Monthly Archive for May, 2008


NEW YORK, N.Y., May 31…The Biblical story of little David’s victory over giant Goliath has been a metaphor for the struggle of worker against the boss, slave against the master, oppressed against tyrant. It tells how a shepherd boy vanquished the Philistine mercenary with only a slingshot and a bag of smooth stones.

But Biblio-skeptics say the encounter never took place; the story was concocted by King David’s spin doctors to enhance his legend. A slingshot, while effective against birds and small animals, could never fell a giant in full battle armor, helmet and visor.

Physicist Ken Gehagen-Verren, of the Intelligent Design Institute of Military Science counters that David did slay Goliath. But he used a secret weapon–an atlatl.

An atlatl is a device attached to a stone-tipped spear to enhance the power of the thrower. First developed in prehistoric times, it is a stick that is placed under the spear to act as an extension of the thrower’s arm. According to Gehagen-Verren, the atlatl creates a “hyperbolic tangent,” which exponentially amplifies the speed of the thrown spear and the distance it travels. A well hurled atlatl can go up to 100 mph and can greatly magnify the killing distance, he says.

Atlatls were was used to hunt large game and to defend against human enemies. “They were the great equalizers,” Gehagen-Verren says.”They made females and children as effective warriors as men and aided in the defense of the tribe against marauders.”

Atlatls were replaced by bows and arrows in Epi-Paleoithic era and would have been unknown in Biblical times. But Gehagen-Verren claims that “with God’s help” David “reinvented” the atlatl.

“As a shepherd boy David had to protect the flock,” he says, “but he was denied the use of the warrior weapons, the bow and the sword. While cutting branches for his shepherd’s crook he fashioned a spear. After a few throws God sent the revelation of the atlatl into his mind. He tried it. It worked. He had never slung a stone that far or fast.Then, he sharpened his stones into spear heads. Being an ambitious and calculating boy he kept his new weapon a secret. When Goliath challenged the israelites he stepped forward, knowing that he had an advantage.”

According to Gehagen-Verren the Israelites watched in awe as David faced Goliath. “One swift, true throw of the atlatl penetrated Goliath’s armor,” he says.

The Israelites, having never seen a atlatl believed that Yahweh had imparted special powers to David and his slingshot. “With one throw David was transformed from an obscure shepherd boy to God’s warrior, conqueror of Jerusalem, direct forebear of Jesus Christ.,” Gehagen-Verren says. “And it never would have happened if not for the atlatl.”


KINSHASHA, Congo, May 28…A group of American senior citizens on a bus tour of Africa had to run for their lives last night when a mob of maddened Congolese accused them of witchcraft and penis-shrinking.

“I’ve never been so frightened in my life,” said Esther Schmeckler, 75, from the Red Buttons Home for the Aged in West Palm Beach, Florida. “These men were waving machetes and pointing to their groins. I thought it was some kind of mating ritual…”

“The Congo is in the grip of an epidemic of Genital Retraction Syndrome,” says Richard Hertz, psychiatric consultant to the Congolese Ministry of Health. “These tourists were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Genital Retraction Syndrome is a psychiatric disorder that is spread by mob hysteria through the male population. It occurs when an individual, becomes convinced his genitals are retracting into his body and will eventually disappear.There have been outbreaks in Maylasia where it is called “koro,” or “turtles head.” In China it is known as “shook yang,” and has spread through large cities in a matter of hours, with thousands of men appearing at hospitals claiming their penises are disappearing . The disease is believed to be caused by witches hired by enemies, or by extortionists who promise to restore the purloined penis for a cash payment. Mob violence often results as the afflicted men hunt down and murder the putative perpetrators.

In Ghana, twelve suspected penis shrinkers were beaten to death by a rampaging mob.

Foreigners are often blamed for infecting the populations. In Khartoum, Sudan, Ja’far Abbas, a local journalist, said the disease was spread by ‘”Imperialist Zionist agents “who are trying to prevent Muslims from procreating and multiplying.” He said the Zionist agents were selling a comb in the bazaars that was really a “laser-controlled surgical robot that penetrates the skull, passes to the lower body and emasculates a man.”

The disease reached epidemic proportions in Kinshasha last week. Police arrested 13 alleged sorcerers for casting penis shrinking spells. Callers to radio-talk-in shows advised listeners to “beware of those wearing gold jewelry.”

Unaware of this controversy, the American retirees arrived at the Kinshasha Hilton after a hot, bumpy eleven hour ride through the jungle. The few casual onlookers grew into a muttering crowd as people noticed the gold Stars of David many of the women were wearing. A rumor spread that “Israeli agents” had infiltrated the city.

Stiff and creaky from their long journey, the tourists, elderly women in their ’70′s, decided to limber up. They gathered in the courtyard of the hotel where tour leader Ellen Putznick led them in a group dance called the hora.

“We like to folk dance,” said Mina Shwanzman. “It’s good exercise and it’s culturally enriching.”

But the mob of Congolese men, nerves frazzled by the rumors, were alarmed.

“This to me was the dance of sorceresses come to cast a spell over us,” said Aristide Banane.

Men watched from the windows and rooftops of surrounding buildings.

“I thought we were having a genuine cultural communication,” said Fanny Shlanger. “We would show them our dance and then they would show us their’s.”

Suddenly, a shriek of terror came from the crowd. “J’ai perdu ma penis!” (I’ve lost my penis!) Within seconds more men ran out, screaming, rolling on the ground and clutching their groins. “it looked like they were break dancing,” Mrs. Shlanger said.

The men pointed and shouted accusations, but refrained from touching the women, fearful that any physical contact would lead to instant retraction.

A detachment of Congolese police sped to the scene and formed a cordon around the women. But they were soon overwhelmed by mobs of enraged men carrying machetes and flaming branches.

A platoon of Marines was dispatched from the US Embassy. They roared up, sirens blaring, firing in the air, loudspeakers proclaiming: ‘these are American tourists. They have not stolen your penises.” Meanwhile, Chinook helicopters lowered ladders and each of the women was lifted to safety. Later, a convoy escorted them to the airport where an Air Force plane awaited to fly them to Germany.

On the plane, the women spoke warmly of Africa and said they were sorry their tour had ended so abruptly. They downplayed the insanity of the incident.

“This happens everywhere,” Mrs. Schmeckler said. “My late husband Harry, he should rest in peace, always used to say to me: ‘Esther you’re cutting off my balls.’”


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24… In a stormy closed-door cabinet meeting today President George W. Bush proposed what he called “the final solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict–proms.

Bush said that on his recent visit to the area he was surprised to learn that young Arabs and Jews didn’t date each other or attend dances.

According to a senior official, who asked not to be named because he/she and/or/ it is not authorized to speak to the press, Bush rebuked his cabinet officers for not apprising him of what he called this “critical fact,” and instructed them to immediately begin organizing “mixers” in the Middle East.

“Nothing brings people together better than a good old-fashioned high school social,” Bush said.

Richard Jones, US Ambassador to Israel, suggested diplomatically that co-ed dances were not “the norm” in the religiously conservative Arab culture. Bush fixed him with a keen look and asked: “Has anybody ever tried them?”

“No,” he was told.

“Well then we don’t know if they won’t work, do we?” Bush shot back, triumphantly. Rising dramatically, he declared: “We are the most powerful country in the history of the world and you’re telling me we can’t get a bunch of kids to do the macarena?”

Bush appointed Vice President Richard Cheney as the chairman of what he called “homecoming night…”

“We should just nuke ‘em all,” Cheney muttered in his coffee.

“Speak up, Dick,” Bush demanded.

“We’re gonna have a ball.” Cheney said.

With a visionary gleam in his eye, Bush began making plans. “First, we’ll have to get out a vote for Prom King and Queen…That’ll encourage democratic participation. We’ll make the King an Israeli and the Queen a Palestinian…”

“Unmarried Arab women do not dance with strange men, Mr. President,” Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said. “And certainly not with an Israeli…”

Bush gave her a pitying look. “You may not know this Condi, but you put a bunch of young boys and girls together with those hormones raging and they’ll forget about their little differences…”

Warming to the task, Bush began making a checklist.

“We’ll need refreshments,” he said and snapped his fingers as he got a brilliant idea. “How about a barbecue?” He assigned Agricultural Secretary Ed Schafer to the task. “Let’s get us some chicken, some ribs, some Brunswick stew…”

“Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork, Mr. President,” Secretary Schafer said.

“Have they ever tried it?” Bush challenged.

“It’s a religious thing, Mr. President,” Ambassador Jones said, tactfully.

“Okay, well we can get some of those deep fried whiffle balls,” Bush said.

There was a puzzled silence for a moment until Secretary Rice came to the rescue.

“You mean felaffel, Mr. President.”

“Yeah,” Bush said. “Get a bunch of them. Get some of that humus. I mean we put that stuff on our compost heaps back in Crawford…”

“That humus is fertilizer, Mr. President, Defense Secretary Gates said. “This is hummous, it’s made with chick peas… and it’s a great delicacy..”

“Well, why do they want to call it by the same name as dead leaves and cow poop?” Bush said, momentarily miffed. But he soon recovered his good spirits.

“Condi, you hire the DJ, you’re musically inclined.”

“I lean to the classical, Mr. President,” Secretary Rice said.

“Oh now c’mon Condi, you were around for Motown. You look like the fourth Supreme…”

“This is gonna be some flop,” Vice President Cheney groused.

“Say what, Dick?” President Bush said.

“I like the Four Tops,” Cheney said.

President Bush stopped for a moment. His Cabinet looked on in trepidation as he sat there, brow furrowed, deep in thought. Then, he brightened.

“I knew I forgot something…Transportation. Dick, you’re in charge. Get them boys and girls some nice big stretch limos to take them to the prom in style.”

“What a bummer,” Cheney growled.

“What? “the President asked.

“I’ll get a Hummer,” Cheney said.

Bush went out to veto some bills. When he returned his Cabinet officers were sitting around, glumly.

“This is gonna be great,” he said. And got a faraway prophetic look. “And when the prom is over we’ll work on getting those Palestinians a state…”


MADINAT ZAYED, United Arab Emirates, May 23…Spiking oil prices are causing bankruptcy, starvation, insurrection and social dislocation all over the world. But one small group has reason to rejoice–the even-toed ungulate, better known as the camel.

Gas-guzzling tractors, trucks and SUV’s are lying idle as farmers, traders and smugglers throughout the Middle East, India and Pakistan return to the camel as their primary source of transportation.

Once honored as “the ship of the desert,” the camel was lumbering to extinction in swiftly mechanizing societies like India. Its population, once in the millions, had declined to 450,000, the Financial Times reports.

“Two years ago a camel cost little more than a goat, which is nothing,” says Ilse Kohler-Rollefson of the league for Pastoral Peoples.

“We had started to see camels, even females ones, slaughtered for their meat,” says Hanuwant Singh of the Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, a non-profit welfare organization for livestock keepers. “Now they are replacing the tractor.”

Simple economics have returned the camel to favor. A healthy male with a life expectancy of 60-80 years cost about USD$200 a few years ago. Now the price has risen fivefold to almost USD$1,000, but that is still a bargain compared to the USD$4,000 for a stripped-down tractor, which gets about five miles to a gallon using high test gasoline.

But the rise of the camel has its critics. Paraquat Bongh of the South Asian Progress Party, says the use of the camel is a “step backwards to the Dark Ages.” He claims that the oil boom has “recreated the medieval society of sheiks and shepherds.”

“The very rich live in an atmosphere of high tech indulgence, while the poor have been sent five hundred years back in time to primitive tools and beasts of burden,” Bongh says.

Once despised as an unclean, irritable beast the camel’s social status has improved. The Raika, the pastoral caste that breed females, have found a market for camel handbags and camel bone jewelry. Camel milk has become a delicacy. Branded as “the gold of the desert” it is much prized for its curative and aphrodisiac qualities.

But Bongh scoffs at these claims. “Everything is peddled to the masses as an aphrodisiac–dates, nuts, chick peas. If you believe this you will be in a constant state of sexual excitation and unable to see how you are being exploited…”

Bongh recently brought his protest to a camel beauty contest in this lush oasis of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Camels have once again become symbols of prestige to the rulers of the Gulf. Five judges are assigned to grade camels on necks, heads, lips-which are especially important, noses, humps and feet.

Sheik Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, heir apparent to ruler Sheik Mohammed, bought 16 pedigree camels for USD$4.5 million after a spirited round of bidding against other Emirati potentates. He paid USD$2.7 million for the winner of the contest.

As the auction ended Bongh appeared in the crowd of sheiks.

“Do you plan to race your prize camel, your Highness?” he called.

A spokesman hurriedly assured reporters that Abu Dhabi’s ruling family held this festival as a means of preserving the nomadic ways of their desert ancestors.

“Will you put one of your slave jockeys on the camel?” Bongh shouted. “One of the six year old boys your agents bought from an impoverished South Asian or African family..?”

A phalanx of black-suited security officers, muttering into mouthpieces, quickly surrounded Bongh.

“Is this how you preserve your nomadic ways, by enslaving little boys?” Bongh screamed as they led him away.

At sunset reporters saw a man tied to a camel on one of the ancient roads leading to the desert. He couldn’t respond to their questions. His tongue had been cut out.


NEW YORK, N.Y., May 20…The era of the “financial superclass” is over, Anarcho-Feminist Presidential candidate Leah Schildkraut declared today.

At the head of a small but boisterous crowd, Schildkraut invaded the floor of the NY Stock Exchange and vowed that her first action as President will be to “dismantle the triple entente of banks, hedge funds and private equity and redistribute the wealth and property they have plundered.”

Schildkraut brought trading to a halt as she launched into a diatribe against the “greedy global elite that has robbed hundreds of millions of families across the world of their natural rights.”

Quoting from an article by David Rothkopf in the Financial Times, she said that the top 50 financial institutions control almost $50,000 billion in assets. “This means that fifty CEOS control almost one third of the entire global economy,” she said. The top one hundred hedge funds control 60 per cent of the trillions of dollars of assets.

“There has never been such a concentration of financial power in history,” she said. “Neither Hitler nor Stalin nor the ruling dynasties of the world empires had such total dominance over the lives of so many hundreds of millions.” She pointed a warning finger at the brokers and blue smocked specialists. “You have been allowed to manipulate the world economy,” she said. “While lobbying against regulation of the markets you have profited from the socialism of the rich in which you depend on governments and international financial bodies to subsidize your speculation and cover your mistakes. While condemning the welfare state you have created the moral hazard in which you make reckless bets with baseless derivatives because you know the monetary system will have to bail you out or face ruin.”

Some brokers and specialists made frantic calls for “Security!” But others, anticipating a momentary plunge in the market due to Schildkraut’s tirade, called short sales into their cell phones.

“You have created a system where you make billions whether the markets go up or down,” Schildkraut shouted over the anxious cries of the short-selling brokers.

“30 years ago multinational CEOs made 35 times the wages of the average employee,” she said, quoting the Rothkopf article.”Today it is more than 350 times Meanwhile, the world’s 1,100 richest people have twice the assets of the poorest 2.5 billion…”

Within minutes the shorts sales caused the market to edge down. The volume skyrocketed as the large institutions began to liquidate positions. Losers were outnumbering winners ten to one.

Schldkraut pointed around the room. “This place is a necrotic tumor on the body politic,” she said.

Some brokers at the fringe of the crowd immediately ran to liquidate their pharmaceutical stocks.

Schildkraut was interrupted by Efraim Durg, candidate of the Gambler’s Rights party “These people are creating wealth for the masses,” he shouted.” You want to replace them with bureaucrats and bean counters.”

There was a sudden run on Agra stocks.

“They are driving up the prices of food and fuel and the basic necessities of life,” Schildkraut answered. “But on January 1, 2009 the people will rise up…”

Durg jeered. “They’ll rise up and ask for a good tip on the market…”

By now the trading floor was pandemonium as prices zig-zagged wildly. Fortunes were being made and lost.

“Kill her,” shouted the losers.

“Schildkraut for President,” laughed the winners.

A phalanx of Security Officers followed by NYPD, Homeland Security, FBI and the Pentagon Special Ops rushed onto the floor to evict Schildkraut.

She tried to reason with them. “How many of you can make your mortgages? How many have maxed out your credit cards? Don’t be stooges for the rich…”

“Did you call me a stooge?” A Security officer shouted. He tased Schildkraut, she crumpled to the floor.

“What are you doing?” Efraim Durg shouted, running to her aid.

“I thought she was pulling a weapon,” The Security oficer said.

Cops rolled the stunned Schildkraut onto her stomach and snapped cuffs and shackles on her.

“You don’t have to be so rough,” Durg said.

A Security officer jumped at him, red-faced. “Are you with us or against us?” he yelled.


BEIJING, China, May 22…When Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympics it was seen as an omen of success. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese numerology. The word for eight sounds similar to the word for “wealth” in the Mandarin dialect and “fortune” in the Cantonese. The Mandarin word for “double eights” also resembles the word for “double joy.” According to Wikipedia, the telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for USD$ 270, 723 in Chengdu and a man in Shanghai offered his license plate of A88888 for sale for 1.2 million yuan.To lock in their good fortune Chinese officials scheduled the opening of the Olympics for 8/8/08 at 8:08.08 PM.

But now a Chinese numerologist has come forward to say they were wrong. In a posting on the Internet, the numerologist, who has remained anonymous for fear of prosecution, says that lucky numbers can sometimes be reversed to prophesy bad luck.

The posting, which has been seen by hundred of millions of Web users, cites the disturbing prevalence of eights in natural and social disasters that have plagued China in recent months and says these are clear warnings of failure from the powers that control what the numerologist calls “the mathematics of destiny.”

The first catastrophe was the snowstorm of January 25, (1/25/08), which killed tens of thousands and paralyzed the Chinese economy for weeks. The numerologist translates this as 1+2+5=8.

Next came what the numerologist refers to as the March 14 (3/14) revolt of the “bald Tibetans.” This translates to 3+1+4+=8.

Again, disaster struck on May 12 (5/12) when an 8.0 earthquake struck China killing 50,000. Numerically, this becomes 5+1+2=8. Aware of the numerical significance of eight, Chinese officials revised the magnitude down to 7.9, the numerologist says.

Earthquakes play a crucial role in Chinese history. According to Neil Schmid, professor of Chinese religion at North Carolina State University, the first seismometer was invented in 132 A.D. as a way to “detect tremors that might spell the end of a ruler’s reign.”

An earthquake occurring on an “eight” day might give added weight to the idea that the natural order has been disrupted.

The numerologist concludes that having the Olympics in Beijing has gone against the wishes of the “powers that construct the logic of fate.” And adds: “the powers do not want China to open itself to foreigners.”



DOHA, Qatar, May 16th…Citing the “clear threat” to Sunni Islam from what he called “the Obama-Hamas-Ahmenijhad axis” Ayman al Zawahiri, Deputy Commander of Al Qaeda today announced his support for Anarcho-Feminist Leah Schildkraut in the American presidential campaign.

“McCain and Clinton are Zionist stooges,” he said, in an audio tape released today, but expressed approval for Schildkraut’s “purity of heart.” She is he only candidate who had not been “corrupted by the Jewish lobby,” he said. “I am confident that Schildkraut can lead America back on to the righteous path.”

In a detailed argument, Zawahiri accused Barrack Obama of being “a front man for the Iranian-Zionist conspiracy to dominate the Middle East.” He listed three “disturbing omens of Iranian influence:”

1. The statement made by Ahmed Youssef, chief political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh that “we (Hamas) like Obama and hope he will win the election.”

Hamas never takes a political position without approval of its “Shia masters,” Zawahiri said and called their endorsement of Obama “proof that he is part of the Iranian-Zionist master plan to subjugate the Sunnis.”

2. The resignation of Obama’s Middle East consultant, Robert Malley after revelations that he had held secret talks with Hamas.

“The exposure of Robert Malley is the hump of the camel buried in the sandstorm,” Zawahiri said. Malley has said his meetings with Hamas were part of his activities with the International Conflict Resolution Group, but Zawahiri dismissed that organization as an “obvious Mossad front.

3.Obama’s commitment not to meet with Hamas until it has recognized the state of Israel, but his oft expressed willingness to talk to Iran without preconditions.

Zawahiri ridiculed this as “duplicitous expediency.” and said Obama has no need to meet with Hamas as long as he is communicating with their “true masters,” the Iranians.

He ended the tape with the ringing cry: “Schildkraut for President.”

Schildkraut was campaigning at the Magdalene Shelter for Unwed Mothers and was unaware of Zawahiri’s endorsement. She was delivering an impassioned speech to a small but enthusiastic crowd condemning the GOP’s recent proposal to cut cash assistance to unwed mothers under the age of 18.

“Taking food out of innocent children’s mouths will not cause the problem to go away,” she said. “This is the politics of cruelty.”

As the crowd cheered, a beige Bentley with BLACJAC plates pulled up and Efraim Durg, candidate of the Gambler’s Rights Party stepped out. A speaker blared Zawihiri’s Arabic message.

“Hey Schildkraut, know who that is?” Durg shouted. “Bin Laden’s right hand man. And guess what? He’s supporting you for President…”

“That’s a lie!” Schildkraut shouted back. But one of her aides, who was reading the news off her iPhone stepped up and whispered that it was true.

“I didn’t know anything about this,” the flustered Schildkraut said.

“You know what they do to unwed mothers in Saudi Arabia?” Durg asked, drawing his hand across his throat.

As the crowd melted away, Schildkraut protested: “I reject this endorsement. I reject everything Al Qaeda stands for.”

Soon she was alone.

Durg got back into his Bentley, gloating:

“Gotcha Schildkraut. Finally gotcha.”


WASHINGTON,D.C. May 12…Challenging all Americans to “put their money where their mouths are,” Leah Schildkraut kicked off her Presidential campaign calling for an immediate and retroactive 10% tax surcharge to fund the war in iraq.

Schildkraut, who is running on the Anarcho-Feminist ticket told a press conference on the grounds of the Walter Reed Army Hospital that “this war is the only one in American history that has not been financed by emergency short-term tax increases.”

She accused President Bush of dividing the country into military people who fought and died and civilians who who went shopping.

” Don’t buy that video game,” she urged. “You don’t need a new gas grill. Make the ultimate sacrifice. and pay a few hundred dollars more in taxes so we can rebuild the hospitals and equip our troops.”

With the dilapidated, insect-ridden, fire-prone wards of Walter Reed in the background, a handful of wounded soldiers in wheelchairs listened as Schildkraut evoked President Franklin Roosevelt, who declared in 1942: “When so many Americans are contributing their energies and even their lives I am confident that all Americans will be proud to contribute their utmost in taxes.” She reminded her audience that ” during World War Two Americans went without meat, coffee, sugar, butter, gasoline and other necessities to aid the war effort.” She asked: “Would they do that today?”

“No…” the soldiers shouted in response.

Schildkraut praised President Lyndon Johnson for his courage in passing “a deeply unpopular 10% tax surcharge to fund the deeply unpopular Vietnam War.” Her voice rising, she asked: “Who among the candidates running today has the courage to raise taxes to support the war and provide adequate care and benefits for our military?”

“Schildkraut,” the soldiers shouted.

Two Humvees sped up and screeched to a halt. A squad of MP’s got out and surrounded Schildkraut, while another squad ordered the soldiers to turn their wheelchairs around and go back to their quarters.

“You’re trespassing on government property,” a lieutenant said to Ms. Schildkraut. “I’ll have to ask you to leave immediately.”

“I’m not going,” Ms. Schildkraut said. She lay down in front of a Humvee. “You’ll have to arrest me.”

As the wounded soldiers wheeled back over the parched, untended lawn one of them raised his prosthetic arm

“Schildkraut for President!” he shouted.

After a brief conversation with his superiors the MP lieutenant decided not to arrest Ms. Schildkraut. He got in his Humvee and drove away, leaving Ms. Schildkraut lying in the mud. She looked into the cloudless sky, the cry of “Schildkraut for President” ringing in her ears.

“I’m starting a grassroots movement,” she said


NEW YORK, N.Y. May 9th…Google just grew. That’s the beauty of a search engine.

It just grew again.

Google is recession proof. It’s stock price has gone from 85 to 572. It employs 4,000 plus.

It just added another employee.

And it just grew again.

But one aspect of Google is shrinking–its hip rating. And pollster Efraim Durg says this may bode ill for the Googlefuture.

Durg, founder of, conducts “demographically controlled” surveys outside Stash’s Kielbassa in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. He has one prompt: “Name the hippest company on the world.” He says Google was Number One on the “hipmeter” for years, but recent actions have lowered its standing.

“Google started to wobble when it agreed to censor itself in order to get into the Chinese market,” Durg says. “Still,some of my older demographic said it was cool because it was good business.”

But he registered substantial oscillations on his carefully plotted “hipogram” when Google announced its plan to offer all the books in the world online.

“Books are so old media,” Durg says. “My younger demographic was put off.”

The “hipneedle”dropped again when it was revealed that Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page were pushing 35.

“Only the very young and the very old are cool,” Durg says. “There are no cool people between 35 and 65.”

Brin and Page blundered again, Durg says, when they attended a conference for the “richest, squarest people in the world” in Davos, Switzerland.

“They wore shorts and sandals like they were trying to be cool, and cool people never try,” he says.”If they had shown up in really good suits they would have kept their cool.”

But the trouble really started when the Google lost twice to Facebook in the ultimate frisbee championships. “Spectators say the Googlers were run off the field,” Durg says.

People close to both firms says this defeat led to the defection of top Google ad executive Sheryl Sandberg to Facebook, which was followed in short order by the departure of Google senior manager Elliot Shrage to head Facebook’s new corporate and public affairs department.

“Executives are weather vanes,” Durg says. “They go the way the wind blows.”

Google maintained its cool in the corporate kitchen where it offered healthy, genetically unmodified cuisine from local farmers, as opposed to the indifferent institutional fare offered by Facebook. It also claimed the services of a chef who had cooked for the Grateful Dead and funkmeister George Clinton,

But that ended when chef Josef Desimone was lured away by Facebook. Famous for his wheatgrass shooters and homemade kombucha tea, which is said to increase neuron twitches in the brain, Desimone has now begun to reinvent the Facebook kitchen.

This latest departure rankled veteran Googlers more than any of the others. “We won’t miss Desimone,” a Googler told Silicone Valley gossip sheet ValleyWag. “Everyone hated his cafes. He had the worst heavy everything–fried menus.”

Durg shook his head at that disgruntled reaction. “Sore losers,” he said. “Very uncool.”


Las Vegas, May7…Forget about the black loyalists, the white backlashers, the blue collar red-staters or the white collar blue-staters, Efraim Durg knows who holds the key to the 2008 election—the online poker players.

“The next President will decide whether online gambling is legal or not,” Durg says. “And online gamblers will decide who the next president will be.”

Online gambling has been under attack by state and federal legislators. Under pressure from the casino lobby Congress passed legislation outlawing the operation of online gambling sites in the United States. All the action was moved to foreign locations. Several state governments have since criminalized online poker and the state of Washington made it a Class C felony, which means that players could be imprisoned for playing online.

Durg, a professional poker player and founder of Save Our says that millions of online gamblers in every state will be watching the candidates carefully to see who is supporting them and who wants to shut them down.

“Now is the time for the candidates to show their cards,” he said.

With a million members in the Poker Players Alliance alone the online gambling lobby has already flexed considerable political muscle. When Iowa Republican Congressman Jim co-authored a bill to ban online gambling they came out strongly against him. Leach, a popular long term legislator lost in an upset.

So far, they’re getting mixed signals from Barrack Obama. Joe MacDonald of, reports that the Clinton campaign released some negative remarks Obama has made about gambling. In 2001 he said, “you have a whole bunch of people who can’t afford gambling their money away, yet they’re going to do it.” And as late as 2003 he said, “the moral and social cost of gambling, particularly in low-income communities, could be devastating.”

This worries Durg. “He wants to punish us just because a couple of deadbeats can’t control their habit.”

Gambling reports that Obama is an “avid” poker player and his campaign has said it would support a study on online gambling,

Hillary Clinton has not been photographed doubling down, but she has said that online gambling should be regulated so that American business can compete with off shore gambling sites.

John McCain portrays himself as a high rolling casino regular and has been photographed at a crap table behind a pile of chips. But he sponsored legislation to ban betting on college sports in Las Vegas. He did this to discourage bookmaking and possible game fixing on campuses, his campaign says, but Durg is not impressed. “He’s messing with our Constitutional right to go broke,” he says. Also, he says Republicans are more likely to be anti-gambling because of the right wing Christians in their ranks.

This is how Durg ranks the candidates.

Obama…”He’s sitting with case aces and hoping he doesn’t get beat on the flop.”

Hillary…”She’s all in and praying for a miracle on the river.”

McCain…”He’s holding fold cards, putting in his blinds and waiting for the other two to tap each other out.”


Chelm, Indiana, May 5…A year ago confetti swirled, banners furled and the Chelm High School Marching Band played “Indiana” as Armin Grooskarf was crowned “Mr. Consumer of 2007.”

On that sunny day Fox and CNN came to this forgotten factory town to hear the manager of the Chelm Wal-Mart read a message from President George W. Bush commending Mr. Grooskarf for his “dedication beyond the call of duty” in the war on terror. State legislators applauded as Grooskarf was given a plaque and a new Wal-Mart credit card with a fifteen-day grace period. Later, he posed for photos with Miss Indiana and got cheers as he used his new card to buy a Hannah Montana DVD for his niece in Oregon.

What had Mr. Grooskarf done to deserve this honor? He had consumed.

In the aftermath of the 911 attacks, President Bush had urged Americans to beat the terrorists by “going on with your lives, spending money, going shopping at the mall.”

Mr. Grooskarf, a sausage stuffer, who had been living on disability since his hand had been mangled by a meat grinder, took the president’s message to heart. “I wanted to serve my country in the only way I could,” he said. “I consumed.”

He bought a tractor mower, even though he had only a quarter acre lawn and his doctor had recommended hand mowing to help control his diabetes. He bought a Ford 150 pick up because Ford was in trouble and everyone said America couldn’t let the big auto companies fail. His credit was “shaky,” the salesman said because he had been late on a phone bill in 1993. But that was good. The 14.5% interest he was paying would improve Ford’s bottom line and help them lend money to other patriotic consumers. He bought a #632 built-in sub zero refrigerator even though he only lived with his mom and she had Alzheimer’s and often forgot to eat for days. He ordered a 424 wine storage unit, even though he only bought Gallo Chablis and the label said to make sure you drank it as soon as you got it home. He bought a 60-inch Sony Flat Panel HD TV, which barely fit against his living room wall.

The credit card companies joined with him in the war on terror. They let him roll one credit card into another. After a few months his mailbox was overflowing with offers. As a good consumer they said he “had been chosen” to receive another credit card with a bonus of 1000 miles on ATA airlines. They lowered his minimum so he could buy more and pay later.

Mr. Grooskarf heard Fed Chairman Greenspan say that housing prices were creating the wealth, which the American homeowner was using to finance the world economy. Sure enough the seven-room frame house that had been in his family for a hundred years was now worth a million dollars. He immediately bought the property next door for a million two, using his house as collateral. He didn’t need the house, it just seemed like the right thing to do. The loan officer showed Grooskarf a power point presentation that traced the path of his money. First, his mortgage was packaged into a “bundle” of “subprimes” and sold to a hedge fund. That allowed the bank to lend more money to deserving borrowers. Next, the hedge fund packaged his loan into a Collateralized Debt Obligation and sold that to investors. People bought insurance on the CDO and that was packaged into a “bundle” of insurance policies, which were then sold as another kind of CDO. And then swapped for still another CDO.

Grooskarf sat back in awe as the loan officer explained that his subprime mortgage had generated a hundred million dollars of wealth for investors all over the world.

“The American consumer is making everybody rich,” the loan officer said.

Then, the house of cards started to tumble. It began with people who couldn’t pay their mortgages. As foreclosures started to inch up, the CDO’s lost their underlying value. Hedge funds shut down, banks had no capital, the stock market crashed. Then, the housing market collapsed. Mr. Grooskarf had what the loan officer called “negative equity,” which meant that he owed more than his house was worth. The “home equity” loan he had taken out wasn’t covering his purchases so everything was repossessed. He was living in an empty house, which was about to be taken away from him. ATA airlines declared bankruptcy. The lowered minimum on his credit card extended his debt at a higher interest.

Now Grooskarf couldn’t borrow, which meant he couldn’t spend. Which meant he wasn’t doing his bit in the War on Terror. Neighbors told him not to worry. The same thing was happening to everybody. Indiana led the nation in foreclosures.

But Grooskarf was inconsolable. He watched the commentators on CNBC say that the “American consumer has disappeared.” Panic spread throughout the world. Food prices skyrocketed. There were rice riots in Asia and Africa. Neighbors say he felt responsible.

President Bush gave another speech on the economy. “We’re going through some hard times,” he said and urged Americans to “support the economy,” to “go shopping.”

“The president is angry,” Grooskarf said. “I’m Mr. Consumer. I should be doing something.”

This morning neighbors, seeing smoke and smelling fumes broke down Grooskarf’s new Wayne Dalton “safe and thermally efficient” steel garage door. Mr. Grosskarf was dead behind the wheel of his John Deere lawn tractor, which features “The Edge Cutting System, providing superior lift and a precise level cut.”

Police found a note on his new Mac Book Air, “ultra thin, ultra portable, ultra unlike anything else.”

“I’m Mr. Consumer,” it said. “The world was depending on me and I failed.”

Mr. Grooskarf is survived by his mother Adele, his sister Fran and his niece, Bree, of Eugene, Oregon.


New York, May 2…Most Americans are poor, depressed, suicidal and dying younger than ever before and nobody’s doing anything about it,” declared Leah Schildkraut, as she announced her candidacy for the presidency today.

“Too much attention is being paid to the GNP (Gross National Product) and not the GNH, the Gross National Happiness,” she said.

Ms. Schildkraut, demographic specialist for the Anarcho-Feminist Coalition, cited the dismal results of a yearlong study of the Gross National Happiness Index in the US.

“According to the seven measures of wellness we are just plain miserable in this country,” she said in a press conference attended by hundreds of cheering supporters at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, a location she chose to highlight her belief that “our country is turning into one big garbage dump and we must do something about it.”

“Our Economic Wellness rate is zero,” she said. “Wages are stagnant, prices are up, gasoline and food are the highest they’ve ever been, housing prices are plunging…The US ranks 16th in the Human Poverty Index. The Poverty rate for minors under 21 is 21.9%, the highest in the developed world.”

Environmental Wellness is non existent, Ms. Schildkraut said. Pollution, noise and traffic are increasing. Global warming is causing lethal hurricanes and tornados.

The cheers subsided as Ms. Schildkraut continued.

“Physical Wellness is a national disgrace. We have 40 million people who have no health insurance, another 100 million whose insurance does not cover catastrophic care. Out of 44 developed countries the US ranks 26th in child mortality, tied with Croatia, Estonia and Poland at 7 deaths per 1000 births. The life expectancy for women in hundreds of counties across the South has declined. Poor men in America are dying younger as well. But the rich are living 4.5% longer than the poor and that discrepancy is increasing. The richest ten million people can expect to live long and happy lives while everyone else dies younger.”

Silence fell, broken only by the screeching gulls picking over tons of decaying garbage.

“Mental Wellness hardly rates a metric,” Ms. Schildkraut said with relish. “It is estimated that 9.5% of the population suffers from depression. Over 40 million prescriptions for Prozac alone were written in the past year. Suicide rate among pre teens has increased 183%. Suicides by adolescents under 20 were up by 18% over the previous year…”

People began to melt away. Blue and white Get Happy With Leah buttons were dropped on the garbage piles.

Efraim Durg, of Save Our Sanity.Org, waved a tiny American flag and shouted. “Why don’t you go to Zimbabwe? They’re really happy there.”

Ms. Schildkraut called to the retreating crowd. “Workplace Wellness hardly exists. Flat wages, job insecurity, harassment and abuse are rampant…”

“I blame the Teacher’s Union,” Mr. Durg said.

“Social Wellness must be addressed,” Ms. Schildkraut shouted in desperation. Divorce rates are up, school and workplace violence is a major threat, domestic abuse has never been higher. Family lawsuits have proliferated, parent against child…One in every hundred Americans is incarcerated…”

People were fleeing, stumbling over each other to get away.

“Political Wellness is at an all time low,” Mr. Schildkraut. “People are alienated from the process…”

By now everyone was gone. Only, Mr. Durg remained. He offered Ms. Schildkraut his flag.

“There’s a great pizza place by the ferry,” he said. “Wanna get a slice?”