Saturday, February 16, 2008

A little-known benefit of the civil rights movement.

The things that go through my mind - you have no idea.
Today, I was thinking about the old flesh colored crayon, and wondering if it still existed. You see, I haven't messed with crayons since I was a child, so I have no idea what sorts of colors they come in now. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
One of the measures of status as a child was the size of ones crayon box. Seriously. I remember being kind of a big-shot around the schoolyard because I had the giant box of 64 with the little sharpener in the back. Lots of kids had the box of 8. Pikers. Any kid with 10 cents can have a box of 8 crayons. Brown, green, orange, red, yellow, black, blue and violet. Boring. I had apricot, bittersweet and burnt sienna. Five years old and 64 crayons. Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot.
Anyway, I remember this Crayola crayon with the name "flesh". As a kid I thought nothing of it, since it sort of matched my flesh color, and I figured that my color was the color of flesh. Made sense, right?
Kind of. Most people in the world, I would come to find out, had flesh more like the color brown or tan. Apparently, the Crayola people figured it out too, and in 1962 they abandoned the flesh color in favor of the more politically correct peach. I don't think we knew what politically correct meant in 1962, but it's odd that I remember that crayon, since I was 5 at the time. My skin isn't the color of a peach, but the greater good was served by changing the name. I don't think I noticed in 1962.
Things like that make me think of how much the world has changed since I was a child. Today, if you tried to market a product that was peach-colored and called it flesh, you'd need legal representation.
Today, Crayola has colors like fuzzy wuzzy brown, outer space and sunset orange and there are 120 of them. Kids are spoiled and clueless.
Of course, there's a beaver color too. Do you have to have a note from your parents to buy that one?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A threat to common decency.

In case you haven't heard (and why would you?) there's some-a-cussin' going on. Television cussin', that is. Live TV + Jane Fonda = A Hell of a lot of fun.
Jane Fonda appeared on The Today Show Thursday morning talking about a play called "The Vagina Monologues". As you can see, on television you're allowed to say vagina at 9am, but not ... well, watch and learn:
She "inadvertently said" the word. Really? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, inadvertently:
1 : not focusing the mind on a matter : inattentive 2 : unintentional - in·ad·ver·tent·ly adverb. It didn't sound unintentional to me. I think she was being advertant. It didn't sound like a slip or something that was not intended to be used. Meredith made it sound like it got spewed out in the heat of the moment. Jane knew what she was saying.
A little faux pas by our old pal Jane. At 70, you'd think she would be old enough to know better. Maybe she does, which is why she said it in the first place. Really gang, it's a word.
Apparently, an action group (with a lot of free time) called Concerned Women for America wants the FCC (what's the F for?) to impose a fine on NBC for allowing Jane to use such offensive language on the air when children can hear it.
Since there are already standards in place and children do swear, where then, do they hear such language? At home, of course, where Concerned Women for America live. You can fine NBC if you want, but kids are still going to say fuck, cunt and motherfucker because they think it's fun. I was a kid once, and it was fun then, too. Since they're not hearing those words on TV, maybe the Concerned Women for America should be in living rooms, shopping centers and (God forbid) schoolyards where parents and other kids are using words like that every hour of every day. Get a life, gang.
I love groups who claim to be "concerned" and use words like America in their names to make it sound like they're looking out for your best interests. What they're actually looking out for are their own best interests, which have nothing in common with yours.
If NBC and the FCC caves under the pressure from this group - let me guess, there are probably about 10 members - then shame on them. The fact is, nobody had a stroke or died from hearing Jane say "the C word" on National television. I don't know how many people watch The Today Show, but there probably aren't enough to make up a good baseball team, let alone be offended by a word.
It's a word. It only means what you want it to mean. I don't use it, but I don't use a lot of words. I don't use words like censorship, repression and conformity either. Groups like the Concerned Women for America only want everybody to be the same, which is a really bad way to behave.

Strange like me.

Part of being a weirdo is that I can get excited about things that few other people get excited about. Three of them are happening now.
1 – There’s a cool new sidebar item on my blog. Scroll down a bit (or check the bottom right corner of your screen) and you’ll see a Yahoo Finance heading with a bunch of junk under it. There’s a 6-month chart of the NASDAQ Index, some news headlines and stock quotes for some notable companies.
If you want to get it for your site, go to Yahoo Finance (or click here) and select the “get quotes for your web site” option (under the Dow Jones quote box), follow the directions and add it to your HTML/Java Script page element. Viola! You might have to be a registered Yahoo user to make it work - or not - I don't know.

2 – Yesterday was the start of the 2008 LPGA season. I know what you’re thinking, just like the groundhog; this means six more months of Paula Creamer posts. Well … yeah. This week, the girls are in Hawaii (not bad being a golfer, eh?) for the SBS open that Paula won last year. The tournament is on the Golf Channel in hi-definition, which is very cool. I’m getting excited just writing about it. It’s on live tonight and Saturday at 6:30 EST.
3 – Sunday is the Daytona 500. For some of you, watching cars driving around in a circle might not seem like high entertainment. NASCAR is one of the few sports that is better on TV than in person. At the track it’s terribly boring, but the TV coverage tones down the noise of the engines and provides enough outside stuff to keep it interesting. Plus, on TV it doesn’t look as much like they’re going around in circles. For the record, I'm a big fan of Tony Stewart, but I'm not putting a picture of him on my blog.
So there ya go. Isn’t it always the tiny mundane things that make life worth living? I hope so, because at this point, the tiny mundane things are about all I have going on.
Blogging, women’s golf and NASCAR. Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Much ado about - something, I guess.

Today's assignment - read and analyze the quotes outlined in bold type:
"I have never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other type of illegal performance-enhancing drugs," Roger Clemens, 45, said in refuting charges first made by Brian McNamee in a report requested by Major League Baseball and conducted by former Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell.
McNamee countered, "When I told Senator Mitchell that I injected Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs, I told the truth." McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, between 1998 and 2001
Here's your question, class. Is someone lying? Answer (a) for yes or (b) for Hell yes.
Next. Read the following and analyze:
It seemed clear early the committee would not treat Clemens with kid gloves, despite face-to-face meetings he did with representatives in recent days - sometimes posing for photos or signing autographs for staff members. There was one wide-eyed fan moment, when Rep. William Clay, (D-Mo.), relayed to Clemens that a colleague "wants to know what uniform will you wear into the Hall of Fame?"
In the real world, isn't that known as "jury tampering?" Or, maybe I misremembered it. That's a word now, according to Clemens, his "good friend Andy Pettitte misremembers" Clemens' telling him that he used HGH.
My exciting conclusion:
What I can't figure out (among other things) is why the HGH and steroid issue is so big. They call them "performance enhancing drugs". If that's true, then any player who ever took a caffeine tablet, aspirin or any pain medication is guilty of using a performance enhancing drug. Anything that enables an athlete to perform when he otherwise could not is having his performance enhanced. What makes steroids any different than Tylenol?
On the Grammy telecast the other night, Tina Turner had enough Botox in her face to form a small country. She's a hundred years old, and people give her credit for looking half her age. Big deal. If I had access, money and time, I could inject my body with enough drugs to look like an infant. She's enhancing her performance.
Scads of celebrities go in for boob jobs, face lifts, tummy tucks and other such medical enhancements. Otherwise, they'd look like the rest of us, or worse. Who wants to see the "real" Pamela Anderson prancing around on a beach? The fake one is much more fun to look at. She, and others like her, enhanced her body, and enhanced her career by using medical technology to look better. She's enhancing her performance.
Baseball players and other professional athletes do what they have to do to allow them to continue their lucrative careers. If they want to destroy their bodies for our entertainment, I say let them. If you are pro-abortion and believe that a woman's body is her own (as I do) then you'd be a hypocrite to fight against steroid use in pro sports.
We pay these people astronomical sums of money, wear replica uniforms and collect their autographs because we idolize their performance on the athletic field. It doesn't matter whether it's Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Shawne Merriman or some minor leaguer - we want to see them run faster, hit further and throw faster than anybody else.
If you don't want them using modern technology to be better players, then maybe they should go back to using those tiny gloves like Ty Cobb used, and wearing those flimsy leather shoes and the baggy wool uniforms, too.
Have you seen a modern golf club? The driver head is bigger than a human head. Running shoes cost more than some people make in a week and football players wear padding that could cushion them from a three-story fall. The equipment is performance enhancing.
What athletes do to make their bodies better is none of our business - or the Congress of the United States. Have they ever called a celebrity to testify for using drugs to enhance a performance?
And while we're at it, let's keep this nonsense out of the Sports section of the newspaper. It isn't sports. I'm not even sure it belongs in the newspaper at all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A heart-shaped paper cut.

"I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"
- Charlie Brown, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Thursday is Valentine's Day. Thursday is Valentine's Day. Thursday is Valentine's Day. Jesus Christ Almighty - Thursday is Valentine's Day!
It's impossible to go ten minutes with the radio, TV or newspaper without some dimwit reminding us that Thursday is Valentine's Day. If there is a person alive who forgets or neglects to buy something for "that special someone" in their life, they should be roundly beaten with a blunt object.
It could be worse. I could be in a wheelchair and be constantly reminded that running shoes are on sale. I could be blind and have to listen to notices of a big book sale at Barnes and Noble, or I could be deaf and have to read all about the Grammy Awards.
Actually, I'm not deaf and I couldn't care less about the Grammy Awards. But I digress.
It could be worse, but not much worse. Valentine's Day marks the end of the four months of Hell for desparately single people all over the world. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve and now this. One-third of the year pissed away.
I think the marketing for Valentine's Day has gotten worse over the past 5 years. Retailers and florists smell blood in the water, and they're smart enough to know that it's not a religious holiday, so they can boldly say "Valentine's Day" without offending anyone's spiritual beliefs. Otherwise, they have to be careful around the "Holiday season" so that Jews, Muslims or Atheists aren't offended. Come to think of it, Atheists invented Christmas, so you really can't offend them. But I digress.
When I was a kid in grammar school, everybody in the class got little Valentine's. It didn't matter much whether you were friends with someone, they got a card. In fact, it was something of a ritual. I remember counting up all the girls in the class so that I wouldn't forget anyone. Even Mildred. You could figure out what Mildred looked like just by knowing her name. Kids aren't named Mildred anymore.
Now, as a supposedly modern adult, you have to be in a relationship with someone to give them a card or send them flowers. At least that's what I tell myself, since I've never gotten a card or flowers from a "secret admirer". It's tough to find a card that doesn't have some romantic sentiment or spout something about Love. Besides, what's the point? The women I'd give the cards to are either married, seeing someone or not interested. Hence the issue.
Valentine's Day is the focal point for realizing that there is no one special in my life and hasn't been for quite some time. I have modern advertising to thank for a constant reminder, and it begins sooner every year. The push starts around the second of January. When the non-Christians get pissed because people say "Merry Christmas", they have an action group that forms and writes letters to the editor, and cry Foul! because their personal freedom is being encroached upon. Lonely single people just have to suck it up. We're good at it.
Thursday marks the end of another season of being reminded of how the holidays are for kids and couples, and if you're not either of those, you can just get out of the way while people spend money on stuff that marketing people tell them they should. Because, after all, if you fuck up on one of the holidays, you'll never hear the end of it.
And it only gets worse.
Not very funny today.
Don't forget, Thursday is Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A taxing problem

Up until last week, I was officially "undecided" along political lines. I am, however, officially decided when it comes to the income tax system in this country. The decision is that it's ridiculous, and puts an unnecessary burden on the low income people with regard to filing.
Every year my mother asks me to file her taxes for her. It's ridiculous on two fronts. (1) She's a Social Security recipient and earns less than $5,000 a year working part-time and (2) Her employer deducts both state and federal taxes from her paycheck.
This year, like all the rest, I had to file an income tax return for her, which refunds to her all the money she paid to both the state ($63) and our federal government ($185). Can someone tell me how that is an efficient way to operate?
I had to go to the New Jersey state web site and open up a statement, file a return and have them send a check to her. Then, I had to go to the federal site, which directed me to TurboTax's free e-file site, where I had to choose a user name, password and create an account - for what, exactly? What I got out of it was a 7-page federal return and a 4-page New Jersey state return. Somebody in Trenton and Washington, D.C. has to read them, order a check to be printed, have it put into an envelope and mailed to her. At state and federal wage and benefit rates, add up the cost to you (the taxpayer) and tell me if it is a losing proposition.
Don't bother, I'll tell you. Yes, it is.
The system is so screwed up that a person who earns less than poverty wages has to file a tax return because their government can't figure out a way to efficently tax their wage earners without making them file a return and wait 4 weeks for a check. We're not talking about people earning thousands of dollars a year - well, 4 thousand dollars, but not tens of thousands.
For all the nonsense going on in the presidential campaigns, I don't hear any of them talking about doing away with needless paperwork and needless time (mine in particular) spent filing needless tax returns over people who are earning less than a hundred dollars a week.
C'mon Hillary - Barack - can't one of you come up with a reasonable solution to this problem? I'm not going to bother asking the Republicans, because you're the ones mailing the checks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Relax, have a sandwich. Everything will be fine.

Subway is running ads now, telling us that it's 12 years since Jared went on that sandwich diet and lost 245 pounds. All of their celebrity pitchmen (and women) are seen congratulating him on losing the weight and keeping it off. Good for you, buddy! Don't lose that big endoresement deal, fat ass! It's amazing to me that this kid parlayed a Subway menu into a career. I'm assuming that representing Subway is his only job.
It's one of those minor scams - you know the kind - the ones that are good on their surface, but in you heart (and mind) you know it's bullshit. I could probably lose a hundred pounds eating ice cream, if I only ate 16 ounces a day, drank water and bicycled 50 miles, and nothing else. By the way, on their web site, Subway officially turns their back on Jared and his methods, in fine print:
* Individuals lost weight by exercising and eating a balanced, reduced-calorie diet that included SUBWAY® sandwiches with 6 grams of fat or less. Their results are not typical. Your loss if any will vary. SUBWAY® Restaurants does not endorse the diet Jared created and cautions anyone embarking on a weight-loss plan to consult their physician.
We don't endose it - really - but we'll run a 12 year long ad campaign that makes you think that's how the guy dropped all that weight. "Your loss, if any, will vary. " No kidding. What a country.
For the record, they make great sandwiches, but for my money (which is the only money that matters) Quiznos is the best.

I'm getting nervous. The dark blue states are starting to creep up on the light blue ones. Being distrustful of politics in general, I'm skeptcial that the best thing will be done for the people once this process is over. Our votes are supposed to count, but in the end, I fear it will be like the general election. Our votes will be "respected" but in the end, the party will have the final say. That Clinton name carries a lot of weight.

Check out how much money is being raised by these campaigns. Even the losing ones. Hillary just came up with another $10 million since Tuesday, and she "loaned" her campaign $5 million. Loaned it, as opposed to "spent" it. It makes one wonder, if it isn't important enough to her to actually spend the money herself, why is she in this? Of course, I'm not sure I'd have a whole lot of respect for somebody who spent $5 million of their own money to get a job that pays $250,000 a year, but what do I know?

"Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
An observation that a person’s sense of morality lessens as his or her power increases. The statement was made by Lord Acton, a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.