Friday, February 22, 2008

The Shittiest Generation

This post is a tribute to that Great Society we've created here in America, that huge body of people who encompass the tail end of the Baby Boomers, up through Gen 13 and the Millenials. That's right, I'm givin' a "Holla!" to The Shittiest Generation.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to The Greatest Generation, that group of people born in time to live through the dark era of the Great Depression, those folks who fought Dubya-Dubya-Two, and who came home from the European & Pacific theatres of war to reap the benefits of their sacrifices. They came to build a greater America, and in many ways they succeeded wildly. Not us, though. Somewhere along the way, we learned - or were convinced by a greedy bunch of bastards posing as a legitimate political party - that, as individuals, we DESERVE MORE. An insidious brand of selfishness came out of the hope of the Age of Aquarius, a selfishness that insisted *I* come first, and to hell with the rest of youse. Conservatives like to holler that we're on the brink of a moral meltdown, but I'll tell you what, it ain't our morals that are in trouble: it's our society. That ominous *Gong!* you hear that's ushering the U.S. out of the coveted "center square" is no one's fault but our own, the result of a societal meltdown in which we were told we no longer had to look out for one another...we just had to go shopping. The bell not only TOLLS for thee, it was fucking RUNG by thee.

Our botched invasion of Iraq is a perfect case in point. We're at war in two countries - WAR! - and there has not been one measly peep out of the administration with regards to communal sacrifice. Oh, sure, we're told to "support the troops," but that's exactly the kind of modern ephemeral concept that has little literal meaning. Support them HOW? By giving a doe-eyed, unquestioning obedience to administrative decisions? What happened to actually coming straight out and telling Americans at home "Hey, we've got soldiers at war, and they need supplies, and so you're going to have to GIVE UP some of the things that you would normally need." You know, the basic concept of rationing: the Greatest Generation had rations on gas, and beef, and car tires, and they were further asked to recycle all manner of metals and paper. "Plant a victory garden for da boys!" Not us, though: shit, all that rationing would probably KILL the U.S. economy! Nope, just "support the troops," and the best way you can go about that is by going out and spending your money. DESERVE MORE. No, dumbshit, the SOLDIERS deserve more...they deserve more body armor, and more in-country training, and more language training, but most of all they deserve more thoughtful leaders who don't simply wade into a conflict we had no right instigating in the first place.

This concept of selfish "deserving more" is so transparent when it comes to tax cuts. TAX CUTS?!? When we're fighting a war on two fronts, when the federal budget is in the shitter and we owe money all over the globe?? Oh, but don't worry about that: that's YOUR MONEY, and you DESERVE MORE. Now, please go out and SPEND it? Pretty please? People...if you want stuff from the government - stuff like roads that aren't crumbling and riddled with potholes, or bridges that don't fall down mid-rush hour, or quality schools with excellent teachers - you gotta PAY FOR IT. What, you think you can keep cutting taxes and cutting taxes, putting more of YOUR MONEY into YOUR POCKET so that you can go buy YOUR PLASMA TV, you think you can do all that and still expect there to be money to pay for roads? Uh...THAT, my friends, is "fuzzy math." I myself can't pay to repair Lansing Street (which I travel at my own risk every morning, weaving like a wild drunk to avoid cavernous holes where pavement used to be), but together the collective population of St. Johns COULD...if only they'd vote for the fucking millage. But, nope. They DESERVE MORE, but more of I don't know what. More DVDs and PlayStations? Yup...and more potholes.

The president is hawking a (sadly) typical load of conservative bullshit, which falsely stresses that paying taxes is a burden, one that citizens should have to do without. This line of skewed logic misses the point completely: the government doesn't want your money to spend WASTEFULLY; the government wants your money to spend WISELY. To spend on things that as individuals it doesn't make sense to pay for, like bridges and fire departments and highways. The sacrifices of generations past have paved the way - literally! - for the accomplishments of the future. But instead of returning that investment, we've gone crazy with the interest we've "earned," and now we're facing a kind of social bankruptcy. A thundering chorus of "One for all and all for one!" has been replaced with a million single cries of "I, me, mine!" and we're all suffering the consequencess.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Doping for Dummies

So, it seems like everyone is in an uproar about the concept of steroid use among baseballers. Well, I guess "everyone" is kind of an exaggeration, because quite frankly I could give a shit. I mean, let me get this straight: people are all up in arms and aghast because some athletes are using HGH, or MGH, or MPH, or whatever the fuck, to give them an edge in their competitive abilities. Um...DUH! Since when is it considered "bad form" to use a product to achieve a competitive edge?

Okay, let's look at it from a musical standpoint. Guy walks into an audition with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He's got a Yamaha violin. Chances are, he ain't gonna win. Maybe Anne-Sophie Mutter would win, but...well, maybe not. Yamaha violin gonna be fine for, y'know, the St. Johns public school orchestra, but the CSO? Fuhgettaboudit. Now: same guy walks into that audition packin' a Stradivarius. Just the APPEARANCE of an instrument like that somehow increases his chances of winning the audition, because...well, a guy who can afford a multi-million dollar axe, he's pretty well advertising that he takes his craft REALLY seriously. And, let's face it, that Strad is by and large gonna sound CIRCLES around any Yamaha on the planet. But...what does that violin really represent? A COMPETITIVE EDGE. One that's not available to most people simply because of the cost. It AIN'T democracy, folks; the rich guy can afford a better fiddle, can afford better lessons and conservatories...the rich guy is gonna win. (I guess technically that's TWO competitive edges...) Sure, natural talent is still a necessity: some senior from the aforementioned St. Johns orchestra, he ain't gonna win that audition even if he found a Strad in the dumpster. But, isn't that the same with baseball? I mean, we're not talking about doping ME up with 'roids and sending me off to the Yankees. We're still talking about world-class athletes; all they're doing is buying a tiny bit of competitive edge.

'Kay, here's another example: what about Lunesta, and all those other "sleep-aids?" Some schmuck works 70-80 hours a week in a totally high-stress job, eats like crap, smokes & never exercises...of COURSE that guy ain't gonna get to sleep at night! But, he sees 5 commercials an hour about how he can pop a little pill and get the full component of 7-8 hours of restful sleep at night, so that he can go back to Wall Street (or wherever) and continue kickin' ass the next morning. Um...isn't that a kind of competitive edge? By using a DRUG, no less! How come it's okay to push drugs every seven minutes on TV ("Just ask your doctor!"), but it's NOT okay to push drugs in the dugout?

See, I think this is a classic case of morality-based "do as I say, not as I do." We say "Oh, it's okay to take a drug to help you sleep, but it's NOT okay to take a drug to throw a ball really fast, because we want to hold our athletes to some sort of archaic standards of human achievement." We (as a society) make a moral decision that one form of drug is okay, the other is B-A-D, BAD! (Kudos to those of you who filled in with "Make your mom and daddy say!") Like, turn it around and see where we are:

"No, David, I'm afraid I can't give you a drug to help you sleep because frankly, if you can't get to sleep on your OWN, you represent a lower level of human achievement and therefore should be sentenced to a life of sleep dprivation."

"Gee, I'm sorry Steve, but if you can't lower your cholesterol on your own, I'm afraid you'll just have to suffer debilitating heart disease. See, that'll ultimately strengthen the gene pool for ALL humanity!"

It's ridiculous, right?!? We peddle drugs EVERYWHERE, but oop-oop-oop! Not in the LOCKER ROOOOMMM! Sex is the same way: we pooh-pooh sex all the time in this society, saying "Oh, no! YOU can't have sex, you're still a TEENAGER!" or "No, you can't have sex, because YOU'RE not MARRIED yet!" Then you look at (again) the telly, and sex is selling EVERYTHING! Shit, even the Detroit Auto Show had, like, bodacious babes slinking all around the cars., WHY?!? As if, I buy that there Ford F-150, I get a Victoria's Secret model in the passenger seat? Sheesh. As always with me, it's the same ol' disgust with hypocricy: say one thing, do sumthin' diff'rent. Bah. Fuck it. STEROIDS FOR ALL, that's what I say! THEN we'll see some REAL athleticism on the fields!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The (Next White) President

Okay, got my political digs on. Let's roll.

So, it seems as if we have a Republican nominee!! Romney exited stage left, after spending some $40 million of his own fortune. Geez...I wonder how big that fortune IS, that he can just toss aside forty mil of it?!? Anyway, after suggesting just last week that Huckabee ought to be the one taking a bow, Mr. Poufy Hairdo himself is out. OUT. O-U-T out.

And that's okay. McCain seems like kind of a nice guy. Oh, most of his ideas are shite, but what can you do? Guy's a freakin' Republican. By definition, modern conservatism is completely at odds with good ideas. Still, he's seen as a maverick by the MOST conservative in his party, and he attracts lots of Independents and middle-of-the-road quasi-Liberals, so there's that. He must feel pretty damn great, too, since he was declared dead by nearly EVERYONE just six months ago. Kind of the biggest-time "Nyah-nyah!" that a person could hope for.

On to the Democrats, who are still slugging it out, with the media trying to deal themselves into the contest. Y'know, 'cause the media HATES to be left out of a high-stakes game. The media seems to think that playing the "first (fill in the blank) candidate" is some sort of trump. Right? "Oh, Barack Obama, he could make history here by being the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT." Oh. Oh REALLY. Um...couldn't we just as easily say that he'd be, oh, the next WHITE president?!? See, this bugs me, 'cause the guy's split right down the middle. Don't believe me? 'Kay. Here's the Female Elder Obama:

Or, rather, Ann Dunham. Lily white, ain't she? Shit, she's from KANSAS. Do you GET more lily white than that? For comparison, here's the Male Elder Obama:

And, yeah...he's pretty black. SHOULD be, right, 'cause he's Kenyan. So. Caucasian mother, African father...equal parts. And yet...somehow he's being portrayed (or, portrays HIMSELF) as African-American. Hey, I got no qualms with that...guy SHOULD be able to identify with whatever he wants. I like to identify with my Scottish heritage, even though I have equal parts Dutch/German in my makeup. I'm just saying: I get to be equally right in saying that, IF he's elected, he'll just be the next white president. Because, to suggest that he's "black" simply because half his genes are African...well, that's racist, right? I mean, isn't that the whole Jim Crow "one drop of black blood" rule? Didn't we eliminate that, oh, about a hundred-forty years ago? Oh, right, I remember now: blacks got made "equal"...on paper. Shit, we're STILL fighting THAT war!

Of course, we can't forget Senator Clinton in all this fray. The media want to sanctify her as well, saying that "she COULD make history by being the first woman president!" Gosh, the media are just OH so very anxious to have us Liberals do something historic, aren't they? Anyway, sure, Clinton could be the first woman president. Well, the first one who was actually ELECTED president, anyway. Let's roll back the clock, shall we...?

(*deedle-deedle-dee, deedle-deedle-dee, deedle-deedle-dee*)

(That's the Wayne's World "time travel" sound effect, by the way.)

The first woman president? Hell we need to go all the way back to turn-of-the-century Liberalism for that! In a Dave-esque turn of real-life events, Woodrow Wilson duffered a debilitating stroke in 1919, leaving him partly paralyzed. Doctors refused to reveal the seriousness of Wilson's incapacitation, and his second wife isolated him from everyone except medical doctors. That woman was Edith Galt Wilson, and while she claimed to have "never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs," she offered no hesitation in issuing memos under her own name, nor in receiving communication FOR the president which began "Dear Mrs. Wilson." True, later historical research shows that Edith never showed an interest in politics, and Wilson himself was known to rarely listen to women for advice, only becoming dependent on Edith AFTER his stroke. wonders. It would be nearly 50 years before Congress would pass the 25th Amendment which gave them the power to judge a president's incapacity and relieve him of duties if necessary. In the time of Edith Wilson, a power vacuum existed that somewhat diminshes the media frenzy attempting to make Clinton the "first" woman president.

Much of my (hopefully obvious) sarcasm comes from a total disdain of modern politics. I'm one of those people who doesn't so much vote FOR someone, as I vote AGAINST the worst person. When President Bush was appointed for his first term, there was an AVALANCHE of articles suggesting that we here in the U.S. have a voting system nearly as archaic as our paper money. The best solution I ever saw was a system that allowed for the casting of "points" to multiple people. Here are two scenarios, involving possible contenders for the Republican nomination:

1) McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Paul are running for President. You really LIKE Paul, but early polls show that he only has single-digit support, and you don't want to "throw your vote away" like that. So, you vote for McCain, even though you think he's the devil...but slightly LESS a devil than Clinton.

2) Same four guys running, but you have a total of 6 "points" to assign: you can give 3 to one candidate, 2 to another, and 1 to a third. THIS time, you can give Paul the big 3 points, then save 2 for McCain and 1 for Romney. (Fuck that whack-a-mole Huck.) This way, you're voting for the person you actually WANT, but you also get to cast a hefty portion of points to the "probable" nominee as well. Multiply this out, and you'll quickly see that weirdo also-rans like Tancredo, Paul, and even that Liberal vote-vacuum Nader could actually be legitimate candidates.

I dunno. This is all really just pent-up frustration at a political system that seems mindless, one in which candidates from the same party are virtually indistinguishable from each other, even as they claim that the tiniest minutae is super-important in separating them. The American public doesn't help either, claiming to want "honest politicians" who will "tell the truth," and then getting sucked into the same vacuous arguments that always dominate the political landscape. Here's the thing: I DON'T want the next president to be someone I can have a fucking BEER with. I have plenty of friends to drink goddamn BEER with. I want the president to be a powerhouse, a dynamo, so freaking brilliant that I feel like a dumbshit when I hear him/her speak. I want a leader who LEADS, and not one who panders to the lowest common denominator, a title that we all seem to be racing to claim for ourselves.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Household Meme

Yay! Steph over at Sweet Water Journal coughed up a meme (I'll bet that would hurt, actually!) and rather unceremoniously tagged anyone who was so inclined. Since I'm not much lately for scintillating thoughts, this'll have to do. Mayhap I'll have something a little meatier following today's presidential primaries. Oh, and yeah: if you wanna do this one, you're tagged as well.

When you walk in your front door, which room do you enter?
The living room. It's a lovely, spacious area with large open passways into the dining room (straight ahead) and the office (on the right). The first time we walked through the door, when we were home-shopping, we felt like we had "come home."

Do you have a dishwasher?
Yes, thankfully! That was part of our now-3-year-old kitchen restoration. We'd HAD a dishwasher at our old apartment, so to go back to all hand-washing was a drag. We still have enough "delicates" that require hand washing that I have permanent dishpan-hands in the winter. Have you noticed that Florence Henderson doesn't do those Dawn commercials anymore? Apparently selling a liquid soap based on its ability to prevent dishpan hands is no longer a mandatory marketing ploy.

Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors?
Carpet over softwood. I really like a carpeted living room, 'cause I like to be able to get down on the floor sometimes. (Nothing dirty intended there, morons!) However, we've had the yellow pine floors in the dining room and kitchen resurfaced, and they look fantastic. When the time comes to renovate the living room/office, I suspect we may go with area rugs.

Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?
On the counter, in a block. I've become a little paranoid of the knives now that there's a Spawn in the house, even though she isn't getting up to the counter yet. Or really even standing. Nevertheless, they're good knives, very sharp, and I'm a little freaked out.

House, apartment, duplex or trailer?
House. 2-storey, roughly 1,500 sf, built in 1900.

How many bedrooms is it?
Well, for the previous owners it was 4; they used the office as a bedroom. We use it as the office, and further converted one of the upstairs bedrooms into a largeish walk-in closet, there not being any OTHER closets in the whole damn house.

Gas stove or electric?
Ceran-topped electric. Funny story: when we first bought the house and went appliance shopping, we had the option of EITHER gas or electric as there was both a 220-v outlet AND a gas pipe by the opening for the stove. We decided on the electric simply for cleaning purposes: as an Energy Star stove it was nearly as efficient as the gas, and the Ceran top made the inevitable spills MUCH easier to clean up after. During the kitchen re-do I needed to move the stove and eliminate the gas pipe sticking up out of the floor, and so...I pulled it out. HA! It wasn't connected to anything on the other end!! Can you imagine our chagrin if we'd had a lovely gas stove delivered to the house? Standing there, trying to figure out why the damn thing won't work...

Do you have a yard?
More than I'd actually CARE for when it comes to mowing, but it will be a nice space for The Rozzle to play in. The "front yard" isn't much more than the streetside right-of-way, and the two side yards are also spitting distance away from either the neighbors' house or the street. The back yard is lovely, maybe 50' x 80', mostly grass with a big ol' pine tree right in the middle. Have I mentioned that I hate to mow???

What size TV is in the living room?
Uh...I dunno. It's big. 23" maybe? Eventually I'd like there to NOT be a telly in the living room; I'd move it downstairs to an entertainment room, and it would be just a phenomenally huge plasma-screen job, movie-screen dimensions and all the hoopla with surround sound. I likes me my movies!

Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?
Yes. The mugs are in the cupboard next door.

Is there a coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter?
A lovely new one with a stainless-steel carafe. It was a gift from Tess' folks, and I'll tell ya what: that whole not-leaving-the-coffee-warmer-pad-on-all-the-time? Really DOES make for better tasting coffee!

What room is your computer in?
The office. On the desk. Uh...where it belongs?

Are there pictures hanging in your living room?
There are many more in frames scattered about our "occasional tables," but yes, there are some: one is a full 360˚ panorama shot of the Island, one is a 50th-anniversary poster of the Mackinac Bridge, and there's also an 1860 bird's-eye map of St. Johns. Oh, and I think our Resevoir Dogs photo of the parents just post-wedding is still behind the coat rack somewhere.

Are there any themes found in your home?
I have no idea what this means. Uh...well, every room has a horizontal surface upon which to step, so sure, floors are rather a "theme." To avoid snideness: I'm trying to tie together all the rooms with crown moulding (more because I hate the quality of my finished inside-corner work), and likewise I think all the rooms look like they BELONG in a 108-year-old house. That's really it, though.

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?
Seventh Generation HE liquid. Steph's husband Eric is on crack: it works just fine.

Do you use dryer sheets?
Yes: Bounce Free. (That way, Eric, you don't get the "stink" OR the "static!)

Curtains in your home?
Hells, no!! Tess couldn't get rid of them FAST enough! Ugh, the living room was festooned with these floral, billowy, icky-nasty-shitty draperies that were SO not us! We have grass blinds, of a slightly higher quality downstairs than up.

What color is your fridge?

Is your house clean?
Yup. With my Friday schedule clear of classes, AND we're paying for two days of daycare a week minimum, I drop The Rozzle off first thing in the morning and spend a few hours cleaning, doing laundry, and getting groceries. It's nice.

Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?
The ones in the SINK are dirty, duh! In the dishwasher...I dunno. If the little green light is on, they're clean.

How long have you lived in your home?
Coming up on 5 complete years: we moved in (literally) on Easter Sunday, 2003. That was the ONLY day that Tess didn't have some sort of gig!

Where did you live before?
In an apartment that was every bit as "home" as our house is. I loved our apartment together, and I actually had TONS more "free time" that wasn't consumed by maintenance and renovation. But, I gotta say, home ownership really IS better, even with all that time-on-task taken into account.

Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?
(*shudders* and moves on.)

Do you have a scale anywhere in your house?
Yup. There's a postal scale in the top drawer of our desk that I use to calculate eBay shipping costs and, occasionally, the weight of dry beans.

How many mirrors are in your house?
Uh...the bathroom cabinet, a full-length behind the stairway door, another full-length hanging on the wall in the closet, a smallish one mounted over the dresser in our bedroom, and the one inside my jewelry-box lid. YOU do the math.

Look up. What do you see?
Depends on how high I look: either an autographed poster of Paul Stanley as the Phantom of the Opera, or the ugly-ass drop-in tile on the ceiling. (I'm in my work office right now, by the way.)

Do you have a garage?
Technically? Yes, a single-car attached garage. Functionally? Well, it has a wooden floor made up of whatever scraps of plywood and card-table tops that the previous owners could scrounge, so instead of parking a CAR in there it's home to bicycles, the lawn mower, the snow blower, and all sorts of lovely power tools and renovation supplies.