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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Best excuses I heard so far

Picture this: It's about 3 am. You are asleep in bed with your wife--just the two of you. Then you feel someone cuddling you from behind. As you awake, you see our wife in front of you, fast asleep. It's not her. What would you do? Well, our man jumped up, grabbed his handgun and turned on the light. He was astounded to see a young woman he had never seen before. She said, "Steve told me to come here and wait for him."

Elsewhere, a woman accused of stealing $70,000 from her church, allegedly told detectives, "Satan had a big part in the theft."

Both perfectly understandable. It really is nuts out there.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lou Gehrig has nothing on Tsutomu Yamaguchi

When Lou Gehrig retired from the Yankees on July 4, 1939 because of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), he said in his now famous good-by speech that "Today, I am the luckiest man in the world..." I never wanted to be so lucky/unlucky as to have a disease commonly named after me.

But maybe the luckiest/ unlucky man is Tsutomu Yamaguci. You see, Yamaguci was in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. He was less than 2 1/2 miles from ground zero when the world's first atomic bomb was dropped. He was seriously burned but was able to get to his home, Nagasaki, just three days later to experience the second atomic bomb drop.

He is the only known and confirmed survivor of both atomic bombs. In Hiroshima, 200,000 were killed. In Nagasaki, 140,000.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Given an infinite number of monkeys...

Re: the Cheeta post below, I am aware of that time-honored philosophic theory of chance... if you give an infinite number of moneys an infinite number of typewriters, they will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.

Recently, researchers at Plymouth University in England conducted an experiment sponsored by the Arts Council there. To simplify the expected miracle, researchers gave six monkeys one computer for one month, then, eagerly awaited the results.

Eventually, the monkeys produced only five pages of text, filled mostly with the letter S with a few A's, J's, L's and M's thrown in. What researchers did seem to prove is that the monkeys were more "interested in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard."

I'm anxious to see the scientific paper on this one.

And while we are on the 'scientific animal discovery in England' post, a recent Reuters headline said "Maggots no wonder cure for festering wounds," which led to the conclusion, "Putting flesh-eating maggots into open wounds may not be such a great idea after all."

Friday, March 20, 2009

I guess I could manage on $50,000/week... though it would be difficult

But Marie Douglas-David says she can't. She is asking ex-husband-to-be, George David, for at least $53,000/week in her divorce settlement just to 'get by.' That tightwad, George David, worth about $329 million, thinks she should be able to live on $43 million. Marie simply can't do it.

Hey Marie... I know the feeling. You got your Park Avenue apartment, three residences in Sweden, $700/month for the limo service, $4,500/month for clothes, $1,000/month for hair and skin treatments, $1,500/month for food and entertainment and $8,000/month for travel. I see absolutely no fat in that at all. In fact, I think you forgot the $2,000/month for lattes.

I, like you, have taken a few minor steps to cope. I have secured a second mortgage on our small house, cut down on the limos... by quite a bit, darn my own socks and cut my own hair (what's left of it) and bike or skateboard wherever I can. See... workable.

Oh, not to ignore the bigger issues, at your rate of spending, you would go through $43 million in just 16 years... sooner if you invested it with Bernie Madoff. For me, my financial plan still works. I just tweeked my expire date to match when my money does. So if you don't see a new post for a long, long time, you'll know it's working!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Found: An easy way to make $1,000,000.00

With the advent of spring comes the NCAA basketball pairings... and with them, the easiest and most obvious way to make $1 million and more for a mere dollar. Duh! Where have you been all this time?

The odds against winning the NCAA tournament have been posted. North Carolina is 4:1 (boring). Illinois is 60:1. Butler is 125:1. So a dollar bet in Vegas brings some pretty good return potential. However, unless you are a piker, don't go for the chump change. Look further down the list.

Cornell is 1 million:1. A mere one dollar bet returns $1 million when Cornell triumphs. But Bill Gates still won't speak to you.

Try Robert Morris at 500 million:1. Hmmm. You wouldn't even make the Forbes 500 list at that.

Morgan State is 1 billion:1. Receive a personal call from Warren Buffett.

Cal State Northridge is 500 billion:1. Just think. A $500 billion payoff for $1 when Cal State Northridge wins it all. You could play liar's poker, loose 400 billion times in a row and still be able to put food on the table.

If your dollar is on Alabama State or Morehead State, both at 1 trillion:1, you personally could pay off China's investment in the United States and tell them to get lost. For this, they would put a statue of you (on a horse, of course) on the White House lawn. For me, that's too much bird crap.

East Tennessee State at 1 septillion:1 would be nice. The US budget hasn't yet hit still needs a few more bonus payouts by AIG to make that number.

But for me, my dollar is on Chattanooga because: 1) I like the sound and spelling of Chattanooga; 2) I like the payout at 1 googolplex (the largest possible uncapable-to-define number to the 10th power):1 .

Now we are talking richest man in the galaxy. All the Chattanooga players have to do is protect the ball, take good shots, keep everyone else from scoring more points than they do, make their free throws and don't loose their cool. And remember: defense, defense, defense. Sounds like a lock to me. I think I'll take the payout in 10s and 20s since most places don't have change for a googol.

Give me a "C!" Give me an "H!" Give me... aw, you know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Me Cheeta... an autobiography

Yep. Really! Tarzan's faithful companion (other than Jane and Boy), Cheeta, wrote a 'tell-all' book of those glory days in the jungle with the famous vine-swinging yodeler... and the tawdry movie star life that followed. The book, published in England a year ago, is about to debut in the United States this month, to good reviews, as you might expect. (Ecco, 320 pages, $24.99) It's not often you see something so well written by the world's oldest and arguably, most famous, chimp.

And yes, he really did write it (wink, wink).

It seems, according to a Wall Street Journal review, "Cheeta is a cigarette-smoking, booze-guzzling, name-droping, washed-up actor who preens over his modest accomplishments, dreams of being awarded an honorary Oscar and swears like one of the sailors on the ship that brought him from Africa with a load of exotic animals in 1933."

Now living in a Hollywood retirement home, he ponders his legacy. "Was I a pioneer, the true inventor of simian thespianism? That's not easy for me to say. It's not easy for anyone to say, actually, 'simian thespianism.'"

While Cheeta talks about some of the stars of the day with various degrees of disdain and candor, he has nothing bad to say about Johnny Weissmuller, the only Tarzan we purists will acknowledge. Then there is the touching tale of the two of them reuniting just before Weismuller's death in 1984.

The WSJ review concludes" A million celebrities typing on a million keyboards would be hard-pressed to top "Me Cheeeta."

I've got my copy ordered fellow Tarzanites (A proud cadre of groupies that preceed the Trekkies by a 50 years). How about you?

Color of the day

Police had little problem tracking down one shoplifter recently. He wore a yellow shirt with a yellow tie and yellow pants with matching yellow shoes and socks. He 'lifted' a big box of yellow candy Easter eggs, yellow mustard and yellow cheese and, oh yes, three extra pair of yellow socks and two pair of yellow underpants. Hmmm! The man seems to have a bigger problem than shoplifting. Hope Ronald McDonald has a good alibi.

Another 'brilliant criminal mind' asked the convenience store clerk to "hand over all the money in the cash register." As the clerk anxiously spun around to comply, she accidentally hit the cash register and knocked it on the crooks' toe. End of caper. End of toe.

Hard to beat the hijackers of a large truck, though. While they didn't know what was in the truck, they soon learned they had cornered the market in toilet seats and bed pans.

But wait. One more... the New Jersey women who was caught shoplifting $227 worth of razor blades and two tubes of hemorrhoid medication. I really don't want to know what that was all about.

Hey, I told you... It's nuts out there.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I have been to the top of the Willis Tower many times...

... and perhaps you have too. If you don't recognize the name, maybe it is because the Willis Tower, until just now, was know as the Sears Tower in Chicago, the tallest building in the United States. The Willis Group, a very large London-based insurance broker, is the new owner. So goes another trademark location, the same as almost every newly named sports arena in American.

This, however, reminds me of one of the most interesting phenomena I have ever personally experienced. While riding down from the Sears Observation Tower on the 101st floor a number of years back, a strange thing happened. The large elevator had an active graphic display of its descent that was the outline of the number, 101. As the elevator ascended or descended, the 101 number would either fill with light, as if you were pouring milk into a glass, or empty in similar fashion.

There were probably 30 people in that elevator as it descended, never stopping, on it's 90 second ride to the street. Yet, the display started to empty, then, half way down, fill up again. All of us passengers knew the elevator never stopped, but every one of us fully expected the doors to open out to the observation area when it came to a halt. There was a big gasp of surprise as the doors opened to the street, then laughter as our senses had been completely fooled... like a magician making an elephant disappear... but for real.

Verne Gagne... if you remember that name, you are old

Verne Gagne, (pronounced Ganya) is one of the early pro wrestlers who vaulted to fame in the black and white days of television. I watched him live when my dad took me to Main Street arena, a summer-time wrestling venue set up outdoors behind a car dealership in Peoria, Illinois. He wrestled the likes of Georgeous George, Yukon Eric and Killer Kowalski back when grunting and sweaty men were more in vogue... and women and midgets (as they were called then) too. I saw em all before I reached the age of puberty and summers were more about carefree, 'play outside til the streetlights came on' living than little league.

Verne was one of the 'good guys' with a Charles Atlas build and an innocent farmer-guy face. With his famous 'sleeper hold,' he would put down villian after villian, but only after he had taken a pretty good pounding himself. Happily, and to the roar of the crowd, the good guy won most often... and I'm sure as the moon is made of green cheese that it was all 'legit.'

Well, Verne is in the news again, sad to say. At age 83, with advanced dementia, he body-slammed a 97-year-old fellow dementia sufferer in a nursing home just recently, breaking the poor man's hip. Not surprisingly, when both men were questioned about the incident the next day, neither remembered it ever happened.

Sadly, the victim died three weeks later, of complications from the injury. Gagne, because of the current circumstances, will not be charged in the victim's death.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Are we the luckiest people on earth?

On television a few days back, we saw former President H. W. Bush cry in relief when told that wife Barbara came through open heart surgery just fine. We also were 'fortunate' to see Rihanna's face after boyfriend Chris Brown 'allegedly' beat her up. We saw the anguish on a father's face when he learned his daughter was killed in an auto accident. We saw, over and over again... in slow motion, the tiger maul Roy of Siegfried and Roy. We just can't wait to catch a look at Michael Jackson to see if his nose has fallen off. We get to see everything. Of course, public figures are public. But our desires and habits encroach to the point that we feel it is our right... and the media's duty, to show us everything, even at the expense of real news.

Years ago, at the dawning of the broadcast news media we know today, a close friend's father was in an auto accident. As he sat, dazed, bloody and in shock in the front seat of what was left of his car, a quick-thinking reporter stuck a camera inches from his broken nose and asked, for the camera-- not for the victim, if he was ok. What a wonderful piece of journalism.

If you detect a hint of sarcasm, you are right. In today's world, there is no privacy. Every tender, precious , painful, tragic, banal moment is there for us to see... over and over again if it is particularly juicy, emotional, etc. Sure... no denying some of this is news. But an awful lot is not. It is 'for the ratings,' for the viewership that will follow, for 'an exclusive'... and we have forgotten where and how to draw the we don't.

We are a nation of voyeurs. There are no private moments and news is determined not by content value but by a scale of interest that is often eye popping, heart-grabbing, morbidly good. Emotions are king. We do most things today based on our emotions. We left logic and often judgment, a long time ago, prefering to let the media do it for us. We are driven by outrage, broad generalizations, half-truths and movie stars.

What has happened to us?

My favorite college professor, a former UPI photographer, in a journalism course that stressed ethics, told how he lost the Pulitzer prize. He was covering a story of a young child hit and killed by a car in front of the boy's house. When he got there, the little body was covered by a blanket and police were examining the crushed bike he was riding. Looking for a different shot, he walked around the house and, in a rear window, saw the father sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, deep in grief. He raised his camera to shoot 'the shot of a photographer's lifetime,' then slowly lowered it, paused, then walked away. He told us that he felt deeply that this was not the world's moment. And he was right.

When is that kind of emotion and anguish everyone's to see?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Phew! Did you feel the breeze?

About the size of a 10-story building is the way one news source described it. I am referring to the pretty big asteroid that narrowly missed the earth last Monday morning. According to CNN, the giant hunk of space gunk whizzed by just 38,000 miles from us... an incredibly close distance compared to space. When you think about it, that is a little less than twice-around the earth at the equator.

And when you consider that our space tracking capabilities can identify a object floating in orbit as small as 2 inches in diameter, it is surprising that we didn't even see it until two days before its pass-by. Of course, it was traveling toward us at an incredible speed. Listen... only Superman can destroy asteroids on two-days notice. We just sit here like soccer players defending a free kick... with our hands, figuratively of course, covering our genitalia.

Actually, space is, as we say, bigger than a breadbasket. It is, best we know now, 5-6 billion light years across. That is, 192,000 miles per second x 60 seconds in a minute x 60 minutes in an hour x 24 hours in a day x 365.3 days per year x 5-6 billion years. That number still boggles my mind. And, even more fascinating, there are an estimated 100 billion-billion stars bigger than our earth.

So what are the chances? Well, if there are only two flys buzzing randomly around in an area the size of the United States, there is a greater chance that they will collide than we would be hit by an asteroid of that size. Before you feel too comfortable though, consider that about a century ago, one blasted Siberia. On the other hand, the law of averages is now on our side.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A cynic's quote for the day

"This is the age of irresponsibility. There are moments when it seems as though every figure who waltzes across the public stage is a cheat, a fraud, a liar, or a failure. Child abuse scandals have tarnished the image of Catholic bishops and priests. Steroid scandals have racked Major League Baseball, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. As the men who brought the financial system to the brink of collapse were cashing in and remodeling their offices, the executives and union officials who bankrupted the American automobile industry were begging the public sector to give them aid. On any given day, any public figure might be arrested, assaulted, admit to infidelity, go bankrupt, or break down emotionally in front of television cameras. There are no consequences." Matthew Continetti, The Weekly Standard

Whoops. Michael forgot the public officials who don't pay all their taxes and the indicted figures who still roam free and 'suffer' horrible house arrest while reportedly secreting millions for their 'after life', not unlike the old Egyptian kings and Bernie Madoff.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And if the world wasn't crazy enough already...

In Colorado, a man rushing to the assistance of two women caught in an intersection's busy cross traffic, was hit by a car. While in intensive care with internal injuries, our heroic rescuer was also hit with a $22 jaywalking ticket. Police say "We understand (he) was doing something with great intentions, but it was still dangerous for anyone to be in the road." I guess 1) the women aren't that important, or 2) Colorado must really need the money.

Ireland traffic police have been told to stop writing tickets against a mysterious Polish immigrant, Prawo Jazdy who has already accumulated 50 unpaid tickets. Authorities just learned that Prawo Jazdy is actually not a man's name. It is the name of the document. Prawo Jazdy is Polish for 'driver's license.'

Linda Wolfe, 68, just got married... for the 24th time. While she can't seem to stay married, she says she is still "addicted to romance." Who says her wedding dress just sits in a box in the closet? Well Linda, here's to number 24. May it last forever... or not.

News flash: Hitler was a slob at the table (among other things). According to a just-released British intelligence document, Hitler ate too fast, gorged on cakes, bit his nails during meals and ignored conversations around him. Yeah. I suppose I can see that.

And finally, can you spell Puthukkudlyiruppa? OK, so you cheated. Pthkkdlyrpp, as I prefer to shorten it, is a city in Sri Lanka... and the hang-out of a terrorist group. Who didn't know that?