August 7, 2009

One and Done

Today is the one-year anniversary of "The Minister of Common Sense" blog. It is also my official retirement. Like a non-homophobic Miss America, my reign is limited to exactly one year.

In the past twelve months, I have written nearly 50 posts, which I hope you found to be somewhat unique, clever and witty. Based on the feedback that I have received, I think I have succeeded in being entertaining and voicing some of the same opinions that many of you have held.

Thank you so much for all of your support – this site has gotten over 7,000 hits during the one year, which I view as some measure of success for a non-commercial, non-advertised website. I have enjoyed writing the posts, but I've said my peace and now it's time to move on to other things. After all, it's pretty exhausting (and depressing!) to constantly highlight the failures of people and society.

I will leave this blog up and available so that people may see the past postings and continue to leave comments/questions where they wish. Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Your champion of common sense,

The Minister

For those of you who are new or curious, these were my six favorite posts (in no particular order):

- Massages Are Not Relaxing
- Don't Call Me
- Rules of the Air
- Doors
- Photo Christmas Cards Suck
- Don't Fuck With The

I'd love to hear which were your favorites.

July 29, 2009

Common Sense Potpourri Part II

I hoped you liked last week's Common Sense Potpourri post, because I have more for you...
Ryan Seacrest is the worst, most awkward, humorless TV host ever. I can't believe the producers of American Idol can't recognize this. Would anyone really care if we switched out Ryan for a better host? Just compare him to someone like Cat Deeley (from "So You Think You Can Dance") and his awkwardness with the contestants and judges is just glaring. He possesses an amazing amount of unlikeability.
When a girl is said to have "gigantic nipples", do you understand it to mean that she has long, pointy nipples, or big round aureoles? This always confuses me.
Why are there no overhead ceiling lights in hotel rooms? They always have a bunch of these little, inadequate table lamps instead. I hate them. Give me a real, overhead light. Is that a problem?
Why is finding the hair dryer in a hotel room like playing hide and seek? Sometimes it's on the sink, other times it's in a drawer, or in a cabinet under the sink, or hanging on the wall... Most recently, I found it in the closet with the ironing board! By the time you find these things, your hair is already dry.
Why is the word "Internet" capitalized? (Answer: Because it's a proper noun, a place.) That seems stupid, so can we do away with the capitalization? (Yes, the style of official publications such as Wired have publicly stated they will no longer capitalize it.)
I hate the golf fans that scream "GET IN THE HOLE!" as soon as Tiger Woods strikes the ball from anywhere. Sometimes this happens when he's teeing off on a par 5 (i.e. so there is no physical way the ball could possibly "get in the hole" from the first shot). It's so annoying - I don't know how Tiger handles it. I would club these spectators. Why are these morons doing this? Why don't the other fans that are standing around them beat these people?
Similarly, I also hate the baseball fans that sit behind home plate on their cell phone and wave at the TV camera. You're such a douche bag and everyone hates you. Grow up.
How much worse do you think the recession is because people are too scared by the recession to spend money? Just about all my friends still have the same job, making the same amount of money – but all of them are spending less because they are scared. I think the easiest way to create a recession is just to tell people that there is a recession. The Federal government should just say that the recession is over, and maybe everything would go back to normal.
Do people use pencils anymore? I can't remember the last time I saw one. I couldn't produce a pencil in the next 15 minutes if you gave me a million dollars. Do kids in school still use pencils? Maybe I'm just getting old.
I love rap and hip hop, but I have a theory that it has generally retarded the economic growth of African-Americans. It seems to me that the constant reference to excessive materialism in the lyrics of popular songs has probably encouraged ordinary listeners to spend beyond their means in order to validate their worth in their culture (i.e. they need bling, rims, Crystal and to "make it rain"). As a result, I wonder how much completely unnecessary spending has gone on in the African-American community during the past ten years. I think that has been a tangible economic step backward by the very people who can least afford it.
How much worse are all of our memories because we now rely on PDAs and Blackberries? Everything I need to know is in my Blackberry and, as a result, I'm not required to remember anything and, as a result, I now know nothing.
You have to put on your left-turn blinker BEFORE you arrive at the intersection. I hate those people that you pull up behind at a stop light in the left-hand lane, and when the light turns green, they pop on their left-turn blinker. Now I'm stuck behind this guy as we wait for oncoming traffic to pass before he can make his left turn, when all I want to do is go straight. And I COULD have gone straight minutes ago, had he had his blinker on the whole time at the stop light, so I could have positioned myself in the right-hand lane. Please don't be one of those people - you slow down societal progress.
I'm pretty sure that the universal keypad commands for voicemail boxes are: “1” for play message; “2” for save message; and “3” for erase message, right? So why is my voicemail at work set up as: “2” for play message; “77” for save message; and “8” for delete message? Have you ever heard of such ridiculous commands? How arbitrary. How does this make any sense whatsoever?

What makes it even worse is that after you listen to the voicemail message, the computer voice tells you all your options (i.e. save, delete, etc.). What options/commands do you think would be the most logical to list first? Probably the most common options, right?... the options that people select the most often, such as "play the message again", "save it", "delete it", etc.

Well, my retarded voicemail offers these options (in order): reply (reply??... doesn't that mean you hang up and call the person back??); listen to the previous message (wait, what if I want to listen to the message I just heard? How do I do that?); forward a copy of this message; listen to the next message (wait, what if I want to listen to the message I just heard?); listen to the time when the message was left; save the message (press "77"??... how stupid); erase the message (press "8"... how "intuitive"); reply to the message (press "9"... wait, weren't we already given this option? Yes, we were, it was the first option). And that's it - no more choices.

So, assuming you haven't previously memorized the completely awkward commands, you have to listen to FIVE different options before getting to most common commands, which are "save" and "delete". And, to top it off, there is no "play the message again" command, which is probably the third most common command after delete and save! I freaking hate my voicemail - which, again, is another reason why you shouldn't call me.

July 20, 2009

Common Sense Potpourri

As you know by now, most of my posts are pretty long. However, I will often think of random ideas, comments or observations that don’t really deserve their own 1,000-word column. So here are some of them:
One of the advantages to being homeless is that you get to walk in the street any time you want. The other day I saw a guy walk right through a red light, and all the cars stopped and patiently waited for him to cross. I've also seen people walk in the middle of the street with their homeless shopping cart and be completely oblivious to traffic. Do you know what would happen if you or I did any of this? Cars would be blaring their horns and screaming at us to get out of the way. No one said anything to these people or honked their horn. It’s one of the perks.
Listen, guys, the act of kissing a girl's hand is not a romantic gesture – it's gross. That tradition died a long time ago. I saw two older guys talking to a young, pretty girl they just met outside of a Starbucks. When she went to leave, she attempted to shake their hand and, instead, they kissed it. I think she almost vomited up her Frappuccino. It's old fashioned and gross. Believe me, no girl wants you to do this. It's not endearing and it makes you creepy. I guarantee you that the girl at the Starbucks was feverishly rubbing the back of her hand on the leg of her jeans as soon as she got in her car. If you are old and you want a young girl to like that you do this, go to a strip club.
I hate people who respond to e-mail in vague terms or don't answer all of your questions. This can often happen at work. Maybe you write, "John, do you want me to spend more time on Project A or Project B?" Their response is, "Yes." That's not helpful.
Check writing should be outlawed. No one accepts them anymore anyway. No one should be writing a check in a grocery store line and holding up people. Carry cash or get a credit card (or get debit card if you can’t qualify for a credit card). I can't believe we lived with checks as long as we did.... it's basically an IOU from a total stranger. We thought this was a good idea?
Why is believing in god any less ridiculous than believing in UFOs, ghosts or Zeus? Isn't it about time that we used our sophisticated, “god-given” rational mind and came to grips with the idea that none of the above exist? Believe me, it will be OK. (Recommended reading.)
(In case there was anyone that I failed to alienate with the above paragraph...) What the hell is the big problem with letting gay people get married? How does this bother you and why do you even care?? If I can marry some woman that I totally hate and never slept with, why can't gay people get married? Gay people (unlike god and UFOs) actually do exist. They deserve the same rights as straight people. The church doesn't have to marry them - they are a private organization, and that's fine - but the government should marry them, as long as they are agreeing to marry everyone else. Women and blacks went through this same societal prejudice in the past, and now we all agree that it was wrong. I think it's appalling that we can't recognize that we are being prejudice all over again, after having famously done it twice in the past (and I'm not even counting our history with American Indians, etc.).
Do you know what "ZIP" code stands for? It stands for Zone Improvement Plan. I bet you didn't know that.
Do you know what "AM" and "PM" stands for when referring to time? It stands for Ante Meridiem (Latin for "before mid day") and Post Meridiem (I'm sure you can figure out how to translate that one).
Can we do away with most paper receipts? When you go to places like Starbucks, you should have to specifically request a receipt if you want one. I can't return a coffee anyway. Handing me a receipt for my $0.99 candy bar at CVS is the equivalent of handing me a piece of trash. I hate it. And don't ask me if I want my receipt – it should be an assumed "no" unless it is specifically requested.
While we are at it, can we do away with pennies? Haven't pennies become a meaningless form of monetary consideration? Frankly, I throw out my pennies, because I'd rather be free of that valueless coin in my pocket than be $0.01 richer. I don't think people would rebel if we all agreed to round transactions up or down to the nearest nickel.
Pressing the up button again (after it is already lit) does not make the elevator come quicker. I love the people who walk into the building lobby and press the up button when it is already lit and while there are people standing there waiting for it. Yeah, we know why you are there - you don’t have to reinforce it by pressing the button again (which, by the way, doesn't do a fucking thing, moron – thanks for the help).

July 6, 2009

Golf Sucks Balls

Can someone explain to me how the sport of golf ever made it past the first day it was invented? Golf really has to be one of the worse sports/pastimes ever. Now, I know there are a lot of golf lovers out there, which really confuses me. How is it so popular? Let’s be honest with ourselves, it's pretty boring. But that’s not even the worst part of it. The worst part is that the game is super long AND boring.

At best, a round of golf takes three hours, which is an incredible amount of time. A "long" movie can take two hours, and that involves constant visual stimulation. If I told you that you had to do anything for three hours, you would immediately begin bitching and moaning about it. You wouldn't even have sex for three hours, would you? So why the hell would you play golf for three hours?

But the truth is that golf doesn't take three hours. It takes 4-5 hours. You always have to wait to get started, wait for people in front of you to play, wait for the people playing with you to play. It's a giant time suck. Let's assume you have Saturday and Sunday off from work and you're generally awake and active from 8 AM to 8 PM. That means your free times equals 12 hours a day or 24 hours for your whole weekend. Why on earth would you be willing to sacrifice 20% of your free time to golf?! That's insane. You only have one weekend, and your blowing nearly a quarter of it on bullshit golf??

I will confess that golf can be an interesting physical and mental challenge, and I can see some appeal in that, but does it have to be 18 holes? How ridiculous is that? Why do we allow this? You can't get me to do "18" of anything, let alone golf. I won't masturbate 18 times in a day, I won't eat 18 cupcakes, I won't drink 18 beers (usually)... I mean, who decided to make golf last for 18 holes? How stupid. And how stupid for us to allow this to persist!

Let's be honest with ourselves and admit that baseball is another sport that is too long, and baseball "only" lasts NINE innings! That's only half as long as golf! Imagine if baseball games lasted TWICE AS LONG, or 18 innings! You'd kill yourself, right? Yet, every regulation golf course in the country is 18 holes. Can't we make it 3-5 holes? Wouldn't that be a sufficient challenge, speed things along and make the world a better place? I bet that golf would get more people to play the sport if it lasted a reasonable amount of time, like an hour. Maybe guys want the game to be long in order to give them a legitimate excuse to be away from their wives/kids for extended periods of time. I don't know if that is true or not, because I neither have a wife nor a kid, but maybe I shouldn't have either of them if I enjoy something as horrible as golf more than I enjoy spending time with them. And if guys do prefer to play golf, then maybe wives and kids shouldn't be so horrible as to make golf appear to be a more attractive alternative.

While the length of the game is its biggest problem, golf is still riddled with lots of other issues. Let me break them down for you:

No one is "good" at playing golf. Aside from the PGA, all the weekend golfers suck – and suck really bad. In fact, even the PGA players can suck. I've never met so many people who want to do something that they suck so badly at. And the weekend players dedicate a lifetime to playing poorly. Isn't it an exercise in futility to never get better after playing for 20 years? That's not fun.

Because golf takes so long to play, you have to get started at a ridiculously early time in the morning – like 6:00 am or something. You have one weekend, and you’re going to start it off by waking up earlier than you would for work?? How does that make sense?

It is prohibitively expensive. So you want to be a golfer? OK, you have to spend thousands of dollars on clubs, balls, gloves, tees, greens fees and gizmos that help you play better, etc. Oh, and by the way, you suck at it. Enjoy!

I see these guys at the airport picking up their giant bag of golf clubs from baggage claim. Carting these fucking things all over the place to go play golf somewhere. What a nightmare. You would have a tough time getting me to check my carry-on bag, so there is no way I want to lug that crazy shit around. How absolutely horrible.

I have to confess that when I hang around with guys and they start talking about golf in an excited manner, I'm just completely at a loss. When a golfer yells out "FORE!" when he hits a wayward ball, I suspect he's really shouting out the number of holes the game should be.

June 22, 2009

How Can Spam E-mail Still Exist?

How is it that spam e-mail can still exist in today’s society? I understand that it is an effective and cheap way to instantly reach tons of people – it sounds like it would be a great form of advertising – but it has proliferated and degraded to the point where I would think that it would lose all of its effectiveness and basically die off. However, by definition, spam e-mail continues to work to some degree, otherwise people would stop sending it. If you sent out 100 e-mails every day for six years, and no one ever responded, you'd stop doing it, right? So, that means that someone, somewhere, is responding to these ridiculous e-mails.

Here are some of the "exciting" spam e-mail subject lines that I've received recently: lose weight; save on Viagra; save 85% on printer ink and toner; and get started with an exciting career in culinary arts. Save on printer ink and start a career in culinary arts?? Are they serious? Do people really respond to these things? They must. OK, fine – I can see how there would be someone who is genuinely interested in saving money on toner cartridges. But this internet thing is not a new invention. We've been at it for a while now and people should be well aware of the dangers of opening spam e-mail and what it might contain (viruses) and what it might do to your computer.

I can understand why the very first person to ever receive an e-mail that tells them they can save on laser printer supplies would open it. But, are people so naive today that they continue to blindly open unsolicited e-mails? Even if I wanted to save on printing supplies, you'd never get me to open an e-mail that was clearly spam from someone I didn't know (and it's not like these e-mails are coming from Hewlett-Packard or something, they are coming from scary places like ""). I’m far too fearful to actually open any of these e-mails, because I’m concerned that as soon as I do, it will read: "HA! You’re not saving on toner ink at all – you're dying a slow cyberspace death as I infect your hard drive with the latest incurable virus!"

Again, I understand why some people may open and respond to general advertising spam e-mails, like those listed above. But what about the crazily-written spam e-mails? Some of these are so poorly written that they become extra scary. Take a look at this real life spam e-mail subject line I received eight days ago:

"Get All Microosft Products Very Qucikly And Eaisly"

First of all, I guess that "Microosft" doesn’t make spell-check software, huh? Or maybe they do, but you can't get it "qucikly" and "eaisly"? Sixty percent of the words that have more than 3 letters were misspelled in the e-mail subject line written above (by the way, as I typed that sentence in Word, it self-corrected the entire thing – I had to go back and rewrite all the misspelled in order to present it as it was actually received by my inbox). Are you telling me that people actually open that e-mail?? Maybe the e-mailer is trying to purposefully attract people who are stupid enough to NOT realize that 60% of the sentence was misspelled? I can understand why Microsoft is misspelled – maybe they are purposely trying to avoid copyright infringement or avoid being detected by filtering software – but what about "quickly" and "easily"? You can't spell those words?? Is this e-mail really from a human being, and is this person actually selling any products (Microosft or otherwise) with this e-mail? Would anyone in the world actually trust and attempt to buy anything from this person?!

Here is another one from last week:

"Stunning Ofefrs On Genreic Viagra. Blwoout Sale!"

At least this time only 50% of the words that contain more than three letters were misspelled. What confuses me is that they spelled “Viagra” correctly and that was the most difficult word in the entire sentence! Are they misspelling things on purpose? Is a horribly misspelled e-mail for Viagra opened more frequently than a properly spelled one? Is it more attention getting? Is this some sort of amazing, evil, illiterate advertising genius at work here?

While the above examples are really ridiculous, it's the porn-related spam e-mails that are especially fucked up and make zero sense. Again, here is another true life e-mail title for you:

“Verifys photo serieso SexzyalyjExpnljcitl 0d43810975756257”

How is this subject line supposed to entice me to open this e-mail, let alone click on anything within it? When I first started reading it, I thought it was in Spanish or something and I got excited – "Hispanic porn... AWESOME!", but then I got to "SexzyalyjExpnljcitl", which I guess is supposed to be "Sexually Explicit", but when you get to a point where eight of nine consecutive letters are consonants, you are either in Russia or reading a very dangerous spam e-mail.

Maybe the author was trying to evade filtering software by scrambling the phrase "Sexually Explicit", but still making it somewhat recognizable, but what's with the crazy string of numbers at the end? Surely that is the prison serial number of the convict who sent it to us, right? Even if I do love porn and I was willing to overlook the creative spelling of "sexually explicit", the numbers have to be a major red flag, right? And if you loved porn, why would you open this e-mail when you can go and safely Google "sexually explicit", if you really wanted to? Why does an e-mail like this exist or get any traction with the porn public?

At this point, spam has gotten so pervasive that I think most people have developed a venomous hatred towards it as it has clogged up our inboxes over the years. The first thing you do when you open your e-mail is delete all the spam, right? We all have closed and cancelled e-mail addresses because they got too deluged with spam. So how can this be an effective advertising medium? How are companies that sell massive lists of e-mail addresses still in business? The answer is that it must be effective on some level, and that, to me, is scary. Who the hell is opening these e-mails and what the hell is wrong with them?? They are ruining it for all of us.

Do you want to take e-mail and idiocy to a whole new level? What about the wealthy foreigner who needs help moving millions of dollars from his homeland (often Nigeria) and promises a hefty percentage of the fortune as a reward for assisting him? Of course, you have to pay a fee to get the transaction started. Who the hell falls for this? Actually, thousands of people have lost millions of actual dollars in this scam. You would think that the people who sitting at home who received this e-mail would have to ask themselves how this alleged Nigerian prince (or whoever it is) got their personal e-mail address and why the sender feels that they are qualified to assist with this transaction? The people who fall for this scam are probably unemployed and aren't even qualified to get a job, let alone move millions of dollars through international borders. Let's say you really were a Nigerian prince and you really did need to move millions of dollars, what do you think would be the very first thing you would do?... I'm sure you would elect to blindly e-mail a 63-year old widow in Minnesota for help, right? Of course you would.

Another spam e-mail that people we know have inflicted on us is the hoax that is some variation of:

"Hello, everybody. My name is Bill Gates. I have just written an e-mail tracing program that traces everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. I am experimenting with this and I need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people, everyone on the list will receive $1000 at my expense. Enjoy. Your friend, Bill Gates"

I received a million of these forwards (in one form or another) from friends and family. Either Bill Gates was giving away his fortune or Disney was giving away free trips or Old Navy was promising free gift certificates or Coca-Cola was giving away free cases of soda... all in the name of forwarding on an e-mail. There is no sick kid that is going to get $0.01 towards his surgery for every time his heart-felt story is forwarded to someone else. I can't believe people can be so stupid and naive. Do you really think this is how Microsoft tests its software? And did you ever stop and ask yourself how Bill Gates was going to send you $1,000 after you forwarded the message?... was he going to send it to you by e-mail??

It just goes to show that humans are blindly driven by outright greed and a love for free stuff. The title of these e-mails are always something like: "I don't know if this is legit, but I could use $1000, so here it is." So, in other words: "Somebody is probably playing me for a fool, but any chance of getting free money is just too much to pass up, so I'll inflict this on everyone I know, just in case." Gee, thanks a lot.

can people be that stupid to fall for this stuff?! How is it possible that anyone can think that the above e-mails can be real? But the worrisome thing is that we all know someone who IS that stupid! The reason why you have seen these e-mails from Bill Gates before is because someone you know sent it to you in the first place. Some friend or family member forwarded it to you. Some of these "stupid people" are your own flesh and blood. Some of these stupid people are you!

The next time that I plan to buy a new computer, I am going to take my old computer and use it to open up all these spam e-mails, and then I am going to click and download everything inside them in order to see what happens. I wonder how many I will get through before my computer completely crashes. Maybe it's the computer companies themselves that are sending all of this to us, in order to ruin our equipment and software and force us to buy more of it all (because, believe me, no one wants to voluntarily "upgrade" to shitty Windows Vista).

But, the good news is that if you forward this blog to ten different people in the next three hours, then good luck will come your way within a day, otherwise dire things will befall you...

June 10, 2009

Blog Comments Reveal All

I think I am going to retire as Minister of Common Sense and take up a new job as Blog Comment Executioner. I am becoming increasingly confident that an individual's rights to live in our society can be fairly judged by the comments that they leave on blogs.

Obviously, I write a blog, and I love it when people leave comments. Mostly, it proves that people actually read it and care (one way or another) about the post. It's nice to know that I'm not wasting 100% of my time. For the most part, the comments left on my blog are interesting and rational. But, my god, have you seen the comments some people leave on some of the more popular blogs?! They can be out-and-out terrifyingly stupid.

My new job as Blog Comment Executioner would be to read comments posted on blogs and, based solely on the content, I would have the full authority to remove that person from society.

Take this following comment that was left on a blog as an example. I was very interested in the whole Eminem/Bruno MTV Movie Awards fiasco that happened a few weeks ago. I was trying to figure out whether Eminem was in on the gag or not. For a variety of reasons, my hypothesis was that Eminem was in on it (and it has since been revealed that he was). But at the time, I wasn't certain, so websites like The Superficial and Perez Hilton can be good for researching this kind of thing.

I came across this woman's comment about the situation: "This story is incorrect! it was not Sacha Cohen who landed on him it was another guy by the name of Bruno and it was not one of Cohen’s characters… This was a different guy completely. I know what Sacha Cohen looks like." Clearly, this woman is so stupid that it's beyond rehabilitation and, as a result, she should be removed from society. Unquestionably, she is a danger to herself and others.

I'm not going to fault anyone for not knowing who Eminem or Bruno is, but this woman was so certain about her thoughts and understanding of the situation that she posted them publicly as a comment to a blog! And she couldn't have been more wrong about it all. Bruno is not one of Sacha Baron Cohen's characters?? You know what Sacha Baron Cohen looks like, and that wasn't him?? This lady is so disconnected and stupid that you don't even respond to her. You ignore and dismiss her, like how you would do to a crazy homeless person talking to themselves on the street.

Blatant stupidity is rampant in blog comments, as is horrific grammar and sentence structure. But, the really frightening stuff is the stupid and ignorant racist, homophobic and political views. Check out one of the comments I found:

This one is in response to having Obama nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court:

"One more minority who was given an ivey league education (yes -GIVEN - she didn't pay for it) who wants to punish white America for all the past racial inequalities she "thinks" she has suffered from. Where is the gratefulness? Where is the "get down on your knees" and praise this country for "gifting" you with this opportunity. She makes me sick."

Jesus, that was opinionated... and stupid! First of all, I love the "ivey league" comment. It's "ivy", not "ivey", you dumb ass. That is why you couldn't go to an ivy league school... because you couldn't spell it. I also love how working and studying for your whole life in order to EARN a scholarship is now considered a "gift" that wasn't "paid" for. And it's so ridiculous how the writer ends their rant, with a "She makes me sick." Really?? Imagine you had a child who earned a scholarship to one of the greatest schools in the country (Princeton), graduated with the highest honors possible (summa cum laude), then went to one of the best law schools in the country (Yale), and ultimately was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States (all of which Sonia Sotomayor has accomplished). Imagine this child of yours comes home for Thanksgiving and you venomously hiss at her, "You make me sick!" How fucking stupid and ridiculous is that? How fucking stupid is the blog comment writer??

There are a million other examples that I could cite. Who are these people, and why do we let them live among us?! I just don't even know how to respond to this kind of thing (other than by exercising my powers as Blog Comment Executioner).

I enjoy writing my blog and reading comments and e-mails from readers. I just hope I never get too popular that I start attracting the masses, because it's pretty clear that they are idiots. I really hope they represent the minority of our population... but I'm not so sure that they do.

May 28, 2009

Put an End to Candy Color Equality

I like to eat fruity candy, but not all the flavors. I can't possibly be the only one who feels this way, and I'm willing to bet that many people prefer the same flavors as I do. I bet they are also willing to do without the flavors that are less exciting. As an example, the "red" or cherry flavors are often the best ones, right? And who really likes the "orange" ones all that much? I'm not saying that orange sucks, but they are probably pretty low on the list, right?

It seems to me that everyone likes the red ones best, whether it's Skittles, Starbursts, gummy bears, etc. When you reach into the bag, I bet you are hoping to pull out a red one... and then you pull out a yellow one. Tell me that you're not disappointed.

The red and pink ones (of anything) are usually the best, and the orange and yellows are usually the least favorite. I'm on the fence about green ones – I can take 'em or leave 'em. So, if this is the case, and the majority of people feel the way I do (and I bet that they do), then why don't the candy companies just make bags containing ALL red ones?!

Wouldn't that be a big seller? Imagine a roll of pure cherry and strawberry Starbursts or a bag of all red Skittles. Tell me you wouldn't buy that and leave all the crappy orange, yellow and green ones behind! We, the consuming public, don't need candy color variety. I doubt there is anyone out there that wishes they had a bag full of all green Skittles. These candy companies should survey their customers, and I'm sure they would find that the great majority like one or two flavors and probably don't care too much for the rest.

Instead of making a candy containing only one or two good flavors, they come out with new-fangled creations like "Tropical" (there is always too much banana in the mix) or "Sour" (can they really be better than Sour Patch Kids?). Mike & Ike alone has a million different flavors these days (Original, Jolly Joes, Berry Blast, Lemonade, Tangy Twister, Tropical Typhoon and Zours) - it's like they are desperate to find another hit flavor after launching the Original. All they have to do is come up with the radical new idea of just making an all cherry-flavored packet of Mike & Ike! Not only would it out sell Tropical Typhoon, but it might out sell the Original, too! Candy flavors are not people – we don't have to treat them all equally. It's about time we started using prejudice in our favor and only get the flavors we really want.

*** This just in!... Starburst is coming out with a NEW set of flavors called "Favereds", which is "your favorite red Starburst flavors in one packet -- strawberry, fruit punch, watermelon and cherry." Not EXACTLY what I want, but at least they are getting close! Once again, your Minister of Common Sense is hard at work for you!

May 21, 2009

My Kind of Airport Security

You may wonder what the Minister of Common Sense does all day to make your lives better. My answer is, "A lot!" And, finally, my voice is being heard. I have long railed against stupidity in airport security, and the TSA is starting to listen. To my great surprise and pleasure, I recently went through a major airport where the security lines were segregated into lanes for different types of travelers. Welcome back, Plessy v. Ferguson!

I have been very vocal about establishing a special lane for "expert" travelers - people who know all the rules by heart, never set off the metal detector... basically people who know what the hell they are doing. Well, this airport has a special security line designated as the "Family Lane" for parents saddled with kids, babies, strollers, a million bags of baby crap... basically all the ingredients that create multiple failures in effectively getting through an airport security line. This is a brilliant idea - corral all the people that you would otherwise roll your eyes at when they are in front of you in the security line, and put them all together so they can be by themselves as they constantly set off the metal detector, repeatedly violate the no-liquids rule, fail to figure out how to collapse their strollers fully, spend 10 minutes taking off their toddlers' shoes, etc. When you group these people together and compound all their failures, there is no way that any of them are ever going to make their flight, which is fine because none of us really want children on the planes away.

In addition to removing families from the mainstream security lines, the airport also has "Diamond Select" lines. There was the Green Diamond for beginning travelers (people who have never been on the "magical flying machine" before), Blue Diamond for more experienced travelers (people who think they know what they are doing, but really don't), and Black Diamond for experts (people like me or, as I like to call them, the "good people"). I like that they use the word "expert" instead of "experienced". Lots of people might think they are experienced, but if you are going to raise you hand and say you are an expert in something, you better damn well be a real expert.

I can't ski the bunny slopes, but I rode the double-black diamond airport security line like a champ. You should have seen all of us - people's laptops were flying out of their bag at the speed of light, perfect separation of 3-oz liquids in regulation-sized clear plastic bags, no metal detector failures, security personnel not shouting the rules over and over again because we already knew them... it was a beautiful, seamless symphony of airport travel.

Because we designated ourselves as "experts", everyone tried extra hard to be really fast and perfect. I was eagerly awaiting for someone to crack under the pressure and mess up, just so I could see them dragged away by security, screaming and cry
ing, and taken to the beginners' Green Diamond line! Or better yet... punish them by sending them to the FAMILY LINE! That'll each 'em!

May 14, 2009

Handicapped Parking

Handicapped parking is getting out of control. Have you noticed just how many handicapped spots there are in parking lots these days? (By way, am I supposed to say "disabled" instead of "handicapped"? It's so hard to keep track of who's offended by what these days.) Don't get me wrong, I think that handicapped people deserve (and need) their own parking spots (after all, it's like the only perk that one receives for being handicapped). It just seems to me that there are A LOT of spots popping up for handicapped parking. Are there new laws being passed? Or are we, as a society, becoming more aware of handicap issues? Or is the U.S. population as a whole becoming more handicapped in general??

Some of these handicapped parking spots are getting ridiculous. There is this one store in my city that has TWELVE handicapped parking spots! It's not a hospital or anyplace where you might expect handicapped people to congregate... it's a liquor store! If I was handicapped, I'd probably be getting drunk every night too, but are there really THAT many handicapped people coming to THAT particular liquor store at any ONE TIME?! I'm not even sure there are twelve handicapped people in the entire city who are of the legal drinking age.

Not only does this store have way too many handicapped parking spots, but they are positioned in the worst ways possible. The store has two parking lots, one on either side, along with a few spots that line up along a driveway that connects the two parking lots to one another at the front of the store.

There are seven handicapped parking spots in the one parking lot that is closest to the front door. However, the parking spots that are actually closest to the front door are not the handicapped spots, but normal spots along the driveway, which are NOT handicapped. How does this make sense? If you're going to designate handicapped parking, then let's give them the closest spots possible, right?

In the other parking lot of this store, there are an additional five handicapped spots, but these are 220 feet away from the entrance! The second lot is much further away from the front door than the first lot, so why not just have all the handicapped parking spaces in the lot that is closest? Needless to say, no one ever parks in these five handicapped spots that are far away because: (1) there is never more than seven handicapped people at the store at the same time, so they can use all the spots in the other lot; and (2) the other lot is a helluva lot closer to the door than this lot, so who wants to roll their wheelchair 220 feet (and then 220 feet back again)? That's like a marathon to a guy in a wheelchair! In fact, if you are in a wheelchair, you would prefer to park in one of the normal spots in the other lot rather than park in the handicapped spot in the far lot, because it would still be over 100 feet closer!

I'm sure that there is some law in our city that defines these parking areas as "two separate lots" and, as a result, each lot needs to have its own dedicated handicapped parking – even though it makes absolutely no sense at all. And I'd be interested to see the city formula that mandates that this liquor store needs a total of twelve handicapped spots. I feel pretty confident that the number "twelve" is equal to the entire handicapped drinking population of our state, let alone the city, let alone the visitors to this particular store. No drunk handicapped person will be left behind!

To make matters even worse, in the far lot that is over 200 feet away, the five spots they have designated for handicapped people are not even the five closest spots in that particular lot! There are two normal spots that are actually closer (check out the map; look for the two yellow Xs - normal spots - as compared to the line of blue stars, which are the handicapped spots). Talk about adding insult to disabling injury - they don't even get the closest spots in the furthest lot!
The big yellow star on the aerial map above is the front door of the store. The blue stars near the stop are handicapped spots in the closer lot, while the vertical line of yellow Xs are the normal spots that are much closer (you can see that is the only place were cars are actually parked). The blue stars near the bottom are more handicapped spots in the far lot that is 220 feet away from the entrance. Do we really need 12 handicapped parking spots here??

I tell you, we are slowly losing all our normal parking spots. First, the handicapped spots appear to be growing in population (and growing erratically, based on the store mentioned above) – like a weed. Secondly, have you seen these "Pregnant Women" parking spots at pharmacies and supermarkets? When did this start? I will acknowledge that pregnant women shouldn't have to walk from the back of the parking lot, but I'm more concerned about the trend in general. What's next?... parking spots for mothers with babies? Parking spots for mothers with toddlers (because it's too dangerous to have a child cross the parking lot)? Parking spots for teenagers (because they are too likely to get into trouble during the walk to through the parking lot)? Parking for elderly? For the tired? For the hungover? In the end, there will only be three designated parking spots in every parking lot in the country... they will be the spots assigned to the "Able-Bodied", and they will be way in the back. Every other spot will be for someone who has some kind of "problem".

But, once again, I am all in favor of handicapped people getting their own spots – please don't get me wrong! I'm just becoming more aware of some of the poor parking planning that is going on, and the slow creep of more and more "special" spots - and just how often they are never used! But there are very few social crimes worse than parking in a handicapped spot when you are an able-bodied person. Who does that?? There are also people who abuse the system by parking in reserved spots with an old, beat-up handicapped tag hanging from their rearview mirror – clearly something they got from their doctor when they broke their leg skiing six years ago, yet they still use it. Old people also abuse the system by parking in a handicapped spot when it's pretty clear that they can still get around OK – we get it, you're old and it sucks, but don't play dumb with me or magically designate yourself as "handicapped", that's not how it works.

Sometimes I will see someone pull into a handicapped spot that looks suspicious. I won't see any tag on their rearview mirror or on their license plate, so I will wait around to watch them exit their car so I can validate their handicap. Sometimes they are all messed up (oops, my bad), but sometimes they are perfectly fine – and they happily stroll into the store! This enrages me. I know that people are basically stupid and horrible, but how do they have the audacity to do this?? Is it really that big of a deal to walk a few extra feet from a normal parking spot to the front door? Even if you had to walk from the back of a giant parking lot, are you so fat and out of shape that you can't do it? (By the way, gluttony is not a disability.) Jesus you're lazy. Do you really have to scam the system like this?

I know I just went on and on about there being perhaps too many handicapped parking spots in this country (and they all seem to go unused), but in most locations there are probably still only one or two reserved spots, and these frauds are going to take one? Just because you possess a rearview mirror tag with a blue wheelchair on it (or you’re driving your handicapped grandmother’s town car) does not mean you can park in the spot! In addition to owning the parking tag, you actually have to be handicapped! I'd like to hear from people that actually do this – what are they thinking? If I was in the movie I Am Legend, and everyone was dead from the virus except for the zombies, then I would park in the handicapped spots... but only under those circumstances.
You better be legless, rich guy!

Would you like me to fix this problem permanently? I have an idea. I think we should pass a new law that states that anyone caught parking in a handicapped parking spot that is not actually handicapped (or driving someone who is handicapped) will have to undergo a medical procedure that will MAKE them handicapped. They can opt between the removal of their left or right foot. If they need to park in that spot so badly, then let's make them really appreciate it.

Wait a minute... I use the handicapped stall in the bathroom. Is that the same thing? That's not the same thing as parking in their spot is it? Actually, maybe it's worse – a handicapped person can wait for a parking spot, they can't wait to use the bathroom (at least not indefinitely). OK, let's forget about the new law for now.

May 7, 2009

Stay Out of My Hotel Room

Doesn't it irritate you how often a total stranger comes barging into your hotel room? It seems to be a daily threat in just about any hotel, but it happens even more frequently at fancier hotels. And who are these strangers? They are the staff of the hotels themselves.

At a minimum, in just about any hotel, you have deal with the maid. Do you see how these people act? First, they knock on your door, but then they open it eight milliseconds later saying, "Housekeeping!" As a guest in the room, you have no ability to react or prevent the intrusion in that amount of time. They just barge right in!

Most of the time in a hotel room, I'm naked or thinking about masturbating or something... when suddenly the door swings open and this maid pounces in! I'm in a sheer panic as I race to grab a pair of boxers, a towel, a bathrobe – anything! At the same time, I'm shouting, "No, no! Not now!" As a paying guest of the hotel, I resent that I have to go through this terror.

And sometimes these maids will come into your room early, like 9 am. I have been in situations where I'm still asleep, and the lady comes barging in, and I'm peering up from my bed trying to give her an "are-you-fucking-kidding-me" look through the darkness. I understand that 9 am isn't the break of dawn or anything, but I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that someone could either still be sleeping or, worse yet coming out of the shower, at that time.

Of course, a way to prevent a lot of this is to liberally use the do-no-disturb sign. When they barge in on me in the morning, I always curse myself because that means that I didn't put the sign out the night before. But even if I use the sign a lot, which helps, it leads to other problems. Sometime I will have the sign out there to ensure my privacy, but then I'll order room service. And, of course, they can't knock on my door to deliver the room service, so I'll get a phone call from the front desk saying that my do-not-disturb sign is out and they are trying to deliver the room service. Then I'll remove the sign and wait for the delivery guy to come back. Of course, now the food is cold because this poor guy had to run up and down trying to solve my do-not-disturb-sign problem.

But even later in the day, after the maid has cleaned the room, your privacy is still not safe... especially at the nicer hotels. You have to contend with the mini-bar guy, who also knocks and then immediately enters. The other day, someone opened my door (without knocking) and they guy announced, "Service!" He had a ladder and needed to fix the curtain rod (which I didn't ask for, so the maid from the morning must have told them). And then there is the turndown service. So here is yet another opportunity to get barged in on while your naked, plus night time is when you are more likely to be showering and changing to go out, or taking your clothes off from the end of the day.

Just look at all these intrusions you must dodge at a fancy hotel in order to preserve your privacy: maid; mini-bar guy; turndown service... that totals a minimum of three, guaranteed, interruptions EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's brutal. And when you stay at a hotel, you never really act how you do at home – you are either on vacation, in between meetings, taking a nap, being naked, having sex, watching porn – it's not your normal routine, so you are even more likely to being caught in an embarrassing position.

I know these service people have a job to do, I would just like a little extra time to respond to a sudden knock (and before they barge in) - just so I have time to go to the door and say something like, "Go away."

And when these people come in, and they see you, they always act so surprised that you are there. I want to tell them to cut the act – what did they expect to see when they bounded into an occupied room with no real notice?

So, the do-not-disturb sign is my best friend, except for when I'm waiting for room service. I leave that thing on 24/7. I mean, they give me enough towels so that I don't need more. I don't need them to make my bed, because I'm just going to get into it again. I don't need them to check on the mini-bar, because I don't want to pay for what I've eaten/drank. I don't need them to fold down my sheets for turndown service (and I don't need the chocolates that they leave, because I’ve already taken chocolate out of the mini bar that I'm not paying for).

The biggest problem with leaving the do-not-disturb sign on all the time, is that the fancier places will make it a point to call your room and ask if you want maid service, etc. So then I get 15 annoying phone calls which pisses me off, too.

At least it all of this makes me missing being at home.

April 23, 2009

Skype: The New Evil?

Don't say I didn't warn you. If this Skype phenomenon continues, it will be massively disruptive to society. (For those who do not know, Skype is basically a technology that allows you to talk to people via a small camera on your laptop without incurring long distance charges.) I was in a New York City hotel last week, and three different people were in the lobby talking out loud to their laptops at the same time. How fucking annoying.

And these weren't quiet, gentle little conversations, like what you would have on a cell phone. No, they were whooping it up, talking really loud and being really animated - because they were seeing each other on the screen. Watching this happen with three different people all at the same time made me realize the serious damage this technology could have on the peace and quiet in this world. They were so loud, and each was trying to move away from the other Skype users (because THEY were being loud). Ultimately, each Skype user ended up in their own individual corner of the lobby, so all the normal people were trapped in a triangle of people yelling at their laptops. Great. Just great.

It's a confusing product. I guess it's for people who are rich enough to own a laptop, but too poor to pay for a phone call? If you want to see their target demographic, check out the photo shown on the Skype home page. To me, it looks like two raggedy-dressed homeless girls who probably just stole your laptop at the train station and are trying to scrounge up enough change out of the one girl's shoes to catch the 2:20 pm to get-the-fuck-out-of-dodge so they can call their pot dealer for free using your computer. These are the people who are using Skype.

You can see where this is headed, can't you? Everyone will be talking out loud to their laptops everywhere. It's going to be so much worse than cell phones.

I'm confused why people would even want to use this technology - do you really want someone else to see you when you talk to them on the "phone"? Do you really want to see them?? That's a little much, isn't it? First of all, you have to be all dressed up and looking good when you use Skye. Imagine if you had to check to see if anything was in your teeth every time you answered the phone. You'd go insane.

The fact is that I'm either looking so bad and/or naked at home that I would basically never use Skype. How are you supposed to roll your eyes at the other person and watch TV on mute, if they can see you the whole time? This technology is not for me.

April 16, 2009

The "Plant Experience"

I know, I know - I took a full month off from blogging. Listen, it's hard to think of so many things to complain about every week. I will confess that I thought about retiring for a while... until someone gave me the shittiest present in the world. So here I am to tell you about it.

I moved into a new house recently - nothing fancy, just a nice row home in a quiet part of town. All the houses lined up along my street have a small yard in the back. Believe me, this was NOT a selling point for me. I don't want to mow grass or rake leaves or do any of that crap. In fact, it was in spite of the yard that I bought the house. However, the yard is really small and not that big of a deal.

I met my new next door neighbor a while back, a woman about 50 years of age and living with cats (I told you that it was a "quiet" part of town!), and she went on and on about how I have to grow plants in the backyard, and how great it is, and how she does it, etc. I pointedly told her that I grew up in the city, I don't have a Green Thumb, I don't want plants, it's too much work, and I'm too busy.

Well, she bought me a house warming gift today. Guess what it is? It's a giant fucking green planter filled with dirt and budding plants. Are you kidding me?? The thing is huge, it can't go anywhere but outside in my unmowed backyard. She manically beamed as she told me, "You said you didn't have much experience with plants... well, now you will have lots of experience!"

What?? Hey, lady... SCREW YOU! Did you ever think that I don't want "plant experience"?? Do you know what the definition of "plant experience" is to me?... It's "work". Why do you think I spent 20 years of my life pretending I had a stomach ache every Saturday morning so that my dad wouldn't make me rake leaves? Why do you think I bought the house with the smallest yard I could find? It wasn't an accident that I don't have plant experience - it was a well-crafted strategy I used to make sure that I enjoyed my weekends.

Do you believe this? So, of course, this giant planter has to go in my backyard, where this woman will see it every day out of her kitchen window. It's so big, I can't even throw it out if I wanted to (which I would have done, if she didn't live RIGHT NEXT DOOR to me). Now I have to water it every day, tend to it, and do the other bullshit gardening stuff to it - ("pruning"? is that what it is?) - because if I don't, then she will see it all die, and then I would have to face the botanical inquisition from her about why it died - or she would know that I killed it from neglect and her feelings would be all hurt, and I'll have an "angry neighbor situation" for the rest of my life (or the rest of her life, whichever ends or moves first). Jesus Christ.

Who gives this kind of present?? She basically saddled me with another chore to do every week. I told this woman from the beginning that I didn't want anything to do with plants or dirt. When she first saw the inside of my house, she remarked about how I had no "living green things" around. Yeah, that's right - that's by design. I don't have "living green things" around because I don't want "dead brown things" around. It's not that I would kill the plants accidentally because I don't know what I'm doing - I would kill them intentionally because I don't want to deal with it!

What is this lady going to do for my birthday?... gift wrap a baby and leave it at my doorstep so I can be burdened with taking care of that thing for the next 18 years?! Forget the plant experience, why not give me the parent experience instead??

I know some people get relaxation or satisfaction from doing gardening and lawn work, but I'm not one of them. And to give someone the "curse of chores" is not a gift. And I don't want to hear from all the altruistic women on The that will tell me that "it's not the gift that counts, it's the thought" - because she DIDN'T think. She knew I wasn't interested in plants, and she's trying to force it on me, and now I have no choice. The planter is so big that I can't "accidentally drop it", I can't accidentally burn it, and no one would believe me if I said that someone stole it (plus I can't stage a theft because it's too heavy for me to move). So now I have to go through this whole charade of trying to care for the plants until I come up with some clever way to remove this albatross from around my neck. In the meantime, the planter is consuming 25% of the square footage of my backyard, and I was going to put a beer pong table back there now that the snow has thawed and it's warming up. Goddamnit.

April 2, 2009

Spring Break!!

Sorry, disciples of The Minister of Common Sense, but I must abandon common sense for a while and indulge in some irrational drinking and behavior! Stay tuned to future postings on this site soon! I hope you all are enjoying the return of warmer weather. In the meantime, check out the archives for good posts you may have missed!

March 19, 2009

Stamp Prices

Did you know that the U.S. Postal Service is raising the price of stamps AGAIN?! On May 11, 2009, the cost of one first-class stamp will increase from $0.42 to $0.44. I'm not against increasing the cost to mail a letter, but what I object to is these guys constantly bothering us with these stupid little changes to the price of one lousy stamp. Did you know they have increased the price of a stamp SEVEN times in the past ten years? And it's always in those annoying little one or two penny increments. Can't they just increase it by ten cents and leave us the hell alone for a decade?

Thank goodness they came up with those "forever" stamps where you no longer have to buy those ridiculous $0.01 or $0.02 stamps when they increase of price of postage. It probably cost the post office more than a penny just to make and print those stupid $0.01 stamps in the first place, so they likely lost money on the increase in postage rates. It was such a major hassle buying those $0.01 stamps - going to the post office and waiting in line just to buy a hundred one-penny stamps stamps. I wouldn't do it... I would just overkill it by slapping two of the old stamps on an envelope and just be done with the whole thing.
I hate you, one-cent stamp

It amazes me that, even with the upcoming increase in postage in May, it's still only costs FORTY-FOUR cents to mail a letter! Doesn't that seem preposterously low? You couldn't get me to lick an envelope for forty-four cents, let alone trek across the country and deliver a letter. Just think about how cheap that is - and they get it across the country and to your doorstep in about 3 days. How do they sort it all and get it to the millions of different addresses every day? How to they individually read everyone's horrible handwriting?? To me, that seems like a miracle. And a miracle shouldn't cost forty-four cents. Do you know that UPS charges about $20.45 to send a letter from New York to Los Angeles using 2-day mail? So why is the U.S. government charging us 98% LESS than that? I think mailing a letter should cost about $15 - that seems to make more sense - and it sure would cut down on junk mail.

If you think I'm crazy for suggesting that they should raise the postal rates, you have to consider the economics and realize you are probably already paying for it. The U.S. Post Office lost $2.8 billion last year, and they are budgeted to lose $6 billion this year! So, we are already effectively paying for higher postage by subsidizing their loss via our taxes. So, either way, you're paying for it. I could make postage free... but then the post office would lose like $30 billion dollars, and you'd up effectively paying for postage through higher taxes in order to counterbalance that loss.

And have you noticed that it's $0.44 for a FIRST-CLASS stamp? What is "first-class" mail anyway? Is there a "second class" or "third class"? What does a third-class stamp cost?... $0.00325?? What do they do with a letter that is not first class? Does it take weeks to get it delivered, or do they spit on it or something? I might go to the post office and try to end myself something using "second-class" mail, just to see what happens. And if there isn't anything lower than first-class mail, then I want to lobby to have that term removed and just call it "mail".

So please join me in writing an open letter to the U.S. Postal Service and suggest that they stop the inconvenient and stupid one-penny increases in postage (when what they really need is like a ten-dollar increase in postage). Make sure you send it to them via e-mail (which is the REAL "first-class" mail!).

March 12, 2009

Don’t Collect Shit

Do you know those people who collect the stupidest things? You're probably one of them. People who collect spoons from around the world or crystal figurines. I'm sorry to tell you, but no one thinks they look good, they serve no function, and all it does is clutter up some shelves. It actually makes you look creepy – too much of anything is always weird, especially when it's stuffed animals, snowglobes or some other stupid shit. Seriously, this is what you want to define you as person and as an adult?... that you have a Cabbage Patch Doll collection? The one good thing about collecting stuff is that people always know what to buy you as a gift, which only perpetuates the stupid collecting and makes it impossible to exit it, even if you really wanted to.

I know a girl who "loves monkeys". It started as a child, and she always wanted things with monkeys on them, so her parents would buy them for her. Eventually, she grew up and got sick of it. She probably woke up one day and thought to herself, "Monkeys? WTF? That's stupid." Yes, it is. But, by then, she had monkey sheets, monkey coffee mugs, monkey figurines, monkey t-shirts, monkey everything. And it keeps on coming... at every Christmas and birthday, she gets more and more monkey stuff from her parents, family and friends, because they all know that "she loves monkeys." But how can she tell them to stop? They are so excited and happy to get her "something she loves"! Now, she’s 36 years old and her apartment is filled with monkeys – it looks like a crappy safari gift shop. And, of course, she's single (surprise). Guys probably come over and take one look at what's happening and think to themselves, how the hell am I going to integrate all this into my post-modern bachelor pad? Well, you can't.

I notice that girls tend to do this collecting stuff more than guys. I don't know why, maybe it's a nesting instinct or something. Guys can be stupid with their collecting, too... with their baseball cards, Star Wars figures, panties from past conquests (if they ever had any)... but girls really like to display it and carry these practices into adulthood. I'm here to tell you that collecting stuff is a massive waste of money and space, and it has the opposite effect of impressing guests. So, as soon as you can, put all this stuff in a box, tell everyone that you are over it, and start living a normal life.

March 5, 2009

Maybe We Should Bomb Turkey Next

I never spent any time thinking about the country of Turkey... until I noticed that Turkey represents the third-largest readership of The Minister of Common Sense blog. (By the way, I always feel like I have to say “the country of Turkey” instead of just “Turkey”, because in English, “Turkey” means the Thanksgiving Day bird. What a stupid name for a country – probably one of the most stupid. Couldn't they have translated it any differently?)

Anyway, my blog gets the most hits from readers in the United States, which is no surprise since it is my home country. The second greatest number of hits comes from Canada, which is also understandable given that they are (generally) English speaking and it is next door to the U.S., although I may have lost some Canadian readership if they took offense to my post from a few weeks ago. However (and this is where it gets surprising), after Canada, Turkey ranks as the third-highest hit count on my website, which narrowly beat out fourth-ranked Australia. I have had hits from 33 different countries around the world, and TURKEY is the 3rd most popular visitor??

Do you believe it? How random, right?! Actually, as it turns out, it’s not random at all... in fact, it’s pretty damn scary. I did some more digging and it turns out that every single hit that I have ever gotten from the country of Turkey has only gone to one page of my blog... my tongue-in-cheek rant on January 15 called “Stop the Baby Porn”. They have never clicked or gone to any other page – just that one page. Because of Turkey, the “Stop the Baby Porn” post is now the second-most viewed page on The Minister of Common Sense website, following the infamous “Hosting Weddings Sucks” post that caused all the drama with The

I was a little suspicious, so I did some more investigating and every visit to my blog by someone in Turkey came as a result of them Googling the phrase “babyporn”. As it turns out, my blog ranks as #8 on the Turkish version of Google when you enter the phrase “babyporn”. It is the ambition of every Internet site to climb high in the Google rankings, but this wasn't really what I had in mind.

What kind of pedophiles are they breeding over there in Turkey?! For the record, all these hits I received came from all over the country: Istanbul, Bursa, Antalya, Ankara, Izmir, Gebze, Kayseri, Denizli, Konya, Trabzon, Adapazari and Mugla.

And they are not even searching for “child porn”, but BABY porn. My god, does baby porn even really exist?? Jesus, I can’t even think about it. Is it possible that “baby” translated into Turkish is actually slang for “girl” or “woman” or “hot woman”? Sort of how we might say here in America “Hey, baby, how’s it going?” or how someone might call a woman a "chick". So if we Googled for "chick porn", we wouldn't be looking for CHICKEN porn (as someone might literally translate), but actually normal, legal porn with chicks (women). I’m just trying to hope that it’s not what the Turks are making it appear.

I am a liberal and in favor of civil rights, however, it does make me wonder whether the government of Turkey should go out and identify these people and raid their homes, looking for proof of child pornography or something. I know that it is a slippery legal slope, and we don’t want to recreate McCarthyism, but it’s unsettling to know that people are overtly searching for illegal and incredibly harmful material. I guess that searching for it isn't illegal, but it just sucks that law enforcement probably has to sit there and wait for an activity to officially turn illegal before they can do anything about it. And, who knows... Turkey isn't exactly a bastion of human rights, so it might not be illegal over there at all!

One person in Turkey found my website by searching for “bayb porno pohoto” (at least he knew how to spell the most important word properly), which just reminds us that English isn't their first language over there – it’s Turkish. So the people who found my website in Turkey were searching for baby porn in English and not in their native language. It makes me wonder if they do this because English-speaking people make and propagate the most child pornography, which is an awful thought. So maybe it’s really more of “our” problem and as much a Turkish problem. (For the record, my website does NOT come up when you search for “babyporn” in the U.S. or Canadian version of Google. I’m not naive enough to believe that this search term isn't Googled every single day here in North America, but you just hope that it returns with “zero matches”. At least I’m not cracking the Top Ten Google list when they search for it. However, I am #1 when you search for "stop the baby porn", but let's hope that I am not the only crusader. Hmm... now that I think about it... I just Googled for "baby porn" myself while writing this post. So, I guess under my McCarthyism regime that I suggested in the paragraph above, I would have to be investigated, too. Oops.)

The first time I figured out all this information, I started to freak out. I began to wonder whether the joke photos that I posted in the Stop The Baby Porn Blog were actually exciting these pedophiles. I even went back and increased the size of the black boxes covering the bits on the baby to make SURE that I wasn't accidentally helping out the Turkish web browsers. One statistic of relief is that 93% of my Turkish visitors spent less than one second on the website, so the photos weren't very engaging for them. However, while their quick departure from my web page may be a little encouraging, it also indicates that they weren't searching for how to stop or prevent baby porn either, otherwise the title of my blog would have captivated them for longer than one second. So, you have to assume that they were looking for the real thing, which is upsetting.

Based on The Minister of Common Sense website statistics, Turkey ranks as the #1 country for pedophiles. So since America has a history of indiscriminately attacking foreign countries, maybe Obama should go George Bush on their ass, too?

February 26, 2009

The Mile High Club Does Not Exist

I fly a lot as the Minister of Common Sense, and I don’t think the famous "Mile High Club" actually exists. I think that anyone who says they have had sex on a plane is probably lying. Every time I go into a bathroom on an airplane, I wonder about the possibility of trying to have sex in there - and I've become increasingly convinced that it’s a mechanical impossibility.

It’s fucking small in there, people! It’s barely big enough for one person, let alone two people – let along two people who are banging away. It’s so small in there that I don’t think there is enough room for me to masturbate, let alone involve someone else. And I’m not a big guy, either... I'm probably on the small side (OK, I didn't mean it like THAT, I meant in terms of body mass), so if I can't pull it off, how are two average-sized Americans
able to wedge themselves in there? Not only do you physically have to get two people in there, but you have to actually achieve a position of penetration, which is a whole other question of physics. Look at this photo from a bird's-eye view... how can anyone fit??

Even if we forget about the space requirements for a minute, I'm not even sure there is a legitimate opportunity to try to get two people in there in the first place. You know that those bathrooms are never vacant. There is always a line of people waiting, and there
are seats immediately before or after the stalls (the poor bastards). Then there are also flight attendants making crappy food nearby (although it's not their fault, it's the food's fault), so how do two people even TRY to get in there without raising immediate suspicion?

Even if you could get into the bathroom without raising suspicion or inconveniencing the line of people who need to pee, and even if you could fit both you and your likely-to-have-a-fat-ass lover in there, and even if you could get "it" in... what about the fact that it fucking stinks in there?! Either it stinks like people have been using it like a bathroom
(surprise) or it stinks like that bathroom sanitizer stuff. How the hell do you get hard or wet to the seductive aromas of 2000 Flushes? You might as well sleep with your office cleaning women or the high school janitor – you’d get the same aromatics.

And have you heard the violence with which that toilet flushes? It sounds like an explosion that sucks the living hell out of anything in the vicinity. I’m nervous just taking a pis
s near that thing. I’m pretty sure it can rip your sausage off, so the last thing I’m going to do around that toilet is any activity that makes my sausage a bigger and an easier target for that black hole commode!

Anytime they show two people having sex in an airplane bathroom in a movie, there is always a TON of room. They make it look like it's the master bathroom in Mar-a-Lago or something. There is no way there is as much room as they show in the movies. It’s complete fiction. (And if you want to believe the movies, then you have to
recognize that something really bad always happens to the characters who try to have sex in the airplane bathroom... they always die, crash or get bitten by a snake or something. So if you believe the movies, then you need to believe that anyone who has ever tried to join the Mile High Club has died, which supports my thesis that no one is actually in the club... because they are all dead).

I don’t envy anyone who says that they have had sex on a plane (assuming they actually have). There is nothing about it that sounds physically possible or pleasing. But, if you want to try to give me a handjob under the blanket at the seat... OK, now I’m interested.

P.S. - As a side bar, what is it with people taking photographs of themselves in airplane bathrooms?? have you seen this stupid phenomenon? After I started writing this post, I came across a ton of people who took photographs of themselves in the mirror on planes. When did this become a fad? Did I miss something??
Look at what you find if you search Yahoo! images for "airplane bathroom". There is page after page of these people taking photos of themselves. What's up with that? Can someone explain this to me?

February 19, 2009

Oh, Canada

I got back from skiing in Banff a few weeks ago. For those of you who do not know, Banff is the Aspen of Canada. It is a few hours outside of Calgary, so I had a chance to spend some time in the city. There are some good things about Calgary, as well as some problems.

First of all, you haven’t met cold until you have been to Calgary in February. It was EIGHT degrees there... FAHRENHEIT! Freezing is 32 degrees and it was 8. It sounds so weird to say that it was “eight”. When someone asks you what the temperature is, and you respond by saying “eight”, the likely reaction you will get is “eight what?” Exactly! It’s such a ridiculous, ass-cold temperature that no one believes you when you say it. What does "eight" even feel like?? Can you live in that temperature? I mean, at some point you immediately die if you step outside into a certain level of cold, right? Like, if the air was 100 degrees below freezing (-68 degrees Fahrenheit), then I think you would immediately die, wouldn't you? Well, is “eight” all that much warmer? I found out first hand that you CAN survive in 8 degrees... but only barely. I’m not sure how the people who live there year round actually make it through the winter.

If you actually can withstand the bitter cold and make it out into the streets of downtown Calgary, you will soon notice that their street addresses are all messed up. Calgary had the good intention of building a grid of numbered streets and avenues (like in New York), but their common sense stops there. What do you think the addresses would be of buildings in Calgary that are located between 4th and 5th Street? The building addresses would be numbered somewhere between 400-499, right? Well, not in Calgary. The addresses between 4th and 5th Street are NOT 400-499... they are 500-599! The street addresses in Calgary are always 100 behind! So 415 Sixth Avenue is located between 3rd and 4th Street, not between 4th and 5th Street. How does this make any sense?? Believe me, when you are walking around outside in 8 degree weather, you definitely don't want to find out that you are a whole block off because some backward ass city planner couldn't fucking count correctly! How did this ever happen? Is every stupid city in Canada like this? Are there stupid cities in the U.S. like this??

In addition to the street addresses in Calgary being misnumbered, the country also has a fucked up ZIP code system. Have you ever mailed a letter to Canada? Holy shit, it’s awful. Here is a sample ZIP code in Calgary: “T2P 1N8”. What the fuck is that? Is that a license plate or a ZIP code? Do you really need to alternate between letters and numbers? Canada, your country isn't big enough to require THAT many different combinations of ZIP codes using both numbers and letters. We are perfectly fine in the U.S. with a FIVE-NUMBER ZIP code system (despite the fact that the U.S. has eight times the population of Canada, as well as eight times the habitable land mass), yet you're telling me that Canada requires a SIX-digit ALPHA-NUMERIC ZIP code system?? You're like one of those websites that requires you to set up your account with an eight-figure, alpha-numeric password with at least one lowercase and one capitalized letter... when all you want to do is leave a comment on a blog or something. It's totally annoying and unnecessary.

Canada, can’t you just shorten your ZIP codes and stick with either all letters or all numbers? Do you know how awkward it is to type a letter, then a number, then a letter, then a number...? Especially if you’re doing it on a Blackberry and need to hit the ALT key every other time. Ugh, that’s annoying. And what’s with the fucked up grouping in the ZIP code?... letter, number, letter... and then number, letter, number? Could you make it any more confusing?! I know you're trying to do an alternating pattern, but you do realize that the space in the middle intuitively fucks it up, right? So stupid. Oh, Canada... why?

But, despite its failure with addresses, Calgary was a surprisingly cool town. Despite only having one million residents and being landlocked near what feels like the Arctic Circle, it surprisingly young, hip, cool and trendy. The population in downtown Calgary is generally young and attractive. The girls have trendy haircuts and were fashionably dressed. Based on my visit, I would rank Calgary well above many major cities in the U.S., in terms of fashion and trendiness. Also, I could totally notice that I was no longer in America just based on the average weight of the Calgarian population. Everyone in Calgary seemed to be thin and fit, even the middle-aged people. While the population in Calgary would probably benefit from some extra fat to help them make it through the frigid winter, they all had attractive, thin bodies, especially the women. It was very noticeable, and it made me think to myself, “Jesus, what the hell ARE we Americans eating??... and how MUCH of it are we eating??” It's always shocking to go to a foreign country - you almost always notice the weight difference right away.

Canada has a free healthcare system, and they also have free Internet in the airport, which was nice. But I was shocked to see that The Onion and The Superficial were “blocked sites” by the Calgary Airport Authority. Really? Do these sites really need to be blocked on people’s personal laptops? Let's lighten up on the civil liberties, Calgary. Thank god The Minister of Common Sense was accessible! At least Canada still lets you look at some of the good stuff.

UPDATE: Oh my god... Calgary has CASINOS, too!! Just another reason why the city is cool!