Monday, November 29, 2004

Condom nation

"The Republican National Committee announced today that the Republican Partyis changing its emblem from an elephant to a condom. The committee chairman explained that the condom more clearly reflects the party's stance today, because a condom accepts inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you're actually getting screwed."

Wish I could take the credit for this one, but Marley forwarded it to me in an email. Worth posting though, I thought.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Things For Which I'm Thankful

Well, folks, here it is: the inevitable, predictable, Turkey-day blog. Creative it may not be, but heartfelt and sincere it certainly is. Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Thus far it has very few of the commercial trappings of Christmas and Easter. It's maintained a purity unrivaled by other holidays. I suppose eventually it will degenerate into a national day whereby familes get together to see who can stuff their face with the most food, then regurgitate it all over the TV while screaming at football games (some families already do this), but for the moment it remains by-and-large a day to sit at table with the people you love and contemplate your good fortunes. That's it. Eat a good meal, enjoy good company, and think about how good your life is. That's all it takes.

"Sure," you say, "That's all well and good if you have a nice life, but if your life sucks it's just another slap in the face." If you're a whiney pessimist I can see where you might get that view, but I can remember Thanksgivings when we had just come back from a family funeral and sat down to dinner grateful that we would have enough left-overs to hold us through til December, because we didn't have enough money to buy groceries until dad's next pay cheque. I remember years that had been one loss after another, ill health, deaths, mom in the hospital with a potentially terminal condition, and we always found things to be thankful for. I was taught by my parents at a very early age that no matter how bad you think you got it, someone else has always got it worse, so count your blessings and do whatever you can to help the poor slob out. That's Thanksgiving.

In keeping with that philosophy, this blog will not contain any of the crap that I've been complaining about for the last two months. This is the list of everything that's right with my life (and these are in no particular order):

1. family. I've got a great family. We are few in number (7 of us when the whole clan is assembled), but they're thoughtful, smart, funny, and they've got their priorities straight. No one goes hungry in this family if anyone else can help it.
2. friends--the family you choose. Again, small in number, but devoted, supportive, patient, and accepting. Thanks to my friends, I have family all over the world, and so I'm never far from love.
3. Roof over my head and food on my plate. Annoyed as I get about having to move back in with my folks, I'm dead grateful they were willing to take me. A lot of my friends aren't so lucky, and I live with the security that I will always have a place to come in from the cold and fill my belly whenever I need it.
4. Strong brain and strong body. I'm neither genius nor olympian, but by genes or by heaven I've been blessed with a brain that's capable of taking care of me, and a body strong enough to obey the brain's commands. I have excellent mental skills and the physical capability to implement them. As long as I can think creatively and rationally and stand on my own two feet, I can take care of myself w/o being a burden on anyone, and get myself out of most unfortunate situations.

And that's it. Everthing else i can live without. Sure, there are plenty of other things i like and am grateful for, but they're all fundamentally superfluous. I could say that i'm grateful for flowers and for rowing and good books and music and scented candles, but while those things are all nice, when it comes down to it they don't really matter. As long as i've got even one the four above, I can survive anything. Those are the things that really matter, and I'm lucky enough to have all of them--damn lucky.

So to fate, fortune, god, or nature, or who or whatever is responsible for the quality of my life: Thank you. Now I have a pie to eat.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Bitch is back

Having spent a week out east with the best friends god ever put on this earth, I have returned to my home planet of Alderaan feeling somewhat rested and reinvigorated. There is nothing like a few days spent in the company of those people who know us so well that when we cry they do not need to express concern with the thoughtful inquiry, "what's wrong? would you like to talk about it?" because they already know. These are people who finish my sentences (usually better than I would have done), laugh at a glance, and share my deeply held belief that everthing, everything, has value. Actually, these are the people who taught me that, and whose example of perfect friendship has been an inspiration to me for seven years. The only thing wrong with the visit was its brevity.

In addition, while in Chassamusetts i received a phone call from a delightful Mancunian responding to my inquiry regarding my questionable status as a postgraduate student. She inormed me that i "definately passed." her words. One ulcer-inducing worry down, four to go.* I loaded up all the crap that I had left behing in my friends' basement for the year I was in Manchester (an entire apartment's worth of furnishings from my previous life as a plant pathologist and manager in one of Boston's largest interior-landscaping firms) into a rental truck, and hit the open road.

It takes about 16 hours to drive from Massachusetts to Michigan, and I loved every minute of it. There is a strong accompanying sensation of liberation to living like a turtle with all your worldly possessions in the back of the truck you're driving. I queued up Queen and the Beatles on the pod and drove til i was too tired to see straight, enjoying the sight of the many raptors, deer, wild turkeys (poor bastards; it's a bad week to be a turkey) and bison along the way. When I arrived home, ulcer-inducing worry no. 2 had been aleviated. My final grades showed that I got a perfectly respectable 68 on my diss**. Enough for an upper-second (the best I could hope for after Ruble screwed me out of my Latin grade), and hopefully admission to York. 2 down, 3 to go.

Today is a good day. My bro and his fiance' are coming in to celebrate Thanksgiving. They'll arrive sometime tonight. Mom, dad and i have spent the day cooking, cleaning, and cooing over the big, fluffy, wet flakes that began coming down after lunch.

Tomorrow will be good. Stay tuned for the pitfully predictable Turkey Day blog, "Things I'm Grateful For."

*the other four are as follows:
1. By how much did I pass? Did i scrape through by the metaphorical skin of my teeth, or did I get the nice, cushy 75 that I hoped for?
2. If I get a sufficiently high grade on my diss, will I be accepted to the University of York for my Ph.D.?
3. If I get accepted at York, will I be able to conjure up the dough to pay for it?
4. Will anyone ever fall in love with me?

**Not too shabby, especially when you consider that my advisor didn't respond to a single email the last 3 weeks before the thing was due, and neither she nor anyone else ever proof-read a single paragraph of my paper. Entirely my own work. (I have this stupid, juvenlie neurosis about permitting people to read my work before I've decided it's done. I can't do it.)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

still here

i'm still here, waiting for grades and confimation from the univeristy of york that i do in fact have a future. i'm not blogging much because i'm still in a slump* and i have nothing new, creative, interesting, or funny to add to the limitless collection of self-indulgent crap that is the internet. ergo, cake-hole remains shut, at least for awhile. i'll come back with my usual bubbly charm and wit once i've finished wallowing in my self-pity/loathing.

*see posts "diatribe" and "venting insecurities." Bush + broken heart + no future = ma-hoosive depression.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


NOW HEAR THIS: HILLARY CLINTON WILL NEVER BE ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I've now had at least 4 different people, all of them Brits, suggest this as a possible silver lining to the trauma of Tuesday's election. I realize that we are all groping for some shred of hope to sustain us through what will undoubtedly be a horrific 4 years (in W's 1st press conference after the election he said, "I earned a lot of political capital in this election, and I'm gonna spend it"), but this ain't it, folks. Personally, I love Hillary. I've met the woman, and she's as high-caliber as they come. But she doesn't stand a snow-ball's chance in a Hibachi of being elected. Accept it and stop bugging me--it only makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

It's also been suggested that 4 more years of W will put the country and the world in such godawful economic shape that it will be an easy campaign for the democrat running in '08. THIS IS ALSO A LOAD OF BULSHIT. The country's already in godawful economic shape, W has already fucked up our international relations possibly beyond repair, the so-called war on terror has already killed over 20,000 people, most of them innocent civilians and over 1000 of them Americans, and GUESS WHAT, PEOPLE? AMERICANS DON'T GIVE A SHIT. America is rapidly becoming a theocracy, a Christian Afganistan, and the billions of "dumb" Americans who voted for W (so labeled by your own Daily Mirror) gave no consideration to economic, diplomatic, or environmental issues. They voted for W for 1 reason, and it is this: he, W, and they, his supporters, all see W as a warrior for the Lord with a red phone to Jesus, on a Holy Crusade to rid the world of anyone they perceive as a threat to their divine mission of global homogeneity. Sound familiar? Americans are living in Germany in 1935. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. They don't see all the problems of the last 4 years as problems. The very same things we rational people call problems they consider marvelous, or necessary at the worst. 4 more years of the same will not change their minds.

Furthermore, I have been told that ultimately there was very little difference between the two candidates, so this election was a non-choice for Americans. This could not be further from the truth.

Regarding the economy, America is and always has been a manufacturing economy. We will never recover economically until we get the jobs back which have been outsourced to overseas and reestablish the manufacturing base which has been moved mostly to Mexico (thank you NAFTA). W is a believer in trickle-down economics, that marvelous brain-child of Ronal Regan’s which maintains that if you give tax breaks to rich people they will spend more of their hard-stolen money and create lots of jobs for the blue-collar schmos who build yachts, thereby improving the yacht-makers’ livlihoods. It doesn’t work. We’ve seen it not work. It’s not working now. W’s tax cuts have resulted in his administration outspending their revenue by a factor of 4 to 1. In just 4 years he managed to completely spend the budget surplus left to him by Slick Willie and get us into the biggest deficit in the country’s history. Our foreign investors have even begun to cut off our credit.

Kerry, on the other hand, will put back into practice the economic policies of the Clinton years, which took only 6 years to eliminate the huge debt left to him by Bush Sr. and create the first surplus in American history. This on top of 8 consistent years of increased spending on social programs. I’m not an economist, but I know success and failure when I see it. Furthermore, Kerry would have 1, closed the tax loophole which makes it so advantageous for companies to move overseas, and 2, created a national health-care system. Right now employers are responsible for providing workers and their families with health care, and it’s costing them a fortune. A national health care system would not only cover everyone in the country (including the 5 million children currently living in poverty who have NO ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE), but it would alleviate the financial burden on employers, making labor costs in America much more competitive globally.

The War on Iraq. God help us. You all probably know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/ll, and that the war was entirely for the benefit of making W’s oil buddies even richer. You may not have heard that this same hypocrite who claims to love every American soldier and who dons borrowed flight suits to make himself look like one of the boys has so little regard for our fighting troops that he sent thousands of them into combat WITH NO BODY ARMOR! The troops were told that if they wanted kevlar vests they would have to purchase them themselves! These vests cost over $1500 each, and most of the men and women in the Army and Army National Guard are there because they are poor and uneducated and have no money and can’t get another job. So these poor soldiers wrote home to their parents and siblings and asked to borrow $1500 so they could buy a bullet-proof vest. To W, troops are expendable. He sent them into combat, ill-equipped, to fight a war for money, even after his own father, former President Bush, said that a war in Iraq was unwinable and there was no feasible exit strategy, the smug son-of-a-bitch.

Kerry, a seasoned veteran of the other war in which we never should have been involved and couldn’t win, does not consider American soldiers political capital to be spent on a whim. I’m disappointed that he supported the invasion of Iraq for political reasons, but I acknowledge the necessity of preaching support for the war to win the approval of moderates and undecideds, which was the only way he ever stood a chance of being elected. He also acknowledges that the cost of the war is killing us, and would have got us out as soon as humanly possible. Lastly, and most importantly, Kerry acknowledges a basic fact which continually eludes W: it is physically impossible to create a security system which cannot be compromised by some with sufficient means and motivation. No matter how much you spend on “homeland security,” regardless of how much airline baggage you X-ray, you cannot prevent fanatics from finding new and creative ways of blowing up Americans on American soil. It can’t be done. Every net has holes, and no matter how small you try to make them, a terrorist will always be able to slip through. W doesn’t understand this. He thinks he can conquer the world alone. Kerry realizes that the best way to make America safer is to stop giving terrorists new reasons to hate us. It means radically re-thinking our foreign policy and achieving new levels of international cooperation. It means becoming a part of the world community and participating in international law instead of standing over it and saying, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah boo-boo! You can’t make me!”

Finally, social issues. This is what killed the election for Kerry. Republicans, as I said earlier, don’t vote based on economic issues or effective, pragmatic approaches to national security. They vote for the candidate who will stack the Supreme Court with right-wing radicals who will repeal Roe v. Wade and send women back to basements and coat hangers. They vote for candidates who assure them that communists and homosexuals won’t be allowed to teach in public schools, and no one will ever try to take their fully-automatic “hunting” rifles away. In short, they vote for people who share their vision of a homogeneous, Christian State. Period. 11 states (mine included) had ballot proposals to amend their states’ constitutions to ban same-sex marriage permanently. All eleven passed. These proposals were put on the ballots in this election in several key swing states, like Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, specifically to encourage paranoid, evangelical extremists to vote in this election, which they did in record numbers. Robert Heinlein put it rather neatly in Methuselah’s Children: “Whenever the citizens fix their attention on one issue to the exclusion of others, the situation is ripe for scalawags, demagogues, ambitious men on horseback.” Enter George W. Bush.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

the inevitable election blog

well, i've put if off as long as i could. those of you who know me well may be surprised that i've not mentioned the presidential election yet, given that i am an internationally renowned political junkie. yes, i'm a true Party animal, and this morning i excercised my right to contribute to our (theoretically) representative government and voted. the reason i've been so quiet on the subject thus far is not that i've been quietly evalutating the candidates, reflecting on their qualifications, and carefully contemplating my decision or anything else equally lame-brained. this is a no-brainer if ever there was one. no my friends, the reason that i've not been blogging about the election is because i have nothing to say on the subject that hasn't already been said over and over again, and subsequently ignored by millions of myopic, evangellical rednecks. i could state all the evidence that W has the IQ of a feces-flinging, lower-order primate and that Dick Cheney has the moral compass of a Colombian drug czar (John Ashcroft will probably arrest me just for typing this. I'm sure i'm in violation of the Patriot Act and screw the First Ammendment), but the evidence is there for any reasonably rational person to see and understand. Those voting for Kerry have seen and believed, and anyone still supporing W is willfully ignorant and will not be swayed. This is in accord with Sarte's first law of thermopolitics, "In order to change one's mind, one must first be in possession of a mind." Ergo, depending on the intelligence of you, the reader, I will either be preaching to the choir or screaming at a wall. pointless either way. Suffice it to say that i've voted and i will now spend the rest of the day cleaning house and trying to ignore my bleeding stomach ulcers. We've got people coming over tonight after the polls close to watch the returns come in. Either we'll be partying till dawn or we'll be drowning our sorrows and buying plane tickets to canada, but regardless, we're all better off in the company of friends. To all of you who will be deeply affected by the outcome of this election (i.e., citizens of plante earth) and are powerless to voice your opinion (either because you live in another country or a state (such as texas) which will vote overwhelmingly for W and therefore if you are voting for kerry your vote doesn't matter), my heart goes out to you. the fate of many nations rests on this election, but it will be decided by a couple million americans who are fortunate enough to live in politically convenient states (thank god i'm one of them). as for the rest of you poor, disenfranchized schmucks, my heart, spirit, and thoughts are with you. Illegitimus non carborundum est.