Friday, October 31, 2003


For 364 days a year, parents tell their children not to take candy from strangers. In fact, be very wary of strangers offering to give you candy. Don't even talk to strangers. Then, October 31 comes around and parents lead their children around to take candy from strangers.

Is it any wonder our young people are confused by the values the older generations are trying to impart in them? We can't even get the message straight.

Guest Blogger

Courtesy of Elie:

Ever since the first radio station in Chicago in 1921, parents have complained that the mindless drone of radio, fading into the mindless drone of television, has kept children from reading. Now that Harry Potter has coaxed children back to books, parents fault the series for promoting paganism, dysfunctional family values, and most recently, health problems (click here for the full article). J.K. Rowling solved an 82-year-old problem of childrearing, and for that, she deserves to be richer than the Queen of England. Did the doctor that has diagnosed "Hogwart's Headaches" stop to think that maybe the aches are the sensation of young brains being asked to think for the first time in their lives?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Still no Fireworks

I don't think these geomagnetic storms are going to happen. Last night, the cable was on the fritz, but then again, our cable often is staticky and unreliable. The bad reception could possibly not have been sun-related. Our satellite worked fine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Blood in the Water...

By one of my two barometers of presidential approval, Bush is in trouble. Today the local oldies station played both Edwin Starr's "War" and Jonathan Edwards' "Sunshine." The implications of "War" are pretty obvious ("War [grunt] what is it good for? Absolutely nothing..."), particularly on a highly republican radio station. I'm not sure that anyone at the station has listened to the song "Sunshine" with the current administration in mind, but if you read the lyrics, the correlations are hard to miss.

I've wanted to call in and dedicate that one to the president, but I'm not sure anyone would get the message.

Incidentally, my other approval barometer is if and when Comedy Central reruns "That's My Bush," the sitcom parodying the president, back when we all thought he was stupid and before he became scary. It suddenly dissapeared from the lineup on September 12, 2001. It's made reappearances for President's Day marathons, and not long ago, it ran for no apparent reason, albeit at 2 a.m. When it reruns for no reason during daylight hours, the end of the administration is nigh.

Maybe this time...

Well, the fall out from the solar flare they promised us last Friday didn't materialize, but not to worry. There's another one on the way tonight. This time they say the light show might be visible all the way to Florida.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Who Was At Those Meetings?...

Now, I'm all for teaching our teenagers not to jump in bed with just anyone, and that there are distinct advantages to not having sex until they are in a committed relationship, but if this is the only perspective we are giving the next generation, we are going to have to rely on the innate biological horniness of young people who don't know how to use contraception, or else the species is going to become extinct. What sort of twisted logic do these policymakers follow? "If we frighten our young people spitless of having premarital sex, they will have healthy, mature marital relationships, enjoying God's natural gift of sexuality that would certainly kill them until the moment they said 'I do.'" Yup. Teenagers will believe that.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Butts in slings...

It seems to me that the Democratic presidential candidates who are not current members of congress have those who are senators/representatives over a barrel.

Back in the day, most decided that the prudent course of action was to authorize military force in Iraq. They came to this decision based on the available information, much of which now hovers somewhere between suspect and disproven.

However, now that we have a bigger picture to look at and the congressmen have to make more decisions about what the next step in Iraq is, the congressmen who made a decision based on faulty information now face a catch-22:

1) Basing their decision on the new, and with any luck more accurate, information, they can vote against continued funding or whatever other Iraq-related measures come before them. This gets them accused of flip-flopping on the issues and not supporting our troops.

2) They can maintain a position in accordance with their previous pro-military action vote. This gets them accused of supporting their political opponent and not being a real Democrat.

There is no good way out of this quandary, except for the candidates who never had to make a decision on record before more complete and more accurate information was available. They can claim that the whole thing is a theoretical exercise for them, so it doesn't matter.

I would rather vote for someone who makes the best decision based on all the available information, and is not afraid to re-assess his position when new information becomes available. I do not trust someone who figured out a set of political positions at the age of 16 and has kept them for the last half century or more without considering the impact of new social/political/medical/financial/technological developments.

Changing a position on an issue is not the worst thing a person can do. Ignoring new information is infinitely worse, as is putting the party ahead of the good of the nation.


Just a little something to make you laugh. I'll post a longer, more serious item later tonight.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Rational Discussion...

I find the Christian Science Monitor intriguing, as newspapers go. Their reporting is better than many outlets, and even though their editorial slant is a bit more conservative than my own, I find they make valid points more often than not. Most importantly, even when I don't agree with them, the writing is such that at least they make me see the logic of their viewpoint.

This article on marriage is a great example. Not only is it a remarkably balanced discussion of the debate over same-sex marriage--particularly remarkable for a publication with "Christian" in the title--it examines the issue's larger impact on the shifting attitudes toward marriage and how visceral reactions make a rational discussion difficult.

For my part, I think the best way to solidify marriage in this country is to take the emphasis off the wedding. Women, in particular, can be so obsessed with having the wedding of their dreams that I think they forget that it involves a marriage. I'm convinced that more women get married just to have a wedding than will ever admit it, even to themselves. Maybe we should just divorce the wedding from marriage and allow women to throw a wedding without a groom--after all, that's how many are planned from the bride's early childhood.

One of my friends was married in by a judge in between two arraignment hearings. She and her husband didn't even know the people who signed as witnesses to their marriage. My husband and I were married in a fairly simple civil ceremony that we probably put a grand total of 12 mintues into planning. Other women I know have done everything except rent swans to make their special day picture perfect. In my experience, the amount of fuss put into the act of getting married seems to be inversely proportional to the happiness of the subsequent marriage.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

That Time of Year Again...

Tonight's the night we get an extra hour of sleep or what have you. If you want to be precise about the clock-turning, go to the US Naval Observatory to see what the official time is. From the above link, click on "USNO Time in Standard Time Zones" to find local time.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Look out your window

Well, the sun just hocked a loogie in our direction. The bad news: your cell phone may be on the fritz today. The good news: Those of us as far south as Oregon and Ohio may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight. Check it out.

Penguins in Space

NASA is getting into the penguin game.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Battered Men...

I have CNN's American Morning running in the background, and I was trying to ignore the segment on Liza Minelli and David Gest's divorce problems. Frankly, I don't put much stock in celebrity reporting, particularly about postmarital problems.

Thank goodness for TiVo's rewind feature (for those of you who haven't entered the world of PVRs, it allows you to rewind live television). I could not believe I actually heard the following question CNN's Bill Hemmer put to Carolina Buia, a reporter from "Celebrity Justice," the program that is publicizing the details of the Minelli/Gest allegations.

HEMMER (after reading one of the allegations Gest makes against Minelli, involving her punching him repeatedly in the head): What are we to make of this? David Gest is a very successful man. Is it money, or is there more to it?

Putting aside both the celebrity and the as-yet-untried legal merits of this particular situation, I cannot imagine a national news station ever implying that a woman would charge a man with savagely beating her so that she could get money.

Ms. Buia actually managed to salvage the question by discussing the underreported prevalence of domestic violence against men.

BUIA: Well, from the suit, I mean, he alleges he is just a victim of domestic abuse, and actually it is shedding light on domestic abuse against men because normally you don't hear about this. But apparently 1/3 of the cases of domestic abuse are against men, and at least 800,000 cases a year are reported against men.

Unfortunately, Hemmer did not rise to her serious reply, and, after commenting "Is that so? I did not know that," he went on to question Buia, rather dismissively, about physical complaints that Gest says in the court papers resulted from the beatings.

Domestic violence is a serious social problem, but there is a limit to the amount of progress that can be made when a major media outlet dismisses 1/3 of the problem. It is even more limited when the victim's advocacy groups ignore the possibility of domestic violence against men.

Most cell phone stores have a box where you can donate your old cell phone to "Call to Protect," a group that distributes cell phones to victims of domestic violence so they can call 911 if they fear their safety. Unfortunately, this program is in partnership with The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I don't know much about the organization, but here is the testimonial that Rita Smith, the group's executive director, gave to the "Call To Protect" website:

"The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has gained a great deal from our partnership with The Wireless Foundation, the most important benefit being that lives have been saved. In addition, all battered women at risk who have been given a cell phone have been able to gain a higher level of safety and peace of mind as they try to rebuild their lives." (emphasis mine).

With that attitude, I wonder how many of these emergency phones are going to the 1/3 of domestic violence victims who are men. When even the victim's advocacy groups ignore the male victims, the problem is not going to go away. Although NCADV's site does the "he/she" thing when discussing the batterer, their sections on "getting help" and "safety planning" are blatantly worded to assume that the victim is female (e.g. Step 10 of the plan after the victim leaves a relationship: "Go to a battered women's shelter").

Again, it matters very little if the particular allegations David Gest makes against Liza Minelli hold water or not. What matters is that apparently no one--not the media, not the victim's advocates--is taking the problem of domestic violence against men seriously.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Children and Restaurants...

I just had an otherwise lovely evening out ruined by a screaming infant ("14 months old!" the parents proudly proclaimed to the hostess, waiter, and everyone else who would listen).

There was a time when parents used to ingrain proper public behavior in their children BEFORE they took them out to a restaurant. I know I'm not imagining that because I was a child during this time and I remember that my parents made clear that obnoxious behavior would get us an immediate ticket home, regardless of whether they were done with their errands or meals or whatever took them out of the house.

Aaah, for the good old days.


If you liked the last post, check out this related op-ed in the CSM.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Death of Thought in College

The Christian Science Monitor posted an intriguing article here about how college students have, at best, minimal critical thinking skills. Most universities and professors maintain that they teach and encourage critical thinking in their classrooms, but when pressed for details, often can't quite come up with how.

In my seven-year-long quest for a university degree, I have attended a small private university and two large state-run public colleges. The state schools are glorified vocational schools. Everything is about advancing your career. The only difference between the state schools and a trade school is what kind of trade they are training for. Very few students care about knowledge for knowledge's sake. I'm currently taking a class at the second state school to finish up the degree, and most of my classmates are the traditional straight-from-high-school-looking-for-the-most-marketable-degree type. Just the look on their faces when I dare to challenge the professor's interpretation of a literary work should be proof enough that they are not being asked to think critically. Most don't even realize that you are allowed to disagree with the professor, or at least require him to offer support for his interpretations. They seem to believe that the professor's word is the law handed down on the mountaintop.

Byron Steiger, one of my sociology professors at Pacific University, the private school, showed what it meant to force critical thinking on students. When an exam came around--and all of his exams were essay or short answer--his minimum expectation was that everyone in the class could answer the question adequately. Hence, simply answering the question was worth a C-range grade. If we wanted anything more than a C, we had to start showing how the question related to other areas of sociology or even other disciplines. His final assignment for the criminology class was "write an integrated theory of criminal behavior," which was the very task he had emphasized all semester that professional theoretical criminologists had failed to do. If it matters, I managed a 98 on that paper.

That was critical thinking. I tell that to my classmates and they cringe. I can't convey to them how that kind of a classroom environment was infinitely more interesting than having to regurgitate what the professor wants to hear in proper MLA format with the proper number of well-researched scholarly secondary sources used to formulate support for the interpretations discussed in class.

Incidentally, Byron's critical thinking skills are the reason that I can answer the question about the chicken and the egg.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Double Standards...

Can anyone explain to me why two major department stores will allow me to accompany my husband into the fitting rooms in their men's departments, but will not allow him into the fitting rooms with me in the women's departments? It seems that any of their concerns, whether it be shoplifting or illicit activity, would be just as easily accomplished in the men's department as the women's.

Elie and I went down to the mall today to pick up a couple new brassieres (it's okay, the girly things are incidental). We went to two stores--to protect their identities, I'll refer to them as Dillard's and J.C. Penney's--in search of the perfect garment. At Penney's, the sales associate was nowhere in sight when we walked into the fitting room together with the first round of picks, but she said nothing when we walked out. We picked out a few more and tried to go back to the fitting room. This time, the sales associate politely but firmly informed my husband "you're not allowed back there." In all my shopping at Penney's, no sales associate has said I could not accompany him into the men's fitting room when we are shopping for him. In fact, when I was a sales associate for Penney's a few years ago, the men's suit associate actually encouraged me to go into the fitting room with him when we were purchasing men's suits.

The sales associate was polite about it, but we were so disgusted with the double standard that we put the four garments back and left for Dillards. It's a shame, too. The ones we had picked out were quite comfortable.

At Dillards, we found a few more articles and again headed for the fitting room. Again, one of the sales associates firmly told my husband that he was not allowed in the fitting room with me. If I hadn't needed a brassiere before tomorrow, we would have just left. As it was, we purchased what I had in my hand, fully intending to make the store go through the trouble of taking a return on any that did not strike my fancy.

On the way out of Dillard's, we found a sale on men's slacks. Elie decided to try a pair on, since he needs new slacks anyway. The sales associate in the men's department had no problem with me accompanying him into the fitting room in the men's department.

The double standard has so disgusted me that I fully intend to spend a little more to shop at another, smaller, store that allows men into the fitting rooms with their wives.

If anyone has any insights as to why this double standard exists, please email the address at the right.

Before you sign on the dotted line...

If your cell phone contract is set to expire in the next month, expect your carrier to offer some sweet deals to get you to sign on to a 1-2 year contract. Cell phone companies are trying to lock as many people into the longest possible contracts before November 24.

That's the day your cell number becomes portable. You will no longer have to put up with subpar service just because it is a pain in the backside to switch your cell number. In a bit over a month, you can take it with you when you find a carrier with better service or reception.

Unless, of course, you've signed a two-year contract with your current subpar provider because they offered you airline miles or a few more weekend minutes. Then, you're stuck with those guys until your contract expires.

If the airline miles and extra minutes look good now, wait and see what kind of incentives you can get out of them for staying when you have a choice.

OK Guys...

You can start reading again. I'm done talking about girl stuff.

Public Service Announcement for the women in the audience...

By some estimates, around 75% of women wear the wrong size brassiere. Brassiere stores put the figure around 90%. Whatever the particulars, there are a lot of us out there who haven't reassessed our brassiere size since high school.

Victoria's Secret stores are pushing their "free bra fittings" right now. It takes about 15 seconds and they can measure you right over your shirt. You don't have to purchase anything, although if you like, they will send you into a fitting room to see how the new size works out.

It's amazing how much more comfortable a properly-fitting brassiere is. Plus, I think I look thinner now that my bra is not creating love handles.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

3 of 4 stars on the irony-o-meter

This item has been all over the blog circuit, but since I am devoted to pointing out mind-blowing irony in the news, I have to mention it.

An unnamed administration official leaked the story of George W. Bush demanding an end to leaks by unnamed administration officials.

Thanks to ME for pointing it out.

Campbell's Soup...

I didn't have time to make any observations about the weird world we have found ourselves in, so I am giving you another day to ponder the last three bits of irony and blatant hypocrisy I have pointed out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Speaking of Excess Calorie Consumption...

The following excerpt is taken directly from the McDonald's website:

"McDonald's cares about our customers. We want to help them make informed choices not only when they come to our restaurants, but just as important, when they make decisions about exercise, diet, and other daily activities that can affect health.

We support healthy lifestyles by:

-Serving a variety of nutritious, high-quality food products and portion sizes.
-Providing nutrition information to help our customers make informed choices.
-Educating our customers about healthful eating and energy balance."

Click here for the press release announcing their "Healthy Lifestyles"campaign.

While you are reading all this information about how McDonald's is committed to helping us eat healthily, consider that the game pieces for McDonald's much-publicized Monopoly game come only on the following menu items:
-Large and Super Size® drinks
-Medium, Large and Super Size® Fries
-Hash Browns
In addition, a special Best Buy Chance piece (two Monopoly Game Stamps, plus one Best Buy Chance Piece) "is attached to Large and Super Size® Fry Cartons ONLY."
That last sentence is cut-and-pasted directly from the Monopoly game rules. The emphasis is in the original.

Yup. That's really getting behind that commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to my dear Elie for pointing out the fact that he could not get a game piece for their promo by eating one of their health-conscious "adult Happy Meals" for lunch today.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Chew on this...

"Absurdly, while one hand of the federal government is campaigning against the epidemic of obesity, the other hand is actually subsidizing it, by writing farmers a check for every bushel of corn they can grow. "
--Michael Pollan, writing in the New York Times Magazine. (Full Article)

Apparently, there is a very elegant solution for both the domestic obesity epidemic and much of the anti-American sentiment in developing nations: stop paying American farmers to grow more food than we need.

Farmers have managed to grow 500 more calories per person per day than they grew in the mid-70's, and, although only about 200 of those wind up in our bodies (check your gasoline, sunscreen, and prescription drugs for the rest of the corn), that still works out to a potential weight gain of about 22 pounds per year. The increased yeild is made economically feasible by agricultural subsidies that pay farmers by the quantity of crop they produce--kind of like when we pay welfare mothers more for having more children.

Those of us who can't remember the mid-70's or before might not know that the farm subsidy program was not always like this. The (Franklin) Roosevelt administration created a system that set and supported a price for crops based on the production costs, without directly paying farmers to grow the crops.

The current overproduction of crops also angers developing nations. Overproduction, prompted by subsidies-by-the-bushel, depresses the prices of the commodity worldwide. Understandably, farmers who aren't getting a check from their government are not so keen on having to sell their crops for artificially low prices. You know, the same anger we are currently feeling for China because they are keeping the value of their currency artificially low, giving them a comptetitive advantage.

In sum:
1. The government pays farmers to grow too much food for us to eat.
2. They government then spends money trying to figure out how we can lose the weight we have gained from eating the food they have paid farmers to grow for us.
3. By paying farmers to grow too much food, the government lowers the worldwide prices of crops.
4. When artificially depressed prices make it difficult to impossible for other country's farmers to make a living, they become upset at us.
5. People who are upset at us tend to want to harm us. Thankfully, to our knowledge, these nations are too busy trying to eke out a living to develop offensive weapons.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

No wonder prescription drug prices are so high. The pharmeceutical industry has spent $29 million dollars lobbying Congress against allowing imports of approved prescription drugs, which can almost always be had less expensively than domestically-purchased prescriptions. For the complete AP story, click here.

$29,000,000. That is about $1 for every American who went without health insurance for the entire year of 1998, the most recent year that the Congressional Budget Office has reliable comparative data on the subject.

TiVo Alert!

Sunday October 19 at 10 p.m. on TVLand, the 60 Minutes Interviews will air an interview with Charles Schulz.

Recommended Reading

Representative Barney Frank outlines his reasons for voting against President Bush's request for $87 billion here. Thanks to Mark Evanier for pointing it out.

Representative Frank has a valid point.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Name that Context...

Referring to Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax tax preparation software:
"They really want to make it clear that they're going to be a little more customer-friendly than they were last year."
--RBC Capital Markets analyst Cameron Steele

What was so customer-unfriendly about TurboTax 2002?
a) It crashed Windows XP when you entered your IRA contributions
b) You couldn't get a live customer service agent on the phone in under 20 minutes.
c) Intuit had installed precautionary measures to prevent unauthorized copying and sharing.

Correct Answer: C

Yup. Intuit issued a formal apology to consumers for making it harder for them to pirate software. For the full Reuters article, including apology, click here,

I used the 2002 TurboTax software in question to prepare my returns last year. The software did not bar users from preparing multiple returns using the same disk. It did limit installation to one computer, and would only allow one tax return to be filed electronically. There were no limits on the number of returns that could be prepared on that computer, as long as the additional returns were printed and mailed to the IRS in hard-copy. The only inconvenience to people wishing to share software was that the additional tax filers had to come spend an hour or two at someone else's house entering the data, then print out a copy and mail it. Acquaintances of mine routinely have done just that in the past to "go halves" on the $30 or so cost of the software with other family members.

First, record companies became "the bad guy" for cracking down on illegal file swapping that infringed on their copyrights. Now a software company has apologized for making it harder for people to pirate their program.

Apparently, the electronic age has rendered copyrights meaningless.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Nearly mind-blowing irony...

I actually had to argue the social benefits of not having censorship during a discussion of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 today. People who had just read the classic anti-censorship novel were arguing for the limitation of access to ideas.

Their theses were something to the effect of "freedom of speech unless the speech is about a nontraditional idea" and "Books, good. Internet, bad." Now, I do not argue that there are vast amounts of absolute dreck on the internet, some of it from this very site. However, there are also no gatekeepers deciding what we can and cannot read by virtue of accepting or rejecting book proposals or articles. Anyone can post any idea they want on the Web, whereas publishers, editors, and booksellers decide what is and is not published and made available to the public in print. Electronic media have made censorship harder and freedom of speech easier to come by. The down side is it puts on the reader the onus of deciding which ideas are worthwhile.

Now that no one is filtering what we read before we have a chance to read it, we must make our own decisions about the merit of the ideas. Technology may be making us physically less active, but it is requiring us to develop previously-unnecessary critical reasoning skills.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

It depends on what your definition of "is" is...

The U.S. government is arguing that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay can be held indefinitely, without charges or access to a lawyer, because they are "aliens held outside U.S. territory and therefore are not entitled to rights granted by the Constitution" (for the full AP story, click here).

So, they are not protected under the Constitution because they are not in America--and have not defined what jurisdiction Guantanamo does fall under. They are not protected under the Geneva Convention because they are not prisoners of war; they are "enemy combatants" in a war that has no forseeable end.

By fiat, our government has defined people, places, and situations in such a way that no rules apply to them. There is no way for us to even determine whether they have done something wrong. Perhaps they have, and if so, they deserve to have a public declaration of who they are and why they have spent two years in no-man's land. They are stuck in limbo, while those of us who put them there have not only extinguished the light at the end of the tunnel, we are finding ways to deny that the tunnel even exists.

Campbell's Soup

Pardon my lack of blogging for the day. I'm working on a slightly longer piece for my other website. It should be up tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

President Schwarzenegger?!?

I'm not yet ready to proclaim this fishy, but a resolution was introduced in the House of Representative on June 11, 2003 that proposes a constitutional amendment to allow naturalized citizens to become president of the United States.

One of six co-sponsors of this resolution is Darrell Issa (R-Calif), the man who started the recall process that ended with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The timing may be coincidence. The idea may have been a long time coming. Issa may have deeply held principles that require him to take action to make all citizenships equal. I know only what I read about Issa in conjunction with the recall, so I can't say what his motivations may have been. The fact that there are five other co-sponsors, in addition to the main sponsor, insulates him from suspicion a bit.

Whatever Issa's motivation for signing on to the resolution, I would not lay odds that Arnold Schwarzenegger could survive a full-length presidential primary schedule. If this is a bid to put another republican-actor-turned-California-governor in the White House, the legal hurdles are only a start. Presidential Hopeful Schwarzenegger will still have to convince an entire country that he can lead a country, and I sure hope that takes more than spouting movie catchphrases and the magical ability to deflect accusations of repeated sex crimes.

Funny Money...

The last time the U.S. Mint redesigned the currency, I thought my grandparents had given me Monopoly money as a graduation present.

Now the Peachback is set to debut on Thursday, and after two major redesigns in 10 years, we still have some of the ugliest currency I have seen. When the treasury does its next revamp, which I believe is set for about 2010 or so, could they at least consider the aesthetics of the stuff they want us to spend like there is no tomorrow? Is it not possible to have both counterfeit protection and a reasonably pleasant color scheme? Peach and green should only be seen together on a peach tree.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Bizarro World

If the projections are right, it will be interesting to see what happens to Caifornia now.

When did knowing smart people become enough to make someone a viable political leader? Am I imagining a time, long ago, when you yourself, not just your advisors, had to have a clue?

The weather is officially whacked...

When I left for work at 8:30 this morning, there was frost on my windshield and my car's thermometer registered 35 degrees. When I left work at 5:15, the thermometer read 75.

The temperature is not supposed to swing 40 degrees in one day. A month, maybe, but not at day. Then again, I just switched my closet over from light summer blouses to my winter sweaters, so this was pretty much inevitable.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Spoke too soon...

William Safire just published a column referring to the flap over the outing of a CIA employee/operative/agent as "intimigate."

At least journalists are getting more creative with the -gates.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Did we really need to be told?...

The back of my jar of almonds carries the following warning: "May contain nuts or tree nuts."

Well, I certainly hope it contains nuts. Ditto on my jar of wheat germ that someone saw fit to warn me might contain wheat. If they do not contain nuts or wheat, respectively, I want some answers.

Now, I understand why warnings about common food allergens is needed on some products. It's impossible to know where every food additive comes from, and it is helpful to know if a product may contain traces of the nuts from the previous product packaged on an assembly line. But if the product is 100% unadulterated nut, will the little print on the back be any more effective than the big label on the front?

More reasons to drive a Prius

Here's another reason I'm glad I drive a hybrid. For those of you who don't want to register with the New York Times to read Thomas Friedmn's columns--although that alone is worth the three minutes it takes to register, and they don't send spam--he proposes a $1 per gallon gasoline tax, with rebates to truckers and farmers, to solve many of America's problems.

In sum:
"A tax that finances the democratization of Iraq takes money away from those who would use it to spread ideas harmful to us, weakens OPEC, makes us more energy independent, reduces the deficit and overnight improves the world's view of us — from selfish, Hummer-driving louts to good global citizens — would be the real patriot act. (It would also encourage Iraq not to become another oil-dependent state, but to build a middle class by learning to tap its people's entrepreneurship and creativity, not just its oil wells.)"

Friedman also goes through the reasons George W. Bush will never consider this obvious solution.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Last Word

I know I promised something insightful about how utterly unnecessary the outing of Ambassador Wilson's wife was, but I don't think I can add anything to the debate.

In lieu of rehashing old arguments, I submit the op-ed by Ambassador Wilson (you'll need to register with the New York Times to read it), and Robert Novak's column that revealed the ambassador's wife's true occupation. When you get to the paragraph about her, ask yourself what journalistic purpose could possibly have been served by including that particular bit of information.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Just Say No to Plamegate

Thankfully, the media seem to have settled on "The Plame Affair" to refer to the dust-up over the leak of a CIA operative's name.

After Whitewatergate, Travelgate, Monicagate, et al., I was beginning to wish they'd broken into the Mariott.


I fixed the link in the last post so non-AOL members can read it, too.

Guess the Context...

From an Associated Press article: "That would be the same as taking away your bread at our age,'' said John Schmitt, 72.

Was this man referring to Social Security's impending insolvency, the record number of people without health insurance, or maybe the flocks of physicians who do not treat patients on Medicare because of low reimbursement rates from the government?

No. He's referring to the fact that he will no longer get a senior citizen's discount on season passes to his local amusement park.

I'll repeat that, with italics, for those of you who did not believe your eyes the first time. A man who will no longer get discounted tickets to ride roller coasters and go to the waterpark said, "That would be the same as taking away your bread at our age."

So now discounted roller coaster access is a dietary staple for people over 55. I knew the FDA was revising the food guide pyramid and working out new nutritional guidelines, but I did not know waterparks were going to be included.

For those of you who are interested, here is a link.

The idea is very intriguing. The company that owns Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm, among other parks, has eliminated the senior citizen discount. The logic they use makes sense, but people do not want to admit it because it relies on us knowing that the people who run our amusement parks do it because it makes them money, not out of some altruistic urge to provide a fun family outing.

Forget OPEC

I'm tempted to beleive gas prices are tied directly to my gas gauge. For example, when I had 3/4 of a tank, gas prices at the local Speedway were $1.39, and they stayed that way through more than half a tank worth of driving. The day that I actually need to fill up my car, gas has jumped to $1.56.

At least I own a hybrid, so ten gallons goes a long way.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Amusing Diversion...

Here is a video clip of what happens to a file cabinet when you put it in a 1700 degree oven for an hour, then drop it 30 feet. To hear the actual thud that would accompany that video clip if it had sound, call Fire King International at (800) 457-2424 and choose option 3, then option 5.
Got something you really want God to hear? The Israeli post office will deliver it. Reuter's published God's Address.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

CIA take note...

The woman accusing Kobe Bryant of felony sexual assault remains anonymous in the news media. A (formerly) undercover CIA operative's name is all over the news after her identity was leaked by a newspaper columnist (stay tuned for a discussion of just how absurdly unnecessary the leak was in the first place).

Apparently, charging someone famous with a felony sex crime offers a person more identity protection than working undercover as an intelligence operative.

Sweet, non-drowsy irony

I just checked this over at the website where you all are reading it. Kind of ironic that the banner ad is for Ambien (see Monday's 6:13 p.m. entry)

Plea for Help

Can anyone list exactly what is shown in the opening montage of Star Trek Enterprise? Email if you have anwers

Tom Tomorrow

This Modern World, the Penguin's-eye-view of politics, is spot-on, and this week's cartoon is no exception. You can get a day pass to Salon by watching a short ad by whomever is sponsoring them today.