Thursday, November 29, 2012

1875 Moving Pepsi

What goes around comes around, they say. And sometimes what goes just goes. I was reminded of that the other day when I read about a new drink Pepsi is introducing that promises certain, um, medicinal qualities.
It was almost overlooked in all the news about electile dysfunctions and Petraus betrayals, but Pepsi Incorporated has come up with a new beverage that's sure to move folks like never before.
The new drink is called "Pepsi Special" and it's special indeed. The article I read about it says the following:
"You might be familiar with wheat dextrin as the supplement that's sold as Benefiber in the U.S. It's a soluble fiber that absorbs water as it moves through our intestines. That promotes movement of food through the bowel, and contraction of the bowel wall itself (bowel movement, if you will). Pepsi distributors in Japan are leveraging this mechanism, less explicitly, in adding dextrin to their new product, Pepsi Special. It's being reported and marketed as a "fat blocking soda."
Fat-blocking soda, what a concept. Cram in the Doritos. Cram in the burgers and fries, and wash it all down---and through---with the new Pepsi Special. Cause when the Pepsi Special is coming down the track and around the bend you better get to the station in a hurry.
Back to the "goes around comes around" part. Pepsi actually started out as a health drink---and it was to promote digestion. The original drink was called "Pepsi" because it contained pepsin, a digestive enzyme.
So now they've come full circle. and followed the boomer curve too. From "Pepsi hits the spot," to "Pepsi for the New Generation," to "Pepsi for those who think young," to, well, "Pepsi BM."
Don't drink too much. You might get a case of Pepsi-rrhea.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1874 Electile Disorder 12

I wrote recently how for the next election my Republican friends need to be more pragmatic. The face of the electorate has changed, and it's a face of many colors. The old white male has gotten older and fewer.
The old gray male he ain't what he used to be.
So it doesn't do any good to keep making lame excuses for why they lost. The R's just keep diggin' deeper and deeper into the "I'm oblivious" hole. A telling moment in the campaign was when Romney said that 47% of the electorate expected handouts from the government. It looks like that 47% turned out and handed him a defeat.
Really, it was a pretty oblivious comment. Lots of those 47 percenters have hardworking, low-paying jobs, doing them thanklessly day after day. I'm surprised Romney didn't think the poor kids on free and reduced lunches were getting the reduced lunches because they were obese.
Lately Romney sent a letter telling his supporters he lost because Obama gave his voters gifts. You know, like jobs in the auto industry. Again, out of touch. It was probably more fear of what might be taken away under Romney. Starting with Big Bird.
Then there were the commentators who blamed the loss on Hurricane Sandy. Which is ironic in a way. Since those same folks are the ones who say there's no global warming. And others who say the severity of Sandy was due to global warming. So global warming created by those who deny it created the circumstances that destroyed their chances in the election.
Lastly, Rove's R's are currently claiming they actually got all the independent votes they were shooting for. That means one thing: The D's now outnumber the R's and the Independents.
Oops. Pay attention R's. Time to wake up and smell the rainbow.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1873 Pot Test

Governor Christine Gregoire requested advice from the federal justice department about how to proceed with the state's new legal marijuana law. Voters have given the okay, but the state's not anxious to invest tons of infrastructure set-up money to actually sell weed until it looks like those stores may stay open.
But since, like liquor, it will probably end up in private hands anyhow, maybe the state should just write regulations for distribution and sale and save its money from the outset. The regulations are already there for the most part. Just white-out "alcohol" and scribble in "pot."
There have been good things about it. I have a friend who has a sister in another state who's lesbian. That sister is currently dating a woman named Juanita and is looking to marry her. They also, coincidently, like to toke an occasional burst of bud. So the last election made Washington living very attractive. Now she can smoke marijuana and marry Juanita all in the same place.
But big problems remain. Among them driving-while-intoxicated measurements. Piloting your vehicle under the influence of alcohol is pretty easy to measure. You just blow your breath into a device. Marijuana intoxication will require a blood test. Tough to administer in the field. Will law enforcement officers have to be phlebotomists too?
Also, THC blood levels remain for days after actual inhalation. Who's to say the erratic guy wasn't stoned three days ago and is just a bad driver today? Perhaps other behavior tests will be needed. Instead of walking the line, police could look for an acute episode of dancing inappropriately.
Or use a smell test. See how the suspect falls on the spectrum of the Dorito Olfactory Over-Bonding Indicator Evaluation.
The D-O-O-B-I-E-. The Doobie.
America, ya gotta love it.

1872 Sharing Spirits

I love those moments of realization. When you're being given information on one level but your mind flips it over and goes, "What the heck!?"
Like recently, I was driving by this store that used to be a state liquor store, back when the state had a monopoly on hard liquor sales in this state. Poor private retailers complained they could only sell beer and wine, the state had spirited away the real spirits beyond their profit-seeking fingers.
So this store, when hard liquor sales were privatized, was bought out by a private business, and now sells hard liquor. Good for everyone concerned. The state found a buyer for the real estate. The business got to carry on established business in the same location, and the consumer didn't have to alter the number of steps he took to alcoholic satisfaction. Not even 12 of them.
But what got me was a new sign displayed across the building. it said: "We Now Sell Beer!"
Go figure.
Another realization moment: I was listening to a radio story the other day about the state's Discover Pass. For $30 a year you can use it to visit all the state parks. But the state, ever anxious to help the park visiting public, has offered an alternative. If you find the $30 beyond your means, you can perform 24 hours of work cleaning up and maintaining state parks and get your Discover Pass that way.
Hmm... 24 hours of work for a $30 pass. What kind of work will I be doing? Picking cotton?
Somehow I think I might find a job at minimum wage a little better deal to come up with the thirty bucks. Still, I've always wanted to spiritually connect with my dustbowl Okie ancestors.
Sharecropping sounded so fun...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

1871 Nest Quick

Another recall in the news. Another contamination. Some will say it's all about our industrialized food society. As if cholera and dysentery aren't major problems in more "natural" areas.
Still, when contamination does hit our mechanized food chain, the effects are as far reaching and quick as our highway system. The culprit this time? E-coli in the cantaloupes? Listeria in the lettuce? Nope, salmonella in the chocolate milk.
Chocolate milk, you say. I just gave up sunnyside-up eggs and peanut butter. Now I have to give up chocolate milk too? Where are all my comfort foods going?
Literally, down the toilet.
The chocolate milk in question is actually the powdered variety. Ironic in way, since what with chocolate-flavored Ex-Lax, having a chocolate-flavored concoction that also promotes loosened stool is not far off the beam. But salmonella-facilitated extreme loosening can prove fatal to those at risk, thanks to diarrheal dehydration.
Getting severe dehydration for a drink is a bit ironic too.
Anyhow, the product that could cause all the damage is a household favorite. Nesquik. Yep, Nestle Nesquik, the powder you add to milk to have a chocolaty drink. The one with its own spokesbunny.
It might make you move quick as a bunny too.
Nestle is voluntarily doing the recall because one of its suppliers notified them a batch of raw material might have salmonella contamination. The raw material? Calcium Carbonate.
Mmm. Love that calcium carbonate. Used in over-the-counter mineral supplements. One of the yummiest industrial chemicals. If you like the taste of chalk.
"But how?" You ask. How does salmonella get into a mineral? Don’t they mine it from marble or something? I think it's a conspiracy. Because it's also readily available from snail shells, oyster shells, and, um, eggshells.
Industrial chickens are exacting their revenge.
America, ya gotta love it.

1870 Rainbowed

As the rain from the 2012 elections continues to pelt through the media like a deluge from Hurricane Sandy, I have a word to my conservative friends.
A good business person is pragmatic. Makes decisions based on practical thinking. Gets all the facts. Makes a plan for the desired outcome. Moves ahead.
Oddly, that's where the D's beat the R's this time around. They formed a plan early, used the 2010 census to identify not just key states but key counties, and sunk their efforts into those counties. They even figured they'd have less money to work with than the R's, because they couldn't count on the same SuperPac bonanza.
The key fact pragmatic Conservatives need to seize on in the next election is that the majority of the electorate is no longer, um, White Males.
Here's where R-pragmatists, who are usually fact-based, stubbed their tactical toe. They didn't see the change in terrain. They weren't on the same battlefield they used to be on. Even after the election, the strategic obliviousness remained rooted in the sour grapes of wrath. The Wall Street Journal, bastion of the un-liberal media, sniffed its persistent ignorance. Obama "won ugly" it said, and really, only got "40% of the white male vote."
As if that was the only "real" vote out there.
The Democrats realized a while back an interesting pragmatic fact. The majority of votes aren't coming from white males anymore. We are actually a country made up of all kinds of people.
How did that one song I learned in my conservative Baptist Sunday School go? "Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
Perhaps the Republicans should too.
After the rain… comes a rainbow.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1869 Emotication

Communication. It's supposed to be the way we make each other understand what we are thinking. Sometimes it can go so wrong.
Like recently I was trying to spell out an emoticon to someone who'd never heard of them. And I found that deconstructing an emoticon pretty much destroyed the emotion of its meaning.
Communication by emoticon. Emotication?
Anyhow, try to spell out the emoticon of a smiley face.
"Wow, that made me colon close parenthesis."
"I flashed a colon close parenthesis at my girlfriend."
You see what I mean. Actually typing the colon and the close parenthesis to end up with a graphic smiley face is good. Describing it in words, not so much.
On another communication note, I was listening to an ad for Sylvan the other day. They promoted their tutoring service by having a women deliver a testimonial. She said she'd used Sylvan with her first kid, so when her second kid started having problems in school she took him to Sylvan too.
All well and good. Except the way she said it.
She said, "I decided to choose Sylvan."
I guess she was really decisive because she didn't just choose and she didn't just decide. She decided to choose.
Call me anti-redundant but it seems I learned in my schooling that it's important to speak and write economically. So I would just "choose to go to Sylvan." Or I would "decide to go to Sylvan."
But before that, I'll begin to think about the idea of pondering the choices inherent in making a decision that I may have second thoughts about if I elect to consider alternate outcome paths that may impact my final judgment.
Then I'll go to Sylvan for help with my communication skills.
That would make them colon parenthesis.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

1868 Legal Highs

The recent passage of the bill in Washington State legalizing marijuana for recreational use has brought up some issues. Not least that the Feds are going to feel that their law trumps ours. Which is kind of interesting in a way. Usually the folks who defend "states rights" make their homes south of the Mason-Dixon line. And are not the sort to get in the Mary-Jane and fixin's line at the local pot shop.
We may find ourselves firing up the states rights rhetoric along with our fatties. It'll be interesting to see if we'll get the assistance of Rick Perry and Rush Limbaugh, both ardent supporters of the right of states to self-determination.
But if the Feds do ignore us, there's lots of money to be made. Already where medical marijuana sales are legal, there's been a huge windfall of green stuff. The multi-denominational kind---20s, 50s... Last year medical marijuana sales in Colorado were $200 million. 100,000 state residents got prescriptions.
Who knew Colorado was such a hotbed of glaucoma?
On the downside, the state says it won't be till December of 2013 when state stores can start regulated sales of the stuff. Not just selling, but approving manufacture and growth, (organic or non-organic?) packaging, and portion control. I’d imagine there would be a huge logistical and bureaucratic undertoking, excuse me, undertaking, to get rolling.
The whole thing has the bad timing of the hapless Cheech and Chong characters. Our state just unloaded all sorts of great functioning retail real estate to the private sector when the private booze initiative passed.
Now they're going to have to find new places. What do you want to bet their rent will be very high?
Wish I had an inside tip where. I'd open a Doritos shop next door.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

1867 Hall Monitor

Ever felt that sitting indoors was stuffy? To the point where you almost wanted to faint? I certainly have. I can tell you, when you're up on stage faintness is not a good idea. And in case you've ever felt that watching a boring lecture or PowerPoint in a big public meeting makes you feel stupider than when you came in, science has just proven that's true.
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tested the reasoning skills of volunteers while exposing them to different levels of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, as you recall, is the gas we exhale when we exhale.
As CO2 levels increased, volunteers' strategic and reasoning skills decreased. What wasn't expected was how little CO2 it took for that to take place. The highest levels measured, 2,500 parts per million, are easily found in classrooms and meeting rooms fully compliant with current ventilation standards.
Surprisingly, even 1000 ppm, once a benchmark for good ventilation, caused a significant dip in performance. The researchers caution that energy-efficiency building standards be careful not to lock in the biggest source of indoor CO2, Human breath.
I just look back and remember all those intro level classes we took in college, when the crowded lecture hall had 500 students. All of them breathing out. No wonder so many freshmen were washed out as being stupid. Or worse, the cramped places they used to do SAT and other achievement tests. No wonder I felt faint then. And dull as a desktop.
I could be a genius if I had better lung capacity.
Then again, maybe the scientists who were in the same room measuring the levels were affected. And weren't still smart enough to get the results right.
Hey. Maybe this explains why political convention halls always produce such strange candidates.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1866 Star of Mourning

I was reading an article recently about strategies for my 401k and it occurred to me. The people giving the advice in the article were the same ones giving advice before the crash. My old 401k nest egg was scrambled, but somehow the advisors that totally missed the impending financial meltdown emerged sunny-side up.
We sure do have short memories. Wasn't it four odd years ago that the laissez-un-faire no-financial-regulation people managed to bring down the entire world economy? And with it many of our middle class retirement plans? Proving once and for all that Wall Street doesn't have bulls and bears. It has wolves and sheep.
We sheep turn over our money expecting fair treatment in a open market. It's fair all right. We're all slaughtered by the wolves equally.
Be that as it may, I was still interested in the firm who was doling out this new sage investment advice. Their name is Morningstar.
Years back, when I briefly worked in the investment business, my supervisor asked me to thin down potential investments for her by first using Morningstar to separate the wheat from the chaff. Morningstar rated companies based on a number of esoteric factors. Like whether they were a poor risk because they used some of their profits to provide pensions for their workers. That was considered bad. Because, you know, you don't want to encourage good work and employee loyalty; it lowers your dividends and doesn't reward unloyal nameless investors enough.
Always seemed a little evil to me. So it's funny what finally occurred to me when I read the recent advice article. Morningstar is the translation of Lucifer.
Hmm... the biggest stock advisory company out there. And it's still in business. And its name is Satan.
It explains so much...
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1865 iFootpad

To the old P.T. Barnum phrase, "There's a sucker born every minute," add the corollary that there's a crime born from every new product.
Like right now, U.S. cities are experiencing a brand new crime wave. It's about smartphones. Yep, smarty-pants phones, with all their bells, whistles, glitter and glam are also great things to steal. San Francisco reports that half of all its robberies are phone related, New York reports 40%. And not just because they can be resold on the black market, though phones are notoriously fence-able.
Nope, it's also because they contain your entire life. Friends, Facebook posts, what your valuables are and where you keep them listed in your home insurance app. Whether and when you or your friends are on vacation in your calendar app. What their addresses are. What your address is.
And for the particularly sophisticated Oliver Twisted iFootpad, who's also a hacker, all that great bank and financial data, from your bank account info to your one-touch Google wallet they can use to fill up their getaway car with gas and their empty bellies with troll food at the gas station convenience store. Long before you even realize it's stolen and use its anti-theft GPS to notify authorities.
All because you chose to carry around your identity in a handy portable compact package.
Here you go criminal person, that slim little device that an apprentice pickpocket could slip out of my back pocket, it's got everything you need to steal my identity and everything my identity has, including all my identity's friends' stuff.
The smarty-pants phone manufacturers were right. It's the evolution of a whole new era of convenience. For consumer and criminal.
Progress for prey, progress for predator.
I wonder if there's an app for that?
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1864 Page Tweeter

Every now and then I'll just flash on certain words. Like not long ago I was listening to a news story on the radio and it was about an action taken by the WSU football coach. He was forbidding his players to "tweet."
For some reason the concept of giant burly football players tweeting sounded amusing. And even more so when the news story went on to say that the reason the coach was imposing a twitter ban was because some of the players had been indulging in "vulgar tweets."
Is there anything that sounds more oxymoronic than "vulgar tweets?" Okay, okay sure, if you are a Husky the whole idea of a Cougar in College is oxymoronic, but still. To the regular public a “vulgar tweet” sounds like Tweety Bird suddenly developing fangs and claws and tearing into Puddy Tat like a velociraptor on steroids.
On another note, the term "page turner" caused a slightly different sort of mental catch. I was reading one of the blurbs on a book from a reviewer and it said that the book in question was suspenseful and "a real page turner." Hah, I mentally scoffed, what book isn't when you get right down to it?
And then it occurred to me, with electronic books you don't have to actually turn a page. You just click the forward icon.
As e-books become more and more ubiquitous, and even Luddites like me finally adopt them, the whole page-turner reviewer cliché is going to have to change. An exciting book will be a page advancer. Or a page refresher perhaps. Or a rapid scroller.
"Have your read Stephen King's new book? Vulgar in places, but it's a real page clicker."
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1863 Nones

Read an interesting news snippet not long ago. One of those non items. By which I mean the item was something but the something it was about was non. As in none.
Zero stuff is always a hard subject to hold onto in my brain. It keeps slipping away to nothing. Like when they offer "zero percent financing for 6 months." You're not really financing it for six months at all then are you? Why not just say no interest for six months? Or better yet, just say interest doesn't start for six months. Or even better yet, don't mention it at all, then bring it up in six months.
Or the old "zero calories of fat." "No-fat" is fine. "Fat-free" even better. Or again, just fail to mention fat. Say it's all protein or all carbohydrate. Or maybe that it's just an apple.
Because those zero things sound like imaginary numbers to me, my confusion files them in the voids of my brain as unbelievable generally.
This article I mentioned took me into that same unbelievable territory. No kidding. It was about a group called the "nones." Not nuns in the Catholic women wearing a modified Burqa sense. Nones as in the n-o-n-e- I mentioned earlier.
The statistic said a Pew survey found that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion. They also said, "Nones are the fastest growing religious group in America."
Not sure if they surveyed empty Pews…
As I said, unbelievable, but not necessarily unbelievers. They are just none-believers. Not affiliated with any particular religion. The political independents of the religious world. Or possibly just the undecided.
Just one thing, when they do decide, are they a "non-none"?
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

1862 Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, it's been in all the news. And with it all the hype only a huge once in a generation hurricane can bring. From "Frankenstorm" to "Super-Storm Sandy" people were constantly referring to it in apocalyptic terms.
New Yorkers weathered it pretty well. Mayor Bloomberg acted proactively to save lots of lives and lots of damage. Meantime here in the northwest we were having one of our normal storms with minor flooding. New Yorkers, ever snooty, had a name for it too.
Ah, the balmypocalypse.
One hard thing for me was the name the hurricane ended up with. Based on the hurricane naming system the moniker had to start with an "S" but I wish they would have come up with something a little more threatening than Sandy.
Sandy is such a pleasant name. Sandy Koufax, Sandy Dennis, Sandy Duncan. Sandys were always friendly and chipper. Sandys were on the pep squad and the prom decorating committee. You could talk to a Sandy when some other girl broke your heart and wreaked a hurricane of devastation on your teenage psyche. When the subject was rejection, she could lift you out of your topical depression. Not destructive at all.
Hurricane Sandy, also the biggest oxymoron of all time.
It was interesting to see shots on the news. Especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I can say without a doubt that if there's a big wind going be blowing, he's the man I'd like to stand behind.
I was a little scared though, when he told everyone to clear out, then said even he was getting ready to evacuate. I don't know why, but I'm thinking I don't want to be in the same room when he's ready to evacuate.
An ill wind blows nobody good.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 09, 2012

1861 Donutty

I wonder sometimes how we end up using some of the words we do. And sometimes the etymology dictionary is no help.
Like the other day I was driving by a donut place. The interesting thing was, they couldn't decide on how to spell the word. One sign on the building said d-o-u-g-h- nuts and the other said d-o- nuts.
So which is it? Is the d-o- donuts like the thru in drive thru? T-h-r-u- instead of the full t-h-r-o-u-g-h-. The d-o- just a contraction for d-o-u-g-h-? If so, where is the apostrophe?
Even more confusing if you ask me, is in just about every other word in the English language where d-o- appears it's pronounced "dew," as in Dudley Do-right. So why aren't they dew-nuts?
They are often sweet as the morning dew.
I understand the dough part and the spelling of d-o-u-g-h-. Both because they are made of some sort of dough before they're fried and because you have to shell out some dough to buy them.
But what is the nut thing all about? I know some doughnuts are covered with actual nuts, but usually they are described as nut covered doughnuts. What is it about frying dough that causes it to be some sort of sub-category of the nut genre?
They don't taste nutty. They don't crunch nutty. We don't treat doughnuts like real nuts. We don't salt them and roast them. Or shell them for that matter. We don't chop them or sliver them or crust the top of entrees with them. "Ah, delightful, a doughnut-crusted pork loin..."
And we certainly don't render them into a paste. I don't believe I've ever heard of doughnut butter. Yes, there are jelly donuts.
But I've never seen a doughnut butter and jelly sandwich.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

1860 Totes In A Hole

The more uncomfortable we are with a thing or action the more euphemisms we have for it. Like there's pretty much only one word for milk. Yet about a million for the act of procreation that's ultimately responsible for that milk.
So it was with surprise recently that I made an amazing discovery in that regard vis-à-vis an egg dish.
The dish in question was "totes-in-a-hole." A simple concoction really; you cut a hole in a piece of bread, get some butter frying on a skillet, put the bread on it, and then crack an egg in the hole. Flip it over in more sizzling butter and after a while you have a combo that's vaguely reminiscent of French toast without all the hassle.
Great meal using that illegal hotplate in the college dorm. I was introduced to the dish by an upper classman as totes-in-a-hole and have always referred to it as such. I shared the name with someone recently and she said she'd heard it was called eggs-in-a-basket, which sounded crazy to me, there weren't no basket anywhere around. Then again, what the heck is a tote, if not a carrying device similar in fact to a tisket-tasket basket variety.
So I Googled the term. What came up were a number of entries, one of which asked fellow bloggers and trolls what names they knew the dish as.
The list included: Toad-in-a-hole (as in frog), Egg-in-a-hole, Eggs-in-a-nest, Eggs-in-a-basket, Nester, Nest Egg, UFO, Dippy Egg, One Eyes, Bull's Eyes, Eggs-in-a-Frame (perhaps from an artistic or architectural family), Hobo Toast, and the simple and elegant Egghole.
It appears we are uncomfortable with eggs conjoined with toast for some reason. Perhaps I should reread my college Freudian psychology book for a clue.
Maybe while I drink a glass of milk...
America, ya gotta love it.

1859 Sides

No main dish today, just a couple of sides.

First, an article recently reported how injuries to children have increased in the last few years. Researchers think it's because of parent inattention. An inattention caused by their hyper-attention to smartypants phones.
We've all seen it, parents and grandparents at the same dinner table in a restaurant, all of them obsessed with their phones, while the kid in the high chair finds a way to use silverware to create additional orifices in his flesh.
Or the one I saw---a twenty-something pushing a stroller as she crossed the street, oblivious to the fact the light had changed against her. Thank God she was leading with her stroller. Her phone might have got damaged by the car that almost hit her kid.
Second, I was at a coffee shop the other day. They used to have a Clover machine that made drip coffee in individual cups. Which was pretty cool. But then the machine broke and they decided to individually drip coffees, with individual drip coffee filters and carafes. And it was cool and good tasting and all.
But, you know, time consuming.
So the other day I was in and they had 7 different people who all ordered drip coffee. And as I looked at the 7 carafes and mini-filter cones lined up, I had to think: This is why they invented Mr. Coffee.
Dude! Get a pot! Sometimes a pot of coffee is a good idea.
Interestingly, I had just come from a real old coffee shop, the Martin Way Diner, and had their potted coffee. Maybe I don't have coffee snob tastebuds, but it tasted the same.
Another thing? Hand dripping is so silent. It's a little creepy. I long for the musical gurgle of the percolator.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

1858 Con-gress

It's no wonder every time someone conducts a poll, the least favored entity in the U.S. Government is Congress. And yet the same people keep getting elected. Perhaps because even when they're lining their own pockets, they continue to con us as they bring home the bacon. Con-gress indeed.
Like the congressman from the state that makes tanks. The military keeps saying we don't need anymore stinkin' tanks. The congressman keeps putting in orders. The tank factory is in his jurisdiction.
Hey... tanks are stimulus too.
And hey hey, the tank makers contribute to lots of other congressmen's campaigns.
Must be why during the recession years, from 2007-2010, the median estimated net worth of members of congress rose 5% while regular american's median household net worth dropped 39%.
And that includes congresspeople who didn't vote on tanks.
That's not even the whole story. The wealthiest one-third of congress saw their net worth increase 14%. That's a spread of 53% in case you don't have a calculator because your net worth dropped 39%.
That's just on the financial side of the "why we don't like congress" equation. There's also the "What-the-heck?" side. A congressman on the House Committee of Science, Space and Technology, Representative Paul Brown from Georgia, has dismissed evolution, big bang theory, and embryology, as "lies from the pit of hell."
'Cause you know, there are no such things as embryos. Everyone knows the stork brings babies---but only in cases of legitimate sexual, um, congress.
Still, I'm guessing if an in-vitro fertilization clinic wanted to open in his district he'd park his moral outrage long enough to take their campaign contribution, just like most of his hell-bent to get elected peers.
It would take an act of congress not to line their own pockets.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

1857 Tricks or Treats

Americans continue to figure out ways to lavish spending on their animal companions. A statistic I read recently may indicate why. The U.S. birthrate fell last year for the fourth year in a row, dropping to its lowest level on record. Demographers theorize that hard times are causing families to postpone having children.
Or maybe people would rather just spend money on children substitutes. Their pets.
Because another statistic said Americans are projected to spend $370 million this year on Halloween costumes for their pets. You heard me, Halloween costumes for their pets. An estimated 15 percent of the population will buy costumes for their pets. Doesn't look like children are in this equation.
So tell me, where the heck are they getting these docile animals? Every dog I've ever had would barely tolerate a collar, much less funny ears, fairy wings, and pirate eye patches. I doubt very much Sparky would have let me put him in a sweatshirt and hoody that made him look like a giant bee.
And it's certainly odd on the face of it. We used to dress up for Halloween with costumes that made us look like animals. Catsuits were the outfit of choice for 50s beatnik types. Then there were crossover looks, like Spiderman and wolfmen and such. But certainly in the human-as-animal theme.
Now we're dressing animals to look human, or like other animals. So if you're going to dress your dog like a cat, why not just get a cat?
And I'm sorry. I know we have our dogs do tricks. And I know when they do so we give them treats. But that doesn't mean they should go trick-or-treating.
I'm am not adding liver snaps to my candy bowl by the door.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, November 02, 2012

1856 Petafter

Pet cemeteries and crematoriums are sprouting up all over the country as grieving owners lavish untold money on the process of letting go. Pet passing is such a growth industry even Costco has jumped on the funeral wagon. Costco customers can find a selection of pet urns at
Costco magazine did an article on the groundswell of post pet practices. They quoted Doyle Shubart, who has a funeral home in Atlanta. He charges $375 for burying body or cremains directly in the ground. "Directly" is billed as a "green burial." No word whether Shubart has a compost worm business on the side.
He also offers deluxe burials with fancy caskets and granite markers for a mere $3000. “It's not extravagant,” he says, "pet owners want to know where their pet is and what happens to their pet." Other than it being dead of course.
As a member of the IAOPCC, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Creamatories, he also supplies grief counseling services and resources.
In case you're sad that $3000 could have provided two meals each for 300 starving children at the food bank.
Other options exist. For the eco-conscious there's Eternal Reefs in Decatur, Georgia, which offers sea burials and combines pet cremains with concrete to form artificial reefs. They also offer biodegradable urns that dissolve in water in four hours.
"Eco-conscious" means your puppy can feed a guppy.
The circle of life.
To those who want to break the circle, there's a really cool alternative. Starting at $1000, you can have your pet freeze-dried, like hunters do with big game trophies. Pet mortician Shubart says the pet "looks like he did when he left home."
1000 bucks? Not bad. Good for the Great Dane, sure…
And at that price, maybe Granny too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

1855 Nuggets of Truth

Recent research into the secrets of longevity revealed a leading killer of men is not just over-drinking or over-smoking, it's lack of ovar-ies.
Well, not exactly. Ovaries aren't required, longevity actually leads from lack of testicles. Missing those two companions can supposedly add twenty years to your life. At least according to Korean researchers who analyzed the genealogical records of males who were castrated as boys to serve in the palace of the Chosun Dynasty between the late 14th and early 20th century.
Didn't the Chosun Dynasty invent an early version of chicken nuggets?
The researchers found the eunuchs lived an average of 16 to 20 years longer than their fully complemented peers. Three of the 81 eunuchs lived to be 100.
The findings support the theory that male sex hormones shorten lifespan. In contrast to estrogen, which appears to enhance longevity, testosterone seems to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Women are ten times as likely as men to live to age 110.
But is that really living? Being 105 is fine, but I'd be happy with 85 if I could have some fun for those years. And before we rush off severing gonads from boys willy-nilly, let's consider science has occasionally made a couple of mistakes from erroneous data interpretations.
Being a palace eunuch says two things: One, you are a eunuch. Two, you live in a pampered palace. Your non-pampered and fully equipped peers to whom you are being compared, have poverty hunger, war, and general mayhem to fend off to increase their average lifespan.
Not to mention occasional angry weapon-wielding jealous boyfriends.
Just saying. Don't sharpen your knife to extend your life just yet. I'd like to see more proof.
Scientists? The ball's in your court.
America, ya gotta love it.