Monday, April 28, 2008

Who Said

grammar.jpgUPDATE: MSNBC has fixed the error I refer to in this entry) "It didn’t take long for Miley Cyrus fans (and their parents) to become outraged." I don't blame them; it is was shocking. (The article did say) "according to a magazine source, 'Cyrus felt that she was in imminently good hands.'" It is terrible when people are irresponsible and let you down. I can't believe that everyone involved just let this happen. They saw the phrase "Cyrus felt that she was in imminently good hands." and just let it slide. She felt she was in hands that were in immediate danger of being good? (as opposed to being in eminently good hands). (This entire post is was in imminent danger of someone editing the online story before you link(ed) to it, making a moo point of my comments.)
I don't know if the (imminent/eminent) error was made by the quoted Vanity Fair source or by the Scoop reporter who wrote down what she thought she heard. It doesn't matter; Miley Cyrus has been irreperably damaged.
And we can't blame Miley for her part in this. Sure, she did say “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.” when she clearly should have said "whom I care so deeply about." It's not Miley's fault; she is caught up in a world where grammar doesn't matter and language abuse is commonplace. And, of course, she's not to blame for failing to realize she was posing for sexy pictures. These days nothing is real until it appears in video or until it shows up in pictures in Vanity Fair or on myspacefacebookpage.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's Not Kosher Being Green

urine.jpgDenmark-based Agroplast wants to transform pig urine into plastic dinnerware and household items. I don't follow kosher food laws, but if one does, would it be okay to eat with utensils made from pig anything? Why pig urine and not cow urine? Would it be okay to use cow urine utensils with meat dishes, but not with dairy?

Of course, the company proposes making many "bioplastic" items, not just pig forks ("porks"), but the reporter focused on the eating utensils to create the maximum "ewwww' factor. They could also make plastic containers, which adds another dimension to my Passover "Tupperware" dilemma. Can I put leftover chicken soup in Piggerware? I am going to have to consult the Talmud on this one.

The strangest part of the story is near the end: "Agroplast says its farm-friendly chemicals ... can be used ...'as a flavor enhancer in cigarettes'". I'm not a smoker but I don't doubt that pig urine tastes better than cigarettes. Would pig urine in a cigarette make it taste like smoked ham? Does it make sense for a concept intended to benefit the environment to be used to make smoking more attractive?

I have so many questions, but it does seem like an exciting new frontier. I can see myself having this conversation with a recent college graduate:

Me: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Me: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Me: Pig urine.
Benjamin: That's two words, sir.
Me: Say it fast, it sounds like one. Pig urine.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Money, That's What I Want

“Testosterone, best known as the male sex hormone, affects aggression, confidence and risk-taking.” That was the basis for a recent study showing that “those with higher levels of testosterone in the morning were more likely to” aggressively and confidently take risks and achieve success.
Any man can tell you what conclusions the researchers drew from this: it explains why coach didn’t want his players having sex the night before a game: saving up all that testosterone would lead to aggressive play and a big win the next day.
But no, these researchers studied the link between testosterone and stock market trading. Careful reading of the article explains why they didn’t consider the sports connection: they are “researchers at the University of Cambridge in England”, not manly American men.
One of the researchers was from Northwestern University in the USA, but did not grasp the importance of this study vis a vis sports because she was, technically, not a man. Camelia Kuhnen, … said Coates and Herbert's findings "… help support the claim that emotion influences financial decisions." Psssh, like testosterone has anything to do with emotion. Leave it to women to confuse emotional response with visceral response; they are, after all, the same creatures who confuse intimacy with sex.
Speaking of sex, this study “comes less than two weeks after U.S. researchers reported that young men shown erotic pictures were more likely to make a larger financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary, such as a snake, or something neutral, such as a stapler.” So I know you’re saying, “hey, these American researchers linked sex hormones and finance, are they from San Francisco or what?” No, the difference here is that the English nancy boy researchers started with a hypothesis about testosterone and risk-taking and immediately thought of not-sports. The Americans started with nothing but snake, a stapler and some porn and immediately thought, “Hey, how can we use these the things to get a grant instead of a real job.”
Those same US researchers said, “Money and women trigger the same brain area in men.” Now, the odds that they are correct are good because there are not that many different brain areas in men. However, it does not seem intuitively correct because I have a completely different response to Money magazine than I do to Playboy magazine. Perhaps I’m making the wrong comparison. Maybe I need to compare my response to Money with my response to a Women Today magazine, which is, indeed, the same: I like money, I want to hold money, I want to use money but I don’t want to read about money and I never expect to understand what money thinks about or why it needs so many pairs of shoes.
This screen shot from Friday’s MSNBC web page helps understand why male responses to money and women are linked:
msnbc stock.bmp
It says that results from companies like Citigroup helped boost stock prices. Right next to that it says “Citigroup posts big loss, to cut 9000 (jobs)”. That is completely illogical and incomprehensible, that is, it triggers precisely the same response in my brain as women do.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move

new_madrid.gifEarly this morning we (in the greater geographical vicinity of West Salem, IL) experienced an earthquake.
To my peeps in California and Nevada, that is like reading “the Democrats had a debate yesterday” or “the Republican Governor from PickaState, an avid campaigner against RandomSexualProclivity, was caught engaging in RandomSexualProclivity”. Ho hum (note: that’s an expression of ennui, not the name of a sexual proclivity).
MSNBC reports, “The 5.2 magnitude earthquake rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati” (because, of course, to the media, Cincinnati is a cow town full of “homes”, not a real city with them big buildings like Chicago).
To my friends and coworkers in Cincinnati, an earthquake is a big deal. For me it was nostalgic. When we moved to Cincinnati from LA, the most common comment we got was, “I would be so scared of the earthquakes out there.” This from people who had had houses blow away in tornadoes: apparently just a quaint Midwestern frolic involving encounters with little people, witches and talking scarecrows; so it’s more like a funky Haight-Ashbury acid trip than a frightening San Francisco quake. (The second most common comment was, “I would be so scared up in them big buildings.”)
My personal favorite earthquake was the one that occurred during the Rose Bowl in 1979.
NBC opened their broadcast with a beautiful view of the clear, blue LA sky. It was 75 degrees and it had recently rained to clear out the smog. LA looked like a house for sale with fresh paint covering the water stains in the ceiling and a cinnamon-spiced apple pie baking to mask that odd sulfur smell hovering in the living room. The announcers invited all the viewers from Michigan to the Oklahoma dustbowl to pull up stakes, move out west and jack up the housing prices for young couples like me and my fiancĂ©. I was lying on my couch in LA when the earthquake struck and the terrified New Yorker announcers swiftly swallowed their SoCal hype, “Stop! Go back! The devil be present here!” At that point, we cheered louder than when USC eventually won the game.
For the sake of my friends and family remaining out there, I don’t try to disabuse people here of their fear of earthquakes.
”…said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign, “For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It’s not like California.” Ain’t that the truth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Filling Our Drawers

When our daughter was very small, we added on to our house because there’s nothing better for a one-year-old than inhaling drywall dust and crawling around on splintered plywood and nails. Part of our new kitchen was a section of three drawers under the counter. In the big, bottom drawer that Allie could reach and open, we put all the Tupperware so she could play with it.

When I say Tupperware, of course, I mean random plastic containers which may have come from Tupperware or Rubbermaid or may have once contained Greater’s ice cream or Szechwan Wok won ton soup. Over the years we have discarded pieces and added pieces (we no longer have the plastic bowl that Allie would invert and wear on her head while riding her small, wooden scooter); over the years we have rearranged the cabinets and drawers. However, the plastic containers still are stored in the same drawer they started in, even though Allie can no longer reach them because she’s in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the things I love about New York City is that you can go out at any time of the day or night and see lots of people. The subways are running, restaurants are open, muggers are mugging. My theory is that the reason there are always people outside in NYC, is that there are too many of them to all be inside at the same time. They have to rotate.

My NYC theory was derived from observing our plastic containers (bet you didn’t see that coming). The discards and additions have produced a net gain in containers to the point where we are forced to prepare more food at any given meal than we can eat, so that we can put leftovers in a container and put it in the refrigerator. If we eat all the leftovers and wash the dishes, our container drawer is overfull. And God forbid we should put any containers in a different place and break an 18-year tradition. We have to have at least 10% of the “Tupperware” rotating from drawer to fridge to dishwasher at all times.

Passover is thus a problem. As Passover approaches we start to clean out the fridge to make room for chicken soup and charoses and also to get rid of chametz. Our refrigerator becomes a Pesach advent calendar as each day we open a new plastic container and, as George Carlin said, try to figure out if it’s something green turning brown or something brown turning green.

As we dispose of leftovers, the stock of clean containers becomes too great and the drawer is bursting. Some of these containers will have to wander in the basement for a while. Sadly, some of the containers are old and cracked and they… well, they will not see the promised land.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Everybody's Talkin'

Some years ago I attended a leadership retreat put on by my company that provided participants many tools to become more effective leaders in our company: personality and leadership style surveys, role playing games, excessive drinking around a bonfire, practical jokes played on the Sensitive/Introverts during the night. One of the important things we learned was the “12 Roadblocks to Communication”. We each got a playing-card-sized list of the 12 roadblocks summarized in one or two words. I still have that card on my desk to remind me that two of the roadblocks to communication are: 5. Using logic and 12. Using humor.
I am the grandchild of college math professors, the son of a CPA. Logic was The Force in my childhood universe. I majored in Economics in college; I was trained to use logic in the face of reality: “The laws of supply and demand tell us that, assuming individual consumers act rationally,….” A clearly flawed assumption that everything else we learned was based upon. I’m the CFO at an architecture design firm, if I don’t use logic, no one will.
When the logic voices in my head have their backs turned, the humor voices take over. So if logic and humor are out, I am Marcel Marceau. If a woman at work comes to me and says, “I feel like I will never reach the top of the org chart here because there’s a glass ceiling,” my inclination is to say “that’s not true; if there were a glass ceiling, women would be on the top floor and men would be below, looking through the glass to see up your skirts.” That is a totally inappropriate response under rule 5, using logic.
For me the number one – and only – roadblock to communication is this freaking list. Someone comes in and says, “Look, I’ve got the black, knit shirt and black jacket of a designer, I keep copies of “Architectural Pretentiousness Quarterly” on my desk, I use the word “green” as a modifier in every sentence I speak, and yet I get no respect. What can I do?” Logic and humor are out. I am not even supposed to 10. Sympathize, 4. Advise, or even 9. Agree, or 6. Disagree. I’ve only gone through half the list and I don’t know what the hell other kind of response exists.
I realize none of this entry makes any sense because I am a complete failure at communication. (Please respond constructively to that in the comments.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

True Colors

I have long believed that many of the world's problems, or at least conflicts, would go away if there was more inter-marriage. The more we blend together, the fewer differences we can find to fight over. But now the problem of people of different colors marrying has a whole new meaning and the inter-marriage deal isn't working. Fighting over color? Whatever happened to the rainbow coalition?
"Oh it's National Brother Hood Week, National Brother Hood Week...."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beer Interrupted

two-hands-for-two-beers.jpgI like beer. I don't drink alot of it, though. When I have beer, I usually have two - three if I'm interrupted. The first beer does two things: it takes the edge off your thirst and it acts as Pavlov's bell, so to speak. In young men, one beer leads to many and hijinks ensue. Many years later, a man's mind is still conditioned to taste the first beer and immediately expect, though not necessarily accept responsibility for, some kind of revelry. Another beer MUST follow. At a certain age, the second beer induces the same response as the second 5 minutes of playing a basketball game: "I need to take a nap."
With the second beer, you can sit down, relax and enjoy the flavor (unless you are still drinking the cheap beer you drank to excess in college). This is where the interruption comes in. You are sippping and enjoying, focused on March Madness or NFL playoffs or a replay of a classic world series and you feel "the presence." Someone is staring at the side of your face. Despite the signal in your head saying "if I don't look, she won't be there", the second beer has you in a good mood and you turn your head.
"I need to talk to you for a minute," says your wife/girlfriend/significant other.
Now, "I need to talk to you" is not as bad as "We need to talk."
"We need to talk" is always followed by legal action: either you are getting married or you are getting divorced.
"I need to talk to you" implies "you need to listen to me", but this is where some guys get in trouble.
You know how, when you install some new software on your computer, there’s that long legal contract and two little checkboxes – "accept" or "don’t accept"? Do you ever read the document? No. Because if you check "don’t accept", you don’t get the software; but you want the software, so you just accept it. When she says "I need to talk to you" those two boxes appear before you. And a woman always has something you are going to want later, so you "accept" without reading the contract you just agreed to. Later you are going to hear, "Why didn’t you _________ like I asked you. You said okay just two hours ago."
"Um, I wasn’t really listening, I was just watching the game."
This, as specified in the agreement you didn't pay attention to, is followed by, "We need to talk."
So, in the intervening two hours after that first interruption, have that third beer and try to get that good mood back again. Maybe have a fourth. You can still do it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Project Run Away

bush_queer_eye.jpgProject Runway is prancing over to Lifetime after its next season. This is just wrong; Lifetime is a channel for women while Bravo is for everyone....everyone who likes watching shows with gay people - of which Project Runway has a fabulous assortment. Having Project Runway on Lifetime would set societal acceptance of homosexuality back ten years to a time when women kept all the secrets of gay men to themselves. (By the way, I am heterosexual, which I know, not because I am married - that proves nothing, just ask the former governor of NJ - but because I do comedy and I have the hots more for Nina Garcia than for Michael Kors)
But Bravo is there to make men like me comfortable with the gayness in our environment, hence, "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy." My only problem with that show was that they pushed men to use feminine (by which I mean excessive) skin care products.
Things like exfoliants. Has anyone here been alive long enough to remember the Viet Nam war? Forget that, did anyone here stay awake long enough in history class to learn about the Viet Nam war?
In Viet Nam they used Agent Orange as an exfoliant to take the leaves off trees to get rid of sniper hiding places. That’s all I know about exfoliants.
And women have too many kinds of soap. Men need only two kinds: soap soap and shampoo, and, really, I suspect we could get by with just one, but Proctor and Gamble has convinced us we need to get rid of dandruff to attract women.
Women don't use soap soap. You give a woman a bar of Ivory soap to wash her face and she’ll recoil at the thought that it might damage her skin.
Right. She'd use agent orange on her skin but she's afraid of soap? I don't understand women. That's why I need Bravo as a bridge channel to understanding. Project Runway should stay put.