Thursday, August 26, 2010

If They Build It, People Will Complain









We are in the midst of the biggest recall in American history. Obviously, I'm talking about eggs. Many of us have worried about this danger for years, but we were branded as "alarmists." These eggs have proven to be a huge danger to the health and vitality of our nation. Now, just to rub it in, I've heard rumors that the American Poultry And Egg Society is building a Cultural Center in Iowa. What makes it worse, is that they plan on building this only a few hundred yards from Wright County Egg -- where many of the tainted eggs came from. I don't mind the Society having a building to educate the public about chicken and eggs. However, it is incredibly insensitive of them to have the Center so close to the site of this disaster.



I don't feel I have to be politically correct when it comes to chickens. This is a democracy and the Land Of The Free and all that stuff, so we have always permitted all foods to be eaten here. However, traditionally, the United States has been a Meat Country. Beef was considered to be one of the healthiest foods. We ate red meat to get stronger. Then along came some "scientific" research that claimed that things like "cholesterol" and other invisible "dangerous" chemicals were in red meat, and that chicken was healthier for us. Oh, really? When was the last time a steer with salmonella laid an infected egg?


In American tradition, chicken and eggs are not on the same level as many other foods. For example, we eat turkey on Thanksgiving. A Christmas goose or ham is on many tables. Can you imagine there ever being a tradition in our country of having people over on Flag Day to eat an omelet?


The disease that these eggs carry, obviously, comes from hens. And how do these hens get it? They get it by eating feed that has been infiltrated by rat or mouse droppings. Even those on the political left must see this as disgusting.


The touchy-feely, latte-drinking San Francisco liberals will tell you that chickens should be treated the same way that we treat all other animals that we eat. That's a good idea in theory, but no other animal's disease has invaded our country on this scale. Half a billion -- that's billion with a B-- eggs have been recalled. To give you a visual, if you put a billion eggs end to end around the world, well, uh, it sure would make a mess.


So while it's true that the majority of chickens (and their eggs) may pose no threat to America, the threat from a minority of them is so great, that we have to be wary of all chickens. I'm not chicken-phobic, but times have changed. We must be vigilant. Those who make their living from chickens should be sensitive to this fact and put their Poultry Cultural Center somewhere other than in the middle of America's farm country. A good place might be downtown Manhattan.


I also can't help wondering if some of these eggs were smuggled into the United States from other countries. Doesn't half a billion sound like a huge number of eggs to come just from Iowa? This is something that I hope the government will look into. We should take precautions just in case our enemies are using tainted eggs to weaken the greatest nation in the world. It's just possible that we finally have an answer to that old question: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" "Because there weren't enough border guards to stop him."








Friday, August 20, 2010

An American Hero?






A year from now, most people will have no idea who Stephen Slater is. However, today he's a hero to thousands of people. He's the JetBlue flight attendant who lost his temper, quit his job while on duty, grabbed some beer, activated the emergency chute, and slid to fame. Why did a guy like this become a hero to so many people?


In these economic times, it might seem strange that someone would throw away a job. I'm sure there are unemployed people and others with backbreaking jobs who can't identify at all with what Slater did. On the other hand, many people today feel that management is taking advantage of workers. Employers know how hard it is to get a job today, so they hire people at lower wages with fewer benefits. As a result, there are considerable ill feelings towards employers today.

I'm not defending what Slater did. I'm just trying to understand it. However, there are many people who are defending him, even though he broke the law. They are thrilled by the way he quit, and see him as a hero. He did what many working people fantasize doing. He put into action the words of the old Johnny Paycheck song, "Take This Job And Shove It."


There is a tradition in America to turn those who break the law into heroes. Jesse James was a folk hero. Bonnie and Clyde were, too. Don't forget D.B. Cooper. He was the guy who hijacked a plane, got $200,000 in ransom, and parachuted out of the plane with the money.


Americans don't (hero) worship just anybody who breaks the law. Those who are admired are people whose actions are audacious and aimed primarily at "the man," government, big institutions, or corporations like banks, railroads, and now airlines. If someone steals the money from the cash register of a little store, nobody is going to make that thief a hero. But if a meek doorman at Goldman Sachs ingeniously figures out a way to get into the vault and steal millions of dollars on his lunch hour, he becomes an instant hero.


I don't think it's a particularly good thing that Americans make heroes out of these people, but that's the reality. And speaking of reality, it's no surprise that there are rumors that Slater will be in a TV reality show soon. He already has a Hollywood publicist named Howard Bragman. (How perfect is "Bragman" for the name of a publicist)? According to Bragman, they're getting all kinds of show business offers, and they'll deal with them once Slater takes care of his pesky criminal charges.


I'm sure he could do commercials for all kinds of products. He could definitely help sell the kind of beer he grabbed from the plane -- Blue Moon. But if I were the head of JetBlue, I'd hire Slater and make sure that his contract was exclusive. Then I'd put him in a JetBlue flight attendant's uniform, and he'd say on camera, "Everybody makes mistakes, even JetBlue. Sometimes we're late. Sometimes we over book. Sometimes we accidentally seat you 20 rows from your three-year-old. But whenever JetBlue happens to make a mistake, I think you should forgive them -- just as JetBlue has forgiven me." Then he'd grab a couple of beers, and slide down a chute.


It's definitely the smart way to go. You see, if a big corporation like JetBlue were to forgive someone who embarrassed them like this, and if they made fun of themselves in the process, well, there's a good chance JetBlue would become a folk hero.








Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Faithful Men?





Glenn Close going crazy in "Fatal Attraction" was a cautionary tale for any man considering a casual affair in the late '80s. Today, the repercussions of Tiger Woods' affairs should be enough to discourage men from cheating on their wives. When statisticians do their work on the subject, I'll bet we'll see a dip in the number of unfaithful male spouses for the years immediately after Tiger's foolish philandering. This upswing in marital fidelity won't be because men are going to worry about the money they might have to give up if their wives find out they have strayed. It's not because of the possible effect on their children. It's not because they might lose the woman they love if they get caught doing some free-Lance mattress testing. No, what will terrorize millions of men about having an affair and getting caught is how this might affect their golf game.




There are an estimated 25 million men who play golf in the United States. For many of them, golf is like life and death, except more important. They spend thousands of dollars hoping to improve their score by one or two strokes. If you told them that their game would fall apart if they did something, they simply wouldn't do that thing. Well, if Tiger is any example, their golf game would fall apart if they were unfaithful and got caught. It's possible that Tiger could win the final tournament of the year, but even if he does, that's only one tournament. I don't think that's enough to make the guy with the custom golf cart and the beer belly take his eyes off his wife now.




Most of us don't know for certain what happened to Tiger this past Thanksgiving weekend. We know that in the middle of the night, Tiger smashed his Escalade into the fire hydrant near his driveway. Then his wife either attacked him with a golf club, or heroically used the club to smash open the window to rescue him. It all took place a few days after the "National Enquirer" reported that Tiger was having an affair, but I guess it's possible she was in a rescuing mood.



For years, Tiger Woods has been a favorite in every golf tournament that he's entered. This year has been very, very different for him. So far this year, he's 12th in scoring, 111th in greens in regulation, and 93rd in putts per hole. When an everyday golfer sees those statistics, his reaction has got to be something like, "That beautiful new neighbor would probably make me feel younger, but so would a new driver."


Golfers have to feel that if the greatest golfer in the world has a game that's fallen apart because of his compulsive couplings, the ordinary golfer probably wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between his putter and his bag if he cheated and got caught. Now, when millions of golfers tell their wives that the reason they were still playing after dark was because the course was crowded, they'll actually be telling the truth.



Future PhD theses will try to answer the question of whether Tiger's game suffered because he cheated or because he got caught. Even though some purists might point out that Tiger's game did not fall apart until he got caught, I doubt that those who really care about golf are going to take that chance. They'll do everything they can to avoid Tiger's fate. If they have a subscription to the "National Enquirer," they'll cancel it. If they own an Escalade, they'll sell it. If their house is near a fire hydrant, they'll move.


Generally speaking, golfers consider cheating to be a terrible offense. The kind of cheating I'm talking about involves things like kicking the ball to get a better shot or not counting a stroke because they hiccupped during their back swing. This kind of cheating is totally unacceptable to golfers. And since they learned how to avoid cheating on the golf course, there's no reason why they can't learn to avoid it in the rest of their lives. From now on, when you think you hear a golfer say he wants to "play around," what he probably said is that he wants to "play a round."







Friday, August 6, 2010

Why Not Me?






The rumors are true. I was not invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding. I have no idea why. I never said or did anything cruel to either Bill or Hillary Clinton. I never met Marc's family, so why would they be mad at me? It's all a mystery. The invitation couldn't have gotten lost in the mail. You don't just drop an invitation to a former First Daughter's wedding in your neighborhood mailbox. You walk down to the post office, you wait in that dreadful line, and you pay the few extra bucks to insure the thing. No, they left me off the list on purpose, and they didn't do it in a classy way.


I understand that they couldn't invite everyone. I'm sure the Clintons had to let the Mezvinskys invite five or six of their friends. However, when you have limited space at a wedding, you don't just refrain from inviting people. You pick up the phone, you apologize, and you explain that you can't invite everybody. I would have understood.



I voted for Bill twice. I thought the way he conducted his personal life was stupid, but not worthy of wasting the country's time and money on impeachment hearings. And this is how he thanks me? I never criticized Hillary's love of pantsuits. I don't care what she wears. For that kind of support, she treats me like this? How much space would I have taken up at the wedding? How much food would I have eaten? How many times did they think I'd ask the band to play, "Louie, Louie?"



The irony is that I happen to be a great guest at parties. Often people seat me next to their crazy aunt or that family friend that they just had to invite. And if I'm sitting next to this person, the host and hostess don't have to worry about being embarrassed. Do you honestly think that there was nobody who needed this kind of attention at this wedding? Does the name "Roger Clinton" mean anything to you?



Maybe it seems like sour grapes, but that wedding doesn't sound so wonderful anyway. For openers, there were food issues. Chelsea is a vegan, and no, that's not someone from "Star Trek." I'm a picky eater, but I don't expect everyone I eat with to have my tastes. Chelsea, on the other hand, made sure there was a "goodie bag" for all the guests in their hotel rooms filled with gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. How appetizing does that sound? I hope she didn't make people sleep on mattress-free beds.


Here's an example of how dull things were in the town where the wedding took place. According to the "New York Times," teenage boys chased Madeleine Albright down the street, trying to get her autograph. Do you need more proof than that?


There is one reason I can think of for my not being invited to the wedding, but it's so juvenile I'm reluctant to bring it up. Chelsea and Marc both went to Stanford, and I went to the University of California at Berkeley. There is a huge rivalry between the two schools, but even someone who is stuck up enough to go to Stanford should not be hung up on this rivalry by the time they are thirty. I've gotten over it, but I guess Chelsea and Marc haven't. Just because Stanford has the most ridiculous mascot in all of college sports, doesn't mean a Stanford graduate should act ridiculously, too. I guess Chelsea and Marc have that typical Stanford immaturity and that's why they couldn't invite someone who went to a truly great university.



I know what you're thinking. I shouldn't take this whole thing personally. Look at all the famous people who weren't at the wedding: Oprah, Steven Spielberg, and Barbra Streisand are among those who are usually mentioned by the press. There are other famous people who weren't there: For example, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, and Lady Gaga. Also not on the list were George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Ernie Banks. Come to think of it, the group of people who weren't invited are more interesting and fun than those who were invited. I see now that I should be proud to be in this elite company. So, I'll just stick with Mandela and Lady Gaga and the others. With friends like those, who needs Chelsea and Marc?




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