Entry 718: The Wide World of Swine

Lately, hardly a day goes by without another famous American man getting fired, or resigning, or being accused of some horrendous act or acts against women that makes normal people go, “Why would somebody do that?”

You have to admire women who have put up with all this stuff for all these years, just to be able to earn a living.

But that’s all over now, thanks to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, who, it must be noted, has a severe multiple personality disorder. Unfortunately, some countries haven’t received the memo.

Czechoslovakia, for instance.

That’s where a nuclear power plant in the small village of Temelin premiered a unique way of awarding internships. You might expect that you’d need a very specific set of attributes to work in a nuclear power plant, and you’d be right. Especially if the attributes look good in a bikini.

The plant actually had high school graduates pose for photos in bikinis and hard hats and posted the pictures on Facebook, asking users to vote for their favorite. The winner would receive a two-week internship.

I know, I know–that’s outrageous, isn’t it? Letting somebody with a mere high school diploma work with nuclear fission? Have these people never seen what happens in public school science labs?

Ha ha, just kidding, ladies. You still have your senses of humor, don’t you? Obviously, this whole idea was horribly sexist. I mean, what if a guy wanted that internship? How good do Czech men look in bikinis?

Just kidding again, and please don’t hurt me.

Actually, my first thought upon seeing this story was to wonder just how popular nuclear power plant internships are that they could get away with this sort of competition. After all, if you’re going to work hard getting people coffee for little or no pay, wouldn’t you prefer to do it someplace with lower levels of radiation?

I tried to find other write-ups about this, so I Goggled “nuclear” and “bikini” and was immediately reminded that this ill-conceived contest wasn’t only offensive to women; it was offensive to history buffs. That’s because the United States conducted a bunch of nuclear bomb tests in the 40s and 50s at a place called Bikini Atoll. Which goes to prove that, whenever you have the words “nuclear” and “bikini” in the same news story, it’s not likely to end well.

Now, I don’t know if the Person of the Year had anything to do with this directly, but a public outcry forced the nuclear power plant to almost immediately delete its post. “We didn’t want to offend anyone,” the company said. “The purpose of the competition was to promote technical education. But if the original vision raised doubts or concerns, we are very sorry.”

Yeah, sure. And the Czech is in the male.

Butt in China…

The Communists, of all people, held a Most Beautiful Buttocks competition. We always picture the Red Chinese in those green uniforms with the little caps, but it turns out they look good in thongs, too! Even the women! I know what you’re thinking and, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what the winner, Gao Qian, did for the talent portion of the competition, nor do I know where exactly they placed her tiara.

And Back in California…

It seems like you don’t have to be in the entertainment industry to make the workplace a living hell for women. You can do it in a bank, too.

That would be the Banc of California, where, a lawsuit alleges, a top executive transformed the bank’s Irvine, Calif., offices into “a sleazy playpen, coercing young female employees into having sex while also encouraging the bank’s workers to do drugs in the office.”

Sounds like a good news/bad news sort of thing.

Even worse, the bank screwed employees out of their bonuses last year. And cooked their books. And spelled “bank” incorrectly.

This possibly does not bode well for Banc of California Stadium, future home of the Los Angeles Football Club, which plays soccer. And that’s just as well. Because given what was going on in their offices, their luxury box at the stadium would have been quite the spectacle, and might have distracted fans from watching all the soccer people running back and forth.

In conclusion, it’s clear that Time Magazine’s Person of the Year still has some work to do.

See you soon.

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Entry 717: Holiday Gifts for People You Don’t Particularly Like

Around this time each year, I perform a service for my readers by curating a collection of unusual holiday gifts for your unloved ones…detestable folks for whom you are obligated to buy a present.

It’s not about giving them something cheap necessarily; it’s about choosing a gift that sends a message about what you really think about them. Here are some suggestions. (Guarantee: All items are real.)

A secret Santa gift for the guy at work who is bound to get fired in the near future for sexual harassment: The i.Con Smart Condom.
This isn’t really a condom at all, but a one-size-fits-all reusable band that is described as a “Fitbit for sex.” According to its developers, it measures the number of calories burned during sex, the speed of a man’s thrusts and how long he lasts. In other words, it’s essentially the gift of performance anxiety. That wolf might think twice before propositioning someone if he knows it might result in him becoming a quantifiable laughing stock at the water cooler…and maybe in an uncomfortable HR meeting.

For the alcoholic friend who always drinks your good stuff when they visit: A lifetime supply of liquor.
Granted, this gift is a little pricey at $1,673, but that buys the lousy lush in your life 12 bottles of liquor every month until they die, possibly of liver failure. Ah, but it’s not just any liquor; it’s Communist liquor! It’s something called baijiu, and it’s to China what vodka is to Russia. It’s made by steaming sorghum and mixing it with water and bricks of damp grains that are left in a warm place for about a month until they grow yeasts, fungi and other microorganisms. According to Food & Wine magazine, it has a funky smell, like sweet, rotting fruit. Yum!  And let me repeat: this person is going to be getting a lot of it!

For the animal lover whose dog humps everything: A TSA puppy
The Transportation Security Administration is looking for people to adopt puppies that have failed their training program. But even if these cuties can’t tell a bomb from a bone, you’d have to think they’re better trained than the mutt attached to your leg. Just be sure to give this present at the recipient’s house. After all, you don’t want little Frisker finding your weed stash.

For the person who always says things like “each and every” and “first and foremost”: Cookies & Creme Oreos.
What better gift for the redundant person on your list than a package of redundant cookies? When something, like ice cream, is “cookies & creme” flavored, it usually means that there are crumbled Oreos inside. So these are literally Oreo-flavored Oreos. I recommend giving two packages.

For the neighbor you hate on principle because they’re always out jogging even when it’s 20 degrees and snowing: Reeboks made from corn
The soles of these sneakers are made from a material called Susterra propanediol, which is produced using mature, dry corn kernels. Reebok says the process “involves boiling down and fermenting the corn as well as the use of proprietary microorganisms.” It sounds a little like these shoes come with built-in athlete’s foot. And the process is frighteningly similar to the one they use to make baijiu. If you really want to have fun, tell the recipient these sneakers are totally washable and can be dried in the microwave. Just add butter.

For the idiot who you’ve never gotten up the nerve to call an idiot to their face: The Cuby
Here’s a subtle way to say “numbskull:” a simplified Rubik’s Cube.

For the techie who annoyingly has an app for everything: The TP-Link Smart LED Bulb
It’s a light bulb that can be controlled from a phone. I don’t know why anyone would think that was a necessary function for a light bulb, but the great thing about it as a gift for someone you hate is that you can control it from your phone, too.  So you can drive the person crazy by remotely dimming his lights and even changing their color.

For the dimwit who always falls for it when you ask them what time it is while they’re drinking a beer: The Umbrella Bag.
It’s a purse that becomes an umbrella when it rains. Okay, but then what happens to the stuff she had in her purse? I guess when it rains, the purse pours.

For the insufferable vegan: the CaCaCook Vegetable Spiralizer
Actually, this is for you. When you have to invite that vegan for dinner because he or she is your friend’s poorly-chosen significant other, simply leave this kitchen gadget on the counter to imply that you’ve turned vegetables into pasta-like noodles just for them. And then serve them the same noodles you serve everyone else.

For the person who just won’t stop talking about themselves: An Amazon Echo
I know these are popular, but I have yet to encounter a person who sees a use for it. I mean, is it really that much trouble to use the Uber app on your phone or click a playlist on Spotify? But giving this gift to a person who turns every conversation into an updated autobiography gets you off the hook. As soon as they start a sentence with, “So I was…” you can say, “Go tell Alexa.”

For the person who’s lucky you’re not prone to violence: The Kikkerland Bedside Caddy
This convenient pocket holds everything they want handy: book, remotes, chargers, vibrators, etc. and stands at the ready to be tripped over when the person gets out of bed in the middle of the night. They suffer the injury you’ve fantasized about providing, but you don’t have to do anything!

For the person who posted that unfortunate photo of you throwing up at the office Christmas party: The Solo Sauna
Just make sure you can sneak into her house to take a picture while she’s using it. Suggested caption for Facebook: “This is what [Person’s name] wore to dinner the other night.”

See you soon.

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Entry 716: Babe and Switch

In my last post, I wrote about Baby, Say Cheese, a photo studio that has opened near me that specializes in fetus photography. And I told you all about its $495 Diamond Deluxe Package which includes ultrasound images plastered onto mugs and magnets, and delivered in all different sizes suitable for framing.

I’m sure you, my loyal reader, were wondering why I had taken an interest in such a place.

Well, I can now announce that our daughter Casey and her husband Alex are expecting, and that I am soon to be a grandfather.

I’ve known about this for a few months, but, of course, you’re not allowed to talk about it until after the first trimester so as not to jinx anything. However, now that three months have gone by, mentioning it in a post is completely safe.

In fact, my wife Barbara has been mentioning it to anyone who will listen. Once the first trimester ending bell sounded (and, if we ‘re being honest, a tad before that), Barb launched a telephone campaign reminiscent of the days immediately after Casey and Alex got engaged. The purpose of this was not so much to spread the news (which, obviously, could have been much more efficiently accomplished with a single Facebook post), but to hear people’s reactions to it.  Anything short of a screech of joy was insufficient.

Barbara is very excited about Casey being pregnant. She’s almost as excited as she was when she got pregnant; maybe even more so, since she doesn’t have six more months of excessive flatulence to look forward to.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about impending grandparenthood in the months to come, but today I want to refer back to my previous post and tell you that Barbara has discovered an extremely cost-effective alternative to the pre-natal photo studio.

Here’s how it happened:

Barbara wanted to send her father a clever message about his coming greatgrandkid, so she decided to give him a framed printout of Casey’s ultrasound. Then Barbara had second thoughts. Not about becoming a grandmother, but about her grandfetus.

She thought it was fuzzy.

To be sure, our daughter and son-in-law often have bouts of fuzziness, but Barbara didn’t think this was an inherited trait that would be visible in the lima bean phase of pregnancy. (In case you didn’t know, fetuses are evidently measured in terms of fruits and vegetables.) She also didn’t think anything in the ultrasound print-out was discernible as babylike. Casey tried to solve this problem by sending over a revised photo of her baby, with arrows calling out the “head” and “butt.” But Barbara wasn’t quite satisfied.

She also pointed out that the ultrasound was from four weeks earlier and that her “grandchild had matured quite a bit since then.”

I think Barbara would have preferred an ultrasound taken by a professional, by which I mean a professional photographer rather than a medical professional. Of course, we could have paid for Casey to visit Baby, Say Cheese to get up-to-date, clear-as-a-bell snapshots, maybe even in 3D! But, as I said, Barbara found a much less expensive solution.

She simply selected a suitable fetus online. She Googled ultrasound images, printed out one to her liking, and prepared to frame it.

For some reason, Casey wasn’t a fan of this idea. “You can’t just use any random baby, mom,” she exclaimed.

“Why not?” Barb replied. “They’re all more or less the same. And with the picture you gave us, you can’t tell anything.” She said this in an accusatory tone, as if the quality of the image–or maybe the quality of the fetus–was somehow Casey’s fault. “The printout I chose,” Barb continued, “is more obviously a baby.”

Personally, I am on record as thinking most babies look alike even after they’re born, unless they’re one of those gigantic infants that look like the Michelin Man. I did, however, have to side with Casey on ethical grounds. We couldn’t introduce our grandchild to relatives with a fraudulent fetus.

In the end, Barb went with the real thing and then went through about a dozen picture frames to find one that she thought was worthy of her grandchild-to-be. But I’m afraid we’re not going to let her live down her attempted subterfuge any time soon.

For instance, she and I were leaving a movie theater after seeing Thor, and I told her I was done with Marvel films. “I can’t wait until you can take your grandchild instead of me,” I said. And then I added, “Or you can take any kid you pick up off the street.”

She was not amused.

See you soon.

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Entry 715: How Do You Know If It’s Smiling?

You’ll never guess what recently opened next to our local pizza place: a pre-natal photo studio!

Yes, parents who just can’t wait to annoy their friends and relatives with photos of their baby can now annoy their friends and relatives with photos of their pre-baby!

The business is called Baby, Say Cheese, a name I find to be disgusting for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s a storefront ultrasound place, and it apparently operates exactly like the “portrait” studios in shopping malls or in the back corners of JC Penneys, except I’m assuming that you don’t get a choice of weird stippled backgrounds.

They offer “3D-4D Ultrasound.” I don’t know if you need special glasses to see your fetus in 3D, and I have no idea what 4D is. Isn’t the fourth dimension supposed to be time? So what is 4D ultrasound–you get to see the kid turn into a teenager?

Just like traditional photography studios, there’s an assortment of packages you can buy, all the way up to the $495 Diamond Deluxe Package which includes everything a parent-to-be could want in the way of images, including the baby-to-be’s photo on a 15 ounce mug, so that, while the expectant mother enjoys her first decaf coffee of the day, she can be reminded that, soon, a relaxing cup of coffee in the morning will be something she can look forward to in, like, 18 years.

With the Diamond Deluxe Package, you also get four 2D black & white prints; four 3D color prints; an 8 ½ x 11 of the fetus (perfect for sending to casting directors); a 4 x 6 picture mounted on a magnetic picture frame that mom can stick to her fridge as an accusatory reminder every time she craves soft cheese; a DVD “capturing any and all movements;” and all the photos of your baby on both CD and USB flash drive. This is all to ensure that you can annoy people with in-utero images using a variety of data storage devices.

And wait, there’s more: you also get a recording of your baby’s heartbeat stuffed into a large plush animal, in case you want to imagine that your son or daughter has been eaten by a panda. Or perhaps it’s to play into mom’s fantasy that it would be nice if somebody else carried this kid around for awhile.

Baby, Say Cheese offers many other services, too, including “gender reveal parties” during which you and your friends find out if your child will be a boy or a girl, but not how your child will wish to be identified later on.

Maybe the ultrasound studio can put together a package deal with the neighboring pizza joint–Baby, Say Cheese Pizza. That way, a pregnant woman can order an anchovy and pineapple pizza, go next door to have her fetus photographed, then pick up her pie and her pics.

It’s one thing to ask your OB/GYN for a print-out of your ultrasound to keep as a souvenir; it’s quite another to have a whole photo album of your child before it’s even born. I think that could be overkill. “How come you don’t have any baby pictures of me?” the child will ask when he or she is six years old. “Because we were bored with you by then,” mom will reply.

If you think that won’t happen, consider how many fewer pictures and videos most parents have of their second child as compared to their first.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But what if I want a giant, poster-size photograph of a fetus but I happen not to be pregnant at the moment?”

Glad you asked! There’s a website just for you. It’s FakeaBaby.com, where you can get fake pregnancy and DNA tests, fake pregnancy documents and, of course, fake ultrasound photos…in short, everything necessary for a paternity suit short of an actual child.

You may even want to visit FakeaBaby.com if you are expecting, because they will be happy to provide you with Photoshopped faux fetuses that can “be an Alien or have Horns” or “be naughty from the womb and be flipping you off!”

With such an item, I’m sure you can have a few chuckles at the expense of the grandparents-to-be, if you don’t mind the risk that your baby won’t have grandparents.

See you soon.

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Bonus Cartoon Post

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Entry 714: You’re Richer Than You Think

Have you ever wondered how much total wealth there is in the world?

Yeah, me neither.

But just in case, here’s the answer: $280 trillion. That includes euros, and pounds, and yens, and wons and pesos and all that other weird money we don’t care about unless we go to those countries. Somebody converted all that currency–plus real estate, cars, boats, your grandmother’s ring that may or may not have a real diamond, and everything in the world and came up with $280 trillion worth of stuff.

Which means the United States, with its $20 trillion in debt, owes about seven percent of all the money in the world to somebody.

I bet that guy is pretty steamed about it. I know I get a little crazy if someone owes me 10 bucks.

The folks with the pocket calculators who added up all those assets work at Credit Suisse in Zurich, which makes sense, since a lot of those assets are probably in Swiss bank accounts. But here’s the really amazing thing about it. Over half of that $280 trillion is owned by just one percent of the world’s population.

Doesn’t that really piss you off? Doesn’t it make you want to go on a rant about the lopsided distribution of wealth in the world? Don’t you hate the greedy bastards in the one percent?

Well, before you answer that last question, there’s something you should know about that one percent: Chances are good that you’re in it.

That’s right–you’re probably one of the greedy bastards everyone hates. That’s because, according to Investopedia.com, to qualify for the top one percent of the wealthiest people on Earth, all you need is $153,662. Oh, and 42 cents, but I can lend you that if you’re short.

And, by the way, that’s not necessarily $153,662.42 in cash. It includes your house, your 401k, your 2012 Honda Accord and all the wedding gifts you registered for but never got around to using and are still sitting unopened in your basement.

$153,662.42. That literally means there is no one who owns even a studio apartment in Manhattan who’s not one of the richest people in the world.*

How about that? The one percent club isn’t nearly as exclusive as you thought it was. You’re right in there with Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and, yes, even Donald Trump! You didn’t think you had anything in common with Donald Trump, did you? You probably didn’t want to have anything in common with Donald Trump. But if you were going to have something in common, better that it’s money rather than personality. Or hair.

I know, I know. You don’t really feel that well off. I mean, if you’re one of the wealthiest people on the planet, wouldn’t you think you’d be able to stroll into a Ferrari dealership, point to a vehicle at random, and say, “That one”? Shouldn’t you be able to fly first class to visit your money in the Cayman Islands, or be a guest shark on Shark Tank?

Why aren’t you waiting for a Save the Date card from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry while sitting next to Spike Lee courtside at Madison Square Garden?

Well, the answer, of course, is that it’s all relative. It’s kind of like how you only passed that high school chemistry test because it was graded on a curve and everyone else in the class was an idiot, especially Ronald Furstlemeyer, who actually blew up the lab. But even he is probably in the top one percent now.

The reason you don’t feel rich is because of where you live.  For instance, with your measly $153,662.42, you’re not even close to the top one percent in America. To get into that club, you’d need about $8.4 million. Or the secret password.

But if you were in Calcutta, you’d be living like a curry-loving king.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s not that you’re so rich, it’s that most of the world is so poor. For example, the average adult in India–and there are a lot of them–has $608. The average wealth of an adult in Africa is $411. That’s not income–it’s total belongings!

I’m embarrassed to say this, but it’s possible my dog has more than $411 worth of toys.

And you may be feeling a bit guilty right now about everything you have, even if a lot of people have a lot more than you.

Well, this post has been quite a roller coaster for you, hasn’t it? First I told you that you were one of the world’s richest people, then I let you know you were barely pond scum in the country you live in, then I made you rich again while exposing you for the heartless, rich slimebucket that you are.

Hope you enjoyed the ride.

See you soon.

*For those of you who have never lived in the New York City area, I give you, as an example, the floorplan of 50 Park Terrace West, APT 4G, all 450 sq. ft. of it. It’s in the Inwood section of Manhattan, which is above Harlem, which means it’s just barely in Manhattan, farther away from most Manhattan activities and jobs than the Bronx. This studio apartment is, as of this writing, yours for an asking price of only $229,000.
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Entry 713: Eggstremely Gross

Well, it’s been a foul month for fowl.

You had the whole Thanksgiving thing, of course, which doesn’t do much for the turkey population. But chickens have had it even worse.

In fact, they should start a movement to protest poultry persecution at the hands of fast-food franchises.

They’ve suffered bird abuse by these restaurants for decades. They’ve been fried, grilled and pulverized into all sorts of nuggets and fingers and sticks. They’ve even been turned into taco shells.

But at some point, I think, you have to take action. And that point is when people start torturing your children.

How can any self-respecting hen see the latest egg-based fast food creation and not shudder? How can they not call upon their leaders–the same ones who led the fight to get so many chickens freed from their cages–to demonstrate against these atrocities. A million chick march, maybe. Or perhaps they could occupy something. Whatever it is, these mother cluckers just have to get going!

If you think I’m overacting on their behalf, then you haven’t seen the commercials for Taco Bell’s Naked Egg Taco. This is such a monstrosity it makes me think it came from the R&D Department of Dr. Moreau.

The Naked Egg Taco is breakfast inside out, says Taco Bell. Cheese, sausage and potatoes inside a taco shell made entirely of a fried egg.  Basically, a hand-held omelet.  Yum!

You know a food item is horrific when they can’t even make it look appetizing in the ads. I mean, look at this picture. Doesn’t it appear as if the “yolk” is just painted on?

I’ve written before about Dunkin’ Donuts’ nauseating sandwiches made with their 12-ingredient, pre-formed egg disks, but Taco Bell has outdone them with this mutant of a meal.

You may be wondering, as I did, how it’s possible to get a fried egg hard enough to become shell-like. (I also wondered why you would want to do that, but I’m guessing Taco Bell market researched the hell out of these things and found enough gourmets who thought it was a good idea.)

Someone on reddit asked Taco Bell employees how the eggs were made and received this answer:

“There’s a clear bag with liquid egg in it. We put the bag in our water thermalizer cooker. Wait the allotted time and while the egg is still in the bag cut it up with a dull cutter (don’t know what it’s called) and pan it up.”

To which another person added:

“One note: they have a “shelf-life” of around 11 months, are a pain in the ass to clean in the dish sink, and reek of putridness. Avoid them at all costs.”

And a third wrote:

“We have a chicken pen in the back of the store so we get fresh eggs every morning, we cook the eggs on medium and lightly season them to perfection.”

I suspect one of those answers was seasoned with a good amount of sarcasm. I’ll let you decide which one.

Anyway, I just don’t see how chickens can continue to allow their kids to end up as disks or a taco shells. These repulsive offerings must stop. Get the ACLU (American Chicken Liberties Union) to sue or something. They must act before these fast food places figure out that they can do other appalling things with eggs.

Oh, jeez.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

See you soon.

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