Friday, June 18, 2010

Halliburton Cleans Up on the Clean-up

Sock Puppet On Halliburton Exec's Left Hand: "We can make a ton of money if we ignore these safety regulations. It might get some "small people" killed, but we'll make more than they're worth."

Sock Puppet On Halliburton Exec's Right Hand: "Awesome! And then, when we have a giant spill, we just bought a clean up firm so we can make even MORE money."

Sock Puppet On Halliburton Exec's Left Hand: "Awesome!"

Raise your hand if you're a complete douche-bag. Goooooooood Oil Executives.

Researchers To Map Ozzy Osbourne's Genome

In an unprecedented move MTV has signed the genome to a five-year reality TV deal...

Ozzy Osbourne is about to join the ranks of a very fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) minority. DNA research lab Knome has announced that it is going to sequence the lead singer of Black Sabbath's entire genome. Knome, -- which focuses on DNA sequencing in the interest of disease research -- has said that Ozzy's "extreme" medical history (i.e., years of hard partying) makes him an ideal candidate for their purposes. Very few people have had their entire DNA mapped, and the sequencing will take about 3 months to complete, so we'll just have to make do by watching the video after the break until we get the results.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

FDA Says Poor Results Of "Female Viagra" Are Proof "Female Orgasm" Don't Exist

"A Food and Drug Administration review of data on the effectiveness of flibanserin -- a pill anticipated to become the first 'female Viagra' -- resulted in questions about how well the drug will actually work..."
(excerpt from CNN article linked below)

One of the scientists studying the new drug, Dr. Peter Simpkins, stated "This is just further proof that the myth of the female orgasm is just that, a myth."

Dr. Angela Yoni, a female scientist at the FDA, disagrees, however. "Simply because the drug doesn't seem to do what we thought it would, doesn't mean that there is no female orgasm," she says. "I can tell you for certain there IS a female orgasm.  It's real."

Dr. Simpkins brushed off his colleague, saying "Nonsense. I have frequently, often several times in a single day, offered Dr. Yoni the opportunity to prove her 'theory,' but she keeps denying my scientific advances. Despite my efforts, she has never offered any demonstrable proof of her claims. In fact, most of the male members of the FDA have never found any evidence to support the claim. I, for one, find it odd that the only segment of society that claims this myth is real, is the same segment of society the refuses to demonstrate it's existence to us, America's male scientific community."

Multiple attempts to reach spouses or female partners of the male scientists and doctors involved in the research resulted in only one man, Dr. Leonard Fisby, who was willing to introduce us to his new wife. However, it turns out that for the last Dr. Fisby has been married to an Apple iPad.  "There's no app for that," Dr. Fisby said. "Therefore, I can only conclude it doesn't exist."

When contacted for comment, Steve Jobs replied via email, "We're working on it."

The "NRA Party" Strikes Again

A new bill trying to get through congress this week, which has the noble intention of creating greater (or, really, ANY) transparency for political contributions by corporations and lobbyists, now includes a provision to exempt the National Rifle Association from the most critical of it's provisions.

After the incredibly ill-conceived pro-business/anti-citizen (sub)Supreme Court ruling earlier this year allowing "unlimited campaign spending by corporations, unions and other groups" (excerpt from Reuters article linked below) a bill like this is necessary to ensure that these powerful organizations can't just run roughshod over our already overly corporate-run political system. However, because the "NRA Party" of the US Government is so powerful, those Democrats trying to get the bill passed have had to put an exemption for the National Rifle Association, limiting the affect the bill would have on the NRA to basically none.

According to Reuters, "under the accord, the NRA, one of the most influential lobbying groups on Capitol Hill, would not have to disclose its top donors on its campaign ads." Which begs the question, why is the NRA so embarrassed about who it's contributors are? Or, why are supporters of the NRA so embarrassed that they don't want to be known as contributors to the NRA

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jesus Struck Down By Zeus

After years of playing second fiddle to the Christian deity, Olympic God Zeus struck a mighty blow on Monday, burning to the ground a 6-story tall statue of Jesus Christ outside Cincinnati, Ohio.  Dubbed "Touchdown Jesus" for the its upreaching (a'preaching?) arms, the statue was a 62-foot high landmark of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio.

In a statement, the Zeus Society of Southwestern Ohio said, "Take zat, beeotches!"

The Pope did not return phone calls for comment.

The Solid Rock Church is insured by Cincinatti Cinsurance Company, who is refusing to pay for the estimated $700,000 in damages.  When reached by phone, a representative of the mid-sized insurance company serving thousands of businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area stated that the church's policy "did not cover 'Acts of God.'"

The church is planning to fight that decision on the basis that there is only One True God and that Zeus is merely a "deity."

Ryan Seacrest Stalker Gets Two Years... But No Psych Help

A man accused of stalking celebri-tool Ryan Seacrest has been sentenced to two years in prison for his efforts after pleading "no contest" (the legal equivalent of "guilty"). The judge was (not) reported to have said after the trial, "If he only pled insanity, I would have totally let him off.  Clearly the man is disturbed.  I mean, Ryan-friggin'-Seacrest?  Come on!"

Charlie Sheen Loses Another Lady

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Charlie Sheen lost another car off a cliff today. For the second time since February, one of his Mercedes has lost it's Sheen and been discovered at the bottom of a cliff without a driver and with the keys in the car. Apparently Sheen is so hard to live with, even his cars are attempting suicide.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day - Then and Now

I used to hate Valentine's Day. Way back when I was single, I found it to just be a really annoying reminder that I was alone. It was as if the whole "coupled" world was having this little private love fest, thumbing their loved little noses at those of us who were partner-free. As if walking into a lonely apartment at night or sleeping in an empty bed wasn't enough of a reminder. I was very public about my hatred of the day, telling anyone who would listen - and several who tried hard not to - that if you were in love, every day should be Valentine's Day, and if you needed a separate day to remind you to profess or express your love, then, well, you were simply a bad partner.

Then, somehow, this awesome woman saw through all that venom and fell in love with me.

I have to admit, now I'm torn. I like the "holiday" much more these days and enjoy celebrating it with my beloved wife. Despite my bitterness in the past, I'm actually a full-blown romantic at heart. This year included 7 cards for her (one for each year we've been together), homemade brownies with love-notes iced on top for me, and curling lessons (in LA!) for us (well, mostly me) - sublime. Lyena and I are, ironically, exactly one of those couples I would have hated during my acrid single years. One of those disgustingly gooey two-fers that leave sticky, treacly love-gunk trailing behind them.

However, I still kind of feel like Valentine's Day is a bit of a sham. While it is nice to have a built in excuse to lounge around and do something nice for ourselves, I still feel like we, as couples, shouldn't need Hallmark to give us permission to do so. And I still really sympathize with those singles - my peeps of yesteryear - who have to suffer the constant media and advertising barrage of "Are you in love? Then PROVE IT! And if not, what's wrong with you?"

Maybe, instead of the day being about couples celebrating in a little love-vacuum, it should be about sharing love with everyone.  Maybe it should be about telling those in our lives who may not hear it enough that we love them and that they aren't walking alone. After all, those of us lucky enough to be in relationships have 364 other days a year to buy cards, make brownies or go curling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Alive!

I like anthropomorphizing so much, it may actually be a pathology.

It seems wrong to me that only certain things should be allowed to have personalities or humanity.  And I'm not just talking about animals - as far as I'm concerned, the idea of an "anthropomorphized animal" is just redundant.  Nor am I talking about stuffed animals - let me be clear... if you have a stuffed animal for longer than 5 minutes and it doesn't have a name, you don't deserve it. I'm talking about things like electronics, food, clothing and body parts (mostly my wife's).

For example...

My Subaru is named Ru and loves the rain.  During a storm I can hear her calling to me to come out and play in the puddles, and if I'm too busy, I rightly feel like a bad human being for neglecting her.

My wife's car is a Toyota Camry Hybrid named "Briddie" or "Brid" for short.  I like to greet her with a cheerful "Hi Brid!" when I see her. She's a great car and takes wonderful care of my wife and I. And, after reading about the Toyota recalls, I'm getting worried she might have a congenital disorder that is going to require surgery.

I'm typing this on my computer Mackey, named less after the brand (Mac, of course), than because I was watching a lot of The Shield when I got it and was scared if I didn't name it after Vic Mackey, Michael Chiklis might pound through the door and bash my skull in.  Plus, this little guy totally kicks ass.

I have a favorite shirt named Max.  She's soft and warm and can't wait to wrap herself around me, but she's also very manly (she's flannel), thus the gender neutral name.

My three TiVos, like a benevolent Borg, are all connected and of one collective mind, and therefore simply referred to as The TiVo (or sometimes The Beloved TiVo).

My new HDTV is starting to get pissed that he doesn't have a name yet - though I think I've settled on "Larry Gelbart" both in honor of the game-changing MASH writer and because the TV brand is LG.

We have a juicer that Lyena is quite fond of that I've named James (or, more often, Jimmy the Jolly Juicer - I like alliteration).  I don't personify it too much since then I would have to come to terms with the fact that the mouth is where the stuff goes in and the, well, other end, is where the juice comes out.

Several things in my house are named "Bob" - my go-to name - including Bob the pillow, Bob the computer mouse, Bob the knife sharpener, Bob the big-red-excersize-ball, and pretty much anything else that I relate to on a more occasional basis.

And then there's basically everything else, which, if it doesn't have a name, it's simply because it hasn't yet spoken to me, but doesn't mean I don't recognize it's sentience.

These are my friends, my companions, my clan.  Mess with them and you mess with me.  And you don't want to mess with me.  I'm a little bit crazy.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Te-Bow Incident: Terrible Ad, Brilliant PR

Over the last couple of weeks a political storm has been brewing over an ad that the pro-life/anti-choice group Focus on the Family was going to air during the Superbowl.  In case you have somehow been blessed enough to not have heard anything about this, here is an excerpt from the FotF press release...

The 30-second spot from the international family-help organization will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. They will share a personal story centered on the theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the chance to partner with the Tebows and lift up a meaningful message about family and life comes at the right moment in the culture, because "families need to be inspired."

What the press release doesn't mention - and the reason this ad became a lightning rod - was that when Tim Tebow's mother Pam, was pregnant with the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner she was forced to make a choice that no woman wants to have to make.  After getting ill while on a missionary trip to the Philippines, she was told that her pregnancy threatened her life, and was advised to terminate it.  Pam made the difficult choice to move forward with the pregnancy instead, giving birth to her fifth child, the once-and-future quarterback.

Knowing this (and FotF's frequent anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-anything-they-don't-deem-to-be-Christian rhetoric), several pro-choice groups made the assumption that the ad was going to be a politically charged, anti-choice polemic.  They rallied against the ad and FotF, and slammed CBS for allowing such a controversial "advocacy" ad from one political group while denying controversial ads from other organizations.  They cited CBS's denials of an ad for the gay dating site ManCrunch, a gay-football-player ad from GoDaddy, and an ad from the United Church of Christ that welcomed gays into their congregation (hmm, I'm sensing a theme here).

FotF meanwhile stayed mostly silent, refusing to show the spot before the game and pretty much just saying "watch the ad" whenever asked about it.  This, of course, only fanned the speculative flames even further until "the Tebow anti-abortion ad" was pretty much the only commercial anyone was talking about before the game.

And then it aired. And the world said, "What?!"

If you haven't yet seen it, here is a link...

Now, I'm sure there are some out there who would say this ad is "cute," but strictly from an advertising standpoint, this spot is terrible... and I mean TERRIBLE.  Let me count the ways...

1) It's all context and no message - Pam Tebow speaks a lot, without actually saying anything. What is the ad's message? Something about being tough? Parents worry about their kids?  I've seen the ad probably a dozen times now and I still can't honestly tell.

2) It says nothing about the organization it is supposed to be representing - Even if the ad's message was a clear "Families need to stick together," there is no indication about how this relates to FotF.  It could just as easily be a spot for a health insurance company.

3) It has a visual metaphor that is completely antithetical to the words that are spoken - My mom loves me so much... I TACKLE HER! If FotF's message is that we are supposed to love and cherish our families, how does the image of a son throwing his mother violently to the ground support that?

4) It inaccurately features someone famous doing something they're famous for - Ads that show famous people doing things they're not famous for can be wonderfully effective if done correctly (think the ad featuring Betty White playing pick-up football).  However, an ad showing someone doing something inaccurately close to what they're famous for is just confusing.  If Tim Tebow ever has to tackle someone in a game, the rest of his team is doing something really wrong.

5) It breaks the cardinal sin of advertising - It's boring. Other than the inexplicable mom-bashing at the end (which is at least exciting, if disturbing), it's just a big yawn.

You may think I'm just overanalyzing the ad and that no one else would analyze it like this, but you'd be wrong.  Like it or not, advertising is the life-blood of business (virtually all industries live and die by it) and you don't spend $3 million on a 30-second spot and not analyze every single thing about it. Believe me, I'm not the only one looking at these things and coming to the conclusion that the ad sucked.

Without all the hype building up to it, if it were remembered at all, the ad would have only been remembered as "that weird commercial where Tim Tebow tackled his mom as she talked about how much she loves him."

But that's where the PR brilliance comes in.

By allowing such a firestorm over what they knew was going to otherwise be a non-event, FotF managed to use their opponents to turn an otherwise blah ad into exceptional visibility.  If the spot were better, this wouldn't be possible because there would be some element to take exception to.  However, since the ad says virtually nothing, FotF gets to say, "See, we're just a benign organization trying to, what was the line again? Oh yes... Celebrate Family."  In addition, with the opposition groups voicing their protests so loudly, FotF also gets to say, "And look at all those meanies over there who bashed us without ever even having seen the ad."

And they get to do all this without ever saying a word.

The pro-choicers got played on this one - and played but good.  To say, "It was a stupid ad," begs the question then why did you make such a fuss in the first place?  To say, "The ad still shouldn't have run," begs the question if it's so stupid, why not?

The only real ground to stand on in this case is to take the position that CBS (like pretty much all the other networks) has no coherent, open guidelines for what makes an ad controversial enough or offensive enough to be censored.  Which is why it is so easy to believe CBS was playing favorites when they agreed to air an ad from FotF (whatever the content) while denying an ad for a gay dating site or that features a gay football player or that promotes a church open to accepting gays.

At the end of the day and in light of the actual ad, however, even that argument feels forced and it's best to just admit defeat and let the Te-Bow Incident die with the news cycle.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Friend Perspective

Normally, birthdays are times of general depression for me. Times where I reflect on how pointless my life has been in the grand scheme of the world. I'm no Mozart, DaVinci or Christ. I haven't won a Nobel Prize, solved a global problem or even made a financial mark. I'm a guy who lives essentially hand-to-mouth, with modest savings, and a debt load that far exceeds it. And, typically, the weeks leading up to my birthday are a Pandora's Box of angst and shoulda-woulda-coulda's.

This year, however, something shifted. It was likely a combination of many factors (as these things usually are), but they all coalesced after the death of my mother late last year, and forced a lot of my views - on life, love, loss, regret - into fresh perspective.

My mother was a young 66, and in her too-short time she had really lived: loving, traveling, teaching, touching other people's lives and truly appreciating her own. Her physical decline was slow, which was hard in so many ways, but which also afforded me the opportunity to be wonderfully conscious with her as she died. To ask her the questions sons want to ask mothers, and say the things that sons want to tell mothers (but far too often don't). Her passing renewed my appreciation for my life as well as the lives and relationships of those around me. And in honoring her life I began to  regard my own, and it's value in this world, in a new way.

I feel a bit as if I've finally gained an adult perspective on what it means to be alive. When I was younger (and not even by that much), I thought that the measure of a man was that great capitalist trinity of money, fame and power. I quietly believed that any man who thought differently was simply in denial – merely altering his perspective to match his reality. And, for some reason, I thought that made him less of a man.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for material goods. I love my iPhone and my new birthday flat-screen TV (just ask my wife). It would be great to be rich, famous and powerful. But I no longer think those things do, or should, define me. I am not made a greater man for having them or made a lesser one for not having them. Over the last few months I have come to believe that, though we may be measured by how much stuff we carry, the true reflection of a man is in those with whom he chooses to walk and, perhaps more importantly, those who choose to walk with him.

Over the past several years, my wife has waged a slow, progressive campaign of coaxing (some might call it begging, pleading or prodding) me to open my birthday up to my friends instead of burying myself in a hole and trying to ignore it. I think my fear had been that the more people who knew I was getting older, the older I would actually be. As if, somehow, not marking my birthday would nullify the fact that the planet had made another rotation around the sun while I was on it. What I've found, however, is that the more people who know – the more people I allow into the "circle of me" – the less lonely, and the more alive, I feel.

As one of that circle, you have chosen to walk with me through this life, and I am better, deeper and more alive for each and every one of you. It is, in no small part, because of you that I can look back on my life-that-was without shame or regret, and look forward to the life-that-will-be with great joy and anticipation.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Middle-Aged: A Glass Half Full

I was talking to a friend on my recent 38th birthday and he made a joke that I should watch out because I'm almost "middle-aged." It was an off-hand quip – a friendly little jab from a guy who’s been there – but it got me thinking.

As men in this country, we’re trained from early on to see middle-age as a harbinger of doom, the first step to the grave. We fear it, deny it, lie about it and try to run from it. And when it does inevitably arrive we go overboard to prove that it only applies to us as a technicality. And to prove it, we go out and buy the sports car and/or marry the hot 20-year old that we wanted when we were young and virile and, well, not middle-aged.

But what I got to wondering is… why? Why does being middle-aged have such a negative connotation? Couldn’t it actually be – gasp – a good thing? Now, some might say I just don’t get it – that I'm still a couple years away from what most people consider middle-aged. However, statistically, the average life expectancy for a man in the US is 76, and I am now SMACK in the middle of that, so...

Does this mean I should bust into my 401k for that Aston Martin to replace my trusty Subaru or some hot young bimbo to replace my beloved wife? Why in hell would I want to do something so monumentally stupid? Besides the fact that both are simply WAY too much maintenance, I'm quite fond of my trusty Subaru and wholly, deeply in LOVE with my beloved (and hot, if I do say so myself) wife.

In simpler terms, I live a good life and have lived a good life. Sure, I've made some mistakes, I have some regrets and wish some things had turned out differently, but overall I like the life I've lived so far, and the prospect that I have the opportunity to essentially live this life all over again seems to me like something to look forward to, not shrink from. Even if I don't outlive expectations, I'm only half finished! And to top it all off, I now have the benefit of what I've learned from those mistakes, regrets and "if-only"s. Armed with this knowledge I now have the opportunity to make choices that make the next half-life even better, richer and more fulfilling than the first.

What’s not to like about that?
© Dean Purvis - All Rights Reserved
If you would like to use this material for any reason or purpose, you must receive written permission from the author.

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