January 31, 2007
and we thought it was a problem when they were just mad
In an alarming development, authorities reported this week that a cow attacked and killed farmer Steven Walker, charging the Ohio man in his own barn.
While the cow’s motives remain unclear, sources within the Department of Homeland Security have confirmed that she had recently been placed on the department’s “No Milk List.” Patterned after the “No Fly List,” the program is intended to identify cows that are suspected of having ties to groups involved in plots to disrupt farming operations throughout the United States in an attempt to strike at the very heart of our ethanol infrastructure.
“It’s not just our freedoms that they hate,” noted one intelligence analyst, “it’s our corn.”
Long feared by terrorists and the oil sheiks who finance their operations, United States energy independence now appears to be a near certainty. A recent phone intercept picked up by the NSA revealed top Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s concern over the country’s recent moves to step up ethanol production: “Look at this! Thirty years of steadily increasing dependence on imported oil has merely lulled us into a false sense of security. How could we be so naive? They’re actually thinking of passing legislation! Do you hear me? Legislation!”
“They’re going to do it, Bahir. The crazy sons of bitches are going to do it.”
Shortly thereafter Al-Qaeda put out the word to activate its sleeper cells throughout the heartland. Quietly planted in the food stream years ago, these bovine agents have kept a low profile slipping up only with the occasional “Mooooohammed.”
“This has long been our biggest fear,” noted one security specialist, “Home-grown terrorist livestock. We can check our borders, we can check our ports, but now we have to check our barns too? The politicians certainly aren’t helping. Favorable tax treatments, clean coal technology research credits, incremental increases in automobile fuel economy standards. It’s that kind of reckless, inflammatory rhetoric that gets us in trouble in the first place. Damn that President Bush and his push for energy independence. Damn him all to hell.”
As disturbing as these events are it is essential that Americans continue to go about their normal routine. Go shopping, hit a movie, drop by McDonald’s for a good old “Freedom Burger.” Because if you don’t, if you allow your fears to control your actions, one thing is certain:
The cows win.
January 30, 2007
the best thing is you won’t spill any on yourself when your hands shake violently
In what can only be considered the greatest scientific breakthrough of our times, molecular scientist Doctor Robert Bohannon has created the first successful merging of a donut with caffeine.
This will no doubt go down in history as one of those
pivotal moments when everyone alive at the time will remember exactly where
they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news. I for instance will never forget that I was
in the kitchen eating a donut and drinking coffee.
But then, the overall concept is nothing new. There have been many similar pairings in the past in which items that are naturally complimentary have been combined into a single entity to create greater efficiency and convenience. For example:
Barack Obama and Media Accolades: By chemically bonding the up-and-coming political star with automatically favorable press coverage, countless hours have been saved by reporters who might otherwise have been forced to examine the young senator closely. This has freed up valuable resources to more carefully explore Britney Spears’ fashion choices. And maybe something about the Shooter Libby Trial. Snooter Libby? Scooter? Something like that.
Professional Sports Contracts and Steroids: Steroid injections can be both unseemly and unsanitary not to mention a PR nightmare. By infusing, at the molecular level, the employment contracts of professional athletes with steroids, we not only save time, but create a far more hygienic and wholesome appearing atmosphere in the locker room.
Cigarettes and Dirty Looks: It can often take as many as fifteen to twenty seconds after lighting up a cigarette to evoke a dirty look from a passerby. By directly transferring the anatomical properties of a dirty look directly onto the paper wrapper of a cigarette you can not only get that satisfactory nicotine rush you so crave, but also immediately receive the passive condemnation of strangers that has become such an integral part of the smoking experience.
Fashion and World Hunger Awareness: The marriage of high-fashion shows and starving models has created a hybrid event in which participants get to examine the very latest collections from the renowned design houses of Paris and Milan while ensuring that the message of worldwide starvation does not go unnoticed. By combining work with charity, more time is then freed up for the models to diet.
Water and Plastic Bottles: While water from natural mineral springs sold in glass bottles once dominated the market, the ingenious combination of simple tap water and cheap plastic bottles has created a product that not only embodies all the advantages of tap water but is also about 1000 times more expensive. That’s what they call “synergies.”
As for us, we’re going to wait until they do something really important, something significant that will have a long and lasting impact on our lives and the lives of our children.
Like merging gin with olives.
January 26, 2007
you want the details? you can’t handle the details!
Presidential candidate Barack Obama (whose sudden prominence and popularity relative to his rivals is testimony to this country’s long tradition of grading its candidates on a curve) said yesterday while speaking before a health care advocacy group, “I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country.”
And he is equally determined to not provide any specifics on how such a program would work or how much it would cost.
But he is only the latest presidential candidate to come out
forcefully for a program of universal health care that he hasn't actually
created yet. Earlier this week Hillary
Clinton announced her own plans to begin planning to have a plan, although we understand
her hesitancy on the issue. Next to
having Monica over to pick up the dry cleaning, proposing another health
care package is probably one of the last things she wants to do.
As for who would pay for these plans? Well, have you ever gotten a really nice birthday gift from your kids only to find out later that they used your credit card to pay for it?
That’s how presidential-candidate-for-life John Edwards would be willing to fund his health care program.
Barack Obama points out that taxpayers now contribute $15 billion a year for the health care costs of people who are not currently insured. Clearly, this is a moral outrage and must be addressed with a plan to provide for the health care costs of the uninsured. Wait. I thought we weren’t… we have to… it’s our…
It probably makes more sense if you don’t think about it too
In April, Senator Obama noted that universal health care and education were core values of the Democratic Party but that “we should be agnostic in terms of how to achieve those values.”
Or, put another way, “details shmetails.”
For instance, if Barack Obama asked you to weed his garden, he would presumably be completely agnostic as to how you accomplished the task. Garden hoe? Great. Gas-powered tiller? No problem. Hand grenades? Chain gang of Thai prostitutes? $50-billion no-bid Halliburton contract? It’s all good, as long as it gets the job done.
As one editorial writer put it, the problem with providing details on your health care plan is that they can later “provide ammo for attacks.” This is certainly true given that one of the most common characteristics of details is that they provide actual information which is then often unjustly used to make informed decisions.
Besides, they can’t fit on a bumper sticker.
January 25, 2007
2007 Washington DC Auto Show
Yesterday marked the opening of the annual Washington Auto Show. Out of towners should take note that this being DC, auto shows here have a slightly different emphasis than what you might be accustomed to in other parts of the country.
“Now those are the kind of emissions levels that could get me to switch to the 16Y Farragut Square Line!”
“This is what a magnetic
fare card reader should be like.”
And of course, for those who insist on the distasteful use
of private transportation, the plug-in electric hybrid, Chevy Volt, was there
to help ameliorate the guilt.
“Honey, did you
remember to put electricity in the car?”
“I’m sorry, I forgot.”
“No problem, could you call work and let them know I’ll be twelve hours late.”
Actually, this new concept includes a small
gasoline/Ethanol/biodiesel/cheap gin/old socks hybrid engine designed to allow
you to still drive once the initial 40-mile charge runs out. Of course, that initial 40 mile range
degrades if your driving style includes such wasteful habits as sudden acceleration,
wanting to use A/C in 90+ degree weather, and not driving downhill.
This is not to suggest that there wasn’t some of the typical auto-show headline-making excitement this year:
And they say we don’t do glamour here.
And you can keep your so-called “beautiful” auto show girls in Geneva and Tokyo. What do they have to do with particulate standards anyway? That’s not to say we don’t offer the folks a little cheesecake on the side including not only a photo op with the fetching Nancy Pelosi, but for you ladies out there, Representative John Dingell in the flesh as well!
Despite the best efforts of the organizers, the Washington Auto Show did have on display a number of autos. Even ones that run on gasoline. Only!
Still, the auto show is always enjoyable. No matter how hard they try to suck the fun out of it, being surrounded by hundreds of shiny new automobiles is one of those things in life that “doesn’t suck.”
January 24, 2007
what goes up must come down. otherwise, we pass a law.
Falling oil prices have begun taking their toll at the pump with the cost of a gallon of gasoline tumbling below $2 a gallon in some areas and expected to continue to drop in the coming months.
The latest to fall victim to these pitiless market forces is ConocoPhillips, which reported sharply lower fourth-quarter revenue and profits. Worse, the pain is expected to continue to spread throughout the industry as the year moves forward.
Not surprisingly, this growing hardship has not gone unnoticed on Capitol Hill which appears ready to take decisive action and address these outsized “windfall savings” currently being unjustly reaped by consumers.
“It’s a matter of fundamental decency,” noted an aid in Senator Arlen Specter’s office. “Why should consumers be suddenly saving all this money? They didn’t earn it. It’s simply a matter of supply and demand. Just because we have a quiet hurricane season and a warm winter doesn’t mean the oil companies have to just take it on the chin. They are really hurting out there and it’s our job to do something about it.”
A staffer with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan echoed his comments noting, “These savings have been absolutely obscene,” while a spokesperson for Senator Bill Nelson of Florida excoriated the current administration’s policies for having resulted in these “billion-dollar giveaways” to automobile drivers.
The issue naturally resonates with most Americans who feel it is simply not fair to expose oil companies and their shareholders to the wild swings and machinations of soulless global market forces particularly when we have in place excessive amounts of competition and consumer choice.
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan has long been a champion of such fairness and is expected to soon introduce his “Windfall Savings Rebate Act of 2007.” Loosely patterned after legislation he proposed in 2005, the bill would force consumers to make up for lost oil company profits by giving back any money they save under $2.50 a gallon. However, consumers would not have to pay the tax if they used the savings for “good” things, like buying text books or cans of good old Maxwell House coffee. But if they’re just going to blow it on Michael Crichton novels and overpriced lattes, forget it.
The fate of this bill and those like it is always difficult to predict. The powerful “Big Consumer” interests often fight these initiatives no matter how logical or necessary they may seem to the general public. But if Congress is successful, perhaps such steps could be used to address similar matters of dire concern.
Really, can’t the market ever get these prices right?
January 19, 2007
ours must be running a little slow…
But this isn’t your father’s Doomsday Clock. This is a new and improved version that not
only addresses the potential for nuclear war but also includes the imminent
threat of global warming thus garnering headlines and press attention it hasn’t
gotten in years.
How did an organization made up of nuclear physicists end up
taking a position on climate studies?
Our take on the conversation that preceded it:
Nuclear Physicist: We’re
thinking of moving the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward by, are you ready
for this? TWO MINUTES!
Publicist: Look at me. I’m bored. You’re putting me to sleep here.
Nuclear Physicist: You don’t understand. That puts it FIVE MINUTES BEFORE POSSIBLE NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON!
Publicist: I’m looking for a pillow. I don’t want to nod off suddenly and bang my head on the table.
Nuclear Physicist: Are you even listening? That puts us two minutes closer to complete and utter disaster.
Publicist: You're like human Lunesta. I can barley keep my eyes open. Right now I’m stabbing myself in the knee with a pencil just so I don’t slip into a coma.
Nuclear Physicist: Don't you see? We’re the Doomsday Clock keepers. News organizations used to hang on every tick. World leaders would come knocking on our door. Women would swoon over us.
Publicist: Women would swoon over you?
Nuclear Physicist: Well, we paid them, but still…
Publicist: Baby, look at me. You’re old news. You’re like the USS Maine. “Remember the Maine!" Sound familiar? Exactly. That’s you. No one remembers. No one cares.
Nuclear Physicist: We know there’s a problem. We can’t even get Dan Rather to return our phone calls. CBS keeps giving us the same run around about how he’s not there…
Publicist: You don’t get out much, do you?
Nuclear Physicist: So, how do we jazz things up? We were thinking of maybe having Bob Hope do the announcement or…
Publicist: Look, you need some real juice, something to get people interested in you again. I’m thinking Scarlett Johansson, okay? She gets a lot of ink, have her move the hands of the clock. Here’s a picture.
Nuclear Physicist: Um, some of our guys are pretty old. That could be dangerous.
Publicist: Okay, this clock of yours, could you integrate iTunes into it? You know, a combination Doomsday Clock-iPod. The kids will go crazy.
Nuclear Physicist: Even if I knew what that was, I don’t think it would work.
got it! I’m a genius! I make Einstein look like Matt Lauer! No offense.
Nuclear Physicist: I don't know who Matt Lauer is.
Publicist: Global Warming!
Nuclear Physicist: Global what now?
Publicist: Global Warming. Human activities are increasing CO2 which is resulting in dramatic temperature increases throughout the world!
Nuclear Physicist: You mean tens of millions of degrees? Oh my God! Oh my God!
Publicist: Well, maybe not that dramatic. More like a few degrees. Over a century. Or maybe a decrease instead. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.
Nuclear Physicist: And this has people alarmed?
Publicist: Are you kidding me? It’s media gold baby. Add that and you’ll be back on top. Media coverage. Interviews. World leaders knocking on your door again.
Nuclear Physicist: And the swooning women?
Publicist: Absolutely. (But they like to be paid in advance now.)
Nuclear Physicist: But we’re nuclear physicists. What do we know about climate change?
Publicist: It doesn’t matter. The hottest properties right now in Global Warming are an economist and a politician.
Nuclear Physicist: People are listening to economists and politicians?
Publicist: You bet they are.
Nuclear Physicist: Maybe we need to move those hands up a bit more…
January 12, 2007
wouldn’t it be cheaper to just pay it all in canadian dollars?
According to CNN, the money that has been spent so far on the war in Iraq would have been enough to build 35,000 new elementary schools or hire over six million new teachers.
“Wow,” you are probably saying to yourself, “I think I was supposed to pick up the kids today.”
Also, you find it very instructive to compare the costs of a highly risky attempt to create a secular democracy in the middle of a volatile oil-rich region, and everyone getting a new elementary school.
Oh, sure, you could just look at the number itself but what would that get you? The actual amount? What are you supposed to do with that?
The data was helpfully provided to CNN by the 100% nonpartisan education group “National Priorities Project.” Yes, their research may appear to be uniformly progressive in nature, but that is just one of those freaky runs of luck, like when you toss a coin and it comes up heads twelve times in a row. Every day. For fourteen years.
The attempt to put these expenditures in more concrete terms is understandable. $360 billion is an abstract concept to many people, but if you really want to strike an emotional chord you have to put these costs in terms that will really resonate with the average American:
In fact, in order to really bring the point home you could
tailor this approach to specific audiences:
2500 divorces. (yo.)
Planet Moron Staff:
90 billion gin & tonics.
Of course, it is still rather crass to discuss things of real importance only in terms of dollars and cents. You want to gain a real perspective on something like the war in Iraq? Consider this:
The war in Iraq has cost us higher ratings for Keith Olbermann.
Hey, we don’t make the news, we just report it.
January 10, 2007
the best offense is a good noffense
Voters spoke loud and clear at the polls last November, making it known that the current state of affairs in Iraq was no longer acceptable. They don’t want timetables, they don’t want phased anything. They want Congress to act immediately to pass non-binding resolutions expressing dissatisfaction with the President and the war, and they want those non-binding resolutions passed now.
Not tomorrow, not next week. Now.
Democrats clearly got the message and are moving quickly to pass just such measures, condemning the President’s plan to add an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq and hinting strongly that until the President changes his policy, they will continue to refuse to have their picture taken with him.
In other words, the gloves are off.
Unfortunately that may not be enough to appease Democratic anti-war activists who are turning up the heat with widespread demonstrations planned (chants of “NO SYMBOLIC GESTURES, NO PEACE!” can already be heard) and well-orchestrated phone and letter-writing campaigns targeting elected democrats and demanding that they start raising their voices and gesticulating with their hands in a more animated fashion.
As a result of this ongoing pressure, Democrats have decided to “play the anger card,” sending out Senator Ted Kennedy to make a fiery speech calling for action that will never happen.
Meanwhile, political analysts are busy debating the reasons why the President has chosen to ratchet up involvement in Iraq despite the fact it will likely result in Democrats making stern speeches.
As we see it, there are five possible reasons for the President’s decision:
- His old college buddy, “Pinky,” double-dared him to do it.
- It was the result of an intensive closed-door meeting with
his national security staff including incoming Defense Secretary Jim Beam,
Under Secretary of State Jack Daniels, and Deputy Chief of Staff, “Mr. Ice
- He bet Condi that he could get his job approval ratings into the low twenties by April.
- The coin came up tails.
- He is sincerely convinced it is the right thing to do. (Hey, you never know.)
It is unclear whether the Democrats’ bold plan to not do anything will be enough to stop the President from taking action, but one thing is certain: Should the new Iraq troop surge go poorly the Democrats will have at least two answers to the question of who is to blame:
January 08, 2007
changes in longitudes, changes in… wait, that’s not right…
Our trip to the Orange Bowl last year was so much fun that we decided to do it again this year but with one minor change:
We skipped the part with the Orange Bowl.
That left the part where we spend New Year’s Eve in Key West.
The one other difference was the absence of significant others. As my wife put it with apparent disdain, “all you guys do is drink.” This was unfortunate as that was going to be one of my “pro” arguments.
First, we had to get there. While it is quite possible that there are a finite number of ways to run an airline poorly, you will find no obvious evidence of this at US Airways which never seems to run out of new and creative ways to make flying unpleasant. From check-in where you were expected to climb underneath the ribbon stanchions used to form the lines in order to get to the self check-in machines (not an obvious first choice, particularly with the airports at an orange alert level) to having available about 30 three-dollar snack meals for 144 passengers.
I met up with my two friends in Fort Lauderdale who had flown AirTran out of Baltimore (I was coming out of Washington National). We were scheduled to arrive at the same time. By the time I got to the baggage carousel they had already landed, gathered their luggage, changed into shorts and T-shirts and were leisurely reading a newspaper.
However, we were soon on our way, three middle-aged men
driving to Key West in a Hyundai Tucson. We were basically one rainbow bumper sticker
away from being boycotted by the American Family Association.
While flying the rest of the way to Key West was certainly
an option, we have long preferred to drive. There are two reasons for this:
- The inherent magic of driving along a thin ribbon of pavement with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
- The inherent magic of saving about a hundred bucks.
We stopped at Wahoo’s around Islamorada where I had a delicious blackened mahi mahi sandwich with fries. In Key West I mixed it up and went to Schooner Wharf for a delicious blackened grouper sandwich with fries. Crazy? You bet. But a good kind of crazy.
Later that evening we found ourselves at our favorite bar,
the Green Parrot. “Rockin’ Jake” and his
band were there as they always are around New Year’s. Boy, what a rut that must be, always going to
the same place every year at the same time and doing the same thing. “Doesn’t he ever get bored?” I remarked to my
friends of 25 years as we ordered our traditional Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and
sat at our favorite table in the corner…
New Year’s Eve the next day was a bit of a blur. It started for me when I was out for a walk and found a sushi place and sat down for an excellent lunch and an equally excellent bottle of sake. There is an upside and a downside to drinking an entire bottle of sake by yourself. The upside is you won’t remember the downside.
About five bars later back at the Green Parrot there was a moment when I kind of zoned out for a bit. Actual conversation the next day:
Me: I think I almost
blacked out at the Green Parrot.
Friend: Yeah, I noticed, I said you were out of it.
Me: Oh, I wasn’t out of it, I heard you say that, I just didn’t respond.
Friend: Because you were out of it.
Me: Okay, good point.
We later ended up at the “shoe drop” in the 800 block of Duvall Street and caught CNN correspondent John Zarrella surrounded by drag queens doing a live spot. At first I thought, wow, what did he do to deserve this, forget to include anything negative about George Bush in a news segment? On gardening? Then I realized that we were basically next to him, also surrounded by drag queens only we weren’t getting paid for it.
Score one for John Zarrella.
New Year’s Day turned into a drinking marathon. Bloody Marys, Bud Lights, rum and cokes and Coronas. And that was before the Outback Bowl was over. This was a problem only because the Outback Bowl began at 11 AM. We actually had a bit of trouble finding a bar to watch it, but finally settled on an outdoor place next to, um, the Green Parrot. (Is there anything it can’t do?)
That was followed by half-price Mojitos at Wet Willies, “Landshark”
a new Jimmy Buffett beer served at Margaritaville (let’s just say it is to
beer what his last album is to music and leave it at that), some microbrews,
and more rum and cokes.
We then decided to really shake things up since it was our
last night and while we did end up going to the Green Parrot again, we stood in an
entirely different spot.
I learned a few new things on this trip:
- My wife may be right about the drinking thing.
- It is perfectly legal to go to Key West and never set foot in Sloppy Joe’s.
- Ice Cream is an outstanding post-drinking late-night snack.
Otherwise, while Key West may be overrun with tourists buzzing around on all manner of chainsaw-powered conveyances, it remains a place where you can literally go to so many bars you can’t remember them all.
Or much of anything, really.
January 05, 2007
when barack obama sits down to write, trees shudder
In the book, “Dreams of My Father,” the Senator wrote, “Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."
If you are like the 299,200,000 Americans who have “just not got around yet” to reading “Dreams of My Father,” you are no doubt extremely disturbed and disappointed to discover that at the age of 34, Barak Obama thought his life had been significant enough to write a memoir about it.
To be fair, he certainly had accomplished much more than I had at the same age (despite my having achieved some notoriety at the local newsstand for “always having exact change”) and he clearly had been bitten by the writing bug having once written the foreword for a cookbook and just last year, publishing another book, “The Audacity of Hope.”
In fact, Barak Obama started publishing at a far younger age than even many of his closest supporters realize, having released his very first book at the age of 4 titled “The Audacity of Snack Time.”
“Milk had helped, and Bosco; maybe a little Nestle’s Quick when you could afford it. Not Hershey’s, though."
Several years later, Obama thought the world could benefit from his insights on life in the fifth grade and published, “Dreams of My Lunch Period Monitor:”
“Hopefully, the story of my lunch period, and my efforts to understand that story, might speak in some small way to the fissures of chicken croquettes and tater tots that have characterized the American grade school experience, as well as the fluid state of the optional gravy, the leaps to the head of the line, and the collision of lunch trays, that mark our modern midday meal.”
Three years later, Barak Obama published a collection of his
essays, “I Really Like Writing A lot About Stuff I Think About:”
“Two days after I had
returned home from summer camp I received a letter from my mailman.
your Popular Mechanics subscription,” the mailman wrote, “I was happy to
deliver it, but I want to express concerns that may, in the end, prevent me
from delivering it in the future.”
The mailman considered
himself a good postal worker, but felt that the railing on my steps had become
Reading the mailman’s
letter I felt a pang of shame. I had not
put up the railing, a neighbor had, but I knew it was my responsibility.
As I thought about
this I realized just how much I enjoy thinking about things I think about. A single neuron can’t fire that I don’t find
myself endlessly fascinated with the notion of my own thoughts, and my thinking
about my thinking about the thinking of others and what I think about thinking
In fact, the best thing about listening to what others think is it provides an additional opportunity for me to think about what I think about that. And then write it all down.
Now where was I? It
doesn’t matter, I have an opinion about it, and that opinion can’t possibly be
expressed in anything less than essay-length form. Butter vs. margarine? Mustard vs. mayo? Parliamentary system vs. presidential
republic? It doesn’t matter.”
It remains unclear whether the Senator’s prolific, revealing writing style will have an effect on any potential presidential bid, particularly considering that he has additional works scheduled for release over the next year including the two-volume “I Like Tomato Sauce But Not Tomato Juice, Isn’t That Weird?” and the 52-part New Yorker series, “Thoughts on Dedicated Funding Sources For Non-Railway Wheeled Transportation Initiatives in SMSA’s With Sub-Mean Population Densities.”
Regardless, we know one thing.
He’ll tell us what he thinks about it.