Subscriber Services Weather

Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Debriefing

What's up friends and frienemies?

I won't whine that it's been a long week, 'cause no doubt plenty of you have had one too. I will say though, I've been swamped working on feature stories for the paper. On a good day in a good week I can slip in a blog post during the work day. But frankly, in weeks like this, by day's end sometimes - especially at the end of a long day - the last thing I want to do is come home and sit back down in front of a keyboard.

All that being said, this week is officially over. So consider this our board meeting. Let me fill you in on the lot and the little of the past few days:

  1. My next article, the one that took up the early part of the week, will run in Sunday's paper and, as usual, will e on It's a profile of IndyCar racer and Dancing With the Stars Season 5 winner Helio Castroneves. The story's more about Castroneves' life at home and his unique design and decorating tastes.
  2. People can change in a good way, I guess. That guy who tried to bully me off of a public sidewalk near my job last fall, smiled and waved at me earlier this week and asked how I was doing, while I was strolling on a coffee break. Maybe it was for embarrassment. But I give him the benefit of the doubt. If you don't remember that story, say so, and I'll amend this post and put the text of the column I wrote about the incident at the bottom.
  3. Like dance music? I've never been a huge fan. I've never quite been able to tell the difference in "electronica" and "dance" and "techno" and "house." And it all makes me think in the back of my mind of A Night at the Roxbury. I really liked that movie. Either way, I know who some of the big DJs are, and I respect their work. It's entertaining, and it's an honest living. Mrs. B knows more about 'em than I do. Anywho, while on assignment Wednesday night I got to meet Paul Oakenfold. If you're into electronica music, you'll know that name. Nice guy.
  4. I finally lost some of my fickle nature and picked a name for my Web site. I hope to unveil the site within a week or so. Until then, you have to wait to get the name.
  5. It never ceases to amaze me what people will do to themselves in the name of good looks. I stopped in Whole Foods this afternoon to grab lunch and saw a woman with a swollen mug. I was about ready to offer to call 911 for her, under the assumption that someone had just punched her in her mouth, creating a permanent pout, when I realized that she was fresh from a collagen injection. I hope that swelling goes down at least a little, 'cause she looked like she'd been pimp-slapped. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reading between the lines and an unrelated tidbit

First, I'm not sure what to make of an email I received a little while ago from Lifestyle, the condom maker. Maybe some auto search engine their marketing folks use linked my name with "lifestyle" reporting and they thought I was the official boom-chicka-wa-wa reporter for the Miami Herald.

You always have to be careful what you open at work. But the subject line got my attention, so I opened it. It read: "Survey says America likes big butts and it cannot lie."

Hmmm. OK. Again, I'm not sure why they sent this to me. I'm fairly certain there's no bulletin online that says James Burnett is seeking academic studies on large behinds. But someone thought this was newsworthy.

While my own boom-chicka-wa-wa habits are not up for discussion, I did read the attached survey. And I have to confess, it was sort of interesting.

Apparently, using pictures instead of detailed questions, Lifestyle encouraged its Web site visitors to download a free poster portraying the image they liked best. Based on those downloads, Lifestyle would measure what people (I'm guessing mostly guys) like most. Among the choices of picture were a woman smiling coyly while wearing a white tank top and gray undies and sitting on top of a washing machine, and a woman wearing a vest and lowrider jeans with her bare midriff showing.

Now, here's the interesting part. Most of the images used featured full-length shots of women in various poses. The picture that won, hands down, however, was a cropped shot of a single body part: a big butt. It was not a bare butt, BTW. It was covered, in case the I.T. department guys are reading this post in horror right now.

Anyway, 15% more people downloaded that butt shot than any other image on the site.

I have no idea why that interests me, 'cause I have always been a fan of proportionality in human female bodies. But I guess I'm shocked, 'cause in spite of what ad campaigns like this obvious one that Lifestyle sent me and TV and movies and music thrust in our faces, most guys I know agree with me: that a proportionate body is 10X more attractive than a body with one extremely large part...or set of parts.

I'm still not convinced. This is unscientific, of course, but I'd guess that only 1-in-10 guys I know is impressed by a disproportionately large part on a female body. Balance isn't just good for the universe.

Ladies I'm not sure how this Lifestyle survey would work for you. But I'm certainly curious about what y'all think.

And here's the unrelated tidbit: My most recent article, an artist profile in Sunday's paper.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Responsibilty scale tipping

So I was talking with a cop buddy this morning - several of 'em, in fact - getting their insights in a number of phone calls and brief meetings on a story I'm working on.

As one call wrapped up and devolved into small talk, one of my guys brought up the case of a Miami-area woman whose young daughters got snatched yesterday by a guy she described to authorities as a "family friend." The problem was the woman didn't even know the "family friend's" last name. She knew him only by one of several first names he's given police. He had only been in the area a month or so, and she had moved him into her home...with her daughters. This guy was a virtual stranger. An Amber Alert was issued, and the good news is the girls were found alive and safe this morning in a small city about 30 miles from home.

My immediate response to this story from my cop buddy was that the suspect, if this isn't all a big misunderstanding and he really did kidnap those girls, should have unbreakable fishing line tied tightly around his jewels till they fall off...for starters.

My guy laughed and agreed, but then replied something to the effect of "yeah, but you gotta wonder what the mother was thinking."

And he was right. So that comment led the conversation briefly in another direction, to kids who have recently found themselves in trouble with the law. I used to insist that most teens and some tweens have enough sense to know that violent and assault and murder are wrong - the exceptions being some kids who suffer from some form of mental retardation or kids with diagnosable mental/psych conditions that make them prone to violence.

I rarely budged on that issue. But just like with this Amber Alert case, I'm seeing a rash of incidents involving juvenile offenders that are making me ask what responsibility the parents have.

There's a 12-year-old in custody here in South Florida for allegedly beating to death his toddler niece with a baseball bat, because she was crying too loudly and interrupting his cartoons. A 16-year-old here in South Florida is fast approaching a trial date on murder charges after he and a few buddies allegedly terrorized a high school graduation party and fatally shot a party-goer during what was supposed to have been an armed robbery. Also in South Florida, three more teens - two are legally adults now, I believe - are in jail awaiting charges of assaulting a bunch of homeless people in parks and a gas station parking lot. They allegedly killed one of the homeless, and reportedly admitted it during questioning by police. Before a couple of the homeless-killers were caught, they fled the state temporarily (likely with their parents' help or knowledge) to hide with family elsewhere in the South.

I never, ever would have bought that "he didn't know better argument." And I'm not saying these cases have completely changed my mind about that. I'm just saying maybe the kids alone aren't responsible.

These particular parents can't have it both ways. If their killer kids are so incompetent, as to not understand that violent assault and murder are bad, that's not a level of incompetence reached overnight. It had to've been stewing a while. And that would mean the parents were conceivably aware that their kids were ticking time bombs. And if they weren't aware should they have been?

What do you think; is it unreasonable to put some of the legal responsibility on the parents of killer kids, or do you believe the average parent could be completely caught off guard and not know their kid had it in 'im to kill?

It's not a PC thing to say, but remember, one need only look back to the woman who moved a guy whose full name she didn't know into her home with her two young children, to realize that sometimes the parents do share some blame when bad things happen with their kids.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Locks of love

That's not a misspelling. I didn't mean "lots," and I'm not making fun of the hair charity.

It is a play of sorts. It's about what you're willing to do for a significant other in order to please them.

No need to get sexual. And I'm not talking about giving a significant other money or gifts. I'm talking about how much you're willing to change yourself for them.

I'm loath to even use the word "change," 'cause lately I've heard it so much I want to permanently expunge it from my vocabulary. If it isn't being offered by the presidential candidates, then it's being requested by someone on the corner in downtown Miami trying to cull together enough coin for the next visit to a sidewalk pharmacist. Needless to say, I've decided to start referring the latter to the former. I hear senators Clinton, McCain, and Obama have plenty of change. Their kind of change may not be worth enough to buy crack, but all three say they want to share it...the change, not the crack.

But I digress.

I have a neighbor. A very cool guy. He too is in the other side club, as in cooler than the other side of the pillow. I've always liked this guy 'cause he's a little loud, a little raw, a little crazy, but always solid, reliable, respectful, etc. He's a good neighbor. He mows some other neighbors' lawns, just because he's a nice guy. He's always quick with a joke and a smile and a wave. And he's always had a really cool Mohawk hairdo.

Not everyone can sport a 'hawk, just like some women can't wear low-rider jeans, and some guys can't wear flat-front slacks, and almost no one should wear biker shorts. You have to have the right 'tude and carriage and confidence to pull off a 'hawk. This guy has all three.

He recently began dating a nice young lady. We don't even know her and haven't been formally introduced, but almost immediately after she began spending time at his house she too started waving and smiling and saying hi and occasionally engaging us in small talk in passing.

Something curious happened after a few weeks of her presence though. The 'hawk started to get shorter, and droopier. The side hair started growing back in. It was like an erect flower had begun to wilt for lack of watering. After a week-and-a-half or so of this metamorphosis, the 'hawk had disappeared. In it's place was a common, Caesar-style haircut that you might see on a million guys in a million places. To top that off, my neighbor's tude changed. He seemed tamer. We stopped doing the Tim the Tool Man thing, comparing notes on lawn mower "technology," offering one another cold, canned beverages, and yelling stupid jokes at each other over our respective privacy fences.

This made me think of the Old Testament character of Sampson, who was so smitten by a woman, he let her chop off his magical hair, which was reportedly the root of his super human strength. She subsequently had him blinded, the story goes, and reduced to a shadow of the man he once was.

A more modern analogy would be the actor/rapper Anthony "Treach" Criss, former leader of the group Naughty by Nature. In the group's 1999 single "1,2,3," in answer to speculation that his long, braided hair was fake and should be cut off and that his girlfriend was pressuring him to cut it off, Treach rhymed "Au contraire mon frere/this is all my hair/I wouldn't cut it for the biggest buttocks out there."

My first question would be what kind of tough guy rapper says "au contraire?" But that's another post altogether.

Treach refused to cut his crazy 'do. My neighbor, I suspect, caved.

Maybe my neighbor is really in love with his new friend. Maybe, logically, he figured her companionship was worth more to him than his very cool 'do.

But this sort of change always annoys me. I admit, it's easy for me to talk big and tough here, 'cause all Mrs. B has ever asked me to change was my beard or goatee, when I occasionally grow them. If I let 'em get scruffy she'll ask me to trim 'em or shave 'em off altogether.

Still, my neighbor's not some kid sporting a 'hawk out of rebellion. He has gray hair. By now that 'do was part of his lifestyle, I'd argue...until Mrs. B told me to be quiet and stay out of it.

It's like going into a strip club and meeting one of Eliot Spitzer's friends. She was dancing on a pole when you met her, and you were attracted to what you saw enough to date her. So what makes you think you have any business insisting she swing her way off that pole a few weeks into your relationship?

I miss my crazy neighbor buddy.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Food for thought

I have never been much of a conspiracy theorist, but when I heard last week about the soylent water many of us have been drinking - if you drink tap water - I did flash back to my college theories that the moon landing was fake, JFK was shot by several people, and there really are aliens living underground in Roswell, New Mexico. I haven't purposely drank tap water for years. I have been giving it to my dog though. And based on the list of medicines they say are in our water supply, my dog will probably never catch a cold or have a puppy. Of course, he is a boy so he wouldn't have had puppies anyway, although the scientists involved say some male fish in the affected bodies of water are becoming female and having eggs. I'm surprised Cheko the Dog's fur hasn't turned into a coat of armor. He may be getting bottled water from now on.

Barack Obama's former pastor is out there and what we've seen of his sermons on TV has been outrageous. But don't think he's the last religious advisor who will undergo scrutiny. You heard it here first...or maybe you heard it somewhere else. Either way, if things continue as they are, expect the national media - especially the TV folks to begin looking at the ministers whom John McCain has befriended and accepted as advisors, the ministers, who in the vein of Pat Robertson, have given sermons in the recent past about terrorist attacks and natural disasters in the U.S. "possibly" being God's punishment or God's wrath against homosexuals. And if you think it will end there, you're kidding yourself. It'll only be a matter of time before a Catholic candidate is asked to denounce the Pope, because of what some folks view as the Church's once lackluster efforts to control pedophile priests. This ball is only going to start rolling faster.

As long as we're in the vicinity, I had a long chat with a buddy of mine the other day about all this racial chat that's been going on with TV pundits on the cable news networks. He wanted to know if I was angry. I asked in what respect. He said, in general. Based on what the pundits have been saying his assumption is that all black people, or most anyway, walk around pissed off everyday, bitter and hating life. I have an announcement: The pundits are idiots. Besides, if we're gonna be blunt about this topic, why does anyone care what a bunch of middle-aged (mostly white) guys who live in gated communities have to say about what minorities in the U.S. think and feel? What do those knuckleheads know? Here's a tip. Most middle of the road black folks in the U.S. aren't angry. They're cautiously optimistic with a sprinkling of lingering cynicism - a description which, if you think about it, could be applied to middle of the road folks from every other racial and ethnic group in the U.S. too. Remember, the pundits are idiots. And will remain so...until they invite me on.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ear Torture & Dear Abby

Greetings, friends and frienemies. Normally I'd be working on my next article this time of day.

Instead I'm posting to the blog, because it is the only way for me to not think about the bleeding in my ears caused by the repetitive sound of a pre-recorded voice in my newsroom blaring "Attention! Attention! Attention! This is security! There has been an alarm..." That comforting line is then followed by a high-pitched squeal for about 10 seconds.

Apparently, we are to remain calm and continue working, the voice says. Of course, that's easier said than done with this audio-water boarding coming out of the loudspeaker system. Still, I'll try to be calm until the voice comes back on and follows the "Attention..." and the squeal with "Danger, Will Robinson." I swear it sounds like the same person/robot...and that person who does the "do not leave your bags unattended" voice in the airport.

Anywho, moving right along. There's a letter to Dear Abby in newspapers today from a guy in Rochester, NY, who says that while he and his fiance were on a visit to his parents' home recently, she decided that she was coming down with a cold. And since the guest room downstairs was so tiny, the fiance thought it would be smarter to sleep in the guy's old childhood bedroom upstairs, I guess so as not to give him her cold. Well, the guy's three brothers were also home for that visit. And their old childhood bedrooms were upstairs too. The next morning the fiance tells the guy she was glad he'd changed his mind and come to her bedroom the night before and made love to her. The guy was taken aback, 'cause it wasn't him. He told Dear Abby that he and his brothers are all about the same size. I assume he was talking about their height and weight, not their twigs and berries, 'cause that would raise another set of questions altogether. He said he confronted his brothers, but none of them will 'fess up. He also said his fiance still doesn't know it wasn't him. He hasn't told her.

This story smells. Dear Abby told the guy she found it hard to believe that even if he and his brothers were the same size, etc., their manner of touch, their smell, taste, etc., could fool his fiance. She also told him to confront his fiance and make her get tested for shell-fish and what not.

I do agree with Dear Abby about the fiance being fooled. I don't think it's possible that the fiance didn't know, not even if this guy and his brothers were identical quadruplets. My thing is I doubt the story is true at all. I think some loon sent it as a prank.

But who knows? I used to think all of Dear Abby's stuff was fake, until I got a call from her. Seriously. When I worked in Wisconsin, I learned one morning of a unique case in which police searched a man's home and took him into custody based on a tip that he had confessed to "dreaming" and fantasizing about doing bad things to his girlfriend's young daughter. He hadn't done anything. But he had the thoughts. The situation was tricky, depending on whom he'd confessed to. If it was a shrink, questions would have been raised about doctor/patient confidentiality, since he actually hadn't committed a crime...yet. Anyway, turned out he confessed via letter to Dear Abby. And it turned out she was the tipster. Against her long-standing policy of letter writer confidentiality, she contacted the police in Milwaukee and spoke with the chief. When the police chief confirmed to me later that was the case, I thought he was teasing. He said he wasn't and would prove it. Sure enough, an hour or so later my phone rings, and on the other end I hear "Hi James, this is Dear Abby!" It's like getting a call from Santa Claus, except she explained she was "Jeanne Phillips" and had been writing under the Dear Abby pen name for years, since taking over the column from her mom.

Sorry, I'm rambling. So folks, especially women, is it possible to hook up intimately in the dark, and mistake whom you've hooked up with? I say no. And if I was that guy I'd have three bruised and broken brothers right now, and one homeless fiance...who had given me my ring back.

UPDATE: The voice from the loudspeakers is back. Now, he's saying "This has been a false alarm. Please disregard. I repeat, this has been a false alarm, please disregard!"

What a tease. I don't trust the voice. I think the voice is like the Wizard...of Oz, conducting a giant lab rat experiment on us poor unsuspecting folks in the newsroom. Silence! We have a newspaper to produce.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bedtime Stories

What's crackin' folks? It is Saturday night, and I admit I am three sentences away from taking the lazy way out with this post.

Here, my friends, are the links - here and here - to the two articles I had in today's paper.

The latter, some of you have seen the video for already, but the accompanying article just got published.

Enjoy! More rants tomorrow.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008


When I was a kid - a dorky kid, long before I became cooler than the other side of the pillow - I remember watching a Steve Martin comedy routine in which he was boasting of his amazing command of the English language.

But when it came time in the routine for Martin to throw out a word to describe just how special he was, he stuttered and stammered and eventually spat out "pizazz." That was his shtick, of course. That he was so smart, and yet he couldn't quite figure out how to say what he meant.

So I thought of Martin, over the past couple of days as former congresswoman and vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro shared her opinion of Barack Obama and why he is where he is in the '08 race for the White House.

If you hadn't seen or heard about this issue, Ferraro basically said that if Obama wasn't black he wouldn't be getting so much attention, he wouldn't be leading in the Democratic race, and he never would have gotten as far as he has. She said the same would be true if Obama was a woman...of any color. Ferraro later said her comments were misconstrued.

Obama's camp said Ferraro was out of line. Some of his supporters called her racist. She said she was just calling 'em like she saw 'em and that those lashing out at her were being reverse-racist 'cause she's white.

Keeping in mind that the only horse I have in this presidential race is Dave Barry, whom I would campaign for if my bosses would let me, I have mixed feelings about Ferraro's jabs.

The first thing I wanted to do was go dance in the street with the Lion King soundtrack playing in the background, 'cause Ferraro taught me for the first time in my 35 years on this earth that being a black man in the United States is actually an advantage for me.

Who knew? I guess it is pretty far-fetched to think if Barack Obama was white, blond, blue-eyed and named Captain America that anyone in the U.S. would ever want to put him in power. I mean if he has an advantage with that name, I should be in the running for Emperor of the Galaxy. I'm plain old James Burnett, a name with good Scottish roots. How much more harmless could my name sound?

Seriously, while it is lame for people to use something so sensitive as race in a conniving, self-serving manner, it is equally lame for people who don't think before they speak to use out-of-control political correctness as a crutch and defense to their ill-chosen words.

We all have an advantage. We live in the United States of America. Had to say that. No one's gonna come in here after the fact and accuse me of not being proud to be an American.

Anywho, Ferraro isn't corny because she thinks Obama's not prepared to be president. It's her I'm sure she had about Bill Clinton when he ran for president with the experience of a small state governor under his belt. And I'm sure, if she's a history buff, she felt that way about the four or five other U.S. presidents in the last century who ascended to the White House with less than six years in elected state or national office.

And Ferraro is not corny for backing Hillary Clinton. More power to her.

Ferraro is corny for being a hypocrite and then falling back on a weak excuse like reverse racism to justify her use of race as a weapon in the first place. Take note you folks who think the only institutional political types who are in the dark about issues of race relations are crusty old GOP legislators. It ain't true.

So even though I'm not getting a million dollar a month consulting fee, I'm gonna give a valuable piece of thought food to Geraldine Ferraro: You were given the benefit of the doubt by members of your own party back in the day that in addition to your gender you brought brains and skills to the vice presidential candidacy. So who's being closed-minded if you're not willing to give that same benefit of the doubt to the people in your own party who are supporting a different sort of minority today?

Either way, vote Dave Barry!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to exercise my privilege in life by taking candy from a baby, skipping in front of an elderly woman...using a walker at the grocery store, and telling someone, anyone, wearing a badge to go and fornicate himself. These are the advantages of being a black man.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bits and pieces

So I've caught up on my beauty sleep, and I'm finding in the three days I was on the road and focused on my day job, all sorts of nutty things have happened.

When the cat's away...

I'm not the cat, but you get me.


  • My pond - Speaking of being away and mice playing and what not, I have a habit of checking my pond about three times a day - once to feed my koi, and twice to check for tadpoles. I always know when the evil, (literally) poison, Bufo toads, have laid eggs, 'cause they're noisy lovers the night before. Every now and then I get teased for my vigilance. So get this, I leave home on Friday. I'm away Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I come home, and what do you think I find in my pond besides huge fish? About 15,000 toad eggs and tiny tadpoles. The fish are pissed off. I can't blame them. It's like a black cloud swimming in there. This is going to take some work.
  • The Vatican's new deadly sins - After 1,500 years the Catholic Church has updated and added to its deadly sin list. The new ones are environmental pollution, genetic engineering, being filthy rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia, and causing social injustice. Based on the pollution sin alone, half my neighborhood is going to Hell, especially those knuckleheads who toss their food wrappers and empty beer cans in the street and let their dogs pollute the swale in front of my house. And the drug dealer one makes a lot of sense to me too. You have got to be a selfish person to push poison on vulnerable people and justify it by arguing they want it and someone has to give it to them so it may as well be you, or arguing that you have to pay your bills and feed your family. Bad excuses. Get two jobs or three if you have to, real jobs, not sidewalk pharmacy. Not sure what I think about the super duper rich sin. I admit I'm scornful of most obscenely rich people, but that's because the hater in me is just a little jealous of the fact that paying bills and living with money stress never a worry for them. But if they earned it honestly, I don't see what the problem is. I don't think I even have to the explain why I'm all for pedophilia being on this list. I'm leaving genetic engineering and abortion alone. But I'd be curious for a little more definition on the social injustice sin.
  • Eliot Spitzer - It's funny. A buddy and I were talking yesterday about the things apparently smart people will do to ruin their lives. Hooking up with hos was one of those things. And by the way, guys, if you do business with a prostitute, like Ludacris said - and I'm paraphrasing - you're a ho too. So how could a man who built his career on law and order and strict enforcement, a man who was nicknamed "Eliot Ness" after the prohibition-era G-Man, be so dumb as to purchase a prostitute? And not just get a prostitute but get one from a Web site? It was wrong, no doubt. But even if Spitzer didn't take issue with his "sin," anybody who watches TV knows high end prostitutes keep records of who, what, when, where, how much, etc. A rising career, and more importantly an intact family ruined. I am curious about one thing though: What in the world were guys like Spitzer buying for $1,000 to $5,000 an hour or $10,000 a day? If I paid that kind of money, I wouldn't want sex. I'd want my house painted inside and out, a few new trees planted in my yard, maybe some sod laid down on a few bare spots in the yard, and if there was time left over at the end of the day she could wash my car...and if she wanted to look sexy while doing the chores I suppose that'd be OK.
  • Day job stuff - here is an article I had in yesterday's paper. Enjoy, if you have time. It's a profile of an interesting lady.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego James Burnett?

Hey folks,

I'm just back in town from a weekend reporting assignment on the road. I'm both swamped and beat. But I will do a regular post this evening after I've rejuvenated a little.



Thursday, March 06, 2008


I can honestly say I don't get scammed that often...anymore.

There was a time I might have bought that bridge you were offering or that perfect-for-condo-development swampland you were trying to unload. But in recent years the scales have fallen off my eyes and I've gotten smarter.

One thing I did fall for though was Airborne, that fizzy, alleged cold-preventing, immune system-boosting pill sold at drugstores everywhere. A federal court just issued a $23 million class action judgement against the company that makes Airborne, because apparently everything about the pill was baloney. In fact, baloney would have tasted better and probably cured your colds quicker. Turns out that even the scientific trials conducted by the company to prove it's healing claims about Airborne weren't conducted by doctors, scientists, or even skilled lab techs. They were done by two schmucks who knew the pill's creator. After being called out over the cold-curing claims, the company backed off and said the pill was an immune-system booster. Then they backed off a little more and said it was just an herbal supplement.

My first clue should have been that it was developed by a second-grade school teacher. Not that I have anything against elementary teachers. Mrs. B is one. But if this woman's scientific skills were that off the chain then why was she teaching 4+4 instead of working in a lab somewhere developing medicines?

My second clue should have been that she claimed to study "Eastern" herbal treatments in the development of Airborne.

My third clue should have been that my dad, who is a pretty health-conscious guy broke down laughing when I told him I was taking Airborne for a cold back in January, and encouraged me to enjoy my "sugary alka seltzer."

My final clue should have come when South Park clowned on people who take Airborne. If South Park is making fun of what you do, you know you've got problems.

I may as well have drank a Zima to cure my cold. I'd have gotten more fizzy and less bloat from it.

I have to go now. My allergies are bothering me this morning. And I need to find 500 mg of eye of newt.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Suicide Mart

I was listening to Footy, a South Florida talk show host, while driving to work this morning, and he tossed out an interesting premise that I thought I'd air out here.

Over the past year or so there have been some really crazy murder/suicides in the U.S.

There was the Virginia Tech student. There was the guy at Northern Illinois University last month. There was a guy last week, I believe, in the Bristol Tennessee area who shot four people at an apartment complex before fleeing and later fatally shooting himself.

And on Tuesday afternoon there was the guy here in South Florida, who walked into a Wendy's restaurant, blasted a bunch of diners and then shot and killed himself.

So I won't get into a deep argument about whether or not the killers needed help. Clearly they needed something.

Also, I don't mean to sound calloused, but whenever something like this happens the experts are always so quick to look for a reason that involves a treatable condition...gone untreated.

But I wonder sometimes if it isn't that complicated. Maybe these people who kill others before taking their own lives are just old-fashioned, unfixable, bat poop crazy. Maybe they're just bad. Those aren't medical theories, and I'll probably catch flack from mental health care workers. But I'm a simple guy. I sometimes think in straight lines. I'm just wondering.

It seems to me that of all the violent things to do, suicide is pretty selfish - especially for those people who are leaving behind dependents and loved ones. And to murder other folks before you commit suicide? That's hella selfish.

But I'm rambling.

Back to Footy's theory. Just for the record, I'm not advocating suicide. But he proposed the creation of Suicide Depots, where if you want to end it, you can go and take yourself out in a variety of ways for a nominal fee. If you're the jumping type, you could leap off a roof at the depot. If you're a shooter, you could do it that way. If you don't own a gun, they could rent/loan you one for the deed. I'm assuming they'd insist on payment up front.

This way, Footy reasoned, people who wanted to kill themselves could handle it in a controlled environment without the "temptation" to harm other, innocent people first.

So go ahead and laugh, or call him nuts. But I don't think Footy's idea was so crazy. I'd throw in one caveat: that anyone who wanted to off themselves be given a psych test first. And if they're deemed mentally incompetent they be denied permission and hospitalized. But if they test clean and competent, then let them do their thing. Better that than frustrating them by denying their quest, so they can go home and plot on how to take revenge on the world or their neighbors before killing themselves.

It's messy. But I think it could fall into one of those lesser of two (or three, or four?) evils categories.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Quick Hits from the Weekend

  • Hussein - I have mixed feelings about this ongoing debate over Barack Obama's middle name. Barack Hussein Obama is his name, right? He hasn't expressed any shame over it. It's what his folks called him when he popped out of the womb. So what's the problem? You could argue that all the hype about Republicans using his middle name at campaign rallies for McCain is just that, hype. On the other hand though, while it's perfectly OK to cite someone's middle name when speaking about them, it's just not something we usually do. I mean I don't. I don't go around calling out co-worker's and/or rivals as Joseph Robert Smith, or Jane Sally Jones, or whatever. That sounds dumb. I'm more likely to call out Joe That Rat Bastard or something like that. BTW, I don't believe I have any co-workers named Joseph Robert Smith or Jane Sally Jones. But if I do, I apologize. My use of your name in this post was purely coincidental. So anyway, I have to ask why people in those campaign speeches are calling out Barack Hussein Obama. Don't insult me and say it's because that's his full name. Again, who ever calls you by your full name? The only people who have ever called me out as James "Something that starts with H" Burnett have been my mother when she was ticked off, and the dean of my college when he was handing out diplomas back in the day.
  • I'm working a theory here. I'm going to drop you guys a single word, and I want you to tell me what it means to you. First, a clue: it does not involve the animal kingdom. Here it is: Cougar.
  • And speaking of felines, does anyone make a scarecat? I need something to scare away the neighborhood strays. At least one of them has taken to using a bare spot in my front yard as a litter box. And if you know South Florida, then you know the soil can be very sandy. So a two-by-two-foot square of that soil is a loose cat's dream. Come to think of it maybe that's why grass won't grow in this spot.
  • If you can't laugh at yourself then you're probably no fun to be around. I can laugh at myself. That being said, if you've been looking for a way to make fun of me, well, you haven't been trying hard enough. Even so, I'm gonna toss you a bone. Follow this link and when you arrive click number one for a better explanation of why I write and don't, say, do rodeo or fly space shuttles for a living. A story should follow in the paper tomorrow.
  • How badly must you hate your job to do this to avoid work?
  • I have once again changed my mind about health insurance. You may recall that I posted a couple of weeks ago that I thought the blame for our jacked up system and super high costs should be shared by every entity making a buck off the medical industry, not just insurance agencies. I included equipment suppliers, hospitals, etc. But then many of you scolded me for my lack of knowledge of the health care industry and shared anecdotes with me about how costs are so high because of insurance industry trickery. And I conceded in a subsequent post. However, I was watching 60 Minutes last night, and one segment was about a British guy, a former soldier and adventurer, who a few years back started this volunteer medical service called Remote Area Medical that involves a fleet of planes dropping donated goods into remote areas - like jungles - and then volunteer doctors going down to those areas and for a day or for a weekend providing medical care, from basic checkups, to C.A.T. scans, to tooth surgery. Anyway, R.A.M. is so serious about that volunteer label that they operate on a shoestring budget. Here's what I'm driving at: last year RAM's all-volunteer staff saw 17,000 people and did it all on a $250,000 budget. Seventeen thousand people. $250K. I take back my concession. If these people can volunteer their way to these sorts of numbers, then everybody involved in health care, not just the insurance companies, can find a way to charge a little less.

Labels: , , , ,