Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Think, Therefore I Am Better than You

File under: Check Your Integrity at the Door

When I saw the link to the above video, I thought it would lead to a serious organization convincing people to sign a real petition. I put my prejudice cap on and prepared to laugh at some woefully misguided, overfunded interest group waiting to fail. I would listen to their points and summarily reject them as rubbish, feeling good about myself for being a conscientious and fair-minded proponent of democracy. You see, a great many statutes and amendments have come, gone, come back, and left again in 200 plus years. The First Amendment has not been and will not be among that number. Therefore, I was not really shocked, appalled, or even worried about such an initiative. That said this video is much worse than what I thought.

I am not certain if this video intends to be humorous or informative – it fails in both regards. Let us secretly video tape the unintelligent, ignorant, or indisposed attempting to reason and then snicker at them for failing. Why not place Christians in an arena and watch them fight lions while we are at it? We have surpassed the need for reality entertainment that fuels itself with the inabilities and inadequacies of others. No, wait...that is not true. At any rate, if this is supposed to be some sort of empirical social experiment, again, it is lacking. It goes without saying that more Americans than we would like to admit have a limited at best grasp of sociopolitical awareness or civic concepts. Further, not everyone with the right to vote is of near-genius intellect or has the synaptic acuity of a fresh, young mind.

Should we consider this situation humorous? No. Ignorance AND Intellectual snobbery are fruit of the same poison tree you so wholeheartedly lambast. As a member of the intellectual elite, one should work that much harder to inform the masses and uncover the truths the author claims to represent. I can only assume the author feels this is the best use of the First Amendment he lampoons the people for not knowing or supporting. This is not activism, this is not patriotism, and it is not journalism. This is a sensational ploy to promote oneself at the expense of others. Is this what it really takes to get the word out there? I certainly hope not, because I have a hard time committing gross acts of public hackery. Now everyone please sing along with me...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Schnitzel, Drugs, and Rock'N'Roll

Cannabis, Kush, Chronic, Dro, Purple Haze, Ganja, Weed, Skunk, Pot, Buddha, Grass, Herb, Bud. Whatever you call it, this trio of tales is an ode of sorts to the almighty sticky green.

File Under: The Law is Not Mocked

Up first, a move of uncharacteristic non-douchebaggery from a state government that normally gets so much wrong from a legislation and Constitutionality standpoint. The California Supreme Court scores one for those who like to toke a J every now and then (for medical purposes of course), by striking down a six year-old amendment to the 1996 Compassionate Use Act. The case in question, People vs. Kelly, revolves around the state legislature’s limit of 8 ounces of marijuana, and the 2005 arrest and conviction of a man in possession of 12 ounces (3/4 of a pound) of marijuana. That is a conservative street value of approximately $420 - $1500, depending on demand, strain, and Mr. Kelly’s horticultural prowess. That could certainly comfort a few glaucoma and cancer sufferers. The high (no pun intended) court stated placing limits on what is enough Mary Jane for personal use is major not cool. After the stressful proceedings, everyone gathered out back to burn one with Governor Schwarzenegger, who in spite of not being stingy with his stash, apparently has vacuum lungs, and hogs the blunt.

File under: Technically Speaking

On to the other side of the world and a question for all you consumers of cannabis: what do you do while you are getting high? That entirely depends on the individual; however, I am willing to bet you listen to trippy music. People have been expanding their minds with the aid of reefer since 3,000 years B.C and I bet music has been a part of the process all along. Thanks to some keen folks at Bach Technology, soon you may be getting groovy and listening to trippy music in a new audio format. The engineers of the proposed format call it MusicDNA, and just as human DNA carries all sorts of information about the host, so does MusicDNA carry additional content about the song. Paying users can receive cool information like song lyrics, “the dates of future tours, new interviews or updates to social network pages.” The new technology should be compatible with IPods and MP3 players and a beta version available this spring.

File under: I Cannot Make This Stuff Up

Everybody knows when you are high, listening to killer tunes, you get killer munchies and you crave the most incomprehensible foods or food combinations. For a high of truly epic proportions, you need something epically stupid on which to munch. What could fit the bill - how about a 24k gold-plated schnitzel? Yes, I did say gold-plated and yes, I did say schnitzel. For the bargain price of 150 Euros (approximately $212 for all you Yankees), Schnitzelhuber of Dusseldorf, Germany will calm your cannabis-induced cravings with a deep fried schnitzel, basted with white and black truffles, and topped with gold leaf. If you are uninitiated as I was I know what you are wondering, and yes, you consume this costly concoction whole, precious metal and all. Apparently, gold-plated food was all the rage in days of yore, when royalty would have delicacies gilded or sprinkled with the stuff. The practice still goes on today in upscale restaurants. Some very expensive liquors and cocktails also contain flecks of gold. Consuming gold in small quantities is not harmful as gold is biologically inert. Trace elements of gold occur naturally in the human body; about 0.0000003% of your body’s atomic makeup is gold. There are even solutions of gold purported to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis. “Well,” you ask, “eating gold is harmless, if a bit gauche, what is so stupid about this gold-plated schnitzel?” To understand this, let us break down the components of this schnitzel. The Wiener or Vienna Schnitzel is a traditional Austrian dish consisting of a thin slice of veal, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried. In its traditional form, it is about 7 Euros (roughly $10 US) at Schnitzelhuber. So how does Huber turn a $10 meal into a small car payment? If you are blaming the gold leaf, I am afraid you are wrong. Culinary gold is available in gourmet stores for relatively cheap. The economical offender in the gold-plated schnitzel is the smattering of white and black truffles under the gold leaf. Simply put a truffle is a fungus, a very expensive fungus. Think of it as a mushroom that thinks it is better than other mushrooms. The variety smeared on top of the golden schnitzel sells for upwards of thousands of dollars US per pound. One, record-holding 3.3-pound truffle sold at auction for a whopping $330,000 US in 2007. Having tasted a dollar once before (do not ask) I certainly hope 330,000 tastes a lot better.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Holiday Inn Beta-Testing Pre-slept in Beds

File under: You Must Have Been High

To break this one down I am going to need the aid of a mind more powerful than my own. I must call on these words, attributed to Albert Einstein:

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

What is the one thing every traveler wants even more than a warm bed, even more than a comfortable bed? I am not sure, perhaps a fresh, clean, and not slept-in bed. In glaring spite of that bit of conventional wisdom, someone who is utterly wasting a perfectly good college education and obviously makes more money than they deserve has suggested that at the request of patrons, a hotel employee in a fleece onesie will snuggle up between your sheets. Before you get any ideas, no he or she will not still be there when you get in although that development could be in the pipe. Hey, it gets lonely on the road. Back to Albert’s words: Free Wi-Fi and HOT continental breakfast (available until 11 not 9) – genius, human bed-warmers – stupidity. Business executives reading this, I can make charts and graphs for you if you need. I see now the underlying problem with our economy: businesses have run out of ideas, good ones at least, and they are trying anything. I think I will steer away from politics and law, and try my hand at business. That way I can receive forgiveness, and payment, for all of my foolish ideas.

Adding insult to injury Holiday Inn attempts to justify their stupidity with scientific research; and, if there is one thing I cannot abide it is misuse or abuse of science. No, No, No, bad corporate marketing executive, bad! You fail, do not pass go and do not collect $200. How about complimentary room upgrades, free nights, or as the reporter posits – electric blankets. Any of those could make me sleep better; unfortunately, I am not with you on the human bed-warmer, sorry. However, if any hotel ever decides to implement warm cookies and milk with a complimentary tuck-in service, you could possibly persuade me.

China to U.S.: “Bite Me!” and Jesus Wants to Be Your Friend on MySpace

File under: My Country is Better Than Yours
File under: Oh Lord!

Min Dahong (Reuters article) wants everyone to know that despite evidence and proof to the contrary China is the most democratic, liberal, free, and human rights friendly state in the world. The Internet, TV, radio, and print media for decades have all conspired to present China as a totalitarian bully. What does Chairman Dahong say of Google, Inc. and Hillary Clinton’s allegations of cyber espionage and censorship? LIES! Why do these people seriously make these statements? Just admit you oppress your people and let the world move on. Well, Min Dahong, you can relax. No, the world does not believe China is a shining example of liberty and freedom of information over the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. However, the West will be outraged for a brief moment and it will ultimately not levy any serious economic or political sanctions at the world’s largest economy. I will say though, if a butterfly flapping its wings in Borneo sets off a chain of random and stupid events that allow this to conflagrate into WW3, consider me pissed in advanced.

In addition, on other uses of the Internet, Pope Benedict has a simple message (Reuters article) for Catholic priests – Get them while they are young (no snickering!). The formerly technophobic Pontiff agrees the church has majorly failed to capitalize on the “rich menu of options” available through the Internet. So the Catholic Church wants to get in on Social Networking does it? It is a logical move, after all Jesus did love the kids. This could be an excellent opportunity at minimum to provide access to spiritual structure and dialogue, which might have previously seemed far too intimidating, restrictive, or staid for a youth population woefully lacking in direction. Wait, not so fast my Papal pal! John 6:44 (NIV Bible) states: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” So does this mean Jesus’ profile is private? I hope we do not have to decipher his Captcha in Hebrew – “Hey dude, is this a Yodh or an Aleph?” That would just be annoying.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Michigan Woman Accused of "Mayhem."

File under: The Law is Not Mocked

Michiganite Bobbie Smith is facing charges of domestic violence and mayhem for allegedly biting off “a significant portion” of her sister’s, Sandra Smith, nose in a domestic dispute. Mayhem, sounds hardcore – but what exactly is “mayhem” you ask? Well, I am glad you asked. Mayhem is an actual legal term inherited from English Common Law. Here is a blurb from Wikipedia:

“[Originally] It [mayhem] consisted of the intentional and wanton removal of a body part that would handicap a person's ability to defend himself in combat. Under the strict common law definition, this required damage to an eye or a limb, while cutting off an ear or a nose was deemed not sufficiently disabling. Later the meaning of the crime expanded to encompass any mutilation, disfigurement, or crippling act done using any instrument.”

What mayhem means is essentially the younger Smith went all Helter-Skelter on the elder Smith with her very best Hannibal Lecter impersonation - hardcore indeed. I admit freely I have had some intense “discussions” with family and friends over the years. I will concede I might have even threatened to eat their face on occasion, but having said that, I have never actually had the gumption or intention to commit the act. That is simply co-co-nuts, and probably unsanitary (I mean you do not know where someone’s face has been).

So what is the lesson we should learn here? I suppose I should say that in uncertain and harsh times, where we can lose everything we care about in a random act of nature or hatred, we should all be grateful to have a sibling with which to argue. However, the true lesson is that when in a fight, and it is not looking good for you, do not leave your opponent something to remember you by. It only adds years to your sentence and a foul taste in your mouth.

Summary Execution: The Penalty for the Alleged Theft of Five Bags of Rice in Haiti.

File Under: Epic Failure of Humanity

If this were not Haiti, one could comment that now human rights violations begin, however, this is Haiti. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to say human rights violations resume, and of course, Westerners are on hand to record this young man’s last moments on Earth and the aftermath of human wreckage. Somehow, I get the distinct feeling that the investigation into this kid’s murder will receive the same diligence as the investigation into his alleged looting and the same attention as his dead corpse.

This news story makes one sad to be human on three accounts. First, for the fact this man had to die. Due process and police discretion would have been sufficient to save his life even had he decided to place it at risk by violating the law. However, it is unclear if he broke the law at all and if he did to what degree. Secondly, independent Haiti has been sitting in our shadow, a stone’s throw from our shores for near 100 years. That it takes a gross loss of life and tremendous suffering for Haiti to make the news is madness. Finally, that this young man did not receive the courtesy to die in quiet dignity but rather had to have his final moments recorded, broadcast to the world, and sensationalized. If journalists truly want to “help,” get witness statements, apply pressure to wounds, and rescue some people. When it is over, apply unrelenting pressure to the authorities. Do not video record a man bleeding to death and tell the world he is bleeding to death.

WARNING: For anyone following this link, the attendant video clip is graphic compared to anything you have ever likely seen on the 6 O’clock news.