Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Rapture Gets Plowed

Six Feet Under staged the Best. Death. Ever. (although the recap doesn't seem to quite understand why the deceased did what she did) in this week's episode. Embracing the spirit of my Bumper Sticker musings, a devout Christian woman runs into traffic at the sight of bodies floating to the heavens... i.e. The Rapture. Except they were helium filled sex toys not god's chosen ones. Oops. Or, as I said in the earlier post... a bit presumptive on her part, no?

At the bare minimum, the rapture crowd should make the incredibly creepy Rapture Index their homepage. (Should you happen to click through to see the Index, might I also suggest the FAQ, in particular the "How do you plan to maintain this site after the rapture?" question. I do appreciate that the answer is a bit less presumptive than one might initially anticipate.)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Necessary Start

Today's The New York Times contributes a largely useful article on energy costs. The gist- prices are up and going up and the additional spending can really add up.

But, there's good news. In many ways, very good news. The article discusses several incredibly simple ways to scale back your use of electricity- more efficient light bulbs, clothes washers, and air conditioners for instance. These are all baby steps- things you can do now without any support. Left undiscussed are the options that public policy and concerted engineering efforts could create (for instance, the wasted electricity used to run the insidious clocks in TV's, VCRs, microwaves, etc).

Get on board. Think about little ways you can cut back on your use of electricity.

Update: A summary of the mood piece, a narrow view of price getting in the way, and an interesting, if potentially scary, new angle. Glad to see the New York Times is on-board with something useful, for a change.

Dear Abby, Paging Dr. Nick

As I have mentioned before, Abby's writers scare me. Add this one to the pile.

Dear Abby:

I am a 16-year-old girl and haven't had my period for almost five months. What does that mean?

Needs to Know in Miami

There could be several reasons for it. However, the person to determine the cause should be your doctor. Please do not wait to discuss the problem with him or her. Ask your mother to schedule an appointment and accompany you. It will put your concerns to rest.

There's plenty of good advice available for Needs to Know. But if she's not going to try, well then neither am I. Her letter- approximately as difficult to execute as a home pregnancy test- channels the spirit of Lionel Hutz and "Doctor" Nick Riviera. To wit:
With all due respect, Mrs. Simpson, you're not a doctor, the boy's not a doctor, the only person who even comes CLOSE is this man [Nick Riviera].
-- Lionel Hutz responding to Marge's skepticism, "Bart Gets Hit by a Car"

Abby is your version of a competent authority in this matter? At 16? And they'll let you vote- in Florida no less- in just a few years? Abby, never one to lay a solid foundation, neglects to prep Needs to Know with a few pointers- have you been sexually active in the past 6 months? have you had a high level of stress or any sudden life changes over the past half year?

On times sensitive questions like this, Abby is about the last person you should write. She publishes her 'how do I handle my family at Christmas' and 'how do I celebrate graduation' letters about three weeks after the event. Prompt and competent, that's Abby. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Beer Coasters... That'll solve it?

In an attempt to cut down on adult men having sex with underage girls (you know, that thing that's against the law already), Virginia is going to run some sort of public awareness campaign this summer. On billboards, coasters in bars, napkins, etc the message "Isn't She a Little Young?" will be spread (in smaller print, "Sex with a Minor. Don't Go There"). This definitely counts as among the skeevier public awareness campaigns out there (but hey, if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes). But Bars?!?! Why not hand those coasters to the bouncers, hostesses, and wait staff of Virginia?

More seriously, why not emphasize the illegality of it all in conjunction with the general predatory pervitude involved. As it sits now, a "Isn't She a Little Young?" coaster or napkin is more of a sad little pick-up line than an effective public decency campaign. This is certainly a terrible problem- for more reasons than anyone would care to list- with nothing positive to be said for it. A serious problem that requires a serious solution, rather than a solution which reminds yours truly of the pathetic "Act Like You Know" campaign at dear Alma Mater. Cutesy slogans get attention, yes. But do they get the desired results? Or do they "cuteify" the original problem?

Also, doesn't this promotion work at cross purposes from the venerable "Virginia is for Lovers" slogan? Maybe modify it- "Virginia is for ^Mature Lovers" or "Virginia is for ^Legal Lovers"?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Official Tegwar Pet

Please go greet and play with the Official Tegwar Pet. He was kindly adopted for Tegwar (and yes, that is an incredibly shameless Google gaming attempt on my part) by trinity3kim (or should I say, Kim?).

And, of course, many thanks go out to Kim. And Nguyet as well.

Why Nguyet? If you visit NewWayDesign and check out the "About Us" page, you'll find the boast: "Kim and Nguyet are the same person. Really." Well, as it turns out, that's not a boast. Nguyet, you see, sent me an incredibly similar gift recently. If I hadn't seen them at the same time, I'd never know the truth...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

whoring at an early age?

I was talking with friends recently about McDonald's new adult happy meal. Of note, it comes with a pedometer (and a premium salad- with salad dressing-, which is, in many ways, worse for you than a Big Mac). It was noted that the pedometer is probably pretty crappy- just like the kids toys in the real happy meals.

The above has been, like much that I do and say, an artifice to get around to what I really want to say. Apologies for the delay...

Which gets me thinking about those kids. You know, the ones in the happy meal commercials. Those toys. They're not any fun to play with. You spend half the life of the toy putting it together and the rest hoping it stays together/ resnapping it/ ignoring it. How can those kids in the commercials be having anywhere near as much fun as the commercial makes it seem? In short, they can't. Not unless those precocious tykes are playing America's youth for fulls, saps, and suckers. And so, I wonder, do you think they're ashamed by themselves? At such a young age they've sold out on truth and honesty to make a buck by misleading other kids. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Enter and Win (probably)

From the folk(s) who brought you Random Acts of Hilarity, a new if not exciting contest... Be sure to send in your entries via comments (guffaw) or email (double guffaw).

I'm looking for: The Stupidest (and yes, that's not an actual word) Bumper Sticker

I'd always thought this was a cinch: "Warning: In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned" First, it's grievously presumptive (unlike those "My kid can beat up your honor student" and related efforts bumper stickers). Second, it's pretty freaking stupid.

That all changed last evening when the gauntlet was thrown down and the challenge made clear. "Can Helen. Not Salmon." I mean, WTF?!?! The nonsensicality of this sticker is going to be hard to beat. But I think someone is up to the task.

So send in your bumper sticker sightings, if you dare. One ground rule, however. Anything of the "Vote Bush 2004" variety is not eligible- it's the driver, not the phrase, which is lacking in that pairing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Dear Abby, you judgmental bitch...

In today's* Dear Abby

Dear Abby:

My daughter, "Skylar," just started middle school, and she has fallen in with the wrong crowd. She walks around the house with a chip on her shoulder, wearing what looks to us like boys' clothes. She curses and lies, and she and her new friends have vandalized the girls' restroom four times. Her latest trick is to forge my signature on school papers. I have discussed these problems with the school. They suggested counseling and therapy. What I want is advice on how to discipline Skylar for all the wrongs she has done. How do I guide my daughter down the right path?

Unable to Discipline

Guiding a child down the "right path" involves more than discipline; it involves open communication and the assurance that he or she is loved. If Skylar were my daughter, the first thing I'd do is have her tested for drugs. If she tested positive, I would start her in a rehab program and possibly place her in another school.

If she tested "clean," I'd do exactly as the school suggested and get counseling and therapy for her. In fact, counseling for your entire family would be a good idea, because it appears that Skylar is not the only one who could use some help. Your parenting skills may need to be upgraded.

So your kid is running with the "wrong crowd," you say. A teenager with a chip on her shoulder, you say. Dressing a bit androgynously, you say. And she's mouthing off and engaging in actual bad behavior. Ok, now we've got one that counts for something (pretty late in the list, wouldn't you say?).

And Abby's first response- test her for drugs... sigh. On top of being a judgmental bitch, she has a keen sense of how to alienate children without even trying. I see no mention in the letter that our concerned parent has attempted to TALK to "Skylar." Abby's, once again and without fail, about half right. The parents need therapy on how to be parents- How about sitting "Skylar" down and seeing what's up? Is yours a strict household (with Mom in pearls baking apple snacks?) which might chafe her increasing need for independence? How go things on the grades and other activities front? In short- have you tried to find out who your kid is and what she wants to do? Start there. And then parent and guide. Let her know she needs to straighten up the actual bad behavior (let her be moody, let her dress herself within standards of public decency) in order to earn more trust and a longer leash. Let her know your concerns- talk and ask about drugs without ever using the word "test." Get a gauge on what's going on with your daughter first. By getting to know her. And pray you've developed parenting instincts by the time you get that far in the process.

* I read the Washington Post for my Dear Abby. They seem to publish on a different schedule than the "official" Dear Abby column (which wouldn't matter, except for Abs' archive is much better and frees me from the worries of linkrot). I wonder why? Space constraints? Judgment? Booze? (there are a solid number of liquor stores nearby the Post building)