I’m a fan of money. Funny money is better.

I saw the new $10 bill for the first time today. I’d known it would be revamped, but I didn’t realize it would be quite so… yellow. Have we been taken over by our apparently not-so-friendly neighbors to the north and everyone forgot to tell me? I’m always the last to know news, but really, this takes the prize as most monumental change.

Can Bob & Doug McKenzie replace George Washington when the United States of Canada Mint updates the $1 bill, eh?

I want to exercise my “Phillies win every World Series” rights.

I understand that this quote is a simplification of copyright “fair use” for clarity, but I found it amusing anyway.

“Consumers have well-established rights to ‘time-shift’ television programming by making copies for personal, in-home viewing,” [Cablevision] says. “This new technology merely enables consumers to exercise their time-shifting rights in the same manner as with traditional DVRs, but at less cost.”

Let’s see them find that in the Constitution. Activist judges cable television providers!

$10 for $5 of silver = peace of mind?

Here’s an amusing story from Buffalo concerning Liberty dollars and the supposed risky nautre of United States currency. The details aren’t particularly important because it’s just two dimwits allegedly badgering vendors into accepting alternative currency. What’s most amusing is the reason why Liberty dollars, which are “backed” by silver, are in use in Buffalo (and many other areas, apparently). Consider:

“About 20 of my regular customers use them. They pay me with silver, and they accept silver as change,” said Daniel Hyman, owner of the Red Apple convenience store on Route 78 in Strykersville. “With inflation and government deficits, I see more and more people who don’t trust paper anymore. Eventually, I hope the banks will accept Liberties for deposits.”

“We take it at par with dollars,” said Shawn Clawges, owner of Opener’s Grille, a restaurant on Seneca Street in East Aurora. “They’re a pretty coin, and they’re backed by silver. It’s a commodity that’s going up in value, unlike the U.S. dollar.”

If a private business wants to accept Liberty dollars as currency, good luck to them. I’d contend that it’s no less challenging to purchase silver and gold with “excess” dollars than trying to create a new currency if they’re convinced a crisis is coming, but I’m inclined to value liquidity over paranoia principle. Silly me. Regardless, it just confirms that stupid people exist in many forms of mental deficiency. That delights me.

Hat tip: Hit and Run

Venturing into the world is sometimes cool

This morning, like all mornings, I deposited my used newspaper in the recycling bin after I got off the train. Only this time, unlike every other morning, some dude stood by the bin. The moment my newspaper hovered over the open slot, the dude stuck his hand underneath the paper as I let go. He snatched the paper for himself.

Umm… I would’ve given it to him. Asking was too much? And 35 cents for his own paper was too much? And yet, it was awesome. People rule.

On the downside, by 9am, I’d already experienced the most awesome event that would happen to me all day. Kind of a letdown. But still awesome.

One pumpkin was harmed in the making of this post

Here is the pumpkin David Sedaris drew in my book at a book signing Danielle and I went to last Halloween. He drew this moments after I told him, in response to his question, that I usually spend Halloween with the lights off, pretending that I’m not at home.

Tonight, as we arrived home, the neighborhood kids were out trick-or-treating. True to form, I pretended that I wasn’t home, even though they saw us. It’s easy, really. Walk inside, lock the door, turn all lights off, pull the blinds shut. Works like a charm. The only thing showing is the pumpkin I carved.

I might be a little off in the head.

You may now feel copious amounts of envy.

Now that VH1 is back with I Love the 80s 3-D, I’m once again glued to the television. Pop culture memory lane is tremendous fun. Yet, I can’t watch the Modern Humorist segments without feeling I’ve slipped into a bizarre fourth dimension. Seeing a childhood friend on television, especially in a cool show, is still weird. Every time.

If you need a friend, get a dog.

Last week, The Washington Post ran an article about a woman arrested for DUI in D.C. The story indicates that she failed a field sobriety test according to the arresting officer, even though her blood alcohol content registered at .03. The District has a zero tolerance law, which gives police leeway to declare a driver impaired even below the .08 legal limit. The remaining details of the case aren’t the point I’m leading to, but an explanation might help. Kip at A Stitch in Haste had the most unique, and ultimately compelling, argument concerning the case. Consider:

But if your complaint is that DUI laws deprive you of your supposed constitutional right to have “just two beers” or “just one glass” and then hurl a multi-ton slab of metal down public roads at lethal speeds, then you have exceeded the threshold of logic and are no longer driving while libertarian.

Perhaps I’m biased because I don’t drink, but that makes sense to me. That doesn’t mean everyone who has one drink and then drives will (or should) be arrested, just that the person is altering the situation against himself. There are others on the road who are 0% impaired by alcohol. Don’t like it? Don’t drink and drive. So, I think Kip’s right, even though .03 is less than .08. But I digress.

My point is that some commenters jumped on Kip regarding his defense of the District. I posted this comment in response to some of the more incredulous individuals.

The article does go on to mention a side effect of the law. Ms. Bolton now spends her evenings out in Virginia. The experiment of zero tolerance is having a foreseeable effect. Should the residents of the District decide this is unacceptable, they can vote for officials who will change the laws.

It seems it didn’t even take that long for local government officials to act. Consider:

The D.C. Council yesterday overwhelmingly passed emergency legislation to clarify the city’s policy on drunken driving.

In a 9-3 vote, the council passed a bill stating that anyone with a blood alcohol level under .05 is not presumed to be under the influence. Those with a blood alcohol level between .05 and .08 are presumed to be neither drunk nor sober.

The bill now goes to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who has criticized the legislation as being hastily written and potentially damaging to the District’s drunken-driving laws.

Mr. Williams said he will review the legislation over the next 10 days before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

“I wanted to keep our law so that people who want to come into D.C. to partake responsibly in the vitality of our city can do so,” said council member Carol Schwartz, the at-large Republican who introduced the bill.

You may applaud me now.

Seriously, this is how government works. I’m cynical about government like everyone else, but I’m not so cynical that I think it can’t change. We get the government we deserve when we don’t hold our elected officials accountable. Put pressure on them, whether through newspaper articles, telephone calls, or blogging, and disagreeable policies can change. I still don’t have a significant issue with the original law, but it’s encouraging to see that government isn’t a kingdom, unresponsive to the governed. Representative government works.

Even in D.C.

From the land of milk and duh

An interesting new scientific study is beaming around the Internets today. The story goes deeper than the premise, but I think it’s important, or at least relevant to me, to highlight it. Consider:

Redheads sunburn easily, putting them at high risk of skin cancer.

Really? No kidding.

Ok, so that was the setup so that I could write “from the land of milk and duh.” There’s actually an interesting scientific discovery here. Consider:

Duke chemistry professor John Simon analyzed how the pigments in naturally red and black hair reacted as they absorbed either ultraviolet B rays associated with sunburn, or ultraviolet A rays, which can penetrate and damage skin even without a burn.

Both kinds of light caused a reaction with the redheads’ pigment that creates molecules that damage DNA and cells in ways that can spur cancer.

In contrast, only UVB light caused that oxidative reaction with the pigment from black hair, called eumelanin, Simon reported.

Dr. Simon stated that this is only a theory, with more research necessary to determine if his findings are consistent with other researchers. That, of course, is how science works. Doctors knew that redheads have a higher risk of skin cancer, but no one knew why. Dr. Simon presents his hypothesis based on test observations and now other scientists work to disprove that theory. Sorta like evolution, one suspects.

This theory may not lead to the proverbial cure for cancer (literally in this case), but the advance of knowledge is important. I’m not even sure it adds much because it doesn’t change my relationship with the sun; I treat the sun as a stalker and avoid it as much as possible. (I’m practically a shut-in.) But, again, satisfying intellectual curiosity is useful in a developed society. And it allows me to write “from the land of milk and duh.”

Particularly annoying, though, is I now know that even when I’m walking around, my arch nemesis UVA is lurking. Bastards.

(Yes, I know I’m probably the only person who thinks that’s funny, but holy crap, am I laughing.)

Why am I admitting this?

Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. I didn’t see this on a celebrity birthday list or on some random website today. I know this useless fact from memory, which amounts to more than twenty years of precious grey matter real estate wasted on a trivial piece of non-information. Why do I know that today is Michael Jackson’s birthday? I know because, like every other pre-teen in the early ’80s, I couldn’t listen to Thriller enough or learn enough details about Michael Jackson. That meant no end to watching every fluff-piece MTV could air. One of the details I learned was that his birthday is August 29th.

Like every other fact I ever encountered, his birthday should’ve bypassed my brain as it passed through my ears. It didn’t, and here is the embarrassing reason it didn’t. I was born in July, six weeks early. If my mom had carried me to term, her due date was August 29th. As a child obsessed with pop culture’s biggest star, I thought that would’ve been the height of cool. Michael Freaking Jackson! Instead, I share my birthday with Linda Ronstadt. That crushed my then pre-teen spirit.

Today, I can’t tell you which year Michael Jackson was born, and I’m as pleased as possible about that for someone who still remembers the day. But not knowing the year doesn’t mean this post doesn’t offer proof that we’re wise not to let children make meaningful decisions without some form of intelligent supervision. How many ten-year-olds would’ve written “Michael Jackson” on their presidential ballots in 1984?