Monday, October 31, 2011

1609 Thought Burritos

How does that cliché go? Think out of the box? I like Taco Bell's approach better, "Think out of the bun."
Because when you think out of the bun, you get a burrito. So here's some suggestions to solve two social ills with my special deluxe thought burritos.
Burrito Solution 1: Bicyclists are better than buskers and bums. One problem that’s been plaguing the City of Olympia is urban campers crowding the sidewalks. The courts say it's public domain on the sidewalk as long as people are six feet from the edge of the buildings.
There they can camp out, sit down, busk or whatever. Busking, in case you're wondering, is playing music for money—or even attempting to play music for money. Unfortunately, the courts have failed to come up with an acceptable standard for musical proficiency.
The solution is obvious. Chop the sidewalks down to 4 feet in width. They'll seem less crowded because the buskers will be gone. They'll be quieter and much more pleasant too. And bonus, widening the road will allow for the creation of pollution-free bike lanes.
Burrito Solution 2: Save the economy by going on a crazy spending spree. The biggest problem with our economy right now is fear-engendered paralysis. As a great man once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Now that the credit card companies have had their cheating wings clipped, it's time to unlimber them and go shopping. Thrift was nice for a while, but it's time to be spendthrift again.
Companies won't hire because they're not selling stuff. People aren’t buying stuff because they're afraid they might lose their jobs soon. This game of economic chicken has to stop. Consumer fearlessness is key.
So go out and buy! Even if it’s just a bunch of burritos.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

1608 Crank Case

As I age, I have to be careful to avoid going from merely being a commentator on things around me to being a cranky old curmudgeon to being a certifiable crank case.
I saw one of those the other day at a trade show. Like most times when I have a booth at a trade show, I was offering a game for attendees to play.
Trade shows can rapidly devolve into grabfests for some attendees—there to harvest whatever geegaws and giveaways businesses have to offer. Pencils, pens, lint removers, you name it, the tradeshow harvesters glean the giveaways from every booth, packing away booty for the next three year's Christmas stocking stuffers.
As this particular tradeshow happens in October, it always reminds me of adults trick-or-treating. So I always make the harvesters do a trick. In this case, I had a little cardboard game enclosure set up where a player had to blow up a balloon, then use the air splatting out from the balloon to moistly chase a ping-pong ball through a goal hole. Most people thought it was fun.
Then this guy came by with a sour look on his face.
"Giving anything away?" he sneered, as he eyed the pile of candy just out of reach on my table.
"If you play the game," I responded brightly.
"What do I have to do?" he asked.
"Blow up a balloon and use the air to chase a ping-pong ball into this hole," I said.
"What do I win?"
"A nice piece of candy!" I smiled.
He shook his head and snarled, "Too much work."
"You get to keep the balloon..." I called after him.
Yeah, that whole free thing just ain't that much fun when there's work involved.
Talk about a crank case.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

1607 Stye Sore

Not long ago I had the misfortune to develop a stye in my eye.
As if one could get a stye anywhere else.
Like most people, I've always taken styes for granted, bathing them with warm compresses like my mother recommended and suffering through the alteration to my looks a red swollen eye-thing engenders.
Would that a Halloween pirate patch have been appropriate.
Be that as it may, thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia and Google I now have the luxury to penetrate the mysteries of the stye.
One of those mysteries was why we don't just call it an eye zit. Apparently because it’s a zit caused by an infection of the sebaceous glands on the eyelid. These glands service the eyelashes. And usually secrete an oily substance. When they get blocked by foreign matter, overworked from lack of sleep, etc., styes can form.
Regular zits form around hair follicles too. So really, not a whole lot of difference. Maybe it's a regional dialect thing. You say po-tah-to I say po-tay-to, you say stye I say eye zit.
Interestingly, there are all sorts of glands in the old eyelid. Meibomian glands secrete a substance that helps seal the eye borders in such a way that your tears don't spill down onto your cheeks during regular eyebathing.
And the stye itself affects the sebaceous Glands of Zeis. But can also affect, or infect, the Glands of Moll. Sounds Star Warsy. The Glands of Moll—Darth had them removed so he wouldn't ever cry.
Reminds me, for some reason, of the Islets of Langerhans. Zeis, Moll, Langerhans. You ever get the idea the big ambition of Germanic physicians was to get a gland named after them?
We all gotta have our eye on a dream...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1606 CoffZac

A recent medical report may save Americans both a ton of anxiety and a ton of money. And it will also make us happier because it's so fun when medical science reinforces a bad habit. Turns out coffee relieves depression.
Yep, science says it's so. Actually—lots of coffee. The study showed that the more coffee you drink the less likely you are to become depressed.
Well duh.
Non-medical folk have known for years that coffee is the great pick me up. But it's cool the science is finally catching up. After surveying 51,000 women over 14 years, researchers concluded those who guzzled four or more cups of coffee a day were 20% less likely to develop depression than those who drank a cup or less.
Caffeine had long been associated with anxiety and other psychiatric illness but apparently higher doses cause lower rates of suicide and deep depression. Scientists said they knew about the short-term mood bump after a cup of joe. Now research shows the long-term benefit.
I just think it's great because coffee is a whole lot cheaper than Prozac. And a lot easier to get. Even a triple soy macchiato is cheaper than a Zoloft. This discovery will save Americans billions. And that’s a good way to lift depression right there. Especially when the economy is in a depression.
What I wonder is—Now can we get some help with the high cost of espresso drinks? If coffee is such an effective drug, and it saves the government so many Medicare dollars, can I get a prescription for it? Get a reduced cost for a coffee shop visit?
Change the name of the coffee bars—like the Batdorf and Bronson Psychiatric Disorder Mitigation Clinic. Or the Starbucks Therapeutic Center.
How about a latte co-pay?
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1605 Old Transit

I was in a planning meeting the other day and the subject was reducing trip miles. Actually, the subject was climate change. But the real subject underneath it all was reducing the use of fossil fuels.
The biggest reason for that, for me, is reducing our nation's dependence on foreign fossil fuels. It's totally dumb to have our economy hostage to the whims of politicos and winds of politics in the middle east. So if using less oil means US Security and that incidentally benefits the climate, I'm all for it.
That said, the horizon the meeting folks were talking about for reducing consumption by 50% was 2040. Now, assuming the Mayan apocalypse doesn't kick in next year, 30 years is a long time to change fossil fuel habits. But given the magnitude of the baby boomer bulge, the problem may just take care of itself.
Because by 2040 most of us will be in nursing homes. And our trip miles will be pretty much cut in half right there. Heck, they'll be cut 100% for lots of us. And we won't just be confined to beds either. We'll be active adults, able to sit up, go to casinos, and city parks and rec concerts and events.
And we'll be riding to them on Mass Transit. Sure the mass will be a little bit wrinklier but hey. Me and my elder peeps will be piling on the Sequoia bus and rolling down to the early bird special. We'll look more like peeps then too—with our yellow and saggy marshmallow-like skin.
Or better, planned senior communities can be built right next to magnet shopping centers. Us old coots will be in assisted living facilities ringing the Wal-Mart's. And picking up our essentials with greenhouse-friendly gas-free propulsion as we hop on our electric scooters.
And do the coot scooting boogie.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

1604 My Dis

I recently read an article about Marc Jacobs, a fellow who's done quite well in the fashion world. Marc has been able to take on some pretty big fashion houses, going from his original grunge-inspired self-named line to creative director at Louis Vuitton.
Now it looks like he may be tapped to take over Christian Dior.
Unfortunately, the article writer decided to wax rhapsodic, and describe Marc as having the "Midas touch." Putting aside for a moment whether rhapsodies can actually be waxed, do you think the folks who say "Midas touch" read the entire Greek Midas myth? Because it didn't turn out so good. In fact, it was a riff on that whole "be careful what you wish for" theme.
Midas, great Greek king, is given a wish. He loves gold. Obsessively. Midas is the OCD gold fanatic. He wishes that everything he touches would turn to gold.
I think that's the point where most people stop reading. But the story gets worse. Soon Midas is touching children and loved ones. Whatever and whoever he touches turns to cold, lifeless (although attractive) gold. His entire family turned to statuary. His boogers to nuggets of exotic jewelry. Finally, he starves to death because he can't eat food without touching it and turning it to gold.
Talk about heavy metal poisoning.
So it's probably not a good idea to say someone has a Midas Touch. You're sort of dooming them to eventual starvation. But hey, gold is this year's black.
And I suppose a grunge designer could make the transition to heavy metal.
Then again, maybe I got the wrong metaphor. Maybe they were saying Marc would be as successful as the Midas muffler chain.
When the cold winter comes what could be more fashionable than a Christian Dior muffler?
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

1603 Bad Words

For a language that has so many options when it comes to minting new words, it sure seems like it's creators settle on some lulus. Like the word "mint" itself. What do a fresh-tasting flavor and a new coin have in common? Peppermint has nothing to do with minting new coins or minting new words.
I remember when I was a child and my dad, avid coin collector, showed me a new quarter and talked about it being mint quality.
Funny, it didn't taste that good.
So you gotta wonder, we had lots of other sounds available. Why couldn't the place where coins were made be called a munt, or even a mant? Words that are totally untaken.
And how about things like rump roast, flank steak, and pork butt. Couldn't we have chosen something else? I heard a guy on the cooking channel recently talking about his special pork butt rub. "Yeah," he drawled, "everyone needs a good butt rub."
I thought it was disgusting. So I've sworn of pork butt, ham, flank steak, and especially rump roast. I'm on a gluteus free diet.
Or how about the word spouse? What a completely lame name for the love of your life. "Yeah, she's my spouse." Or "Yeah he's my spouse." It just doesn't sound very endearing.
Perhaps because spouse doesn't rhyme with anything good. You got house, and that's about the best. Because there's also mouse. There's some disparaging Dr. Seussian descriptors.
"My spouse is such a mouse."
"Don't grouse, my spouse is big as a house."
"At least he isn't a louse..."
I'm thinking the word spouse was invented by someone in an unhappy marriage.
So I suggest we mint a new word, Something that rhymes with good things like dove and love.
How about spove?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1602 Egg Dream

I was driving on a street the other day and saw a billboard with a slightly disturbing message. It was a McDonald's advertisement and it was a picture of an egg. A regular old white ovoid egg.
The egg had one of those thought balloons coming out of it and in the thought balloon was a picture of an Egg McMuffin.
"Why would an egg want to eat an Egg McMuffin?" I thought in anti-cannibalistic horror. And then I got around to reading the caption.
But before I get to that, take note. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but it also speaks them quicker than word-driven thought processes. My subconscious lizard brain ingested the picture and had it processed and digested into my cannibalistic horror scenario long before the words even penetrated my forebrain.
What's worse is what the words actually said when I got around to reading them. They said: "Every egg's dream."
Really. Every egg wants to be eaten. Talk about setting your goals, um, high. Don't want to make it to the whole chicken thing, huh? Much prefer to skip out on a full life and jump straight to the middle of an Egg McMuffin. Nestled between a slab of American cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. International premature death.
A sad commentary on the hope of eggs in general. Because really, if the egg had made it to chicken status, what prospects did it have? Suffering on a factory farm with a jillion other stressed and bloody chickens?
Better to be put out of that misery before it's actually suffered. Thanks McDonalds. You took them out of the fire and into the frying pan and onto a new reincarnation on the wheel.
Maybe next time they can come back as an all beef patty.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1601 iCon

We recently marked the passing of a great man. Steve Jobs. Up there in the rarefied heights of Thomas Edison and Eli Whitney, Steve Jobs delivered more innovation to the world in the last 3 decades than anyone in the last century.
Some say he's an icon. And I would agree. Especially if you spell icon with a small "i" and a capital "C". As in iPod. And iPhone. And iPad. And one of the concepts of icon itself. The icons on your computer screen.
The mouse/icon user interface was Steve Jobs. The words point-and-click would never have entered our vocabulary without Steve Jobs. Or drag-and-drop.
Before Steve Jobs, drag-and-drop sounded like something a murderer unloading a corpse did. Drag it from the alley and drop it in the dumpster. Point and click? A bad turn of events in a movie when a gun didn't fire when it was supposed to.
Younger folks take what Steve Jobs has done for granted, but to us oldsters the pace of his genius and innovation was amazing. The iPod revolutionized the music delivery industry. Pay by the song. What a concept. Like the old 45s but without a bad deal B-side.
The iPhone revolutionized phones. Touchscreen? Control things by swiping? Say what? And accelerated the pace of change too. I have a regular cellphone I bought in 2005. People look at me like I'm toting around a shrunken head. It's that primitive, compared to a generation 4 iPhone.
I spent my entire childhood with the same black bakelite phone in the living room. 6 years used to be a good shelf life for an appliance. Now it's an electronic eon.
Thanks to a man of his times. That changed how we used our time forever.
This was one Jobs report I didn't wanted to hear.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1600 Snorken

Do you know what they call that blowhole thing on a whale? A snork. It's true. Because it's sort of a nasal orifice and snork comes from same root word as snore.
Actually, I made that up.
It was always a great cocktail party diversion for me when I wanted to entertain a tipsy crowd with deadpan falsehoods. Kind of like Stephen Wright with a bad case of Wikipedia.
So imagine my surprise the other day when for the first time I actually wondered about and researched the origin of the word snorkel. You know snorkels—those tube thingies you breathe through when you are out snorkeling. Paddling around looking at shallow corals and pretty fish in tropical lagoons.
Just about every resort hotel offers options for snorkeling. Which, on the face of it, is not a very attractive name. "The Hilton Luxury Hotel, long known for elegance and fine taste, is proud to offer its elite guests...snorkeling."
Snorkel, it turns out, comes from German submarines. It was a device, not unlike the private version, for getting air into submarines when they were only slightly below the surface. Back in early U-Boat days, they didn’t have nuclear power and electric powered batteries had a very short range, so to run relatively secretly on diesel they had to have an air intake.
And, you know, the crew members had to breathe.
Snorkel comes for the German word Schnorchel meaning "nose or snout," and is related to the word schnarchen "to snore." The device was named for its resemblance to a nose and its noise when in use. Its current meaning for personal devices dates to 1951.
So there you have it. Snorkeling is related to snoring, snorting, and noses after all.
No wonder that whale tale sounded so convincing.
What a fluke.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

1599 Street Seen

An insurance selling friend wrote back about yesterday's essay, where I talked about NASA's falling space junk problem and the type of insurance the insurance companies will now ask us to buy to cover for it. Fire Insurance? Earthquake Insurance? Descending Junk Insurance? We agreed maybe a simple umbrella policy would be in order.
With a 6-ton satellite, I'm thinking a very sturdy umbrella.
So in the course of a day, I drive around a lot. I'm often mystified by the things I've seen on the street. Or I suppose you could say the things that are street seen.
Like yesterday, I saw a couple of young vagabonds hiking down the city street. They were in full on hitchhike regalia—packs, coats, sleeping bags, thermarest rolls, cardboard sign emblazoned with the word "Portland."
And it struck me what they were each wearingCarhartt canvas pants. Interesting that they weren't jeans. And even more interesting they chose the brand favored by working men throughout the land. The hardest of the hard laborers choose Carhartt. Durability and practicality.
Lots of pockets too.
All in all, a great choice for a vagabond hitchhiking youth. Odd choice for someone who has never seen a lick of hard labor.
I saw another thing as I was driving by Arby's. They had two signs flanking their driveway that said, "Bag of Ice, $1.00." What's the deal? Is this a new game or something? Like McDonald's Monopoly. Play the Game of Life—Play the Bag of Ice.
Or is Arby's giving up on competing with the fast food big boys and now they're competing with the convenience stores? What's next, six packs and cigarettes?
"Yeah Hon, go down to Arby's and pick me up some ice and a pack of smokes. And watch out for hitchhikers."
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

1598 Descending Junk

Recently NASA narrowly averted a disaster when a 6-ton satellite dropped from the sky and managed to not hit anything.
In their defense, NASA was warning people for weeks. But the warnings were not that great. Just the satellite was going to fall...but they weren't sure where.
And, oh yeah, it would likely break up into smaller pieces.
Which was actually less than comforting. One six-ton satellite could destroy one house. Think having a bus land on your roof. But six one-ton pieces could destroy six houses. Think flaming Smart Cars raining from the sky.
And you gotta admit, for an organization that put a tiny roving rover on Mars and tracked it all over the surface, it's less than confidence-inspiring that they can't track and predict the trajectory of a flying bus.
Even worse that they lost track of it at the last. When the satellite disappeared off their radar one scientist was quoted as saying, "Wow, did it hit Seattle?" The satellite eventually landed harmlessly in the South Pacific.
Harmless if you're not a unluckily-placed pod of dolphins.
So. There's lots of satellites in sagging and decaying orbits up there. And where there's risk there's, you guessed it, insurance. Are we going to now be offered Descending Junk Insurance?
Could happen. My brother-in-law Paul and I have never been comfortable with the notion of specific insurances anyhow. Flood Insurance. Earthquake insurance. I mean, insurance is supposed to protect you from random stuff that happens. It's a crap shoot. Or a roulette wheel. But with all these special policies, the insurance companies keep insuring the house odds get better.
At least for their house.
For mine, I'll have to insure against descending junk. NASA has certainly shown their radar ain't much better than a roulette wheel.
By the way, I'm sure glad that Reagan era Star Wars defense system worked out so well.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

1597 Hallmarketing

Well you know things are really getting bad. Or perhaps bad is really getting normal. Why? Because Hallmark has a card for it.
Yep, Hallmark now has a line of cards to console people about losing their job. And you know if Hallmark has a card for it, they've spend significant time labor and resources thinking it's gonna fly.
More reliable than a calendar, Hallmark has always been on the forefront of holiday and special occasion celebrations. Halloween, Christmas, circumcision ceremonies, they've been there for you. Weddings? They got a card for that. Divorces? You bet. Funerals and sympathy? They've got 'em
And they've got combo cards too. Have a birthday and a wedding on the same day, they've got a card for it. Lose a loved one on Halloween? From tasteful to funny they've got a card for your dead mummy.
Hallmark understands demographics too. They totally redo a display section of cards come Mothers Day. Dads and grads share the same space. Not as many cards for either. Grandparent's Day the same way. Not enough oldsters left to fill a whole section, much less have a separate Grandmother's Day and Grandfather's Day.
So I guess it's no surprise they now have an "Unemployed" section. With 9% of the people persistently out of work and others going into and out of the temporary job force, there's lots of opportunities for commiseration.
And a commercial card commission for that commiseration as well.
So when you get that special card from Hallmark that says, "Don't think of it as losing your job, think of it as a time out between stupid bosses," also think of all the card makers you're keeping employed.
When you care enough to give the very best cardmakers a job, buy an Unemployment Card from Hallmark.
America, ya gotta love it.

1596 Drug Down

It seems like the bad economy has finally accomplished something that billions of dollars of law enforcement has been unable to do.
Make drug usage go down.
Or at least redirect it. From 2006 to 2010, the number of methamphetamine users dropped 50%, all the way down to 353,000 people. Which is an interesting statistic in a way. It says that at the peak of meth use, there were only 700,000 tweakers out there.
Now I agree, even one user is bad. But 700,000 out of a population of 311 million is not a huge percentage. Cocaine use also went down from 2.4 million users to 1.5 million. A large drop, but again, not a huge number to start with.
Still, there's no denying the small amount of users still cause a disproportionate amount of damage. Not to mention depleting Sudafed supplies for allergy sufferers. And probably driving up the price.
Why should we suffer expensive snuffles because of tweakers? So big thanks to law enforcement from us hay fever victims.
Unfortunately, drug usage hasn't declined everywhere. There's one place where it's higher. And I do mean higher. Marijuana usage has gone up. While cocaine and meth usage declined by a total of about a million, marijuana users went up about 3 million. From 14.4 to 17.4 million.
Maybe it’s the economy. Grass is still cheaper than crack or crank. (Do they call it grass anymore?) And the decline could be because tweakers are either in jail already or blown up in cheap lab accidents.
Maybe it's part of America's whole return to whole foods and organic alternatives. Chemical drugs just don't seem as green as potted plants.
Or it could be something else entirely. Maybe it’s the meth and cocaine that are gateway drugs. And marijuana is the ultimate addiction.
Nah... It's probably the economy. But does that mean it's drug down or up in smoke?
America, ya gotta love it.

1595 zHome

I don't often read the enclosures I get with my utility bills. I glance over them quickly to make sure when I'm paying my bill I'm not signing my life away with new terms or something and then toss them in the recycling. The enclosed handbills or circulars are so much extra tree killing for all I'm concerned.
Then again, I suppose by being one of the last holdouts to pay my bills with checks and stamps I helped kill the trees. On the other hand, with fewer enclosures actually produced, the printing businesses are hurting because of it.
Green can be so hard.
But in my PSE bill recently I saw their little newsletter and one of the articles actually caught my eye. Primarily because there was an odd picture of homes with blue roofs. The headline said, "Tour zHomes in Issaquah."
"zHome," my mind says, "Not iHome or eHome? What gives?"
Turns out the Z in zHomes stands for zero, as in zero emissions. And the blue roofs in the picture were blue because they were covered with solar power collectors.
Here I thought they were French. "Zee homes are zo nice..."
The zHomes in Issaquah produce as much energy as they consume and use 70% less water. Power comes from the roof and so, sort of, does the water. The “70% less” comes from using collected rainwater to fill and flush down toilets.
Finally, a smart idea to reduce toilet waste. No word whether weather affects regularity. Or weather acid rain can corrode your pipes. But it's a good step and I'm totally behind it.
By the way. The newsletter was "printed with soy ink on recycled paper." So they didn't originally kill the trees to tell me about it.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

1594 Hillaryous

Pollsters are always trying to get at the truth. What do people really believe underneath all the partisan bickering and hype? And more importantly, how are they likely to vote when it comes to election time?
Especially when the news media hyper-exaggerates every issue, it's hard to tell how the people themselves really feel. That's often why elections come down to the silent folks in the middle. The noisiest of the noisemakers on the left or right, because they capture the most media attention, seem to be the decision makers, but it’s the folks in the center that really tip the scales.
It only takes one straw to break a camel's back man.
Or one straw poll.
So a poll taken recently is very telling. It asked folks to rate how they felt about various national political figures. Of all the major figures, you'll never guess who came away with top honors. Hillary Clinton. Yep, Hillary. 64% gave her a "very favorable" or "mostly favorable" rating.
Funny how folks seem to feel when there's no current vilification campaign going on. The poll also indicated the Center is relatively centered about other stuff as well. Despite liking her so much, only 34% said they thought the country would be better off if Hillary was President. 47% said it would be about the same. 29% said it would be better if John McCain were President.
And there's the indirect truth revealed by the poll—34% on the Left, 29% on the Right, and 47% in the Center. Forget about breaking a camel's back, looks to me like we got enough straw to make a nice load of bricks.
And without the partisans, we'll be the artisans.
Maybe we can use those bricks to build a fine new House.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, October 07, 2011

1593 Speed Lite

The news broke quickly. The speed of light has been broken. At least that's what scientists at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland are now saying. They measured the speed of neutrinos going for hundreds of miles and they arrived a 60 billionth of a second sooner than they theoretically should have. That's like 60 feet faster than ordinary light.
Compared to neutrinos the speed of light is speed lite.
Scientists are all in a dither because the entire theory of relativity depends on the speed of light being a constant. For something to go faster means it would actually go backward in time.
I'm guessing this means the first folks to use and make money off neutrino speed will be the cosmetics industry. "Look nanoseconds younger with Neutrino Cream."
Or the male potency industry. "Want to feel younger where it really counts? Viagra slowing you down? Take Neutralis. We take the neuter out of neutrino."
I don't mean to make light of it. It's a very big problem indeed. Because all the theories of the universe are in trouble. Which is good in a way. Relativity had problems. Dark Matter. Dark Energy. A unified field theory explaining gravity, merging relativity and quantum mechanics. And worst of all, a hopelessly complex String theory that calls for 14 dimensions and endless multi-verses.
Hello... theories of everything are supposed to be simple and elegant. E=MC squared, remember?
You mean its E=MC cubed? Doh, vat vas I tinking?
In fact, the new speed of light means something entirely different. Yep. The world was actually created 6000 years ago and dinosaur fossils and oil were planted by a whimsical deity just to trick faithless scientific types.
And, oh yeah, the big bang wasn't a big bang at all.
It was a big kathump.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

1592 Right On

I saw this interesting headline and I'm not sure where to go with it. I think it's worth sharing though. It said, "King Abdullah grants women the right to vote for the first time."
Well there's democracy in action. Um...
No. Democracy is rule of the people exerting their right to self-rule. Not the system where the king grants the people the right to be ruled by him granting stuff.
But really, can you grant someone a right? I have the right to freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly and other things guaranteed in the constitution of the government I currently live under. And stated most clearly in our Declaration of Independence. But they are still unalienable rights. You know, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that sort of thing—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I don't think you can grant a right. You can grant a privilege. You can even grant a grant. But not a right. A right is what you have that no one can mess with. King Abdullah or whoever.
Just saying...
No disrespect or anything, but king-schming, we the people is all just people.
I don’t want King Abdullah to send the thought police over to my neck of the woods. He's got some pretty high connections what with the whole Saudi oil stranglehold on our economy and all.
Interestingly, the article went on to say Saudi women still didn't have the right to drive. So you know, when they go to the polls, they'll still have to be driven by their husbands or dads.
I wonder if they have the right to take the bus. Probably not. I’d guess the right to mass transit is not in the best interest of big oil...
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

1591 Smugglie

I heard a song on the radio the other day that got me thinking. The song was "Smugglers Blues" by Glenn Frey. It talked about, or sang about, the colorful, exotic, and adventurous life of a smuggler. Then for some reason my mind took a rhyming leap to Snuggie.
Weird. Because, you know, for two words that sound a lot a like they sure go in wildly different directions. Smuggle and snuggle evoke entirely opposite feelings.
I'm going to snuggle my wife across the border sounds a little more innocent than I'm going to smuggle my wife across the border. And I'd much rather date a snuggler than I would a smuggler.
It's also odd how the words go through their various forms. I am snug. I can snuggle. We enjoy snuggling, and she was a snuggler.
You can smuggle something. And you can be a smuggler. You can even engage in smuggling. But what does that have to do with being smug. I am smug as a bug in my smuggled rug?
Do smugglers feel smug because they have secrets no one knows about? Perhaps. The etymology dictionary says smuggle comes from the Low German word smuggeln, which means "to transport illegally," which came from the German word smuganan, which means "to sneak."
The word "smug" comes from a word that means sleek, trim and neat. And eventually, self-satisfied about your looks.
Interestingly both smug and smuggle trace back to the root word for smock. Yes smock, like the garment. That meaning came from the Old English smugan "to creep" and smygel "to burrow" and also from the German schmiegen "to cling to, to press close, nestle." Ultimately, in came from smjuga, meaning, roughly, a garment one creeps into.
I'll be darned. That sounds like a snuggie.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

1590 Ad-Verse

Every now and then I get an adverse reaction to some advertising things. Like recently when I had a birthday. I noticed I got a lot more cards than usual. Then I realized it was because I had acquired one new investment counselor and two new insurance agents in the previous year.
Nice to know; if I ever feel unwanted I can always buy an insurance policy to make sure someone remembers me on my birthday.
A while ago, I was listening to a radio ad and the announcer said some place was, "Located at 352nd Street." So really, is it necessary to say "located" at? Can't you just say the place is at 352nd Street? Won't the rest of assume that's where it's located? "Check out the Taco Bell at 352nd Street" tells me the exact same thing as check out the Taco Bell located at 352nd Street.
And don't say "exact same thing" either. If it's the same it’s exactly the same. Or don't tell me something is "happening on July 5th." Just tell me it's on July 5th. I'll assume it's happening.
I really was mystified the other day. I was driving behind a bus and the busboard ad said an event was going to be on Saturday September 17th. My first surprise was when I saw an exact date. Busboards are never good for specific events. They stay on the bus past the event and end up looking dorky. What was even weirder was the content of the ad. It said a certain company was having a Black Friday Sale. And that the Black Friday Sale was Saturday September 17th.
Sorry. I guess I'm getting used to Christmas Season starting before Halloween.
I am not okay with Friday happening on Saturday.
Just doesn’t add up.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

1589 Dollar-US

A couple or three interesting financial factoids in the news recently. Firstly, millionaires are hurting. According to IRS figures, the financial crisis shrunk the list of millionaires by 40%. Sad…
In 2007, 390,000 people reported incomes of a million or more. In 2009, there were only 237,000. Not only that, the number of filers reporting $10 million or more dropped 55%.
Which may explain why one in every eleven shops in traditional malls is empty but outlet malls are thriving. Where's a good Abercrombie and Fitch or Polo store when you need it?
Here's another sad statistic. The poorest fifth of Americans spend roughly 42% of their income on transportation. Folks in the middle income bracket, 22%. Looks like the masses have yet to use mass transit.
Then again, part-time jobs at odd hours and graveyard shifts are tougher for mass transit to serve. It sure shows quite starkly how a rise in gas prices can bring our economy to its knees. Imagine spending almost half on every hard-earned low-wage dollar on getting to and from work.
And a quarter of every dollar ain't no good deal either. People complain about high taxes. But the oil companies are gouging us out with an apple corer. Of course they can use the money they reamed from us to buy the press to redirect our anger at the government.
Lastly, the median price of a tooth has dropped. Even the tooth fairy is pinching her pennies. Another survey determined that the average amount left under a child's pillow dropped from $3.00 to $2.60 last year.
What's the tooth fairy thinking? Round up girl. It's got to be fairy fuel intensive flying around with all that heavy loose change.
And darn those former millionaires, their probably bringing down the average.
America, ya gotta love it.