« November 2005 | Main | January 2006 »

December 31, 2005

new year's resolutions you can keep

It’s a yearly ritual. You make a set of New Year’s resolutions that you sincerely intend to keep only to grow discouraged and break them. You can end this cycle of failure and despondency by simply making more realistic resolutions in the first place: 

  1. Promise to call your parents more often. Then get busy and forget.
  2. Get that health club membership you’re always talking about and pledge to yourself that you will let it lapse after the three-month introductory rate expires.
  3. Start learning a foreign language. Then stop just as the unit on verb conjugation begins.
  4. Promise that you will seriously consider volunteering at the local homeless shelter and then never get around to it.
  5. Become more involved in local politics by sitting in your den and noting “what a bunch of idiots those guys are” to your dog.
  6. Kick off your search for a new, more rewarding career by searching Monster.com and marking the jobs you may be interested in. Carefully monitor them as they get filled by other people.
  7. When laying out your yearly household budget, be sure to include an “other” category followed by a question mark.
  8. Promise to cut back on your broccoli intake, “no matter what.”
  9. Pledge that by the end of the year, you will fit into that size 12 dress you purchased, even though you wear a 10 now.
  10. Try adopting some of your dog’s better characteristics such as his honesty and pleasant disposition. Start by licking yourself.

Happy New Year, everybody.

J.

December 31, 2005 at 09:20 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

maybe we'll just wait for the 0% financing and rebates

Combining the heavy armor of a windbreaker with the expense of a Mercedes S500, a version of the American Growler hopes to see service soon with the United States Marine Corps as part of its Expeditionary Fire Support System.

Based on the Viet Nam-era M151 Jeep, the Growler is basically a $100,000 upgrade from the company’s $7500 UV100DB dune buggy.

The military justifies the cost by noting the many updated systems the Growler incorporates such as an exotic, experimental, engine know as a “Diesel.” Under secret development for over 100 years, and surreptitiously installed in numerous European and American cars and trucks for field testing, the Diesel (pronounced “Diesel”) is only now coming to light after being recklessly exposed in a New York Times article which revealed the locations of several East European plants where the previously classified engine is manufactured. (An investigation into the leak is ongoing.)

In addition to the Diesel, the vehicle also incorporates an advanced “O-KEDS” (Onboard Kinetic Energy Diminishment System) known in the vernacular as “disc brakes.” As anyone who has ever checked off that option on a modern vehicle knows, that’s easily a few hundred bucks right there.

The Growler had to be specifically designed to fit inside a V-22 Osprey, the new Marine combat air transport vehicle and had to be light and rugged enough to survive that aircraft’s occasional “UHIL” (Unscheduled High-Impact Landing).

Because of its lack of armor and open cockpit design, critics contend it is unsuitable for hostile environments such as those found on the airport road to Baghdad, the mountain passes of Afghanistan, and the quilting bee at the National Girl Scout Jamboree where ballistic sewing needles could easily “put an eye out.”

The Growler managed to beat out two other contenders for the contract including the Arbor Pin 46 Force-Projection Skateboard and the Schwinn Tactical Strike Trike, despite the latter’s sophisticated stealth mode which consisted of removing the playing cards from the spokes.

Providing additional firepower, the Growler is designed to tow the French-made RT-120 mortar behind it. This was fortuitous for its manufacturer as the weapons system had proven problematical when French soldiers kept surrendering to the UPS guy every time a unit was delivered.

Exactly what kind of mission would an unarmored dune buggy that can be deployed anywhere in the world undertake?

Let’s just say that should we ever find it necessary to occupy a Club Med and secure the nearest tiki bar under the withering assault of cabana boys armed with the latest in drink trays and sun umbrellas, well, we’ll be ready.

J.

December 30, 2005 at 03:33 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

taking the “islam” out of islamic terrorist

Muslims across the nation reacted with outrage that anyone would suggest that members of al Qaeda might in some way, even if only remotely, be vaguely Muslim in nature.

This, in response to reports that federal officials had tested for elevated radiation levels at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington DC area.

The FBI initially defended the program claiming that al Qaeda members were believed to occasionally congregate in Muslim neighborhoods, based only on such tenuous links as their shared faith, language and culture. “Why we thought people of similar religious and ethnic backgrounds might gather together, I have no idea,” observed one clearly embarrassed FBI agent catching a quick lunch in Chinatown.

Now realizing that it was all merely coincidence, federal officials will apply their finite resources to carefully monitoring Roman Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, and Tom Cruise’s house for any suspicious al Qaeda-related activity.

“We see Katie Holmes with a suicide vest,” bragged one federal agent, “She’s going down like a space wagon under Marcab Confederacy attack.”

This new, more inclusive, approach to fighting terror is expected to help protect America from the kinds of horrific civil rights lawsuits and brutal ACLU attacks it has so suffered from in the past.

“Never again,” intoned one Homeland Security official, “Never again.”

J.

December 29, 2005 at 04:18 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

speaking of buffer zones, how about one around “hannity and colmes”

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering legislation that would expand the “buffer zone” around abortion clinics from the current 18 feet from entrances and driveways to a distance coterminous with the border of Rhode Island. There, pro-life activists could exercise their free speech rights at the visitor center’s gift shop right next to the tourist pamphlets, “So, You Want to Pay More Taxes,” and “Marriage: It’s Not Just For Breeders Anymore.”

Pro-Life activists are outraged at the proposed change noting that their mission is mostly one of education.  “Many of these young women are simply unaware that they are instruments of Satan,” said one protest coordinator.

And their message does appear to be getting through. One woman who had been coming for a consultation said that she had no idea that she was hastening the coming of the anti-Christ by her actions. “There really ought to be some brochures on that or something,” she added.

However, proponents of the expanded buffer zone believe it is essential as some pro-life protestors attempt to intimidate abortion doctors and their staff by threatening to kill them.

This creates a promising opportunity for compromise: Where do abortion doctors and their staff come from? That’s right, fetuses! These clinics aren’t killing babies, they’re killing future abortionists. Talk about a win-win.

Hopefully the Nobel Peace Prize Committee still has our telephone number from the time we tried to reunite The Police.  Unfortunately, our carefully crafted argument ("It would be, like, so cool.") was not enough to convince Sting to abandon his new career as a sure fire sleep aid.

J.

December 29, 2005 at 01:10 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

playing the blame game, “american” style

Canada is experiencing a sudden increase this year in the use of handguns in violent crimes. In the United States, this would have been blamed on the Bush administration, but because this is Canada, it was blamed on the Bush administration.

Okay, not specifically, but the United States in general for “exporting” handgun violence.

The cause-and-effect is obvious. The murder rate in Toronto doubled this year as a direct consequence of America’s little known “Export Handgun Violence to Canada Act” passed last year attached as a rider to a sorghum subsidy reauthorization bill. (While many lawmakers were “uneasy” with this, they felt that ensuring the nation’s supply of sorghum was too vital to American interests to risk a political battle and hoped that with the passage of the bill perhaps someday someone would tell them what sorghum was.) The rider required that every handgun sold in the U.S. come with a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and a postage-paid shipping carton to Toronto.

Some have suggested that perhaps the elevated crime rate was related to something other than a sudden increase in gun smuggling from the United States, such as the growth in street gangs, the under funding of social programs directed at disadvantaged youth, and the cancellation of the NHL season.

Courageously attacking the problem head on, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has pledged that if he is reelected next month, he will directly address the smuggling of illegal handguns into Canada by banning the legal ownership of handguns in Canada.

Perhaps only in this way, can Toronto become the kind of tranquil, nearly crime-free paradise that is Washington, DC.

J.

December 28, 2005 at 07:02 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

how could it have been worse? two words: taco bell

Addressing the critical shortage of Starbucks in the Annapolis, Maryland area, the ubiquitous purveyor of overpriced caffeine delivery systems plans to open its sixth coffee shop at the gateway of the city’s historic City Dock.

Even better, they will be taking over space where a storied tavern had been operating for over 200 years thus finally doing something about the growing problem of “historic sprawl,” the cancer-like spread of preserved architecture, local charm and distinctive character.

“I tell you what,” said one local proprietor, “Once you let that start, there’s no stopping it. If we don’t move quickly to get some more national chains in here applying their soothing balm of homogeneity and the quiet affirmation of mass market acceptance we could end up with even more strange shops, with their odd, unfamiliar offerings and scary new signs and logos.”

The Starbucks is supported by Greg Stiverson, president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation. “It strikes me as kind of a historically appropriate use for the place," said Stiverson, finishing off his third double espresso of the morning. "Coffeehouses were very popular in Annapolis. They were a gathering place, and that's basically what this Starbucks is planned to be,” he went on, suggesting he envisions a Starbucks in which locals gather to discuss the news of the day and other pressing civic matters while lingering the five-and-a-half seconds of the average customer.

Hey, you want historic, go to a museum where that crap belongs.  You want expensive sugar-laden coffee-like drinks and ready access to focus-group tested CD compilations of inoffensive theme-oriented music, come to downtown Annapolis.

J.

December 27, 2005 at 02:41 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 26, 2005

“dude, i breathed so much last night…”

How is using the “Alcohol Without Liquid” machine (AWOL) different from doing shots of tequila?

  • It offers a virtually calorie-free, low-carb alternative to traditional drinking thus helping to address the critical problem of obesity threatening the health of the nation. 
  • It’s illegal 

Or, it’s becoming illegal, with Michigan already outlawing the machines and Pennsylvania not far behind with state Representative Frank Dermody introducing legislation that would also ban the devices.

"It's just vaporized alcohol; you're just inhaling it, the effects are immediate, the intoxication is a lot quicker," Dermody said, apparently wholly unfamiliar with kamikaze night at college fraternities.

When presented with behavior it considers undesirable, the government usually first attempts to either ban it or tax it. If neither of those works, it just takes over the whole operation itself.

This is unfortunate. For far too long having a drink has involved the endless tedium of drinking. Sure, we’ve had some minor innovations over the years, the Octabong, the Thirst Aid Helmet, the 10 AM bourbon shots at the Kennedy compound, but nothing truly new until now. With the AWOL machines, you need only to breathe to get drunk. It’s kind of a two-fer.

Of course,there are downsides to the AWOL. First, it’s tough to vaporize an olive. Second, occasional carelessness with the little umbrellas can result in tragic consequences.

Still, with seven days of Chanukah left, we may just have solved, yet again, your gift giving dilemma.

J.

December 26, 2005 at 02:32 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

last-minute holiday shopping

Well, now you’re really down to the last minute. The holidays are upon you and you’re already on your way to visit friends and family a dozen of whom you still have not purchased gifts for.

For you, we introduce a shopping opportunity that is often overlooked during the holiday season: The convenience store. 

Convenience stores provide the two elements essential to last-minute gift shopping for loved ones: 

  1. They offer a wide selection making it more likely you’ll find that one special gift. 
  2. They’re open 

Some ideas to get you started: 

  • Where better to get a gift for that coffee lover in the family than at the cappuccino station at your local convenience store? You can even add that little extra bit of holiday cheer with a shot of artificially flavored hazelnut creamer. (Note: This is a gift best given quickly.) 
  • Do you have a Japanese friend who longs for a taste of home? Teriyaki-flavored beef jerky means one more name you can cross off your list. 
  • How about the young nephews who are always bothering the adults complaining that they’re bored? For them, NASCAR-themed lighters and a five-gallon can of gasoline spell hours of holiday fun. 
  • There’s nothing quite like a fistful of lottery tickets and a pack of cigarillos to say “I love you, grandma.” 
  • When you call your hostess to say, “No need to cook Christmas dinner this year, I’ve got it covered” you will endear yourself to your friends and family with a gesture that will be talked about for years to come particularly when you show up with 37 orders of meatball subs and cheese nachos. 

Hopefully that helps you out. As for me, I’ve got to get going. I’ve had my eye on this bottle of window washer fluid that I just know the in-laws will love.

J.

December 24, 2005 at 04:29 PM in Weekend Leisure | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 23, 2005

we think we know what the “in” gift will be for christmas 2008

The United States Senate this week passed a measure that best reflects its sacred mission to promote the public good if by “public” you mean the telecommunications industry and by “good” you mean the profits of consumer electronics companies.

The measure will essentially mandate the end of analog TV transmissions. This means that on February 18, 2009, the nation will go fully digital making every old television and TV tuner about as useful and productive as a dissenting voice in the White House.

Sure, most televisions are hooked up to cable or satellite boxes and so would still be able to receive all 720 channels of programming (236 of which must, by law, be dedicated to showing Law & Order reruns). In fact, the FCC estimates that only 15% of today’s consumers receive TV using antennas and by 2009, only 7% will. That will be a paltry 20 million individuals. If you’re like us, when you think “rabbit ears on top of a television,” you think, “young and affluent market demographic.” If anyone can afford to toss out their old televisions, or buy digital receivers, it’s these folks. For those few who may need some financial assistance, the Senate bill sets aside funding for $40 digital tuner vouchers. For those of you with portable radios that receive TV bands, you will also receive $4 duct tape vouchers for ease of attachment.

Once this old spectrum is vacated by the TV channels, a small portion will be dedicated to first responders and other emergency personnel whose courage we all respect and admire and for whom the public owes this great debt of gratitude. The vast majority will be auctioned off to telecommunications companies whose courage we all respect and admire and for whom the public owes this great debt of gratitude. The estimated $10 billion to be raised in the auction goes into the general treasury where it will, based on current fiscal management policies, be used to spend $20 billion.

The bill addresses a problem with the old law that required this elimination of the analog signal only when 85% of households had acquired digital tuners. But unfortunately the public has remained largely unpersuaded by the brilliance of the government’s digital conversion plans and at the current rate of adoption would meet the 85% target sometime during the Chelsea Clinton administration. Once passed, this unfortunate behavior will be properly rectified.

Bad citizen, bad.

J.

December 23, 2005 at 05:33 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

apparently their court case was not so well designed

A U.S. District Judge ruled this week that requiring government employees to teach a theory suggesting that divine intervention had a role in the creation of life on earth might just, in some admittedly tangential manner, violate the Constitution’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.

Proponents of Intelligent Design have made pains over the years to separate the theory from its religious roots noting that they refer only to an “Intelligent Designer” and not “God.” The defeat was a particularly bitter one considering, as one noted, that this is “the season in which we celebrate the birth of our Intelligent Designer.”

“All that judge had to do,” said one disappointed parent, “was ask himself, ‘What would Intelligent Designer do?’”

The decision was considered a blow to other religious groups wishing to have their teachings on the origin of life included in public school curriculums including Scientologist who had hoped to introduce the theory of Intelligent Alien Design, the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy who had hoped to push “Simply Fabulous Design,”  and several Muslim sects who have been extolling a theory in which Allah sent his son into the heavens to detonate his sacred suicide belt, the fragments of which set in motion the sun the earth and the stars. Also, a bunch of Jews were killed.

Despite the defeat, supporters of Intelligent Design plan to soldier on and are convinced that they will find an appropriate venue to teach their theories.

Perhaps, even, in a church.

J.

December 22, 2005 at 02:52 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack