Friday, October 30, 2009

Just a little prick

"You have to relax your muscles if you don't want this to hurt," she said as she finished rubbing alcohol on my skin.

I honestly thought I was relaxed, but this was my first time doing this so there was probably some background anxiety that I wasn't consciously aware of.

So I took a deep breath and tried to relax while I waited for the little prick of the hypodermic needle injecting dead flu virus proteins into my shoulder.

I don't get the flu. My theory is that I've got a super immunity due to a near-fatal (at least it felt near-fatal at the time) pneumonia I contracted years ago.

Still, with a kid in school and a new baby in the house, I bowed to the pressure of my (admittedly much smarter than me) Supermodel Wife to get the seasonal flu inoculation this year.

The nurse who gave me the shot -- I think her name was Becky or Ashley or something like that -- was sure to point out that "this is the seasonal flu shot, not the shot for the H1N1 flu."

According to Tiffany, the CDC identified back in April/May the flu strains that it thought would be a problem. At the time, they didn't think Swine Flu would be a problem.

"If you want a Swine Flu shot, you'll have to come back in a few weeks when we get the vaccines in," she said.

Now this may be my first flu shot, but I know a scam when I smell one. I'm not sayin' that the Swine H1N1 ain't a real thing. I just find it interesting the way things are working out.

I mean, look at it this way. You know how Apple is always working on the next new release of the operating system and they always give it an animal name (usually feline in nature). You had Mac OSX Cheetah, then Puma, then Jaguar all the way up to Leopard...

The point is, it's just good marketing to give something a name that people can latch on to.

I'm pretty sure that's what's been going on with these annual flu vaccinations. They started out a few years ago with the "Bird Flu" (later called "Avian Flu") that was killing people in Asia. Nobody was scared of it when it was just called "H5N1." But when the media got it's talons on "Bird Flu" -- well, there's a hook you can build some hysteria around.

This year it's the Swine Flu -- very catchy. Gets the media excited. Gets the citizenry in an uproar. Gets some much needed demand for the pharmaceutical industry right in the middle of a consumer recession.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. It's How to Survive a Recession 101: Create A Demand For A Product For Which You're The Only Provider.

Anyway... I'm not really sure where I was going with this.

My arm is kind of sore.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random Photo XIX: Foliaged again

It's been a cold wet fall, but nature (or God, or whatever) has tried to make up for it with the beautiful fall colors. Unfortunately, the show is all too brief.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Life and Death of a Pumpkin

Halloween is only a few days away. Hope you have your Balloon Boy costume ready.

In the meantime, here's a poignant portrait of one pumpkin's plight.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Pleading Galty

I'm going to backtrack a little bit because I have a couple of things I want to say about the whiny babies running Bank of America right now.

Seems they've wet their diapers over the Obama Collective's plan to slash executive salaries.
Many of the firms, which have together received more than $300 billion in taxpayer aid, issued conciliatory statements, but Bank of America said the ruling would put it at a disadvantage in competing with companies not under the pay czar's thumb.

"People want to work here, but they want to be paid fairly," said whined BofA spokesman Scott Silvestri.
Some people (who haven't thought things through very well) have latched on to the quote and hit the panic button, warning of a Galtian response to the pay cuts (via Cup O' Joel):
If the administration actually follows through, most of these executives will quit and get higher paying jobs elsewhere. Executives not directly affected by the pay cuts will also quit when they see their prospects for future salary gains have been cut. Chaos will be created at these firms as top people leave in droves. Will the administration then order people back to work?
Like I said, I've got a couple of thoughts on this, and I'm going to try to keep it brief.

First, this whiny weasel of a bank executive is vastly overstating the risk of a "Galtian" exodus of talent. (Can you imagine? A bank executive not being 100% honest?) Yes, the reduction is a 90 percent cut over their pay in 2008. But read the fine freaking print: It only applies to "the remainder 2009..."

That's right, these poor, deprived bastards are going to have a whole two months of punishment for the 18-months-and-counting depression they've caused. Then, it's back to buying disposable superyachts on the taxpayer dime.

Secondly, even if every single bank executive affected by this pay plan decided to take his keys to the executive Korean massage parlor and crawl into a Randian hole in southwest Colorado, that's only 175 people. I say good riddance. Don't let the balloon payment hit you on the way out. By all rights, these people should be out of work anyway.

Which brings me to my final point. If you're going to run you industry into the ground (oh, and the rest of the global economy, to boot) and then go crying, hat in hand, to the government and beh-heh-heg for a bailout, and if the popular sentiment is hard enough against you, don't fuckin' be surprised when the Chief Executive (your new boss, btw) grabs some political points by cutting your pay.

Welcome to the world you created.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

In case you missed it... KC with "international flair"

While you were busy trying on your Billy Mays Halloween costume, I was reading the bit on that puts Kansas City in a Top 10 list of "Great towns with international flair."

The piece is part of a celebration of United Nations day, which I'm sure you all know is tomorrow. The list was put together by Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Center for the Living City (whatever that is).

For KC, Goldsmith plugs the KC Irish Museum and Culture Center ...
"The mixture of Irish culture in this city is not competitive but woven into its fabric," Goldsmith says. Kansas City has a thriving pub, Celtic music and culture scene. The permanent exhibit at this center includes ancient and local Irish history. Events include Irish Beer Night and workshops for singing, fiddle, bodhran (drums) and tin whistle.
Check out the rest of the article to see even more international flair.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: The Kitchen Sink

In keeping with the creepiness of the season, today's edition of YouTube Tuesday is a double feature guaranteed to make you regret coming here all over again.

Actually, Kitchen Sink is a great but creepily weird short movie from way back in 1989. Believe it or not, I actually had an experience not too dissimilar to this back in college.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Guest Post: The Punxsutawney Power Principle

Today's post comes to us courtesy of MalcomSmith, a frequent poster on the KATG forums. This post was inspired by a conversation amongst some of the more politically inclined on the forums. I post it here (with permission of course) for your consideration.

I am beginning to wonder whether our intrepid young President hasn't already squandered every last bit of his once copious political capital? The prodigal POTUS?

And it appears the Republicans, the reigning maestros of of media manipulation, have already socked away all the malicious material they need to deliver a sound trouncing in November.

Is the Obama Presidency toast?

I think Obama's media presence is indicative of his political profligacy. For example, Obama has violated the Punxsutawney Power Principle. Every year, once a year, Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his rat hole or tree stump or whatever, and millions are held in rapt attention anxiously awaiting his meteorological prognostications... then they all party.

Now, were fat Phil to emerge say once a quarter, or once a month, or once a week, how much attention would we pay him? Would there be Groundhog Days? Would there be parties? Would there be a Punxsutawney Phil?

Or, would he be but another rotund rodent?

The Punxsutawney Power Principle hypothesizes that power is inversely proportionate to media saturation. Obama is everywhere, all day, every day. The PPP is but one way in which our precocious POTUS has thus diluted his mojo.

Some might say so what? As long as he's getting things done who cares if he's overexposed?

But, he's not getting needed legislation passed. That's the point. His message is diluted to meaninglessness. He should have been more parsimonious.

Obama doesn't get what the Republicans have known for years: You've got to catapult the propaganda. Americans function on heuristic soundbites. His message is too diffuse, too broad, too vague.

His message is missing its mark.

Brother B-rock needs to focus. He needs to prioritize his goals, assess the resources he has available to achieve those goals, and then direct those resources towards those goals in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

I would like him to spend his time on the economy, Iraq and Afghanistan, and health care; and he's in the Rose Garden with Gates, Crowley, and Biden... piling up the video library for conservative campaign swift-boat hatchet men.

How's that image work: Picture of the soldier with his guts blown out, juxtaposed to Obama drinking beers, bowling, dancing, cooing with babies, and playing B-ball with Reggie Love?

You do the math...

Obama won against an old man and a crazy coo coo woman. He did not beat a legitimate Republican candidate.

Some would submit that the Republicans never intended to win the '08 election. You'd be crazy to take on the $#&* Obama inherited. No politician could fix that $%^&. Better to sit it out, and let the Democrats take the lumps, then point out the problems and swoop in to the rescue.

The Republicans conceded the race.

Now, think about the baggage: Obama is a black Democrat + Iraq + Afghanistan + Gitmo + the health care fiasco + the bailout fiasco + the czars + the $%^&&! economy + the Democrat congress disaster + no bin Laden + GM + too-big-to-fail banks are bigger than before + etc., etc., etc. Could he have won with this stuff on his resume? No way.

This is what Obama is up against and he chooses Geithner and Larry Summers.

It's not a question as to whether or not he's going down, it's a question as to whether or not he can pull out of the dive before he hits the tarmac.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Money, it's a gas

Hey let's face it people, our beloved greenback has taken its lumps the last few years.

Bush's supposed "strong dollar" policy didn't pan out so well as other currencies passed the buck in value at various times over the past few years (hell even the Canadian Loonie was beating the US dollar for a while).

And, with bajillions of new dollars pumped into the economy to make sure JPMorganChase would get record profits after screwing the country into economic Armageddon, it's pretty much a sure bet that the buck will get weaker before it gets stronger.

But that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun with it, does it?

The other day I received a $1 bill as change. On the back of the bill was printed this message: "You have found a wild bill. See where I have been. Enter the series & serial # at"

Now, before you go and think I'm all naive and everything let me just say that, yes, I recognized this as the government tracking program that it is. Obviously, it's just one more way for Big Brother to keep tabs on my whereabouts and spending.


I went to the website and punched in the info from the bill. The tracking report I got on this particular bill showed a previous entry from a fella who received it as change from the KCI Airport Super Shuttle. At the time, it was in "good, nearly new" condition. That was 28 days before the bill came to me.

When I received the bill it was still in good condition, but not nearly new. Lots of wrinkles and folds, almost like it had been crammed quickly into a pocket then straightened out and placed into a money clip, then at some point drunkenly stuck into a g-string. You can use your own imagination to predict where it went from there.

Anyway, you can participate in the fun by pulling a bill from your wallet and checking the yourself. C'mon, the government is already tracking you 10 different ways anyhow.

But if you're too paranoid to play this little game with your dollars, here's something else you can do.

I got an email the other day about Won Park, an origami artist who specializes in folding the dollar bills in to intricate shapes of animals and various objets d'argent. Here are the samples that were in the email I received.

And of course, my poetic favorite...

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Hellholes

As I've said before, the great thing about online video is that it gives so many talented people a way to show off their goods with a low barrier to entry.

In the spirit of the season, I'm really diggin' this first episode of Hellholes -- looks like it's going to be kind of in the vein of The Army of Darkness.

<a href="" target="_blank">Hellholes - Ep 1</a>

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Friday, October 09, 2009

In case you missed it... Moon bombed in preemptive strike

While you were busy polishing your Nobel Peace Prize this morning, NASA bombed the moon.

That will teach the moon to moon us every month.

According to my inside sources, NASA has followed up the initial phase of the "shock and awe" bombing with the covert launched of a lunar invasion force. Here's some video my inside source captured with a cell phone video camera (it's a bit grainy)...

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: On the Boulevard

Most of us locals have been enjoying Boulevard Brewing Co's craft beers for years. We've toured the brewery (and tried the free samples) one or two (or ten) times so we're familiar with the company's story.

Still, this well-produced video is a nice introduction and review of where the company came from and where it's going.

Damn I'm thirsty.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier

Well he's done it again, posted something that makes the tiny little gears in my tiny little brain start turning and churning so much that I just can't stop it until I leave a comment. Then the comment turns into a long post and I end up just typing it out and posting it here.

Internet Legend Xavier Onassis, Father of the Internal Bushing, posted his thoughts the other day about his inability to "get" poetry and abstract expressionism.
If you have something to say, if there is something you want me to know, just tell me what it is! Don't make me guess, don't leave it up to my interpretation, don't cloak it and hide it in obtuse phrases. JUST FUCKING TELL ME!
XO believes that poetry is an attempt to obscure a meaning. I'm afraid I can't agree with this characterization.

Now, I'm no poet. I'm certainly no expert on poetry. Hell, I'm barely literate! So take this all with a grain of salt as the opinion piece it is (we all know about opinions, right). But I have given some thought to this subject, and here's what I came up with...

Poetry (and really all art in general) is a form of expression that attempts to bypass the analytical left brain and communicate directly with the intuitive and subjective right brain. It is an attempt by one soul to express feelings and moods directly to another soul.

So in order to understand what's being expressed, you have to first believe you have a soul. I happen to believe that everyone does, but many people aren't aware of it or may even deny it. For some people, the soul is like an appendix, an unneeded vestigial organ. Or, more like an unused muscle that has been allowed to weaken and atrophy through neglect.

In my opinion, these are the people who have trouble "getting it."

Granted, there's a lot of bad poetry out there, and a lot of bad art in general. This is probably what leads to the conclusion that poetry is an attempt to obscure a message.

But good art created by a skilled artist is just the opposite. A true master of the form chooses words as carefully and deliberately as any novelist, probably more so. Certainly they are more diligent that you ordinary everyday blogger. They devote as much energy and effort into perfecting the meter and rhyme and other non-verbal aspects of the work.

When executed by a master, the affect is very powerful... more powerful sometimes that a well-written treatise on the Unified Field Theory.

In fact, some works are so powerful, so well executed that even someone as soulless as that heathen Xavier Onassis can "get it."
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Or this one...
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix...
Or maybe...
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
We all experience moods and feelings differently. It's just a function of our humanity. But when good poetry actually connects, the feeling or mood can be like a punch in the soul.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Random Photo XVIII: Full moon fever

Really cool harvest moon on Friday. I grabbed the camera and tripod and captured some images before I ripped off my clothes and turned into a wolf monster.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

A year of change

I know there's still a little over a month to go, but I wanted to beat the rush and get this out of the way early.

Last November I shook my head at all of the people who were so easily swayed to such emotional heights by a completely predictable election outcome.

Many people who didn't read closely or chose not to understand my point, assumed I was criticizing Barrack Obama, the man. At most, I criticized his policy recommendations (or lack thereof). But primarily, my disappointment was with the masses who were taken in by such vacuous campaign promises as "hope" and "change" -- my point being that such superficial campaign promises were the complete opposite of change.

Anyway, I just want to bring that up since these days saying anything the least bit critical of the current administration pretty much instantly gets you branded as a racist bigot in much the same way that saying anything critical of the previous administration would get you branded as an unpatriotic commie.

This phenomenon, of course, only serves to support my contention that nothing substantial has changed. In fact, there are many examples of change not happening.

Remember back in the day when there was a lot of criticism of the USA Patriot Act? I mean, a lot of us don't like it. Only the most rabid, tunnel-vision, Republicans dared defend it. But there was some pretty harsh criticism of those wouldn't come right out and denounce it (even though it was a passed as a bi-partisan measure).

Of course, you don't really see any harsh criticism from Obama fans, even though the current administration recently announced plans to extend three of its key provisions, including the infamous "Lone Wolf" provision.
The lone wolf provision was created to conduct surveillance on suspects with no known link to foreign governments or terrorist groups. It has never been used, but the administration says it should still be available for future investigations.
Then there was Obama's campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in his first year as president. I know some of you were betting on this happening, but it turns out that as with most of his policy proposals, Obama didn't really know what he was talking about.
The White House comments were the latest indication that the administration had miscalculated from the start its ability to turn Mr. Obama’s campaign trail speeches into reality. Some of his senior advisers have privately concluded that it was a mistake to set a deadline just two days after taking over the White House, when they still did not fully grasp the enormous challenges involved in closing the prison.
No doubt there will be a few people that will tell you that superficial intangibles have been changed -- things like "hope" and "attitude" and "now there's a website."

But really, a year in to this thing it's pretty much partisan politics as usual.

One more thing that never changes.

Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

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Friday Blogthing: I am the 80s

I really and not as materialistic as this quiz makes me out to be. All I really ask for is a nice computer, a cold beer and a programmable scrolling LED name tag*.

You Are the 1980s

You are a larger than life, ambitious person. You believe that you should live big or go home.

You appreciate the bold days of the 1980s, when no one ever toned it down.

You believe in working hard and playing hard. You can't help but love money and nice things.

You are a bit ruthless and power hungry. The one who dies with the most toys wins, right?

*... and this remote control. That's all I need. Oh, and this paddle game...

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