Saturday, December 13, 2008

First Snow: And brainwashing little kids

Well, I'm pleased to announce Provo's first substantial snowfall. We've got about an inch or two covering the ground and there are still some flurries shaking things up a bit as I write. The snow makes me happy, and reminds me that all of those Christmas movies with snow in them are still accurate even with the horrible Armageddon-like global warming that is sure to destroy humanity as we know it. 
But there's another thing that made me smile. I was watching a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson called 'In the Name of the Father' which tells the story of the Guilford Four, a group of Irishmen who were accused of an IRA bombing that they did not commit. I highly recommend the movie. But the movie is not what I want to talk about. I was watching the film on hulu (an online aggregator of TV shows and movies made available legally online), and as I watched it, all of the commercials on it were sponsored by the Ad Council.

The Ad Council has some good messages, and some brain-washing ones. The one that struck me most powerfully was on global warming (Remember I was watching it as the snow was cascading down outside, as it still is). The ad had a bunch of little kids between the ages of probaby 5-9 who say the word 'tick' and 'tock' with cuts between the kids to make it all add up to this crescendo as if they're part of a time bomb. Then they ask the current generation to save them from "massive heat waves," "severe drought," "devastating hurricanes," saying, "Our future is up to you, go to, while there's still time." I was nauseated.

Once again little children are used as pawns in an effort to brainwash people into thinking the world is coming to an end. And it's all because of that evil, insidious gas called CO2. Yeah, that's right, the stuff you exhale every time you breathe is going to destroy the world for your grandchildren.

Here's my two cents: Fight the hysteria! Fight the real battles of AIDs, malaria, extreme poverty, water pollution, illiteracy, and malnutrition. Fight against problems that are proven, and that we can most surely fix. Global warming is not even directly correlated to man's CO2 production. How can you fight a problem that may not even be causally linked to man? Well, quite simply you can't. You cannot fight anything if you do not know what causes it. Do we know what causes water pollution? Do we know what causes illiteracy? Do we know what causes malaria? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Would it stifle innovation and cost an unforeseeable amount to attack these known problems? No. Can the fight against global warming say the same? No. Bjorn Lomborg gets the priorities right in this video.

So what is the solution? Better research. Level-headed research that doesn't politicize science. Saying that man-made CO2 will bring about the end of the world is as valid as me saying having a glass of wine a day will make you explode in 30 years.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things to do with extra cell minutes: Fantasy Pet Hotline

I have a very comprehensive and affordable phone plan. I have free text messaging, data, internet, free nights and weekends, and I have a LOT of minutes. And, something I noticed in a lot of my bills was that I rarely went over even half of my minute allotment. Some of you would probably say, "Well why don't you just move to a plan with less minutes?" To which I would say, "No." 

It's not a matter of pride I promise. I like having way more minutes that I need because I know I won't run over, and, I'm still paying less than people who have half the plan I do (because I know a guy...that's all I'm saying). So, what am I going to do with all those extra minutes? Well, I've thought of some good ideas with my friend Severino*:

1. Start a hotline where I pretend to be a dog, cat, or some other animal, so that people without pets can pretend to have one. It would be like a fantasy pet hotline. (Severino also suggested that I do exotic pets like Ewoks, because hey, every wants an Ewok. And, I think even Ewoks would want a pet Ewok).

2. Pretend to be a pet psychiatrist for the pet hotline (because I am both the psychiatrist and their fantasy pet, I can always get the problem right). And the fee would be nominal.

3. Make a second hotline that specializes in robot animals. The problems they face are less messy and more technical. Robot animals might appeal more to the anal-retentive germophobe, or the very allergic demographic (And, for the record I can do an awesome robo-bark).
4. Set up a hotline completely unrelated to fantasy pets that would help people get over their fear of talking to prank callers. People could call up and I would prank them mercilessly. However, they would have made the call and so they'd at least think they were in control. They could know that a prank was coming (except that sometimes I'd just carry on a normal conversation with them to keep them on their toes, and then when they least suspect it WHAM! Totally pranked them).

5. Set up my phone so that all calls to a certain extension (8482-639426 = VIVA-MEXICO) would go to a 24 hour loop of mariachi bands playing during, after, and before a bullfight or battle. There would also be intermittent "ay ays" and "arribas."
What else would you suggest?

*Obviously not really his name

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Loving Wildlife to Death

Wildlife. Generally speaking we love it. And, we often love it to its own doom.

On BYU campus there is a herd of deer, and a pride of feral cats. They run rampant. The cats are generally speaking pretty schizo, but the deer are apathetic. The deer don't seem to care about people because they've been lulled into a dependency cycle.
At National Parks there are signs that advise people not to feed the wildlife, not to get too close to the wildlife, and in general be smart. Why? Well, if animals become too accustomed to people the begin to lose their ability to be wild. They let their guards down and become something in between domesticated and wild. What do Park Rangers do when a fox, bear, or deer gets a little too friendly around people? They shoot it.
However, because BYU is a religious institution, some tend to think all that roams on the campus is instantly Edenized. By that I mean, if it hops, crawls, quacks, trots, or slithers, it can do no harm, and it should be treated like a pet. BYU campus, for the record is nothing like Eden (You can take that to the bank). So my brother and I have devised a plan to make the feral animals wild once again. They need to fear man.
There have been many times my brother and I have come across the deer on our way to the gym, walking down the street in the early morning, or, on occasion in broad day light in between classes. It didn't matter how close my brother or I got to them, they didn't flinch. Well, we had to do something. It started with barking and chasing. Well, the deer reacted, but only to scamper some twenty feet away. So we continued to give chase, hooting and hollering and scattering sticks...but the effect was minimal. So my brother came up with a suggestion. 

You all are probably plenty familiar with ping pong paddles. Well, he figured he could easily get close to them and give them a smack on the behind. I assented that it was a good idea, but I suggested something more comedic. We could sedate the deer, then strap stuffed animal monkeys or elves on their back for the holidays. Or, we could even use battery-powered Christmas lights for their antlers. 

Needless to say, the ideas were brilliant. Expect to see a deer resembling rudolph, with a small stuffed gnome riding on its back sometime soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich, doomed by his name.

I'm sure you're all aware that the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was arrested by the FBI the other day. He was accused of basically trying to sell off Obama's vacant senate seat to the highest bidder. Being part of the Chicago political machine, Blagojevich's dealings did not surprise me.

However, what did surprise me was how a man with a name like Blagojevich manages to get elected in the first place. How many clever slogans rhyme with Blagojevich? Well, unless they're in a language spoken by a former eastern bloc nation, I have no clue. His name sounds messy, and, as it turns out, so is the way he practices politics. Are we surprised by this? Wait, I just thought of a slogan: Do you want no itch? Then vote Blagojevich! Or the anti-slogan: Yes he's a little b*tch, vote no Blagojevich!

Wow. That was unbelievably creative. 

But let this be a lesson to us all. Politicians with ridiculous names should not be trusted. If the name in some way contains a 'b' a 'g' a 'j' and ends with ich, just run. Or, vote for the man named Bob Smith.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The New Pink: Dating a nerd

Everyone likes to be on top of the next trend, and for you fashionistas out there, there's a great one coming. I'm sure you've all heard that this color or that color is the new pink, but now there's a supplemental lifestyle change that is just as good as the next color. Forget about earth tones, paisley, skinny jeans, or over-sized sunglasses. The real next pink is dating a nerd.
That's right. If you date a nerd, your coolness factor skyrockets. The trend has been backed by some big names in fashion. The coalition formed to promote nerd dating includes, but is not limited to Armani, J Crew, Ralph Lauren, Gap, Gucci, and BGCG Maxazria. 

To become part of the trend you cannot merely pick up a token nerd for a week and dump them once your friends see. The relationship must last at least 3 weeks as prescribed by the coalition. Those who have succeeded in more long term nerd relationships are to be commended.
One particular success story comes from Oakland, California. Cindy Fox and her beau Sigmond Neuerbonsen have been dating for over a year now. Cindy said:

"I've been with Siggy for a while now, and I just don't know what I'd do without him. I can take him anywhere, and his shirts are always pressed to perfection, he always has a pen, and if I ever need to do some mental arithmetic he's there for me. I also love the way he stares at the floor and blushes when I kiss him."

When Mr. Neuerbonsen was asked why he thinks his relationship with Cindy has been so successful he said:

"I think she likes my fashion sense. I always wear plaid, and whenever I go out I make sure to put a brand new ticonderoga brand number two pencil in my left ear. She also loves riding in my bike and playing with the streamers and ringing the bell."

A scientist at the University of Pittsburgh named Dr. Theodore Melvin believes the trend is a step in the right direction. 

"When you put a good looking, shallow person's genes together with a nerdy person you get a normal person, and I think that's something society could have more of. On another note, I now have a girlfriend. A year ago, I never thought that was even fathomable."

The nerd dating trend, however, may be short lived. Some fashionistas have even started to exchange their nerds for shiny bracelets. Another possible trend could also involve owning lots of cats and buying an enormous victorian house in need of a lot of repairs. Experts are divided on the issue, and say it could go either way. 

Mary Newhouse of HOT FASHION, a new high end designer brand from New York said:

"No, the nerd thing was cool. I mean, I still have mine, but I needed to spice him up a little bit. I wrapped a blue scarf with purple sequins around his leg and I have him shimmy behind me when I'm talking to company. Occasionally I make him wear a mask and a feather boa.  And, I think he really likes it. It's a win for everybody."
Whether the trend stays, goes, or morphs into something like what Ms. Newhouse described is hard to say, but to all nerds out there at least they can take this olive branch and live more fulfilling lives.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Obama's Plan to spend us out of debt

As many of you may be aware President-elect Obama plans to initiate largest expansion into public works projects since the 1950s. He plans to rebuild infrastructure (from roads, bridges, and tunnels, to re-equipping schools nationwide), and he has cited it as a right for all children to have access to the internet. Here's his plan:

—ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

—ROADS AND BRIDGES: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”

—SCHOOLS: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”

—BROADBAND: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”

(Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had talked about expanding broadband access, but this is the first time the transition has formally proposed it.)

—ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”Now some of this plans actually make sense, but he has still been mum on what kind of cuts he is going to make if any. And other question, and it feeds off the issue I just cited is, WHERE IS ALL THIS MONEY COMING FROM? Our government has been dolling out trillions of dollars to bankers, lenders, and even some companies it has deemed as 'too big to fail.' So, in light of the fact that the dollar will be worth next to nothing in the next 6-18 months after the market reacts to this largess of meaningless paper printed out by the government, how does this same government expect to afford all these new initiatives? Since when did it make sense to spend money to get out of debt? Oh, that's right, governments can do that because they can print money by fiat to pay their debts...except they don't. They print money to support more systemically unsound debt which is bought and sold to bankers and lenders worldwide.
So I guess that was why I was a little taken aback when I heard that one of the public works projects to be undertaken was the world's largest ball of yarn (below is only a 1/20 scale replica).
Set to be 50 stories tall, the ball will be situated in the middle of Kansas to give people a reason to visit the state even if they don't have family there.

"It will provide a way for Kansas to regenerate a tourist industry that was once vibrant. It will also allow Americans to use the new cloverleaf that the public works project initiative will be building right next to the yarn ball," said President-elect Obama.

Marjorie Glotus of Topeka said, "It gives me renewed faith in the government. Since the Wizard of Oz came out I have been scorned by relatives who live in Wyoming, even though we do have a pretty good basketball team, but now that we have a federally funded Guinness-worthy ball of yarn, I hold my head up high."

It makes me giddy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Polar Bears become global warming skeptics

You've seen them on coca-cola commercials. You've seen them in made for TV documentaries. You've seen them in zoos. They are white, enormous carnivores who live in arctic. Yes, they are polar bears.
And, for a while now the global warming crowd has been using them as their poster child (bear). The claim is that the ice on which they navigate to hunt seals is dwindling to levels that a sure to endanger the polar bear. Well, the polar bears have decided to speak out.

This winter arctic sea ice closed in faster than ever. And, glaciers from Alaska to Greenland have expanded in size, and are continuing to do so. It is then, in this environment that the polar bears wanted a say. The leader of their movement, Papa Bear, called a press conference just this morning only a mile from a beach laden with overweight seals. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

"GRrrrrrrrrroooorrrr. uumph. RRRRRRROOOOOOughh," which, translated means, "We're joining the global warming skeptics."

A reporter from the BBC asked Papa Bear after the press conference why he had come out against the global warming crowd, and was promptly responded with a charge and then was mauled and eaten. All other questions following it were done from a loud speaker by reporters on an icebreaker several hundred yards from the coast.
Famous polar bear scientist Ralph Holmgren from Sweden had this to say of the news:

"I've been studying polar bears all my life. They are very intelligent and inquisitive. All of the ones I have been in contact with were rather unabashed when it came to their position on any issue, be it eating me, beating me, or destroying my shack. That the polar bears would make their political position on global warming in such a way doesn't surprise me."

This new revelation from the polar bear community is sure to turn the global warming argument on its head in the coming weeks. Those who most adamantly supported the polar bears prior to their announcement are now withdrawing their support. Phil Pfister of the IPCC said:

"Well, I used to think they were endangered by global warming. I gave my kids stuffed polar bear toys and polar bear posters to hang above their beds. But now those bastards have double-crossed us. They were the whole face of our argument. Now what are we supposed to do? I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to start by burning those posters and putting those stuffed animals on pikes. Then who knows, maybe we'll start picketing on the ice flows."
The backlash against the polar bears has been received by the polar bear community with indifference. A video blog response from Papa Bear showed him grunting for about five minutes while scratching his backside with a penguin.