Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A bad week to be a week

--Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans Monday, causing catastrophic damage to the flood-prone city and leaving thousands homeless. The hurricane garnered the attention of the national media, who seemed disappointed that Katrina never showed her boobs. This disappointed the national conscience, which suddenly cared about Louisiana for a few days. The storm also left the Louisiana Superdome with several holes in its roof, proving once again that nothing ever goes right for the Saints.

(Seriously, though, millions of residents are left without homes and vital services, and some remain stranded atop their homes. If you can help at all, please do so. Chances are, these are the same people who have needed our help for a long time.)

--Televangelist Pat Robertson came under fire last week for suggesting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. He first denied ever saying that, then apologized just hours later. Pat, if you continue to flip-flop like that, man, you'll never make it as a presidential candidate! Oh, wait a minute...

--A Belgian nun was reprimanded by her church after a photo surfaced of her dancing with a young boy at Catholic World Day. After all, women aren't supposed to be priests.

--In other nun news, officials in Taiwan have halted a safe-sex campaign featuring a nun holding a condom. Turns out the image itself was a form of birth control.

--A college women's lacrosse team came under fire after several of the players wore flip-flops during a visit to the White House. The young athletes responded by criticizing the informal style of rods the critics had shoved up their asses.

--A recent report from the American Enterprise Institute found that a majority of working Americans said they felt "satisfied." But they didn't say with what.

--And finally, the world's oldest woman died in the Netherlands Tuesday at the age of 115. She is now the youngest person to be dead.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Let's talk, Garry

Sometimes people really disappoint you. Above: one of those times.

Fortunately for Garry Trudeau, he hasn't had to hunt for a job in decades. This is also true of most people giving out employment advice these days. Consequently, their job advice should accompany the warning label, "Best if used by 23 Mar 1986." More power to them for being indispensable career-wise, but they should at least acknowledge the disconnect.

College professors often do the same thing. They've been studying and teaching their material for so long that they make terrible instructors for first-timers. While most make an effort to bridge the divide, a handful don't succeed or even try. I can't say I blame them--I, for one, would probably not be the best at explaining editorial writing to teenagers--but knowledge should never be a brick wall to communication.

This kind of disconnect plagues couples as well, specifically those whose every movement, from bowel on up, is guided by the fact that they are but half of a whole. These are the people who never go anywhere without their significant other (itself a ridiculous term), use "we-mail" and whose every social moment revolves exclusively around other couples. They are the former good friends who fade out of your life forever, if you continue to do anything other than attend dinners with other couples to talk exclusively about couple shit. Ironically, this hyper-attached behavior often causes the couples to resent one another because of their ferocious mutual clinging. Hey, relationships are a wonderful thing; I've had 30 or 40 myself. But they should enhance the individual as well as the whole. Until that day happily rolls around, couples would at least do well to remember that not all single people hate themselves.

The above three examples are part of what seems to be a rise in smug behavior in the past few years. Whether intentional or not, more and more people are retreating into their own view of things, the result of which is that people sometimes come off as backhanded and/or condescending.

A few examples:

A 7th-grade classmate, referring to a comment I made about thrift: "When people get rich, they buy new stuff, man."

A 12th-grade classmate, referring to college scholarships: "That's why you get rich parents to pay for you."

Spoken by an upper-crust student from New Orleans, freshman year: "How can you eat college food? I'm used to always eating gourmet meals. This confuses me."

The standard reason for not understanding/getting/achieving something: "You must not want it enough."

A common reply when you're broke, hungry and looking for work: "Then why don't you just get a job?"

A "reassurance" given by every career counselor: "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

And, probably my favorite of all time, the answer to why decent people deal with so many setbacks: "Well, the good must suffer for the bad."

If any of these phrases or their representative attitude describe you, then be grateful of your success in life and cut the rest of us a break. We're trying, too. Life is not a balanced game.

Monday, August 29, 2005

One more update

Conditions in Lafayette have cleared up. In fact, I just took a bike ride, and noticed the humidity was almost nonexistent. Go figure that it takes horrible weather to make it feel good around here.

I just saw a live air-cam of New Orleans, and the Superdome looks like a giant rusty hubcap. Sections of the outer roofing have vanished, and much of the city is submerged, gutted or both. Though the aftermath doesn't appear as apocalyptic as some predicted (it never does), this is still as close as it's come in a long time. Hopefully we'll soon know how we can contribute to the cleanup effort.

If anybody has some information on how locals can help, don't hesitate to post it or link to it here.

Knock on wood

In response to all of the e-mail and phone calls I'm getting, I want everybody to know that everything here in Lafayette is fine. We had some rain earlier, and it continues to be windy and dreary as hell, but the effects of Hurricane Katrina here barely match any typical rainstorm. We are the lucky ones in Louisiana at the moment; when even the Weather Channel people are largely sticking to reporting from Mobile, Alabama and Gulfport, Mississippi, you know things are bad in the Big Breezy.

Reports are that the Superdome has suffered minimal structural damage and that its working power source is capable only of basic lighting. That can't be good. But given the impoverished conditions in which many of these people live, the Dome is probably not much worse than home. I can see it now: Saints owner Tom Benson, sitting in Texas somewhere, his throat cracking from gloating, "See? TOLD YOU I need all that tax money to build a new stadium!! Bend over, Blanco!" But I digress.

I also caught firsthand storm footage of the French Quarter on the Weather Channel, shot through a windshield. You couldn't pay me enough to drive there right now! Where do they get those people? And wipers that strong? I could use a set.

I'll be back later. Keep in touch.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina Kissmyassa

As I write this at 12:07 a.m., Lafayette is still a calm place, weather-wise at least. While running my usual bike route Sunday evening, I saw the pleasant blue sky chased away by dark storm cover. I sped home, feeling a couple of raindrops on the way. In the time it took me to check my e-mail, eat dinner and shower, the black clouds fled and left a perfect sunset sky. The weather outdoors continues to feel good, which in south Louisiana means only one thing: it's about to get nasty.

We've had (and are still experiencing) a glut of accidental tourism from those living in less-fortunate places, but all in all the traffic isn't any worse than the usual mess. Cars from everywhere line my street, their riders seeking refuge in the Hub City. Apparently, my neighbors have lots of friends--or at least they do now!

As for myself, I'm holed up in suburbia with my parents, sister and a ton of canned food and frozen pizzas, which will work out great--assuming that the electricity doesn't go out. I've talked to my brother on the phone (he lives about five miles away) and he's hunky-dory as well. So we're cranking up the REO Speedwagon and riding the storm out.

So, again, I'm all right as of now. Unless you're reading this on Thursday, in which case something is probably wrong. But I'll attempt to update as events develop. So stay tuned, and keep the fine people of the Superdome in your thoughts.

UPDATE: If you're feeling withdrawals from the usual Monday Caption Central (and I know you are), then head to phizz. He's got a great pic for laying down some captions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Same stories, different sentences

--In an attempt to curb the spread of HIV, a politician in Uganda is offering free college scholarships to all female virgins in his district. Though male students do not qualify for the scholarships, they will be offered female virgins.

--The final wave of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip evacuated Tuesday, as Israel ceded that portion of the West Bank to the Palestinians. The evacuation is part of prime minister Ariel Sharon's plan to settle Arab/Jew hostilities for .0003 seconds.

--Iraqi officials continue the process of drawing up a new constitution, with Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis clashing over key points. Gentlemen, if I may offer some input...if you're going to emulate the current American model, then just write anything! Because it's not like you'll ever follow it anyway.

--Following a barrage of protests, Australia's Parliament House lifted its ban on the word "mate" after only one day. As for the House ban on Kangaroo Jack, well, that's permanent.

--Today is the first day of the rest of Eric Rudolph's life sentence.

--The Whirlpool Corporation announced Monday that it has purchased Maytag for $2.7 billion. A high price, sure, but dates for that lonely repairman don't come cheap.

--A fisherman in Massachusetts recently found a sleeve full of credit cards dating back to 1966. He tracked down their owner and returned them, but only after he purchased some new Beatles records and a gear hi-fi.

--A Belgian soccer team lost 50-1 after its goalie skipped the game to attend a rock concert in Brussels. According to substitute goalkeeper Charlotte Jacobs, "At half-time the score was 27-0. But after half-time we were able to recover. We had to stomach only 23 goals and we scored once ourselves--" Wait a minute...there was actually a substitute goalie?

--In license-plate news, a Washington motorist was questioned in May for his tag reading "C9H13N," which is the chemical formula for methamphetamine. In light of the investigation, state authorities have removed all road signs alluding to "SPEED."

--Synthesizer pioneer Robert Moog died Aug. 21 at the age of 71. Funeral selections will include "Requiem," "Ave Maria" and "She Blinded Me With Science."

--Finally, this is Not Right's 400th post! And the first post ever to say that.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yep, I'm gay

Yes, you read right! I am officially coming out of the closet. I am unequivocally gay.

Before last night, it never occurred to me that I was a homosexual. Although I'm far from homophobic, I still never fingered myself as gay; in fact, I've been pretty preoccupied with the ladies since I was 13. Who knew that all of that was just a distraction from my real desires? This is no doubt shocking news to all of my girlfriends. Sorry, ladies.

So what prompted my sudden change of hard? According to one of James Dobson's spinoff cults, boys as young as five years old exhibit distinct symptoms of budding homosexuality; these highly uncommon traits reliably predict future sexual proclivities. At first I doubted this, recalling that at age five I preferred Transformers to trannies. But that was before I dug up this picture of myself from my fifth birthday and noticed my staggering resemblance to Ellen DeGeneres (who is also from south Louisiana). Then I realized something was amiss.

As conservatives assert, gayness is a disease, one you choose when you are a young child, long before you have any clue as to the true nature of sexuality. Flawless reasoning, indeed. So who can doubt child-friendly focus groups like Focus On Your Child when it comes to child gaydar?

Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include:

1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.

As a small child of five, I was indeed "different." I preferred drawing to duck-hunting, schoolwork to sparring and Voltron to vagina.

2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.

Nothing screams "future man" like boys who enjoy tussling with other boys!

3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.

Well hey, somebody had to be the woman when my brother and I played house!

4. A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.

After your 12th birthday, of course, it's the other way around. Once you're finally a man, you must put away such childish things as your wrestling tights, toy robots and baseball bats. Because if you don't, you're obviously a pipe smoker, if you catch my drift. So remember, tee ball before 12, tea parties after 12! At left, notice me at 11 1/2, straddling the line.

5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”

Because there's no better gaydar than a 5-to-11-year-old male bully. Anyone who can see the gayness in everything from school to lame TV shows would certainly be able to gauge it in their tormented peers! So remember, parents and teachers, bullying must continue unabated--for the sake of the children!

6. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

This rule extends (but is not limited) to the following tendencies: listening to songs by female artists; talking to those of the feminine persuasion; entering into geopolitical discussions involving countries populated by women; nurturing as opposed to ass-kicking; and having his toy robots have conversations as opposed to manly fighting.

7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl.

I dressed up as a woman once, at a party; but I was 16 by then, so there was no fear that I was anything but a raging heterosexual.

In summation, I gotta say that FOTC had me pegged down pretty accurately. Hell, they seemed to know more about what I felt than even I did! Who knew?

Let the religiously and socially mandated self-loathing begin...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Putting the "spat" in "dispatch"

--A French firefighter was recently charged for starting the very blazes he had made local headlines for extinguishing. Pressed for comment about the hose police found in his house, the fireman said, "How dare you talk about my daughters that way!"

--Researchers at Harvard Medical School announced Wednesday that young children who eat french fries have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. But scientists reassured consumers that, by then, they'll be too flabby to notice anyway.

--According to a new survey, nearly 70 percent of Americans expect to work well after retirement age. Many of them cited the poor economy and the fact that George W. Bush hasn't retired early.

--Scientists in Singapore have developed a urine-powered battery that they hope to use in disease-detection biochips. Once powered, the machines will diagnose you as a bedwetter.

Researchers hope the batteries eventually catch on as an alternative fuel source. But that will never happen, because urine-based batteries are too impractical for most everyday appliances. Not to mention how disgusting the batteries would be to change! So why research them at all? This news item brought to you by Halliburton.

--Oil workers in Beijing are ending their marriages after Huabei Oilfield Company announced its intention to rehire workers who divorced. In a related story, gas now costs way more than an arm and a leg.

--Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy attacked Supreme Court nominee John Roberts during confirmation hearings Tuesday, accusing the judge of being too extreme for the Court. Roberts denied the charges, asking what was so wrong about liking coathangers.

--A fisherman died on the eastern-German border after an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim his rod from a fish that had yanked it away. I don't see what the big deal was about that fishing pole. Duh, he was right next to Poland! Why didn't he just get another one?

--In license-plate news, police in the UK are testing tags with built-in microchips that, among other things, would allow drivers to pay tolls with a scan of their plate. The tags are endorsed by law enforcement officials, automobile associations and the Federation of Credit-Card Thieves with Screwdrivers.

--Finally, actress Eva Longoria was hit by a falling pole while filming her show "Desperate Housewives." Her head was treated, and her character is expected to resume giving head in no time.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Direct my spambox

Sometimes living off the commerce grid really has its benefits. It's like being the only sober person at the end of a wild weekend party; you laugh at how pathetic it all is, but at the same time you wonder why people still do it!

Example 1: I often receive envelopes in the mail marked, "Urgent Information Regarding Your College Loan!" The letters appear to be from legit financial institutions and implore that I begin paying off my debts in diligent fashion. My parents also receive mail to that effect, saying that they really need to refinance my loans so that they can afford to cover my debt-ridden ass.

As long as these companies are buying my name from the university (whores), they should also spring for the info that NOT ONCE HAVE I EVER TAKEN OUT A COLLEGE LOAN!! I had a full scholarship for most of my college career. Nice try, guys.

Example 2: I receive an "official" letter from PayPal urging that I update my account information as soon as possible before they delete it. The e-mail offers a link to an "official" site where you can conveniently plunk down your account number and all of your presumably unchanged information. Just to update it, you know. Wink wink.

Right. I've never used PayPal in my life. Where do they even get this stuff? And even if it were real, why would such a reputable company extort you like that? "Update now or forever hold your peace." Really sound business model you got there, Rockefeller!

On a side note, why do spammers send out messages with the subject "re: your inquiry"? Assuming this is a reply e-mail, which is standard business/professional practice, shouldn't the subject read, "re: my inquiry?" And why would anyone label their e-mail, "my inquiry?" How weak is that? "Gee, Dithers, I deign to think we should honor his inquiry. It's right there in the subject title!" But I digress.

Example 3: On an almost daily basis, I get letters and e-mails from the University of Phoenix Online, DeVry and similar ilk compelling me to "get the degree you need to get ahead!" Now, we could debate the merits of online education to begin with, but that isn't the point here. The point is that I ALREADY HAVE TWO DEGREES! So far, they've gotten me ahead--at the head of the unemployment line. Perhaps most ironically, these online universities most likely got my name from the college where I spent seven years in the first place.

If I haven't spelled it out for you enough, spammers, just remember these points:

1) I have only one (and relatively small) loan. I know its terms cold and I pay it off diligently. And it has nothing to do with school.

2) Marketing online or diploma-mill degrees to college graduates is generally a ridiculous idea. But it's the spam paradox at work: only the people who are dumb enough to actually ponder the question, "Is your lack of a high-school diploma holding you back?" would unquestionably accept a fake college degree.

3) I barely have enough connections in my hometown, so if you think I'm fooled by a "personal" letter from Princess Toadstool of Stankonia (email: imaprincess@654ertpego.xz), then you need a lesson in reality. Might I suggest DeVry University Online? I can even recommend some student-loan offers!

I fear for those who aren't as sure about these things I am. Spam is getting more and more sophisticated. Look out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Where no news is good news (and all news is bad news)

We start off today's news with four items I forgot to touch on in the last few weeks. Call them, "Not Quite Not Right News":

--A San Antonio man was arrested July 25 after reporting the theft of his marijuana. In addition to his stash, the man also reported missing his plasma TV, his "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" DVD and his common sense.

--Friends of a 31-year-old single man in Utah erected billboards advertising his singlehood. After fielding numerous calls, his friends are expected to narrow the field down to a respectable seven wives.

--A Kansas high-school student was charged with battery after he vomited on his Spanish teacher. Though accused of planning the incident, the student claimed he was just trying to say, "Olehhhhhhh!"

--Atkins Nutritionals, the company behind the famous low-carb diet, filed for bankruptcy July 31. And why not? Money is very high in carbohydrates and fattens wallets.

Now for some newer news...

--The Labor Department announced Aug. 5 that 207,000 new jobs had been created in July, the strongest growth in five months. What they didn't announce was that those jobs suck.

--An Oregon high-school coach was placed on probation for licking the bloody wounds of his athletes, which he said served to clean the cuts. Yo, coach, everyone knows that licking cuts is wrong! You're supposed to piss on them.

--In license-plate news, cheerleaders in Ann Arbor, Michigan were able to track down a hit-and-run offender by chanting his license-plate number as a cheer. "Give me a Y! Give me a G! Give me a T! Give me a 6! Give me a 2! Give me another 6!" How about I give you a pen?

--On Aug. 7, WWII veterans and Japanese survivors met on the island of Tinian to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. Many opposed the peaceful summit, saying that there is no need for a balanced view of history. These critics were later offered jobs by Fox News.

--Finally, a man in Seoul, South Korea died of heart failure after playing 50 straight hours of computer games. Apparently he had only one life left.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Here, there and underwear

--King Fahd of Saudi Arabia died this week after 10 years of ill health. He has been replaced by 80-year-old King Abdullah. See you next week!

--CNN suspended Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore at James Carville on "Inside Politics" and subsequently walked off the set. Oh, and because he's a CIA-agent-outing douchebag.

--The Irish Republican Army announced that it would renounce its armed campaign, provided that Britain reduces its martial presence in Northern Ireland. This monumental decision is expected to pave the way for the IRA and the 401(k) to coexist in peace.

--In entertainment news, comedian Charlie Murphy confirmed this week that The Dave Chappelle Show is no longer in production. Murphy cited Chappelle's recent "spiritual excursion" to South Africa as a major factor in the star's decision. Rick James? Now he's Mel Gibson, bitch!

--Authorities extended Martha Stewart's house arrest by three weeks on Aug. 4, but wouldn't say why. Some speculate, however, that the extension was just a consolation prize to Homeland Security since they haven't caught anybody else.

--A new book is out entitled, Why Do Men Have Nipples? If you ask me, co-author Billy Goldberg seems only too excited to answer that question.

The book, co-written with humorist Mark Leyner, examines such medical phenomena as chattering teeth, diseases on toilet seats and morning breath. Do you suppose they worked on the book over lunch?

"Now Mark, let's talk about why beans make you fart--yes, waiter, I'll have the fondue, thank you." "Hey, Billy! Traces of ringworm are often found on toilet seats! Yeah, I'll have the spaghetti."

--In license plate news, Florida has reported great success with its new John Lennon "Imagine" specialty plate. It's particularly popular among those who lease their cars because they believe in "no possessions."

Florida residents can personalize the plates as well. The most commonly requested combo? "BYE JEB."

--In world news, rampant poverty in Niger has left record numbers starving. When pressed for comment, George W. Bush said, "Then why don't they just eat?"