discarded lies: monday, april 23, 2018 12:24 pm zst
A Politburo of Two
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guest author: Dances With Typos
Radical Apathy
Those here who are foolish enough to pay attention to my ravings know that last Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend, I received a notice from my Credit Union that I was overdrawn.

After sufficient ranting, raving and (under my breath out of respect for my mother) cursing, I got the necessary papers together and sat on them, waiting for this morning to argue my case with my bank.

At 8 am on the tick, I opened my papers, including the NSF notice, and saw something I had not, before. This NSF was in regard to my savings account, not checking. It seems that Verizon, in infinite electronic wisdom, had dropped the last two digits of my account number, which shows that a withdrawal is to be made from checking.

I did call my bank to verify, and was told, 'yeah, they did that'.

I checked my email confirmation of the payment, and saw that I had given them the correct numbers, so it was obviously their fault. With this information I called Verizon.

After seemingly endless time spent wandering among the twisted pathways of Verizons electronic maze, I'd finally had enough, and began repeating, 'agent, agent, Agent, AGENT!'. In an almost surprised voice, the electronic system answered 'You have asked to be connected to a representative, is this correct? Press 1 for . . .'

'YES!' I shouted.

A few moments later I was connected with a tired-voiced woman who was not prepared to believe a word I told her, and assumed, no matter how I explained, that this was my mistake. I triumphantly told her the correct number was on my payment confirmation notice, but apparently, that is equivalent to the Hawaiian Certificate Of Live Birth, and even Verizon will not accept it.

So, until I can get confirmation from my CU, not only will the NSF fee stand, but so will late fees on the now-past-due payment. Just another service of Verizon Mindless.

While on hold with Verizon, I happened to glance up at my appointment papers, hung in a bulldog clip on the wall beside my PC, and noticed that, besides my MRI, scheduled for 9:45, I also had a long-standing appointment with my urologist, for a urine flow and capacity test at 9:30.

Now, luckily, the urologist's office is in the next building to the MRI, so if I went for the pee test a little early, I could still be zapped on time, except that I had not drunk nearly enough this morning to give a good account of myself, there.

So, as I listened to the droning litany of how the account error must have been my fault until I proved otherwise, I dressed, gasping in pain as I tried to get jeans on and tie my shoes with my bad hip. I wonder if, during the few moments the Disservice Rep was listening, rather than talking, she thought I was breathing heavy at her? I then chugged down another cup of too-hot coffee. It was still not enough liquid, but would have to do, as the time was now 9:13.

Leaping into Alice, my newly repaired Lunar Module, I tore across town, and dashed into the urologists office. Yeah, everything did come out alright.

From there, it was to the outpatient admitting desk at Clearfield Hospital.

I was dressed in one of those speckled light gray T-shirts, and blue jeans. A man walking down the hall toward me was dressed the same, but with a baseball cap. Another guy walked aroung the corner dressed the same, except with a different cap. I glanced into the waiting room, where a hefty young man was sitting, in a speckled gray T and bluejeans, with yet a different baseball cap.

I remarked to the admitting clerk that I must be out of uniform, since I had no cap, but she just looked at me without understanding. So, I handed my MRI scrip to the clerk, and saw, for the first time, out of the corner of my eye, that the symptom for which the doctor had scheduled the test was listed as 'radiculopathy.' I read this as Radical Apathy and started to laugh. The admitting clerk looked at me without understanding, but a slight touch of fear.

'P-please go have a seat in the waiting room,' she quavered.

As I was slowly forcing my hip to bend in order to sit, they called my name. I pushed myself back up, and walked to the desk. The clerk, leaning back in her chair, staying out of reach, said 'B-booth Three'.

Apparently she had already warned the other clerk, and when I asked for a copy of the scrip, just so I could show my family that I was in for Radical Apathy, she carefully explained that it was an 'o' rather than an 'a'. I carefully explained the concept of an oxymoron. I think she was offended.

I walked on down the hall toward the lab desk (yes, that is three desks, so far). As I got close, I realized that it was the same nurse who had vampired me 2 weeks ago. I stopped in front of the desk, and in my best stoned California surfer voice said, 'Whoa! Deja Vu, Man.' It took her a moment, but then she recognized me and laughed. Finally! A nurse with a sense of humor.

I handed her my papers, and she told me to have a seat (sob). I had not brought my glasses, and so could not read any of the Complete Works Of People Magazine which covered the shelves, so instead I watched Rachel Ray making something she called 'Thickened Chicken Soup'. Pretty much the same as my chicken & gravy with veggies, except for the addition of parsnips, which I will try next time.

Then they called my name.

There were three pleasant-looking ladies standing around the fourth desk. One of them saw the logo on my T-shirt and asked if I worked there. She pronounced it wrong, but that is not uncommon.

There are hundreds of tales of immigrants to the US who passed through Ellis Island and had their names changed forever by lazy, illiterate or uncaring clerks. Well, I think my employer's family had the opposite, as their name was rendered not only unspellable, but unpronounceable by any normal rules of grammar, and you all know how tough grammy is about her rules.

One of the women asked a series of medical questions, and after I'd answered no to all, she turned a form on the desk toward me and reached down to 'X' the line where I was to sign.

'NO!' I said, 'please don't 'X' that.' That is one of my pet peeves. If a person can read, then they can find the line for themselves, if they cannot read, then they should not be signing, anyway.

'I know you are trained to do that,' I said, 'because this is, after all, a post-literate society. But, I am at war with the forces of illiteracy. Ah kin read!' She got it, and laughed a bit, so I was now two for four.

OK, this was my first MRI. But I have to say that I've already discerned the actual purpose of the device. It is not, in fact a diagnostic tool.

What it is is a device designed to test the limits of humans ability to withstand a series of seemingly endless electronic noises, perhaps some clandestine research into non-lethal crowd control weapons to be used when Americans finally rise up again.

The very first noises were a set of notes that sounded like a skipping record playing the intro to something by Gary Numan over and over and over and . . .

The next were worse.

Enclosed in a tiny tube, with no escape and no respite except for a few seconds at a time when the platform would move me a few millimeters, then the sounds would begin again, repeating and repeating. Some were almost musical, some were merely strange, like the one that sounded exactly like a movie robot voice endlessly repeating 'question,question,question.'

There are two main types of science fiction dystopia. The first is the 'Blade Runner' or 'Thunderdome' sort. Filth, grime, crime, and grunge, with humanity reduced to snarling animals battling over the last scraps.

The second type is worse, to my mind. Typified by movies like 'Logans Run' or 'THX 1138,' these are societies where humans are numbers at best, controlled by high-tech devices they live out meaningless lives, with no hope of anything different. MRI's fit into this category.

After 30 minutes, or hours, a new sound began. I felt it before I heard it, vibrating in the fillings of my teeth, bouncing around the inside of my skull like some inhuman dance music, it went on and on.

After a few days of this, I could feel my eyes begin to bulge from the pressure waves bouncing back and forth inside my head. They kept getting stronger. My head began thrashing, involuntarily, side to side within the confines of the strange saddle-shaped pillow that enclosed it

Finally, unable to do anything else, I squeezed the panic button.

A quiet, gentle human female voice came through the speaker above my head, 'We're almost done, only 20 more seconds!' I moaned and lay back until the sounds finally stopped.

They got me out, and helped me to stand, my ears still ringing from the final sound.

If anyone ever wants to control me, all they need to do is to play that sound, and I will do whatever they say.

As I walked in the back door at home, my mother handed me a letter with the return address;

National Imaging Associates
Phoenix, AZ 85008

It was an approval for me to have an MRI done.
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guest author: levi from queens
Global Warming
While largely blind, I read stuff slowly and thought a lot. In particular I mulled the argument between the global warmists and the solarists. See the reports of the IPCC and the NIPCC. Climatology resembles ecology, sociology, and macroeconomics in that no human can possibly understand all of the underlying science. Practitioners learn a few things deeply but must depend upon others for the pieces to put together the big picture. Necessarily, I nibbled in, using those few things I knew (historic hurricanes, my memory, a little ecology and chem., some econ, and computer modeling) to ask about the strengths of the two hypotheses.

A near and dear relative who is a nuclear physicist telephoned me a few years ago to preach at me that we thoroughly understood the physics of global warming. I replied that it was not entirely a question of physics, but also of chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology. I angered him when I refused to believe that we materially understood all of the intricate feedback loops of Earth.

Computer modeling, secrecy, and data quality

I have modeled financial scenarios since the invention of the PC. You build an intricate computer model with a lot of sweat and concentration. Several times, I have awakened at midnight screaming about an error I dreamed I had made. (While I have erred, I always found the next day that I had not made the particular error of my nightmares.)

In AIG’s 2007 10-K, the company explained how it had built a large and extremely expensive model to ensure that they were not taking excessive risks in any area. Many people across many areas of the company worked at the model. It was carefully reviewed by senior management, the board, and even an outside panel of experts for robustness and completeness. This model failed so miserably over a very short timespan that we are now all proud owners of AIG.

But the global warmists say that their models have been peer-reviewed. However they hold the models to their chest and will not reveal their guts to the public. If I could have President Obama do one thing on global warming, I would have him let us all see the models for which we have all paid and which purpose to turn our lives upside down. I would also ask Hugh Hewitt to consider an FOIA suit to get at these – the code will not fall within any of the FOIA exceptions.

The secrecy raises my suspicions. I have always let anybody and everybody review all of my models (within my company and outside if they did not contain competitive secrets), and I have been grateful for the feedback, criticism and validation received.

A second source of suspicions arose from relative data quality and seeming mendacity. Satellite and weather balloon data has the most consistent measurement over decades. Ocean measures suffers because the measurements have been made in progressively shallower water as the measurer has changed from largely ships which measure a fathom down to largely buoys which sample the top inches where the sun warms the water.. The least reliable data comes from land observation where the monitoring stations have their results contaminated by construction of parking lots or air conditioners adjacent to the thermometers. Further the number and location of stations fluctuates wildly from year to year and decade to decade. While nobody disagrees that the world warmed from 1975 until recently, the degree of warming forms a crucial portion of the argument. Satellite and weather data showed far less warming than land data. The most reliable land data comes from America. It shows far less warming than the rest of the world. The best data shows little; the worst data shows a lot – I am unclear as to any scientific reason to rely on the worst data and ignore the best. Consistency with a model makes poor excuse.

I was struck by the IPCC’s statement that the satellite and balloon data broadly agreed with the land data. They then do not discuss the satellite or balloon data, nor that the agreement is only as to sign, with enormous differences as to magnitude. The balloon data has just come into agreement with the land data. This happened because the 1950’s suddenly got colder in the 21st century. They threw out the results of seven tropical weather stations calling the outliers. The primary data is kept secret.

Climatologists are trying to measure the heat in an enormously complex system--Earth. Measuring the heat of something as simple as a stick is fiendishly difficult to get right. Pons and Fleischmann were confounded when they mistook the total heat present in a metal rod (which is of course far simpler than a stick). They saw fusion instead of the release of energy from within the rod. I would have greater humility in the face of such a task.

The Subtraction argument:

The IPCC makes mush of the fact that they can only find possible natural causation for 21% of the observed warming. They conclude that the remainder of the warming must be man-made. Let’s leave aside the question of if they have sufficient imagination and breadth to encompass all of the natural causes of warming. If the actual warming has been a fraction of the amount posited, this ratio of 21% will sky.

Mechanism for global warming:

While the solarists lean on greater heat from the sun, the global warmists rely on a blanket effect from CO2. CO2 lets sunshine through but blocks the return heat radiation. The heated CO2 molecules transfer their heat to the rest of the atmosphere and down to the Earth. Venus with an 97% CO2 atmosphere is deadly hot.

OTOH, Earth’s atmosphere (by dry volume) contains less than 0.04% CO2. Imagine how pleased your lover would be if while he shivers on a cold night you give him a 0.04% blanket. CO2 concentrations have increased their proportion of the atmosphere by about 0.004%. Could you mollify your lover with an additional 0.004% of blanket? (It is also true that .004% is 10% of .04%,)

The global warmists do not particularly highlight the fact, but they are not so simple as to rely upon these miniscule quantities. Water vapor functions like CO2—and more strongly and abundantly. The warming models use CO2 to increase water vapor levels (clouds) which creates more warming.

High wispy clouds reflect heat while letting sunshine through. Low fluffy clouds OTOH reflect sunlight and cool the Earth. Enormous uncertainty surrounds the shape of clouds. Joni understood the shape of clouds in more depth than current science.

Global warming increases CO2. CO2 dissolves in water far more easily than any other common constituent of the air. (generally substances with positive and negative ends dissolve in substances with positive and negative ends; those without such ends dissolve in electrically neutral substances – both CO2 and water have positive and negative poles, while O2, N2 and argon are electrically neutral). As water warms, it can contain less CO2. The warmists posit a vicious cycle of CO2 causing warming causing release of CO2 from the oceans. Accelerated rot should have a similar if smaller effect. The solarists say that historically global warm periods have preceded increases in CO2.


The solarists say that the sun has caused the vast majority of recent warming. They posit that a roiled solar atmosphere increases UV radiation, cosmic rays and solar winds. These both heat the Earth and influence high cloud formation. The global warmists retort that variation in total solar irradiance is less than 0.1%. Temperature has risen only slightly. Without resolution, I note that a change of 0.1% in a first-order cause (direct) cause intuitively exceeds an increase in proportion of 0.004% of a second-order (indirect) cause.


Global warmist predictions remind me of Nostradamus. He predicted everything, but never in advance. After WWII, people went back and found Nostradamus manuscripts pointing to WWII, but they couldn’t find them in advance of the event. The recent shrinkage of the arctic icecap embodies this. Only after the shrinkage did the global warmists say it was caused by global warming. Alternative explanations include undersea volcanoes (which did erupt for more than half a decade) and a favorite warmist reason for any trend contrary to global warming-- weather.

Predictions are important because they allow for falsification of a theory. Perhaps the most dramatic such event occurred when doubters of the wave theory of light proved mathematically the seemingly absurd conclusion that the wave theory implied that a light shown onto a circular shadow-maker would generate a pinpoint of light at the center of the shadow. When the pinpoint was found to exist, the world immediately accepted the wave theory.

A writer in Discover magazine said recently that thirty years of global cooling would not disprove global warmism because we will always have weather. The solarists are predicting a long period of cooling – which seems to have begun. Weather?

Some news reports seem to suggest that global warmism has actually predicted the further deterioration of the arctic icecap. It seems to be regenerating, which would be consistent with volcanically-caused melting. This increasing trend continues in 2009.

The NIPCC says that the global warmists predict that the tropical upper troposphere should be warming faster than the land surface, and that the models require this.greater speed. It makes intuitive sense as the atmosphere should absorb the infrared and then transmit it back to the ground. The data clearly shows no such effect. The NIPCC calls this absolute proof that global warmism is misbegotten. I lack the knowledge to make such a judgment.


The world came out of the Little Ice Age in the mid-nineteenth century and has been warming since except for the 35 years following 1940.

The area under the drawn-in bars shows that cooling period. WWII generated enormous quantities of dust – from the fighting, from converting many large cities to piles of rubble and from the industrial production where pollution was not even a minor consideration. The first and second worlds rapidly industrialized in the 1950’s. China quickly gained the world’s filthiest air with Mao’s idiocy of building backyard steel mills. China retains this honor. America was far dustier in 1970 than today. I can recall walking in morning smog in the late 60’s where I could not see my hand at armslength. Do you remember the air?

The environmental movement led to the cleansing of America’s skies. When I worked as an environmentalist lobbyist in the early 70’s, one statistic surprised me. The fourth greatest source of particulate matter (scientese for dust) was construction debris. (The top three were electric utilities, transport, and industrial processes with the ranking varying by locale.) Construction dust resolved easily by requiring builders to damp down construction sites with hoses.

Probably all of this dust was cooling. Certainly construction dust with its glittering sands would have reflected far more light than heat.

The rest of the first world cleaned up at about the same time as America. The second world improved rapidly when communism and its industry collapsed in the late 80’s. China has at least not worsened since the (literally) dark days of the 50’s. The hypothesis of the drawn line: the warming continued at a moderate rate from the end of the little ice age 150 years ago. Dust obscured the trend from 1940 to 1970. The seemingly more rapid warming of the 80s and 90s was catching up as the air cleaned. I have been unable to locate a history of air cleanliness to vet the idea. The idea that tropical weather balloons did not agree on the coolness of the 50’s is also consistent.

Pace Powerline who called it “Rube Goldberg science”, I was impressed with the President’s science adviser when he suggested putting stuff in the air to cool the planet. Edmund Teller once suggested using jet contrails.

I personally favor bringing back burning leaves of a fall, a ritual nobody under 30 has ever enjoyed. It might not cool the planet, but it would lift the spirit.


I have bought, sold, broked, and modeled catastrophe reinsurance for hurricanes for well over a decade. Historically, hurricanes raged more severely in the 40’s and 50’s than since. While there has been recurrent speculation that we may see a repeat of those years, we have not –notwithstanding that 2005 was a bad year.

The IPCC blames a supposed increase since 1970 on global warming (p.30). We have good hurricane records for Florida for about 120 years and for most other places for far longer. The people who bet huge sums of money on hurricane damage do not seem to believe in an increasing trend – and they watch very closely for such trends.

This was the point of the IPCC’S report where I knew the most, and I was appalled that they lied. This lie causes me to doubt the veracity of all of the rest of the report.


I have picked up little econ by osmosis both from business and bloggie. The NIPCC states that the IPCC assumed in all scenarios that the third world would grow economically by a ratio of 70:1 over the next century – such that North Korea would be more prosperous than America. By comparison, Japan grew by 20:1 in the 20th century. Without these absurd growth rates, the apocalyptic suggestions could not be made.

Per the NIPCC, the IPCC excluded economists from all deliberations. You can see why.

Economists would also never put up with secret models.

“[The IPCC’s]s role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change…” This is from the second sentence of the IPCC’s description of its mandate. And they exclude economists??!!

From data to the limits of modeling to falsehoods about hurricanes to absurd economics, global warmism fails to convince at even a threshold level.
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A Prostitute Named Amanda
I’ve been ruminating about this ever since a debate about whether prostitution should be legalized arose in Why prostitution is an affront to human dignity, and the more I think, the less sense it makes. Legalizing it means bringing it into conformity with the norms of our society. But such a thing is absurd. If you advocate legal prostitution, I invite you to consider my arguments and answer them if you can.

Consider a hypothetical legal prostitute’s work-day. Let’s give her a name to humanize her-how about Amanda? Let’s also ignore typical prostitution, and pretend Amanda works like any other professional. She owns her own business, and she works an 8-hour day with a 30-minute break and two 15-minute breaks, just like anyone else. Like anyone else, she wants to maximize her earning power and see as many “clients” as she can fit into her day. Let’s say Amanda “sees” one man an hour, for forty-five minutes, and takes a short break to clean herself and tidy up the room in between. Amanda has sex with seven men a day. 5 days a week. 50 weeks a year. In a single working year, Amanda has sex a total of 1,750 times with strangers.

Even if we assume that every single one of these encounters was a “safe” one with a healthy, un-diseased man, what is her job doing to Amanda’s mental health? There is no way to make the most intimate, emotional experience a human being ever has a commercial transaction with no repercussions. Amanda’s sex is not a cup of coffee or a gallon of milk or a massage or a yoga lesson. Amanda is a human being with emotions. If Amanda has a tremendous inner strength, and she can have that much sex with strangers and retain an apparent outward sanity, it will be by mentally detaching from herself, the men she is with, and the acts she is engaged in. It’s not mentally healthy to disengage from your emotions and your body. It’s a great way to lose your soul.

How can it be legal to employ people in such a job? One that drives them insane? There’s no way to make this job safe for Amanda’s mental health. Even if she gets out of the business and starts a dry cleaning business or becomes an accountant, will she ever be able to have a normal relationship with a man?

That’s leaving aside the fact that on this scale, there’s no such thing as safe sex. Forget Amanda’s mind. What about her body? How many of those men have a disease? “Ah, but we’ll require the use of condoms”…sorry, that doesn’t help. At all. Condoms break and tear. They slip off. All men dislike condoms. Some will find a way to get rid of the condom. Maybe by pressuring Amanda or offering her more money. Many diseases are transmitted by skin contact, not bodily fluids. Condoms do not cover the entire penis. Many sexually transmitted diseases cannot be cured. “Ah, but we’ll require prostitutes to have regular testing, and if they test positive, they’re out.” That’s not fair! You mean, Amanda can scrupulously insist on using a condom every time with every man, catch a disease through no fault of her own, and suddenly lose her livelihood?

Would you want your daughter to have a job like that?

“Ah, but we’ll test all the clients too, and the industry will ban any customer who tests positive.” Many diseases are transmissible before they are detectable. HIV is one. It doesn’t show up in lab tests for the first six months after infection. How would you like to give Amanda the news that she has HIV? How would you like to have to be the one to tell Amanda that she has cervical cancer from human papilloma virus?

How would you like to be in Amanda’s shoes when she hears the news that she is going to die early? How can you advocate legalizing such a dangerous trade, one that cannot be made safe? Think of herpes. If one has herpes and the other doesn’t, the statistics are grim even for monogamous married couples. Even when they use a condom every time, avoid sex during outbreaks, and the infected partner takes antiviral drugs to suppress viral shedding, the transmission rate between monogamous couples is still around 5% a year. Which means the transmission rate over a lifetime is going to be pretty darn close to 100%.

What about Amanda’s uninfected clients? What about their wives and girlfriends? How many of the 1,750 men Amanda has sex with every year will catch something from her before the disease is detected, and how many people will they in turn spread it to? No other legitimate profession is such an uncontrollable public health hazard to its workers, customers, and unsuspecting third parties. She is going to need a lot of liability insurance.

What if Amanda has read about the “down low”, and decides she doesn’t like her chances, and she doesn’t want to take the risk of sleeping with black men? Before she was a legal, regulated business, she could do that. Now she can’t, because businesses are not allowed to discriminate against protected classes. Now we’re looking at a court forcing Amanda not to discriminate. In other words, forcing her to have sex she doesn’t want to have. In other words, judicially sanctioned rape. This is Taliban territory. Amanda can either go out of business or obey a judge’s order to have sex with clients without prejudice. This way lies madness. Gender-based discrimination is illegal too. What if a man wants to work as a prostitute, but does not want to have sex with men? What if a woman wants to pay Amanda for sex, but Amanda is straight? Let’s say Amanda has become a madam and owns her own whorehouse. Can she be forced to hire a male prostitute if she has a job opening and a man applies, even if none of her customers want a male prostitute? Maybe Amanda has a conscience and doesn’t want to participate in ruining another woman’s marriage. Can she legally discriminate against married men?

What if Amanda gets pregnant? If prostitution is a legal profession like nursing or photography, then Amanda can’t be considered an unfit mother and the courts will not take her child away, but the child will likely never have a father, because few men are willing to marry a prostitute. It’s just too bad for the kid, I guess.

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guest author: Jefe
St. Patrick's Week
When you’re in a Boston based Irish band, it’s St. Patrick’s Week, not day. It’s probably the highlight of the year, but it’s also the most exhausting time you’ll experience. I guess the holiday season started for us on Thursday, March 10, at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence, Mass. We love playing there - great big open room, large stage with professional sound, and friendly owners & staff.

On Friday, the weekend journey started. We left Boston around 3 in the afternoon, piled into a large passenger van with our gear in a U-Haul trailer. Lots of traffic and a couple of McDonald’s & bathroom stops later, we were in New Jersey at Maloney’s Pub & Grill for a last minute replacement gig. Maloney’s is a brand new place in Matawan with a great menu, beautiful interior, and a huge beer selection. We were supposed to play that night in Boston, but the venue canceled just a few days before. Maloney’s helped us out by booking us at the last minute, conveniently on the way to Washington DC. Try the Irish Sushi - corned beef strips on little mashed potato beds with a tasty wasabi sauce.

About 3 in the morning, we finished disassembling & packing everything back up and hit the road for DC. Running on fumes, we barely made it to a gas station off of the Garden State Parkway. The rest of us were accused of being lackadaisical in the search for gas by a grumpy accordion player, resulting in a running joke that still hasn’t gotten old (example - new chorus for Whiskey in the Jar, ‘lackadaisical, lackadaisical, we’re almost out of gas’).

Later that morning, we stopped at a rest area on 95 in Maryland so the driver and his intrepid navigator (I can’t really sleep in a moving car anyway) could get a couple of hours of sleep. Interesting side note - the mens room stall doors looked like they were designed for 4 foot tall people. It’s more than a little disconcerting. I was completely stumped as to why (the drummer/driver thought it was a Maryland thing, but I told him no), but the singer got it right away - something about discouraging people with a wide stance.

Around 10AM Saturday (3/14), we pulled into RFK Stadium in DC for ShamrockFest, Irish music’s largest outdoor frat party. It was a great experience for us, one we couldn’t possibly pass up in spite of the ridiculous travel schedule. Getting our foot into the door of the festival scene and DC at the same time was a big thing, and so was playing on a bill that included Carbon Leaf & Flogging Molly. Unfortunately, being the new guys, we were on at 1PM, about 5 minutes after doors opened. Although we were on the main Irish stage, it was on the complete opposite end of the festival from the entrance. We were probably halfway through the set before the crowd started to trickle in. It was still a success, the organizer said we were great, and I got to see lots of old friends. Living in a new place, it was nice to be the guy who knows everyone for a change. We had to bug out early though, at 4PM, in order to get back to Boston for the next gig we couldn’t pass up…

van full of gobshites

Many miles and stops later, we got back in town around 2AM. I was home & in bed by 3 and back up around 9 for the South Boston St. Patrick’s Parade. Another event not to be missed. We fixed up a trailer, set up (and screwed down) our gear inside, and got ready for what has to be the largest annual parade around.

gobshites trailer

We were at the tail end of the parade, and most of the people watching seemed happy to have some loud, boisterous music. When we passed the Gold Star Mothers viewing platform, we launched into Wild Rover just for them. They sang along, as did former mayor Ray Flynn when we passed the Comcast tv area (where they got a nice close-up of a handsome fiddler). We also posed for a group picture with our best friend.

gobshites in group photo with man-can of guinness

Once the parade was over (it lasted from about 1 - 4PM), we broke everything down, loaded the gear back into the trailer, and made our way to Worcester. We played there at Tammany Hall from around 7 until midnight, and some caught a quick nap beforehand in the comfy little band room.

gobshites nap before the Tammany Hall show

Finally, we could get a full night’s sleep. Well, those of us who didn’t have to work on Monday could.

Monday night…countdown to St. Patrick’s Day at McGann’s in downtown Boston, where we played with London’s Bible Code Sundays. Another act was performing a few blocks away at the Boston Garden, someone called Britney Spears. McGann’s had a healthy pre-Britney crowd, including several Justin wannabes. I hope they were carding. We had an average crowd for our sets, though once Britney finished a few came back.

We managed 2 hours of sleep before having to get up to start the big day. We started early at McFadden’s, back in downtown Boston, playing from 7 - 10AM. Fortunately, they had a nice breakfast buffet going that we hit up during the first break. Ahh, a nice breakfast somewhere without Egg McMuffin on the menu.

After McFadden’s, we walked the gear a couple blocks away to Ned Devine’s at Faneuil Hall. There, we played all afternoon until 8PM, with some breaks for dinner & Irish dancers. The news was there to chronicle the fun. We met people from California, Canada, DC, Maryland, and Ohio, coming to Boston to experience St. Patrick’s Day. Talking to a guy from Maryland, I realized I was pretty much doing the same thing. By the time we left, we were ready to collapse. However, we still had a little longer to go…

Tuesday night was back at McGann’s. Here’s how you know we were completely spent - the entire night, the singer had a full Guinness & a shot of Jameson on stage…untouched. A video of us throughout the day would have been pretty interesting, recording the gradual degradation. We put on our game faces, gave 110%, took it one song at a time, really hung in there, and so on. Thankfully, we had nothing on Wednesday except for sleep. Lots of sleep. Unless, of course, you had to work. Which I didn’t.

Thursday was back at Ned Devine’s, again with the Bible Codes. A good time was had by all. I think.At this point, it all kind of blends together. I had to consult the show schedule to be sure. Friday night was the end of the season in my mind. We played a fantastic new venue out in Southbridge called The Cannery. It was about an hour & 20 minutes away but totally worth it. The owners are trying to create a music mecca for the area, and they’re doing everything right. The sound system is top notch, the room acoustics are excellent, and the sound guy (who’s also a partner) works hard to make the sound just right. There’s also a great Irish pub in the building. If it was closer, I’d probably live there (which is entirely possible as they have apartments for rent, too). As it is, I can’t wait to play there again. Just look at how excited I was:

jumping jefe, no pogo stick

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guest author: Lyana
Don’t lick the boat!
…and other odd things parents say.
Becoming a parent means that all kinds of things about your life change; what you consider to be appropriate conversation is probably one of the more notable illustrations. For instance, I highly doubt that the bathroom habits of babies would be on your list of dinner conversation topics, but afterward (especially if in the company of other parents of young children), various bodily functions, amounts and circumstances are frequent topics of discussion – much to the horror of any singles who are unfortunate enough to be nearby. And I doubt that any non-parent would fully appreciate the “Yay! You went pee!” and ensuing fuss over a potty training toddler.

As children get older and learn to talk, one begins to foster hopes of the exchange of ideas and the passing on of the wisdom of the ages. Only to find that most conversation revolves around incessant “Whys” or imperatives – “Put your shoes on,” “Clean your room,” “Don’t hit your brother”….

It is in this last category of imperatives that I have found some of the more amusing moments of parenting. Unfortunately, though I remember laughing at what came out of my mouth on a number of occasions, I blame the child to memory loss ratio on the failure to remember most of them. There are a few notable exceptions:

When the girls were little, we lived near Niagara Falls, and most people who came to visit wanted to go on the Maid of the Mist, a boat ride that takes you very close to the falls – you get very wet! On this one particular trip, the youngest was about 3 and couldn’t quite see over the side of the boat. I held her for most of the trip so she could see, but put her down at one point just to give my back and arms a break. A minute or so later, I happened to look down and saw a little pink tongue stretched out to the railing. How could she resist trying out some of those drops of water running down the side? And that was when I heard myself say, “Don’t lick the boat!”

More recently, I found that our son is part puppy. He got teeth far earlier than the girls did, and chews all over everything. After seeing the damage done to my glasses case, I realized that we probably had to take measures to protect our leather furniture, so I heard myself say, “Don’t chew on the couches!”

And little people with runny noses are always fun to manage; I tried to keep up with him and jump in with tissues as often as possible with his most recent cold, but I just wasn’t quick enough a couple of times; finger puppets were far more convenient. And I heard myself saying, “Don’t wipe your nose on the chicken!”

Soooo… those of you who are parents, what odd things have you heard yourself say? If you’re not a parent, what are some things you remember your parents saying to you or that you’ve overheard a parent say?
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guest author: levi from queens
A Requiem for Miles
While Bane is leonine and noble, OTOH, Miles was vermiform and morally depraved. Her voice rang like a church organ. She could hit 30 notes simultaneously. When I first got her, I thought she should have been named Judy, after the little girl with the great big voice. (She doesn’t begin to sing until 2:16, but you should watch her previous; while she doesn’t hit the high notes here you can fell the power of her voice.) But Miles, the trumpeter, works as well.

..X raised my dogs magnificently. She taught them not to walk on the wrong side of a pole. When she, as a 20 year old aspiring actress, realized she could not afford dogs in New York City at the same time that I realized that I needed to purchase a security system, we negotiated over the terms for the tradeoff. One of the terms (which I did not understand, but agreed to nonetheless) was that if I were to give up one of the dogs, the dog I would give up would be Bane rather than Miles.

Miles was not house-trained – and I believe not house-trainable. She has utterly destroyed my carpeting. When I would return to the house from a time away and Miles would wax jubilant, yipping and licking, it meant that I needed to search for piles and puddles. My security deposit is shot. (..X can also be crafty.)

Miles also suffered from short dog syndrome. She bullied both Bane and me despite her diminutiveness.

As I have a king-sized bed, the dogs slept by me. Miles slept with her body rubbing mine regardless of if I wished for the proximity. She would growl if Bane would approach or if I would try to move her to a more comfortable position,

Dogs in my household must preclean the dishes prior to the dishwasher. Less than half the mass of Bane, Miles (with her short dog syndrome) always claimed first spot. Bane, at better than twice the poundage, always deferred. Miles’ tongue was short and soft and lacked the industrial Ajax strength which Bane brings to baked-on food. But Bane always was on the second shift.

Miles set the alert with her great baying barks. She stood ever-vigilant against the mailman’s nefarious plots to invade our household. She never failed to alert me about the dangers posed by young mothers with baby carriages on our front sidewalk. Squirrels never set foot in our backyard, and the cats in the garden walked a long ways away from us.

Alas, Bane has made friends with the mailman. Squirrels promiscuously waltz through the back yard. Even the cats now come within 15 feet of my yard.

I had taught my dogs not to stray from the backyard, but I made the mistake of leaving for a half hour with the door open and found Miles on my front steps (walking around a half dozen townhouses). She now knew she could leave. I tied her up for five days while Bane was allowed to roam free, but it did not work. The first day I let her off-leash, I sat working intensely in the backyard or playing on Bloggie and did not notice when she left.

Here is the poster I placed on the trees and lampposts of Sunnyside and Woodside:



Half basset & half beagle, smallish

Spayed female

Gentle and friendly

Several people called to tell me (not all of whom found English a friendly language) she was run over by a schoolbus. She had good car sense, but schoolbuses do not behave like cars.

One gorgeous young blonde lady with red eyes came by and gave me the collar which reeked of death. I remain grateful to this lady because the collar meant that I could explain things to Bane. We held a little funeral in the backyard where Bane and I buried the collar.

For such a vermiform and morally-depraved creature, Miles was mourned deeply by an enormous number of people. The one Christian doctrine which I question the most is the idea that dogs lack souls. Miles clearly had one, although I am not clear that it would have sent her heavenward.

Perhaps I should get Bane a puppy.

So for a happier ending in memory of Miles -- Miles/Judy.
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Election Day: A Recounting
November 4th was one of the best days of my life! The day's theme is "fabulous". I set my alarm for 5 AM, and woke up on my own at 4:45 out of anxiety and excitement (as I tend to do when I know I have a big day ahead). I showered but didn't bother shaving, because I thought I looked fine with my three-day growth and didn't feel like spending one more minute at home. I headed out, got a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and drove to my precinct.

Everyone was there early or on time, except one Indian guy who showed up five minutes late. But it was no problem, because we didn't even have much to do when we showed up. Since our precinct was a special site where voters who had a problem with their registration were being sent, and we were expecting to be one of the busiest sites of the day, they delivered our voting machines and computers already set up and ready to go. We just had to unbox everything and plug it all in.

My precinct had 8 other people working: 4 of us on computers, 3 on voting machines, one person at the door, and the CEO of the precinct. We idly chatted as we set up our equipment at a leisurely pace and got to know one another. Everyone I worked with was a fabulous person! I was expecting to be the only person under 30, and to work with 8 church ladies who got lost on their way to bingo. As it turned out, 5 of us were young people; three men and two women. One of us was an adorable geriatric Democrat white guy with great big Obama ears, and the rest were women in their 40s and 50s. The Indian guy brought some kind of stinky brown-people breakfast his wife made him. As he was eating it he tried to apologize for the smell and I would have none of it, I told him I love the smell of pungent Indian spices and garlic!

I worked a computer station, and sat with the Indian guy to my left and a young white grad student on my right. We were told to expect to be one of the busiest precincts. In reality, we turned out to be one of the deadest precincts in America, except for five huge rushes: very early in the morning, then at noon, then at 2 PM, again at 5 PM, and a bit more than a hundred people showed up at the last minute before we closed the polls (we were warned this would probably happen). Nonetheless we had great long stretches of quiet, periods of 20 minutes with no voters and nothing to do but play Solitaire and Minesweeper and get to know each other. And get to know each other we did. We had some great conversations. One of the girls kept coming up with fun questions for us to bat around, like "what reality show would you be on?" or "what are your two favorite movies?" We also read everyone's horoscopes out loud from the newspaper.

Everyone working was in a fantastic mood from the start, and all the voters were in a very good mood as well. I think our bright and chipper demeanors had to have rubbed off on them. When we were really dead and dealing with 5 or 10 voters an hour, sometimes we'd just have one voter in the room and we'd all be chatting up the voter and telling jokes as one of us took care of her on the computer and then escorted her to a voting machine. It was really amazing how many people were voting for the first time. And not just young people-many were well into their fifties or sixties and voting for the very first time. The whole room applauded all our first-time voters after they left the voting machine.

One of the most fun aspects of the day was that those of us working on the computers competed to invent the best ways to put the voters' minds at ease. For instance, I came up with the phrase "this is your ticket to vote", regarding a piece of paper we handed the voter after taking care of their details on the computer. As if this was an amusement park ride. Isn't that a lot better than "application to vote"? The Indian guy started telling people as soon as he hit the Print button that "you'll be voting in about two minutes", just to let them know that it wasn't going to take much longer. I started telling people immediately upon looking them up and confirming their eligibility that "you are eligible to vote, and you will be voting in this location today". Obvious to me, not obvious to them since they'd been turned away from their own precinct and sent here, so why not tell them immediately instead of making them wonder how long they're going to be in bureaucratic limbo? So every time someone invented a good customer service practice, we discussed it and decided we would all adopt it.

I really hated having to turn away a voter who was military. She had been registered, her registration became invalid when she moved away, she came back and sent in her change of address, and it just never got there. Unfortunately she was unable to vote with us, even though one of the poll watchers came over to advocate her cause, because we're unable to bend the law even a little bit, and her status in our records was unambiguous: she was ineligible to vote. We sent her to yet another location to cast a provisional ballot. We were told about 90% of provisional ballots are invalidated, but those who really did send in their information and just slipped through the cracks do get their votes counted. I really hope her vote counted.

Poll watchers and media: we had maybe seven or eight poll watchers throughout the day, never more than two at a time. I don't remember all the organizations they represented, but one was from the League of Women Voters, and she was the one who tried to intervene on behalf of the military woman whom we were forced to turn away. The media came three times to get some footage, but left because we were dead and there wasn't much to tape. We were so dead during one part of the morning, after the rush, that I joked that I should dress up in a costume and go out on the street with a sandwich board to flag down cars and recruit us some voters. We also joked about arm-wrestling over who gets to work with the voter when a single voter would come into our empty precinct. I felt a little bit guilty that I was being wasted on such a dead site and asked my CEO if I could be sent to a busier precinct, but she nixed that because she'd worked this location before and it was likely to get extremely busy with no notice.

In training, we were promised police slaves to bring us coffees and donuts throughout the day, so we perked up every time a police officer showed up in uniform, which was about three times an hour, but they were all there to vote! So our promised police slaves never happened. Luckily I have fabulous friends who are my heroes. I lined them up well before election day to bring me stuff. I had four people lined up but only ended up using two of my lifelines, but I'm so grateful that everyone was ready and willing to be at my beck and call. When the promised police slaves did not look like they were going to materialize any time soon, I ended up asking my friends to bring extra stuff for my coworkers. My gorgeous and very short Ethiopian friend B. had the breakfast shift, and she brought me a turkey and artichoke sandwich, some broccoli and cheddar soup, and some great big cookies (about the size of my face) to give away to my coworkers. She was awesome. I ended up giving away both the cookies and the soup, and eating only the sandwich. I didn't bother with the friend I had lined up for lunch because I was too busy for hunger. Later on another friend, J., who had the dinner shift, brought more provisions. I had him bring us one of those coffee travelers for offices, sort of like a wine box full of Starbucks plus a bunch of cups, sugars, half and half, stirrers, etc. I also had him grab us 24 donuts. He was awesome too. People are beautiful. I'm taking them both out for dinner to thank them soon. No one else had friends bringing them stuff! Except one poor woman had her husband lined up to bring her lunch, and he was about two hours late, and he was only bringing her White Castle anyway. Gross. I foisted my broccoli and cheddar soup on her to prevent her from fainting. I am clearly the best husband and it's a shame there's only one of me to go around.

We were forbidden from bringing any outside electronic devices into the precinct, so I had to make my phone calls outside during little ten-minute breaks we got sporadically. We were also forbidden to know or discuss any election news. After we closed up shop, as we filed out at about 10 PM or so, someone informed us that McCain had conceded. We finally discussed our own votes and we all (but one) turned out to be Obama voters! So we decided to meet up at a bar and watch some election coverage and party a little bit. I had a nice dinner of salmon and mango chutney and got home by, oh, about 2 AM, and then on Wednesday I slept in until 2 PM, stayed in bed until 4 PM, and finally recovered enough to be a productive and useful member of society again on Thursday.

It really was one of the best days of my life. I walked in energetic, chuffed, and in a beautiful and happy mood. So did all my coworkers. I left energetic, chuffed, and in a beautiful and happy mood, and so did they! At the end of the night, none of us looked like we'd just worked a 16-hour day starting at 5 AM.
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guest author: levi from queens
Asbestos is a magic mineral. Some ancient Roman emperors used to have lacy tablecloths made from asbestos, which they would throw into a fire while full of food detritus to impress their guests. The tablecloths came out of the fire as pure-white as the driven snow. Nothing handles heat like asbestos.

Some Italians live on hills of asbestos – and their villages have been there for millennia. It takes a long while for asbestos to kill.

But asbestos does kill. It has killed many thousands of ignorant innocent young men.

I once, in a city far away, had a neighbor whom I despised. He was drunk; he was violent; he was profane; he was loud; he was incestuous.

He sued the asbestos-makers as he died. I was initially indignant. The only reason that he worked in the asbestos-laden shipyards was that he was too drunk to storm the beaches of Normandy. But as I watched him die (with his nose chopped off with a plastic prosthesis replacing) – nobody deserves to die that way. God may grant him heaven or hell, but he already experienced hell.

Traditionally, the only cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. It is believed that Clint Eastwood caught meso from driving his motorcycle across naturally-asbestos-infested pathways in the hills of California.

When you have mesothelioma, you die. You choke on your own blood as the linings of your heart and lung collapse. There may be somebody out there whom you hate utterly; you would not wish mesothelioma on that person.

Billions (actually 100s of billions) have been spent compensating asbestos victims in America. Every asbestos-maker on Earth has been sued into oblivion. And deservedly so.

But where there is opportunity, there is corruption. An awful lot of this payout went to union-halls where each person stood up and claimed a share, regardless of their health. When they came back for a second share based on pneumonultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis the judge noted that the proffered x-rays were identical to those from their prior asbestos suits. And Dickie Scruggs is being disbarred and imprisoned.

A Pittsburgh industrial company, once a part of the Fortune 500, no longer exists. It sold ~ $100,000 worth of goods with a few hundred dollars worth of asbestos component – among the billions of dollars which it sold. It has been sued into oblivion – and its employees now work elsewhere.

Two elderly African-American brothers in Mississippi who are apparently in perfect health received enormous payouts as did all of the lesser plaintiffs in their suit.

Asbestos lawyers made billions. The state of Maryland (and probably others) are now controlled by asbestos lawyers.

After they sluiced through the asbestos-makers and others – the sharks looked for still others; such as GM and Campbell Soup. In fact if 40 years ago, you utilized heat – you also utilized asbestos. Do you remember when you had the sniffles in second grade and your mother pulled up a quilt around you and offered you a cup of nice warm Cream of Asbestos Soup? No?

A life insurance company once aspired to be OSHA (before there was an OSHA). They had a doctor on staff who one year ~70 years ago said that asbestos was safe. He took it back the next year. They have since paid many hundreds of millions of dollars for this one stupid statement.

A client long ago was an asbestos maker. And every time I think of the next paragraph, I sob uncontrollably.

In South Africa, they would take three year old boys –THREE YEAR OLD BOYS—and have them jump up and down in pits in their bare feet to break up asbestos fibers. WTF – they were just n*ggers. Every single one of those boys died horribly of cancer by the age of 20.

May some men suffer.

The Challenger 7 went down because the o-rings collapsed. If there had been asbestos in the o-rings, they would not have collapsed.

I was an insurer – I didn’t have to worry about despoiling my employer’s treasure for these South African boys -- this was not an obligation which we had agreed to take. But there was the question of my heart. And there was my actual duty to keep pirates from stealing that treasure.

Things which I fail to understand.
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Ferkakta Early Voting Report
Don't blame us, we voted for the globalist open-borders liberal maniac.

So I just got back from early voting. It was really really fast. It took longer for my iPhone to boot back up after I got out than it did to vote. Although I am apparently incapable of signing my name the same way twice, so that caused a small hiccup while my signature (which, like me, is tall, dark, handsome, inscrutable, and pretty loopy) was cross-checked. I voted for Obama, as I've been threatening to do for a few weeks now.

The one thing that made me rethink voting for Obama was seeing Biden's name on there. I almost balked but then I remembered how angry eight years of Republicans rolling over for Bush have made me, and I swallowed my tongue and voted Obama-Biden. I'd forgotten I have to vote for that plagiarist little worm too if I vote for Obama. Blech. Anything is better than four more years of folks like Power Line making excuses for another liberal Republican instead of fighting him.

I did vote for a few pitiful Republicans running to be various kinds of dog catcher or senator, and I voted No on some super-daffy referenda and yes on some ideas I liked, such as being able to recall the Governor. This is such a one-party state that several offices didn't even have a Republican contending for the job. Also none of the judgeships up for grabs even had a Republican on the ballot, just Democrats. You can't win the fight if you don't show up, guys.

I've also just spoken to the election folks, and since I'm good with computers, they're not stationing me in my precinct after all. Instead I'll be sent to work at a satellite site to help with something-or-other that involves computers (but I will still be dealing with voters all day, just ones who messed up their registration somehow). I have to go through extra training for it, which I'm doing tomorrow afternoon. Squee, I'm excited!

zorkie early-voted yesterday too, also for Obama. Don't worry, we won't ban you for voting for McCain. This is a free speech blog. But don't expect any dessert in the Ferkakta cafeteria. The nurse will be checking how you voted, and those who vote wrongly do not get fruit cup. And now, to settle in for four years of vigorous opposition to the President, whichever one it may be. Please join us in opposing the incoming President!
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Look, ma, I'm a poll worker!
Oh lord, he's doing what now?!
Guess what I did this weekend! I decided that little old church ladies and shouldn't get to have all the fun, and signed up to be a poll worker on election day. Isn't that awesome? I got trained and everything, it was a short (less than a half-day long) class and I learned all the ins and outs of helping the public vote on Election Day, state and federal law, everything I need to know. There was even video footage we got to watch of typical interactions between voters and poll workers.

The training really impressed me. It was very thorough, and the instructors were totally dedicated and geeky about elections. In fact, one of them was actually the same woman who answered the phone when I called to inquire, and turns out to be in charge of many aspects of the whole operation, so I was impressed that she also did training and answered the phone.

Their genuine love and earnest admiration for the process of democracy came through loud and clear. They have an acutely-felt ethical interest in running free and fair elections. The people in this system seem very well-meaning and principled. One example is the ridiculous number of redundant checks and balances, counts and cross-checks, that made me believe for the first time that our elections are really difficult to rig. Yes, really.

We learned about poll watchers, who are representatives of the political parties and citizens' groups who are allowed to observe us at work. I was told to expect between two and eight poll watchers to be present at my polling station.

It really is a marvel how elections come together. The analogy was to setting up a small business with branches all over the city, hiring and training a complete workforce, just to be in business for a single hectic day, at the end of which the whole thing is disbanded after reconciling the books.

One really fun aspect is that as sworn poll workers (we do take an oath) we get to boss figures of authority around. We can kick out anyone we please if they're violating the law, so as my instructor said, this is the one day on the calendar when we get to tell elected officials and candidates what they can and cannot do. For instance, some candidates whose advisors haven't coached them in the law and etiquette of election day might try to shake hands and introduce themselves in line. This is absolutely forbidden and we can kick them out for it. Candidates, politicians, elected officials: these people are only allowed inside to cast their own ballot, and to do nothing else. Likewise, police officers. The only reason a police officer may enter is responding to an emergency, or when accompanied by a special kind of election official with a badge, or to bring us food and drink! Isn't that great? On November 4th, the police department will be my maid. On November 4th, the law is above all other authority, and we are the embodiment of the law.

Don't wear your McCain or Obama t-shirt or button to the polling place, by the way, and don't bring election material. It's not allowed. A nice poll worker like me might lend you his coat to cover it, but the best plan is really to show up in normal clothing with no political paraphernalia on your person. You can't even wear a button that says "I Like Ike", even though Ike was already president and is dead.

There is no lunch break for an election worker. We'll get ten minute breaks sporadically, but we can't leave the premises all day. You also can't use your cellphone or any other electronic device. At all. I already have a couple of friends lined up to check on me and bring me provisions every few hours, although they obviously won't be able to linger and hang out with me at work. I may make a sandwich or something. I have some time to plan how I'll prepare for the whole thing.

A lot of the stories they told of how people act on Election Day were hilarious and also sad, and a lot of the seemingly weird rules they have in place were explained to us like this: "we wouldn't have this rule, except that people really do try to do this!" For instance, one husband brought his wife in, who had Alzheimer's and couldn't vote, and wanted to come in with her and "help" her vote. He became irate when confronted and declared, "I've been telling her how to vote for forty years!" Another woman brought in a bus full of people whose caretaker she was, and announced that she was going to help them all vote, and became apoplectic when turned down. It turned out that only two of the eight people she brought were even capable of voting. She was obviously just going to get to vote eight times, and wasn't really planning on expressing the will of those under her care.

Anyone who needs assistance to vote has to request it themselves, and they have to ask for a particular individual to help them (be it their caregiver or one of us). Their caregiver can't just waltz in and vote for them. If someone can't request assistance to vote (and we can be very liberal with interpreting this, in cases of extreme disability) then there will be no assistance. We will allow them to go in and try to vote, but there is no gimme or second chance: if they vote wrong and the vote is recorded, it is done and there's no going back and fixing it.

By the way, it was made very clear to me that I will be yelled at by irate citizens and argued with extensively for enforcing the law, but my oath is to enforce the law and I have to do it. The all-purpose out is that if a voter doesn't like the law, they should get in touch with their lawmaker and express themselves and see about having it changed. My job is to enforce the law as it's written, not as I or the voter wish it was written. I am steeled for it and prepared to be the bearer of bad news and to get yelled at and accused of squelching your free speech and taking away your franchise, etc. Bring it, bitches.

In conclusion, as late as I was to this, I was able to sneak in under the wire and be trained to help the public vote on Election Day. If you are for some perverse reason interested in getting involved with helping our ancient compact of government of, by, and for the People become manifest one more time, there may still be time in your area for you to get involved, so make that phone call or Google search and find out. I am thrilled to my toes and can't wait for Election Day! Although I'm going to hate waking up at 5 AM. That's usually when I'm going to bed.
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guest author: RadioMattM
My Hero
Not all heroes save people from burning buildings or run headlong into disasters such as the World Trade Center. Instead, some heroes are defined by their life’s work. And then, when told they are heroes or that people are proud of them, they are surprised. Heroes are not aware of the good they have done, but their deeds bring meaning to life.

My father, Lawrence, was born on October 3, 1925 to a 33 year old longshoreman and a 17 year old girl. The facts of that story are unknown to me and will probably remain that way. We didn’t know until about three years ago that my father had a younger brother. We always thought that my father had been an only child. When my father was four, his mother took her other son and ran away from the family. She abandoned my father, then only four years old, on the beach at Coney Island. Hours later his uncle found him. The “official” story was that my father’s mother died when my father was a baby, but I now know that was not the case.

My father was raised by his father and his maiden aunt Rose. He graduated from Catholic School and went to work as a clerk in a law office. During this time he was an avid baseball player and perhaps could have made it to the war-time major leagues, when many of the better players were in the military. But he knew that he needed to be in the fight – the good fight. He wanted to enlist in the Marines but his father objected. Being only 17 at the time, he had no choice but to bow to his father’s wishes. He enlisted in the army instead, with his father’s blessings.

He was shipped to England in 1944 and from there took his first trip to France on June 9. He fought with the Third Army under General Patton, and was among the troops who liberated Buchenwald. He told us about seeing a GI peel an orange and throw the peel on the ground. A camp prisoner picked the peel off the ground and ate it. The sights my father saw would haunt him for the rest of his life. Once, he told us that he had many pictures taken of the camp, but added that they were probably lost. “Just as well,” he said. Once, I walked by the TV room in our house while my father watched the movie, “Judgment at Nuremburg.” The movie was at the scene where films were being show of a concentration camp. My father seemed to be in a deep trance. “It was really like that,” he said in a sad whisper.

After the war, he stayed in the army. Several assignments later, he was a MP in Washington DC. He told of the time he and his partner arrested a couple of sailors for robbery. Robbery was a civilian offence (not to say there would not have been military consequences later, though). Since my father was an arresting officer, he had to testify at the civilian trial. The prosecutor was a woman – an unusual thing in the late 1940’s. My father was not impressed, as the prosecutor did little during the main part of the trial. However, his mind was changed once the prosecutor delivered her closing remarks. She sealed the sailors’ fate with great skill.

While he was in Washington, a friend of his had a date with a 19 year old Washington girl named Patricia. That guy didn’t stand a chance, and my father won the hand of his lifelong companion and wife.

At this point, my father was a sergeant. My mother’s mother told him, “If you want to marry my daughter, you need to be an officer.” That’s when my father went to Officer Candidates School at Fort Reilly, Kansas. My parents were married there on March 19, 1949, sixteen days after my mother’s 20th birthday. My father had dreamed of being an Infantry officer, which was the norm for OCS grads but he was disappointed -- the army realized that other branches needed officers and he became an artillery officer.

My oldest brother, Larry III, was born on January 1, 1950. When my brother was about one year old, my father was stationed to Japan. This was early in the Korean War, and Japan was considered a possible hot spot, so he went without his young family. Since my father was an artillery officer, he was sent to Japan to work on air defense. My mother was eternally grateful that my father was not infantry, and therefore was not sent to the ground in Korea.

By mid 1952, Japan was considered a safe place for dependants – so my mother and oldest brother went over there to join my father. My other brother, Steve, arrived about nine months later.

In the mid 1950’s, the United States was developing it’s missile system. One problem – the “experts” who programmed the trajectories of the missiles had never seen hills. Their calculations were based on the missiles being launched from sea level. My father was aware of this problem, and for several weeks, he, my mother, and my mother’s father sat at the dinner table every night using slide rules to calculate the correct values.

In July, 1956, my family moved to the San Francisco area and I was born about a month later.

A couple of years later my father contracted polio and before he was diagnosed, he continued working as long as he could. He was eventually ordered to go to the hospital. After the worse was over, he was eager to get out of the hospital. During his consultation with the doctor, the doctor told him to squat down on one leg while holding the other out straight in front – then stand up while holding his arms straight out to the side. My father did it. The doctor then told my father to switch legs and do the same thing. My father did it again. The doctor said, “I never could do that. Get out of here.”

My father went to Korea in 1960 and I remember watching him go. It would not be the first time I would see my father go to a danger zone. When he returned a year later, we moved to New York. There, my father was an army bureaucrat. One of his many tasks at that time, was to plan the funeral of President Herbert Hoover(once, twice, three times and again!). Before Hoover finally died, my father had moved on to another position, relieved that he was not the one who finally had to do the job for real.

My mother was in the hospital in October 1962 for a gall bladder operation. One night as she was watching TV she saw President Kennedy’s speech on the Cuban Missile crisis. Watching the President speak, she suddenly realized why my father had been so unbearable over the previous few days. He was involved in the military response but was duty bound not to talk about it.

In 1964, he was stationed to Germany, and the family got to go along. Returning to the US in 1966, he was stationed to command a training center battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington. He received orders to command a ground battalion in Viet Nam in December, 1967. However, a quirk of army bureaucracy together with my father’s stubbornness some ten years earlier resulted in his being considered active reserve rather than “regular” army. Because of this, the assignment was taken away from my father and given to someone else. My father was devastated but my mother was relieved. He finally went to Viet Nam in June, 1968, to work on General Abrams’ staff. If there had been a Tet offensive in 1969, it would have been my father’s plan that defended Saigon.

I was in the seventh grade in 1969. and usually stayed after school to help my science teacher. One day, as my teacher and I left the classroom, my brother Steve came speeding up on my Schwinn bicycle. “Daddy’s home!” he yelled. Military brats all over the world know the joy of that experience. As Steve rode home on the bike, I ran as fast as I could behind him.

After 28 distinguished years of service, he retired from the army in October, 1971.

His next career was with the United States Postal Police. His skill and experience quickly led him to a management position. For the first time in his life, he worked in a union environment. His ability to work with and earn the respect of subordinates was clearly demonstrated in 1974 when he needed an operation to clear an obstruction from an artery in his leg. As is often the case, he needed a great deal of blood for the operation. The shop steward at work, who represented the “workers” side against my fathers “management” side, led a drive that more than replaced the blood that my father needed.

After his retirement, my father dedicated many hours of volunteer service to the American Legion and the VFW. Under his direction, his American Legion Post’s color guard attended funeral services of hundreds of veterans and won several State championships. These organizations honored my father with a surprise testimonial dinner in 2003.

Great sadness came to came to my parents in August, 2002, when their eldest son, my brother Larry, died of a heart attack at age 52. I watched my father as he stood over my brother’s casket saying, “This isn’t right. It’s not supposed to happen this way.”

Patricia died on February 16, 2007, after a long fight with cancer. My parents had been married for almost 58 years.

Lawrence died on Friday August 22, 2008 at 10 am.

He was a hero. My hero.
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guest author: levi from queens
My Dad
Dad was a man of few words. If he were giving this elegy, it would end right here.

But unfortunately for you, he is not.

He was born in 1918 in rural Utah. He lived his first years without either indoor toilets or electricity. I have often marveled at the level of change he experienced – although, truth be told, he cut off technological progress with the electric typewriter. And at my age, I too no longer welcome technological progress, but instead bemoan that I need to learn new worthless things such as that the proper spelling of your is u r.

Dad was the Historian of the Naval Air Systems Command – here is the story. From when he was 7, he would from time to time just pass out. I saw it this last December – and it was absolutely terrifying – it drove my mother crazy. He was a Naval Officer in February of 1941 when he passed out. He was immediately thrown out of the Service. In February of 1942, he was drafted – as an enlisted man. He spent the war stateside in Texas because of the medical question working as a chemical engineer. He saw a notice on the Navy’s bulletin board in 1946 asking for an engineer to write the history of the air war in the Pacific. He went to the interview where the interviewer allowed as to how they were actually looking for an aeronautical engineer – as aircraft design was thought (correctly I might add) to be very significant to WWII vs. Japan. However, my Dad was the only one to show up. He parlayed a three month assignment into a 30 plus year career as Historian of the Naval Air Systems Command.

One of the things which Dad did was to place a value on decisions made by men during WWII. Young men in the heat of combat with limited time and intelligence and under enormous pressure make choices which they later come to realize were the most significant choices which they ever made. Dad – not having been there-- may have made a good person to tell people that they either chose well or, sadly chose poorly.

And when he retired, there were several dozen PhD.s from Ivy League Universities competing for his job.

I have never been entirely clear as to his religion. He left the LDS when he hitchhiked from BYU to Texas A&M. When the ward teachers would call on our family to pull him back or to convert us kids, he was always extremely cordial. He would always offer the ward teacher a beer and a cigarette. He never did this for other visitors to our household. It was not until I was in my twenties that I figured out why he did this. Yet in all of my life, I have never heard him say a single negative word about the Mormon religion.

He went to church with his wives – a Methodist and a Presbyterian – but you always felt that he was accommodating more than believing. The one religion for which I ever saw him show enthusiasm was the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I have never had much use or sympathy for transcendentalism because I feel it has a far too optimistic view of human nature. I believe in Original Sin. But Dad was a truly innocent man.

There was a neighbor of ours when I was a boy who had trouble holding down a job. In Washington in the 50s and 60s, everybody worked for the government and could not get fired. This man was a great father and an all-around good guy. He came to Dad and asked him for $50. Dad lent it to him, and it was repaid in a few weeks. A little later, the man returned and asked for another $50, and Dad lent it to him again. When he came to repay, Dad refused the repayment. This was wrong; it robbed the man of his pride.

As a result, the Man could never again ask Dad for money. Years later, Dad said to me -- and Dad rarely used foul language (but always to great effect) and here he used a barnyard epithet in place of “worst” – “One of the worst things I ever did was to refuse to accept that money .”

Question – and not looking for a show of hands – how many of you people (and only asking people over 20—it takes a while to make really bad mistakes)could truthfully say that the worst thing you ever did was to refuse repayment of a valid debt? Dad was a truly innocent man.

Dad was a smart guy. Back from before when I could walk or talk, I understood that people generally respected Dad’s intelligence. So where did that intelligence lie?

One form of intelligence is fine speaking, but the guy could barely speak a word. My cousin Marilyn says that he wrote well, and his writing is clean and spare, but I thought it less than incandescent.

Another sort of intelligence is mathematical-spatial. When I owned this vast hulk of an apartment building in Baltimore, my Dad would help me lay pipe. When you retrofit pipe into an old wooden structure, you build as big a tree as you can outside so as to maximize the joints you can fire all of the way around and to minimize the amount of fire you lay against the joists of the building. Dad would say, “ do it this way;” and I would say “ do it that way;” and I would defer to my father. I actually have fairly good spatial intelligence, and my course was always correct. At the third time, my father said, “Let’s do it your way the first time.” It is a truly intelligent man who understands what he does not know.

I do know that my father was a great lover. Both of his wives adored him. His three children utterly adored him. Is this intelligence? Either that or something better.

Dad died three months, ago and I still do not feel that I can put my finger on the nature of his intelligence; and I will be grateful for any clues from this audience.
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Go To Jail. Go Directly To Jail.
Let's see you roll your way out of this one, pretty boy
Have you noticed I haven't been around much since Thursday afternoon? Well, there's a reason for that! I was busy enjoying the mandatory hospitality of the government. Let me reassure you that I didn't drop the soap...whew! <Scruffy>'Course, it's shank or be shanked.</Scruffy>

Here's the story. I have this Highly Irresponsible Friend who used to live nearby. Nowadays he's a truck driver, so I only see him for a few hours here and there when he's breezing through town on his way to deliver a truckload somewhere. Truck drivers get very little time off and have crappy schedules; it's no way to live, really. A trucker's diet is basically truck stop food or fast food. Pretty terrible if you ask me. Also, their living quarters are really cramped. Before my friend became a trucker, I was so ignorant that I thought truckers slept in motels. It turns out they actually sleep in small built-in beds, right in their cabs! The first time I saw his cab, I thought "wow, this is huge!" But it really isn't, it's very cramped. It just seems huge if you haven't seen the inside of a truck before, but try living in one of those, full time. I can see how it would get really old, really fast. But he does make pretty damn decent money, for the first time in his life, so that's a big plus for him, and the money makes up for lots of the drawbacks of the trucker lifestyle. There are other positives besides the money. He gets to tour the country, and he never knows where he might be when he gets a day off. So he's already seen 46 of the states in his brief trucking career, which makes me more than a little jealous.

He used to be really amazingly irresponsible, but he's started to clean up his act, with some prodding from me. I'm kind of his self-appointed mentor/big brother, in a way. He's been driving a semi for the last year and a half or so, and whenever he's in town, I pick him up from whatever godforsaken truck stop he's parked in, and we take turns buying each other either lunch or dinner at some interesting restaurant, plus a few beers. This time it was his turn to buy, and we were going to have some Ethiopian food, because he's never had it. Fun, huh?

HIF rarely gets a chance to work out on the road, as the life of a trucker is an unhealthy, sedentary one, and he had been driving for like 10 hours when he rolled into town. So I had a bright idea: "hey, wanna come to my gym and get a work out before we eat?" He was game, so we went to the gym first, and I got him in as my guest, and we worked out for about an hour. After that we changed, got in the car, and set out to locate the Ethiopian joint. I'd eaten there once before, so I had a sense of confidence that I would remember how to get there. He even suggested bringing his laptop from the truck so we could look up directions, but I thought it wouldn't be a problem, and the laptop would be more trouble than it's worth.

So we set out to find the joint. Very unsuccessfully. As it turns out, my sense of confidence in my ability to find places I've been before is totally misplaced.

At one point, after we'd been driving around in circles for about 45 minutes ("I just know it's right around here somewhere") and asking bewildered pedestrians if they knew where it was, I thought I remembered something. I was in the right lane about to take a right, but I decided what I should really do is get in the left lane and turn left, instead. There were no cars behind me, so I pulled the old "reverse and get in the lane I want" maneuver. Totally illegal of course, but I do stuff like that all the time when I can get away with it. I don't consider it a big crime to back up and change lanes when no one is behind me and there's no chance of hurting anyone.

As it turns out, a cop was watching. He gave chase, and pulled us over. As we cooled our heels and waited for the officer to approach, HIF confessed that he hadn't paid a ticket somewhere, and feared he might have a warrant and could get arrested over this. I reassured him that of course I would bail him out.

The officer was a very friendly young guy, and my point of view was "just give me my ticket already so we can go eat!", so I wasn't inclined to argue or try to weasel out of anything. I knew what I did was wrong, and I did it anyway, so why lie or argue about it or give him a hard time? Officer Friendly asked for my license, then went back to his car a while. Then he came back, and asked my friend for his license. My poor friend was totally convinced he was going to be arrested. When OF came back, he asked me to step out of the car for a chat. I complied, and he asked me if I used to live at such-and-such. "Yes". He apologized, but he said he was going to have to arrest me.


On the spot, too! He had me turn around, and he cuffed me! What, can't we negotiate this and like, arrest me later maybe? I was about to EAT!

A few years ago, I ignored some speeding ticket I got, and I got my license suspended for it. Then I got stopped again, and that officer could have arrested me for driving on a suspended license, but he wrote me another ticket instead, and I was supposed to go to court, and again, I didn't bother because it seemed like a hassle. I paid all my tickets and a fine and reinstatement fee and got my license reinstated a few months later, and I thought the whole deal was over. I was wrong. I had a warrant issued for my arrest for failing to appear on the second ticket!

I don't even remember what the original ticket was for. I think I was speeding in New Mexico or something stupid like that. But that one ticket turned into a multi-year-long hassle for me just because I'm an idiot and I ignored it.

OF was very nice about it, and claimed I would be in and out of booking in two hours with a court date. He didn't even ticket me for my illegal maneuver! He said he hadn't taken many people in that night, so it shouldn't be very crowded because it seemed like a slow night, and I should be in and out of there in no time. He actually apologized for ruining my night, and told me to look at the bright side: at least I wasn't on a date or something! Good point, officer. He gave HIF directions to where to come bail me out if it turned out I needed bailing, which was nice of him. HIF was totally in the clear! I couldn't believe it! Who's the HIF now?! Argh.

On the ride to the lockup, I discussed police work with OF, what his job is like, things like that. He encouraged me to call the precinct and sign up for a citizen's ride-along. Apparently many police departments have this program; you call a precinct, tell them what shift you want to ride along with, and they'll pair you up with an officer. You get to ride around all day and see what he does, and if he leaves the car you can even come with him. You do have to wear a vest they give you, and sign a waiver that they're not responsible if you get shot. But anything the officer does, and anywhere he goes, you can go too! I didn't even know there was such a thing, but it sounds like an interesting and fun way to spend a day.

My night didn't feel ruined yet, but it was. Oh, it was. They searched me, took all my stuff away, and then I spent 8 or 9 totally undignified hours in the county's digestive system before finally being excreted and given back my cellphone and wallet. It was incredibly boring! I asked an officer at the counter for a newspaper to read or something, and she disdainfully pointed out that it was supposed to be boring, so I wouldn't want to come back there.

Another good point, I guess.

The boredom was punctuated by terror and disgust. It was very crowded, and I was surrounded at all times by drunks, morons, drug-dealing thugs, people who smelled horrible, and beaten-up people with nasty open wounds. The worst was when an obviously intoxicated, heavily tattooed gang member sat next to me and started muttering about how he didn't give a fuck any more and how he knew he was going to be in for 20 years. Oh, and a lot of people were coughing constantly. Another reassuring sign. I hope I didn't come home with SARS or something.

One idiot was yelling about how much he much he hated crackers, and they ended up shoving his ass in his very own cell to try to shut him up. So he responded by banging and pounding on the door and screaming. For the first time in my life, I fervently wished they would give this idiot a taste of that police brutality I've heard so much about. You know, to shut him the hell up. No such luck! Instead I had to listen to this jackass's ranting and door-banging for hours. I now fully support police brutality.

After fingerprinting, mug shot, medical screening, and hearing, they decided to let me go on my own recognizance (no bail). My court date is at the end of September, and the guy told me basically I'll come to court, show the judge that I have a valid license again, and the whole thing should be dismissed immediately. I'll have to pay some kind of court costs for wasting their time or something, but that's it. So the whole experience really had no point other than reminding me to cross every T and dot every I when it comes to the government, and don't blow them off, because unlike everyone else whom I might blow off, they can seriously ruin my day without warning.

I left with my paperwork, my belongings, and my bruised ego, and HIF was waiting for me in the car outside. He'd been sitting there the whole damn time, waiting for me to either call and tell him to come bail me out, or just waltz on out of there. He'd even gone to the ATM and brought back 1000 bucks cash, in 20s. Poor guy. We're officially even now. I've gotten him out of a bunch of jams but I certainly never had to waste 8 or 9 hours sitting in a car waiting to bail him out! It was 4 or 5 AM by then. As soon as I talked to poor zorkie, who was worried sick, she goes, "What the fuck happened, ev?! I thought you were dead in a ditch!" I've never been so happy to be yelled at in my life! She didn't even believe me when I told her I just got out of jail, she thought I was kidding! She thought what really happened was that I got in a bad accident and was in the hospital and didn't want to admit to her how badly I was hurt, so I was claiming to have been in jail instead. I OFFICIALLY don't understand female logic. If I was hurt in an accident, I would have said so! I was in jail, you silly girl! She was to be the first in a series of people over the next two days who refused to believe that I was just in jail very recently. OK, fair point, I wasn't really in jail, I was in booking, but still. It felt very jail-ey.

After I was caught-and-released, we celebrated by finally eating. We went to a pancake joint, where our waitress was the second to refuse to believe my story that I had just gotten out of jail. Oh, well. Then I dropped my friend off at his truck, drove home, and slept till Friday evening. My friend didn't have the luxury of sleep; he had a "hot load", that is, a load that absolutely has to be at its destination by a certain time, so he had to immediately start driving despite not having had slept.

On the bright side, having seen how easily it can turn into an incredible hassle, and having narrowly and miraculously escaped the same fate as me, my friend is going to take care of his outstanding ticket right away.

Jail has really bad customer service. Like worse than Comcast or Sprint. They never tell you what stage of the process you're in or what happens next, and they don't care if you're uncomfortable or bored, and the people who work there don't really consider you fully human, whether you're there for a really good reason such as killing people, or a stupid, crappy reason like blowing off a speeding ticket a few years ago. To them, you're just more vermin. Having seen the vermin who were my fellow incarcerees, I can't say I disagree much, I guess...I wouldn't want to chitchat with these people either.

Anyway, I finally bought an iPhone yesterday. The girl at the Apple store was the third to refuse to believe I had just been in jail and that was why I decided to come buy an iPhone. How am I supposed to brag about my stint in chokey if no one will believe me?! Sheesh! The first thing I wanted to do after I got out of jail and got a good night's sleep was to restore that childlike sense of wonder to my life, and what better way to do that than with an Apple product? Also, it's an early birthday present to myself. Also, if I had had the iPhone when we were trying to find the Ethiopian joint, I could have just looked it up on Google maps and I would never have been arrested. See? I have a few other specious pretexts and flimsy excuses for why I needed a $600 phone, but the bottom line is that I wanted it so I got it. Bloggie looks great on it!
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A Sadly Representative Lawsuit

One of my favorite websites was formerly known as “The Daily WTF”—until the proprietor, Alex, got too embarrassed having to explain to his relatives what it stood for, and made up the backronym “Worse Than Failure”. The site entertains me with regular exhibits of poor programming. And one of my favorite recurring features at Worse Than Failure is the Representative Line: “A single line of code from a large application that somehow manages to provide an almost endless insight into the pain that its maintainers face each day.”

On April 29th, Josh Hancock, relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, got drunk and got behind the wheel. He was at twice the legal blood alcohol limit, speeding, on his cell phone, and not wearing his seatbelt. He got in a wreck and he died: he drove his car right into a flatbed tow truck. They later also found marijuana in his car. This wasn’t his first drunk-driving incident. The tow-truck driver was a good Samaritan who’d stopped to help a man in a Geo Metro who had been involved in a prior accident.

Here’s a Representative Lawsuit, which can provide a terrible insight into what’s ailing Americans today. On May 24th, Josh Hancock’s father, Dean, filed suit against the following people, blaming them for his son’s wrongful death:

  1. Mike Shannon’s Steaks & Seafood
  2. Patricia Shannon von Matre, the manager of the restaurant
  3. Eddie’s Towing, the tow-truck company
  4. Jacob Edward Hargrove, the tow-truck driver
  5. Justin Tolar, the stranded Geo Metro driver

Dean Hancock said in a statement that the “facts and circumstances” of Josh’s death “have caused great pain to all of Josh’s family.” As administrator of his son’s estate, Dean Hancock said he has an obligation to represent the family on all issues, “including any legal actions necessary against those who contributed to the untimely and unnecessary death.”

The terrible insight provided by this Representative Lawsuit is that for some people, nothing bad that happens to their golden children is ever their fault. Everything bad that happens is caused by other people, and there is no such thing as personal responsibility. There is only the responsibility of others to be psychic, and foretell that our spoiled, elite spawn is careening erratically down the freeway, and you filthy peasants stranded in your Geo Metros should make way for their highnesses.

Let’s get one thing straight that shouldn’t need saying. There is one and only one person responsible for Josh Hancock’s death: Josh himself. It is a pity that he is dead, but it is not in any way surprising. That someone who repeatedly got behind the wheel drunk, possibly stoned, didn’t wear a seatbelt, and jibber-jabbered on his cell phone instead of minding his vehicle is now fertilizing daisies is an outcome as likely as getting pregnant on the rhythm method. So why is Dean Hancock seeking to drag all these parties through ruinous, expensive litigation? Josh’s death wasn’t wrongful—it was an inevitable result of the choices he was making.

Mind you, I am not complaining about the court system. I do have many complaints about our legal regime, but the fact is, the legal system is nothing more than a stage, and the actors are writing their own scripts. I don’t blame the Laugh Factory for Michael Richards’s tirade, or his poor judgement. But I am complaining about Dean Hancock, whose grief should not excuse his outrageous abuse of the legal system. And I am also complaining about his legal team, who do not have the excuse of grief. I hope they at least tried to dissuade him. Lawyers, help me out here: sometimes you just have to tell the client they’re wrong, correct?

What kind of effect will this irresponsible suit have on the willingness of people to be good Samaritans? I guarantee that regardless of the outcome of the case, Eddie’s Towing and probably the majority of tow-truck companies have now forbidden their drivers to be good Samaritans. Litigation is just a threat too onerous to expose yourself to, just for the sake of helping someone in need. Does Dean Hancock know that he is pissing in society’s common well? Does he even care, or is he just lawsuit-happy? I hope the effects of frivolous litigation such as his come back to bite him in a time of need and helplessness. I hope that when someone who can assist him comes across him, he just keeps driving, shy of a lawsuit.

By the way, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has exonerated Mike Shannon’s.

Josh Hancock ruined his own life, and that of his family. His father is now determined to ruin a few more people's lives to make them pay for being in the area when his son made his series of very bad decisions. What he's doing is almost as bad as what his son did. Just let it go, Dean. It won't bring him back, and you're making a fool out of yourself. Even if your lawyers think they can convince a carefully hand-picked jury of emotional simpletons otherwise, it doesn't change the fact that you're wrong to pursue this suit. And congratulations on filing a lawsuit that crystallizes so eloquently what's wrong with the way modern Americans perceive reality.

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guest author: Lyana
The Snail Whisperer
My husband and I are rather anti-pet. Now, before all the pet lovers here jump all over me, let me explain that most of our anti-petness revolves around very busy lives and small yard space (and my unwillingness to clean up after any more indoor creatures – I already have 4, and one on the way thankyouverymuch!). Were we in the country with a few acres and a barn, I’m fairly certain we’d have a horse, a couple of dogs and more cats than you could count. We’d probably have some chickens and a goat or two too. But we live in the city. And travel frequently. So, our poor children have to console themselves by playing with everyone else’s critters – and the thought that once they grow up and have their own homes, they’re welcome to have a zoo.

Enter Daughter #3, who is very fond of any living, breathing creature. About six weeks ago, I came home late one evening to find a large bowl covered with a sand sieve on our coffee table. I was too tired to care, and I figured I’d find out all about it in the morning. Sure enough, at breakfast, my youngest lifts off the sieve and introduces me to… a snail! The night before, she’d found this quarter-sized garden snail crawling along the fence, decided it was her new best friend, and christened it “Bumble Bee” because of its black and yellow stripes. But she calls him “Snailey” for short. While glaring at her father for allowing this thing into the house, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her pick it up, turn it over, and in a squeaky, sing-song voice call it to come out to meet me! The all-knowing mother told her that she was probably scaring it and should put it back in the bowl. Her response was “Oh, no! He always comes out when I call for him!” Which her father agreed was indeed true – it came out when she called. I glared at him again.

But darned if it didn’t! Within seconds, that snail was out, looking at her and seeming to be very interested in the proceedings (well, as much as a snail can look interested). Soooo… we now have a snail. Well, actually, several snails, and we’ll be getting her a terrarium for her birthday. You see, we had to go online to find out what they eat and such, and in the course of our research, discovered how baby snails came about. Of course, she promptly went in search of another snail so she could get snail babies - much to the amusement of her father who wondered how she knew which snail was which. I hadn’t mentioned that she now knew the word “hermaphrodite”.

That was about 3 weeks ago, and she’s patiently waiting for babies; they’re supposed to take about 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, Bumble Bee, Fudge, Tiger and Tiny are regularly aired, exercised and watered (by all three girls); #3 spent over an hour digging dirt and finding moss and leaves to make the perfect home for them. Today, she made cards for them. The other night, we let the snails out for a crawl around their sieve on the buffet, and forgot about them during dinner. When I remembered them half an hour later, I was sure one or more would have gone missing. To my utter amazement, not only had they not gone missing, but one had actually crawled out of the sieve, about six inches across the buffet and back up and into the bowl. Daughter #3 complacently assured me that she had trained it to do so – wasn’t it a good snail?

And so I’ve resigned myself to having snails for the next 5-10 years (that’s how long they’re supposed to live). Anybody know if there’s a market for breeding garden snails? I think we’re going to end up with a few.
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How much pain can a baby endure?
Mariah Meza spent the first 12 weeks of her life in severe pain and learning to avoid human contact. Thanks to her loving father, she had 21 rib fractures, a snapped pelvis, four fractures to the upper and lower left leg, and two to the right. And mom went along, like moms in these cases usually do. Her father will be deported to Mexico (even though he's a legal immigrant to the U.S.) and will never see his daughter again. I hope the "mother" doesn't either.
He deserves worse, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Shawn Sweeney told the judge.

“Mariah was essentially in the same pain, every time she breathed, every time she moved,” Sweeney said.

“The defendant essentially tortured this baby until she stopped crying and stopped responding to human contact . . . This is a 12-week-old baby who had essentially given up,” Sweeney said.

“There’s just no prison sentence long enough.”

Meza’s lawyers, public defender Jacki Smith and Julia Nye, took exception to the term “torture,” noting that Meza was never accused of hurting Mariah on purpose, or even knowingly. The three first-degree assault charges to which he pleaded guilty state he acted recklessly, they noted.

“Torture is a purposeful act,” Smith said. “Mr. Meza did not intend to hurt his daughter. He was a young, inexperienced, frustrated first-time father.”
So he wasn't torturing the baby, he was just expressing his frustration. Got it.
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Programmers Are Knobs
A Public Service Announcement

I like how people always insult themselves when they’re asking me questions about computer stuff. “I’m so bad at this.” “I’m such an idiot with computers”. It gets even better when the computer is misbehaving and needs to be spanked—people think they need the spanking. “I screwed everything up!” And then they come up with a voodoo explanation for why they broke it. Well, yes, sometimes you really did screw up and it really was your fault, but most of the time, I’m putting my money on lousy software as the problem.

The voodoo people come up with is great. You know how some folks with OCD might wash their hands 90 times an hour, and they won’t step on the sidewalk cracks? I observe people who are perfectly well-adjusted using their computers, and they have all these habits that are like reaching around the back of your head to rub your left ear with your right hand. If I point out that they aren’t necessary, they’ll have one of two responses. Either they’ll swear by it and justify it based on one flukey thing that happened that one time because it REALLY screwed things up, and now that they do it the roundabout way the computer behaves, or they’ll be embarrassed and refrain from doing it as long as I’m looking. When I’m not looking they’ll go right back to it. It makes no sense, but if I’ve tried to help and they’re happy doing it that way, who am I to keep harping on it? Let it be.

My favorite voodoo is deleting cookies. There’s not much point in deleting all your cookies, but people love deleting their cookies because they feel like they accomplished something. Cookies have an accessible name. Cookies! By God, I’m terrified of touching the Registry, and I’ve learned by hard experience that I shouldn’t delete .dll files because I double clicked on them, they didn’t do anything, and they were taking up space, but how can I resist deleting something called “cookies”? Maybe the cookie-deleters think it speeds their browser up, or they think they’re freeing up a significant amount of disk space, or maybe they think the website they’re trolling can’t see them if they delete their cookies, or maybe they think the IT department can’t tell they’ve been on MySpace because they so cunningly deleted their cookies. Cookies don’t slow browsers down; they don’t take up any space worth worrying about; websites can track you by looking at their server logs, which don’t even use cookies; the IT department knows what you’ve been doing on the internet, they’re either just not looking at their firewall/proxy logs or they’re probably letting you slide because you aren’t the most egregious offender and they don’t really care that much.

One mildly interesting phenomenon is that a misbehaving computer will fix itself when I’m watching. Someone will tell me that whenever they try to do X, their address book is deleted or their computer goes up in flames or something. So I’ll come over to watch them doing X, so I can see it for myself. It won’t happen. And they’ll tell me my presence must have scared the computer straight, and they’ll swear that they’re doing exactly the way they always do it. They’ll try it again a few times and it’ll work flawlessly every time. They’re embarrassed and apologize for bothering me about nothing. The minute I leave, it starts happening again. Go figure, right? The reason for that is that people are suddenly very self-conscious when they’re performing for me, so they’ll do it differentlywithout even knowing that they are.

Back to the ritual self-flagellation: it really cracks me up. I mean, I’m a twerpysomething who has basically accomplished nothing important in life. I write desktop and web-based software, and I blogtend. Previously I waited tables, made espresso drinks, washed dishes…you name it, I probably did it for a while as I drifted through my early adulthood. There’s nothing wrong with any of those jobs, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with honest work, period. I’m proud of myself and I loved the things I did and gave them my all. But it just doesn’t measure up to what some of the people I support accomplish. I’ve never saved a life, healed a disease, killed a bad guy, or educated a child. And yet—when they need help with their computers, medical doctors and investment bankers, accomplished professionals in their fields, highly educated and skilled human beings who have titles and degrees are respected by their peers, mothers and fathers, professors and judges, grown men and women—all of them are cussing themselves out, humbling themselves, and confiding in me in frustration that “I’m such a moron.”

It’s not like any of this crap really makes sense. User interface decisions are usually arbitrary. They could just as easily have made it behave some completely different way, and no one would have challenged the decision much. Not only are they arbitrary, but given a set of arbitrary choices, programmers usually decide to implement the worst one possible. We love complexity for its own sake. Seriously, there’s no there there. The metaphors we make you learn are mostly moronic and derivative. We do it because we look down on you and think you’re too stupid and easily intimidated by what’s going on. And then our shabby metaphors break, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, because none of this makes any sense, and therefore you, the user, feel stupid and helpless. Well, I would feel stupid and helpless too if reality was less like itself, and more like Microsoft Windows.

A couple of days ago a friend from bloggie emailed me in a panic, because she had accidentally moved her Windows taskbar to the left side of the screen. That strip across the bottom that has the Start button, Quick Launch bar, buttons representing application windows that you are running, the notification area/system tray, and so forth? That whole thing is the taskbar. She was trying to highlight some text in her browser or something, and inadvertently dragged it off to the left. This is something that happens to Windows users a lot, and the fix is easy: just drag it back, and to stop it from happening again, you just right click the taskbar and lock it. But! If you didn’t know that you can move it back: result PANIC. Why is it even possible to drag the dang thing in the first place? I’ll tell you why: because some control freak of a programmer on that particular team didn’t agree with the decision to put it at the bottom. He wanted it at the top or on the side or something. To end the argument, everyone agreed to make it configurable, so the user could decide where to put it. This is how a lot of user interface decisions get made. A prima donna won’t go along with a completely trivial and useless decision, so in order to move forward, they make it configurable. In order to avoid being unpopular with Prissy Programmer Pete, his manager inflicts a needless choice on everyone who uses the program for all eternity. God help us. That’s atrocious enough, considering the location of the taskbar doesn’t affect anyone’s productivity. But the truly unforgivable decision was to leave it unlocked by default. So that someone who didn’t know it could be dragged could, 3 years into using the same computer every day with the taskbar at the bottom, can completely panic when it suddenly moves over to the left. Nice trap-door. Thanks a lot, jerks.

The most irritating thing to me is $12/hr tech support people who snicker about their clueless users. Who make ten times as much money as they do, and have a life outside of computers, and are accomplished and worthy of social respect. To a certain kind of weenie, you are a worthless human being if you don’t understand every persnickety thing about your computer. I guess what I’m trying to say is, people who use computers use them to help them get their job done. They’re good at whatever it is they do, and the computer isn’t the whole world to them. It’s just a tool. Meanwhile, the computer is the whole world to many technology professionals. So don’t whip yourself when the computer does something inexplicable and you have to ask someone like me to help you. If the computer is mumbling and incoherent, and drooling into its shirt, that doesn’t mean you should apologize to it for being so deaf.

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From a stranger
I've been depressed about Cathy Seipp's death the last few days and I didn't even read her blog. I first heard that she was sick when Kevin V posted about it on bloggie a few days ago and her name seemed familiar so I googled her.

She has an extraordinary daugher, Maia, who's seventeen and a freshman in college. Maia is going through a very rough time right now and she's showing tremendous strength and grace. But Cathy also had an extraordinary life, judging from the people who were by her side when she died, some of whom came from across the ocean to take care of her when she was sick.

I read Luke Ford's entry and I thought that was mean-spirited, as was this one and this one by someone else on some other blog. I wonder how Cathy would have felt had she read what Luke wrote or maybe they had a weird kind of friendship that I don't understand. All I know is that if any of you say mean things about me after I'm dead, I am going to come back and haunt you.

I don't know why this has affected me so much. Perhaps bloggers live in a small world and whether we read each other or not or whether we like each other or not, when one goes down we all feel the emptiness.

Rest in peace, Miss Seipp.
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Progress, My Hairy Foot!
In which a crotchety young man refuses to keep up with the Joneses

I am overweight. Unimaginable! But I finally had to face facts. My legendary metabolism has, at long last, capitulated like a Frenchman. It was done in by a combination of my sedentary lifestyle and my poor diet. I was also having sleeping problems. Not enough of it. Too much of it at the wrong hours.

I never thought I’d have a beer belly, since I used to regularly eat truly obscene amounts of bad-for-me, greasy, disgusting fast food and still feel hungry pretty quickly. My personal best/worst is scarfing more than 20 tacos in a single sitting. No matter what I ate, I still resembled a bulimic twig. I guess something changed! Prosperity has made me insomniac, fat, and weak, and I am a useless, yet vain creature, so it’s time to get fit. I’ve started hitting the gym every day to try to improve the situation. It’s been about a month since I started going, I guess—and I feel like a million thousand bucks, although I’m still pretty flabby and weak. True to my nerdy nature, I wanted to quantify my progress. The human hamster wheels don’t give you an accurate guess as to how many calories you’ve burned in your workout unless you put in your weight and age (and even then, I doubt it’s truly accurate, but I’ll take what I can get), so I asked at the gym to find out where I could weigh myself. They told me there was a scale in the men’s locker room, so off I went.

I was appalled by it. It was what I think of as a “doctor’s scale”, although I haven’t been to a doctor in a long time—quacks, the lot of them—and zorkie has since informed me that they typically have modern scales now. I hate those things with the sliding lumps! I used it for two days and gave up. It should not take minutes of fiddling with sliding lumps to find out how much I weigh. I am not patient by nature. In fact I can’t believe that I’m not already Adonis after a month of hitting the gym; what a gyp! GQ—call me. By the way, I weigh 205 pounds, give or take a few-pound fluctuation that would show up as noise on the trendline I will eventually plot once I have accumulated sufficient data (nerd, man. I’m tellin’ ya). I’m about 6-foot-3, and according to some chart on the internet that I found by Googling, I should weigh from 167 pounds up to 182 pounds. Wow! I didn’t think I was that much overweight. It’s just a cute little beer belly, I pleaded with the chart on the website.

You’ll pay for this, Al Gore.

I decided to get my own damn scale. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, expecting to spend something like 10 or 20 bucks. Well! They started about $40 at waist level, and the ones at eye-level were about $80-$100. What the hey? Nothing makes me feel more like a loser than what you crazy Americans spend on stuff. I mean really! Are you people that frigging rich?! Fuckin’ A! I’m going back to Jordan. Where what you crazy white people spend on a simple freaking scale is a doctor’s salary for a month. They were all digital too, with hilarious warnings. Well first of all, one of the $80 ones said it required 4 AA batteries, not included. Nice! I get an overpriced scale to weigh myself, and all of a sudden I have yet another set of batteries to worry about. The $100 scale had a lithium battery, included, that would allegedly last a lifetime. Improvement, I guess. All these junky Made-In-China ripoffs had hilarious warnings on them. “Do not use if you have a cardiac pacemaker”—maybe that’s Dick Cheney’s problem! So what happens here? I just don’t see the chain of causality. I can’t imagine how standing on a digital scale could possibly affect your pacemaker. You get on a digital scale and it reaches up your leg and makes your heart burst? What about static electricity, is it even worse for your pacemaker if you were scuffing your feet before you stepped on the scale? But an even funnier warning was “Do not use if you are pregnant”. Hwat? This has to be a joke! I think the warnings must have been written by a husband who was sick of his pregnant wife thinking she’s fat because of the baby’s weight, or else digital scales cause spontaneous abortions and birth deformities. I mean really!

This is progress, America? People are so scared of reading a needle on a dial that they’ll pay $100 for a digital readout? Or does a digital readout mean the scale is more accurate because it’s digital? Gosh, it’s a miracle people were able to get any accurate science done before digital readouts were invented! Rest in peace, Douglas Adams:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

He wrote that sometime in the late 70’s. Since then, the “pretty neat idea” has only metastasized. Digital scales that require batteries, stop your heart, and abort your baby! Progress!

I eventually located a proper scale, with a needle on a dial and a pricetag that did not offend my tawdry penurious tendencies. It was on the bottom rack of the shelf where people’s feet can kick it, so you have to stoop over, and there was only one model. If you want to spend $40, there are about three or four models, and four or five models at $80, and one model at $100. I imagine the psychological retailer’s trick at work here (other than eye-level placement) is that the $80 model seems like the moderate choice. Not too cheap, not too ostentatious. You terrorist bastards! I’ll see you in hell.

The scale I finally bought was a Homedics model. It cost a double sawbuck. Even the box seemed to be made of cheapier* material, and when I got the scale out (there was no display model to molest, because that’s reserved for the respectable models) it felt cheap as crap and was ugly besides. It works great, though! Now, I can tell exactly how little progress I’m making in the comfort of my own bathroom. I weigh myself, hairy, ugly, and naked, every morning before going to the gym and I write it down on that day’s index card. When I come back from the gym I write the details of my workout (calories burned, miles ran) and at night, what I ate and drank that day. Index cards are great. Don’t give me any of this PDA crap. When I have enough index cards accumulated I’ll plot everything on the computer but for now it’s all on paper. And there’s nothing wrong with that, you goddamned digital brownshirts.

Take your progress and shove it. If I ever own a watch, and that’ll be a cold day in hell, it will be normal and analog, with no battery and a stem winder and a real action inside it. Did you know that there are digital-analog watches? You can buy a watch that looks normal with a 12-face and a big hand and a little hand and it moves the hands around the face, and it’s really lying to you, it’s actually keeping the time digitally inside, and it just moves the hands around with battery power instead of a spring action. What a grotesque fraud! Like a pre-op tranny who will do everything with you except let you put your hand between her legs. And isn’t it funny that the real scales are the cheap crappy ones, and the cheap, crappy watches are the digital ones?

Screw technology. I’m gonna start blogging on an abacus.

*Silence, pedant! Cheapier is most definitely a word. It means “more cheapy”.

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Depressed? Want to die? Come to Switzerland, we can make it happen!
Switzerland's high court has ruled that people who suffer from a mental illness can be helped by doctors to commit suicide. Because mentally ill patients are of sound mind and they can make such decisions, you see. Swiss may expand assisted suicide law.
Switzerland already allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients under certain circumstances. The Federal Tribunal's decision puts mental illnesses on the same level as physical ones.

"It must be recognized that an incurable, permanent, serious mental disorder can cause similar suffering as a physical (disorder), making life appear unbearable to the patient in the long term," the ruling said.

"If the death wish is based on an autonomous decision which takes all circumstances into account, then a mentally ill person can be prescribed sodium-pentobarbital and thereby assisted in suicide," it added.
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The Magna Carta of Pizza
Eat what you want with a good, healthy fuck-you attitude

Salaami, salaami, pepperoni. We are not worthy. Steve H. of Hog on Ice has cracked the code of pizza-making. And even though it's going in his upcoming (second) cookbook, he lays it all out for you like Charlton Heston bringing down The Law from the mountain. Go read it now.

I'm a little depressed about this because while I was reading and admiring it, I realized that there's no chance I will ever accomplish anything this important in my life. It's like Steve found the Rosetta stone of pizza-making. Long after you're dead, your pizza independence legacy will live on.

On the one hand, I have nothing to live for, because Steve just did the most important thing that needed doing in our modern times. Like Prometheus stealing fire for us from the Gods. I mean, who can top this? The guy who proved Fermat's last theorem? Pffft. Who can get full on that? Pretty much nerds only.

On the other hand, I will continue to live so I can make, and eat, this marvelous pizza. It feels good to know that a problem of this magnitude has been solved. Fuck you, neighborhood pizzerias. I can dramatically out-class you now, and for about $2.50 a pie. And an extra-large fuck-you to the frozen chewy cardboard industry. I could already out-class you by eating my socks and calling it pizza.

I'm barely even kidding. Damn you, Steve! This is great. I feel like an empowered minority or something. I love this whole hate-based philosophy behind it, too. If you want to find out "the secret" to something, the people who know it are probably not going to tell you, but they will pretend to tell you. The fuckers! They're probably the kind of people who bleach their anuses, too. I didn't even know I hated them, but now I know who they are and that I hate them. Which I suppose is a reason to live, after all. Hate can really keep you going. Just ask a middle-easterner.
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Thank You
As I took my trash out yesterday (Thursday is trash pickup day), I remembered that they're not picking up on Thanksgiving. So it's going to wait out there in the dumpster until Monday, when they come for it. And that's fine by me. It's Thanksgiving. The trash can wait. It's not going anywhere.

A few minutes ago, I briefly considered going to the grocery store to pick up some Coke. I only have about four cans left. And maybe pick up some more of those amazing Amphissa olives that I'm running low on. They're somewhat squishy, and I can't stand it when olives have a squishy texture, but damn, they taste so good that it makes up for the texture. But of course, I remembered from last year that they're closed early today so the employees can be with their families. That's fine, too. It's Thanksgiving. I have plenty else in my pantry, and I'm thankful. The minor grocery trip can wait.

Just about the only Americans who don't have the day off today are our brave men and women in uniform. They're on raids in Baghdad's Sadrite rats' nest slums today. 52 of our fellow Americans have died this November in Iraq. Three beautiful Marines met their maker today, on Thanksgiving. They should have been home, watching football, eating turkey, and having mindless arguments with the more obnoxious members of their families. Instead, they answered their country's call, and they went where our leaders told them to go, to fight vicious little men, entranced by the promises of madmen, who seek little but to destroy and to rule.

The Reuben family are praying for Paul Reuben tonight, and wondering if he's alive and if he's being harmed. Paul is both a police officer at home and a warrior abroad, so he's a fitting symbol of the few who fight tirelessly to push back the darkness, whether at home or abroad.

To each and every one of my fellow Americans who's away from home on our behalf this Thanksgiving, thank you-whether you're an EMT, a police officer, a firefighter, an ER doctor, a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, an Airman.

To each and every parent wondering if their beautiful son or daughter, who they raised from a helpless baby to a lovely young woman or a strapping young lad, staying up sleepless nights when he was sick, helping her with her homework, taking him to Little League, teaching her to braid her hair, teaching him how to drive his first car, driving her to her first job, putting the fear of God into the grubby teenage boys who sought her affections-to each and every one of you, wishing you could do it all over again, to each of you, wondering why some evil man is trying to kill your son or daughter in a hard and ugly country far from the mundane American paradise that seems so miraculous and so blessed by God in comparison, thank you.

To each and every spouse back home, making the best of another holiday with her children but without her man by her side, thank you. To each and every child who doesn't have daddy home year-round, thank you. It's our fault your daddy's not home, not his fault, and not yours. And it's only because your daddy is a better man than most of us that he's away. Your daddy loves you and wishes he was home with you. You already know that, though, and you should never doubt it. Thank you again.

And to each and every family that has to live with the uncertainty, the nightmares, the anxiety, the longing, the heartache between the phone calls that are always too short, and the fear of bearing the ultimate loss and pain, or worse, the certain knowledge of it: your sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Some of us know what it means, and care, and wish we could wave a magic wand and eliminate the necessity of sending your loved ones into harm's way to fight bad people. If only.
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Latest Advance in Obnoxious Advertising
Externalizing Insanity
What's worse than advertising? Innovative advertising with fresh new ways to invade my peace and quiet and blare its commercial come-ons.

Thanks to CourtTV, you won't be able to browse a bookstore's shelves in silent contemplation any more. Because as soon as you're in front of a shelf that happens to have CourtTV's murder mystery books, you're going to hear an obnoxious 30-second pitch that only you can hear, and only as long as you're in front of it. It goes like this:
“Hey you, over here, don’t turn around. Do you hear me? Do you ever think about murder? Committing the ultimate crime? I do. All the time. I get paid to think about it. I’m a best selling crime writer. Watch me and other masters of crime fiction....”
They're running these ads in Barnes and Nobles. I guess I'll shop exclusively at Borders or Amazon.com, then. Or maybe I'll go to Barnes and Noble and make a scene when the voices start in on me. I like making scenes.

Look, you advertising worms. I agree that this is a clever idea. Just because it's clever doesn't mean it must be done! Stop trying to immanentize the eschaton. Okay? Just stop it. Thanks for ruining bookstores, you pricks. What's next, ads in church?

I hate you all and I hope you are murdered by some paranoid schizo whose voices went into overdrive after your clever idea drove him over the edge. Hey, that would be a great idea for a murder mystery...

via Robert Bove at the Iconoclast.
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I hope bad dogs go to heaven too
My dog Bobo died last night. He was old and was getting weak and I've been expecting it, but it's still hard as you all know, you've all had doggies and kitties and rats and frogs and...

Anyway, Bobo was one of the worst doggies to grace humanity. He was stinky, he was stubborn, he was nervous, he was a high-strung drama queen with a fondness for garbage and dead things and squeaky toys. I got him when he was already middle-aged and set in his neuroses and even obedience classes failed to turn him into a good dog. But I loved him nonetheless.

He died peacefully, at home, after a long, neurotic (but happy) life, which is what I would wish for every pet and every pet owner. Well, not the neurotic part.

He's buried in the back yard with a squeaky carrot and his favourite squeaky ball, right next to the goldfish.

And life goes on.
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A Sinister Choice
American euthanists were recently bragging to their foreign peers at an international conference that they do everything they can to kill people, short of breaking the law. I don't believe them. I think they go farther than that. I think they encourage, bait, bully, guilt, and very likely, snuff the candle.

I want to know why these people are operating with impunity. I think it's quite likely they're helping push people over the edge who might not have killed themselves. I've read far too much about the bullying by euthanists of patients to believe in their benevolence.

They want to mainstream the killing of the inconvenient, and they have to be confronted and stopped. The sad thing is how they've taken over the hospice movement. Once a beacon of loving care for the dying, they are now the most likely places to harbor undeclared euthanists.

This particular euthanist ring call themselves "Compassion and Choices". Have you ever seen such cheek? I'm glad they went with choice, though-it's revealing. Choice to kill your baby or choice to kill yourself; it's all choice! And needless to say, the euthanist ring aren't bragging about the number of people they dissuaded from committing suicide—any more than an unrepentant abortionist boasts about saving pregnancies and convincing women to give birth and give their babies up for adoption to a loving home. This isn't medicine, friends-it's a garbage disposal whirring in society's sink, and you're the garbage.
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