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Saturday, December 31, 2005

New if Not So Happy

My new years resolution: get my daughters and me to the other side of this madness without losing our sanity along the way. A taller order than it sounds like.

I won't unload more of my bitterness now, it has no entertainment value and is mainly instructive only if you don't already know that life is made of unacceptable choices, irreperable regrets and insult heaped upon injury.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

No Country For Old Men

I haven't had the focus to read books the past couple of days, my eyes just stick on the page and I realize I haven't read anything after a while. But I still listen to audio books at work. Most recently, Cormac McCarthy's 'No Country For Old Men.' I'll be reading it in the near future, I tend to end up doing both with McCarthy, though usually I read it first.

There's a method to that: listening is passive,you get the story, but the narrator makes a contribution in 'delivery.' This is sometimes good: read by author is often awesome. Toni Morrison, Chuck Palahniuk, Steve Martin, there's a wide range of novelists who read their own work brilliantly. There's also Elmore Leonard, who does not narrate his audio books, and I think I know why: I listened to an interview with him and he's got the most worn out, squeaky old man voice you could imagine. If I had that voice, I might refuse a recorded interview. It definitely wouldn't be a voice for narrating a crime novel.

But even with the author-read audio books, you get their delivery and it's always different than your mental voice. My friend Jay is traumatized by the thought of Elliott Gould reading Raymond Chandler, but I think almost all of Chandler has been recorded by Gould on account of his acting in a Chandler adaptation for screen. It's one way to 'read' Chandler, but as you might imagine, Gould's delivery is conspicuously Gould. Deep, monotone, it comes off as a hard-boiled fog horn.

So it was a bit of a gamble, listening to Tom Stechschulte (do you think everyone in high school called him 'Tom Sexually?') read the book before I had explored the print version, but as I say, I'm in poor shape for print this week, needed some high-test distraction. And McCarthy delivers, he's out McCarthied himself, at least among what I've read of him, which is far from encyclopedic. I like his 'border trilogy' novels, though they're not a true trilogy, they just share a lot in terms of setting, the age and nature of the characters. All West Texas border coming of age stuff, a wiry kid throws himself into the gears of machines he doesn't even know the purpose of (much less the workings of or hazards of), and inevitably learns a lot the hard way.

There's an element of that to 'No Country For Old Men' but it's more of a crime novel in some respects, and comments on a later time. It's still West Texas, but it's no coming of age tale, or if it is, it's a coming of age for an old man, a country, a societal shift. It's intense, stuff. Good from a literary style standpoint as usual for McCarthy, good for thought provoking social commentary, also a strong suit for him, and chaotic, unpredictable, heart-breaking and hilarious. It's even therapeutic to gush about it.

I wonder of Cormac McCarthy listens to jazz. I doubt it, he seems more likely to listen to Lefty Frisell than Bill Frisell, but the title put me in mind of Hank Mobley's 'No Room for Squares.' Except there's nothing remotely West Texas about 'No Room for Squares' as a title.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sliding Down The Razor-Blade of Mundane Experiences

I won't go into detail, it's not stuff I'd even blog about if it wasn't for the extremly limited audience I assume my blog to have.

If I post less often that appears to be the norm for me, and if you care to read my posts (I've now narrowed the field to 1.5), I may have considerably less time and energy to spend on blogging, writing or anything else I'd 'rather be doing' in Monty Python drill-seargent terms.

Apparently, I'm getting divorced. And there's kids involved, including one with what is euphemistically described as 'special needs.' It's not something I planned on, nor something I want to have public fun with at the moment. Or maybe ever, since it appears that there is a big 'kick me' tattooed on my back by the way I've lived so far.

Ironies abound. If we're to part, I have to get along with my wife better than ever for the sake of my kids. Sacrifices I've made in the pursuit of traditional family structures may be held against me in a court of law. What little of financial value is there may be absorbed by attorneys.

I feel like a trusted friend has challenged me in a duel and offered me my choice of weapons. Unfortunately, my 'opponent' is not the challenger, it's those I'd defend from the conflict entirely if I had the power. Even with some of the sane ways we've seemed to set shit up, I can't help but have some trepidation about what's around the bend.

Whoever came up with 'no fault' divorce as now practiced, I find fault with them. May they be involved in a litigation in which they are certain they will prevail (old lawyer's curse).

Monday, December 26, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?

It's blurry, I know. Frau Lobster was drunk.

Not really. Finding Frau Lobster drunk, even on a holiday, is like finding a politician being honest.

If the camera wasn't the size of a bottle cap, it wouldn't be so easy to blur a picture. If you could see clearly, I'm wearing a YMCA shirt, but I'm not young or Christian, and I haven't been associated with that gym for over a year. More significantly, I'm pouring Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale into a Mickey Mouse glass.

Happy Boxing Day!

Which was Christmas Episode Three for lobsters this year. First year we have not done more than one grandparent's house in a day, and Mo (and the rest of us) are much less stressed for it.

I list books I'm reading with an icon and link in the right-hand column, but since the traffic at this site is slight, if I take less than a week to read something, one of you three might miss it. So, for a brief period, I was reading Pat Walsh's book.

It took less than a day: topical motivation, good writing and relatively abundant free time. It was the ass-kicking I needed, and it came from a source I was willing to be kicked by. I've entertained notions of self-publishing in the form of starting my own small press, but I've never discounted MacAdam/Cage. It's not that they never miss, it's that I never feel like they bought a book without thinking it had artistic merit.

For a press that comes out with 30 titles or so a year, often all debuts, they have a disproportionate number of good reads. Pick 30 random reads from a big New York house like Random House or Scribner from the same 12-month period, I'll put my $24 on MacAdam/Cage.

And Walsh is the founding editor, and still (as far as I know) the top dog of their small editorial staff. I have no illusions that 'Wealth Effects' needs anything list than a pods-in-the-attic rework (or ten) before I'd let friends read it. I've workshopped some of it in online workshops, but even that is hard to bring myself to do. If I can still see shit that's broken, I can't show it to someone as if it's all fixed up. It'd be like feeding them undercooked chicken. And as far as editors and agents go, I don't expect they have seatbelts on their toilets, so no reason to send them any undercooked chicken either.

Hard to picture the author who's guilty of all 78 sins Walsh describes, but I'll bet he can at least provide proof of somoene who's committed 77. I've approached 70 in my life as a 'writer' and 20 or so in the past year. As I get back to serious work on 'Wealth Effects,' Walsh's book was probably the right book at the right time for me, whether mine turns out to be the right book at the right time when I'm ready to try and get it published or not.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

He Was Warned...

Okay, it was after the fact, but dig it: We did the full Santa deal this morning. Mo used the markers she got to give SpongeBob a makeover (she's an artist), and Em made immediate use of her makeup kit even though she's several years too young for 'dating' and resistant to my notions of an arranged marriage to Tony Gonzalez (to my financial profit, of course), saying she only roots for that handsome devil and isn't looking to be the bride of some retired footballer 25 years older than her. Even if he would buy her Daddy a fancy car.

Not that her Daddy is 'into' fancy cars, it's fun to tease. She loved the '88 jersey she got from Frau Lobster's folks.

In true Dickensian holiday tradition, we ate the wrong food and drank before noon (mimosas made for five out of a split of champagne and a half gallon of OJ). In John Cheever fashion, I found out my in-laws tip their mailman and garbage collectors. Mailmen, I can get my mind around 'how' if not 'why.' Leave a fifth of booze in the box with no addresses or postage, right? How do you 'tip' the trash man? I ain't putting a fifth of whiskey on top of the refuse in a can in the hopes the trash man will notice it isn't empty and take it as a 'gift.' I've talked to the owner of our local trash outfit once, when I'd put a can of bricks out and they didn't take it. It wasn't banned from the landfill but the rule was if one guy couldn't lift it, it didn't go in the truck.

I told him if one guy could drag the fucking thing to the curb, they could pick it up, and this apparently made trash-man sense. They came back, backed over the curb and two guys got out and tipped 40 gallons of bricks into the truck. Other than that, the only talk I've had has involved opening an account an paying them.

Tip the dudes? What do I do, wait for them to be coming down the street, probably hours after I'm expected at work, and hand them cash in hopes that next time they'll pick up my ridiculous load of bricks without a phone call? Hell, hauling those bricks to the dump in my not-quite-ancient pickup would at least justify having a truck, and I'd only incur $20 in tipping fees with anything my F-150 can haul without breaking an axle.

Later on Christmas Day (this is a post about Christmas, remember?), Mo jumped on Aunt Kelly's lap for a puppet show. This is a big deal. Why?

Well, Aunt Kelly is relatively new to the family, the whole divorce and remarriage thing, and I didn't think Mo had been around her enough to get that comfortable. Mo doesn't just get on any lap, usually she won't get on any lap. But Kelly is cool, a major upgrade on the 'aunt' front.

Uncle Steve had the most fun, though, because he didn't realize he was on Candid Camera. Frau Lobster caught this video of her older brother (payback is hell, right? Older brother equals torture). I told him I was going to put it on the web and he only blushed, didn't tell me I couldn't put it up. I have shit in the way of editing software, so if you don't want to spend five MB of bandwidth to see my Brother-in-Law hamming it up, don't bother. I have a list of people he went to school with who will get the link, and that's what really counts.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Training Wheels for Fraud

Em is about the age where I was when some other kid had heard the news about Santa and decided to do me the kindness of shattering the fantasy. But when I speak of the traditions in other countries (such as the Swiss tradition of having Schmutzli run around with Samichlaus to beat naughty kids with a stick), Em emphatically states that I'm on a collision course with a lump of coal.

Sedaris' account of 'six to eight black men' who are 'former slaves' of Santa in Holland gets her blood boiling too. The 'former bishop of Turkey' who dresses like the Pope and lives in Spain is just whack as far as Emily is concerned, and the notion of six to eight black men who might beat you with a switch, kick you or kidnap you to Spain if you were really awful, well that goes beyond mere Christmas blaspheming and crosses into stuff she says will give her nightmares.

Not that the American Santa from the North Pole is without things for Em to worry about. When she was younger, she worried that he was basically a home invader and that he might come into her room to bother her. I assured her that he was way too busy for that, and that if Santa was the kind of dude who would come into a kid's bedroom to scare them, he'd meet with a violent end at the hands of vigilante parents.

This, oddly, was exactly what she needed to hear, and she quit worrying about that. But she frets that he might not get enough to eat, wanting to heap nine or ten cookies on the plate. The fact that Santa is morbidly obese doesn't seem to register with her as a problem, but the pipe bugs her. Lip, mouth, throat and lung cancer, as well as emphysema could result if he keeps smoking. I refrain from telling her that in order to go up and down chimneys and trust reindeer to fly you through the sky, that Santa's pipe probably does not contain Borkum Riff. I rather suspect the American Santa's pipe contains a mixture of crack cocaine, opium and high-test marijuana. That's why he has the munchies: St. Nick is higher than a freed balloon.

But I feed the faith, mainly because Em enjoys it so much, and because I know it's coming soon that some shit class-mate is going to expose me as an imposter.

I've seen Xtians defend the Santa thing as the 'training wheels for God,' which never made sense to me. First off, I remember disbelieving the 'God' story when I was four years old. I know the age because I remember the house we were in when I realized that this 'God' fellow making the universe out of some gas (I pictured a can like you fill a lawnmower from), and we moved from that house right before I turned five.

Yet I believed in Santa until I was nine or ten. Go figure, but Santa left tangible results: the oranges and apples and chocolate coins had to come from somewhere, and I don't think I credited my parents with the theatrical sense to fill stockings and pretend some elf did it. Ditto for the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I think, too, that there was always the hope that Santa would come through with stuff my parents would not approve of, were to cheap to buy or otherwise would deny me.

Working in the graphic arts, I got a little tradition started a few years ago of leaving a note from Santa to the girls. My parents did this, trusting me not to recognize my Dad's handwriting. Frau Lobster goes as far as secretly disposing of leftover wrapping paper in 'Santa's' pattern so as to not leave a clue. My contribution is done with a font created to look hand-written, and I even tweak the point size of individual letters to mimic the variation in a person's hand. Click on the letter and you can see what I cooked up by way of Santa-Fraud this year.

Am I going to go to Hell for this or what?

Holy Un-photogenic Snow Globes!

(L-R Mug, Chixulub, Mo (and rhino), Frau Lobster, Em)

Irony of ironies, the one friend I have who's anywhere near purely atheistic as I used to be sent a Christmas card. My family has not (second or third year in a row) gotten around to sending cards, so if you didn't get one it's not that you're on the outs with us. We just never seem to get around to it.

So anyway, under seperate cover, came a care package of Xmas gifts, and being as he's an ex-pat living in Switzerland, the gifts were Swiss. Aside from limited edition chocolates about too decadent to believe, and assorted toys, clippings, swiss flags on toothpicks and so on, he sent my kiddos snow globes.

Little did he know. Frau Lobster collects snow globes, and the girls were tickled with theirs, now in the display case with the others. I took them out to photograph them for this blog, and guess what? Snow globes are trickier to photograph than I imagined. Here's the best shot I got:

I wish it was obvious from the picture, but it's not. They're adorable dogs, dalmations and St. Bernards. I tried to photograph some of Frau Lobster's other snow globes but got similar results. Got a better pic of me and the girls:

(L-R Tigger, Mo, Chixulub & Em)

Being Americans, we ate too much, watched football (Chiefs won, still in the hunt for a wild-card, need to beat Cincinnati next week—no mean feat—and need Pittsburgh or Jacksonville to lose a game), opened presents, ate some more.

You don't hear enough about the positives of being the child of divorced parents. This was my Mom's house, and we have Frau Lobster's folks to visit tomorrow and then my Dad's. Divorce and remarriage allows extended families of indulgent grandparents in numbers not even theoretically possible in the days when marriage was taken as a serious and more or less permanent arrangement. Plus, as an adolescent, I benefited from divide-and-conquer strategies where the 'divide' part was already taken care of. Especially when slipping parental supervision, divorced parents are way easier.

Anyway, on to our Christmas Eve tradition of decorating the vanilla cookies Frau Lobster has made for Santa.

And one more pick: honest, I'm not sleeping in this shot, I'm opening a present. I don't know if I blinked or if it was just the downward cast of my eyes, but really, I'm alert and moving.

And no, I'm not as old as I look in this picture. I'm certain of that.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Free Time? WTF?

I didn't work Thanksgiving Day. The weekend before, I had two days off from my 'day job' spent in marathon sessions on a freelance project that extended into evenings following ten and twelve hour days.

One week, when I thought I'd worked 60 hours, I ran the report and found I'd passed 70.

But my analog for tax season is winding down, including this afternoon. Typically, where I work, Xmas Eve is a half day, but since it falls on a Sunday, people just assumed it worked the same way even when we were backed up like crazy. My boss even sent out an e-mail saying that if you werent' already scheduled off (as many were) you should expect to work a full day. Then he lightened up and the place emptied like an anthrax envelope opened up.

Since I'm not sure what day prior to Thanksgiving I did 'not' work, I don't mind. I don't go to the office again until Tuesday, when I'll try to do all the work I would have done in the three days I had off. What's scary is what to do when I don't have to be at the office tomorrow. Or a couple of days after that.

What the hell do I do? No redrawing of logos? No setting of type? I'm supposed to just 'be' with my family? Have you met them????

In other news, my Swiss Friend sent me and the Swiss Family Lobsters a gift package of embarrassing proportions. And a card. On the heels of a flat that included everything from comic books to weather reports.

Still, what am I to do? I'm near out of Swiss Xmas stories, and the Dutch version traumatized Em (former Bishop of Turkey, dresses like the Pope, skinny, lives in Spain, might beat you with a switch, sack you up for Spain or leave gifts). I told her my personal Easter Bunny Theory, involving an 85 pound rabit with opposable digits for egg-handling and she said I was going to give her nightmares.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Birthday, Frau Lobster

My wife's Birthday is today. How'd she celebrate? Besides getting up at 3:00 a.m. with Mo again, cleaning house and finishing up Xmas shopping, well, right now she's having a drink with a friend. What would you do?

Well, if you had any sense, you wouldn't be Frau Lobster. This is not a slam against my wife, but an acknowledgement that sane people flee long before this point.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Straight From The Horse's Ass

This is more or less the verbatim transcript of a Q&A response I heard King George II give last week. Which would tend to explain why he takes questions so rarely.

See, I know a lot of you think he's the head cook and bottle washer, but in truth, he doesn't even know where they keep the spoon used to stir up these messes.

But when asked if he'd still invade Iraq knowing they had no ties to Al Queda, no WMD programs of substance, etc., he'd still invade Iraq on the basis that 9/11 'changed his thinking.'

Well, when you let fundraisers, speechwriters, and handlers change your thinking for you, I guess you have to be prepared for this. I Clinton could purjor himself on videotape and survive impeachment, I guess the mob that controls the 'Presidency' has free reign to do whatever they feel like. They can just make up any bullshit to justify it, and if they're not facing re-election, it can just be word-salad.

Hello? Have I Reached Indianapolis? This is Reality Calling....

Ah, yes, the 1972 Dolphins have nothing to worry about. They and the 1948 Cleveland Browns can keep their claims to virginity. Most people don't know about the latter 'undefeated' team because the AAFC was pre-AFL, and the NFL doesn't even recognize AFL records prior to the merger. The Browns' perfect season was only a 15-0 anyway, these seasons get longer you know.

I was moderately suprised that it was San Diego that broke the streak, but only moderately. The '72 Dolphins had several advantages over any modern franchise: no free agency, no salary cap, no doping rules or drug testing, less dilution of the talent pool through expansion franchises, and a 14 game regular season.

And despite his bad finish in KC, Schottenheimer is a damned good football coach. he's going to get his clock cleaned in Arrowhead next week, though we're probably playing for pride more than a realistic wild card berth at this point. Barring some spectacular self-destructions around the AFC.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Have I Found My 'Church Home?'

Ah, a turn on a phrase, sure to piss off everyone I know from the faithful to the anti-faithful. Oddly, for an atheist-cum-agnostic I feel the fondest attachment to the Russian Orthodox congregation I attended out of curiosity and enjoyment of the music, images and people when I was in high school. Never joined, never took communion, never denied my atheism for the two years or so I went. Sang in the choir, but they needed voices, and the music is beautiful. So if I have a church home, I suppose that'd be it.

I made this with the 'church sign generator' and my own post-doctorings. Inspired by a funny song Tim Wilson sings.

I left the Russian Orthodox because I had this notion Reagan was going to draft me and send me to, I don't know. Libya or Honduras or something. I liked Honduran cigars (still do on the rare occasion), but I wouldn't kill over them.

I went to a Friends Meeting, which is kind of the opposite of the Russian Orthodox. Orthodox Xtians are inflexible even about the wording of their liturgy. They make the Roman Cathaholics look like firebrands. The Orthodox make Southern Baptists look like comparitive Unitarians. I went to a couple of Unitarian Churches before I found out that didn't help with Consciencious Objector status, and since their services were as stimulating as reading Emmerson or taking massive doses of valium, I grooved on over to the Quakers.

The Quakers were the un-Church in so many ways. No preacher, no sermon, they didn't even face all the pews the same way. But they are violently non-violent, and Penn Valley Friends Meeting had a sign on the wall when I first walked in that said "Nicaragua is Not Our Enemy."

I was unaware that Reagan was going to also draft me to kill Nicaraguans. Like Honduras, my 18-year-old male brain mainly associated Nicaragua with hot-looking Latin girls and fine handmade cigars.

Well, Nicaragua certainly wasn't MY enemy, and damned if I was going to let Selective Service make a Nicaragua-Invader out of me!

As if the U.S. Army circa 1988 had any interest in me: physically unfit and constitutionally contrarian, if I'd volunteered, they probably would have kicked me out during Basic Training. Or I hope they would have.

The alternative being that I'd become One with the Borg. Prepare to be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctives to our own. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. Noooo!

Go Humans! (A Reply to Unaccountable)

I was replying as a comment, but that tends to break the chain, so I'll 'bump' it to a post of it's own. For the uninitiated, Jay and I have jousted on this topic at length, so if I'm leaving any apparent non-sequiturs I apologize.

Says Unaccountable:
As you should be. It’s a *different* country.
One would think you (not you-you) have enough brains and respect for, in this case, Budapest that you would learn their bloody language.
Buuuuuuuuuuut, as you even note with signage at work: the US caters to the Spanish language speaking people. Fuck learning English!

My Retort:
From what I’ve seen, the effort to learn English is not lacking on the part of the recently arrived. I think the bilingual break room signs are a courtesy so that someone doesn’t commit a faux paus without knowing it. And I can attest that some of the Mexican immigrant crews we’ve had working in assembly (presumably legal immigrants, our HR department is pretty careful, and we pay competitive wages) have raised the bar for performance. For unskilled labor, a soft, fat ‘born here’ American benefits greatly when his/her performance has to stand up to someone who recognizes that $10/hr is pretty good for a job anyone can learn in a day.

As far as it being a ‘different country,’ I place a firm limit on the acceptable level of chauvinism I allow for nationality. Look at Iraq, the Balkans, Turkey, Palestine: at a certain point, when you get too insistent on boundaries, assimilation, and nationalism, it leads to genocide and civil wars. On the one level, it would be easier for the U.S. to get out of Iraq by dissolving it, letting it be Kurdistan, Sunni Iraq and Shiite Iraq. Three countries. But do that, and brace yourself for a repeat of what happened just a few miles north of there in the equally hodge-podge former Yugoslavia.

Says Unaccountable:
Then you’re in denial. You’re playing the small percentages. Those that come over to WORK, fine. While I think it’s outright ludicrous that there are jobs that ‘americans wont do’ – and that’s a whole other story- these immigrant labourers you speak of are the minorities of the minorities-that-will-eventually-be-majorities.
There are a great many that come over and then invite their entire clan to live in a 1- bedroom flat. Land of the free has many meanings.

My Retort:
There are definitely slacker immigrants. But I don’t see it as a greater proportion than the home-grown ones. For illegals, I’m sure there’s a higher percentage of people who get squeezed out of a job by an INS crackdown and find out that America on welfare and food stamps is better than working yourself half to death for less in Mexico. Some indolence is natural to humans, we all have it to a degree. But the ‘system’ can definitely raise the malingering quotient.

And yes, I'm aware that I'm in a narrow and shrinking majority as a honkey, a good reason for picking up a bit of Spanish so I can better understand newcomers to the melting pot. If I learn a few phrases, even badly pronounced, in conversation, a new American (legal or otherwise) may learn considerably more from me. You're an ex-pat, how many times have you had to say, basically, "I want the, how you say???" If no one in your area spoke any English, how fast would your German have caught up? And isn't there a significant proportion of Swiss (I imagine this varies greatly by region) who primarily speak French, and a handful who speak Italian, though that's probably on the warmer side of the Alps, not to mention a small Romany population?

Says Unaccountable:
Again with France, your citing a social problem for the *French* people living in France versus a situation of many non-French living in France. These social structures are in place. They will *not* change (see below in that they never should have been allowed to mutate to this stage).
Blaming the system for the actions is pretty weak. That’s their *excuse*, not their REASON.

My Retort:
They may or may not use it as an excuse, but in any case, the entitlement mentality in France is systemic. The recent rioters are more visible because they’re unassimilated (as was most of Europe’s pre-WWII Jewish population, and as is still the Romany of central Europe). Going back to the French Revolution, the French have been economically stuck in a socialistic mode whereby they try to reverse the aristocratic system and tax the wealthy so the poor might live as nobility. Except the pyramid doesn't yield the same largess to the recipient when you reverse the flow; and the more you penalize the creation of wealth, the less wealth there is to redistribute. I'd send you a copy of Frédéric Bastiat's 'The Law,' which spelled out back in 1850 what is still fucked up with France (maybe it's not fixable if they can't figure it out after 150+ years and two major wars), but it turns out, you can read it online, being public domain and all. It's a short book, but instructive and thought provoking.

I'm not excusing the Islamic rioters, but nor do I excuse the French Chefs who go on strike and throw eggs at the riot police because they only get more vacation time than any other service industry workers on earth and are paid not quite what French doctors. It's just funnier to see French riot police putting ketchup on the eggs as a counterblow than to see villages destroyed.

Says Unaccountable:
You’re the country with people adopting kids and throwing them in a “box”.
I’d say you’re welllllll past full-up.

No need to get to a point of Asia, like you cite, where people are crawling all over each other like ants and _then_ say, “Shit, we’ve gone too far”.

Perspective and securing the levee BEFORE it breaks, I understand, isn’t really an American concept, but that’s one of it’s many, many (many, many) problems.
Nip the potential-problem in the bud, then, if lucky, you wont have a real problem(s)

With all these political and social issues, if such action and thinking were actually done…we’ll we’d possibly have little to bitch about.

My Retort:
You and I have gone back and forth plenty on the population issue, and if you're going to cite news stories in the U.S. of abused/abandoned/murdered newborns, I'd point out that they are newsworthy because they're unusual. In the first place, most such babies are aborted, which amounts to the same in my book, but not in yours.

Second, I'd point to places like China, where abandoned babies are about as newsworthy as a non-injury rush hour fender-bender due to China's idiotic attempt to 'control' its population (a policy which, coupled with cultural factors, is leading to one horny group of young Chinese dudes who want to know where the girls went).

From Malthus to Orwell (I'm thinking in terms of 'Road to Wigan Pier' and 'Down and Out in Paris and London' not his dystopian fables), to Paul Ehrlich, there have been pessimists going back to the dawn of the Enlightenment who were sure we were going to outgrow our range.

What all such pessimists forget to factor in is exactly what you say causes the problem: humans adapt their environment as well as adapting to their environment. Our greatest catastrophes tend to come from over-shooting the one (i.e. DDT crop dusting) or underestimating the need to do the other (i.e. building major cities below sea level in hurricane prone deltas).

Where actual freedom of markets and movement of people flourishes (regrettably, the historical exception to the rule of totalitarianism, going all the way back to the first known civilizations), people figure out how to get more food out of less land, how to fit more people on less land, etc.

Americans could stand to learn a few lessons from cities like Tokyo which has had to learn to live with both the ocean's rage and volcanic/earthquake activity and support an incredible population density. Apply that level of human ingenuity and an acceptance of the natural forces you're up against, and you could probably support the entire 6 billion people on earth just in the Great Lakes watershed (presently only 43 million of the earth's population lives there).

As far as your rationale that more people means more stupid people, it also means more geniuses. It'd be nice if we could figure out some kind of way of predicting it, no one can drive in rush hour traffic and not fantasize about intelligence eugenics, but geniuses often spawn from morons and brilliant people often have dull and lazy kids.

War and engineered famines (such as the one going on in Africa right now, affecting almost 200 million people who could easily be fed to the point of having to worry about their cholesterol numbers) are not good at weeding out the stupid. The military has an annoying way of attracting otherwise bright individuals by pandering to an adolescent boy's natural fascination with fighter jets, bombs, aircraft carriers, belt-fed machine guns, and college money. Well, the American military does. Other countries tend to take everyone of age, which is no improvement, as those armies tend to be the ones that end up on the receiving end of 'shock' or 'awe' and the same MOAB makes cinders of the brilliant and the dull.

As far as stopping before you've gone too far, I say it's hubris to claim to see the edge. Just like prophets of doom claiming the end of the world is near will eventually be right, the people claiming the earth can't support more people will eventually, I assume, be proven right. What joy they'll have in their victory dance, gasping 'I told you so' as they, too, shed this mortal coil.

Personally, I'd rather root for my own team, 'Go Humans!' And may the hand of God, or avian flu or airborn ebola virus or whatever, strike me down if it is otherwise.

'Right, don't stand their gawking like you've never seen the hand of God before!'

Friday, December 16, 2005

Free Markets, Indeed

Bolivia's getting ready to have an election considerably more interesting than any the United States has had in the past century. The likely winner of a plurality wants to decriminalize coca production, an excellent idea, but is apparently also under the spell of some heavily Marxist ideas which suck.

His main opponent is supposedly an ardent advocate of the free market, which sounds great, except he excludes coca and its deriviatves from that market, and is highly focused on Bolivia's other main resource, petroleum and natural gas. All well and good, except petroleum and natural gas are hardly commodities exchanged on anything like a free market. An oligarchy of global corporatons and the OPEC cartel call the shots, essentially dictating price, supply, and the amount of environmental responsibility they'll take in the process of exploiting these resources.

I'm not anti-petrol per se, but ask the people in New Orleans how much care the oligarchs took of their natural hurricane buffers while pumping oil out of the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S., being run in large part by oil interests, would rather the un-free market guy gets the office. Also, because the war on drugs has made a grown industry of prisons, allowed the extension of Jim Crow through selective prosecution, and justified a portion of our grotesque and overgrown military budget for 'interdiction,' a government in Central America that flat-out legalizes cocaine production...well, if that comes to pass, don't be surprised to hear that we have solid intelligence they're developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (which, apparently, it's only okay for the U.S. and a few close friends to have).

What are the drug warriors protecting us from? Aside from a larger black middle class (if you've done tme for a drug offense, it's a bit of an impediment to those high-five-figure career tracks, though the white people in those career tracks use cocaine widely, generally without facing so much as a night in jail)?

I would like to add that in tracking down these numbers (sources vary, for instance, on stogies, from 385,000 to 435,000; alcohol fatalities typically include alcohol related vehicle accidents, but by some accounts, drunk passenters killed by sober drivers 'count' in that tally), I found an interesting side not. The 17,000 deaths claimed (fairly consistently) for illicit drugs is not only microscopic compared to tobacco and booze, but non-steroidal anit-inflammatories (ibuprofen and friends) account for 7,600 U.S. deaths.

Much like the hysteria over shark attacks (in the face of nine people a year gettig eaten in a population of well over six billion), the menace of cocaine and other narcotics in general is realatively small. Do some people destroy their lives with Bolivian Marching Powder? You bet. Others self destruct with the bottle, compulsive sexual behaviors, gambling, etc. You can't legislate sobriety. No one ever decided not to get high because it was 'against the law.'

Big petroleum interests ready to bully the next leader of Bolivia, whoever it ends up harm can come from that, right?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tear Down The Wall

First off, while I am in a part of the U.S. that is probably at the opposite end of the spectrum from New Mexico in terms of hispanic migrants. Still, even at the small company I work at, there's a noticeable percentage who work in Assembly, and the break room has bilingual signs. And I can understand how xenophobia might be triggered when one notices that the Mexican section of Dodge City is...Dodge City. Bt it's a meat packing town, and since white Americans don't seem to be willing to work that hard (and dangerously) for $15 to $20 per hour, someone who knows what it's like to not have life's actual necessities sees it as a pretty good deal.

Your Tax Dollars At Work:

What it will look like with a few decades of graffiti:

If I, for political or economic reasons, moved to, say Budapest, I'd be at a severe linguistic disadvantage. What do they speak there? Hungarian? I'm sure after wetting my pants a few times, I'd learn how to ask where a bathroom is in Hungarian. And I'd have to hope for visual clues on menues and whatnot.

But however much Hungarian I learned or didn't, if I was willing to take a job they have trouble filling, and it was the best paying job I'd ever even imagined, I'd probably take the job. Especially if I had a family to support, the risk I might lop off a thumb would be acceptable.

Before they built the wall across San Diego and other obvious points of entry, Mexicans wanting to work in California simply gate-crashed their way in for the day. They didn't come to stay, only long enough to make a wage. Now, with the easy point of entry sealed off, the same people naturally take the more dangerous route and if they survive the hike, can you blame them for not walking back?

The wall at the border reminds me of the one George I demanded the U.S.S.R. tear down. Markets equalize distribution of resources, including labor, and you might as well argue with weather as tell millions of people to act against their own interests.

When the INS goons do things like shake down the meat packing industry and thow 3500 illegals out of work (but NOT out of the country), they put 3500 illegals on the dole. Then people have the audacity to bitch about illegals on the dole. I don't think anyone comes North in the face of cultural hostility, language barriers and law enforcement hassles in hopes of food stamps. A few, maybe. We grow enough bums of our own, I wouldn't expect any group of millions not to have a slacker element.

I know Jay insists that France's riot trouble is not due to their uncontrolled social spending, but in a country where the the concept of the unemployed going on strike is not new, there's bound to be an entitlement mentality. I knew a girl who went to college in France, and lived off French unemployment while attending the university on an almost free-ride scholarship. All above-boards, you just fill out the forms and the French government pays you. The girl's Dad was a multi-millionaire, but if you can get it for free, why pay, right?

It's not that I don't believe in charity, I don't believe in state-run charity. It tends to work about as well as state-run industry (in other words, barely).

And as a final note, I'd point out that during a large part of the early 19th Century, Irish and Scottish transports were sent to Canada by England. America said we were full up, no room for these folks, and the U.K. was alternately unwilling to give us cheap labor and all-too willing to be our co-conspirator. Most of these immigrants weren't in Canada long enough to find out what odd ideas Canada has about 'bacon.' They promptly went by any means available to Boston, New York, etc. There's a better than average chance that some of my ancesters were illegal immigrants.

We're (the U.S.) definitely NOT full up. Hong Kong, Japan, India, these are countries I could see being concerned with a huge influx of immigrants. I say let the borders be open and when it quits being a huge step up to come to America, people will quit coming. To the extent that the borders can be controlled at all, you could have check-points where people have to provide an I.D. and maybe say how long they plan to stay etc. And consider this: if it's as easy to go from Tijuana to San Diego as it is to go from Spokane to Vancouver, if you find someone trying to sneak across the dessert, you've got someone you could actually call a suspicious character.

Not that border control will ever do anything for terrorism. Terrorists of adequate sophistication to be truly dangerous are smart enough to know the best way to sneak in is to not bother sneaking.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

¿El Disparador, dónde está su traductor?

¿Oye, usted Langosta de idiota: dónde el infierno usted aprendió su español?
I hear my Spanglish speaking audience ask after some of the cartoons I made for the incredibly long post below the ridunculously short one.

My Spanglish audience? I don't have an audience. It's more like a couple of penpals and a photocopier. I put my posts up and the two or three friends I have on earth occasionally squander their time reading it. Sometimes a total stranger (usually, judging from Statcouter's keyword analysis, weirdos from the Third World who think I'd pimp their sister for them. Or prostitute my sister for their pleasure, etc.) gets on, but the usual visit length for such people is about...

Zero. Zero seconds is a real common number here in Lobster Land. I'd be demoralized if it werent' for the fact that Lobster Land lets me babble without driving Frau Lobster onto experimental medications for obnoxious, hypergraphic husbands. That, and the people who actually read my blog and reply to it are in the aforementioned microscoptic group of people who like me approximately as much as I like them.

But for the monster post dealing with the NFL, the telivision practices of its pimps, the Jihad of Tolerance, the stupid idea of trying to keep out badly needed Mexican immigrants by building walls and silly, contradictory social programs and enforcement schemes designed to make migrant workers look like tramps, and the plight of the shark...

Okay, the above paragraph exceeds the attention span of most Americans, so when I had all these words down, I thought maybe a graphic or two might help liven it up. The first (generic football under center) sucked. But I found more stuff, and then fagged out before I was quite done and got in a hurry to publish what was supposed to be Sunday's blog because it was Tuesday already and three days is a long time to work on something you're tossing off.

So I went back in today with a vengeance, looking for additional graphics and ways to spice up the ones I had. I did one of my favorite lame tricks, giving speech bubbles to people and animals. Given the subject matter, it made sense to make some of the captions Spanish.

But I don't speak Spanish. Fortunatetly, there's free online translators abounding. But it's a computer generated phrasebook sort of thing, and I'm sure my Spanish (both in this post and in the cartoons below) is abominable.

This compulsion to 'control' borders that shouldn't even be there reminds me of people who insist there are just way too many people.

I'll agree there are too many stupid people, but at least they provide a bit of entertainment here and there. But too many people? Show me a blue whale who worries about too many blue whales in the sea. A wolf that worries there might be too many wolves. Even if you could read their minds, they won't tell you that.

When a people says there are too many people, what they're really saying is 'just enough of me, way too much of you.' Ditto for people who want to 'control' the border with Mexico. The welfare trap is a red herring: if you didn't make it so hard for a newcomer to get a job, or when you get whole industries to freeze out 'illegal' laborers, those workers wouldn't be on the dole. The solution is simple: get rid of the dole, and fire all those boobs at the INS while you're at it. America should be a come-as-you-are party for anyone willing to make their way by honest means.

I've been feeling I missed my calling. I should be smuggling Mexican workers into America, but using methods that don't leave them dead in the dessert. Unfortunately, even if I showed up with a Stealth Jumbo Jet ready to take several hundred people across in air conditioned comfort, I wouldn't be understood with my online phrasebook Spanish. By the time I got an interpreter and explained the situation, the U.S. authorities would have me on the fast track to Leavenworth.

A Short Post.

See. I can do it. I just don't like to.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jewish-Mexican Cheerleaders Right's and Educational TV

Ever notice the NFL's copyright notice on football games? Supposedly, not only am I not allowed to record a game and sell tapes of it (no-brainer), or capture photos from a broadcast and post them to my blog or whatever, but get this: 'Descriptions of the events' are claimed to be the property fo the NFL and require express, written permission.

What? I'd grant you that if I was pirating content developed by, say, CBS, under contract with the NFL, I can see where that'd violate copyright law. But a 'description of the events???'

First off, it's a public spectacle. In most cases, games are held in stadiums owned by the public sector (something I have a beef with), so if Arrowhead Stadium, paid for by the taxpayers of Jackson County, MO, is not a 'public' place, what is?

And an account of events? Does that mean it's an infringement for me to say I had my heart broken Sunday, when I saw Lawrence Tynes miss a field goal that would have tied the Chiefs game and put it into overtime? What about if I mention that missing field goals is not something you expect out of this guy: I think he's only missed one other this season, and it wasn't a long or weather-challenged shot. Maybe the NFL will sue me for saying that it wouldn't have come down to the damned kicker in the first place if it wasn't for a dip-shit holding penalty that gave Dallas four more downs on the 1-yeard line inside two minutes of the end of the game (at which point they were LOSING, as they damn-well were supposed to).

Anyway, I know anyone who gives a flying fuck about the game probably watched it, or will read a much more detailed 'account' or 'description' of the 'events' in something like a daily newspaper or a sports magazine. No one is coming to Lobster Land to learn what happened. Only two or three people come here at all and at least one finds the NFL a dreadful bore.

But the 'events,' does that only include the plays of the game? What if I described, in minute detail, the activities of the Gatorade guy? Or the cheer leaders? Or some guy in the stands who gets drunk and has a 'wardrobe malfunction?'

For that matter, this is something that has pissed me off for a long time: the cheerleaders in the NFL get a raw deal. It's not that I find them all that delicious, but precision dancing by a group is way more interesting than seeing John Madden's gut while he gasses his fully licensed 'account' of whatever happened on the field. The cheerleaders are more interesting than a player sucking on an oxygen mask after a long run, or waving off the Gatorade guy.

The cheer leaders don't get paid much from what I've heard, it's a hobby level thing. Having attended a game, I can tell you that most of the fans in attendance wouldn't know if you swapped them out with a 'La Cage Aux Folles' review-troop of drag queens. Not because the women aren't pretty, most of them are, but you'd need binoculars. Some come off as 'rode-hard, put away wet,' but there's a local PE teacher who is a 'retired' Chiefs cheerleader. She's not really my type, and I'm not single, but I can't say she isnt drop-dead gorgeous. The moreso because, to the extent I've heard her speak, she's intelligent and decent in addition to being a life-size Barbie Doll.

Anyway, whether they're pretty girls fresh out of college, borderline matrons of desperate housewivery, or men in skirts, they're athletes. This is football, an athletic event. Not only can I not move my body the way they do, aside from a certin PE teacher mentioned above, I don't think I know anyone who's that limber and agile. Plus, with a group, there's the precision element. One woman kicking her foot over her head should probably have the keys taken away from her: she can come back for her car in the morning. Or if you have a spare bedroom, maybe she can sleep it off. But a group of ten or twenty women not only doing that but doing it in unision, that's sober work.

You catch glimpses on TV of the cheerleaders as they come in and out of breaks. Usually, a Nextel logo or some other commercial message is placed over the face, giving rise to such apparitions as a Coors Light logo with boobs (to the delight, I'm sure, of the marketing people at Coors).

Today, I caught glimpses (and this probably infringes on the NFL's supposed rights, mentioned above), of the famous Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. I've never been a big fan of the squad because I associate them iwth Jerry Jones, who is rivaled in pure evil only by Al Davis and Art Modell. But the first time I saw any of them (for a split-second) they were wearing the regular uniform (some sort of hybrid between Daisy-Dukes and string bikini, in white on bottom, and something in between a halter top and a bra on top, in the team's accursed colors), but the next time I saw them they were dressed in a Santa's Workshop version of it, presumably for a half-time show that doesn't acknowledge the ACLUs challenge to even the most secular celebrations of Xmas.

Why not show the women doing their thing instead of broadcasting an aging zebra watching the replay you already showed eight times? These women are wearing outfits almost skimpy enough for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in single-digit temperatures, at least give them some screen time, alright? They've worked hard on their routines, get paid less than the refs, and they're willing to freeze their long legs off.

I've bitched before about public financing of stadia for multi-millionaire's teams playing a game that pays millionaire salaries to the Elect who can prove they're one of the best 1200 to 1800 players of a particular sport. As beautifully explained in the movie 'Baseketball,' it leads to such abusrdities as the Minnesota Lakers moving to Los Angeles, a town that is sans-lake. The New Orleans Jazz moving to Salt Lake City, which isn't exactly friendly to jazz, black people (aside from the starting five) or dancing. The Chicago Cardinals move to St. Louis and then to Phoenix, and no one in Chicago remembers they had a football team by that name. The Raiders and the Rams have both whored their franchises to Los Angeles, easily the largest market the NFL now has no team in. The Raiders went back to Oakland, which technically was already provided with a franchise by virtue of being battery-throwing distance from San Francisco; the Rams went to St. Louis to fill the void left when the Cardinals went (with no love lost) to Phoenix. A void St. Louis didn't even know it had as far as I can tell.

Here's how bad it gets: when I was a kid, we had an NHL hockey franchise in KC. My Dad got tickets (probably by accident, no hockey fan he), and I saw the Kansas City Scouts play the Detroit Redwings when I was a wee-lad. We had great seats, too, as Kemper was only about 1/3 full despite apparently giving school teachers or men who bought Mix-n-Match sport coats and slacks from JC Penny, free tickets.

In the time since, the Scouts moved. I think to Denver for a while, but the Denver team of today is eiter an expansion or a team stolen from another NHL market. The KC Scouts, I believe, are now the New Jersey Devils. And KC has gone through two hockey teams for less prestigious leagues and is still trying to attract another. Or they spread their cheeks for another, I forget. The mayor of the namesake city (the urban core, rotten, wormy and without tax revenues sufficient to pay off what they've already borrowed) wants to put an arena in what they pass off as a 'downtown' which mainly succeeds in the 'down' part. Nevermind we already have the Folly, the Lyric, Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium (big enough to accomodate a Shriner circus in conjunction with a travelling Les Misérables, plus wannabe suburbs that have built convention centers and trade centers and so on.

No one who grows up in KC grows up on hockey. Even the ones who grow up playing soccer dont' buy Wizards tickets, and none of us really wants to see anything on ice that doesn't wear pantyhose, hair extensions and capped teeth.

But there's a cure (I hinted at it above) to the public financing of sports. The Bastille Day mentality of ACLU secularists can be used to advantage here. Before CBS cut away from an ugly blowout in Jacksonville, I saw Jacksonville's kick returner cross himself as he awaited the kick. Logical enough: it's the old saw about atheists and foxholes. Except a foxhole is a place of seclusion and relative shelter, and a kick returner stands waiting to catch a ball while eleven steroidal freaks in armor charge hell-bent to smash him.

It got me thinking: I've seen televised instances of players kneeling in a group to play, often (ecumenically enough) players from both teams, who just spent three hours committing mayhem upon each other.

Since these stadiums are in most cases public property, owned and maintained by a government entity, surely the ACLU can strike up a great legal fury at the establishment of state religion. Then the NFL would have to choose between religion and privately held arenas...

I know at least one of the people who visit this blog thinks I overstate the anti-Xtian zealotry angle. I'm an odd apologist, as I am not a person of any particular 'faith.' And to the extent I ever had a faith, it was the faith that there was no such thing as the supernaturual.

But you don't have to listen to talk radio to hear the squabble. Dig it: Em told me of her great ambitions to start a rock band with a friend down the street. They don't presently play any instruments, but being not quite ten, Em can't be bothered with technicalities. And she's right, in a way, it's not as if Kurt Cobain ever learned to sing or play guitar, and he made a good deal of money at it. The criteria for this band is you have to have had a broken bone (both girls in question have), because they're hooked on the name 'Busted Bones.'

But wait, she has another band she wants to start with her cousin, a 'faith band' she refers to it as. She proceeded to tell me about how they were, like 'Busted Bones' of a mind that two people aren't enough to make a band, and want to find additional members. I forget the name of the 'faith band' she mentioned because it was blocked out by what she said next:

'I guess I could tell my friends at school about it and see if anyone wants to join. Except I can't tell ______ because she's Jewish.'

Em went on to explain to me that Jewish people celebrate Chanukah but not Christmas, and you can't talk about Christianity around them because it would make them uncomfortable.

I told her Jesus was a Jew, who presumably celebrated Chanukah (I may be wrong, is that a more recent holiday that I supposed?) It shut her down, just trying to think about how she wouldn't be able to tell Jesus about her 'faith band' if she saw him on account of his being a Jew. And that Jesus didn't have a Christmas Tree? We didn't even get to the bit about Santa not being born yet (the Bishop of Turkey being, what, four centuries younger???)

Friday evening at dinner Em posed the same arguments David Sedaris parodies in his analysis of the Dutch Xmas. He objects that Santa is not retired, and didn't 'used to be' anything. And he lives at the North Pole, not in Spain. Oh, and in Amsterdam, instead of reindeer, Santa comes with 'six to eight black men' who were recently described as his slaves, but in recent decades transmogrified into good friends. Sedaris rightly points out that the transition from slavery to friendship is not quick, easy, or unmarred by violence.

But wait, there's more!

I watched 60 Minutes for the first couple of segements, owing to a really good trailer on sharks. The first segment, though, was about the supposed illegal immigrant crisis.

Here's what I took away (Em is always telling me TV can be instructive when I hint at sending it to the landfill):

When Bill Clinton took his odious office, Mexicans gate-crashed their way in on a daily basis. They did this at places like San Diego while U.S. Govt. employees did what they don't do enough of, cowering and running for cover.

With a totally porous border, a Mexcian who knew he could make more money North of the border and come back in tact (in time for dinner) was stupid not to get in the herd and run for the border.

What to do? In a move befitting Pat Buchannan, they put up steel walls with barbs and nasty bits at places like San Diego to keep Mexicans from sneaking back to their stolen homeland for honest work in a country built on (in apart) the promise to take all comers. Billions for a Berlin-Wall type structure, not a dime for common sense.

The TV segment proceded to highlight such 'successes' as the U.S. crackdown on midwestern meatpacking plants who hired illegals to do jobs born Americans turned their noses up at. It was considered a victory to run 3500 willing workers off the job to benefit...nobody! No Nebraskan was waiting in line for that vacancy, and no American anywhere was willing to pay the price for a Big Mac to make the job pay enough to make a difference. So it's better to have illegals on the dole instead of working as they meant to whent he snuck across the border?

France's recent riot trouble is not the result, by the way, of uncontrolled borders: it's the result of uncontrolled safety-net spending.

Now that the logical points of entry/exit for Mexican workers are fortified, you have poeple setting out not on their own but with their whole families in the Arizona and New Mexico dessert. Mostly they die because two gallons of water in that situations is like 35¢ in a strip joint (if the dancers could kill you for not being profitable).

It's a big 'come here, stay' order given to a dog. You can elude the border patrols for a shot at much better pay, but instead of running through the streets of San Diego you have to wander into the dessert and hope for a bit of luck. Since you can't be home for dinner, people bring their families, resulting in senseless deaths of women and children who die in the dessert of Arizona instead of fixing dinner in Tijuana.

If you have to build a wall to keep people back, and they sneak off into a formiddable stretch of dessert on foot with two gallons of water and a bit of hope, what does that tell you? Americans who won't accept competition for jobs from Mexican immigrants are like the French Aristocracy who would not yield to even modest reforms in the 1780s, the result being the indiscriminate slaughter of everyone with the modern equivalent of a high school education and the rise of Napoleon.

And in a final testimony that Em is right, TV can be instructional, the shark segment of 60 minutes that I tuned in for, if it wasn't educational, it at least reinforced my ideas about the limitations of the state and the stupidity of masses.

Shark attacks are on the rise, this according to the teaser segments. Last year, nine people were killed by sharks. Nine people! Toasters kill more people.

17,000 people die in the U.S. from illegal drug abuse, which is nothing compared to the 500,000+ who die of tobacco and alcohol abuse. 29,000 from firearms, which makes guns more dangerous than cocaine but less dangerous than booze or cigarettes.

Shark attacks? Nine people in the WORLD? Get serious. First off, swimming in the ocean, you are in the shark's territory. If you get eaten, deal with it. Hundreds of thousands of sharks get hauled up out of the water, their fins cut off, and, still alive, dumped back in the drink to sink to the bottom (and to attract more sharks) to feed China's hunger for shark fin soup.

And if you pay to get in a shark cage of Seal Island in hopes of seing a Great White up close (why not? I'd do it), you have to accept the risks you're necessarily taking. Even if those risks are nothing compared to skydiving or driving to work. Yep, that's a flying lobster you see. No Photoshop trickery. I dont' think I could have Photoshpped me into the frame in '94: that was the days of Photoshop 3.0 (or so) when you had one 'undo' and hard drives smaller than an IPOD's RAM...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Actual Snow Redux

Okay, I hate driving in it, and the first news I had when the white stuff started coming down was a series of smack-ups on the nearby highway including a double fatality involving a couple of teenage girls...

But remember when snow was magic. Refresher — you probably looked about like this:

And you got the day off (from school) to do things like this:

And instead of shoveling the driveway, you got to do stuff like this:

For the record, we got nine inches, which is a hell of a snow-fall here. And single-digit temps for the next few days so it won't melt and flood my basement right way.

Anniversary Schmanniversary

Yesterday what media I was exposed to mainly focused on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was (as it is every year) tiresome, an unenlightening recount of the white-washing of that era in America's empire building.

The 'greatest' generation of chain-smokers, functional alcoholics, the last to use the word 'nigger' in so-called polite company, to consider (no matter how well-educated) domestic violence simple discipline, etc., they got their day in the filler segments of the news.

Today? What could be more fitting than the resurrection of a drug addicted, self-centered, talentless schmuck of the Boomer generation? Despite having no talent for singing, playing the guitar, or composing music, John Lennon was compensated beyond the dreams of avarice. In typical Boomer style, he advocated 'socialism' while hoarding sums that would embarrass Rockefeller or Vanderbilt. He validated and/or promoted by his words and actions, the very worst the Boomers ahd to offer. As noted above, I don't deny there were valid things to rebel against for someone coming of age int he 1960s, but the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, and the Boomers are, as a generation, a sorry lot.

Please tell me tomorrow isn't going to be the anniversary of when Kurt Cobain's suicide. Cobain was smart enough to understand that perpetual celebrity, as well as power, can come from the barrel of a gun.

The Lennon thing reminds me of the JFK hoopla. 'Who shot John Kennedy?' people ask. I think the reason conspiracy theories on that one are so enduring is it's hard to find anyone who didn't have a motive. Hell, he'd given Jackie-O reason to take out a contract on his worthless head. And as with Lennon, JFK and his brother Booby (not a txpo) are mainly remembered because they were shot.

Please, I beg, do not assassinate the following people:

  • George W. Bush

  • Bill Clinton

  • Hillary Clinton

  • Al Gore

  • Jimmy Carter

  • King Bush I

  • Eminem

  • Bill O'Reilly

  • Rush Limbaugh

  • Stephen King

  • Anne Rice

  • Prince Charles

  • Another Beatles Member

  • Paris Hilton

  • Pat Robertson

  • Any Pope

  • The Governator

  • Rob Reiner

  • Barbara Streisand

  • Connie Chung

  • Jane Fonda

  • Al Sharpton

  • Laudacris

  • Brittany Spears

  • Brad Pitt

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Any Member of Van Halen/VanHagar

  • Eric Estrada

  • Me

  • Garth Brooks

  • Any NASCAR Driver

  • Woody Allen

  • Any NBA player

  • George Stephanopoulos

  • Al Franken

  • Martha Stewart

  • Sean Penn

  • Sinead O'Connor

  • Tom Cruise (I'm still waiting to fight him)

  • Heidi Klum

  • An Olsen Twin

  • J-Lo

  • Orlando Bloom

  • Mariah Carey

  • Woody Harrelson

  • Etc.

I only include myself on the list because I've done little of note and out of a sense of self-preservation.

If you're going to murder someone, at least do a registered sex offener or a nut-job willing to make a celebrated martyr out of Sean Penn.

Sarah Vowell summed it up nicely in describing both Presidents and people who assassinate Presidents, that both type sof people raise the same question of (paraphrasing), 'Who do you think you are???'

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Politican Cornholes...Himself! (A Lobster's Dream)

The Dishonorable James West, the soon to be former Mayor of Spokane, WA has made headlines recently. Apparently, he putts from the rough but bosses his caddy about and calls 'Mulligan' a lot.

Personally, I don't care if you're a panty-sniffer. As long as you're not violating minors or coercing adults, get your rocks off whatever way you like. But if you're a politico, don't take the Bill Clinton model too seriously. Yes, he did as his penis directed, lied and beat an impeachment despite being dead to rights guilty, but he had forty soccer-moms lined up in mini-vans waiting to give him his next blow when he left the deposition. And outside his curious, Arkansas-Honkey-in-Harlem offices, where he'll campaign for his unfortunate choice in spouses in about a year.

But if you're going to be a panty-sniffer or play 'Gag Factor' with undergrad interns, don't vote against panty-sniffing and probing the dental work of college girls. That's where Jim West really fucked up.

No one will convince me that sixty-odd-percent of Spokane voters care if he fucks men. What blew him out was hypocrisy. Even at an American Legion hall, some Pearl Harbor (it's Pearl Harbor Day, you know, the anniversary of when we went spoiling for a fight with Japan because we couldn't bring ourselves to go to war over the mere genocide of Jews) vet will tell you he doesn't care if the mayor's a fag. But don't be a gay politician and then vote to keep gay sex criminal.

That's what sunk Jim West's career (not that a lost career in politics is a bad thing, maybe he'll go on to do something actually productive), but if he'd spent his career voting for gay marriage (share the misery, don't deny queers the right to marital entrapments), and other 'pro-gay' laws (like ones that let you sue without cause after failing to prove you've been discriminated against for incompetence, gender, age, race, religion, nipple ring diameter, etc.

Actual Snow!

Florida gets hurricanes, California gets earthquakes and threats from Rob Reiner that he'll run for Governor of California (the Governator must be planning to run for another term, which had to give Reiner some serious 'All in the Family' flash-backs, so now Reiner is going to try to get the already bankrupt state to pass another ballot initiative they can't afford). Wisconsin and Minnesota get snow and a cruel and unusual amount of Public Radio, Alaska gets the midnight sun and a night longer than the NBA playoffs.

Around here we get nasty summers, but not as nasty as Arizona or Texas. We get bitter winters, but nothing to compete with North Dakota. We get fall, but nothing people would drive out to see like New England or Colorado, and for that matter, those between seasons are schizoid affairs, with sleet in May and 85º days in November. When it snows, it usually just makes the roads slick enough to provide illustrations that while four-wheel-drive helps you accelerate on slick roads, it does fuckall for breaks and steering. Witness the Grand Cherokees, H2s, and Exploers in ditches and high-centered on traffic islands.

So this kind of actual snow is kind of remarkable. Keep in mind, I mowed up leaves on Thanksgiving Day...

Fortunes Pissed Away

"...take a walk upon your bridge, and pitch your money into the Thames over the centre arch of your bridge, and you know the end of it. Serve a friend with it, and you may know the end of it too -- but it's a less pleasant and profitable end."
—Chuck Dickens in Great Expectations

Who knew? When we refied our house to improve it and hired a friend to fix some of the houses problems, only to end up with everything we wanted fixed incomplete and/or worse than it was before...little did I know that everything I needed to know was spelled out perfectly before the Linotype was invented.

We'd have been better off taking the money to those riverboats that aren't really boats (and sometimes aren't even near rivers).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Who Do I Kill?

It's no secret to the numerous reader of this blog that I have a daughter with 'special needs.' Yeah, it's not a txpo, I meant 'reader' (singular, not plural).

For the uninitiated (both of you), part of the indoctrination, err, education system in America is if you have a kid with special needs, there's a law referred to as IDEA, which basically puts the burden of evidence on public schools to justify every minute your kid is not part of the mainstream. On its surface, it's so logical it's hard to believe anyone had to make a law about it: a kid who needs speech therapy, it's spelled out on paper how much speech therapy the kid gets, when they get it and the parents, teachers, para-educators, therapists, etc., all get together and figure out how to get Johnny the speech therapy he needs without excluding him from the general experience more than necessary.

I have personal experience with this, and imperfect as it is, it beats the shit out of what I remember from elementary school. The school I went to hadn't heard about IDEA (though it was passed in time they fucking well should have), and kids with learning disabilities from autism to MR to Down Syndrome to CP were all lumped into a group for official ostracization.

Anyway, participating in a mentoring program before my kiddos were even enrolled in my local school district, I saw The Box. This was a particle-board and 2x4 construction in the middle of the Behaviorally Disturbed room where out of hand kiddos could be put until they chilled out or the cops got there. Thanks to outraged parents (me included) it's been converted to a sensory room. First IEP meeting me and Frau Lobster attended we made it unambiguously clear that if we get wind that a kid of ours was put in that box, we'd be looking for the most vicious attorney we can find.

'Don't call it a box,' they begged, but we weren't having it, and its conversion makes me think we weren't alone in our view of the BOX. Box box box, can't quit saying box! BOX!!!

I'm not joking. The kid I played dodge ball with today is in eighth grade, and has assaulted (to my knowledge) three teachers, his grandmother (functionally his mother), and two cops, and is on probation for the most recent of these transgressions. I know, when I say he's basically a good kid, a lot of people have a gut reaction that I'm nuts to say that given the evidence. I've known this kid for almost seven years and I can say with a perfectly straight face that he's a basically good person and also that he's at least 85% likely to spend his adult life intimate with the American penal system. Because in addition to a couple of diagnosed disorders (and the educational setbacks they've resulted in), he's black, a fact which will soon trump his youth when he has occasion to interact with law enforcement.

That's a whole other discussion: the best man at my wedding is a cop, I have no notion that most cops aren't basically decent folks; at the same time I can't deny that the demographic profile of America's incarcerated population can only lead to a few conclusions. Since I reject the notion that black people are morally inferior (the KKK explanation), and can't accept 'poverty' as an excuse (the official Liberal position), I have to conclude that racial profiling by both cops and prosecutors amounts to a silent extension of Jim Crow.

How did I get this far a field? What I set out to blog about is who the hell I have to kill in this situation.

The people who would adopt eleven kids with special needs to keep them in boxes? Can I kill them? Please? Oh, wait, how about the prosecutors who have not brought these people up on the nastiest charges they can come up with? Can I kill the lazy DA types? Oh, what about the agency (or agencies) that placed these poor kids, who apparently don't screen well enough to tell a decent home from the People's Temple.

Just give me permission and a loaded gun, I'm ready to do my duty. Or fuck the gun, give me a baseball bat and let me beat them to death.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Ani DiFranco sings that everything she loves is ugly, and that really, you'd be amazed. But this is amazing to an extent I don't believe the little folk dervish could love it.

This is uglier than a mother can love, even if Mom is a dog.

Talk about a 'what was I thinking' moment.

Man's best friend? Maybe if the 'man' in question is tyring to seduce someone who would have been drowned as an infant in a less tolerant socity.. Really, this degree of ugly could change a person's sexual (or even species) preference. I think.

The question that keeps coming up when I find out this is not a mutant, or a Photoshop trick, but a breed of dog, with papers like an Indian: who would breed this kid of thing? Easier to believe a person of questionable morals drowned such an animal than to think a series of people with a fetish for ugly dogs would select these fucked up traits on purpose.


Or what? I mean, really, who has a dog like this and doesn't kill it before it can breed? Don't tell me a Chinese person, it's an insult to Chinese food and an insult to bad jokes about whay they make Chinese food out of.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Immoderation in All Things

I recently got a late hit, non-sequitur reply to a blog post from over a month before. I have that spam filter that makes you type drunken scrawls in to make sure you're a real, fucked-up human and not some fucked-up computer code, but I got the notion that if I was going to ever delete an asshole like that, I'd have to have the 'moderate comments' set to 'yes.' I was wrong. What it did was let the honorable Unaccountable reply via an e-mail I had to 'okay.' I've changed the setting back, you can heckle me, talk back, pick fights, I'm game.

Just remember, hate correctly. Don't reply to me making fun of an incompetent FEMA director who has probably never been in the Army with some nonsense about how once you got into Special Forces you just couldn't quit.

I am not a pacificst, nor necessarily anti-military in the purest sense. But really, to be a lifer in the military is a bit of a cry for help. I have a couple of friends who have gone that route and I can't say it reflects well on them overall. I quit smoking, which is proof that any bad habit can be dropped if you have the will...