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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kristen Stewart’s Complaint, "I Want to Be Alone"

Kristen Stewart’s Complaint, "I Want to Be Alone" - Technorati Technorati Women

"I just want to be left alone, so piss off." --FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) (Before Kristen Stewart was born)
Dear Miss Bob, I am a really good actress and I’m really hot looking, although my posture could stand a little work. I lo-o-o-ove acting, ever since I was cast as the angel in my Sunday School Christmas pageant. Not “an angel,” mind you, “the angel.” Here’s the thing, I would like to be an actress but I am terribly shy and don’t want to be approached by people and bothered by the press. What should I do? Sincerely, B.S. McActress

Dear B.S., There are plenty of options for people who want to act but don’t like the attention generated by the press and those icky fans. You could try community theater where you will have a wide choice of roles and even get the chance to paint props, sew costumes, and strike sets. Or you could do what the rest of us do—get a job and act like you like it. If the job thing doesn’t work out for you, you might try marriage. Your friend, Miss Bob
Pity poor Kristen Stewart—she can’t go to the mall. Surely everyone who has ever been to the mall can sympathize—would I rather have millions of dollars or be able to spend the pittance I’m making flipping burgers on cool stuff at Hot Topic? Well…no contest…let’s go to the mall.
Stewart is also bothered because she “can’t be outside often.” The Associated Press reports that she shared these feelings in the February issue of Vogue. Please don’t think she’s shallow—she is also concerned about how to spend “the money she’s made from her work.” (Could someone remind Ms. Stewart that, as always, my mailing address is readily available?)
As the sexiest man on television (Stephen Colbert) would say, “Oh-Boo-Hoo.” Privacy is the price you pay for fame whether you’re a hot young actress, a politician, or Charles Manson. It’s a trade-off; prospective celebrities make a decision, “Do I want to be ignored or do I want to be famous and make lots of money doing a job I love?” Non-celebrities make similar choices every day (do I want the station wagon that will carry the whole family and groceries or should I get the sexy convertible? Regular or diet? Paper or plastic?); we just don’t know it because the paparazzi aren’t following their (our) every move.

Although I do sympathize with those who are seldom left alone (especially when they didn’t choose fame, like the Jolie-Pitt kids), I am also aware of celebrities who avoid the limelight, who aren’t in People magazine every week, and who are still extremely popular and—best of all—rich. Perhaps one of them could come out of seclusion and explain to Stewart how it's done. 
(In a related note, one of today’s People headlines reads, “Jennifer Anniston Doesn’t Get The Bachelor.” What—again?)
Note to Whining Celebs: We already know that you’re using publicity to complain about publicity; don’t insult us by expecting us to fall for it.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Woolly Mammoth: Once Japan Has One Everyone Will Want One

The Woolly Mammoth: Once Japan Has One Everyone Will Want One - Technorati Technology

When the real-live woolly mammoth goes on display, will you go see it or wait for it to be on TV?

Japan, a country famous for miniaturization, reverses the trend with the promise of a cloned woolly mammoth. This is big news. As many of you may recall, Japan is also the country that brought us Godzilla and Mothra, two monsters that ultimately battled each other—Mothra in the white hat, Godzilla in black.
Thanks to DNA technology and information gleaned from repeated viewings of all three Jurassic Park movies, Dr. Akira Iritani has gargantuan “plans to insert the nuclei of mammoth cells into a modern elephant’s egg cell, creating a woolly mammoth embryo that will be brought to term by an elephant mother,” as reported by DigitalTrends.comFor the sake of the elephant, I hope those tusks are a post-natal feature of mammoths.
Dr. Iritani must have enjoyed late-night screenings of Jurassic ParkThe Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park 3; if he slept through the endings, he has no idea what he’s getting himself (and the world!) into. And, Dr. I., in Michael Crichton’s bookJohn Hammond (the man behind the island and its dinosaur denizens) did not get off as easily as he did in the movie version of Jurassic Park. I’m just sayin’.
Woolly mammoths went missing, as in extinct, approximately 5,000 years ago. That’s earlier than the earth was created, in some people’s opinion. Dr. Iritani thinks he can deliver one in five years. Most of us have learned that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. One would think that scientists would know this better than anyone else. Or at least guess that they would.
What is the purpose of this enormous undertaking? Dr. Iritani says, “After the mammoth is born, we will examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.” Ecology? Okay. But wouldn’t an ancient species brought into a modern world have, um, adjustment problems? After all, woolly mammoths didn’t exactly sit around watching Technicolor movies on their flat-screen TVs. Well, perhaps it might be important to understand “why the species became extinct,” but isn’t anyone else suspicious of the mysterious “other factors”?
One of Dr. Iritani’s expressed concerns is “how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public.” Oh, I get it—someone may end up making some money out of the whole thing by putting the beast on display. So the point is to resurrect a species for the sole (or soulless) purpose of exploiting it? Ya’ shoulda said so from the beginning. I hear woolly mammoths make great vacuum cleaners; I’ll bet there are a lot of folks who would line up to get their own, although salespersons may be in short supply. Note to high school students: get in on the ground floor of this colossal career opportunity, befriend appliance store owners.
Let's see…woolly mammoths went extinct during the Ice Age. We have their DNA because they were frozen whole. Could it not be that the Ice Age killed off the woolly mammoths? And if the mammoths became extinct because of  human predation, asteroid impact, or climate change, how will any of those things be reflected genetically? (Ah…mammoths disappeared due to circumstances beyond their control…)
I have a suggestion for Dr. Iritani that will save a lot of work and sleepless nights. Take the money that would have been spent on research and development and send it to me. I promise I will watch every Flintstones episode ever created and get back to you. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing Mothra vs. Woolly Willy (well, they’ve got to name the big guy something, don’t they?).


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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Walmart Makes Small Businesses Better – Or Else

Walmart Makes Small Businesses Better – Or Else - Technorati Business

87.3% of Statistics Are Made Up

It’s so easy to throw around statistics, especially if you make them up yourself.
Twenty-five years before husband FCE ever considered working for WalMart* (and I was a mere child) a trend was identified and discussed in caf├ęs, diners, the media, and yes, even in the break rooms of the retail giant itself. Small businesses seemed to close up shop when WalMart* opened. Back in the early eighties, WalMart* was focused on small-town USA and seemed to shun the big city lights.
Thinking back to what some of the smaller “mom and pop” type businesses were like back in the late seventies and early eighties gives us pause to consider how they operated.
FCE and I walked into a small independent hardware store in Gulport, Mississippi. There was no one in the store other than the proprietor and his wife. They greeted us and asked if they could help. We told them what we had come in for and the gentleman got up from behind the counter and walked us over to the shelf and handed FCE the item. We paid for the item, enjoyed a brief conversation, and left. It all took about five minutes. The difference here was that this shopping experience happened in 2005 and the store was located about a mile from, not just a WalMart*, but also a Lowes. Two giant big boxes and yet this small business was thriving.
On our next visit, FCE (who never learned not to speak to strangers) asked the woman about their success. She quickly pointed out that having the big boxes nearby had made them take a closer look at how they did business. They had become better business people and still gave the time-honored customer service that had been a hallmark of her husband’s family business for generations. She and her husband were proud of their accomplishment of not only surviving, but thriving in the shadow of two retail giants. I sighed with relief when she didn’t offer FCE a piece of candy.
Flash forward to 2011 and Sylva, NC, home of Kel-Save Drugs, Eastgate Pharmacy, and a recently opened Marks Healthmart Pharmacy – all independents. Again, these guys are not only surviving, but thriving in a town of barely 30,000 that also plays host to a WalMart* Supercenter.
There’s a secret to surviving when faced with the competition of a WalMart* moving into town and the business owners in these examples know it. Maybe the small businesses in markets without the competition of major retailers are stuck in the rut of thinking small. Perhaps the thought of having to work harder or [gasp] changing the way they do business to survive is too frightful.
Speaking from personal experience (and as the spouse of a WalMart* employee), WalMart is only as big a threat as small businesses will allow it to be. Mom and Pop can make self-fulfilling prophesies and go under, or they can think outside the big box.
For nearly half a century I lived in a metropolitan area sans WalMart*. I know it may be hard to believe, but small, medium, and large businesses all went out of business on a regular basis. (Did Macy*s kill Gimbels?) When I moved to Appalachia, store choices were severely limited and WalMart* was—more or less—the place to shop.
Well, kiddies, WalMart* may carry a ton of stuff, but it doesn’t carry everything. To get the things I want, I need to go to small, local business people with whom I develop a relationship, or I need to go to the one place that carries virtually everything I want, And, the truth is, I may be a WalMart* in-law, but the majority of my purchases are made through Amazon.
WalMart* has its own statistics supporting a move into New York, and Gotham Government Relations has theirs discouraging the move, according to Are they both right? Maybe. Are they both wrong? Yes.
Could it be true that the 97.7% of proprietors who are so satisfied with the status quo that they want to prevent new competition also fear that 100% of their kind will disappear? Experience shows that less than 50% of them will go the way of the dinosaur and that 89% of the survivors will thrive.
Originally published:

Yesterday, I Woke Up in America…

Yesterday, I Woke Up in America… - Technorati Politics
Don’t tell me how I look, I’ll have you arrested.

James Eric Fuller, one of the victims of last week’s Tucson shooting that claimed six lives has been arrested for taking a picture of Tea Party political movement leader Trent Humphries and shouting “You’re dead!”
There have been times when people told me I wasn’t looking so hot that I would have liked to give them a fat lip, but it never occurred to me that when someone remarked “You’re pale,” I could have him or her arrested. America…what a country!
Fuller did not scream “I’m gonna kill you, Trent Humphries,” nor did he pull a trigger. I don’t think that society needs to wait until a trigger is pulled before taking preventive measures. However, when a man who has just been shot at a public meeting reacts angrily at a public meeting, should we be surprised and should he be arrested? It’s not like he yelled “Fire!”
In reporting this incident for Reuters, Brad Poole wrote, “The [Arizona] rampage sparked a national debate about whether the vitriolic tone of partisan politics in the United States in recent years had contributed to the suspect's motivations.” The other side of that same coin would be “we need to suspend free speech in order to keep some folks from going nuts.” Give me a break here. Next we can have people arrested for committing face crimes (e.g., sticking their tongues out at the president or dogcatcher).
Arguably, a psychiatric evaluation may be in order for Fuller, he may even need counseling as a potential victim of PTSD, but arrest and imprisonment? Half the wives in America would be in jail for saying “You’re dead” after their husbands answered the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Or how about parents who remind their kids of certain infractions and say, “Do that and you’re dead”?
It’s not that I’m in favor of threatening the lives of others—although I am from New Jersey—but the classification of word crimes is getting way out of hand. Political correctness be damned, a healthy society is one in which its members are free to express themselves (and I don’t mean with weapons). We’re smart enough to know the difference between the way James Fuller said “you’re dead,” and the way Jack Ruby said it. After all, Fuller may have just been making a misdiagnosis.
Although I’ve gone from being apolitical to embracing politibacy, I am aware of my toes and when they are being trampled. I firmly stand behind both the right to free speech and the sense not to invoke it. But I also believe that the America I woke up in yesterday had compassion for victims of those who feel free to express themselves with bullets, and the America I woke up in today should also.

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