Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let's ride out this recession together!

So, collective amnesia has once again hit us. Everywhere people are saying, "I didn't see this recession coming. It came out of nowhere. I am angry because the value of my house has collapsed."

Now maybe I'm missing something important here but Governments tend to spend money with impunity until the coffers are empty and someone notices and says, "Oh shit." More to the point, house prices do not keep rising, then get to a certain point, then plateau, then collapse like a stack of cards. Also, there is a recession every ten years or so. So why be 'surprised' when the shit hits the fan after you spent the last ten years borrowing money, living beyond your means, buying a house you couldn't afford and not diversifying your investments?

I don't know, I just don't get it. I thought most sensible people saved money in case they were made redundant. I guess this is not the case. Okay, I'll get off my soap box.

Right now maybe some of you might want to poke my eyes out (and if there are any flamers out there this is the time to leap in and tell me I know jack all about economics or that I am an airhead - I love these kinds of belligerent comments and receive them all too rarely so please don't be shy and jump right in!) So maybe you have been laid off, have chickens in the back yard or are running your car on chip grease. But you still aren't making ends meet. So what should you do? Tell me this: Can you beg, borrow or steal a sheaf of paper and a pencil? If you can you can become an author. Don't worry if you have nothing to say or are intellectually challenged. Dubya just landed a $7 million book deal and he doesn't even know how to successfully eat a pretzel.

I am getting a little bit tired of saying that all the books out there are for people with the IQ of a Dubya. There are plenty of quality books out there. Here's just a few of the best to inspire you:

The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton (Paperback) by Tinkerbell Hilton

An inspirational journey by one of the world's most famous Chihuahuas. Follow Tinkerbell as she accompanies her mistress to a colonic irrigation clinic and to a hair extension clinic. Full of doggerel, this book is brim-full of barking humour that will have you licking your balls with delight.

Katie Prices Perfect Ponies by Katie Price aka Jordan

Katie Price proves that not only has she made money from four ghostwritten novels called Angel and Hair Pasta and Crystal and Meth, she can also write about horses. Well, it keeps her in polka dot kneesocks.

If you're worried that you're neither a millionairess's chihuahua or have big breasts, don't let that stop you. Why not pick a famous inanimate object and write a biography on it? I am personally working on Diary of Camilla Parker Bowles' Tampon. It's sure to be an absorbing classic that can fit into the slimmest of spaces.

Give me the book titles you are working on. Let's support eachother here, take literature to new depths and make some dough at the same time!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I wanna touch your Spandex

Panic!! What to wear to the 80s tribute band The Legwarmers concert tonight???

Okay I look hot but maybe lose the Pacamac?

And the hat

Okay, wow, yes, shoulderpads are go!

Okay, here we are at the venue. Why is everyone so freaking young? And why do I feel so old?

"Hey, Babyface, what you doing here? I mean, were you even born in the eighties?"
"No, but I was an ovum."

"Hey Babycakes, do you mind if I touch your rock hard head of hair?"
"Not at all. Go ahead Lady, make my day."

Do you remember the pungent smell of 80's hair gel? .... mmm ... the scent of industrial waste ... it's all coming back to me ... slow dance at the disco, getting fingers stuck in a very stiff gel-caked flat top? Anyone want to share their sentimental 80's memories??

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chimps Have Had Their Chips

One of the biggest hurdles apart from Monica that Clinton had to mount at the tail end of his presidency were an excess of chimps. Since the mid eighties, scientists had been breeding chimps like crazy, thinking they'd be the solution to finding an AIDS vaccine. Ultimately, they found out that although chimpanzees could contract the AIDS virus, they rarely became sick from it. That meant it was hard to use the animals to test treatments or vaccines. This left hundreds of chimps with no place to go.

Consequently, Clinton signed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act into being - an act which vowed to take chimps that had been medically experimented on, as well as the chimps who'd been working at NASA as 'chimponauts' and put them in special chimp retirement homes. There were also some ex-showbiz chimps in the mix - because apparently after six years old chimps are totally unmanageable and difficult to control. One of the most famous federally funded chimp retirement homes is Chimp Haven in Louisiana which was founded by Dr. Brent.

Dr. Brent said, "We'd like to see them in a place where they can use their smarts," she said. "They know how to build nests. They know how to search for termites. They know the things they need to do to live in the wild. I think we have a really unique opportunity to help the chimps become chimps again."

And what of the chimponauts? "I've never worked with chimps more screwy, more altered, more disturbed than the chimponauts," said chimp expert, Dr. Carole Noon. "Each one came in with some kind of crazy behavior."

Amazing what these experts know isn't it? Who would have thought that strapping a chimp into a vessel the size of a hotel fridge would cause it to go nuts?

I suppose you're wondering what a chimp retirement home might look like. Well, it's not bad, they have spacious outdoor yards and playground equipment for swinging and climbing.

They also have TV.

"There are some that like soap operas," said Dr. Linda Brent, a behavioral researcher and director of enrichment at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. "I knew one named Sammy. He liked to watch Barney. Sometimes, they like shows like Jerry Springer, because it looks like the people are fighting. They like the action."

"It's a good moment for chimps, a very good moment," said Dr. Frans de Waal, a Yerkes primatologist who is on the board of Chimp Haven. "If we are not going to use them for biomedical studies, let's move them to a situation that is attractive to the chimps for retirement."

But wait, why are the chimps, once confined to small cages with electrodes drilled into their skulls being given this luxury treatment? Why weren't the excess chimps simply euthanized?

Hmm. With their striking genetic similarity to people -- chimps and humans share the same blood types, and their DNA is more than 98 percent identical -- chimps are attractive to scientists. The vaccine for hepatitis B, for instance, was developed in chimps, and they are still used to study hepatitis C and malaria, among other diseases.

Another chimp expert called Dr. Zola said that the scientists who mapped the human genome are now planning to do the same for chimpanzees, an effort that may make the apes even more valuable to science. "They may provide us with very important information," he said, "about what makes us human."

In 1997, a panel of scientific experts said reducing the chimp population by euthanizing excess apes would be unethical. Citing the genetic similarities, the experts said the government had "a moral responsibility" for chimpanzees' long-term care. Thus Clinton signed the CHIMP Act in 2000.

So let's face facts. These chimps are getting the special treatment because they are very useful to us as potential scientific subjects in the future. But it could also be because deep down we are afraid that if we don't play nice that one day the chimps may get hold of a few machine guns and create a Planet of the Apes scenario where WE are strapped into spaceships the size of fridges.

This post also inspired the marvelous cartoonist NotKeith to put pen to paper (see above). NotKeith does illustrations based on blog posts that have inspired him. To see if you can be his next inspiration go here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Would you know what to do with a dead rat?

I used to think I was mad. I used to think I was shameless. Until I stumbled upon MJ and her Infomaniac blog. While her blog may tickle some people's fancy, you should be warned, some of the images will make your butter curdle and your wives turn into pillars of salt.

Now, MJ is a very private woman but I recently found this photo of her (above). I think the picture speaks for itself. She is very much the kind of lass and who could club a bison to death and bring it home to the cave. If only we were all as talented with a club (sigh). Anyway, she recently put a list of Life Skills 101 up on her blog, the kind of stuff you needed to know if you were to survive in ye olden days. She has seventeen of these skills and I think I have five.

1. Use a bow and arrow
2. Load and fire a musket
3. Duel with pistol
4. Joust
5. Throw a battleax
6. Forge a sword
7. Fight with a rapier and dagger
8. Besiege a castle
9. Defend a castle
10. Make and smoke a peace pipe
11. Make a flint cutting tool
12. Brew mead
13. Make bread
14. Roast chestnuts on an open fire
15. Make hard cheese
16. Make butter
17. Make ice cream
18. Keep bees and harvest honey
19. Tap and make maple syrup
20. Find berries in the wild
21. Can food
22. Archery fish
23. Gut and clean fish
24. Keep chickens
25. Pluck a chicken
26. Roast a wild boar
27. Cook on a range
28. Dig and use a pit oven
29. Make a fire without matches
30. Track animals
31. Forecast the weather
32. Tease, card, & spin wool
33. Make natural dye from plants
34. Weave a chair seat
35. Weave a basket
36. Make soap
37. Make a broom
38. Sweep a chimney
39. Chop down a tree with an ax
40. Carve a totem pole
41. Carve a canoe
42. Make a barrel
43. Thatch a roof
44. Build a wall with wattle and daub
45. Build a dry stone wall
46. Dig a well
47. Plow a field
48. Build a log bridge
49. Build a log cabin
50. Build a pyramid
51. Embalm a body
52. Treat a battle wound
53. Set broken bones
54. Groom a horse
55. Shoe a horse
56. Mount and dismount a horse
57. Make and throw a lasso
58. Milk a cow
59. Hunt deer safely in woodlands
60. Mount a stag’s head
61. Shear a sheep
62. Care for rope
63. Tie a hangman’s noose
64. Read Roman numerals
65. Use an abacus
66. Operate a telegraph machine
67. Send smoke signals
68. Cure people with leeches and maggots
69. Read palms
70. Behave at a medieval banquet
71. Read a coat of arms
72. Address royalty
73. Grow herbs
74. Use herbs in your personal grooming
75. Care for leather boots
76. Wear opera gloves
77. Wear a Roman toga
78. Wash clothes by hand
79. Care for your period wig
80. Play hopscotch
81. Play jacks
82. Use a hoola hoop
83. Play marbles
84. Play real tennis
85. Play stickball
86. Make a pair of shoes
87. Make a hammock
88. Make a quill pen
89. Make papyrus
90. Write a sonnet
91. Write calligraphy
92. Understand opera
93. Make a corn husk doll
94. Make and play a didgeridoo
95. Ride a penny-farthing
96. Make a cave painting
97. Make a Roman mosaic
98. Pan for gold
99. Clean and polish silver
100. Blow glass
101. Make a stained-glass window.

My argument with the divine MJ was that while I can bake bread or even chocolate croissants I'm not sure this list is that useful these days. I mean how many people thatch roofs? Two in the Cotswolds, I should guess. I would say you only need three skills as a lady after, say, a nuclear war:

1. a strong stomach to be able to kill other people and eat them.

2. sexual skills to stimulate the gentlemen so they will do all the stick rubbing and wattling and daubing.

3. The ability to make sexy shoes out of animal carcasses.

Rat Shoe

Tarantula Shoe

I have all three skills so I am sorted. But what about you? What skills from the Life Skills 101 List do you have, and what other skills do you have?