Saturday, August 26, 2006

Scratch This

I know that banking is a business (or industry, depending upon your source) and that competition is fierce, but do we really need this?
For those of you with either poor eyesight or who live outside the Philadelphia metropolitan area, Citizens Bank is running a promotion, the ad for which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, and is shown above.
For the record, it says: Come to any Citizens bank branch today to enter the Citizens Bank Lucky Zero Home Equity Sweepstakes. It goes on to say that "you can't lose" and that all you have to do is mail in your "lucky" card and you'll have a chance at one of the 15 grand prizes of 0% APR Home Equity Loans. But, you'll have to hurry!
Perhaps you can click on it and read it in its larger form. I scanned it from the newspaper ad and posted it here, more for the sake of posterity than accuracy.
They are running a scratch-off game, in which contestants (i.e. customers) can go into a local Citizens Bank branch and get a game card, scratch it off and get a great deal on a loan from the bank.

This lottery deal has gotten way out of hand, folks. First, the states got into the business of numbers running, under the guise of helping fund the state's budget. Now, banks are running games of chance for their customers (prospective or otherwise) to get them to come into the bank, with the hope that they will be the lucky "winner". The whole thing sounds kind of cheap and beneath something that a financial institution should be involved with. How about just doing business with us? How does that sound?

It sceeves me to think that a bank would stoop so low as to go about attracting business by participating in a scratch-off game. Lucky Zero ... you got that right. It sounds to me like the lucky one is the bank ... but I have a sick mind, so form your own opinion.

Although, I suppose they are living up to their marketing theme of being "Not your typical bank".

Maybe I want something a little more typical and a lot more honorable.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Is it Friday or Monday?

Try as I might, I couldn't stay away from my favorite form of self-expression.
I was watching a special "Friday Night Edition of Monday Night Football" on ESPN, when the sheer absurdity of the title prompted me to turn off the TV and seek refuge here.
I ran to the Stat Counter to see how many readers I had today, and I was once again drawn to the methods with which people stumble upon this little portal. Among them:
Paula Creamer hairy arm
man pours gasoline on wife in t-mobile store
Dallas sucks T.O. swallows
and, the ubiquitous
Cecily Tynan.
A suggestion to the web searchers: Use the quotation marks. It will narrow down your search, since I'm quite sure I've never written about Paula's arms nor a T-Mobile gasoline incident.
As far as Cecily is concerned, there seems to be a lot of interest - almost all of it somewhere in the greater Philadelphia region, so I can't help but wonder if it's one of her "people" checking to see what the Blogosphere is saying about the girl. Lucky for me, it's never deragotory. Although now, I'm sure I'll come up in a "Cecily Tynan sucks" search.
However, I am still confounded by the arrogance of the local weather people, who today called for a 20% chance of rain. Twenty percent? What does that mean? Either you think it's going to rain or not. Twenty percent is bullshit.
So, thanks Blogosphere, for salving my ills. For the record, I am willing to accept Pluto as a planet. Come aboard. As for Paula, you're still first in my heart - hairy arms (allegedly), pink golf clubs and all - ... even though you're in Dublin, Ohio, tied for eighth.

For the record ... I don't see any hair.

Friday Stuff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge has temporarily barred a producer from selling songs recorded by "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks when he was still just a gray-haired bar crooner from Alabama. A sworn statement by Hicks' attorney, Michael J. Douglas, said the recordings were poor-quality demos. Distributing them could damage Hicks' reputation in the music industry and cause him "immense irreparable financial harm," the statement said.

They should have thought of that before they recorded that lame Ford commercial - which I notice is still using the same music, sans the scratchy voice and lame twitchy-spinning dancing.

Hicks' suit says the songs were recorded in 1997, but Smith said Hicks recorded them in June 2001.

Hmmmm ... is that because we might find out that he is 4 years older than he says he is, and as such, not eligible for the "American Idol" crown?

...but the good news

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Milwaukee has been ranked by as "America's Drunkest City" on a list of 35 major metropolitan areas ranked for their drinking habits.

Minneapolis-St. Paul was ranked second overall; followed by Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Austin, Texas; Chicago; Cleveland; Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia and Providence, R.I., in a tie for ninth.

C'mon ... ninth? We can do better if we apply ourselves. Although Austin will be tough to beat!

And what's up with Columbus? Where's my peeps from Ohio with an explanation?


PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Pluto, beloved by some as a cosmic underdog but scorned by astronomers who considered it too dinky and distant, was unceremoniously stripped of its status as a planet Thursday.

Poor little Pluto. I'm scrapping my vacation plans. I wouldn't be caught dead in no half-assed dinky dwarf world. It's bad enough I'm in New Jersey.

All I can say is ... keep your eye on Uranus.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Today's Stupid Thing

According to the Suffolk County District Attorneys office, in Riverhead, N.Y., Annie Donnelly, 38; stole $2.3 million from her employers and spent the money on lottery tickets, buying as much as $6,000 worth of tickets a day in a bid to hit the jackpot, prosecutors said on Thursday. Annie Donnelly, 38, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing the money over 3 1/2 years from her employer, Great South Bay Surgical Associates, where she was a bookkeeper. She was spending about $6,000 on lottery tickets a day, a spokeswoman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's office said. It was not clear how much, if any, she won.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I knew I could steal $2.3 million, why would I spend it on lottery tickets? Could the lottery prize be that much more? I think we have found the definition of "compulsive gambler" or "asshat".

Take a Pill

According to WebMD, these are the top 10 prescription drugs that America is taking, and the conditions they are meant to treat:

1 - LEXAPRO Anti-depressant
2 - ZOLOFT Anti-depressant
3 - PREDNISONE Corticosteroid
5 - CYMBALTA Anti-depressant
6 - XANAX Anxiety and panic disorders
7 - WELLBUTRIN Anti-depressant
8 - EFFEXOR Anti-depressant
9 - VICODIN Pain
10 - LIPITOR Cholesterol

Do we notice a trend here? America is in pain, and it makes them sad. A recent nationwide story revealed that more than 40 percent of Americans are taking at least one prescription. About one in six people is taking three or more prescriptions. Three or more?

Think about it - arthritis, pain, depression, cholesterol, high-blood pressure and contraceptives - between those conditions there are enough pills to fit 40 percent of us. It probably isn't very difficult to get your doctor to prescribe at least two of these. Especially if we consider that if you are sad, there must be a pill that can treat it, and if your diet stinks you may as well take a pill. Why attempt to change your life when we can give you something to take every day that will provide a temporary solution to a permanent problem?

Maybe we're depressed because we're in so much debt that we can't manage, don't make enough money to keep up with inflation, have too many kids, hate the government, worry about the future, work ourselves to death and need the Internet to find a date? Can a pill change any of that?

Eat right, get some exercise and make a few friends. That sounds like a lot of work. Pills are easier. We're a fat, lazy country of convenience and nothing is more convenient than a pill.

There are undoubtedly situations where real medical conditions exist, but really - 40 pecent? Was America so sad 20 years ago that we couldn't wait for at least 5 different medications to relieve our sadness? The world isn't really any different today. It's just that there are more pharmeceutical companies anxious to capitalize on your pain, anxiety and clogged arteries. They see a market and have exploited it.

We spend countless hours complaining about the big oil companies for jacking up the price of gasoline, but not a minute is spent on Pfizer, Merck, Glaxo or Bristol-Myers.

It's probably because we're in a pill-induced stupor and cannot form enough complete sentences to write a letter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power

Today's vocabulary word is a common word, something you find around work, school or maybe even around the house. I'll offer some clues, and let's see if you can unscramble today's word.

Clicking on the blue links will provide a premature answer - so save them till the end!

Microsoft Word tries to separate it into two words, or change it to sashay or ascot.

There is a web site devoted to one, with a picture of President Bush on the home page.

You can buy a t-shirt with one on the front...

...or buy a CD with a song title that is one.

A YouTube search will yield 46 results.

You can even do a news story search and find one.

You can find it in the Urban Dictionary...

...or read Carmen's blog, where it has common usage.

If you are still wondering what it is;

It could also be defined this way ...

Cook County prosecutors say a 29-year-old man traveling with his mother desperately didn't want her to know he'd packed a sexual aid for their trip to Turkey. So he told security it was a bomb, officials said. Madin Azad Amin was stopped by officials on Aug. 16 after guards found an object in his baggage that resembled a grenade, prosecutors said. When officers asked him to identify it, Amin said it was a bomb, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto.
He later told officials he'd lied about the item because his mother was nearby and he didn't want her to hear that it was part of a penis pump, Scaduto said. He's been charged with felony disorderly conduct, said Andrew Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County state's attorney's office. Amin faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

If you're still wondering ... click here for the fascinating conclusion, and remember ... if you use it in a sentence three times, it's yours forever!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ya Gotta Love Those Kids

I like to look at the Stat Counter at the bottom of the screen, to see where my readers are coming from. Some of you I know, but the ones I don't are intriguing to me. As we know, Blogger is owned by Google, so the searches on the world's most popular search engine will show our little blogs as well as other research sites.
After two posts about the Little League World Series, I had a reader come up as a result of searching "Little League fucking" which makes me think about my audience more than I'd like.
Others came about from "Little League obscenity" which is more reasonable. I've also had more than a few hits as a result of searching for local weather-caster Cecily Tynan, and probably one more today, if the angry "anonymous" post from something I wrote a long time ago is any indication.
Whenever I rant about Dubya, I get a search originating from Federal Triangle in good-old D.C. That makes me cringe a bit, but I figure I have the Constitution to lean on - for now.
In the relatively short time I've been doing this, nothing has sparked as much interest as the posts from the past 2 days about the Little League World Series, and the accompaning obscenity muttered by a kid in the heat of battle. People can get really worked-up over language. So much so, that it is difficult to find out the name of the kid who said it, but the word is easy to find. A comment artist who refers to himself as "anonymous" had a lot to say on the issue, most of it irrelevant, but most of it at least was spelled correctly.
But, ya gotta love those kids. Perhaps more than the random name of a porno actress, they have attracted lots of readers to this little disaster area of the Internet. Thanks, kids. The next round of snow cones is on me!
Say "fuck" again so I can break 6,000 page views!
Oh ... umm ... how about that kid in the photo at the top of the post. Do you think he knew what he was doing? He's probably from California. Was that gesture obscene? Maybe his manager should have smacked him, too? It's a shame ESPN's cameras didn't pick up what he was saying while he was making a phallic gesture to the opposition.
Where's "anonymous" when I need him?

A Little Follow-Up

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Staten Island manager Nick Doscher and one of his players were reprimanded by Little League World Series organizers Monday following an incident during the New York team's 1-0 loss to Lemont, Ill., in which the player yelled an obscenity and Doscher responded by striking him. Staten Island, trailing by a run, had just turned a double play in the top of the sixth when the unidentified player swore as the players huddled in the dugout before the team's final turn at-bat.

The obscenity was clearly heard on ESPN's prime-time broadcast of the game, just before the network cut to commercial. It appeared that Doscher then struck the player with an open hand.

"Little League International was extremely disappointed in the behaviour of the player and coach involved in the incident," the organization said in a statement.

"Because the incident was not noticed by any umpire, the Little League International Tournament Committee has reprimanded the player and manager. Both have been advised that any further similar or unsportsmanlike behaviour will result in removal from the Little League International Tournament."

Neither Doscher nor the player were immediately available for comment. The team planned a dinner off Little League grounds Monday night.

ESPN said it has decided to use a five-second delay for remaining Little League broadcasts.

They're 12 years old.

Apparently, the manager fails to realize that, too. For those of you who didn't hear it, the kid yelled to his teammates, "We only need one fucking run!" Which, of course was true. His choice of language could be debated, but you know, he's 12.

As often the case, it is the adult who needs to be reprimanded. He's not 12 and should know better. Since the umpires didn't see it, the only offense was in putting it on television, which gets back to my original point that the games probably don't belong on TV in the first place.

Kids are going to say things. He probably hears it a thousand times on the playground, and maybe even hears it in his home from his parents (or legal guardians). It's only that it was on TV that anyone seems to care or even notice, for that matter.

Get the games off television and there won't be a problem.

They're 12 years old.

Monday, August 21, 2006

They Buried the Lead

We still aren't sure if the networks jumped the gun in reporting that JonBenet Ramsey's killer had been aprehended (since his story is full of holes) but the creepy little guy had a much more interesting back-story that newspapers and television glossed over. This was the last paragraph in the Philadelphia Inquirer's lengthy story today:

Hours before Karr's departure, a doctor at a seedy but popular clinic in downtown Bangkok specializing in sex-change surgery said Karr had come in for treatment. "He was one of my patients," Thep Vechavisit of the Pratunam Polyclinic said. He refused to provide further details. Bangkok, where Karr lived on and off for two years, is regarded as a major global center for sex-change operations. The Pratunam clinic advertises sex-change surgery for $1,625 - a bargain compared with U.S. prices, where male-to-female reassignment surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

First, I'm not sure that I would be looking for a bargain where sex-change surgery is concerned, especially when the operation is going to take place in a city named Bangkok. When the issue is anything that concerns the delicate nether regions, I'm paying for quality, and if my desire is to go from Anthony to Antoinette, I'm not letting anyone from a "Polyclinic" do the dirty work. But that's just me. I'm not the 'seedy but popular' type.
Whether or not we can agree that Karr is her killer, we can certainly agree that he would adjust well to the whole sex-change deal.
To undergo a sex change operation, a patient must have taken female hormones for at least two years and pass a psychiatric evaluation. It appears as though he's been taking the hormones, and it's just a guess, but I'm thinking that the psychiatric evaluation can't be too difficult to pass.
The procedures include Penile skin inversion vaginoplasty with scrotal skin graft, Sigmoid colon vaginoplasty, Breast implant surgery and Trachea shave. Wow. It turns out that a trachea shave involves reducing the Adam's Apple to mimic the shape of a woman's neck and costs $1,200.
I learned something today. Thank you, sick bastard.

A Kid's Game for Grown-Ups

The Little League World Series started last week and will continue until Sunday. All weekend, the games were on the TV, with various countries sending their best and brightest 12-year-olds to Williamsport, PA in search of the championship. I think even Thailand has a team. Check their birth certificates.
As with most things, I have mixed feelings about this spectacle. Mostly, I object to putting a 12-year-old on TV in a competition either before or after grown-ups are playing the same game for profit. The commentators (some of them former major leaguers) make the viewers think that the kids are real ballplayers, describing their actions as though they were talking about the Yankees. These kids aren't ballplayers any more than JonBenet Ramsey was a beauty queen.
They're 12 years old.
The games were on ESPN almost non-stop last weekend, and they will be on this week, as the teams are whittled down to a precious few, with International Semifinals and something called the Urban Initiative Game - whatever that is.
They're 12 years old.
The stands are filled with parents and family, cheering in their native languages and rooting for the kids to represent their home country in the Little League championship. As it turns out, Wilson Sporting Goods has supplied identical helmets and bats to all the players at the request of the Little League. The reason they are identical is because the League didn't want Wilson supplying better equipment to the better players and leaving out the lesser players, as they wanted to do.
They're 12 years old.
Competition is supposed to be good, but I'm not sure that all of these kids understand what's going on. The games will be on ESPN all week, and the final will be on their parent, ABC. I guess we are supposed to think that kids are somehow more virtuous than adults who use drugs to enhance their performance. If Marion Jones and Rafael Palmiero used drugs, they did so because they knew the consequences - good and bad. Kids are just playing baseball. I'm not watching because they're somehow more moral than adults.
They're 12 years old.
I'm not sure that this belongs on almost non-stop TV as much as I am not sure that kiddie beauty pageants should exist. I'm skeptical of anything where children are exploited by adults. Television advertising isn't cheap, and to sell it in the name of children playing baseball is a bit odd, I think. Children and animals should not be used to sell products.

Watch if you must, but understand that they are kids, and should not be compared to adults in any way, shape or form. If we think that the kids are more virtuous than adults, perhaps the adults shouldn't be putting them on TV. That would be the virtuous thing to do. Let the kids play the games, but don't make a dime off of them, and don't for a second compare them to adults.
They're 12 years old.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Kids and Creeps

I have to be very careful with this because it is a sensitive subject, but I have a problem with the continuing saga of JonBenet Ramsey and the return of her alleged killer.
First, this John Mark Karr (they always have three names) is a creepy MoFo to begin with. He has that Lee Harvey Oswald blank stare that tells me I'd better not trust him to look after my cat let alone my child. His head is too big for his body and he wears his pants way too high - but I digress.
Before takeoff from Thailand, Karr took a glass of champagne from a flight attendant and clinked glasses with Mark Spray, an investigator with the Boulder District Attorney's office, who sipped orange juice.
That's a little odd, don't-cha-think? Is champagne an appropriate beverage for an alledged child killer?
Mostly though, I have a problem with dressing a child up like an adult and parading her around in beauty pageants and whatnot. It would appear to me that the parents could have used psychological counseling somewhere along the line, since children are pretty much powerless to do anything about the circumstances in which they find themselves other than acceptance. To JonBenet, it must have seemed normal while to the rest of us it looked a little creepy - speaking of Karr.
Children have a limited time to be kids. Sending them out in public dressed like little beauty queens in real beauty pageants robs them of the time they have to be little people, and instead, thrusts them into the realm of adulthood - for which there is ample (if not overly so) time to exist.
It is strangely similar to the Little League World Series that is going on now. We have taken children and placed them in a spotlight to which they are either unwilling or unaccustomed to performing in, and in the name of entertainment (for their parents' sake) they do our bidding. "Hey, look at my kid!", they scream. As for the the kids, they know no better, but the parents should. Children trust us to look after their best interests, and those best interests sometimes get confused with the adult's best interests - namely winning. Sometimes, we take our own wants and desires and throw them at our children, expecting them to adapt as we would.
Sadly though, they sometimes fall prey to predators such as Karr (allegedly) and their adolescence works against them. They trust adults - sometimes too much - and expect them to always act in their best interests, but it ain't necessarily so. To most of us they are cute kids, but to some they are objects of desire and we cannot forget that, because the desire outweighs the cuteness when it comes to fulfillment of their desire.
What we are left with is ten years of searching, accusations and uncertainty, while the child is no longer with us to be a cute kid, a beauty queen or merely a child, which is what she should have been to begin with.
Cruelty to children and animals is a bigger problem than society would like to admit. They are defenseless to our wishes, and sometimes they end up as JonBenet did. It is a sad fact of life that otherwise worthless people like Karr are allowed to roam the Earth, while children like JonBenet are not.
Now, the case has developed into a media circus, with 24/7 coverage on networks that were pretty much created for such things. Runaway brides, missing children, weather disasters and other such situations are the purpose of networks that would otherwise have to run commercials and educational programming, but are now able to track the flight of a Thailand-to-L.A.-to-Boulder airplane that contains the type of person who should have been dumped out of the plane over the Pacific Ocean, but instead is the focus of public interest.
I'd rather watch a kid run around a playground with their friends, rather than do my bidding on a stage with a sash and a smile.