Once upon a time I was in a serious quandary. I wanted some cheap, plastic, materialistic consumer shit made in China and I wanted it now. What to do, what to do?
As I saw it, there were two choices.
I could haul my fat ass up and out of my chair, somehow make it to the car, drive to a big-box store, somehow make it inside and navigate the maze to (hopefully) the right section where the object of my desire might be found. All the while being blasted by a tasty mix of songs scientifically designed to make me spend more money. (The mix is a rotation of two songs. Happy, by Pharrell Williams and anything by Mumford & Sons.)
I say “might” because I’ve tried this in the past and it didn’t quite work out. Ever go to the store to buy one specific thing? After expending incredible effort (see previous paragraph) you learn it isn’t even there. Out of stock. I do not believe there is a worse feeling in the entire universe.
And that other choice I mentioned earlier? Amazon. Duh.
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I’m a webmaster and programmer by trade. Part of my job duties involve administration of the company’s web server. As such, I do my absolute best to block all traffic from China.
Why? Because of the hacking that originates there. There’s not a day that goes by where some automated script isn’t attacking my server, and most of it originates in China. I’m not saying it’s state-sponsored, but on the other hand, there doesn’t seem any official effort to stop it, either. Perhaps it’s a matter of calculated indifference, which I surmise is a close cousin to plausible deniability.
China, the largest creditor of the United States, has been in the news of late. On Sunday the CBS news program 60 Minutes had a story about a Chinese company called Huawei, a company that makes internet and networking equipment like routers, switches, and has the capability to build things like 4G networks. Huawei has become the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world.
I’d never heard of Huawei before but apparently my iMac already has. As I write this post the text “Huawei” is already recognized by my inline spellchecker dictionary.
A U.S. congressional report recently released worried that Huawei and ZTE Corp., another Chinese company, have become too powerful and are a potential threat to U.S. national security. The report was produced over the last 11-months by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee and concludes that the companies could be working with the Chinese government for non-commercial reasons.
As a former altar boy (reformed) I know how to pray. And I’m not above resorting to such tactics when the need is great. Like when I want revenge on my boss. You know what they say: “There are no atheists in shitholes.”
On my blog I claim to be many things, it’s true. But I’ve never claimed to be mature. E-v-a-r. I dare you to go back and painstakingly re-read every word I’ve ever written. I think you’ll find this claim to be born out. There will be nary a word about the mythical beast known as my maturity. Neener, neener and in yo face!
Where was I? Oh yeah. What could it possibly be that would motivate me to pray? Read on!
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I was taking my wife to dinner last night on Friday, September 30th, when – whooop! I had to stop the car and drive around the block. Yep, there it was. Spongebob Squarepants taking a dump on a pumpkin in a neighbor’s yard. Holy sheep shit and Merry Christmas!
So yeah. There it is. Christmas retail displays were out before Labor Day and the Halloween decorations went up while it was still October. Call me a fuddy duddy. Call me a stick in the mud. (That’s my costume this year.) Say I’m too old-fashioned and traditional. Well, phooey. I don’t like it.
Nothing says holiday spirit like a plastic piece of crap made in China that you purchased at the local WalMart. Now that’s festive!
A few houses down the block we spotted another one.
Yes, these are my neighbors. These are the “We Don’t Pick Up Beer Bottles In The Street” kind of people. They may not care about my car’s tires, but at least I can count on them when the chips are down, when it is time to dumb down the neighborhood.
Oh, the sound of rolling dice to me is music in the air, / ’cause I’m a gambling Boogie Man, although I don’t play fair. / It’s much more fun, I must confess, with lives on the line. / Not mine, of course, but yours, old boy, / now, that’ll be just fine.
Thanks for the early reminder, people. Now I know what I must do. Kidnap Mr. Sandy Claws!
New blog feature: “News you might have missed – oh holy mother of God!” What should I call it? NYMHMOHMOG? Yeah, that sounds good.
A greasy crime syndicate has been busted in China. Authorities were able to slip in and arrest 32 members of a well-oiled criminal machine. These greedy lard-ass criminals were caught literally living off the fat of the land.
Know what I mean?
As a wise fish in Star Wars once said, “It’s a trap!” Now we now that he meant the wholesome residual stuff that sticks around after good down home cookin’. It was the infamous Grease Trap located near the outer rim and the rebel base on one of the moons of Yavin.
Police seized something like 100 tons of “illegally recycled food oil” in China spanning 14 provinces. Where did it come from? Oil gutters in restaurants, of course.
According to police, six different oil processing workshops were closed including one operated by Jinan Green Bio Oil Co., a company that claimed to convert used cooking oil into fuels. What it actually did was filter the oil, recycle it, then sell it wholesale as “new” back to restaurants. (Not quite extra-virgin but I wonder if it would still qualify as Freshly Pressed?)
That sounds a lot like the slippery version of the circle of life. Anyone besides me hungry yet?
A news report in the Washington Post said that the recycled oil can contain carcinogens and traces of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin? Shit! I better check my medicine cabinet to make sure my doctor hasn’t prescribed me any. Side effects include death and oily anus syndrome. (I’m not sure which is worse.)
Actually, aflatoxin is described as a potentially deadly mold. It goes much better with some dishes than water chestnuts or cilantro.
This isn’t exactly the first food scandal to hit China. Other greatest hits include golden moldies like fish treated with “cancer-causing antimicrobials,” eggs laced with industrial dye, and fake liquor that can cause blindness or death.
And, in 2008, there was the tragedy where milk and infant formula laced with melamine killed six children and made 300,000 people sick.
In America, just this week, a man named Dr. Oz has been making waves by claiming that apple juice (a favorite of youngsters) contains unacceptably high levels of arsenic. No word yet on the old lace.
Industry, the FDA, and some other doctors have been quick to defend the wholesome product.
I have a question: What the fuck is arsenic doing in there in the first place? What levels are acceptable?
Of arsenic, Wikipedia says this:
Arsenic and its compounds, especially the trioxide, are used in the production of pesticides (treated wood products), herbicides, and insecticides. These applications are declining, however, as many of these compounds are being phased out. Arsenic poisoning from naturally occurring arsenic compounds in drinking water remains a problem in many parts of the world.
And, to bring this back around full circle, guess who is the largest producer of arsenic in the world? Yep. China.