@My Kids: I don’t love you this much.

In what may be the most blatant attempt by a parent to guilt their child into caring for them in their old age, Patti Deni installed a flush mounted 98″ HDTV in the ceiling of her son’s room, over his bed.

Presumably the lad will now isolate himself in the room until he emerges at the age of 35, socially dysfunctional, riddled in bed sores, and in desperate need of a shower. At which time the now elderly Mrs. Deni will start lamenting how she gave everything she had to bring her son two decades of joy in his room, and now he needs to start supporting and caring for dear old Mom.


The Bush Redemption

The evidence continues to mount that Cheney was at least as dangerous as many of us suspected, and perhaps moreso than we might have imagined. From torture to Gitmo to domestic spying to using the military on our own soil, the hits just keep on coming. It’s also clear that Bush, in the waning of his presidency, may have become wise to the manipulation he was subjected to. He did ultimately fire Rumsfeld, refuse to pardon Scooter, and put the brakes on some of the more outrageous Cheney plans. That certainly doesn’t get him off the hook. After all, as President, it’s still all his responsibility. But perhaps it indicates that he was more self-aware of his situation than was apparent from his public statements.

While I understand and respect Bush’s decision (like most Presidents) to go quietly into the night so as not to disrupt the new administration, as a man concerned about his legacy, perhaps it’s time to speak up anyway. Not to speak up about policy or the Obama administration, but perhaps it’s time for him to speak out against Cheney and the nouveau neo-Cons who are trying to monopolize the voice of the Republican party. Maybe Bush should expose them as the dangerous anti-Americans they are. People with no regard for our Constitution who would like to strip us of our rights and have us live in fear as a way of maximizing political power and lining their pockets with our money.

While this admission by Bush would never put him in the President’s All-Star league, it might gain him some modicum of respect in his twilight years. Better to be thought of as belatedly enlightened than to have gone to the grave in the dark. More importantly, it might give the moderate Republicans just the breathing room they need to begin to focus the conversation on important issues like health care and the economy, rather than focusing on Obama’s birth records and how he is destroying America. We need constructive dialog and debate. We do not need more of this destructive political posturing and pandering that the Cheney crew is continuing to litter the airwaves with.

I Feel the Need… the Need for Speed

Or at least Dirk Auer does. I’m rather content these days at a more sedate pace. On a good day I can muster an adrenaline rush just if my truck starts in the morning.

But Dirk likes to go fast… on skates. Which makes him insane a daredevil. In his latest stunt, he rode a roller-coaster on specially made skates. Afterward, he said, “It was a lot of fun.” That may strike you as a tad understated, but this is a man who previously raced an Astin Martin by putting skates on his feet and a jet engine on his back. (Click through the link for a video of that.) So you can see that the roller coaster gig is probably pretty tame for him.

Got to Get Me Some Tighty-Whities

New York City has more than a couple of eccentrics, but the so-called “Naked Cowboy” has to be one of the more iconic. If you’ve ever been to Times Square, you’ve doubtless see him there, busking in his underwear.

It really didn’t come as too much of a surprise when I saw that this guy was running for mayor against incumbent Michael Bloomberg. It’s a nice publicity stunt, and that’s what these street performers live for.

But what shocked me was the casual mention in the article that Robert Burck pulls in $1000/day romping about Times Square in his BVDs and boots. Assuming a typical number of days off, that means he still pulls down in excess of a quarter million dollars a year in tips. Let that sink in for a moment.

I have a guitar. I have a hat. I have a pair of boots. I could swing by the Wal-Mart later and pick up a fresh 3-pack of tighty-whities. Now all I need are people willing to pay me to frolic about that way. Although I somehow think I’d make more money if I focused on people paying me not to. So I guess I should keep my day-job for now.

The Fear of Shopping

SmartSwipe is a product allowing you to swipe your credit card at home rather than type in those nasty 16 digit numbers off of your card. I suppose if you’re a power shopper who’s a bad typist, refuses to allow any site to retain your card information for you, and fears PayPal, this might make a modicum of sense. But it doesn’t make $100 worth of sense.

What’s a company to do? Pump up the fear factor of course. (View the infomercial video on the linked page for the full effect.) Apparently shopping online is a very dangerous thing. Identity thieves are lurking all over the Interwebs just waiting to get their hands on your credit card number. But now, at last, thanks to SmartSwipe, you can shop safe and secure at last.

Oh brother! Talk about solving a manufactured problem. What’s curious to me is that the same people who will fall for this marketing ruse because of perceived online dangers are the same ones who practice some of the most risky credit card actions.

For example, do you still receive and save printed monthly statements? If someone breaks into your house or swipes the mail from your box, they will easily get your account number this way. Have you ever given your credit card to a waitress or a store clerk who placed the card out of your view at any time? They could have easily scanned, copied, or even memorized your card details. Hev you ever taken your card from your wallet with people behind you in line? If they can see the card, they can get the number. Have you ever given anyone a personal check? It has the bank routing codes and your account number along the bottom.

I’m not suggesting that you should stop doing all these things. Heck, I give my card to waitresses all the time. But banks and credit card companies have checks in place to identify fraudulent behavior and most cards have liability limits (often only $50) should your information be stolen. Further, all electronic transactions (via the Internet, swiping your card in a store or at the pump) are by in large the most secure things you will ever do with a credit card. They are, of course, open to the occasional computer glitch, but the banks usually remedy these quickly, and they are good for a giggle.

Caution and sensibility are always in order with any financial transaction. But don’t give in to the baseless fear.