Hi, Mark. Did you know that the German company Siemens abandoned its plans to trademark “Zyklon,” which means “cyclone” in German, for a line of consumer products in the United States, including gas ovens, after the similarity with Zyklon B, the gas used in Nazi gas chambers, was publicly noted? Siemens, which used slave labor under the Nazi regime, already sells a Zyklon vacuum in Germany.

auto related stress

This is the first time I’ve bought, or tried to buy, a car through a dealership and I’m starting to understand and really appreciate the gut-wringing stress that I’ve heard alluded to throughout my life. It sucks. The whole car-buying process sucks huge, gnarled, boil-covered cocks.

I hate salespeople. I hate going into debt. I hate meeting people I don’t already know. This process requires all of that and more. It even requires that I know something about cars, something I’ve somehow managed to avoid knowing up till now. I feel like there’s potential to be brutally screwed at every turn. Every dealer has different service programs, different purchasing packages, and different price schemes. Every bank has different rates that change by the minute and slide between 5% and 12% based upon how they rate your credit worthiness. There are no clear, definitive answers to any question I ask. And no one can explain to me where their numbers are coming from.

The worst part for me, even worse than buying the new car, however, is selling the Jeep I now have. From what can tell, it has a book value of around $8,000. I’m told by someone that works in this area, however, that the car dealer will probably offer around $6,500, or less if I trade it in. That means I have to make a decision. I either throw away more than $1,500 or I attempt to sell the thing on my own. How would that work exactly? Would I tape a sign up in the window, or take out an ad in the paper? And, if someone is interested, would I have to get into the car with them and sit in the passenger seat while they take it out on the highway and see how it handles under adverse road conditions? I don’t like answering the front door when the bell rings now, and it doesn’t require me to know how many cylinders my truck has (I don’t know), let alone be willing to get into a car with an absolute stranger. Is my mental health worth $1,500? Is it worth it to walk around for the rest of my life knowing that I’d been fucked?

The more I think about it the more I get pissed off.

In case you want to know what car I’ve decided on, it’s the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. It gets 51 miles to the fucking gallon. Maybe the fact that I’ll only have to fill up once every few months makes the rest of this mess worth it. I hope so.

So, if you want to buy my truck without test-driving it, or if you work in a Honda plant and you can get me some kind of discount, drop me a line. The sooner I pass this stone, the better.

look everybody, it’s harper! harper’s back!

Didn’t you give me a similar story last week, Harper? If I recall correctly, that time it was about the Umbro company making a Zyklon brand running shoe. Is this going to be a running bit on MarkMaynard.com? Is there an epidemic afoot? Are there going to be new products named Zyklon every week? It could be a TV series. We could pitch it to NBC. Every week they could get the same group of Holocaust survivors together and show them a new product, only to announce that it’s named “Zyklon!” Or, maybe they could be presented with three new products every week and they have to choose the one that’s going to be named Zyklon. If they guess right, not only do they win cars and stuff, but they get to rename product “Zion,” or something else that they find less objectionable. That might be fun. Lots of potential for product tie-ins too… like on Survivor where they make it a point to keep announcing that the starving contestants are eating blood worms for a chance to win a small bag of Doritos.

I could go on and on about this all day, but I need to get done in the next hour so I can see the new TV show “Push Nevada.” It eats at me that I want to see something produced and, if you believe the press, co-written by Ben Afleck, but I do. It’s like that time I stood in line to see the Rosie O’Donnell film “Harriet the Spy.” I feel very ashamed. Worse that the shame though, it really bothers me that one of the most terrible actors of our time is involved in a project that’s being compared to “Twin Peaks.” I’m torn. On one hand I want it to be great so that I have a reason to make it through the week as far as Tuesday, but on the other hand it would be great if it flopped and that arrogant, balding, beautiful woman-dating Ben Afleck got what was coming to him.

Two teenagers in Oslo, Norway, found a human brain in a box on the street.

I was going to do a quick Google search for “human brain in a box,” but I was afraid of what might show up. I once found a man’s toupee wrapped around the base of a stop sign and that frightened the hell out of me for days. I didn’t like the fact that something really bad could have happened. I kept imagining scenarios where a balding man in a cheap suit and a bad toupee would get his head shoved into a stop sign. I would think that finding a human brain would be even more traumatic, even if it were in a nice gift box.

A British couple decided to implant their 11-year-old daughter with a microchip that will emit a homing signal to pinpoint her location in the event of an abduction.

I believe, for this to be the case, there would need to be a battery. Otherwise, the chip wouldn’t emit a signal. I’m imagining that the kid would have to carry around a lunch pail-sized battery that somehow connects to the chip and gives it the power it would need to broadcast. Either that, or they could give her a prosthetic hump in which to hide the battery. Actually, if they were to outfit the kid with a fairly good-sized hump, it would probably negate the need for the chip in the first place. I wouldn’t imagine that children with humps get abducted very often. And it would be a lot cheaper.

German officials refused to allow a Turkish couple to name their baby Osama bin Laden.

Yup, the Germans proposed that his name be changed to Zyklon.

Police shut down a large section of Interstate 75 in Florida after a woman named Eunice Stone thought she heard four young Arab men “laughing about 9/11” in a Shoney’s restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia. The men, who were detained in Florida for 17 hours, turned out to be medical students on their way to Miami, where they were scheduled to begin work at a hospital.

I said it right from the minute I first heard this story break… “I’ll bet you anything that these guys were just fucking around with this woman.” I can picture it – They get seated in Shoney’s and the woman at the table next to them clutches her child tightly to her bosom as a look of absolute horror spreads across her heavyset face. She becomes very flustered, but she’s still somehow able to recall all those episodes of “Murder She Wrote” that she’d seen over the years and muster up the courage to come to the aid of her country. She cranes her neck around to the point where her ear is sitting between two of the suspected terrorists, like it’s a participant in their conversation. They then begin laughing and saying things like, “God is great. The mothers of Miami will weep when we arrive,” or some such bullshit. Then, one thing leads to another.

I saw them all on TV this morning, as I got dressed from work. They were given that same scenario and they denied it. They came off pretty well. I almost want to believe them when they suggest that the woman dreamed it all up.

The thing that frightens me about this isn’t that someone was eavesdropping and called the feds. Assuming they were really talking about an imminent attack in Miami, as it was suggested, I think she probably did the right thing. My concern is that it was later stated that they were stopped for running through a tollbooth without paying. According to the men involved, that was not the case. What’s more, they said that the tollbooth attendant appeared to be very nervous.

My guess is that law enforcement officers had been following them for some time and that their plan was to apprehend them after the toll. Then, when they pulled them over, they used the excuse that it was due to their running through without paying. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that that was not the case. I think it was, more likely, an expedient excuse to pull them over.

My second concern is that when the men were asked by the police if they could search their car, they said no, at which time the K9 unit was called in. Apparently, if the dogs smell explosives, they can conduct a search of the vehicle without the consent of the owner and without a warrant. According to officers, the dogs smelled explosives in both vehicles. After an extensive search of both vehicles was completed, however, it was said that no trace of explosives was found. I think it’s conceivable that the dogs didn’t smell a damned thing, that the police again manufactured a reason to get into that car.

As an American citizen who doesn’t want to die in a bombing, I’m sympathetic to the motivations of law enforcement officers. Given what they were told, there was a high likelihood that these guys were up to no good. At the same time, however, it scares the hell out of me that people can be targeted and that charges can be dreamed up on a whim. In my opinion this is only about one step away from shooting an unarmed man and then putting a gun in his hand to show just cause for the use of lethal force.

On a similar and somewhat unrelated note, when I was about seventeen, my friend Anthony and I decided to take a drive to the Jersey shore. I think our friends Chris and John were with us, but I can’t remember. Anyway, at some point, we were pulled over by the New Jersey state police. The officer said that we were going a few miles over the speed limit, maybe five miles, an amount that usually doesn’t lead to a police stop. That wasn’t all though. He didn’t just give us a ticket.

The cop said that as we were pulling over to the side of the road he saw one of us moving around suspiciously in the vehicle. We explained that the fellow in the passenger seat (it could have been me, but I don’t remember) reached forward to get the registration out of the glove compartment, but that none of us had otherwise moved. We tried to explain to him that we had been taught that it was common practice to have such documentation ready for the officer in such cases. “Well,” he said, “I’d like to check the vehicle out. I know what I saw.”

Someone asked, “What if we don’t agree to a search?” He said that if we refused they would tow the car to an impound lot and we would be taken in front of the local court to plead our case. We, like almost any innocent person put in that position, acquiesced and let him perform a search of the entire vehicle (not just he area where he’d supposedly seen someone act suspiciously). We didn’t want to waste the entire day wrapped up in this bullshit on our one day off together, the day we had set aside for the beach. Plus, we knew that there was nothing illegal in the car.

So, there it was. We gave in and the guy got to search our car based upon bullshit evidence, the fact that he saw someone act “furtively,” which wasn’t the case at all. I still have a lot of respect for officers, but at that point in time I realized just how fucked up the system was and just how few rights you really have in the face of such an accusation. I’m sure he wasn’t trying that shit with older people who might protest or threaten to call an attorney, but he didn’t have any qualms about pulling over a car full of dumb-looking boys heading to the beach. Yes, we probably fit a profile for pot-smoking or under-age drinking, but that doesn’t justify our being pulled over and then bullied into allowing a search of our car. At any rate, that’s what this thing that happened in Florida reminded me of and I don’t like it.

If you want to write to me and say, “As long as you weren’t doing anything illegal, you don’t have anything to worry about,” save yourself the stamp. I don’t buy that line of reasoning. It’s like saying, “If women didn’t want to be raped, they wouldn’t dress so provocatively.” It’s asinine.

New York City police stopped subways and roped off Battery Park for several hours after someone saw a man wearing a turban climb out of a subway maintenance hatch; calm was restored after it was determined that the man was a Sikh transit worker.

In related news, somewhere in the mountains of Kentucky, a woman shit her pants when she saw a rerun of the Tonight Show where Carson was doing his Carnac shtick.

“I thought for sure we’d been taken over while I was asleep on the couch,” she said. “I just knew, when he held that envelope to his head that bad news for American was inside.”

Physicists at Middle Tennessee State University sent electronic signals through coaxial cable at more than four times the speed of light using cheap off-the-shelf equipment.

Absolutely unbelievable! Physicists in Tennessee!

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