Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baltimore And More

In February 2014 the Feral Spouse and I made a day trip to Baltimore, to visit a museum and attend an Alton Brown “concert.” Between the two events we tried finding a nice non-tourist seafood restaurant. Instead, our GPS sent us through the most horridly depressing slums I personally had ever seen — literally entire blocks of once-beautiful row houses absolutely gutted: no windows, rotting roofs, an utter mess. Even more depressing (to me) were the almost-abandoned blocks of row houses — I thought it must be horrible to be that one family, living surrounded by decay on all sides.

At the time, I made a post about this on my Facebook page, and added: “I was recently thinking about the connection between opportunity and geography -- specifically, thinking of the old Chris Rock routine where he imagined what his life would be had he grown up poor in rural South Carolina rather than in subway distance of Manhattan (short version: he'd still be in miserable poverty because the ladder he climbed out of it simply doesn't exist in rural areas). It doesn't look like any such ladder is to be found in those Baltimore slums, either. Had MY childhood and adolescence taken place in Baltimore, I don't know that I'd have had the opportunity to get the hell out of there, either — for all the arguably deprived things about my upbringing, at least I was in an area where, once I turned 18, I had opportunities to not only support myself, but go to school as well. Nothing remotely like those horrid slums of Baltimore.”

To which a Facebook friend responded: “I've only been to rural South Carolina once, but I'm not sure about that linkage. Baltimore is home to one of the country's best universities and hosts some important companies. It has a nice waterfront (thanks to eminent domain). It's an hour from Washington D.C. and a few hours from New York....”

But I was not impressed. “Given that there's no subway or any other affordable mass transit from Baltimore to DC, the fact that they're only 50 miles or so apart doesn't matter, from the perspective of someone living in one of those awful rotting row houses. (Chris Rock needed only a cheap subway pass to get from the projects to the opportunity-rich parts of Manhattan.) That 'nice waterfront' is nifty for the tourists, but what jobs it generates don't pay well at all. … Baltimore has some nice universities which offer zero benefit to those who can't afford the monstrous-high tuitions (especially high from the perspective of, say, someone who's never earned more than 10 percent above the minimum wage, ever). And all this is without opening various law-enforcement worm-cans — how much racist harassment do those poor (and very dark-skinned) row-house residents receive from the cops who allegedly protect and serve them? I've not checked the statistics, but I'm willing to bet the answer is, 'a lot'.”
  
Now it's 14 months later, and had I been allowed to put actual money behind that bet, I'd be a rich woman today. (Or at least less poor than I am; the Feral Spouse has been out of work for a year now.)

I'm disgusted but not surprised to see the same double standard in Baltimore that applied in Ferguson last summer: no matter how many times cops abuse their authority, they're always individual bad apples and it's thoroughly unfair and dishonest to criticize all cops, the police unions and/or "the system" for their behavior. But any protestors and/or rioters, by contrast, are a single collective entity: if one of them sets a fire, that means all of them are arsonists.

It would be nice if the murder of Freddie Gray and the protests, then riots, which followed ultimately resulted in needed changes to the system; for starters, how about we introduce the radical notion of “individual police accountability?” Since police have legal authority over ordinary citizens, and legal privileges denied ordinary citizens, those police who break the law should therefore face harsher consequences than an individual citizen who breaks the same law.

Being a cop is a privilege, not a right, and those who abuse their legal privileges need to have them revoked.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Milestones

It's almost three years now since I moved to the suburbs of the Imperial City, but not until today did I have my first in-the-wild sighting of a car with diplomatic license plates. At first I was -- no joke -- a little uncomfortable, thinking "There's a person with the legal right to murder me or commit any other horrible act, and the authorities wouldn't do a thing to him about it," but then I realized: a car with Diplomat plates is little different from a police car, in that regard.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

An American Bible Verse For Easter Weekend

And Jesus said: "For I was hungry, and you compared food-stamp recipients to animals; I was thirsty and you imposed a tax on bottled water; I was a stranger and you called the cops on me; I needed clothes and you put me on the sex-offender registry for indecent exposure; I was sick and you outlawed my medication and castigated me for being unable to afford medical insurance; I was in prison and you made a bundle since you own stock in the private prison corporation which profiteth off the misery of others ... Truly I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me. Unless of course those brothers and sisters are gay."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Secrets "They" Don't Want You To Know: Vaccines and the Bottom Line for "Big Pharma"

Ah, the glories of journalism fan mail: I got a hilariously misspelled and almost all-caps email accusing me of shilling for "BIG PHAMRA" [sic] because I am pro-vaccine.

As far as conspiracy theories go, this doesn't even make internal logical sense: pharmaceutical companies make very little money selling vaccines, but they can indeed make a fortune treating measles, polio and other diseases which vaccines can cheaply  eradicate. Andrew Wakefield, whose now-discredited "study" started the whole anti-vax nonsense, was proven to have undisclosed financial ties to various pharmaceutical companies; had his BS claims been true, Wakefield would've got very, very rich off them. 

Seriously: if anyone is "shilling for Big Pharma and/or Phamra" here, it's the anti-vaxxers who are destroying herd immunity and making lots of people good and sick -- the measles vaccine isn't very profitable, but treating the measles sure is! And iron lungs are exponentially more expensive than the polio vaccine, too.

Remember, if you must be an anti-vaxxer, make sure you buy up lots of stock shares in pharmaceutical companies first: if you're going to shill for Big Pharma and increase the net amount of human suffering in the world, at least make some money off of it! Jenny McCarthy does.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day (for those who care about such things)

Today of course is Valentine's Day, a.k.a. Discounted-Holiday-Candy-Sale Eve, which I noticed in a professional-consumer-journalist capacity by researching and writing this article explaining the legal difference between "chocolate" and "chocolaty" candy for sale in the U.S.

But on a personal level I'm ignoring Valentine's Day, as I've done every year since the millennium turned and some time before that, too. (I always figured if your relationship's in good shape you needn't to make a to-do over it, and if your relationship's in bad shape then making a to-do won't fix anything.) The only time my significant other and I ever "did" anything for Valentine's Day was the very first one after we'd started living together. Specifically: I sat home, all alone, while he went out with another woman.

About a month or so before that V-Day, which that year fell on a Friday, Jeff came home from work and started telling this long, rambling story, and I could figure out "Okay, he's obviously nervous about something and  beating around the bush to get to it, but what is it?" 


He kept talking about this female colleague of his and how she's getting married this Valentine's Day, and another female colleague is engaged but her fiance has already moved out of state for a good job, and she's supposed to be a bridesmaid at the first woman's wedding, and she's really nervous because her fiance will not be able to attend and she needs a man to escort her because she's part of the bridal party and there's no way her fiance can make it from Pennsylvania to Connecticut that evening unless he takes the day off from work but they really can't afford that and she needs a date because she promised she'd be a bridesmaid and ....

I finally interrupted Jeff. "So Modesty wants you to be her escort at Linda's wedding?" Jeff nodded, and I said airily, "Oh, yeah, you've got to take her. A woman can't be part of a wedding party unescorted. That looks wrong." And I still remember the look of happy relieved amazement on Jeff's face.

A couple days later Jeff came home from work with a tiny gift-wrapped box for me; Modesty bought me a gift to thank me for the loan of my boyfriend. When I first got the box, I said, "Aw, hell, I'm always happy to pimp out my boyfriend in exchange for gifts!" and when I opened it and saw a small Swarovski crystal globe of the world (that was when I still actively added to my Swarovski collection, before the company switched its focus to making tacky bling-bling jewelry crap), I added "Tell her she's allowed to fuck you. But only once! If she wants another go-round it'll cost her another piece of crystal."

So that's my sole Valentine's Day story: for mine and Jeff's first V-Day together, I sat home alone and pimped him out to another woman in exchange for sparkle-tchotchkes. (Although, since I only got the one crystal piece out of the deal, I'm pretty certain he didn't actually fuck her.)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year (Good Riddance to the Old One)

I know better than to try making official “New Years’ resolutions” (and if I did, I’d know better than to put them in writing, let alone post them online).

Hence, I’ll not resolve to post here more often, or stop neglecting this-here blog as I have lately. I hope to post more; I just dare not resolve to. Things haven’t gone well for me and my household in 2014, so good riddance to that year and hopefully the new one will improve.

On the bright side, I’m gainfully employed, as a consumer writer, though I tend not to post my professional articles here because this is, at least in theory, a blog dedicated to liberty-themed sociopolitical whatever, rather than warnings about the latest consumer scam or complaints about the latest generation of Keurig coffee machines.

Still, the end of 2014 finds my household arguably worse off than the beginning of the year. My spouse lost his job early in 2014 and has yet to find a new one. My mother-in-law passed away relatively suddenly in November (no mother-in-law jokes here; she was far kinder to me than my own mother ever was). Yet my personal complaints are downright petty compared to the rest of the country. I’ve literally lost count of how many unarmed Americans have been killed by police officers since last summer.

Names like Tamir Rice and Eric Garner start blending together with those of other police victims; of course, the year 2014 kicked off with two police in Fullerton, California, being acquitted of killing Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man whom they beat to death. As with Rice and Garner, the policemen’s actions were caught on video. No matter; by 2014 it had been pretty much established that American police have the legal right to kill pretty much anybody they want, so long as they’re in uniform.

No trend continues forever, and I take heart from remembering that the various trends which made 2014 so horrible have to reverse sooner or later. I just hope it’s sooner. Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Vote-Shaming; or, How Virginia Democrats Dodged a Bullet Last Weekend

Election Day is tomorrow and, as usual, I won't be voting for anybody; I'll only be voting against various candidates who give me the screaming horrors. Tomorrow, that'll mean voting against various sex-obsessed social conservatives who think whatever ails America can be solved if only the government could force women to bear children they don't want, and force gays back into the closet. In other words: when there aren't any libertarian candidates, I'll be voting for the Jackass over the White Elephant Party.

Yet a boneheaded publicity stunt which the state Democratic Party mailed me last weekend made me mad enough to almost consider staying home. Check out the ridiculously oversized postcard which came in the mail for me last Saturday (I included the dollar bill to provide a sense of scale):


It's my unsolicited “Voter Report Card,” sent courtesy of VaDemocrats.org and castigating me for having a voting history “below Virginia's average,” as records show I voted in the 2012 general election, but not those in 2010 or 2008.

Since the entire point of those “report cards” is to shame people into voting, I will only say: the Virginia Democrats are damned lucky I'm not the vindictive type, else I'd gladly find some Dem-hating right-wing lawyer to bring a nuisance lawsuit charging them with slandering my good character (civic duty edition): I did vote in 2008 and 2010; I just didn't vote in Virginia because I lived in Connecticut at the time.

In other words: those self-righteous busybodies tried shaming me for not committing voter fraud.

Although, to be fair: were I still in Connecticut, I'd be just as furious to receive a “voter report card” praising me for having voted in three out of the last three elections (not to mention that in 2008, I spent just under six days as a registered Republican so I could vote for Ron Paul in the primary. Spoiler: he didn't win).

On Saturday I left a message on one of the many various Virginia Democratic Party Facebook pages:

Friendly advice from a northern Virginia voter who does NOT want to see social conservatives win the election: kindly tell your buddies at Vademocrats.org to do their homework BEFORE sending out those insulting "voter report cards." I just got one castigating me for not having voted in the 2008 and 2010 general elections. Actually, I DID vote in those elections; I just didn't vote in Virginia because I didn't live here at the time. If you MUST insult people who'd previously been inclined to vote for you, at least try not to do it three days before the election; that doesn't leave enough time for voters to forget the insult.


FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com