AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Sunday, February 29

Corporate Governance Current Events

The Rash Report covers the announcement of Disney's new "Poison Pill."

Driving: Kings of the Road, With Rusted Crowns

This Article from the New York Times is an enjoyable read for anybody who, like me, drives or has driven an old beater car.

Old South Park Episodes on Current Social Issues

Gay marriage is a hotly contested topic right now. When thinking about the issue, keep This in mind.

Wednesday, February 25

I Shot My Wad

The Windfall I reported yesterday is now spent. The funds went toward the purchase of a CD I thought I had already ordered but apparently had left in my shopping cart: Sufjan Stevens's Greetings from Michigan, an album referred to me by a friend of a friend who writes for Texas Monthly and, thus, automatically is considered ultra hip.

Redundant Link

The Drudge Report reports that Urban Outfitters is in a swarm of controversy over this really great T-Shirt.

Social Security

Alan Greenspan says that cuts in Social Security must be made. Of course, this is obvious to everybody except politicials and the shamelessly greedy AARP. And this is something everybody in my generation has always figured would happen, namely that we will never get back any of our FICA contributions.

Tuesday, February 24

Enormous Windfall!

About a year ago, I filed my "valid and timely claim" in the CD MAP Antitrust Litigation in which retailers and music companies agreed to pay $143M for CD price fixing. As a consumer of music, I wanted my piece of that action.

Today, I got mine: a check for the princely sum of $13.86. So, I'm sticking it to the man. That's almost enough to buy a CD; perhaps that's how I'll blow my newly acquired wealth.

Of course, the real winners in this one are the lawyers in Philadelphia who are making millions to make sure that people like me get our nearly $14.

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, so let me relate this story from last year experience downtown:
Last night’s crowds were really pathetic. Sean and I wondered aloud at times whether affirmative action played a role in assembling this throng of people. I speculated that there were busses that picked people up from the worst parts of Austin and dropped them off on 6th Street. At one point, a firecracker exploded near a group of cops in riot gear. There was momentary confusion, but fortunately no stampede. Our foursome decided to move on, but which way? "Let’s go this way," I said, pointing. "The closer we are to West Austin [home of white yuppies], the better off we are." The logic seemed sound, so westward we went.

Two disgusting fat girls asked Sean what they had to do to get his light-up beer mug beads. He just looked at them like "you have got to be f**king crazy." Omar felt sorry for them, so he gave them some marijuana leaf beads anyway. One reached down to lift up her top, but Omar held out his hands indicating stop and saying, "No, it’s cool." They looked sad, so he said, pointing to Sean, "Don’t show me. Show Big Country [Sean is 6'6"]." I turned away quickly enough to prevent damage to my retinas. Sean wasn’t fast enough. When Jabba the Hut and her friend walked off, Sean stood there for a moment with a vacant, nauseated look in his eyes before informing "I just vomited in my mouth." I don’t know if I do the story justice, but it was really funny.
What will happen tonight?

Mark Cuban Wants More Attention

Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban is going to do a reality show where people have to jump through hoops so he'll give them money. The best summary of his reasoning comes from ABC: "Why has he agreed to give away such a large sum of money? Simply because he can . . . ."

Sunday, February 22

Fantastic Political News

Radical moron and killjoy Ralph Nader has decided to run for president again. Since Dean fell from the frontrunner position, I've been pretty down. But news that Ol' Ralph will help to siphon democrats votes and fracture the jackass party has sent my spirits soaring again. Go Nader!

Saturday, February 21

Little Things

My life is fast approaching rock bottom, I suppose. I'm deriving too much pleasure from such small things. The trip to the grocery store from which I just returned provides two examples:

(1) I was balancing five things of yogurt (Yes, it is sad that I'm a man and I eat yogurt. Sadder, however, is that I'm buying it at 11 o'clock on Saturday night.), taking it to the cart. The top one, Yoplait's Cherry Orchard variety, fell from the stack. It spun quickly, yet as if in slow motion, tumbling end over end, finally landing perfectly right side up. The impact, however, was perfect, completely breaking free the bottom of the container and leaving the plastic disc and a blob of yogurt on the floor. I glanced from side to side and, finding that nobody had seen me, quietly slinked away from the scene.

(2) A lifelong allergy sufferer, I await the coming of spring with mixed emotions. Today, I was in a histamine-induced hell. So I sought over-the-counter pharmaceutical relief. Expecting to get screwed on the deal, I was delighted to learn that generic forms of Claratin is now available. Total savings on a 30 pack = $15. Sweet!

Another Casebook Classic: the "Spanish Way"

This is a fun factual scenario encounterd this morning:
Thigpen was asleep when Rodriguez entered, but woke to find Rodriguez examining the intravenous needle in her arm. Rodriguez went around the bed and grabbed Thigpen's other arm, forcing her hand to his genital area and asking her to open and close her hand so he could take her blood pressure the "Spanish way."
Thigpen v. United States, 800 F.2d 393, 394 (4th Cir. 1986) (emphasis added).

Friday, February 20

German Deviants

A Kraut Fetishist somehow took his bondage a little two far and had to turn to the police for help to get unchained.

Wednesday, February 18

Ormond's Obvious Observation

Is it a surprise to anybody that Barry Bonds's Trainer admits to giving steroids to baseball players? After all, the only things more inflated than the numbers Bonds put up in the last few seasons are his enormous cheeks and arms. This was a skinny guy when he came into the league. There really ought to be an asterisk by his homerun record (and McGwire's, too).

More Baseball News: Damn

Maddux heads back to the Cubs. The NL Central is heating up.

Tuesday, February 17

Non-Trivial Question From Trivia Night

As some of you are aware, virtually every Tuesday night I compete in team trivia at Mother Egan's Irish Pub on 6th Street. Each week, the teams try to come up with inventive names to get the biggest laughs. This week featured one of the best I've heard so far (that is fit to print) and so I share it with or, ask it of, you:

What would Jesus do for a Klondike bar?

And they called it . . .

Puppy Love . . .

Monday, February 16

A-Rod to the Damn Yankees

The wonder about this Trade is that the Yankees didn't pick up Rodriguez when he came on the free agent market in the first place. I hate those guys.

Farce Force 5

I'm not sure what This is, but I have it on good authority that it's funny.

A Critical Introduction to Breakfast

TG Gibbon opines on the subject of breakfast. In particular, he hails the American contribution to the meal: cereal. Although I hate cereal, I feel like many of you will enjoy Gibbon's take on the milk and grain concoction.

Sunday, February 15

Down with Democrats

Since Howard Dean has completely lost, it is now time for this Blog to shift is political focus toward Massachusetts ultra-liberal Democratic presidential nominee-apparent John Kerry.

The always thoughtful George Will of the Washington Post provides 28 Questions Kerry should answer.

About Women

I was thinking today about the man-woman dynamic and trying to figure a few things out. In the process, I recalled something I read a while ago. I share the following passage from Garrison Keillor, The Book of Guys (Viking 1993) at 11-13 (especially note the beginning of the last paragraph):
Years ago, manhood was an opportunity for achievement, and now it is a problem to be overcome. Plato, St. Francis, Michelangelo, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Vince Lombardi, Van Gogh - you don't find guys of that caliber today, and if there are any, they are not painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or composing Don Giovanni. They are trying to be Mr. O.K. All-Rite, the man who can bake a cherry pie, go play basketball, come home, make melon balls and whip up a great soufflé, converse easily about intimate matters, participate in recreational weeping, laugh, hug, be vulnerable, be passionate in a skillful way, and the next day go off and lift them bales into that barge and tote it. A guy who women consider Acceptable.

Being all-rite is a dismal way to spend your life, and guys are not equipped for it anyway. We are lovers and artists and adventurers, meant to be noble, free-ranging, and foolish, like dogs, not competing for a stamp of approval, Friend of Womanhood.

Back when our gender was running on all eight cylinders, women died for the love of us (e.g. Carmen stabbed to death, Butterfly self-stabbed, Tosca self-hurled from parapet, Brunnhilde self-burned, Aïda self-buried, Ophelia swam after mealtime) - those days are over. Now women watch us and monitor our conversation for signs of bad attitude, they grade us daily, and, boys, we are in the wrong class. Men can never be feminists. Millions have tried and nobody did better than C+.

Here's what they won't tell you in class--

Girls had it better from the beginning, don't kid yourself. They were allowed to play in the house, where the books were and the adults, and boys were sent outdoors like livestock. Boys were noisy and rough, and girls were nice, so they got to stay and we had to go. Boys ran around in the yard with toy guns going kkshh-kkshh, fighting wars for made-up reasons and arguing about who was dead, while girls stayed inside and played with dolls, creating complex family groups and learning to solve problems through negotiation and role-playing. Which gender is better equipped, on the whole, to live an adult life, would you guess? (Applause, shouts) Is there any doubt about this? Is it even close?

Adolescence hits boys harder than it does girls. Girls bleed a little and their breasts pop out, big deal, but adolescence lands on a guy with both feet, a bad hormone experience. You are crazed with madness. Your body is engulfed by chemcals of rage and despair, you pound, you shriek, you batter your head against the trees. You come away wounded, feeling that life is unknowable, can never be understood, only endured and sometimes cheated.

. . .

Men adore women. Our mothers taught us to. Women do not adore men; women are amused by men, we are a source of chuckles. That's because women are the makers of life, and we aren't. We will never be able to carry life within our bodies, never breast-feed. We get more than our share of loot and we are, for some reason, incredibly brave and funny and inventive, and yet our role in procreation basically is to get crazy and howl and spray our seed in all directions.

Saturday, February 14

Valentine's Day Thought

From today's rerun of The Simpsons on love:
Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.
Also in today's clip show:
Jacques (the bowling coach): Meet me tomorrow for Brunch.
Marge: What's Brunch?
Jacques: You'd love it. It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don't get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!
Happy Valentine's Day to all! I will probably be drinking and watching sports. Hope others are doing better.

Friday, February 13

Historic The Onion

Ford's anti-Semetic "Model C" cracked me up. Naturally, I recalled another all-purpose line from the Coen brothers' seminal work The Big Lebowski: "I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

Right-Wing Veterans

U.S. Veteran Dispatch has some really amusing material on its site. It refers to John McCain as "The Manchurian Candidate" and also shows a Photo of the senator with Hanoi Jane Fonda.

Thursday, February 12

Europe

Sorens asks, "Who wants to go to Europe?" My response: "This guy." And I think we should ditch the Eurail Pass and hitchhike. I have free time from August 7th - 24th. Let's do this.

Divorce Strikes an American Institution

FOXNews reports that after 43 years, Ken and Barbie are throwing in the towel.

John Kerry Scandal?

Drudge Report says that an intern scandal involving the candidate is about to erupt. But this is no surprise. He is, after all, just another liberal Massachusetts democratic senator.

Politics are so ugly.

Wednesday, February 11

Trivia Gem

ESPN's Page 2 had, among others, this great question:
Dear Stump Page 2,

If Jessica Simpson and Denise Richards played Trivial Pursuit, would they finish within 48 hours?

-- Jonathan Noel

Frankly, Dan Cortese would have a better chance of winning the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions.

A Review of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

For my friend Mark, who often notes that Ayn Rand made him forget his love of reading for some time, I recommend this McSweeney's Review of The Fountainhead.

Defamation Defense

To defend Sorens, I add that I have on a number of occasions flipped through the pages of the J. Crew catalog. The girls have a clean, low-maintenance hot-chick chick quality that screams, "Let's lounge around all afternoon in our Ikea-furnished hipster apartment." It's irresistable.

But I've never made a catalog order. I think that's what makes it alright. You're still a real man if you go to the store yourself (or better yet, if your lady-friend ("I'm just helping her conceive, man.") does your shopping so you don't have to).

Tuesday, February 10

Mixed Feelings DVD Release

Stars Wars, the original trilogy, will be available on DVD September 21st. Problem is, after the first two prequels, I don't know if I'm interested in ever seeing the other movies again. George Lucas sucks.

This Man's Triumph Over Google

After creating 10 pages linking to this blog, this Blog now tops the Search for "aj ericksen." I rule.

Blog Retooling

Owing to Sorens's success over the Google ad banners, this Blog is shifting its focus to include dramatically increased references to BMW, Aston-Martin, Porsche, and McLaren, but not Ferrari because that would be duplicative.

Monday, February 9

Sprokets

Hallo, Jürgen from Baden-Baden: yet another German begs, "Touch my Monkey. Touch it!"

Firefox

Firefox, Johnson failed to mention, is amazing because it features "thought-controlled weaponry" which Clint Eastwood heroically stole from our Cold War enemies.

Sunday, February 8

Techno Morons Abound

Today, I got my 7th e-mail containing the MyDoom virus (though it hasn't affected me because, of course, I'm not a moron) from members of the Texas Law Review. It is baffling to me how educated twentysomething people can be dumb enough to click on mysterious attachments. My bewilderment is multiplied when I consider that everyone of those people gets - free, through the university - Symantec AntiVirus that would prevent this despite their ineptitude if they would only set it to update their virus definition files automatically.

[Thanks to computer illeterates everywhere. Holla!]

Saturday, February 7

Looking Back - Looking Forward

My brother, after many years away from school and making a decent living, is a few weeks into college. He's working hard at his studies, but he's still having a hard time finding a decent part-time job and is becoming more broke by the day. I remember how tough the job hunt was for me. Even more, I remember how bad some of those jobs were. In that vein, I decided to post a little unfinished piece I wrote while I was working temp jobs at call centers with one Paco Hepwortho, a.k.a. Bill Solomon, before starting law school.

I've never "published" any of my writings, so I hope you enjoy this little piece from July 2002, "Marketing Ally":
The anonymous building sat inconspicuously behind the hamburger stand and Durfey’s Dry Cleaning. I was told that is was a second-rate dance club years ago, before I moved into town. A person could easily live for years within a couple of city blocks and never notice the place or its employees. And, yet, I found myself within the bowels of the building on a dog-day Wednesday afternoon.

The temp agency sent me to put in a few hours on the phone. The work was a pre-election poll, just a couple of questions: Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Do you consider yourself republican or democrat? Am I interrupting your dinner or your favorite television program? It was the same thing but in a new locale. Without a book to read or an afghan to knit, time moved at an interminably slow pace. And the facility itself only worsened matters.

The call center was kind of like a casino: lots of background noise from the incessant chatter and humming fluorescent lights overhead, despondent people everywhere you looked (The only people with a trace of a smile were the managers; the house always wins.), and countless flashing screens. However, the call center had more water-stained ceiling tiles and minors. I’m told there are no windows or clocks in Las Vegas casinos so the gamblers lose track of time. Having seen the scores of zombies in cabana shirts and blue-haired old hags with their asses glued to the stools like their hideous fake nails to their fingers, I am convinced the plan works. I suppose the time flies for those folks. But inside the windowless cave-call center, the batteries seemed to by dying on Father Time’s watch. I arrived at 4 o’clock, and by 4:23 I was convinced was at least 10:37. During a couple of minutes of technical difficulties, I dozed off and awakened certain I was in hell.

Taking stock of myself—feeling for wallet, keys, checking my fly, and wiping away any drool from my siesta with the back of my hand—I soon realized where I was. I looked around me for a wall clock and, finding none, checked my watch. 4:46, Lord the day was going to be long! What was I going to do?

Still looking straight at the computer screen, I glanced at the people to my left and to my right. I have always been a good judge of people—at least, I am quick to judge them—and I dismissed these two miserable sods almost instantly.

To my left was an old guy whose name was, I think, Don. I say I only think his name was Don because we never spoke to each other aside from me asking him where the men’s room was. Anyway, he looked like a Don. He was probably in his early fifties, but he looked much older; life had worn him down. I wondered why an old guy like that was working among high-school kids for a pauper’s wage of $7 an hour. Was he a recovering alcoholic, recently abandoned by his wife after losing his job at the plant? Was he retarded? I didn’t know, and I didn’t really want to find out. Imagining was much more fun. The worn out aqua socks that he wore with his grey polyester slacks that were improperly pressed so as to reveal his fly although it was zipped.

To my right was a large black man named Ben. I’m certain of his name. He thrust out his hand to introduce himself, and, being much smaller than he, I was helpless to refuse him. He was only in his twenties, but he had a few wisps of grey in his bushy eyebrows. I would have been intimidated by his size if he didn’t have such a comical voice. He sounded like a cross between Daffy Duck and Bryant Gumbel—not the real Bryant Gumbel, rather like David Alan Grier’s impersonation of Bryant Gumbel. I think his tongue was too big for his mouth. When he said, “Political questions,” it sounded more like “plit-cul qwes-sions.” I was happy to get phone calls just so I didn’t have to talk to him. . . .

Semi-Entertaining Flash Game

Play "Who would you rather?" hypotheticals like my Martha v. Hillary v. Molly. Note: it is advisable to turn off the sound because it is annoying (like most Flash games).

Friday, February 6

Ranking Ploy

In an effort to up my page ranking for searching "AJ Ericksen," I have created links to my blog in 10 different pages that look exactly like This.

Football Offseason Doldrum

On HBO's Inside the NFL, to fill the news void, producers brought on a KISS coverband in full costume composed entirely of "little people." Creepy.

Health News

Watching Seinfeld reruns on The Superstation, I saw another commercial for prescription herpes medicine. That got me wondering how there can be enough demand for the product to warrant a national ad campaign. Naturally, I turned to the Internet. Well, in searching for statistics, I stumbled across this little Gem.

The Ferrari and McLaren Blog

I laud Soren's efforts in his Ferrari and McLaren Blog to improve the quality of his Google-generated ad banners. I hope the experiment works. For the most part, I don't care about the ads. I would be perfectly content with ads for just about anything -- just not stupid LDS-oriented crap.

Office Annoyances

Who hasn't had an annoying coworker and wanted to do This?

[Thanks Murphy.]

Annoying Ad Banners

I'm getting pretty bummed out that my friends blogs (see Links) get Google-generated ads for Super Mario Bros. and politics (although Johnson usually gets Howard Dean stuff, a proven loser) while I suffer with LDS Singles and Seagull Books & Tape.

Thursday, February 5

Military Technology

Japan has a new Camouflage for soldiers in Iraq.

Gubernatorial Politics

Texas style.

Wednesday, February 4

Idiot Computer Users

The NY Times has a great piece about how morons who click on e-mail attachments with viruses have no place in cyberspace.

I suppose it is appropriate to take this occasion to say "thank you" to Johnson for his advice from time to time dealing with a Dell Latitude that has been "disappointing." Surprisingly, all the Microsoft stuff I have on it never caused the problem. Instead, it was hardware.

Hypo Response

Sorens e-mailed me this response to my Martha-Hillary Hypo:

"Like [Horst], I chose Martha with little hesitation. I, however, have stomach enough to go into the reasons. First, in my opinion, Martha is rather attractive for an older woman. Definitely not the case for Hill. Second, Martha would probably be pretty creative about it. I'm not sure what that really means, but it couldn't hurt. Hillary would be all about business and getting the job done. . . ."

I concur both in the decision and in the second reason. Likewise, I'm not sure what "pretty creative" means, but I'm certainly intrigued.

He also suggests this viable third option:

Nasty Hypo

If you had to be ensure the continuing survival of the human race, would you rather it be with:

- or -

Just wondering.

Half the World's Problems, Summarized

Procrastination considered work by many, often me. (In fact, I do most of my blogging during the hours I refer to as "studying" in the library.)

Tuesday, February 3

Bush's Space-Exploration Dreams

The Economist carries an interesting letter about the Man to Mars idea (italics added):
SIR – I think you "misunderestimate" George Bush's recent space proposals ("A grand but costly vision", January 17th). They are neither about science nor prestige. Rather, these proposals are part of what might be called the administration's "strategic-offence initiative"—a commitment to maintaining and enlarging indefinitely the capability gap between the United States and the rest of the world. The president's goal is not an extended human presence on the moon but the unique capacity to maintain an "extended American presence" there. The trip to Mars is largely a cover story. As Tip O'Neill might have said: all space exploration is local.

Adam Rose
Chicago
Damn straight, the United States is committed to staying ahead of the rest of the world.

Charming



[Thanks Paul.]

The Other Jackson

A friend of a friend writes for Texas Monthly, a first-rate regional magazine. I talked with him last weekend at a bar, and he told me about a story he recently wrote about a Corpus Christ, Texas woman who is the president of the Michael Jackson Fan Club. The woman, 48, lives with her parents and a few pets among an enormous collection of Jackson memorabilia.

My favorite part was the discussion of the King of Pop's current woes -- and its effect on fans:
As she typed with her brother [on IM], she discussed the MJFC's role in the current mess, which she sees as two-fold: to be there for Jackson but also for his fans. "Some of the fans who've been around forever are going through a very difficult time," she said, "with people making comments and saying really negative things about being a fan and standing by Michael." She pointed out that during the first round of accusations, some fans threatened suicide, although she doesn't recall any attempts actually being made. To deal with the scandal this time, she assigned two team members to monitor the MJFC's forum and chat rooms for posts of "uncalled-for, sick opinions" and set up a special e-mail address for distraught fans, with a promise that a team member would respond withing 48 hours.
Source: John Spong, Texas Monthly Reporter - The State of Our State - Letter From Corpus Christi, Texas Monthly (Feb. 2004) at 38.

Holy Crap, Google is Amazing!

My friend Mark believes that the smartest people on earth are employees of Google. I said bull. Now, I may be wrong. Let me explain:

For grins, I figured I would try one of the alternative browsers some of my friends tout. In so doing, when I viewed my blog (which doesn't display properly other than in Internet Explorer) the ad banner Google generates read "Meet LDS Singles" and "LDS Missionary Cookies." Damn it! All I did was use the term "LDS" in a post yesterday, and now they're on to me.

This blows my mind.

Monday, February 2

Continuing the Halftime Discourse

Horst is right about the bathroom/snacking aspect of halftime. I suppose the hope was to get Americans excited about what might happen during the next Super Bowl's halftime. My reason for saying this is that since "the big gun" was not announced in advanced, nobody knew to keep eyes glued to the set.

Also, I note, that I wasn't terribly impressed by Janet's "big gun." Mostly -- as with many desperate celebs, e.g. Brittney on Madonna on Christina -- I just feel sad for Jackson. Her career isn't exactly at its peak. To borrow a phrase, Janet "what have you done for me lately?"

"Where were you when . . .?"

Incidentally, this Blog was not watching the halftime show (or the Lingerie Bowl, for that matter). In holier-than-thou fashion, I was instead at the stake center for a CES broadcast because the girl I like (but have not yet after several dates summoned to the courage to kiss though I very much want to but alas I'm a coward and historically move at a glacially slow pace and also because I have blown at least two opportunities to do so because I have no good "move") wanted to go to that and so I wanted to do that, too.

"Wardrobe Malfunction"

Horst gives himself a hard time about failing, until aided by Dr Pepper, to notice that the Super Breast was no accident but rather a cheap CBS/MTV ratings stunt. In fact, as Matt Drudge reports, the FCC is Investigating what happened.

Incidentally, this Blog is pleased to report that with all fall semester grades in, this term was his strongest single-semester performance since high school.

More Winter!

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today. So we've got more winter coming. Note how easy it is for me to get excited about this news because I live in Austin, Texas, where today's high is expected to be 64 degrees and sunny.

Sunday, February 1

Fast 'n Testimony Bloopers

As many of you know, I have the (mis)fortune of belonging to a single adult LDS ward. This produces many an awkward moment as people try to get the attention of the opposite sex or combat their lonliness with laughter. Today's meetings were terrible in this regard. Let me give you an example from priesthood meeting.

In an effort to help the helpless, a dinner group activity has been established. People sign up to be included, and then they are assigned to have dinner together once a month. Apparently, there was a larger response from the women than from the men, and the result was that 81 women and only 39 men were participating. This fact was announced in the meeting to drum up enthusiasm. Pathetic, but it gets worse. The following is a near exact quoting of the second counselor in his statement following that announcement:

"For any investigators who are joining us today, I just want to let you know that we don't officially promote polygamy. [Why he said "officially" I don't know; after all, we don't promote it unofficially either.] This is just dinner. There will be no marriages there."

Upon hearing this, my head fell into my hands in utter disbelief. This is just one example of the kind of thing that can happen on any given Sunday.