Saturday, January 24, 2009

I'll stimulate you if you stimulate me

So Barry Obama (I like to call him "The Big O" now) is talking up his economic stimulus plan. Looks like we're going to get stimulated to the tune of $820 billion. Or is that $820 trillion? $820 octillion? Is that dollars or pesos? Well, who's counting? Wait - maybe that's how we got into this mess...

Anyway, this whole stimulus thing is way too complicated for a simple guy like me, but the way I understand it there are several methods my government can use to stimulate me:
1. Give me some of somebody else's money. Democrats favor this approach generally, and most everybody likes to get some of somebody else's money. Except the "somebody else" who has their money taken.
2. Give me back some of my own money. Republicans favor this approach generally, and I like this but I would just as soon have some of somebody else's money. Either way works, just as long as I get some more money.
3. Print some more money and set it out on the streets in big buckets. Neither party has really suggested this but I think it's a good idea. Have trucks with bullhorns and a guy on a mic saying "Fresh new hundreds! Bucket of money here! Come and get it! First come first served!" That's a real picker-upper.
4. Attach an electrical device to my nether regions and pass a little 110 through me. This probably won't do much for the economy. This kind of stimulus is mostly reserved for use when we capture evildoers, like terrorists, jihadists, and Dodger fans.

Not so many years ago when I was a radio talk show host, there used to be a lot of people bemoaning the loss of industrial jobs in the economy - bothered that we weren't making stuff like steel and T-shirts and cars and crockpots and soap dishes and electrical devices made to attach to the nether regions, and selling all this good stuff to other people in the world. They used to say "pretty soon we'll all just be selling each other hamburgers."

I'm not sure if there's a big difference between the two concepts. Let's say I sell you some steel or some crockpots, and I use that money to buy some of your minivans and soap dishes. Is that really a more significant economic exhange than if I sell you a cheeseburger on Tuesday and buy one from you on Wednesday? Isn't it all the same paper trading game, the same passing around of money for things or services? Does it really matter if our primary product is coal or cuff links or pop singers or toaster pastries? There isn't much of what we buy and sell that has any real intrinsic value anymore - it's all value we place on things . And so the whole paper passing game is just peachy - until all of a sudden some a-hole decides that something on which we had placed a lot of imaginary value now does not really have that much imaginary value. Then that a-hole's bad attitude spread to some other a-holes, and lots of people start doubting the real hard value of their crockpots and hot lather shaving dispensers and - well, shit, that's a problem. The emperor has no clothes! The jig is up!

So that's where we are right now - a massive collective freak out because we stopped buying each other's cheeseburgers. So you want to fix the economy? Buy something! Now, for Pete's sake! It's just that simple. What do you mean you're being cautious? You're lacking consumer confidence? That means you are the problem! You are the root cause of this recession! What are you, some kind of communist? Get up off your wussy ass and go to the mall right now!! There's bargains to be had on ice cube trays and particle-board furniture and posters of movie stars and chewy dog treats and Magic: The Gathering card sets and six packs of crew socks and Chex Mix and bundles of toilet paper too big to fit in your trunk and extension cords and - well, you get the idea. Doesn't really matter what you buy, just buy. Buy a lot. Ask not what your country can buy for you, ask what you can buy for your country!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to keep track of your mind so you don't lose it

Here's a useful (?) tip for a way to get your bearings when you have that thought "What the hell am I doing with my life?" or "Where does all the time go?"

Take a look at your Google search history. (If you use some other kind of search engine - well, that's so 20th century I don't even know what to say. Maybe you should skip reading this and go see if "Fibber McGee and Molly" is on the radio.)

Google keeps track of the words you type into the search box. Mine seems to go back about six months. So a quick review tells me right away what I've been thinking about, working on, and wasting time with. For example, a selection of my recent searches:

Ryan Adams (obsessed with his music)
Samuel French (obsessed with reading plays)
Pubic hair fashion (would you believe it if I said I was writing my doctoral dissertation. No? I didn't think so.)
Chrome (that's the new Google web browser for your cave dwellers)
Meaning of love (if Google doesn't know, who does?)
Spring Awakening soundtrack (love it)
Boondock Saints (must be watched periodically)
ACIM (go ahead, you search it now. Worth your time.)
Academy KA14 guitar (this search helped me learn that just because something is old and kind of rare, that doesn't mean it has any monetary value. Sort of like me.)
Define: dessicated (did you know you can get definitions in Google using this technique? Do you know "dessicated" is a real word and not just something a drunk would say?)
Richard Greenberg (more obsession with reading plays)
Icon Gel Hair Wax (recommended for when you want your hair to be re-shapeable like Play Doh)
How a 4-way stop works (I am trying to help more of my fellow Americans understand this concept)
O Mio Babbino Caro (a little Italian opera right out of left field)
Tina Fey (she had a good year)
Sarah Palin ( not such a good year perhaps)
Parallels between the crash of '29 and the crash of '08 (an intellectually curious day!)
The ramifications of a nuclear Iran (wow, I must have eaten some brain food for a change!)
Screw Loose Change (the ultimate "piss off" for the 9/11 conspiracy nuts)
Idaho Vandal Cheerleaders (What? Huh? I admit I have no idea why I searched for this. Apparently not one of the intellectually curious days.)

So what have we learned today?
1. You can track back your life and times by reviewing your Google search terms.
2. The world is a big, wonderful, complex place and there's just an awful lot to know.
3. There is some kind of neuron pinball game going on in my head.

Neuron pinball. I think I will Google that.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"Taunt a mime in Twenty-oh-Nine!"

Today marks the start of Year Three of this here blog. Over the last 24 months there have been 223 items posted. A number of them fit the category of "not that bad," while others are not worth the paper they were never written on. Overall, the global response to this blog continues to be:


Now that we have concluded the annual report, let's move on to today's topic - the New Years Resolutions.

It's important to give pause at the start of each New Year, take stock of oneself, and consider how to move forward to make oneself just a bit better. For example, to avoid using the word "oneself" again for the rest of '09. I'll make that reso #1.

After all, if you make no resolutions at all you are saying "I cannot improve on me. I have reached perfection." Or you are saying "I cannot improve on me. I am the very definition of lame yet I am also hopeless." For those who fall somewhere between these extremes, it's resolution time. So here is my top 10 list of resolutions.

2. Come up with a really good personal slogan for the year. Top contenders:
  • "Feelin' finer in Two Thousand Niner!"
  • "Knock off the cryin' in Two Thousand ni-en!"
  • "Supine in Oh-Nine!"
3. Eat more cheese rind. ("Eat more rind in Twenty-Oh-Nine!")
4. Start every day considering how good it would feel to get in a really strenuous workout. Conduct an internal debate over actually having the workout. Lose the debate and eat some bacon.
5. Give all my friends a new nickname built around their least attractive physical feature and repeat it until they punch me.
6. Whale blubber consumption for the year will be zero.
7. Quit saying I'm going to cut down on drinking.
8. Absolutely no necrophilia!
9. Enact 10% reduction on top 10 lists by always ending them with item 9.