Other bits and pieces

Monday, November 2, 2009

From Thomas Paine -I don't think our leaders read of him anymore.

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it the superficial appearance of being right.

Time makes more converts than reason

Society is created by our wants, and government by our wickedness

Saturday, October 31, 2009

You Kids Get Off My Lawn!

Our country, and therefore the world that follows us, has progressed a great deal from the time of our giving of the finger to King George. I'm not just talking about the obvious leaps in technologies that affect our daily lives. I mean, sure, it's really cool that we don't have to walk to the mailbox anymore like a chump, but those changes are right before our eyes. Our country has also progressed by addressing nearly every aspect of how we live our lives. In an effort to ensure that nobody can possibly ever step on someone's toes, offend each other, go hungry, miss out on health care or education, be unemployed, or not get their pudding when they don't eat their meat, we enacted a brazillion different laws, statutes, codes, ordinances, edicts, mandates, theses, and proclamations under every bailiwick from the Federal Government to your local home owner's association.1 But here's the question: Are we any better off for it? Are we happier?

Let's look at some specific endeavors:

Financial Security:
In the past, it was more common than not for a man (yes, in the past it was just a man) to take a job with a company that does...I don't know...makes cheese graters, and work for that company for at least 20 years. Upon retirement, he received a pension from the company's pension fund. He also would invest his money as he deemed prudent (probably in pork bellies, or G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu Grip) to secure his future and that of his wife and 2.5 children. (I got all this from watching 'Leave It To Beaver'.) Financial independence was within the grasp of anyone willing to work for it. A high school education was employable, and trades were as honorable and nearly as profitable as jobs associated with higher education.

Today, if a man, woman, or trans-gender minotaur works the same job for more than five years they're considered stagnating. Due to the government pretty much running the economy with enough legal code to pen the Gutenberg Bible 600 times, no company can remain profitable doing the same thing for more time than it takes to make a glass of Ovaltine. Instead, corporations are bought, sold, traded, invaded, hostilely taken over, raided, pillaged, liquidated, plundered, and ransacked by whatever parent corporation has the leverage to do so. There's no such thing as pension plans because companies have figured out how to placate employees with golden bale known as the 401k, which saves them reams of greenbacks because they only have to pay a little into it until you quit. So, your 401k isn't going to be worth anything because it was made up of 50% stock in the company you worked for that has been 'acquired' in a leveraged buy-out by a conglomerate of lawyers that liquidated its assets and now the stock is worth a camel fart. So what now?

Social Security my good man! That's right. With a population that is living longer and longer and growing in number like bacteria, some genius thought it would be viable for everyone to pay a little out of their checks to give to the old people. Of course, this same genius didn't bother to tie benefits to actual contributions, so those doing the work are paying in at a rate far below that which those suckling the teat are drawing out. You'll have to work until you're 165 years old, whereupon you will have payed in $200M, and for the next 6 months of the life you have left; you'll get enough money to buy one Twinkie every 72 hours.

Personal Freedoms:
Let's see. 100 years ago, a person was free to...well...do...pretty much whatever the hell they wanted as long as it didn't get in the way of someone else trying to do whatever the hell they wanted. You want to build a house? Build a house. You want to get married? Find a preacher and a pretty girl (no fat chicks). You want to start a business? Start making cheese graters and open a store. You want to spend the afternoon walking around in the street in front of the courthouse praising Jesus, or Jesus? (that second one was Spanish, you have to pronounce it different) Go nuts. If you weren't physically harming someone, stealing what was theirs, or committing fraud against them you were free to go on about your bat-shit crazy day.

It's kind of the same today, except that a person is free to...well...do...basically nothing. You want to build a house? It better be built by a licensed contractor, meet code for electrical, concrete, structural, plumbing, roofing, etc, and then be subject to the HOA, for the color, gardening, and 'curb appeal'. You want to get married? No problem; get a blood test, apply for a license, confirm the preacher has the legal backing to perform the ceremony and get your witnesses to sign in triplicate. Honestly, why in the bras gypsies do I have to have a license to get married? I'm not going to fly a plane with the marriage or anything. You want to start a business? Oh sweet Mary mother of God.

Today, you want to express yourself, that's fine as long as you don't: Say anything religious, anything critical of anyone that looks different than you do, comes from another country, has any relation that looks different than you or comes from another country, anything critical of anything liberal, anything critical of anything conservative, or anything that could possibly be construed (even after the fact) as offensive to anyone, foreign or domestic, for any reason that does or does not really exist...umm...You know what, citizen, perhaps it's just better if you don't say anything at all. Oh yeah...and that nativity scene—yeah...tear that piece of shit down; I'm not supposed to get Jesus in my eye.

Personal Security:
In the past, people understood that role of the police was not to protect you. The police just show up after the fact to try and figure out who did it. People carried guns because a cop was just too heavy. Think about it; when was the last time you can remember ever hearing about the cops actually intervening to stop a crime in progress? I know there are incidents where the off-duty, or plain clothes cop happened to be in the bank when the robbers hit, and then there's hostage stand-offs. But, when the bad guy comes in the night, do you really expect the cops to get there in time to stop them? Of course not, back then, you just popped them. And the bad guys knew it. Wyatt Earp was probably not likely to become the victim of a mugging at an ATM.

Today, under the Federal Pussication Act of 1999, we are not expected to stick up for ourselves in anyway whatsoever. Many states have what are called 'Duty to Retreat' laws. These laws make it a crime to defend yourself against a violent criminal when you could have run away. These laws extend to your own home. If you could have slipped your family out the back door while the thief/murderer/drug addict/rapist was coming the front door (so to speak), you are legally obligated to do so. If you whack the guy in the shin with a golf club, you're no longer the victim. You're now the heartless animal that attacked a poor, defenseless, underprivileged, disenfranchised American who was just trying to make it in this world after his father left and his mother couldn't get off the crack. Damn, you're an asshole. Today, you're supposed to rely on things like alarm systems, on-call security like Brinks or ADT...in other words you are a compulsory coward that has to have someone else come make the bully go away.

Incidentally, if there are any would-be home invaders reading this: I have no problem whatsoever with going to prison for protecting my family. I live in a 'Duty to Retreat' state, and I will shoot you until I am out of ammo if you enter my house uninvited.

Education:
Reading, writing, arithmetic. That's what we used to teach. Kids went to school to learn how to do stuff and how stuff worked, or how stuff happened in the past. Teachers were authoritarian masters of their realm—and the parents were on their team. If kids misbehaved in class, the teacher paddled them with a stick. When they got home, they got another one for having embarrassed the family. Teachers had the backing of the community and therefore the latitude to be creative with their instruction. Schools were encouraged to maintain integrity in the evaluations of student performance. The responsibility to succeed fell solely on the student—encouraged by parents. Children learned how succeed, but more importantly, they learned how to fail. And they were stronger for it.

Ask a teacher today how much latitude they have to teach. You'll probably get a cup of coffee thrown at you (if teachers can even have coffee at school anymore). Federal laws pushing arbitrary standards have constricted educators to the point that 'teaching the test' is the only teaching going on. It seems like every time I ask my kid what she did in school today, the answer is 'we reviewed for the test', or 'we took another practice test'. They're only learning what the test evaluates. Misbehaving kids; what's a teacher to do? Are you kidding? If the teacher even looks cross-eyed at the kid, the precious little snowflake is going to text his helicopter mother who will bring a complaint to the district before the end of the day. Or, worse, all the kid has to do is make the allegation that the teacher did something 'inappropriate' and his/her career is effectively over.

I could go on, but this is already running a little long. As people forget how precious their freedoms are, they keep giving them away. I don't understand it. I don't understand why anyone would willingly abdicate their own decision making to the government. Yet, we the people do it every day. We've let our government legislate our lives into an un-navigable minefield of rules, regulations, fees, taxes, torts, and legal red tape. We've let our over-sensibilities contort our social interactions into a Mobius strip where we can barely even communicate without saying the wrong thing. And the worst part; we've lost our collective sense of humor--And that is unforgivable.

© Raymond Smith- 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Airline Passenger Bill of Rights

While high-visibility incidents have prompted many Americans to exercise outrage over airlines’ treatment of their customers, an airline passenger bill of rights is not the solution. These isolated incidents which have generated the public outcry are extremely rare, and more often than not involve a violation of either an existing FAA regulation, or internal airline company policy. Additional involvement of the Federal Government is a smoke and mirrors attempt at pandering that will not only interfere with legitimate business, but will result in further delays, increases in ticket prices, and compromises to public safety.

Perceptions are everything today. Perceptions not tempered with facts often lead to impromptu legislation which quiets the angry, ill-informed proletariat, but doesn’t necessarily make the world a better place. Over the past decade, the air travel industry and the Federal Government have been responding to what advocates consider a burgeoning industry trend involving unreasonable treatment of airline passengers. Many people, even those whose flight experiences have been uneventful, even pleasant, are getting nervous that these stories are harbingers of the doom awaiting them the next time they set foot on a plane. Horror stories of six to nine hour delays on the tarmac without water or food, all the while demands to return to the gate falling on deaf ears have galvanized many into action. Grassroots campaigns, activist websites, and thousands of blogs have matriculated out of the ether adding fuel to the fire. These activists and lobbyists have been pressuring the government do step in and do something about it. Voters are getting angry, and legislators are poised to placate.

January 3, 1999: Dozens of Northwest aircraft are stranded on the Detroit tarmac amid two feet of snow for up to 11 hours. The incident, considered the first of its kind, was so serious that, in spite of thousands of apology letters and compensatory coupons distributed by Northwest Airlines after the fact, members of congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to review the incident. The report cited poor decisions and bad practices in almost every respect surrounding the operation of the aircraft and airports involved.1 There was no single point of failure, but like most aircraft mishaps, a series of errors and bad decisions on the part of a collection of individuals responsible for a multitude of disciplines ultimately lead to the situation devolving into an unmanageable quagmire (Giggity)2. While Northwest Airlines never admitted that it had done anything wrong, citing that it did the best it could, given the situation, the company agreed to pay $7.1M dollars to make things right with its customers (They were basically hedging that to settle would be cheaper than litigation).3 And so it begins.

The Detroit incident spawned a maelstrom of media frenzy over the treatment of airline passengers, but the fanfare didn’t have the staying power to remain in the public eye very long. Since 1999, there have been several similar incidents that have brought the subject back to public attention. Along with the explosion of the internet, an exponential increase in main-stream media’s sensationalized reporting has started to turn the public perception toward unreasonable trepidation. Instead of carefully considered and rational application of data, the ‘everybody panic’ mantra has become the driving force for change. Bring on the lawsuits.

While public perception and outcry is typically sufficient to engage the interest of legislators, this mob strategy doesn’t translate directly to legal malpractice by the airlines. Though the Northwest lawsuit in 1999 was settled in favor of the plaintiffs, it established no wrong-doing. More recent lawsuits which were unable to secure the same sort of lucrative settlement haven’t favored as well for the victims filing suit. In 2006, after having been stranded for over nine hours on the taxiway, Catherine Ray filed suit against American Airlines.4 The suit charged American with false imprisonment (among other things), but was thrown out on the grounds that the airline was not legally bound to provide a stress free environment to the passengers. Other lawsuits remain pending. Though airlines have prevailed in some lawsuits, this is not to say that the airlines, or the airports, are always within their rights to detain passengers at will

Often times, when passengers are made to endure an unreasonable situation, those making the decisions on the ground are violating existing federal laws, FAA regulations, as well as internal company operating procedures. In February 2008, Gokhan Mutlu was allowed by a flight attendant to sit in her seat when it became apparent that the flight was overbooked.5 The flight attendant took the jump-seat on the flight deck. Midway through the flight, the pilot discovered what was going on, and forced Matlu to sit in the aircraft’s lavatory for the remainder of the flight. This order directly violates FAA regulations.6 The man should not have been on the aircraft in the first place without an assigned seat, but the corrective action taken by the pilot was clearly an example of poor judgment. The incident was catapulted to the front page of many news organizations and has also been a talking point for passenger rights activists in spite of the fact that existing legislation should have preempted it. On August 9, 2009, a Continental Airlines regional Jet (Operated by ExpressJet) sat on the tarmac for over seven hours after diverting to Rochester due to weather.7 Like the Norwest incident of 1999, a cascade of external factors, misapplication of rules, and mistakes led up to the situation. The flight crew hit its limit on flying time requiring a second crew to be flown in. The airline gate personnel wouldn’t let the passengers deplane because TSA screeners had already left for the evening. The Airport Manager, as well as TSA officials even admitted after the fact that there was no reason for this since the passengers had already been screened. A passenger bill of rights would not have prevented this incident. Regulations already existed which were not adhered to. These cases and others like them have demonstrated a lack of training and enforcement of published standards. The system doesn’t need more rules.

House Resolution 624, which is intended to amend Title 49 to ensure passengers have access to necessary services in the event of an extended ground delay, is nothing more than bureaucratic paper tiger.8 The bill would require that airlines maintain a published contingency plan that would outline how the airline intends to comply with certain standards of service enumerated in the bill. But, the bill is full of loopholes and opportunities for interpretation that would either allow the airline to get around it, or unfairly penalize legitimate efforts to provide service. For example, the bill states that, “…an air carrier shall provide passengers with the option of deplaning and returning to the terminal at which time such deplaning could be safely completed…” If the airline says it couldn’t deplane because there was not an opportunity to complete the deplaning safely, they don’t have to. Any one of the long-delay incidents about which people are suing would have occurred notwithstanding this legislation. If all the gates are full, lightning preventing ground crew from operating mobile stairs, and the runway closed, those passengers aren’t going anywhere. Aside from specifying sampling intervals for deplaning conditions, this bill provides no protections for passengers to any greater degree than those of which the most airlines already employ through internal company policy9.

The bill also fails to take into account several practicalities. The flying public, as consumers, have become accustomed to the idea that the customer is always right, and with that the notion that if they're not happy with a situation (especially when they've paid good money) the entity providing service must immediately be able to make everything right by them. Airline travel, due to the sheer volume of external factors and an inherently tight operating margin, simply doesn't fit this perfect world model. Airport gates are a highly sought after commodity at busy airports. Stranded passengers get frustrated and think that it's unreasonable that the aircraft doesn't return to the gate. In certain situations where aircraft are unable to take off after leaving the gate, there often times isn't a gate to return to, it having been filled by another aircraft that has just landed. The problem is compounded as aircraft are diverted into that airport from other places. Ultimately, when there's more aircraft loaded with passengers on the tarmac than there are gates, someone's going to be left out in the cold. Simply legislating that an airline must deplane its passengers isn't going to magically make it happen in all cases. But, facing heavy fines, airline decision makers on the ground are likely to do whatever they can to comply, and in so doing push the safety envelope.

Bad decisions are made all the time—as evidenced by many of the incidents driving this movement. Thus far in this story, those errors in judgment have resulted in passengers' discomfort and frustration. When the airlines are pressured to comply with legislation which forces them to get those passengers deplaned, nearly at any cost, safety is likely to become a casualty.10 Bad weather can cause buses to crash, ground crew injuries, and even ground mishaps involving the aircraft themselves. Up until now, the airlines have had the luxury of erring on the side of caution and safety; leaving the planes where they are and nobody gets hurt. And, it's not like the airlines want people to experience these delays. The airlines want what every business wants: your money.

Title 49 of the U.S. Code, which the passenger bill of rights seeks to amend, currently has no provision specifically regulating “Customer Service.”11 H.R. 624 amends Title 49 by adding Subsection IV—Customer Service. While the aviation industry has been regulated as a public utility since 1938, the airlines are still for-profit, competitive businesses. While the industry must be regulated to ensure continuity of operation, the Federal Government is over stepping its mandate by dictating standards of service. If a sufficient quantity of the consuming public is dissatisfied with a certain airline’s handling of a situation so much to the extent that they are unwilling to patronize its services, the airline will suffer financially. As with any other industry, from entertainment to kitchen appliances, poor products and services lead to self-regulation in a competitive environment.

Self correction is written all over this issue. Every time an airline goes through a high profile tarmac delay it raises all manor of bad press. It hurts the airline's reputation, and then directly, its bottom line. Airlines are working hard with airport managers to come up with safe, working contingency plans of their own, but with flexibility that would take a dynamic environment into account. The airlines strive to simply do better. And they will—they can ill-afford to do otherwise. Media fear-mongers would have you believe that without legislation protecting you from the evil airlines, you will very likely face a similar, emotionally stressing airline delay in your immediate future. So, how likely is it?

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were 8,595,278 scheduled passenger domestic flight departures in 2008. Out of all those eight million plus flights, there were 21,379 delayed flights (including both departures and arrivals) that were considered carrier delays, and 1442 extreme weather delays. Delayed flights made up 4.12% of all flights in 2008. Is that not enough to anger the flying population and justify legislation?

Remember, the cause of all this angst isn’t your typical delay of 15 minutes to an hour. We’ve all had to sit through the occasional “Ladies and gentleman, we’re number 42 for takeoff and the runway has been closed”. It’s frustrating, but we get over it. The rage against the machine comes from what people have come to fear from the ‘big press’ incidents where passengers have had to endure very long tarmac delays where most of the passengers believed they are being detained unreasonably, and should be returned to the gate. In 2008, there were only five flights that experienced a tarmac delay in excess of four hours.12 That’s a staggering .000065% of scheduled passenger departures. The passenger bill of rights only stipulates that airlines have to attempt deplaning after a 3 hour tarmac delay if it is safe to do so. What we're talking about here, is trying to solve what is truly an imaginary problem by throwing significant resources at it to make people happy.
The probability that you will experience a flight delay, in a calendar year, from which the passenger bill of rights would protect you are 1,719,055 to 1 against. Your odds are two and a half times greater of winning $10,000 in the Powerball lottery.

The initiative to legislate customer service against the airlines in order assuage the public’s unfounded fears will be of value to neither the flying public, nor the aviation industry. The effort is not only impractical, redundant, and inconsistent with public safety, it is being exerted against a problem so remote in likelihood that it practically doesn’t even exist. But, worst of all, it goes against the very fabric of fair competition and capitalism. The flying public must bear some responsibility as consumers. If you’re going to get on a plane operated by a company that you feel might do this to you, but they have the cheapest fare, you are assuming a measure of risk. You wouldn’t buy the cheapest television set, and then ask the government to step in when it turns out to be a lemon. You get what you pay for.

© Raymond Smith- 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Killing Me Softly

“Crush your enemy, see him driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women.”
--Conan the Barbarian

From the War for Independence through WWII, the United States (or the British Colonies in America) achieved unmitigated victory in every major conflict in which it was a contestant. Granted, some of those wars, while won, are viewed by historians and others as having a negative impact on the country as a whole. They remain military victories; the enemy was defeated, and the war was won on America's terms. Since the second world war, the U.S. (along with most other western nations) has failed to achieve a victory by military means in any single campaign.

What happened? Why can't we win? Korea, Vietnam, The Balkans, Iraq I, Iraq II, Somalia, and Afghanistan have all either ended with no military resolution (us just leaving or agreeing to quit fighting for a while), or are ongoing with no real end in sight—seemingly with no vision of victory. Some say it's due to the evolving nature of our enemy; that it's not the same as it had been in wars of old. While that statement is true to some extent, and is a tactical factor in our current engagements, it doesn't explain the rest of our failures over the last 50 years. The answer is really pretty simple, at least in my mind: We forgot how to win. I don't mean we forgot the tactics. Our military is without a doubt capable of carrying out any objective with which it is charged. We forgot the underlying tenets of victory.

What follows is Little Ray's short list of shit America forgot about winning wars. These are not my ideas. They are old, sometimes ancient truths about the art of war. And they are history-proven.
  1. In it to win it
    If your goal is anything short of an undeniable victory, you shouldn't be involved in the first place. There is no such thing as 'containment'. You can't surgically remove elements of a population/country you deem unsavory. If you're not prepared to delivery a resounding defeat to your enemy, you have no business getting involved at all.
  2. Your enemy is your enemy
    You cannot hold the government of a country as your enemy, but the people of that country as your friend. A government and a people are one and the same. You are either willing to fight your enemy as it is, in its entirety, or you are not. If you are not, you will never win. This notion is hard to swallow, but it is a fact.
  3. Overwhelming force of violence
    You must be willing to bring to your enemy everything you have to win. Bring victory quickly and decisively in such a manner that your enemy was barely able to understand what just happened. Protracted campaigns deplete resources and your population's stomach for war.
  4. Military targets are excellent
  5. Industrial targets are just as good
  6. Collateral damage is a bonus
  7. Civilian targets are the same as military targets
    It sounds cruel, it is cruel, but war is cruel. You must be willing to destroy and diminish any asset your enemy possesses. The destruction of its population, its farms, bridges, government institutions, even universities, and other civilian targets reduce your enemy's ability to make war against you. When no one can eat, there's no power, drinking water, or police in the streets, your enemy is crippled.
  8. Hearts and minds are not relevant
    If you thought you were going to be able to make war on a nation's government, and somehow the people will like you when it's over, you are smoking some really really good shit. Puff puff pass please.
  9. Make sure your allies are of the same mind as yours
    If your friends are only in it with half a heart, they're not doing you any good.

We currently live under the collective delusion that war can be softened—that it can be humane. In fact, that delusion is probably what got us into many conflicts in which we had no business. Would we have fought the wars in Vietnam, or Korea if our goal from the outset was to completely and definitely defeat our enemy? If President Bush had said, “We're going to level Iraq like we did Germany.”, would we have even bothered? We started down the right road in Afghanistan, but backed off before we had completely eradicated anything and everything that was Al Qaeda, and look where we are eight years later. We made ultimatums to Pakistan that they help us or we'd chase the enemy into their lands. They didn't do much, and we didn't really push it.

The undeniable fact is that war is the most sublime example of people at their finest and humanity at its worst. It's ugly—pure and simple, but sometimes it's necessary, and when it is, those who intend to conduct it, need to understand that the benefit had better outweigh the costs. The costs are enumerated above.

If everyone understood and was prepared to execute war in its true manifestation, perhaps we wouldn't have as many.
--Just sayin.



©Raymond Smith- 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Apologia

As we are all aware, America's popularity on the global scene has experienced a perceived setback over the last six to eight years. Many European populations, while their governments continue to support us, flat out don't like us anymore. And why should they? We are clearly responsible for making the Fundi-Muslims mad and therefore causing global terrorism. Our hugungus economy that drives the financial machinations of the entire planet is making every nation on Earth poor. And, if that's not enough, our warmongering military has been the most dominant force, fighting the same wars as the European nations are partially committed to doing very little that they don't tell their people about.

One of President Obama's campaign promises was, and I'm paraphrasing here, was to make the world like us again and turn those frowns upside down—a noble goal, to be sure. It shouldn't be that tough; everyone used to like us before. The French thought we were great when we bled the beaches red to save them from the enemy they sort of tried to fight themselves--kinda. Most of the rest of Europe thought it was really cool that we brought them things like, oh, I don't know, industrialization, human flight, and satellites. Africa seemed to like the big gunny sacks of rice we gave them for free along with some medicine here and there. So how do we get this party started again?

We're sorry.

That's it. Our President, the most powerful person in the free world and leader of the most successful cultural experiment since Adam thought Eve had a nice rack, is gallivanting around the globe, telling throngs of haters that we regret all that was done under Bush, and that, “No, really, we all think like you.” The people who support the President's campaign for America's self image actually think that we should grovel to the world, hat in hand, and beg forgiveness. The perception is that it's working. Well, of course it is. Sure they're going to forgive us, celebrate President Obama, and welcome us back to the fold with open arms. That's how subjugation works. This is how you become everyone's bitch.

While this apologetic love fest seems to be placating the masses, I have another thought that might actually serve us well BEYOND the next year or so. It's actually quite simple, and relies on a very basic concept: bugger 'em.

We The People of the United States have no compunction to say we're sorry for anything. We answer to no higher power than the United States Constitution and the Lord our God! We did the same thing every other nation does every single day: We did what we thought was good for our country and its future at the time. You can argue whether what was done was good or bad all day, but it doesn't change the fact that we don't need permission from anyone to do what we think needs to be done. And as the greatest civilization that has ever existed we shouldn't give a pair of dingo's kidneys what anyone has to say about it.

Where does a 600lb gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to. We need to remind ourselves that we are the 600lb gorilla. If some other nation wants to know why we invaded this, or supported the overthrow of that, our response should be simple: “We wanted to.”

What follows is Little Ray's comprehensive response to the people of other nations that have decided to dislike the USA.

To the people of:

Britain: You are a tiny little island nation with one huge city of foreigners and four trees. Our farmers totally owned your fancy army and kicked you in the nuts, so now you are small when once you were great. You criticize Americans for being fat. Are you kidding? Our obesity problem is so well known only because we are honest about it. There are 14 attractive people born in England each year, and they leave as soon as they can. Sod off.

Netherlands: You don't like us. Wait...how did you even get into this with an opinion? You couldn't even carve out enough land in Europe to grow 8 potatoes and had to pump water out of the ocean and live there—epic fail...now sod off. (nice shoes...fags.)

Belgium: You whine and moan about America's staggeringly awesome armies marching over the globe with impunity. Yeah...about that; how's that Congo treating you? You guys did a great job there. You took it over, left, and now it's only safe to visit if you have an RPG in your handbag. Eat a waffle and sod off.

Germany: I'm going to make this really simple: YOU SHOULD BE THRILLED THAT YOU EVEN EXIST FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! You people are serial warmongers. I can't believe that you can criticize us with a straight face. I invite you to go outside and play hide-and-go-roger yourself.

France: You prattle on about how Americans are xenophobes for not giving every Mexican that ever wielded at leaf blower a free pass to livinla vida loca. At the same time, your once culture rich nation is quickly morphing into Memleka Al Farancia Al Islamia. Here's a tip: It's not a phobia, it's an opinion. At least some people in American understand that diversity equals disunity. Parle vous sod off.

Canada (a.k.a. Kanukistan): Your health care system honks the bo bo. You know it, we know it, and believe me, every pregnant woman in Canada waiting six months for an ultrasound knows it. So, do one of two things: Stop criticizing our health care while at the same time making use of it, or sod off. Actually, just sod off.

Russia: Are you even serious? Your nation is single handedly responsible for three quarters of what is wrong with most of the world and several recently discovered planets. You're like the fuck-up fairy; everything you touch turns to communism and dies. You've distributed more death and misery over a wider swath of terra firma than Ghangis Khan could have if he'd lived to be 400 with the same attitude. Oh, yeah, and making a buddy out of that bat-shit crazy freek job in Venezuela; brilliant. Sod off, comrades.

Africa (I know, you're not a country, but everything south of the Sahara is pretty much the same): All we do is try to help you and all you ever do is poop in our hand. Every man-child over the age of 4 has killed at least three people with a machete. No! Bad! Plant some corn or something for crying out loud. I don't even need to say it.

China: What kind of asshole won't even let their kids play on the Internet? You have like, ONE human right: Everyone has the right to be told what to do. No, we don't want to adopt any more baby girls. I feel I need to point something out to you that you may have missed: Stop making more of you! China is full!

Instead of running around saying we're sorry, we should be reminding the world we will do what we want, when we want, and if you stand in our way we will squash you all flat. This nation is truly great, but we've got to tell that to ourselves, because if we don't, the rest of the world will own us. The word “Apology” comes from the Latin word, “Apologia” which originally meant, “a defense especially of one's opinions, position, or actions.” I guess, in that sense, I'd like to say we're sorry.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great Words from a Great Man

"Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other. "
--Ronald Reagan

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Second Amendment


I'm doing my part. Are you doing yours?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end" -R. J. Wiedemann

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pimp My Ride

I'm just going to start this one off with the topic sentence from CNN's article:

“The federal government may suspend its $1 billion Cash for Clunkers program after less than a week over concerns that the plan may have already burned through its funds”

So, just give me a couple of seconds while I don my surprised look. Ah, there we are. Let me get this straight; the Federal Fraternal Order of the Magna Cum C-Average that is our Department of Transportation launched a program to shell out a finite amount of money to people with crappy cars, and were shocked to discover that the $1B they allocated only lasted a week.

Well. No shit. Go figure people will actually accept free money for a car they were going to get rid of anyway. This is probably the right time to implode the DOT.

This was their plan: They thought that if they gave people a credit for trading in a high mileage old car and buy a new one, that they would pull 1.2 metric ass-loads of gas guzzlers off the highway and save Mother Earth from the clutches of carbon strangulation. Whoever came up with this has to be clinically retarded. If this cranius magnamus was running hurdles in the Special Olympics he'd have a lot of bruises just above his knees. (Don't bother dressing me down for being insensitive. 'Retard' is one of my favorite words)

The threshold for what constitutes a planet killing perambulator is any vehicle that gets 18 miles to the gallon or less. Logically enough, any car that gets 18.1 MPG or more, is safe for children to respire directly from the exhaust pipe. So, you can trade in your 1995 POS that gets 17 MPG and walk out with a brand new planet friendly vehicle of peace that gets 19 MPG and $4500 extra in your pocket.

Let's work this out. If the average pay out is $4000, the program would pay out on a total of 250,000 vehicle trade-ins. (Whew, I can divided by four) Of course, that's being a bit generous, since there also has to be a budget to pay for the administration of the program; a program slated to run until November. (remember this is the government, if they hired staff and leased office space for a program of record through November, that bill will not change if the program ends in a week.) That administration will run nearly a quarter of a billion itself. So, these idiots are patting themselves on the back for spending $1.25B dollars to save 250,000 people (out of a population of 300M) about 10% on a new car they were already going to buy in an effort to save 4 MPG each. Just to be clear, That's $1.25B of YOUR money.

According to Rep Candice Miller (R-MI), "This is simply the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spent during the entire economic downturn."

That, right there, sums up the sadness of this myopic misadventure in government rescue better than any further words I could offer.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I am The Sun!


Situated sublimely under a soothing state of hydrostatic equilibrium in one of the more rural subdivisions of the western arm of one of the more or less pedestrian barred spiral galaxies, you'll find what is probably a run of the mill planetary system. This system is unique, at least in the sense that it is the only system known to its inhabitants to contain inhabitants capable of knowing that they are inhabitants in fact inhabiting it. Up until a couple of years ago there were nine planets. More recently, and through no fault of its own, the runt of the litter was downgraded to a 'dwarf planet' (Apparently a blob of floating rock and ice is required to be more massive that Michael Moore to be considered an actual planet).

Each planet, while vastly different from one another in almost every respect, is exactly the right size to suit its distance from the Sun so that it is able to maintain a more or less circular ellipse around its governing body—the Sun. The Sun is exactly the right size to exert just enough influence on its orbiting subjugates to keep them bound in a not too confining framework which allows them the freedom to further subjugate their respective moons and rings as they see fit, but keeps them from smashing into each other and bringing the whole system down in a cataclysmic orgasm of hydrogen, carbon and puppies. If the Sun were to be any smaller, the planets would secede from the system and drift to another after smashing through the Oort Cloud like a 95 year-old plowing his Plymouth through a Florida flea market. If it were any larger, they would all be pulled into warm, gooey center, kicking and screaming as they were swallowed up by their hegemonic blast furnace of an overlord.

You can probably see where I'm going with this.

The U.S. Constitution, the study of which now takes second chair to that of the evolution of homosexual platypi, gives Congress specific powers called 'Enumerated Powers'. These include the authority to levy taxes, provide for the common defense, build post offices, and a few others, many of them obsolete like shaving the Indians or something. Anything that falls outside of those enumerated powers are not for the Federal Government to act upon. Think: No! Not yours! Put those powers down! To hammer this point home, the last amendment in the Bill of Rights addresses the issue specifically to keep socialist nut bars from ruining everything 203 years down the road.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

So, I ask you this: How is it that we now try to meander our lives through and around over 200,000 federal laws? And that's not even counting 'regulations', which aren't laws, but act like laws. (Regulations, like 'Executive orders' are an end-around to give the executive branch an avenue to legislate even though that is expressly forbidden in the constitution). According to the Office of the Federal Register, in 1998, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the official listing of all regulations in effect, contained a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes that claimed 19 feet of shelf space. In 1970, the CFR totaled only 54,834 pages. And that's 21 YEARS ago.

If the intended size of the federal book of law were represented by a brine shrimp, our current brine shrimp would be the size of Godzilla's big, fat, conjoined-twin older step brothers after having eaten every tourist in Tokyo.

The Senate, this week, is proposing a Federal ban on driving while texting. Now, I will be the first to stand up and say that it should be illegal to do anything other than drive while driving. But, that's what the States are for. They can legislate that for themselves. While this particular encroachment seems trivial, it's just another brick in the wall. The miscreation that is the D.C. Beltway has its tentacles wrapped around every facet of your lives—from cradle to grave. Washington pushes the States around like Andre the Giant V. that little fat guy that hated rhyming in 'The Princess Bride'. (I know that those to characters did not actually co-mingle in a violent manner in the movie, so don't bother pointing that out...I'm just saying) Did you know there are federal laws that dictate the setup of the restroom in your home?

So how do they get away with it? It's called the 'Commerce Clause'. One of the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 states that congress can regulate trade among foreign nations and among the several states. That power has been construed over and over again to mean that congress can regulate anything it wants with impunity. Here's how, and this is a beautiful piece of spin: Since there's basically nothing at all, be it human, animal, mineral, noun, or verb that can take place without somehow being affected by something that was bought or sold, either something physical or a service, across State lines; every act you can think of can and will be regulated by the federal government under the Interstate Commerce Clause. For further reading look up 'The Heart of Atlanta Hotel V. The United States, 1964. Believe it or not, civil rights falls under Interstate Commerce—and apparently, so does BBQ.

The Sun has swollen. It's going to swallow the Solar System, which...probably explains global warming.

Text ©Raymond Smith- 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

All the King's Men

“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
--George Orwell

In the late 1700’s, a motley collection of disgruntled landowners, businessmen, and learned whatchamdoodles, collectively generated a simple concept of government that kicked off the social experiment that would become what is now an oligarchic clusterfuck of self-aggrandization.

How’s that for a thesis statement?

That construct, which can only be viewed in our new-world history books by looking out of the corner of your eye at that little cleft between the pages, was this: Smart, successful, dedicated patriots, wired-in to the needs of their respective state constituents, would take a leave of absence from their livelihoods to perform a sacred and honored civic duty in government—temporarily. Ultimately, they would serve for as long as their respective enterprises could coast without them, then they would return to work as printers, farmers, cobblers, milk tycoons, and of slave whipping. Then, someone else would take the honor, head to the Capitol and spend a few years bickering with the haughty malcontents from other states over which former colony gets to take what quantity lands from what Indians. These were people who had worked hard to succeed by their individual merits and had become experts at running things. They were plantation owners, scholars, business owners, and generally employers of many. They were the people who knew how to get things done in life, lead others, and were the most able to lend some of their experience to government. They were truly forming a government ‘of the people’. Granted, it was a government of the 'rich' people, but would you have really wanted an illiterate candle maker's apprentice trying to argue an amendment?

So, what happened?

A few weeks ago, Senator Barbra Boxer, (D) CA, while inappropriately dressing down a respected military General Officer, summed it up with all the elegance and subtlety of a charging herd of retarded triceratops. When she didn’t like the General addressing her as ‘Ma’am’ instead of ‘Senator’, she said “…I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it…” It’s all about her. And she’s not alone…that’s the real problem.

Political office is now a career. Congress is no longer a place of humble service, but a crystal palace where the elite and power-hungry clamber to attain supremacy over the proletariat. They believe themselves to be our royal family. Every single member of congress (that includes the Senate) thinks he or she is better than you—more entitled than you. They have forgotten that they are public servants.

The salary for a congressman in 1790 was $6.00 per day, only paid for actual days spent in legislative session. Today we pay them $174,000 annually. While the value of $6 in 1970 would be about $137.00 today, a member of congress would have to work 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year to earn $35620 by TODAY’S money! In fact, congress is actually in session for an average of only 136 days a year (average of the years 2005-2008), which means that if we paid them at the same rate as we did in 1790, adjusted for inflation, they would each get $18632.00 per year (average). But wait, there’s more. If you happen to be so fortunate to be a leading member of the House or Senate, say, Speaker of the House for example, your annual salary minus all the extra perks would be $223,000. Let’s see, times that by 42, umm, carry the one and divide by zero…scratch my head; that’s $1627.00 PER DAY.

There's also campaign moneys that they get to keep and free foreign and domestic travel. They get a personal staff allowance to hire up to 18 people, but $75000.00 (per year, remember) of that can be used for 'other purposes'. They get an expense allowance which is somehow different than the other stuff. Oh, and don't forget Franking Privilege: the perquisite allowing them to mail anything to anyone for free. Now, that doesn't seem like a big deal, but when they're up for re-election, guess who's footing the bill for all those pamphlets in your mail box!

So, why did we pay them so little back then? It was a temporary side duty from the professions that actually made/kept them wealthy. It was like jury duty only they got to say 'Mr. President' and 'filibuster' a lot. Remember, they didn't really need the compensation. These people were already well off. With congressional duty not salivated over as a lucrative cash piggy, the job really only attracted those who really wanted to do the work. It wasn't going to make you rich, or powerful, or even famous.

Without using your Google, can you name a few congressmen from the 3rd Congress of the United States? And no, Ted Kennedy wasn't in office then, though it seems like it.

So these people are what they are but it's not their fault that the government is spilling over with their ilk. The problem is this: The American voter has lost its collective mind. While a large portion of this population used to research congressional candidates and really vote on their merits (and yes, you'd have to go back a ways to find when that really was), today, we vote for basically two kinds of candidates: The one that promises us free shit, and the one we saw in a movie once. Focusing on the later; we deify the famous to the point that we actually think that someone who is well known for entertaining is somehow more qualified to steer national policy than their more professional contender.

There is no other debatable explanation for Al Franken, Sony Bono, Gopher from 'The Love Boat', or Jesse Ventura.

Once in office, be they from the free shit side or the 'you might remember me from...' side, we treat them like royalty. We pamper them. We let them get away with behavior that would land any of the rest of us either out of a job or in jail. We look the other way when they don't pay their taxes. We think it's okay that they are so detached from the people they represent that they have no chance of really representing them. We simply don't care that 100% of the members of our government are deciding ways to spend our great great grand children's money on things that don't even effect them personally! They don't need universal health care, social security, or a better economy. They're right in the center of the greatest self-licking ice cream cone in history. We have no compunction whatsoever, as voters, to letting these people continue to suckle America's tit and then tell us how make a budget and get a job.

Members of Congress believe they are better than us because we keep telling them they are. Unless we stop believing it, they never will.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Wrath of Summanus

The people of the industrialized world are level-headed, logical, and cogitative in nature. They are seldom prone to being hoodwinked by hokum, and rarely give in to media fear-mongering. Just kidding; they’re largely mouth breathing lemmings that will believe anything the dear leader or the boob tube proffers as truth.

The lead story this morning on CNN.com consisted of the following headline: Climate Killing 300,000 a year. It goes on to clarify that 99% of the innocent victims of Al Gore’s cataclysmic juggernaut live (or used to live) in developing (previously called ‘Third World’) countries; where the climate is killing people through malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria. To quote ‘The Simpsons’, “That’s some fine police work there Lou.”

Faulty logic:

Apes descended from primitive primates. Man descended from primitive primates. Ergo, Man is an ape.

All the citizens of Piraeus are Greek. All the citizens of Athens are Greek. Therefore, all the citizens of Piraeus are Athenians.

A rise in global temperatures could kill people. People in third world countries are dying. Ergo, Global Warming is killing them.

People in ‘developing’ nations have been dying from the aforementioned maladies since Moses starting flinging frogs and grasshoppers around like his personal WMDs. This is nothing new. When was there NOT a famine in Africa, malaria in South America, or dysentery in, well, pretty much everywhere people bathe, pee, and drink from the same 30x60 pond used by exotic herd beasts for the same purposes?

Didn’t you hear? Global Warming causes basically everything. It caused Hurricane Katrina. Without climate change, there is no way that a sub-par storm, common to the region, would have been able to flood a city built below sea-level and spooning with one of the most active hurricane lanes on the planet. GW is responsible for the record freezing winter in North Dakota, Black bears wondering the streets of New Jersey, and drift of the Earth’s magnetic pole. You could probably make an argument that GW caused the Hubble Telescope to break down.

The people in third world countries are dying because they have had the misfortune of being born within cultures that teach them the fundamentals of not doing anything whatsoever to better their condition. We call them ‘developing’ countries. That word implies a certain degree of progress. If they are developing, and have been for all this time, when are they going to be developed? If I am ‘building’ a sand castle, eventually, in some form, it will graduate to ‘built’. These countries aren’t developing. They’re languishing away, intent on going nowhere. The laundry list of 'why' and 'who's to blame' is longer than, well, a very long thing, but Global Warming isn't on it.

That sad thing is that as more and more people buy-in to the smoke and mirrors of this sort of misguided displacement of causality, fewer and fewer will devote resources and efforts to avert the real underlying ailments of the third world. Reducing greenhouse gas output in California is not going to impede the spread of HIV. Driving a hybrid car isn’t going to teach contemporary farming techniques to the over-populated masses. Carbon offsets are not going stop a war-lord in in the Congo from devouring his nation like Saturn, gobbling up his children. It's easier to blame the public enemy.

If this were the late 50's, we'd be blaming the whole thing on the spread of communism. Check this out; from the article, I'll replace references to Global Warming with 'communism'.

The first comprehensive report into the human cost of communisim warns that
the world is in the throes of a "silent crisis" that is killing 300,000 people each year

More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual spread of communism and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global
humanitarian Forum warns.

"This is one of the reasons why I've described communism as all encompassing," he told CNN. "This threat to our health, this threat to food production, this threat to security. It raises political tensions, it will have people on the move -- and they are on the move -- and many more which will bring tensions."

So, grab your torches and pitchforks! There's nothing so wrong in the world that can't be cured by a panic stricken mob that will listen to anything that is presented to it. By the time we're done slaying this dragon to save the children of Zaire, we will have effectively sealed their fate. We will regulate out all types of industry that patronize production from the developing nations. We won't buy goods from this country or that one because of new import restrictions against countries that don't mandate X limits on greenhouse gasses. You think they're starving now? Wait until EVERY paltry industry they have is no longer marketable in the west because of our crusade against carbon.

But, don't worry. If there's anyone left after ten years that climate change hasn't murder death killed, we'll be blaming something else; probably the decaying orbit of the Moon.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where's My Pizza

The world is a tough place right now, especially for Americans. With the Economic Down-turn, recession, depression, homeopathic decrease in commerce, or whatever you want to call it, the War on Terror (A.K.A 'the global struggle against those less fortunate who just need a hug), Global Warming, or Climate Change, Swine Flu, HIV, and the battle over gay marriage, Americans are having to struggle like never before to make their way in this world. As we ply our blood sweat and tears on the road to the American dream, we are ever watchful for traps and dead-falls lying in wait to snatch that dream from our grasp. There are school shootings, missing cute white girls, collapsing bridges, and crashing construction cranes. The world is truly a perilous place to navigate these days.

I did it! I actually made it through that paragraph with a straight face.

America, today, is really an amazing place. Life here is really easy. Life here is really fun. We have it better here than anyone else, anywhere else, anywhen else. (I know there's no such word as 'anywhen', but I liked it to go with the other two.) Never before in the history of the world has a newborn child faced such a high probability of a long and productive life. There are problems, but those problems are minutia contrasted against the veritable cornucopia of goodness that surrounds us.

I am hungry. I can solve that problem with embarrassingly little effort. I don't have to leave my hovel with a club, or a spear to find some unsuspecting doe-eyed creature to skewer. There's a great likelihood that there's leftover food in my fridge, if not, I can cook some of the pre-skewered dead animal pieces in my freezer. If I find that to be more work than a spartan like me should be made subject, I can have someone bring food to my house in less time than it takes to lace up a pair of wolf-skin boots. I honestly don't remember the last time I had to literally reap anything that I had sewn. In fact, it's been so long, that I don't even remember how to do either of those tasks. If I need something reapable, I go to the grocery store and bring it home in a recycled plastic bag with holes in it that prevent stupid crotch fruit from suffocating when they put it on their heads. If I don't have any money in my pocket, I can have it anyway. The stores knows my credit card will give them the money in two to three business days. I don't even have to work very hard to earn the money to get the food. I have to spend about 3 minutes at my desk to earn enough money to buy a hamburger.

I need a house. What are my options? I could dig a hole in the side of an embankment. I could start cutting down trees to construct a log cabin. It would take a while, so in the mean time I can live in a tent. I'll just build the one room at first so my family of six has a roof over their heads. (I'd have a family of six because it's likely two of them won't live past the age of four). I could grow a bunch of grass, and then cut sod to stack up and make a house. Heck, I could even gather a metric ass-load of rocks and glue them together with some sticky mud. Or, I could sit back, relax, and remind myself that it's not 1649 and just move into a 2500 sq/ft ready-built multi room PALACE. This place is great! The floors are soft. The water just plops out of a tube in the kitchen (no running to the well with a bucket for this guy!) The house heats itself, cools itself and lights itself. Need hot water? Twist the other knob—this is great! Oh...oh...and here's the best part: I can poop IN the house, and no one will go running out into the night.

I don't feel well. This could be bad. I have a pain in my belly—low and right. No problem, I'll send Alexis to fetch the doctor. He'll put some leeches on me to suck the evil spirits out and make the pain go away. When that doesn't work he'll tell my wife that it's in God's hands now. God is only interested in doing one thing with you once you're in his hands; you're done. If I actually lived in that time, my family would not even EXIST! Diana would have died from appendicitis in high school, and I probably wouldn't have survived my sick gall bladder. It wasn't all that far back in the annals of history that surgery was basically: 'Ew, that looks gross, let's cut that off.' If you were lucky you lived through the infection you picked up from the surgical tools because the surgeon wasn't even aware of the existence of germs. I'm no historian, but I'm reasonably certain that cases of elective surgery during the Civil War were extremely uncommon. Today, in America, you could have something unpronounceably wrong with your subcutaneous dobsosloptoid, and a team of doctors adroitly wielding a laser actuated, robot assisted, optically enhanced proswaid swathermistic incisomatic will fix it up in a jiffy—and someone else will pay for it.

I want to talk to my long lost cousin. No problem; where's that bottle of ink? Let's see, I'll just pluck a feather from this turkey I keep out behind the house. I have plenty of time to write the letter since the postmaster doesn't come through these parts for another four days. I'm in Maryland, and he's out on the frontier in the Washington Territory, so it'll be at least six months before I should expect a response. I might be able to speed the process up just a little bit. I'll scan my parchment into my computer as a .PDF file, attach it to and e-mail, bounce it off a few satellites and my cousin can read it in about 3.4 seconds. Nah, screw that, it's too much work. I'll just call his cell phone.

I could go on and on with these. If I need to be somewhere that I'm not, I could drive my awesome red truck which can carry me, four other people, and a 1000lbs of my amazing stuff 500 miles in a single day. Need to go farther? Let's not discount the miracle that is human flight. I'll say that again: Human...flight. People can fly, and we can haul ass doing it too! How can you complain about the in-flight peanuts when YOU'RE FLYING THROUGH THE AIR like some crazy-ass superhero straight out of awesome land!

We know everything. There is so much information available to you at any given second that those who supply it actually run out of interesting information to present. Would Ben Franklin have been printing stories about the Octomom? Well, he might have, but it would have been just once, not every pamphlet for 10 weeks. You want to know how to a cow's utter works? How about finding the answer to the age old question, “What's that hangy downy thing in the back of my mouth?” Click, click, click, and there you go. The free exchange of information today is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Instead of casting a cloud of despair over life, the universe, and everything, Americans need to relax for a minute. Walk into your kitchen and mix some really neat pink powder with water. Pull a few ice cubes out of the ice maker machine that you don't understand, and make a nice cold drink. Next, grab a bag of dried corn that someone else was kind enough to farm and package for you and throw it in the microwave. Give the Magic Chef four minutes to bombard your corn with radio waves and you've got a greasy, buttery snack to go with your cold drink. Now, take your feast into the living room, sit down in front of your plasma television (another amazing marriage of nature and science) and watch a two-hour story acted out for you with a music soundtrack and stored on a disk made of the derivatives of oil (squirted out of the ground) and then etched with a laser. But, before the opening credits role, take a minute to remind yourself just how cool it is to live in the time we do, and how much cooler it's going to get before your surgeon gives up.

The world is truly amazing.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Turd in the Water Pipe

Some folks at work and I were talking the other day about how well the Roman Empire would have faired were it to be ran by the U.S. Air Force. Precipitate to that conversation, what follows is my account of the construction of the Roman Aqueducts under the governance of the USAF.

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The issue was raised in a weekly staff meeting that Rome would likely flourish more rapidly if it were to benefit from an increase to its water supply. The commanding, Legatus legionis (LL) agreed with the finding in principle, and commissioned Legio III to form a task force dedicated to the project. The task force would be ultimately responsible for the success of the Aqueducts and was given a time line for completion of L years.

The task force (TF), which spent the first VI months debating the name of the project (later settled as 'Project Aquaeductus') assigned Legio V/A-VI as the Headquarters-level System Management Office (SMO) which would have the responsibility of assigning specific tasks to various stake holders and reporting back to the TF. Enthusiastically, the new SMO divvied out responsibilities as follows: Legio I would be the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) for material acquisition. Legio IV was OPR for manpower. Legio VII had the stick for the budget. Legio II had to pull double duty as both the Subject Matter Expert (SME) and OPR for Plans and Engineering (PE) and Research and Development (RD). Other OPRs would be generated on an as needed basis.

Progress report; Anum XVI from program standup:
The Staff Summary Sheet (SSS), authored by L-VII/A-V requesting monies from the Senate has been in staffing for a number of years. The latest status report revealed that there were disagreements over specific verbiage when the papyrus landed on the desks of the Senate office of Oversight and Compliance. The SSS has been sent back to the originator with additional suggestions in the comment matrix.

The Concept of Operations (CONOP) drafted by L-VIII/A-III, (later OPR added under 'Operations') which details exactly how the program will execute at the technical level, has been on hold for a number of years waiting for technical data from L-II, which has as yet, not been able to finalize the design of the structure. L-II has cited numerous setbacks, primarily problems obtaining specs from stone vendors.

While the program is still in its infancy, L-IV has been criticized by the TF for its overzealous execution of manpower. As the OPR, L-IV reported at the last staff meeting that fully MMMMCMXCIX x MXX slaves from IX provinces were assembled and ready for the task. At this time, they are being employed on 'casual' status until such time as Aqueductus construction begins.

Progress report; Anum XL from program standup:
XII years after the contract for construction was awarded to Booz-Allen-Roma (BAR), the contract has fallen back into re-compete before a single stone has been placed. The contract had been awarded while the SSS remained in staffing—preventing the actual embarkation of the project. The SMO had originally looked at sole sourcing the construction, but lawsuits from various contractors over unfair competition forced the TF to engage in the lengthy contract competition process.

During the latest staff meeting, L-II identified a disagreement between the CONOP and manpower data. While L-IV had supplied an ample number of slaves, there would be insufficient trained masons among the work force according to the Annex IX, Appendix D of the CONOP. The TF and the SMO decided that it would be more cost effective to train masons from among the slaves than to attempt to acquire them from the elsewhere. L-II/A-IV was immediately assigned OPR from the development of a training plan and syllabus.

While the Senate had approved the funding of the project, the money still had not been allocated to the TF for execution. The Action Officer (AO) from L-VII reported that, contrary to popular understanding, it was not L-VII/X-XI's 'to do' to submit the Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request (MIPR) to the Senate Budge Comptroller's office because they were only the Office of Collateral Responsibility (OCR), vice OPR where money transfers were concerned. L-VII/X-IV, being the actual OPR should be picking up that duty.

Progress report; Anum LV
V years overdue, the program is ready to begin construction. BAR lost the contract during re-compete, but managed to regain it following a lawsuit, in which BAR claimed that it had been prepared to execute its previous contract in good faith. The SSS has been approved, though there remain several disagreements among AOs. The CONOP, which had been approved for over XX years, was finally been looked at by the TF SMO office, which didn't realize that an approved CONOP no longer required them as a signatory.

IV days before breaking ground, L-IV AO brought up in the weekly staff meeting that the date for construction had not been socialized with L-IV, and as a consequence, LXXV percent of the manpower had been reassigned to Project Via Appia. The AO also pointed out that L-II/A-IV had never appointed anyone as either AO, OPR, or SME for the development of Techniques, Tasks, and Procedures (TTPs), and that without validated TTPs, any courseware for training masons would be invalid and lead to a finding of 'non-compliant' during the upcoming Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI).

Construction was then slipped VI years to the right while TTPs were reconciled.

Progress report; Anum LXX
Project Aqueductus has been halted pending investigation by the Senate Oversight Committee (SOC). The inquest is expected to take X years.

©Raymond Smith- MMIX

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Global Warming Killed My Dingo

What are the signs of the apocalypse? I think there's famine, pestilence, a lot of wars, some horsemen, and the fact that someone at some point has had sex with Michael Moore. There are splinter groups everywhere that believe many of these signs have happened or are happening, but there's one sign no one saw coming. Thankfully I'm here to point it out. There is a bill being considered by Congress right now that contains a provision that will allow people to sue the government or businesses if they believe they are victims of...wait for it...wait for it...Global Warming.

The bill, authored by the bat-shit crazy House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and the functionally retarded Rep. Edward J Markey, Massatwoshits Democrat, sets grounds for anyone "who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part," to government inaction to file a "citizen suit." The term "harm" is broadly defined as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring." So, if you think Global Warming has hurt you, or that it will hurt you, you can make a case that it's the government's or some company's fault and sue.

Well, doesn't that just take the biscuit. I knew our society had 'progressed' to a state where people were willing to push blame for just about anything onto just about anybody, but a willingness to blame the government for the Earth's bodily functions is just embarrassing. Even the whack-a-doodle, fear mongering heralds of climate woe will tell you that the human effect on the climate was the fault of just about everybody on Earth and goes back to the beginning of the industrial age. Under this mentality, who can I sue if I build my house at the foot of a volcano? Who's fault is it if I stand in front of a slow-moving glacier (presumably with a sack-lunch) and let it slowly squish me? How about if I stand in the middle of a frozen lake and wait for spring. (again, a couple sandwiches are probably required)

You know what, I want to sue the government because I feel they did not adequately prepare the landscape of the Continental United States to most effectively support a large population following the widespread damage caused by the last ice age. Clearly 'they' were aware that glaciers had flollopped around the Northwest, carving this, and pulverizing that. Where was the Army Corps of Engineers on that one? I am a victim of post-facto climate change!

Just the idea of someone calling themselves a victim of global warming makes me what to grab some welfare father of seven and choke the ever-loving shit out him just to make myself feel better. People are desperate to label themselves a victim of something. That's not new, but now we're going to give the useless victim-pushers Carte Blanche to splay themselves on the alter of martyrdom for ANYTHING. Because, in case you didn't notice EVERYTHING is caused by Global Warming, and the U.S. Government, under President Bush, single-handedly and purposefully created Global Warming because it would lead to aids and kill black people.

Hurricane Katrina was caused by it. That hurricane season, which was actually a very light season, was originally predicted to be a season of unprecedented hurricane numbers and ferocity due to GW. When it ended up becoming and abnormally light season, that too, was because of GW. You get a lot of storms, it's caused by global warming, you don't get any, the lack is clearly caused by climate change. El Niño (Which is Spanish for 'The Niño') was caused by GW, as was that that bitch of a sister, La Niña. Other incidents confirmed to be caused by GW include: The recent earthquakes in Italy, the global economic crisis, the Tsunami, Texas and California wild fires, record snowfall in Fargo, the L.A. Riots, recent tornadoes touching down in a place coincidently known as 'Tornado Alley', Man-bear-pig, the Taliban, the existence of the Sahara Desert, Somali Piracy, and the disappearance of some blonde chick in Aruba. If this bill passes, I'm going to sue Rodney King because I think it rains too much in Maryland. There's a connection if you're willing to find it.

Whatever happens to you in life, before you call a lawyer, remember this piece of wisdom brought to us by Mr. Dennis Leary: "Life sucks, wear a helmet"

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Arm and Hammer

“Those who do not live by the sword may still die upon it.” -J. R. R. Tolkien

A couple of days ago, a mother in Pittsburgh woke up and became angry because her grown son's dog peed on the floor. She and her grown son, whom lives with her, got into an argument over it, and she decided he should move out. During the heat of the argument, she called the police to assist. Three officers responded to the domestic disturbance call expecting to settle a quarrel between a mother and son. When the mother let them into to the house, the son shot all three officers to death. A stand-off with police ensued. After dozens of rounds were fired from and into the house, the son was injured in the ankle and gave up. Many horrifying questions are still emerging from this horrific spectacle of depraved indifference. The craziest thing about it to me is simple: How did this thing go from dog pee to shooting officers in so short an order? But, others are asking different questions.

The ass-jockey doing the shooting was using a semi-automatic (civilian grade) variant of an AK-47, commonly available throughout most of the United States. An individual with no criminal history, or that of mental instability can purchase one after a several day waiting period and an FBI background check. Many people are asking: How is it that a guy discharged from the Marines for emotional issues was able to buy a gun like that? Why are guns like that legal to buy in the first place? If he had owned a different kind of gun this wouldn't have been as bad, right? With so much gun-related crime in the United States, isn't it about time we took a good hard look at tighter controls on the types of firearms people can get; wouldn't that prevent, or help to prevent so much violence? Okay, that's a valid concern, let's take a look at it.

First of all, let's get some perspective. I remember when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in the 1980's. Seven astronauts were killed, summarily honored as heroes, and a nation mourned. That same day, thousands of other fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters died in violent and painful ways across the country. It is in our nature to throw both our sympathy and our rage against that which is most sensational. The media has a pretty long-standing tradition of telling us what's the most sensational. Remember that the media (this would be a good time to pull out your shocked expression) doesn't report every violent crime in the country each day. So, keep in mind; every time you see a day-long running news story about any heart-wrenching shooting, that there were roughly another 50 murders and 3800 other violent crimes that day.

So, how does one legally acquire such a weapon? It's really not that hard. First you have to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 to $1800 on hand depending on how fancy you want your evil black rifle (EBR) to be. You have to have never been convicted of a felony, be able to prove that you've not been under significant psychiatric care in the recent past. You cannot currently be a defendant in a criminal proceeding, a habitual drunkard, a fugitive from justice, under 21, addicted to a controlled substance, ever been confined for more than 30 days for mental reasons, and a few other restrictions. If all of that is clean, you can pay for your gun. The dealer will call a special phone number and run your social security number against the FBI database. This is your background check. Once that's done, a document of transfer is done up, noting the serial number and make of the gun, and the name of the dealer who sold it to you. The dealer keeps a copy and it becomes public record. Now, all you have to do is wait 7-10 days for the transfer to be 'cleared' and you can go back to the dealer and take home your brand new, sparkley EBR. It doesn't seem like a lot to have to go through, but remember; for all of that do happen, you have to have maintained a pretty spotless record and been a pretty good kid for a very long time. The way the Feds see it, if you've been able to keep your nose that clean for that long, you're probably not looking to start a crime spree anytime soon.

So, if we kept people from getting these guns, how many innocent lives would be saved? According to a study, roughly 1.7% of crimes involving firearms involved an assault rifle [David B. Kopel]. Approximately 10% of violent crimes (not necessarily resulting in death) are committed involving a gun. From different sources, the homicide rate in the United States oscillates around approximately 6 homicides per year, per 100,000 people. There are roughly 303M people in the country, so, let's see, dived by, umm, carry the one, umm, the remainder, that's roughly 18000 homicides a year. Two thirds of the homicides were committed with a firearm, so that's 11880, so 201 people, on average, are killed each year by an assault rifle. So if we ban the sale of assault rifles, and assume that all the ones already out there will never be used in a crime, we will save 201 lives a year. Oh, wait, we said innocent lives. Two thirds of the people killed by gunfire each year are criminals being killed by other criminals, so now we're down to 66 people. Now consider that the last assault rifle ban only restricted guns from having any combination of more than two of the following: pistol grip, flash suppressor, and semi-automatic. So even under that ban, you could buy a semi-auto EBR with no flash suppressor, as long as it wasn't a carbine (shortened barrel), and didn't come with a magazine capacity of more than 10 (you just bought bigger mags on the Internet). So even if none of these guns kill anyone, I'm sure whoever really doesn't like those last 66 people will probably buy a shotgun and do the job anyway. They were all bastards anyway. Fuck 'em!

Keep in mind that half of the homicides are committed using hand guns. So, should we take these away as well? I could throw another bunch of digits up, but I think you know where we're going to end up. How many lives would we save by banning all guns? There's always this argument floating around that 80% of gun related crimes are committed by people unlawfully possessing a firearm. That argument is typically twisted into the understanding that it's illegal guns in the hands of perps. This is sort of true, and sort of not. The question to be answered is: how do the perps illegally obtain the guns? Well, most of them are a product of what's called the straw purchase. That is where someone who cannot legally obtain a weapon, either through a friend, relative, or bribed stranger, gets someone who can legally buy one to do so on their behalf. So, to be fair in this cogitative journey, it is reasonable to say that if you outlawed the legal sale of arms, you would seriously hamper the sale of illegal ones as well. But, would you stop the violent crime and homicides? I'm guessing it's reasonable to suspect that most people who want someone living to be less than living use the guns because it's easy, but they would use something else in a pinch. I could just see gangsters in LA capping each other with golf clubs. That would be cool.

Oh yeah, one more statistic before I press on: Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 millions crimes per year. Every day, 550 rapes, 1100 murders, and 5200 other violent crimes are prevented just by showing a handgun. In less than 0.9% of the time is the gun actually fired. [Gary Kleck, Criminologist, Florida State University]

So, we're not likely to really accomplish much by banning ARs. Okay, but what is there to say about the uselessness of these weapons? Many critics of assault rifles simply state that since these guns have only one purpose, and that of killing people, there is no reason for anyone to have them. I guess that depends on what you consider a valid reason. Some people like them to shoot at firing ranges. If you like shooting, there's nothing more entertaining that shredding a paper target emblazoned with the likeness of Bernie Madoff, or Rosie O'Donnell with 30 rounds of rapid fire 7.62x39 or .223. (almost got a boner just there) Other people like them for home defense. Heck, some people even hunt with them. In many states, depending on what you're hunting, it's perfectly legal. Though, if you live in Mississippi, I think hunting involves a lot more spatula to pavement than bullet to Bambi. But there is one use that these critics can't see because it's hidden in plain site: assault rifles are useful for killing people. Huh? That's right. I said it. A perfectly valid utility for any tool is its intended purpose. The assault rife was meant to assault. Oh yeah, and nothing enhances a penis more than a 30 round banana clip poking out of a machine gun. It is also worth mentioning that one cannot eat tofu or sushi around something as raw and brawny as an assault rifle...but I digress.

The second amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, in part: “...the right to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed.” What part of the word 'infringe' is giving scholars such a dance around the pantry? There has been no end to the debate over many decades as to how to interpret this simple lexicographical juggernaut. And herein lies the problem. It's a simple statement, written to ensure a simple concept, by men who had just finished casting off their oppressors by force of arms. It doesn't need to be “interpreted”, or “interpolated”, “gisted”, “clarified”, “construed”, or paraphrased. And it doesn't take a historian to look into the annals (I said annal, not anal) of the past and see our founding father's intent behind it. Remember, these people just held a regime in check because they had weapons. They believed that no government would be able to rule tyranny over a populace so well armed. They weren't thinking about target practice, or 'sport'. They didn't use guns for sport. They used Indians for sport (everybody knows that). They used guns to turn happy, frolicking animals into tasty dead ones. They also used them to defend their homes, families, and communities. They expected you to do the same. Our government may have fighter planes, tanks, and a standing army, but it would be no match for even 1/3 of this countries population armed with rifles. (note: since I'm still part of that standing army, hold the revolution until after I retire, and don't take away my pension if you're successful...I'm just saying.) Killing people is not only a capability of firearms, it's a feature! The threat of it is part of the fabric of this nation. The greatness of this nation is no better demonstrated than by the fact that we are neither ruled nor governed. And guns are what maintain this status quo.e

Now get out there, do your civic duty, and arm yourselves!

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Apathy of Memory

After Sept 11, America experienced a surge of patriotism. Flags were everywhere, French Fries were being called 'Freedom Fries', people on the street desperately tried to remember the words to the Star Spangled Banner. People really came together with a common pain and a common drive to make a stand as Americans. The tempo of that fervor was naturally temporary in nature. That's to be expected, but I didn't expect people to purge the whole thing from their minds so quickly and completely. It's like a double amputee who gets kicked in the nuts by a mugger who steals one of his wooden legs, and then a couple of weeks later, sees him at his AA meeting and is like, "Hey man, yeah, no, no, don't worry about it. It's my fault. I shouldn't have been there. Can I give you a foot massage, or something?"

The WTC movie has been made, screened, hailed, panned, not seen by me, and forgotten. The Phrase 'Let's Roll!', while corny from the beginning, is a forgotten punch line. President Obama is going to stop referring to the 'War on Terror'. (I can't remember what he decided to call it, maybe the 'Friendly American Peace Intervention) Toby Keith is back to making music about, well, whatever it was he used to sing about before 9/11 (I'm guessing macro-economics). Oh yeah, and check this out, the company that owns the WTC site has decided to drop the name 'Freedom Tower', from the new building at the 1, World Trade Center address--and the first office space to be leased will be to a Chinese company.

A news report last week said that most Americans are 'fatigued' over reporting of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are no longer interested in reading news stories about them. There are so many other things on Americana's minds. There's the economy, our sexy new president with a unicorn in his pocket for every man woman and child on Earth, Lindsey Lohan, Global Warming (or, are we calling it 'Climate Change now?), the poor illegal aliens that aren't getting enough of our money, and last, but not least: Octomom.

That's right. The people in this country would rather hear about a bat-shit crazy woman who has mistaken her uterus for a party favor than the war to defeat this nation's enemies who want to kill all us. In December, while our mother's sons were engaging in battle, every single media outlet was watching with bated breath to see if O.J. was going to jail.

To a certain extent, I get it. Here's sort of linear look at media reporting since 9/11: war, war, war, war, war, SPACE SHUTTLE GO BOOM, war, war, war, war, war, BIGGER WAR, war, war, war, war, MARTHA STEWART JAIL, war, war, war, war, war, BIG TSUNAMI EVERYBODY DIE, war, war, war, war, war, EVERYONE'S BUYING HOUSES, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, YOUR HOUSE WON'T SELL, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, GAS PRICES, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, ANNA NICOLE SMITH, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, SOME MISSING WHITE GIRL, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, ANOTHER MISSING WHITE GIRL, war, war, war, war, GREAT DEPRESSION II, THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL war, war, war, war, war, BLACK GUY IS PRESIDENT, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, OCTOMOOM

Just because we're sick of hearing about the war doesn't mean it's not there. People are so easily distracted by the bright, shinny penny. "I would like to talk to you today about something near and dear to my....OH LOOK, A MIDGET RACING A CAMEL!" The Jihadi's know perfectly well how do defeat the Great Satan (that's us); they know we are an ADD collective and that all they have to do is wait us out until we get bored and go do something else. Do you think that shit would have worked against the Romans? "Hey, Hadrian, this wall is only like a foot and a half tall, you think we should make it a little taller?" "Nah, the Romans will see it and be all like, "ahhh, I don't want to step over that, let's just go back.""

We need to get our heads back in the game. (so to speak)

"He who wishes to fight must first count the cost. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue... In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns."
-Sun Tzu, the "Art of War" 400-320bc

Text ©Raymond Smith- 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hail to the State

Over a number of years, Americans have gone gleefully prancing around a financial playground, having it all, jacking up prices, and truly believing that all you need to make money is a little bit of money; and that everyone can do it. We vastly reduced the amount of real product we produced in this country. We sent thousands of jobs overseas because it was cheaper. We hedged, schemed, flipped, and short sold anything and everything in the ongoing quest to become wealthy without doing any real work. Then, when it all blew in our faces, we did exactly what you would have expected--blamed the government and cried like wounded lemurs for the government to get involved and make it all better. Well folks, their involved, but it's not going to be like a visit from your rich uncle. It's likely to be more like getting a prostate exam by an anteater.

Your Uncle Sammy, with your support (and by support I mean the mob of torches and pitchforks), has obtained controlling financial interest in some the largest and most powerful corporate institutions in America. Wow, now isn't that just the awesomest thing from awesome land. Just this morning, President Obama announced a plan to increase oversight of executive pay at ALL banks. Last week, congress drafted legislation targeted at taking away 90% of the bonuses paid to AIG employees. But, isn't all this a good thing?

The bonuses paid to AIG employees were contractually obligated in those employee's contracts from well before the financial crisis. AIG was legally bound to pay those bonuses, but when an angry mob and media get behind the force of change, the rule of law gets trampled. Legislative restraint? Are you kidding? Congress took longer to take a collective dump than it did to churn a brand new law aimed specifically at individual bonuses. Did you read that? Your government drafted a law specifically to take money from specific individuals because people were just mad about it. That should scare the ever-loving shit out of you.

We were so willing to let the government bail out all these industries. That is to say, we were willing to let the government take a bunch of our money and give it to the companies who's products we weren't willing to buy. Think about that! General Motors is in trouble because you won't buy their cars--trade your money for their goods. No problem, your government will trade your money for...uh...nothing. Well fuck me in the conservatory with the led pipe! That's a hell of a deal for GM! Oh wait, no, the gov didn't trade for nothing. That money didn't come without strings. No, now the gov can tell GM how to run it's business--and many, many other companies.

So who's asking for and getting the money? Pretty much everyone. Banks, automakers, insurers, media companies, towns, home owners (hard to use that word and not laugh, owing $400k on a $200k house hardly makes you the owner of anything), etcetera. And with each dollar comes a measure of government control. So, the government, also known as 'the state', has controlling interest in all the aforementioned industries.

We used to make fun of countries with state run media.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wax My Nuts

The Philadelphia Daily News, an organization that prides itself in highlighting the repugnant on-goings in other cities so as to mollify the real image people have of Philadelphia as an unlivable cesspool, has published an article last week about a New Jersey initiative to ban Brazilian Waxing. Folks in Jersey, having clearly tackled all the really big problems, like, well, the misery of having to live in New Jersey, are actually using words like 'statute' and 'genital waxing' in the same sentence, and somehow managing to maintain a stoic composure.

The ban is being proposed by the New Jersey State Board on Cosmetology and Hairstyling. The what? They actually have that? Does every state have of a Board on Cosmetology and Hairstyling? Is there an official abbreviation for it, like NJSBCH, or C&H board? This is absolute foolishness. The NJSBCH (http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/nonmedical/coshair.htm) actually falls under the NJ Department of Law and Public Safety. Yeah, they're the folks you have to go to in order to obtain a license to be a barber, or beautician. Yeah, I said that. You have to have a license to cut hair. Now maybe you, the reader, may be aware of this, and maybe it's more common than I think throughout the other states, but it's still stupid. It's hhhaaaaiiiiirrrr! It's not a bulldozer or a supertanker. The actual law for this is Title 45, Cosmetology and Hairstyling N.J.S.A. 45:2D-1 to 45:2D-18.

Under current law, waxing of the face, neck, arms, legs, and abdomen are legal. Since not specifically mentioned in the statute, a full Brazilian is technically not legal, hence the effort to ban it outright. I can't believe I just typed the previous sentence with a straight face. How in a stone of crows did a state legislature, under the scrutiny of anything more intelligent and powerful than a pair of lesbian sugar gliders, manage to pass a law having ANYTHING to do with removing hair from one's body? If ever there was a more compelling reason to avoid driving through NJ, and thus avoiding a penny of my money going towards taxes that are enabling this kind of jack-assery, I've not seen it. And, yes, I know; the state I live in probably has it's own version of the NJSBCH and I just don't know it, so don't bother pointing that out. I'll just pretend it doesn't exist—much like the ravenous bugblatter beasts of Trall, which believe that if you can't see them, they can't see you. [Douglas Adams, HHG2G]

While I'm typing this, I have a browser window up with the webpage to the C&H board. I'm tempted to start poking around in the other Department pages to see what other fourberie councils of public largess are lurking in there. Is there a State Board of Disco and Dry-humping? How about the Council for the Weights and Measures of Distributed Table Sugar? I don't know if I really want to see how far down this rabbit hole I can go.

Silliness aside, here's the real problem, and as much as it pains me to say it, it has nothing to do with NJ: Occupational Law-making. See, if I make my living as a farmer, I have keep raising crops to get paid. If I'm a used car salesmen, I need to sell the cars on the lot to justify my paycheck. If I'm a proctologist, I need to shove a pipe up someone's pooper four times a day to pay for that new Mercedes. If I'm a lawmaker, I'd better stay lock-step with other lawmakers in the incessant production of laws if I want to earn a living. And there it is. Laws become products. The legislature produces them...and they won't...ever....fucking....stop. It's the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone.

I need more laws in my life like I need a rash on my right butt cheek. Legislators should be like volunteer firemen. Just go on about their normal lives; working at the deli, selling books at the all-Christian book store, reconciling the obituaries with the next edition of the phone book, etcetera. In the mean time, the state is humming along on all its laws until HOLY SHIT, we have an issue and a law that doesn't address it! Call the lawmakers! They all race to the statehouse in their Priuses and Hummers, hammer out some hard-hitting statutes that codify that pesky loose end, and then back to work. Instead, our capitol buildings, like steaming factories, churn day in and day out (while in session) belching out law after law, slowly but surely destined to regulate every aspect of human life. There are already laws to tell me where I can walk, how my dog can poop, what I can put in my trash can, where I can smoke, and how many times per hour my business' digital sign can change its message. (Tucson, AZ.....no shit) With our occupational legislators and their constant machinations, I have not doubt than by the time I'm 90, there's going to be a law that says men over 89 can't have a glass of scotch and a copy of Hustler in order to safe guard my ticker. I'll try to get my whole head in front of the shotgun; which will probably already be illegal.

©Raymond Smith- 2009
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