Monday, January 26, 2015

1%: Bikers or Billionaires?

The big news is that one percent of the people in the world have more of the money than everybody else combined. And don't get me wrong, I have the same visceral resentful reaction as you do. But don't forget, being wealthy is expensive. The number of dollars it takes to feed a family of four for a day in your neighborhood isn't enough to tip the wine steward in some joints. One humanday of healthy nutrition is a more consistent measure than any currency, so we have to conclude that rich people get much crummier money than we do.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Dang, my shoelace broke. I need to sharpen this pencil. I burned the toast. The bus is late. My team lost, my job sucks, somebody parked in my space. Squeak in chair. Zit on nose. There's bills in the mailbox, ants in the kitchen, and ketchup down the front of my shirt. They say don't sweat the small stuff. I say only sweat the small stuff; the big stuff will stop you cold. A guy named Edward Noyes Westcott said, "A reasonable amount o fleas is good for a dog – keeps him from brooding over being a dog, maybe."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mass media

I was watching football on the television, and when they talk about the players as they go on and off the field, they always mention their weights. These are pretty large numbers, usually between two and three hundred pounds. Call it an average of 250, which gives us roughly 1.4 tons a side. Okay. Here's a way to make football more fun. Instead of limiting the number of players, let's define a team by weight. So you could put 12 men on the field if they average 230. Who wouldn't enjoy watching 22 jockeys line up against 8 sumo wrestlers?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Lives of the Philosophers, Pt. 4

Ludwig Wittgenstein had for a father one of the richest men in Europe as well as a one-armed brother who became a famous concert pianist. His other three brothers committed suicide. Ludwig himself studied engineering until a “constant, indescribable, almost pathological state of agitation” drove him to study the philosophy of mathematics. Either philosophy or mathematics alone would have been too easy, I guess. Seriously, this guy was so smart you needed to be Bertrand Russell simply to misunderstand him properly. I can't actually read Wittgenstein. It's like watching a powerful motor rev itself to pieces on a static dynamometer.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Dollar stores are not created equal. Family Dollar is okay, Dollar Tree is utterly worthless. A store called “Everything’s A $1.00 Dollar” (pronounced “everything’s a one dollar dollar”) used to have the best selection of colorful rubber frogs anywhere. Anyway, in the parking lot of the Dollar General a guy is getting out of his camouflage pickup. Big guy, camo pants, tall boots, camo cap. And he’s wearing an actual live baby strapped to his chest. And I want to tell him, “Pal, you’re living in a fool’s paradise if you think that little thing is gonna stop a bullet.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's this guy's beef?

Michael Pollan was just on the BBC explaining that the main way he makes ethical meat eating decisions is by spending more money. Which is a brave thing to admit, I think, that your claim to an ethical position is something you purchase, like a medieval church indulgence. Then there's those products you can get that promise to use some of your money to give the same stuff to poor folks. This buys you the luxury of charity without eye contact. The poor themselves, presumably, cannot afford to make the same choice. So ethics and morality are luxury items. Commodities.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Use your mentality. Wake up to reality.

Destron Fearing is not a George Lucas villain. It's a company that makes radio-frequency devices like the ID chips some people put in their dogs. This is important because dogs are notorious for forgetting their wallets when they leave the house and what if they want to stop for a beer on the way home? Actually, the point is moot since so few dogs make 21, unless we're talking dog years. Anyway, at last count 6 states have specific laws against forcing a human to undergo a microchip implant. That makes it tougher for lobbyists to track their pet legislators.