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Affording loss Thu, Mar 25, 2010
There's an article from the St. Petersburg Times (FL) about strawberry farmers being forced to let fruit rot because harvesting them isn't worth the cost of selling them.  That's bad and all, and waa waa we all cry for farmers and whatever, but that's not the point.  The writer of the article chose to use the following sentence towards the end: 
It might seem wasteful, but they explain that if they pick for such low profits, they'll lose money. They can't afford to do that -- especially after such a bad season.
The question is, when can anyone "afford" to lose money? #money

I hate birds Thu, Mar 25, 2010
I walked out to my car for lunch the other day, unlocked the door, got in, and looked up to find my windshield *covered* in bird poop.  I've parked in that exact same spot before, but apparently this was the day that every bird on earth sat on the light post above my parking spot, turned their feathered butts in the direction of my car and explosively let loose.  I just couldn't believe how much poop was on my windshield.  Just unfathomable.  Gallons of poop.  This is why I hate birds. 

Some birds are cool.  This past weekend I saw a beautiful blue jay fly across my yard, then I watched with interest as a red-headed woodpecker pecked away at a tree.  I'm a fan of hummingbirds and pelicans and even pigeons sometimes.  I don't hate specific birds.  I hate birds in general.  And here's why: 
  1. Birds poop
    1. on me
    2. on my car
  2. Birds make noise
  3. Birds poop and make noise
And that pretty much sums it up.  My neighbors used to have some sort of parrot as a pet, and all it did all damn day was scream like it was being held against its will (which it was), which is fine, except that a bird "scream" is different than a bird "song."  And one of my friends in high school had a little parakeet as a pet, and it was the dirtiest, most disgusting animal I've ever encountered. 

I know birds are useful animals and some people follow them around with binoculars because they're rare or awesome or something.  I'm not saying we should kill all birds.  I'm just saying I hate them.  Mostly because they pooped on my car. 

Update:  Here's a related Brevity comic. #nature

Cemetery real estate Thu, Mar 25, 2010
Most times I drive past a cemetery, I can't help but think what a waste of real estate it is to store carved stoned and skeletons in boxes.  I'm cynical, obviously, and I apparently don't have much respect for the dead, so I guess I'm sorry if that's offensive.  But honestly, if we really want to cherish the physical remains of our loved ones, why don't we just build a tall building and put them in it, kind of like a filing cabinet?  It's not like they care either way; they're dead.  Option number two (which is inclusive of option number one) is to cremate.  I can't think of a valid reason why we don't cremate the dead.  I'm a Christian, and if the whole idea of death is to wait around until Christ's second coming, I doubt he really cares whether we're a pile of bones or a pile of dust.  Either way, he's gonna have a lot of work cut out for himself in putting us all back together. 

I would stop there, but there's more.  While I admit that it's kind of cool to walk through an old cemetery and look at the gravestones of people who died hundreds of years ago, I could honestly live without that small pleasure in life, for the simple reason that graveyards are essentially sanctioned littering.  Bodies decompose over time, so basically all that's left is either a heap of bones or a box that contains a heap of bones.  So really, we're just filling the ground with ornate boxes of bones and marking these locations with inscribed rocks.  Pretty stupid if you think about it. 

Finally, once a cemetery, always a cemetery.  No one will ever buy a house on land that used to be a graveyard.  You can't put a park there, because no one would go.  Pretty much the only viable alternative for post-cemetery land is to build a store that sells Halloween decorations, and we all know how poorly seasonal stores perform.  My point is that as more and more people die (as they tend to do), we'll need more room for our silly custom of storing bodies indefinitely, which will use up more and more valuable real estate, until there's nowhere else to live except on the moon.  Conclusion:  Cremate, and let the wind take care of the rest. #sociology

National broadband coverage Thu, Mar 25, 2010
There's been some political discussion about the possibility of making very fast broadband internet access available to the entire country, which is generally a good thing in my opinion.  But the arguments people use in support of it, and specifically in comparing the situation in the US to that of other countries, is ridiculous.  It goes something like this:  "[Some country] has had [high number] Mbps broadband access for [low price] per month since the year [long ago]."  My main objective to this argument is that the countries people reference are places like Japan, South Korea, and France, which if you'll simply look at a map are ridiculously small compared to the US.  South Korea is about the size of Indiana, or about four times the size of New Jersey, and the fact that this tiny country has national broadband access really isn't that impressive. #technology

Sponsored by Austria Thu, Mar 25, 2010
When NPR isn't too busy trying to guilt me into giving them money, they often mention their strange sponsors.  Usually it's some "foundation" or non-profit group or obscure website.  But sometimes it's Austria, as in the country.  Every time I hear them say, "This program is sponsored in part by Austria," it catches me off guard.  Sure enough, the Austrian tourism industry is currently promoting events involving food and classical music, which happens to appeal to many NPR listeners. #entertainment