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?