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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Saving the planet one milliwatt at a time.

Here is a story I have already heard enough of and it hasn't even been fully played out of the Today show yet. This 'energy vampire' thing that NBC rammed down our throats during Green Week. Apparently, appliances that are not in use use electricity to run the clocks and save your settings. No surprise there. According to one article, it is usually "between 0.5 and 25 watts, though it can reach 50 watts or more in some cases". That's a pretty big range. I guess Europe should unplug CERN when they're not using it.

This is a great saver of electricity, I'm sure. Maybe not as much as shutting off your TV for an hour. Like during "America's Got Talent"? Or for the first 35 minutes of "Deal or No Deal"? I guess that's not the kind of energy NBC wants to conserve.

This penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude toward energy conservation is bringing me down. How about we ban NASCAR for a year? That would save more energy than just about anything I can think of. In addition to 250 miles of high-octane left turns, you also have the 35,000 cars that drive to see them each week. Many in 8-mile-to-the-gallon Winnebagos.

I drive a 4-cylinder car and only enter the highway when the on-ramp is down hill. I think I can afford to leave the clock on my microwave on.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A different kind of bailout

As many of you know, I am in favor of personal responsibility. When I make mistakes, I try not to pass the buck. I've made some doozies. Somehow this attitude makes successes seem sweeter. I think this would be a good attitude for the Michigan Democratic party to adopt.

They are continuing to seek a bailout for their intentional flouting of the Democratic National Committees rules. After being told in no uncertain terms that their delegates would not count if they moved their primary ahead of February 8th, what did they do? Oh, they moved it ahead. Now, the person who followed the rules (Barack Obama) is getting screwed. Sound familiar?

Obama withdrew his name from the ballot. Hillary Rodham Win-at-all-costs Clinton did not. Now Michigan wants to "compromise" and get their votes to count. Of course, this would lead to a Clinton win in Michigan. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain my ears would endure from the apocalyptically shrill protest Hillary would be putting up right now if the situation was reversed. If she had followed the rules and Obama had stayed on the ballot, there would be such unbelievable indignation right now. (Maybe that's redundant. Nothing she says is believable, least of all the indignation.)

I am opposed to this bailout. However, I will concede the point on one condition: every member of the Michigan Democratic Party leadership must resign and vow (for whatever a Democratic politician's vow is worth) never to run for a leadership post again. Accountability: it's not just for other people any more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Inciting madness

There are thousands of problems in the world. Probably millions. Some are important enough for First World governments to tackle. Some are not. One that France has decided to tackle is skinny supermodels. I'm not kidding, see for yourself. I understand that this is a very serious problem affecting literally tens of people.

The fine, according to the article would be up to $47,000 ( I guess it's a Euro conversion thing). The problem is that this small of a fine will do nothing to dissuade the real culprits: The World Health Organization and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If you want a real threat to people's body image, you need to look farther than Sports Illustrated. You need to look at the criminals purporting the Body Mass Index as a yardstick for health.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is about as comprehensive a tool for prescribing healthy weight as earth, air, wind and fire are at describing the elements. For those of you who don't know how it works, BMI takes your weight, divides it by the square of your height to give a number. If that number is over 25, the person is overweight. Parameters like muscle mass and bone size are ignored. Almost every NFL running back is "obese" according to BMI. I don't just mean Ron Dayne, I mean LaDanian Tomlinson.

So at any opportunity the media will grant them, the NIH will rail about the obesity problem and how it is getting worse. An especially misleading statistic is how many more Americans are overweight now compared to 1997. Do they mention that they lowered the threshold for healthy weight in 1998? Noooo.

I will stipulate that fashion shows do promote crazy body image. They also promote clothes that Caligula would have thought was bizarre. I don't think young women see a waif model wearing nothing but duct tape and emu feathers and think "that's what I want to look like". However, if professional boxer Laila Ali is overweight according to BMI, we have bigger problems than emu feathers.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The crackpot calling the kettle black

Deprived of headlines bearing his name for almost four years, Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha tried to get back to relevancy this week by stating that John McCain was too old to be President. Now, since Murtha is four years older than McCain, I guess his point is that the presidency is a tough job and being a Congressman is just about the fat expense account and the bribes (for you youngsters, Google "Abscam").

This reminds me of Chuck Norris' similar statements about McCain's age. Hey Chuck, I don't remember John McCain remarking publicly that you were too old in 1990. You remember, when you played a member of Delta Force at age 50. Or that the mandatory retirement age for Texas Rangers is 55, not 61.

But both of these clowns' statements are indicative of a more sinister problem. Since not one word has been made public from the AARP condemning these opinions, I guess the White-Haired Mafia is fine with this view. I guess their position is that old people really are good for little else than driving slow, eating early and collecting their entitlements. If the AARP has one ounce of credibility, it would be admonishing these two.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Subprime Crisis: Coming to a Banana Republic near you

Raul Castro is pushing forward with some "reforms" in Cuba. No, not free elections or relaxing of price controls. Important things like allowing Cubans to stay in hotels. I guess this used to be illegal. According to the AP, the former policy was "despised across the island". Odd since one night in a hotel can cost 9 months of wages. Oh well, I guess if we outlawed brand new dualie pick-up trucks in poorer parts of Arkansas, people would be mad too.

Further reforms include allowing Cubans to own cell phones. This is an actual reform. However, considering it was announced along with relaxation of rules about owning computers, DVD-players and plasma TVs, I got to thinking about the implications. Something that led to the credit crisis in the U.S. was the idea that plasma TVs and Moto RAZRs were entitlements of the working class.

I have no data to back this up, but I would bet a DVD player that many "distressed families" (populist lingo for financially illiterate) in the U.S. have a big-screen TV of some kind and several cell phone plans. I guess they deserve a bail-out so as not to have to sell that TV on Craig's List. Note to self: when you launch your bank, secure major electronics as collateral from mortgage holders.

So I say "Good luck, Cubans!". In case the fine print fools you, you can not afford a $29.95/month cell phone plan if you only make $20 per month.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nor any drop to drink

This "drugs in the water supply" story is starting to bug me. The Associated Press did a story recently that many news outlets have picked up on. Apparently, there are trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in reservoirs like Lake Mead. Since many Americans are over-medicated, this doesn't strike me as odd. Everybody's shit stinks and everybody's pee contains some of what they ingested. Duh?

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record when I identify the news media as fear-mongers. However, this story is over the top. The story focuses on the fact that substances "have been identified" in the water. No mention is made of whether this is parts-per-billion or parts-per-trillion. The AP was very pleased with itself that it found drugs "including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilisers and sex hormones". To compound the horror, they mention "authorities routinely fail to tell the public".

My local authorities, like many others, publish a yearly review of water quality. They tell me the precise parts-per-billion of important toxins like lead, arsenic and cyanide. But those bastards are not telling me how much Viagra is in my water. Or how much Xanax. All things considered, I'm voting they stay the current course.

Despite repeated assurances from several "scientists" that the amounts were so minuscule as to be unharmful, the AP story has to end on a sensationalist note: "Pregnant women, the elderly and the very ill might be more sensitive".

Aren't these the people contaminating our water to begin with?!?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Running with the Devil

For those of you that TiVo everything, you may be missing out on some good commercials. For example, you may have missed the one about the dangers of RLS. An acronym for a medical condition? How shocking! (see LMNOP) It stands for Restless Leg Syndrome. Not Regressive Liver Syndrome, not Reduced Lymph System. Restless frickin' legs.

But don't worry. There's a medicine for it (Mirapex)! You can take the medicine if you don't want to take other extreme measures like (and these are directly from Mirapex site) cutting down on caffeine, doing light exercise or staying mentally occupied with a book or crossword puzzle. Wow, I wouldn't want to do any of those.

Fortunately, I don't have to. I can take Mirapex instead. Instead of the inconvenience of physical or mental exercise, I can look forward to these symptoms. (No, I'm not joking. They're on the website too.)
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Tiredness

I am just getting warmed up!

  • Falling asleep while doing normal activities like driving
  • experiencing hallucinations
  • becoming dizzy when standing up
  • Compulsive gambling, eating or sex drive

I think I'll keep my restless legs or, heaven forbid, do a Sudoku.