Entrepreneurial Idea #1

Every once in a while I get a brilliant idea for a new business. Sometimes it is a design of a new, ingenious invention, other times it is un-thought-of uses of common house-hold appliances, I can even come up with services that people desperately need but don’t know it yet! (Contact me for one free lesson in “How To Stop Being A Moron” (…All following lessons will be $99))

Above is a picture of what I saw on the road today when I was on the way back from working on my grandparents’ patio. U-Hauls can be found all over the United States on any and every highway. There are quite a few things I find more inspiring than a U-Haul going down the highway, but today it made me think… U-Haul took a service that you needed to pay big money for to be done professionally (or you could screw it up on your own), and turned it into a do-it yourself operation. There was no happy medium before, but then U-Haul made it possible for you to screw it up with professional equipment! What could be better than renting giant trucks to people with no previous truck-driving experience??

We’ll get you to your destination. …So long as your destination is upside down and in a ditch.

Anyway, I thought about U-Haul and I asked myself… “Self, what else is hard to do by yourself and too expensive with professional help?” And then it hit me like an out-of-control U-Haul.

Weight Loss.

That’s right! The bane of America’s existence. (besides France) About 66% of Americans over 20 years old are overweight. One-third of all Americans are overweight enough to be considered obese! I’m not making this up. Weight gain is the greatest threat to America since Andrew Jackson.

History nerds MIGHT get that one…

Okay, picture this:

U-HURL

A revolutionary kit that helps you lose weight fast!
Is liposuction too expensive? Do you sweat too much when you exercise? Are your favorite foods just calling out your name??
Well now you can eat as much as you want, of whatever you want! Never exercise again! YOU WILL STILL LOSE WEIGHT!!

Call 1-800-PUKE  and we will send you a free instruction manual on how to operate the U-Hurl. Just take a tongue depressor and insert U-Hurl into the back of the throat. You will find the calories leaving your body quickly and efficiently!

Using ancient techniques that date back to the Romans, we have found the perfect way to take the pounds off and keep them off no matter how much food you eat! It’s almost as if you haven’t digested anything at all! Check out this testimonials!

I was SICK of being fat!

It might be disgusting, but the ladies love me!

I’m actually just Ethiopian!

Whoops… uh…

Anyway, common side effects of U-Hurl include but are not limited to:

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Enlarged glands in the neck
  • Dehydration
  • Severe dental erosion
  • Constipation
  • Infertility
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia
  • Cardiac Arrest
And sometimes…
  • Death
So far there are no doctors in America that reccomend U-Hurl. …That’s why I am going to medical school.
Order yours today and you’ll get a free booklight!

All this for just six easy payments of $19.99!!

Call now!

 

 

Surprise!

Ho.Ly. Crap.

In case you didn’t hear, the Supreme Court upheld the largest healthcare overhaul in American history. The Affordable Care Act signed into law by the Obama Administration a while back is the largest paradigm shift in an industry since… that time the government took control of auto production in World War II to make tanks, planes and battleships. Whether you like the bill or vehemently oppose it, a page has been turned in American healthcare, and we are starting a new chapter.

While the GOP complains about the Supreme Court (despite the fact that a majority of the Justices are Republicans) I think we as interested Americans should actually look at what happened in the today. …Because I don’t think a lot of us were expecting what happened.

Yes, the Supreme Court made a 5-4 ruling. This has become more and more of a trend since George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush vowed to put staunch conservatives on the Supreme Court, but for the first time in a good while, the five were not composed of the five Republicans on the court. No, the five this time were Clinton and Obama appointees; Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. …and…

Drum roll please…

Bush-appointee Chief Justice John Roberts??

Wait. John Roberts voted to allow a law through that would aim to provide healthcare to millions of Americans at the cost of major insurance companies? Wasn’t this one of the same guys that said Corporations are people?

Don’t forget me!

Quiet Clarence.

Chief Justice Roberts and the rest of the nine Supreme Court Justices were tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of section 5000A of the ACA. 5000A was one of the controversial bits about requiring people to have healthcare or else they would be fined. Other parts of the law make clear that if you can’t afford healthcare then it will be provided to you through government grants, but if you can reasonably afford healthcare and you choose not to get it, then you get fined until you get on a healthcare program.

If this sounds like a bit of an in-your-face approach, then chances are you would like Justice Antonin Scalia’s opposing opinion. It’s more than halfway down this PDF document. Scalia and co. argued that this requirement was outside the constitutional limits of Congress and therefore the section in question should be overturned for being unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Roberts saw it differently. You see, Congress can tax citizens, and if you didn’t know that, you probably don’t live here. Roberts read 5000A and interpreted it (as the government argued) as a form of tax. So when I said earlier that Congress can fine you for not having health insurance, consider it a no-health-insurance-tax. Roberts made very clear in his opinion; it is unconstitutional for a government to order it’s citizens to buy or sell things, but the Constitution says that Congress can make taxes, and in this situation Congress made a tax on not having healthcare.

Roberts’ decision is intelligent and narrow, leaving the law open to other constitutional challenges on other issues. For example, the Catholic Church can still have a case about being indirectly required to fund contraceptives. …Though I would like to warn them of this precedent right here that might stand in the way to success. Usually Justice Kennedy is the conservative justice who is wooed over to the left by Justice Ginsburg’s home made cookies solid legal arguments. But this time it was Roberts who surprised everyone and grabbed the plate switched to the progressive side.

Seriously though, she looks like she could make a mean plate of cookies.

So for low-income families today, it’s like some clouds are being blown away. For political moderates, it’s time to start amending specific parts of the ACA to make it better and more efficient. For Republicans and especially big health insurance companies, it probably feels like someone is trying to drain Uncle Scrooge’s pool.

Above: Major health insurance CEO

For more on what the Justices had to say, check this out.

For the full text…

Clarence Thomas and the Conflict of Interests

Has anyone here heard of the Affordable Care Act? It’s just a minor little piece of legislation that makes sure every American citizen has healthcare coverage. Also going under the moniker “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act is currently in the legal limbo land that is the Supreme Court of the United States. Bills that have been signed into law can either be deemed constitutional or un-constitutional in this magical realm ruled by the nine.

Above: A magical realm (Not the Supreme Court)

It sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise to people unfamiliar with the Supreme Court’s unrivalled power that, as a branch, it can be more influential that a President and all the members of Congress. Try not to be disturbed by the fact that the fate of one of the most powerful democratic nations in the world can be decided by nine individuals none of us elected.

In Maine, we’ve gotten used to it.

In the past, the idea that the Supreme Court isn’t elected has been a good thing. Public opinion shouldn’t be influencing interpretations of the Constitution, that seems common sense. Back in the 1960’s when Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas reached the Supreme Court, the African American population probably would have been a little miffed if public opinion had swayed the court. Through out the years the Supreme Court has had to make some pretty tough calls on some pretty tough issues, and the last thing they need are a bunch of people threatening to run against them in another election if they make a call they don’t like.

That’s the jagged shape of the rocks the justices would be thrown on.

But now we have a very different kind of Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the 1960’s was on the forefront of progressive legal thinking, putting equality and liberty before all other things when interpreting the Constitution. Today we have a number of “Originalists” who have been put in place on the court to reverse progressive laws by deeming them unconstitutional. The “Originalist” approach dictates that one must determine what the founding fathers would have ruled if they were alive today. This approach runs into two major issues:

  1. The Founding Fathers were not omnipotent nor were they of one mind on the issues that they dealt with back in their day.
  2. The Founding Fathers are actually not alive today.

These are issues because the “Originalists” on the court, most notably Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, believe that their approach is the only correct approach, and when they are faced with an issue that the Founding Fathers never dealt with, they will make a decision on whatever they feel like and then tell everyone that the Founders would have agreed with them. And there is nothing anyone can do about it.

So what happens when there is an “Originalist” Supreme Court Justice who already has an interest in the outcome of the case, even if it’s not Constitutional? Couldn’t they easily make a ruling that is in their best interest and then claim that it’s what the Founding Fathers would have wanted even if it wasn’t?

Why, yes I could.

It just so happens that Clarence Thomas’s wife is an outspoken advocate against the new healthcare law. She has received over one million dollars from organizations supporting the reversal of the healthcare law. Clarence Thomas was also appointed by a member of the opposing party to our current President who put the law together. Clarence Thomas has a family, financial, and political interest in the case of the Affordable Care Act. (The last interest can probably be excluded due to the fact that there is likely no one in America who doesn’t have political interest in the Affordable Care Act.) But despite these things, Clarence Thomas has assured the American people that he can rule on whether the law is constitutional or not without any bias.

Supreme Court Justices can recuse themselves from a case if there is reason to believe that they may be influenced from outside factors like money or family interests, etc. But Clarence Thomas is still going to rule on this one ladies and gentlemen, because the Founding Fathers believed in corrupt justice.

See! Washington is on the dollar bill!

Coaching a Sister in Skyrim

“Turn right! RIGHT! …your other right.”

Skyrim is one of the most fun games I have ever played. There is plenty to do in a magical realm that seems like a cross between Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. You can explore caves and dungeons, you can fight werewolves, zombies and dragons, and you can save the world from the apocalypse!

You can also catch butterflies and pick flowers!

Skyrim may be fun to play, but it’s even more fun to watch my sister play. Having just had her wisdom teeth removed, Katie is recovering by using “Dragonborn Therapy”. While I type this, Katie is entering catacombs infested with vampires. As with most little sisters, she is nervous when confronting things that suck blood. One time she thought she had a tick on her and she freaked out, but in Skyrim, Katie’s nerves do not get the better of her.

Drawing her sword, Aragorn style, she stands up, waiting for a fully-armoured vampire to charge at her. “Come at me bro!” she goads the t.v. The vampire lunges forward and Katie plants her sword in his chest. He promptly turns into a pile of ash and Katie starts looting the nearby gold.

I am a proud big brother. When Katie started playing Skyrim she spent more time running away from giant spiders than cutting them down with a battle ax. Now she goes charging in to fights with reckless abandon.

I’ve definitely been playing the game longer than she has, but our characters are polar opposites. My character is a reptilian assassin that does good acts or bad acts depending on what can bring in the most gold. Katie’s character is a heroic woman who only fights the forces of evil. The only crimes she has committed have been lockpicking private property, and accidently pick-pocketing. She once hopped on someone else’s horse and started riding it away, but that was just a big misunderstanding that landed her in a jail cell for a few days.

uh… I can explain.

I always enjoy helping her out through some of the levels since many of the adventures she is taking, I have taken before. But it has never been more fun than yesterday when Katie first got home from having her wisdom teeth out. Katie was still strung up on pain-killers and her character acted as if she was too as it ran into walls and took wild swings at bandits. At one point she shot an arrow that missed a dark wizard only three feet away from her.

She may have hit an adventurer in the knee though. …An end to a promising career…

Katie’s enjoyment of Skyrim says something more than just the awesomeness of the game, it shows the awesomeness of my sister. It’s not just any sister that would want to play Skyrim. She fights dragons like the best of them and when she’s not playing Skyrim she’s still one of the coolest people I know.

Olympics

Maybe I’m just a terrible American.

There are so many factors that make me un-American. I’m underweight, I’m not a huge fan of Chik-fil-a, and I voted for an Independent  last November. However, likely the most un-American factor that makes me a terrible American is that I don’t really care for the Olympics.

I’m so, so sorry!

You see, Football is my sport. I would watch NFL all year long if I could. Unfortunately, Tom Brady needs to take some time off so as not to set fire to the atmosphere and Bill Belichik  needs some time to invent another hair-brained scheme to get into the Superbowl (which will succeed as usual.) But barring the greatest of all sports, I don’t have much interest in watching sports on t.v.

In the time I could watch a baseball game, I could watch a Lord of the Rings movie. In the time I could watch a soccer game, I could play a couple of rounds of solitaire. In the time I could watch a golf tournament, I could be dead. So when I say there are plenty of things I would rather do than watch the Olympics… I’m serious.

There is this idea that the Olympics is an opportunity for a nation to rally behind a few individuals who will compete to prove national superiority. It’s no big surprise that Adolf Hitler saw the Olympics as an opportunity to prove Aryan racial superiority to the world. What is the Olympics other than an international bragging rights competition?

Bragging?? We just had these fireworks lying around…

Wait! Wait… I left out the only legitimate use of the Olympics. I may not find sports competitions on television all that interesting, but the Olympics does do something that other television sports events do not: It brings the world together for a short time. Yes, there is an underlying spirit of competition, but this does not overshadow the togetherness that people around the world can feel when they come together and compete. A gold or silver medal is not going to determine the future of a country, but as the nations compete for them, people can relate with their triumphs and their defeats no matter where they are from.

The Olympics also work as Russia’s way of saying, “Don’t mess with us.”

Legend of Korra/My Best Friend

It’s a rather dreary day today in Hampden, Maine. The skies are grey and rain seems to come and go by the hour. So what is there to do on a day like today?

Well, before I head over to work at 3, I’ll be heading over to the shopping district of Bangor with my mom, I suspect trips will be made to Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club, among others. I probably won’t be spending any money while I’m out today (I’m saving money for a date on Monday) but it’s always fun to waltz around and see what big businesses have to offer, and it’s even more fun to hang out with my mom.

Before we head over to Bangor, I’ve had the pleasure of continuing my mad catch-up of The Legend of Korra, the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender. For those of you not familiar with Avatar, I am not talking about the tall blue people on the planet of Pandora. Avatar was originally a Nickelodeon t.v. show that aired a few years back. It lasted four seasons and it told a unique and endearing adventure that ranks up with Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings in terms of originality and entertainment value. Korra picks up a generation after the events of Avatar and is as good as the original.

Insert shameless plug-in here.

I’ve been keeping pretty busy this summer, as evidenced by my lack of daily blog posts, and this probably disturbs no one more than my best friend Michelle Flores.

Michelle lives many worlds away in Virignia while I’m up here in the great white north of Dawnstar New England, and thus; we are unable to hang out and play Mario Kart 64 over the vacation. Now to many, the absence of a friend is something that can be taken in stride because there is the constant knowledge that a get-together is as eventual as the rising sun, but this comes as little consolation to me when I have to deal with four months away from the coolest person I know.

Michelle has the unique ability to enjoy my company despite my nerd-ish qualities and my inner-age of at least 85. For the last two years she has lived just down the hall from me in my dorm and it has been very convenient whenever we need to get together (daily). We have the rare relationship where we can get together and talk about ourselves without worrying about being seen as self-centered, then again, it may be that, because we are so alike, when we talk about ourselves it is similar to talking about the other…

I will meditate on this.

But likely my favorite quality about Michelle is that I know that when I’m hunched over with a cane fifty years from now (…or 3 judging by Michelle’s predictions) my best friend will still be there to point out when I do something stupid.

Still miss you!
(Mario Kart when we get back?)

Bristol Palin

One of these is a talentless media-whore who would have no hope of a future if not for her ability to do stupid things on television, the other is Snooki.

So for those of you who haven’t heard; Bristol Palin has her own reality t.v. show! “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp” aired on Lifetime for the first time last night and garnered a few eye-rolls and even fewer viewers. This came as a surprise to MTV executives and many Sarah Palin fans because both groups are under the assumption that supporting famous dumb people is what life is all about.

The show’s premise focuses on Bristol and her 17 year-old sister Willow taking care of Bristol’s young son Tripp in Los Angeles. Bristol made the move to L.A. because she wanted her two-year old son to “see the world”. Willow went along with Bristol due to the fact that pretending to take care of a two-year-old in L.A. is more fun that going to school or listening to her mother’s shrill voice in Alaska.

In the show Bristol talks about how different it is to go from Alaska to L.A. “People are a lot more into their image here, than in Alaska,” she says on a show named after, and all about her. She moved into her parent’s friend’s house in Beverly Hills, instantly making her living situation as relatable to the average American as Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Wait! I just got a great reality t.v. show idea!

Like most reality t.v. stars, neither Bristol, not Willow have a real job. Bristol argues against going out to get a real job because she doesn’t trust any baby-sitter to take care of Tripp. Willow, who’s job it was to come along and watch out for Tripp spends more time with Bristol shopping in L.A.’s finest stores than actually taking care of one of the most adorable faces on television. …By the way, when Bristol and Willow are out shopping, Tripp is nowhere to be seen, and if Bristol is honest about her excuse for not getting a job, then we can safely assume Tripp is at home taking care of himself and figuring out which jug is filled with water and which one is filled with bleach.

Bristol and Willow complain about their lives in L.A. and all the paparazzi that follow them around taking pictures all the time. The irony is not lost when you consider they are saying this to the viewers of their reality t.v. show.

In probably the only interesting part of the show, Bristol went out to a bar and rode a mechanical bull. All of a sudden a loud and considerably out-of-line drunk shouted “Did you ride Levi like that? Your mother’s a whore!”
Woah! Uncalled for. Like a majority of Americans, I’m not a huge Sarah Palin fan, but even still, words like that are nothing but hurtful and unnecessary. Good thing Bristol is a mature adult about the situation.

Like any of us confronted with a generic “your mom!” statement, Bristol immediately walked over to the man and accused him of being “a homosexual.”

Excuse me?

Turns out the man actually was gay and when he asked how she knew, her response was, “I could tell just by looking at you”. (He was wearing a blue shirt and jeans.) Let me make this clear however, this encounter was less than three minutes of the entire episode, and Lifetime actually had to edit out the man, and Bristol’s comments due to a lawsuit against the show.

In the end “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp” provides us with a few things.

  • It gives us a show that critics and viewers agree on. Nearly every critic in every news source pointed to the show as a new low for television and the lack of viewers seem to reinforce the likelihood that everyone knows.
  • It gives us a convincing reason why Bristol would name her son “Tripp”.
  • It gives us more evidence that Bristol has moved on from her ex-fiancée Levi (due to the fact that she was bashing on him off and on throughout the show.)
  • It gives us one more reason to turn off the t.v. and read a book instead
Thank you Bristol Palin for making our children more literate, even if you have to sacrifice your child’s childhood in the process.