Archives for August 2012

The Soda Ban = Apartheid

I saw something pretty strange the other day on my bike ride home: an ad on the back of a Pepsi-Cola delivery truck depicting, in silhouette, a man triumphantly raising a cup, as an Olympian might hold his torch or a gladiator might hold up the severed head of his vanquished foe: in a pose of defiant triumph.


This refers, of course, to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of sodapop and other sweetened beverages in sizes larger than 16 ounces. in an effort to slow the avalanche of childhood obesity.

How dare he!

There has been a surprisingly strong public outcry in opposition of this move here in the city — there was a hearing about it the other day, and the hearing was attended by activists with signs and everything. Yesterday the New York Times reported on a citywide poll that found two-thirds of city residents not in favor of the motion — most of those quoted in the piece framed it as a civil rights issue, as in “who is the government to tell me how much soda I can drink?” Read More

Obama Staged The Moon Landing

A couple of nights ago Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, last seen in the mortifying Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster groveling/mending fences with Lars Ulrich 20 years after being kicked out of the band for excessive debauchery — quite a feat in a band once known to friends as “Alcoholica” — made some controversial comments onstage with Megadeth in Singapore.

Behold, the face of stupid

Megadeth is one of those bands that’s been around forever but who no one seems to like. I am certainly no stranger to metal, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard a Megadeth song. The only thing I know about them is that Mustaine started the band when he got kicked out of Metallica, and that they are credited with bringing political awareness to thrash metal, on the strength of their 1987 album Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?

I never gave much thought to what Mustaine’s political point of view might be on that or any of his subsequent records. Turns out it is somewhere to the right of Timothy McVeigh. 

“My president is trying to pass a gun ban, so he’s staging all of these murders,” Mustaine told the crowd, and then went on to list the Aurora massacre, the Sikh temple massacre, and the “Fast & Furious” operation in Mexico as examples.

I have to wonder what Dave means by “staging.” Does he mean that these murders were faked, like the moon landing? Was no one actually killed in Colorado? Or in the Sikh temple? Or maybe Dave means that the president arranged these massacres, like Bush arranged 9/11? Either way, it’s clear who the bad guy is in these tragedies: President Barack Obama.   Read More

Paging Dr. Google

I could have gone to pieces when my wife told me she has Parkinson’s Disease. But I feel that with things like this, it’s best not to overreact. To stay calm, because it’s what she needs from me. It won’t do either of us any good if we’re both panicking. I could get emotional, I could start railing at the fates, but I’ve learned that it’s best to stay calm when talking one’s spouse out of her self-diagnosis.

Because she doesn’t have Parkinson’s Disease. She has a runny nose and a sore back and a headache. But thanks to the wonders of Google, she can search on those symptoms and get a whole array of possibilities. And wouldn’t you know, she tends to skip right over the ones like “common cold” and “24-hour flu” and spend the next 48 hours agonizing between it being Hepatitis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

If, as the saying goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, it seems in the Internet era that a lot of it is even worse. Certainly, for certain things, it’s great to be able to tap into the giant hive mind that is the Internet and apply its accrued wisdom. Computer problems are the best example I can think of. I can’t remember the last time I called tech support, or took my computer somewhere to fix it; I just Google whatever it’s doing (or not doing), and pretty soon I’ve solved my problem. I rewired my whole house armed only with a pair of pliers, a quart of screw-on wire couplers, and my computer. I’m sure if I was one to work on my own car, the Internet would be an invaluable resource.

But working on cars and computers, even your own, is not the same thing as trying to figure out what’s wrong with your own body. No matter how much you love your car, it’s still possible — difficult, maybe, but still possible — to take a step back and think rationally about it. But, in the absence of the ten-year medical education and real-world experience that doctors bring to bear in an exam, and burdened instead with the natural anxiety and fear and emotion that are such an unfortunate part of the human condition, the accumulated medical learning of the last thousand years is reduced to a demented Rorschach test, where our worst mortal worries can flower into awful purple-thorned tentacles choking off all our better logical impulses.

Thus, when my wife gets a little sweaty under the blankets at night from time to time, the likely and relatively benign diagnoses of hypoglycemia, or “idiopathic hyperhidrosis” (literally, sweating for no reason) — are immediately and automatically overlooked in favor of the much scarier early menopause. (The conception of our son put this particular worry to rest — for a while, anyway.)

When she has a short muscle spasm, it’s not just a cramp, or fatigue, or restless leg syndrome; not when Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis are at the bottom of the page. When she gets a canker sore, it’s obviously Herpes, even though she’s been with me for 14 years and I don’t have Herpes.

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Snoop Dogg’s New Record Is A Name-Changer

Snoop Doggy Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Snoop Lion

This week I saw one of the most — I don’t want to say “unbelievable” in a world where a sentient tetherball named Snooki gets paid seven figures to wobble drunkenly around the boardwalk in lucite heels, so let’s go with “interesting” — one of the most interesting pop culture developments in a few minutes: Snoop Dogg has changed his name again.

His first name change was in 1998, when, once again following the example of John Cougar Mellencamp (as has always been his wont), Snoop dropped the frivolous “Doggy” to go with the much more upright “Snoop Dogg.” Now he’s switched again to “Snoop Lion,” which is of course a nod to his rich Jamaican heritage, which dates back to last February, when he went there to record an album.

Jumping right over the weird incongruity of putting the words “Snoop” and “Lion” together — a dissonance on par with “Los Angeles Lakers” and “Utah Jazz” — everybody went right to a variation on the same joke: “I’m not sure I want to upgrade to Snoop Lion.” I love operating system-based comedy!   Read More