Thursday, February 28, 2013

1933 MacArthur's Pompatus

As I'm exposed quite often to the radio, I'm exposed more than most to songs, and the history thereof. So sometimes me and my fellow radio guys debate which songs and songwriters are the worst. Like the infamous Steve Miller, who came up with the odd phrase "cause I speak of the pompatus of love."
Steve was also notable for rhyming "taxes" with "facts is" along with Texas and Justice. I'm guessing he had a little too much pompatus that night of composing.
My vote for worst rhyme of all time goes to Little Green Apples. In which the composer Bobby Russell came up with the strangely unforgettable forgettable tortured rhyme, "God didn't make little green apples and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime." Rhyming green apples and Indianapolis was a strange form of genius.
And bonus points for working Indianapolis into a song period.
Speaking of place names, that brings us to the worst song of all time, as voted by numerous worst song list makers, "MacArthur Park," a song that seeks to describe the loss one feels in a terminated relationship.
It includes the amazing chorus,

"MacArthur Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing melting down
Someone left the cake out in the rain,
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
and I'll never have that recipe again."

Let's just say that someone shouldn't be turned loose with a metaphor. And seriously, if this song is about a woman breaking up with the songwriter, I can see why.
Even having been divorced three times, and nevermind about fruitcakes and ding-dongs, I've never made the egregious mistake of comparing any of my relationships to a baked good.
And no, none of my exes live in Texas.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1932 Broken Pieces

The world is such a jumble of change. The other day I woke up suddenly, my heart beating like a hummingbird on crank, and cried out. "Oh no, they took the wrestler piece out of Monopoly!"
As I collapsed back on my pillow, the various strands of reality untangled themselves and I sighed relief. It's the iron that they got rid of in Monopoly. And wrestling that they removed from the Olympics.
Both of them too bad if you ask me. Wrestling is like the oldest Olympic sport. It goes all the way back to the ancient Greek games. And funny thing, those funky wrestling singlets they wear now would have actually been the picture of modesty back then. In ancient Greece they did all their Olympic sports naked.
They didn't have that skiing and rifle shooting biathlon back then. Much less hot weather long distance cycling. Thank goodness. Sprocket pinch injuries can be excruciating.
So bye-bye to Greco-Roman wrestling. The IOOC is a little odd. I mean, they've actually kept synchronized swimming.
The Monopoly game is worse. They did an online poll to determine which piece to lose and which piece to add. So they dumped the iron and added a cat. Apparently, the online feline lobby was looking for equity with the canines, as a little Scottie dog has been a Monopoly favorite for years.
But I see it as another symbol of our laziness. It's not a little ironic that the iron, an iconic representation of hard work and toil, should be replaced by a pussy cat.
I'm only surprised they didn't offer a tiny toy replica of a TV remote as an option.
Nothing like watching the Olympics from the comfort of your couch while your kitty cat monopolizes your lap.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1931 Tides of Time

What a difference the tides of time make. Especially when the times determine the culture.
Take Nimrod. I'm willing to bet you think Nimrod is an insulting term used to describe someone who is dull or slow on the uptake. As in, "Don't be such a Nimrod."
Interestingly, Nimrod was once a good term. It referred to someone who was a great hunter. Back in the days when people were a little more conversant with the Bible, they knew this. Nimrod was like the great-grandson of Noah or something, and known far and wide for his hunting prowess.
It wasn't until the cartoon era that Nimrod took on a different meaning. And it was Bugs Bunny who did it. In one episode with Elmer Fudd, who was hunting him, Bugs bowed down to him and called him "Oh Great Nimrod" in suitably sarcastic manner.
The new Elmer Fudd-like Nimrod was born in our culture.
Siwwy Wabbit.
Saw another cultural time bend recently. The governor was speaking at an event and he was talking about a little kid turning over rocks looking for crabs on the seashore. Then the Governor said, "And I had a flash..." and went on to describe his... insight.
"I had a flash". Not, "I had an epiphany" or, "insightful memory" or, "inspiration." No, he had a flash, like a 60's mind-expanding hippie. Funny, I've said the same thing. The age of Aquarius is now middle aged. I love the way language reflects our culture.
Lastly, I had a flash recently when the Pope resigned. He's the first Pope to use Twitter to tweet, and he's also the first Pope in 6 centuries to resign.
My flash? When that Pope tweeted 600 years ago, he used actual birds.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

1930 Poped

The news shocked the Catholic world. The Pope was resigning. It's a big deal. No Pope has resigned for 600 years. It's one of the jobs, like life itself, that you die to get out of.
I saw it coming when he opened up his Twitter account. Twittering to all the flock got too dang exhausting. Another example of the dangers of Tweeting.
And exhaustion is what the Pope claimed as his reason for retiring. But the Catholic world is not so impressed by the whole deal. For certain Cardinals, the points they made seem to be a bit of a papal smear campaign. What kind of example are you setting? They intone. God is supposed to sustain the weary. Faith will see you through.
You can't retire from popehood. What, you just don't have the spirit to continue? You can't be infallible anymore? Face it Benedict, you're just not going to fit in on the sundeck at the Florida condo rec area.
"I used to be in mutual funds. What did you do?"
"I was the Pope."
"Holy Jehoshaphat, you gave up a cushy job like that to come here?"
"I was tired."
"When did you announce your retirement?"
"The day before Mardi Gras."
"That's 2 days before Ash Wednesday, isn't it? Oh great, people gonna say you gave it up for lent. Nice legacy Benny boy."
"Hey, back off, I gave 'em two weeks notice."
"I'm just saying, Pope and all, everybody serving you, except for the celibacy thing, not a bad gig. It's not like your were out diggin' ditches every day. Your job looked about as close to retirement as it gets."
"I'm just tired."
"And, no bull, that'll be the headline that catches on,
'The Pope is Pooped.'"
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

1929 Super Short

Sports is not my forte. But I do have it powerfully impinge on my consciousness from time to time, like a slam dunk over the goal posts.
Take the recent power debacle in the Super-Duper Bowl. What got me was not the power outage itself, since 30 some minutes in a large, balmy, covered room seemed minute compared to the freezing days we spent without power last winter.
No, it was the reaction afterwards that struck me as funny. Everybody started to play a different game; the blame game. Who was responsible? What was responsible? Was it a relay switch? Was it the human person who programmed the switch? Was it negligence? Supply chain breakdown in someone's department or someone else's?
If it got you scratching your head like drying sweat helmet itch consider this. It's all about the lawsuit. Someone, notably the TV network, had a lot of time shifting to worry about. That means commercials paid for and not. That means people scrambling around building up big paychecks. That means sportscasters without a script looking dumb.
Not the kind of sports short they're used to commenting on.
That means someone has got to pay. And it will most likely be the deepest pockets they can sue to get the money. So if it is a faulty part, the part maker is the party to whom the party-ending bill will be presented. If it was a human who mis-programmed the part, then Mercedes Benz Superdome stadium management better check their comprehensive insurance policy.
I suspect that in the end they'll determine it was FEMA's fault. When in doubt, blame the feds. Maybe they laid down some defective electrical cable last time they were in the area.
What's Michael Brown doing these days?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

1928 Three Pankies

A few random thoughts today. Like I had someone tell me about a commercial he had seen on YouTube from Samsung. It was a pretty funny commercial, with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, about the Super Bowl and how you could get sued if you used that name to promote your product.
But what was really funny was this. When I first clicked on the YouTube link a commercial fired up for DiGiorno Pizza, which was kind of funny in its own right. Even funnier was that I was voluntarily watching a commercial in order to be able to voluntarily watch a commercial.
Is this a great country or what?
Speaking of that "great country" phrase and the homeland of the comedian who used it, I was thinking of another East European country that may be affected by all of us using so many bankcards these days. When everyone uses debit cards, how does that affect the economy of the Czech Republic?
Sounds like some hanky panky to me. Hanky panky. You wonder where that word comes from. Was it something involving a bank and just mispronounced? The etymology dictionary says it's "a variant of hoky-poky, which is a variant of hocus-pocus."
That's a lot of help. Like saying doohickey is a variant of thingamadoodle.
Personally I think it goes back to old people. Or those that are hard of hearing. I was visiting my dad at his old folks home the other day and was absolutely shocked to see they were involved in some hanky panky.
He yelled out to this older lady, "Do you have a hanky?"
She yelled back, "Panky?"
"No, Hanky"
I wish I could have put it on YouTube. I could have sold some super commercials.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

1927 Pet Gemetery

I've had occasion over the years to comment on how we pamper our pets. Both here and in the hereafter, with fancy tombs and rituals we don't even lavish on our grandparents. Among them things like turning their ashes into concrete and using them as a fake reef or even freeze-drying them into a non-taxidermied but still permanent object to have around the house.
All expensive options to be sure, but if you don't feel that's enough, you now have an option with even more pizzazz. Turn your pet into bling.
DNA2Diamond has a gem of a solution. Transform your pet into a diamond. They've already done it for human cremains but have recently found a growing and lucrative market for pet crystallizing.
From freeze-drying to crystals. It's like they're finally utilizing all that incredible instant coffee technology from the 60s.
DNA2Diamond basically takes the carbon from Fido's ashes and superheats and pressurizes it into an artificial man-made diamond. Or a man's-best-friend-made diamond. Bonus, the company says you don't actually have to wait for your pet to die. No, they won't put your whole pet in the machine alive. They use clumps of fur or feathers to do the deed.
The whole idea makes a certain sense. They say a diamond lasts forever, so why not Fifi? You could even have the diamond set in one of those expensive jeweled collars your precious Little Caesar is already wearing. And then pass the collar on to your next puppy and so on. The circle of life.
So I guess I get it with pets. But I'm interested in DNA2Diamond's claim that they've been doing this with human remains for a long time. One last charm for the charm bracelet you inherited from Granny?
And it is Granny?
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1926 Privateering

The great thing about technology is that as soon as someone comes out with one marvelous innovation, someone else comes out with one to undo it.
That's why it was interesting when a New York fashion designer recently unveiled a new line of veiling clothing called Stealth Wear. It renders wearers invisible to an unmanned drone's infrared cameras. A drone-proof hoodie sells for $473. Or, if you'd prefer the drone not see your lower half also, a full body burqa sells for $2,645.
Obviously, clothing for the rich and famous. Avoiding those paparazzi drones that we all know are right around the corner--- literally, now that the cost has come down.
Then there's the world of communication---and the desire not to be communicated with. It's a sad fact that the old-fashioned among us, with no wish to be tracked by private or public entities or enemies, have resisted the ubiquitous smartphone with all its GPS-enabled spyware. Which then stores all our private data in a hackable cloud.
But it's not like landlines make sense anymore. Even if you have one, you can't go anywhere with it. Enter the MIAMobi Silent Pocket. The MIA is capitalized, apparently to acknowledge the acronym of Missing In Action. Because that's what the silent pocket makes you.
Even switched off, a smartphone emits all kinds of data. In this case---the MIA silent pocket case that is---a nano-silver lining blocks out all incoming and outgoing transmissions. You can't get calls. But even your service provider doesn't know where you are. And yes, I said lined with nano-silver.
Me? I'm just hoping they can build a couple of those pockets into my infrared blocking clothing.
Then every data cloud of smartphone spyware will have a silver lining.
America, ya gotta love it.

1925 Peace of Food

We pretty much take modern times for granted. We're all of a height range that seems fairly constant. The only countries who don't get along with each other are in hot zones and stuff like that.
But it's interesting sometimes to take a larger historical perspective. Like recently France and Germany, twin powerhouses of the Euro-economy, celebrated a significant achievement; 50 years of unbroken peaceful coexistence.
It was actually 50 years of "official" Franco-German Friendship, as that last all-out war between them ended about 67 years ago. Still, Germany and France have been neighbors for centuries. And it's only the last 50 years they haven't been at war?
And we talk about the fractious middle east.
By comparison we've been pretty good buds with Canada for quite a while. Even if they do speak funny English.
Another interesting historical perspective. Our size and lifespan. In 1850, when Germany and France were really going at it, the average American male was 5 foot 7 and 146 pounds. In 1980, he was 5 feet 10 and 174 pounds.
We're also living a lot longer. When humans first emerged 200,000 years ago, the average life span was 20 years, give or take an occasional Methuselah. In 1900, it was 44 years. It took 200,000 years for us to gain 24 years. But in the last century that lifespan has shot to 80 years. A lot due to technological improvements in water, sewers, and suchlike.
And not a little because we aren't bringing down the average by waging huge world wars.
So thanks France and Germany for getting along. And thanks for the quintessential blending of food that made us great too. That sandwich from Hamburg, Germany, and those great fried potatoes from France.
Hamburgers and French Fries.
Like Peace on a Plate.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

1924 Chamber Potential

"Whatcha doing?" We used to say. To which the cool kids would reply, "None of your beeswax."
Well beeswax is smoking these days. And not just with organic honey compounds. With other organic stuff too. As in the green bushy type. As it's my duty to report on cultural changes, I once again ask your indulgence as we discuss the changing business landscape of cannabis in our state.
Cannabisness as I call it.
The other evening I was at a Chamber of Commerce event and two individuals were having a spirited discussion. They were throwing their hands in the air and making vertical and horizontal and graph-like gestures, so I was pretty certain they were either loaded or having a discussion about business.
They also had that glow on their faces that told me they were in a full entrepreneurial-enthusiastic high. The kind of flush like you just drew a flush in a poker game. The near certainty of success that sends a rush of blood speeding through your heart and facial arteries.
I wandered over a little closer to see what they were discussing. One of them said, "No, you could eliminate the black market problem easy. You just price it lower. Seven bucks a gram rather than twelve. It can't cost that much to produce."
"True," said the other, "and if you vertically integrate your supply and distribution, you cut out any excess labor costs and keep the price low there too."
"And once we work in other economies of scale, seven bucks is not out of reach. And customers will flock to standardization like they do to McDonalds."
The entrepreneurial spirit; alive and well in Washington.
Discussing cannabisness at the Chamber of Commerce.
How high we've fallen.
Is this what they mean by chamber pot?
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

1923 Making Out

Sometimes you gotta feel sorry for Big Banker CEO types. They just make one mistake and all of a sudden their boards slash their pay.
Now I'm not talking about local bankers, whose stewardship of client funds is well respected. Nor local banks themselves, which do wonders for their local communities by reinvesting money in them.
I'm talking about those really big guys who seem a little out of touch with the struggles of common folks. It's funny; they've been known to call themselves "makers." And the common folk "takers."
Even though some makers made it by taking from the supposed takers. Reference the 401K exploding financial crater of 2008.
In any event, you'd think the taker-makers would have learned a thing or two about risky investments and the consequences thereof. And their boards something about penalties for that behavior. Apparently not so much.
CEO Jamie Dimon is an example. He had his pay cut all right. Sorta. But he won't be in the soup kitchen anytime soon. It was cut because of a $6 billion loss caused by what JP Morgan Chase Bank's directors called a "serious mistake." Uh huh. I would call a $6 billion dollar loss of depositors' money a serious mistake.
As a result, he'll only take home $1.5 million in salary and $10 million in stock awards this year. Last year, pre-mistake, he took home a total of $23 million. So he took home about half and lost about $11.5 million.
I may not be a math wiz like Chase's Board. But I'm pretty sure 11.5 million is a small percentage of 6 billion. And he gets to keep his job.
He took us all pretty good.
Being a maker is hard work. You gotta be on the make for a sweet deal almost constantly.
America, ya gotta love it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1922 Clean Cups

I was reading a couple of articles the other day on the effects of our chemical laden environment on us and some interesting things came clear. One was that chemicals really can affect us deep. Like all the way down to our genes. And it doesn't have to totally alter our gene genes, just the way they turn off and on certain protein triggers. According to this theory, which they call epigenetics, the DDT our grandparents once used to virtually take showers in can cause asthma, allergies and autism in the current generation.
They're still making and using DDT in India. Killing malaria today seems more important than asthma in their grandchildren. Such are the choices we sometimes face. Perhaps we can help India by outsourcing some other pesticide to them.
Another chemical that's had a noticeable generational impact is lead. Seems "getting the lead out" is a good idea all around. Because by generational I mean this generation benefits from it's lack of use in everything from gasoline to toothpaste tubes. With a lower violent crime rate.
Violent crime rates began to soar in the 60's, then began a spectacular decline in the 90's which has continued ever since. And it's primarily due to adding and removing lead from gasoline. Seems inhaling microscopic lead vapors made us crazy as a mad hatter. Which, by the way, was a recognized occupational hazard of the hat making business even way back in the 1800s.
Hat makers would inhale lead vapors in the felting process and subsequently go bonkers. Perhaps Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter's Tea Party was an early environmental metaphor. Clean Cups and clean plates an allegory for cleaning up our act.
It helped lower violent crime, maybe it'll eventfully solve asthma, allergies and autism too.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1921 E-Fraudian

Since I often criticize trusting folks who enthusiastically adopt new computer technology (after, of course, they criticize me for not doing the same) it comes as sweet satisfaction when history bears me out.
A current app circulating on the app-of-the-week circuit is a prime example. It's called Facewash. Facewash does something fairly simple that used to be hard. It helps you search through your voluminous Facebook postings and scour off any offending posts or pictures.
This is good because you used to be either in college or a secure job and now you have to find a new job and your new employer is liable to ask for your Facebook or find it through other means and discover what a buffoon or drunken privates-posting sex maniac you were in your youth.
As Facebook has always made it hard to search your own site this app is a great improvement.
Facewash. Don't forget to scrub behind your years.
Another interesting factoid about those who fail to be skeptical about the safety of computers is this. Though E-filing has made tax season more bearable for us and the U.S. IRS, that convenience has come with a cost.
Recent findings at the Treasury Department indicate that e-filing has facilitated a surge in tax-identity theft; more than 1.1 million cases in 2011. That compares with a mere 51,700 back in 2008, when most folks used "unsafe" snail-mail.
It's cost the government $5.2 billion in bogus tax refunds. Wow. Someone needs to audit themselves.
But hey, if you get audited by them, now you have a great defense. It wasn't your return. Someone else came in on your unsecured home wi-fi network, and hacked your computer for your social security number.
Then stole all your family birth-dates, and mom's maiden name off Facebook.
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

1920 As Long As

I was reading my orange juice carton the other day. I had detected a lack of pulp in my freshly-poured glass and was searching for the pulp quantity designation label to confirm the evidence on my tongue.
In the course of my search I chanced upon another interesting phrase emblazoned on the package. It said: "Every eight-ounce glass has a banana's worth of potassium."
How nice. They're actually using a banana as a unit of measure. I wonder if it would work at the pharmacy.
"Help you sir?"
"Yes, I'd like a banana's worth of potassium, please. And could you put it in a childproof peel."
Or perhaps a new standard for carpentry. "Yeah, we want these walls to be a banana-and-a-half thick. Got a banana in your tool belt?"
"Yep, but I don't use it as a rule."
Maybe they could use it to rebrand Subway's signature sandwich. You could have the full banana or the half banana sandwich. Because apparently that would tell you as much as the word "footlong."
Seems Subway has been sub-par recently when it comes to inches. Researchers determined that Subway's "footlong" sandwich is nothing of the sort. Most of them are 11 or 11.5 inches. Far be it from me to say that 11 or 11.5 inches is in any way inadequate or unsatisfying. It's a lot larger than your ordinary banana. And at 11.5 inches does an additional half inch really matter?
Still, the response Subway subjected us to was substandard. They said the term "footlong" was not intended to be a measurement of length.
Silly me. Marrying the two words for length, foot and long, to indicate, um, length, seemed so obvious when I woke up this morning.
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, February 08, 2013

1919 Primarily Showroomed

As you probably know by now, I'm fascinated by words. Both old and new. In the last year we've had a couple of brand new doozies.
They call the process new word "coinage." Coining a word always seemed weird to me, as no forges or mints were involved. But I suppose it's the right expression to use, as words do start to circulate in the currency of language.
One word so circulating last year was the word "primary" used as a verb. As in, he was from a conservative district and he worried he would be primaried. Being primaried means that a big bucks special interest would come into a small district and bankroll an opponent from your party to run against you.
As primaries are affairs where traditionally an incumbent candidate can save money and effort, an outside big-bankrolled opponent is something to fear indeed. So like a senate filibuster, the mere threat of being primaried kept many more middle of the road candidates treading the line, for fear the rich extremist wingnuts of the party would strike them in their soft primary underbelly.
Another new word was showrooming. Showrooming is the practice of physically exploring, experimenting with, and handling a product in a brick and mortar store and then ordering it for less online.
The online retailers have less labor overheard, since they don't have to hire expert knowledgeable employees, and the store with the showroom is nearly bankrupt because all their sales are going to the lowest pricer.
Obviously an unsustainable business model. And why many degree holding experts are picking shelves at Amazon.
And why when you get swept into a cellphone sales kiosk at the mall you can't get out alive. Unless you have a new phone.
With an unlockable primary carrier of course.
America, ya gotta love it.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

1918 In Itself-Driving

It won't be long before we have a self-driving car. Computers are getting smarter and smarter and people are getting fed up with other people getting dumber and dumber. I hope when the smart car first takes the road, it's been programmed to be different than my teenager when he first drove. Poor kids. Somehow drivers training leaves them with the impression that other drivers follow the rules.
When we think of self-driving cars, of course we think of Google but other countries are in the race too. Like the early days of flight. And like the early days of flight it might be safe to steer clear for a while.
In any event the European Commission has come up with an entry into the idea bank. It's to have self-driving cars connect in a road train. Once connected, it's just the lead driver that has to do most of the worry. Because the lead car has a decision-making human in it. Like an engineer or a bus driver.
The Euros call it the Sartre project. Which is a little unsettling. Sartre being the key thinker in the existentialist philosophy movement. Which asks questions like: What is "self"? And where is it going?
And can you have a self-driving car if you don't know what self is?
It's a branch of thinking that puts a lot of emphasis on both the power of choice and the essential lack of choice we usually exert that leads to feelings of loss and angst as we all desperately cling to a meaningless existence.
Look out for that semi coming at us head on!!
One would hope the lead driver is picked carefully. And isn't some Stranger undergoing a mental Metamorphosis leading him to act as if there is No Exit.
America, ya gotta love it.

1917 State of Head

Once again the subject of marijuana is in the news. So of course I have to comment on it.
The reason this time is that the new law is creating all kinds of head-aches for the Washington State government. Our new Governor, Jay Inslee, has been consulting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about what, when, and where the law will be enforced or overruled.
How deliciously ironic that their names are Jay and Holder. It's like two characters in a Cheech and Chong movie.
Anyhow, while the smoke is clearing on that issue, the less high echelons of state government are plodding ahead trying to figure out the mechanics of the whole deal. They held a special public input meeting not long ago to seek advice.
One item that flared up was what to name the new agency. Its now called the State Liquor Control Board. A suggestion was made to somehow include the word cannabis in the name.
The State Liquor Cannabis Control board. Don't Bogart that control. Here's an idea. How about the State Regulated Substance Board? Then they could roll in cigarettes too.
Another burning topic of discussion was loans to cannabis businesses. Or cannabis-nesses as I call them. Marijuana-preneurs were worried that banks wouldn't do start-up loans to businesses engaged in the sale or consumption of pot. Which is odd, since banks lend money for new cocktail lounges and taverns all the time.
You'd think if you were getting in the business you'd be able to find investors. The black market marijuana industry was pretty robust. Still, the folks at the forum thought the state should have a block of money available.
Personally, I don't want government involved.
I think it should be a grassroots effort.
America, ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

1916 Spy Me Down

Read an interesting article recently. Seems the government is doing its best to stretch resources after all. The National Reconnaissance Office, AKA the NRO, a super secret spy organization, made NASA a surprise gift, two satellite telescopes.
Cool, you say, a couple of spy telescopes made for orbital surveillance, why, NASA will use them to spot a doomsday asteroid in no time.
Well, sarcasm aside, maybe so. Because apparently the NRO satellites have mirrors the same size as the one in the much ballyhooed Hubble telescope but offer a field of view 100 times as wide. So instead of looking at one thing in exquisite detail you can look at thousands at the same time.
And here's the weird thing. Remember how when the Hubble was launched with its flawed mirror and it was still better than anything out there? And remember the big rescue repair mission that made it even better? Well NASA astrophysics director Paul Harris says these new ones far exceed Hubble's quality.
Which means the spy agency uses technology far better than what supposedly leading edge NASA has or employs. Even though the satellites were built about a decode ago.
Even more disturbing, the spy agency is now fobbing them off as hand me downs. What kind of telescopes are they looking at us with now? These giveaways could point out a pimple of an pig's butt. What they have now will probably see a booger on a flea.
Kate Middleton can never go topless again.
Here's my question: Why is the leading space agency so far behind? And who's been in charge of the National Reconnaissance Office? I think it's time NASA hired him.
Someone call the headhunting firm.
Because there really is a doomsday asteroid somewhere...
America, ya gotta love it.

Monday, February 04, 2013

1915 Letting Go

I was having a conversation with someone on the phone the other night and it came time to end it. No particular tension on either side of the conversation, just one of those feelings I got that it was time to stop blathering. So I said, "Well, I'll let you go."
The person on the other end accepted that graciously, hung up, and we were on our merry respective ways.
But naturally, I thought about that phrase I used. How neither of us had expressed any desire to be freed in any way. Certainly not the other person, who would have continued the conversation indefinitely. It was me who wanted to go. Or actually be let go.
Funny, when you "let someone go" the implication is they are struggling on some level to be free. And it's their choice. And you are just nicely acceding to their unspoken request. But the truth is, when we use the phrase, we are usually the ones anxious to take a powder.
Another phrase I don't get at all. Take a powder. As in go to the powder room? That place your mom and aunt and grandmother always went to "powder their noses." Which never looked any more or less shiny when they returned?
Or take a powder as in some sleeping potion? Ready to knock yourself out and retire for the evening.
And when you tell someone to take a powder it's worse. Like "let you go" is the passive/aggressive euphemism for firing someone. "Sorry George, we're going to have to let you go."
"But gee Boss, I don't want to go anywhere. So you don't have to let me. I'll just stay if it's all the same to you."
"Sorry. When you first came here you were fired up. Now you're just fired. Take a powder."
America, ya gotta love it.

Friday, February 01, 2013

1914 ReTired

I heard someone talking recently about the act of preparing for retirement. And she said, "...You know, getting ready to enjoy life."
I thought, how sad. Really? You can't enjoy life when you're working? How bad that you have to keep a job that you don't like and spend all your days dreaming of the time you can stop.
Probably never happen to me. For some reason I hate the idea of being retired. Maybe because I'm such a tightwad, I enjoy anything that'll lead to making a little extra coin I can squeeze. I believe I know just about each and every synonym of “tightwad” too. And by the way, I have no idea what compressing a ball of Kleenex has to do with legitimate savings.
Anyhow, there's words like miser and skinflint. Us thrifty folk apparently also have the ability to slough off insults too. Our skin, hard as flint, must be that way because it's thick.
We're also sometimes called savers, but more often squirrels or magpies. Two very noble frugal folk from the animal kingdom.
We're also economical, cautious, prudent, skimping and--- my favorite---parsimonious. I believe parsimonious is a Latin word that means penny-pinching. I can pinch mine till Lincoln screams.
I come by it honestly. Our childhood shapes us. One of our favorite fun family outings was going to the drive-in theatre. That meant one thing. To save on admission costs, one of us kids got to ride in the trunk.
That child was usually me. It was also the time I learned to develop that thick skin of us skinflinters. Because I also learned I wasn't the favorite child.
Sometimes, they didn't let me out.
I'd fall asleep on the spare, and my brother would joke that I was re-tired for the evening...
America, ya gotta love it.