Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Glory of Nature and Why Children Mustn't Know About It

Yesterday I visited a nearby botanical garden (not because I'm any sort of flower buff, merely because it's a nice place for walking), and in a large man-made pond could see many fish and lots of water turtles swimming about. I noticed one pair of turtles in particular: a large one swimming straight ahead, and a smaller one swimming backwards in front of it. It looked like the big turtle was trying to avoid the smaller one, but no matter which direction the big one turned, the little one would swim faster, catch up and resume swimming backward in front of the big turtle. From time to time, the little turtle held its front flippers out and apparently slapped the big turtle several times in a row, or spat water in its face.

So Jeff and I stood by a railing commenting on this, and other people also came by the rail to watch and make exclamations, and suddenly the light dawned: "I know!" I said. "It's springtime -- that must be a mating ritual! The smaller turtle is the male."

A couple feet next to me stood a woman holding her toddler kid on the rail so he could watch the turtles too, and she gave me a look which I'm quite certain was meant to be disapproving, and said, "I told him it was a mommy with her baby."

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Straw To Cling To

The fourth amendment grows weaker every day but the fifth still has life left in it. Over at the Daily Dot I discuss a federal judge's refusal to compel a child-porn suspect to decrypt his files, and remind everyone: the government needs actual evidence of wrongdoing before it can interfere with your life. Nowhere in the text of the U.S. Constitution does it say “All rights listed herein may be suspended, if cops suspect you did something really really bad.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

House Arrest For Boston's Population

The entire population of Boston and its surrounding suburbs is under house arrest because one teenaged murderer is running loose; nobody may enter the city, and nobody there already may leave their house. I've heard that police are conducting their house-to-house searches by kicking in doors if homeowners don't answer quickly enough, and of course none of them are bothering to get any warrants. So I'll repeat the question I asked earlier this morning: where in the constitution it says "All rights listed herein are suspended, should cops think a criminal might be running loose in your neighborhood?"

True fact: when I heard that Dunkin' Donuts was the only business staying open in Boston today, I thought it was a tasteless anti-cop joke. I was wrong; the only tasteless joke here is the authorities' actual behavior.

I saw on an announcement from some authority: "people at work are free to drive home." As though that is some sort of privilege.

Our country is screwed. And I wouldn't be surprised if terrorist bombings become far more frequent, now that the terrorists know two bombs plus a police force that ignores the constitution is all it takes to shut down an entire major metropolitan area.

Constitution Suspended in Boston

I'm writing this in a South Carolina hotel room near my in-laws' house, and in the past two days I've had too little sleep and too much caffeine. The TV set in the hotel breakfast bar was set to Fox News this morning, and of course talked about little else besides the massive manhunt currently underway in Boston and its immediate suburbs. (Well, that plus some jackass pundit mentioning how the bombers immigrated here from Chechnya ten years ago, and wondering if they were part of a "sleeper cell" that formed after 9/11. I know nothing about the bombers except what I've heard on the news, but I'd bet my entire net worth that, whatever made the 19-year-old decide to murder strangers with bombs, it is not because al-Qaeda recruited him when he was nine freaking years old.)

And what the hell is this I'm hearing, about police conducting a "house-to-house search"? That's what happened in California a couple months ago, during the manhunt for Christopher Dorner. Can someone please tell me where in the constitution it says "All rights listed herein are suspended, should cops think a criminal might be running loose in your neighborhood?"

If the bomber does try breaking into someone's home, I hope it's a homeowner who exercises his second amendment rights, so as to avoid becoming Murder Victim Number Five.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Explosions in Boston: Fallout Predicted

Far too early yet to predict who is responsible for the explosions at the Boston marathon but it's obvious now that somebody is responsible: they were deliberately planted bombs, not a gas-line explosion or similar accidental event.

The government reacted to 9/11 with so-called security measures that punish the very people they claim to protect; the abusive worthlessness of a TSA molestation would have done nothing to prevent the attack. What worthless, abusive and intrusive measures will the government impose now? It terrifies me to wonder.

To quote an anonymous friend of mine upon hearing of the bombing: "Oh, shit. Here come the drones."

In Praise Of Don Marquis

I went to a secondhand bookstore the other day and paid five dollars for a circa-1937 book called Chapters for the Orthodox by Don Marquis (best known for writing archy and mehitabel-- all lower-case letters and no punctuation because archy was a free-verse poet reborn into the body of a cockroach, who now writes his poems by jumping on individual typewriter keys). Chapters for the Orthodox is a book of satirical short stories which, I suspect, were considered very shocking in pre-World War Two America: every story I've read thus far features God, Jesus and/or Satan as a character and the book pokes fun ... not at Christianity per se, but at certain overly pious breeds of Christian.

The very first story in the book, Miss Higginbotham Declines, shows God (going by the name Jehovah) at an elegant men's club in New York City, pondering how, of all the things he's done for humanity, his Begotten Son was the best but that was 1900 years ago and folks nowadays are kind of forgetting his message, so maybe the world could use another Begotten Son? Of course, in today's modern times finding a virgin isn't as easy as it used to be and also (God thinks) he needs someone whom everyone knows is a virgin, someone who will be instantly recognized as a virgin by anyone who hears the name, so he chooses Miss Higginbotham.

But Miss Higginbotham refuses the honor of bearing the next Begotten Son, since she disapproves of having children out of wedlock. God offers to marry her and she still refuses, because she doesn't approve of polygamy and surely God is still married to Jesus' mother? God reminds her that he never married Jesus' mom, which is why Miss Higginbotham refuses again, because she will not marry anyone with such an unsavory past as to have a child out of wedlock.

At one point God humors her -- okay, let's say you're right and you really do know more about proper Christian morality than I do, and you know that having a child out of wedlock is immoral, but ... 
 "Let me ask a sacrifice of you. Will you not swerve from your rightness for the sake of saving a world? Will you not be wrong once so that millions of others may be led to righteousness? Will you not permit your morality, and your sense of what is due yourself and your morality, to go by the board, in order that vast numbers of the population of this struggling earth may be led to the joys and securities of salvation?"

"No," said Miss Higginbotham, uncompromisingly, "I am a virtuous woman."


Jehovah meditated over his next remark before uttering it, as if unwilling to wound Miss Higginbotham if he could spare her feelings. Then he said "When a consciousness of rectitude proceeds to such lengths it is called self-righteousness. It is very evident that your self-righteousness is more important to you than the redemption of the cosmos. Can't you forget yourself and how good you are for one moment in order to make the world better?"

"No, I am afraid I can't."

Confession: I've had a literary crush on Don Marquis for years, ever since I first read his poem "The Big Bad Wolf" in one of the archy and mehitabel books. He was very much ahead of his time regarding things like human rights and equality, and if you brought him to our time he might have difficulty with the technology, but I suspect he'd have no problem whatsoever adjusting to modern (as opposed to 1937) standards regarding "What is morality" (do no harm) and "Which people in America deserve full human rights" (all of them).

Here, in its entirety, is The Big Bad Wolf:
i went to a movie show
the other evening in the cuff
of a friends turned up trousers
and saw the three little pigs
and was greatly edified by the moral lesson
how cruel i said to myself
was the big bad wolf
how superior to wolves are men
the wolf would have eaten those pigs raw
and even alive
whereas a man would have kindly
cut their throats
and lovingly made them into
country sausage spare ribs and pigs knuckles
he would tenderly have roasted them
fried them and boiled them
cooked them feelingly with charity
towards all and malice towards none
and piously eaten them served with sauerkraut
and other trimmings
it is no wonder that the edible animals
are afraid of wolves and love men so
when a pig is eaten by a wolf
he realizes that something is wrong with the world
but when he is eaten by a man
he must thank god fervently
that he is being useful to a superior being
it must be the same way
with a colored man who is being lynched
he must be grateful that he is being lynched
in a land of freedom and liberty
and not in any of the old world countries
of darkness and oppression
where men are still the victims
of kings iniquity and constipation
we ought all to be grateful in this country
that our wall street robber barons
and crooked international bankers
are such highly respectable citizens
and do so much for the churches
and for charity
and support such noble institutions and foundations
for the welfare of mankind
and are such spiritually minded philanthropists
it would be horrid to be robbed
by the wrong kind of people
if i were a man i would not let
a cannibal eat me unless he showed me
a letter certifying to his character
from the pastor of his church
even our industrial murderers
in this country are usually affiliated
with political parties devoted
to the uplift
the enlightenment and the progress
of humankind
every time i get discouraged
and contemplate suicide
by impersonating a raisin and getting devoured
as part of a piece of pie
i think of our national blessings
and cheer up again
it is indeed
as i have been reading lately
a great period in which to be alive
and it is a cheering thought to think
that god is on the side of the best digestion
your moral little friend

archy the cockroach
I wish Don Marquis were alive today; I'd love to read his take on modern American freedom-building ventures. Actually, I think I can guess those myself: "When a Pakistani child is smashed into blood jelly by an American drone bomber, he must thank Allah that he died to promote freedom and democracy, rather than to serve the ends of a murderous dictator." "When a woman is told she may not travel across her own country without first allowing strangers to squeeze her private parts and see nude photos of her, she must thank God that she is being molested by agents of the Free-est Country on Earth; it would be horrifying to be forcibly fondled by a repressive government."

Friday, April 05, 2013

Adam Lanza, Gun Control and the TSA

Looks like I fled the Nutmeg State just in time. The state lost its collective mind in the aftermath of the Newtown school murders last December. My main beef with Connecticut's new anti-gun laws is, even had they been in place all last year, they'd have done absolutely NOTHING to stop Adam Lanza. It's like if an unlicensed teenager stole a car and killed people with it, so the state responded by denying driver's licenses to all teens. For that matter, it's reminiscent of the TSA's molesting policies -- the government needs to quit reacting to bad people by lashing out at good people. Squeezing my tits before I get on a plane wouldn't have stopped 9/11 anymore than these bogus anti-second amendment laws would've stopped Adam Lanza.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Tooting My Own Horn

An article I wrote for the Daily Dot yesterday was syndicated/reprinted by Salon today. Thus, I can honestly add Salon to the list of places where I've been published.

And in another hard-hitting news piece today, I discuss Robot Shaming.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

An Unforeseen Burden Of Wealth

This actually happened yesterday, but I didn't want to say anything lest it be mistaken for an April Fool ...I went to the bank to deposit some checks, and a coffee can full of rolled coin. The can was no heavier than usual but I must've picked it up wrong or something, because I managed to pull a muscle. And I can't even ask for sympathy because anyone who says "Boo hoo, poor me, I injured myself carrying ALL THIS MONEY" sounds like a jerk. Even though it was mainly penny rolls.
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