Friday, May 11, 2007

The latest dumb thing from the U.S. Postal Service

WASHINGTON - It will cost a bit more to mail letters and parcels starting Monday. A first-class letter will go up 2 cents to 41 cents. But there is also some good news - folks will be able to buy "forever" stamps that remain valid regardless of any future increase.
So, that's the "good news"? I'm a little confused (a lot confused) about these "Forever stamps". Who buys a stamp and holds onto it forever? They are marketing these things like we're buying them and saving them for something. Who buys stamps and doesn't use them quickly?
Sure - let me run out and buy up a truckload of these stamps so I can save 2 cents in three years when the rates go up. Do they think we're that stupid?
My take on this "Forever" stamp is that the Post Office is admitting that by the time the next rate increase is enacted, the Postal Service will be the stuff of history. Anybody remember the Pony Express?
Five years from now, when rates go up again, the only thing the post office will be delivering are magazines and packages - and UPS and FedEx will be hammering them on price for packages. I already pay most of my bills online, and if I send out a package, I can print the postage online, too. I send out [maybe] two checks a month, and I e-mail everybody else. Stamps are for collectors.
Forever? Here's a clue: If you are under the age of 40 and you work for the U.S. Post Office, keep your resume updated.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Domo arigato, baby roboto

I like to try to tie things in together when I write these posts. Sometimes it isn't very easy, and sometimes, like yesterday, the overwhelming sadness of life's circumstances leaves me a little drained.
When I found that story about the Rent-a-pet disaster that they are calling Flexpetz, I wondered how we could treat animals as though they were commodities. To tie that into something would take two days, but here it is:
Japan has drop box for unwanted babies
TOKYO - A Japanese hospital opened the country's only anonymous drop box for unwanted infants Thursday despite government admonitions against abandoning babies. The baby drop-off, called "Crane's Cradle," was opened by the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in the southern city of Kumamoto as a way to discourage abortions and the abandonment of infants in unsafe public places. The hospital described it as a parent's last resort.
So, there ya go - tie-in complete. While at first it seemed as though we (the humans) were treating animals as commodities, it has a neat little association with people treating babies like video rentals. Just drop them off. By contrast, I'd say that the animals are getting the better end of the deal. Suddenly, the pet rental thing looks pretty good by comparison.
Check that one off the list of things to which you can say, "Now I've seen it all".

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Tammy, I just don't know sometimes.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner said doctors have stopped treating her cancer and that her weight has dropped to 65 pounds. In a letter posted Tuesday on her Web site, Messner thanked her "faithful friends" for sending her flowers, cards and gifts as she battles cancer for a third time. The 65-year-old Charlotte resident was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, and she announced in 2004 that the disease had spread to her lungs. "The doctors have stopped trying to treat the cancer and so now it's up to God and my faith. And that's enough!" she wrote.

I suppose it will have to be enough, Tammy. Meanwhile, those who figure that God will provide may be either dumbfounded or extraordinarily philosophical over the events that have transpired over one of "God's Children".

It's hard to figure sometimes, this whole God and Heaven deal. Regardless of what you may think of Tammy and her opinions of the hereafter or her life here, this is a little too much for anyone to go through, and it makes me sad. What it does - mostly - is put a big X in the square over the part of the questionnaire that asks, "Do you find life to be an arbitrary and random sequence of events?" Yes. X.

For those in the God's Children camp, I have to ask you how you rationalize something as heinous as this. After all, what's the point of serving God if you are only going to wind up with colon cancer? On the other hand, if a better life awaits Tammy and her ilk, should she really be sad that her doctors have discontinued treatment? Why does the Pope ride around in that big bullet-proof vehicle if the afterlife is supposed to be full of glory? Is all that Heavenly afterlife worth 3 years of painful agony? Shouldn't a kind and loving God be all about caring for his children? Evil bastards like Fidel Castro and George W. Bush live long and profitable lives, while kind and loving souls like Dale Earnhardt crash into walls. It doesn't make sense.

Maybe that's the point?

You sure ask a lot of questions for someone from New Jersey.

"I am down weight-wise to 65 pounds, and look like a scarecrow. I need God's miracle to swallow," she said in her latest posting. "I look at young people and wish with all my heart for just one day of 'feeling great.'"

Isn't that what we all hope for, Tammy? Godspeed to you - if that is the best thing.

That's Our Georgie.

OK, so now he's the kid who the other kids make fun of. Now, they don't even do it behind his back anymore, because they know that he knows he's a dimwit - so why bother sneaking around?

WASHINGTON - The queen had the last laugh. Dispensing with protocol briefly at the formal dinner she hosted for President Bush, Queen Elizabeth said, "I wonder whether I should start this toast by saying, 'When I was here in 1776.' "
At one point in Monday's South Lawn ceremony, Bush noted that the queen had dined with 10 U.S. presidents and had helped the United States "celebrate its bicentennial in 17 ... ." Bush caught himself and corrected the date to 1976. This brought loud laughter from many in the invited audience of thousands.
A chagrined Bush deadpanned that the queen just "gave me a look that only a mother could give a child."

Well, he got the parent/child part right. 'Loud laughter' from a bunch of invited guests who are probably just as stupid as he. Methinks that every head of state that he comes in contact with feels likewise. Maybe that's why they visit? Come to the U.S. and make yourself feel good. It's our contribution to the overall mental health of the rest of the world.
The Queen is thinking: "I really don't know what Tony sees in you."

Jeezaloo - we're a laughing stock.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Randy Van Stone - Back on Top

My new favorite song.

"I was a baby when I learned to suck, but you have raised it to an art form."

Wind it Up
Barenaked Ladies

Did you mean to spell that correctly?

Sometimes, I have to create my own entertainment. Lately, it has been seeing all the Google searches over "Alicia Lane".
SIDE NOTE: Spelling is a hot-button issue with me.
Then, the other day, I mentioned how I spent two days listening to people call him Floyd Merryweather - and up pops two Google searches that led stalkers here. I wonder if they did another search, or were they actually looking for Floyd Merryweather? Maybe his old high school teacher or a former lover? Whatever - entertaining myself is cheaper than psychotherapy and less addictive than crack. Well ... slightly less addictive.
Then, there is this:
This is a billboard that is causing quite the uproar in Chicago. A local attorney is advertising divorce, or so they think.
The anger comes over the idea that we are so gullible as consumers that we will consider divorce merely because the Billboard says so. That isn't giving us a lot of credit either as people or consumers.
"Life is short, so ditch that loser and start living because you'll be dead soon."
Rather than divorce, I would like to see the couple who looks like that. If the babe is the plaintiff, introduce me. By the way, maybe she should think about suing the surgeon who put those grapefruits in her chest before the divorce is final.
Then, I saw this headline and I felt like all was right with the world: .
Cheney to follow Rice to Middle East
That would be highly entertaining - just as long as we remember to lock the door behind them.

For your pleasure, we present: Pets as Merchandise

Just when you think you have seen every crazy, harebrained scheme – along comes this nonsense. First, the article, then my sanctimonious rant. You tell me if I am totally off base with this, or if you feel similarly:
The lure of an energetic playmate and warm companionship has brought me to the door of my neighborhood animal shelter, but I was always stopped by thoughts of the poor pup being penned up all day while I'm at work.
San Diego and Los Angeles-based
Flexpetz lets you borrow a dog of your choice for a few hours, a day or even a week. All their dogs come from accredited rescue organizations and range from an Italian greyhound named Pike to Tango, a stunning black Afghan.
Owner Marlena Cervantes says many of their San Diego clients are military personnel who don't want to kennel their dogs while out at sea. A number of celebrities also showed interest at a pre-Oscar event this year. "We had a lot of interest from actors who have to be on-location a lot," she says.
Membership is based on a monthly fee of $40 and a Daily Doggy Time charge, payable for each day or part of a day you spend with the dog, amounting to about $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekends.
They are planning to open a branch in New York City in June and have their sights on cities all over the U.S. as well as Europe and Asia. Soon you will never be left without the companionship of a faithful friend.
A faithful friend? It is a shame, however, that the owner cannot be as faithful as the friend. Pick up a dog, run him around for a few hours, and then take him back – as though you were renting a movie. Dogs are not commodities; they are flesh and blood with feelings and emotions. Renting animals is tantamount to teasing them. I see it every day in the eyes of my cat when I leave for work. The big difference there is that both of us know I am coming back.

When I went to Arizona in 1998, I left the little fur ball at my mother’s house because I was going to be gone for 2 weeks and didn’t feel as though I should inconvenience my neighbors for that length of time. Moreover, leaving any animal alone for that long is a bit cruel, I think.
It felt odd leaving him, and mom said it took the cat a few days to come out from under the sofa, but eventually he warmed up to her. It must have been quite a shock to his delicate kitty system to be “abandoned,” since he had no idea if or when I would return.

Playing games with animals is a peculiar choice for a business, and while it’s nice that people like dogs, if they cannot care for them on a consistent basis, then maybe they should accept it. However, as it is with many things, money dictates behavior, and this is yet another toy for wealthy people who think that the world is their personal playground and that animals can be used for their pleasure. They cannot alter their lifestyle, so they use their accumulated wealth to make others adapt to them. Here is yet another example of the rites of money and the power it provides, of which there seems to be no end.

Sadly, the dogs do not have a choice. They sell it as though the dogs are happy this way, because they are from "rescue organizations", and as such, are the lowest on the pet chain of command. Either adapt or die, I suppose.
That's enough out of me.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Never underestimate the danger from creeps and weirdos

OK, here we go. Since nobody watches ABC News, I figure you haven't seen this. There's an ad first, and the video is only a couple of minutes. It's either a clever May Sweeps angle or a real danger. Either way, it may bear watching - especially for my female readers.

Boundless Apathy

"The instrument has not been invented that can measure my indifference to that remark."
Benjamin F. 'Hawkeye' Pierce, M*A*S*H
Two major sporting events took place over the weekend, and I honestly couldn't care less about either one. Two mesomorph's beating each other up and a horse owned by wealthy people running in a circle for our entertainment. My only happiness comes in the fact that apparently neither the horse nor its jockey were seriously injured. I cannot go through that again.
I do not wager, nor do I pay $54 to watch sports on television, so I missed out on the glory here. If I want to see two people beat each other senseless, I can watch Hannity and Colmes. They're senseless to begin with, so it's just the beating that has appeal.
Besides, I spent two days listening to people call him Merryweather, and another two days listening to people tell me whom was going to win the Kentucky Derby. Do we say 'whom' if it's a horse? In the case of the Derby, it strikes me as a bunch of wealthy people gathering together to watch a bunch of horses run around, and a bunch of non-wealthy people thinking that they will become wealthy by picking the winner. Only one bunch is getting wealthier, trust me.
Meanwhile, we are treated to stories about other owners who purchased their rides for "a mere $8,000", as though we are supposed to identify with them because they achieved so much with so little outlay - making them commoners, supposedly. Do you know how much it costs to keep a horse? I do, and even if I had the space, I couldn't imagine feeding it, stabling it and paying a trainer to run it around so that a midget could sit on it for two minutes and try to earn my money back.
As far as boxing is concerned, there are way too many weight divisions. Besides the fact that there are at least 4 sanctioning bodies, there are 17 weight classes.
Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, Super Featherweight, Middleweight, Bantamweight ... Minimumweight is the least, which makes sense.
Jesusweight, can't you guys just get together and beat each other up like real people? Two guys in a bar get in a fight over which one of them bought that whore a drink. Do you think they have to step on a scale before they hit each other with a chair? No. Get with the program and fight like real idiots. Maybe they're just drain bamanged?
In 1984, R.J. McCunney and P.K. Russo published a study entitled Brain Injuries in Boxing. The study argued that boxing is relatively safe compared to other sports by citing the following figures on U.S. sports fatalities:
Fatality rates per 100,000 participants:
Horse racing: 128
Sky diving: 123
Hang gliding: 56
Mountaineering: 51
Scuba Diving: 11
Motorcycle racing: 7
College Football: 3
Boxing: 1.3
Now, there's something worth betting on.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The View from here.

What? Have I lost my mind? Yes. The View. Boy, do I wish I was at home during the day so that four old squares could help me shape my opinion on the events taking place in the world. Now that the old lesbian is leaving, whom will they get to replace her? I can only imagine. I hope it will be someone who presumptuously spells a common name oddly, like Elisabeth, or another old-head news anchor or another failed stand-up. Oh wait, they already have one of those. If I felt as though I had to watch this show every day, I would either (a) take up mid-day drinking or (b) find a part-time job pumping gas or mowing lawns.

Meanwhile, those tornadoes that ran through Greensburg, Kansas serve to remind me how we should appreciate the fact that we merely reside here, and that events much larger than us have complete control over whether or not we are allowed to stay. People in my part of the world build homes 50 feet from a raging ocean, then complain when a storm washes part of their front porch away. Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and snow all make me appreciate how powerful the earth is and how easily we can lose everything over something which we have no control.
We don't like it much, but it is what it is. We like to feel as though we have some control over events such as this, but as those poor souls in Greensburg, Kansas know, the weather is a powerful thing, and in the blink of an eye, everything you have can be reduced to nothing, making me wonder why we spend so much time and effort accumulating things that we feel so badly about when they are lost.
It's human nature, which is precisely the point.
Speaking of control: On Wednesday, speaking to a friendly audience, [does he speak to any other type of audience?] President Bush talked about his troop build-up in Iraq. "The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear - I'm a commander guy," Bush said.
Oh Bushie, you nut. The official stenographer of the event recorded Bush as having said he was "the commander guy" and some reporters did as well. It was not far off from his past description of himself as "the decider." But the quote prompted chuckles around Washington that Bush had given a new nickname to his constitutional role as the commander in chief.
Since the White House appears to have similar control over outside events (like what the President says), spokeswoman Dana Perino got off of whomever she was screwing and sprang into action:
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino took to the podium on Friday to clarify, while acknowledging to reporters that "you might find it a little strange. It's been reported that the president said, 'I'm the commander guy.' He did not. What I recalled was that he said 'I'm a commander guy,' meaning that he's one of the people that listens to the commanders on the ground," Perino said.
"He is the commander in chief," Perino said. "But the context of what the president was saying is that when it comes to making decisions about Iraq or war policy, that the president listens to commanders on the ground, not politicians in Washington."
Oy. What she recalled? Don't they record this junk? Now, if we can only get those storms to listen, like people want the president to listen, we'll be in business - and out of Iraq, presumably.
I think the same level of control exists over storms and our president, and they do equal amounts of damage.