Friday, August 28, 2009

Terminator: The California Garage Sale

The Governator strikes gold, genius, and bust simultaneously with a State garage sale:

"For the two-day event that ends Saturday, the state is selling off seized property and surplus supplies."

Among items being sold at extreme discounts: cars, motorcycles, laptops, Blackberrys, tools, desk chairs, antique pianos, cameras, surf boards, jewelry, etc.

So is this idea brilliant or lack luster? The article states that California is expecting to make $1 million in profit, which is chump change in comparison to their debts. And now they are going to be broke with nothing to show for it...

Mean Green Madness

OK, I LOVE North Texas, and as a previous Eagle Ambassador I learned most all of UNT's Traditions, so you can imagine my curiosity when I received the August UNT Insider newsletter linking to a new UNT Traditions website. Upon clicking the link, I started reading about the origins of UNT's nickname, the "Mean Green":

The first two paragraphs in the Mean Green section state:

"There are many spoken origins to the name "Mean Green." The oldest written source comes from a 1967 Dallas Morning News article by Randy Galloway entitled "MEAN GREEN ON THE LOOSE! Defense Swallows Foes For NTSU."

The article features defensive players; James "steals kids' candy" Ivy, Lindy "cheats at marbles" Endsley, Joe "kicks puppies" Greene, Ret "slugs old ladies" Little, Charles "the hatchet" Beatty, Henry "tears up dolls" Holland, Bob "likes to let air out of wheel chair tires" Tucker."

Wha? Oh how this makes me love North Texas more! I wish I had sweet nickname, although ol' "cheats at marbles" seems rather less than threatening...was he the Brick Tamlin of the football team?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

For Great Justice

According to a recent article (titled, China: All Your Rare-Earth Metals Belong To Us), China has become self-aware...self-aware of the value in the modern world's need for rare-earth metals. The article reference's an article from Britain's Telegraph, which states:

"Beijing is drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons. "

Where would we be without our rare-earth metals?! Perhaps Zero Wing was more of a warning than a mishap in translation:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Destiny: LCARS on a PADD?

Perhaps the recent revival of Star Trek has awakened the dormant creativity of technology geek inventors, but whatever the reason, I too am geekishly giddy about the rumored Apple Mac tablet. Although tablet pc's are not new to the increasingly popular laptop market, they have been less than desirable products. However, Apple's success in creating the iphone and itouch (essentially mini tablet) devices has opened up new possibilities for equaled success in a tablet. Especially as Verizon and AT&T are starting to sell netbook devices with internet broadband service (accessible any where). In addition, the iphone/itouch have created a market demand/society's acceptance of touch technology. A few major pluses:

1. Possibly the return of cell phones to their primary a phone. As the Blackberry and iphone can be annoyingly slow/inefficient in web access and applications, a mobile tablet could resolve the processing speed and viewing issues (not to mention storage for music/photo files and battery life).

2. Say adios to Kindle. Why buy a Kindle when you can buy a new laptop (same size) with mobile internet access and a book app? I would hope for a textbook app...

I am sure there are more, but for now...ring ring....Mac Tablet?

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Cougar Town"--Worst Six Flags Area Ever

I had my surgery on Thursday, so plenty on that later (no gross photos, though). But right now I think it's important that we recognize the depths to which the lowest common denominator has sunk, at least from the perspectives of television excutives.

This fall Courtney Cox stars in a new ABC sitcom entitled "Cougar Town." Leave aside for a moment the fact that the show already sounds like the kind of ill-concieved amusment park idea you might expect from Dan Halen of Squidbillies fame. Aren't we a little bit insulted that ABC would call a show about a Cougar soccer mom something for excruciatingly obvious. Why not "On the Prowl" or something? It's like they don't expect us to comprehend the concept of a show unless it's parsed out to us in an idiotic title. "Hey Joe Bob, what's that new show about?" "I don't really know, Ray Don, but it's something to do with cougars!"

Worse yet, even the show's remedial hooked-on-phonics name leaves ambiguity for some people. "Cool, a whole town run by wild cats! It's like Parks and Recreation meets Grizzly Man!" I kid you not, this is a problem. This summer at the DA's office we had a rather flamboyant defendant who walked a pair of cougars around NYC in the early 90's (before Rudy cleaned the place up). Several well-heeled attorneys asked, straight faced, if these reports meant big cats or skanky over-40 women after fresh meat. Cougar Town is the state of the union, people, and that's a scary thought. I hope the show's funny, though. Courtney Cox has really floundered after Friends.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Straight From the Bog

A brief foray into the world of advertising. Ocean Spray has been running ads for a while that feature a quirky father and son team of cranberry growers. The ads are pretty funny and emphasize the fresh, "from the grower to you" flavor of Ocean Spray products. But I just noticed today the tagline which accompanies these fun little vignettes--"Straight From the Bog." Really?

Yes, I know cranberries come from a bog. They grow on little bushes, and eventually the farmer floods the bog so that the loose, ripe berries float into a collection area. But when I hear the words "Straight From the Bog," I don't think about delicious cranberries. I think of 5000 year old dead bodies, smoky Irish peat fires, feces, and the Bog of Eternal Stench from The Labyrinth. "Smell Bad!"

I mean, I get it. The tagline is funny because people make these kind of associations. But do you really want to remind potential customers that your food product comes from a swampy malarial marshland? Seems like a bad idea, yet according to Ocean Spray it's one of the best ad campaigns ever. Go figure. Maybe average folks don't know that bogs aren't just where the cranberry guys live. Read to your children!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Grounded In Dallas County Jail - No Friends or TV Privileges

We've got some criminal justice-minded folks reading the blog these days, so I though ya'll might be interested in this bit o' news out of Dallas. Apparently the Dallas PD picked up a 13 year old girl for shoplifting, the girl used a fake name and DOB to identify herself as 17 years old, and she ended up spending 13 days in jail.

Certainly this is a screw up, but what else were the police supposed to do? The girl didn't have ID, she told the cops she was 17, and her parents didn't come looking for her for almost two weeks. Sure the police could have investigated further, but where else were they supposed to check? Her bar-coded ID # tattoo? It seems like the cops are going to catch a bunch of flak for something that they couldn't really prevent. If the girl was going to lie about her name and age, she was going to lie about any other evidence that could have led to the truth (address, parents names, etc.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Care at 'I' Level

As the health care debate becomes more politicized, it’s been instructive for me to step back from the party line, abandon the view from 30,000 feet, and zero in on a little personal experience. Many of my Facebook friends and twitter follower know that I’ll be undergoing surgery later this month for a cholesteatoma in my right ear. As JT has aptly pointed out, my particular situation presents an interesting opportunity for discussion—what if I didn’t have insurance?

The procedure to correct my problem is a mastoidectomy/tympanoplasty. This thing isn’t going to be cheap anyway, but D and I have good coverage through her job. Where would we be if we didn’t? The surgery is necessary, but not “emergency care.” So I couldn’t go to ER, which is required to treat everyone even if they can’t pay. Maybe some sort of charity clinic would see to my troubles, or some church fund. But my condition isn’t life threatening without years of neglect, and surely someone with cancer or something would take priority. No, I think we’d be stuck saving up for years, and letting my ear and hearing deteriorate until we could to afford to pay the “down payment” on hospital bills. You can go on a payment plan, of course, but without insurance you have to pay at least some of the money up front. And that’s just the hospital and anesthesiologist. Most doctors won’t even see you without full payment for the visit.

I think the final product of my musing is that everyone needs some kind of health coverage. And its not just coverage for them, it’s coverage for us. Just as mandatory auto insurance laws have reduced the cost of insurance for us responsible folks who maintain coverage, universal coverage (especially for preventative care) would bring down all our costs. On this point I should be completely clear. I still think that government has no place in the insurance business. Necessary arm’s length regulation, sure, but not a “public option” or “single payer” system. We just have too much historical experience to allow the government screw up another industry more than it already has. Obama offers up a public option as “competition” and “accountability.” Yet we know that such a heavily subsidized and bureaucratic entity will artificially lower prices (without concern for the other side of the balance sheet, since we taxpayers will be funding it) to the point that private insurers can’t keep up. It’s simply a back door to government run health care, be it today or in ten years.

So, loyal readers, what are our options for universal coverage without a public insurance agency? Mandatory coverage laws? Somehow divorcing coverage from employment?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The New Cold War – Battle of the Beefcake

After yesterday's conversation, I couldn't resist posting this hilarious piece on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Perhaps many readers have seen it linked from Drudge, but the video is priceless.

Sure, Obama had his Tiger Beat worthy beach photo, but at least we don't have to watch him ride horses bare chested or swim in Tuva. I wonder if ol' Vlad had the chance to enjoy any world famous Tuvan Throat Singing, since he was already in the neighborhood oppressing folks and tightening his iron death grip on the far-flung Russian proletariat.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Apotheosis of Obama

Apotheosis is what has always scared me the most about Obama. In our system of checks and balances, even in times of one party rule the damage a single president can do is somewhat limited. We lost the election fair and square, so as president the Big O has the prefect right to propose and execute policies that might be hairbrained, doomed to fail, or even catastrophic. I was prepared for all that before the first ballot was cast, and I've (mostly) made my peace with it. But deification is what really terrifies me, what really has the potential to undermine the way we do business in the US of A.

We've always made our political figures out to be larger than life, or at least they make themselves out to be. But we generally reserve the most blatant aggrandizing of a president for after their term is up. George Washington might be the most notable exception, but by all accounts he shunned self-promotion and was beatified by others. Lincoln, too, was noted for his self deprecation. Perhaps this is part of what we loved best about these Presidents. Long story short, we've just never really gone in for the Cult of Personality in America. When one of our president reaches immortal status, he's usually already dead.

Not so for Mr. Obama, the nation's first black president, the new Lincoln, the saviour of the nation. Even as he slips in the polls and loses support for key initiatives, the depth of devotion to this president continues to grow. Shouldn't it be more concerning that a president's perceived stature is divorced from his performance or success? Shouldn't we worry that in this country, in this time, something like the "bead mosaic" above appears in front of the White House? Don't let the caption fool you. Just because Obama or his staff didn't glue this bizarre portrait together themselves doesn't mean they didn't know it was coming. You don't get to set up a 7"x10" piece of plywood in front of the White House without permission. George W. Bush caught flack for landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit. Yet Obama gets a Mao-esque depiction in the nations capital, and we're not supposed to care? Just a little freaky, that's all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

SFW: Blank Inside

It's been a while since we've had an installment of "Scenes From Waco," but the pic at left demonstrates that Central Texas remains rife with irony. This photo depicts the greeting card section at HEB under renovation. I've always thought that "blank inside" cards had a touch of ennui to them, but this is downright melancholy. Puts me in mind of Garfield Minus Garfield.