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Geek/CounterGeek – #65: Money In The Star Trek Universe

Last week Elliott Serrano and Keith Conrad expressed their concern with Chief O’Brien’s lack of career advancement in Star Trek; The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, which got them wondering: If there isn’t any money in the future in Star Trek, would there be any career advancement at all? How exactly would the world work without money? Would it actually be any better?

Each week Keith Conrad and Chicago’s Top Geek Elliott Serrano debate a controversial topic in contemporary geekery: Kirk vs. Picard? Was Douglas Quaid dreaming in Total Recall? No topic is off limits.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 6-21-16: Go Directly To Jail; Collect $30 Million

A Colorado man is suing the City and County of Denver and the Denver Police Department for $30 million. He was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 14 for a murder he did not commit. You have to feel bad for the guy, since you know he was saying he was innocent all along and there were people who just refused to believe him. However, that having been said I can’t not make some sarcastic comment about it, so here’s my question to you, oh reasonable Internet reader: If someone comes up to you and offers you $30 million in exchange for spending 13 years in jail, do you take that deal? You could pump some iron, get in shape, maybe do a lot of reading or even finish that novel you’ve been working on. (I swear people, it’s going to get done one day…)

The latest sensation sweeping the Internets? Dads are seeing how many Cheerios they can stack on their sleeping newborns nose. Some have managed to get as many as 20.  Unfortunately, since it’s an Internet competition, you don’t win anything, like money to pay for future therapy when your child learns what you used to do to them for your own amusement while they were too young to know what was going on. Original Cheerios seem to work better than Honey Nut Cheerios. Just FYI.

Donald Trump fired his controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Monday, unleashing a major shake-up as he comes under pressure from his closest advisers — particularly his family members — to urgently reset his struggling presidential campaign. Oh yeah, he also has virtually no money to run in the general election, because instead of fundraising like a normal candidate, he just said crazy stuff on TV.

Parts of the Orlando shooter’s 911 calls that were originally redacted by the Justice Department are now available, including the moment when the shooter pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Speaking of Orlando, a Florida assistant state attorney has been suspended after allegedly writing controversial Facebook posts slamming the type of people in downtown Orlando and those who go to nightclubs. He posted that downtown Orlando is “a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs.” Things went (even further) downhill from there.

Sick of hearing about “Brexit”? You’re not alone, but at least it looks like our long, international nightmare will soon be over. Voters head to the polls in a couple of days and it looks like the UK will stay in the EU. It looks like there wouldn’t be a whole lot of an advantage for Britain to leave the EU, aside from the fact that a lot of Brits like the idea of giving the rest of Europe a giant middle finger.

Interesting Stat of the Day: A new study shows that astronauts who fly to and from the ISS aboard a Soyuz spacecraft and spend six months there have a threat of mortality comparable to those of U.S. infantry combatants on D-Day and New York City firefighters on 9/11.

Gabatron Morning Briefing – 5-4-16: May The Fourth Be With You

Trump wins Indiana. The Trumpster fire engulfs America.

Things took a turn for the insane in the Republican race before the results started coming in from Indiana. Donald Trump repeated a National Enquirer allegation that Ted Cruz’s dad was connected to Lee Harvey Oswald. Ted Cruz denied the allegations, and called Trump a pathological liar. Meanwhile, in the afternoon Jake Tapper on CNN pleaded for some kind of sanity.

The Lucas Museum may be flying off to a city far, far away. Friends of the Parks said on Tuesday they will oppose any location on the lakefront. Mellody Hobson, wife of George Lucas, said they are now “seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago.”

Speaking of crazy ideas to bring in more tourists, a pair of businessmen have unveiled a plan to have aerial gondolas above the Chicago River.

A federal judge is refusing to get step into the fight between Uber and taxi driver, but the city has some work today. She said the differences in rules between taxi drivers and ride share companies seem “utterly arbitrary.”

Get ready for some outrage: CPS has outlined new rules allowing students access to bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Cool or creepy? The FDA has approved new sensors in pills that would help doctors monitor how you’re doing. Interestingly, they are actually powered by energy coming from your body.

A woman was caught on tape berating a man at her local Walmart for paying with food stamps. Both the angry woman and the object of her ire were both shopping with their kids, so their profanity-laced exchange was a fantastic example for the kids.

A middle schooler in the Houston area was dragged in front of police officer who accused her of using counterfeit money to buy lunch. It turned out she was just using a $2 bill, which by the way is a real denomination, just in case you didn’t know. The school claimed they were confused, because it was an older bill and the pen they use to spot counterfeits didn’t work on it. Imagine what will happen when they start changing the money.

Gabatron Morning Briefing – 1-14-16: Delaying Adulthood

You might have to be at least 21 to buy tobacco where I am here in Chicago soon. On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance raising the minimum age from 18 to 21. The measure includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. So at this point are you really an “adult” at 18 anymore or are you basically still a kid until you turn 21 since you’re not actually able to make decisions for yourself?

Mayor Emanuel is also introducing an ordinance to keep taps on people renting out spaces on Airbnb. The ordinance would require units that are rented out fewer than 90 nights per year to be registered for free online. The city would track these units and respond to complaints about them. Oh year, there would also be a 2 surcharge by the city.

Someone has started a Facebook group asking people to help push Trump Tower into the Chicago River. So far about 7,000 people have signed up for the event, which would be on January 29th. Maybe there’s a structural engineer out there who could tell us how many people would have to push on a building for it to fall over?

It looks like the war between the Ricketts family and the Wrigleyville rooftop owners may officially be over. The Cubs just bought three more of the rooftop clubs around Wrigley Field. That means they own 10 of the 16 rooftops. They’ve even started a new website to keep all of their business together.

Ted Cruz has picked up the coveted Duck Dynasty endorsement. He has a new video on his website with Phil Robertson explaining why he is the logical choice for POTUS.

Meanwhile, a Constitutional law professor has written a detailed article for the Washington Post explaining why Ted Cruz is *not* eligible to be President of the United States. tl;dl – the common law definition of “Natural born” citizen is someone who was physically born in a country, when the Constitution was written they believed that allegiance came from your country of birth and intended to specifically require that all Presidents be born here.

Really, America? Sales of the shirt El Chapo was wearing when he was photographed with Sean Penn are skyrocketing. What about the shirt El Chapo was wearing when he handcuffed that guy in a bathtub and chopped him up with a chainsaw?

A Wisconsin man has been convicted of threatening to kill President Obama… with a slingshot. Actually, he just threatened to shoot the President, and it turned out the only weapon he had in his possession was a slingshot.

Not to harp on the Steven Avery thing, but his ex-fiance, who was featured in Making A Murderer says that he was guilty. She also claims she asked the filmmakers not to use her in the film, but they did anyway. She also says that while they were still together, Avery threatened her and told her to “make him look good… or else.” Oh yeah, he was also abusive in their relationship.

You think the budget situation is bad here in Illinois? In Nigeria they don’t have a budget because the parliament lost their budget documents.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 1-11-16: Powerball Hits $1.3 Billion

No one had the winning numbers in the Powerball drawing on Saturday. The jackpot will increase to well over $1 billion on Wednesday. Interestingly enough, you could actually buy every possible number combination for about $580 million. Of course if you ended up sharing those numbers with someone, you’d be screwed.

On Sunday we had a high temperature in the teens with a windchill below zero, but there were still people wandering around the city with no pants on. Sunday was the annual “No Pants Subway Ride”, which people do… for some reason.

A Mount Prospect man tried to drink all of Lake Michigan on Saturday. Amazingly enough, he failed. He blames Satuday’s rain for replenishing the Lake as fast as he could drink it, and also admits that some of his math during the planning stages may have been wrong.

A Vietnam veterans family decided to send him off with a bang. They had half of his ashes made into shotgun shells and then fired them off at his funeral.

Gas prices continue to drop. Now it looks like they could fall close to $1/gallon in some parts of the country.

Those new additions of Mein Kampf have sold out in Germany. It’s basically the new Harry Potter. Should we be worried?

Remember the story from last week about the robot uprising happening by 2050? Tesla has sent out a software update for their cars that includes a new feature called “Summon”. It uses the cars autopilot feature to allow the car to autonomously park itself. You get out of the car, hit a button and it parks itself, then when you’re ready to leave you hit the button again and it actually comes to you. With the autopilot feature, all of the cars are actually currently learning to drive themselves.

A guy in Virginia has decided to create a backyard fight club as a way to combat gun violence. He started it after a friend of his was shot on Christmas Eve in 2013, and basically says that if the people fight it out in his backyard, disputes will be settled and there will be less gun violence on the street.

A 3 year old boy decided it was a good idea to drive his motorized big wheel onto a highway in Florida. His Dad was apparently in the head as all this was going down. Several motorists saw him there and boxed him in, but he kept trying to drive away. Eventually his dad showed up on a bike. The kid was fine and no charges were filed against the dad, although he did get a stern talking to from DCFS.

A North Dakota man who allegedly claimed to be Jesus was arrested in D.C. last week after planning to kidnap one of the Obama family dogs. Ok listen, disagree with the man’s policies all you want, I certainly do, but leave the man’s dogs out of it.

Meanwhile, in politics…

Donald Trump says that Kim Jong-Un deserves a lot of credit for killing off family members and generals to consolidate his power.

Hillary Clinton was on Face the Nation with John Dickerson and was asked if her husbands personal foibles are fair game for the 2016 election. She said that’s totally up to Republicans, if that’s the kind of campaign they want to run. I could be wrong, but I believe at this point Donald Trump is the only one who has brought it up. I think the rest have more or less avoided the subject.

Plus, Chuck Todd pointed out to Donald Trump that his first divorce was pretty ugly. Trump responded that he wasn’t the President at the time.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 1-6-16: Uber & Lyft Clean Up Taxis

Have you bought your Powerball ticket yet? The jackpot for Wednesday night’s drawing is up to $450 million.

The number of complaints from taxi passengers in New York and Chicago have dramatically fallen since Uber and Lyft showed up.

Number Crunching: 93 percent. Right now grazing rights from the Bureau of Land Management go for about 93 percent less than the going market rates.

The San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams each submitted to the National Football League applications to relocate to Los Angeles.

In science news, did you know that scientists have been using your snotty tissues for years without you knowing it? Currently, scientists are allowed to use leftover tissues from blood tests, surgeries, and biopsies for research without patients’ permission if the patient’s identity is removed.

Plus, an airline flight from the Philippines to South Korea had to turn around when one of the flight attendants noticed the door was open.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 1-4-16: Crowd Funding Education

A teacher in Waukegan is turning to Internet crowd funding to get things for her classroom that taxpayers would never ever even think to pay for. So far they have enough laptops and tablets for each student to have a device, along with a 3-D printer, robotics kits and subscriptions to a kid-level news magazine and even a webcam so they can Skype with experts in the fields they are discussing in class.

Daily Data Mining: According to a new scientific study from Canada of nearly 1,000 mother/offspring pairs, maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries or boo-boos.

Donald Trump told John Dickerson on Face The Nation that he’d be a “much different person” if elected President.

Have you seen that commercial for the dating site just for farmers? A new dating website that is only for white people has bought a billboard in Utah.

In technology news, Mark Zuckerberg wants to live a bit more like Tony Stark. In a post on Facebook last week, Zuckerberg wrote that he building an AI that can run his home and present him with virtual reality.

Plus, a man in Alabama has been spotted on camera peeping through windows. He’s completely naked, except for a Ronald Reagan mask.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 12-28-15: What’s German For “Free Lunch”?

26 people in Germany are getting a check for $1,100 per month in an experiment with a “basic wage.” The program is called “Mein Grundeinkommen” which means “My Basic Income” in German. Basically, the idea is that the government would right people a check for basics like rent and food.

Interesting Stat of the Day: 2,100. That’s the estimated membership of the Knot a Problem community, a group of people who delight in untangling catastrophic yarn entanglements.

Tim Peake continues to have problems with making calls from the cosmos. He tried to call his parents to wish them a Merry Christmas, but he dialed the wrong number.

Star Wars surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales over the weekend. That’s the fastest for any movie in history.

In science news, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory says it’s on track to demonstrate a working laser weapon on a fighter jet by 2020.

Plus, a 33-year-old Indiana man was walking along California’s Sunset Cliffs on Christmas Day when he fell 60 feet to his death.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 12-21-15: Economic Hardship For Bullies

A new anti-bullying proposal in Oklahoma would fine students $50 for bullying, instead of suspending or expelling them. The idea is by hitting the child and parent right in the wallet, they’ll take a more hands on role in teaching their little tax break to treat people like human beings.

Interesting Stat of the Day: $238 million. It’s no exaggeration to say that EVERYBODY saw Star Wars The Force Awakens over the weekend.

Donald Trump is defending Vladimir Putin from accusations that he had journalists killed. Not only did he say that there isn’t proof that Putin had anyone killed, but he went a step further and said the United States has killed its share of people.

An Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris had to be diverted to Kenya because of a device that was originally thought to be a bomb.

In Science news, the folks at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the largest particle accelerator on Earth, say their machine might have produced a brand new particle that could send the laws of particle physics into a tizzy.

Plus, Max Temkin is a Chicago guy and the creator of Cards Against Humanity, a hugely successful card game and one of the first Kirkstarter projects. He and the rest of his company decided to give the Chinese company that does all of their printing a week’s vacation as a show of appreciation for all of their work. The problem is in China, there’s no such thing as a week’s vacation, so they had to get creative. They actually paid for a week’s worth of printing, and then told the employees they had nothing to print and they should go the next week traveling, or spending time with their families.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

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Gabatron Morning Briefing – 12-11-15: America Is Full of Sad Sacks

According to a new poll, nearly half of Americans ages 18-29 believe the American dream is dead.

Interesting Stat of the Day: $49 million. How much the super PAC that supports Jeb Bush has spent so far, and look at how far that’s gotten him.

He might not take it anymore: Dee Snider says that he might change his mind about letting Donald Trump use “We’re Not Gonna Take It” at campaign rallies.

Some people are upset because the US Navy named one of the new littoral combat ships the USS Jackson, because Andrew Jackson was racist.

Anyone interested in a slightly used Boeing 747? Somebody forgot three of them at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, and authorities would greatly appreciate it if the owner stepped forward to claim them.

Plus, a silo full of dehydrated sweet potatoes in South Carolina has been burning since Thanksgiving.

Each morning Keith Conrad will give you a few stories useful for starting conversations around the water cooler at work. Assuming that your office actually has a water cooler.

Follow Keith Conrad on Twitter
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