March 24, 2005

Those Stupid Americans

Over at David's Medienkritik, he has a pictorial of America as presented by the German magazine Stern. And my, my, my - every single picture seems to be chosen to show Americans to be fat, stupid, idiotic looking, or slobs - aren't we just so very surprised.

Yes, just about anyone can be made to look bad in a picture, even super models, so it's no surprise that they were able to come up with a group of pictures such as this. Then you add the comments to them and it gets even worse. The best of the bunch... a guy serving life in prison... his caption:

"The USA is a pretty rotten country viewed from in here."

Gee - ya think? I had no idea that prisons were supposed to be a country club atmosphere... I thought that if you were incarcerated, you weren't supposed to "like" it... that seems to be the point of prisons - but I might be under a misapprehension.

Another interesting quote is from one of a group of men supposedly working at an oil field.

"Our job is damned dangerous. We won't get rich doing it. But as Latinos without a good education we have no other choice."

Ah - so only Latinos without an education end up doing jobs they don't like that are dangerous... not white, black, Asian, or any other group! Silly me, I thought that anyone who didn't get a decent education had trouble finding work - once again I'm just not culturally aware enough.

Those are the most egregious of the examples - with the pictures propping up the rest of the quotes to make Americans look bad. Are there Americans like this? Well, yes... But there are 16 pictures in this "story". And I believe (although don't take my word for it - go google it) there are somewhere in the vicinity of 220 MILLION Americans. So that makes the percentage of people shown here to be so vanishingly small as to be irrelevant in the extreme.

Now, why don't we take a trip to Germany, find any kooky type of person, hit up the prisons and the ghettos, find some farm people... bet we could come up with some pictures that make Germany look totally idiotic. It's not so hard, you could even find normal everyday nice Germans... take an unflattering picture, get just the right quote and viola! You've just made up a story that is complete idiocy.

As for the quotes themselves - who knows if they are correct, taken in the correct context, or even totally made up. After all, what could these people do if they were misquoted? If they're bloggers... they would have a tiny percentage of a chance to correct what was said. But I have a feeling that none of these people are that familiar with the internet. And if a quote was entirely made up... how would we even know? Once again I'd like to thank Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, and the rest of the reporters out there who regularly make things up for us to read. My skepticism meter is off the charts.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 01:02 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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March 17, 2005

When You Run Out of Real News...

It's time for the "scary" stuff!!! Today's headline of the day...

Obesity threatens life expectancy

Obesity could shorten the average lifespan of an entire generation — today's children — by two to five years, according to a controversial new life-expectancy analysis.

This could have a major effect on Medicare when obesity-related illnesses kick in, according to the researchers from several universities and hospitals. And it will affect Social Security because there will be fewer older people, they say.

You just have to love the opening sentence... makes it sound like everyone in some particular generation is going to die early. I'm not quite sure which generation they mean... those who are kids now? what age group? what about skinny kids? will they die younger too? (yeah, I know that's silly, but really the whole thing is a farce)

You will also notice the word "could" being thrown around with alacrity. In other words they have no friggin' clue, but it sounds really scary when they say it that way. But hey, we should take heart - cause if people die young and fat - they won't get old and collect social security!!! What a bonus. I think the government should start passing out coupons for cans of lard, and encouraging those trips to McDonald's. That way they won't have to revamp the Social Security system.

In other scary news... heard on the radio yesterday was a short quip. One of those cute throw away fillers that radio news uses when they need to round out a minute of time.

If you take Vitamin E, you may want to pay attention to this. A new study shows that Vitamin E may cause fatal heart attacks in some people.

I have no transcript, but that was the ENTIRE blurb. Nothing at all about who did the study, no details about the people being studied, nothing at all - just one line. And people who give us the news expect us to take them seriously...

Yeah, sure, I "could" take them seriously but it "may" be hazardous to my health if I do... On second thought I may die laughing first.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 01:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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March 09, 2005

Demented Driver Stories...

Over at Smiling Dynamite, TNT asks

So what is your most demented driver story?

Let's see, the worst of the lot was almost exactly 26 years ago. I was in college and driving to class. I was in a town and the road I was on was a residential thru street with a speed limit of 30 mph. Since it was the main street in the area, it didn't have any stop signs. It was a rainy yucky day. Suddenly I realized that a car I saw approaching the intersection from my right side, wasn't going to stop. By this time, it was too late for me to avoid an accident. She ran her stop sign directly in front of me, I swerved to the right and hit her on the driver's side rear quarter panel. She continued through the intersection, and my car spun 1/4 turn as she continued forward. My car was totaled, I couldn't open the driver's side door, so I had to crawl over the center panel and get out on the passenger side... did I mention I was 7 months pregnant?

Once she had stopped, she got out of her car (a lady in her mid to late 70's) and looked at the back of her car. Then she looked at me and said "Didn't you see your stop sign?" And I said "Lady, I didn't HAVE a stop sign... YOU did!" Then she said "Oh, well, it was raining and I didn't see it". People started to gather and I'm pacing around my car (stalking might be a better word) and saying - "Look what she did to my car!!!" So, lucky for me I had witnesses to state she ran her stop sign. To top it off, I heard her say to another spectator "I didn't realize I had been hit... I thought I had a flat tire"... OMG!!! A flat tire?!?!?!

In the realm of general idiocy - we have the guy who passed me on the shoulder of 80/94 down near the Indiana boarder clocking around 90mph. On Route 12 - a major 4 lane road - I've seen people get into the left turn lane in order to fly past people going straight - they then swerve back into the straight lane, just in time. I've seen people in the far right lane, decide they want to turn left and proceed to make a diagonal across from the right turn lane, across 2 straight lanes and into the left turn lane - without batting an eye or even looking. I was on another road - 2 lanes 55mph speed limit, and the guy in front of me decides he's going the wrong way and wants to turn around. So, he stops right in the middle of the road and does a 3 point turn around, bringing all traffic to a halt (the wanker). Not too long ago, when we had our first good snow, I was driving on Lake Cook Rd. which is fairly straight and level, except for this one place where there is a slight hill. Some idiot people were driving about 20mph (wasn't necessary at all 40 would have been fine), the truck in front of me decided he was tired of waiting and decided to pass the two cars. It's two lanes in this area! So, he was accelerating and passing them on this rise, in the snow, in the dark! He just made it - right after he crested the rise and passed them, he got over before the oncoming traffic got there. It scared me to death - I knew if he had a head-on, he'd be pushed right back into me and there was no where for me to go!

Yeah, those are the ones I remember off the top of my head, there have been many more. It's called driving in Chicago. Defensive driving isn't part of the game - the wankers are out to get everyone...

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 03:08 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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March 06, 2005

Because I Don't WANT To!

I was perusing Bou's place tonight and she is lamenting the fact that she is unable to attend a party and just do what she wants to do... Since blogspot really really hates me - and I can click on "comments" with no discernible effect, I decided to have my say here. (best thing about having a blog - you can comment even when the comments won't let you!)

I have to say... I completely understand what she's going through!

People seem to be cool with the fact I don’t drink, but they have real issues with the fact that I won’t dance.

Now I will admit that I go to very few parties, it's not part of my husband's job which lets me off the hook for the kind of grief than Bou gets. But over the years, I have found it to be nearly impossible to make people understand that 1) I am not a drinker AND 2) I don't dance!

Let's start with the drinking thing first. Most alcoholic beverages don't appeal to me... in other words I just don't like the way they taste. Period. I will drink a little white wine and some of the frou-frou drinks every once in a while, but for the most part I'm just not interested. I would prefer to have water - especially at a party. (I like to talk and that makes me thirsty and I like water when I'm thirsty... strange eh?) For some ridiculous reason, this translates into a challenge for many people. They insist that there must be something I'd like to drink in massive quantities that is of an alcoholic nature.

After I've known people a while, this seems to stop. They finally realize that I'm not going to force that first, second, and third drink down - just so I don't care anymore if I drink the 5th, 6th, and 7th before staggering home. Unfortunately, it's difficult to reason with people who've been drinking... or I'd say "What is it you hate to drink the most? Now why don't I get you 3 or 4 large glasses of it and YOU can drink that on down... you won't taste it after the first one... promise!" Yeah, sounds pretty stupid to me too. So, I just smile and either say - no thanks, or I take one of the drinks and just hang onto it for a while - seems to make people feel better.

I've always wondered about this... the reason eludes me. The thing is - I don't care if other people drink. I don't care if I have to drag them home and shove them through the front door. If they want to drink - that's great. So, why isn't it great if I don't want to?

Then we have the dancing. Sadly I was born with 2 left feet. I can almost do a line dance - at least until I fall over! But once again... as in Bou's case, people just don't want to let it go. I'm lucky in one way in that my husband isn't a dancer either. So, he isn't trying to pull me out on the dance floor, showing everyone how I can make a complete fool of myself. We've done the occasional slow dance (obligatory at darling daughter's wedding). Quite honestly though, if people were often bugging me to dance, I'd have to come up with some nicely cutting remark to get them away from me. (it would either be that or I'd have to start slapping them - and that doesn't go over too well at a party)

At the moment I can't think of a really good come back line for those who insist on a person dancing, even if they don't want to. I'll have to ponder this. It might help Bou out of a jam sometime.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 06:32 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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March 03, 2005

Teddy is Watching...

Yes it's the latest and greatest spy option to keep tabs on your kids. Sissy found the story of Microsoft's latest contribution to lifestyle. From the ABC News online report:

REDMOND, Wash. Mar 2, 2005 — The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection.

Not only is this creepy, it's so wrong it's hard to know where to begin. Sissy has an excellent question that should make everyone stop and think.

More ominously, when a child's fantasy of being watched becomes reality based, does that make it too easy for parents to abuse their god-like role in a young child's universe?

There isn't just the potential for intentional abuse, there is also the even bigger potential for the infamous "law of unintended consequences". What does constant and total monitoring do to a child and how does it change their development from child to adult? This is a very relevant question.

When baby monitors came along - I was very leery of them. I don't know if they were available when my kids were babies (I didn't have the money for one so it didn't matter and I never looked for anything like that). But I do remember seeing commercials for them after my kids were past the baby stage. My gut instinct says they are only a good thing in certain select times and places. For the most part, having a monitor ties you so closely to the baby - how can you ever relax? You might as well just reattach the umbilical cord and cart the kid with you from room to room. I know some people are all for that... I was never one of them.

Now we've upped the stakes. Now it's not only sound, but pictures. When does a child get to be alone just themselves? When do they get a chance to pound on pillows and grumble angrily about how much they hate mom and dad because they can't go out to play right now? That's the kind of stuff kids will do, it's the kind of stuff parents shouldn't be listening to. It's natural behavior that is going to be suppressed by an over protective parent.

I will even concede that most of the parents who will do this, want only the best for their child. They want to protect them from... everything. It's just not possible or advisable to do that. I know of parents who never let their kids out of their sight when outdoors, until the kids are about 7 years old! I know parents who listen at their kid's doors with the intention of being able to be "fair" if a fight occurs between 2 kids playing together. In their zealous efforts to be the perfect, aware, fair, parent - they've taken away much of the learning that should take place during this time of life.

First off, kids won't make those small mistakes that result in cuts and bruises... mom or dad is always there to stop it. What happens when they get to be teens and are old enough to do real damage... but never learned their limits or the consequences of smaller actions, now they can do much more damage.

Second is the "fairness" problem. When I found a friend of mine listening at her daughter's door, I couldn't believe it! She said, this way if there's a fight, I know who did what and I can be fair. I told her she was nuts. The kids better learn young that life ain't fair and never will be. And instead of coming to you with their fights, they need to work them out or what ever you decide won't be fair to either one! Needless to say, she thought I was crazy.

Last of all I have to wonder about the mindset of kids who have been watched electronically from the time they were born. Start 'em young. That way, if the government wants to start watching as they get older... hey what's the difference? We've already got cameras in all the big cities always watching, businesses have cameras, now it's creeping into the home. They are always used for the best reasons. But the temptation for abuse is huge. Kinda sorta scary don't ya think?

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 06:23 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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