried—how many of these magnets are ending up in the landfill? And how is that affecting the environment?
Do the flies eat them and we get magnet maggots? Are we doing microbial MRI and aligning all our bacteria to even more magnetic virulence?
Or worse—affecting navigation for local boaters?
"Veer right veer right! That's not the North Pole! It's a landfill..."
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

1492 Peepin' Fun

Easter season brings the opportunity to enjoy the myriad pleasures of Peeps. Peeps are fine as stand-alone treats. If you're not into spices, or heck, even flavor, Peeps are sure to please. As amorphous in taste as they are in shape, your only desire need be for the taste of sugar.
Essentially softer marshmallows with a vaguely animal look, it's fun to try Peeps in all the places you would use marshmallows. Like my friend's suggestion using your microwave and your Peeps.
Stick toothpicks in Peeps, microwave them two-by-two and create a game of Peep Jousting. Cool. I tried it but it didn’t work. My microwave must be too powerful. My Peep just kept swelling and swelling, like some sort of tumorous mass gone horribly out of control.
It swelled to the size of a grapefruit and I was afraid it would explode and plaster the inside of my microwave with Peep shrapnel. But no, 30 seconds past, the microwave turned off and the Peep collapsed into a flat, roughly circular, yellow and white mass that looked not unlike a hard fried egg.
Conundrum solved. It is the Peep chicken before the Peep egg.
Or make a Peep s'more. Just the thing for camping hunters. Then your s'more can look like you've bagged and killed an animal too. I thought I'd originated this great idea, then went to the internet and saw a jillion entries. One guy even has a name for Peep S'mores. He calls them S'meeps.
I like to use part of my Easter bunny as the chocolate portion of a S'meep. Have a whole Easter dessert that way.
But the most fun is the simplest. Poke 'em and roast 'em over the campfire. Like chickens on a spit. Peeps on a stick.
America, ya gotta love it.

1491 Missing Peep

"The Case of the Missing Peep." Or if it was one of those English Cozy Whodunits it would be "The Conundrum of the Missing Peep." Either way it had me scratching my head.
I was holding in my hand a Peep package. And it was apparently complete. Except there were only five Peeps in it. My memory told me Peeps always appear in pods of 6. Or is that flocks?
I know they've always been arrayed in multiples or fractions of a dozen. After all, Peeps were hatched from Easter eggs and eggs are always packaged in dozens. Which always struck me as odd anyhow. If you have 2 eggs a day for breakfast you need 14 to get through a week. 1 egg a day and you need 7 with 5 left over.
Not egg-sact either way.
I've joked before that it takes five peeps to make a posse. Except in Canada where it takes six, because they're metric. Metric Posses are always multipliers of two. The Imperial Posse.
This had nothing to do with that. But here's what is funny. There was space in the packaging for another peep. The five Peeps had room leftover. I know American companies and packaging. Packages are designed to the last millimeter to save costs. A whole Peep worth of space would not be wasted.
Especially since the five Peeps remaining were fused together. Peeps are essentially auburn-eyed amorphous blobs anyhow. Crowding in another would hardly cause a crisis in shape integrity.
Which leads to one not-so-sweet conclusion. Robbing the children of a Peep was more cost-saving than reengineering the Peep packaging. The missing Peep was a victim of Peep-flation. The economic crisis has finally hit Peepland too.
The Peep wasn't missing, it was on furlough...
America, ya gotta love it.

1490 Simple Eating

The other day I was at the store looking for things to eat for dinner. As I often have dinner for one, I'm on a constant quest for simplicity. You want to think that simple is better. Less muss, less fuss, less things in it to poison you.
So I thought, I'll just grab a simple pepperoni pizza. Crust, tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese. How bad can it be?
Apparently, pretty bad. As I waited for it to cook, I looked at the ingredients on the box. There were 59 of them listed.
59 ingredients to make a "simple" frozen pizza. Why? Here's the rub. We once died of food poisoning brought on by spoilage. So we started refrigerating and freezing our food. But when we started freezing our food we started having our food get freezer damage. As any cryogenic freeze-people-to-be-revived-later expert will tell you, tissue that goes in the freezer is not the same tissue when it comes out of the freezer.
The answer to freezer damage? More chemical additives. Which eventually kill us too. Salts, nitrites, nitrates, BHT, ammonium sulfate, L-cysteine hydrochloride, BHA...yum.
I did like the listing for the pepperoni though. Red Baron pepperoni is the all-animal anti-vegetarian killer. Their pepperoni is made from beef, pork, and chicken.
The non-infected trifecta, because it’s chemicalized, of course.
The pepperoni itself has 16 ingredients, and for some reason, they felt it was important to note that it was "mechanically separated" chicken. Perhaps to assure us that there weren't any human skin flakes mixed it too.
Or other chunks, sausage-making in the urban jungle has a less than stellar reputation in that regard.
And god forbid prepared food should have any other human touch at any step in the industrial process.
Let's keep poisoning ourselves simple...
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, May 06, 2011

1489 Humanimals

We love our animals. But we have strange relationships with them. Perhaps because they act so human sometimes, it's easy to impart humanity to them. Humanimals if you will.
Like recently, when I got a bunny for Easter. It was a chocolate bunny, so naturally that means I'm going to eat it. I like to bite off the head first. I hear its good luck.
Now the funny thing about this bunny, solid chocolate and eatable that it is, is that the manufacturers thought it was important to name it. As if the humanizing process made it more cute.
"Hey children, we've named your chocolate bunnies just like real people. What's yours named?"
"Mine's called Cabbage Patch Pete."
"Mine's called Carrot Top Carol."
"Mine's called Hannibal the Cannibal."
Oh yeah, when you eat things with people names, it's kind of like eating people.
The chocolate bunny I got was named "Cabbage Patch Pete." An important reminder, I suppose, of the damage bunnies actually do, destroying gardens that have been created with hours of human toil, and one more good reason to eat them.
But animals do seem human, in nature, and in civilization. True story: I was in my car waiting at a stoplight and looked over to my right. A crow was standing on the curb, looking both ways, waiting to cross. Then he looked up at the light. It changed to the green walk signal, and I swear, he stepped of the curb and walked across the street—all the time staying within the crosswalk lines.
I had one of those alone in my car laugh-out-loud moments that make people stare at you. Of course a self-respecting crow would stay in the crosswalk lines.
He wouldn't want to be caught Jaywalking...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

1488 Demo Boom

I read all the ballyhoo in the press. Political sides going at each other to extremes. Business hating government. Democrats bad for business. Republicans good for business. Brickbats thrown. Mud slung so thick they wipe it up with yellow journalism.
I'm also reminded of an old chestnut by Will Rogers. "Mixing Politics and Religion is like mixing manure and ice cream, it doesn’t do much to the manure but it surely does ruin the ice cream."
I feel that way about politics and business. Something's manure-ing the message. Because it's funny how well, despite all the bull, business does during Democratic administrations.
When I was in the investment business, I went to a big convention in San Diego. One of the presenters, talking to a room of 2500 business people, went over the stock market for the last 60 years. This was in 2004, before 2008 and the economic crater during the last months of the Bush Administration.
The presenter was accurate in his presentation except when he got to the 80s and 90s. He called the 80s, "The Great Reagan Years," and made glowing remarks about it, even though stock and economic growth were relatively puny. Relative, that is, to the booming Clinton Administration, which he referred to as "The Nineties."
So you'll be happy to know, despite the political histrionics, that in 2010, pre-Tea Party revolution, Corporate America's profits rose 29.2 percent—the fastest growth in more than 50 years.
As I've reported before, median pay for CEOs went up 27% too.
Looks to me like the Democrats and the Republicans need to switch hats. For all the talk of tax-and-spend and onerous government burdens, corporate businesses make a ton of money off Democratic administrations.
Campaign donation season is coming. CEOs take note...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

1487 Sabadilly

It started when I went to the Simply Saline website. They had a product called "Simply Saline Cold Formula." Turns out it was not so simple and contained lots of other ingredients, among them luffa operculata and Sabadilla.
That got me curious. As did this disclaimer on the site: "If pregnant or breast feeding, ask a health professional before use."
You always wonder what it is about a cold remedy employing nasal irrigation—essentially rinsing out your nose—that should worry pregnant women.
The Simply Saline site also said its ingredients were "micro-diluted in accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States and are therefore non-toxic and have no known side effects." Translation, it's an herbal additive and doesn't have to go through the rigorous testing of the FDA.
Homeopathic remedies, by the way, operate on the "like cures like" principle. If an ingredient triggers symptoms like the disease you are trying to cure, you use a small amount of it to cure the disease. That why in early times they used stuff like arsenic and mercury, those great disease-symptom mimickers, to cure a host of ills.
With a host of kills along the way.
Quantities are crucial. The poison is in the dose.
So I decided to look up Sabadilla. Turns out it's from the lily family. It's used as a botanical alternative in a number of areas and has a long history as a substitute for chemical concoctions—most notably in its use as a, um, pesticide.
Hmm...Nasal irrigation with Simply Saline's simple saline only product? Or Simply Saline Cold Formula, for when your cold bug's so bad it needs a pesticide?
"Looks like you kicked your cold pretty quick Fred!"
"Yep, that "Ortho-Max" really is all purpose..."
America, ya gotta love it.

1486 Simply Saling

The other day I saw a display ad that came up on one of the websites I was visiting, but I didn't click through on it. "Click-through rate" is one of those things they measure on internet ads but I, like most people, am worried some viral thing will happen to me and my computer if I do it.
At the very least they've marked my computer for further attempts to entice.
What caught my eye was the name of the product in the ad—Simply Saline. For years, I've worn contact lenses and for years I've been worried about the multiple chemicals contact lens fluid manufacturers manufacture.
You never know. Mercury, caustics, protein dissolvers, it can't be natural. Back in the old days, when contacts first came out, we used a saline solution we made up ourselves, with simple saline tablets.
Its drawback was human laziness. People would make up a bunch of saline solution and let it sit around. Saline solution also happens to be a great growth medium for all sorts of "natural" organisms that can infect your eye.
You may have noticed a certain batch of saline solution teeming with life—the ocean.
That's why they started putting a bunch of chemicals in contact lens solutions. To kill the bad bugs. Algae eye is so unattractive.
So I went to the Simply Saline website and found a product that does indeed consist of just saline solution. Water and sodium chloride, under pressure in a can. My dreams were fulfilled.
But they couldn't leave well enough alone. They also had "Simply Saline Cold Formula" for your nose. And despite what it's name implied, it wasn't so simple anymore. It contained benzalkonium chloride, glycerin, phenylcarbonal, luffa operculata and Sabadilla.
Let's hope it was simple Sabadilla.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

1485 Prime Sub Version

The positive economic news continues to come in. More money being made, the mortgage market kicking back in, we're heading back to our old selves again.
Unfortunately, those old selves were the ones that got us into this trouble.
You'll be happy to know the median pay for CEOs in large corporations went up 27% in 2010. Three quarters of CEOs got raises in 2010, to a median salary of 9 million, which, to be fair, included 2.2 million in bonuses.
I know I know, there's nothing median about an annual salary of 9 million. But hey, it's not like hiring fancy accountants to avoid paying taxes is cheap. And they weren't the only ones who got increases in 2010. Pay increases for all workers in private industry went up in 2010. It wasn't 27%...But it was 2.1%.
Sure, if you want to be accurate about it, you'd have to bring up it was only income increases for people who actually had jobs, and a lot of those didn't come back in 2010, but things are still looking up. Who knows, maybe one of those CEOs will open a factory with his 9 million. Maybe a book-publishing place that will put out cheaper copies of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."
Except…Rand's heroes made money by building things. Atlas himself would certainly shrug over the other good news. Turns out one of the biggest new investments that’s really taking off ain't that new after all. It's sub-prime mortgages.
Yep, sub-prime mortgage bonds are currently yielding from 5 to 7 percent. Forget those factories and making real wealth. The easiest way to make money is to play with derivatives of someone else's.
Cool! Maybe we'll have another bubble!
Bubbles are so festive. Especially the big ones that explode and make craters...
America, ya gotta love it.