Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sexy Canadian? No Thanks

"Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, star of "The Proposal" and upcoming sci-fi movie "Green Lantern", was named People magazine's "sexiest man alive" on Wednesday."
- Reuters - November 17, 2010

This ain’t good for anybody. Actor Ryan Reynolds the sexiest man alive? OK, maybe. But Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds the sexiest man alive? No thanks.
As a Canadian, all I can say is "Thanks for nothing, People magazine." You sure didn’t do us any favors.

We Canadians are not noted for being sexy. Sure, we produced such hotties as Mary Pickford and William Shatner. But they were just flukes and nobody ever declared them sexiest man or woman alive.

Think of the pressure we’re facing now. No longer will it be enough for a Canadian male to be adequate at his job. Now he’ll be expected to be sexy, too.
That means Mounties won’t be able to just go about their business. Now they’ll have to wear their scarlet dress uniforms even for routine police work just to keep up this new sexy image.

And what about the average Canadian Pete or Pierre? No more throwing on a parka and a winter vest to operate the Zamboni at the local rink. Now the poor guy will have to wear a tux or at least a designer label suit and tie.

No more coasting along on our reputation as basically nice, polite, inoffensive folks who wear winter clothing much of the year. Up until now, no one expected a lot out of us.

But now expectations are going to be through the roof. Our roly poly, pasty-faced prime minister Stephen Harper will no longer be able to get by on his mediocre looks. From now on, if he can’t sex himself up, no one outside of Canada will ever take him seriously again.

The same goes for all our top hockey players. Thinking that they can glide along on their hockey-playing abilities alone will no longer suffice. At the very least, this means less spitting and a lot more dental work.

And what about us average Canucks? What the heck are we supposed to do, eh? I guess, for starters, we’ll have to stop saying "eh", eh?

But that’s obviously not going to be enough. Who’s going to take us seriously dressed in snow boots and plaid now that sexy is the new Canadian imprimatur?

This sexiest man alive business is really going to put a bee in our national bonnet. Or, at the very least, a beaver in our national tuque.

To save us a lot of grief, I suggest Mr. Reynolds turn down this dubious honor. He should simply tell People magazine "thanks but no thanks." After all, that would be the polite, self-effacing Canadian thing to do.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Obama Scraps Turkey Pardon

In a surprise move, President Obama has cancelled this year’s Thanksgiving turkey pardon. Given the polarized political environment, it didn’t make sense to conduct the traditional ceremony.

As one White House insider put it: "We didn’t want to give the wrong message. With the Republicans in the ascendency, pardoning anyone or anything could smack of being soft on crime."

Instead, President Obama is expected to use the traditional turkey pardoning ceremony as an opportunity to spell out his new "get tough" approach to all forms of criminal activity.

"We don’t believe in taking it easy on criminals whether they are feathered or not," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the president decides to crack down on turkey crime in all its forms."

Asked to be more specific, Mr. Gibbs pointed to a graph which showed a definite spike in turkey crime over the last few years.

"We’ve been monitoring the situation closely," said Mr. Gibbs. "And the number of cases of Americans getting sick from salmonella poisoning is definitely on the rise. And chief among those responsible for that health threat are turkeys."

The Obama Administration is apparently also sensitive to past criminal activities by turkeys pardoned by The White House.

"While it is true that last year the president pardoned a turkey," said Mr. Gibbs. "He felt that he had no choice but to continue the pardoning policies already implemented by the Bush Administration."

This year, though, President Obama is determined to stake out his own policy position vis-a-vis turkey pardoning.

"Undercooked turkeys are potentially fatal but live turkeys are even more dangerous," said Mr. Gibbs. "If they manage to sneak into your home, they can spread bacteria without you even knowing it."

The White House is stressing the fact that last year’s pardoned bird did no damage but that Pecan, the last turkey pardoned by President Bush, is still at large. According to authorities, the bird is not a flight risk although it can flap its wings and travel at speeds of upwards of three miles an hour.

The White House hopes to capture the wayward bird soon although the president has apparently not yet decided if it will be returned to captivity or will instead serve as this year’s Thanksgiving dinner at Guantanamo Bay.

Whatever course of action the president ultimately chooses, it looks like Joe Biden has already decided to take matters into his own hands. The vice president was reportedly last seen on Air Force Two heading east to Istanbul declaring that, unlike the Bush Administration, "this White House has no intention of pardoning Turkey."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More D. C. Memoirs

Decision Points, George W. Bush’s unorthodox presidential memoir, was released on Tuesday. The book is a personal account of fourteen major decisions from his life and presidency. But apparently there are several other non-traditional political memoirs also slated soon for publication:

"I coulda been a contenda" by Al Gore
Former Vice President Al Gore reminisces about the years 2000-2008 and speculates as to how he might have dealt with possible crises. "Since I read the August 6th briefing memo about Bin Laden’s plans to attack us," said Mr. Gore. "I was instrumental in capturing the terrorists before they boarded the plane." The self-proclaimed inventor of the Internet goes on to show how his prescient decision-making abilities avoided any foreign wars and saved New Orleans from a much smaller Katrina thanks to his singlehanded defeat of global warming.

"Eight more years" by Bill Clinton
Indulging in a little magical realism, former President Bill Clinton imagines his life if there had been no 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. "First of all, I would have trounced that intellectual pygmy George W. Bush," said Mr. Clinton. "And then I would have dumped that wooden killjoy Al Gore." Mr. Clinton describes how, under his continuing presidency, America would have achieved uninterrupted prosperity in perpetual party mode. "I really see no reason why I still wouldn’t be your president," said Mr. Clinton speculating on a fifth and possibly sixth consecutive term.

"Decision points, my ass!" by Dick Cheney
The former vice president picks ten key decision points from the Bush II presidency and describes how he was instrumental in getting the job done. "I know George likes to think he was responsible for each of those choices," said Mr. Cheney. "But we all know who really wore the pants in that presidency. I just wanted to set the historical record straight." Mr. Cheney reportedly agreed to forego the original subtitle for his book: "I’m with stupid."

"Heck of a job, W!" by Karl Rove
Mr. Bush’s former senior advisor tells how he kept the president on track with encouraging words and pep talks. "Once Cheney made a decision and got W to implement it," said Rove. "Someone had to keep convincing him that was the right thing to do and that someone was me." As the First Cheerleader, Rove protected President Bush from any inconvenient facts and figures. "It wasn’t all that difficult," reminisces Rove. "I just had to hide the newspaper and his reading glasses."

"Future decision points" by Sarah Palin
Not wanting to wait until after her presidency to publish her memoirs, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has decided to issue them now. "Let’s face it; there are going to be some tough decisions during my partial or whole term or terms in The White House," said Ms. Palin. "But I have no doubt at all how I will handle them at that time." Asked to elaborate and to provide particulars, Ms. Palin simply replied: "Hey, I’m not stupid; to find out, you’ll have to buy the book."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Decision Points - the e-book

George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is due for release on November 9th. The book has been described as an unconventional narrative and a "groundbreaking new brand of memoir." Rather than detail his life in chronological order, President Bush has chosen to center on the "fourteen most critical and historic decisions in [his] life and public service."
Decision Points will also be available as an e-book which itself will be a groundbreaking new form of electronic publication. Rather than reproduce the printed book word for word, the former president has decided to present his e-book in point form as Decision Points: The Point Form Version. Herewith are some of the e-book "decision points" in Mr. Bush’s unique point form style:
- had to ask myself: "Can you remember the last day you didn’t have a drink?"
- couldn’t do it
- remember saying "Jesus, I have to quit!"
- funny story, that’s how I found Jesus, too
election night 2000
- sitting in the Texas Governor’s Mansion waiting for results
- Al Gore calls and concedes
- next thing I know, Mr. Inconvenient Truth calls back and disconcedes
- I decided to fight for what was arguably mine
- luckily I had a few friends on the Supreme Court - heh heh

stem cells
- embryonic stem cells come from little people
- could I OK killing little people?
- couldn’t do it
- stopped stem cell research
9-11 attacks
- why did I keep reading The Pet Goat?
- couldn’t upset the kids
- plus I wanted to know how it turned out
- sure wish I had read that briefing on August 6th entitled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U. S.

invasion of Iraq
- Saddam could have had weapons of mass destruction
- Dick Cheney was pretty sure he did
- as the Decider, I couldn’t risk taking a chance that he didn’t
- anyway, Saddam was a real bad guy - did you know he tried to kill my dad?

- do I wish that I had declared an emergency sooner? You bet
- do I wish that I had sent more aid and visited right away? No doubt
- most of all, I wish that I hadn’t cut back on levee construction funds but that’s water under, over and all around the bridge now
the financial crisis
- that was a tough decision to bail out all those banks and companies
- but a lot of those guys were my friends and some hadn’t gotten all their big tax cuts yet
- when your friends need help, it’s a pretty easy decision to make
- plus Dick Cheney thought it was a good idea, too

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Realistic Investing

"Treasury Sells Bonds With a Negative Yield"
- headline in the N. Y. Times - Oct. 25, 2010

For the first time ever, inflation-protected securities are selling at negative yields. I, for one, am relieved and I’m hoping this is the start of a new trend. Given my fiscal history, I’d prefer to stop pretending my investments are going to make money and just get the bad news over with right off the bat.
I’m anticipating that Wall Street will take the next logical step and start getting companies to issue shares with built-in, guaranteed losses. Rather than delude myself into thinking that my equity purchases will actually turn a profit some day, this new type of share would guarantee me a capital loss right from the start. Then, if by chance, I should make a small gain here or there on any of my older investments - presto, I’ve got an instant capital loss to write it off against.
Not only would this benefit my meager portfolio, it would also serve to help the share-issuing corporation. It could later buy back the shares at less than their original value and use the resulting gain to ensure that its executives do not have to suffer with only six-figure salaries.
Hopefully this would also lead to another new vehicle: anti-dividend shares. For decades, some of us have relied on so-called blue chip stocks that reliably pay a small dividend year-in and year-out. Sadly, over time, whatever net dividend we might accumulate is usually eroded by the decline in the share’s underlying value.
That’s why I’d prefer to have it spelled out right up front when I buy one of these new anti-dividend shares. For a guarantee from the company that the share’s value will not fall over time, I’ll be happy to pay them a small annual dividend of two or three dollars per share. I may not make any money this way but at least my initial capital outlay will still be there.
Let’s face it; the stock market is not for the faint of heart. But with more loss-guaranteed investment vehicles, at least we’d know where we stand. Plus, we’d have the satisfaction of knowing that stockbrokers, investment bankers and the like would not have to risk taking a cut in their all-important annual bonuses.
Maybe this new trend can spread to the housing market as well. In return for taking on a long-term, fixed-rate mortgage, I, as the new homeowner, would be willing to immediately absorb a twenty percent drop in the value of my new house. That way, I’d know just what I have to pay per month for years to come and I would no longer have to worry about borrowing against some illusory increased equity in my home.
If we are to protect our great American way of life and ensure that capitalism continues to thrive, loss-guaranteed investments is clearly the way to go. They’re about the closest thing to a sure bet that you’re ever going to see.