Monday, April 28, 2008

Editing the No Spin Zone

Some people don't like writing in books. I find that sometimes it is actually helpful to mark up a book while slogging through it, especially if it helps you form your thoughts. Books are tools, and occasionally must be used accordingly.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Origins of the Mongoloid Moose

Centuries ago, when mankind was just another damned dirty ape among the other animals, advanced ideas such as irrigation, food storage, and southern fried chicken had not yet percolated in our lightly sloped brainpans. In this barbaric time when fire was new, words were rare, and the wheel was thought to be a passing fad, man had nothing even resembling culture.

Religion, as one of the hallmarks of a developing civilization, was new among the primitives, and while most of the larger tribes were eager to begin worshipping a higher life form, choosing a supreme being was something they had not yet acquired a knack for. Not realizing that their higher power could be someone or something they had never seen, groups of potential worshippers would travel across the countryside in search of something they could call Creator. These nomadic tribes would travel for years on end, not stopping until they managed to stumble upon some grand or bizarre landmark they could sacrifice their children to and call home. This need to traverse great distances for a glimpse of a bizarre yet potentially holy relic was so widespread that it still lives on in our primitive reptilian brains to this day . Eventually, these long and pointless treks resulted in groups such as the Tribe of the Smiling Rock, the Clan of the Endless Forest, and the People of the Angry Mountain, whose "Angry Mountain” turned out to be an active volcano .

But not all people are cut out for extensive traveling, and there were many tribes that weren't too wild about the idea of wandering aimlessly until something jumped out and went “Boo”. Of course, these were dangerous times, and any prospective deity that actually did jump out and shout “Boo” would find himself bludgeoned to death by large sticks.

The more unadventurous tribes placed their faith in things closer to home. Being inherently lazy and unimaginative, these groups chose different aspects of nature to worship. Worshipping oddly shaped mountains and weird geographical anomalies can be nifty, but they can wear on the foot leather. Nature, however, is everywhere. There’s so much nature out there that if you throw a rock, you’ll probably hit it, especially since rocks also count as nature. So, most of these simplistic tribes settled on rather obvious objects to worship, such as trees, water, fire, and even mud. The abundance of these ‘holy relics’ allowed them to easily relocate without having to worry about anything as troublesome as dying to protect a sacred shrine/landmark from deity-hungry nomads, who were quickly running out of unnatural landmarks to base their religions on. These tribes showed their lack of inspiration with names such as the Tree People, the Mud People, the Water People, and the Fire Lads .

But among these various clusters of makeshift theology was one special tribe that was a tad more original than the rest. These squat, swarthy people chose an unusual animal as their symbol of servitude; an odd and to this day unidentified breed of prehistoric moose with misaligned eyes, a wide gaping jaw, and an altogether dazed expression. Keeping true to their name, this tribe showed their awe and admiration for this wonderful slack-jawed beast by following large herds of it wherever they roamed. This was quite a challenge, as these animals did not base their travel patterns on weather conditions or food availability. They would simply wander from one location to the next, often winding up in extremely hazardous regions with harsh climates. It was the selfless love of these herd followers, who would feed and water them, as well as build makeshift shelters over them while they slept, that prevented these majestic creatures from dying out altogether.

Throughout their sojourns, the moose followers would often wander into territories belonging to some of the other tribes. Needless to say, the other tribes would mock and ridicule them for choosing such an ugly and mindless creature to worship. The Tribe of the Smiling Rock frowned upon them (the highest of all insults), the Clan of the Endless Forest beat them with sticks, and the People of the Angry Mountain shouted nasty things about their mothers while throwing handfuls of leaves in their general direction. The Tree, Mud, and Water people pelted them respectively with sticks, rocks, and water balloons . The Fire People, who were not yet skilled with their namesake, burned their hands repeatedly while trying to throw flames at them, and in the end settled on dirty looks. While the scorn and disdain heaped upon them varied, they were invariably identified by the same title no matter whose land they happened upon. To all they encountered, they were known as the Followers of the Mongoloid Moose.

These hapless people followed their false idols into the mountainous regions of Canada, where their numbers were greatly reduced by cold weather, food shortages, and random attacks by French Canadian Archers. The followers eventually split up after a rather troubling battle with the Protectors of the Fainting Goat that left them defeated, bruised, and more than a little embarrassed. Only a few diehard faithful stayed behind to tend to their unpredictable flock, and history has yet to discover their fate.

The Joy of Book Shopping, Part 2

5 bags, $5 a bag, 225 books. Total cost per book, less than $.03 each.

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The Joy of Book Shopping

Never underestimate how much quality reading material you can obtain at $5 a bag.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Review: Blood, Sweat & Tea by Tom Reynolds

With the popularity of Blogs on the rise, and the critical success of recent books and movies adapted from online journals, the number of Blogs reprinted into book form is increasing steadily. The rush to fill any growing market usually dictates quantity over quality, and this can often make it difficult to find the exceptional materials mixed in among the shelf-fillers. Blood, Sweat & Tea is one of those few excellent translations from the Internet to the book shelf, and is well worth the search.

The book launches straight into the daily diary entries from Tom Reynolds’ blog ( without any real setup or introduction, and it is a credit to the clarity and honesty of his writing that this is not a setback to enjoying the book. No real explanation is needed beyond the blurb on the back cover.

Blood, Sweat & Tea is a collection of daily online diary entries by Reynolds concerning his experiences as an emergency medical technician working for the London Ambulance Service in East London. Reynolds’ recaps of his time on the job clearly illustrate the ups and downs that go with such a demanding yet unappreciated vocation. He shares it all: humorous stories of false alarms and bizarre incidents, nerve-wracking brushes with the potential hazards of the job (such as the risk of exposure to HIV infected patients), frustrations concerning the politics and red tape behind the scenes of the medical services, and the emotional toll of dealing with life and death on a daily basis.

Never overly preachy, snarky, or flippant, Blood, Sweat & Tea is a tour through the trenches of on-site medical response units in the UK that will entertain and inform any and all interested in the topic.

Friday, April 18, 2008

101 Euphemisms for Breasts

Woman's cleavage
Image via Wikipedia
Everybody has heard them at one time or another, and almost everybody has used them once or twice during their more vulgar moods. They can be heard in bars, locker rooms, construction sites, and senate conference rooms at almost any time of the day. Some may even remember using them in grammar school, when the true nature of the subject mater was both frustratingly elusive and tantalizingly forbidden.

They are the slang phrases and words used by men to refer to women's breasts, most often shared when bringing a pair of them to the attention of another masculine entity.

Example: "Hey, look at the set of *insert tasteless euphemism here* on that babe over there!"

The members of the Mongoloid Moose Think Tank are unanimous in their belief that these euphemisms should be recorded for posterity, and it was with this in mind that we set out to construct the penultimate list that future generations may use as reference. A mammary cheat sheet, if you will. It was a difficult task that we had resigned ourselves to, yet we were determined to deliver the goods.

The first part of this arduous endeavor was the actual researching and cataloging of the slang terms. It was felt that the three most likely places for us to obtain phrases for the list would be construction sites, locker rooms, and strip joints (the Senate wouldn't return our calls). So, we split up into three groups:

1. Gary and Brian spent three entire days blending in with the crowd at the Bally's Health Spa locker room, and if you've ever seen them even fully clothed, you can appreciate how difficult a task it was.

2. Chris eavesdropped hardhat conversations at the construction site of the new Rickles shopping center by pretending to be a slab of granite, a job so well done that he was almost killed when a couple of construction workers attempted to grind him into gravel for the parking lot.

3. Doug and I covered the last location incognito. We spent $473, were kickedout of Frank's Chicken House and Torpedo’s seven times, and discovered the hidden implications behind the job description "Bouncer".

After the initial research was completed, our second task was to weed out the weaker slang phrases through a scientific process of elimination. This was accomplished by Resident Piece Of Meat Shawn Phillip Heinz, Esquire. Shawn tested the veracity and impact of each collected term by walking up to random women in the Food Court of the Willowbrook Mall and greeting them with the phrase "Hey baby, that's a nice pair of *insert slang phrase here* you've got there!" If use of the euphemism resulted in Shawn being slapped, punched, kicked, or maced, it was officially declared "a keeper." Thankfully, research on the list was completed by the time Shawn was drop-kicked into the fountain and tazered repeatedly by an out of work Volleyball Instructor, and we are able to present our findings to you, the demanding public.

On a closing note, Shawn says "Hello", so that's a good sign that the speech therapy has him well on the road to recovery. All flowers, cards, and marriage proposals can be sent to Shawn in care of The Mongoloid Moose.

Now, without further ado, let us begin to offend.

1. Hooters – The birds, not the bar.
2. Jugs – “Milk Jugs” is acceptable, but redundant.
3. Melons
4. Winnebagoes
5. Golden Bozos
6. Bazoombas – The ‘b’ is silent.
7. Head Lamps
8. Dinglebobbers
9. P.T. Boats
10. Garbanzos
11. Flopdoodles
12. Balboas
13. Boobs – Simple, yet effective.
14. Fujiyamas
15. Dueling Banjoes
16. Mazongas
17. Howitzers- High Caliber!
18. Zeppelins - Aviation slang at its finest!
19. Gazongas
20. Loblollies
21. Bronskis
22. Fat Man and Little Boy - Historical Political Incorrectness!
23. Bra Busters
24. Torpedoes - A runner up to this one was "Depth Charges"
25. Avocadoes
26. Moe and Larry
27. Globes
28. Orbs
29. Bouncing Betties
30. Herk and Jerk
31. Hootniks
32. Sweater Meat - This one was selflessly donated by the ever vigilant Doogles
33. Popcorn Balls
34. Candy Apples
35. Brown-Eyed Susans
36. Speed Bumps
37. Party Balls
38. Watermelons
39. Big 'uns - As in "Wow! Them's big 'uns!"
40. Pillows
41. Living Severed Heads
42. Hubcaps
43. Assets
44. Cream Puffs
45. Muffins
46. Buoys
47. Lifeboats
48. Knockers
49. Air Bags
50. Water Coolers
51. Hat Racks
52. Milk Men
53. Pacifiers
54. Gongs
55. Bongos
56. PiƱatas
57. Sirajul and Mujibar
58. Dirigibles
59. Basketballs
60. Dynamic Duo - "Holy Handfuls, Batman!"
61. Go-Carts
62. Thingies
63. Magnets
64. Mounds
65. Chew Toys
66. Bottle Rockets
67. Punching Bags - Now I did it. Before you know it I'll be accused of condoning battering women. Well, deep frying maybe... No! Wait! I didn't say that!
68. Door Knobs
69. Hubcaps
70. Finger Snacks
71. Smoke Stacks
72. Traffic Cones
73. Shot Glasses
74. Boulders
75. Da Boys
76. Bulls-Eyes
77. Microphones
78. Corks
79. Casabas
80. Bumper Boats
81. Yugos
82. Dashboards
83. Beach Balls
84. Goal Posts
85. Mandolins
86. Christmas Lights - Festive, eh?
87. Warheads
88. Tape Decks
89. Dinner Rolls
90. Roman Legionaries
91. Chandeliers
92. Mt. Rushmore
93. Wind Socks
94. Honkers
95. Sirens
96. Tomatoes
97. Meat Patties
98. Shotguns
99. Hand Grenades
100. Whirly Birds
101. Love Sponges
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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I Love Dick!

Savage Chickens: Barack Obama Cartoon

Savage Chickens: Barack Obama Cartoon

Bush Biography Angers Right Wing Loyalists

Bush experts dissect Oliver Stone's screenplay...

Make Book Earrings - wikiHow

Make Book Earrings - wikiHow

How to Make Book Earrings

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Book earrings make a great gift for anyone who loves to read, including yourself. You can make your own in a matter of hours and express your status as a bookworm or your belief in literacy. Click on any photo to enlarge it.


  1. Cut two rectangles out of cardboard, each 1 inch (2.5cm) tall by 1.75 inches (4.5cm). Use a ruler or paper cutter to get the edges square and straight. This will form the structure for the cover of your book.
  2. Locate the center of each of these rectangles and score two lines across them, approximately 1/8" (3mm) apart, centered on the rectangle. Don't score the center line if you marked it to locate the other two.
  3. Fold the cardboard along the scored lines to form the covers for your tiny book.
  4. Cut sixteen rectangles of ordinary printer paper 7/8" (22mm) tall by 1.5" (3.8cm) wide. If you have access to a paper cutter, it will help to get them even, as will stacking or folding the paper. Don't stack too thickly, though, or you'll have trouble cutting. Two stacks of eight layers each seem to cut reasonably easily, and it doesn't matter if the pages for one book are slightly different from the other.
  5. Fold each stack of eight sheets in half down the middle. Trim the outside edges so that they're once again even. These will form the pages of the books.
  6. Line up the centers of the pages with the centers of the cover cardboard. Lay the book open flat with the cover side up. Put it on a cutting mat or a spare chunk of scrap cardboard. Use a push pin to poke three holes in the spine, through the center of the pages. Do this for both books.
  7. Thread a needle and tie a knot with some white thread or thin string.
  8. Stitch down through the first hole.
  9. Stitch up through the second hole.
  10. Stitch down through the third hole.
  11. Come back the other way, up through the second, down through the first, etc. If you're using thin thread, you may want to do this figure-8 pattern a couple more times before tying it off. Loop the thread through itself on the back side a few times to tie off the stitches, then trim the excess thread.
  12. Cut two rectangles of the decorative fabric or paper, 3.25" (8.25cm) wide by 2" (5cm) tall. If there is a pattern or grain to the fabric or paper, check to make sure that your rectangles run parallel to it. These will become the covers of your books.
  13. Center one book on the decorative sheet with the cover wide open. It helps to keep each decorative cover together with one book, in case they are slightly different sizes.
  14. Score or lightly mark the decorative material around the edges of the book. In the photo, the book has been moved to show the score lines.
  15. Relieve the corners as shown. Cut at a shallow angle from the corners of the score marks to the edge. The exact angle is not important, but try to get it reasonably symmetric.
  16. Center the book on the cover and cut V-shaped notches as shown around where the spine will be.
  17. Score the decorative material on either side of the spine if you are using paper. The photo shows the cover ready to glue.
  18. Apply a generous (but not sloppy) amount of glue to the center of the decorative material and to the top and bottom flaps. Make sure to put the glue on the "back" or "wrong" side of the material, and make sure to apply glue on the entire area, all the way to the edges.
    • It helps to put a piece of scrap paper behind as you apply the glue, to catch any that runs over the edges.
    • A glue stick is a bit neater than liquid glue, but either will work.

  19. Place the book into the decorative material and press it firmly against the back, making sure the edges line up with the score marks. Fold the top flap over and press it firmly. Repeat for the bottom flap.
  20. Apply glue to the side flaps and fold them in, over the top and bottom flaps. Press firmly.
  21. Thread a string between the binding and the cover.
    • Alternatively, you could glue the string, but be sure it is secure.

  22. Tie a simple knot in the string. Pull it close to the book, then tighten it firmly.
  23. Turn the knot downward and trim off the excess string.
  24. Open the ring on the earring mount, thread it through the loop on the book, and close it again. Use needle-nose pliers or jewelry pliers without teeth.
    • Insert the earring mounts so that the books will both point forward when the earrings are worn.

  25. Let the glue dry thoroughly before trying them on. Rest a heavy book on top of them to hold them closed while the glue dries.


  • If you can't finesse stitching a tiny binding like this, try stapling it. Staple so that the straight side of the staple goes on the outside and the hooked parts are inside. Carefully line up the staple and the pages so it goes through the center.
  • Check how see-through your decorative paper or fabric is, especially once it has glue on it. If you're using a cereal box or other printed paper for the card, try gluing a small sample of the decorative material to a printed portion of the cardboard and see what shows through. If there's any problem, use the plain side as the outside.
  • Look around for materials to reuse for this project. A cereal box or other package works nicely for the cover. Also see if you have a scrap of fabric or decorative paper floating around that you could use for the cover, too.
  • If your intended recipient doesn't wear earrings, try making a single book this way as a holiday ornament or necklace. As an ornament, you may want to enlarge the whole thing a bit.
  • You could personalize these earrings by writing something in tiny writing in the book, or carefully sticking in a favorite locket-sized photo or two. Practice on a scrap to find out how small you have to write what you have to say. You may find that one or two words fill a page.
  • You could also use a word processor or page layout program to create the text in very small letters. It might be easiest to make a table grid with cells the same size as your pages and then type in the grid. To get printing on both sides of the pages, duplex them with a duplexing printer or photocopier, or just print on both sides of a page.
  • Cutting fabric on the diagonal helps it not to fray. So does a generous application of plenty of glue around the edges.
  • Choose a pattern for your decorative material that is on a scale with the book. These books are one inch tall, so a 12-inch floral pattern is probably not the best bet.
  • If you make these earrings as a gift, watch what your intended recipient wears. Try to match the colors and styles of that person.
  • For a more compact earring, glue the pages shut. This can also help to avoid catching hair. Also glue the cover closed if you want to avoid showing off a less than tidy binding job.
  • This is also a good way to make a book or journal or a sketchbook you can write in. Just make everything a bit bigger.
  • If these are a gift for a girl who you want to impress, write a little love story in the book about you and her. Women adore these kind of romantic gestures.
  • You could instead buy tiny books that are for doll-houses to make into earrings if you do not wish to make your own little book.


  • If you're making these as a gift, make sure to check whether your recipient has pierced ears.
  • To put holes in the pages and the back, place it against an object that can support it but take a tiny hole. A scrap of cardboard or an old magazine are both good choices. Don't hold the project in your fingers to poke holes. Put holes in the pages and the cover separately if you need to.
  • Make sure your fingers aren't behind the needle as you stitch the binding.
  • Use scissors, X-acto knives, and paper cutters safely. Cover your X-acto knife when not in use, and never cut towards yourself.
  • Since these earrings are made mostly out of paper, avoid getting them wet.

Things You'll Need

  • A piece of stiff (but not corrugated) cardboard, such as a cereal box, the back of a notebook, or a piece of card stock from junk mail printed on heavy paper. A stiff index card or old business card could also work.
  • A sheet of plain, white printer paper
  • A piece of decorative paper or thin fabric
    • Try the scrapbook section of a craft store for wonderful decorative papers. Gift wrap and origami paper are also good possibilities.

  • A piece of thin string or cord to match your decorative paper or fabric.
  • Earring mounts, your choice
  • A glue stick or glue
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Needle and thread
  • Thimble (optional)
  • Push pin/Thumbtack (optional)
  • Scoring implement (stylus, ball point pen with no ink)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • A cutting mat or other object to cut against. Cardboard and old magazines both work well.

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Book Earrings. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Book Covers: The Eye of the Storm

Why do most Young Adult book covers from the eighties look like softcore erotic movie video boxes?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Joke Is On Us

You’ve heard the old joke dozens of times before, probably even saw it on a bumper sticker: “Don’t vote, you’ll just encourage them.”

I’ve hit a point where it isn’t funny anymore.

I watch cable news and listen to news talk radio, both liberal and conservative, and for the most part both sides are sorely lacking anything resembling integrity or scruples. The twenty-four hours news channels use the round-the-clock programming dilemma as an excuse for spending excess amount of time covering celebrity scandals and sensationalist tabloid dramas as the unfold, yet they still deliver the important news in two-minute capsules and spend the bulk of their time interviewing people with opinions about the news instead of reporting actual facts or consequences.

I won’t try and say that I’m dead center of the road politically. It’s painful enough when Bill O’Reilly claims to be moderate, so I won’t echo that lie. I do tend to swing more to the left than to the right, a tendency I attribute to not being rich or ignorant enough to believe or want to believe most of the bullshit the right is constantly trying to sell. And if you are a conservative that takes offense to that, suck it up and let it slide. If you identify enough with your party to take offense, then you’ve got bigger problems to deal with than name calling.

Besides, the Liberals don’t exactly have monopoly truth and honesty. The majority of Democrats are just as rich, white, and male as the Republicans, the only real difference is which lies they are telling while the behind-the-scenes deals and promise making are taking place.

What’s funny is that both sides spend most of their time screaming from the rooftops how their side is as pure as the driven snow, and simultaneously insisting that the other side is the very definition of corruption. The Hard Right Wingers want you to believe that Bush is ten times a better President than Clinton ever was, while the Hard Left Wingers want you to believe that Bill doesn’t lose integrity points for being dumb enough to bang an intern and not expect it to go public. Neither side is willing to admit its own mistakes or give credit to the other side when credit is due.

We don’t have political parties anymore. We have political cults, followed religiously by slavish devotees who think nothing of slandering and/or destroying any and all who dare disagree with the One True Way. Debate and conversation has given way cruel name-calling, destructive yellow journalism, and pointless chest-thumping over hollow virtues and standards that will be the only thing left when rotten, worm-eaten timbers holding up this decrepit shell of what was once a great nation finally collapses in on itself like a poorly designed sand-castle.

Just had to get that off my chest. Its been that kind of week.

Screw Wal-Mart Before They Screw You

Just when you thought you couldn’t hate corporations any more.

The whole story has been all over the news, so here’s the sweet recap in a sad little story.

Happy Wal-Mart Employee gets T-boned at an intersection and sustains severe brain and bodily injuries. Being one of Wal-Mart’s few fully-covered full-time employees, they pay for all her medical bills, running close to half a millions dollars.

Later, brain-damaged and disabled ex-employee wins a settlement with the person who hit her around the same amount.

Wal-Mart, armed with a contractual clause stating any medical bills paid for injuries that result in a settlement from another party must be repaid, turns around and sues disabled ex-employee for all medical costs plus interest and lawyers fees.

The courts, siding with the letter of contractual law over common decency, rules in favor of Wal-Mart for a sum total equaling more than the disabled ex-employee won in the previous settlement.

The cherry on the top of this story is that the disabled ex-employee’s son was killed in Iraq a few days after Wal-Mart successfully sued her into debt. Then, just to rub salt in the wound, the short-term memory problems resulting from her head injuries now ensure that the traumatic news of her son’s death in Iraq is now delivered for the first time at least twice a week.

Every time some far-right “if its free-market capitalism it can’t be bad” nut asks why people should hate or fear large companies that only benefit the working class, I usually answer with two words: Silkwood and Enron. I’m adding Wal-Mart to the list.

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Economic Bone-Us

By now everyone has received their special little notice in the mail, the one that our government spent $42 Million on so they could remind everyone to expect a check in the mail in a couple of months.

Of course, everyone I know who has received them in the mail has had the same response, which is bewilderment as to why they actually needed to be sent out in the first place. It is even twice as baffling when you consider the amount of ridicule they received when they did the same thing with Bush’s first round of pointless tax rebate checks. So why do it?

This past Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson claimed that the Economic Stimulus Checks set to ship out this spring would help to create over 600,000 new jobs. This seemed like an unusual claim to me, but the article I read it in failed to elaborate on exactly how this was supposed to happen.

Curious, I scoured five or six other reputable news sites until I finally found an article that explained this claim. The explanation was as scary as I thought.

I was hoping that the quote was merely misleading, and that Paulson meant that some other part of the stimulus package involved creating new jobs. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.

This claim (buried in the Friday Dead Zone News Cycle) is based on the theory that once these checks ranging from $600 to $1200 are sent out, every tax-paying citizen is going to rush out and spend that money on iPods and Nikes. Because of this sudden spike in frivolous spending, retailers and manufacturers will need to hire additional workers to handle the increase in demand.

This is economic theory in its purest and scariest form. I can easily compare this to the claim that if every person in China jumped up and down at the exactly the same moment, the resulting inertia would knock the Earth out of orbit. Mathematically the equations are sound, but both are based on such vast improbabilities that it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

The biggest problem with this claim is that it hinges on the hope that average citizens in the throes of a recession and mounting high-interest debt aren’t going to spend the extra money on food (the cost of which has been steadily increasing at twice the rate of inflation), fuel (which is still rising based solely on stock market investing), or credit card debt (because even though the fed keeps cutting short-term interest rates, credit card companies keep raising their rates for no reason whatsoever).

Also, assuming that new jobs actually are created, the hope is that companies hire full-time employees with full benefits, as opposed to part-time labor that they can fire once things slow down again (which they obviously will). The odds of this are slim to none, considering that many retailers are even storing leftover holiday merchandise instead of selling it at clearance prices in preparation of even more dismal sales to come.

So here’s where the slight-of-hand comes into play. The pointless check notifications aren’t so useless when you consider that the hope is people will actually spend the check before they receive it. Then between the pre-spenders and those that cash the check first, the ones that actually do spend their money on non-essentials will help to create a third quarter report that will reflect an increase in consumer confidence.

This temporary increase will most likely be announced just in time for the November Presidential Election, no doubt, and be used to demonstrate that the current administration’s economic stimulus strategy is working.

If it manages to swing the vote for the Republicans, then it was a success. If the Democrats manage to take the White House, then the eventual drop in spending during the fourth quarter will pointed to as the fault of the new administration, and it will be a success. It’s a win-win situation for everyone but the tax-payers being used and abused for more behind-the-scenes power-plays.

So as you are spending your American Economic Stimulus Package Checks on Arab Oil or Japanese Technology Imports, and paying the part-time/no-benefits/three-job/minimum-wage/paycheck-to-paycheck cashier for your purchase, wipe that tear from your eye and thank the heavens above that the people running this great and glorious country are looking out for your best interests.

Lethal Nipples

Mandy Hamlin was stopped by airport security when she inadvertently set off the metal detectors. She was told that she would not be allowed to board her plane unless the offending accessories were removed. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that in the case of Hamlin, the items in question happened to be a pair of nipple studs.

Not since Janet Jackson’s well-planned wardrobe malfunction has a tastefully decorated breast struck such fear and horror into the hearts of truly stupid people. Except this time, the tit-terrified idiots weren’t conservative television viewers nationwide. No, the mammary-phobic morons in this case were your typical tyrannical airport terminal security guards.

Remember when the biggest complaint about airlines was bad food, overbooking flights, and the long wait while knuckle-draggers x-rayed your overnight bag for nuclear devices? Ahhhh, the good old days.

But then 9/11 happened. Now the government refuses to pass regulations to prevent airports from holding passengers hostage on the tarmac for twenty hours straight, and airport security now has the kind of unquestionable power over the masses the Big Brother still has wet dreams about.

Every time some government regulation group does a test on airport security, they always manage to successfully pass dozens of dummy missiles and explosives through the baggage inspectors without any problems. Yet they’re still making passengers take off their shoes because some idiot stuffed his Adidas with C-4 and tried to ignite it with a match, Gatorade and shampoo are verboten because someone heard a rumor that ‘the terrorists’ were thinking of possibly making liquid bombs, nail-clippers have to stay behind because the 9/11 terrorists were supposedly armed with nothing but box-knives, and nipple-studs aren’t allowed because…

The truth is, there is no real reason why [name] was forced to remove her nipple-studs with a pair of pliers before boarding her flight. The airline has since confessed that there are no regulations regarding body piercings, and afterwards she was allowed to board with her bellybutton piercing still firmly in place. So why put her through this embarrassing and humiliating experience while passengers loaded down with rings and pendants were waved through? The official excuse from terminal security is that the nipple-studs set off the detector, so they had to be removed. End of story, no ifs, ands, or casual attempts at logical decision making skills.

This is why airport security was a joke before 9/11, and is a bad joke now. Adherence to strict rules and guidelines is the weapon they use to wield power and superiority over the passengers they inspect, and this childish power-play leaves logic and civility high and dry in exchange for arrogance and tyranny. They aren’t half as concerned with security as they are keeping their jobs and throwing their weight around, so they leap on any chance they get to terrorize some unsuspecting ticket-holder trying to visit his Aunt in Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend, and the minute a situation comes up that isn’t covered by the rule book to the letter, they panic and improvise to the worst possible degree instead of applying common sense and handling the situation rationally.

Anyone tempted to take up the ‘my safety is more important than one woman’s dignity’ mantra may want to look at the bigger picture here. While these drool-cups with badges are terrorizing a woman with metal piercings, what’s slipping by the censors? What isn’t setting of the detector that the slope-headed power-drunk airport Nazis are letting go by because it isn’t on the list of things to look out for between suspicious footwear and breast milk? The reason this should piss you off is twofold: innocent civilians are being treated like animals, and the people doing the inspecting have one-twentieth the intelligence and imagination that anyone actually wanting to do harm to an airplane is likely to have.

Airport Security has always been about bullying tactics and ass-coverage. Now it’s the same, but backed with the threat of a side trip to Guantanamo if you don’t dance when they tell you to. And I’m guessing that the security taking a flight there is even worse.

The punch line to all of this is that I’m planning on taking a flight to Colorado later in the summer, the first time I’ll be flying in over two decades. I have a vague suspicion that no good will come of it.