Sunday, April 30, 2006

100 Dollar Gas Rebate: An Insult To Our Intelligence

Recently, many congressional representatives have been pushing for a $100 federal rebate to help ease the pain at the gas pump. The very idea makes me seriously consider starting a movement to impose mandatory intelligence tests to all current and future members of congress. With all of the committees, subcommittees, and sub subcommittees ... this is the best idea they could come up with? For crying out loud, I got more money back with a mail in rebate when I bought my computer! With the national gas price currently $2.92 per gallon, this refund would only give recipients just over 34 gallons of gas ... and that's supposing the feds don't consider the allowance as "income" and apply taxes. Wow ... a free 34 gallons of gasoline ... sure, that will ease the public unrest about soaring pump prices.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Explosive News

Paramount Pictures has teamed up with The Los Angeles Times to help advertise the pending release of Mission: Impossible III with 4,500 randomly selected news boxes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have been outfitted with small devices that, when the news box is opened, will play the Mission: Impossible theme song. But having this newspaper self destruct in fifteen seconds was not the intention of the advertising campaign. Apparently, one of these small digital song boxes shook loose, and fell on top of the stack of yet to be purchased newspapers causing one would be purchaser to alert authorities to the possibly booby trapped box. Upon inspection, the county arson squad wasted no time destroying the rack because it contained an unidentifiable object constructed of a small box with wires attached to it. John O'Loughlin, the Times' senior vice president for planning, said "This was the least intended outcome. We weren't expecting anything like this." Was this an honest mistake, or a brilliant advertising stunt? Everyone knows that people will come in droves to see something blowup.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Even A Blind Squirrel Gets A Nut Once In A While

Adam Kidron, a British composer, said he wanted to honor American immigrants, so he released a Spanish version of the "Star-Spangled Banner". When President Bush was questioned as to whether is was appropriate to sing the Spanish rendition, he replied "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English." It brought a tear to my eye (like watching a baby's first steps) ... finally the Commander In Chief made an executive decision that made sense. See ... even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Has NASA Become Paranoid In It's Old Age?

NASA isn't taking any chances with mid air collisions ... of any kind. In fact, NASA has set up a "road kill posse" to quickly clear as many carcasses as possible from the 6,000-acre site, in hopes of encouraging the local vulture population to relocate by cutting off the food supply. When space shuttle Discovery launched in July of last year, the first flight since the 2003 Columbia accident, it struck a vulture shortly after liftoff and although there was no damage, members of NASA are concerned that future collisions may jeopardize vital components of the shuttle such as the heat shield. So, let me get this straight ... we design a 1.7 billion dollar vehicle that is capable of overcoming the force of gravity, can survive the vacuum of space, is armored enough to not be damaged by small space junk traveling at thousands of MPH, can orbit the Earth and sustain human life for weeks at a time, can perform a wide variety of tasks from satellite repair to scientific experiments in a zero gravity environment hundreds of miles above the Earth, and can safely reenter the atmosphere experiencing temperatures of 3000 degrees Fahrenheit ... but can be critically wounded by a collision with a vulture during liftoff?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's Always Easier To Spend Someone Else's Money

Soon, the Nielsen Ratings will be showing the evening national news in the #1 spot for reaching the most viewers. Just as millions tune in every night to catch their lottery numbers for the evening, millions more are now glued to their televisions to see where oil prices have landed for the day. The general public consensus seems to be that people feel that congressional elected officials should step in to ease the blow on the American wallet by tapping into the national reserves, drilling in more domestic locations, or even setting forth laws to control what oil companies can charge consumers per gallon. Let's put it where it's at ... if the feds really cared about the issue, why not just temporarily change the amount of tax (42 cents per gallon average, varies state by state) we all pay until prices become more reasonable? Oh yeah ... that's right ... they don't pay for their gas ... WE DO!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My Atmospheric Generosity Days Are Numbered

To all of you who have fallen victim to a "dutch oven" in bed from your significant other, your suffering did not go in vain. Reasearchers have discovered a way to make beans less ... uh ... gaseous. The report states that by adding two different bacteria (Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum), both of which are normally produced in the large intestines, to the beans before cooking them they become easier to digest and hence produce less flatulence. Although this discovery has the potential to bring relief to millions of people, and open a wider range of culinary delights to many more ... it's a shame that science finally caught up with me.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sometimes, War Just Leaves A Bad Taste In My Mouth

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition is developing a technology called a brain port that will provide soldiers on the battlefield possibilities that once before, even recently, were thought impossible. From what I have read, items such as cameras, sonar equipment, and electronic compasses (just to name a few) can be mounted on a helmet and the signals from these devices are translated into impulses that are then sent to 144 micro-electrodes located on the tongue ... yes, the tongue. From there, the information is piped right into the brain via our own nerve system. Honestly, I read the article five times and still don't completely understand the process, but I could see serious and apparent flaws in the plan. Problem #1: Logistically, the helmet would be the optimum place to mount these sensing devices ... good height, helmets take screws better than body parts do, etc. But, isn't the purpose of a helmet to protect your head from bullets, shrapnel, and debris? I really don't think electronics would hold up too well there. Problem #2: One can only imagine the outcome if such delicate body parts were exposed to an electrical short from a damaged sensor. Problem #3: Do researchers realize that this individual may be forced to experience hand to hand combat? Oooo, that would be messy.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I Love The Smell Of Negligence First Thing In The Morning

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a defense attorney collapsed from an apparent heart attack while arguing a drunken driving case. Although bailiffs and police officers initiated CPR immediately and emergency emergency personnel arrived in less than six minutes, neither the courthouse nor medical workers were equipped with defibrillators. Ironically, the county had allocated money last year to purchase and mount four public AED's throughout the courthouse for just such an emergency. But due to typical bureaucratic b.s., this life saving equipment was not yet purchased because a "study" was needed to be done to ascertain the best location to store these units. Here's a stellar idea ... put them in the hallway! Even if located in the "wrong spot" ... at least they are on site and publicly visible! Having something that is slightly out of reach is better than not having it at all.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Battle Of The Bill Of Rights

I heard through the grapevine that anti-war protesters were demonstrating at the funereal services of military personnel that had been killed in action in Iraq. Whether or not anyone personally agrees with our reason for being in Iraq, waving the anti-war flag at a soldiers funeral service (in my opinion) is the single most disrespectful act anyone can do. Objectors to U.S. involvement overseas claim the first amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom to peaceably assemble ... personally, I think in return it's time surviving family members of the deceased express their second amendment right to bear arms. Despite opinions on the war, all GI's KIA should be given the honors and respect they deserve for serving in the Armed Forces ... PERIOD! For crying out loud, at least give the families a chance to grieve!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Out Of Sight ... Out Of Mind

Wen Yi Wang, a 47 year old physician, was arrested for "harassing a foreign official" on the White House lawn during a welcoming ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao. Wang claims she had not committed a crime, only an act of civil disobedience by verbally demonstrating her discontent with the Chinese President during a Presidential ceremony. I would tend to agree with Wang, but unfortunately the freedom of speech only seems to apply when the presidential figures are not within earshot. In case you didn't know, (currently) it is also common practice for protesters of any kind to be removed from any location and route of travel the presidential entourage traverses. I suppose the pres only wants to hear our opinions from our elected congressional representatives that can be bought, manipulated, and coerced ... why would they ever want to hear it directly from actual voters who put them there to begin with?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Dog The Vegetarian

Dogs, by nature, are carnivores ... so why do they insist on eating grass? I have had my dog for eight years now and still cannot for the life of me figure out why an animal would eat something again and again, knowing the result will be a long drawn out agonizing regurgitation. At some point, most of us have gone out on a weekend bender and suffered the exact same outcome ... praying to the porcelain God. And after having gone through such an event, just about all of us are in no hurry to have a reprise. Many veterinarian experts have a wide variety of theories about this ranging from: "Dogs need to eat a balanced diet, including vegetation" to "they just enjoy it". Personally, I think Fido has ulterior motives. Perhaps the repetitive action is nothing more than a chance to get even for all the times you knocked your fist on the wall to see him run to the door barking (that one never gets old), or taunted him with the promise of cookies and never delivered ( ... guilty there). Maybe watching us scrub vomit out of the rug is just as entertaining to them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Who Says You Can't Buy Time

It was only a matter of time until this one happened ... a Longmont, Colorado man purchased an Opticon traffic signal changing device on eBay for $100. Such a device is used by emergency vehicles to change traffic lights remotely (from the apparatus) via a coded flash signal emitter, and causes all opposing and intersecting vehicles to receive a short red light until the emergency vehicle passes by. Jason Niccum, owner of the auction purchased Opticon, claims that this was the perfect answer to his problematic situation of always being late. Apparently, Mr. Niccum has been using this for the past two years, and only got caught when city traffic engineers noticed repeated traffic light disruptions at certain intersections spotted a white Ford pickup passing by whenever the patterns were disrupted. Mr. Niccum was fined fifty dollars for suspicion of interfering with a traffic signal, and the unit was confiscated by police. This amusing story puts the proof in the pudding that whatever "it" is ... you can find it on eBay.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Happy Hunting

Topping the news the last few days has been the six retired armed forces generals that have called for defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. President Bush even took time from his Easter vacation at Camp David to release a public statement of support, stating that the embattled Pentagon chief is doing a "fine job". With presidential approval numbers at an all time low (and still spiraling down the drain), I suppose it was only a matter of time until the defense secretary started to work his way into the cross hairs of a war tired American public. But what Mr. Rumsfeld doesn't know, is that George W. Bush has arranged a vacation hunting trip for the defense secretary with Vice President Cheney ... a sure-fire way to bring those presidential approval ratings back up.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Inspired By 30,000 Pounds Of Bananas ... I Just Hope It Works

Today, I took a closer look at something that was inspired as a matter of safety, but lacks some common sense ... runaway truck ramps. The idea is that if a heavy vehicle loses it's brakes while descending down a steep grade, the Department of Transportation has installed a special ramp on the right shoulder designed to decelerate and stop any runaway vehicles. These ramps typically have an easily accessible inlet, followed by deep loose gravel that slowly inclines and has highway water jugs at the top. The entire length of this safety lane is approximately 300 feet long, and at the end is about 50 - 60 feet off the ground in some cases. I'm very sure that extensive research and testing has been done by the DOT to calculate the speed vs. inertia times the distance traveled divided by the sum of cumulative relative wind speed minus the barometric pressure is equal to the square root of the air pressure in the trucks tires ... bla bla bla, but what if the truck just doesn't stop by the top? I guess it just falls off?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hence The Name "Test Dummies"

A London, England man fell critically ill after volunteering to test TGN1412, a drug being developed for treatment of leukemia and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Ryan Wilson, who was paid £2,000 ($3,500) for taking part in the testing trial, had this to say: "When I woke up in intensive care after almost three weeks unconscious, I only realized how serious my injuries were when I saw my hands and feet were black. Then I put two and two together. ... I'm definitely going to lose bits of my fingers and toes. And they say I could be in here for another six months." Six other volunteers in the TGN1412 testing program suffered convulsions and organ failure as a result of ingesting the medicine. Boy ... I hope the $3,500 dollars for testing a never seen before drug was worth it, because now Mr. Wilson will probably be branded by his friends as "Stumpy".

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Weather Or Not To Watch

In the past, I've beaten up on weathermen pretty good on this blog ... because it's the only job in which the employee can be consecutively wrong everyday, and yet still have a job. And what's worse, is The Weather Channel (over the past few years) has deviated from an informational/educational format, and chosen to go to more of a reality t.v. direction with live on site storm forecasting whenever Mother Nature tosses any type of weather snafu towards the U.S. Well in this quest for realism ratings, three members of a Weather Channel camera crew were arrested for trespassing on the property of Sherry Bruce, who was killed when storms struck the area on April 7. A relative stated that no trespassing signs are clearly visible from the property line, and the crew was asked to leave multiple times but refused. When all viewers really want is to catch a forecast to plan their day, I must question ... is this reality t.v. thing getting out of hand? Besides, after living a reality all day, why would I want to tune in to someone else's ... there are much better ways to unwind.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I Just Can't See What They're Talking About

Bausch & Lomb has suspended all U.S. shipments of its ReNu with MoistureLoc lens-care solution made at its plant in Greenville, South Carolina pending an investigation into whether or not this particular product aided in an outbreak in a rare fungal infection called Fusarium Keratitis. If left untreated, this type of infection has lead to blindness. After speculation that the illnesses were possibly related to their contact lens cleaner, Bausch & Lomb began a series of thorough plant inspections as well as exhaustive testing to ascertain that if indeed these cases were related to their product, and if so how to solve the issue. It's good to see that in an age of corporate scandal, an organization is willing to step up to the plate with the public and address problems head on. But, maybe the company ought to look at others means of public notification rather than newspapers, magazines, and websites ... just a thought.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Phony Ninja Caught, Tagged, And Released Back To Wild

A college student who had just attended a social mixer at the University of Georgia was tackled and detained by ATF agents who were on campus for an unrelated training event. According to the agents, the student (who was dressed as a ninja) "was acting in a somewhat suspicious manner, peeping around the corner then breaking into a run." It is completely understandable that the ATF agents were compelled to restrain this individual until the story got straitened out ... but really, since when do college students do anything that makes sense? And besides, if this person were a real ninja, ordinary attempts to subdue him would have been completely futile. Everyone knows that real ninjas can dodge bullets, scale buildings in seconds with their bare hands, and kick anyone's rear end anytime, any place, in any number ... just like in the cheesy kung-fu movies.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Maybe A Spoonful Of Sugar Will Help

It seems that the Patriot Act has been taken to the next level ... and overseas. In Bagram, Afghanistan, a local shopkeeper (located a short distance from the U.S.-led coalition headquarters) is selling computer memory sticks stolen from HQ that for the most part are empty ... although some have contained sensitive material such as rosters of troops who completed nuclear, chemical and biological warfare training as well as four American generals personal information, including their social security numbers. The store owner claims it was not his intent to sell the information on the thumbnail drives, but rather an attempt to make a profit on computer hardware selling them for $20-$50. I really can't figure out why the U.S. is so upset by this ... it just gives ordinary people, like you and I, the power to reciprocate what the Department of Homeland Security could be doing to us ... at any time, for any reason. If they can access the GPS in my car to find my location without consent or even probable cause ... why can't we buy information on them because we feel like it? Although this is only a minute dose of the "we know what's good for you" medicine given back to the prescribing doctors, the mere taste was enough to cause quite the allergic reaction ... interesting.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wild Horses

In an interesting twist of fate, Ford Motor Company is recalling all 2003-2004 Mustang Cobras because of a defect in design of the gas pedal. Apparently, there have been numerous complaints that the accelerator can become "stuck" against the carpeting on the floor during heavy throttling and make it difficult for the pedal to return to an idle position. I guess when you purchase a 390 horsepower performance car ... that would be a considerable problem. Although with that many ponies, maybe it isn't really the carpeting at all... maybe it's just the driver.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Leak By Any Other Name Just Isn't The Same

There seems to be much confusion about whether not President Bush "leaked" classified information in 2003 to justify the war in Iraq. By definition, a leak is: (N) An unauthorized or a deliberate disclosure of confidential information, or (V Tr) To disclose without authorization or official sanction: leaked classified information to a reporter. Both definitions rely completely on the word unauthorized. Like it or not, Bush is the President and he can disclose any information he sees fit ... what's all the fuss about?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Who Looks Worse ... You Make The Call

Yes ... another frivolous lawsuit, this time a pilot claims his reputation was damaged. National Guard Maj. Harry Schmidt is suing the United States Air Force for releasing to the public a letter of reprimand he received after the accidental bombing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan in 2002. Major Schmidt mistook muzzle flashes at a training range near the Kandahar airport as enemies, and dropped a 500 pound bomb killing four friendly soldiers. As the old saying goes, "Where there's trains ... there's wrecks." obviously Major Schmidt did so accidentally ... that's not in question. But is of concern is that this pilot is suing the USAF for releasing his "you've been a bad boy letter". Well, why not let the public know you killed four friendly soldiers ... you screwed up! The Air Force couldn't have possibly ruined your reputation any worse than you already did. In fact, they themselves look worse ... for trusting you with a multi-million dollar aircraft with bombs!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

SAT's = Sorry About The Screw-up

For those high school students who work tirelessly to achieve academic excellence, it must be comforting to know that the independent party that grades your SAT's has a history of incorrect exam grading. After hours and hours, night after night of studying for a test that not only plays a major factor as to which schools you may qualify to attend, and may determine if you'll even get in, it also carries substantial impact on financial aid that may or may not be available due to testing scores. All the hard you've put in culminates to one test ... and the people who grade it lack the basic mathematical skills to do it correctly.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Food For Thought

During a trip to Caracas, Venezuela, United States Ambassador William Brownfield got more than he bargained for. Apparently, there are a number of citizens in Venezuela who support President Hugo Chavez's claim that the U.S. is conspiring to overthrow him. When Ambassador Brownfield visited areas of the city of Caracas, his motorcade was repeatedly bombarded with a wide assortment of fruits and miscellaneous vegetables from protesters repeating the phrase "Go home!" Although whether or not our government is trying to oust President Chavez isn't clear, one thing is ... Venezuela obviously has no shortage of produce, and should be treated as such in the future when they come to us with their hand out for food donations and financial aid.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Independent Thought ... Not In My Classroom!

Well once again, the public school system has taken the standpoint of telling students that creativity, resourcefulness, and responsibility are not something the educational field has in the curriculum. Two schools in Long Island, NY have decided to turn the senior prom into yet another chance to reinforce the fact that independent thought and free thinking will not be tolerated by providing bus service to a scheduled prom dinner, and downgrading the dress code to semi-casual. School principal Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland of the Kellenberg Memorial High School cites that the recommendations for such measures came from the student body, but I wonder if a nudge was given from the administration figures as well. Let's face it, self expression (within common sense limits) is very important to teenagers, and the constant hampering of which ultimately causes the "dumbing-down" effect that so many say plagues our youth today ... and people wonder why a simple order at the fast food drive through is always wrong.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Who's Your Daddy? No, Really ... Who?

In today's screwed up legal system, it has become commonplace for parents that give their children up for adoption to later regain their parental rights many years later ... after all the hard work is done. I have friends who are currently seeking to adopt from Russia, partly because all legal decisions made regarding adoptions are final. I fail to understand the logic of a birth parent re-introducing themselves into a child's life after the kid has been raised by, and bonded to the adoption parents ... is merely sharing DNA that important? What about the rights of the family who took in a stranger as raised them as their own? Doesn't that selfless act of generosity and love account for anything? The court system is so hellbent on reinforcing family structure, that it is willing to rip others apart for the sake of reuniting strangers.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sometimes Your The 40mm ... Sometimes Your The Bug

Robert Colla, teacher of an adult education class, may be the next candidate for the runner up position of the Darwin Awards. Apparently, Mr. Colla kept a 40mm shell that he found while (oddly enough) hunting on his desk for a paper weight. During the class, an annoying bug of some sort kept buzzing across his desk. In an effort to rid the class of the distraction, Mr. Colla grabbed the 5 inch tall center-fire shell and slammed it to the desk. As a result of high shock extermination, the round went off severing part of his right hand and also caused burns and shrapnel wounds to the forearm and torso. Although Mr. Colla should be commended for his work with helping adults achieve basic educational skills, I'm willing to bet that all the "uneducated" students knew enough not to slam a firearm cartridge in such a manner ... it's just one of those things you don't learn in college.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Your Vote Matters ... So Dial Carefully

A recent movie trailer I saw hit me like a brick in the head. In the promo, they make light of the fact that more people vote for the next American Idol every week than vote for the their own legislative representatives. Although I don't begrudge anyone wearing the numbers off their telephone to ensure their favorite Idol makes it to the next round, I would only hope that a little consideration be made to attempt to give hoot about elected officials that make the laws we all are subject to. Really ... after burning up the telephone lines for Reuben Studdard in season two (2003), he's all but forgotten about now. But you can bet your keister that legislation and judicial decisions enacted in 2003 are still very much involved with all of our daily lives. Maybe if we get Randy, Paula, and Simon to judge the presidential debates, and bring in Ryan Seacrest to mediate ... more people will care. Besides ... I'd love to see the audition outtakes.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Would Your Floors Know The Difference?

For years, certain pleasures have been reserved for the "upper crust" ... such as fine wines, exotic foods, and rare paintings. But who would have ever thought these aristocratic tastes would have carried over to ordinary household items like vacuum cleaners ... yes, I said vacuum cleaners. The options available on some sweeper models rival the creature features offered in today's automotive industry; fold and go storage, longer lasting headlights, low emissions, no filters to clean, free maintenance service ... the list goes on. As I gaze across the hall to my "untouchable" Eureka Boss that I purchased about five years ago, I cannot comprehend the vast difference between my lowly upright and a Dyson vacuum or a Hoover Z700. One thing is for sure ... they all suck.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

We Can't Even Keep Our Hands Off The Clock

For years, I have wondered the point of Daylight Saving Time. What is the point of having everyone remember to shift their clocks ... why not just leave time alone? I have been tooling around the internet for the last hour trying to find a definitive answer, but so far have yielded nothing more than 1) Speculation that years ago, people working in the late hours of the evening could save money on candles, and 2) For the sole purpose of people having longer evening hours in the summer time ... both loads of bull. Obviously, daylight hours are longer in the summer than in the winter ... that's a given. And no matter who you are or what you do, it's common knowledge that there are only so many daylight hours in a day. So, if you need more sunlight to accomplish your tasks ... GET UP EARLIER! Why should everyone else pay for your needs! Personally, I think it's nothing more than human nature ... a need to over-control everything.