May 14, 2007

The Rant is Away ...

... UNTIL MONDAY, JUNE 4. This is because The Rant is soon departing on a well-deserved vacation to various points along the Eastern Seaboard, the Great Lakes, and the South, and The Rant will have little to no access to the blog, much less anything like e-mail or what not. Thus, the entire trip will be an exercise in relaxation, good times with friends, and so on.

There is a nice scene in "Ghostbusters!" where the guys are sitting around eating Chinese food, and celebrating their first client, Dana Barrett. Venkman, being Venkman, says he wants to draw on petty cash to take Dana out to dinner; after all, he says, they don't want to lose her. This prompts a classic response from Ray: "Uh, this magnificent feast represents the last of the petty cash." The clear emphasis behind it is that they all need to get to work, and soon.

Obviously, I'm not facing penury any time soon, but I do think this will be the last great vacation I get in a while. So in that spirit, I've dubbed this trip the Last of the Petty Cash Tour. I'll have a lot of work on my plate when I return, but I plan to really enjoy my trip in the meantime, and have fun.

So until my return, check out recent entries, hit the links on the blogroll, and all that. Thanks again, as always, for continuing to read The Rant despite my infrequent posting, unexplained absences, and general irritability. Then again, the general irritability and perpetual frustration, disbelief, scorn and feelings of nausea expressed here are probably selling points! But you get the drift.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Report: Cerberus Deal Prompts Worry Among Chrysler Workers

Financial Arrangements "All Well and Good,"
But Concern Over Three-Headed Demonic Hellhound

--------
UAW: "Flaying Workers Alive" Would Violate
Prevailing Work Conditions

-------
Execs: "It Can't Be Worse Than
Having Stuttgart in Charge."

-------

By HARRIS SCHWED
Financial Rant

DETROIT -- While expressing relief over the news that Cerberus Capital Management LP has agreed to purchase 80.1 percent of DaimerChrysler AG's North American operations, some workers are concerned about unconfirmed reports that Cerberus himself, the cruel and outlandish demon from the Third Circle of Hell, will personally oversee "quality and productivity efforts" at Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep plants throughout the continent.

Workers were particularly concerned at news Cerberus, or one of his horrible satanic lieutenants, would "rip and shred the bones of any unfortunate" whose actions resulted in quality-control issues or worse, stopped an assembly line altogether.

"Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that Cerberus' purchase of the Chrysler assets will mean a much-needed cash infusion into Chrysler's coffers," said passenger-seat installer Ed Gryznewski, a 28-year employee at Chrysler's Warren Truck Assembly plant. "It's just the whole, you know, giant hell dog thing that worries me. I did not get into this business to deal with nightmarish demons from the world of the dead."

"I mean, come on. How are people supposed to concentrate knowing there's a massive, three-headed fangy beast snarling and growling at them just a few feet away?" Gryznewski added.

"I work hard for this company, and I don't appreciate the idea of being ground up in some hellhound's rapacious maw just because I was a few minutes late returning from lunch," said machine operator Pete Welby, a 12-year veteran of the same plant. "Discipline has to be commesurate with the infraction. It's not fair that people should get cruelly disemboweled and made to suffer in unimaginable pain for events that may be outside their control."

UAW leaders, and the company itself, have sought to reassure workers.

"I can assure you that the various hypothetical punishments some workers have described to me, such as being flayed alive, boiled in pitch, ripped to shreds or reduced to bloody chum in Cerberus' greasy beard, aren't in line with prevailing work conditions at our plants, nor are they authorized under our contract," said UAW senior vice president Marcus Horshack. "Implementing such punishments would result in the immediate filing of grievances and other job actions. They would be handled either through arbitration or supplication to the monstrous City of Dis, which has ultimate suzerainty over Cerberus' terrible acts of wanton cruelty."

"Unfounded rumors of Cerberus' cruelty aren't in keeping with the friendly, well-meaning leader we all have come to know and trust," said Eldon Marlin, a Cerberus executive vice president. "Cerberus plans to invest for the long-term in this company, and long-term investment doesn't go hand-in-hand with eating the staff."

Furthermore, Marlin added, Cerberus has not crushed or defiled any workers at General Motors Acceptance Corp., where the firm was the lead party in a consortium of investors which bought a majority stake in the company. Marlin also angrily rejected suggestions that the phrase "Lost another one to Ditech!" gained a whole new meaning among workers of that GMAC unit.

"At the most, he's bitten off somebody's hand for overexposing the company to the subprime lending market," Marlin said.

Despite the concern among rank-and-file workers, white-collar workers at Chrysler's operations aren't nearly as worried about having Cerberus as their new boss.

"Every time we tried to do something cool, we always got flack from Stuttgart," said Chrysler marketing executive Kevin Heathcliff, who dismissed suggestions his head would be impaled upon a rotting spear if Chrysler didn't improve its market share by the fourth quarter. "Oh, you can't do this, it will imperil the brand. Oh, you can't do that, we can't spare the engineers. Gawd. And don't even get me started about "Dr. Z." You know, because nothing says cool and with it like a giant walrus mustache."

Heathcliff then walked away, softly singing, "Du, du liegst mir im herzen."

There was no immediate word on how Chrysler's customers reacted to the deal.

"Dude! That thing got a Hemi?" shouted Lancaster, Calif. resident Biff Simpkins to a Chrysler-driving motorist in that desert city.

"Sweet!" added one of Simpkins' nearby friends.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2007

And Now, a Football Interlude

YOU'RE IN STEELERS COUNTRY NOW, BABY! Steelers Country!

Also, because I can, here's a very special clip celebrating a great moment in Pittsburgh Steelers history:


Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Manchester Wolves Update: It Took a Miracle, But We Won!

I'M STILL TRYING to figure out how exactly the Manchester Wolves, my city's minor-league arena football team, managed to win against the Albany Conquest, our contempt-worthy East Division rival. But we did -- and in spectacular fashion. Our 53-48 victory this evening was achieved with a touchdown pass with just 14.8 seconds left in the game, and secured with a safety on Albany's first play thereafter. All in all, it made for the best arena football game I've seen since I started attending the games last year. I mean, goddamn.

Our touchdown was secured after one of the strangest drives I've ever seen in my life. Here's a tip for any football players out there, and especially players in the arenafootball2 league. If your team -- say, Albany -- is up by four points, and you have your opponent pinned down at their own five-yard line, it's not a good idea to commit a blatant personal foul and give your opponents new life. It's also not a good idea to compound the matter by then throwing the football into the stands, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that puts your opponent at mid-field. Furthermore, it's really not a good idea to screw things up even more by incurring not one but two pass interference calls on successive plays, putting your opponent within spitting distance of the endzone.

I'm just saying. Albany pretty much had this game and they managed to rip defeat from the clenched, angry jaws of victory. Indeed, for a Wolves fan, the first half of the game -- in which Albany built up a 27-17 lead -- was like getting hit repeatedly over the head with a hammer. It may well have been even worse if Albany -- the perennial doormat of the division -- hadn't done its own screwing-up in the first place, such as that field goal attempt in which the snap flew through the hands of the ballholder. Even at the end of the third quarter, Albany still had a lead of 34-30, and the game was by no means going Manchester's way at that point.

But the fourth quarter -- my God. With the lead changes and the enthusiasm of the fans -- it's pretty impressive when 5,200 people are screaming for the defense. Yes, the defense -- that's a component that may initially not seem all that important for arenaball, but it truly is. This game would have been a lot different if, earlier in the night, Manchester's defense hadn't stopped Albany at our one-yard-line.

The end result is that Manchester is now 3-3 and is ranked third in the division, while Albany drops to 2-4 and is ranked last. So all is well with the world. Of course, our three wins have all come at home and we have a two-game road stand coming up at Bossier-Shreveport and Youngstown. Plus, our next home opponent is Tulsa, which is en fuego like nobody's business and may well put an end to our six-game home winning streak. But we'll see. Anyway, here's the recap:

MOST UHF-LIKE MOMENT: Several school principals from area schools were given the opportunity to throw footballs through holes in a flimsily-constructed target board with the goal of qualifying to win $10,000. Whether the money was for their schools or for the folks themselves wasn't really clear. We did learn from the exercise, however, that there's a reason the educators are educators and not football players.

NEXT MOST UHF-LIKE MOMENT: If you, as a fan, manage to successfully catch a game ball during the action, you shouldn't then slam the ball against the wall board, causing you to lose your grip and send the ball back onto the field.

MOST INEPT PLAY OF THE GAME: Well, there was Albany's blown field goal try ... and Albany's myriad stupid penalties ... and Albany's first attempted onside kick that would have been genius, if only it had worked, but it didn't and it really put Manchester back in the game. Hell, take your pick.

COOLEST PLAY OF THE GAME: I guess I'm going to have to award Coach Ben "Volcano" Bennett this one, due to his ... uh, "discussion" with the officials regarding a key illegal defense penalty call that went against the Wolves. I haven't seen shouting like that in years. Holy mackerel -- he was furious! Rightfully so, I think, because it did seem like a lousy call, but of course I am biased.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

A Modest Proposal

An Open Letter to The Hon. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

The Hon. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

RECENTLY, IT HAS COME to my attention that clever individuals have worked up a petition asking you to grant Ms Paris Hilton, recently sentenced to spend 45 days in a Los Angeles County jail, clemency. Many people have responded in favor of this missive. Many others have responded with calls that Ms Hilton spend her entire sentence within the confines of the jail. With such division, I know any decision you may make in this matter will be a difficult one.

However, as a former California resident, I do believe I have come up with a modest and reasonable proposal to satsify both sides in the matter. Thus, I would request that you commute Ms Hilton's sentence, and replace it with a 30 day term sentencing Ms Hilton to the ancient Roman punishment of aquae et ignis. As you will see in this helpful guide, the sentence of fire and water would grant Ms Hilton the freedom she wishes, while still placing her under interdiction from receiving certain necessities of life. Based on media reports of Ms Hilton's lifestyle, such necessities would include, but not be limited to, the following:

* Designer clothing in which Ms Hilton could parade around like a strumpet;
* The companionship of animals described as "tiny and annoying yappy dogs" under the California Civil Code;
* Access to nightclubs, parties, afterparties, or related gatherings;
* An on-call publicist or publicity team;
* Being photographed, filmed or videotaped;
* Uttering vapid catchphrases (e.g., "That's hot!") or other inanities;
* Transportation other than public means, i.e. the sidewalk or the Los Angeles city bus system;
* Engaging in commercial activity;
* and otherwise annoying honest, God-fearing, right-thinking citizens or permanent residents.

I would suggest this sentence be applied to Ms Hilton throughout the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States and myriad other territories, dependencies and states with which the federal Government has a Compact of Free Association. True, California technically only has jurisdiction within California, but let's face it -- California has a way of making sure the rest of the country follows its legal lead. If you can push around the automakers on environmental issues, you sure as hell can get the rest of the country on board with this. Besides, they'll all be good with it anyway, because they're even more sick of her than you are.

This sentence would be relatively easy for the authorities to enforce, due to the Government's power to hand down even harsher measures, such as being repeatedly subjected to those agricultural inspections at the border or being audited by the Franchise Tax Board. It would also mollify those who -- rather unreasonably, I might add -- have called for Ms Hilton to be proscribed and paraded through the streets of Sacramento, subjected to the vitriol and scorn of an angry citizenry.

I do hope you will find my suggestions meritorious and that you will give them consideration. I hope this letter finds you well, and I thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin Kepple
(formerly of Los Angeles)
Manchester, N.H.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

You Know, Because My Day Couldn't POSSIBLY Get Worse ...

... IT GOT WORSE. I went over to The Bleat tonight and saw James Lileks' description of his new job at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

-----------------

In short, it’s everything I’ve been looking for. All these worlds are mine, except Europa! There are union rules about that, I gather.

Hah! Just kidding.

That didn't happen.

As it happens, they've killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories.

Really.

---------------

You know, I may just break out that bottle of Patron Anejo I've been saving. Well, no, that's for happy occasions, isn't it? Entonces, traigame alugno gin, por favor. !Que sabor amargo!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2007

Prosperity Gospel

And so he that had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying: Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents -- behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

-- Matthew 25:20

Poverty isn't solved with donations.

-- Carlos Slim

------------

SOME TIME AGO, CARLOS SLIM -- the Mexican telecoms magnate worth an estimated $53 billion -- made waves when he made a somewhat snarky comment regarding the charitable endeavors of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Media reports said Mr Slim, who has given away billions of dollars for his own foundations, argued that building businesses was a better way to solve poverty than "going around like Santa Claus."

As much as one finds that choice of words disappointing -- charitable endeavors, irrespective of their modus operandi, should be applauded -- Mr Slim does have a point. Lao Tzu said, "Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he'll eat forever." Left unsaid in the philosopher's maxim is that the newly-trained fisherman will not only be able to catch fish, he'll be able to sell them for other things, and grow wealth from the bounty of God's oceans.

But how do these lessons translate into the modern era, when in so many parts of the world the issue is not a lack of know-how but a lack of capital? It is a situation that appears so often through the developing world. How can the poor get ahead when they have no access to credit, and must hold what little wealth they have in what Hernando de Soto has called dead capital -- the house built without title or planning permission, the gold and appliances bought to ward off the demon of inflation? How can the poor get ahead, when what little income they have is often channeled into high-margin transactions with those one step above them on the ladder?

One very effective way is through microfinance programs, in which poor entrepreneuers are given small loans at low interest rates to help them get off the financial treadmill on which they have been running for so long. Until now, these things were handled all by the experts. But a site I recently discovered -- kiva.org -- now allows everyday people in the First World to loan capital to those elsewhere working to better their lives.

It's a pretty powerful proposition. Kiva, working with groups in the developing world, lets people make interest-free loans to small entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs explain what they want to do with the money and set forth a plan for repayment. Eventually -- for 19 in 20 repay their loans -- the money is cycled back to the lender. Then -- and this is my favorite part -- the lender can recycle the money back into a new loan, thus helping even more people reach their goals. Since the loan is interest free, there's no tax issues, and the money one provides goes straight into a local community. Wealth builds upon wealth and all are richer for it.

But perhaps the most satisfying thing about Kiva's operation is that it is dignified.

Many of my readers, I am sure, have heard stories from their older relatives about living through the Depression, as did I some years ago. To make it through those tough times was an accomplishment. In western Pennsylvania, where my family is from, unemployment hit 40 -- 40! -- percent and men slept in abandoned coke ovens out of sheer desperation. But I will always remember my grandfather's pride that his parents were able to somehow make it through without accepting relief. Even though he never had much during his life -- and for even that he had to toil -- I think the idea of accepting charity would nonetheless have been anathema to him.

That's why I like this program -- because its design treats lenders and borrowers as equals, and lets the borrowers hold their heads high as they set out to accomplish their goals and realize their dreams. And so I have made a couple of very small loans to two widows in Mexico who have small -- but growing -- businesses. If for some reason they fail to repay me, I know they gave it their best effort. But I am confident they will repay me, and go on to do greater things. And thus, the virtuous cycle will continue.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 06:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2007

An Open Letter to U.S. Financial Services Companies

MEMORANDUM

TO: U.S. Financial Services Cos.

FR: Benjamin Kepple

RE: Overseas call centers

DEAR SIRS:

As a customer of admittedly minor importance to your revenue streams, I must nonetheless protest being shunted to overseas call centers on the very rare occasions when I do call you to inquire about a matter. This is not because I have any animus towards overseas call centers per se, but rather because I feel that dealing with the call centers puts up an artifical barrier between me, the customer, and you, my service provider.

Simply put, I can't get upset with the staff the way I could theoretically do so if I was talking with an American. And boy, is it frustrating.

Let's first look at a typical call I make to a provider. This would usually be about some routine matter, and as such can be dealt with in about 30 seconds. However, once on the line, I find myself subjected to a script in which I am pitched a variety of goods and services for which I have no need. Now, whereas I could be firm but curt with an American, I find myself being overly polite to the poor bastard in God knows where, because I'm earning more in a month than he'll make in a year. As such, I waste precious minutes on the phone in a pathetic kabuki dance in which he goes through his call-center script, and I answer various questions with little enthusiasm, and eventually decline the product or service he is offering. Then, we must go through it again as he moves on to the next pitch, and so on.

This aggravates me to no end. But I certainly can't tell the poor call-center guy that, because it's not his fault, and they're impeccably polite. Besides, if I were to lose my temper, I would feel guilty about it long after the call had ended. I'm sorry, but when the income ratio gets above ten to one, I slip into master-servant mode and can't for the life of me offer any direct criticism or even complaint.

Now, I know the obvious retort here -- that money goes a lot farther in India than it does here, due to the great cost-of-living differential. Doesn't matter. I still can't get upset with a guy making 12,000 rupees a month, which at 40 INR to the dollar means the guy is making a mere $300 per month, or $69.77 a week, or $1.74 an hour. And those figures, as I understand it, are on the high end for an Indian call center employee who speaks at least two languages fluently and has a post-secondary education to boot. Even if one is generous, and allows that the cost-of-living differential means the employee is making the equivalent of $1,500 per month, that's still just $348 per week.

In any event, as I understand it, even a call center employee making just 144,000 INR per year will find himself in a 10 pc income tax bracket, and will also have to pay God knows what other taxes, fees, levies and duties the Government of India, and its associated state Governments, have established. I understand these include a VAT, which sucks.

The way I see it, there are two solutions to this problem. First, you could give the call center employees a bit of leeway and let them recognize when the American on the other end of the line does not want to hear myriad pitches for high-margin, low-value services. Second, you could -- in the immortal words of the late Onion finance columnist Herbert Kornfeld -- "give peeps a goddamn raise." That would boost morale among call-center employees and make me feel less guilty if I was to suddenly slip and lose my temper.

Of course, you could always hire more American call-center workers, maybe even in Michigan, where God knows there is no work at all and you would have an ample supply of happy employees. But I understand business is business.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Simple(ton) Life

IN THE CLASSIC Eighties movie "License to Drive," there's a nice scene in which the protagonist believes he is about to get his driver's license, despite failing the computerized portion of the exam. However, the bureaucracy discovers its mistake at the last second, and is furious at what it sees as the lad's dishonesty. "You mustn't fuck with the Department of Motor Vehicles," the licensing chief says triumphantly. "We can make your life a living hell."

Based on my observations of several DMVs, I consider this very sound advice. It also is very sound advice when it comes to dealing with the judiciary, which very much frowns upon those who don't do what it tells them to do. The court system is also generally not happy when its initial prescription, made with a light touch, is utterly ignored.

As such, it amazes me that Paris Hilton, the ghastly celebrity who is famous for being famous, so blatantly ignored the judiciary's earlier instructions regarding her probation on a drunk-driving charge. To be perfectly blunt, it boggles the mind one could be so stupidly cavalier when one's case was handled with such a light touch.

However, I was quite pleased to see that today, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer essentially told Ms Hilton: don't fuck with the L.A. County Superior Court. Judge Sauer sentenced Ms Hilton to 45 days in jail. No furloughs, no work release, no private jail, no electronic monitoring. 45 days in the hoosegow.

As the full story reveals, Judge Sauer is not a man who takes any crap. Clearly, he should be considered for higher judicial office and held up as a shining example of what the judiciary does right.

It's not just Ms Hilton's behavior that proved worthy of condemnation, though. According to media reports, Ms Hilton's mother, Kathy Hilton, acted in a most appalling and gauche fashion during the court hearing. Laughing during the prosecutor's statement and castigating the judge while court is in session is just not cricket. Furthermore, her comments condemning the whole process afterward were also not grounded in reality. It is understandable Ms Hilton's parents would be horrified at the idea their daughter would be sentenced to jail time, but Mrs Hilton's comments showed an unwillingness to admit that her daughter had done anything wrong and, more tellingly, an utter lack of respect for a process that until today proved very lenient for Ms Hilton.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

In Which My Quest Against the Forces of Stupidity Continues

Oh No!
It's Time for Yet Another Installment of …
YOUR SEARCH ENGINE QUERIES ANSWERED!

A regular Rant feature

LIKE MANY AMERICANS, I often find the start of spring brings with it a ponderous, seemingly terminal case of ennui. After all, this time of year is somewhat of a spiritual and cultural dead zone. Lent and Easter has passed, football season is still far away, and anticipated vacations and other fun are simply circled dates on the calendar. They are only weeks ahead but their arrival still feels like an uncertain hypothetical, similar to the idea of one’s retirement day.

Still, though, there are some things which remain a constant in life. These can be good things, such as the love of family and friends, or bad things, such as the utter evilness of the Baltimore Ravens. Then, there are the ugly things -- such as the outpouring of imbecilic search-engine queries constantly received here at The Rant. Oh, dear readers, if only you knew.

But in times like this, one must look to the constants in one’s life for support. May God help the poor wretches who stumble here looking for answers. Oh, and I’m sorry for being away all this week – I had a busy week at the office and so wasn’t really up to blogging. Without further ado, though, let’s get right to it!

QUERY: how many carbs in bacon grease

ANSWER: You see what I mean? Jesus Christ – it’s bacon grease! There aren’t any carbs in bacon grease! That’s because it’s bacon grease, which is entirely fat and doesn’t have a bit of carbohydrates in it. Honestly – who would wonder about this?

QUERY: good reason to wear pajamas to bed.

ANSWER: Well, you won’t have to worry about bacon grease dripping from a BLT, that’s for sure. Gad.

QUERY: gin drinking before breakfast

ANSWER: Ooooooh. That’s gotta hurt. You really should wait until noon for a good shot of the stuff.

QUERY: can there be a chicken white castle crave case

ANSWER: But why? No one craves the chicken sandwiches from White Castle. That’s like … I don’t know, craving the fish sandwiches from White Castle. They’re not on the menu for craving. They’re on the menu for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t craving the regular White Castle burgers for which everyone else has the jones.

QUERY: white castle fish sandwich

ANSWER: As my good friend Simon From Jersey has put it, “If you can’t see the ocean, don’t get the fish.” In this case, even if you can see the ocean, you might want to heed that advice.

QUERY: home remedies for meth mouth

ANSWER: Talk to the guy who wrote in about gin drinking before breakfast.

QUERY: blimpy burger ann arbor mich

ANSWER: Finally, a decent query. OK, Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger, based in Ann Arbor, is the best place for hamburgers in all of Michigan, if not the Midwest. The Rant’s traditional order, for the record, is a quad with blue cheese and grilled onions on an onion roll, with a side order of fried mushrooms. Plus, it’s “cheaper than food.” If you go, remember: order from the fryer first, and the staff are supposed to be rude.

QUERY: how many presidents appear on the $2 bill?

ANSWER: I’ll let you know after I go back to Blimpy’s, which should be in about two weeks or so.

QUERY: are $2 bills widely circulated

ANSWER: The last time I saw one was at Blimpy’s.

QUERY: whose inscriptions are on the following bills $1 $2 $5 @10 $20 $50 $100 $500 $1000 $5000 $10000 $100000?

ANSWER: It is worth noting that the $100,000 denomination was not an actual banknote, but rather a gold certificate used solely for interbank transfers. However, the personage on the certificate was none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had a lot to do with it. The $10,000 note had former Treasury secretary Walter Forward on it, while the $5,000 note had the picture of former Vice President Schuyler Colfax. The $1,000 note bears the picture of Calvin Coolidge, and the $500 note features the noted statesman and military leader, Franco Harris.

QUERY: who is that irritating woman in the bob s discount furniture ads

ANSWER: I didn’t think anyone could be more irritating than Bob in the Bob’s Discount Furniture ads. Well, aside from Gilbert Gottfried, but Bob is close. The irritating woman, though, is a close second to Bob. Gawd.

QUERY: sick of neighbor asking to borrow my lawnmower

ANSWER: So tell him it’s broken, already.

QUERY: why was grant selected to be on the $50 dollar bill

ANSWER: That’s a very good question indeed!

QUERY: hedgefunds are morally disgusting

ANSWER: You’ll feel better once you consider that no one is forcing people to give their money to the hedge fund operators. This, then, proves Mencken’s dictum that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

QUERY: coinstar takes pesos?

ANSWER: God! Now there’s a scary thought – the idea of Coinstar machines taking pesos. I mean, do you know how hard it is to get change in Mexico? After a few weeks, Coinstar Inc. would have a death grip on the Mexican economy as people everywhere went scrounging for change, any change, for everyday transactions.

QUERY: if a driver averages 55 mph and drives eight hours per day five days a week what could a driver earn in a year?

ANSWER: Based on 40 cents a mile … oh, $44,000 a year or so.

QUERY: funny eros banknotes

ANSWER: Banknotes aren’t supposed to prompt eros. I mean, in any sense that phrase can be taken.

QUERY: quit job go hiking

ANSWER: Ah, the old quit job go hiking idea. Actually, I always thought it would be a cool thing to do something like that

QUERY: investing is stupid

ANSWER: This sounds like someone who has not fully weighed the possibility of spending his golden years inside one of those grim high-rise housing projects for the elderly.

QUERY: do we tip car wash attendants?

ANSWER: Tip the car wash attendant only if the car wash attendant performs actual work, such as wiping down the inside and making sure the car shines when it comes out of the wash.

QUERY: why wearing fur is greedy

ANSWER: Why indeed, one wonders. Extravagant, yes. Greed-driven, no.

QUERY: what huge city is called city of brotherly shove on account of its supposed rudeness?

ANSWER: Shreveport.

QUERY: police academy-8 not released

ANSWER: That’s the best news I’ve heard since I found out Terrell Owens signed up with the Dallas Cowboys.

QUERY: a little piece of heaven detroit stripper dancer

ANSWER: Are you sure those phrases go together?

QUERY: opus dei financial interests budweiser

ANSWER: I find it impossible to believe that Opus Dei would have any financial interest in the Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. This is because Opus Dei promotes sanctity through honest work and labor. Light beer that tastes like bilge water does not promote sanctity.

QUERY: seat belt beep where does it come from

ANSWER: It’s coming from INSIDE THE CAR! For the love of God, GET OUT OF THE CAR!

QUERY: what does a circle with an exclamation point mean on the dashboard of a ford taurus

ANSWER: According to my owner’s manual, it means the transmission is due to fall out of the car within the next five miles. That, or you have the parking brake on.

QUERY: mr coffee beeping annoying disabling

ANSWER: I have no idea how you would disable the coffee machine beep. You should contact the Jarden Corp., makers of Mr Coffee and related niche consumer products used in and around the home.

QUERY: automatic driver s dome light stays on 99 mercury sable

ANSWER: Use WD-40 to spray the locks and related mechanisms around your car’s doors. Usually, a dome light issue like this stems from crap getting into the locks and gumming things up.

QUERY: return to the 55 mph speed limit

ANSWER: I’d rather eat glass.

QUERY: worst western movie

ANSWER: I’m sure it involves “F Troop” in some way or another.

QUERY: fortune & fake impersonate priest new york

ANSWER: There’s a Rat Pack joke in here somewhere.

QUERY: bengals stink

ANSWER: That’s what happens when your team goes to jail.

QUERY: what causes feverish and hot when the thermometer doesnt show high temperature?

ANSWER: Examinus schoolis.

QUERY: how could the teachings of the dalai lama help if the students are teasing another student because of the way she/he talk looks or dresses?

ANSWER: Never mind the Dalai Lama – tell the little brats not to pick on the kid and show some bloody respect. If this fails, send them to the principal. They’ll learn quick enough.

QUERY: cool crisp air in arrogant ann arbor michigan

ANSWER: Ann Arbor is not arrogant. Ann Arbor is just better, more hip and generally just more with it than you are, particularly if you’re from East Lansing.

QUERY: robert-hargreaves superpower synopsis

ANSWER: It’s about America in the Seventies. As such, it’s very depressing and bleak. Also, Hargreaves spends a lot of time writing about John Lindsay, whom no one remembers any more. Mr Lindsay had the bad fortune to be mayor of New York from 1966 to 1973. Mr Lindsay’s term in office is a key downward indicator in Kepple’s Grand Theory of American History, which posits that the nadir of modern American political and cultural power was reached on July 12, 1979.

QUERY: long lasting cold/sinus problems

ANSWER: I hear you, my brother. It is not fun to suffer long-lasting cold/sinus problems, unless you get some really swell medication. Then, it’s pretty copacetic.

QUERY: what would gaia and captain planet suggest doing about allergies to pollen

ANSWER: I don’t know, Babs. Maybe Gaia and Captain Planet would suggest being one with the pollen, and reveling in its glory and majesty as it spreads life over the Earth. The Rant’s prescription for dealing with pollen allergies, however, is to root out and destroy the wretched, foul plant life that thinks it can just spread pollen everywhere. Only when nearby plant life is crushed will we God-fearing allergy sufferers be able to breathe freely. If that’s not your thing, I suggest moving to Death Valley or the Atacama Desert.

QUERY: mocking britain

ANSWER: As Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, Head of the Commonwealth, Lord High Admiral, Defender of the Faith, etc. etc. is visiting the United States at present, The Rant will refrain from mocking Britain and her subjects.

It should be noted that The Rant, being an American blog, does not pay fealty nor homage to any foreign sovereign, although The Rant will always have a soft spot for the House of Wurttemburg, which rules, although not anymore in a literal sense. It’s the only royal house to which I’ve been able to draw any connection with the Kepple family, by which I mean that they actually ran things in a place where I know my ancestors lived. Later generations of Kepples settled in the tiny village of Dehlingen, in Alsace, which was part of a tiny manor that itself was one of approximately eight million possessions of what I believe was the House of Wittelsbach. So there’s not really that local connection, if you see what I’m getting at. But anyway.

QUERY: casa carino san miguel de allende

ANSWER: Ah, Casa Carino! I’ve seen pictures. It’s very nice. If you have an extra $34,000 lying about and a month or so of time, let me know. I’d like to join you for a visit.

QUERY: what kind of men are attracted to narcissists

ANSWER: Well, I’m guessing those who are narcissists themselves.

QUERY: josh and vegan and bond trader and los angeles

ANSWER: Don’t call him back. I mean, let’s examine the three key phrases here: bond trader, vegan, Los Angeles. This means he’ll always be at work or stuck in traffic, and then when he gets home will be picky about dinner plans. That’s not a recipe for romantic success, if you ask me.

QUERY: why women are attracted to assholes

ANSWER: Actually, now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve come to realize this line of argument is pretty pathetic. The real question here is why women are not attracted to the questioner. Perhaps the questioner ought work on whatever these issues may be, starting with the issue of self-confidence. I mean, hell, I know I’d be a heck of a lot more attractive if I started working out and lost weight. I’m going to work on that again soon, but I’ve had other issues I’ve been dealing with in the meantime.

QUERY: ripped out my heart by a beautiful romanian woman

ANSWER: My sympathies. Outsourcing romantic companionship, the situation which seems to be described here, is often fraught with peril. Why not try a bit closer to home?

QUERY: north carolina s winter tempters

ANSWER: What winter?

QUERY: cure for celebrity worship syndrome?

ANSWER: It beats the hell out of me. It’s one thing to follow celebrity antics but another to voluntarily forfeit the intellectual capacity that God has granted one. I think a lot of the whole syndrome has to do with people living vicariously through the supposedly more exciting lives of celebrities. So perhaps taking up a hobby might help.

Well, that’s it for this edition of Your Search Engine Queries Answered! Tune in next time for more of the same!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack