Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Eternal Emergency Continues

Here's a riddle I saw on Facebook on September 11, 2013, the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:

Q: What's the difference between 9/11 and a cow?
A: After 12 years, you stop milking a cow.

And here is a letter which President Barack Obama released the day before the anniversary, urging  Congress to continue milking 9/11--I mean, urging a "Continuation of the National Emergency Message":
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622(d), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. Consistent with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register the enclosed notice, stating that the emergency declared in Proclamation 7463 with respect to the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, is to continue in effect for an additional year. 

The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on September 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect after September 14, 2013, the national emergency with respect to the terrorist threat.
Keep milking that cow, Obama. I didn't drive rather than fly halfway across the damned continent last month because I'm afraid of airplanes or terrorists; I drove because of the DHS/TSA jackholes who continue pointing to a crime committed 12 years ago as an excuse to commit crimes against their fellow Americans today. Every NHS crime exposed by Edward Snowden's leaks was justified by bleats of "Nynaleaven!" Plus, the idea that a country (or an individual, for that matter) should define themselves eternally by their worst moment is fantastically unhealthy. Twelve years after Pearl Harbor, Americans weren't pointing to it and shouting "That's when everything changed forever!" (even though, if you look at the number of Americans who died compared to the total US population at the time, the Pearl Harbor attack was almost three times as deadly).

Mr. President, members of Congress: please stop milking that corrupt old cow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes America Gets It Right

True story: a good friend of mine named Islam Hussein (who is a native of Egypt, a brilliant engineer and a talented amateur photographer who took the headshot photo I use on articles I write for Consumer Affairs, the Guardian and other outlets) became an American citizen today, and swore his citizenship oath at a public school named after Rosa Parks.

For all the many things America's been doing wrong lately, stories like this remind me that there's still some things we do right.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Possible Problems with Pot

Over at Consumer Affairs I have a slightly tongue-in-cheek but mainly serious piece up discussing possible problems with imminent marijuana legalization:
American anti-drug laws (or, rather, those who enforce them) have long since abandoned the quaint old notion of “innocent until proven guilty”—if there’s any illicit plant matter in your vicinity, cops automatically assume you are, at minimum, Pablo Escobar 2.0 [....] terrorizing innocent families and murdering their pets is a small price to pay in exchange for making marijuana slightly more difficult for determined smokers to buy.

Remember National Sackcloth and Ashes Day

A few random thoughts on this, the twelfth anniversary of Nyna Leaven:

I wonder how many rape victims have suffered post-traumatic flashbacks in American airports because they were forced to let some TSA-holes fondle them in the exact same places their rapists did? Cue the apologists who insist that freedom isn't free, and being forced to submit to sexually explicit gropings is a small price to pay for freedom.

On I published a photo essay about my trip to Pigeon Forge (and mentioned that TSA avoidance was a major factor in my decision to go there). I honestly didn't intend for the word "Titanic" to be in the headline right next to the September 11 date; it just worked out that way.

Here's an inspirational collection of patriotic photographs celebrating American freedom in this post-Nyna Leaven world: old women getting their breasts fondled in airports, young men having their genitals caressed in airports, children being groomed as pedophile-playthings in airports ... and remember these terrorizing tactics are supposed to save us from being terrorized.

As an American it is your civic and patriotic duty to accept "Nine eleven" as an excuse for any humiliating or unconstitutional rule the government inflicts on you. Now repeat the mantra I taught you one year ago today: "Why can't I fly on an airplane without first assuming surrender-criminal poses while TSA thugs molest me? Because nine-eleven. Why are we drone-bombing Pakistani wedding parties and then retroactively insisting that everyone who died in our attacks was a terrorist? Nine eleven. Why has the fourth amendment been completely gutted to allow the NSA to listen in on Americans' phone calls and read our electronic communications without a warrant? Nine eleven. Nine eleven nyna leaven nynaleaven nynaleaven ... like any mantra, you're supposed to repeat it over and over and over again until its repetition replaces all rational thought."

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Skeptical Accents

“Foreign accent syndrome” is a neurological condition wherein sufferers, usually after experiencing some form of brain damage, allegedly start speaking with a “foreign accent.” This recent news article mentions the recent case of a British woman prone to migraine headaches who allegedly woke up one morning with a Chinese accent, and another who started speaking a la Français.

Color me skeptical. Just how authentic are these accents, anyway? Is that woman speaking with a real Chinese accent, or what English-speakers think a Chinese accent sounds like? Did they ask any genuine Chinese immigrants what they think about her new speech patterns?

Accents, of course, are relative; everybody insists they speak their native language “without an accent.” I was born and raised on America’s east coast, and speak what I consider “unaccented English,” but if I went to Britain everyone would say I have an “American accent,” and in America’s Deep South I have a “northern accent.”

When you say someone speaks your native language with an accent, what you actually mean is that they pronounce it differently than you. And there’s two basic types of differences: sounds from your language which foreigners cannot pronounce, and sounds in their language which you cannot pronounce. (If you, a native English speaker, are talking to someone who speaks with a German accent, there’s a good chance the German cannot produce the “th” sound, but can sound certain gutturals which your English-speaking self can’t replicate.)

So, for these people who get brain damage and wind up speaking “with foreign accents”: how much of that is “sudden inability to produce common English sounds” versus “sudden ability to pronounce non-English sounds?” That Englishwoman who developed “a French accent” – did she suddenly wake up with the ability to accurately pronounce French nasal vowels, or is she speaking more like “Zank Evan for leetel guhrlz?”

I once saw an episode of Graham Norton’s British talk show, where Norton found some American tourists in the audience and had them spend time backstage with a British vocal coach to learn how to pronounce certain phrases while sounding “British” rather than “American.” So he brought out the Americans and had them say sentences that repeated certain vowel sounds. To my American ears they sounded authentically British but, judging by the laughter of the British audience, I gather a real Briton wouldn’t be fooled for a second. Nor do I think I could do any better -- a Briton would likely say I have an “American accent” regardless of how I try to talk, because I’m apparently incapable of pronouncing certain words “the British way.” (Indeed, that episode of Graham Norton suggests I’m not even capable of hearing the difference between “a genuine British accent” and “an American trying and failing to replicate one.”)

My point is, I don’t find it surprising that certain types of brain damage can result in people suddenly losing the ability to “properly” pronounce words according to the standards of their native accent, but I highly doubt they are actually replicating an authentic “foreign accent” relative to their native one.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Check Your Privilege

Today's mail brought the unwelcome news that I've been added to the Loudoun County juror pool. I'd be 95 percent less annoyed had they not insulted my intelligence by saying that jury duty is a "privilege." Like hell it is; you don't threaten people with legal sanctions for turning down a "privilege."

On the other hand, if they actually call me in for an interview, I'm certain they'll revoke this "privilege" and boot me out of the pool once they discover I'm familiar with the concept of jury nullification.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

TSA: Bad For America, Bad For The World

I'm finally back home from my vacation, having traveled halfway across the North American continent and back, and am currently playing catchup on everything I missed while away.

Random fact: before returning our rental car to the agency, Jeff checked the trip odometer and determined that we burned over 100 gallons of gasoline on our vacation. Flying would've been much, much better for the environment (in addition to being far more convenient for us), but flying in America these days entails having your genitals fondled by a TSA sociopath, which is why I opted for several days of driving over several hours of flying.

In a just world, the TSA would be disbanded and its members charged for the numerous civil rights and sexual assault violations they commit. Since we live in an unjust world, I'll settle for sending them all to a luxurious, fun-filled TSA convention on the island paradise of Tuvalu, five seconds before the rising waters of the Pacific flood it out.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Vacation Update

Left San Antonio this morning.

What we hoped to do tonight: make it as far as Memphis, and dine on authentic Memphis barbecue.

What we actually did tonight: made it as far as Lonoke, Arkansas, and ate at Pizza Hut.
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from