Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Wise Man In His Own Right

There’s a guy by the name of Hesiod whom I stumbled upon several months ago...a self-proclaimed farmer in Greece, but more historically a writer, poet and philosopher.

Hesiod lived and wrote and philosophized a long, lonngg time ago, in the eighth century B.C. (before croissants). His two known written works discuss the five ages of time, pagan ethics and present the descent of the gods.

Pretty heavy stuff, but his writings have had an impact on modern thinkers.

Now, I didn’t go searching for him because I tout myself as a great modern thinker or because I obsess over Greek mythology. However, if you want to believe either of those excuses, please feel free. They sound more studious than the reason I’m about to share with you.

I found him and one of his ideas on a calendar I had, a calendar published by the Old Farmer’s Almanac, with quips and quotes and “sage advice,” as they call it, for each day of the year.

For instance, throughout the months you find that to avoid a double chin, you shouldn’t sleep on plump pillows. (Staying away from that third and fourth slice of pizza may help as well, but I’m not as smart as the Farmer’s Almanac people.)

On another day, quoting George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” we learn to “shift not yourself in the sight of others nor gnaw your nails.”

This is good, usable everyday stuff!

Wise men also have first names with many many g's.
Anyway, on one particular day of the year, I came across a bit of history that noted, “according to Hesiod, a wise man is born on this day.” (You all see where this is headed, don’t you?)

Those words filled the square that was my birthday, and without knowing even one other thing about Hesiod, he became instantly insightful and intelligent in my eyes and one of my bestest friends.

I did a little more research into his theory, to see if maybe he was referring to someone else born on the same day as me. There are, after all, quite a good number of years between Hesiod’s day and mine.

I found people like John Goodman, who makes a great second generation Blues Brother, but also had to be Roseanne’s husband on TV; and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who wrote a lot of beachin’ surf songs, but later couldn’t muster the courage to step outside of his bedroom for however many years.

Lionel Richie and Cyndi Lauper also made the list, and I stopped shortly thereafter for fear of running into a great British leader or some NASA scientist.

Well...I won’t include the exact date of my birthday here, because I’m not trying to guilt-trip everyone into sending me birthday wishes and gifts. (Hint: it’s sometime during the first eleven months of the year.) I like to let my birthday pass as quietly as possible each year.

Donations of cash money are cheerfully accepted year-round, however.

“There is still no cure
for the common birthday.”
—John Glenn

Thursday, June 14, 2007

You Can Make Millions!!

Do you make $1,000 every day? If not, call 1-800-IMA-SUKR and find out how you can!! And if you call in the next 10 minutes, you’ll receive a free hula hoop! Hurry!! Don’t wait!! The longer you wait, the less time you’ll have to make piles and piles of cash!!!

Ah, the get-rich-quick scam. It’s been around forever, in all shapes and sizes and forms. Many of them can be spotted a mile away, distinguished by their too-good-to-be-trueness and their excessive use of the exclamation point.

I’ve seen more than my share of them in newspapers and magazines, and have been up during the wee hours of the night to see the infomercials on TV.

Some claim that if you have the basic skills to stuff an envelope, that you’ve got what it takes to start your own home-based business, and soon the money will be piling up.

One of my favorites is when an ad starts out, “Do you own a personal computer? Don’t just let it sit there. Put it to work for you!”

I own a personal computer. I’m clacking keyboard keys on it right now. And my post office box isn’t overflowing with five-figure checks. What am I doing wrong??

Others that pop up almost everywhere include vending machine routes from which you can make thousands upon thousands, and the ever-popular no-money-down real estate programs.

Buy this mansion with only the change you find under your couch cushions!, the 3:30 a.m. infomercial reports.

I thought maybe I’d give that a try, but...I couldn’t even afford to buy an outhouse, much less an actual residence with indoor plumbing. So I instead went back to my computer and tried to put it to work. For me.

Thank you for sending me your money. Suckers.
Probably the most famous—or perhaps infamous—of the scam artists, is Don Lapre, who’s been on TV ever since he took overacting lessons from William Shatner. That boy must have watched a lot of Star Trek when he was younger.

You know the guy: he made millions out of his tiny one-bedroom apartment placing small classified ads in newspapers across America, yadda yadda yadda. And he came on TV to tell us all about it, emphasizing every...other...word...along the way.

He was always just vague enough while describing his system so that he didn’t have to actually say anything, but sent camera close-ups slowly scrolling over income checks for seventy-five grand and up.

You, too, can do this working just a couple hours a day!

And the title of his system? “Making Money,” of course. All you had to do was send him forty bucks and he’d show you how. Meanwhile...he just made forty bucks.

If you google his name, the first page of results is so saturated with words like “be wary” and “rip off” and “have you been fooled by Don Lapre?” that it paints a clear picture of the worth of his brilliant scam...uhh, scheme.

After latenight viewers tired of his “tiny classified ads” script, he freshened it up a bit with an idea for a business running your own Web site, and then quickly moved on to pushing vitamins. Not just any vitamin, mind you...but the Greatest Vitamin In The World! (say that like James T. Kirk would, and the dramatic effect will ooooze from the words.)

So Don Lapre made his money...forty dollars at a time. Who knows? Maybe the guy's really only worth like a hundred sixty bucks. And I doubt any of his protégés are cashing big checks and sailing away on their yachts.

But I’ll keep watching for his next big idea, and be sure to read the fine print at the bottom of the TV screen before I pick up my phone to order.

Seeing as how I can’t find an infomercial on any of my channels, I better get to bed. I’ve got to go to work in the morning.

Unless...does anybody need any envelopes stuffed? Or have the next great money-maker involving seven hours of TV watching a day?

“I do want to get rich
but I never want to do
what there is to do
to get rich.”
—Gertrude Stein

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Are You Ready For Some...
More B-Grade Football??

I need to start here at the top by saying that I like Mark Cuban.

While I fully realize that the outspoken billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks can rub many people the wrong way...often on an hourly basis...I have a great deal of respect for him.

I don’t always agree with everything he says. But I like him.

Sure, he's got an ego, and yes, he can be rather eccentric. But did I mention he's a freaking billionaire?? Self-made? That's more money than Dudley Moore's character in Arthur was going to give up to spend the rest of his life with Liza Minnelli's character. (however, that's back when Liza was kind of attractive and had some spunk...not the total wack-job Liza of today.) Let's put a billion dollars in your pocket and see if you don't become even slightly affected by your new change in lifestyle.
If you're going to laugh, I'm taking my ball--and my billions--and going home. Nyah!!
With that being said, I think he’s flipped his lid. (Cuban....not Arthur.) (Can you tell in the photo on the right how distraught he is at my opinion of him?)

Cuban is part of a group that is trying to build a football league that would rival the NFL. The United Football League, still in its earliest stages of development, is trying to field teams in eight cities that have no NFL franchises, and Cuban has already signed on to become a team owner.

The UFL would play its games on Friday nights, so as not to conflict with the NFL schedule, and the founders are counting on the league being profitable after five years.

The initial investment per team is only $30 million, a mere pittance for someone who has more money than all the countries in the southern hemisphere combined. So I don’t fault Cuban for throwing some money out there to give this thing a go.

And with his fresh-thinking perspective, he could help to make the UFL a more substantial alternative to the NFL than some of its previous competitors, such as the United States Football League, the World Football League, and the XFL, none of which lasted longer than three seasons. The XFL lasted just three months.

But the way he’s marketing his new business venture to the media is what makes me think he should stick to dot-coms for fortune building, and basketball teams for recreation.

Cuban told the Associated Press that it was a pretty simple concept. “We think there is more demand for pro football than supply,” he said.

That part makes sense. Many people I know are football junkies, and more football would be a wonderful thing. More N...F...L football, if you please. I didn’t watch more than five minutes of the XFL after it was created before seeing that the only similarities it shared with the NFL were that the players wore shoulder pads and helmets and the ball was brown and oblong. End of story. End of new football league.

The UFL is being founded by investment banker Bill Hambrecht and Google Inc. executive Tim Armstrong, who have each pledged $2 million to start the league.

OK, so that gives it a little bit more respectability, because it seems that everything related in any way to Google turns to gold. Throw in an eccentric but über-intelligent businessman like Cuban, and you almost want to cheer a little for the league to get its feet under it and have a chance.

Cuban goes a little overboard on his blog when he talks about the fledgling new football league, saying, “There is obviously demand for top-level professional football. That is exactly what the UFL hopes to be someday, an equal to the NFL, if not more.”

If not more, he says.

I applaud his grit and determination, but that’s like me saying that I hope to be as rich as Mark Cuban someday, if not richer.

The league currently has no other prospective team owners, and if it does get off the ground, I don’t see it ever reaching it’s magical five-year anniversary.

But maybe I’ll buy a hat with Cuban’s team logo on it, if I can find one, to show my support.

I’ll wear it under my Detroit Lions hat.

“Football combines the two
worst features of American life.
It is violence punctuated by
committee meetings.”
—George F. Will