Monthly Archives: July 2012

Really Irritating Driving Stuff

People who don’t turn left when they have a left turn arrow.

People who turn left when they don’t have a left turn arrow.

People who go slow in the fast/passing lane.

People who go slow until you start to pass them.

People who drive three inches from your back bumper.

People who don’t use seat belts.

People who don’t put their kids in car seats.

People who don’t make sure their kids are using seat belts.

People who drive 10 mph in a 25 mph zone.

People who sideswipe your car in the parking lot and leave.

People who drive without car insurance.

People driving without car insurance who sideswipe your car in the parking lot.

One of Life’s Great Mysteries

A refund check from a doctor I haven’t seen in two years.

Seriously: it took them that long to figure out I had overpaid?

News Story of the Day

“Giant Haboob Rolls Over Phoenix”

I mean – even if you like Phoenix  – who wouldn’t want to see a giant haboob?

Fun with Polls!

Tired of answering the phone? Tired of the endless ringing and robo-calls, of the interrupted family dinners? At the end of your rope and don’t know which way to turn?

Well, I’m here to help by showing you how you can “turn” the tables and “turn” those calls into some good clean fun. (See how cleverly I worked that in?)

Right now, millions of homes across the country just like yours are getting calls from pollsters – you know – those jolly folks who just want to know what you think about the issues of the day, especially whether you agree that Barack Hussein Obama is Satan’s son and would you still vote for him if you knew that he is planning to destroy the [United States, continent, planet] galaxy with affordable health care for all and higher taxes on the rich?

Well, most of those pollsters work for imaginary groups like “American Future Fund” – that’s right – imaginary [Can you say “imaginary”? I knew you could.] which are really fronts for right wing conservatives who have hundreds of millions of dollars that they would rather spend on polls and lying, negative attack ads then stimulating the economy or hiring people other than pollsters (because after all what’s the point? They’d just outsource the jobs to China in six months anyway).

And that’s why your phone is ringing. So they can ask you just a few brief questions about your opinions. If it’s a robocall, it’s useless to hang up. The robot keeps talking and pausing until the end. (Even if it’s not a robocall, they just keep talking until they reach the end of their script.) So you might as well give them some answers.

And that’s where the fun starts.  Because you don’t have to tell them what you really believe.

When they start asking questions, you can act like a conservative and just make stuff up.

Because what the right wing really want to know is how successful their lying, negative attack ads have been and if they need more of them.

So they ask neutral, unbiased questions like: if the election were held tomorrow, would you vote for the competent and experienced job creator Mitt Romney or his opponent, the socialist Kenyan Muslim terrorist?

Or this: do you identify yourself as a Republican or as a crazy left wing liberal loony?

The last time I told them I was a rich, retired, fiercely conservative church-going, born-again fundamental Christian Republican who voted for President Obama and would be doing so again because Mitt was an alien from Planet Zyborg.

The time before that I was a 20 year-old male African-American, Green Party atheist who thought lowering taxes on the rich and drilling in the Arctic were the keys to our great nation’s recovery.

Next time I’m going to tell them I’m only voting for Mitt if he puts Michelle Bachmann on the ticket.

Dear NRA: You’re Nuts

(Updated from 11 months ago because what I said then is even truer now.)

Article II (of what’s called the Bill of Rights): “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This is Yoda speak for: listen, we just overthrew unilateral rule by a monarchy so we’re a little touchy on the subject of subjugation. Right now, as a loose coalition of states, the only thing between us and being conquered by outsiders is our ability to grab our trusty single-shot, muzzle-loading musket from the closet and run out the door to meet up with the other guys in town to repel invaders. After all, it’s not like we have a standing army to defend us and we’re a little leery of losing our state rights so we want to keep the right to have our own militia thank you very much.

Yes, Mrs. Higgins knows you slept through this chapter because you flunked the quiz and frankly my dear, she doesn’t give a damn (that you flunked the quiz because you need consequences but she does care whether you grasp basic concepts like this because conservatives and wingnuts like the N.R.A. have really got this screwed up).

Newsflash to wingnuts and nut jobs: what you call the “Second Amendment” and the “right to keep and bear arms” referred to the states’ right to maintain a civilian militia. That’s it. Nothing more or less than that. I don’t care what some lily-livered, weak-kneed, spineless judges have said in deference to powerful lobbyists, it was not an unlimited birth right to maintain a personal arsenal bigger than most NATO nations currently have stockpiled. Nor does it mean you should be able to pack heat whenever and wherever you want.

And if you disagree then consider moving to Somalia or some other delightfully unregulated gun market in Africa. Please. I hear they even let you have your own weapons grade plutonium over there. And SAM’s. And other essential hunting tools. Send us your forwarding address when you get there so we know which country to avoid.

So yes – the government should be able to regulate gun ownership and possession. Including what guns you can own. And what training you should have. And what kind of ammo. Because nobody needs assault rifles like the AR-15 used in the Colorado massacre. Or high-capacity 100 round magazines.

If you choose to hunt that’s entirely up to you but I really don’t think that going after Bambi with an AK-47 is sportsmanlike conduct. And if you want a handgun as part of your personal home protection plan, that’s fine, so long as you don’t decide you want to take it to the local mall and start slaughtering people. Or get mad because your wife is going to divorce you so you chase her down and shoot her and several co-workers who made the mistake of coming to work sick that day because their employer doesn’t offer paid sick leave. Or get drunk and pissed off at a local bar. Or leave it where one or more young children can find it and start to play cowboy with the neat toy. Or decide it’s okay to shoot the purse snatcher in the back as he flees. Bang, bang.

What’s that? The N.R.A. says that infringes on your second amendment rights? See what I mean about them being wingnuts?

Dating Dues and Don’ts

I’m no longer playing The Dating Game, which is a good thing because if I were I’d have to slap the other contestants.

Why? Because of exhibit numbers 1 and 2: “Best First-Date Moves For Men” and “Best First-Date Moves For Women,” two informative articles about what makes a “successful” first date, listing what people  should – and should not – do, as determined by “test panels” of self-absorbed men and women who claimed to have experience with date moves.

I was all atwitter (adjective: excited; nervous; aflutter, not to be confused with twitter.com) to see what was important to them. When I was on the market, I was happy if the guy 1) showed up, 2) on time, 3) had all his teeth, and 4) could speak in complete sentences.

Of course, I’m a woman, so I was picky. The guys were willing to settle for a lot less – they generally could be happy with one thing.

People today are different. Not one person in the stories mentioned that one thing. Instead they talked about things I can honestly say never occurred to me. Like this from one of the women who didn’t want a guy who might be nervous: “A little cockiness helps. If a guy talks too much out of nervousness or if his voice cracks, that’s a turn-off.”

I don’t mind nervous (unless it’s because he’s planning a major bank robbery later that night) – but I don’t want cocky. The last thing I want to do is spend time with a self-centered jerk who thinks I should be grateful he asked me out and thus is entitled to have sex with me. However, he would be a good match for the woman who actually said, “I expect to be the center of attention.”

Similarly, among women confidence ranked high on the list of attractive traits. Granted, I could never be happy dating the famously insecure Woody Allen even if he was single (with all his neuroses we could never be alone together), but by “confident,” these ladies mean “talkative, and women like a man who can be a smooth talker. A date either has to be relaxed and confident, or he has to be good at faking it.”

So they want someone who will monopolize the conversation, manipulate them and be good at deception.

These are not what I consider desirable qualities.

And then, if the guy didn’t pass muster on the first date, when asked “What do you do next?” the response was not – let him down easy if he calls again – it was “Phase it out. Let it die. After two or three dates, you don’t owe him an explanation. After a year, maybe you can tell him the truth if you have mutual friends.”

“Phase it out”???? If you know on the first date that the “man doesn’t meet your standards”, the correct answer is NOT “make him take me to dinner a couple more times before I unceremoniously dump him with no explanations.”

Where did they find these women?

Hopefully not the same place they found their “panel of bachelors to discuss what a woman can do to make it a night he won’t easily forget.” I mean – really? Don’t we all already know what the answer to that one is? (Even though not one bachelor was honest about it.)

Instead they talk about looking deep into their eyes, saying please and thank you, and not spending the entire meal on the phone talking to your mother.

All of which sounds reasonable. And not one of them said, “I expect to be the center of attention.” But they did want the woman to dress to impress. At least on the first date (she can be a slob later.)

And they did show a complete lack of understanding of women’s cosmetics. They agreed that “women who are too made up are usually more high-maintenance.” (They must know the Kardashians.) But one of them actually said, “A big turn-off for me is women with overly manicured eyebrows. That’s a bad sign. That means she spends a lot – a lot – of time on her appearance.”

Seriously? “Overly manicured eyebrows”??? What does that mean? And how is it possible? There’s only so much you can do with eyebrows.

How about “overly manicured nails”? Or “overly enhanced eyelashes”? You’ve seen them – eyelash extensions PLUS fake lashes PLUS mascara (with the end result something like this). Now THAT would be high maintenance.

And if that wasn’t silly enough – the bachelors were asked – and actually answered – this question: “What subtle signs can a woman send that lets you know the date is going well?”

Who needs subtle? Sign #1: she’s still there. Sign #2: she hasn’t thrown her drink in your face. Sign #3: she isn’t laughing hysterically as she gives a live, “play by play” description of your date in a conference call to everyone in her phone contact list.

Oddly, women were not asked the same question. And weren’t worried about getting stuck with someone high maintenance. But then, if you’re the center of attention, why would you care?

How to Succeed in Government Without Even Trying

Do you want to earn big bucks?

Do you want great benefits?

Do you want to go straight to the top without wasting days or even hours getting “qualified” or gaining knowledge and experience?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions – and you live in Wisconsin – then we have the system for you. It’s called the “Scott Crony Appointment Method” (SCAM) and it works.

Here are just a few of the lucky people who can verify the benefits of SCAM.

Ryan M. was an ordinary college graduate before he signed up with SCAM. A short time later, after sucking up to several key Republicans as an aide or campaign worker, he was appointed the head of a Wisconsin state agency (with a budget of almost $162 million) at a salary of $105,000 a year complete with a benefit and retirement package honest Americans can only dream about.

Cathy S. was part-owner of a construction business when, thanks to SCAM, she  become head of the state agency in charge of protecting natural resources complete with a six figure salary. Did she have any experience in natural resources management? Did she have a college degree? Did she have any experience administering a huge, multifaceted agency? Did she even know what “nature” is?  Of course not! That’s the beauty of SCAM! She didn’t need any of that stuff! All she needed was her background as a Scott Walker supporter and political crony!

SCAM has worked for hundreds of people – and it can work for you, too. Have a bad driving record? No problem with SCAM.

Brian D. had no qualifications but he did have two drunken-driving convictions. Yet with SCAM he still landed an $81,500-per-year job in Scott Walker’s administration overseeing dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce – and – even though Walker claimed Wisconsin was broke and public employees were overpaid, Brian still earned a promotion AND a 26% pay raise in just two months. All it took was a lobbyist dad who gave big bucks to Scott Walker’s campaign.

Perhaps you already have the job of your dreams so would prefer an appointment to a cushy commission instead of a cushy job.  No problemo – SCAM fits the bill!

One of those commissions is the state Judicial Commission, expected to “enforce high standards of judicial behavior, both on and off the bench, without compromising judicial independence.” The members “strive to maintain public confidence in the judiciary by providing a forum for the expeditious and fair disposition of complaints of judicial misconduct and disability.”

Skeptics might think a lack of impartiality, any knowledge of the law or judicial ethics might be a disadvantage – but they’ll become true believers once they see SCAM in action and learn that no donation goes unrewarded!

Eileen B. was an ordinary homemaker and ardent conservative whose qualifications were her long-term marriage and the $5,350 she gave Republican campaigns. But with SCAM, those qualifications were more than enough to became a new member of the Judicial Commission.

Dentist Mark B. and anesthesiologist Assef S. also seemed hopelessly unqualified but both were “fiercely conservative” Republican donors who would do what was needed when investigating the pending ethics complaints against former Republican Assemblyman and current Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. It was mere coincidence that both were recommended by a former Republican Assembly speaker who once worked for Prosser.

Once again, SCAM worked its mysterious magic and both were appointed!

What’s the catch? There is none! Think it won’t work for you? Nonsense! It works for anyone with a checkbook! Just put aside your ethics and principles and put SCAM to work for you today!

Tell Me Again Why You Would Vote For A Republican

I try to be civil. I try not to judge. I try not to point fingers. I try to see both sides of an argument. (Even when the other person inevitably is going to be wrong because they aren’t in complete agreement with whatever I’m saying)

But the past 3 years or so (the period since the faux “tea party” surfaced) have pushed me past the breaking point.

I don’t know if it’s the endless lies that the wingnuts believe. I don’t know if it’s the mindless sexist, racist, bull poop they spew. All I know is that lately I’ve been sorely tempted to carry with me at all times a 2 by 4 so I can whack people up side the head whenever they say something stupid.

Which means now I have to haul a load of timber to Texas.

Lord knows Rick Perry alone is a full-time job for anyone trying to fix stupid, but the Texas state Republican Party has just put on display what may be one of the biggest batches of stupid known to man: the “2012 State Republican Party Platform.”

In thirty pages of astoundingly lame-brain statements, they leave no subject untouched in their effort to make Texas – and conservatives everywhere – look even dumber than usual.

I should have been able to guess that a state that favors corporations over its people would be “The embodiment of the conservative dream in America.”

After all it’s dead last in high school graduation rates, per capita spending on mental health, the percentage of non-elderly women with health insurance, the percentage of pregnant women who receive prenatal care and share of its workforce – 76 percent – covered by workers’ compensation, while leading the country in executions, share of its population that lacks health insurance and five categories of air pollution — nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, mercury emissions, volatile organic compounds and particulates.

Then there’s the actual platform. Here’s a random sampling of the contents.

We strongly oppose all efforts of the extreme environmental groups that stymie legitimate business interests. We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry. We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We strongly oppose the listing of the dune sage brush lizard either as a threatened or an endangered species. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.

Because the only species worth protecting are the oil and gas ones.

We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed

Because people who don’t vote like us shouldn’t have voting rights.

We support adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States.

Because the native language of a bunch of white people from a foreign country is what everybody here should speak, only with a Texas accent.

We urge the Legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws.

Because marriage is only between a natural woman and a natural man and it’s forever dammit whether you like it or not.

All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death.

This allows us to ban abortion while simultaneously supporting capital punishment because after all, death by injection ain’t natural.

We support eliminating bureaucratic prohibitions on corporal discipline.

Because part of respecting and safeguarding our children is the ability to beat them.

We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories.

Because we all know that our great-great grandparents had pet dinosaurs.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs that [challenge] the student’s fixed beliefs and undermin[e] parental authority.

Because we don’t want people thinking for themselves.

We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage.

Because it’s so effective.

Public schools should be required to obtain written parental consent for student participation in any test or questionnaire that surveys beliefs, feelings, or opinions.

Because children should never be allowed to think for themselves. (Didn’t we already cover that when we opposed higher order thinking?)

As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.

But only if the choice is an approved Christian religion. Everyone else needs to be deported.

We deplore all discrimination. We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove … the sexual orientation category in said Law.

Because discrimination is bad. Unless it’s against gays. That’s okay. Because:

Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, [and] recognized by our country’s founders

Because it says so right there in the Constitution under article … What? They didn’t?

We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

Because that way we can pay poor people even less.

I think I’m gonna need more lumber.

Thought for the Day

When sour cream goes bad, how do you know?

The Little Prince(s)

It started with the shocking revelation in The New Yorker that – and this will come as a real surprise if you’ve never flown on the same plane as the toddler who incessantly kicked the back of my seat for four hours – parents in the U.S. are spoiling their children, resulting in a generation of young adults who incessantly kick the back of other seats on airplanes, as well as being otherwise completely self-absorbed, permanent adolescents who can’t tie their own shoes.

Not all of them of course. But enough for all the other countries to notice and whisper about us at parties

And for good reason.

In the article, the author contrasted indigenous South Americans (the Matsigenka) – who teach their children to assume adult responsibilities (6-year-olds already know how to cook and clean) – with a group of Angelenos who teach their children that a parent’s primary role is to worship their offspring.

The result? “With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world.”

Which is a nice way of saying: what the hell are you parents doing?

And, with unintentional irony, even the author doesn’t see what she’s doing:

Not long ago, in the hope that our sons might become a little more Matsigenka, my husband and I gave them a new job: unloading the grocery bags from the car.

Wow. Carrying grocery bags into the house. Well, that’s certainly an essential life skill. And the kid still screws it up.

One evening when I came home from the store, it was raining. Carrying two or three bags, the youngest, Aaron, who is thirteen, tried to jump over a puddle. There was a loud crash.

So what does mom do? Tell him so sad – go clean up the mess, salvage what you can, and next time carry only one bag at a time or you pay for anything you break?

Nope – she cleans it up and decides to add a “more vigorous” household task. Hmmm. Vacuuming, perhaps? No. Mopping? No. Laundry? No. KP? No.

She (in all seriousness) assigned him the daunting chore of … taking out the trash.

After I’d retrieved what food could be salvaged from a Molotov cocktail of broken glass and mango juice, I decided that Aaron needed another, more vigorous lesson in responsibility. Now, in addition to unloading groceries, he would also have the task of taking out the garbage.

Wow. Another essential life skill.

And what happens then? He screws that one up too:

On one of his first forays, he neglected to close the lid on the pail tightly enough, and it attracted a bear.

So what does mom do this time? Tell him so sad – go clean up the mess, and next time, don’t forget to close the damn lid properly or so help me I’ll feed you to the bear myself?

Nope – she cleans it up and calls it quits:

The next morning, as I was gathering up the used tissues, ant-filled raisin boxes, and slimy Saran Wrap scattered across the yard, I decided that I didn’t have time to let my kids help out around the house.”

This is a woman who can get published in The New Yorker yet she cleans up after her able-bodied son and can’t figure out what’s wrong with this picture??? She just answered her own question: “Why do kids rule the roost?” Three thousands words later – she still hasn’t figured it out.

But that didn’t stop another parent from jumping into the fray – this time to suggest in “The Benefits Of Spoiling Kids In America” that raising children to be helpless narcissists is actually a good thing. It’s a good thing because what’s more important: raising a child to be a competent, capable, responsible, self-sufficient, thoughtful and considerate human being? Or helping make sure they get into a good school?

Why – the latter of course! “And to whom is college admission granted? To those who do their chores? Or to those who fill their after-school with so many ‘enrichment’ activity that there is no time to make dinner? To those who unquestionably obey, or those who argue and challenge? And when kids are under such pressure (parents, too, what with a lousy economy and a more demanding workplace and a world that seems scarier) who wants to add to rare moments of family time with orders and obligations?”

Because nothing says lovin’ like keeping your children away from the oven. And every other household appliance.

Yet another writer tackles the subject, answering the age-old question, why do parents “spoil” their kids, by agreeing that spoiling is bad – but ultimately it’s not their fault. It’s our culture, “the demands of the American workplace.” We just work too many hours so don’t have enough time in the day to teach our children how to be fully-functional people: “We don’t discipline our kids because it takes time, and we often quite literally don’t have the time.”

It has nothing to do with being weak-kneed, lily-livered, spineless wusses afraid to say “no” to their charming little tyrants – or those ego-centric parents whose offspring are perfect and can do no wrong. (No they aren’t and yes they can but here‘s how to change that.

Because after all, anything else might indicate that maybe we have to do things differently, you know – perhaps act like grownups. Because kids aren’t grownups. They’re kids. And the only things kids are concerned about are their own wants and needs. And the only way that ever changes is if we do the hard things – you know – teach them to care about others and (eventually) to care for themselves. And that it’s not all about them.

And it ain’t easy. And it means saying no. And it means sometimes they hate you.

And gosh that’s hard. And it takes time.

Maybe I should just take out the trash myself.