Friday, June 04, 2010

Earthbound Explorers Prepare for Vacuum of Space, Void of AM Radio

And by Sunday there won't be anyone to eat.
The six explorers faced a roomful of reporters, answering questions with steadied calm that soothed the tension before the beginning of a journey that some called an important lesson in living without benefit of the normal ties to civilization and sanity that we take for granted, and that others called a sheerly mad stunt.

"I am very happy to be part of this project," said Diego Urbina, the Colombian-Italian and most extrovert member of the crew.

And yet the brave adventurers knew they were embarking on a mission from which not all of them might return: to spend 520 days locked in a chamber with only food, water and AM radio to sustain them. Then, to prolonged cheering, the astronauts of the mind closed the portal to their isolation chamber with its giant wire exercise wheel, its monotonous routine of dishes to wash and beds to make, tubes of dreary, tiresome homogenized pork produts to consume, and endless hours of hysterical crises to digest unbuffered by factual content or coworkers with access to the BBC’s website.

“Anything could happen,” gushed chief engineer Romulus Morrison. “Personally I’m betting that halfway through the experiment the crew will believe Mexico has invaded America and that President Obama surrendered immediately, that the rich have fled to a cloud city hovering above Dubai, and that most of the world ekes out a Mad Max style existence selling dietary supplements and cheap jewelry to each other on eBay. By that time, they’ll have forgotten that their capsule is in a warehouse in Russia and they’ll actually refuse to come back to Earth.”

I love space -- and I weep for it.As they entered the interconnected modules that would be their home for a year and a half, all six adventurers must surely have thought of their ill-fated predecessor, the Beck 500. Confined for the same amount of time listening only to Glenn Beck, the surviving members of that expedition have yet to sufficiently remaster the art of human speech to describe their horrific descent into madness – the only testament to their ordeal is a silent but utterly unapproachable pile of diapers fashioned out of handmade Gadsden flags. And the mute remains of their deceased comrades, found floating in a wine sauce seasoned with tarragon and basil. A wine sauce.
What's he doing?  The backstroke.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Those Who Can't Do Teach

I was born in the wagon of a traveling show
Bristol Palin has just signed with a representation agency to give speeches about abstinence for $15,000-$30,000 a pop. Presumably she's for it, although it's hard to imagine why -- if she had practiced it nobody would care who she was right now. So it's sort of like hearing a lecture on the value of hard work by a guy who won the lottery right before his trust fund dried up.

Not that Bristol doesn't deserve a chance to influence young impressionable minds about how they ought to work hard and stay in school -- leave the unprotected sex to the girls whose moms can put them on the lecture circuit: that's a lesson little girls can't hear too soon or too often. And in the maelstrom of confusing messages kids get exposed to now, what harm could one horribly unfortunate example do on top of all the others? Nothing that'll make the papers.

No, the real tragedy of Bristol Palin parlaying her lack of attentiveness in health class on the day they were slipping the condom over the banana into a shameless speaking career is that somewhere out there Michael Brown is kicking himself for not having failed enough. You know you're doing something wrong when an anchorman won't even refrain from correcting you out of politeness. Some people have the touch for turning idiocy into gold and some just don't. But fear not -- Mike Brown will say something stupid at the next colossal screw-up as well, just as surely as hopping on one leg after intercourse prevents pregnancy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Remedial Re-Education Camp Is Filling Up Quick

And I can never remember whether the icepick goes on the left side of the plate or the right.
It truly saddens our new socialist overlords when the citizenry doesn't even seem to be trying. Come on, people -- how hard can it be to copy a picture? Then again, it probably occurs to our overlords that half of freakin' Texas flies its flag upside-down. And as they silently calculate how many times a day they might have to differentiate sarcasm from ignorance, they also realize that some sort of aspirin subsidy might be in order.

We Hold These Untruths To Be Self-Evident

One of the interesting attributes of the Tea Party crowd in Richmond yesterday was the Founding Father worship, possibly an offshoot of Confucianism based on the premise that the framers of the Constitution spoke to us directly in aphorisms suitable for printing on t-shirts and scrawling on patriotically-themed hand signs. Ultimately the Tea Partiers hope to collect a sufficient number of aphorisms so that every situation, from the humdrum to the critical, from the personal to the national, can be governed by reference to the most appropriate Founding Witticism.

Of course in building any collection, it’s essential to discard the inauthentic. Take the one in the picture above: “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” And while it seems practically made for our very time and situation, maybe that’s because its first appearance in print was in 1986 and it has never shown up in any of Jefferson’s known writing.

It’s rather fortunate that Jefferson didn’t say it, really, as talk of earning one’s living through the sweat of one’s brow falls a little flat when the speaker owns hundreds of human beings who cook his food, make his bed, tend his crops, keep his stables and – almost certainly – sleep with him and bear his children.

Another quotation was indeed correctly attributed to Jefferson: “Never spend your money before you have it.” But the man who wrote this advice died in such debt that he was unable to free his slaves due to his inability to pay off the loans he had taken out against them – though it would still be good advice even if every person who passed it on died woefully broke. That it’s too general to be of much practical value while also being annoyingly unworkable only adds to its charm.

Anyway, the assemblage of the Jeffersonian hadith seems well underway, if beset by a few questionable sentiments and confused by occasional gaping chasms between his statements and his ideals. On the bright side, beating the plowshare of Jefferson’s profligacy into the sword of a fiscal conservative will seem like a piece of cake compared to the effort that’ll be required to turn him into a Christian.

Monday, April 12, 2010

So How’s He Recovering, Then?

With this trunk model, you won't ever need a back alley again.
I’ve heard you can supposedly reverse homosexuality and even get your virginity back, but this is a new one – Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota has proclaimed April to be Abortion Recovery Month. Now on first impression, the very name connotes ghastly images of fetuses being fished out of a dumpster somewhere – obviously the kind of holiday that could only be thought up by a male pro-lifer, the kind of idiot who thinks babies are produced the way it was portrayed in 1950s movies, after about fifteen minutes of a man pacing outside a delivery room door while smoking a cigar. I mean, what could these sick bastards possibly want with your old abortions?

But wait – it’s not that at all. Apparently Abortion Recovery Month is designed to honor all the abortion recovery programs in the state of Minnesota – which must surely have no other concern than for the mental and physical well-being of patients who have undergone abortions, right?

Well probably not. Just like those Crisis Pregnancy Centers that promise objective compassionate assistance to young pregnant women and then do everything they can to cajole, terrify and guilt-trip them into carrying their pregnancies to term, the abortion recovery counseling programs I Googled seem like religious rackets with a pro-life agenda, sometimes in the open and sometimes not so obvious.

Worst of all, they certainly doesn’t seem to be offering real counseling. If a therapist were to say to me, “In America we have a big drug problem, and we don’t realize it’s because of abortion,” I’d conclude that person was in more need of help than I was, starting with what constitutes a provable statement and what doesn’t. But these same counseling organizations offer certificates in abortion counseling after nothing more than a fraction of a semester of completely religious training.

Maybe Pawlenty’s proclamation really does honor some few souls out there who specialize in helping women get over the emotional trauma of abortion – and they doubtless deserve recognition. But right now the field seems dominated by proselytizing vultures who, with no actual secular training, descend on hurt and confused young women intending on converting them to faithful guilt-ridden tithing machines who can be counted on to vote against letting anyone else have the choice they felt was necessary at the time. And those charlatans don’t need recognition, because their reward is in heaven – whatever simpleminded, dogmatic, shrill millstone of a heaven happens to take them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Republican Leaders Charge: Obama Met with People Who Want Our President to Fail

We have met the enemy and he is the enemy of our enemy.Shortly after the conclusion of the combative healthcare summit today, GOP leaders assembled for a press conference to assert that they had overwhelming evidence that President Obama had recently met with an organization that wants our president to fail.

"We wouldn't be here announcing this if our concerns weren't serious," intoned Senate Minority Leader John Boehner, whose color-coded political threat tan was at the critical level.

"The fact of the matter," added House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, "is that President Obama has now gone far beyond his egregious apologies to the rest of the world for things Americans should be proud of, like torture and The New Adventures of Old Christine. He is now actively consorting with factions within our own country who are right now plotting the downfall of the current government. We know, and we have the commemorative cocktail napkins to prove it," he said, waving what appeared to be an embossed bevnap.

"While it pains us to level such grave charges," continued Boehner, "Mr. Obama knows what he needs to do in order to set things right with the American people. A comprehensive program of tax cuts and tort reform should be an important first step in rectifying the serious damage done to our great nation."

Cantor chimed in, "And some tickets to the Britney Spears concert wouldn't hurt either."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Talking To Your Children about Scott Brown Winning the Massachusetts Special Election

Let them purchase a high-deductible plan.
We live in troubled, frightening times – our world seems on the brink of disaster, millions of people fall prey to random unimaginable horrors, pernicious exploitative evils, and the ravages of unscrupulous deceptive leaders while the forces for good are scattered, tied into moral knots or lulled into complacency. And that’s before they turn off Glenn Beck and have to deal with the real world.

And we all know that just recently a terrible disaster hit us seemingly out of nowhere. And while it hurts us all, sometimes the most vulnerable are the ones who get the least attention – our children. Because they can’t easily make heads or tails of momentous events, they tend to be more easily frightened and more likely to feel helpless. Worst of all, when young ones are emotionally scarred, they tend to compensate by taking on odd beliefs or practices that make them feel in control of the world – things like arson, self-mutilation or reading the works of Ayn Rand.

So for confused children – and parents just as confused about what to tell their children – here are a few sample lines of thought parents might use to help their children make sense of a frightening situation. You may need to substitute your own specific examples. And where possums aren’t common, armadilloes or even capybara will do just as well.

“Look, Che and Evita, calm down. Mommy and Daddy didn’t mean for you to see CNN call the race. Not that we didn’t think Martha wasn’t gonna get creamed – I mean, we hoped that she would honor Ted Kennedy’s legacy by fighting for the seat instead of accepting it the way a dowager empress accepts the gift of a chewed-up skink from her favorite cat – but when we considered the possibilities over the pre-dinner bong hit, Daddy thought he’d at least be well into his post-prandial coma before ol’ Mondale McKerry went tits-up in the koi pond.

“Alas, it was not to be – she put up a fight that made George McClellan look like Sigourney Weaver in Alien – and not those sequels where it was all body counts and teeth dripping with acid – I’m talking about the original Alien where the giant space cockroach never dies and you think when the ship finally reaches earth Sigourney and the alien are going to be clinging to the outside of it, slamming the hatchway door on each others’ fingers. But she finally kills the damn thing anyway, through sheer guts and perseverance and inner strength – in exactly the same way that Martha Coakley did not hit the giant puff pastry of this election right out of the park.

“But what we want you to know is that even though bad things happen sometimes, the world is still full of good people doing good things. And we can trust most people most of the time – in fact, some of the poorest people are the most trustworthy. Like remember when Mommy told you that if you get lost, to ask the nearest homeless person for help because you can’t trust clowns, priests or people in BMWs? It’s just like that. So don’t lose your faith in human goodness is what I’m saying. But feel free to ditch your faith in a complacent Boston aristocrat who sends her chauffeur out to shake voters’ hands at the mall or who thinks popular appeal is an ironically named entry in the regatta.

“Most importantly, keep your eyes open. We know what happens to people who steer calmly onward into disaster – James Cameron makes horribly expensive, overwrought soap operas about them and you have to spend three hours listening to Celine Dion. And then you say mean, petty things about Leonardo DiCaprio when his lifeless corpsicle is bobbing around in the Atlantic and you have a fight instead of getting laid. The next thing you know, you’re on the street corner holding a misspelled sign about death panels when your HMO won’t even pay to have someone look at that weird blue mole on your arm. Now be a good girl and fix Daddy a gin and tonic – and slice the lime lengthwise this time, not in itty bitty pieces like yesterday.”