Saturday, February 23, 2008

I feel trendy, I feel trendy!*

* Sung to the tune of "I Feel Pretty," of course.

I found out I was on the leading curve of two trends this week, yes, I'm feeling downright trendy. The two trends? The demise of the desk and the longevity of the automobile.

Michelle Lamb, a forecaster who a few years back predicted that flat screen TVs would doom the armoire, recently said desks are also heading toward obsolescence. Many of us no longer need them, she notes, since we're using laptops. (Read about it in this article on 2008 home trends.)

I gave up my desktop computer (and desk) for a laptop about three years ago. Once you've got DSL and wireless, who needs a static spot to plug in? Now I usually "compute" on my MacBook Pro while sitting on the sofa in my family room. Instead of a desk, I've got a Levenger lap desk that I stash by the sofa and pull out as needed. Way more comfortable.

Then there's the car thing. Turns out I'm not the only person driving an older car, according to a study released this week by automotive consulting firm R.L. Polk & Co. The study says the median age of cars on U.S. roads was 9.2 years in 2007. My 2001 VW Golf isn't quite that old, but it's getting there. (Read the AP story on that report, Cars on Roads Getting Older.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Where's the beef?

Take one unresponsive government agency, hobbled by years of Bush budget cuts and misdirection, add some big meat companies with minimal federal oversight, plus a dash of YouTube...and what do you get? The largest beef recall in history and a big fat scandal that exposes just how badly the Bush administration has eviscerated the Department of Agriculture's food safety division in favor of making life easier for businesses.

Huzzah for the Humane Society, which took undercover video of the abuse of sick and disabled cattle at a Chino, Calif., meat packing plant and posted it on YouTube, where it has created such a furor that Agriculture officials had to respond. Boos and hisses for the U.S. officials who tried to downplay the problem by saying they thought it was an isolated incident (if they're not stationed at these plants, how can they know?) and that most of the recalled meat had already been eaten.

As you read the New York Times story, Largest Recall of Ground Beef is Ordered, consider that "downer" cattle are banned from our food supply to keep us from contracting mad cow disease, a fatal brain-wasting disease that has killed people in Great Britain and Canada. Then consider that "of the 143 million pounds that were recalled, 37 million went to make hamburgers, chili and tacos for school lunches and other federal nutrition programs...."

Just one more reason why we need change in Washington.

(Author's note: In the 1980s, I worked for a livestock industry trade association.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Will there be blood?

Only if I have to watch this movie again.

I know, I know. It's been nominated for a wad of Academy Awards, and it's supposed to be one of the best movies of 2007. But I have to tell you, There Will Be Blood is not a pleasant experience. Dark, gritty, at times compelling, with a sound track that periodically rattles your bones, the film's focus is an oilman whose life is, to quote Thomas Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Even after turn-of-the-century oilman Daniel Plainview, masterfully played by Daniel Day-Lewis, gets past the "poor" part and becomes a wealthy man, he remains solitary, nasty and brutish. And so does this movie.

Reviews, trailers at
The Paramount trailer (with music like fingernails on a blackboard)