Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yep! It's An Election Year!

White House to hand out $800M to combat drought

The Bush administration will give nearly $800 million to farmers and ranchers devastated by drought, The Associated Press has learned. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns planned to announce the aid Tuesday afternoon in South Dakota.

The drought aid includes:
  • $50 million in block grants for hard-hit states.
  • $18 million from emergency conservation funds.$11 million from a grassland conservation program.
  • The department would accelerate $700 million in planned payments to cotton, grain, sorghum and peanut farmers.
Don't look for any aid to be directed to blue states with with plant closings, manufacturing job losses to China, and service job losses to India.

Bayer Increases Profits, Cuts Jobs

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, One of America's Great Newspapers, reported today that Bayer's second quarter net income increased by 11 percent, but that it would be cutting 1500 jobs.

Management bonuses and drinks all around!

We're sorry to report that Bayer is not the only company engaged in this unconscionable practice.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Waistlines Grow While SAT Scores Drop

Kids' waistlines are growing, as are those of the rest of us. Call it Spongebob Stomach. Call it Gamecube Gut. Call it the Freshman 15 (inflated from the Freshman 10, as it was called when I went to college). Whatever you call it, it’s ugly.

What's worse, we discover that Junior’s spare tire has brought another unwelcome friend to the party. That’s right. As the girth of our kids’ midsections has gone up, their SAT scores have come down.

We asked the Scott's Spot Educational Nutrition Department to look into it, and we can now recommend a cost effective solution to both problems. Don't bother sending your kids to those expensive SAT preparation courses. Just go to the supermarket and get some Ultra Slim Fast. You'll save a few bucks now, and maybe you'll see some big scholarship money later.

Terror Event Clustering

Chinese Driver Education Standards

In the US, we're ruining the educational system with the No Child Left Behind Act. In China, they're experimenting on dogs instead of kids, so they have the 狗没有忘记法案, which is the Babelfish translation of "No Dog Left Behind Act" into Simplified Chinese. I like it better when you translate those characters back into English: "The dog has not forgotten the bill." It's an unusual dog that picks up the bill, so I like that.

Now, back to today's topic. It
seems that a woman in Hohhot, the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia region, crashed her car while giving her dog a driving lesson, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday.

There once was a woman from Hohhot,
Who thought that her pooch was a hotshot.
The dog he said “please”
So she gave him the keys
And she said to look twice but he forgot.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Let Me Entertain You...At My Funeral

Here at Scott's Spot we have a fairly tolerant point of view. If you want to
meow at us, we won't press charges. We are OK with people who want to eat eggplant, so long as it takes place in the privacy of their own kitchens. If people want to stretch their earlobes as big as basketballs, then more power to them.

But we've often wondered about stripteases at funerals. Should we be tolerant of that? Well, apparently not, if we want to follow the lead of Chinese authorities.

Reuters is reporting that striptease send-offs at funerals may become a thing of the past in east China after five people were arrested for organizing the intimate farewells, state media reported on Wednesday.

Police swooped last week after two groups of strippers gave "obscene performances" at a farmer's funeral in Donghai County, Jiangsu province, Xinhua news agency said. The disrobing served a higher purpose, the report noted." Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai's rural areas to allure viewers," it said.

"Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honored." Wealthy families often employed two troupes of performers to attract a crowd. Two hundred showed up at last week's funeral. Five strippers were detained and local officials "issued notices concerning funeral management," Xinhua said. Now village officials must submit plans for funerals within 12 hours after a villager dies. And residents can report "funeral misdeeds" on a hotline, the report said.

The Scott's Spot Eastern Studies department is unaware of any similar restrictions in Taiwan, where the custom is also observed. Keep that in mind if you're after a traditional funeral.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Planetary Correctness, Texas Style

You’ve no doubt heard the news. Pluto, discovered, in 1930, is no longer a planet. It was once a planet, but it isn’t now. Or, it was never a planet, but we didn’t know how to define it. Or, well, I don’t know. All I know is that everyone has to unlearn the former fact that there are 9 planets, and they have to stop naming them when they get to Neptune. It'll give my kids something to do in school next week.

Classical music fans are ecstatic about this development, by the way, as Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” Suite stops at Neptune. Apparently Holst got it right when he composed his suite in 1914-1916. It would have been a disaster if the suite had been written after 1930. Orchestras and CD producers would have to agonize about whether to include the “Pluto” movement.

But there will be problems with this scientific advance. And the biggest problem is going to be Texas. Because the educational curriculum standards in Texas contain the following language:
Science textbooks shall include the naming of the planets from Mercury to Pluto. The number of planets shall be nine (9). Nine shall be the number of planets named. The number of the planets shall not stop at eight (8), nor shall it proceed onward to ten (10). Textbooks not adhering to these standards shall not be acceptable for use in the State of Texas.
Looks like we’re gonna have some more textbook wars on our hands, folks.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cat Rescue 911 - NOT

Is your cat stuck in a tree? Want to call the fire department to get it down? Then you'd better hope you're not calling the Hualapai Valley Fire Department, from Kingman, Arizona.

Jeffrey Cullen, 58, called the fire department and reported a tree fire. But when the firemen got there, Cullen told firefighters he wanted a cat rescued from his tree and knew they would only respond to a fire call, Edwards said. A battalion chief told Cullen to call animal control or wait for the cat to get hungry and come down.

"He went back into the house, got a small black revolver and came outside shooting," spokeswoman Sandy Edwards said. she said.

My father-in-law was a volunteer firefighter for many years. One time I asked him why they didn't get cats out of trees, and his response was, "You've never seen a cat skeleton in a tree, have you?"

Nuff said!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hypodermic Needle Phobia Fix

Just yesterday we wrote that TV can be a powerful pain medication for children. Today, we can report that you don't even need a TV, if your problem is a fear of needles, known as trypanophobia. All you need is to decorate the needles. Researchers at the University of New Mexico's Health Sciences Center decorated needles with butterflies, flowers and smiley faces, and found that needle aversion was reduced by 68 percent, fear by 53 percent and anxiety by 53 percent.

lmer Sibbitt, a professor in UNM's School of Medicine, said the decorated medical devices likely form a neurophysiological intervention, resulting in stimulation of brain areas usually not associated with fear, anxiety and aversion. "It would be great to see these types of decorated needles, syringes, and IV bags mass produced," he said.

Don't expect them to be covered by your company's health plan, though.

Football vs English in Kenton, Ohio

It was intended to be a prank: steal a decoy deer, place it on a country road and watch as motorists swerved to avoid it. It ended with two teenagers suffering serious injuries when their car hit the decoy and rolled into a ditch.

This week, Judge Gary McKinley ruled that two of the boys responsible -- both high school football players -- can complete the football season before they serve 60-day sentences at a juvenile detention center. McKinley's ruling has caused a division in this northwest Ohio city.

On one side are those who say allowing a 16-year-old quarterback, and his 17-year-old teammate to play shows that football players get preferential treatment.

On the other are those who say either the boys deserve another chance or that they will stay out of trouble if they're part of the team.

Arch Rodgers, principal of 670-student Kenton High School, summed things up, saying "The worst part is this has drug out so long and the longer it drug out, the more it created friction in the community."

Ordinarily, Scott's Spot would have castigated Judge McKinley for his preferential treatment of sports stars. But, based on the statement of Principal Rodgers, we see no possibility that the boys can get a proper English education at Kenton High, and thus we say "Go Wildcats!"

(In a side note, Scott's Spot investigators discovered that the Kenton School District is giving consideration to teaching Chinese in the elementary schools! We wonder how long that process will get drug out...)

Texas Hold 'em? More Like Texas Fold 'em!

We don't play a lot of poker at Scott's Spot. But we might develop an interest in the game, after learning about the World Strip Poker Championship, which is to take place at the prestigious Cafe Royal in central London with players battling it out in games of "No Limit Texas Hold 'em."

Players of both sexes from over 12 countries would battle it out for the "Gold Fig Leaf" trophy and the right to revel (or is it "reveal") in the title of World Strip Poker Champion.

"Inappropriate behavior," will not be tolerated, said event organizer and Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

Yeah, right!

A Roundhouse Kick to Avoid

A kangaroo in China is thought to be the first to have an artificial limb.

The kangaroo had to have its leg amputated after being involved in an accident with a car.

However, Hangzhou Safari Park, in Hangzhou city, contacted an artificial limb factory, which designed and made the kangaroo a special limb, reports Xinhua News.

I'd be careful when sparring this animal!

Kenosha Man Becomes the Envy of Women Everywhere

For 2 brief hours, Darmin Garcia had a foretaste of heaven. Or at least it would have seemed that way, had he been a woman. But, alas, that's not the case.

Garcia, an employee of Debelis Corp., a company that supplies chocolate ingredients, said that he was pushing the viscous chocolate, which had become stuck, down into a vat. However, it became loose and he slid into the hopper.

"It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," said Garcia, who has worked at the company for two years. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move." Co-workers, police and firefighters tried to free the man but couldn't get him loose until the chocolate was thinned out with cocoa butter.

Take 2 Spongebobs and Call Me in the Morning

Parents always want to give their kids the safest and most effective pain medication.

At least most of the time.

It used to be St. Joseph's Aspirin for Children. Then, it was Tylenol. Children's Motrin is pretty effective. But it appears that we've been missing the boat. All we need is to plop them down in front of the boob tube and flip on Nickelodeon or The Cartoon Network. That's right, researchers found that children watching cartoons suffered less pain from a hypodermic needle than kids not watching TV.

This principle can best be understood by means of the following mathematical equation:

Friday, August 18, 2006

Meanwhile, Up In North Korea...

In South Korea, they're developing smart clothing with MP3 players. The North, however, is concerned with far more weighty matters. According the the Korean Central News Agency website:

"A seminar took place in Seoul on August 10 to have the East Sea of Korea properly marked under the sponsorship of the Solidarity for Protecting Tok Islet of south Korea, according to a news report. Presented at the seminar were "Meaning of writing textbooks from the viewpoint of international law" and other papers.

The papers recalled that Japan unilaterally marked the East Sea of Korea as the "Sea of Japan" while getting it registered in an international organization during its occupation of Korea, adding that this was a product of the Japanese imperialists' aggression against Korea.

Accusing the U.S. and some other countries of still calling the East Sea of Korea the " Sea of Japan", they underscored the need for the "government", academic circles and civic and social organizations to work together to have the sea properly marked."

Further information on this fascinating dispute is available from

Scott's Spot, in an effort to promote peace in the region, suggests the following means of resolving this dispute. Send a boat out into the disputed waters, with half the crew being a combined all-star Korean Tae Kwon Do team, and the other half being the Japanese National Karate team. If the boat pulls into Japan, the sea will be called the Sea of Japan. If it pulls into Korea, the sea will be called the East Sea.

Don't be surprised if the Nobel Peace Prize people come knocking on Scott's Spot's door next year.

Handheld MP3 Players Are, Like, Sooo Passé

iPods, you're playing yesterday's iTunes. Creative Zens, there's a new koan in town. The South Korean government is backing efforts to launch digitized apparel by the end of the year. "The research and development of smart clothing can't be left up to the market only, because of its high risk. The government has taken the role of offsetting this risk," said Hwang Kyu-yearn, an official at the Commerce and Industry Ministry.

Mr. Hwang changed the subject when asked if the smart clothing would still work after washing and drying in LG washers and dryers or if they would work after a spring rain in Seoul.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Team Phonak Secures New Sponsor

With all the controversy surrounding the Floyd Landis testing results from the Tour de France, it's no surprise that Team Phonak is losing its sponsorship. Actually, iShares was to have taken over the team's sponsorship from Phonak, but is now having second thoughts. So you have to wonder who's going to foot the bill for the team's bikes and other expenses.

Well, Scott's Spot has found their solution, thanks to an article in the Clarion News. They're going to cut costs by riding one bike
, the ConferenceBike.

This i
s what it looks like sans cyclistes.

And here is what it looks like when they ride it in Clarion!

They're gonna get the Yellow Umbrella if they can figure out which direction to pedal that thing!

Bad Fortune Cookies

Froth Slosh B'Gosh asks in his blog whether people get bad fortunes in their fortune cookies. Scott's Spot is a heavy consumer of fortune cookies, and has bought them by the box on occasion. The fortunes are generally good but are occasionally incomprehensible. So, to achieve the balance of yin and yang in the fortune cookie universe, it's necessary to go to the Bad Cookie website. Here, you will find enough bad fortunes to cover you when things just aren't going your way.

Here's one of my favorites:

Bird Flu Nears Pennsylvania

The scourge of Bird Flu may have now silently come closer to Pennsylvania. That's right, two otherwise immortal mute swans from the Lake Erie shore in Michigan have died, and government scientists are demanding an answer. Initial testing has already ruled out the so-called highly pathogenic version of H5N1, code named Big Bird Flu. But it still could be a relatively harmless (except to mute swans), low-grade H5N1 strain, code named Little Bird Flu, instead. Government scientists are on the case and will work round the clock until we know the cause of death of these unfortunate creatures.

In the meantime, it's time to begin explaining the matter to your children. The folks at Sesame Street were years ahead of their time, and compiled the perfect book for it, entitled "Big Bird and Little Bird's Big & Little Book." If you didn't save yours, you'd better grab a copy quick. There are only a few available on eBay.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Childhood Obesity - Cured!

OK, OK, maybe that's a bit optimistic. But we're closer to having a cure, thanks to Indiana State University Physical Education professor John Ozmun, and graduate student Lee Robbins. They recently conducted a study that showed that kids carrying 3 pound blocks expended more energy than kids who carried unweighted blocks. Thus, the following ratio is established:

That makes perfect sense. It's amazing that we had to spend thousands of dollars of research funds to confirm this apparently revolutionary idea. But I can tell you that this had never been considered by product developers at companies like Mattel and Hasbro. Products like "Lead-Filled Lincoln Logs" and "Thomas the Big Little Tank Engine" and "Fattington Bear" are under development and should be ready for the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

Before investing in this hot new product category, we at Scott's Spot checked with our child psychologist, who sounded a clarion call of alarm. "What kind of mixed messages are you trying to send to little Timmy? In order for him to get his exercise, you want him to lug around a fat bear? That will further reinforce the image that being fat is healthy, when it's not. Better for him to have a skinny bear and develop the proper image of what his self should look like."

Scott's Spot is currently looking for a good child psychologist.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Scott - Good or Evil?

Now that I've determined the goodness and evilness of Scott's Spot, it's time to post Scott's results for the Evil Quiz.

Wow! Am I the very model of consistency or what?

You Are 32% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil

How Evil Are You?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Scott's Spot - Good or Evil?

One of our objectives here at Scott's Spot's is to entertain our readers by providing crusty commentary and a humorous spin on selected news tidbits. But we're always left with the question of if we're doing good in the process. And what standards are we to apply in defining good? Weighty subject matter for a Saturday afternoon, and we're too lazy to consider it here. Fortunately, the beauty of the internet is that someone else has done it for us.

That's right! Scott's Spot has discovered The Gematriculator, which is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is.

Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are
absolutely correct.

Wow! Finally, the goodness of Scott's Spot can be evaluated with objective truth. So, we took each month's archive, plugged it into the Gematriculator, averaged the results and came up with the following:

This site is certified 66% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Stated differently:

This site is certified 34% EVIL by the Gematriculator

For those of you who prefer a few statistics with their absolute truth, we ranged from 50% good (June) to 77% good (March). That's all I can do without getting out my trusty HP-15C.

What this means is that we're on the good side of average, but it probably means you should shield young children from Scott's Spot until they are old enough to enjoy the humor of Demotivators posters at the website. Thanks for understanding.

Coming Attractions: Bird Flu Testing

The bird flu people in the US Government don't read Scott's Spot. But they should, because if they had, they would have cancelled their plan to increase the monitoring of wild migratory birds for the deadly disease. That's right - the Interior and Agriculture Departments are expanding their surveillance activities to cover the entire nation and U.S. territories in the Pacific. This despite the fact that government scientists now say that a bird flu, er, deadly bird flu pandemic may not be imminent.

But that word has not made its way to the Interior and Agriculture departments. Congress budgeted $29 million for monitoring for the highly pathogenic strain of bird flu and that money must be spent. Thus, feces or tissue samples from 75,000 to 100,000 migratory birds, along with 50,000 samples of the water and ground that birds come into contact with, will be collected.

If the deadly avian flu virus is found, the Emergency Alert System will be activated and you will be instructed where to buy toilet paper, water, and Imodium AD, which will be rationed. You can read about all the plans at the official pandemic flu website.

And if any of the birds test positive for elevated testosterone levels, their migration rights will be suspended for a minimum of 2 years.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Melons, Melons, The Cubical Fruit

Square-shaped watermelons are to be sold in the UK. Square-shaped melons, imported from Brazil, will go on sale in the UK beginning in October.

(Actually, they're cubical, not square, points out the math department at Scott's Spot.)

Boxes are placed around the growing fuit which naturally swells to fill the shape.

Tesco exotic fruit buyer Damien Sutherland: "We"ve seen samples of these watermelons and they literally stop you in their tracks because they are so eye-catching. These square melons will make it easier than ever to eat because they can be served in long strips rather than in the crescent shape."

They will go on sale in stores from October for under £5.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream - Ay, There's the Tattoo

There are some people you wouldn’t want to spend the night with. Take Hillary Snyder’s ex-boyfriend, for instance. He wanted Hillary, 20, of Des Moines, Iowa, to get a tattoo of a five-pointed star to match one of his own. Well, OK, I guess that’s what people do now. We didn’t do what when I was 20, although I think we may have gotten matching sweaters. In any case, Hillary showed a slight hint of intelligence and told her boyfriend that she didn’t want a tattoo.

Then, having apparently used up her intelligence, she took a painkiller with a sleeping pill before she went to bed Saturday night. And when she awoke, what did she spy with her little eye but a tattoo of a five-pointed star on her right ankle! “At least he didn’t flub it up,” she said.

A police report accuses the now-former boyfriend of domestic assault. But Snyder isn’t so sure. “I mean it’s not like he beat me up. There were no bruises or blood or anything.”

Quick, get Hillary a long-term supply of those Anti-Stupidity pills!

New Wonder Drug From Germany

Think of all the wonder drugs and their benefit to society: Aspirin. Penicillin. Streptomycin. Sulfa drugs. Cortisone. Ritalin. The list goes on and on. And now, Reuters reports that German scientists have developed the next great breakthrough - an Anti-Stupidity Pill.

Yes, you can believe it! A German scientist has been testing an "anti-stupidity" pill with encouraging results on mice and fruit flies, Bild newspaper reported Saturday.

It said Hans-Hilger Ropers, director at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, has tested a pill thwarting hyperactivity in certain brain nerve cells, helping stabilize short-term memory and improve attentiveness.

"With mice and fruit flies we were able to eliminate the loss of short-term memory," Ropers, 62, is quoted saying in the German newspaper, which has dubbed it the "world's first anti-stupidity pill."

Scott's Spot is solidly in the anti-stupidity camp. We have a list of names of people with attention spans shorter than mice and fruit flies. We'll let you know how they fare in the next round of testing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Today's OneWord - Hay

Go to the OneWord website and write about today's word.

Hay. It's something you can bail or you can hit. I'm lazy so I prefer to hit it rather than bail it. But if I'm forced to bail it I'll be sure to hit it afterward.

It's Official, and I have the Badge to Prove It

Liaison - Idealist - Philosopher - Sentry - Socialite - Altruist - Maverick - Revolutionary - Innovator - Visionary

Long Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

...but not quite far enough away, we find Darth Kitty, that most despicable apprentice of the evil emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Germany State Park Photo and Haiku

The early evening
reflects on the lake at New
Germany State Park

Friday, August 04, 2006

US Researchers Hop on Scott's Spot Bandwagon

Thanks to all of the commercial news services, and Pennsylvania's Pandemic Preparedness website, you've probably bought enough toilet paper, water, and hand sanitizer to last you until the year 2064. You've sworn off poultry in favor of "the other white meat."

But now, thanks to Scott's Spot's reporting, U.S. researchers have ferretted out evidence that a bird flu pandemic may not strike in the foreseeable future, if at all.

Unless you've been checking out the National Institutes of Health website or here, you wouldn't know anything about it.

The futures department at Scott's Spot recommends that you unload your strategic toilet paper reserve now, before the price goes down the flusher.

Green Technology Takes a Yellowish Turn

When you think about how Green Technology affects your bathroom (and all loyal Scott's Spot readers frequently entertain such thoughts), you might be tempted to limit your thinking to biodegradable cleaners and maybe even composting toilets. But that would be a mistake. The latest issue of Chemical & Engineering News reports that Dutch environmental engineers Jac A. Wilsenach and Mark C. M. van Loosdrecht of Delft University of Technology have determined that there are environmental and cost advantages to collecting urine and treat it separately from other sewage. Wilsenach got his Ph.D. for this study.

In order to work, you have to have a separate urine collection line, or one of these toilets.

Note the target area. This toilet requires that men sit down to pee.

Floosh! There goes another great idea down the drain!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why I'm Not So Hot About This Heat Wave

With this week's hot weather, this quiz seemed to be appropriate. Perhaps Neal should take it as well.

You Are Snow

Magical yet potentially destructive.

You are well known as fun to play with.
People anticipate your arrival but then are quickly sick of you

You are best known for: your serenity
Your dominant state: reflecting