A heavy dose of truth, humor, and political activism.

Location: Phila, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008: 7 DOWN, 1 TO GO

It has been over two months since I last published the Spoon, Full of Truth and rumors were beginning to swirl. Had Spoon retired? Had I joined the writers’ strike? Had my desire to bring the truth to light died? The questions varied but the answer did not, no. I could sit here and offer excuses as to my absence or I could put the past to bed and start off 2008 with an action packed bang; I chose the latter. Last month marked the two year anniversary of this marriage of humor and wisdom and I say that is cause for celebration. Raise your glass, eat your cake, and prepare your brain…it is time for my triumphant return!

We are two weeks removed from 2007 but that’s no reason not to bring to attention some news worthy stories that you might have missed. Last year, U.S. House members spent $20.3 million in tax money to send constituents the government equivalent of junk mail: meeting announcements, tips on car care and job interviews, surveys on public policy, and plain old bragging. All in all, they sent nearly 116 million pieces of mail; many of them glossy productions filled with flattering photos and lists of the latest roads and bridges the lawmaker has brought home to the district (according to an Associated Press review of public records). Some of the advice offered covered topics that you would more commonly expect to see in a consumer-advice column.
"Keep your car properly maintained" to improve mileage, suggested Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., in a newsletter on how to deal with rising energy prices.
Thanks for the car care tip, but last I checked your name was Tim, and not Manny, Mo, or Jack.
A dozen House members spent more than $133,000 each to send 9.8 million pieces of mass mailings at a total cost of $1.8 million. Sometimes the lawmakers' taxpayer funded mailings topped what they paid for direct mail through their campaign funds! This is what my taxes are going to? I thought every last cent was being squandered on the blunder in the Middle East. Hey Reps…next time you spend my tax dollars on a mail campaign, how about you mail me some coupons good for discounts on health insurance, a free gallon of gas, or a lower interest rate on my student loans? Is there a “do-not-mail” list I can sign up for (along the lines of the “do-not-call” list for telephone solicitation)?
The House Democratic Caucus encourages members to use the mailings to communicate with constituents, spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said. She said it was a good way for congressmen to focus on an issue or, if survey questions are used, get a handle on what constituents are thinking. So you’re using my tax dollars to figure out what I’m thinking so you can make empty campaign promises come election time in a hope to get reelected? You don’t have to waste any more of my money to send me junk mail. I’ll tell you what my concerns are right now, for free…end the war in Iraq, give Americans free health care, and hold our reckless president accountable for crimes against foreigners and U.S. citizens alike!

Several telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.
A Justice Department audit released last Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from a single phone company totaled $66,000! More than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time, the report shows.
"We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence," said Inspector General Glenn A. Fine who helped conduct the audit. Well it finally looks like our governments complete mismanagement of money has finally come back to haunt them. In some cases I think this is good. They were conducting several illegal investigations through wiretaps and I am happy to see the phone companies halt these practices that lawmakers preferred to turn a blind-eye to. In some cases this is not good news as evidence of actual terrorists is being lost.
Assistant FBI Director John Miller said wiretaps were dropped only a few times because of the backed-up billing, which he said didn't significantly set back the investigations under way. He said the FBI "will not tolerate financial mismanagement, or worse," and is working to fix the problems. I find it funny the things our government says it “will not tolerate”. Doesn’t it seem this comment is always made in response to actions that they have already been caught doing? They never say in advance that these actions will not be tolerated. It’s always after the fact and always while they continue to tolerate them. At this point the score is somewhere close to:
Actions: 647
Words: 0
"While in a few instances, late-payment of telephone bills resulted in interruptions of the timely delivery of surveillance results, these interruptions were temporary and in our assessment, none of those cases were significantly affected," Miller said in a statement Thursday evening. Blah, blah, blah. So let me get this straight, in the FBI assessment, the FBI’s failure to pay bills on time didn’t significantly affect their investigations? What about in the assessment of an independent surveyor? In George Bush’s opinion, he’s doing a great job as President. In Barry Bond’s opinion he hasn’t cheated. If it was up to people, bureaus, or companies to fully review themselves I don’t think we’d often see negative reviews. Point and case: The report released Thursday was a highly edited version of Fine's eighty-seven page audit that the FBI deemed too sensitive to be viewed publicly. Shocker. It focused on what the bureau admitted was an "antiquated" system to track money sent to its fifty-six field offices nationwide for undercover work.
The American Civil Liberties Union called on the FBI to release the entire, unedited audit. The ACLU, which has been critical of some of the government's wiretapping programs, also took a swipe at telecommunication companies that allowed the eavesdropping as long as they are getting paid. It’s funny what people will put up with as long as you’re lining their pockets.
Fine's report offered sixteen recommendations to improve the FBI's tracking and management of the funding system, including its telecommunication costs. I have a few suggestions for this list beginning with actually tracking money, and paying bills on time. I’m expected to pay my bills on time so I use on-line bill paying. It would appear that technology has reached my apartment but hasn’t yet made its way south to D.C. and Virginia. I use Comcast high-speed internet, sounds like the FBI is using DSL. If any of you phone companies need help getting the FBI to settle their debt, give me a call. I’ll be happy to put you in touch with the debt collection agencies that Bank of America unleashed on me after a little frivolous spending in my college days. Of the sixteen recommendations offered to the FBI to improve the situation, the FBI has agreed to follow eleven of the suggestions. One was found unnecessary. Four "would be either unfeasible or too cost prohibitive." The recommendations were not specifically outlined in the edited version of the report. I can guess what at least one of the cost prohibitive ideas was: paying the bills.

I’ve heard many strange “separated at birth” stories before, but this one takes the (wedding) cake. Last Friday in London, it was announced that twins who were separated at birth got married without realizing they were brother and sister. This news according to a lawmaker who urged that more information be provided on birth certificates for adopted children. A court quickly annulled the British couple's union after they discovered their true relationship, Lord David Alton said.
"Everyone has a right to knowledge about their lineage, genealogy and identity. And if they don't, then it will lead to cases of incest," Alton told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Friday. I would agree with Alton on several of his points but I’m not sure how often it would really lead to incest. I think in most cases of incest (back me up here West Virginia) people are fully aware that they are related to their partner and simply don’t care. Jerry Lee Lewis all but ended his career to wed his thirteen year old second cousin. Even the knowledge of incest couldn’t extinguish the desire burning in his great balls of fire. According to Alton, "They (the English couple) were never told that they were twins. They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation." Divorce is hard enough. Imagine finding out that the person you were in love and intimate with turned out to be your sibling! What feelings would that bring up? Would you be able to just turn off the romantic love that you had build over time? Under British law, only a mother has to be named on a birth certificate. These certificates are not required to identify births that result from in vitro fertilization or to identify the sperm donor. That means that the same donor egg and sperm could be used by a surrogate mother to deliver twins without any information later available to the resulting children.

Many of you long time readers may remember an old Spoon segment called “The List”. While I have not published a new edition of the list in a while, this next segment is somewhat list-esque. Instead of focusing on groups of people, it will call to attention things that have been getting under my skin recently. At the end, for you newbies (and in honor of the two year anniversary of this site) I will republish some of my favorites from past “Lists”.

1) There are several things I’ve been subjected to for too long and I can no longer hold my silence. Let’s start with Jared from Subway. Okay Jared we all get it. You were a big fat guy. You ate Subway subs for a while and you lost a whole lot of weight. Subway was so eager to cash in on the weight loss craze that they signed you to be featured on their ad campaigns. What a feel good story. But that was what, ten years ago? I’m sick of seeing your fugly mug on Subway commercials. So they have Subway sandwiches that melt away the pounds (when you start eating them instead of greasy cheese burgers and entire sticks of butter); big deal. When are they going to come up with a Subway sub that melts away the ugly? Here’s what I propose. Jared probably gets free Subway wherever he goes. If Jared wanders into your local Subway and you happen to be his “sandwich artist” that day, spread a little Weight Gainer 3000 on his roll! Before we all know it, he’ll be tipping the scales at 500 pounds again. While you’re at it, throw in a pot-brownie to make sure his munchies kick in well into the rest of his day. I used to feel good for this guy that he’d found a way to win the battle of the bulge. Now that he’s got his battle, I’m ready for him to lose the war.

2) I'm sick of the constant airing of ads for medication for men with erectile dysfunction. Viagra, Cialis, Levitra…they all make a point of saying how it's perfect for men with high blood pressure or Diabetes.
“Erectile dysfunction (ED or [male] impotence) is a sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis. There are various underlying causes, such as cardiovascular leakage and diabetes, many of which are medically treatable”.
In an attempt to clear the air, just because Diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction, doesn't mean all of us diabetic men can't get it up (references available upon request).
Why doesn’t Viagra’s advertising department go after the whiskey-dick contingent?
“Viagra great for men with high blood-pressure that consume too much bourbon”

3) I was in a small mini-mart around the corner from my apartment the other night to buy a bottle of soda when I witnessed (and then was dragged into) a disturbing event. There was a guy on my side of the counter (and lets just say if looking and acting like white-trash was a turn-on, this guy would be Hugh Heffner) who was yelling at the female clerk behind the register. I am in this store on a regular basis and know that she doesn’t own the place but this guy was giving her the 3rd degree as if she did. He kept screaming about the owner not paying his bills. As I stood behind him waiting to pay he turned to me.
“Fucking immigrants…they come to this country and try to rip us all off!” he blabbed “Do you really want to shop in a place where the owner doesn’t even pay his bills? Is that the kind of place you really want to support?”
“Technically unless you are a direct descendant on native people, we’re all immigrants,” I responded. “It’s not as if we’re some ancient civilization from thousands of years ago. This country was founded, and built by, immigrants,”
“Yeah but they aren’t all the same,” he responded, “ You look like you go to work and pay your bills on time,”
I look like I pay my bills on time? I’m not even sure what that means. What does a studious bill payer look like? This guy had obviously never leafed through my mail. I could only assume he was talking about the fact that I was a clean cut, well dressed, white guy.
“Look,” I said, “I don’t care what they do with my money after I spend it. As long as they have cold diet coke and these little twenty-five cent packs on Mike & Ike’s, I’m happy to shop here. Besides, it’s right around the corner. You want to install a cold soda machine in the lobby of my building? Then we can talk about where I shop,”
With that said, I paid for my purchases and left. I was especially happy to have the Mike & Ike’s to take away the bad taste that this idiot had left in my mouth.

1) People who still fly the Confederate flag (or have a decal of it on their car or home)—News flash! The civil war is over. Long over. And guess what? You lost! The civil war was basically fought over the legality of slavery. Are you really saying that you wish you could still have slaves? Sadly, I think many of you are. Back to my original point…you lost. You don’t see me wearing a 1993 World Series shirt. Why? For the same reason I don’t wear a 1997 Stanley Cup Championship hat or a 2001 NBA Championship sweatshirt; because the Phillies lost. What’s next, you’re going to try to start spending that trunk load of confederate money that you found in your grand daddy’s attic?

2) People who rely too much on movie reviews—Just because some guy I’ve never heard of, who writes for some publication I’ve never heard of, says a movie is bad, doesn’t make it fact. I’m sick of people turning down an invite to a movie because “it got really bad reviews”. I don’t even listen to people I know and respect when they tell me not to see a movie, why would I listen to some idiot who thinks he’s the messiah of movie quality assurance? Sometimes I want to go see a movie where shit just gets blown up. I don’t care if it wasn’t plot heavy or the acting wasn’t top-notch. I knew it wasn’t going to be top-notch the moment I saw it was starring Bruce Willis. That doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy it. Stop letting other people decide what movies you are willing to see. Your ability to make your own decisions gets two thumbs down.

3) Men who don’t bald gracefully—There are a lot of you out there. The “I’m not going bald I just decided to shave my head all of a sudden” bald guy. You’re not fooling anyone. We can all still see where the stubble is growing back in and where it’s not. Your receding hairline is still there. Then there’s the “The hair on the left side of my head misses the hair on the right side so it’s going to grow nice and long and travel all the way across the barren waste land that is the crown of my head to go visit his friend” comb-over bald guy. You’re the worst. What’s next? You’re going to grow out your back hair and comb it over the back of your head? Finally there’s the “Look what I planted in my scalp” bald guy. Your hair plugs are simply ridiculous. Don’t get mad at me for staring at them. What do you expect? It’s like a train wreck on your head. You’re like a woman who gets fake tits and wears a low cut shirt and then gets offended when men gawk at them. Do us all a favor and cut it out, literally.

4) People who pull up right behind you in their car when you're trying to parallel park---Remember that little test you had to take to get your driver's license? In order to parallel park, you need to pull PAST the space you want, and then back into it. When I put on my turn signal, and pull past the space, do not pull up right behind me. When you do, I can't back up. But guess what? I'm not going to just drive off. I'm going to sit there. So you're either going to have to back up too, drive around me, or put your car in park and get comfy. I don't know whether you're trying to steal my parking space or you're just too self absorbed to realize that I just pulled past the space (slowly I might add) in order to back in to it, but please, learn to drive.

5) Popped collar kids--- I don't know why you think it looks good to take the collar on your polo shirt and flip it up like a protective cotton shield for the back of your neck. Maybe when you were sailing around the lake on your yacht and the wind blew your collar up like that you thought it was a sign from the fashion gods. It wasn't. It's always you yuppie looking kids that do this. Here's a news flash. Having a lot of money doesn't mean that everything you do is cool. If you want to buy some fashion sense, go right ahead, but it doesn't come free with your trust account. Every time I see one of you I am overwhelmed with the urge to just walk up to you and flip your collar back down. Did you all just get drunk and get awful tattoos on the back of your neck and you're trying to hide them? Is it like a mating call for preppie, yuppie, cool kids? "Hey look at me my collar sticks up, I'm cool!" All other cool-kid collar poppers...here I am!" Stop popping your collars and start popping your heads out of your asses. Please.

6) People who are using the word "artisan" to spice everything up--- I saw on TV the other night that Wendy's has new sandwiches that evidently comes on artisan bread. I don't believe that for a second that Wendy's has employed some master baker who has been honing his craft for years? It's a roll. Your sandwich comes on a roll. Why is it artisan? Because it sounds better? I went out to a restaurant this week for lunch and they had an artisan cheese plate. The sandwich I ordered however, just came on a baguette. If they were going to hire a cheese expert to design their cheese plate, couldn't they have hired a master baker to make artisan baguettes? Even Wendy's has a guy to do that. I've been writing for a while. Maybe I should call this an artisan blog. I also have a friend who farts all the time, ever since we were little kids. But he doesn't let one rip and say, "I sure have a handle on my craft. Did you smell that artisan fart?" Stop calling everything artisan. You are only succeeding at becoming artisans in making words lose all of their meaning by over-using them.

7) Snooty Coffee Shop employees--- If I order a large coffee, just smile and bring me a large coffee. I don't care what fancy, stupid name you give it. "You mean a Grande coffee sir?" Did I ask for a Grande coffee? I said large. If you're smart enough to brew the coffee you should be smart enough to shut your hole and serve it. I refuse to play your over-priced-coffee-with-stupid-names-for-the-sizes mind games. Otherwise I'm going to start paying for my four dollar coffee in pennies and make you stand there while I count them out one at a time. I come to get coffee to keep from getting a headache, not so I can get a bigger one.

8) Chain video store employees that think they are movie critics---You aren't movie critics. I give you my money, you give me my movie. You operate a cash register. You're like a cash machine that gives out movies. I don't ask the ATM for financial advice, "Excuse me ATM, how much money would you recommend that I withdraw today?" I just tell it how much money I want and it gives it to me. You're just there to bring me the movie I ask for. I don't want your opinion of the movie, or any other movie, unless I ask you for it. I don't ask the people at McDonald's what they suggest I order, "Do you think I'd enjoy the Big Mac or McNuggets better?" You know why? Because they don't know me. They don't know what I'd like better. They know what they like better. So please, when I tell you what movie I want, don't comment on it, don't suggest something I'd like better, just bring me the movie I asked for. You clowns get two thumbs down.

“It’s hard to concentrate with a guy coming in your face like that,”
--Darryl Johnson (football commentator), while discussing the difficulty of a quarterback staying poised in the pocket while a large defensive tackle is rushing directly at him.

**Eventually just by default I think we’ll have an STD that only has good symptoms. For example, if a woman contracts Melonitis her vagina would then smell and taste like watermelon. Come on science! If Ronald Reagan can make Ketchup a vegetable then we should have fruit-flavored vaginas by 2010 at the latest.

**Some friends of mine came over last night and my one friend had recently gotten a nose job. She was commenting on an artsy menorah that I have sitting out (we are both Jewish by birth) and it struck me that a nose job is kind of like the Jewish circumcision for girls. Not that every Jewish girl needs a nose-job by any means but you all know what I’m talking about.

**My trip in November to Brazil with my brother was the best time I’ve ever had. I had never been to South America before and found the culture, landscape, food, night-life, and women irresistible. It was also the most time I’ve gotten to spend with my brosef in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll post a few stories and photos in my next post.

**Where’s Waldo? I feel like no one’s seen him in a while.

**Thank you Evian for informing me on your label that zero calories are zero percent of my daily value of calories. If you’re not smart enough to figure that out on your own you can probably just drink out of a garden hose or something.

That’s it for today folks. I hope you are more informed, amused, and possibly slightly offended than you were before dropping by. Please share this sight with a few people today, caring means sharing. This is going to be an exciting year. Hang on, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're mean...but you're more than funny enough to make up for it. Very humerous and I have to say I agree with almost all of the types of people you mentioned.

January 17, 2008 4:20 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

I figured you had stopped writing because you'd been signed by The Daily Show or something. This circulated around my office today and had everyone cracking up. Thanks!

January 17, 2008 10:54 AM  
Anonymous C said...

I'm writing you in as my vote for President. Spoon 2008.
I wouldn't hold out for any votes from the yuppies or star-bucks employees though ;)

January 17, 2008 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BEST website ever. I don't always agree with you but you make me laugh!

January 22, 2008 8:18 AM  

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