Monday, May 21, 2018

Odd Bits - The Demanding Edition

We, the People of America, hereby demand that you read the goddamn constitution, or at least have someone else who knows how to read, explain it to you. Merely using King’s Court language does not confer kingly powers upon you. Also, may I remind you that the Justice Department is an independent body and does not serve as your personal hit squad, so you’ll have to smite your enemies using your own resources.

If you’re worried about the cost, just book another visit to your club in Florida. The windfall from that taxpayer-funded trip to your own property should be enough to keep you flush with shysters and goons for the foreseeable future.

Lastly, to fully understand that last part, please have Rudy or Sara explain to you what sarcasm is.

Jesus… to think that they called Obama the “Imperial” president.

With yet another school shooting under our belts, here come even more gun-mania alibi memes…

Mr. Patrick takes the award for the Asinine Comment of the Week Award with that beauty.

Sure, one entrance might be easier to defend against people coming in. But did anyone ever consider how a single door is going to work with everyone trying to get out?

Do you remember that Who concert in Cincinnati, back in the late 70s? The crowd waiting outside the arena, upon hearing the band start their sound check, tried to rush the one or two doors that were open and eleven people got trampled to death.

Granted, they were going in, but it’s the same principle: a large crowd of people trying to pass through a single choke point. That’s a recipe for carnage, even without some maniac firing shots.

What if the shooter, having smuggled in a semi-automatic weapon, counted on the mass of people forming at the doors and opened fire into a densely packed crowd of kids?

Or consider a shooter stationing himself between the only door and all the other students. Fish in a barrel, man.

Yeah, brilliant idea, Dan. It just goes to show how people will say the stupidest things, just to avoid crossing their overlords at the NRA.

As a public service, I will provide, via The Daily Show, this handy translator for use in deciphering the clichés and doublespeak coming from the gun apologists.
If they can widen the scope of this translator, we may be able to use it to completely replace the current White House Press Secretary.

Fallacies R Us
There are two major things are wrong with this meme.

First, it’s a textbook example of a logical fallacy, which states, “Item ‘A’ coming before Item ‘B’ is not proof that A caused B.” For example, you could also say, “The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Since then, 92% of large mass shootings have happened.” Or, “Bluzdude moved from Cleveland to Albany in 1990. Since then…”

The order in which two items fall on a timeline is not evidence of causation. Period.

The other issue with this meme is that it’s not like the schools were riddled with guns before 1990. Basically, there were few, if any, guns in schools before 1990, and few, if any, afterward. Therefore, there is no causation, or even correlation, that creating “gun-free zones” had anything to do with the increase in mass shootings.

I’d say you’d have to look at the proliferation of semi-automatic weapons among the general public as a major factor, especially in the years since the congressional Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to sunset during the Bush Administration. It stands to reason that the more military weaponry in the hands of the public, the higher the likelihood of one of these killing machines finding its way into the hands of some kid with a lethal grudge and lust for infamy.

But you won’t find any Republicans copping to that truth. The hell with the young lives lost, admitting something like that might cost them re-election.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dear Sweetpea,

By now, you’ve had your ring for more than 24 hours and we’ve both had the chance to tell our story to our friends and family. Yesterday, you made me the happiest man in the mid-Atlantic by accepting my formal proposal to get married. (OK, it wasn’t all that “formal. There were no tuxedos or tiaras involved.)

There has been a lot going on over the last two weeks, including a lot of plotting and scheming, but it really started several months ago. Another guy in my department was about to start shopping for a ring for his girl, so we began a conversation that drew in several others in the area. These friends became my “panel of experts” on how to go about buying an engagement ring.

Initially, when I Googled “Baltimore Wholesale Jewelers,” I found a place downtown near Camden Yards. It wasn’t open on Saturdays and opened and closed within my usual workday, so I knew it would be challenging to get out there. I figured I’d use this week’s Orioles day game as an excuse. I’d take the day off for the game and stop at the store first.

But then a couple weeks back, it occurred to me that their limited hours would be a continuing problem, what with needing to come back for fittings, wedding bands, and whatnot. So I Googled again and focused on our neighborhood. I found one place with the same problem. But then on the map, I saw a couple other places nearby and they were open Saturdays. After consulting the Yelp reviews, I picked a place to start.

Remember that Saturday, two weeks ago, when you took the dog to your sister’s house for a visit, and I ran errands and got a haircut? That was the day I selected your ring.

The jeweler asked me what I was looking for and I gave him your criteria… silver-looking band, round or square diamond cut. He asked for my price range and then went back to pull out some samples.

First, he showed me a simple ring setting in white gold. I thought it was gorgeous… simple and elegant. That was the one; I didn’t even look at any others. Then he laid out 4 envelopes with diamonds in them, and we went through each, lowest to highest.

The first was .94 karats, very good cut and clarity, and ran about $6k. Right there, I knew I’d find something nice because that one was gorgeous. Next, he showed me one that was .95 carats and a little higher quality. To me, it looked just like the first one.

The third stone was 1.01 carats and a little lower in quality. And that one was gorgeous too.

The last one he showed me was 1.05 carats, 3rd highest category in color, 2nd highest in clarity, and outside of the price range I’d given him. But that was the one. I loved it.

I know the differences were imperceptible to the naked eye but I wanted to make sure you knew, when I showed you the papers, that I found you a top-quality diamond. I wanted you to be proud of it. I know you don’t flash a lot of jewelry so I wanted this ring to be a good one. 
 The quality ratings for your stone.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that you have tiny little hands, which will make the rock look that much bigger.

I asked if he offered financing, and he said he didn’t. That surprised me for a moment. I briefly considered getting a bank loan on my own, but then had a moment of clarity that was definitely on the top of the scale, at least a VVS1. I had the money in my checking account; why would I ever want to get financing and pay the interest charges? Dummy! Just write him a check… Done!

He had me put $2k down on my credit card, to make sure no one else bought it out from under me. I had no problem with that… just meant I got some serious Thank You Points.

He told me that it would take about a week and he’d give me a call when it was done.

I wondered if you noticed, later that day when we reconvened at your place, if I seemed brighter and bouncier. I felt like I couldn’t contain myself with the excitement of such a big moment. But I tried to just be cool, lest you catch on that something was up.

The one thing everyone wanted to know was how I was going to propose. I told the jewelers that the only place of any prominence with us was Jilly’s, the bar where we first met. They had some suggestions but I didn’t really like them… I didn’t want the ring coming in food or a drink, or to even let it out of my possession. And I wanted to be the one to give it to you.

So I mentioned a scenario that had been rolling around in my head, where I make a play off of what I told you the day we met, when I didn’t want to let you get away. Rather than spend the rest of my bar-going days wondering if I’d ever see you again, I reached for your arm and said, “Wait, why don’t we just go out?

Well, the jewelers loved my idea, as did everyone I told it to at work (and over the phone and via email. I really should have kept my yap shut. I totally broke my own rule of keeping big news quiet until it was over and done, lest something mess it up.)

But still, when I told people what I was going to do, everyone LOVED IT. Several people told me they got goosebumps. So I basically sent my idea through a Focus Group to get it woman-approved.

I went back to the jeweler the next Saturday but he said he had to send it out to be assembled because he didn’t have that setting on hand. He told me he expected it back by the end of the week. I’d been hoping I’d have a week to prepare my plan, which I was targeting for Mother’s Day. But all things considered, I didn’t really need that much time.

Thursday afternoon, when I was working from home, he called and said it was ready. I went to pick it up that evening and was thrilled. I thought it was absolutely beautiful and exactly what I wanted.
Then I wrote the largest check I’ve ever written in my life. Made me feel like a bigshot! Dude probably raced straight to the bank to make sure it cleared before I got out of the parking lot.

Who knew that my going to the Orioles game Friday night almost ruined the whole thing? I was at my usual pre-game bar with Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom Sister, telling them about my plans. The bar manager, who’s been hooking us up with discounts for the last five years, was listening in. He asked if he could crash the wedding. (I said he could if he makes it to Pensacola next summer.)

Then you and I went to the Orioles game on Saturday and visited the same bar before the game. I was worried that the bar manager might say something, but he didn’t. But then, the bartender, who I’d never seen before that day, said to us, “So, I hear you’re getting married!

I almost shit. But I thought I recovered well enough.  I said, “Well yeah, eventually… but not anytime soon…" We laughed it off. Then when you left to visit the ladies room, I said to her, in a tortured manner, “I’m going to ask her to marry me TOMORROW.”

Poor girl was horrified. She said the bar manager had told her we were getting married. See, I knew I shouldn’t have been blabbing my plans around town. Almost bit me in the ass.

And speaking of bites in the ass, you gave me one Saturday night, didn’t you? After the game when we were back at your place having a drink and sitting on the couch, we were discussing our future wedding plans. And you said something like “Wedding plans? It’s not like I have any evidence of any wedding plans…” as you waved your ring-less ring finger in front of me.

I was like, “She did NOT just give me a “Put a Ring on it” move…” I was thiiiis close to stomping into the bedroom, retrieving the ring from my bag and going, “OK, fine. Here’s your evidence, SmartassHappy now?” But a plan’s a plan.

Earlier that morning, I had gone down to “our” bar and spoke with the bartender, the one who was there when it all started. As you know, she’s a very stately, white-haired, English woman, who looks like she should be teaching at Hogwarts. I had a role for her in this event and thought she’d be willing.

She totally was. And more importantly, she’d be on duty Sunday, despite it being Mother’s Day. She said she’d make sure my usual barstool was available. I asked her to ask us, when she had a moment, “Remind me again how you two met up?” I said to make sure she said to “remind her,” because she absolutely knew how we met, and you know that. But that was the cue for us to tell our favorite story. I was going to change the ending.

When we were together Thursday night, I planted the seed about going to the bar for a drink on Sunday, after we ran our errands. You seemed quizzical about it… While we do hang out at various bars from time to time, we don’t usually set it up in advance. But I wanted to get a stake in the ground.

And you agreed, thank goodness, even though I could tell it wasn’t very high on your list of things you wanted to do that Sunday. So thank you for that.

While you were getting ready, I was sitting at the table and decided to have a little fun with the ring, so I took this picture.
That’s your ring on your copy of the Sunday puzzles.

Then, when we were in the store and I had the ring deep in my pants pocket, I got the idea to hold up the ring behind you while you were facing away, and take another picture.

But I abandoned that idea because it just didn’t seem like a good idea to tempt fate and have you turn around unexpectedly. But it did make me regret that I didn’t think of it earlier. I could have taken pictures of the ring all over town and all over your house. But again, why tempt fate? I’d probably drop it down a sewer grate.

Finally, it was time to go to the bar, and to our good fortune, the bar area was completely empty. We got our seats; the bartender greeted us and got our drinks. About five minutes in, she came back over and began talking about her husband and how they came to America. And then, she brilliantly pivoted to use her line, to remind her how we got together here.

You began the story, which made me happy. I love watching you tell it. We usually tag-team it to provide both of our points of view. But this time, you blasted right through it. As you were talking, the bartender let out a little gasp and ducked down to grab her phone. She said, “I thought I heard it ringing,” and then set it on the bar.

I thought, “You sly dog… I know what you’re doing. You’re getting the camera ready.”

You continued your story but inside I began to panic. You were getting dangerously close to the part I needed to deliver. So I apologize for butting in so rudely, but it was unavoidable.

I jumped into the narrative and instead of recounting to the bartender how I said, “Wait, why don’t we just go out?” I turned to you and said, “Wait, why don’t we just… get married?

With that, I fished the ring out of my shirt pocket and held it under your chin, waiting for the joyful explosion… that didn’t come. I even waved it a little bit but you didn’t seem to be reading me.

Little did I know that you were first thinking, “Why did he butt into my story,” and then, “Hey, that’s not how the story goes…

But then the lights came on and there was joyfulness onto the world.

And most importantly, you said “Yes.

I tried to put the ring on your finger, but I knew it wasn’t going to go on.

Months ago, I found one of the rings you wear on your ring finger and traced the inside of it onto one of my business cards.
I brought it with me so the jeweler would have a good starting point. But alas, when I picked up the ring last Thursday, it didn’t even fit over the first knuckle of my pinky. When I checked it against the circle on the card, you couldn’t see the circle, which meant the ring was going to be too small.

So I tried, but we’ll have to go back next Saturday and get it resized. At least you have this week to wave it around to all your friends at work. Just stay away from sewer grates.

You told me later that you hadn’t really wanted to go to the bar that afternoon, but you saw that I really wanted to, so you just went with it. And I told you that’s one of the reasons I love you that way I do. You do things like that for me all the time and I want you to know that I recognize it and I appreciate it. And I’ll do my best not to drag you along to places you’d rather not go.

I want to make it my top priority to be worthy of you and your love. You truly make me want to be a better man.

I love you and I can’t wait to be your husband.

Of course, after all the time we just spent trying to figure out who was the fiancé, who was the fiancée, and where the accent marks go, we’d better practice with those titles for a while.

The Obligatory Clasped Hands with Ring picture.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Lies, Lies and More Lies

Everyone knows that this president lies about everything. Whether it’s trivial or a matter of life and death, this guy does not appear to care about the truth.

The Washington Post’s fact checker blog marks the tally so high, he has averaged 6.5 lies per day during his time in office. (And that average would surely be higher if you counted the campaign.)

This point was forcefully driven home last week by the ongoing Stormy Daniels controversy, in which Rudy Giuliani has now enmeshed himself.

In a nutshell, Rudy said Trump knew about the hush money payoff and repaid his attorney, Michael Cohen. That caused an uproar because it contradicted what Trump and his spokes-parrots have been saying since the story first broke.

Then Trump backed up Rudy’s account.

Then Trump backpedaled and said Rudy is new and didn’t have all the facts, and went back to the original story.

In other words, it’s been chaos. They don’t know which lies are official and which are merely the smokescreen.

It’s apparent that any relationship between what this president says and the truth is purely coincidental. He says stuff, it blows up, then he says other stuff, and that blows up, so he says some more stuff.

It’s like they (the president and his in-house enablers) say things that they think will make everything better. When it doesn’t, they try again to seek the Magic Words that will solve their problems. It’s like the White House is run by a team of 4-year-olds who have stolen cookies. They will say anything they think will make the criticism stop. Unfortunately, none of their statements ever seem to be the truth.

I’m sure the psychology behind this pathological lying is fascinating. Why would any rational man lie about so many things that are so easily refutable?
My guess would be that as a wealthy man, he’s surrounded himself with yes-men and sycophants all his life, who does his bidding unquestioningly. Heaven forbid anyone in his orbit correct one of his misstatements; that would rate an economy-class ticket on the rocket ship leaving said orbit.

You could tell that from his Apprentice show alone. Everyone was all “Yes Mr. Trump, No Mr. Trump, You’re right, Mr. Trump,” as he sat in the big boardroom chair and lapped it up.

What’s even more disturbing is how his fan base believe every word he says, or at best, doesn’t care that he’s lying. I figure it’s either tribalism run amok or, the inability or unwillingness to accept anything that runs counter to their favored narrative.

It certainly helps that Republicans have been raging about “the Liberal Media” at every turn. When conservatives spend decades blasting the reputation of the one group dedicated to uncovering the truth, you can’t be surprised when the tribe doesn’t believe anything they hear from said media.

I think that’s where the lack of education comes in. It’s no surprise that Trump’s base is strongest in those states that routinely pull up last in the country in education levels and test scores.

That’s what’s so funny/terrifying about this Facebook status I saw today from the ultra-conservative group, The Federalist.
Trump’s base states are at the bottom of the national rankings in education, like New Mexico (49), Mississippi (48), Louisiana (46), Oklahoma (45), Arizona (44), Alabama (43) Arkansas (42), South Carolina (41) and Texas (40) et al. And they want to call the REST of the country stupid?

I don’t think this blurb is really about education. It’s more of a dog whistle to the Trump racist base. The inference ignores any shortcomings of their own demographic and plays on the perception that the Democratic left is made up of black and brown people. And [nudge-nudge] “you know how stupid and lazy “those people” are…”

It’s a way to take a swipe at welfare, food stamps, Affirmative Action and any other aid that doesn’t go overwhelmingly to white males.

(Yes, I know that states like Kentucky have large populations of white people using all those programs. But that’s not recognized as a part of conservative reality.)

Ignorance is the only way Trumpism succeeds. There aren’t enough millionaires in the country to outvote everyone else voting in their own economic interest. So the more they can harp on emotional “wedge” issues, the more they can keep people’s attention “over there” while they raid the treasury and toxify the environment for profit “over here.”  They’re like magicians, who make the middle class disappear.

Education defeats ignorance. Education allows you to separate fact from wishful thinking. Education allows you to question authority and ask for evidence.

Even the lobotomized should understand that.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Paul Ryan Commits Patricide

I thought it was telling that the Speaker of the House canned the congressional chaplain. According to the Speaker, members of Congress complained to him that they weren’t getting their pastoral needs met. Seriously.

Maybe the other Congressmen expected their Chaplain to wear a derby and drawn-on mustache. (Ignore homophones at your own peril!)

I think the fired Father should have returned with a sheep, and said, “Here, this is for your pasture-al needs.” (So they could fleece it. What were YOU thinking?)

The scuttlebutt is that Father Conroy offered some words in a November prayer that ran contrary to prevailing Republican thought… concern for the poor.

He said he was hopeful that the lawmakers would “be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle” and that they “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Following that statement, according to Father Conroy, Ryan told him, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”

I think he should have ordered Ryan to the confessional box right then, for using such a douchey term like, “Padre.” Who does he think he is, John Wayne? I bet Tony Gwynn is rolling over in his grave.
I’ve long held that Republicans use religion as a fig leave to cover up their most un-Christian acts, like the tax bill in question, which filled the coffers of America’s wealthiest and (temporarily) threw some scraps to the rest of us. They talk a good game about family values, as long as it’s the Walton family or Koch family.

The good Father called them on it by bringing up a central tenet of that Good Book they all claim to hold so dear. And that, of course, was evidence he was neglecting their pastoral needs of providing religious cover while they tried to pass Sheldon Adleson through the eye of a needle.

Mark Walker, (R-NC) said the new chaplain should be someone with a wife and family, thus disqualifying any and all Catholics from the job.

If that’s true, I’d like to know what these “pastoral needs” are, with which the Congressmen need help. Biblical cover for schtupping the congressional pages? Or someone to tell them that it’s wrong to bang the interns?

If they’re worried about staying on the straight and narrow, they should skip the Chaplains and get some Congressional Nuns in there. In my experience, nuns have shown quite an aptitude for scaring you into doing what’s right. They can't be bargained with. They can't be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you behave. A nun is like a cross between a penguin and the Terminator. Let Representative Libido (R-AL) explain his pastoral needs to Sister Mary Urethra. That’ll set him straight…

Anyway, after some exhaustive research, I managed to find the real reason some of the Congressmen were complaining about Father Conroy. In fact, one of them wore a wire to Confession and the FBI just leaked the tapes.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Odd Bits - The Naked Breakfast Edition

Now that spring seems to have finally made an appearance, at least here in the mid-Atlantic region, let’s see what’s going on…

Same Shit, Different Venue
Now it looks like schools have stepped onto the back burner and now it is no longer safe to eat at the Waffle House. Early Sunday morning, yet another blank-eyed white guy wielding military firepower shot a bunch of people, this time at a Waffle House near Nashville, TN.
Dude looks like Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber.”

Why a guy from Illinois went to Tennessee for his rampage is, so far, unknown. I figure he didn’t want to get banned from his local eatery, because sometimes a guy really needs a waffle. Or maybe he was an assassin sent from IHOP.

The kicker is that he pulled off this hit job while basically naked. All he had on was a jacket… no shirt, pants or undies. (Perhaps he didn’t know how to fold them properly and they got lost.) He’s still at large,* or if it was chilly out, at “small,” due to the shrinkage.

*Shortly after this writing, word came out that the shooter has been apprehended. I kind of figured he’d be caught sometime today. It’s virtually impossible to disappear in this day and age, without serious preparation. You see the look on that guy’s face? Tell me he knows what to do to outwit the law for an extended period.

Four people were killed, with two more seriously injured. The casualty toll would have been higher, but for the unarmed African-American guy that wrestled the gun away from him, when he heard it jam or empty. Or maybe the shooter took an empty shell casing square to the beans. 

Hero dude burned his hands on the barrel pulling it away from the gunman, then tossed it behind the counter. See, this guy knew he couldn’t keep possession of the gun; if the police would have shown up while he had it, the death toll would have been one body higher.

So how did this psycho get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon? As it turns out, the system almost worked. Due to prior scrapes with law enforcement, his guns were confiscated.

I say “almost” worked because the weapons were turned over to the shooter’s father, who in turn gave them back to his son. Isn’t justice wonderful? If you ask me, “dad” should be held liable for these deaths. If that was my family who got shot, I sue the father for providing guns to his dumbass offspring, who had clearly had no business having them.

What has the NRA/Republicans said about all of this?
Yep, nada. I suppose they’re just going to wait for this one to blow over too. Notice how you don’t hear any calls to start arming kitchen workers. I figure that has more to do with the preponderance of African-Americans in Waffle House kitchens than a change in philosophy. The last thing the white, gun-toting NRA members want is for black guys to be as well armed as they are themselves.

November is going to tell us a lot about what the country thinks. The results of the House races will tell us if NRA support becomes a liability, if Russia still has its grubby tentacles entwined around the voting process, and if millennials can turn out in force to vote.

More Debunkery
Speaking of millennials, I saw this misleading meme on Facebook today:
This shows the logical fallacy of a small sample (of one) being used to distort a much larger pool of information.

See, you could replace the word “Socialism” here with anything. For example:
·        Millennials want to live in a land without heavy industry. / This is a land without heavy industry.
·        Millennials want to live in a land with a big wall. / This is a land with a big wall.
·        Millennials want to live in a land where the military has green uniforms. / This is a land with green uniforms.

This seems to be a picture from Myanmar or North Korea, or someplace like that. There are dozens of other socialist states where there are no such horrific scenes; in fact, most of them show up ranking high in polls measuring general happiness.

To me, this looks like something sponsored by the NRA, to reinforce their talking point about needing high-powered weaponry to deter the government from infringing on their freedom (to play with high-powered weaponry.) But it’s really just a scare tactic designed to influence gun owners without critical thinking skills. Boogeyman politics.

I also take issue with the opening statement. According to what poll do 44"% of Millennials want to live under Socialism? There is no attributed source, nor have I seen any such poll results in the headlines. I suspect, given the rest of the faulty logic in this meme, that there was a survey somewhere that asked opinions about Obamacare or a single-payer health care system. Stands to reason conservatives would label as "socialism" any system where the general public benefits from a program.

If you think I, as a liberal Democrat, have anything snarky to say about the passing of former first lady, Barbara Bush, just move along. I offer my meager condolences to the Bush family on the loss of their matriarch.

I think she was a stellar first lady and only wish she would have been more vocal in the areas in which she disagreed with her husband’s (or son’s) politics. But as she once said, “I don't fool around with his office, and he doesn't fool around with my household.”

President 45 didn’t attend Mrs. Bush’s funeral, but he sent Melania. I will not criticize that. This is in keeping with executive office tradition. Presidents don’t attend funerals for former first ladies.

Of course, you may recall when Republicans all over the map (and Fox “News”) jumped on President Obama for not attending Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Perhaps they learned something from the people (like me) who showed them how full of shit they were.

And it’s a good thing Trump didn’t show, otherwise we might have seen the first dead person rising in over 2000 years.
Thank you to my dad for sharing this on Facebook.

Department of Redundancy Department
Speaking of Facebook, I posted this over the weekend. This was the result of my trying to cancel a magazine subscription.
I followed the directions in the mailing I got, which directed me to either call in or use their website.

Because I don’t like calling anyone ever, I went to the website and pulled up the email tool. I included my account number right from the email.

They wrote back that they did not have my account number on file. I responded with a picture of the letter, showing that exact account number. Then that’s when they sent me the message pictured above.

You know, it’s a wonder we all aren’t out there shooting up Waffle Houses.

And the thing is, you’d figure they want you to call so they can try to talk you out of canceling. (Or in my case, killing the auto-renewal.) But no, when I called, they said they’d take care of it.

Granted, they could be only telling me that. Good thing my credit card expires this month and I’m getting a new card and number. Let them try to charge the old one all they want.

Goofy Shit
Lastly, let me just run a couple of things that cracked me up this week. Be careful though, because if there is a God and he’s a humorless God, we could all be going straight to hell.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Under Where?

Sweetpea and I spend every weekend together, to the point that her place feels like my vacation house. But that’s for me, of course, and not her. She still has her chores to do and I help out where I can.

I’ve managed to carve out an odd niche for myself, because I have a skill that you wouldn’t expect a guy like me to have.

You see, when she does her laundry, I’m in charge of folding her underwear. I’m the Underwear-Folder in Chief. I’m the Duke of Drawers, the Prince of Panties, and the Houdini of Bikinis.

I came by my underwear folding prowess honestly. Back when I was married, (cold chill runs down spine), Future-Ex schooled me in the precise way she wanted her undies folded when I did the laundry. It was a simple method, and it stuck. I even do my own the same way.

The trick with Sweetpea was convincing her that I was really just trying to help and this was something I could do, as opposed to merely entertaining some kind of underwear fetish.

But I have learned a lot about the nature of a woman’s underwear choices. Apparently, there are different cuts and textures to go with different kinds of outerwear. Or weather. Or moods.

This came to light when it was time to put the undies away. Rather than keeping them in some kind of orderly manner, she had them in what Liz Lemon, on “30 Rock,” referred to as “the underwear ball.”

I recoiled at placing the clean, nicely folded undies into a drawer full of lacy anarchy. So, over the course of a couple of days, I made it my business to fold every piece of underwear in her drawer, for easy retrieval of any particular style.
That’s a lot of underwear.

I was stunned that one woman could possess so much underwear. (Because I had to know, I counted 80 pairs.)

Contrast this with my meager collection of around 16. My only goal was to have enough to work with a 2-week laundry cycle. So rather than the Underwear Ball, or Drawer of Anarchy, I have my neat little underwear stack.
Undies to the right, stack’o socks to the left. (And slipper socks in the middle.)

I have three distinct brands, which I rotate evenly through the stack. (Not by design, it just worked out that way.) As a man, I needn’t worry about which kind goes with my pants. They all work under jeans.

And while I’m on the subject of men’s underwear, let me say this: I am philosophically against boxers or boxer-briefs. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the top section of a man’s thigh needs an extra layer of fabric around it. Hence, my stack is composed entirely out of briefs. In fun colors.

Director’s DVD Commentary: Sorry for the short post. I’m temporarily rousted from my apartment for a couple of days, while they make some repairs. Because I have to post this from my iPad rather than my home computer, I wanted it to be short and sweet. Or as sweet as a post about underwear can be.

At least it was “brief.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

Enact, Repeal, Repeat

With the current White House seeking to overturn pretty much everything Obama and the Democrats accomplished from 2009-2016, I wonder if this scenario is going to become the new normal. Obviously, if the Dems take Congress and the Presidency in 2020, the first things I’d expect them to do is reverse all 45’s reversals. I mean, there’s already a substantial hit list.
I saw this graphic on Facebook. I agree with just about all of it, although there are a few items with a snowball’s chance in hell of coming to pass:

·        Abolishing the Electoral College: Republicans will fight to the death to keep the mechanism that handed them their last two presidential “wins.”
·        Overturning Citizen’s United would take a new Supreme Court and the appropriate case to base on.
·        Strip churches and NRA of their tax-exempt status. Will never happen. They’ve been tax-exempt for too long, plus no one wants to campaign against churches. And the NRA? They don’t really have assets or profits; they’re a lobbying organization. They don’t sell anything but their souls and those of our nation’s children. But you can’t tax influence. Besides, they’d shoot anyone who came to collect.

The other stuff seems possible, given a filibuster-proof majority in Congress plus the presidency. But even then, it would be tough. The Democrats had exactly that in 2010 and it still took Herculean efforts to pass the ACA. The lobbyists for organizations with the most to lose would just move their targets to the other side of the aisle and buy off a new group of legislators.

But then what happens when the pendulum inevitably swings back the other way? Are we going to spend the rest of our lives enacting and reversing the same laws every four to eight years? At some point, there has to be an acceptance. But with our extreme political polarization and media voices bent on keeping it that way, I don’t see any change.

Even the abortion issue, which was settled more than 40 years ago, is still being litigated to the point where it’s harder to seek pregnancy termination now that it was right after Roe v Wade was decided.

We shouldn’t shrink from making the changes though. It’s up to Progressives to convince the rest of the nation that we are right and our opposition is wrong. We need to stand up for what we believe and back it proudly.
It’s not even a complicated case to defend:

·        Believing in science. Those that don’t are heavily influenced by big monied interests who are heavily invested in the status quo. In other words, the fossil fuel industry bends over backward to convince people that climate change is a hoax or outside mankind’s influence, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. All because their profits would dip if they had to do something about it.

The sister-case is the public’s over-estimation of junk they read online vs the word of those who actually know the subject, like the anti-vaxxers. The whole anti-vaccination mess stems from one faulty study, whose author retracted it in the face of scientific contradiction. Yet people still site the study when endangering their kids and community by withholding vaccinations.

·        Allowing people to marry who they want. No one has ever shown damages from same-sex marriages to the community at large. In this country, persons A and B need not tap dance to the religious standards of person C, unless there is a tangible threat to the community. Same-sex marriage has been legal in various states for years. Where’s the harm, anywhere?

·        Don’t want to kick out hardworking immigrants. This always was and ever shall be a country of immigrants. The unheralded result of this administration’s war on ferners is that, without immigrants, this country grinds to a halt. Crops are already rotting in the fields for lack of people to harvest them. Unless you want to start paying $25 for a salad, we better address that.

·        Let women control their own bodies. I’m not a woman, but if I were, I’d be off-the-charts militant toward anyone who thought their opinion of what I could do with my body held a millisecond’s worth of value. And yet, here we find one group after another trying to pass laws to govern the most personal of decisions a human can make. The fact that these are people who believe in less government influence on our lives is the hypocritical cherry on top of the whole presumptuous sundae. It goes to show that their other tenet, the freedom of religion, is limited to their own interpretation of their own religion… that they want everyone else to live by.

·        Want to prevent mass shootings. The bodies pile up and we do nothing because the organization who represents gun sellers doesn’t want to lose profits. So they use disinformation and misrepresentation to convince people their rights are being eroded by enacting background checks or bans on military-grade weapons. Meanwhile, they have complete control of one half of the political spectrum, to ensure that nothing that can hurt gun sales is put into law.

·        Don’t want people to die because they can’t afford health care. We were already a leg up on this problem before Republicans dragged us back down. Again, it’s a money thing. Rich companies don’t want to spend any more than the bare minimum on their employee’s health insurance. Or in the case of the Koch brother industries, they don’t want to pay any of it. Their bottom line is more important than the health of their employees, OR any other citizens living near their pollution-spewing mining, drilling, and refinery sites.

Our healthcare system is a laughing stock compared to that of every other first world country. Higher cost paired with lesser care. We need to move to single-payer and scrap the whole, wasteful system. But expect the established medical and pharmacological networks to resist.

Let’s look at some other conservative disinformation:
Classic misdirection. The two subjects have few similarities, too few to make a valid comparison. The most glaring of which is that these 3828 overdose deaths, (if that’s even correct; it’s completely unsubstantiated) are people harming themselves, inadvertently or otherwise. A person has 100% control over whether they get into opiates. Plus, the deaths are one at a time, case by case, with an infinite amount of variations.

The gun issue is simple… it is a few misguided people killing large numbers of other people and a very short amount of time. And if you remove a single element or two from the equation, (semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines), the issue (mass shootings) almost disappears. So why would you not address gun control? (Aside from not wanting to cost the gun industry any money.)

Obviously there is work to be done to decrease the number of deaths due to opioids, but where is it written that the public can’t consider more than one issue at a time. Life does not come in a binary manner. We deal with multiple things going on every day. This meme (or simple status update, created to be forwarded ad nauseum) is designed to get attention away from dealing with guns, and onto something… anything else. “Hey, look over there! What about that?

Simple meme for simple minds. Apparently, there may be some kids in the country who do dumb stuff. So, the authors use the image of those dumbasses to take down the character and knowledge of a different group of students who survived a mass murder and are working to prevent another one from happening.

The thing is, you don’t have to be an expert in firearms to know that a gun that shoots 17 bullets per second doesn’t belong in the hands of the general public. And as soon as someone can provide a rational reason for the private ownership of semi-automatic weapons, I might reconsider. But as yet, I haven’t heard a single reason that doesn’t portray either lunacy or the simple rationale of, “But I want one…”

And for the love of all that is holy, can we please retire the cutey-pie Willie Wonka memes? Gene Wilder would be rolling over in his grave if he saw his image being used over and over again for simplistic bullshit like this.

Now, this is a graphic that holds up. I only include it here to show how casually this president lies to us. Every time he tweets about Amazon costing the post office money, he is lying.

And the reason he’s lying is that because Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, who has been the standard bearer in shining light on what the Trumpsters are up to. He knows that whenever he tweets negatively about Amazon, their stock takes a hit. So, he’s really just screwing with the guy to cost him money. And it wouldn’t surprise me that at the same time, he’s having his minions buy up as much stock as they can at the lowered price. Then once he stops harping on the subject, the stock corrects itself and everyone who bought the stock at the lowered price cashes in.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Free Range Kids

No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with kids becoming target practice for assault weapon users. Rather, it’s about something I consider to be good news.

Of all places, the State of Utah was the first in the nation to pass a law prohibiting parents from being prosecuted for raising “free range” children.

From the CNN article linked above, “The measure essentially changes the state's legal definition of neglect, meaning parents won't be prosecuted for letting their children (of appropriate age) do things like walk to school by themselves, go to the store alone, play outside unsupervised, sit in a vehicle alone or stay at home by themselves.”

It boggles my mind that such a law is even necessary, as I fondly remember the unfettered days of my youth when I would leave the house each summer morning and disappear into the neighborhood until lunchtime. And then I’d go back out until dinner. Where? Friends’ houses, the school playground, the drug store (aka the candy store), the neighborhood pool, the mall… wherever the action was.

Obviously, there were no cell phones so there was no verbal contact with home base unless I wanted to eat at friend’s house and called for permission from their home phone. 

I had a watch and I had instructions on when to report back. Mom didn’t need to know the rest of the details unless I was going somewhere new and uncharted. But I had a bicycle and permission to pedal as far as my legs would take me. This was from around 3rd or 4th grade on.

I used to walk to school by myself, a walk that took at least a half hour to 45 minutes. Granted, only part of that was on account of the distance. The other part was that my route sometimes looked like a Family Circus panel.

The worst thing that happened there was that I almost derailed a commuter train. I told the whole story here, but long story short, in 3rd and 4th grade, I had to cross railroad tracks on the way to school. One day I put a piece of iron on the tracks, thinking the train would smash it, as I’d seen it do to coins. The iron had other ideas and stood firm, tossing the train almost up on two wheels before re-settling on the tracks. Scared the living crap out of me. But I learned my lesson and never messed with putting things on the tracks again.

I walked to school right up until I was allowed to bike to school. Fall, winter, spring, it was up to me to get my ass to school on my own. The irony was that when I got to 10th grade, when we moved to our house in the sticks outside Toledo, OH, that’s when I had to take the bus. That was also the closest we ever lived to my school. The bus ride took about 4 minutes. I walked farther in grade school.

Before that, when I was in junior high and living in Columbus, my friend and I wanted to go to COSI (The Center of Science and Industry… it was like a really cool museum with kids’ activities and stuff). It was located off one of the interstates and was too far to bike, so we looked up the bus route and hopped on a city bus. Our parents were totally cool with it.  We got there and back with only minor incidents.

Well, the incident was minor for me. On our way back to the bus stop, a bunch of black kids came up to us. One of them wanted the two Slim Jims I had just bought. I countered that I’d give him one of them. He accepted. I was golden.

 My friend, however, thought cursing at them was a better option. He yelled, “Eff you, N-----s,” then bolted and they took off after him. He was going, “C’mon, Bluz, let’s go!”  I was like, “They’re not chasing MY ass, ya dumb Nazi.”

He got away from them and we met up back at the bus stop. Good thing he ran track. He’s probably leading a White Power Men’s Group somewhere today.

So there were some bumps along the way, but I learned my lessons first hand:

·        Don’t flash your goodies out on the street, in unfamiliar territory.
·        Be nice. That will usually get you out of more trouble than shooting off your mouth.
·        It’s probably not a good idea to lob N-bombs at a bunch of city kids in 1974 unless you’re really fast.
A couple years back, I read about a case here in Baltimore where some parents were brought up on charges for allowing their kids to walk home from a playground alone. They were eventually cleared of neglect charges, but I found it presumptuous and offensive that they were even investigated. This story should have ended once the police brought the kids home and the parents said, “Yes, they’re allowed to go to the playground and back by themselves.”

I’ll give you that some kids should absolutely NOT be trusted to roam free like I did. But others should, and no one is better positioned to know who can or can’t than the parents involved. Local law enforcement should butt out of it completely unless they find the kids misbehaving or in distress. You’d think they’d have something better to do than force “help” on those who don’t want or need it; like two kids just walking down the sidewalk.

Maybe a good intermediate step would be to issue a “free-range kid” ID tag. Or chip implant. Or tattoo. Then the cops could just “catch and release,” if they found it necessary to investigate every juvenile pedestrian they encountered. And the parents wouldn’t have to be dragged into court about it.

I realize many parents will recoil at the idea of letting their beloved offspring off the leash. But with a law like this, they are still free to hover over their children’s every activity if they wish. But those who think a little independence is an excellent development opportunity is free to do what they wish.

But there are so many child assaults, abductions, and cases of abuse! How could I let my child wander out into that?” That’s the common refrain.

I maintain that there really aren’t any more instances of such malfeasance now that there were then; it’s just that with social media and 24/7 news channels, we hear about every goddamned one of them, so it seems like an ever-present menace.

There was a lot of horrific crap that happened in the 70s too. We just didn’t hear about it unless it was local. The fact is, even “free-range” kids are safer now than they were back in The Day. And only a small percentage of child abductions are committed by non-family members.

The danger I see is that by keeping kids on such a short leash, they are being robbed of the chance to learn vital independence and coping skills. The result is often kids who don’t know how to go anywhere or do anything and who must rely on others to pave their way through all obstacles. Through the constant surveillance, we are creating the entitled, helpless kids we eventually complain about never moving out.

I’m not suggesting it will be a painless experience. There will be bumps and bruises and some scares along the way. I know I had my share and I endeavored not to repeat them. All of those little setbacks were great teachers.

I wouldn’t exchange my “free range” childhood for anything. I’m glad that, at least in Utah, more kids might have the chance to wind their way through childhood the way I did. Would that other states follow Utah’s lead.

And that’s probably the most unlikely sentence I’ve ever written.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The #MarchForOurLives Isn't Enough

I didn’t write or design this graphic, but it fits.

I’ve been saying, ever since this movement began, rising from the blood spilled in Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School, that speeches, demonstrations, and marches aren’t enough. This transformative fire needs to translate into votes if there is a hope of affecting any changes in the nation’s gun laws.

And I’m heartened at what I’ve seen so far, in that there was a voter registration drive going hand in hand with the marches. Best to register as soon as possible, before the inevitable Republican push to add more obstacles between voting and those trending Democratic.

The GOP “war on voter fraud” states already disallow the use of student IDs to register, so I’m not sure what else they can do to discourage the youth vote. Maybe require a parent’s permission slip? I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to flat-out raise the legal voting age, despite how transparent such a ploy would be. I’m sure they’ll think of something.

You can tell that Republican leadership is scared stiff of the anti-gun youth movement. Their greatest hope is that it will all pass when the “Next Thing” comes along. It’s always worked this way in the past, however, this time seems different.

It’s been five weeks since the Florida shooting and we’re still talking about it. That’s about four weeks longer than we usually talk about mass shootings. This movement has legs.

So, it’s no wonder the smear machine is revved up. The NRA and their lapdogs in the GOP are throwing daggers and pumping out misleading information all over the place. US Congressmen are taking shots at 17-year old kids who have already survived someone literally taking shots at them.

There’s an obvious photoshop of Emma Gonzalez ripping up the Constitution, with requisite effects to make her scarier-looking. (Think the “blackened OJ” magazine cover.)

Former Senator and reigning champion of the Urban Dictionary, Rick Santorum, snapped that these troublesome kids should be learning CPR instead of trying to tell adults what to do. Doctors and people familiar with common sense and decency pointed out that not only will CPR not do diddley-squat for someone shot with an AR-15, but his advice is for them to prepare for when they get shot rather than containing even an ounce of prevention.

The NRA is claiming that “gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting the children, as part of their plan to DESTROY the 2nd Amendment and strip us of our right to protect ourselves and loved ones.”  This is part of a plea to join the NRA.

What the NRA and their pet Republicans don’t get is that these kids are leading us. They’ve seen, first hand, what these semi-automatic rifles can do; how much slaughter can be conducted in mere minutes. There can be no more effective advocate for this cause than these kids.
They don’t need ANYONE to tell them what to do. They understand the 2nd Amendment and know enough not to demand the end of gun ownership, contrary to what the NRA’s scare ads want you to believe. They know that semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity clips are not necessary for hunting, home defense, or ANYTHING of a useful nature. There are more than enough Standard rifles, shotguns, and handguns to keep people’s homes and loved ones effectively defended.

Conservative websites are serving up tinfoil hatted propaganda like this:
This is so wrong-headed, I can only assume those who share it on Facebook think, “Wow, he said ‘paradigm shift.’ He must be smart, so this must be right.”

The obvious, gaping, too-big-to-miss black hole is that regardless of whether children can own a firearm or not, THEY ARE THE ONES GETTING SHOT WITH THEM! That gives them every right to protest the destructive power of these weapons of war sitting in civilian hands.

Further, give me one example of how the big, bad, government is indoctrinating children into telling their parents what to do. Other than teaching actual science to fundamentalist offspring, I mean. This is the raving of people who have spent so little time in school, they have to make up outlandish conspiracy theories about what goes on in one.

Conservatives on Facebook are passing around invalid truisms like this:
This is a textbook invalid analogy. Both cell phones and cars have common and beneficial uses, so there are rules and laws in play to guide the behavior related to using them. Semi-automatic rifles have only one purpose: to obliterate anything the user shoots at. There is no benign use or necessity for these guns.

See, they HAVE to resort to misleading statements and strawman arguments because they can’t win on the facts. They HAVE to claim the very heart of the 2nd Amendment is at stake, (when it’s clearly not), or else gun manufacturers’ profits might dip. That’s what you do when you can’t win an argument; you argue the case that you think you CAN win.

That doesn’t make it valid, however.

And when a powerful organization like the NRA finds that things are suddenly not going their way, the way they have paid good money for things to be, they’re left with having to navigate through the icebergs of their own rhetoric.
Nope, no double-standard there… Like Republicans have shown with the gay marriage issue, they’re only for “State’s Rights” when states are doing things the GOP likes.

Last weekend, I watched a special on the civil rights movement, featuring a ton of news footage. While that movement and the one formulating now have many differences, I notice one useful similarity.

Under Dr. King, protests were designed to be peaceful, yet provocative enough to elicit violence on the part of the racists. The idea was to make the bigots show their true selves.

The Kids are doing that now. They are provoking a seemingly respectable section of the population… businessmen, congressmen, state officials, and garden-variety gun enthusiasts, into showing the lengths they’ll go to keep the status quo, regardless of the casualties.

Children were stalked, shot and killed, and those who survived are being vilified for daring to ask for better.

All so gun-fetishists can go out in the woods and play Rambo and businesses can profit from them.

Enough is enough. These brave kids need to carry this momentum into November and show up at the polls on election day, to vote out any MFer who puts NRA dollars ahead of schoolkids’ lives.

That’s the only way any of this will matter.