Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Drive-By Snark Attacks

Two little blurbs I wrote about some of the yummy legislative deliciousness wafting through the halls of my home state’s General Assembly:

Witches OK Now, Say Lawmakers

You know those people murdered by the colonial government after being accused of witchcraft? The legislature has passed a joint resolution stating that this was wrong.

"The General Assembly declares its belief," says resolution number 26, "that such proceedings, even if lawful under the then existing law of the colony of Connecticut, were shocking, and the result of community-wide hysteria and fear."

You can dismiss this as pointlessly symbolic, and it's true such posthumous vindication matters little to the long-dead victims.

But you could also say it's a good sign when a governmental body is capable of admitting "wrong is wrong, even when wrapped in the majesty of the law." Considering how long it took for the legislature to atone for the bewitching sins of the past, we predict that by no later than 2350 the General Assembly will pass a resolution stating "imprisoning harmless sick people for smoking illicit cigarettes, even if lawful under then-existing law, was the shocking result of community-wide anti-drug hysteria and fear. And we're sorry about that whole 'gay people are second-class citizens' thing, too."

— [Name redacted, because it occasionally amuses me to pretend I'm anonymous here]

Freedom of Information Isn't Free

Bill 5922, currently before the General Assembly, is 11 pages chock-full of law-altering goodness concerning the Department of Correction. Some of it deals with the Freedom of Information Act, and sets prices for people seeking copies of documents under FOIA: "the fee for a copy of any record provided by the Department of Correction to an inmate ... shall be [25] cents for each page." Brian Garnett, a spokesman for the DOC, said that inmates doing prison labor are paid anywhere from 75 cents to $1.25 per day, so any inmate making a Freedom of Information request will have to stamp out a lot of license plates to cover the costs. Ironically, another section of 5922 mandates that inmates open savings accounts for their return to the outside world.

— [Ditto]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Worm-Fried Brain

I’m a little tired so my powers of estimation might be a tad off, but I’d say I’ve written in the past few days approximately nine hundred and seventy-five thousand six hundred and forty-three little one-paragraph advertising squibs for the winners of various categories in this annual promotional-contest thingy at my job, and then today spent another 37.6 hours doing data entry inputting the squibs and related info into a database. Even worse, yesterday as I wrote the last of the ad paragraphs I came down with a near-fatal case of Carpenters-themed earworm so my brain kept relentlessly humming Why do birds suddenly appear – why do birds suddenly appear – why do birds suddenly appear and as I stomped toward the breakroom for my ten thousandth cup of coffee I sincerely wanted to mutter “Fuck the fucking birds” but that would’ve been utterly unprofessional so I said nothing.

But it’s all over now, for a whole ’nother year. And it could’ve been worse; today, when I finished the task I went home and crashed for a nap. Last year, when I finished the task I went home and worked on a phone-sex line.

(Damn. There's spooky nostalgia in reading a year-old comment thread. And look at all those great one-liners I never had room to fit in the resulting story.)

(P.S. This week's Advocate piece is about another bit of useless think-of-the-children legislation.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Abusive Mother, Nature

We’ve had a metric assload of snow dumped on my little corner of New England these past few weeks, so I decided to make the most of it by writing a little piece questioning how town ordinances requiring people to shovel their sidewalks avoid running afoul of the anti-slavery amendment to the Constitution.

I turned in the story on Monday, after yet another weekend snowstorm. “Oooh, how timely!” I thought.

And the story came out in print this morning, after a night of high temperatures and driving rain has made pretty much all of the snow disappear. Figures. The two days I absolutely HAD to go into the office for an important phone interview, we had mega snowstorms both times. But the one day I'd like there to be snow so my story makes sense? Behold the grandeur of early spring.

Environmentalists wouldn't be so keen on saving Mother Nature if they knew she was a graduate of the Joan Crawford school of child-rearing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Vile Virtues Of Hatred

It must be very comforting, to not only believe in God but convince yourself he’s consumed with hatred for the very same people you despise. That way, your hatred is not a moral failing to overcome, but a virtue to embrace and share with the world.

Of course this applies to atheists as well, only it’s not “God hates my enemies” but “any decent person does.” Maybe it’s my imagination, but I seem to see more virtuous hatred these days than ever before. Much of it’s addressed to either smokers or fatties, those disgusting people who foul our air and drive up our health-insurance costs and set a bad example for The Children. But there’s also the hatred of illegal immigrants (without them driving wages down, we’d all have rewarding, fulfilling, high-paying jobs and could afford to retire at 40). How dare they have the gall to want to make a better life for themselves rather than starve quietly and respectfully in their third-world hellhole of a home? How DARE anyone apply for a job with an American company if his mother’s legs weren’t in the United States when he emerged from between them?

But the hardest virtuous hatred to overcome has got to be that directed toward criminals. Not that I have much sympathy for those whose actions harm another, but it’s one thing to say “This man deserves to be locked away from society” and another thing altogether to say “And he deserves to be raped and beaten in prison, too. If an overzealous guard kills him, good riddance.”

And even that’s not enough. Connecticut’s among the growing number of states which says that if you’ve committed a crime, merely losing your liberty isn’t punishment enough; in some cases, they want you to reimburse the state for the cost of your punishment.

But this is virtuous in a fiscal-responsibility sort of way, and in no way meant to say “Fuck you, we’ve got the power and we’ll damned well use it, too.”

I expect to get some interesting hate mail over this piece.

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