Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Down and Out in New York and Los Angeles

First we had the news that able-bodied Americans were delaying retirement because of the horrible economy. Then we had news that people are so poor that mothers are breastfeeding to avoid "outrageous grocery store prices" (as Troy McClure would say) on baby formula. Today the news is that Americans who've tied up too much of their wealth in assets are starting to unload those assets. Oh Noes! The Great Depression, she be back!

I just tried to read the entire article and I couldn't. When I read, "One former affluent customer is now unemployed and had to unload Hermes leather jackets and Versace jeans and silk shirts," I nearly puked, even though all I had for breakfast this morning was a granola bar. Maybe it was because I can't afford food!!!! It wasn't. But it could have been!!!! But it wasn't. It was because I was too lazy to wake up on time to eat breakfast and still make my bus. But I'm riding the bus because the economy is in shambles! Shambles!

This article's writer, Anne D'Innocenzio, who somehow managed to get the title of "business writer," concludes that, since listings on Craigslist have "soared" 70 percent since last July, it's because everyone's one step away from the bread line. Perhaps it's because of news stories which are announcing to people living under rocks that Craigslist exists (like this article about Freecycle). Nothing causes soaring usage more than public awareness of existence.

I read an article today about consumer confidence nosediving in the past year, and yesterday I read an article about the lack of food shortages in America, written with almost palpable disappointment.

The real story is that media make people feel horrible about things that aren't bad, and then they report on the fact that everyone feels horrible. Now, if you'll excuse me, Rosasharn is going to nurse me in a boxcar.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Anniversary

Recently my wife wrote this post on her blog. Here’s a conversation we had last Saturday night at a mall in Saint Louis.

ME: It’s pretty nice that you decided to dress like a 30-year-old now that I’m attracted to 30-year-olds.

HER: You’re only supposed to be attracted to this 30-year-old.


All right, I’ve tried to bite my tongue, but I can’t take this any longer.

What the State of Texas is doing to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is wrong. Firstly, there is no indication yet that the phone call which prompted the raid was legitimate. When investigating a battered woman call, if the woman isn’t battered (or if she doesn’t exist), it seems to me you have no case.

Now, I understand the whole idea of, “Well, I went to their house because I thought they were bank robbers but I found pot, so now they’re under arrest for drug possession,” but what actual crime did law enforcement find when they went looking for a woman who wasn’t real? So far it appears the only crime is Parenting While Freaky, which, coming from Texas, the state that gave us mothers hiring hitmen to take out rival cheerleaders and family reunions-cum-baseball bat beating deaths, caries an incredibly high burden of proof.

Is this how Texas responds to all teen pregnancies? Or just the ones that make you want to gossip about them?

Secondly, today the news story is that 31 of the 53 teenagers in state custody have been pregnant at least once. That’s 58%. So a high teen pregnancy rate is grounds for removing all children from a group? This story also carries the first mention of a real crime, the fact that in Texas girls under 17 can’t consent to sex. However, it wasn’t until the state seized the children (and one would suspect did medical examinations) that they could even begin to speculate which teenage girls have been pregnant and which haven’t. While no one has been charged, the state felt free to conduct DNA tests. I thought I remembered something about “illegal searches and seizures,” but the government agent standing over my shoulder has just assured me that it’s a false memory.

Ultimately, what legal authority do parents have to instill a belief system in their children? I was baptized in my church when I was eight years old; were my parents “abusing” me? I’m not arguing against last year’s conviction of the FLDS leader: I believe that girl didn’t want to participate yet the church leaders and her family agreed to allow her husband to force her to participate. But this is a case of Texas seizing children who, by all indications, wanted to participate. I’m sure Texas will say, “Well, they don’t know they can choose to disagree,” or, “They have been intimidated into compliance,” but even so, don’t you have to have a victim press charges? How strong of a case is this? “When investigating a hoax, we found non-victimized victims, non-perpetrating perpetrators, and decided this belief system was too dangerous for children.” Since when does Texas get to decide what religious groups get to have children? There are people in the world who think it is abusive to teach children to believe in God. Is the only thing keeping them from taking away your kids the fact that they don’t represent a majority (yet)?

I know everyone hates abuse, but how do you fight abuse while protecting freedom? And when those two goals conflict, which wins?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Youngest Grandma - International Edition

If you want to be the world's youngest grandma, you're going to have to bring your A game. Waiting until you're 20 to have your baby really sets you back. While this British bird gave it all she had, she simply couldn't bring the heat.
(Aside: people searching for "youngest grandma" is actually one of the main traffic generators for my blog. Seriously. So I think it deserves its own post label now, instead of lumping them in with "idiots" where they belong.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

So It Begins

Given these recent trends (here, here, and here) in the world’s ability to produce and sell rice, Wal-Mart has responded thus. I told Persephone a few weeks ago after reading about food price riots in Egypt, “The good news is commodity inflation is a lot worse in the Third World (or, as they prefer, the Developing World), which means they’ll revolt long before we do.”

In a somewhat related note, I really love post-apocalyptic movies, but usually I can’t watch them because they’re rated R (after all, the Apocalypse isn’t going to be a pretty act to follow). But now I’ve got a reason that it’s okay for me to watch them: preparing for the future.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tired Legs

I've got this guy with whom I work. Since he needs a blog name, let's call him The Friendly Jerk. He's nice and all, but he manages to say some pretty rude things, like when he asked me incredulously, "How do you pass your performance reviews?"

Anyway, our company did some work for an organization that was putting on a run here in town, and as a "thank you," the organization gave us two free entries. The Friendly Jerk was going to use one of the entries to run the 5K, and he asked if anyone else wanted the other one. I didn't know there was a 5K component; I'd only ever seen fliers around town that billed the half-marathon component. I said, "For the half marathon?" He said, "Well, I was thinking 5K, but if you think you can do a half marathon, be my guest." I said, "Yeah, I could do that."

Now, here's the important part: I really could do that. I ran cross country in high school, and although I broke my ankle in 1996 and have not run that regularly since then, I'd run 10 miles as recently as two years ago. Also, since I've become a bike commuter, my heart and lungs are in adequate shape already. With several weeks of preparation, I could run a half marathon.

Well, The Friendly Jerk nearly crapped his pants in disbelief. "You think you can run a half marathon? Are you even a runner? What's the furthest you've ever run?" And so on. So, obviously, I had to run the half marathon, just to shut him up.

So I signed up and began a bit of training. The training was geared towards running a marathon in October (which, depending on how the surgically-repaired ankle holds up, is another goal of mine), so it was going to be a little bit of a stretch to run a half marathon in April, but not too bad.

Yesterday was the race. As should probably have been expected from my abbreviated training, I did well for the first three-quarters and then struggled at the end. At nine miles I thought, "I feel pretty good." At ten miles I thought, "I'm ready for this race to be over." At eleven miles I thought, "This isn't enjoyable anymore." And the last two miles sucked.

There were highlights, however:

  1. I ran a half marathon. And really ran, too. I didn't stop to walk at all. And given that my ankle doctor in 1996 thought I wouldn't be able to run anymore (especially once it broke the second time the day of the first surgery), I think that's pretty good.
  2. It was all free, so the shirt and water bottles and cookies didn't cost me anything (same goes for the medal, which my kids think is fantastic and my wife thinks is embarrassing).
  3. My nipples were rubbed raw, so I bled through my shirt (not my nipples, but a pair of example nipples) and I get to wear tiny Band-Aids on my nipples like I'm a self-conscious pre-teen girl.
  4. Maybe The Friendly Jerk will shut up now.

Lowlights: my time wasn't too impressive, while The Friendly Jerk finished in the top 20 for the 5K. Part of me wants to go head-to-head with him in a 5K, because I'm pretty sure I could beat him, but I don't want to turn into a jerk myself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"It's Always Better On Holiday"

John McCain (soldier, erstwhile tiger cage occupant, stalwart defender of politicians' 1st Amendment right to have nothing negative said about them in a public forum near an election) wants to have a "summer gas tax holiday."

What might John McCain (war hero, tiger cage, schoolmarm) be thinking? Fortunately, I can channel the departed spirit that once inhabited the epileptic corpse that is John McCain (hero, tiger, gag orderer).

"See here, you little snots! How dare you question my thinking? I don't answer to you or to anybody, see? I'm John [redacted] McCain! I can't comb my [redacted] hair because your parents were dropping acid and contracting syphilis! I look like I've got a [redacted] mop on my head and you laugh, but I'll laugh last, see? I'm going to cut gas taxes all summer so prices will appear to go down and the public will love me. Then people will use more, so prices will go up. Then the summer will end, the taxes will come back, and the public will be crushed under the burden! Ha ha! You hear me laughing, [redacted]ers?! I'll crush you, just like my VC overlords commanded! You don't [redacted] with Charlie, you hear? Are you eyeballing me, mister?! You think I'm crazy, eh? You think I can't think straight? Well excuse me for going crazy in defense of your freedom, maggot! I'm a great patriot! Avert your [redacted] eyes!"

Other things McCain (god, animal, Big Brother) wants to send on holiday include Brussels sprouts, unhousebroken dogs, and broads with great racks who wear baggy clothing.

McCain '08: Because He's a White Male™.

Title from Franz Ferdinand's song "Jacqueline."

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Don't Believe in Oprah

I’d like to give a shout-out to religious freedom, which allows me to believe in 1st-century gods like a non-Trinity Jesus while allowing others, such as the woman quoted in this New York Times article, to believe in modern gods like Oprah.

I found this while looking through the paper in bed last night and I knew modern religion had passed me by when I read this quote:

“The feeling is, Oprah had this on, and now, I’m wearing it?" Ms. Hoy explained over lunch near the store last week. "When you go in there, you just feel great, like you are somebody, like Oprah is touching you.”

So it turns out the cure for alienation is a near-Oprah experience. I bet Marx never saw that coming!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What the Hell Was THAT About?

I think I just got some sort of malicious spyware comment on my last post.

Just so we're all on the same page here, people: I don't want any spyware. Thanks, but no thanks, you know what I mean? So if you could just keep the spyware to yourself,that would just be terrific.

Danger of Death!

Those anti-egg people are bringing the heat: they've blown right past "might raise cholesterol" and have moved on to "will kill you."

Isn't everything linked to a death risk? I mean, life is a fatal event. Maybe we should all walk around with this sign around our necks:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Close, But Not Quite

The great thing about America is that it’s completely apportioned out between the states and territories. You can’t be “near” one state without being in another.

Or so I thought. This missing Marine was spotted “near” Kansas, but not actually “in” Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, or Colorado.

In other news, I guess I’m reluctantly rooting for Kansas tonight. I don’t know. I hate most KU fans, I have major problems with the managing of the university, and I think most big college sports programs make a mockery of the “educational” nature of the college (including BYU sports and their casual relationship with the Honor Code).

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nobody Puts Baby in a Coffin

A few weeks ago I opened up (and got it to load, instead of the crap it usually tries to pull when the page is completely blank but the bottom corner of my browser says “done”) and I saw an exclusive news story (read: regurgitation of material from The National Inquirer) that quoted an anonymous source that said Patrick Swayze would be dead within five weeks. The next day another news story confirmed that he was sick but denied the five weeks timeline. So I did what any responsible person would do: I took my calendar, marched off five weeks into the future and wrote “Patrick Swayze should be dead.”

Today I turned my calendar over to April (I can safely be categorized as “a little slow”) and noticed that Patrick’s big day is next Thursday, which conveniently corresponds to an exam I have in linear algebra. So how accurate was the first news story (or, Patrick’s doctor’s guess)? We’ll find out in eight days!

Where's My God Now? He's Sitting Right Here, Doing What I'm Doing.

It makes sense that global warming proponents argue that man is responsible for climate change. After all, who else are they going to blame? Past cataclysmic climactic events were pinned on God, but since God has been replaced by man, then man must get the blame for the things that used to be blamed on God.

This also explains why modern Americans sue someone, anyone, for what used to be termed “acts of God.” Hurricane Katrina? Bush’s anti-Kyoto stance caused it. And the answer to the age-old question “Why am I so fat?” is conveniently now “McDonald’s.”

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hard Times (American Style)

As if this weren't the definitive statement on the subject, there is also this article to consider, wherein we read the words, "And they've made cutbacks: trading in Kent's Corvette for a Suburban and getting rid of the gardener, for example."

I find it hard to feel sorry for people who have a home equity line of credit (which is not a mortgage), have decided to live in California, and think driving a Suburban when gas prices are near record highs is "economizing."

Also today I read this article, which is about how hard it is to be an able-bodied old person who is expected to work for a living.

I've said it before, but since no one reads my blog I can feel free to say it again: old people are destroying this country.