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Corporate Landscaping

Planted in straight lines with vast expanses of sterile mulch laid down to prevent unplanned growth between, these plants seem to have been intended to serve as a botanical model for corporate employees, a depressing landscape to be confronted with at 8:55 every morning, a mockery of a garden.

corporate garden

Is GT’s Kombucha Really Enlightened?

I was at a Whole Foods grocery last night, when my eye fell upon a bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha. The first thing that struck me was that the label had the word “enlightened” on the label, with a little trademark symbol after it. I thought, “Could there really be a marketplace battle between different brands of kombucha claiming to be enlightened? Would people really stop buying GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha if it didn’t have the word ‘enlightened’ on the label? Did the person who thought to register the word ‘enlightened’ not drink enough kombucha?”

enlightened kombuchs

Then, I turned the label, and I saw the following words from college student Amanda Pruitt, under “Words of Enlightenment?”: “Although you may never know the reasoning, everything happens according to plan. The Universe does not make mistakes.”

Really? So, when Jeffrey Dahmer ate people and stored their heads in the refrigerator, that was part of a reasoned plan? When the Nazis set up concentration camps, that was part of a grand plan by the universe? When people in Salem, Massachusetts killed each other as witches, that was part of the plan?

I suppose torture by the Spanish Inquisition, the decimation of Native Americans by smallpox, and guinea worms were part of the same plan, which somehow also needed to include the movie Dumb And Dumber. What could this reprehensible plan be?

Oh, wait a minute. It’s come to me. This cosmic plan is obviously intended to make it look as if Amanda Pruitt has missed an awful lot of lectures at her college because she has been so busy running out to get bottles of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha.

Enlightened, huh?

Fact Checking Hi and Lois on those Golden Gas Pumping Days of Yore

When I opened the paper on October 18, Chance Brown’s Hi and Lois comic strip strike me well. I did a bit of fact checking:

Chance Brown's Hi and Lois strip on gas prices of October 18 2014, corrected after a fact check

Correction 1: Gas hasn’t had a price of $3.99 per gallon in the United States since July of 2008. The average price per gallon of gas in the United States is about $3.10 right now. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank Economic Research Database.

Correction 2: The last time the price of gas was 35.9 cents a gallon in the United States was 1969. But you have to adjust for inflation, because costs were lower but pay was lower, too. If we adjust for inflation, 35.9 cents back then are equivalent to about $2.32 today. In other words, paying 35.9 cents in 1969 had the same punch to our wallets as paying $2.32 today. Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics and InflationData.com.

Correction 3: Why do we put gasoline in cars? To go somewhere. Chance Brown forgets that the fuel efficiency of cars was far different in 1969 from the fuel efficiency we experience nowadays. In 1969, passenger cars traveled 13.6 miles on a gallon of gas, on average. In 2013, the last full year for which data is available, passenger cars traveled 36.0 miles on a gallon of gas, on average. Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.

If we put all these pieces of information, it turns out that on average and adjusting for inflation, it took 17 cents to travel a mile in a car in 1969. In contrast, it only takes 8.6 cents to travel a mile in a car today.

Hi should be smiling, unless he’s driving a larger car than he used to, driving his fuel efficiency below average, in which case it’s his own darn fault.

Easter Island, Omaha, Nebraska

This morning, I woke up at the Sheraton hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, and opened my window to look out upon a courtyard garden, featuring two small versions of the giant head sculptures that people had carved out of stone on Easter Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Easter island omaha

What was the purpose for this selection of garden statuary?

Did the designer mean to suggest, perhaps, that the Midwest is like a vast ocean, within which the city of Omaha is a lonely island? Was it to suggest that once, in the courtyard of the Sheraton, there lived a group of tiny people who carved giant faces to place in piles of mulch, perhaps in homage to the chrysanthemums?

Walk Out

Today is the National Day To Stop Police Brutality, Repression And The Criminalization Of A Generation. All around the country, there will be protests against abuse of power by law enforcement.

What if there isn’t a protest near you? The organizers encourage you to simply walk out. “No work! No school! No business as usual!”

Maybe, if there had not been years of injustice after injustice, of civil liberties trampled, of the Constitution of the United States of America treated like a joke by American presidents, American spy agencies and American police departments, I might feel inclined to question whether a walkout could accomplish anything. However, given the complete weight of these offenses, it seems to me that we need to break the sense of normalcy of violation, and a walkout achieves that very nicely.

If The United States Is A Christian Nation…

Then how come the monumental buildings of our government are constructed in the form of ancient pagan temples, rather than Christian cathedrals?

pagan Greek temple dc

16 Students in Texas Catch Ebola? Panic and a Hoax at the Grocery

“I swear I am never going to get a flu shot again,” said the young bagger at the grocery store tonight. “My arm is going to fall off, it hurts so much.”

“Sorry it hurts,” I said. “Thanks for getting a shot, though. A lot more people die of flu every year than have ever died of Ebola.”

“You’ve got to take that Ebola seriously,” interjected the cashier at this point. “Did you know that 16 students in Texas tested positive for Ebola today?”

“No, I don’t think so.” I replied.



“Yes, it did!” The cashier was getting very excited.


“I’m telling you!”

“Are you sure?”

“They reported it on the news and everything.”

Go ahead … search the news.

A quick check shows that such a story was never the news.

It never happened.

It was an internet hoax.

Breathless rumors are fear porn. Please, stop the spread.

Piercing The Gelatinous Mysteries

gelatinous cubeFantasy-bewitched people of a certain age will feel their ears twitch in recognition upon hearing the phrase “Gelatinous Cube”. This creature was an invention of the game Dungeons And Dragons. It filled passageways with its jiggly mass killing the unwary.

The Gelatinous Cube was fantasy. Yet, there are deadly gelatinous creatures in real life, described in an academic article as “gelatinous carnivore populations in the northwestern Mediterranean”. These creatures drift along silently in veils of semi transparent goo waiting for their helpless victims to fall into their sticky clutches.

They are siphonophores, including the species Chelophyes appendiculata.

Not all the gelatinous things that creep are animals, however. A few years ago scientists discovered a kind of plant that sends out tendrils to creep and grab up things, with this behavior enabled by a band of gelatinous fibers within its pith. “Data indicate that gelatinous-type fibers are responsible for the coiling of redvine tendrils and a number of other tendrils and vines,” they write.

Who wants to put on a jiggly costume for Halloween?

List of Demonstration Sites for the National Day of Protest Against Mass Incarceration, October 22 2014

The United States is a nation that massively incarcerates its inhabitants, far beyond the scale of every other nation on Earth.

On October 22, the United States is a nation that protests this fact. Yellow dots on the map below indicate places where there will be demonstrations on the National Day of Protest Against Mass Incarceration:

Places of Demonstration on the National Day of Protest Against Mass Incarceration, October 22 2014

If you know of another location of protest, share a link in the comments section.

If you live near a protest, consider going.

Are RFID Chips Being Put Into Ebola Vaccinations?

This morning, a friend of mine shared a link on Facebook, the screenshot of which you see below.

Ebola vaccine rfid chip

CDC Whistleblower Exposes Ebola Vaccinations Containing RFID Chips? Could this be true? Could the federal government be planning to place tracking chips into Americans’ bodies, under the guise of protection from Ebola?


I have taken a look at the report, and it is so ludicrous that I had to double check to make sure the nationalreport.net web site isn’t satirical. Unfortunately, the web site appears to be quite earnest.

It’s an earnest fraud. One telltale sign is that the article gets basic public health procedures profoundly wrong. It tells its readers that “CDC officials intend to issue these syringe packages to over 200,000 households by December 1st. Consumers will also be able to request the Ebola vaccine at their local drug store.”

That’s not how vaccination programs work. The CDC does not send syringes full of vaccines for deadly diseases directly to people’s homes. Think: Have you ever received a flu shot in the mail?

Researchers in Canada have an experimental vaccine for Ebola, and they have shipped 20 vials to an army hospital in the United States for human trials. They have also shipped 8,000 doses for use in Africa, where there is an actual outbreak. It is not known, however, whether this experimental vaccine will work. There is no way that the CDC will have 200,000 doses through the approval process and ready in a month and a half from now, especially not for use in the United States, where only two cases of disease transmission have taken place.

Particularly telling is that, right next to the article in the conspiracy theory of RFID chips in Ebola vaccines was an advertisement for people looking for psychiatric help. The advertisers know their target market. If someone you know actually believes this RFID story, please urge them to get professional help.

Ebola conspiracy theory psychiatry

Remembering Peyton Manning’s Historic 509th Touchdown Pass

Dateline: Peyton Manning Museum, Manning City, October 19, 2034

Oliver Sutton hobbled slightly as he made his way to his digital trunk to look through his records of this historic day. “I’ve got it here somewhere,” he promised me as he used his electro stylus to rummage through the virtual box.

A few minutes later he had found it: a gold pixel framed screenshot from the original CBS news website still showing the headline: Manning makes historic 509th touchdown pass.

Sutton paused, misty-eyed, as his seven year-old grandson looked on with a confused expression on his face. “I’m sorry, kid,” he said to the little boy. “I keep forgetting that this was before you were born. I can’t expect you to understand what it was like for us back then. Those were dark days.”

“You see, back in those days there was this terrible disease called Ebola. It was at its worst just before Peyton Manning threw his famous touchdown pass. I know it seems impossible to you now, but back then we were all suffering. At the height of the epidemic, one American died and two others were infected. We didn’t know if we could go on. People were beginning to feel like the entire nation was on the verge of falling apart. What would it mean for our way of life if three people got infected?”

“Then, Peyton Manning through that pass. When that ball entered the end zone, we didn’t know it then, but it was going to change everything. People were so inspired by Peyton Manning’s athletic performance, even on the other side of the planet, that Russia immediately began to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Islamic State fighters decided to convert to Christianity and send all the money that they were planning on spending on bombs over to Liberty University.”

“When Peyton Manning through that pass, the pharmaceutical industry executives that had been holding the Ebola vaccine in their secret vaults had a change of heart and decided to release it to the whole world. The FDA decided to allow for the sale of cannabis oil and all cancers were immediately cured.”

“Barack Obama, emboldened by the brave example of Peyton Manning, who threw a ball with no expectation for any compensation other than millions of dollars, decided to finally release his birth certificate, admitting once and for all that yes, he was born in Kenya, Missouri.”

“McDonald’s brought back the Dollar Meal. Lawn jarts were put back on the shelves – with extra sharp tips. NBC started shooting new episodes of Friends, and Brad Pitt decided to get reunited with Jennifer Anniston so that he could be on another episode of the show – this is before Anniston became president.”

“Liberals were so impressed with Peyton Manning that they decided to stop trying to take away everybody’s guns. By the end of the year every house in America had at least 12 handguns, and that’s when crime disappeared completely.”

“Oh, yes, CBS news sure got it right when they wrote that headline. Peyton Manning’s pass was historic. It changed our lives forever. So, tomorrow at school, when you start the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to Manning, I want you to remember what I’ve told you about Peyton Manning tonight. When you salute the flag, with its 50 footballs and 13 red stripes, I want you to understand why we all feel so proud to be living in the United States of Manning… oh, and don’t forget to take your steroids before you go to bed.”