Friday, July 14, 2006

Helping in My Own Little Way

The Internet is a wonderful and powerful thing, as anyone who has a My Space account knows. But even better than that, is the way we can use it to help others with problems they are facing in life, even if we don't know we're helping.
Two such incidents occurred a few days ago. A check of my Stat Counter (at the bottom of the screen) turned up a couple of unsuspecting souls who stumbled across the Sick blog purely by accident. As we know, Blogger is a Google subsidiary, so anything that gets "googled" gets back to our blogs. The poor souls were looking for a solution to a common household problem "how to kill thousand-legger insects in the home", when that ridiculous post from June 20 came up in the search, and offered no solution at all.
My Sick Mind: June 2006
For some reason, they elected to drive him home to St. Paul without testing him or charging him with ... "Thousand-legger" insects actually have 998 legs. - 145k - Cached - Similar pages
The interesting thing is, they both clicked on the link, so one wonders if they really needed to know all that junk. I don't know if they ever found out how to rid their homes of the dreaded millipedes, but somehow I think their lives were enriched far beyond the limited scope of their search.
If they managed to kill the bugs, I wonder if they turned them over and started counting?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Power of the Media

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Meerkats actively teach their young how to catch and eat their prey, British researchers said in a study that is one of the first to prove that animals show such complex behavior. Meerkats are a type of mongoose and live in groups of three to 40 in dry regions of southern Africa. Each group includes a dominant male and female who produce 80 percent of the pups, and older animals that help to watch over and rear the young.
Three years ago, did any of us even know WTF a Meerkat was? If Meerkats were suddenly declared an endangered species, would any of us know if it was a bug, cat or a TV star? I haven't seen that "Meerkat Manor" show, but people tell me it's good.
Things creep up on us that have been around for years, but because of TV, we are suddenly drawn to them, and they gain popularity because of the attention. Lots of things happen that way: Sun-dried tomatoes, poker, choppers, Bo Bice, Republicans, Ann Coulter and even stuff that isn't on TV, like pomegranite juice. What am I missing? I can think of plenty of things that aren't popular now, but may be later, that I could capatalize on:
America Drives the Speed Limit - Contestants line up and challenge the 25mph residential speed limit. Hilarity ensues as the cops from the Cops TV show intervene and pull-over the 35-in-a-25 group.
Asparagus Challenge - Wolfgang Puck makes asparagus omlettes for a group of Weight-Watchers members to see how many can identify the vegetable.
The SoCo Show- Groups of single adults are fed Southern Comfort and cranberry juice for an hour until the match-making begins. They are judged by which of the less-attractive bond with the more-attractive.
That's My Democrat - A democrat is elected to a federal office and the nation watches as progress begins. Where will it end? A balanced budget, energy independence and free elections for starters.
Politeness Man - A group of consumers are set loose in a mall and the winner is the one who yields to the one walking the opposite way without bumping into them.
French Idol - Contestants take turns insulting a Frenchman and the winner is the one who can survive the ensuing head-butt. WARNING: Contains Soccer.
Tuesday Night Football - Division III colleges compete in gambing-only games. Viewers are only allowed to watch if they are gambling on the game. Tuesday, November 14th - Widener University vs. Elizabethtown.
23 - An investigative report highlighting a detective who works hard, but takes a nap for an hour.
Triangle of Fortune - Contestants try to spell words and spin a triangular-shaped wheel that stops in the same place every time, hopefully it isn't the BANKRUPT spot.
CSI: New Hope - Detectives try to find out what made people visiting New Hope, Pennsylvania refuse to buy expensive art without bartering with the shop owner. [Syndicated].
America Does Laundry - Contestants line-up to do my laundry. I don't care who wins.
There are hundreds of channels in need of programming. How else to explain dominoes and paintball on TV, so who could argue with The Laundry Channel?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No Incentive

WASHINGTON - High gasoline prices may dent economic growth, but consumers' fuel appetite is still strong. Those trends are likely to persist, experts said, as average nationwide pump prices approach $3 a gallon — a threshold once feared to be disastrous for motorists and potentially the economy. Citigroup Smith Barney senior economist Steven Wieting said the conventional wisdom that $3-a-gallon was some kind of tipping point "has been largely overstated."
Largely overstated. Nice. Apparently, conventional wisdom isn't what it used to be. Here in the Garden State, prices are hovering around the $3 mark. We have to drive to work, school or the mall because we are either ignorant of or unwilling to use public transportation, or the public transportation that we have does not take us directly to work, school or the mall, and our fat asses cannot stand the walk. At least one high-thinker has it figured out:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, blamed disappointing June sales on the fact that its shoppers had less discretionary income because of rising energy prices and interest rates.
No kidding. That's why Wal-Mart is the industry leader, because they can figure out stuff like that. As we saw yesterday, millions of Americans (who just might be Wal-Mart shoppers) haven't had a pay increase since 1997, so where do they think the "discretionary income" is coming from? I use my discretion to pay my mortgage, taxes and utilities. Discretion I have; it's the income that lags.
But the good news...More Holes!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate will vote this month on a bill to open about 8 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida to oil and natural gas drilling after Republican leaders on Wednesday agreed to bar drilling closer than 125 miles from Florida's coast until 2022.
"Republican leaders" - isn't that an oxymoron? Ya gotta love that Senate with their well-placed priorities. Meanwhile, we provide no incentive for the oil companies to lower the price, so keep driving folks, because the people selling us the oil can plainly see that they have us by the shorties. Three dollars, four ... whatever. They know we need it and we know we need it. The best solution our "leaders" can come up with is to drill holes in anything that isn't a fetus, while Cheney's pals at Halliburton put up record earnings.
This is pathetic.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Bad News and the Worse News

The elderly will face another double-digit rise in their Medicare premiums next year, resulting in monthly payments of nearly $100. The monthly premiums for supplementary medical insurance will rise from $88.50 to at least $98.40, the Bush administration projected Tuesday. That's an 11.2 percent increase, and it's possible the amount will be slightly higher.
The House voted Tuesday to forbid the use of credit cards to settle online bets, an effort to halt mushrooming interest in Internet gambling. Opponents said it wouldn't work and decried exceptions for state-run lotteries and a horse racing industry that has powerful patrons in Congress. The vote was 317-93. "The House has acted very strongly on this measure," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, [R-Va], one of the bill's lead sponsors. "I think that should send a strong signal that we need for the Senate to act."
At least our Congress has their priorities straight. How about a "strong signal" that the elderly can afford health care, which is pretty much the only thing they can count on using at some time. As a point of reference, last year Social Security benefits increased 4.1%, putting our old folks 7% behind. Not to mention the skyrocketing costs of gasoline, property taxes and life in general; the old-timers will have to barricade themselves inside their homes. Don't get old, gang; or if you plan on it, save those soon-to-be worthless pennies.
But the good news is, we're putting the clamps on that Internet gambling thing. How did that even become an issue? Do you think there might be a few other things our Congress should be addressing other than people who like to gamble on-line? Such as:
Developing alternative-fueled vehicles
Finding a way to lower the federal budget deficit
Getting our troops the Hell out of the Middle East
Figuring out how to make higher education more affordable
Protecting our environment
Working on a plan to have honest, reliable elections
You get the idea. Not to mention the Senate's failure to pass an increase to the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 since 1997. That's 9 years, at $10,300 a year. Do we see a trend here? Continued suppression of both the low-end of the economic scale and the elderly. If you are in the middle somewhere, count your blessings, because they will soon come for you, too. All that will be left are George Bush, his family, friends, the heirs of Dick Cheney - and all the people just like them. You know, the ones who like to make it so that there is a huge difference between them and the rest of us.
It's all part of the federal government's Cradle-to-the-Grave Poverty Plan, or as the Bush Administration would phrase it, "The Grey Skies Initiative".
So far, it is a rousing success.
Excuse me, while I kiss my ass goodbye.

This is Why I'm Still Single

This ridiculous story from London showed up on Yahoo today, purportedly giving eligible (desperate) men everywhere the keys to unlocking the hearts of eligible (desperate) women everywhere.
LONDON (Reuters) - "Was your father a thief? Because he stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes." Equipped with that chat-up line, you can be certain to score in the universal language of love. So say the authors of a new top 10 of chat-up lines which have been translated from English into Czech, French, Italian, Spanish and German by the publishers Chambers.
If their top-rated suggestion does not have the desired effect, then try in one of six languages to say: "Didn't it hurt when you fell from heaven?"
Or maybe: "You must be tired because you've been running through my mind all day."
Scraping in at Number 10 in the romance parade comes "The only things your eyes haven't told me is your name."
Alright, so I'll be certain to score in the universal language of love, eh? That's a relief. Here, I've been trying to do it the uncertain way by being a gentleman and making genuine conversation. What a goof! All I need are those ten simple phrases, and you're all putty in my hands. I feel much better now.
That may be true if I was aiming low, but I have a feeling that any woman who fell for one of those dopey lines probably wouldn't be worth knowing anyway. However, my field may be narrowed by the language barrier (not to mention the mental and physical barriers), so perhaps a change of tone might work?
Maybe if I tried the "heaven" line in Portugese? Não fez machuca quando caiu de céu? Or Italian: Ha fatto non ha doluto quando lei è caduto dal cielo? Too complicated.
Maybe I'll just stick with my old stand-by: "Pardon me, but I seem to have lost my Congressional Medal of Honor around here somewhere." I don't know how to say it in Spanish, so I may be missing something.
Girls, I implore you, help a brotha out!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Smile, Goddammit!

LONDON (AFP) - Some 2,000 pupils at English state schools are to have special classes in happiness under a pilot scheme aimed at cutting depression, self-harm and anti-social behavior. "The move comes as experts warn that record numbers of young people are on the verge of mental breakdown as a result of family break-up, exam pressures and growing inability to cope with the pressures of modern life," the report said.
OK, kids ... Lesson number 1 ... It doesn't get any easier. Families will still break-up, exam pressures are replaced by work pressures and the pressures of modern life don't change much once you become an adult. If it takes a breathing lesson or a role-playing exercise to get you through it, more power to you. To me, it sounds like turning the radio up when you hear a noise in your car. A symptom is treated while the disease goes merrily onward.
What is really sad is that kids are feeling the pressures of modern life. I don't remember going through any of that, so maybe the world is changing after all. There is a limited amount of time in our lives where we can relax and let the world revolve around us, and that time draws to a close once we get near adulthood. One aspect of modern life piles on top of the other, until sometimes the pressure gets too much to bear for even the strongest.
A lifetime of work is followed by the promise of severe government-funded poverty in our "Golden Years". Drive past a gas station, look at your property tax bill, pay for cable TV, cell phones and other such modern necessities and the whole "modern life" scenario looks less and less appealing. To see that children are having trouble coping now doesn't bode well for the rest of their lives.
Coping with societal-induced depression is a noble cause, but I have to wonder why it is necessary at all. Perhaps the children aren't the ones who need to change.
Not very funny today. Sorry.