Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fried Butter and the Iowa Straw Poll

Would you like a side of Lipator with that?

 Hey! You ever eaten a fried stick of butter? Probably not, but apparently it's all the rage at the Iowa State Fair. I can't imagine anything that better represents Americans' love of crap food than a fried stick of frozen butter. And remember, in a few days the good people of Iowa are going to be partaking in the Iowa Straw Poll to choose the person they want to run for President of these here United States. Michelle "Pray the Gay Away" Bachman is expected to make a strong showing. That's right, the people who eat fried butter get early dibs on choosing our President. Doom on us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three tickets for the loser, please!

Today I did something that I do about once every other week and that I'm always conflicted about: I bought some lotto tickets. You have to understand that intellectually I'm completely against buying lotto tickets. It's stupid. The chances of winning are astronomical. It's completely irrational for me to spend $3 on lotto tickets in the hopes of winning millions. That money would be better spent toward my next cheap bottle of Pinto Grigio, but no, there I was buying some lottery tickets.

Apparently though, I'm not alone. According to the University of Connecticut Health Center,  lotto ticket sales skyrocket in bad economic times. Seems that we are all buying lotto tickets out of shear desperation. And I always do the same thing when I buy my lotto tickets. I quickly scan the numbers and instantly feel that I've bought losing numbers. These don't look like winners I say to myself. I somehow expect that winning numbers are going to look a certain way, that they are going to have a certain numerical symmetry or beauty like the golden ratio or something. Instead I see these numbers that are too close together or too far apart or are just, well, ugly. I also have a superstition against picking the numbers. I know people who always play their kids' birthdays or their wedding anniversary. Not me. I let the lotto machine of fate pick mine. Though I know it makes no statistical sense, but I feel that I'm making it harder to win if I pick numbers significant to me. I mean, what are the chances that I have the winning numbers, and then what are the chances that those winner numbers just happen to be my kids' birthdays or the day I proposed to my wife? Impossible I say! I'd just be making it harder. Lady Fortuna would reject me and instead choose to favor some obscure truck driver in Alabama. I know, I know, statisticians would say it doesn't matter, but I'm with Mark Twain on this one. There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Let the machine pick the numbers so that I can feign disinterest in the whole process.

My wife thinks that I will never win because I'm greedy. See, I only play the big lottos. I play Megamillions, Powerball, etc. I don't want $200,000 or even two million dollars. Even with a payout of two million dollars, it'd only have about $500,000 in the bank after the cut for instant payout and taxes. I'd buy a nice house and...go back to work. Not me. I want to win big. I want to win those $50,000,000 jackpots that leave you with $20,000,000 in the bank when everyone gets their cut. Then the Happy Misanthrope can be truly happy. So my wife says I'm greedy and that God will never let me win. I don't know, I think God respects my integrity and high standards.

So then, why do I waste a few measly dollars on lotto tickets? I think it has something to do with Pascal's Wager. Remember Pascal's Wager? Pascal was the Christian theologian--and mathematician and gambler by the way-- who thought that it made more sense to bet your soul on there being a God than not. He figured that if you bet your soul on there being a God and there wasn't, no big loss. You would just have wasted your piddling seventy-five or so years on Earth believing in a God who wasn't there. No big loss in the cosmic scope of things. But if you bet your soul that there was a God and on the off chance, there was, then you just made out like a metaphysical bandit, my friend! You've won heaven! An eternity of bliss in the musical spheres! Absolute harmony with the universe for forever and ever, amen. You see, to Pascal it's all about betting something small for the potential of huge rewards. Pascal might understand why I play lotto. I'm betting my sad ineffectual dollar for the chance of winning a huge fortune. So there it is. My justification for playing lotto. My last tickets numbers get called Friday. If I post after that date, you know I'm still a loser.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Francesco Quinn AKA Rhah from "Platoon" dies

Francesco Quinn, son of Hollywood legend Anthony Quinn, and one of favorite characters in Oliver Stone's "Platoon" died on August 8. Quinn was a big part of what I consider one of the best war movies ever made. RIP Rhah.

Obama sounds like a Tea-Partier

Obama's statement today about our the nation's downgraded S&P credit rating really bugs me. "Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America," Obama said. "No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a triple-A country." The reason we are in this mess is because of Tea-Party politicians who repeatedly denied reality and said that there would be no consequences as a result of a failure to raise the debt limit or even to play around with the idea.
Most of them seemed blissfully oblivious to any urgency. Now, I expect Tea-Partiers to deny facts. These are the same people who deny evolution and applaud Bachman when she says that the Founding Fathers were against slavery. But to have President Obama come out on the day that Dow dropped over 600 pts and state essentially the same thing-- that our country was triple-A regardless of what any agency said is horrible. Mr. President, the drop in the Dow proves these things matter! He should have actually gone out there and said essentially, "I told you so", instead he went down the dangerous road of downplaying the reality of the situation.