Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Presidential platform

I might decide to run for president. If I do, I've plotted out my platform. It has nothing to do with high gasoline prices, health care reform or taxes. Those things are out of our control, so let's work on the things we can fix.
Drive-thru windows at fast food places will be limited to two total orders. Anybody ordering from a list, ordering anything that involves more than two beverages or who has a carload of young athletes will immediately have their order rescinded and made to get out of their car and move their fat ass inside. The Drive-thru window should be the food equivalent of the supermarket Express Lane.
Children and animals will not be allowed to be used in advertising.
Network television will be limited to two "reality" shows. I don't care which ones, pick two. And they cannot be scheduled on the same night.
Speaking of television, it will once again be free. Cable television is the biggest scam perpetrated on the American public since one-hour Martinizing. Networks get their revenue from advertisers. Cable channels have commercials, so what are we paying for? It can either be free with advertising or I'll pay for it but get rid of the commercials.
If it rains on Saturday or Sunday, workers get Monday off. We're entitled to at least two days of rest per week, and when it rains on one of them, the only thing we have to look forward to is another week of work before the weather roulette wheel spins.
President's Day and Veterans Day will be moved to June and August. Nobody needs a day off in February or November. Move those holidays to the summer so we can use them for something instead of shoveling snow or sleeping late. I don't want more holidays, so let's make better use the ones we have.
I will enact a ban on prescription drug advertising on television. We already have one for cigarettes. We need another one for drugs that tell us to "ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you." My doctor's job is to tell me what is right for me. I don't need television making me think I need a drug because I wake up at night to pee.
While we're at it, we don't need any new laws. So, for every new law Congress passes, we take one off the books. We can start with marijuana and work downward from there.
There's way too much packaging. No more plastic bags. Bars of soap will be sold without wrapping and consumers will be encouraged (forced) to bring re-usable canvas bags to the department store. Any store clerk who puts something in a bag that is already in a bag or comes with a handle will be fined.
Two children per household. Period. There are already too many people, and it's impossible to find a parking space. We don't need any more people. If you want more, you can adopt one that is already here.
No vehicles over 5,000 pounds will be sold for personal use.
The personal income tax will be reformed so that tax payers will not have to fill out a form and spend hundreds of dollars and worry about possible perjury and imprisonment. We'll take the taxes out of your paycheck and you're done. If you're good at saving you should be rewarded for it. The federal government should make enough money during the year without either giving back thousands or taking it in. Filing personal income taxes is an unnecessary burden.
There's probably more. I could search the blog and come up with some, but you get the picture. None of those things are on the agenda of the big-time candidates, but I'd bet that your lives would be happier and less complicated with some of these things, and isn't that the point?

Another one for the Google searchers.

I've gotten hundreds of page hits from Paula Abdul searches over the past week, and the result they come to is a silly essay I wrote about going to the dentist, in which I happened to mention that Paula was on the Regis and Kelly show. So that they aren't further wasting their time, I feel obligated to chime in on the latest flap of my least favorite television show, American Idol, beating a dead horse, as it were.
I'm assuming the searches are over her so-called flub last week when she critiqued a second song by a singer who hadn't sung it yet. That is leading to all sorts of questions and issues over the comment. There is only one explanation that makes any sense:
The show is scripted and the results are pre-determined.
That should come as no surprise to regular readers who have seen me lambaste the program over the years because I never believed that it was a credible talent show, and often question its motives.
The show is fixed. How else could one explain whittling down thousands of contestants to a select few? Only if the winner is known beforehand could the judges accurately make a choice from the original entrants.
Paula's gaffe represents what happens when a scam is carried out for too long. Sooner or later somebody goofs. She has since tried to explain her reasons for what she said, but mostly she talks in circles and contradicts herself.
This is fascinating to me because millions of viewers (supposedly) have been duped into watching this nonsense for years, believing that their votes matter and that the show is indeed a legitimate talent competition.
Face it folks, it's a TV show. Just as phony as a sitcom and as contrived as a daytime drama. Of course, there will be no long-term repercussions from this, because you don't tell kids that Santa Claus doesn't exist and you don't tell foolish TV viewers that they have been wasting their time.
So, the show will go on, seemingly forever, and Paula (the weak link in the corporate scam chain) will continue to make goofy comments and American Idol will continue to address our celebrity shortage and provide fodder for the newspapers and entertainment shows who still think that we haven't figured it out.
If I were a fan of the show, I'd hate them for making me think it's real.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The McCain/Tuber ticket

See if you can tell the difference between John McCain and George W. Bush. Click on this link for a quiz, then stick around for the "McCain or a Carrot" portion, where you'll find out whether John McCain is a better candidate than a carrot. You might be surprised. Or not.
Meanwhile, the president said that he has confidence that the economy is going to rebound. "I know it's tough times, and I know you're having to pay more at the fuel pump than you want," Bush said. "But this economy is going to come on."
I don't think he was allowed to finish the sentence. "This economy is going to come on your face." There, that's it. Bukkakenomics. I made up a word.

That dopey stimulus payment that is supposed to give the economy its little boost is coming imminent too. For us single people, it's a whopping $600. By the time I get the check, I'll have to spend it on my car insurance, water and sewer bill and a half tank of gasoline. The three dollars I have left over I'll roll up, smear with Vasoline and rub myself with it. That will be stimulating.
I'm keeping my good eye on my bank account for any sign of the "windfall". Meanwhile, retailers and other vultures are lurking with big deals to try to get us to part with it. They'd better hurry, because it will be gone before they can get their hands on it. I'm still trying to figure out how we are going to stimulate the economy by buying Chinese clothes and Japanese televisions.
I miss the big picture sometimes.

Our social conflicts.

The D.C. Madam hung herself. Presumably over the guilty verdict that was handed out over her prostitution conviction last month. The so-called "ring" earned her at least $2 million. That's where the conflict starts.
We have a conflict over sex in our (American) society. Sex sells almost everything, and sex even sells pills that are designed to help us have more, lasting and (they say) better sex. However, when it comes down to actually having sex, we have a problem.
We aren't supposed to pay for it, unless we're in Nevada and we're not allowed to talk about it unless we're on satellite radio or the Internet. Confused? We all are.
So, the courts charge and convict people like Deborah Jeane Palfrey and others who run professional escort services that are called Escort Services because we can't call them what they really are. Sex for hire services. If we could call them Sex for Hire Services the courts would have no one to try and convict and maybe they could save their time and energy for the real criminals. You know them? The ones who kill and harm people or steal their money. Those kinds of criminals.
Sex is big business because we're told that it matters. Advertising tells us and our own libido tells us. Working against it is the illegality of seeking it out and (God forbid) paying for it. It's confusing, but then, so are a lot of things.
We are sold food products that are advertised as being "satisfying" or necessary for us to feel good. We are then told that we are too fat because we eat too much food. We are sold credit cards that tell us they are necessary for those "priceless" moments in our lives, and then told that we have too much credit card debt. We are sold giant motor vehicles because they tell us that they are "Utilitarian" and safer than the rest. Then, we are told that they use too much costly gasoline and harm the environment because they take up more space than our fat asses.
It's a conflict that is self-inflicted. We do it to ourselves and it happens so quickly and efficiently that we don't even know it until we stand back in our sexually satisfied, bloated belly and empty-wallet-from-high-gas-price state and realize that we are being played for suckers by both ends of the game.
The end of the game that matters is the one that can put us in prison for solicitation or default or wind us up in the hospital for clogged arteries from eating too many French fries.
In the end, we are powerless to resist because we like what we want and want what we like. We like sex, food and stuff. Stuff costs money that we don't have, and the advertisers play our common sense against our desires.
Desire always wins.
And we always lose.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Running in circles

The presidential candidates are in Indiana now, pursuing the elusive “working class”. How much pandering can we stand? As a working class person myself, I resent the undue attention. We’re supposed to think that they care about us because, as Hillary did yesterday, they pick out a typical citizen and buddy-up to him. Yesterday, Hillary rode with Jason Wilfing, whom she watched pump $63 worth of gasoline into his half-full pickup truck gas tank. She proclaimed that “The oil companies are making out like bandits!” We in the working class always knew that, even when gasoline was a dollar a gallon.
Nice one, Hill. Maybe she should have asked Jason why he drove such a big truck and how much he actually uses it. Then, she could have checked her voting record on CAFE standards, subsidies for oil companies and breaks for auto manufacturers. But all of that wouldn’t have helped her win the votes of the commoners. We’re here for ya, Hillary, because we know that deep down, you’re just like us and you understand our troubles. Gak.
Then, there’s Barack Obama who is still defending himself over racist comments his pastor Jeremiah Wright made and is still making. That’s like the drunken friend at a party acting like a jackass and the guy he came with is supposed to apologize. “Sorry my friend is an idiot.” Don’t blame one for the actions of another. Maybe it would be better if Obama renounced religion altogether?
That might make him more popular. God forbid.
Saturday is the annual “Run for the Roses”, sometimes called the Kentucky Derby. I don’t pretend to know beans about horse racing, but I’d bet you that we wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about the thing if we couldn’t bet on it. Who’s going to show up to watch a bunch of horses run around in a circle for two minutes? I don’t even think the other horses watch it.
It strikes me as a bit cruel to make the horses do all of that running, but we’re told that they are bred for it, as though somebody asked them and they said, “OK.” It’s all fun and games until one of them falls and breaks a leg, then it becomes human drama – and cruel. It also seems odd that some of the same people who decry NASCAR as being silly, because “all they do is drive in circles”, are excited about a horse race where they run in circles. At least Tony Stewart has a say in the matter.
It’s all fun and games until one of them hits a wall.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things and stuff.

"The packaging for a microwavable "microwave" dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries."
~ David Wann
It must suck to be Roger Clemens these days. Besides the steroid allegations, now he's being accused of having an affair with Mindy McCready when she was 15-years old. They're saying it was a "friendly" relationship and not sexual. Uh-huh. And I'm the Queen of England. Maybe it's payback for all that fame and fortune or maybe it's just that he's a skunk. I'm going with skunk, since I believe that the Universe is a randomly divined sequence of events and that such things as luck, payback and coincidence are excuses.
I'm wondering where the end is. The end for the price of gasoline, food and other staples of modern life. Cable TV is outrageously priced. If you don't have health care, prescription drugs are almost impossible to afford. Going to a professional sporting event is quickly becoming too expensive for average people. The overall "cost of life" is to the point where a quiet evening at home is no longer a luxury - it's a necessity.
I no longer drink beer for the sake of it. I have restricted myself to the high-alcohol content brews that are at least 8%, and sometimes as high as 14%. The 14-percenters are a bit harsh, but when you compare the "bang for the buck", there's a real bargain there. It's cheaper than wine and easier to drink than mixing something. After all, if you believe that men drink beer for the taste, you'll also believe that they buy Playboy for the articles.
I've started a new job with my company, and there's supposed to be a substantial salary increase involved, supposedly 5%. I've been working it since January but so far, I haven't seen a nickel. They tell me that my increase will be retroactive, but they tell me a lot of things. Meanwhile, I may be asking if anyone knows a good labor attorney. Either they'll pay me four-plus months of my wage increase or I'll have to take a day off to go to court.
It appears that the pool renovations at my condo (that I wrote about a few days ago) will happen, and I think they were going to happen regardless of the vote, since they were moving the equipment in as they were collecting the ballots. In a lengthy discussion with my condo manager, he told me that the pool contributes 30% to the value of our homes. I found it hard to believe, since a 50-foot concrete hole in the ground can't possibly be worth that much. Does anyone know a realtor who can answer a finely-worded e-mail?
The cat (in case you were wondering) is still purring along. He is supposed to have a kidney malfunction, but I find that I get up to pee at night more than he does. Generally, he sleeps right through, while I'm up at least twice. I'm thinking that he's healthier than me at this stage. He's 17 years and 3 months, and the way I figure it, he's been a gift that, even if he develops something life-threatening over the next year or so, I've had a wonderful time with him and - forgive me if this sounds harsh - but I'd just as soon let him go naturally than to spend thousands of dollars and prolong a possibly painful existence for the sake of my guilty conscience and the veterinarian's bank account. From what I gather, aging pets are a gold-mine for vets, since they prey on guilty owners who will do anything to keep Fido alive for another three weeks.
I'm going to sit down and have a long talk with the kitty about all of this when the time comes. That's a better conscience soother than two thousand dollars worth of vet bills and an extra three weeks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


How did I spend my Sunday afternoon? Thanks for asking. In the rainy and cloudy weather we had, what better way than to watch two of the LPGA's best players battle it out in sunny Florida? I know, you could think of a dozen better things, but that's part of the "sick" title, isn't it?
Rather than watch 6th round NFL draft picks on ESPN, [yawn] I decided (prudently) to wander over to ESPN2 to watch the girls battle it out in Adventura, Florida. It was Annika versus Paula Creamer in what would become a sudden death playoff. For the record, the "death" part is exaggerated. They're both alive and well, although one of them (Annika) has a big glass trophy and the other one has to deal with defeat. Paula will be just fine.
For those of you who may not know, the actors are preparing to strike, as their writing brethren did a few months ago. Their contract expires on June 30, and Hollywood is nervous about the "talent" walking out just as the writers did.
Big names like George Clooney and Tom Hanks have been quietly urging Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg to commence negotiations now in hopes of averting another contentious battle. Even AFTRA (SAG's sister organization, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) reportedly wants to start formal talks.
Things like that make me think. Entertainers have a strange compensation program. Writers, producers and actors are paid every time a program runs, while the rest of us are paid once for what we do. They call it a residual payment, but to me it sounds like a scheme.
The original residual agreements for television shows never anticipated the number of repeat broadcasts that some well-loved television series would eventually see in syndication. As a result, the residual payments were generally limited to about six broadcasts. This was changed in the mid-1970s, when contracts for new television shows extended residual payments without limit on the number of repeats.
Under the current system, the television production company retains 80% of the fees earned from reruns. The other 20% is paid to the various performers and off-camera crew
Suppose the nurse who gave you a cortisone shot for a sore elbow got a few extra cents every time you bent your arm? Maybe your high school history teacher should get a nickel every time you remember that Charles Julius Guiteau assassinated James A. Garfield?
Or maybe I should get a cut, too?
For all of the fascinating junk I've exposed to you over the past couple of years, I could probably retire. Once again, I've picked the wrong job.