Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrong Kinda Sexy

It is snowing right now, and I'm about to go to my car and begin my slow, cautious drive to work. I'm wearing multiple layers of clothes for warmth -- I do have a waist, but you'd never guess it to look at me today -- and also have a gray cloche hat perched atop my head. In silhouette, I look exactly like an erect, uncircumcised penis.

This is not how I wanted to spend the last day of the first decade of the third millennium.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Milestone On The Road To Liberty

During the final hour of an airline flight on Christmas Day, a would-be terrorist tried to bring down the plane with a glorified firecracker. Passengers, who heard a sound described as "like a firecracker in a pillowcase ... First there was a pop, and then (there) was smoke," jumped out of their seats and subdued the unsuccessful terrorist. Naturally on the very next day, federal officials presumably hung over from the previous day's merrymaking decreed that in future, passengers must remain seated if anyone tries to blow up the plane since it's now illegal to leave your seat during the last hour of a flight. And should you find yourself in desperate need of a bathroom then, federal law now requires you remain seated and shit your pants instead.

Although we're not, apparently, supposed to know that:
The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, said in a statement Saturday that new measures were “designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere.” She said passengers should proceed with their holiday plans and “as always, be observant and aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement officials” ....Two foreign airlines, Air Canada and British Airways, disclosed the steps in notices on their Web sites. The airlines said the rules had been implemented by government security agencies including the T.S.A. “Among other things,” the statement on Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

So you you can't leave your seat, can't reach into your bag, and presumably can't read a book or work on a laptop unless you hold them over your head, either.

It's finally happened: I officially yearn for the level of freedom Americans enjoyed under the Bush/Cheney administration. And even that's not as depressing as knowing whoever comes next will probably make me nostalgic for the freedoms I enjoyed under President Obama.

What color jacket did the would-be terrorist wear? Surely banning flyers from wearing that color would be just as effective as anything else the TSA has tried.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Airing Of Grievances

It's Christmas Eve and I'm still at work, and I'll be working tomorrow too. This makes my holiday mood more Festivus than festive, but since I fail utterly at the feats of strength I'll go right to the airing of grievances:


To the guy who installed the earth-loving energy-efficient timed lights in the bathroom where I work: yes, I'm sure people forgetting to turn off the lights when they leave the room wastes lots of electricity, and a motion-sensing timer that turns off said lights when nothing has moved for awhile -- and thus the room is presumably empty -- is a good idea. That said, consider the possibility that in a women's bathroom of all places, you should wait more than THIRTY SECONDS before deciding "Hmm, there has been no motion since the bathroom door opened; that MUST mean the room is empty, so let me plunge the room into darkness!"

At the very least, install some type of sound sensor so that, after the lights turn out, if words like "Goddammit you stupid assholes!" are emitted from anywhere within said bathroom, the lights come back on.


To the arrogant ducks residing in the pond by the street on which I travel to and from work each day: let me remind you that my car, small and fuel-efficient though it may be, still weighs a HELL of a lot more than you do. Thus far, when I've driven down the road and saw a couple dozen of you waddling in the middle of the road, I've screeched to a stop because I don't want duck viscera clogging my car's undercarriage. But in light of the salt and sand and chemical de-icing gunk covering the roads since last week's snowstorm, duck viscera would be a less-corrosive improvement over what is currently covering the underside of my car.

This is your first and final warning.


To the homeless guy to whom I gave a five-dollar bill last week and instead of saying "thanks" he yelled at me for not giving him more: actually, I have no grievance against you. I know damned well my five dollars won't improve your life; only a cure for schizophrenia would do that, and medical science doesn't have one. I wish the voices in your head would stop tormenting you. I wish that, when America closed its horribly abusive public insane asylums a few decades back, we could've avoided discarding the baby along with the bathwater. If I see you tomorrow at the Christmas-dinner-for-the-homeless I must attend, I will wish you a merry Christmas and mean it sincerely.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Jesus Spam Is Simply Getting Rude

Got a message in my spam folder today. The sender's name was "Warning/Bulletin! and subject heading: The return of Jesus!

The message is 6,425 words long, and written like a bad King James Bible knock-off:
Hear Me, oh My People! I am going to marry a Bride, who is holy, whose robe is radiantly clean and sparkling white! NO manner of world or worldly lusts will be in My Bride! Have you heard Me? Do you understand Me? For, holiness calls out to holiness! Deep calls out to deep! Make your way straight and stay in that straight place. For, there will be none, who are waffling and wavering, in My Kingdom!
I scrolled down a few pages pages and then found the following subheading:
The Only Cure For Morgellons Disease.

My Blessed Child, My Little Son (Manchild) will help many who are sick and dying from all manner of diseases, but he will set free especially many, who have the Morgellons Implant Disease! Yes, it is an implant disease, one in which Satan and his many hordes have viciously implanted the bodies of many with foreign substances, the purpose being to siphon off their light, and to overide their electrical 9neurological) systems until they are either mind controlled slaves, or dead! They really do not care, but delight in all the suffering, which they have inflicted upon these unsuspecting souls.
I did not understand how Jesus of all people could be imperfect enough to make a typo like writing 9 instead of a front parentheses mark, but as I scrolled through the next couple thousand words I saw that the e-mail suggested Morgellon's sufferers write to a woman in Arkansas and ask her to send them a special prayer cloth to cure them.

I also read the following suggestion:
Google as well, (Concentration Camps in America) it is being reported from many sources that there are over 800 mind control re-education camps now in place in America where they plan to torture, kill and mind control Christians! Please do the research and get prepared for what is coming!

Then came more rambling about Yahweh and prophecies and that wonderful woman in Arkansas, and at the very bottom of the e-mail, in a large, bold-print font, I saw the following:
This email is a non-commercial message, it is not subject to anti-spam legislation or unsubscribe requirements.
In other words: we can spam you as much as we want! I was going to write back and request that they keep me on their e-mailing list because I work at one of those camps and want to keep abreast of any developments which might threaten my job security, but on second thought decided it's best not to provoke crazy people.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boo Farking Hoo

New York State is in deep financial doo-doo, according to statistics quoted by Governor David Paterson in a campaign speech last week:

In a campaign-style speech, Paterson, who has said he’s running for election next year, also repeated a series of threats and warnings about state finances that he has made for months….

The latest action, announced earlier this month, is that Paterson will withhold and delay payments to local governments and schools this month, stashing enough cash to keep the state solvent.

"I'll probably be sued for this, but I will not let New York state run out of money," Paterson said.

The state is on track to have a $1.4 billion deficit in its primary bank account at month’s end, if it makes all its payments on-time. It would be the first time in history the state would end a month with a negative balance in its main operating account.

Meanwhile, the projected deficit for the state’s next fiscal year is at least $9 billion, and climbing, said Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch. That is more than $2 billion above previous estimates. Paterson, Ravitch and state budget director Robert Megna rattled off a series of statistics showing how much the recession has depleted state resources. For instance:

• collections of personal income taxes, the largest tax in New York, were down 17 percent from April to November this year, compared with the same time a year ago. That’s a difference of $4 billion

• real estate taxes, including assessments on transfers of land, are down $430 million from a year ago—a drop of more than 50 percent

• an income tax hike to raise revenue in this year’s state budget has fallen 15 percent short of its intended target

“New York is now at a breaking point,” Paterson said. “We are hanging on by a thread. We are about to cross the financial Rubicon into fiscal disaster.”
I have no sympathy here at all. The reason New York (and other states) are in trouble isn’t because “they don't have enough money” but because “what money they do get, they waste on bullshit.” Last year I recall a story that barely made the news cycle for a day: cash-strapped New York State shelled out $40,000 to buy five Oriental rugs for the governor’s mansion. This would be ridiculous enough for a governor capable of looking at them and saying “Oooh, how pretty,” but is extra-stupid for a governor who is blind.

Consider also the dysfunctional Connecticut city where I live -- screaming poverty, yet a few months ago they shelled out half a million taxpayer dollars to fix the butt-ugly clock on the butt-ugly slab of concrete we call City Hall. (News flash, assholes: we don’t need half-million-dollar public clocks anymore, because we live in an era of technological marvels where even the poorest citizens can afford to buy themselves a goddamned watch. No, wait, the poor folks can’t afford to buy themselves a watch, because they had to hand their watch money over to the tax collector to fix the goddamned clock.)

Meanwhile, the city now reports a budget shortfall of $1.46 million, with more than a third of that representing money spent to glue twelve black dots in a circle on the front of City Hall.

Thing is, no matter how bad budgets get, governments never threaten to cut the bullshit: “Increase taxes or next year the governor won’t get a new rug!” “Give us more tax money or we won’t fix the clock!” No, the governor gets his rug no matter what, the clock gets fixed if the mayor wants it, but money for road maintenance or Aid To The Poor gets cut. And then, when people like me oppose additional tax increases and say “Buy your own goddamned rug, I can’t afford to buy it for you!” we’re called selfish, self-centered people who don’t care about decent roads and Aid To The Poor.

If I handled my finances the way government handled theirs, I’d be demanding large sums of money from all of you: “Boo-hoo! I’m starving and I can’t afford to feed myself!” But when you look at my food budget, you’ll see that during the bubble years I developed the habit of eating three meals a day in a five-star restaurant. Now that the bubble years are over I can’t afford to do that anymore, no, but I can easily afford to go to the grocery store, buy plenty of high-quality food and have plenty of money left over.

We need to figure out how to force the government to stop pretending “I can’t afford to eat in a luxury restaurant three times a day” is synonymous with “I can’t afford to feed myself at all.” Until we do that, our budget problems will never be fixed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Palin On The Birther Bandwagon

As a patriotic American who wants what's best for my country, I was very depressed to learn that mainstream political entity and possible future president Sarah Palin jumped on the Birther bandwagon. Yet as a writer who needs a steady stream of dumbass politicos to give me essay fodder, I was thrilled. Over at the Guardian I discuss what Palin in particular and conspiratorial idiocy in general means for the future of our once-great nation.

Disclaimer: could be I'm just pissed off because last year, Palin flagrantly ignored my attempts to land a job with her administration.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Right Outcome, Wrong Reason

You've surely heard about the four police officers in Washington State who were gunned down in a donut shop, and how their killer -- Maurice Clemons -- would have been serving a 95-year stint in an Arkansas prison if not for clemency granted by then-governor Mike Huckabee. This is considered by many to be the end of Huckabee's presidential hopes.

I don't at all like the idea of Huckabee for Prez, mainly because for all his intelligence and (I think) honourable intentions, he's too right-wing and too politically Christian for my taste. But if Huckabee's shot at the presidency is blighted over Maurice Clemons, I'd say it's a matter of the right outcome happening for the wrong reason.

Huckabee granted clemency not to a mass murderer, but to a 28-year-old who had been in prison since 18, after being sentenced to 95 years. Granting clemency was the right thing for Huckabee to do, because Clemons got an unjustly harsh sentence for a kid who at the time showed signs of criminally bad judgment, yes, but not of being a dangerous monster.

Consider: a few years ago, while visiting Quebec, I walked toward a shopping centre entrance when a giggling little toddler boy who'd broken away from his mother burst through and was about to run out into a streetful of traffic. I was in the perfect position to reach down and grab him before he could. A couple seconds later his mother caught up and said something to me in French with several merci's thrown in, and that was the end of that.

Suppose the boy grows up to become a serial killer, or the next Hitler, and in retrospect my grabbing him that day turns out to be the single most harmful action I've ever taken. Meanwhile, I've gone into politics and even contemplate a run for the presidency. For all the reasons I might disqualify myself from a political career in contemporary America -- off the top of my head, I'm thinking "childless unmarried living-in-sin female atheist libertarian ex-stripper" ought to do the trick -- holding "Jennifer saved Baby Hitler's life" against me really wouldn't be fair.

And holding Mike Huckabee accountable for the crimes of Maurice Clemons isn't fair, either. Especially not when there are so many better reasons to refuse to consider voting for him.
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