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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Wackier and wackier every year.

What was once the exclusive domain of barefoot hillbilly snake handlers of Appalachia has come to Prime Time Christianity. A new poll of Baptists and their overlords finds better than half of them accepting "Speaking in Tongues" as valid theological doctrine. This should come as no surprise ever since The Baptist have become the official religion product of the Old Slave South. Baptists have been sliding into the pit of doctrinaire fundamentalism for forty years. SiT is just the latest validation of this sect's further disconnect from reality.

Doggynomics Explained by Tilly

Marxism, market, Capitalism, Democratic Socialism. Everybody has a theory of how we interact with one another in society. Us Dogs have a theory too, based on observations of the human apes. We call it Doggynomics

The upright monkeys are bred to bring the Overlord Puppies food, rides and entertainment. Us Puppy Masters rule all. For example this morning I rode to the drive-up window at the bank, The monkey Bert thought to make a little deposit and get some change. In reality, this big building is put there for the sole purpose of delivering dog cookies through a little metal drawer. The nice Lady Ape behind the glass knows exactly what to do and drops a milk-bone in the device for delivery. Pieces of inedible paper are exchanged, for record keeping I am sure. Since dog cookies are the medium of trade in our puppy/monkey society strict accounting must be done for each bag and fragment of kibble.

Monkeys have been trained to feed, provide water and entertainment for the Doggie masters. Sometimes I will stoop to do some tricks for extra tasty bits. Monkey Bert has a little shop, and I have customers trained to bring goodies. One customer, and this is no exaggeration, brings me deli turkey and cheese. When was the last time anyone ever brought The Monkey lunch, I ask you?

If a puppy gets lost, there are trained apes who will take them, in a special canine limo, to a resort called the Humane Society, with lots of other doggies. The monkeys in charge call your underlings, and you get another ride! A ride will make your day. Human apes provide wonderful metal boxes for the sole purpose of providing rides.

The third most important item provided by the upright apes (behind cookies and rides) is the Squeaky Toy. The servant apes make squeaky toys, perhaps in the same factories as the big tin ride boxes. It is an unimportant detail. So long as squeaky toys are provided.

I have told Monkey Bert enough for today. As issues arise I will have him issue commentary via this inedible, non squeaking, non ride giving plastic box.

Until then, Tilly

Friday, June 1, 2007

Fun and Fungability

"Lets not buy gas next Thursday or, alternately, from Exxon." It may make you feel good, but it won't make any difference in the price of gasoline. This will also explain why those fuel tankers you see driving down the freeways no longer have brand names on their stainless steel flanks.

The reason this sort of mass boycott not only won't but can't work is the concept of commodity fungibility. There is a given demand for a product, in this case gasoline, at a given price. The more critical the product is the more inflexible the demand is at increasing prices. There is some industry speculation that the actual point where most Americans will choke is in the range of $5.40. Surveys say a bout a buck less, but people lie to pollsters.

Think of all petroleum products as coming from one big tank. Refiners, in order to run their plants at maximum efficiency, the "Majors" will produce petroleum fractions (gas, lube oil, diesel) for their supposed competitors. The majors have their supplies of imported crude set by contract with producing nations or companies.

If 90% of drivers were to boycott Exxon or any other "brand" all the Exxon gas would simply be sold to the other Majors and pumped at their stations. There is a little paperwork, but that cost is passed on to the consumer. A teacup of additive in a tanker truck turns Shell with "Zippiton" into Chevron with "Techron".

Everybody knows how to save gas, but we are willing to pay for the convenience that mobility provides. Car pooling and mass transit are inconvenient and inflexible. No amount of advertising will change that. High fuel costs will be the only thing that drives commuters into public transport, and ultimately drives gas usage down. That is the simplest economics there is.

We live in the bed we have made. If we want to do anything to change it I figure five years of buying more efficient cars, high federal CAFE standards, building new mass transportation and bloody big taxes on gasoline will begin to turn things around. Slap $20 a barrel tax on imported crude or distillate would be about right. No new private car, pickup, SUV or anything licensed to operate on public roads should get anything less than thirty MPG.

I can say this stuff because I'm not running for public office.

Living language, wounded

I'm formally putting my support behind "Wanker", an British term of dismissal that I think is sort of a blend of "twit", "Bozo", and "Jerk (off)". Generally "wanker" is not used here in the USA, and that's a damn shame. Wanker just sounds right for the sort of challenge that won't elicit a punch in the nose in most settings.

"Grass" is another Limey insult that just hasn't caught on in this corner of the Free-ish World. From the phrase "Snake in the grass" meaning untrustworthy rat. Calling someone a grass will get you a punch in the nose in most bars selling warm beer.

They must shop where I shop.

"TOKYO (AP) -- Archaeologists digging in western Japan have excavated what they believe to be the oldest remains of a melon ever found, an official said Friday."

My comment: They bred the original watermelon, so it's understandable that they have found fruit older than Julius Caesar. I just think they should clean out their fridge more often.

I'm one old guy who considers nostalgia a dangerous disease, to be dabbled in at the risk of one's own mental health. I grew up in the '50s and came of age in the 60's and remember segregated restrooms and friends with drug fried minds. Little was rosy in the good old days, but watermelons had no faults. Both gender and racial friendly fruit. Easy to grow and easier to steal (from commercial operations, of course). (Statute of limitations apply.)

The ancient Japanese melon notwithstanding, the 21st century watermelon is the most perverted fruit on the market today. Once a sweet and noble ovoid orb baked in the sun of the South and chilled in the fresh waters of a cool spring, the king of melons is now a little grapefruit sized seedless eunuch. When was the last time you saw a yellow fleshed watermelon in a store, or a full sized mellon for that matter? Modern refrigerators are the size of small garages, so don't tell me you don't have the room. I think the problem is the price and seasonal nature of the crop. Seeds are another matter of concern. As a source of entertainment, reproduction and iconic identity they are absolutely bound to the nature of warermelonity. No seed, no melon. Period.

My father wouldn't buy new crop melons until the price dropped to a penny a pound. I don't expect that. Watermelons are expensive to ship, so should be somewhat pricey outside the serious growing areas, but flying the tiny "personal" melons from Chile to sell for four bucks a pound is borderline criminal. Fer Christ's sake folks, live with the local seasonal produce. You'll get a better product at a better price and lesser carbon footprint from local growers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Flying Sauce

I have spent some little time in New Mexico, less in Arizona and Nevada. These are the hot states. Elsewhere in the world this sort of landscape produces Darfur, Senegal, Somalia and Afghanistan. Here we get The Las Vegas Playground, The Santa Fe Artist's Colony and Area 54. The latter makes me think of a correlation I've noticed. Flying saucers and bolo ties. The real pros in the saucer business, and we've all seen them on TV are invariably white, late middle aged, residents of the hot states and wear bolo ties. We have no choice on our ethnicity or age, and everyone has to live somewhere, but bolo ties? Where did that come from? A rock hung around a guy's neck by a lanyard. Forced on a kid, such neckwear could be deemed child abuse. It would certainly get your ass kicked in New York. Hell, it would get your ass kicked in Dallas.

What I can say without reservation is that belief in alien visitors, and I don't mean the little brown guys outside mowing your lawn, goes hand in hand with bolo ties. As silly as bolo ties may look, to think that extra terrestrial aliens are sneaking around Earth probing rural rubes and abducting under-stimulated housewives is transcendentally silly. We're talking Monty Python "Find the Fish" silly. I won't go on about the size of our local galaxy except to say nobody is taking tours between planetary systems unless we are seriously wrong about basic physics. I'm as big a science fiction fan as most of my peer group. I'd love for there to be a warp drive, or even the possibility of FTL travel, but it just ain't happening. Nobody is visiting. All of which brings us back to those damn bolo ties and UFOs. Does belief in the impossible require a talisman or uniform? Do all creationists have little jesus fish on their bumpers? Do priests derive some communion with the infinite via those clerical collars? I think it's sort of like a club or gang sign, and the bolo is the mystic mark of the UFOlogist. I appreciate all the signs. I know who to avoid if the signs are there. I would appreciate it if the following folk would adopt some singular garb or accouterment that identify them from a goodly distance;
1. Amway reps. Argh! these folk will pretend to be having a perfectly normal conversation, and fifteen minutes in will be offering you a unique business opportunity.
2. Missionaries, both professional and amateur. The guy that comes to your door selling vacuum cleaners isn't out to discuss vacuum cleaners. He is out to sell, and doesn't give a damn what you think as long as the deal is closed. There is no discussing religion with a missionary. All you can do is interrupt their sales pitch.

If anyone really wants me to convert to their belief system, I want cash, and lots of it. Vegetarianism will cost about ten grand, Christianity will cost north of a hundred thousand, depending on the sect. Scientology will run a cool million.

I think I'm going to go shopping for bolo ties.