Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The sponge is back, ladies. Yeah!
Like Elaine, I was seriously pissed when my favorite contraceptive left the market over ten years ago, and also like her, as my supply of the sponge dwindled, my standards for who was worthy of the use of a sponge became, well, let's just say that I actually had to adopt some standards.
Talk about put out.
Back in the day, they cost about twelve dollars for a box of a dozen, and they were so popular amongst my friends that we actually had a nickname for them: buck-a-fucks.
Of course now with the re-release of the product, the price has gone up to 30 bucks a dozen, which may necessitate for some women a new fiscal-based worthiness test.
But don't worry, Spooney, you're definitely worth $2.50 a pop. No question.
The wise infection control manager at Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital has banned the wearing of Crocs by staff because the ventilation holes allow sharps (needles and the like) to penetrate the shoe, thereby posing a safety risk. Some non-hideous-footwear-challenged nurses are opposing the ban, but it appears the tide may be turning against the most egregious shoe crime since the invention of Uggs. Some Swedish hospitals have banned the things, claiming that the static charge that can build up in the shoe was causing electrical instruments to malfunction. Also, there are those escalator incidents.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I saw him once in
I saw him amble by with a large, ancient English Sheepdog, and I said out loud to a few dog park acquaintances standing nearby, “Hey, that’s Tom Snyder.”
No one knew who that was.
I supposed that to them he was just some tall, old schlubby guy wearing a corduroy sports jacket and hard-soled shoes to the dog park.
Okay, sure. But he was also the guy in the 70s, that guy with the hair that was ten different shades of brown and two different shades of gray who went toe-to-toe with Charles Manson without looking like he was about to piss himself. He was simultaneously self-deprecating and so completely full of himself that you would’ve changed the channel if it didn’t mean you’d have to get up and cross the room and find those pliers that you had to use since the knob busted. He wasn’t afraid of anyone that I ever saw, from Ayn Rand to Jimmy Hoffa to Johnny Rotten. He loved his job, and he was good at it. And he didn’t care how high or drunk you were, he was going to get an interview out of you, goddamn it, ha ha ha ha ha!
Poor old Tom. Some guys would look back at his career and be proud. I always got the feeling that Tom Snyder, finally forced into retirement by the network suits, just wanted to keep working, and that part of him couldn’t believe that no one wanted to watch him do that anymore.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
How about a little walk down memory lane?
C'mon! It's fun.
Especially on a day like today, when our Attorney General, our nation's top law enforcement official, asserted that he "doesn't know" whether Karl Rove briefed Justice Department officials on Republican National Committee business and talking points, and he's "unsure" how many federal attorneys were fired not because they couldn't do their jobs, but because they wouldn't do the RNC version of their jobs.
In these fast-paced days of ours, when the accusations that BushCo has very nearly turned our government into a subsidiary of the RNC are flying faster than you can say "special prosecutor," wouldn't it be nice to return to a simpler, less stressful time?
And what a time it was: 1996! A time when the best scandal we could dig up about the current administration and their politicization of the government was that the Vice President used his office phone to call a donor.
Used his office phone! His official Vice-Presidential phone!
No, the taxpayers didn't pay for the call. He charged the call to the DNC. But still, you know, wear and tear. Also, he might have twisted the cord around his finger, okay, and then maybe his assistant had to untangle it or something. And the untangling might have taken valuable tax-payer-financed minutes to complete.
It was an important scandal that took up much of the media's time and energy. And we all paid attention to it, because maybe it meant that the Vice President wasn't a man with our best interests at heart.
Aaaahhhhh.....yes, that's it. Now, just let the bitterness and the irony just slide down your throat and settle into your gut. Yeah... Ruminate on it, baby, and then clench your fists and your gut tight, and hold onto that feeling, revel in it, because you still got another 16 months to go.
Monday, July 23, 2007
But I'm back now.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Last Friday, former speechwriter and general cheerleader for BushCo Michael Gerson wrote a truly jaw-dropping little bit of religious smuggery called What Atheists Can’t Answer for the Washington Post. And WaPo, whose standards these days are a bit unfathomable to me, deemed it fit for publication. I deem it fit for my own personal brand of passive-aggressive ridicule, and so…well, you know the drill:
British author G.K. Chesterton argued that every act of blasphemy is a kind of tribute to God, because it is based on belief. "If anyone doubts this," he wrote, "let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor."
Wow, let’s just dive right into the deep end of the pool of logical fallacy, shall we?
The problem with blasphemy is that, just like any of your garden variety of gods, it is defined by those who believe that it exists. Me, I don’t believe in God, therefore, I don’t believe that blasphemy is possible. I’m aware that other people believe that it is possible, and, when I’m in the room, even likely, and occasionally I do try to curb my language so as to try to keep from offending what in my experience are some overall pretty fucking touchy people.
And for the record, Thor’s so-called “mighty hammer”? It ain’t all that, sisters.
By the evidence of the New York Times bestseller list, God has recently been bathed in such tributes. An irreverent trinity -- Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins -- has sold a lot of books accusing theism of fostering hatred, repressing sexuality and mutilating children (Hitchens doesn't approve of male circumcision). Every miracle is a fraud. Every mystic is a madman. And this atheism is presented as a war of liberation against centuries of spiritual tyranny.
I suppose if you’re an uptight, defensive member of the my-way-or-the-lake-of-fire-way set, then yeah, I bet you do view works such as those written by the above authors as declarations of war. Me, I view them as an assertion of my right to exist on an equal basis with my more pious brethren, and also, perhaps more importantly, as an assertion that the religious emperor has, in fact, precious few bits of clothing. Like maybe a thong or a g-string, at the most.
I say that because although religious organizations and their collections of dogma and ideals are as deeply flawed as any secular group of yahoos and their respective precious scribblings, we are, as a society, forbidden to say so. Because the very nature of a religion means that it is above criticism. Because it is a RELIGION, it cannot be criticized. You cannot say, for example, that you oppose Christianity, or Islam, or the Jewish religion, because their theology requires that a woman’s status be beneath that of a man’s. If you do say so, you are a bigot. You can level that same criticism about the KKK, or Skull and Bones, or the Augusta National Golf Club, but you can’t say that you oppose a religion, no matter what fucked-up shit is written in their scrolls.
Proving God's existence in 750 words or fewer would daunt even Thomas Aquinas. And I suspect that a certain kind of skeptic would remain skeptical even after a squadron of angels landed on his front lawn. So I merely want to pose a question: If the atheists are right, what would be the effect on human morality?
Does anyone else get the feeling that having squadrons of angels landing on the lawns of atheists is some kind of wet dream for Mr. Gerson?
If God were dethroned as the arbiter of moral truth, it would not, of course, mean that everyone joins the Crips or reports to the Playboy mansion.
I believe Mr. Gerson means that not all atheists are like Snoop Dogg.
On evidence found in every culture, human beings can be good without God. And Hitchens is himself part of the proof. I know him to be intellectually courageous and unfailingly kind, when not ruthlessly flaying opponents for taking minor exception to his arguments. There is something innate about morality that is distinct from theological conviction. This instinct may result from evolutionary biology, early childhood socialization or the chemistry of the brain, but human nature is somehow constructed for sympathy and cooperative purpose.
Why the kid glove treatment from Gerson for the known godless heathen Hitchens? Is it because he still continues to publicly support the war in
But there is a problem. Human nature, in other circumstances, is also clearly constructed for cruel exploitation, uncontrollable rage, icy selfishness and a range of other less desirable traits.
I understand Mr. Gerson worked closely with Vice President Cheney, so he should know.
So the dilemma is this: How do we choose between good and bad instincts? Theism, for several millennia, has given one answer: We should cultivate the better angels of our nature because the God we love and respect requires it. While many of us fall tragically short, the ideal remains.
And while many of those falling tragically short are also those who claim the highest levels of piety and communication with their respective gods, what is one to think of this so-called “ideal”? The truth is, that most mainstream religions are based on the carrot and the stick. Be good, go to heaven, be bad, go to hell.
And the trouble with that is, that just like prison, people who believe in hell never seem to believe that they themselves are going there, no matter what heinousness they perpetrate upon their loved ones or on society at large. It seems to me that most Christians, for example, believe that all that is required to stay in the good grace of their god is merely to proclaim oneself a Christian. Hating, killing, raping, stealing – everything else will come out in the theological wash.
Atheism provides no answer to this dilemma. It cannot reply: "Obey your evolutionary instincts" because those instincts are conflicted. "Respect your brain chemistry" or "follow your mental wiring" don't seem very compelling either. It would be perfectly rational for someone to respond: "To hell with my wiring and your socialization, I'm going to do whatever I please." C.S. Lewis put the argument this way: "When all that says 'it is good' has been debunked, what says 'I want' remains."
And yet, as Mr. Gerson has already admitted, there are plenty of moral atheists. So it seems that C.S. Lewis has an affinity not just for books that inspire boring, overrated film versions of themselves, but also for statements that sound all fancy-like but are actually quite obviously wrongity-wrong-wrong.
Some argue that a careful determination of our long-term interests -- a fear of bad consequences -- will constrain our selfishness. But this is particularly absurd. Some people are very good at the self-centered exploitation of others. Many get away with it their whole lives.
I’m not going to name any names…but the number 43 springs to mind.
By exercising the will to power, they are maximizing one element of their human nature. In a purely material universe, what possible moral basis could exist to condemn them? Atheists can be good people; they just have no objective way to judge the conduct of those who are not.
See, because, religious types judge people objectively.
The death of God has greater consequences than expanded golf time on Sunday mornings. And it is not simply religious fundamentalists who have recognized it.
First of all, I got to call a huge, huge BULLSHIT on that last sentence. All the biggies in the Founders club were pretty fucking cynical about organized religion, especially Christianity. But let’s not quibble about what
None of this amounts to proof of God's existence. But it clarifies a point of agreement -- which reveals an even deeper division. Atheists and theists seem to agree that human beings have an innate desire for morality and purpose. For the theist, this is perfectly understandable: We long for love, harmony and sympathy because we are intended by a Creator to find them.
Wow, considering that theists aren’t any more successful at finding love, harmony and sympathy than atheists are, doesn’t that make the Creator kind of a dick? Or a serious underachiever?
In a world without God, however, this desire for love and purpose is a cruel joke of nature -- imprinted by evolution, but destined for disappointment, just as we are destined for oblivion, on a planet that will be consumed by fire before the sun grows dim and cold.
At last, a member of the Bush administration acknowledges global warming!
Seriously, though, I guess he means to make that point that humans are less disappointed by the vagaries of life when they know that there is some paternal being out there hurling those disappointments at their feet like emotional hand grenades, instead of the love and purpose that they are seeking (at the express wish of that same being)? Does that make any sense to you?
Yeah, me neither.
This form of "liberation" is like liberating a plant from the soil or a whale from the ocean. In this kind of freedom, something dies.
First of all, Mr. Gerson, let me tell you, sincerely, that my desire for love and purpose is not a cruel joke of nature. Believe it, if you can. I cherish this life that I have, and I find happiness everywhere, and in the most unusual places, and I wish the same for everyone on earth, and will assist them in finding it if I am able, and none of it is because of a god compelling me to do so. Let me tell you, it feels good to know that I am a moral person even though there is no after-life reward waiting for me for being one. I do not choose evil, even though no threat of eternal hellfire hangs over my head to prevent me.
How can you not understand how good that feels? And how can you not see that as sorry as you must feel for poor, doomed little me, that I also feel sorry for you, who cannot choose between good and evil without a superfluous being to justify your choice?
If what you want is a belief structure that enforces good behavior with the threat of reward, or punishment, may I suggest a belief in Santa Claus? Because, as I recall, that dude seemed like a whole lot more fun.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Last Thursday night, as Spooney and I were driving home with my brother, who used to be an EMT in rural
As we slowly approached the scene, I saw in front of the big rig was a crumpled airport shuttle van. It had taken quite a beating, and was caved in on both sides, although in different places and at different angles. I also saw that the center divider had been smashed pretty good in one place, and that chunks of concrete had been strewn across all of the oncoming lanes on the other side.
It had clearly happened shortly before we arrived. There was not even a backup of cars yet except for the big rig. There were no emergency vehicles on the scene. When my brother took note of that fact, he told me to pull over. I was expecting him to say that, and yet somehow not really prepared for it at the same time. Doing my best to avoid the larger chunks of broken glass, I pulled over in front of the van and threw on my hazards.
Spooney and I watched my brother work the scene for maybe half a minute, and then it occurred to me that if he yelled for me or needed help, that I would not be able to hear him from inside my car. I got out and stood behind my car, and Spooney followed me. Together we watched my brother as cars drove by him a little too fast and with only a foot or two to spare. Spooney told me that he wished I would get back in the car, and I knew he was right, but I just said “He might need me.” Now, I knew better than to think that my assistance might actually be valuable in such a situation, but somehow, sitting in my car when my brother was doing what he was doing just felt wrong to me.
But I’ll let my brother pick up the story from there:
Looking back at the last few days, I’ve reflected on just how many times I have walked through the crunch of glass and metal to survey what could be anything between a close call and a tragedy. Hundreds of times I have made that walk and the only true variable of that night would be what I would find inside that particular vehicle. The fact that I was far from home deprived me of my jump bag and the knowledge of the whereabouts of the nearest appropriate facility but other than that I knew this script well, I have played my part over and over until there are no surprises… or at least very few.
The center lane of 5 lanes, a shuttle bus that has clearly stood on its nose and was capable of holding many people, maybe as many as 10, there were no downed wires, no fire, and my ears cataloged the crunch of moving traffic across the median as opposing traffic drives through a concrete debris field. I guessed that the accident started and ended on this side of the divider from the fact that there is concrete blown 30 yards across the opposing lanes, but the reality is I have seen too many unguessable situations that I don’t put much stock in what it looks like might have happened. How it happened doesn’t much change how I will treat a patient for the first 5 minutes.
I automatically checked for a gas puddle, ignition sources and cries from within as I approached, none were present. The semi-trailer blocking traffic in the lane moved on leaving the lane exposed to oncoming highway traffic, I remember noting the increased risk without the truck in place. This time the vehicle was empty no one knew where the driver was and the two wrecked vehicles upstream of the accident yielded no injuries. I gave the very brief out-of-state-retired-EMT report to the CA cop that pulled up using as little bandwidth as possible as it was, after all, just the opinion of someone driving by on a Thursday night.
I ramped back down easily enough, again, practice, though I wondered for over a day where the hell the driver went in such a short time as I estimated that we were on scene within 1-2 minutes of the event. While I have seen plenty of drivers book from a scene, they typically weren’t shuttle bus drivers.
It is nearly impossible for me to drive by during that time between crash and help arriving. I literally had to take my hand off the car door handle to prevent myself from exiting while the car was still in motion while my sister staged her car exactly right, upstream of the site and protected from oncoming traffic.
I still don’t know the name of the highway that I found myself standing in almost 3,000 miles from home that night.
All in all this was a good night, zero patients is a good number.
As we left the scene and eased back into traffic, we all couldn’t help but speculate on what had happened to the driver of the vehicle. As he was going to fly out the next day, my brother asked to look at the news and let him know what had happened. I had to explain to him that in Los Angeles, this kind of event didn’t make the news, and that I had often felt frustrated myself and left wondering why, for instance, the police helicopters circled my block with searchlights veering crazily down the street and through my backyard for the better part of an hour, only to have them fly away suddenly without so much as a word of explanation. It is part of the random nature of life in the big-ass city, I guess, that so much of the bad shit seems to appear out of nowhere, fuck intensely with your life for a while for no discernible reason, and then disappear just as suddenly as it appeared.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Except for Hades. I believe Hades is very similar to Palm Springs in July.
And Palm Springs is where I am headed. Lord knows why, since I am allergic to both golf pants and old people.
I'll be out for a week or so.
Take care while I am gone, gentle readers. Play nice.
The Los Angeles Times today published a story about how scientists off the coast of Baja California have noticed that a significant portion of the gray whale population is too skinny, due to the effects of global warming on its arctic food supply.
So, allow me to beat you to the punch, all you lame-ass comedians and right-wing industry apologists:
In LA, even the whales are skinny! Har har.
You know what else is funny? Drowning polar bears and dying coral reefs!
And the people that care about all that shit...you know what they are?
Fucking bleeding heart losers. Fucking whiny little vegetarians who are so weak from the lack of good ole' American fucking red meat that they fall to the ground, disoriented, and unable to use the stink of their patchouli incense to find their way back home.
They're dying of liberal colony collapse disorder, just like those fucking bees.
Some day, people in the future will look back at us, and our time, and they will say, "Jesus fucking Christ, what the fuck were those fucking people thinking?! Talk about heads up their asses! What the fuck did they THINK was happening to all those animals and plants and whole entire fucking ecosystems?!? Did they think it was just some kind of crazy fucking coincidence??? Were they all just fucking stupid, or did they just not give a fucking rat's ass?? Holy fucking Christ on a motherfucking cross!!"
Okay, okay, people of the future! Cripes, you kiss your mother with that mouth?
So recently, I was having lunch with some scientists in the energy tech industry, and the subject of global warming came up, as it do tend. After we talked about carbon emissions, I brought up the fact that methane is also a greenhouse gas, and that livestock production contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than any other source, including transportation.
"Yes, but methane dissipates more quickly in the atmosphere," one scientist said.
"Okay, maybe," I said, "but we don't need many years and new technologies to cut down on methane production. A serious reduction could be achieved in a much shorter space of time than by any other means we've discussed."
"But," said another of them, "you can have transportation without carbon dioxide. You can't have cows without methane."
He flashed a small smile to the others.
"You can have food without cows," I said.
My remark hung in the air like a fart in an elevator. Everyone looked at me like I had just taken a giant shit on their plate. After a few moments, one of them started to chuckle quietly. I wasn't sure if it was because he thought I was tres amusing, or whether he was acknowledging that I had managed, without the benefit of a Ph.D., to say something insightful.
I'm not a scientist, and so I usually don't stick my neck out like that when I'm around groups of scientists, because they tend to have a lot more facts at their fingertips than I do.
But jeezy creezy, when are we going to wake up to this simple and important part of the global warming equation? Vegetarians contribute the equivalent of 1.5 tons fewer of carbon dioxide per year than meat eaters. It's as simple as that.
So, tomorrow, while you're watching Sting butcher and jazzify some great vintage Police song at that dang lame Live Earth concert, and one of the musicians there, probably Melissa Etheridge, asks what YOU are doing to stop global warming, stand up and lift your beer and proudly exclaim "I'm eating some crappy little dried-out veggie burger, okay? Happy now, Al Gore? Huh? Happy?!?"
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Purely FYI, you know.
I'll let you get back to deciding now.
p.s. please kill yourself
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Monday, July 02, 2007
President Bush, in a move that galls even though it was 100% guaranteed to happen, commuted Scooter Libby's sentence today.
Saying that he respected the jury's verdict even while he was pissing on it, Bush made Scooter's jail term go away, while leaving the fine and the probation part of the sentence in tact. He called the sentence "excessive."
Which is interesting, because last month the Supreme Court upheld a decision supporting a 33-month sentence for a man who had served many years in the military, but who had been, like Libby, convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury.
Libby had been sentenced to 30 months.