Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cupped Up!

I think I need to get more involved in this World Cup thing ...

They're playing soccer, right?
I think I'm rooting for Argentina.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Those Whacky Animals!

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Scientists are mystified at the carcass of a young beluga whale found in a river in central Alaska, nearly 1,000 miles from its natural ocean habitat. The first guess is the 8-foot-long whale, which often feed on fish in estuaries and the mouths of rivers, swam away from the ocean in search of food. "What are the alternatives?" asked Link Olson, curator of the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
Mystified? One alternative is that the whale is a dumb ass. Have you ever seen a homeless person wandering the streets in search of food? Of course you have. Why is it so hard to believe that a whale could be demented enough to not understand where he is? C'mon Link, think outside the box.
Meanwhile ... cats are going nuts...
Jack, a 15-pound orange-and-white cat, cat sits under a treed black bear in a backyard in West Milford, N.J., Sunday, June 4, 2006. When the bear climbed down, the cat chased it up another nearby tree. Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat. The cat's owners called it away and the bear ran off. (AP Photo/Suzanne Giovanetti).
Now that Jack the Cat is finished with his bear chasing duties, I have another job for him. Find this grey-haired jackass and chase him up a tree...

I don't know what's going on here, but it sure is an interesting photo...Actresses Rosa Blasi (L) and Lisa Ann Walter sing and dance as they perform 'Dance 10, Looks 4' at the 'What A Pair! 4' celebration of duets in Los Angeles June 11, 2006. The event features songs from Broadway sung by women in a benefit for breast cancer research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Governing Without a Helmet

As most of you know, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger survived his brush with a windshield after crashing his motorcycle into an oncoming vehicle. As is natural in these situations, we seek to blame someone other than the people responsible, and that low-water point has sought and found Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell, who repealed the helmet law to make it optional to wear them while riding. Twenty states have full helmet laws for all riders, including my home state of New Jersey.
During his appearance on WIP's morning show today, the governor defended his position by saying that bikers expressed their concern thusly (paraphrased): "We're responsible adults - and when we're on a highway or a country road we want to be able to ride without a helmet. During the summer, a helmet is oppressive." He also went on to explain that he wants people to be able to make their own choices, as long as the government makes us aware of the risks involved. That's a worthy argument, if it were not fraught with contradiction.
Let's say, for the sake of this argument, that I am a responsible adult. As such, I would also like to be able to make my own choices, and if I am aware of the risk, I should be able to make a decision about my own behavior, as long as that behavior affects only me.
This includes (but is not limited to) wearing a seat belt in my car. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania require them, and currently we are going through a fund-raising effort sponsored by our state police that they call "Click It Or Ticket", which threatens us with fines if we fail to fasten our seat belt while driving. I use mine, because I think it makes sense, but I do not need the state threatening me with a fine if I choose to risk a skull injury by not clicking it.
Following Rendell's logic, I should be able to engage in a variety of in-house practices, as long as I do not endanger others, up to and including the consumption of illegal drugs, sodomy, gambling and perhaps even on-line poker. Perhaps the governor should adopt a policy of "in the privacy of your own home" and invite all the heathens and their enablers to join the party? Quickly, Pennsylvania would become the most densly populated state in the union. But, it will never happen. Why? Because sodomites and drug users have a weak lobby.
Somehow, the helmet-less riders persuaded the governor to repeal the law. Now, we find that it is not Ben's fault - or even the driver of the car he hit - it is the governor who allowed riders to do as they please. That would be a worthy excuse if the governor exercised the same judgment when it came to other habits and vices, but it doesn't seem to work that way.
Maybe it's just a case of Ben's bad judgment combined with his social status? After all, if it wasn't an accident involving a celebrity, it would be just another schmuck on a bike and not front-page news, and Ed wouldn't have to appear on morning radio to defend himself.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Odds and Ends

Now, as it turns out, Ben Roethlisberger did not have a valid Pennsylvania motorcycle license. So, I guess that throws the whole helmet/no helmet debate out the window? Why bother wearing a helmet if you're not riding legally to begin with? Meanwhile, there's money to be wasted...
WASHINGTON - The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found. Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.
Is anyone surprized? Meanwhile, the White House has gay marriage back in its sights. Where are the priorities?
Carol Falkowski, director of research communications for the Hazelden Foundation, says young abusers of prescription drugs also have begun using the Internet to share "recipes" for getting high. Falkowski, whose foundation is a treatment center based in Center City, Minn., says prescription pills have become popular among youths because they are easy to get and represent a more socially acceptable way of getting high than taking street drugs. Some kids, she says, are self-medicating undiagnosed depression or anxiety, while others are using stimulants to try to get an edge on tests and studying.
Why not? Turn on your TV and there is an ad for some drug or other, telling you to "ask your doctor" if it is right for you. Why bother asking, when you can get it yourself? Hey ... as long as the kids aren't using pot or cocaine... They're better off in the hands of Pfizer or Glaxo, right?
And, don't try calling them to see if they're at a pill party...
Students are using a new ring tone to receive messages in class -- and many teachers can't even hear the ring. Some students are downloading a ring tone off the Internet that is too high-pitched to be heard by most adults. With it, high schoolers can receive text message alerts on their cell phones without the teacher knowing.
Geez ... it sucks getting old.
Heather Mills McCartney, the estranged wife of Paul McCartney, said Tuesday the couple will divorce, and that she plans to sue newspapers that have been digging into her past, according to a statement released by her lawyers. The couple had not mentioned "divorce" when they announced May 17 that they had "decided to go our separate ways" after four years of marriage.
Since that announcement, she has been the subject of several unflattering newspaper articles that included pictures of her in naked or semi-naked poses.
I don't think she has a leg to stand on. Yeah, I know ... but check the title of the blog.

Monday, June 12, 2006

If a Soccer Ball Falls in the Forest, and No One Sees It...

Standing near an RV in the infield at a NASCAR race, the subject of soccer and the World Cup came up, quite unexpectedly. "What's the World Cup?" asked race fan Rich Possinger. OK, so he admitted he actually did know a thing about the world's biggest sporting event. But like many fellow Americans, Possinger was not setting aside time to watch the U.S. team, which took the field for its first game Monday. "I'm waiting for the bug to bite," he said, "and it hasn't yet."
An excellent question, Rich. What is the World Cup? Is it a lousy TV program, an idea whose time has not come and may never come or is it just another excuse for people to get together and drink? It's all of those things, and more.
But the one thing it isn't is interesting to Americans. Somehow, big media and big business have not succeeded in forcing Americans to embrace a game that the rest of the world seems to love. And what's not to love? It's low scoring, played on a really big field and has precious little physical contact. Sounds like a perfect fit for short-attention-span afflicted American TV viewers - or not.
Nevertheless, our big city newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, has seen fit to send one of its better writers off to Germany to cover the games. That's nice, but is anyone reading it? I'm guessing that if the television ratings are dismal, then the newspaper ratings are even lower. The only thing more boring than watching soccer is reading about it.
2006 FIFA World Cup opening weekend from Germany delivered an average 2.8 rating based on overnight ratings in the metered markets.
In contrast, NASCAR rain delay coverage from Talladega a few weeks ago garnered a 4.5 rating. Rain delay coverage. Twice as many Americans would rather watch rain delay coverage of a NASCAR race than soccer. I guess that's why they play soccer in the rain.
So, if you're all charged up about the World Cup, and can't wait for that big Sweden vs. Paraguay match-up, enjoy - but don't expect it to be hot conversation around the water cooler at work. My guess is, that if you are charged up about it, you are a native of one of those countries, and you have a rooting interest. Here in America, we are confused over our nationality.
Are we supposed to root for Italy, if our ancestors are from Italy, or America where we pay taxes? We choose not to care, which makes the decision much easier.
Wait ... I think the NASCAR qualifying in Michigan this week might be rained out. Lucky I have TIVO.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Scourge of Our Nation

TABERNACLE, NJ - An invasion of gypsy moths has been destroying thousands of acres of New Jersey forests in the span of a month, setting the state up for its worst outbreak since the caterpillars defoliated 140,000 acres in 2001. And that's disrupting life for numerous Garden State residents, such as Bruce Long, who can't get the concrete patio around his pool clean. A power washer can't even get rid of the feces stains left by the gypsy moth caterpillars that invaded his yard, and the thousands of caterpillars he's killed cover his land. "It's like something out of a horror movie," the 55-year-old sales manager told Gannett New Jersey for Saturday's editions. "It's the grossest thing I've seen in my life."
Oh, my what a shame. Pooor Brucie can't keep his pool clean because the gypsy moths - that he probably chased out as a result of building his home in the woods - are invading his precious property. Suck it up, Bruce. The moths were here first.
It cannot possibly be the grossest thing you've ever seen, but it sure looks good in the newspaper. As for me, tearing down acres of woodland to build half-million dollar homes is much "grosser" than a little gypsy moth poop on your diving board. These people kill me, and their incessant whining has encouraged the governor to allocate $750,000 to ease their suffering. The money - my money - would be better spent on psychological counseling and a bottle of pills.
I'm 7 years younger than you, Bruce, and we went through this in the 1980s, but I can't imagine that you were here for that. The state paid to have the trees sprayed, and it turned out that the trees won by repelling the moths on their own. Nature found a way to combat the problem without our help, or in spite of it. Meanwhile, the state wasted a ton of money to appease a panicked populace.
If you want to see something out of a horror movie, my dear boy, take a look at your property tax bill. Maybe the moths would like a crack at that?