Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Internet

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  The internet.

The past couple of weeks of my life have been consumed with the consumption of basketball games as March Madness has taken center stage in the Metrick household.  I’ve been cheering for my beloved Syracuse Orangemen, running my annual tournament pool and watching my 2-year-old son work on slam dunking a ball through his mini-hoop in the hallway.  Unfortunately for him, he appears to have his father’s ups.

As a basketball fan, I’m always happy to see March roll around, but I’ve been particularly pleased about it the last few years.  That’s because in our brave new technological world I don’t have to hope against hope that the game I want to watch will be broadcast locally.  No sir.  Nowadays I can watch any NCAA tournament game I desire simply by logging on to NCAA.com.

This development is, in a word, phenomenal.

On Friday night, as I sat at my computer watching SU lethargically self-destruct against the Oklahoma Sooners, I started thinking about all the modern day technology that has utterly changed the course of my media-consuming life (Tivo, Ipods, YouTube, Facebook, etc.).  All of these gadgets brighten my daily existence because of the internet; that wonderful information portal that comes into our homes through a wire in the wall.

commodore64setup1

You've come a long way, baby.

Ten years ago, the worldwide web (does anyone even use that term anymore?) was in its infancy and being brought into most American homes via a standard phone line, which made logging on sound much the way I imagine death sounds.  Now, it’s a high-speed tsunami of information that makes no unnerving noises and presents us with the world.  It has changed the way we do everything.

At this point, one of the few daily activities that isn’t enhanced by the presence of the internet is using the bathroom, but something tells me there’s a start-up out there working around the clock to change that.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to E-Pooping in the near future.

Well, I love the internet and I don’t care who knows it.  I love it wholly and completely.  I love the internet the way the Dharma Initiative loves jumpsuits.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve used the internet to find countless pieces of valuable information, buy baseball tickets, watch TV shows, listen to radio stations, pay bills, rent DVDs, share photos and waste time in more ways than I ever thought imaginable.

Along with oxygen and donuts, the internet has entered the pantheon of things I can’t live without.

But while I sit here and wax poetic about the glorious glory that is the online world, there are clearly some downsides to this wonderful invention.  For instance, it has much – if not everything – to do with the collapse of our nation’s newspapers.  Long running publications like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver have bitten the dust and there are countless other dailies staring down the barrel of the same gun.

Combine this trend with the fact the internet helps keep publicity seeking pinheads like the OctoMom in our daily public discourse and it’s clear to see this technology possesses a dark side.

And there are probably a myriad of ways in which the internet might ultimately screw us in the end.  Part of me is deathly afraid there will be some Phillip K. Dick-like twist in which our information superhighway  leads to a purge of the human race and makes those of us who survive realize it was all too good to be true.

That’s gonna suck.

But until that day arrives, I’m just going to sit comfortably on my rump looking for meatloaf recipes while listening to a podcast of “Meet the Press” and checking NBA box scores.  It’s an excellent time to be alive.

Advertisements

Bernie Madoff

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Bernie Madoff.

On Thursday, Wall Street swindler and all-around asshole Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to eleven counts of securities fraud and perjury relating to the larger than average Ponzi scheme he was running. The man who’s become the poster boy for runaway greed during our trying economic times said in his statement to the court that he was “sorry and ashamed.”

madoff

Wanna invest with me?

These comments hardly seem adequate considering the 70-year-old financier conned a multitude of victims out of roughly $65 billion dollars. “Sorry and ashamed” is what my 2-year-old should be when he purposely drools milk down his chin at the dinner table.

When you steal that much coin from that many people – including the fleecing of pension funds and nonprofit organizations – you should probably take the extra time to properly express exactly how much of a douchebag you really are. If this requires consulting a thesaurus, so be it.

Or perhaps the judge overseeing this case should’ve allowed the people Mr. Madoff ripped off to write his statement for him. I think some of the victims would’ve been more than happy to have gotten together, brainstormed the appropriate verbiage and forced Big Bernie to read their opus publicly. Something tells me their words would’ve been a little more colorful and certainly would have given the world a better gauge by which to judge this man and his actions.

What makes the Madoff case so maddening is that his crimes were motivated my nothing more than unadulterated greed. He was a successful and well-respected investment professional who ripped people off simply to line his own pockets. Apparently being respected and wealthy just wasn‘t enough. He wanted to be respected and super-wealthy.

Stealing is always rotten, but at least when the criminals who commit these misdeeds are desperate people living desperate lives, you can understand it on some level. When the rich lie, cheat and steal just to become more rich, I find myself completely baffled.

It’s people like Bernie Madoff that make me wish reincarnation were real and that scumbags like him would return to earth and suffer the most undignified second lives. Nothing would make me happier than to think of Madoff coming back to the living world as a three-legged dog or a urinal cake.

Unfortunately Bernie Madoff’s punishment will be quite earthly and humane with a better than average chance that no one urinates on him. He’ll live out the last years of his life in a prison (probably the upper crust, country club variety) and die a relatively comfortable death.

When that day comes, there will probably be a small blurb about his passing on the news – assuming the “news” still exists and hasn’t been replaced by reality show about pets trying to lose weight. The general population, due to our utter lack of an attention span, will barely remember his name or what particular actions landed the deceased on the federal farm to begin with.

Of course, the people he ripped off will remember and wish him good riddance.

But most of us will not recall the man, his deeds or the greed that led to them. Instead, we’ll just look back at the Madoff scandal of 2009 as the time we learned what a Ponzi scheme was.

And for that I am sorry and ashamed.


Socialization

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?   Socialization.

Few words can heat up a friendly political debate quite like socialization.  Don’t believe me?  Try it.  The next time you’re with a group of friends from differing political backgrounds (or similar ones for that matter), just yell the word out loud.

Socialization!

Within five minutes your amicable little soiree will turn in to an ideological battle royal.

It’s also a word that’s being bandied about quite frequently these days, mostly by right wing Republicans who object to talk of the U.S. government potentially nationalizing the banks and, God forbid, healthcare.

reagan1

I guess if Reagan was against socialized medicine, it must be bad.

Could anything be more frighteningly un-American than each and every U.S. citizen being insured and receiving proper healthcare?

Well, it doesn’t sound half bad to me.  Which I guess makes me less patriotic and less American.  But at this point, I’d wrap myself in the Soviet flag and goosestep down the main street of my quiet, Washington hamlet if it meant getting out from under the obnoxious healthcare system that currently plagues us.

While my family recently had a run-in with our healthcare provider, I can’t complain too loudly.  After all, no one died or was evicted from the hospital and dropped off on skid row.  But when my wife needed to have a wisdom tooth removed, the dental insurance company that covers her through her employer refused to pay the $500 plus dollars for the anesthesia required to perform the operation.  Why?  We can’t say for sure, but something tells me it has something to do with the insurance company lining their pocket with an extra $500.

Socialized medicine isn’t the answer, you say.  It would just raise my taxes, you say.  Fine.  But based on our family income, something tells me our share wouldn’t be more than that $353 dollars a month we currently pay for my son and I to be insured in our currently all-American, red, white and blue healthcare system, to say nothing of money spent on co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions, and uncovered services, you know, like anesthesia.

Given the amount of cash American citizens pump into this archaic system you’d think the least we could get in return is the best medicine money can buy.  Hardly.  The last time I checked we had an infant mortality rate that was the second worst in the modern world.  Why aren’t the pro-lifers up in arms about that little statistic?

And our life expectancy is nothing to brag about either.  Based on 2008 numbers, we’re 46th in the world.  Forty-freakin’-sixth!

U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

For a country that prides itself on being number one, we collectively seem more than content to finish in the basement when it comes to our health.

Maybe it’s because we’re a capitalist nation that lets the markets rule, consequences be damned.  How’s that market capitalism been working out for us these days?  And those same people who prattle on and on about the evils of socialized medicine don’t seem to have any problems accepting assistance from our communist police and fire departments.  Nor do I hear any of them shouting from the mountaintops that we should privatize our pinko libraries.

Plus, if a national healthcare system became a reality perhaps American employers wouldn’t move jobs to Canada in order to avoid the oppressive healthcare costs like GM did a few years back.  And perhaps I could pump all the money I’d be saving on privatized coverage back into the economy.  I’d finally be able to afford that pet chimp I’ve always wanted.  Those are safe, right?

And imagine if there were millions of Americans that suddenly had hundreds more a month in disposable income.  Now that would stimulate the economy like a lap dance at a Viagra convention.

Look, I’m not saying insuring three hundred million people would be easy.  It wouldn’t be.  It would probably be very difficult and it would take years to perfect.  But there was once a time in this country when we welcomed challenges and took pride in achieving the unachievable.

Americans have put a man on the moon and created more boner medications than I can keep track of.  I don’t think inventing a functioning, all-inclusive nationalized healthcare system is asking too much of us.

And if that makes me a godless communist who wipes his ass with the American flag, so be it.