Archive for June, 2010

We Can Only Contain Costs Through Rationing

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

While everything else is falling apart, don’t forget about ObamaCare.

In the newspapers we all read that the legislation was passed via reconciliation. Most people do not understand what this represented. What Congress did was to pass this legislation under the Congressional Budget Act of 1984, which allows a loophole to avoid a 60 vote filibuster in laws which refer to changes in revenue and spending amounts; i.e. budgetary issues.

The legislation which Congress passed certainly does affect the budget, but clearly the bill’s intent wasn’t budgetary; rather it concerned dramatic changes for a large portion of our economy: health care. Given the bill’s intent, one can only hope that the upcoming elections bring greater ideological balance so that what promises to be damaging can at the very least be amended.

“Obamacare”, as it is colloquially termed, is financially a disaster for doctors, hospitals, insurers, and will ultimately be a disaster for our nation’s budget. It is also unfortunate for patients needing care.

Obamacare’s proponents tout the legislation’s cost controls, along with expansion of coverage for those who currently do not have insurance. The policy wonks seek cost containment and “efficient” use of resources. More realistically, cost containment could only be achieved if access to care were rationed.

“King Midas in Reverse”

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I perceive of three palpably different attitudes out there about government running things.

The first one sees no problem whatsoever about one more thing being run by the government. Nationalize Starbucks. Put price controls on milk and cereal. It doesn’t even matter if we can’t outlaw gravity, we should pass the laws anyway because if we don’t then it says we want to be heavier.

The second says government can’t run a damn thing. Anything it touches turns into a committee project, and committee projects all turn to crap. It is King Midas in reverse.

The third attitude is sensibly moderate. It says there are some things that need to be run by government because they cannot be run by anyone else. Government will certainly screw things up here and there, but with the things that are properly under its control, if the political will is there then the job will get done.

I used to have the last of these three attitudes. I am gradually swiveling around to the second.

The Tudors

Monday, June 28th, 2010

So while the boy was still living with us, we had a little bit of a “Whoah!” moment when he was in his room and we were watching Season 1 Disc 1…in which young King Henry was receiving a Lewinsky from Mary Boleyn. The scene was very graphic and we decided from then on whether the rug rat was in his room or not, this was best viewed after bedtime. Except we’re starting to value a responsible bedtime for ourselves as well, so it was informally understood we’d start carving our way through this after the boy went to live with his Mother.

Well, The Squeeze forgot all about it. She was very clear this was something not-for-her…you know what not-for-her means in the land of Woemen and Netflix. It’s kind of like a motorcycle. Yes you’re allowed to buy it, and no it won’t lead to a fight…but it’s all yours. Once that’s done you aren’t required to do your lady a special favor, per se…just, if you ever get a hankering to do something like that, just keep in mind you haven’t done it lately because this doesn’t count.

You know the drill, guys.

The TudorsFunny thing was — she fairly leaped to the Netflix queue to order Disc 3. Oh and here we are, we just got done watching about as much of Disc 3 as we could, which was about half of it. That “Report Disc Problem” thing had to get done right now, toot-sweet. As if the house was on fire. No, she’s not willing to admit I brought in a “win.” But it’s pretty obvious by now I’ve created a monster.

Well I’m the guy who wanted to watch it in the first place. Now I’m getting a little bit irritated.

Item #12 on my List Of Things I Don’t Ever Want To See In Movies Ever Again plainly states:

If two guys are going to be screwing the same woman, or simply getting into a fight over her, I don’t want them to have the same haircut, body build or skull shape. There’s no reason for it. If one’s clean cut, the other one can look like a gorilla. If one’s 6′2″, the other one can be 5′8″. If one’s got a runner’s body physique, the other can look like the Michelin Man. I can’t follow the story if I can’t tell these guys apart.

Charles Branden is played by the guy who played the little pipsqueak in the Count of Monte Cristo remake. He could be Henry VIII’s twin. Someone’s got it in their li’l casting-and-grooming head that the men’s fashion du joir is all shaved down on top, nearly bald, mid twenties, 5′ 10″ or so, kinda scowly kinda pouty.

Have you seen a portrait of King Henry? Three hundred pounds or so, big ol’ body, great big fleshy round head. Yes I know he’s younger in this. There are portraits of a younger Henry too. Looks like a stocky, muscular football player dude. With a big ol’ fleshy round egg-head.

Charles Branden — big ol’ massive square head. Hair like Chewabacca.

It even got her confused. Charles Branden’s screwing Princess Mary, which is his point of historical significance here…and they got it all steamy, suitable for a Showtime unrated miniseries, bare breasts and buttocks galore. My Lady protests “So he’s not supposed to be screwing Ann Boleyn while he’s still married, who’s he doing here??” Woops, wrong dude. Can’t tell the dudes apart. Nice to see it happening to someone else.

Another beef I have: Nothing is happening. Oh there’s lots of jockeying for power, lots of stuffy Middle English talking going on, lots of speculation about who’s lost their virginity and when. I get it. Middle-aged white churchmen are getting all bossy about fornicating, what positions are to be used, when, where, what pieces of paper are supposed to be dispensed that says it’s all okay…and it’s all an exercise in futility because everyone’s fucking like crazed ferrets. The bee in my bonnet is that by the time I’m into episode 8 of something, I want to see at an absolute minimum 7 things to have happened. I think this is only reasonable.

The King is concerned about having an heir. His wife hasn’t given him one. So he meets Anne Boleyn and starts proceedings to have his marriage annulled. That’s one thing.

His sister has started to sleep with Charles Branden and that pisses him off. That’s another thing.

The Pope has been driven from Rome by the Holy Roman Emperor, and His Holiness is less than receptive to King Henry’s request. That’s two-and-a-half things.

Oh yeah, and Henry Fitzroy has died. That’s a fourth thing. But I’m wading my way through a lot of dialogue, not terribly well-written at that, for not very much. I find myself mentally calculating how many minutes would be needed to tell the story properly. I’m thinking at a decent pace of storytelling it could all be wrapped up inside of three hours.

It irritates me to see this story retold and retold for consumption of females. I know exactly what they want to get out of it: Women were oh so oppressed during that time, bought & sold like packs of meat to expand some dynasties, and whittle down others. And that is true. And so Henry VIII whittled his way through six wives, chopping off anybody who didn’t give him a son — which is only partly true.

Historians wrote so much about what took place here because of what came afterward. This is where the great divide between Catholics and Protestants came from…and this whole “King’s Great Matter” was just a piece of it, the primer cap for the bullet. The fact that he only chopped off the heads of two of the six, essentially destroys what these ladies are trying to find in the story. Well not really. The guy’s still scum. But the whole conveyor-belt revolving-door meme just isn’t sustained here.

You want to see girls treated like sacks of meat? Pretentious patriarchal snobs passing bills of attainder, tut-tutting folks of a more fertile age about who could bury the bone with who? Sick, loveless marriages created solely for the purpose of preserving dynasties and starting new ones? Check out Henry’s immediate ancestors.

Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Richard, Duke of York, and Cecilly Neville. Henry V and K(C)atherine de Valois. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Peter The Great of Russa. Louis XIV of France. William The Conqueror and Mathilda of Flanders. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Charlemagne and his bazillion-and-one wives.

Following the death of Henry V, Parliament passed a bill that made it illegal for the widowed queen to ever marry again. Can’t get stuffier than that, now can you? The Queen’s response was far more satisfying than a “that’s not fair” or “fuck you” or “I quit” or “back to France I go.” She beat all of those with a two-word nugget of deliciousness: “Too late.” She already had a spouse picked out, and as icing on the cake, it was her stable-boy. Their issue would germinate a family tree that looked like a plate of spaghetti when it was done, and in another half century would take over the entire kingdom.

Tell me the female Showtime audience wouldn’t lap that one up with a spoon.

But always, it’s all about the six wives of the fat guy. It certainly does become tiresome. And not very educational. But I know for education I should be turning to The History Channel, or better still, to books like the ones from which I learned this stuff in the first place…

I just don’t see why the good stuff has to remain confined there.

Fallon, NV, Spring 2010

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This is from a couple months ago when I picked up the boy from his Mother’s following spring break, so he could go back to school and wind up the year. I had an inspired idea: I would shuttle him back throughout Sunday, and use a whole day to figure out what Nevada has to offer. I packed up my 21-speed hybrid bicycle in the trunk of the car Friday morning, and hit Highway 50 from work that afternoon. I booked two nights in Fallon, spending Saturday pedaling around.

You can see my two-wheeled vessel in this shot. Clicky to embiggen.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to be doing anything like that ever again.

I was just noticing, though, as these pictures came up on my girlfriend’s electronic photo frame from across the living room; generally speaking, and this is not an absolute rule, but — the greater misery I had at any one place, the better the pictures turned out.

As far as Nevada is concerned, the people are just wonderful. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you had set out with the engineering objective of creating so great a swath of road with so little to do once you’re there, this would have to go into the record books toward the top of the list of human achievements.

My brother is a single Dad too. His own “Kidzmom” lives in freakin’ Hawaii. Hawaii. On the exact same personal business, I get to carve through the dust bowl that is northern Nevada.

There’s no justice.

Still and all, if you’re in that district and wondering where the nearest cold ice tea & hot bowl of soup might be…and if you didn’t plan what you’re doing, it’s better-than-likely you will…I do recommend Fallon. The one Starbucks, however, has been boarded up. So be aware you’re on a 250-mile ribbon that doesn’t have one — probably the only one in the continental United States.

Yeah. Like I said. If they set out to do that, it would be a miracle of engineering achievement.

Update: Added another still that I think is more interesting, does a better job of capturing the hardscrabble-manual-labor Grapes-of-Wrath character of the area, after removing the color from it. Click for larger.

Princess Ardala is Hotter Than Col. Wilma Deering

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Yup, I agree with that.

Warning Signs Are Not Enough

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Hat tip to Cassy.

It would be nice if the President were to find something else to defend, with the same level of zeal with which He defends His own mojo.

Like His country’s borders, for example.

You know, directing a warning at the bad guys would be a step up from this. Just to clarify how far down we are on the macho-spectrum, here’s an example from that next-level-up:

It bears repeating:

We are on the next rung down on the ladder from this. Our warning signs are directed at the good guys.

“NPR Men”

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

In the post immediately previous I linked back, for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time, to Gerard Van der Leun’s excellent American Castrati piece. It is a problem decades in the making that could no longer be ignored: Young males who insist upon inserting “a slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences.”

It is as if, were you to transcribe every single word onto a page, by the time you were done the right column of that page would be filled up with line after line of “…?”

Before I did another thing, I had to make a note of an elegant little piece of literary grandstanding, the sort of single paragraph that I imagine must have been polished and polished until every part of it was just right. I cannot see this being the product of a committee, even a committee of just two. The editor must have wisely kept his silence about it, or else it passed under his radar, or else he was politely told (in a non-Castrati voice) to go shove it.

Page 102 of Harry Stein’s I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican: A Survival Guide for Conservatives Marooned Among the Angry, Smug, and Terminally Self-Righteous. This is perfection.

Then, too, women with serious conservative politics…so often are especially impatient with “NPR men,” as my wife terms that deeply annoying brand of smug, unnaturally soft-voiced, aggressively non-threatening liberal male. [emphasis mine]

This captures the contradiction. They are proudly non-threatening; but at the same time, inexplicably, they are bullies. Both extremes of this irreconcilable contradiction somehow make it into the auditory foundation — amplitude and frequency manage to manifest both sets of oppositional attributes, the wimpy and the pugnacious.

A contradiction is not a balance.

Anyone who’s gulped down the orange juice after gargling the minty mouthwash knows this. If you don’t understand that metaphor, give it a try sometime. You’ll find it fits the NPR men pretty well.

On David Weigel’s Downfall

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

One thing I’ve not yet been able to figure out. Apparently, what caused the shock waves to reverberate was this sudden deviation from the carefully constructed paradigm that Weigel was the token conservative “blogger” at the Washington Post. But if that comes as such a shock — how come nobody was wondering what Weigel was doing on this “Journolist” in the first place? As the listserv’s founder says:

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join. The second was the hard one: The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary: There would be no free conversation in a forum where people had clear incentives to embarrass each other.

Okay, so you have this forum for more intimate, carefree and candid chatter, in which the membership runs the gamut “from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left.” Which really means the membership ranges from extreme-left to extreme-left.

When extreme leftists get together and start talking about things like, oh…Dick Cheney…Sarah Palin…Hurricane Katrina versus BP Oil Spill…what do you expect to have happen? Is the scandal that Weigel failed to keep a civil tongue, or that his phony-conservative mask was torn off? Because anyone who’s applied a little bit of diligent thought knew what Weigel was already.

Best guess I can make is, the guy doomed himself the minute he decided to participate. “Free conversation” among hardcore leftists means talking smack. It doesn’t go on too long before there’s a dick-measuring contest about who can talk the most smack, the nastiest smack, the most toxic smack, the smack least fit for public consumption. And there’s no trophy for second-best.

Was Weigel supposed to possess the maturity to stay above it all?

That’s rich. When a stalker set up housekeeping right next door to Palin’s house, and Palin had the audacity to jot down a Facebook note about it, Weigel had this to say:

Can somebody explain to me how this isn’t a despicable thing for Palin to do?

The man has no credibility with me whatsoever. Anybody who sheds tears over his failed glory, has no credibility with me either. If he’s really such a hard worker, then he can apply himself someplace where integrity doesn’t matter.

But don’t go telling me he’s a man of principle who got a raw deal.

Why not? Bruce Kesler does as decent a job explaining it as anybody else:

Ezra Klein’s juicebox-level of Leftist propaganda-feed group-think journalism and the defenders of General McChrystal’s crew of wisecrackers as being abused by the Rolling Stone’s reporter have something in common: Neither are willing to stand in public behind the truth that anything that passes from one’s lips is public property.

Yes, if one explicitly says to another “Private” or “Secret” or “Do not quote”, that might be respected. And, it might not. If you don’t have discretion or maturity, why expect that of others who also may not or have interests other than covering up for your lackings?

And, if one says to oneself that anything I say should be properly stated and reflect my views, and I will either stand behind it or explain why and how I was wrong or off-mark, then one is acting with integrity to oneself and others.

To feel otherwise is immature and irresponsible. It is an abuse of one’s public position to not be forthcoming and transparent.

This is particularly so when entrusted with the ears of millions of Americans on important public issues, or the fate of millions of Americans and allies’ lives.

In my garage, I have boxes full of literally thousands of published pieces I’ve written during and since college. That’s 46-years of comment and analyses. Many, most?, are easily available on the web. I’m also surprised at how many correspondents have archived my emails, when I haven’t. If any want to publish them, have at it.

I said it. I stand behind it, or will answer for it.

But, I will not hide behind some notion that I can be allowed to deceive or excuse or cry when someone quotes me.

But, then, I am not a careerist feathering my nest by expecting tolerance for having a lack of respect for myself, for others or for my responsibilities and ethics, and thinking I have some sort of right to be deceptive or a manipulator.

Be an adult, be a professional, or get the hell off the stage, or be exposed for a child playing with other people’s lives and too self-concerned to admit it.

We need more public and private integrity, straight-talk and standing behind it, openly, not less or any more excuses for being immature kindergartners playing with other people’s trust or lives.

Weigel was let go so that the Washington Post could preserve its own credibility. My prediction is that this will ultimately fail. But said prediction depends on the character and integrity of those who consume the news; if they are what I think they are, the Washington Post will fare no better at the conclusion of this episode, as they would if they’d gone ahead and kept Weigel on. When real people learn about a real world through real reporters, there is no need to separate what the real reporters say in “private” from what they say out in public. It shouldn’t be necessary.

On the other hand, if these consumers of news disappoint me and show the attention span of a fruit fly, the experiment will have been a success. The Washington Post will have grown to accommodate the expectations of its readers, by thickening and fortifying that all-important wall between the fiction spread across the pages, and the reality behind it all.

The product will have been improved. And we will all come to a reluctant agreement that the product is falsehood. How can it be any other way, when the messengers who bring us the “news” only think themselves fit for continuing survival when their prejudices remain concealed?

Update: The Fox News “Unprofessional Comments” scandal needs to be attached to the end of Kesler’s list. It’s a fitting addition to this post because it’s precisely what I’ve been talking about:

The phony, forced laughter belies the social purpose: There is no need to announce the fact that such-and-such a person thinks Sarah Palin is a big dolt. The need is to announce the willingness to announce. This is the real reason why the credibility is taking a big hit. The news is being reported by people whose primary agenda, if you can call it that, is to maintain membership in an informal social circle. They have to show that they think jokes made at the expense of Palin, and those like her, are funny. They have to prove it over and over again or they might get drummed out. You can hear their fear of this in everything they say. Every syllable.

I must run some edits on the audio, try to isolate and clean-up that horse laugh. I can’t even tell if it’s one guy doing it or two. They all sound alike, these American Castrati.

Fascinating thing this is: When it’s really self-evident someone has an unappealing quality, usually it’s not necessary to point this out. Palin gets a special exemption from this:

They are loud, eager to get their opinion on the record, to the point of being obnoxious. Nobody seems to be sitting in a corner anywhere quietly thinking to himself “Wow I wish Palin would go away she’s so unqualified.”

– Item #13 from my list of things I Notice About Palin Bashers.

And of course, Thing I Know #347 is & has been for awhile:

Funny thing about people and the connections they feel with each other when they badmouth third parties: I think that guy’s a psychopath, you agree with me, we don’t bond. You and I may disagree about other things much more important to us. I think that guy’s a liar, you agree that guy’s a liar, this too has little or no effect on our relationship with each other. But if we get together and decide so-and-so is a dumbass — suddenly we’re blood brothers. Our disagreements on any other matter become trivial. We agreed some guy is stupid, and that makes us family. We connect.

Kesler nailed it. These are the juicebox set. These are mental kindergartners. Insecure children, bonding with one another, the way the immature do on the playground.

“Girls are stupid! Girls have cooties!” And these are the people bringing us “news,” so that we can “make up our minds for ourselves” what is going on in the world. Nice.

No wonder we’ve got a President who thinks the solution to an oil leak in the gulf, is to extort money from oil companies, ban offshore drilling, and pass a special energy tax while the leak is still leaking. We deserve this.

“Nothing, Just Lower Our Taxes”

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Hat tip to Gateway Pundit.

That’s the trouble with being a liberal democrat. You have to have two definitions of “everyone,” so any expression from someone who’s part of the larger “everyone” but not the smaller “everyone,” is going to be just as embarrassing. You don’t even have a public image worth salvaging if you don’t have complete control over the definition of who counts & who doesn’t.

“‘he’ Is Always Lower-Case”

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

It’s just not fair that the atheists can’t have a song.

Until now…

Hat tip once again to Gerard.

Dilbert’s Trap

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Scott Adams, according to the evidence that makes its way to me, is being asked with increasing frequency lately to solve people’s computer problems. I suppose if you’re a former tech-weasel who escaped cubicle-land by becoming a mega-gazillionaire cartoonist, this would be the one trap you cannot escape so long as you maintain contact with people.

Just a few months ago he wrote a column about this that had me cracking up. So true, so true

There are three types of users who ask for help: Runners, Watchers, and Squatters.

Runners are all too happy to abandon their workstations for as long as it takes you to solve their problems. When the runner is gone, you can think through a variety of potential solutions, try some things, and really dig in to the problem. Personally, I don’t mind runners, although it makes me feel as if I should be getting paid for my services.

Watchers are the most thoughtful users. They might offer some useful information when asked, such as passwords. Perhaps they will compliment you on your computer skills and intuitions. And the Watcher is there when you find your brilliant solution. It’s nice to have a witness sometimes. The only danger with a Watcher is that sometimes you get a talker.

The third type of users is Squatters. A Squatter will not leave his or her Chair of Control, and will insist on being the one to operate the mouse and keyboard. In theory, this shouldn’t be too bad, at least for simple problems. But the Squatter will only give you a half listen. The other half of the squatter’s brain is going rogue, occasionally checking in with you to say, “Click what?”

I have found, generally, that the group to be encountered with the greatest frequency is a sort of a hybrid between the watcher and the squatter. You are to type in the commands, while the person you are helping is to occupy the chair. This juxtaposition is customized down to the fraction of an inch for the comfort of the watcher/squatter, not you. If the keyboard is so much as angled a few degrees in your direction, it’s only because you brought it up.

Occasionally I encountered a watcher/squatter would would refuse to move. I drew the line there. At first, it was for practical reasons: I needed to assume control over the console because I didn’t yet know what the problem was. And then the hulking mass would move, but their disposition would be unsweetened. As in: The nerve of me not knowing how the guy screwed up his computer.

I just don’t do it anymore. My back can’t take it. They have to relinquish or I’m outta there, and they can tell my boss whatever they want.

I try not to be like Nick Burns The Company Computer Guy. “Move!!”

So if you don’t want to be a rude butthole, and people start cornering you with their computer problems, what do you do?

That’s easy. You develop a pattern of communicating that is so incomprehensible and wretched that smartass cartoonists start making fun of your first name.

What’s Courage?

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Received via e-mail…

What is the meaning of courage?

Is it to fight a bull in a bullfight?

Is it to fly a fighter plane in combat?

Is it to practice free fall parachuting?

Is it bungee jumping, wild water rafting?

Bullshit !!!…….. those are nothing!

THIS my friend, is COURAGE!!!

The First Step to Divorce is MLM

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Twenty-two years ago, a certain family relative initiated the first steps of his divorce in what has now become the customary American way: He invited me over to the apartment he shared with his wife, to tell me how much my life would be improved by a bottle of shampoo that was so incredibly concentrated that it would last me six months. I really needed to get in on this.

I do believe my hostility against the Cult of the Personality began there.

It was perhaps a dozen years after that, a young fellow who had previously been my next door neighbor, and since then hadn’t had anything whatsoever to do with us, dropped by. I’d had a girlfriend and he’d had a girlfriend, and since I moved away those two crazy kids went off and got married. He’d called ahead and I think we had some dinner ready, we offered an extra couple of plates but they’d have no time for it they were in such an incredible hurry. We thought it was a little odd to be looking up someone you hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years, on an evening in which you were so busy you couldn’t even sit down to a home cooked meal.

So they swung on by and delivered their pitch. I don’t recall any products in particular so perhaps the timing was not to their benefit. First words out of his mouth were “This is not MLM,” repeated a couple of times, then he proceeded to drop a pitch for MLM. We didn’t buy, and within a year they were divorced.

This has only happened to me twice, but the similarities between the two episodes still creep me out. The man does all the talking, making sure to put a smile in his voice. Which can be a bit creepy. The woman hovers around in the background, quietly, trying to find something constructive to do. Rather like a stalking panther. Nothing smiley about her at all. That will make perfect sense, of course, in a month or two when she petitions.

Oh and always there is some name. The founder of the organization, “This Giant of a Man” who is, in unstated terms, head & shoulders above the rest of us.

I’ve come to loathe everything about this. I still believe in the liberty of private citizens to engage freely in contracts with each other…but would I be contradicting myself to demand some exceptions to this? It doesn’t seem anyone else is. People demand “sensible regulations” all the time and still insist they’re good capitalists.

I have given up on figuring out if an impending divorce pushes a young couple into MLM, or if MLM causes the divorce. Most likely is: A youthful marriage causes free spending, which causes tight finances, which causes an immersion in MLM and a divorce. But I don’t really give a flying crap what it is anymore.

We don’t have to keep this legal in order to be good capitalists. We don’t need to limit how the transgressors are punished in order to remain a civilized society. In fact I would insist a civilized society would bring on the pain. Stocks. Leg irons. Whips. Dunking stools. Electroshock.

The fantasy that a man can bail himself out of a financial jam with his happy-talky Guy-Smiley amazingly wonderful charisma-or-whatever, goes way back. It is ancient, always popular, and it is particularly destructive to all who come into contact with it. It’s probably ruined more lives than that other dream of dropping out of school to become a basketball star, or rock musician.

Yes, I have some compassion. I would say a lighter sentence is in order for the “freshmen,” those suckers who just got done “investing,” and have yet to re-coup, than for the more senior members who have typically been more successful at turning a profit. Three hours in the town square being pelted with rotten vegetables, I’d say they’ve paid their debt to society. Really, most of ‘em probably need nothing more than a firm whack on the side of the head. For the others, we’d need a deep dark dungeon.

Public viewing is not compatible with what I’d have in mind for them.

“Nation’s Boyfriends Dreading ‘Free Event In The Park’ Season”

Friday, June 25th, 2010

The Onion:

With summer officially beginning this week, the nation’s boyfriends groaned Thursday in anticipation of yet another “Free Event in the Park” season. “Kelly already wants us to go see some Brazilian horn player and these people who use puppets to make fun of politicians. I’m sure they’re fine, but we just got AC this summer,” said Jason Evans, a boyfriend. “Plus, we go out all the time.” A spokesperson for the nation’s girlfriends countered that it would be a shame not to take advantage of the tons of cool-sounding cost-free events, which include a craft fair, an outdoor screening of The Wizard Of Oz, and the appearance of a modestly successful mid-90s alternative band at the Tulip Festival.

“Brilliant!”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

My girlfriend just handed me a grilled-cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup — and I wolfed ‘em down! I’m brilliant! Brilliant, I say!

After I get done writing this blog post I’m going to hit the Publish button. That’s brilliant!

The remote control for my DVD player went tits-up so I’m playing movies on my old XBox console. That’s brilliant!

I finished my beer a couple minutes ago, so I went out to the Daddy Fridge and got myself another. And this time I didn’t injure my foot doing so. That’s brilliant!

If a bill comes in, I pay it. If my ass starts itching, I reach down & give it a scratch. Brilliant!

If you think I’m mocking the lamestream media for their latest talking point about PrezBO’s sacking of General McChrystal, you’re absolutely right. (Audio available here.)

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cause I get better loking each day.
To know me is to love me; I must be a hell of a man.
Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble — but I’m doing the best that I can.

“Rogue State”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

FrankJ tries to criticize Arizona…and ends up failing at it.

Arizona is just a rogue state that doesn’t play by the rules — the way America is supposed to be. I heard federal officials went down there to yell at them, but they forgot their ID so Arizona deported them to Mexico. I wish we had more states like that.

Don’t be too hard on Frank though. I tried to read this without chuckling, and I failed at that.

“Femisogynists”

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Fellow Right Wing News contributor Lori Ziganto from Snark & Boobs guests on Smart Girl Nation. They take on the people who call themselves “feminists” who actually hate women. The result is awesomesauce.

Download MP3

“I’m tired of having them say they speak for us when they absolutely do not.”

“They seem to not like womanhood as a whole.”

At about 8:00, the comment that is being discussed about checking under skirts, is by Tennessee State Rep. Janis Baird Sontany: “You have to lift their skirts to find out if they are women. You sure can’t find out by how they vote!” Niiiiiiiice. So apparently all the chicks are supposed to vote the same way or else there’s something wrong with ‘em and you need to look under their skirts.

4. That it isn’t really about empowering women to choose things. Whenever feminism brings women a choice, feminism wants women to make the choice a certain way, so it isn’t really bringing them the choice.

From my list of things people say about feminists (which feminists could prove wrong every hour of every day if they chose to…but they don’t).

The Most Devastating Critique Against Obama I’ve Read in Months

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Another hat tip to Gerard, and this one points to my former fellow Webloggin contributor Bookworm Room.

Obama has been in office roughly a year and a half. That’s long enough to get a handle on what motivates our president. He’s pretty binary. When he’s not partying with rock stars, he’s either apathetic or angry. Here, in no particular order, is a little list of Obama’s responses to both world situations and domestic policy initiatives that have occurred so far during his administration:

It breaks down this way: Eight issues arouse apathy in He Who Argues With The Dictionaries, and three issues arouse anger.

Let Them Eat Cake
Graphic shamelessly swiped from No Sheeples Here

At this point, I don’t imagine Bookworm has ventured into the realm of reasonable dispute. His Eminence is, as she notes, a binary figure. When a coin lands on heads, there can be little argument that it has indeed landed on heads.

And now that we all agree on that…it does not appear the apathy-versus-anger response is being decided according to America’s interests, or a desire to defend the nation robustly or responsibly.

But that much is the opinion of Yours Truly. Why don’t you RTWT, and see if you agree. Here’s a hint: Overall, it seems apathy is the response when a thing happens that can really affect the outcome of something, and impact the lives of the little people. Anger, on the other hand, is the response when someone’s screwing with Holy Man’s P.R.

How come we have democrats, again? Something about Republicans being apathetic about the plight of the common-man? They’re just so cold and lacking in compassion? If your body was on fire they might keep you around long enough to light their cigars with it before they tossed you out the door?

We need to vote democrats into office so that we can have some leaders who will empathize with us. Who will feel some urgency when the hoi polloi are missing some things they have to have, or are being forced to tangle with financial hardships they cannot abide. Vote democrats into office, and maybe we have a shot at fixing problems like those.

And yet, here we are. We have a genuine crisis, and Holy Man is bored by it. He wants to play golf…if He’s feeling really engaged in the moment, for some reason, He’ll want to sell us some crap.

If someone’s messing around with His image, that’s when He’s spurred into some real action.

Apathy, anger. I like this approach. It is crude and binary, but it’s no more complicated than the thing it is set up to observe. I’m going to start watching Chairman Zero in this light, and I recommend you do the same. For as long as it fits. And I am presuming, reasonably I think, that it always will.

“A Broomstick Upturned With Two Water Balloons Dangling From the Handle”

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Cassy wants to know: “Why should we celebrate morbid obesity?” She has some consistently good points to make at her place and she makes them well, but this one is even better than usual.

Should someone who is obese hate their body? Well, no. Hate is an awfully strong word. But the way this show presents obesity as just another lifestyle choice, one that’s perfectly fine to make, is wrong. And it’s especially wrong considering the show is about teenagers, and directed towards teenagers.
:
This acceptance and glamorization of obesity reminds me of how Hollywood used to glamorize cigarettes. Today, of course, smoking is commonly known to be dangerous. People still do it, but it isn’t looked at in a positive light. And while in our greater society fat people are still looked down upon, there is certainly a movement to be more accepting of fat. Does that really help people, or does it just send them down a more comfortable path to an early death?

What I think is sad about this, is that the reactionary movement is against messages being sent through a starlet’s skinny body. So how is the trend upset? By sending a contrary message through another starlet’s blubbery body. The lady’s feminine form cannot ever be separated from the story that is being told, so if it can’t, then why bother with the protest? Why upset an apple cart if you aren’t really going to upset it?

These poor girls have everybody fighting over who gets to instill the proper ideal in their tender li’l heads about how a woman’s body is supposed to look. That can only mean one thing: The parents aren’t taking charge of this…or at least they’re perceived as not taking charge of this.

Maybe I’m oversimplifying this; I have one son and no daughters. But it seems to me — you teach the rug-rats how to eat, you teach ‘em how to go running in the morning. And okay then. Now if they’re feeling thin and malnourished they’ll know how to eat, if they’re feeling chunky they’ll know how to go running. Problem solved. Yes, I’m serious. Morbid obesity becomes a threat to long-term health when it’s made into a lifestyle 24x7x365, and it’s made into a lifestyle that way when people don’t know anything different. Habits instilled in childhood, for good or for ill, have a massive influence on this process.

I attached the following comment, you can judge for yourself whether my wisdom is up to par with Cassy’s. Bearing in mind she can edit things after the fact over there, and I cannot:

In the days of Skinny-Elvis — the customer whose ego you wanted to inflate, was not a shrew with latent Daddy-issues or a mouthy little kid, but a straight white man aged 35. James Bond was permanently 35. Superman looked like a boxer or a wrestler, and you just [k]new he had muscles but nobody bothered to pencil ‘em in. It was a man’s world.

Women and cars have been morphed over the last 55 years exactly the same way. If a Thunderbird hit you, your body would inflict about as much damage on the car as it would on a freight locomotive: None. You’d be barely recognizable after scraping up against the T-Bird, just like up against the locomotive. It was a big beautiful boat, mostly steel. If you loaded it onto a truck, the leaf springs sank down toward the pavement in acquiescence.

Cars were manufactured and sold and bought to please men.

Women and girls were dressed up in skimpy clothes with their flesh displayed to please men.

Nowadays, cars are tin and plastic things. You get hit by one of these, and you’ll probably fare much better than the car. This after men have been culturally told to go take a long walk off a short pier. It is a natural consequence of that. Nobody denies this.

Morgan and MelanieWomen have a body shape I described on Friday night as “a broomstick upturned with two water balloons dangling from the handle.” Yes you’re damn right it’s unhealthy…

Here’s what cheese[s] me off. While everyone is ready to admit cars are being built in an anti-man mold — and isn’t that just so progressive and wonderful — the female body figure that’s ninety pounds soaking wet is all our fault. It is precisely the same pattern of miniaturization, but the one with a woman’s body shape is more craven and cowardly because the entire male sex has to be used as a scapegoat for it.

But most of the men I know, aren’t any more fond of the less-hefty less-curvy less-substantial female physique, than we are of the planned-obsolete gossamer Fisher-Price “bench press it” econo-box automobile. Both of these things were done contrary to our wishes, but we’re being blamed for one of them.

You know why my eyes are bulging out in this photo? Know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking “Holy mackerel, I’d better not bump this girl up against anything or she’ll probably break!”

Females nowadays are lovely, especially the ones who are too young for me, but most of ‘em need to eat a sammrich or two.

Drunk Squirrel Plays Soccer

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

From 10 Super Drunk Soccer Fans, hat tip to Linkiest.

“Argumentative Inflation”

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Normblog:

There’s a style of argument you’ll meet with often in life, which means you’ll also meet with it often in the press and online. It consists of taking some straightforward and unobjectionable proposition and then exaggerating it to the point of absurdity. When the absurd version of it is challenged you can retreat to the more modest one. But then, of course, you could have started and finished with that and avoided talking nonsense in the first place.

Hat tip to Gerard.

What They Say About Feminists

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Consider it a public service. I notice in the last few years that feminists have become so outspoken, so rugged, so courageous, so capable and so tough, that they’re now scared to death to sustain a conversation with a non-feminist for any length of time. And by that, I mean someone outside of their militant movement, not someone who seeks to repeal womens’ suffrage. They have very passionate opinions about the issues of the day, but if you talk with them about it you quickly realize they’ve only been discussing them with other militant feminists.

It’s like they’ve been living inside a circle as it has been constricting.

The tragedy of it is, when you talk about the broad definition of “feminist,” most women qualify for that, or want to, and they should. These are the women who say: Yes, I am ready to really count, I am ready to embrace the responsibility that comes with being important. I refuse to raise my daughter to be a second-class citizen. That is supposed to be the goal. But in the twenty-first century, that isn’t really what feminism is anymore. Lately it seems in order to be a “proper” feminist, you have to subscribe to and promote a victimology. Individuals cannot meet up with challenges and simply overcome them; that is far too simple. There has to be a villain somewhere. And the villain can only be vanquished by a collective, not by an individual. The movement must be nourished, it must grow, and then we’ll all get what we want when we show numbers and our anger.

The feminists who have become strident and militant, however, have trouble understanding how their precious “movement” could ever be seen in a hostile light. They’re blind to it, because they’ve been living in a bubble in which nobody’s allowed to ever acknowledge it. They have not been policing their own.

And so they must reckon with the following dozen things people say. Of course they may choose not to; they can persist in the “If You Don’t Agree With Us About Everything You Must Think Women Are Property So Fooey On You.” They have that choice. But if they go that route, this yawning divide between hostile, brittle, extremist militant feminists, and everybody else, will just become wider and deeper.

Here is what establishment feminists have a chance to disprove, if they try. People outside the movement say:

1. That it will abandon women as soon as defending them would get in the way of promoting a progressive agenda; “feminists” proved this when they defended Bill Clinton. The movement’s credibility suffered an injury during that time, from which it has never fully recovered.
2. That it’s just another ploy to get democrats elected. Some entitlement program will be proposed, and “since women are always stuck with the kids” it’s supposed to become an “issue affecting women.” Of course, when it comes to “the environment” they don’t even bother to come up with a justification. Instead, “environmental issues” become “womens’ issues” as well, as if men don’t have to live in the environment.
3. That it has very little to do with a more important role for women; it’s really about greater power and prestige without the associated responsibility. It is an organized process of collective bargaining, to make it more profitable for women to get married, have kids, and get divorced. And so over time it does not make women more respected. It does not invigorate womens’ intellect because it does nothing to challenge it. Women must go above feminism if they want to make themselves more rugged, intelligent, capable and esteemed.
4. That it isn’t really about empowering women to choose things. Whenever feminism brings women a choice, feminism wants women to make the choice a certain way, so it isn’t really bringing them the choice.
5. That abortion is quite a profitable industry — in fact, it’s about as male-dominated as any other — and feminism is in bed with it. People who call it “pro-abortion” rather than “pro-choice” are, for the most part, absolutely right.
6. That they aren’t very curious about ideas, not very well-read. They hang out with other feminists. They frequently fall prey to False Consensus effect, and are very often taken by surprise with what non-feminists really think. Mosts feminists will find this list shocking and waste no time and saying so.
7. That it fails to promote individuality because it fails to encourage logical discourse. They do not argue logically. If a feminist disapproves of something, usually her reaction will be to rally other feminists around her and they’ll all help each other to ridicule and deplore it. Invariably, that will be the feminist reaction to this list.
8. That they are interested in complaining, not about learning. All feminists step forward, now anybody who hasn’t learned to drive a stick shift step back. There won’t be many left.
9. That it’s hostile and negative. Women earn scorn from “feminists” when they do something nice for a man, place importance in a man, say something nice about a man, dress up for a man.
10. That it has a lot of scope creep to it but it doesn’t want to be called out on it. Their two favorite issues actually would diminish the role of women in our society — gay marriage and abortion-on-demand — and if you utter a peep of protest, suddenly all they want to talk about is how they want to give women the right to vote, as if we were still living in 1910.
Women Are Not For Decoration11. It is divisive. It has to be; when you’re protesting that Congress is 80 percent male, or whatever it is, you’re saying it’s impossible for someone in Congress to represent constituents of another gender. Without that baseline premise their argument falls flat, and with it, they have to be placing men and women in two separate societies.
12. That it is rude. It associates itself with jokes about female body parts. It encourages young ladies to behave in ways that will repel male attention when they’re in their twenties (and bring it when they’re about eight).

I think what’s been going on for the last generation or so is this: Someone will occupy a position of great influence within an organization of militant feminism, and at some point this person will have to retire; of the candidates available to fill the vacancy, the more “energetic” candidate will prevail, which generally means the more hostile one. And so across the decades, the movement pickles. The people inside it cannot see it, and they end up mystified as to why their movement is losing sympathy with the broader populace.

Most of the feminists I’ve talked to who are really enthused about crusading under the banner of that “F” word, are filled with admiration for Hillary Clinton and scorn for Sarah Palin. This, of course, makes no sense whatsoever. They cannot explain why this is. Of course, they know the reason and I know the reason too.

But if you were to bring me to a space alien who was interested in our culture, and feminism, and he was able to understand all the concepts that were really relevant but was entirely ignorant of recent events, and Republicans-and-democrats…I wouldn’t be able to explain it to that space alien. You wouldn’t either. Not without a word-for-word explanation involving that Item #2 — which, of course, would tick off the militant feminists.

And then if they could hear that conversation, they’d lose no time at all in invoking Item #7. It would become very noisy.

And so the word is losing meaning. It has a broad definition and a very narrow one. The narrow definition of “feminist” is becoming acrid and vituperative. It has been marinading in victimology, and in victimology you always have to have a bad guy behind every problem. Bad things cannot simply happen, nor can they be solved without lots and lots of drama. The persons who have been living in this world, I’m afraid, are becoming useless to others and to themselves. Their efforts are not compatible with their stated goals.

The problem is even more pronounced with men. Men can be feminists; men can be both kinds of feminist. Men without a progressive bone in their whole bodies can get plum-tuckered-out of dating dim, helpless women and become hungry for someone more worthy, responsible and competent. And men can also become self-loathing. They can sign onto the Sally Field nonsense and codswallop about “If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any G*****mned wars in the first place.” It’s a real puzzle for a fella when he meets a woman who says something like “I’m a feminist, are you a feminist too?” That could mean just about anything.

Maybe it’s time for a different word.

“Magnificently Awful”

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

George Will:

Our Demosthenes seems to regard the rule of strategic reticence as irrelevant to him. The rule: Do not speak unless you can improve the silence. He did not do that with his Oval Office speech. In it, to the surprise of no one who has been paying attention the last 17 months, he discerned in the oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico a reason for a large and permanent increase in government taxation and supervision of American life on shore. The oil spill validates his passion for energy—or is it climate change?—legislation.

The news about his speech is that it is no longer news that he often gives bad speeches. This one, however, was almost magnificently awful.

The idea of grandstanding on this disaster to push climate change legislation, or cap-n-trade or whatever, is perhaps the capstone of silliness in this latest installment. It pleases me mightily to see the occasional encouraging sign that His Holiness may, maybe, perhaps, just possibly, not be getting away with it so easily. Or if He does, it will cost Him gawdawfully much.

Jay Leno, of all people, probably said it the best:

President Obama said today he is going to use the gulf disaster to immediately push a new energy bill through Congress. I got an idea: How about first using the Gulf disaster to fix the Gulf disaster.

Five Most Annoying Commercials

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Aahhh…that’s an itch that’s been waiting for a scratching for awhile.

Maybe it’s got something to do with the sensory deprivation, but the radio is chock full of spots I’d put above all five of these. My kid knows this about me: Once they do that thing with repeating the phone number, it’s getting switched off. Quick-draw-McGraw style. You can make it to the third lap with the eight-hundred but that’s as far as you get — click.

But of course, nothing in any medium comes close to the all-time champion:

Update: Should’ve taken the time to skim through the FARK thread. Farker unlikely came up with…

Yup. Fergot about that.

Animusic

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Viewed From Above

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

From Bad Astronomy.

I Want a democrat To Rule Over Me

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

This November I’ll have to figure out whether or not I want to support a democrat. I predict the outcome of that decision will be the same as all the others, but just in case I decide to throw a vote to the donkey party and that guy happens to win, I’d like something to be understood:

If the democrats end up ruling over me, I want them to govern me exactly the way they govern their own party. This, I think, is exactly what America is missing.

Look how democrats run their own party. When there’s a position available, and there’s a person available to be appointed to it, all they seem to care about is whether he’ll be effective in that position. Nothing else matters. They want to win. If you’re available, and your skin color would inject some much-desired “diversity” into the ranks that’s missing now but you’re likely to fuck it up, then out you go. White, black, red, yellow, green, purple, gay, straight, male, female — if he can do the job, then what the hell, hire him.

If the law could be interpreted to interfere with victory, that’s not good enough for a defeat; that’s when the tweaking and massaging begins. The democrat party never embraces defeat to prove how wonderful and decent they are. They take a very George S. Patton attitude toward that stuff: “Let the hun do that.”

After the victory, when it’s time to party, nobody gives a flying crap about a carbon footprint.

It is quite alright, when a democrat runs up against some enemy of the democrats, to allow his passions to run unchecked and wild. They feel no shame about the fantasies they have about making that enemy sorry his parents ever met. It is commonplace that a democrat waxes lyrically about the day he’ll be able to waterboard Sean Hannity, and all of a sudden waterboarding isn’t quite so bad. I’d like to see my country defended with that kind of passion.

Nobody ever, ever, ever, ever, ever gets to “a point where you’ve made enough money.”

Let’s Get Rid of Naked Protesting

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

If you’re missing out on Andy’s semi-regular installments of Let’s Get Rid Of, you’re missing a lot.

The world in which I want to live is one of honesty. When people do something ridiculous, they own up to their real motivations, and do not throw up the fetid curtain of misdirection by claiming some nobility where none exists. When a person strips naked, paints his body, and then rides a bicycle through streets and neighborhoods where other people of deeply ingrained and differing ideas of decency live, he does not claim it to be in protest of our dependency on foreign oil, or even the sheer joy of riding bicycles (as I have heard said). Instead, when asked why he joins a group of people who insist their nudity on large numbers of people who most decidedly do not approve, he is honest and answers “because I really want to piss these people off.”

Yes, this scratches an itch alright. Speaking just for myself, the dishonesty of which Andy speaks annoys me much more than the protesting itself, in whatever form it may take.

Yet Another Obama Critic Apologizes

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Fox:

The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan is being called to the White House for a face-to-face meeting with President Obama after issuing an apology Tuesday for an interview in which he described the president as unprepared for their first meeting.

In the article in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also said he felt betrayed and blind-sided by his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

McChrystal’s comments are reverberating through Washington and the Pentagon after the magazine depicted him as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.

It characterized him as unable to convince some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the nation’s longest-running war and dejected that the president didn’t know about his commendable military record.

In Kabul on Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

Oh goody. An apology. Now Mister Wonderful can go back to being super-duper-awesome.

The air is getting rather thick with this isn’t it? Congressman Barton…before him, you had the “You Lie!” guy Joe Wilson…now Gen. McChrystal. All of them said something less than flattering about He Who Argues With The Dictionaries, and after some backdoor meeting they apologized and we were commanded to recall that it never happened — except perhaps to think & intone that whoever was the latest jerk to open his mouth, was a great big bozo. Nothing wrong with Obama, nosiree!

Have you ever had a boss, or a Mayor or a Governor, or anyone with any kind of authority over you, who was widely respected just because this was the level of esteem he naturally inspired in people? As opposed to, any & all other variants of thought & speech are ritually called out, pressured, disgraced, forced to recant. Good feeling to have, isn’t it.

With regard to our White House, it would be nice to have that again.

Either that, or…when someone has something negative to say and there has to be a PR strategy to counteract the effect…the PR strategy is a passive one. “Ignore it, and if there’s nothing to it, it’ll naturally fall away.”

Someone in Obama’s White House has calculated that this is not a viable plan for them. The criticism will not go away if it’s simply ignored. It will fester and get worse, so if they’re going to survive they need to exert more control over the dialogue. To such an extent that nobody is allowed to say anything unless it’s positive. They won’t win this thing unless they get the last word, all of the time. As the final page is being written, people will not think Obama is all that & a bag o’ chips, unless they are proscribed from thinking anything else. Just like a dictator in some banana republic.

I agree with whoever the person is who made this calculation. I think he or she is absolutely right.

Memo For File CXVII

Monday, June 21st, 2010

My Dad’s a Dad. My brother is a Dad. There are no mothers in my family, which is a rather unhappy situation. Mother’s Day whistles right on by us. I harass my kid to call his mother, squeeze some money into his hand so he can get her something, and then I buy my girlfriend something nice to thank her for helping to raise him. That’s what passes for Mother’s Day, so you would think I would be Johnny-on-the-spot celebrating Father’s Day.

And I should. But Freebergs are never on-time buying gifts…hardly ever.

The girlfriend has been buying all of the food for the last two or three years. It’s just part of the way we’ve decided to divide up the bills. She has suffered a setback lately, so I insisted that she should stay home tonight and I’d take care of the shopping list after work. I came out at 3:30 this morning to answer nature’s call and saw the shopping list dutifully written out and draped across the keyboard of Blogger Central where I’d be sure not to miss it.

And so after work, per our agreement, I clocked out and set out on the streets of Niner Fiver Six Three Zed. I have some bills I need to pay; the late Father’s Day presents need to be acquired; we need the grub, and the remote has conked out on my beloved Memorex DVD/VHS combo player. It is this last one that perturbs me the most. The player is six years old — I acquired it very soon after “Kidzmom” walked out — and I have never had a lick o’ trouble with it. But button by button, the remote ceased to do my bidding and now it is altogether inoperable. The player itself still runs like a champ. But my failed attempt at interfacing it with a Panasonic universal remote, suggests that the problem is the unit’s planned obsolescence and it is time to graduate to another. For no reason but planned obsolescence. And you better believe that chaps my hide.

Without any way to direct the player to start and stop, I’m burning through Dukes of Hazzard episodes whole discs at a time. This is time consuming, and furthermore, I’m working my way through Season Six at a pace far too hasty for my liking.

I paid one bill. I got the foodstuffs. Man oh man…I tell you, The Good Lord did not build men for grocery stores. Talk about bringing back old, bad memories. This probably brings to a close a solid two years not having to step into a grocery store. It’s gotten much worse than I remember. People are text messaging now. I feel like the front of my grocery cart should have some cow-catcher device on it to shove people out of the way, as they remain transfixed on their little viewscreens.

No Father’s Day presents. None at all. I ended up having to jot out an apologetic e-mail, meekly asking if the dads had already acquired iPods. I needed to know. Retail electronics purchases have come to this — here, let me quote myself: “If I don’t have an i-thing, and I don’t know anybody who does, they have nothing to sell me.” Yes, that is it. Our “Electronics Department” has rechargeable batteries and it has games for the XBox 360 and PS3. Other than that, it has things that interface with an iPod. And some LCD television sets…that is all. The vast bulk of it is things that interface with the iPod. Cases. Cables. Batteries. Battery packs. Chips. Cards. Sockets. Alarm clocks. Boom boxes.

This is not good for Folsom. I have watched this place for a long, long time…a very long time. It has been very strongly and sensibly engineered around an objective of raising toddlers in a healthy environment, and this has worked out very, very well. Well guess what: The toddlers aren’t toddlers anymore. They are teenagers and young adults. The neighborhood parks are not as much a staple to life as they used to be. The kids have constructed social lives for themselves, if you want to call them that, that revolve around listening to personal tunes with little white earphone cords.

For all the acreage and all the capital and all the sweat that has been invested in retail here, you cannot really buy that much in Folsom. Men my age — and the women, even moreso, I suspect — are concerned about our midsections, so you can buy lots of machines that are supposed to exercise your tummy. And Jamba Juice, books, arts & crafts, all sorts of things you can buy just about anywhere else. So retail-wise, there’s no reason to come here.

Home-wise, there’s not much reason to come here either. We have lots of middle-age empty-nesters who bought their houses so they could raise their babies, and now the babies have grown and left. For college.

The traffic lights and signs are erected for the purpose of fighting you as you drive through them. Fighting you not regulating you; they nurture an inimical relationship with you that you can feel as it wafts through the air.

I have joked before — in a dark way, not in a “hah hah” kind of way — that the Folsom motorists who make the traffic such a stressful experience, being the assholes they are, are actually sympathetic figures. Their wretched behavior is a symptom and not a cause. You get this way when you have such a modest list of errands to do within a patch of four square miles, and it takes you two and a half hours. I feel it happening to me.

Perfect slogan for Folsom: “What’s up with this jerk riding my ass, he acts like every second counts, where’s he going in such a hurry? And what’s up with this asshole in front of me? He’s going to make me late!”

It’s like being in a zombie movie. They harass you and harass you and harass you, and then one of them bites you and you become one of them.

Even better slogan for Folsom: “I’m never in the way. You always are.”

The morale of this story? Shop on time for Father’s Day. On Amazon. That’s the way the world works now. And whoever is in charge of buying the food in your household — by which I mean, going out on foot and bringing it — if it isn’t you, then you really should think about going out of your way to do something to thank them.

I’m going to be forty-four pretty soon. When I do certain things and they, just by their very nature, cause my blood pressure to go up, I experience a sharp drop in my interest in doing them. You’ll notice people twice my age show precisely this tendency, and on average enforce it twice as strongly.

I think we’re going to be ordering some groceries brought to our doorstep more & more often in the months ahead.