Friday, May 30, 2008

This n' That

Sharon Stone Puts Foot in Mouth

Shrill Sharon Stone declared that the Chinese people died as a result of their government persecuting the Tibetans. As I listened to her little speech, I was surprised by how grating and whiny her voice was. She also sounded amazingly... common and dull. Once again, I was struck by how far reality is from the Big Screen.

Of course, Harrison Ford is just the opposite. He is a man that is comfortable in any interview, retains a wonderful on-the-spot humor, and is obviously quite intelligent. It's very nice to see Indiana Jones still rockin' in his 60s. And if you haven't seen the latest Indy movie, get out there! What are you waiting for?!

Barack Obama Fit to Run

Barack's doctor just came out and said he's in perfect health. Well, of course he is! He's not even drinking age yet, is he?

Gay Governor's Wife Says He Owes Her

Former New York Gov. James McGreevey isn't smelling like a rose.

McGreevy's wife, Dina Matos, is complaining that his gay lifestyle choices which cost him the gubanatorial position also cost her the position of First Lady and all the perks that went with it.

McGreevey complains that he can't hope to pay her back for any of these losses, as he's decided to become a priest and he's now merely a seminary student.

Time to crack those books, McGreevey, and rethink that whole part about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hatred Versus Peace

Over the years, I've written much that's touched on the concept of love and yet I've never written much about its opposite: Hatred.

Hatred arrives in many forms, but it's interesting how many religions warn against directing it at others, even in the form of wishing ill on others.

For instance, in King David's Psalm 109:17, David writes "He also loved cursing, so it came to him; And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him."

Many asian religions believe in karma, and so there are variations in exactly what is believed. However, the core of the belief is that when you do evil, it is returned to you.

The Golden Rule is a belief that is widespread throughout many religions. Here are some variations of The Golden Rule*:

1. Christianity: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matt 7:12 and "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

2. Confucianism: "Tsekung asked, "Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?" Confucius replied, "It is the word shu--reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you."
Analects 15:23

3. Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5,1

4. Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you." Mahabharata 5,1517

5. Jainism: "A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated." Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

6. Kabbalah: The Kabbalah faith is a Jewish mystic religion not to be confused with historical Judaism. Among other things, it teaches that envious and uncharitable thoughts should never be directed at others, and that they are as injurious as a knife wound. To guard against others' evil thoughts, they wear a red string wrapped around their left wrist 7 times. When it breaks, it's assumed that it broke in the line of duty and it's quickly replaced.

7. Taoism: "Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss." Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien

8. Wiccanism: Wiccans have the classic rede "An' it harm none, Do what ye will," which serves as a basic guide to all spells and actions. They believe that any negative spell will eventually rebound upon the spell caster.

And, of course, many more religions teach similar concepts.

Interestingly enough, from the perspective of an atheist, doing good unto others also makes sense. If you believe in evolution, it's easy to see that the survival of the species depends on living as peaceably as possible. I had an ex-fiance who was an atheist that generally held himself to a higher and more peaceful code than most Christians!

Why is that?

There are some Christians in the United States that are very pro-war. It's a difficult topic to debate, because many people are also bent on self-justification since many of their loved ones have served or are serving in the military.

But Christians need to seriously consider what a just and an unjust war is. When is war defensive? When is it wrongfully aggressive?

This is not a politically correct topic in many churches.

I've been in churches where God and The Military are seen as one unit. There are patriotic sermons that indicate that God blesses the military.

In "The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd, he writes:

"Shortly after the Gulf War in 1992 I happened to visit a July Fourth worship service at a certain megachurch. At center stage in this auditorium stood a large cross next to an equally large American flag.

The congregation sang some praise choruses mixed with such patriotic hymns as "God Bless America." The climax of the service centered on a video of a well-known Christian military general giving a patriotic speech about how God has blessed America and blessed its military troops, as evidenced by the speedy and almost "casualty-free" victory "he gave us" in the Gulf War (Iraqi deaths apparently weren't counted as "casualties" worthy of notice). Triumphant military music played in the background as he spoke.

The video closed with a scene of a sihouette of three crosses on a hill with an American flag waving in the background. Majestic, patriotic music now thundered. Suddenly, four fighter jets appeared on the horizon, flew over the crosses, and then split apart. As they roared over the camera, the words "God Bless America" appeared on the screen in front of the crosses.

The congregation responded with roaring applause, catcalls, and a standing ovation. I saw several people wiping tears from their eyes. Indeed, as I remained frozen in my seat, I grew teary-eyed as well - but for entirely different reasons. I was struck and horrified by grief.

Thoughts raced through my mind: How could the cross and the sword have been so thoroughly fused without anyone seeming to notice? How could Jesus' self-sacrificial death be linked with flying killing machines? How could Calvary be associated with bombs and missiles?

...How could the Kingdom of God be reduced to this sort of violent, nationalistic tribalism? Has the church progressed at all since the Crusades?

Indeed, I wondered how this tribalistic, militaristic, religious celebration was any different from the one I had recently witnessed on television carried out by the Taliban Muslims raising their guns as they joyfully praised Allah for the victories they believed "he had given them" in Afghanistan?"

Gregory Boyd brings forth some very important questions that Christians should prayerfully consider. Although it's easy to respond with a knee-jerk reaction, this is something which requires a great deal of thought.

NOTE: There is an Islamic verse that is often mistakenly cited as a 'peace' verse. It reads "Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13
HOWEVER: one needs to ascertain what a Muslim considers to be his 'brother'. Do not assume that it's you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barrister Koffi

Wow! I have a scammer that is directly contacting ME on Ex Boyfriend Jewelry (where I sell some used jewelry that I own).

I feel privileged! This morning I got 4 messages from Koffi, who was initially 'interested' in a necklace I'm selling. He wrote:

please kindly reply me back on my private email address
Barrister Koffi

Yeah, the "barrister" actually LOLed me. But we're buds now, sharing a joke. Yup! I'm betting your wife will love you more. LOL!

Then he discovered an even higher priced item of mine and got REALLY excited. He wrote:


You know, you'd think these Nigerian scammers might come up with a different handle. When you google "Barrister Koffi", you get pages of references to the scams attached to this name. What's wrong with good old "Barrister Smith", for instance?

Anyway, my reply to his first email was basic. But the second one (and his pointing out that he's a barrister) forced my hand. I wrote back:

Of course! I am more than happy to hear that you're interested in this item. But let me ask you: How do you have so much money if you work as a barrister at Starbucks? I hear they pay only minimum wage. Maybe I should reconsider working there!

Anyway, if you'll give me your email address, I'll be happy to send you a PayPal bill for the amount. Thanks!

(If I get a reply, I'll update this post.)

My first question (which is really rhetorical): Do these Nigerian scams really work anymore? Aren't they tired of being scammed in return?

And my second one: How can I really stick it to him? Any ideas?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pork & Beans

For your weekend viewing pleasure, here's a wonderful YouTube parody by Weezer:

Friday, May 23, 2008

John McCain's Pastoral Scandals

John McCain is running against... John McCain, apparently. Repeatedly we have seen McCain shooting himself in the foot. His latest misfire: First courting and then rejecting two Malignant Ministers.

(Wait a minute: I'm confused. Isn't there supposed to be a separation of church and state? And, isn't it true that the IRS can revoke a church's tax-exempt status when it becomes politicized?

Tell that to Jeremiah Wright, John Hagee, and Rod Parsley. Apparently they're either unconcerned about their tax-exempt status, or we've been misinformed.)

I never liked Pastor John Hagee. In fact, I do not like any TV evangelist and I disapprove of any pastor who puts congregation and building size before caring for his flock. Since that eliminates any of the "Big Box" churches, you can safely say that many of John Hagee's philosophies would also be repugnant to me.

John Hagee has fallen from grace because he apparently made the statement that God caused Hitler to persecute the Jews in order to get them over to the Promised Land. Now THERE is an interesting philosophy: God does evil to create good. And, to add insult to injury, God is apparently happy to persecute his own people!

After John Hagee's interesting interpretation of God's nature, we come to Rod Parsley. I had never heard of him until now, and I could have gone my entire life without hearing about him!

Parsley apparently made the startling statement that America was formed to defeat the Islamic faith. Hmmm, I can't seem to find that little tidbit in any of the founding fathers' documents and it seems to have been left out of the Constitution, too. You'd think something of THAT importance would've made it in there.

(Thanks, Parsley. That won't increase our tensions with the Islamic terrorists or anything.)

And yet, McCain's pastoral scandals can hardly rival the case of Barack Obama and a prejudiced black supremacist like Jeremiah Wright.

For one thing, the guys that McCain is repudiating were never pastors in his church. He never sat in their pews for 20 years, nodding his head as they ranted and raved from the pulpit. In his defense, he knew little of what they actually believed. However, this is also to his detriment: Is he willing to throw his lot in with people that he has little knowledge of?

To sum it up: McCain is now doing what he feels he needs to do.

I would suggest to McCain that he is up against a man who is preaching about unity. He could have handled his own minor scandals in a better manner. Certainly, he would have been smart to never pander to the religious right by courting such poor examples of "Christianity".

McCain is justified in distancing himself quickly. I believe that McCain thought he would look very good in comparison to Obama, but instead it will dilute the Jermiah Wright scandal and place it at a much lower level than it should be.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Farm Bill Veto

President Bush vetoed the latest $289 billion U.S. farm bill. It is rare that I am in agreement with the Scion of Big Business, but I agree wholeheartedly with this.

Bush's reasoning is that this bill fails to reform subsidies to multimillionaire farmers at a time of high farm income and rising grocery prices.

Yes, you read that right! The question isn't whether or not Bush actually believes it (I'm sure he doesn't) but that he said it.

Even more shockingly, the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees say they have the votes for an override and they intend to put that into play immediately. By their estimates, the bill could become law within a week.

(Perhaps Bush rests comfortably in the knowledge that his veto will have no impact in the matter).

In a recent article originally published in Harper's Magazine, we are told that the economy is in much worse state than the government statistics reveal. The government statistics have been cleverly positioned and honed to put the national economy in the best light possible. This 'creative' data interpretation started with the Kennedy administration and continues today.

However, the article also points out that revealing the truth can even further impact the economy. We live balanced on a wire stretching from the top of skyscrapers: Which way should we go? How much information does the public have the right to know? How much could ultimately harm us?

Sadly, this article merely confirms what many of us already knew or suspected: The government has mismanaged our funds terribly, Big Business has repeatedly made decisions which are only beneficial for their executives and stockholders, and there is no end in sight.

It is time for the government to reign in this runaway freight train. They can start by tabling The Farm Bill.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why it's Dangerous to Pass a Law Banning Cyber Harassment

Recently Megan Meier, a disturbed girl in Missouri, killed herself after a situation of 'cyber bullying' that occurred in MySpace.

I do have a profile in MySpace, but I do not believe that children should be allowed to have one. Overall, children are immature (no matter how mature they may seem to be at times) and they are not well-equipped to deal with life on such a large scale.

A friend of mine was very concerned about his 12 year old daughter spending time on MySpace. One day when she had spent some time on MySpace, he went in afterwards and found some things that shocked and surprised him. He came to me about the situation, and asked me to tell him how to set up a fake account to monitor her (as her profile was closed to adults). He had heard that sexual predators did this, and he wanted to prove to her that it was a dangerous environment.

So I told my friend how to set up the account. He posed as a boy only a couple of years older, and was extremely careful about what he said: In fact, he said very little. But what he sent to her were the standard surveys that kids like to send each other asking innocent questions (such as "what's your favorite food?") along with not-so-innocent ones (such as "are your parents still married?" and "where do you sleep?")

Over a matter of months, she inadvertently revealed that she was 12, that she had her own room without a telephone in it, that she was often at home by herself, that her parents were divorced, who was in her family unit, what school she went to, and what her first name was. She also had pictures of herself posted. At one point, another child revealed her last name in a public post.

Eventually, when he had enough information to give him a stroke, all hell broke loose and she was confronted by the evidence. As a result, she has behaved more decorously on the internet, but due to her mom's intervention, she has not removed her profile altogether.

Obviously MySpace presents a great deal of dangers to children.

Megan Meier is a classic case of how things can go wrong without proper parenting and supervision. If her parents had been on top of the situation, they would have known what was going on before it was too late.

Most of you know what happened.

Apparently Megan had a friend who quickly became an enemy. This friend (in conjunction with another friend and possibly her mother) created a MySpace account posing as a boy. She flirted with Megan and became her 'cyber boyfriend'. After a couple months of that, she turned on Megan and began harassing her and encouraging other friends to do so, too.

Megan hung herself one day.

Although my heart goes out to her parents, and the situation is indeed tragic and the result of malicious intent, it is ultimately Megan who made the decision to kill herself when other children in similar circumstances have not made such a choice.

Megan's parents admitted that she was mentally ill. And, it is also obvious that they weren't monitoring her properly.

However, suddenly free speech is being blamed for Megan's suicide.

I am very concerned.

I will grant you that the internet makes free speech a little more than a simple conversation at the drug store: On the internet you can be nameless and faceless. Many of us are very grateful for that, as we would not be able to speak frankly on a wide variety of issues without that protection. We have become a politically correct nation, where your beliefs and views can damn you utterly, even though we technically prize free speech.

But now, Missouri lawmakers have passed a law in a knee-jerk reaction to Megan's suicide. It's an anti-cyber harassment law, which sounds good on paper and looks good at election time. But how do you define harassment?

And, is it necessary?

After all, most of us hardier and older adults grew up before it was politically incorrect to make fun of fat kids, nerds, unpopular kids, and handicapped kids. Those of us who can spell are most likely the ones that were a target for bullying and teasing at one time or another.

*I* certainly was!

But we cried about it, we ranted about it, we were angry about it, and we learned to deal with it. We are now taking away that possibility from our young people, who are bound to face such things at some point in life. Do we really want to raise a nation of pansies who are ill-equipped to live in the Big World?

And, on a bigger scale, do we really wish to begin to make rules about what can be said and should not be said on the internet?

There is an additional legal concern rising from this case, which is discussed here. The author points out that MySpace's prosecution of the bullying mom in Missouri could also put most of us in jail if it's succesful.

This case bears watching. And unlike the lawmakers in Missouri, we need to think this over very carefully as any decisions made will affect each of us on a much larger scale than these small-minded legislators and prosecutors can imagine.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Problems With Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage was just legalized in California. This follows the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts and Canada.

Everyone knows the religious arguments against gay marriage, so I won't expound upon them here. But as I wrote in June 2005:

From a secular point of view, I can't see anything that bars the legalization of gay marriage except for the fact (as reported in The World and I) that they go through as many as 12 or more sexual partners a year on average (even if they're in a 'committed' relationship). Not my business, right? Unless their marriages are almost as frequent as their sex partners. Then it is my business. We would be looking at the potential for a major increase in divorces and the system would be overwhelmed.

'Easy', you say,' hire more people to handle all the divorces! That shouldn't bar their right to get married.' Well, it's not that easy. Because then we're talking about more taxpayer's dollars to hire these people and build (or expand) the courthouses and administrative offices across the country so that we can house them.

'Ah, but what price liberty?' you ask. I would reply that there are times when it is simply not economically feasible to give everyone everything that their hearts desire.

Since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, a host of other problems have arisen. According to this article, they include:

1. The Possibility of Polygamy: Many of the problems stem from the fact that Massachusetts is the only state to recognize same-sex marriage. Massachusetts state law allows residents to file for divorce, but it does not allow out-of-state residents to do so, unless the cause of the divorce-an act of infidelity, for example-occurred here.

Lawyers say this restriction could create some truly knotty legal situations. Say an out-of-state couple wants to divorce, but their state doesn't recognize that they were married in Massachusetts. Could one of them legally marry a heterosexual partner, without divorcing the gay partner? What if that person died and both legal spouses claimed the assets? ''Are you getting the sense it's a mess?" asked Lisa M. Wilson, a Newton lawyer who handles gay divorces.

2. The IRS and Federal Government: Then there's the federal government. For federal tax purposes, alimony is normally deductible for the person paying and counted as income for the person on the receiving end. But same-sex marriages have no standing in the eyes of the IRS. ''We don't recognize gay marriages," said IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley. Same-sex couples need to file as single people, rather than as a couple, she said, and they can't enjoy the alimony deduction.
3. Alimony and Distribution of Assets: Even seemingly basic aspects of a divorce are more complicated for same-sex couples. A major problem, for instance, arises in calculating the length of relationships, an important factor in a court's decision on how to divide assets. How will a divorce court view a gay couple who lived together for 20 years but were married for only one year? ''Technically, the court could say it's a short-term marriage, but it really is a long-term marriage because they couldn't get married before," said Kauffman. ''There's very little case law and nothing in the statutes that addresses that."

According to this FAQ in the gay site "Love And Pride", I was correct in my initial assessment:

Many gay couples who married shortly after same sex marriage was legalized in their country waited years for their chance. Such couples might be thought to have a higher than usual level of commitment and stability. Yet gay and lesbian couples were divorcing just months after they married – or less.

...As gay marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon, the gay divorce rate will not stabilize for a long time.

In fact, gay divorces in Massachusetts began within 7 months of gay marriage being legalized, according to Fox News.

Gay marriage has been legalized in Sweden, so European demographers Gunnar Andersson and Turid Noack did a study on their divorce rates, reporting that gay male couples were 50% more likely to divorce within an eight-year period than were heterosexuals. Lesbian couples were 167% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples.

"Even among childless households, same-sex male partnerships experienced almost a 50% higher likelihood (1.49 times as likely) of divorce during the study period, while childless lesbian couples were three times as likely (200% higher likelihood) to break up as a married couple without children."

If this pattern is reflected in California, their taxpayers are about to enter a world of hurt. It also affects taxpayers throughout the USA, who must pay taxes to help upkeep Federal courts and Federal laws, which will undoubtedly be drawn into the drama.

This is becoming a very serious issue that will ultimately require the Federal Government to intervene on one side or the other.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brooke and Nick Hogan: Paragons of Virtue?

Brooke Hogan, a.k.a. Brooke Bollea, is busy ranting about her brother Nick Bollea and his injured friend, John Graziano.

According to a St. Pete Times blog:

"I know most of the public thinks my brother is some rich little selfish kid, but NO ONE knows the real story and I'm really pissed that the truth didn't come out from either side," she wrote. "A LOT of lies were told in that trial. Believe me. And it wasn't from us. John (Graziano) was NEVER home. He was at our house. ALL THE TIME."

She also ripped on how you idiots who watch Hogan Knows Best and for some reason give a damn about them had better get up off it, because reality TV is anything but. Who knew?

"And by the way, before you judge anybody, make sure you really know them. I promise you if you were to meet my brother he would give you the shirt off his back. He's not "NICK HOGAN." AND hes not the person he plays on tv. People are so gullible now a days…"

Well gee, I wonder why the public would think that Nick was a rich, selfish kid? Brooke should take comfort that Nick is not alone in this: We see her as one, too.

I was at the candlelight vigil. I wrote about how the Hogans were trying to remake Nick's image. (I think it's time for them to put a little effort in Brooke's direction, also). I saw the trial.

Here's the real scoop: Nick IS a rich, selfish kid. And from the moment he wrapped his car around a tree, his family's been in a rush to make him seem to be something that he is not.

The Hogans lavished money on the gullible Grazianos. They held tearful press conferences, they conned John Graziano's mom into making idiotic statements in which she said that the Hogans were taking good care of the Grazianos and treated John like another son. All these things were added to the Hogans' arsenal, as anyone could see that lawsuits and trials were coming.

The Hogans also started up some sort of charitable fund in which Nick made an attempt to raise money for John's ongoing care. When this was brought up in court before the judge, the Graziano attorney (George Tragos) stated that this was the first that any of them had heard about it. Gosh, what a surprise. And here we thought the Grazianos and Hogans were so tight-knit, right?

The judge who presided over Nick Hogan's case has a dire reputation of being no one to mess with. There are local attorneys who will ask you who your judge is, and when you say "It's Judge Federico," they decline your case. He lived up to his reputation on the day he sentenced Nick.

Nick was sentenced according to guidelines. Some could argue that the judge had been too lenient, others that he was too harsh. In my opinion, the sentence was fair, and Nick was lucky. Too bad that John Graziano, who has now had part of his frontal lobe removed and remains in an unresponsive state, was equally unlucky.

Even if, as Brooke alleges, John was constantly at the Hogans' house, does that give them free license to use him as a meat puppet? Perhaps he was a groupie, perhaps he was a genuine friend. But whatever John's motivations were, they did not give Nick Hogan the right to repeatedly drive recklessly and make rash decisions (while encouraged by his family members to do so).

The Hogan parents raised both of their children badly. This was shown repeatedly in court, and it's evidenced in their actions.

Brooke's ridiculous, trite little chidings cannot hide the truth. The truth is plain to everyone. Everyone, that is, except for poor John Graziano, who will spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state while the Hogans go on to enjoy their freedom, their fame, and their lives.

Below is what John Graziano looks like today, and will look like for the rest of his life:

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Tragic Tale of Jacinta Buggs

As I've written before, I've been enjoying So have many others. But, as some people have already pointed out, there is no doubt that scammers have also discovered the site. My favorite scammer is lisa37211. (If you go to that link, you'll see Lisa's picture, too).

Lisa quit selling on Ebay in 2007, most likely due to the high fees they now charge. I'm betting she sells on one of the competitor's sites. But once she found, she decided to go with this story:

"My boyfriend talked me into trying to get a small jewelry business going. He said he could book all the places for the “parties” and that he knew lots of people that would be interested. We found places to buy jewelry at discounted prices and did just that, on my credit card of course. I bought about 330 pieces and we started to have "Jewelry parties". This went just “ok” for a short while.

He bailed and left me with all the jewelry debt on my credit card. Yikes! But, I did get the jewelry back. I have tried everything to sell it in the past 2 years, now I only have about 110 pieces left. Please remember all of this jewelry is Brand New. It is all beautiful jewelry, I just need to let people see them. I also have been selling them just above cost, hoping to get rid of them all. I saw this site on TV and decided to give it a try.

I am only able to list 5 at a time on here, but, I have created web pages to list them all . . . If you would like to see them just let me know and I will send you the links.

PLEASE everybody, help me get this debt off my back!

God Bless you all!

PS For my protection as well as yours, I prefer to use paypal for payment. . Thank you for understanding."

It makes you tear up, doesn't it? Yeah, me too. Oh wait, no - that's the onions I was just chopping.

Anyway, it's a pretty obvious ploy to turn into her own personal fee-free Ebay. Most of the women are selling used or barely used stuff, and she's selling her stock.

(I've seen at least two other sellers with a very similar scheme. One was a man whose fiance had started a jewelry business with him, and then she 'died suddenly' so he was forced to sell her stock 'at cost'.)

I decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

So I enlisted Jacinta Buggs, who listed 4 items she will not sell under any circumstances. Here is Jacinta's tragic tale:

"My husband and I started a jewelry business. We bought lots and lots of very expensive jewelry. However, my husband recently died when he spontaneously combusted on the living room couch in the middle of American Idol.

After the fire department was called, and the fire was put out, I realized that I would be facing a great deal of repair work.

Not only do I need to hire a crew to scrub up the black greasemarks on the floor, but I also need to buy a new couch. Happily, I do not need to pay for cremation.

Additionally, as he was the brains of the operation, I am completely incapable of feeding myself or working independantly.

Therefore, I have chosen to sell the remainder of these wonderful baubles at a price that is special JUST FOR YOU. I saw this site on TV, and thought I'd give it a try.

PLEASE everybody, help me get this debt off my back!

So, buy from me and may God, Buddha, Allah, and Your God of Choice bless you and may the force be with you."

Jacinta posted a bracelet right next to Lisa's bracelet. She also posted a ring very like Lisa's ring. It was marked 'sold' immediately, at a price much lower than Lisa's.

It was bound to get Lisa's attention.

Within an hour, Lisa wrote to Jacinta "I noticed that you used my posts as a guide as to what to say. I think that is wrong, you should tell the truth. Lisa"
Uh huh. Suddenly Lisa believed in truth, mom, and apple pie.

So Jacinta wrote back "I am MORTALLY wounded that you would accuse me of such deceit. I saw your profile on Ebay, by the way. What a lot of transactions you have! Surely you should be out of debt by NOW. Have a wonderful day!"
Deciding that honesty was always the best policy, Jacinta added " the way, you DO understand that people are laughing at you? No one buys your story. Maybe you could come up with something more original, like, oh - I dunno... how about "aliens left this on my doorstep! Buy it now and get a true alien artifact! I have the best prices in town for extraterrestrial jewelry!" But that's OK - we enjoy people like you because it fills our day with laughter."
Lisa chewed on that for a couple of minutes and shot back "You asre a very rude person, what are you so angry about? I have bought and sold many things on ebay over the years, so??? I wish I were out of debt. You will notice that I have not sold the jewelry on ebay though. Lately I have been buying for other peoople..You should at least come up with something creative yourself not play off someone elses add. You have nice pieces at good prices why not just be nice? Lisa"
To which Jacinta replied "But I AM telling the truth - just as YOU are, right? No - really - it's TRUE! God, Buddha, and Allah bless. Oh - and may the force be with you."
After that, Lisa let it go. Jacinta hasn't heard another thing from Lisa yet, but Lisa's listings are still up. So if you want to buy a brand new bauble at "just above cost", you might want to check out Lisa's stock.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Two Commentaries For the Price of One:
Hillary Clinton & Crime in St. Petersburg, Florida

Hillary Clinton

It looks as if Clinton's campaign is beginning to hint at a graceful withdrawal. At this time neither Clinton nor Obama are too thrilled with her being the V.P. at the Democratic Convention, but the pressure is mounting for this solution.

It will do the Democratic party little good.

Although Hillary is a crossover candidate, Obama most assuredly isn't. We might as well get used to saying "President McCain." As a mere extension of George Bush, McCain will prove that there truly are ways to get around the term limits of the Presidency.

Rape on a Schoolbus

In the Tampa Bay area, the two worst pockets for crime are in Tampa itself, and in St. Petersburg. Many of us natives do not drive through certain areas there (even in the daytime).

Like it or not, most of the crime stems from the black neighborhoods, where culturally they've developed a blind eye to it. Please note that I am not racially prejudiced (as most of you know, one of my best friends is black). What I am is truthful, and I refuse to ignore the truth, even when it could be "politically incorrect."

And, black people admit it themselves.

Once every 5 years or so, you'll see a black rally on the local news. There's always the tearful woman saying that if black people don't start demanding good behavior and expecting more from their youth, nothing will change.

Then nothing changes.

To see a bar graph on how Tampa and St. Pete compare, go here. (St. Pete even exceeds Miami in rape, assault, and theft.) If you want to see how your city compares, you can plug in your information as well.

To add to the statistics, we now hear of the latest atrocity: Three high school football players boarded a bus at Dixie Hollins High School (in the heart of the crime-infested area of St. Pete whose mascot is, oddly enough, apparently a plantation owner). The oldest, Branden Allen, raped a young girl while the other two stood as lookout.

What a pity that our kids aren't safe on school buses anymore, but we already knew that, didn't we?

And we once thought that a lack of seat belts on our buses was the most serious issue.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Colon Cleansing

I was googling a GNC vitamin regimen and came across this site. Obviously it was put together by someone in a foreign country, hoping to trap unwitting Americans who are health-conscious.

The entries are hysterical. Two of my favorites are:

You are in all probability asking: 8216 Why should I detox my thing earlier Thanksgiving and Christmas? Your body, and particularly your colon is adoration a sweage system. Just suppose your town s garbage collection staff went on smack over the Holiday season? Loads and loads of balderdash would be piled along the streets. Infestation, rats, prestilence etc. This is exactly what happened to your colon this year. Now, don t get me wrong, you testament not enjoy rats in your system, however, you may invite the fallacious 8216 inhabitants and you heel up with worms, or worse.

1. Thank you, 8216, for explaining why I should detox my thing.

2. I've never considered the possibility of my town's garbage collection staff going on smack over the holiday weekend. In fact, I've never even pictured them smoking a joint. I will now be worrying about balderdash and prestilence piling up.

3. They are amazingly accurate! My testament does not enjoy rats in my system. In fact, only Richard Gere's testament enjoys rodents in his system, but I hear they're gerbils.

4. I never realized that I could heel up with worms. I now have something to supplement my untreatable Nightmare Disorder, which involves feet and worms with grappling hooks.

Aside from our residence and gardens, we should also consider cleansing our bodies. We are exposed to toxins on a diurnal basis, if it be chemicals, environmental corruption or dietary poor food acceptance and excessive indulgence of sugars and alcohols and all these toxins put extra work on our body� s away emigration systems. The organs most responsible championing toxin removal are the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, fleece and colon. Overloading our corpse with toxins can bulge to reduced work in these considerable organs.

1. You know, I have never given much thought to my body's emigration systems, but it's nice to hear I have a champion in my fleece. Everyone needs a champion!

2. They kind of lost me on the part about overloading my corpse. Truthfully, after I'm done with my body, I doubt I'll worry about how toxins can bulge to reduce work. But of course with modern medicine, we certainly appear to be sustaining life way beyond normal life expectency. Perhaps this tip would help Larry King.

So, after reading these helpful and inspiring memos, I decided to write to them as my alter-ego, Jacinta Buggs:

dear sir, i am abstemious in my regard for your corpsical references. in most particulate, i am interstitial in colon cleansing and will hope for a perspicious endeavor with your help. of most interest to me is the question: should i use an enema or merely partake of enough sensate material to give me diarrhea? i await in erudite pleasure for your reply.

jacinta buggs

I am eagerly awaiting their reply.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Proctor & Gamble Pharmaceuticals: Why Our Medications Are So Expensive

At the end of our workout at Curves today, my friend and I were handed this elaborate package. The woman who gave them to us said they're giving them out to every member.

Curves has over 4 million members.

NOW: Let's do some math.

THE BOX: I get boxes like this at the dollar store at (of course) $1 each. Now, I'm sure I'm not getting wholesale prices, but I'm also not paying to have my name printed on the lid of each box, and I'm not having the box custom-designed to fit my product. So I think it's fair to say that each box costs $1 each. That's $4 million dollars in boxes alone.

I doubt the boys at Proctor & Gamble do much penny pinching, so I really can't see them dickering over such a 'low' price, can you? My bet is that it's even higher, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

THE ASSEMBLY: Let's say it was assembled in China (which is, of course, highly likely). We'll say the Chinese paid their workers 10 cents a box. Fair enough? That would add another $400,000 to the price. BUT, the literature is printed in the USA. If they didn't ship the literature overseas, then the assembly costs would be much higher.

THE DOODAD: Here we are told this is an 'ergonomic massager'. I found this exact massager here. Obviously THIS cannot "help protect your bones", so it's a gift to both instill a sense of obligation (classic Marketing 101) and will hopefully be used repeatedly so that the name of the product becomes familiar to the user(s).

The cheapest price for these is $1.57 a unit. For 4 million units, that would be a total cost of $6,280,000.

THE LITERATURE: Let me start by saying that although I may be the youngest member of Curves, this is obviously targeted to the elderly. The Baby Boom Generation is a tougher one to market to than the one before them. These people are consumer savvy and discriminating. As a marketing guru, I must admit that this is really beautiful literature. Kudos to their marketing team on design and layout.

BUT: Let's get down to the cost of all this printing. Let's equate all this to a simple full-color brochure. The best prices I've been able to find on the internet can be found here.

Now, because these are custom-sized and designed, and because Proctor & Gamble would have had to either pay for the models or the right to use the models in their advertising, their cost would be much higher than this. However, let's again give them the abilities of the thriftiest marketers in the world, and ascribe the cost of 6 cents a brochure to them. That would be an additional $240,000 for each of the 4 brochures in the case, or a total of $960,000.

Finally, the standard warning material is enclosed. We'll figure that at a mere 1 cent a brochure, which would cost a total of $40,000 (which is a yearly wage for many people in America).

So, the grand total of this little package comes to $11,680,000. Yes: That's eleven million, six hundred and eighty thousand dollars.

All this, and we haven't even factored in the cost of their marketing firm!

And we wonder why we pay so much for our medications.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bedside Manners

This morning I read about how health officials now fear a measles outbreak could potentially be a massive disaster in the USA. Concerned, I called my doctor's office for basic information. His nurse answered. Let's call her Marianne, because she looks just like Marianne from Gilligan's Island.

(Now before we go any further, let me assure you that I call his office maybe 4-6 times a year (for prescriptions, etc) and I've only been in his office once in 6 months, so I can hardly be accused of being a nuisance or a hypochondriac.)

Saur: Hi there! I'm one of Dr. Frankenstein's patients, and I just read an article about how health officials are worried about a measles outbreak. Apparently there are a growing number of cases. Do you guys give measles injections or can you tell me if the one I had when I was very young is good enough?

Marianne: Well, I'm sure you have nothing to worry about.

Saur: Uh, well... could you just double check on that?

Marianne (grudgingly): OK, then, hold on a sec.

(a couple of minutes go by)

Marianne (snappily): I don't have any information on that. If you want any, you'll have to schedule an appointment with the doctor.

Saur: What? I have to schedule an appointment with the doctor just to find out if you offer a measles vaccine and to see if it's anything to worry about? Is this what ALL the patients with inquiries have to do?

Marianne: Um... No...?

Saur: I tell you what. Why don't you just catch the doctor at some point today - it's no rush - and ask in passing what he thinks about this and if an adult would need to get a new vaccine, OK?

Marianne (grudgingly): OK. I'll do it.

Saur: And can you just call me back when you have an answer?

Marianne: OK.

Saur (pasting a fake smile into her voice): Great! Thanks a lot! Talk to you soon!

If this is the way she treats his infrequent patients, how does she treat the ones who are in there constantly (their main clientelle is the elderly)?

Over the years, I have increasingly seen a decrease in politeness in our society, especially amongst nurses in both the hospitals and doctors offices. But whatever happened to a nurse having a bedside manner? Would it really kill Marianne to be a little more customer-friendly? Or has she decided that these are captive patients who will not or cannot go elsewhere for treatment?

We are told that with the increased aging in the population, we can expect that medical services will be the hottest careers going. Perhaps it's time for the medical community to begin to rethink the patient and realize that the patient is also a consumer.

The Baby Boomer generation (which includes my parents) is a generation that knows what they want, and expects good customer service and superior care. I do not think they will tolerate people with no patience for patients.