Friday, September 30, 2005

Rocket Guy's "Better Tomorrow Toys"

Let's face it, today's safety standards have made toys less fun. The Consumer Product Safety Administration is pretty anal about how something could be misused. In the good old days, you could buy toys that, if you misused them, you could lose an eye or a finger. Do you remember Lawn Darts (called "Jarts"?) and build-your-own rocket kits? Toys today, especially the outdoor variety just plain suck. I'd be surprised if you could buy a "Slip-n'-Slide" without some sort of 'guardrail bumper' feature. And I'd dare anyone to find a winter sled with real metal runners. You know, the kind that would slice through flesh and bone like a hot knife through butter.

Yep, it must sure be one hell of a fight trying to get toys made these days. Think of all the really great toys out there that just didn't make the cut...had that one fatal "flaw" that the CPSA found. Well, Rocket Guy has an idea. You remember Rocket Guy don't you? His real name is Brian Walker. You might have heard him on the radio or seen him on television. He was on Conan O'Brien, Good Morning America and Howard Stern. Chuck Palahniuk wrote about him. He's that guy. The first person to build his own rocket -right in his own back yard- and shoot himself into outerspace. But aside from that he's also a toy maker. And yep, you guessed it, Rockets. He makes toy rockets. And, of course, real rockets to shoot himself into outerspace with.

Anyway, a line of toys called 'The Better Toys of Tomorrow' is his idea. There going to be designed so that if a child has an IQ below a certain level, they wouldn't survive the toy. So you weed out the gene pool at a young age. "Stupid kids aren't nearly as dangerous as stupid adults, so let's take them out when they're young" he says. "I know it's sounds cruel but it's a reasonable expectation." He also wants to do a line of toys for blind kids called 'Out of Sight Toys'.

Ha! You see, I told you we were not alone in our absurdity. So there!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Guinness Makes Your Poop Black

Now that I have your attention I want to address a subject I wrote about a few months ago: advertising on our site.

We really don't have a problem with advertising. There is that whole issue of being honest but not forthright, but hey who are we to split hairs. Oh, yeah, we run this blog. Its just, if you are going to post an ad for say "Cat Furniture" come out and ask us and let us have a bit of your profit.

Lately we've gotten comments from people who sound genuine and we want to believe they are. They just don't all sound 100% like real people. If you like the stuff we have here, great, that's what it's for. If you lead in that you like us and then tell people to buy your cat furniture we have to question your motives.

We keep the comment field open because we like discussion, we're absurd. If you want to get people to your site because you want to sell something come out and say it. Look at the title of this entry, it's declarative and neither specifies a positive nor a negative effect of drinking Guinness. It does, however, have nothing to do with what I'm writing here. We can draw a similarity to your ads.

If you want to advertise on our site do one of two things. If you advertise in the comment field announce that you are advertising, then blow smoke up our ass and tell us how cool we are. If you want to legitimately advertise on our site ask us. I'm sure we could work out something with our provider and what not.

For everyone else who reads us don't be shy. Drop us a line and leave your name. Feedback is welcome and needed in our otherwise loveless lives.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A quick note on US poverty

Lately I've been hearing news organizations supporting Bush's tax policies as beneficial to the poor. They say that the poverty rate in the middle of Clinton's term was 13%, while Bush has us at 12%. Unfortunately they give no context for the rate.

The numbers are true but Clinton inherited 15.1% from Bush Sr. in 1993. Bush Jr. picked up Clinton's 11.7% in 2001. You can check the numbers at the US Bureau of the Census: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/histpov/hstpov2.html. (It's also fun for me to note that the last time the rate was 11% was 1979).

Does any one remember the projected surplus we had going into the millennium. Now we borrow money from other countries so we can stay afloat. Currently this country spends more than it takes in. Most people who are struggling to survive know that a major hold on advancement is their credit card bill. If you spend more in a month than you get in a month you end up in debt. If you don't find a way to increase your income people come to your house and take all that cool stuff that you bought. The only other option is to cut your spending and control it.

Of course, if you grew up rich, you may not have the same appreciation for fiscal responsibility. You may end up running an oil company, Major League Baseball Team and quite possibly an entire nation into the ground.

Friday, September 16, 2005

What has happend to our cities?

We have all seen coverage of the devestation of Hurricane Katrina and the human suffering that has followed, but the one issue that the media seems to keep glossing over is the rampant poverty in New Orleans. People were unable to evacuate because they had no means of transportation, and when you have very little you really do not want to leave it behind. But now I ask the question how many other New Orleans are there in this nation? I fear that our major cities are all the brink of a major disaster just looking for a catalyst.

I lived for awhile in Baltimore. If a hurricane hit Baltimore like it did the Gulf Coast the TV images would have looked the same... Fredrick Ave. would look like Haiti. The Baltimore Sun recently reported that 25% of the residents of Baltimore City live below the poverty line. This really does not surpise me, but it is stunning. Then once you figure in the 10% who are heroine addicts you have real pleasent scenerio simmering away.

What is the answer? Perhaps the storms are for the best. Certainly no one deserves to lose their lives, but how else can the cities get cleaned out and built a new. Populations need to get redistributed. Poverty breeds a culture of poverty. People who are down and out need to be in areas where people are successful, so they realize that it can be done.

America, we need to look at our cities long and hard. You may think this a little extreme, but when was the last time you heard of somone going on vacation to Detroit, East St. Louis, or Gary, Ind. just to see the sights? You haven't and you won't until we address the poverty and hoplessness that lurks on every street corner of our major cities.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chipmunk Trapping

I recently had a chipmunk loose in a public building which is in my care (the building, not the chipmunk). It fell upon me to remove the creature before it caused harm to the building or more likely harm in the way of a heart attack to some unsuspecting visitor. With my mission clear in my mind I knew that I needed to find a "have-a-heart" trap, so I could trap the beast and release it back to the wild.

I did not have one personally and everyone I talked to had one, but at their home a great distance away. It was suggested that I call the state dept. of environmental conservation because they allow people to borrow one. I called and was informed that they no longer loan out traps and thus ended the conversation. After hanging up the phone I began to wonder if I requested the DEC to come and trap the chipmunk would they have? My guess is that they would have come under obligation of some state law that requires the trapping of wild animals if on private property. Thus rather than letting me use a trap they have they would have sent a very well paid civil servant to do a job that I would have done for free. To me this is absurd and points out that subsidiarity does not exist any longer in a huge government bureaucracy.

And now for the rest of the story....

I did get a trap eventually and set it up. I never did catch the chipmunk; he must have found his own way back into nature. Rest assured though if this ever happens again I will call the DEC to do my dirty work. At least then I will get something for all taxes I pay.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cognitive Dissonance

About a year ago I was hanging out with my niece. She's was 4. We were in her backyard playing near the swing set. A spider appeared and she ran away, skipped out. I brought her back over to have a closer look at it. We were able to get pretty close and she wasn't as afraid. She informed me that it was poisonous.

Now, I'm not a spider expert. I do know that the number of poisonous spiders appearing in the North American North East are few and this didn't look like either one of them. I tried to explain to her that the spider we were looking at was a common house spider and that it posed no threat to us (unless we walked into its web, was blinded by it and then wondered on to a busy highway... You know). She told me that her friend at school told her spiders were poisonous.

I could see my appeal wasn't sinking in. I introduced her to the Encyclopedia. She took to that very quickly. We looked up spiders and found a good spread on them which she had me read to her. One of the facts that came out was the low level of poisonous spiders that can harm humans. I found a picture of our spider and a description of it. None of this information sunk in for her.

I don't know if it was because she wasn't paying close attention or just wanted to make-believe spiders were poisonous. My fear is that she couldn't refute information that was given to her by a reliable source (to her). I hate to think that the role I play in her life is so small that she won't believe an adult over another 4 year old.

I give you this little story because I have a feeling this happens even more often once we grow up. I talk to so many people that truly believe things they're told without any second thoughts to it. Frustratingly, they tend to deny the validity of statements made contrary to what they believe. It happens to every one, including me. It is very important for us to come to terms with the idea that we don't know everything, some people know more than we do about certain things and we should never settle for an explanation.

Don't think for a moment the information you have is complete. Never stop questioning. More importantly pay attention when the answer comes.