Sunday, July 13, 2014

Join the Movement: Real Garments™ for Real People

Join me! I'm trying to start a new pseudo-scientific social fad: the Real Garments movement!

It's based on various forms of food faddism, only less likely to rot sans refrigeration. The idea is that all the mindless manual labor which our ancestors spent all of history trying to escape is actually beneficial for you, whereas letting modern machinery do your drudgework, like, cheapens your basic essential humanity somehow. So forget modern, impersonal, factory-made mass-produced clothing; you're not really "dressed" unless you're wearing clothes you made yourself, using your own spinning wheel to spin your own thread out of fibers from your own pet sheep or gardenful of flax or cotton plants, then weaving those threads into cloth with your own loom. (At some point in the process, you're also supposed to color this with your own dye, made by boiling bark or berries gathered from your own land.) Do what our ancestors did: be independent and self-sufficient, live a healthy, natural back-to-the-Earth lifestyle, spend years of repetitive labor producing a single piece of fabric, then drop dead by 35.

Also remember: every single member of the world medical and scientific community -- especially the ones who contradict the Real Garments bloggers and tell you that mass-produced clothing can be worn with no ill health effects -- is part of an insidious plot to make life worse than it currently is. To learn the truth, and raise yourself above the common run of "sheeple" [e.g., people clueless enough to think Dr. Jonas Salk knows more about medical science than Dr. Jennifer McCarthy] make sure you read the Real Garments blog! Or just give the Real Garmentsblogger some of your money.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014: what freedoms did our soldiers die to protect?

I know, I know, I've been neglecting this-here blog so badly, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is the constitution and I am the US government.

Some of this neglect is due to legitimately responsible grownup reasons: I've been spending the bulk of my weekday waking hours working as a consumer journalist, writing about the virtues of frugality or warning about the latest credit card hacker attack du jour. But when I'm finished work for the day and ready to turn my attention to matters political ... I burn out.

This is Memorial Day 2014, the day which (as various patriots keep reminding me) commemorates all the American soldiers who died to protect American freedom. This includes soldiers from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 (aka Revolution 2.0: when we said we don't wanna be Britons anymore, we meant it), the Civil War (Union side only), and World War Two.

But what about the many American soldiers who died for causes less noble than that of American freedom? Don't they deserve holidays too? I say they do, and offer a few suggestions:

Territorial Expansion Day: honoring the American soldiers who died in the Mexican and Spanish-American wars.

Resource Acquisition Day: honoring the Americans who died to ensure oil-exporting countries did so on terms favorable to us.

What The Hell Was THAT All About Day: honoring the Americans who died in World War One and Vietnam, plus our various blink-and-you'll-miss-it "humanitarian" interventions a la Somalia.

Treaty Obligations Are A Bitch Day: honoring the future Americans who will die defending Taiwan from the rapacity of the mainland Chinese. Not sure if the Korean War falls under this day or WTHWTAA Day, and I'm too lazy to look it up.

The Carpal Tunnel Hour: Only an hour because it's not worth a whole day; honors the front-line fighters in America's drone-bombing wars.

In all seriousness: what freedoms should we celebrate today? The one solid advancement on the personal freedom front lately is in the matter of gay rights: some time ago I stopped keeping track of just how many states have legalized gay marriage, but at the rate we're going I wouldn't be surprised if the Feds recognize it before the end of the decade.

That's a measurable improvement, but everything else is worse. As I type this, I can pretty much take for granted that the government has access to all of my private emails and phone conversations. Whistleblower Edward Snowden remains in lonely exile somewhere in Russia, and I am still a northern Virginia resident whose mood turns foul whenever I drive down a certain local highway and see the two glittering glass skyscrapers emblazoned with the name BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON, Snowden's former employer, given generous chunks of my tax dollars each year in exchange for spying on me.

The TSA's mandatory molestation policy is now in its fourth year of existence. American children whose parents take them on airplanes are raised to believe "Government agents have the right to see me naked or touch me in intimate places anytime they want, so long as they cite 'security' as an excuse." The children are raised to believe this is normal, and living in a free country does not include the freedom to decide for yourself who is and is not allowed to see and touch your naughty bits.

Over in California, twentysomething sociopath Elliot Rodgers murdered some attractive women because they wouldn't sleep with him, and also murdered some men presumably because women did sleep with them. Rodgers' parents knew he was about to snap and reported this to the police, who visited Rodgers at his apartment, had a friendly little chat and then left him alone.

His parents meant well, but calling the cops to report a possible upcoming murder spree was absolutely the wrong action for them to take. Here's how American law enforcement works in 2014: Anytime cops hear a rumor of possible drug use in a home -- even when the rumor turns out to be completely false -- they send a SWAT team in to raid the residence, and the innocent people killed by trigger-happy cops are considered acceptable collateral damage. The moral of the story is: if you think someone is a mass murderer, do not report this to the cops. Instead, tell them "I think he's selling dime bags of weed out of his apartment, and by the way: he and his family are waaaaay too poor to ever afford a lawyer."

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy: Supporting Liberty by Supporting Slavery

If feisty cattle rancher Cliven Bundy thinks being a slave preferable to being a welfare recipient, why doesn't he apply the same logic to himself? Being a slave beats being utterly incapable of keeping your inherited business afloat without free cattle feed from the government, right?

Strike a blow for liberty: remove Cliven Bundy's right to self-determination and sell him off to the highest bidder. He'll be much happier that way. Really! He all but said so himself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In Honor of Holy Week

I've been watching bits and pieces of various Easter/Jesus movies from the 1950s or 1960s, which teach that the greatest of all Jesus' miracles was never mentioned in the Bible: how the HELL did so many blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lily-white folks manage to live in ancient Israel without getting sunburned?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Imminent Absence of Gay-Rights Pioneer Fred Phelps

Apparently Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" infamy is on the edge of death, but his family can take comfort in his life's work as a strong (though inadvertent_ promoter of gay rights. Seriously: I remember watching a documentary about him some years ago, before he was nationally famous (and, I think, before any state even recognized "civil unions," let alone "gay marriage") ... the Westboro Baptisters were holding one of their typical Tourette's-style insult-laden protests, and the documentary filmmakers were asking ordinary bystanders about it. One nearby driver watched the event as he sat in his car waiting for a traffic light to change, and when the documentarian asked him what he thought, he had a pained expression and said something like "Well, no, I don't exactly approve of homosexuality, but what THESE guys are doing ...." and I could almost see the little thought-wheels turning in his brain: "If these hateful idiots agree with me regarding sexuality, what  does that imply about my own attitudes ...."

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Sympathetic Magic Behind E-Cigarette Bans

Los Angeles has decided to ban e-cigarettes same way they ban regular cigarettes, and over at Consumer Affairs I discuss this and point out the similarities between e-cig opposition and the primitive belief in sympathetic magic: 


In modern American pop culture, the best-known example of sympathetic magic is found in voodoo-doll horror movies: “This doll looks just like you, so anything affecting the doll affects you too.” Western-literature majors or Old Testament scholars might also be familiar with the alleged healing or fertility powers of mandrake root — the roots of a mandrake plant often branch out to look somewhat like a four-limbed human figure, ergo the believers in sympathetic magic thought: “Since it looks like people, it must have power over people!”

And belief in sympathetic magic appears to be enjoying a renaissance among those who oppose “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs,” basically on the grounds that a battery-operated metal tube emitting water vapor looks like a burning tobacco cigarette emitting cancerous smoke, ergo it must have the same disease-inducing power as said tobacco cigarette, right?

The full article is here

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sympathy for the Persecuted Christian Minority

In light of the latest pro-gay-marriage judicial rulings, I deeply sympathize with members of the persecuted Christian minority here in America. But, take heart! I don't mean to get y'all's hopes up unreasonably, but: If you are very very good and say all the right prayers, you might -- just might -- live long enough to see an openly practicing member of your religion elected to some high political office. Maybe Congress, or even the White House! And if you get luckier still, you might go so far as to have the federal government recognize your religious holidays enough to turn them into actual legal holidays, too.
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