Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gold Fever on the Air

Gold! Gold! There's gold in them thar hills! Gold! [enter the John Huston dance] Gold! Roll out the idol!

Gold is that precious metal which has been used as coins, in jewelry, religious idols, in bars to look at and hoard, clothing, cutlery, and food service since history was first recorded---and probably before. Uses now include electrical and computer technology.

In times of trouble, people buy pure gold to retain value in their wealth. But whether it's gold---or even diamonds in some cases---you'll never retain value by buying gold at the top of the cycle.

Until 1974, the London gold price was under $100 an ounce. In 1974, the average price was $159; in 1999 279; in 2000 $279; in 2005 $445; in 2007 $695; and the closing price on 9/30/2008 is $885.

The current forecast is for gold to reach $904 through 2009. And remember, if you buy gold bullion or coins, you'll be paying a premium. If you buy gold jewelry, you'll be paying for the artistic efforts as well as the constituent parts.

Based on past volatility and the expected rebound of our economy, I don't think you can expect gold to advance too much over the near term. Let's say, $1000 at the top.

So, for the time being, it doesn't seem to make sense to buy into the increasingly prevalent gold purchase commercials. The premiums themselves will cut your value, and you'll be stuck with the gold if the price drops. If you want value, don't sell your old jewelry. Keep it around. There's no premium to that.

If there's gold in them thar hills, it'll be tough to get with all the ore milling, taxes, claim jumpers and pyrite mistakes. Besides John Huston's dance, you have to deal with a wild group not needing 'no stinkin' badges!'

Just strengthen your marriage, and you can keep your wedding band on.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New and Improved

The advertising industry is really getting to me, and that's surprising since in the past I've been very tolerant of ad intrusiveness.

My current bugaboo is the advertising activity on many websites, but especially that of USA Today. It seems that every time I change a web page, I'm stuck with a pop-up advertisement covering most of the page with no 'x' at the top to close it. Add to that the ads popping up when my cursor happens to cross a smaller ad, and you get a frustration high.

But, by far, the biggest pain is having to listen to and see the video ad before I can work the crossword puzzle. This is going too far. Can't we do anything on the web without having an ad popping up and annoying us? And, for that matter, why don't our pop-up blockers prevent these?

To some extent I can understand the need for more ads on newspaper websites. The sales of newspapers is dropping precipitously, and the ad revenue is going with it. So it only seems natural that the lost ad supply will wend it's way to the websites.

But, let's not forget television. The station logo in bottom right hand corner is annoying enough, but the pop-up ads at the bottom are over the top. I don't need people walking all around the bottom of the screen, especially when they interfere with the tv program. I'm distressed at the tires and pit crew or racing car appearing in action at the bottom of the screen during a race. Isn't it bad enough, notably on ESPN, that the top and often the bottom of the screen are filled with non-essential information? Do I need a huge wall set in order to see the actual program?

But, to more specific ads.

Do you really think that someone finding your wallet and wanting to return it will act like the man in the tv ad? Standing on the street and calling the man in an apartment twenty floors up is rather strange, but waving a wallet while asking the man to look out the window is absurd. The man in the apartment needs to turn his tv on in order to see what the man in the street is holding.

Despite the occasional news about a grandmother giving birth [usually in the tabloid rags], I wonder why birth control pill advertisers are targeting older people? They list [quickly] a number of risks associated with the medication 'especially if you're over 55. How many of us over 55 are going to be concerned about taking birth control pill in the first place?

I tried to find a free American flag to post on my Vista gadget section. I had a terrible time trying to find one, but I succeeded in the end. Where, might you ask, did I find it? On a website based in Romania.

I contacted J G Wentworth recently and applauded their opera commercial. You've probably seen and heard it. It's a Wagnerian style short opera based on the phone number for the annuity and structured-settlement firm. The music is terrific. The structured settlement buyout doesn't apply to me. But if it did, I might consider the company.

Anyway, I did send a congratulatory email. And, surprise, I go a rather quick reply, asking for my address. Did I expect a visit from a hitman? Certainly, not. Did I expect Michael Anthony with his $million check? Sadly, no. A job offer? A free trip to Hawaii?

No, what I did receive was a bobble-head doll of the company president. While I'm appreciative of the gift, I was hoping the company would send me something non-commercial and without further advertising. And to add insult to injury, the bobble-head was made in China!

When you fork over $20 for a 9/11 commemorative, non-circulation $20 Liberian coin, what are you getting? At the recent exchange rate of $.1562, your 'silver leaf' [only a silver veneer over another type of base], costing about $3-4 US to create [including the silver], is worth about 31 cents US. And remember, it's non-circulating Liberian currency. I wouldn't try to cash it in, especially if 31 cents isn't going to do much for you.

Am I finished? Well, yes---at least for this time. This was another in a series of articles on 'Better Living' for the American media viewer and taxpayer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Clerihew Boop Boop Be Doo

According to Answers.com, a clerihew is 'a humorous verse, usually consisting of two unmatched rhyming couplets, about a person whose name generally serves as one of the rhymes.' Got that? The format was first used by Edmund Clerihew Bentley [1875-1956], later a popular British novelist and humorist.

The Literary Dictionary describes a clerihew: '…It consists of two metrically awkward couplets and usually presents a ludicrously uninformative 'biography' of some famous person whose name appears as one of the rhymed words in the first couplet… [I wonder if they're supposed to be written with ludicrous speed?]

Bentley's first clerihew was written by him in a boring [to him] science class when he was sixteen [1891.] He dashed it off quite easily, seemingly out of thin air:

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium

Not being satisfied with just this one, he went on to create many others, including these from his 1905 work, 'Biography for Beginners.' The book was illustrated by Bentley's good friend, Gilbert Keith Chesterton [an American writer.] The latter went on to raise the stature of the clerihew with many fine examples of his own.

From the 1905 book:

The art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about maps,
But Biography is about chaps.
What I like about Clive
Is that he is no longer alive.
There is a great deal to be said
For being dead.
It was a weakness of Voltaire's
To forget to say his prayers,
And one which to his shame
He never overcame.

G K Chesterton penned the following:

You can scarcely write less than a column on.
His very song
Was long.
The Spanish people think Cervantes
Equal to half a dozen Dantes.
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy.
James Hogg
Kept a dog.
But, being a shepherd
He did not keep a leopard.

Though the clerihew is often imitated by children or bloggers, they rarely get it right–--though it can be fun to try. It's difficult to be 'metrically awkward,' or to say something 'ludicrously uninformative' biographical image with tongue in cheek without supposing some knowledge of the subject in the first place.

Though not perfect [and I suppose these lines are somewhat reminiscent of limericks], I offer the following:

Horatio Alger
Liked nostalger;
Rags to riches;
Very few glitches.
Jane Austen
Was rarely in Boston.
On one occasion
She penned “Persuasion.”
L Frank Baum
Had no qualm;
Emerald writer,
Bad-witch fighter.

So, thus is the strange tale of the clerihew. I find creating them quite relaxing, though I do spend more time on cinquains, a subject for a later essay.